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Author Topic:  Steel, is it getting pushed out???
David Mason


From:
Cambridge, MD, USA
Post Posted 18 Feb 2017 1:36 am     Reply with quote

Quote:
10 years from now pedal steel will be as often on the records or radio, as dulcimer is today....

Well Damir said this, and both that AND "lotsa steel" can be true. Records/CDs are not the big money ticket - there IS no big money ticket but downloads are where the majority of music is sold, and radios are ONLY listened to by old people. The kids got their iPods and phones loaded up with some really strange things. One kid in a high school will somehow "flash" on... Buck Owens, and there'll be 500 Buck Owens downloads from that one high school in a week. About a decade ago Robert Johnson suddenly blew up into this huge-selling artist for a couple of months. It's hard for anything to stay on top when the entire history of recorded music is there for the taking. I'm old enough to PREFER CD's, and I'm so old-fashioned I turn off my computer when I'm not using it. I'm also really allergic to BAD DOWNLOADS AND CHEAP TRANSMISSIONS, Mp3's make my head hurt. The FOX affiliate in this area really steps on the signal, so ALL the "IDOL" singers are raspy and cymbals just sound like static electricity.

And the trends are amazingly fast - Lady Gaga was all washed up at one point, now she's back. But there are a lot of steels set up and used by six-stringers too, and eventually a certain percentage get "caught." I just think the "Death of Steel" meme is only in really deep circulation among over-50-year-old old men who listen to over-50-year-old-music. But look at the bright side: old people DIE!

Like, I haven't swum in the ocean with a pod of dolphins in almost 40 years now. O.M.G! DOLPHINS ARE EXTINCT!!! Rolling Eyes LOL Rolling Eyes


Last edited by David Mason on 7 Mar 2017 7:29 pm; edited 1 time in total
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mtulbert


From:
Plano, Texas 75023
Post Posted 18 Feb 2017 5:40 am     Reply with quote

I think our instrument will survive and perhaps become more popular. In the last decade I have seen the life span of country artists coming out of Nashville continue to get shorter and shorter. Who was hot 2 years ago have disappeared. Miranda Lambert, Lady Antebellum?? The list goes on and on.

There are some artists who transcend this. Allison Kraus is one who come to mind. Her latest CD getting rave reviews has Mike playing great steel in alot of the cuts. The public may not know what steel is, but they can tune into a particular sound and say "That is a neat sound".

I hope that Nashville will get back to it's roots, but that probably is not going to happen. But look at the rise of popularity of the Time Jumpers and Vince Gill and others who keep it alive. They may just cause the resurrection that we need.

Keep Pickin!!
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Donny Hinson


From:
Glen Burnie, Md. U.S.A.
Post Posted 18 Feb 2017 6:51 am     Reply with quote

David Mason wrote:
But there are a lot of steels set up and used by six-stingers too, and eventually a certain percentage get "caught." I just think the "Death of Steel" meme is only in really deep circulation among over-50-year-old old men who listen to over-50-year-old-music. But look at the bright side: old people DIE!


So, David, since you're seeing so many working pedal steelers out there (that we're not), and you're obviously really into the music scene, how's about a list of all the bands out there in Frederick and Hagerstown that feature pedal steel? Shucks, I'll even throw in the Baltimore metro area (of over 2 million people). 'Course now, with all those people, it oughta be a pretty big list, so if it's too big for this thread, we can probably get b0b to open a new forum, or add some more bandwith. Laughing
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Bill Sinclair


From:
Hagerstown, Maryland, USA
Post Posted 18 Feb 2017 8:57 am     Reply with quote

Donny Hinson wrote:

So, David, since you're seeing so many working pedal steelers out there (that we're not), and you're obviously really into the music scene, how's about a list of all the bands out there in Frederick and Hagerstown that feature pedal steel?


I think David is more from the Eastern MD area but since you mentioned Hagerstown, I'll list the pedal steel players I got out to hear last month:

Dave Hadley - Sons of Pitches
Greg Johnson - Josh Morningstar
Tommy Auldridge - Patsy's Honky Tonk Torch & Twang
James Hann - Antietam Generals

I believe all of those players play in other bands as well.

Forum members and active steel players Howard Parker and Shane Schoenadel at different times played non-pedal in the band I'm in: "The Tonehounds". Now that we're kind of settled into being a 4 piece (yes, the steel was the first to go), I've been trying to learn some lap steel. Trouble is, after 2 1/2 yrs., I suck. I might play steel on one or two songs per set. Surprisingly, ever other band I play or jam with is fairly insistent that I bring along the steel once they've heard it. Did I mention I suck? People like that sound. Maybe I'm part of the problem: one of those multi-instrumentalists' who aren't doing justice to the steel but it ain't for lack of trying.
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Barry Blackwood


Post Posted 18 Feb 2017 9:37 am     Reply with quote

Quote:
I just think the "Death of Steel" meme is only in really deep circulation among over-50-year-old old men who listen to over-50-year-old-music. But look at the bright side: old people DIE!

Thanks for sharing, David. Razz
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Bobby Boggs


From:
Upstate SC.
Post Posted 18 Feb 2017 11:14 am     Reply with quote

Quote:
But look at the bright side: old people DIE!
That's cold. Confused

Last edited by Bobby Boggs on 18 Feb 2017 8:16 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Donny Hinson


From:
Glen Burnie, Md. U.S.A.
Post Posted 18 Feb 2017 12:03 pm     Reply with quote

Thanks for the contribution, Bill! I played a jam with Tommy a couple of weeks ago, he's a fine player. I saw James Hann about 20 years ago, but haven't seen him since he left my area. I see David is from Cambridge, but I was thinking he played in central Maryland, too. Anyhow, I'm sure he'll jump in here and list all the steelers playing in Cambridge, Salisbury, Ocean City, Rehoboth, and Bethany.

I know that Pennsylvania seems to have a lot of steelers still working, but most I've talked to say they have to travel a lot to work steady, and Maryland players Like Tommy, Curry Coster, and Mark Beauchamp sometimes go up there to play. I'm playing a one-nighter in Essex next week, but no chance it'll ever be a steady gig. The regular Friday-Saturday sit-down gigs are pretty much gone in this area, even at the animal clubs. But back in the '70s and '80s, a lot of house-bands were still around, some (mine included) working 3, 4, and even 5 nights a week. Almost every bar had a band, and bars then were as popular as fast-food places are today.

I know there's still some pedal steel out there, but I think you'd be hard pressed to call it thriving, nowadays. And if the young people like it so much, why aren't there more bands out there with a pedal steel?
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Storm Rosson


From:
Silver City, NM. USA
Post Posted 18 Feb 2017 2:13 pm     Reply with quote

Please excuse the indifference regarding the fate of psg since all current hepatitis treatments have failed and I'm waiting, hoping to get put on the transplant list, I can't quite seem to get very passionate about another post bemoaning inevitable cultural change and the ever morphing musical tastes that accompany it.
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Bruce Bjork


From:
Southern Coast of Maine
Post Posted 20 Feb 2017 11:57 am     Reply with quote

Sure hope Pedal Steel is not dying, just ordered a Justice Pro Lite. Have wanted to play one for many years. Retired a few years ago and actively playing out (open mics, jams etc.) on dobro, banjo and guitar. Folks around here love the dobro so I get to play a lot. Once I add PSG to my list hopefully I'll be even busier.
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Brian Henry


Post Posted 20 Feb 2017 2:04 pm     Reply with quote

Bruce, you can be as busy as you want to be with pedal steel. I have always had a day job and pedal,steel,has been my passion. There are,so many opportunities to play at churches, nursing homes, county fairs. I never charge for my performances nor my cd"s.

In fact I have more of these opportunities than I can handle. It keeps me busy doing something I love to do, and is helping to keep the pedal steel alive and well.

Sometimes I am given money or gift cards for playing, but I just normally pass these on to those more needy than my self!
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Steven Hicken


From:
Leeds, United Kingdom
Post Posted 4 Mar 2017 11:33 am     Reply with quote

I promote pedal steel where ever I can to teens.

From Tumblr to Tinder, I promote the pedal steel and 95% of teens who speak to me love it and wish they'd have heard it before, also loving its novelty.

Seriously if we can get country clean steel sounds into acoustic pop ballads we are onto a winner. Nashville will have to take it back into country because it will be mainstream in pop.

Look at the trumpet in 2015-16. Down and out, restricted to brass bands suddenly it got into a number 1 pop single and then it ended up being in loads of songs that were huge. This was natural sounding trumpet playing pop progressions and styled riffs.

The real need however is to promote the instrument as a pedal steel.

Steel players need to go on shows like America/Britain's got talent. It doesn't matter if the player wins or even gets through to round two... all that matters is to say "This is a pedal steel guitar" to millions of people on TV. I know a lot of people who know the sound but don't know the name of the instrument to research it. Look at how famous Conway Twitty got with the TV show Family Guy playing his songs mid show. Many of the teens who commented on Hello Darling on YouTube stated family guy put them onto beautiful music they couldn't have found. A lot of them also went on to listen to more of his songs.

I see a lot of people asking what the instrument is on KONGOS come with me now. It is a steel on overdrive. I say to the people regularly it is a pedal steel as others offer stupid suggestions like zither and slidebox, further de-educating people about the steel. Which links back to the point before, exposure for the name. People get on my nerves when the call it a steel pedal, but at least they have only confused basic English rather than calling it a totally stupid name or completely different instrument like a Chapman stick (Which is even less famous), sad to think a Chapman stick is more famous.

We need to kick ourselves up the backside and **** country music off. There are thousands of opportunities in other genres. I've been playing a lot of acoustic pop/folk recently
with an underground artist. Clean, beautifully wet pedal steel.

https://maxlilleyman.bandcamp.com/track/through-the-night

My big brother plays in a folk rock band and their music is aired on BBC Radio and more recently one of the songs made it into a half time song at a local pro football team.

Cheers pals

Steven
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Richard Nelson


From:
Drogheda, Louth, Ireland
Post Posted 5 Mar 2017 11:06 am     Reply with quote

Trends come and go . Steel will always come back . Remember the early 80's ? There wasn't much steel around then .... Randy Travis and Ricky Scaggs brought it back .
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Howard Parker


From:
Clarksburg,MD USA
Post Posted 5 Mar 2017 11:29 am     Reply with quote

I see my name got mentioned. For the past 5 years my pedal steel playing has not been (any kind) of country. I've been solidly in the roots rock/Americana scene in the Washington, DC/NoVa area. I've played most of the "2nd tier" music venues down there (JV's, Iota, Jammin Java, HillCountryLive etc.)

Interestingly (to me at least) are the calls I'm getting from Americana/singer song writers for shorter term sessions. Very flattering.

It's been my desire to scratch a "Classic" country itch and I've recently signed on with a Frederick based band which is able to change stripes depending on the gig requirements. They hire out as an acoustic duo/trio/quartet and full blown honky tonk quintet.

I've done 9 psg gigs with the Frederick folks since Jan 1 and have booked an additional 10 through June. Some dobro is also involved.

Full disclosure. I acknowledge that all of the MD players mentioned thus far can probably play circles around me.

That being said, I'm as busy as I want to be. Two bands + incidental work...No waiting!

hp
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Donny Hinson


From:
Glen Burnie, Md. U.S.A.
Post Posted 5 Mar 2017 1:49 pm     Reply with quote

Steven Hicken wrote:


Seriously if we can get country clean steel sounds into acoustic pop ballads we are onto a winner. Nashville will have to take it back into country because it will be mainstream in pop.


As we've already found out, Nashville's definitely not interested in promoting the instrument. Mainstream pop isn't, either.


Quote:
I know a lot of people who know the sound but don't know the name of the instrument to research it.


I find that hard to believe. As connected as we are, nowadays, it wouldn't remain a mystery long for anyone with a smartphone (which is about 99.99% of anyone between six and twenty-six years old).


Quote:
People get on my nerves when the call it a steel pedal, but at least they have only confused basic English rather than calling it a totally stupid name or completely different instrument like a Chapman stick (Which is even less famous), sad to think a Chapman stick is more famous.


Sorry, but the Chapman Stick is not really more famous. (It is, possibly, more famous to young guitar players, though.) Fact: the Chapman Stick has less than half the YouTube videos, and far less than half the web exposure of pedal steel. Pedal steel, however, is cursed with it's strong connection to old-time country music, and thus gets the gag/choke reaction from many young people these days. The Chapman Stick is blessed, because it has no such unfortunate association.

It's good to hear that Howard is busy, and I hope he enjoys it all while it's happening. As most of us can tell you from experience, getting busy, and staying busy, are two different things...unless you're out there playing for nothing.
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Howard Parker


From:
Clarksburg,MD USA
Post Posted 5 Mar 2017 2:08 pm     Reply with quote

Donny Hinson wrote:

It's good to hear that Howard is busy, and I hope he enjoys it all while it's happening. As most of us can tell you from experience, getting busy, and staying busy, are two different things...unless you're out there playing for nothing.


I'll play as long as the body holds out. Laughing

fwiw..I started playing roots rock because I couldn't find a country gig. It was either give up playing or find SOMETHING that would accept me as a contributor. As it turned out the steel became a signature sound for the band and the group took advantage of it.

I know in the region and beyond there are guys like me playing other stuff. We know each other through Facebook mostly. Some of the guys are on the forum but like me we mostly lurk.

We are akin to an informal gathering of rootsy/indi/Americanish pedal steel players.

I'm well aware of the cyclical nature of things. I've been on stages for, ummm, 32 years. I figure it's been fairly good for me for the past 3 years and really good for the past 6 months.

I'm happy with that.

ymmv

h
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Dick Wood


From:
Springtown Texas, USA
Post Posted 5 Mar 2017 2:20 pm     Reply with quote

I still stay pretty busy in D/FW and East Texas playing a lot of bars.I can't start to count how many times people come up to me and say how they really enjoy hearing the steel but wonder what's happened to it.

I'm just glad I stay as busy as I do.
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Craig Stock


From:
Westfield, NJ USA
Post Posted 5 Mar 2017 4:05 pm     Reply with quote

Have been playing a few new Cd's that my kids got recently that I really like, Ronnie Dunn, Jon Pardi and William Michael Morgan, really good stuff, lots of great steel playing by Mike Johnson and Paul F. and others, worth looking into, getting a bit of radio play even on Bro-Country Radio Confused
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George Seymour


From:
Notown, Vermont, USA
Post Posted 5 Mar 2017 5:12 pm     Reply with quote

Remember the steel guitar sounds good I'm busy nearly every weekend country rock singer songwriter we play everything from Dire straits to Waylon Johnny Cash Derks Bentley Ryan Adams Indie group stuff. And all of our bosses original material never fails people are intrigued and love the sound of the steel guitar it is a very versatile instrument and as not a limit on the avenue that I can be played. Part of what makes the instrument less attractive is certainly the cost and availability to young people nowhere near as accessible as a six string guitar. One thing seem certain there is a lot of steel guitars for sale and I think that will continue to happen
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b0b


From:
Northern California
Post Posted 5 Mar 2017 8:06 pm     Reply with quote

Whenever I feel that steel is getting pushed out, I listen to Greg Leisz playing with Bill Frisell. That really gives me hope for the future of our instrument.

There's also a lot of steel in "Americana" music, which is basically a blend of roots country and singer/songwriter folk-rock. Americana artists don't command the big touring venues that the so-called "Country" artists get, though. Oh Well
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Matthew Begay


From:
Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA
Post Posted 6 Mar 2017 8:42 am     It's A Freaking Pedal Steel!!! Reply with quote

"Hey Matt! That piano guitar sounds awesome"
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Mark Eaton


From:
Sonoma County in The Great State Of Northern California
Post Posted 6 Mar 2017 9:40 am     Reply with quote

Quote:
I know a lot of people who know the sound but don't know the name of the instrument to research it.

I find that hard to believe. As connected as we are, nowadays, it wouldn't remain a mystery long for anyone with a smartphone (which is about 99.99% of anyone between six and twenty-six years old).


Donny, you must encounter some fairly astute people in Maryland. Between pedal steel, lap steel and dobro, if I had a five dollar bill over about the past decade for every episode where I am speaking with someone who is pretty much clueless about this family of instruments I'd likely have enough for a decent down payment on a car.

Even among people who play standard guitar: "I don't get it - the action is really high on that thing...how do you press that steel bar down to the fretboard?"
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Howard Parker


From:
Clarksburg,MD USA
Post Posted 6 Mar 2017 9:50 am     Reply with quote

If someone approaches me and asks about "steel pedal guitar", "lapsteel" or "some kind of keyboard" I take that as a sign that they are paying attention and probably like what they hear.

That makes me happy.

I'm all too happy to chat with them.

h
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Steven Hicken


From:
Leeds, United Kingdom
Post Posted 6 Mar 2017 10:21 am     Reply with quote

Donny Hinson wrote:
Steven Hicken wrote:


Seriously if we can get country clean steel sounds into acoustic pop ballads we are onto a winner. Nashville will have to take it back into country because it will be mainstream in pop.


As we've already found out, Nashville's definitely not interested in promoting the instrument. Mainstream pop isn't, either.


Quote:
I know a lot of people who know the sound but don't know the name of the instrument to research it.


I find that hard to believe. As connected as we are, nowadays, it wouldn't remain a mystery long for anyone with a smartphone (which is about 99.99% of anyone between six and twenty-six years old).


Quote:
People get on my nerves when the call it a steel pedal, but at least they have only confused basic English rather than calling it a totally stupid name or completely different instrument like a Chapman stick (Which is even less famous), sad to think a Chapman stick is more famous.


Sorry, but the Chapman Stick is not really more famous. (It is, possibly, more famous to young guitar players, though.) Fact: the Chapman Stick has less than half the YouTube videos, and far less than half the web exposure of pedal steel. Pedal steel, however, is cursed with it's strong connection to old-time country music, and thus gets the gag/choke reaction from many young people these days. The Chapman Stick is blessed, because it has no such unfortunate association.

It's good to hear that Howard is busy, and I hope he enjoys it all while it's happening. As most of us can tell you from experience, getting busy, and staying busy, are two different things...unless you're out there playing for nothing.


A lot of teens and people in their 20's in England know the sound because of artists like Robbie Williams. BJ Cole has done wonders with cross genre playing over here. Listen to the Robbie Williams song Eternity. Clean pedal steel.
No distortion, just a lot of tape echo to make it fit in with the style of music.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E16qbwzlxBM

Melvin Duffy also played on a lot of Robbie stuff.

Liam G, formerly of the massive international super band Oasis also found place for pedal steel in his new stuff.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q0QMhSLg0t0

There maybe no lead breaks or massive licks but it is there and compared to modern country music is far forward in the mix.

I can't comment on the state of American pedal steel because your mainstream teens are only listening to Beyonce and Kanye. Most of our teens have a good taste when it comes to music. Britpop is still massive here even still after the 90's when Britpop peaked as a genre. Indie is probably the most sought after genre here. Pop is mainstream but unless you're from a pop family you don't listen to it. I'm not gunna say "chavs" but British steel players will know what I mean.

I've got a dream of getting pedal steel into these genres, the slide guitar already has no problem. The extra bends on a pedal steel catch many people out in the kind of environment above and that's why it sounds great.

I know Pink Floyd isn't strictly pedal steel, but a lot of the teens here know the lap steel sound from that and relate.

You're right, the Chapman Stick probably isn't as famous overall in ages, but many viral video street performers have made people of all ages very aware of the instrument, many of whom are non musicians and at first also thought it was a guitar keyboard; ring a bell?

Nashville may seem like twats (and they are) but as soon as pop music starts to get more substance (and in a dream scenario pedal steel), I have to say they will be scared.

Nashville have directly copied pop music musically with midi clap beats and etc. The only difference is the scenery of a dirt road instead of having a night out in the city.

Now, not for one minute am I saying this will happen over night...but think about that TV talent show idea. I think us octopus keyboard guitar players will do pretty well against dancing dogs and strippers.

I don't usually agree with playing for exposure, but on a worldwide scale just do it, and get that name in there.

Kindest Regards

Steven Jr.
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Mark Eaton


From:
Sonoma County in The Great State Of Northern California
Post Posted 6 Mar 2017 10:55 am     Reply with quote

Howard Parker wrote:
If someone approaches me and asks about "steel pedal guitar", "lapsteel" or "some kind of keyboard" I take that as a sign that they are paying attention and probably like what they hear.

That makes me happy.

I'm all too happy to chat with them.

h


I would like to think your attitude is true for everyone here. When people are indeed curious, I'm happy to explain until the cows come home, but one needs to be able to read the other person's eyes for signs of glazing over from excess information. Wink
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Howard Parker


From:
Clarksburg,MD USA
Post Posted 6 Mar 2017 11:18 am     Reply with quote

I'm not reading the owner's manual here. I thank them for their interest, explain it's a guitar of sorts, play a chord, chat and thank them for coming.

I get paid to entertain, not to educate.

Again..

That makes me happy.

h
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