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Steve Bassett has been a supporter of the Salt Lake City music scene since he moved to the state in 1994.
The 56-year-old has been a board member of the Intermountain Acoustic Music Association, has hosted a monthly local songwriters open mic at Sugarhouse Coffee, and hosts house concerts as part of his Cypress House Concert Series.
But it wasn't until late last year that Bassett finally decided to form the Steve Bassett Band and release his acoustic-flavored debut album, "So Beautiful."
A New York native and alum of the State University of New York at Albany, Bassett uses his love for the Grateful Dead, the Beatles and Willie Nelson to inspire his folk leanings.
He answered questions about his influences, inspirations, Kate Middleton's child and what song he would play for President Barack Obama if given the chance.
What are your inspirations?
I have been writing songs for several years. My songs draw on my life experiences, my relationships and just everyday observations. I have been fortunate to have traveled extensively around the world, and seeing how other cultures live has dramatically reshaped my perceptions. I have also been studying Buddhism for the last few years, and that has molded the way I view my daily existence. Musically, I grew up listening to the Beatles and being profoundly affected by their music. The Beatles are the reason I picked up a guitar at age 7. Growing up, I also listened to lots of folk music, like Simon and Garfunkel, and classical music. In college, I discovered the Grateful Dead and fell in love with their inspired free-form jams and also their eclectic music sensibility, [such as] playing a folk song, then a blues song next, followed by a rock 'n' roll standard or an old traditional song.
What is the goal of your album?
My goal for my new CD "So Beautiful" was to create a cohesive, yet eclectic set of songs that was a snapshot of where I am in my life: more content with what I have, more aware of the present moment, shedding the past. Musically, the songs cover a wide range of styles: There are a few rock numbers, a Gypsy jazz song, some Texas swing, folk-rock and country-tinged acoustic songs. I wanted my diverse musical sensibilities to be reflected.
What are your most memorable experiences in music?
I have seen many wonderful concerts. One that sticks out is going to a Willie Nelson Fourth of July picnic in Kansas City, driving down from Albany, N.Y. The Grateful Dead performed that day with Willie. Another bittersweet experience was seeing Stevie Ray Vaughan perform in the Bay Area just days before he died in a helicopter crash. I remember seeing Carlos Santana and Eric Clapton share a bill in an outdoor show in the late '70s. From a performance standpoint, performing an original song for my dad and his new bride was a very special occasion. I have had a great many gigs throughout Utah with various other musicians, and most of them were a ton of fun. I was very honored to have my song, "Surrender," chosen for the 2013 Peaceful Uprising Earth Day CD.
If you could perform one song for President Barack Obama, what would it be?
It will be the song "Surrender." It is a simple acoustic song that talks about appreciating and focusing in on the beauty of each moment, without getting caught up in past regrets or worrying about the future that you cannot control. It's about slowing down, way down, and finding joy and peace in the immediate.
What are your plans for the future?
I am feeling very creative these days and am writing songs at a more rapid pace. The craft of songwriting is another area of continual growth. I hope to increase the number of local shows this year and continue to support Salt Lake City's wonderful diverse and robust music scene. For me, the vast musical talent in Salt Lake City is a bit of a secret that I have been able to tap into. In addition to writing and performing, I host house concerts as part of my Cypress House Concert Series. This past year I hosted 13 shows with artists from around the country. It is a wonderful opportunity to see an artist in an intimate setting and a way for the artist to connect with the audience in a cozy setting.
What would you name the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's child, and why?
I'd call the child Jerry, in honor of Jerry Garcia, a guitarist who had a wonderful musical gift and whose playing has inspired me. Either that or "Mendelssohn Abernathy Middleton" it just sounds so royal.
What are you most thankful for?
It's hard to think of one thing: I am thankful and proud of my two wonderful sons as they enter adulthood. I am thankful for the many wonderful friends I have and for the wonderful music community in Salt Lake City.