Written Words Grip The Mind

Many years ago, in a makeshift home studio not far from where I type, a then unknown Michael Chabon began work on his first novel. All full of Pittsburgh, Pulitzer pipe dreams and enough hubris to recognize that, “the English language…it and I had something going…”. Surely, It would have been impossible for Chabon to imagine he was T-minus seconds away from supersonic launch into rarefied air. That novel, of course, was The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, and the rest is literary history.
We are fascinated- we mere left-brained mortals-by artists. We harbor a ubiquitous envy of destinations unknown- their mind’s journey. It is no matter to us that, for the artist themselves, the creative process is often a maddening one. We continue to try to understand, unsuccessfully, that period of gestation between conception and birth. Our unrequited romance will continue, because it should.
Today, in a makeshift home studio not far from where I type, the band Steelesque continues the dynamic process of completing their first album. Given the members’ collective, hyper intrinsic drive to deliver greatness, it would be disingenuous to suggest the evolution of  Toro Toro Sessions has been unencumbered by its share of hand wringing. But, the syncing of shared experience, the transference and acceptance of individual insecurities -this vibrant weaving of individual threads into a rich tapestry of sound and aesthetic resonance-define the making of Toro Toro Sessions. This (damn-the-cliche) band of brothers is setting the stage for a knockout.
The evolution of the songs throughout the rehearsal/recording process has been nothing short of miraculous to witness. That week by week, without fail, the methodology and collaborative dimensions of the band could be measured with each track sounding just that much tighter. Of utmost importance to the band: how to marry the improvisational nature of the rehearsal process-the unspoken lyrical language of artistic soul mates, the gesture, the of-the-moment vibe- with the technical nature of the recording process. As lead singer and resident producer, Rob Eldridge, has gone on record as saying so masterfully, “The perfect mistake always outweighs the pristine polished cut.” This observer couldn’t agree more.
Although never derivative, the Steelesque sound is an unselfconscious embrace of its members’ legendary rock & blues influences. After all, these men were sustained, in their formative years, by the likes of the Stones, Dylan, Zeppelin, The Beatles; and they continue to be inspired by contemporary musicians fed a similar diet. When Keith lights a cigarette, you’d better pay attention…perhaps less of a warm embrace than a sloppy french kiss, this one. So, what of the songs? It would be an exercise in futility to fake the esoteric language of a legitimate music writer. I know. I tried. But, listening to music can be much like drinking a good bottle of wine. While no technical expert, I can certainly describe its redeeming qualities. Like a favorite Sunday afternoon drive, Toro Toro Sessions has the unpredictable consistency that define all well composed albums: the come-out-hot thrusts of acceleration, downshifts, tight corners, and occasional welcome straightaways that get you where you need to go. Some early favorites: “Keith Lights a Cigarette”-exactly the cheeky homage you’d expect-promises to be a crowd sing-along favorite and highlights the vocal chops of Eric Drake and Jerry Courtney providing harmony; “Gunslinger”-the balls to the wall, get ’em on their feet, fuckingrockthehouse jam; “Time Won’t Let You”-the autobiographical, touching tribute to songwriter Eldridge’s small New England hometown; “Seeking and Hiding”-the song I’ll label the album’s “chick track” for now–the emotional tug at the heartstrings vibe courtesy of Eldridge’s beautiful lyrics and notably guitarist Eric Drake’s work; and “Price of Your Toll”-from the onset the cornerstone song of the project and simply outstanding. What level of commercial success Steelesque will achieve with Toro Toro Sessions obviously has yet to be determined, and ultimately, a moot point. Why? Because the making of this album can only be defined as a quintessential artistic endeavor, with success measured only by the bar set by Steelesque themselves. These are not young men with superficial, get-rich-quick, groupie fantasies. These are, however, men with day jobs, families, and countless commitments unrelated to this project. These are men who’ve muddled bleary eyed through hectic days and late nights-fueled only by an energy most of us cannot tap. Because that for every hour the band had scheduled during of the making of Toro Toro Sessions , there’s one that’s been stolen–alone: putting pen to paper… mixing rehearsal tapes…arranging and rearranging a space never intended to be acoustically ideal… sitting alone with guitars, drums, mandolins, and percussion instruments…because this project was in them and it needed to come out. This evening Steelesque kicks off the first in a series of Bootleg House Shows. All full of Pittsburgh, pipe dreams, and enough hubris to recognize that, the language of music…it and they have something going. Check out https://steelesque.wordpress.com for upcoming show dates and all the latest on the Toro Toro Sessions project. In conclusion, I’d like to thank Rob Eldridge, Ron Castellucci, Eric Drake, Jerry Courtney, Bruce Virtue, and Sam Baldigowski for their patience and warm acceptance. Plant the seed, let it be…and soon, you will need a vase.

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