His parents both taught music as a profession, and encouraged music at a young age. Steve’s father started him out playing the coronet and piano, but it wasn’t until Steve discovered the guitar that his love for music was to be fully realized.
The one person who had the most profound influence on Steve was the late Ervin Ollila (known to most as Heinie). He was a self-taught musical genius, unknown by most of the world. Heinie recognized Steve’s talent and cultivated it until about age 18. It was from Heinie that Steve learned that without feeling, it’s not music! The two played together at establishments and special events throughout the U.P. until 1998 New Years Day, when Heinie passed away.
After Heinie passed away, Steve began playing with another guitarist by the name of Rob Fritz. Rob is a great rhythm guitarist/singer who played the Detroit circuit before moving north. Steve and Rob then hooked up with Drummer Jeff Oldiges and formed the band On The Fritz.
Steve also was an original member in the band Fat Cow along with Matt Wright, Adam Johnson, and Tim Havens. This was a more modern jazz/funk/blues group playing everything from Louis Armstrong to Greatful Dead and even some Phish covers. Steve played with these two groups throughout the 90’s and into 2000, until September 2001, at which time Steve took a job in Connecticut and moved east.
This was to be a trying time, as Steve had to in essence start his musical career over. Then, in the early spring of 2002 Steve’s musical career was to take yet another turn when he met the great rhythm guitarist Bill Lezotte. This was to be a great match up of two distinct styles.
Bill and Steve hit it off right away when they learned of each other’s love for the music of Django Reinhardt. They began working out tunes and are now playing three nights a week around the Farmington Valley area in Connecticut, and eventually formed the band now known as Swing 39.
During the 8 years that followed Steve played with a number of different combos including Dan Levinson and the Djangophiles in NYC’s Greenwich Village, and made numerous appearances at The Django Reinhardt Festivals in NY, CT, and MA.
In 2004 Steve entered a national guitar competition sponsored by Guitar Center and won first place for the East Coast Regional Finals at The House of Blues in Cambridge, MA. Following this he flew to Las Vegas where he took runner up in the national competition at The House of Blues at Mandalay Bay., opening for Cheap Trick.
Steve continued to play through 2010 with Swing 39 and in December decided to move back to Michigan’s upper peninsula and continue playing and teaching music there. Today he plays in and around the Upper Peninsula, and makes regular trips out east to play shows with Swing 39 in CT.
Steve has numerous CD’s to his credit both solo and with various groups. His major listening influences are: Lenny Breau, Django Reinhardt, Oscar Moore, Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass, Chet Atkins, & Barney Kessel, just to name a few. Steve plays a 1933 Epiphone Triumph Masterbuilt archtop, and also a 1991 Washburn J-6 (back when they first came out and were actually good guitars). Steve also plays any of Bill’s guitars whenever he can get his hands on ’em!