Steev Richter
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Steev Richter

Nyack, New York, United States | Established. Jan 01, 1995 | SELF

Nyack, New York, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 1995
Solo Americana Singer/Songwriter

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"Steev Richter -- Beloved"

"Psychedelic country" is a term that PR people like to throw around these days. From what I can tell, it's simply a catch-all for anything that has twang but is experimental, and calling it prog-country would be extremely alienating. Steev Richter's Beloved is both psychedelic and country in the classic senses of both words. Richter's songwriting is expansive and demonstrates a soul who searches far and wide to live life to the fullest (sometimes even with the aid of psychedelics.)


Musically, the album evokes the warmth and layering of a 70s country album, but the band gives the tunes a crispness that make the album unmistakably of our time, even though the messages are timeless. If you're feeling a little lost, Beloved will help you find your anchor. It reminds us that the answers are within reach if only we relinquish control, and that there is a beauty and fundamental mystery to this strange life we live. And since we've only got this one (as far as we know) we should take full advantage. That may sound like a bunch of platitudes coming from me, but Richter's mellow, authoritative delivery makes it into the gospel truth. - No Depression


"I DISCOVERED A NEW SOUNDTRACK TO THIS STAGE OF MY LIFE… I FOUND MYSELF LISTENING TO THE ANTHEM FOR WE-THE-DISCONTENTED-WHO-LONG-FOR-A-DEEPER-MEANING"

Do you care what some man sings about redemption from homelessness, evangelical credulity, substance addiction and mental illness? What if he’s also a man who then finds enlightenment that is equal parts Jesus (on one of his less crazy days), Gandhi, Sufi Mysticism, and drugs taken in the rain forest? Could his music be worth listening to?

It would be if the music was point-blank terrific, the lyrics heartrendingly beautiful, the musical style the singer’s own, and his truthfulness so raw it would make all but the hardest soul cry out. Oh yes, and this man can sing.

He has a voice that’s part Leonard Cohen, part Bob Dylan, part Tom Petty and (unusual for this day and age) with Frank Sinatra’s clarity of diction. Every word of his fearless poetry lands with the force of the lyrics sung by Johnny Cash in Folsom Prison.

THAT IS WHY I’M IN LOVE WITH THE MUSIC OF STEEV RICHTER.
I’d never heard of Richter until 2 weeks ago. I only met his music because he emailed this to me:

Frank: I recently saw a video that you posted and it meant the world to me. I am the son of a minister who is the son of a minister. I am a son of a minister’s wife who is the daughter of a minister. My grandparents’ siblings were ministers or married to ministers. My parents’ siblings are ministers or married to ministers. My brother is a minister and my sisters both married ministers. I think you can see where I’m going with that. In fact, your father’s and your mother’s name were spoken with reverence in our house.

I, on the other hand, went to school to become a minister and instead became a musician. Then I became addicted to alcohol, drugs, and was diagnosed with mental illness. I wandered for 15 years with so much bitterness towards the way that I was raised, the hypocrisy that I witnessed and the fact that Jesus never spoke to me. Either there was something wrong with me or everyone else was full of shit. I chose the latter.

I have made my peace with all of that. I have found my own spirituality. I have reconciled with my family but the litmus test for everything in my life is Love.

It is so heartbreaking to see how cruel evangelical beliefs have become. It is so difficult to know that many of “my tribe” voted for a man who is the antithesis of everything that they are supposed to believe. He is the polar opposite of Love, Gentleness and Kindness.

Watching your video was so inspiring. Knowing that you come from the tradition that you do and that you do not speak with bitterness. You speak with Love but you speak in fearless Truth. It really had a profound effect on me. It’s good to know that others have lived lives similar to mine in many ways and have come through the process better off. Thank you so much!

I really enjoy your art. You seem to have such a lovely and kind soul. I would like to share my art with you as well if you don’t mind. These songs are my journey and my belief in Love. God is Love.

Steev

Beloved

I LISTENED AND DISCOVERED A NEW SOUNDTRACK TO THIS STAGE OF MY LIFE…
I found myself listening to the anthem for We-The-Discontented-Who-Long-For-A-Deeper-Meaning.

Steev’s music is poetry made by a profoundly articulate artistic soul. After a trip to the rain forests of Peru in 2011, he decided to see if he could make music that reverberated with themes of love, death, and spiritual awakening.

Richter’s music is past merely “good.” No wonder, Beloved was produced by Grammy award winning producer, Danny Blume, and features an all-star lineup of musicians, including Nels Cline (Wilco), John Medeski (Medeski, Martin and Wood), Jerry Marotta (Peter Gabriel), Mickey Raphael (Willie Nelson), Ralph Carney (Tom Waits), Tess Wiley (Sixpence None the Richer), Jesse Murphy (Brazilian Girls), and Mark Orton (score for “Nebraska”). - Frank Schaeffer Blog


"Steev Richter’s Winding Road to Music Success"

You know right away, just from the quirky way he spells his first name, that Nyack singer-songwriter Steev Richter is an unconventional person.

“I’m Steven with a v,” Richter says in a conversation that begins outside of Nyack’s Art Café under a gray sky before a sudden downpour forces a hasty retreat indoors. “But I started spelling it this way when I was younger, and by the time I would have grown out of it, everybody spelled it that way. It kinda stuck.”

Richter had an itinerant “preacher’s kid” upbringing: his family moved around a lot as his father, a pastor in the Christian and Missionary Alliance denomination, moved from one congregation to the next.

Richter’s family moved from his native Buffalo to Ohio for a while before winding up in Syracuse when he was in high school. There was even a short stay in Nyack along the way–-in part because his father’s denomination was headquartered there for many years and still has a presence with Nyack College and Alliance Seminary.

Although the self-taught pianist had fallen in love with music as a child, just about everybody in Richter’s family went into the ministry. “I thought you had to,” he says.

But his attempt to follow in the family tradition was derailed by “disillusionment,” and Richter “went all the way the other way. I started a band and kind of got into everything I hadn’t done, all at once right away: drugs and alcohol and women.” He even rejected his Christian faith, he says.

Struggles and Substance Abuse
His deep dive into substance abuse, along with his struggle with depression and bipolar disorder, resulted in periods of hardcore homelessness.

In fact, when he arrived in Nyack—where his parents, and his grandparents, met while attending Nyack College—about eight years ago, he says he was about as down and out as he’d ever been.

“I was sleeping in Memorial Park, trying to work two jobs,” the bearded, bear-like Richter explains. “I was working at Barnes & Noble for the least amount of money I had ever made in my life. And then I was bartending, and I would make more in a night than I did the whole week at Barnes & Noble.”


Photo Credit: Lorenzo Wolff/Restoration Sound

Through all his struggles, he kept making music, and emerged late last year with Beloved, a remarkable collection of 10 piano-driven songs filled with hooky melodies and quirky lyrics.

His songwriting and performance style is reminiscent of Randy Newman, the piano-playing songwriter known for his soundtrack work on movies since the 1990s, including Toy Story.

While Richter is little known outside the local music scene, he recruited an all-star lineup to help him make the album.

The album was produced by Woodstock’s Danny Blume, who spent a decade playing with Kid Creole and the Coconuts, and features performances by Tin Hat ensemble co-founder Mark Orton, Wilco guitar whiz Nels Cline, organist John Medeski of Medeski, Martin and Wood, drummer Jerry Marotta (Peter Gabriel and Paul McCartney), horn player Ralph Carney (Tom Waits), harmonica player Mickey Raphael (Willie Nelson), and Tess Wiley (Sixpence None the Richer) on vocals.

Ayahuasca
Songs began emerging, Richter says, after he took a trip to South America to experiment with ayahuasca—a hallucinogenic herbal tea considered sacramental in some South American cultures and used as a creative tool by some American musicians, writers, and artists.

“I went to Peru and was in the jungle for a couple of weeks and I was there doing ayahuasca, and living in solitude otherwise,” he says. “Every other day we had a ceremony, but the rest of the time you’re in this little hut by yourself.”


Blume, Richter, and Cline in studio / Photo Credit: Lorenzo Wolff/Restoration Sound

Ayahusaca “changed everything,” he says. It helped him find his faith again, he says. He adds: “It’s why these songs are the way they are. I was blocked and ayahuasca was like Drano.”

The effects weren’t immediate, though. After returning from Peru, Richter says he went through am acrimonious breakup with his band and fell into a deep depression.

“I just kind of sat in a chair for six months,” Richter explains. “I’m bipolar, so the lows are very low.”

During that time, he watched a lot of movies. One of them was Nebraska, whose score, written by Orton, blew him away.

Finding Collaborators
On the advice of a friend, who urged him to “find the people who do what you like and reach out,” Richter took a wild guess at the Orton’s email address and sent him a note.

Orton “got back to me and said let’s figure out how to make this happen,” Richter says.

The demo recordings Richter included in his email sealed the deal.

“I was involved early in the process–having heard Steev’s songs when they were in their demo form: just piano and voice,” Orton says. “I was immediately drawn to his songwriting—tuneful, great lyrics, and deeply soulful…I was so happy to hear those same qualities come through in the final production.”

Having Orton on board gave Richter a way to reach out to others he admired, including Blume and Cline.

“I wasn’t aware of Steev and his talents until Danny Blume lured me into his world of song,” says Cline. “And a compelling world it is—attractive and groovy in many ways while also possessing an almost troubling current of raw insight and emotion. I am certainly better for having heard his music. I hope many others can find him and find time to listen.” - Nyack News and Views


"Danny Blume"

Danny Blume is a Grammy and Juno award-winning music producer, mixer, engineer, and musician. He produced Steev Richter's album, "Beloved", and is currently producing Steev's new EP, "Boundaries". - Listen


"Steev Richter- Only Always. A review."


Brilliance can be subtle.

That's what I've come to realize as I've been listening to Steev Richter's latest effort Only Always for the past month.

The more I listened to Only Always the deeper into it I found myself being absorbed. The more time I spent with it, the more I noticed many of its idiosyncrasies and charm. And before I knew it, I realized I had something very special on my hands.

Like I said, brilliance can be subtle.

The songs on this record are intelligently crafted. Steev's piano work provides the musical foundation that the rest of the sound is built upon. His playing style is distinct and strong, but not too complex or overbearing. The melodies are tight and the bridges and breakdowns are powerful and effective. The weathered tenor of Steev's voice provides passion and urgency to the vocals, and is matched well by the strength of his backing band's performance.

Hints of Steev's influences are evident throughout the album. Whether it be the swirling falsetto of Jeff Buckley on "07-04-05" or the earthy tones of a peaking Bob Dylan on "Leave Me Be," it isn't difficult to identify the artist's that have impacted his style over the years. And like any good musician he has learned to draw from these influences while developing a sound that is unique to himself.

Lyrically the album is well above par for someone so young in his songwriting career. Steev's words evoke emotion as his songs survey the complexities of life and love.

In "Wilting Rose" he speaks to the depth of true love when he proclaims "I'm hopelessly caught within her vine, drunk on her soul's wine". In another song he explores the sometimes painful uncertainties that the quest for love can bring; "I want to look you in the eyes and see if there's a look there for me". In "Portrait Artist," probably my favorite song on the album, he flirts with infatuation while boldly proclaiming his intentions to fight for a woman's affection "like I never fought for nothin".

In all the record is a well-rounded mix of up-tempo tunes, heart-heavy ballads and a few playful samplings that showcase Steev's musical diversity. It deserves to be listened to repeatedly, as it gets better with each spin. It's not a perfect production, but it is a solid effort by a budding musician.

It will make you laugh, and possibly even make you shed a tear as well. It will conjure up emotion, that's for certain. It will make you think of good times and good friends, and it will bring to mind loves lost and won. It will make you want to hoist a pint and - to borrow a line from Steev - "drink the world alright." But most of all it will stay with you long after you first hear it. That's probably the best compliment anyone can give. - Shane Berteau (shaneberteau.com)


"RFT Interview with Steev Richter (Saturday, March 4th,, 2006)"


RFT- Who are some of your biggest influences?

SR- I was strictly hip-hop until I figured out the piano, but, as I did, I was immediately drawn to The Beatles- especially to John Lennon. after that it was the Dylan phase, Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, Weezer (after I heard Pinkerton), and Radiohead. Then came the two most influential in Over the Rhine and Jeff Buckley, when I really learned how to sing by emulating them to the best and worst of my ability. Since then there's been Ryan Adams, Rufus Wainwright and Jess Klein. At the moment I'm obsessing over My Brightest Diamond.

RFT- What do you call your style of music?

SR- Your guess is as good as mine or anyone else's. I don't think that it's overwhelmingly original, but as of yet no one's come up with an adequate genre. I guess if all those people from the last question were to have some wild musical orgy I would be the bastard love child.

RFT- What are some things you've heard said about your music?

SR- That's hard to answer. I've heard some beautiful things from some beautiful people about how it has affected them. I guess those are the most important things to me. Live shows to me are an extremely intimate experience and I think that there are some people who really connect to that. My motto has always been "what you lack in talent, make up for in emotion". I guess I'm so emo I'm the whole word. What was the question again? I've heard that it's sappy chick piano BS pop music, but I think I'm the one that said it.

RFT- What is your musical background?

SR- I grew up in church (four generations of ministers on both sides of the family all the way down to my dad, brother and two brother-in laws), so I guess the old hymns are my foundation and earliest memories, musically. My entire family on both sides are very musical, but only used it within the confines of the church, so I kind of took it for granted that everyone could sing, pull harmonies out of the air, and every woman (all pastor's wives of course) could play the piano. After that, given where I was raised, I was strictly hip-hop, and spent my time between the ages of 9 and 15 as an emcee. To this day I still believe that I was far more talented in that field of music than i am in my current one.

RFT- How old were you when started playing piano?

SR- I think I was 15 or 16. I'd always had a piano and always sat down at it hoping I'd magically be able to play it. One day, midway through my senior year in high school, it happened, and I wrote and recorded my first song that day. It was that simple.

RFT- Where are some interesting places you have played?

SR- Well, for notoriety’s sake, the coolest place I ever played was the MetroChicago. it was unreal to be on a stage that I'd seen both Jeff Buckley and Bob Dylan perform on. As for my actual personal favorite places... the Town Crier Cafe in Pawling, New York - a definite musician's venue. Then there's Dixey City Limits in Mansfield, which is in Jack Dixey's basement and is, coincidentally, where I recorded my second album, "Jack's Basement". Also, I suppose I should mention Knuckleheads in Nyack, NY. It's where my first band, Jameson Steinway, cut our teeth and paid our dues, but that was in the pre-piano playing days.

RFT- Track list for your new album? (that's not really a question)

SR- Well, there's a few that probably won't make the final cut, but here's what we have cooking for right now:

1. carried away
2. your monkey song
3. wilting rose
4. portrait artist
5. into you
6. 07-04-05
7. kool whip
8. natalie
9. leave me be
10. unreasonable
11. little sister
12. natalie
13. mantucky
14. elise

Barmaid and Tables Turned have already been cut, and more than likely two more won't make it onto the final product.

RFT- Who are some interesting people you've shared the stage with?

SR- I played with a guy from Twisted Sister, but not the main sister. that was crazy. I also had John Lennon's old guitarist sit in with us one night and I played for Jeff Buckley's mother. As far as other bands, I've played with some pretty big names, but it usually wasn't that fun. I enjoy playing with Jonathan Hape, Rob Allen, Josh Grady, and Bill Corbett, and am hoping to do shows with Nate Phillips and Wreck of the Hesperus.

However, my most memorable evening as of yet was a couple of weekends ago when I shared an intimate musical evening with my musical idol, Linford Detweiler of Over the Rhine. He's a huge part of why I do what I do how I do it, so to share a piano (and organ) with him was pretty overwhelming. Also, he was the most genuine person I've ever come across. He didn't say a single negative or sarcastic thing all evening.

RFT- How has the process gone for writing 'Somewhere In Between' (or whatever it is you're calling it these days)

SR- Well, what we've accomplished and finished so far has been above my fairly high expectations. I've worked with people who are great at what they and who have inspired me to go beyond anything that I've ever done before.

As this is my first all out full-band album where I have the actual musicians I want playing with me, I've been able to pull off some things I honestly would not have thought myself capable of. Speciallyconsidering the ass-backwards way in which the album has been pieced together -- no musicians have been in the studio at the same time, and almost none of the bass or guitars were recorded start to finish on any song -- it's come off surprisingly well. I have a very strange way of working that can be very frustrating, and I'm profoundly grateful for these guys who have put up with me and helped me pull these songs together in brandnew fancy clothes. However, finishing the project and getting the last of the songs completed has been unbelievably frustrating. It's dragged on from the summer until now and there's still a ways to go. I'm not a very disciplined person and I suck at bucking down and finishing anything, especially if it might besomething beneficial or worthwhile.

RFT- What are your future plans (musically speaking)

SR- I'm gonna keep killing time until I get famous. It's only a matter of time now. I like not having to work a "real job" and I'd like to live somewhere and be able to eat from time to time. I miss having a bed, so I guess my plans are to find a way to turn my music into a bed that I can sleep on...a bed made out of solid gold and record deals. And feathers. - Radio Free Tobias


" With a new album complete, musician heads for New York"

With a new album complete, musician heads for New York
By Norm Narvaja
News Journal

MANSFIELD -- Steev Richter has been a regular on Mansfield's local music scene for at least three years, performing almost any place he's invited.

His latest album, "Only Always," marks an end of one chapter of his musical career; Richter will relocate to New York this summer. The local singer-songwriter will perform one final time at the Bellville Opera House. The News Journal spoke with Richter about his latest accomplishment, and what's ahead.

Q: It's been almost two years since you released "Jill's Attic." What did you do differently with "Only Always?"
A: It's the first album where I have a full band accompanying me, with full production behind it. I consider this the first "real" CD I've put out there so I'm really excited to share the music with others. While Jill's Attic had a more intimate feel to it, this album has a lot more to offer all around.

Q: You had help from several local musicians, like Jonathan Hape and Rob Allen. How did they affect the way you put the album together?

A: I couldn't be any luckier in terms of the people who worked with me on the album.

Q: What is the overall vibe of this record?

A: I'd say it's more upbeat from having the other instruments around. It does sound a little bit more pop. It's not as moody or introspective as the last album.

Q: So, what's in store for you in New York?

A: "I'm going to the city, staying with some friends until I get on my own two feet. I've got a little production deal worked out to do some music while I'm there. I just want to see what I can do out there and maybe come back to Mansfield one day as a real musician (laughs). - MANSFIELD NEWS JOURNAL


"Steev Richter- Boundaries"

From the chunky piano in Boundaries' opening track, you know that Steev Richter is going to take you to new places. (And if you listened to Adobe & Teardrops Episode 49, you heard "The First Time I Tried To Win.") This is Richter's third and it demonstrates his versatility: his last EP Beloved is a zen-like exploration of cosmic well-being. By contrast, Boundaries is jagged and neurotic -- the yang to Beloved's yin.

For the most part, Boundaries hews to an old-school style -- particularly the duet on "Better You Than Me," which dives into traditional country fare. Richter's brilliance comes from the way he subverts his three chords and the truth into something a little more pointed, more uncomfortable, then what you're used to -- no matter the chord structures supporting the lyrics. Boundaries is interested in that push-pull in the aftermath of a breakup -- you want to leave the person, but you also miss them unbearably. That ambivalence is the bitter pill in Richter's music -- but he adds a lot of sugar to make it go down easier. - Adobe and Teardrops


Discography

DISCOGRAPHY
Be Still My Mind (2019)
Boundaries (2018)
Beloved (2017)
Only Always (2006)
Jill's Attic (2005)
Jack's Basement (2003)
Greatest Hits Vol. II (2002)

Photos

Bio

PRAISE FOR THE ALBUM BELOVED

"I wasn't aware of Steev and his talents until Danny Blume lured me into his world of song, and a compelling world it is. Attractive and groovy in many ways while also possessing an almost troubling current of raw insight and emotion, I am certainly better for having heard his music. I hope many others can find him and find time to listen."

-Nels Cline (Wilco)


“Beloved is beautiful: rich and generous.”

Joe Henry


"I was involved early in the process - having heard Steev's songs when they were in their demo form: just piano and voice. I was immediately drawn to his songwriting - tuneful, great lyrics, and deeply soulful. It was great fun to be part of fleshing them out, alongside an incredible cast of players.

I was so happy to hear those same qualities come through in the final production - through its many layers - a testament to the strength of the compositions, Steev's intuitively organic approach, and to his smart choices as far as the musicians he chose to help realize this record."

-Mark Orton (Tin Hat Trio and Scores for "Nebraska" and "The Good Girl")

 

"Steev Richter possesses that rare combination of soul, skill, and a phoenix-from-the-ashes story that draws at your heartstrings and makes you smile and weep. We're making the record that must be made, one that will stand the test of time and provide inspiration, wisdom, and fun to people of all generations and walks of life for a long time to come."

-Danny Blume (King Creole and the Coconuts/Grammy winning producer)

 

I listened and discovered a new soundtrack to this stage of my life...I found myself listening to the anthem for We-The-Discontented-Who-Long-For-A-Deeper-Meaning.Steev's music is the poetry made by a profoundly articulate soul.

Frank Schaeffer (Best-selling Author, Director and Artist)

 

"What can you say about a guy who believes in you, doesn't want you to be afraid and reminds us of that every day with his songwriting? Steev Richter somehow has made me feel like there's hope. That's pretty amazing. Thank you Steev."

 -Jerry Marotta (Peter Gabriel/Paul McCartney)


“I had the pleasure to play some horns on Steev Richter's new record and i loved the tunes; full of soul! He is a sweet dude and would play again for sure anytime.”

-Ralph Carney (Tom Waits)


Steev approached me about 10 years ago to sing on "Seakeeper", a song on his latest release. I was thrilled to hear that the song would finally see the light of day. He then asked me to sing on a few other tracks, and, in addition to the stellar production and musicianship, I was amazed by the lyrics: the joy, the positivity, and most of all the weight given to the subject of love. Steev seems to understand love's transformative power and is able to express it without falling into kitsch.

Tess Wiley (Sixpence None the Richer)




Band Members