Steven T. Easter, musician and promoter: Something Else! Interview

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Steven T. Easter is a bit of a phenomenon. He is a musician, promoter, producer and kite flyer – yes, kite flyer. He has done soup adverts, played with many well-known musicians and also seems to have impeccable taste in the music he supports and the projects he encourages.

So, how does a man of such energy tick and what keeps his musical mind intact? How does he follow his numerous projects? The energy of the man is incredible, and his support for all kinds of music passionate. As his influence grows, I found my interest piqued so decided to find out a bit more about this man via a Something Else! Sitdown. I asked the questions and found a very intriguing character, with a moving and wondrous story.

Easter’s musical career has been, in his words, “very exciting and rewarding.” He says, “It started back in the ’70s, right after I completed high school. While I’m not big time and/or a millionaire I’m very happy and grateful for how music changed my life. I have met so many beautiful and talented people throughout my career, and made life-time friends.”

So, how did it start I asked? St“In high school, I was in the jazz band as well as the orchestra,” Steven T. Easter tells us. ” In the orchestra, I studied all symphonic instruments. When I graduated from high school, I joined the Musicians Union in L.A. as a professional drummer — reading music as well as playing various styles of music including jazz, rock, blues and reggae. That led me to get involved with the late great Victor Feldman, a great jazz percussionist and pianist from the U.K., doing Campbell Soup commercials at United Artists alongside composer Dennis Dragon and recording artists Captain and Tennille. This led me to play at Disneyland with Tim Coward’s Soul Review on the Tomorrow Land stage. I auditioned for U.S. fusion drummer Alphonse Mouzon. I didn’t get the gig, but the experience allowed me to get involved with various other studio musicians including Homeboy and the C.O.L., featuring Cecil Holden and Cecil Lyde. We had an original hit titled ‘Money is Funny’ in L.A., which got airplay on stations like KDAY radio.”

Easter made the decision to expand and placed an ad in the Music Connection simply stating, “Drummer willing to go on the road.” To his surprise, he was contacted by the group Charlatan. This time, he got the gig and spent eight years touring with them, playing at venues including the Hilton Circuit through the North-West States and Calgary, Canada. “We played Vancouver and night clubs such as the Body Shop, the Commodore Ball Room and the Savoy, where we met up with the reggae band Third World and I was inspired to play reggae,” Easter says. “Charlatan was the opening act for Jerry Doucette, Heart and Canned Heat as well as the Superfest Concert of ’79. After eight years on the road with Charlatan, I returned to Los Angeles and joined the reggae group Jah Moon. We were the opening act for Jimmy Cliff and Fishbone, and played at the Hollywood Palladium and many other L.A. venues. Also during this period, I played with Gary Myrick where I met Charlie Pete and Kent Night, the New Aristocrats and formed the Group Mushi-Mushi. We were an opening act for War here in L.A. playing at the Roxy, the Whiskey, the Troubadour and Madame Wong’s alongside Lenny Kravitz and Romeo Blue.”

Steven T. Easter is also a composer, and I asked about this. “While in in Mushi-Mushi, Kent Night and I wrote the lead song for the movie Assault of the Killer Bimbos released on Rhino in 1998. Then I secured a publishing deal with my attorney at the time, Martin Cohen, and he hooked me up with song writer Steve Clisby. I found myself in Amsterdam working with him, writing songs and learning about music production at Q Star Studios. I returned to L.A. and partnered with jazz composer Thom Teresi. I signed a record deal with Rhombus Records, forming the band Thom Teresi and the Earthtones. We recorded two CDs and also became the opening act for the Rippingtons.

“During this period, Thom and I worked with the East L.A. Chicano reggae group Vick and the Boys, recording the CD Vick Silva,” Easter adds. “I also did recordings for William Bullen with producer Jimmy Criton from the group Saga at Sound Image. I was writing house music, as well as jazz and my own songs, leading up to the release of the CD Reggae Dreams Vol. I produced by Thom Teresi and myself for Rhombus Records. After that, we released Steven T. Easter OG Jazz Vol I. While working with Rhombus Records and trying to find ways to promote my music and finding an audience that could appreciate jazz, reggae and house music, I discovered Twitter — where I began to connect with many talented and beautiful people, such as Kitty La Roar and the incredible jazz community.”

Impressed, I wondered where Steven saw himself going now. “My current release is Steven T. Easter OG Jazz Vol. II. I listen to many styles of music, including jazz, reggae, EDM, classical, R&B, trance, dance and many more,” Easter says. “In order to expand my knowledge of various forms of music, I find it very necessary to listen to all styles because you can learn something from every style of music. In the U.K., I have found a very supportive audience for my musical ideas, not just jazz but for my entire library of music. For this, I’d like to thank everyone.”

So, does Steven have any philosophy for life? “I have a special philosophy concerning life and music and is simply: “Dance the way you feel, groove the way you groove, jazz the way you jazz and let your heart swing.”

What about away from the music? Steven T. Easter surprises us again. “I have a special hobby,” he says. “I love to fly kites, I can be seen many days at Venice Beach here in Los Angeles, California, flying my kites at the beach. You would be surprised how many friends I have acquired over the years flying my kite at the beach, both young and old. Many times I’ve asked them ‘Do you want to fly the kite?” and their reply is, “Wow! I haven’t flown a kite since I was a kid.” When I proceed to let them fly the kite, the joy on their face is a delight and surprise. With all the current technology we have, it is very important to let young people to pick up and hold instruments — to sit down and touch a piano, hold a drum stick in their hands, slide a trombone, valve a trumpet, bow a violin — because in this digital world, it is very easy to get lost. My love for music and drums started at a young age, and it has continued until now.”

Easter has had his share of setbacks, and one devastating moment nearly led him to give up. “A few years ago, my health took a devastating turn — and because of that I felt like giving up music all together.” So, how did he recover? Well, it apparently came down to one fortuitous musical moment. “Thom Teresi at Rhombus Records suggested I get into Twitter,” Easter says. “Much to my surprise, I found this jazz singer called Kitty La Roar. I was in shock and amazed by her voice and talent. She was a member of a group, Lucky Victims with Nick Shankland. I was thrilled and filled with so much hope and inspiration and motivated to continue to do music, and for that I would like to thank Kitty La Roar.”

So what about the future for Steven T. Easter? “It is my vision in the next five years to be a major supporter and concert promoter of jazz,” he says, “connecting with the best of the best from all over the world and promoting concerts in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Cuba and Brazil.”

He closes with a striking memory, from this time on the road with Charlatan and Jerry Doucette. They were playing a gig at Victoria, Canada, when Easter learned that Thomas Dolby needed a drummer and keyboardist for a show in Vancouver. Off he went. “We were brought to a small air craft hanger and a plane called a jumper that carries three people; it was more like a flying shoe box,” Easter says. “I was shaking in my boots when we got into the plane. Then it took off and flew straight into the air. When we were really high, suddenly, the pilot turned off the engine. I almost peed myself as we flew, engine off, down through the atmosphere into Vancouver.”

Through it all, Steven T. Easter has persevered, still full of ideas, projects and music. He ended our interview by saying, “Whew! I think that’s it! That’s all folks.” I have a feeling and a hope that it isn’t at all – not by a long chalk!

Sammy Stein

Sammy Stein

The Something Else! webzine, an accredited Google News affiliate, has been featured in The New York Times and NPR.com's A Blog Supreme, while our writers have also been published by USA Today, Jazz.com and UltimateClassicRock.com, among others. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Sammy Stein
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