St. Pierre trades licks with some of Nashville's finest

Monday, July 22, 2013
Courtesy photo
Enjoying a free moment at the recent NAMM music trade show in Nashville, Steve St. Pierre (right) pauses for a photo with Phil and Carol Bradley of Little Walter Tube Amps. While in Nashville, St. Pierre was also one of the featured artists at the Little Walter Endorsees Jam.

On any given Friday night, Steve St. Pierre might be found onstage somewhere in Greencastle or elsewhere in central Indiana.

As a founding member of Blues Side Up and as guitarist for both War Radio and Phillip Steven and The Open Road, St. Pierre stays busy playing a mix of blues, rock and country.

On Friday, July 12, St. Pierre found himself on a stage a little farther south. Taking part in the inaugural Little Walter Tube Amps Endorsees Jam, St. Pierre played at the Station Inn in Nashville, Tenn., with the likes of Vince Gill, Dann Huff and Brent Mason.

To say St. Pierre was happy to play the event would be something of an understatement.

"(It was) the best time of my life in my music career," St. Pierre said. "People waited three hours in line to get a seat. All the players were stellar. It was a lot of music for three hours."

Organized by Little Walter designer and founder Phil Bradbury, the event served as a showcase for the hand crafted amplifiers and more than a dozen of the players who endorse them.

Of course, music fans are familiar with Gill, the 20-time Grammy winner and Country Music Hall of Fame member, but the evening's roster was stacked with talent from top to bottom.

A genre-crossing session guitarist, Huff has contributed to songs for artists as varied as Taylor Swift ("Red"), Michael Jackson ("Man in the Mirror"), Whitesnake ("Here I Go Again") and DeBarge ("Rhythm of the Night").

Mason, meanwhile, is a session guitarist who is known as one of the most recorded guitarists in history. He has been named the Academy of Country Music Guitarist of the Year 12 times.

The impressive lineup also included Paul Franklin, Tommy White, Bruce Bouton, Craig Fuller, Reggie Young, Jenny Young, Randy Kohrs, Tim Smith, Roddy Smith, Dan Galysh, Scotty Alexander and Kyle Everson.

And while Greencastle residents may not realize that one of their own fits on this list, Bradbury was more than complimentary of St. Pierre's work on this particular night.

"I asked Steve, on of our earliest endorsees and my good friend to really bring it. He really brought it," Bradbury said.

With such a packed lineup, no artist played more than two or three songs. St. Pierre's first selection was a version of Albert King's "Born Under a Bad Sign" that Bradbury said "got everybody in the house rockin'." He was then joined by Guitar Player Magazine columnist Michael Ross for an R&B version of "Rock Me Baby."

While blues are where he feels most at home, St. Pierre puts his versatility on display weekly if not nightly while playing locally. From the blues of Blues Side Up to rock with War Radio to country with Phillip Steven & The Open Road," he finds a way to take multiple genres and make them his own.

This is one of the ways St. Pierre has assisted Bradbury in his two years as a Little Walter endorsee. He has been the guest of Phil and his wife Carol at their North Carolina home to do amp testing, as well as at the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) conference in Nashville.

Bradbury said St. Pierre's professionalism and versatility have made him invaluable.

"At the NAMM show, I don't mean to type cast him but kind of like it when he plays the blues. It really lets us show off the beauty of the amps because they've got such beautiful tone," Bradbury said. "But if he's there at the booth and somebody's there interested in the amps, I'll tell him, 'look, Steve, he plays this kind of music,' and being that Steve's very versatile, he can kind of gear his demonstration to whatever the guy is interested in."

Little Walter being what Bradbury describes as a family, he also hoped the recent endorsee jam helped St. Pierre make some Nashville connections.

"I don't think enough people in Nashville know of Steve's playing ability," Bradbury said. "I'm sure he knows a lot of people in that town, but I don't know how much he's got to show off onstage in front of these guys. Steve is going to end up being seen by a lot of top names who haven't actually seen him play before and that may open up doors in the studio, or who knows?"

For St. Pierre, who has found success in the worlds of music an martial arts, doors have opened on multiple fronts over the years. As he awaits the next one, he keeps plugging away as one of the most distinctive players you're likely to hear in central Indiana.

St. Pierre will be back in action at 7 p.m. tonight when Phillip Steven & The Open Road take the stage at the Putnam County Fair.

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