Steve Oliver Interview Page 4
Smitty: Now, you just recently were invited to come out and perform at high profile, too. How did you get involved in this and what was it like?
SO: Yeah, it was The Love & Pride event at The Abbey in West Hollywood and the Mayor of West Hollywood was there. We just did this three days ago and Jay Leno was there, T. R. Knight from Grey’s Anatomy, a lot of celebrities were there, and I performed there too because it was a media event, so we had some photo ops and a lot of pictures, and got some pictures of Jay Leno and me. It was pretty amazing. My publicist actually was putting together a thing about love and pride and about, hey, if you’re in love, everybody could get married. It’s about gay rights and he really believes in that and so he asked me to perform for the ceremony. And so I got to play about three or four songs at this really special event and Extra was there, Entertainment Tonight, it was really publicized in all the trades and all the news channels and, in fact, there was a clip of me and Jay Leno when we were meeting each other, and it was really cool, and it was on one of the local channels, I think Channel 11.
Smitty: Wow. Well, I’ve always liked Jay Leno. He’s pretty cool. Wow.
SO: Yeah, he got called because he believes in that too, so he just wanted to hang and showed up, pulled up on his motorcycle.
SO: And it was great.
Smitty: Yeah. You were on the cruise. You and I hung out on the All Star Smooth Music Cruise.
Smitty: We had a great time.
SO: Oh, man, I’m still recovering. (Both laugh.) It was one of the funnest times I’ve ever had, to tell you the truth. I had the funnest time just hanging with you and all the artists, and it was like one big party and all the fans were like one big love fest.
SO: Love Boat. (Laughs.)
Smitty: It was fun, man. Talk about how different it is to do that kind of event opposed to doing just a theatre event or an outdoor festival.
SO: I know. There’s nothing like going on the Smooth Music Cruise. It’s so different than going to a theatre show or a concert venue because everybody’s living it for five days and you’re there, you’re a part of it, you’re a part of it with the artists, and it’s all about having a great time and hanging with all the artists and hanging with the fans of the music, and there’s no experience like it.
Smitty: Yeah, you get to meet fans you’ve never met before.
Smitty: You get to hang out with fans and really hear how they feel about your music. You could wind up at the table with them for dinner.
Smitty: And sometimes if you’re up on some of the different decks where they have places to hang out, they come in, they sit down, and it’s such a casual and laid back, cool setting to be with the fans.
SO: Yeah, absolutely, and I think it’s so important for the fans to see that and to feel that, and that’s the big beauty of going on this particular cruise which you don’t get at a theatre or you don’t get at a concert venue because it’s a different experience.
Smitty: Yeah, so what was special about the Smooth Music Cruise for you?
SO: For me, I mean, not only hanging with the fans, it’s also hanging with all the artists and all the things we do, the meet-and-greets, I really enjoy that because it’s gathering the meeting of the minds with all the artists where we’re talking about the business, we’re talking about the music, and fans get to ask questions and I really love that, and I love being with the artists and getting to know them and becoming friends. I mean, I feel like now we’re all such great friends and that is really cool when you come away from the experience and you just go “Wow, that was great hanging with Nick Colionne or Norman Brown,” and you always have those memories of the conversations you had, and it’s just a real special event. There’s nothing like it.
Smitty: Yeah, and how about the jam sessions?
SO: Oh, man, those are the most fun. As a musician, those are the best because obviously you’re jamming with everybody. We’re all on stage together and that never happens anywhere else on land. You can’t do that anywhere else but on the cruise. That would never happen at a festival. I mean, very rarely if it does, but to have 15 artists or 20 artists up there going on and off stage and all jamming together, I mean, there’s nothing like it.
Smitty: Yeah, and would you say that it’s a unique jam session with Nick Colionne?
SO: Oh, man, Nick is (both laugh)—I love Nick. He’s such a great host as a jam host because he’s a comedian. I call him a comedian. In fact, I just saw him a couple weeks ago and I told him that. (Both laugh.) I said “Nick, you shouldn’t be the jam host, you’re the comedy show. The Nick Colionne Comedy Show.” Because he is really funny and he makes it so easy to just come up there, and if he sees us like backstage somewhere and he looks over, he’s always looking around, if he sees us, he’ll just point “Oh” and get up to the microphone, “Hey, Steve Oliver’s here. Come on up here, Steve.” “Whoa, okay, I guess I’m getting up and playing.” (Both laugh.) So Nick is just so fun and he’s such an open minded personality that you just love being around him, so it’s very infectious hanging with him at the jam sessions.
Smitty: Yeah, do you think the fans feel that great camaraderie and that great vibe during events like the jam sessions on the cruise?
SO: I think the fans probably like that stuff the best because it’s not scripted. You’re not doing your own show, you’re not doing a set list, and they know we’re all just jamming and being on the edge of our seat, and I think the fans like that the best, to tell you the truth. In fact, I’ve had a lot of comments on that from fans saying how much they really like the smaller kind of stage areas where they can see us just kinda stretching out as we’re jamming. (Both laugh.)
Smitty: Yeah, being improvisational at its best, yeah.
SO: Right. Yeah, because in jazz, that’s what it’s all about, you know, just hey, you don’t even ask what key you’re playing, you just get up and start playing, and the audience loves seeing that and I think the musicians obviously love doing that because we get an opportunity to do that with other artists, so it’s just a win-win situation.
Smitty: Do you think that doing the cruise—because you’ve done cruises before—but I think I saw you the most excited on this cruise than anywhere I’ve ever seen you.
Smitty: And do you think that it just takes the fan/artist level beyond just an autograph and a picture?
SO: Oh, completely. It becomes a family, I believe. I mean, we all become kind of part of this kind of music family, which I think is so important for the fans and the artists because you see how the music has touched people and it inspires the artists so, again, it makes a great exchange, and I think the fans come away with a whole new perspective of the artists and vice versa. That’s the beautiful thing about this genre, particularly the jazz genre, is it is kind of a family because we are doing it for the music. We don’t come into this genre for money.
SO: That’s for sure, and if that were the case, who would be playing this music? So I think from that standpoint, when all of those artists, we’re all playing together, we all have that common bond. We love this music, we love this kind of music, we love doing it, and the fans are the same way. They love it and they understand it.
Smitty: Yeah, and there’s opportunities for fans to be close to the artists, especially after an event. They line up, they get a CD, they get an autograph, and then they take a photo, or they can perhaps interact on My Space or the Internet somehow with an artist, because when you come on a cruise, it’s just over the top.
SO: It really is.
Smitty: It elevates the fan/artist interaction to a whole new level.
Smitty: So what would you say to fans that are anticipating the upcoming Smooth Music Cruise in January of 2009 and those that are maybe just contemplating or thinking about it?
SO: Oh man, I would say there is no thinking about it. You just gotta go and be part of it because the experience is forever and you’ll become part of a musical family, which is very special. I mean, it has a special feeling like I’ve never experienced before, so as a fan, I mean, it’s just amazing. The feeling is amazing. You’ll go away from it just so elated and want to come back.
Smitty: Yeah, very cool. All right, Steve, I just want to say once again, congratulations on this fantastic project. It is called Steve Oliver One Night Live and you will enjoy it for more than one night, I promise you.
SO: Wow, thank you.
Smitty: Steve, thanks again, my friend. All the best in 2008 with this project and your tour, and I look forward to seeing you out there on the road and I certainly look forward to seeing you on the Smooth Music Cruise, where we get to hang again.
SO: I know, absolutely. I’m so looking forward to that. Thanks, Smitty you’re awesome.
Baldwin “Smitty” Smith
For More Information Visit www.steveolivermusic.com and www.carvin.com and www.thenugroove.com and www.smoothmusiccruise.com