Drummer Steve Carter, also known as Chicago Steve, get's around. New Year's Eve he played with Senator Scott Brown's daughter Ayla and on other night's he's playing with one of Boston's original bad boys, Danny Klein of the J. Geils Band or you can find him in Las Vegas with Johnny Ray and the Cougar Kings. Does he stop?
Carter comes from a musical family and has played drums since the age of ten. His first professional show was at fourteen and since then has performed with many nationally known artists. Carter is endorsed by 247 drum stores as well as Magnetone Snares.
Examiner sat down with Steve just after his New Year's Eve Show with Ayla Brown.
Examiner: How long have you been in the music industry and what made you gravitate towards this as your profession?
Carter: "I had my first professional gig at the age of 14 so that would make 36 years. Seems like a long time, but its not if you love what you do. I'm very lucky even though its tougher getting up in the morning now from playing late night gigs!
I grew up in a musical family in Chicago. My Grandfather sang in the Italian Opera and my mother (Lee Stevens) is still currently singing with big bands in and around Chicago. So I got to see from an early age what it took to be a professional musician. I always new that that is what I wanted to do. We had music playing all the time in our home."
Examiner: How did you come to play with Ayla Brown on New Years Eve? That must have been an exciting evening. Can you share with us?
Carter: "I got a call from Ayla Browns full time drummer Rich Eisner. I endorse Artie Eaton (Danny Klein's Full House Band) and Eisner's company, Magnetone Drums. I am honored that he asked me to play for Brown on New Year's Eve. It's a big responsibility!
We played at beautiful Tuckerman Hall in Worcester for Worcester First Night. She was the Headliner and both shows were sold out. Towards the end of the second show Brown's fiance came up on stage and proposed to her! That was really cool!
The band sounded great. There was Sean Compton on Guitar, Jesse Bastos on Bass, and Bob Andrews on Guitar. Great guys!"
Examiner: Do you play any other instrument besides drums?
Carter: "I actually do, in 4th grade I started taking Trumpet lessons in school and at the same time was taking private drum lessons. When I got to middle school I would play Trumpet in the Concert Band and Drums in the Jazz Band. Had a blast! Eventually when I got to high school the Music Director asked me at the beginning of my sophomore year if I would be interested in playing the Baritone. The last Baritone player just graduated and he didn't have anyone to fill the seat. It was very similar to the Trumpet just bigger so I said yes. Great decision!"
Examiner: I understand that you play with several bands. Tell us about them.
Carter: "Yes, currently I'm playing with Johnny Ray and The Cougar Kings out of the North Shore. It's a great band that has played in Vegas for years. Dave Quintiliani (Danny Klein's Full House Band) on keyboards, Dave Robicheau on Guitar who also plays with David Cassidy, and Troy Sutler on Bass who plays with the James Montgomery Band for years.
I also play with The Johnny Ray Trio, a tribute to Frank Sinatra. It's a three piece with Johnny singing lead. Mark Rasmussen is on Keys and Troy Sutler on stand up Bass. How many musicians get to play Frank Sinatra? Love his music!
I also do a lot of studio work and get calls all the time from different Bands and musicians."
Examiner: With all of the people that you have played with, which is the most memorable experience for you?
Carter: "That's easy, I was very lucky early in my career to play with a legendary Bass player that many people haven't heard, his name is Bill Robinson. Robinson played with Jackie Wilson and James Brown. He took me under his wing and taught me everything, especially how to play in the pocket. He showed me that there was space in between notes where the tempo lived and that my job was to play at the back end of the pocket. That was a water shed moment for me.
He also taught me that simple was better. Just play in the pocket and drive the band when needed. Too many drummers in my opinion think that playing a hundred fills in each song is best. No. Some of the best Drummers of all time are the simplest, Charlie Watts of the Stones is a great example.
I spent 3 great years on the road with Robinson and his lessons I still use today."
Examiner: What advice can you give to young musicians coming out of Berklee College of Music and other music schools?
Carter: "Well I can only speak for drummers. If you want to work a lot in this industry, keep it simple, show up on time, and always be prepared. Practice all the time with a metronome! I know its boring but that will help you learn to play in time. I always want to be the best prepared musician in the band. Be professional!"
Examiner: Where can we see you play next?
Carter: You can go on my Reverbnation musician page and see where Ill be playing next.
"Chicago" Steve is endorsed by Magnetone Drums (magnetonedrums.com), Organic Custom Drums (organiccustomdrums.com), 247drums Stores (247drums.com)
January 12 , 2014 - Timothy's in Danvers with the Johnny Ray Trio
February 1, 2013 - BBC (British Beer Company) in Framingham, MA. with the Blake Thompson (Dave Matthews Band) and Kate Russo.
February 11 - 15, 2014 - Honda Casino in Pinetop Arizona with Johnny Ray and the Cougar Kens Band
February 22, 2014 - Fusion, Foxboro, MA.with Dabby Klein's (J. Geils) Full House Band