Steve Conn

Singles & EPs

About Steve Conn

Steve Conn lives in Tennessee, but New Orleans lives in his music. The Louisiana native proclaims his Delta heritage on both piano and accordion by playing his own unique brand of New Orleans funk and swamp boogie from central Louisiana. No one can be a New Orleans-style pianist, though, without first knowing Professor Longhair, whose syncopated rhythms and arpeggiated inversions of boogie woogie established a longstanding piano tradition in New Orleans. Conn was in demand as a musician. He's toured with BeauSoleil in addition to performing as a soloist. He's worked with another Louisiana idol, slide guitarist Sonny Landreth as well as Nanci Griffith and Kris Kristofferson. He's recorded with the likes of Kenny Loggins, Joan Baez, John Mayall, and the Dixie Chicks. Conn came by his musical understanding naturally. He started on piano as a child and learned a lot about music from his father, well-known swing jazz violinist and bandleader. Cajun music proliferated in central Louisiana, but Conn's interests lay more in the '60s soul of James Brown, Otis Redding, and the soulful R&B of Bobby "Blue" Bland. Conn studied English literature at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, where he played coffeehouses in the early '70s. After finishing university, he started a band called Clear Creek, which became popular in New Orleans. During his years in the Big Easy, Conn brushed shoulders with Professor Longhair, toured with Gatemouth Brown and worked at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Conn grew tired of the hot, humid weather and the conservative values in Louisiana in 1980 and moved to Boulder, CO. There he performed with blues legend Albert King, but mostly he worked with his own band, Gris Gris. Then Conn suddenly took a new turn in his career to pursue more popular music. He moved to Los Angeles, where he worked with Sheena Easton and recorded with Bonnie Raitt. After five years in Los Angeles, Conn returned to Boulder to become musical director for a weekly radio show called E-Town, which featured music by Michelle Shocked, James Taylor, Shawn Colvin, and Lyle Lovett. In 1994, Conn moved to Nashville, where he did session work playing accordion, Wurlitzer piano and vox organ with Rodney Crowell, Southside Johnny, Tracy Nelson, Gretchen Peters, Jason Wilber, and Ramblin' Jack Elliott, but was disappointed with the commercial country music industry that fueled Music City U.S.A. He pointed to fellow iconoclasts on that scene as his guiding lights and friends -- musicians such as Charlie Degenhart, Henry Elsesser, Jon Randall Stewart, Darrell Scott, and Sam Bush. Far more than anything else, literature has played a big role in Conn's development as a songwriter and musician. That's meant anything from William Faulkner; Ernest Gaines, who wrote A Lesson Before Dying and The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman; Will Campbell; Robert Penn Warren to The Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy O'Toole and the works of Walker Percy. Conn released River of Madness on Not Ready Records in 1994, and he was a New Folk finalist at the prestigious Kerrville Folk Festival in Texas in 1997. Conn played on Sonny Landreth's Levee Town, on Jason Wilber's Behind the Midway and on Gretchen Peters' self-titled CD in 2000. Conn's reading has taught him that you can reach people through a good story. Conn, who viewed himself first as a songwriter, began writing music for a CD in 2001. ~ Robert Hicks

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