J Arts & Ideas Event: Good Food, Good Music, Good Friends

DER_0153Standard Club buzzed with excitement as a sell-out crowd turned out to hear musician Steve Katz talk about his memoir, Blood Sweat and My Rock ’n’ Roll Years: Is Steve Katz a Rock Star?, at the J Arts and Ideas event Saturday evening, April 16. The evening also included a catered meal from Anoosh Bistro.

With an easy-going manner, Katz presented highlights and memories from his life interspersed with his own songs and songs written and performed by others that influenced his own music – from jug bands to blues to folk songs to jazz.

Best known for his years with Blood Sweat and Tears and the Blues Project, Katz went to high school on Long Island, but spent a lot of time hanging out in Greenwich Village. He studied guitar with Dave Van Ronk and often found himself in the company of Bob Dylan, Noel Stookey (better known as Paul of Peter Paul and Mary), Phil Ochs and many other then-struggling artists.

In the Village, Katz connected with other musicians in their late teens. When they decided to form a band, they found the only thing they had in common was jug band music. Their first album was produced live because going into a studio and producing a record was beyond their means.

Touching on The Blues Project, Katz explained that the song on the second album called “Steve’s Song” is something he wrote, but its real title is “September Fifth.” Apparently, when they recorded the album, the producer called the group’s manager to ask the name of the track, the manager thought for a moment to identify the track in his own mind and replied, oh, yeah, that’s Steve’s song, and the producer ran with that name. “I would never name a song after myself,” he said, obviously still bothered by it. Then he performed “Steve’s Song” for the crowd.

From there, Katz touched on highlights of his career and the many musicians who are well known today with whom he crossed paths. Although it is well known that Blood Sweat and Tears performed at Woodstock, for him, playing at the Monterrey International Pop Festival was more meaningful.

Throughout his presentation, Katz wove songs and anecdotes together for an enjoyable presentation and then answered questions before closing out with a book signing.

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