Originally created 08/18/00

Singer finally finds listeners



For more than a year, singer/songwriter Steven Jackson has been quietly making a name for himself in Augusta. With an eclectic style that draws from folk, country, punk and rockabilly, Mr. Jackson's emotive, grit-and-gravel baritone and high-energy guitar playing have been embraced by local audiences.

Now he's ready to give something back.

Mr. Jackson and Augusta folkster Galen Kipar are staging singer/songwriter showcases each first and third Mondays at the Metro coffeehouse on Broad Street. The series seeks to bring like-minded musicians and fans together to enjoy the low-key pleasure of singers accompanying themselves on guitar.

"I think I basically decided to do it because I spent so much time complaining," Mr. Jackson said. "I mean, there are a lot of places around for people to play music, but I haven't found that many where people go to listen. There's a real distinction there."

Now four shows in, Mr. Jackson said he's happy with the early results and the number of people the shows have attracted.

"It's been really good," he said. "There are still some challenges, but we've been able to bring great people in to play and people have been turning out. The big challenge now is playing in what is basically a bar atmosphere and getting people to listen."

Rather than have musicians perform traditional sets, the singer/songwriter series uses a kind of round-robin approach in which performers trade off playing songs.

"I like the variety it offers," Mr. Jackson said. "This way, if someone is playing and you're not really into it, well, it's only four minutes. Something you'll like will probably be coming up."

A musician who often has been unfairly saddled with the "folk" label, Mr. Jackson said that by calling the concerts a singer/songwriter series he is able to confound some expectations of acoustic music. He admits, however, that there is a certain amount of folkish influence in his singing and playing.

"My parents exposed me to a lot of country music growing up," he explained. "It was country like Willie Nelson and Patsy Cline, which is pretty good stuff to be exposed to. I think that's where a lot of the folkiness in my stuff comes from."

While the classic sounds of Nashville have played an important part in Mr. Jackson's growth as a songwriter, his earliest musical leanings were toward the loud, fast rules of punk rock. His music bears little resemblance to the Ramones and Sex Pistols songs he cut his teeth on, but he admits there is still an aspect of those early years of angst in his music.

"A lot of what I do has that same kind of simplicity, that same three-chord approach," he said. "I think a lot of the energy in my live stuff probably come from that as well."

Mr. Jackson is pursuing no set path in his career.

"I'm still kind of uncertain as to what I want out of this," he said. "I mean, I know I want to play music, but there are too many things that can happen that might change the direction of what I'm doing. I mean, this time next year I might be playing with a full band. The only thing I'm certain of is that I'll continue."

On stage

What: Singer/Songwriter series, featuring Steven Jackson, Galen Kipar and Grady Nickel

When: 9:30 p.m. Monday

Where: Metro - A Coffeehouse, 1054 Broad St.

Admission: Free

Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or suhles@hotmail.com.

Steven Jackson profile

Bedside reading: 1997 Best of American Poetry Anthology

Last CD bought: Steve Earle, Transcendental Blues

Drink of choice: Sweet tea : "Someone asked me what I would do if there 10 minutes left before the world ended, and I said, 'Lie down by a river and drink sweet tea.' "

Favorite tip for better living: "Do something artistic - anything artistic. Even if you're terrible at it, do something artistic."

Greatest weakness: "I think the only thing that keeps hurting me is my laziness."

Guilty pleasure: "I really love chick flicks."