If you've all but given up on depth, authenticity and talent in the music business, Steve Conn will give you reason to rejoice. A uniquely gifted singer and songwriter, Conn transcends any limitations of genre with an earthy musical sensibility steeped in Louisiana roots. The son of "Peanut" Conn, recognized by Melody Maker as one of the best swing violinists in the South and Southwest, Conn grew up in Pineville, Louisiana, surrounded by the sounds of Southern gospel, Perry Como and Bob Wills. Throw in the music of a generation in revolution -- The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Otis Redding, Dave Brubeck, and regional stars like Dr. John -- and you begin to grasp Conn's rich bank of musical influences.
Conn studied literature at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, no doubt setting the stage for the blend of keen observation and storytelling -- often with the shadowy undercurrent of the best Southern writers -- that marks his lyrics today. But while songwriting has been his enduring passion, he also paid his dues on the road and in the studio, playing piano, organ and accordion with a stellar and diverse list of artists including Bonnie Raitt, Sonny Landreth, Kenny Loggins, Nanci Griffith, Kris Kristofferson, Allison Moorer, Billy Joe Shaver, Mark Knopfler, Dixie Chicks, Albert King, Sheena Easton, Marshall Crenshaw and more.
Living in Colorado in the 1980s, Conn released Heart Full of Blues, featuring his old friend Sonny Landreth and guitar legend Elliot Randall. That album also featured "The Rain," a moving song of heartbreak and loss that was later recorded by The Persuasions. In 1994, Conn followed up with the critically acclaimed River of Madness, a compelling hybrid of Louisiana-influenced, pop-inspired deep grooves and high ideals.
He received a Grammy nomination for his piano, harmonica and saxophone work with BeauSoleil, and another for his accordion work with Arlo Guthrie. He spent two years as musical director for E-Town, a weekly National Public Radio variety show that integrated the finest Americana, roots and folk music with environmental education and information. In that capacity, Conn worked with another roster of great artists, including James Taylor, Michelle Shocked, Shawn Colvin, David Wilcox, Maura O'Connell, Emmylou Harris and others. He also continued to perform as a solo artist, earning a nod as a New Folk Finalist at the prestigious Kerrville Folk Festival in 1997.
In the end, it's that unwavering emotional compass that gives Steve Conn's music lasting resonance and a powerful presence. Your mind will appreciate his intelligence, his chops, and -- if you're lucky enough to see him perform live -- his humor. But it's what you feel when you hear his music that stays with you, and makes you want to hear it all again.