The Steam Powered Studio is a listener sponsored music studio.

Sponsors get access to all the music we've recorded here.




Musician Sites:

Jeff Gibble

J Mundok

Craig Wise

Olds Sleeper

Old Time Liberation Front

Robert Bobby

The Gadjo Playboys

Joe Ellis

Blind Joe Death

Doug and Dave

R&B Studios

Jefferson Pepper

Great Big House

Hot Club du Jour

Inca Campers

John Terlazzo

Crossing North

Eric Athey

Claudia SanSoucie

Art Wachter

The Innocence Mission

Tom Witmer


D.C. and Company

Rhyne McCormick

Bill Nork

Sweet Nancy Productions

Zan Cantwell


Music Related:

Red Ferret

Pretty Much Amazing

Just Plain Folks

Drums Etc.


The Music Snob

Music For Everyone

The Freesound Project

Relive the 80's

Whole Wheat Radio


Legit Sound

Right Coast Recording

Abbeyville Road Studio


Humor Me:

Roadside American

Gizzards and Gravy

December 30, 2008

I have plunged into a repair here- the fabulous little Wurlitzer electric piano that Bill Nork has loaned to us is undergoing a rehab.

This instrument is a real classic- you can hear it on a bunch of Little Feat songs, on Beatles songs, on Supertramp songs... well, yes, it's an old thing. Nowadays, you are more likely to hear samples of it, but the real thing is better in many ways.

But the real thing breaks. This particular piano has had a sluggish action for years now, and sticking keys, and I only ventured to use it for sonic textures. I had one apart many years ago and that experience scared me so bad that I thought I'd never have the guts to repair this one- so imagine my surprise when I discovered videos on the web showing, step by step, how to fix this thing!

all apart

Here it is, all apart. What the hell is that?


Here are its keys, sitting on top of my (also broken) Farfisa combo organ. Man, I gotta get to that someday!


I love the fact that these instruments look hand built. To repair them, you literally go in with a knife and a file. And naptha. If you want to learn more about this sort of thing, visit Vintage Vibe. They have all kinds of free videos on repairing old keyboards, and they are probably fun to watch even if you don't know anything about old keyboards. A great thing on the web!

December 28, 2008

Some moonbat blogger linked to this page on Christmas eve to share our songs with their readers- thanks, Avedon! (no, I have no perma-links, nor RSS feeds. maybe I should think about those things. next year.) We got over 50 hits from your link so far, making your site the second-highest referrer for the day yesterday.

Despite the fact that most people still get their music from traditional outlets (CDs and downloads from retail establishments), I am still preaching the gospel of grow yer own. Part of being able to do that involves people being able to find us, and without advertising dollars to spend, that comes down to word of mouth, e-mail, and links. As much as I prize every Steam Powered Sponsor, I'm even happier to get linked to from other sites.

It has been over six years that Steam Powered Studio has been online. We are only at the beginning. While it's true that the Beatles had an entire amazing career in about six years, that isn't the model for what happens here. This is not about the music "industry" or becoming a pop sensation- it's about making music for a lifetime.

As we head into 2009, I thank you all for your sponsorships (more than 20 for the year) and for your comments and for your links. Please help spread the word about Steam Powered. Take a minute and add a link to us from your MySpace or Facebook page, or from your personal or band website. Mention us in your blog. Twitter us, if that's what you do, and by all means, write to us and join the mailing list.

thanks or spam

(oh- I got this in my e-mail. It's either a greeting card or spam of some sort. I'm going with the greeting card. I assume it's from one of the many folks from China who have been downloading our music. Can anyone translate?)

December 24, 2008

We have recorded a good number of Christmas-related songs over the years.

santa and angel

First let's hear from Dr. Mo and a bluesier side of the season:

Santa, Bring My Baby Back To Me   mp3  or  ogg

My Christmas Tree is Hung with Tears   mp3  or  ogg

Next up, that Ezra Shade again, in case you missed it:

Christmas Time   mp3  or  ogg

Ralph Toro (currently featured):

Season of Joy   mp3  or  ogg

And finally, Mr. Robert Bobby, who probably started this trend around here:


Regifting Your Love   mp3  or  ogg

River   mp3  or  ogg

Merry Christmas!

December 20, 2008

I've been working on a project with Ralph Toro, restoring some old tapes to produce a CD. Ralph recorded a Christmas song a while back, which got some radio play around here. Now he's given me permission to post it on the net- so here's Season of Joy, our new featured song- it's a rocker!

December 16, 2008

It's that time of year. There's been some snow, and even though there's plenty of gloomy talk, let Ezra bring you back to the comforts. A new featured song.

December 14, 2008

Dale just rang that sponsorship bell again... thanks. We're somewhere near 20 for the year, and that doesn't count those who've been sponsors but sort of lapsed, and those who've contributed more than once this year. But really, once you've sponned you're stuck with it for life!

There's going to be a year-end Times coming out soon, so I won't say too much about ongoing projects here. I missed an opportunity to record Maya's new band, darn those kids move so fast... I recorded some interesting piano improve last night which was partially inspired by the radio feature I'd heard on composer Elliot Carter. Fascinating stuff. His early work seems to have influenced the sort of movie soundtrack music from the 50's and early 60's that affected me- the sort of disjointed, uncentered, edgy stuff we used to call "modern". I think it's fun, and it beats the heck out of that schmaltzy Copland stuff. (anything that can be used to advertise beef, well...)


I heard the Joni version of Woodstock on the radio the other day. You know, the original? And it got me thinking about the cover that CSN&Y had a hit with. So tonight I downloaded that LP, Deja Vu. I'm listening to it now.

While I certainly always liked the songs on Deja Vu, I never considered it the equal to the first CS&N album. Which, in my book, was an almost perfect record. So I never owned Deja Vu, and so I never listened to it very closely before now. Well, that may have been a mistake...

While that earlier record is a landmark on its own, Deja Vu is, as a production, something remarkable. I admit to liking rough edges, and maybe that's why I never fell for Deja Vu- maybe it just isn't quirky enough. But from the standpoint of studio chops, Deja Vu is to CS&Y what Abby Road is to Sgt Peppers. There is a quality to the sound of the vocal harmonies which does reflect very nicely on those of the Beatles best work- you can't tell who's singing what part, it's just one sound.

Then there are distinct odd things that I find I like now- the fact that sometimes the bass guitar and the electric guitar reverb are panned hard to the sides... these are things that simply "aren't done!" these days.

But what is most amazing is that the sounds are really recorded well. Stills' organ growls a growl that is like the ultimate Hammond organ growl... the bass sound is very bottomy, yet somehow clear. Percussion and drums sounds are distinct, except when they're drowned in reverb for effect. Lead guitar sounds have sort of defined what lead guitars should sound like for years.

Another fun thing about the record is that it's obviously made in the days before automation made mixing a breeze- you can track the fader moves. They are very good, but compared to today's records, they are part of the multitrack dance that used to be the recording process. Now it's all invisible.

So let me know, if you have an opinion- which is the better record? CS&N or Deja Vu?

(much later)

I finally mixed down a song I found on the old Tascam Porta-Two. This is classic four-track cassette sound- very saturated, somewhat distorted, with a Dr. Rhythm drum track. Someday they will all look back on this and laugh...

Turnin' Out Wrong.mp3

December 11, 2008

My studio is in my basement, and a part of my studio is this old workbench that was here when we moved in 20 years ago. To me making music is a lot like fixing stuff, or building stuff- the workbench is for stuff, the recorder for sounds. We build sounds and stuff here.

I'm not really very good at either task, but one thing I like about the net is that even us amateurs can be entertaining. So tonight I offer up my latest feature- Fixing a Tascam Porta-Two.


December 09, 2008

busy, busy, busy...

If the Gadjo Playboys are looking for dancers, I suggest Mrs. Moore 111 for starters. Just sayin'

I'm still mulling over my "CD" project. I am pulling the song Grapevine in favor of an early version of one I wrote called What Was the Point. Here's the current lineup:

1 -Mad Romance
2 -Hmmm
3 -Save to Serve Her
4 -Bungi
5 -Crossing State Lines
6 -The Complicated Kid
7 -Diamonds
8 -Drivin Rain
9 -A Blues
10 -Keeping Time
11 -What Was the Point
12 -Unstoppable

The reason is sort of dumb, actually- the vocal on Grapevine sounded different. I'm not sure why. When I rediscovered this early version of "Point" I knew it would fit in better.

December 03, 2008

Stompin' at the Syc.

the syc

Here was the setup at the Syc as this house is popularly known. Here Joe and Scott discuss some fine point of an arrangement, probably.

self-professed gentleman

...the hands, the hands of a master!


an influence, perhaps...

Anyway, it was a very good day for recording. We recorded rhythm tracks for 11 songs, mainly on the first take.

December 01, 2008

That went well. Stairwell.


Stairways have interesting sonic characteristics- they're hard and choppy, but not as obnoxious as a cement wall. I stuck a mic in this stairwell while recording the Gadjo Playboys yesterday, and it adds a very interesting space to the close mics. On a separate track I can mix it in and out as needed.

Check out a new Humor Me site today- Gizzards and Gravy for the Guileless. Probably not safe for work, or for the guileless, either.

Featured Song:

Ralph Toro
Season of Joy

mp3  or  ogg

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Studio Archives:

November, 2008

October, 2008

September, 2008

August, 2008

July, 2008

June, 2008

May, 2008

April, 2008

March, 2008

February, 2008

January, 2008



Repairing a Kurzweil piano key.

Repairing a Tascam Porta-Two.

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Save to Serve Her
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