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:

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

November 30, 2008

Here's a new featured song to celebrate the end of the month. In a way The Gadjo Ploughboys (er... that's Playboys, dammit!) kicked off Steam Powered Studios online adventures. Back in 2003, on Superbowl Sunday, we recorded a batch of tunes which hit the net somewhere (Online Rock probably). Prior to that Mr Bobby and I collaborated on a couple of songs which were posted to the old MP3.COM site, and I had done some work with Dr Mo, but these were the first songs to appear on a site called Steam Powered Studio.

At least, that's the way I remember it now. That's a Natural Fact with the Gadjos featuring Trixi Greiner on accordion and vocals is listed as song #001 in the Steam Powered Catalog, and although my memory of these things is hazy, I'm sure I numbered the songs according to their appearance online, not according to when they were recorded. For anyone keeping score we're up to song #280.

Coincidentally, I have a session with the Gadjos this very afternoon...

November 28, 2008

This is just amazing...

Thanks to WFMU I've discovered a band that would certainly have been on my hit list if I had only known about them back in 1976. I admit it, I liked a lot of what the so-called "prog-rock" bands were doing in the 1970's. OK, a lot of it was overblown (Rick Wakeman of Yes claims that they were the model for some of Spinal Tap), but some of it really did push the envelope of what could be done with electric instruments and the pop song format, and many of the players were technically excellent.

I admire that. I've never had the discipline to be technically excellent myself- but I do admire those who have those sort of chops. Especially when they can play with feeling.

I think this band Wigwam did just that. This is a "live, in the studio" recording. The band is Finnish, I think- there's a lot more of their work (and work by other Finnish prog-rock bands) on the tube... Also, check out a very good closeup of how to play a lead on an Arp Axxe (sorry I sold mine now), and also, please help me identify that lead guitar. Is it a Hohner? A Hag?

November 25, 2008

bai du

Now that I've got a real site host, I get stats about my website. It can be a kind of compulsion, reading the statistics every morning, but I am getting better. Whole days go by where I don't check how many visitors Steam Powered had the day before.

This morning I noticed that the number two source for links to my site yesterday was the Chinese version of Google. Bai Du has a cute blue paw print for a logo and according to Wikipedia started out mainly as an mp3 search engine.

Would any of our Chinese visitors be kind enough to let me know what it was they were searching for? I'd love to discover that someone here has a "hit" in China...

November 21, 2008

Peer Pressure

OK, my philosophy here at Steam Powered, such as it is, is that the future of music is online. And in some ways that is true, but it's not necessesarily the way I had envisioned it.

I thought:

heck, anyone can release their music online, and people tend to cherrypick songs to load on their portables, so what's the point of making cds anymore? Just make singles!

So, I just ignored the whole idea of making a "CD" for the past 7 years or so, thinking that eventually the world would come around. There's good reasons to not make CDs. The band Squeeze said

Singles remind me of kisses
Albums remind me of plans

Albums are like that- they should have a structure, a flow, and the really good ones do. The trouble is, the really good albums take a long time to make, generally, and they are made best when the players have no day jobs. It's a full-time thing, making albums.

Singles, on the other hand, are a snap. You can make a single in one good evening. I seriously doubt that Louie, Louie was part of a plan. With that in mind, I've been trying to make singles for the past 7 years.

Ah, but meanwhile, almost everyone that comes in here wants an album when they're done. All I want to do is make great singles, and I've been churning out albums by the score... well, some albums, anyway. Now sometimes that's easy, like the Gadjo Playboys (who have another one planned here, btw) and The Old Tyme Liberation Front, because they do what they do basically without the need of production... but ordinarily, a CD project is a major committment of time and effort.

Ahhh, so where am I going with this? The point is, everybody still thinks in terms of albums, even though it's not the most natural or convenient way to make music. I was struck by this fact once again, when the wonderful WXPN aired an announcement that they were looking for local music. Yeah!, I thought, a good shot at exposure! Oh, but then they said just send us three of your CDs for our consideration... I mean, what? I need to have a CD to be considered worthy of airtime? OK, I understand that this weeds out a certain number of "loosers", but still, come on, xpn, join the 21st century already!

After a week or so of snarling and gnashing, I've come to the conclusion that maybe I should generate a "cd" to send to WXPN. And maybe some other people would like that idea too, because then they could say, Oh, I've got Jeff's second cd on my i-pod, or something. (hey, a guy can dream, right?) So saying, if you're a sponsor in good standing, here's a list of songs for you to download and burn to make your very own Jeff Coleman cd.

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 -Grapevine
12 -Unstoppable

I sort of like this order. Any of you who have been paying attention will know that some of these recordings go back over ten years. Some are from this past summer. There's really no sense here that his reflects my "current ideas about music", which is what you normally expect from an album. The trouble is, I can't sit comfortably in one genre. I like a lot of different styles. And this "album" is what I think are some of the best attempts I've made to fit into the various genres that I like.

(many of you will probably object to including the long, spacy Crossing State Lines, but for some reason if that song isn't in the mix the CD falls apart. I don't know why.)

(Bungi is listed as a Stokers tune, btw, but it's really just me)

(I'm open to suggestions for a name for the CD)

November 19, 2008

The Ralph Toro project continues. Ralph is one of those guys who made some very good music back when. He actually took a band to Cali to try and get signed at one point, did some recording, but the band broke up, you know the story.

Ralph came back home and played some more. I worked on one of his projects, engineering a recording at a studio Jim Hodgkins (AKA The Wizard) had up near Akron. It was my first venture working in a "real" studio- thanks, Ralph.

The years rolled by and Ralph decided he had enough of the music game. A while back he came to me to have some of his original music transferred to something more permanent. Ralph had a whole shopping bag full of cassettes, but Ralph is particular about his music, and so there would only be one song from here, another from there that he considered worth saving. (Me, I'd have saved everything, because that's just the way I am.)

A while more passed. Ralph recently came back with some more cassettes that he wanted songs from, this time he was going to put them all together to make a CD for his buddies. I think I've persuaded him to let me post them here on Steam Powered, but Ralph is kind of shy about that sort of thing. I don't know why he should be- the songwriting and playing and singing is certainly respectable, and as time goes by and I listen to these songs more and more I am beginning to "get" the Ralph Toro thang.

One of the first comparisons I draw is to the band Spirit- not so much for the song structure as for the basic sound. There are solid 70's rock grooves and riffs going on. There is piano and Hammond organ as well as electric guitar, and over it all is Ralph's upper register crystal clear vocal. Ralph man, you coulda been a contenda!

Ralph is not into the computers so I'm not worried that he will read this and be embarassed. He's also become a studio sponsor, but I'll have to send him his newsletter via the US mail...

November 17, 2008


I'm a walking antique.

I remember the first computer that came with a mouse. It was remarkable- pointing and clicking! A "GUI"! Oh how we played and played...

The daughter of that original machine is sometimes up and running in my studio even now. I still think the Mac Plus is kind of neat. For one thing, it's absolutely silent. It has a crisp little black and white screen that is easy to read, and it's small and it's all in one box, so it fits about anywhere.

All that potential, and then the industry took a complete wrong turn. Big, loud boxes that took up entire desktops became the norm. And we were chained to them! Computers had their own furniture. They generated their own ailments. Oh sure, we could watch crappy looking videos on them, and listen to music through crappy little speakers (sold seperately). But baby, the thrill was definitely gone.

Until today. This thing is the ipod Touch, as you probably already know. It is easily as much fun as the original Mac 128. Now, the main reason it's so much fun wasn't really around back in 1984. This thing rocks because it's a portal into the net. One that you can carry in your pocket, read in the john. It's the net where you are, not where your computer furniture lives. (no, I never owned a laptop- too clunky for me)

That there picture is my ipod displaying a page from Ulysses. It can hold a lot of books, and music, and video, and those don't require a live connection to the net. But it really shines for email. Instead of making time at specific times of day to check my accounts, (which I often forget to do), I can just whip 'er out whenever there's a free moment and take a look.

There are some fun little aps for the studio as well. A metronome, with a nice, flashing screen that keeps time. Tap to enter the tempo. Cost me $.99. There's a mono synth ap that I can't wait to drop into a tune. A stopwatch, a calculater, a notepad- I used all of these the other night while burning some backups. And with another purchase I'll be able to record to this thing as well.

Did I mention that it's completely silent? And very small? And that the touch-screen operation is as exciting as the mouse used to be? Point and click? Hell, just point, basically.

There has to be a but, and so here it is. Can't cut and paste easily. It doesn't support Flash. Typing long messages is sort of a drag. But overall, its strengths more than make up for the things it isn't good at doing. And it can only get better...

(for the full-size image, click the photo. Not bad advertising art, I think...)

November 14, 2008

Citizen Steely Dan is a pretty fine box set, if you don't have all those Dan records already. I only had two, on vinyl, so thanks, Brian, for sponsoring the studio in this way. Not only are the songs great, the sounds on the records are classics, good for "tuning in" my ears for mixes.

Now, to deconstruct the lyrics of Brooklyn...

Hey, how about a new featured song? We haven't heard from those krazy kidz in the Old Time Liberation Front in a while. Here's The End of All Things, which is kind of appropriate for this time of year...

November 10, 2008

heather & dave

Studio monkeys Heather and Dave. You could cut the tension with a knife!

Heather is really impressed with the Steam Powered Studio. Especially the "vocal isolation booth/laundry room". (sorry I didn't get a better picture of these guys, but I didn't want to break the spell...)

They were here yesterday recording harmony vocals for Kreggers' Still Makin' Sunshine.

I've got a ways to go before that one's ready to release. If it's new music you're looking for, then go check out D&D. They've addded a couple well worth hearing... follow the what's new link.

November 08, 2008

I recorded some hand claps (simions say "hands clasp!") and refined the vocals a bit- now it's easier to get lost in the beat.

There's a dance that goes along with this one. I think it will be in the video eventually...

Storybook Rough Mix 03.mp3   Storybook Rough Mix 03.ogg

November 07, 2008

It's a small world here online. I've been running a studio in my basement for about 8 years and now I find out that there's another studio I'd never heard of before that's within walking distance. I only found out because of an online "friend requester" who had a link on his page.

Now, it's true that these other guys run with a different pack. I mean, I don't actually have a pack, so I guess it's not suprising that I never knew about the jazzers down the lane. Here's the link...

Abbeyville Road Studio

Yeah, isn't that a great name? I hope we can start some sort of exchange program, because it looks like Jim Easton has a nice big room to play in- something sorely lacking at Steam Powered. I'm not sure what I can offer in return- maybe my mad skilz on accordion?

November 06, 2008

I'm grateful to Dave, the one who plays bass around here sometimes, for selling me his beautiful powder blue Yamaha bass. I played it tonight on my song Storybook. It's a rough mix at the moment, but I got a lot done. I recorded some vocals (never satisfied), some kick drum, and that bass.

Storybook Rough Mix 02.mp3

I like playing this bass. Vera- the powder-blue electric bass!

November 02, 2008

Kregger's CD project got a boost with another Jeff Gibble lead, this time on Still Makin' Sunshine. Jeff says he played about a hundred leads before he was happy with the version he sent us here. All I know is that it's mighty fine.

I'll be posting up a version as soon as we shag out some of the vocal parts...

Meanwhile, my comment in a series about songwriting being run by the New York Times has brought a bunch of downloads of my song Orgy of Hate. I assume it was a positive response because most of the people who clicked on my link came back and clicked on it again. Now, I hope they can find the Steam Powered home page!

Featured Song:

The Gadjo Playboys

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Studio Archives:

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.

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