Basic Folk podcast, eps. 267 – Steve Poltz

If you’re looking for recommendations for desserts, might I suggest asking folk music and comedy savant Steve Poltz? This man loves gluten and carb-heavy deserts. He also loves collaborations, camaraderie, creativity and using humor in music. It all began for Poltz, or Poltzy as his friends call him, in his birthplace of Halifax, Nova Scotia. He spent his formative years in Palm Springs and Los Angeles where due to his stutter, allergies and asthma, he learned to talk fast to get himself out of trouble. His sense of humor was cultivated in part by his funny parents as well as radio and television. He was particularly taken with The Smothers Brothers, Laugh-In and the novelty songs he heard on Dr. Demento’s radio program, which solidified his own aspirations for being silly as hell in his own writing. Along the way, he picked up the guitar at six years old and it’s been by his side ever since.

After he moved to San Diego to attend college in the 80s, he formed the cow-punk band The Rugburns with Robert Driscoll. The band, which Steve has described as “really slow speed metal,” developed a cult following across the US in the early 90s. It was at that time, Poltz met Jewel, who was a struggling musician in the San Diego scene. The two dated (they remain friends to this day) and ended up co-writing one of the biggest songs of the 90s with “You Were Meant for Me.” After a brush with a major label (thanks to all the Jewel stuff), he remained an independent artist who developed a reputation for a singular live performance experience. In 2014, he actually had a stroke on-stage, which temporarily caused him to lose his vision, the ability to read and also gave him a new outlook on life. Also: post-stroke, he found a late-in-life obsession with The Grateful Dead. In 2016, he and his wife, Sharon, moved to Nashville, where he discovered that he actually does like the Nashville co-writing thing. He’s written songs with people like Molly Tuttle and Billy Strings. His friend Oliver Wood (The Wood Brothers) produced his most recent record, Stardust and Satellites. Here’s to Steve Poltz!


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