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The music lives on at Steve’s Guitars

Locations: News Published

What would Carbondale be without Steve’s Guitars — or, for that matter, Steve Standiford — ? For nearly 30 years, this little guitar shop turned intimate listening room has brought people together around a common love for music.
Although the venue began as a retail store, previously owned by Wally Bacon, Steve’s Guitars pivoted with the advent of the internet soaking up too much of those sales. Nowadays, Standiford refers would-be customers to Glenwood Music for their creative needs and is known to have told touring musicians jealousy eying his collection of stringed instruments hanging from the ceiling, “Didn’t you read the sign? They’re Steve’s guitars!”
Nonetheless, Standiford is known to part with a guitar or two given the right circumstance. The last time he sold a guitar was to Neil Diamond a few years back. In fact, Diamond picked up two — “an acoustic, cool old Harmony with pickup built in,” and a simple guitar that reminded Diamond of one that he played as a teenager.
Standiford reminisces that the pivot was “a wise decision … plus a lot more fun.”
For the whole community, the fun has endured, even through the roughest of years. Before COVID-19 was even a murmur, Steve’s Guitars was being outfitted to produce both archived and live broadcast shows in partnership with GrassRoots Community Network.
“One of the best things about the venue is that it’s small, so you get to really hear the music much better than in a large concert hall,” Standiford told The Sopris Sun. Given the limitations of the space, however, “I thought, how do you share it with a lot more people?” He credits musician Brad Manosevitz, aka Bradman, with having the idea to borrow underused recording equipment from GrassRoots.
Soonafter, Standiford and GrassRoots embarked on an ambitious fundraiser to bring in more modern equipment for high-quality video. Sponsors FirstBank and High Society Freeride helped raise the $20,000 and Steamin’ Steve’s had its official debut on May 1, 2020. Local high school student Mountain Maes now operates the cameras, thanks to guidance from Ralph Pitt of Mad Dog Ranch Studios.
Also in 2020, Steve’s attained 1,000 shows in a row on a Friday night. When everything closed on March 13, 2020, Standiford himself dropped in to serenade the empty room and keep the streak going. “We have been quite fortunate to have so many musicians that want to play the room,” said Standiford. During the lockdown, “there was a time I had to fill in, bring up my version of Warren Zevon’s ‘Poor Poor Pitiful me,’” he laughed.
Fast forward to 2022 and Steve’s is leaning into a full summer of shows. As has always been the case, Standiford actively helps recruit musicians for outdoor summer concerts. On Sunday, June 5, the town of Carbondale’s “Sundays in Sopris Park” series will kick off with Pato Banton, a legend of reggae and Carbondale favorite, performing from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. “What a lot of people like about him is he brings a whole spirit of love and peace and just that kind of positive vibration,” said Standiford. Later in July, Cruz Contreras of The Black Lillies will continue the momentum in Sopris Park.
For the live performance industry in particular, the COVID years have not been particularly profitable. Standiford attributes a generous landlord to helping Steve’s get through. “I only saw Tony [Mazza, former owner of the Dinkel Building,] over the decades a couple of times. Once, he came by and said his good friend, John Oates, told him about us and how much of a value this place is to the community. He said, ‘Take care of Steve’s Guitars,’” which resulted in fair rent for years to come.
Generosity in service to music is, however, best shared among everyone. Beyond Mazza’s generosity, Standiford thanks “a combination of things” for perpetuating Steve’s. “Fans, bands and the spirit of ‘This is cool, let’s keep it going.’ The spirit of magic. When something is right, the universe usually comes together with some sort of plan to keep it going.”
Oates, true to form, isn’t done helping out either. He will return to Steve’s Guitars for a benefit concert on June 17 to help make up for the COVID years and continue going strong.
“It feels nervous and great,” concluded Standiford. “I’m hoping it’s safe for everybody to be enjoying live music again.”
From May Erlewine and Maia Sharp to Taylor Rae and Birds of Play, you can stay in the know about upcoming shows at Steve’s Guitars by subscribing to Standiford’s newsletter at www.stevesguitars.net

Tags: #live music #music #Steve Standiford #Steve’s Guitars #Will Sardinsky
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