A special guitar helps Grimm keep dream alive
When he began recording his latest solo album, "Keep Your Dreams Alive," Steve Grimm didn't have to look very far for inspiration.
He just had to look at his guitar.
Grimm, a member of Bad Boy and a mainstay of the Milwaukee music scene for nearly three decades, used a Gibson Les Paul on many of the bed tracks for the eight songs that make up the disc. He received the guitar from a friend, Carl Dennino, who died shortly after presenting the gift.
"Carl was a friend of mine who lived in Boston," Grimm said. "He was a roadie for Aerosmith. When I went to the Berklee School, I had a band called Crossfire and we opened a couple shows for them. I got to know Carl and we kept in touch over the years. He went into teaching and I did, too. We would keep in touch.
"Two or three years ago, I was in New York and he called and said 'Come up to Boston and get this guitar.' I said 'OK.' I was trying to figure out why he did that. He just said he wasn't using it. A few weeks later -- boom! -- I got a phone call and he had passed away. I didn't know he was dying.
"So, I used the guitar on a lot of the tracks. As you get older, you start trying to have a little more substance. So, I thought I'd try to find something, magically or subliminally, on this CD. That Les Paul is the main guitar on this CD."
The eight songs on "Keep Your Dreams Alive" are guitar-driven, blues-infused and sound a lot like the music Grimm makes with Bad Boy, the Steve Grimm Band or his latest project, Pretty Grimm.
We caught up with Grimm last week and asked about the record, which was recorded primarily at Joe Puerta's studio on the South Side.
OnMilwaukee.com: What was it like making this record?
Steve Grimm: For starters, it wasn't cheap. Studio time is expensive and it's hard for me to find the money and the free time to get in there and work. As far as the studio goes, it's not like the old days, where you would go in and try to catch lightning in a bottle. Nowadays, it's kind of sterile. You go in, get started and people come in and play parts and you're looking at computers and the wave lines and trying to see where it ends up.
I think the end result is more professional, but it loses a bit of the magic of a band. I would rather go in with a band and play together try to make that magic happen. The end product is good, but there is something kind of manufactured about it. I had good players on the record, but I like that band feel.
OMC: Has technology taken some of the spontaneity out of the recording process?
SG: I think so. If you listen to the song "That Girl," it has a lot of spunk and funk to it. If you listen closely, there are some mistakes in there, which I think is kind of cool.
You go in the studio now, it just seems like you're lining things up and everything has to be exact. I'm an impatient person. Don't get me wrong -- I love the studio. I love doing it. I'd love to do it all the time. But, when you spend an hour and you're still looking at the drum track, I was going crazy.
In the old days, you'd go in (to the studio) and try to put down two or three songs. Things are a bit slower now, and studio time is not cheap. I probably have 30 or 40 more songs I could have done, but I picked the simplest ones so I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. All the songs were pretty simple. I used the Les Paul, a Strat and a Martin D28. It's pretty simple. I didn't have the time or the money to spend to do other more orchestral things.
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Very interesting article, it's no surprise that Steve is still in the business, I have many fond memeories of Bad Boy playing at Teddys, one particular night, members of Blackfoot had played earlier at the Eagles Club then jammed later in the evening with Grimm and the boys!
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