The Mardi Gras Band/Trick Bag( 2013-present)
Prohibition Hall (2015-present)
I love the music of New Orleans, from Louis Armstrong and Jelly Roll Morton through Professor Long Hair, Fats Domino, Allen Toussaint, Dr. John and The Neville Brothers.
I love the hypnotic rhumba and second line rhythms. I once saw Allen Toussaint fly through a fantasia of Gershwin, Debussy and Bach and then go right into “Fortune Teller”-a Toussaint original so primitive it verges on punk rock. That’s what I love about New Orleans R&B. It can be concert hall sophisticated and then the next minute go right down in the alley. My Mardi Gras Band, which we re-named Trickbag for all non-Mardi Gras related shows features Mike Clark on sax, Allistair Elliott on trumpet, Paul Wells on piano and organ, Brian Pollock on Bass and me on guitar.
Dirty Blues and Burlesque (circa 2008)
The inspiration for Prohibition Hall happened when Cedric Blary asked me to play a banjo gig. He was hired to play the reception after a 1920’s fashion show at Lougheed House. I think “The Great Gatsby” was out and there was a brief public infatuation with speak-easies, flappers and 20’s music. The fashion show was amazing. A collector had at least two dozen authentic 20’s dresses, which were being showcased by some of Calgary’s most beautiful models. At the reception, the music was provided by Cedric on the clarinet, Derek Stoll on the tuba and me on the six string banjo( basically a guitar with a banjo body). We played such chestnuts as “Sweet Georgia Brown”, “Puttin’ on the Ritz” and “Dinah”. What was more, we played with absolutely no amplification which felt very liberating. I immediately wanted to play some of my own songs with this lineup. I have a deep love for the music of the 20’s, be it jazz, blues or country. This was an era of incredible creativity. Most of the songs we regard as jazz standards were written within a few years of 1928. I have a number of tunes that harken back to the 20’s and 30’s(“The Coyote Song”, “Depending on You”,”He Didn’t Quite Make It” for example).
Steve Pineo’s Elvis Show (2007-present)
his was the brainchild of me, Tim Williams and singer/dancer/artist/bartender Dawn Desmarais. We thought it would be fun to do a show of dirty or double entendre blues songs, interspersed with burlesque dancing. Joining us was Allstair Elliott on trumpet, Jonathan Lewis on violin, Jeremy Coates on bass, Kelly Kruse on drums and Laura Jackson on vocals. Dawn found some burlesque dancers, made posters and fed grapes to all the patrons at the beginning of the show. Laura and I did “I Want a Hot Dog For My Roll” by Butterbeans and Sue, Tim did “The Candy Man”(by Mississippi John Hurt, not Sammy Davis Jr.), Dawn did an especially raunchy reading of “Shave ‘Em Dry”. What I learned was that if you give a disclaimer at the beginning of the show, you can say and do almost anything. I wrote a dirty Calypso song called “The Rat and the Pussy Cat” and a blues called “Whet My Appetite”.I absolutely forbid my parents from attending this show!
Merlot Shows (circa 1999-2003)
The Elvis show is, along with my Christmas show, my biggest success. I outlined the origins of the Elvis Show in the Archives section, so I thought I could talk about what I like about the show. The best part about the Elvis Show is performing Elvis’s trademark songs as faithfully as possible. Although I’m loathe to admit it,I’m a bit of a mimic. I can capture the tone and timbre of a singer’s voice in great detail. Billy was a great mimic, as was Merle Haggard. Part of learning your own vocal style is to try to learn other’s vocal styles. I resisted doing Elvis songs for a long time because of the negative stigma of Elvis impersonators. In fact, it’s a miracle that I even do an Elvis tribute at all after my one experience working with Elvis impersonators.
The Three Canaries (circa 2004)
I should mention a place where we played briefly and was the birthplace of many shows. After the demise of Karma and Kaos, a place opened up near Boyd’s Lobster Shop on 14th st. S.W. called Merlot. Like many music joints in Calgary, it wasn’t real a suitable room for presenting live music(Too small, bad sight lines, too much glass etc.). However, the owner knew what her clientele wanted and she hired a small but proven group of musicians including Tom Phillips, Mike Stack, Tim, Kit, Billy when he was up for it and myself. I don’t remember exactly how it started, but we were soon being asked to do a tribute show at least once a month. Tributes are a fun special event with the added bonus (for the fans) that the audience already knows the tunes. Tom hosted a Merle Haggard/ Johnny Cash tribute, I (with help from Kit Johnson) did Gordon Lightfoot and John Prine. I was reluctantly talked into doing a tribute to Neil Diamond. Mike Stack did “Solitary Man” and I sometimes did “Cracklin’ Rosie”, and I looked forward to discovering some hidden gems. Let me tell, the gems were pretty well hidden. It got pretty cheesy halfway through set two! Never again. Speaking of Neil, Kit started “All Neil all Night” at Merlot.
Steve Pineo With Horns (2001-present day)
In the 90’s I had a side project singing jazz with my friend Laura Jackson(Moore). She has a lovely voice and we trade songs and sing duets at places like Cannery Row and Mona’s Kitchen. Jane Hawley came down to see us one night. She said that she’d always wanted to sing jazz standards but they didn’t fit with her repertoire of mostly originals and alt country. An a idea for a show was sparked, but we needed one more singer (The Two Tenors?PLEASE!). Dani Moon became the third singer in the show. She is the daughter of drummer Thom Moon, and a formidable and at the time undiscovered talent. I sang a couple but handed things to the ladies form the most part. Jane sang “Over the Rainbow” and “I Only Have Eyes For You”, Dani tore it up on the torch songs and Laura was her usual ebullient self. It’s been a few years but maybe a reunion is in order.
Steve Pineo's Christmas Show
When I released “A Perfectly Good Friendship” I needed a horn section and a piano to emulate the sound of the record. I had done some writing for horns about five years earlier for an episode of Natural Blues, but I had dictated the horn lines to Mike Clark. For the CD release, I wrote the horn lines myself, and the players, being true pros, were somehow able to read them. It was an intoxicating feeling, hearing all those rich sounds that took so long to put together, so I couldn’t wait to write the next show. I trimmed the horn section down from four to three horns and that’s how it has stayed. These days, I do the “With Horns” show every couple of years. I like to think of it as a Christmas Dinner show-with all the trimmings!
My most popular and enduring show. The Christmas Show started as an offshoot of Steve Pineo with horns and was also loosely based on the “I Hate Christmas” concert that I put together at Morgan’s Pub in the early 90’s. That was the show for which Tim Williams wrote “I Got Everything for Christmas But a Cure for the Blues” We did all the songs about Christmas in the drunk tank, prison etc. It was a gas and very therapeutic. I made sure we kept the irreverence in the second incarnation of the Christmas show. We do a yodelling version of “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear”, a Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons like version of “Ding Dong Merrily on High”, and a surf rock version of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”. We also do a few tear jerkers. During an offertory song, we collect money for deserving people in the community and over the last three years, we raised almost $10,000! The Christmas Show happens the first or second week of December each year at Ironwood Stage and Grill.