‘Classic Steve’ Schuffert’s ‘Utah’ is a love letter to his home state
Guitarist enjoys the craft of songwriting
“Classic Steve” Schuffert moved to the Beehive State from Nashville 11 years ago, so he felt it was high time to honor his “new” home.
That’s why he titled his new album “Utah.”
“I’ve come to love being here in Utah and in all the majesty that surrounds us — the rural areas, the national and state parks,” he said. “So I just thought at this point that it was the appropriate thing to pay homage, love, respect and gratitude that God brought me here.”
“Utah,” which is currently available for purchase, download and streaming on all music outlets and services, features 10 tracks of mostly new compositions, said Schuffert, whose songs have been recorded by a stable of notable artists such as the late George Jones and Kenny Rogers, T. Graham Brown, Mark Collie and bluesman Tommy Castro.
“There were two or three songs on the new CD that I had written maybe two years ago,” Schuffert said.
The ballad “Best Wishes” was one of those previously-written tunes, he said.
“That was one of those songs that came out really quick,” Schuffert said. “I wrote it in the COVID period, and it was timely for me to do so.”
The song features a sweeping, but understated chorus with the lyrics: “I wish you love / I wish you peace / I wish you everything you need / Best wishes from me.”
“The chorus landed on me, and after that it was fairly easy to write the verses,” Schuffert said, his voice touched with emotion.
With “Best Wishes” and another older song, “Blues for Breakfast,” on the list, Schuffert thought he would pick some of his other existing songs to fill up the CD.
Although Schuffert has made a name for himself in Utah as an acoustic player, he has spent most of his career playing rock and blues.
During the 1980s, Schuffert played with the band Left End, and was a member of the rock band The Godz, which supported Metallica’s first headlining arena tour.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Schuffert spent four years playing with Glen Burtnik, who later joined Styx.
Schuffert also co-wrote the song “From a Stronger Place” with roots-gospel artist T. Graham Brown, and the song appeared on Brown’s 2015 Grammy Award-nominated album “Forever Changed.”
While Schuffert has excelled in those types of collaborations, he fronts his own band — The Steve Schuffert Band — and enjoys his time writing as a solo musician.
“Over the years I have accumulated a pretty large back catalog of songs, because I just love to write songs from the ground up,” he said. “But as soon as I made the decision to make an album, I started writing new songs, because I got excited about doing something new. It’s like having a road appear in front of you, you have to decide if you want to take a drive.”
Schuffert recorded the album in his home studio, and took a bit to select the song sequence.
“These songs are in different keys and have different tempos and feelings, and once I got going, I really wanted to make this one my best album,” he said. “To tell you the truth, I think it is.”
The last track on the album is titled “Sunsets,” and it is dedicated to the late Jeff Beck, who died in January at the age of 78 from a bacterial meningitis infection.
“I was shocked when he died,” Schuffert said. “Jeff has always been (an influence) with me, and he has factored in my playing for 40 years, even though mere mortals like me have to work hard to do what he did.”
Beck’s death came at a time when Schuffert was already waist deep in recording “Utah.”
“I thought I would like to pay tribute to him, and I even went as far as buying a Jeff Beck Signature Fender Stratocaster,” Schuffert said. “When you buy something like that, you can’t help but play it to see how much you can sound like the guy whose name is on the guitar.”
Schuffert’s focus changed in one morning.
“I took the guitar off the stand and this riff came out, and all of a sudden there was that road in front of me,” he said.
Once the basic tracks for the “Utah” songs were recorded, Schuffert added his solos and fills.
“I try to be spontaneous in the process, so I save the solos and the fills for last, because they need to complement everything else. And if I get in some good parts, I’ll see a path. And that’s when things really start to develop.”
“I’m lucky to have been able to come out to Utah and be accepted here,” he said. “I’m also grateful for the response the CD has received so far from friends, people in the industry and my wife Joni, who always pushes me to do things like this when I get lazy.”
“Utah” is the latest solo album by Park City-based singer, songwriter and guitarist “Classic Steve” Schuffert.
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