Schuffert happily strumming in Park City
November 24, 2017
"Classic" Steve Emerson Schuffert's resume is packed with gigs and collaborations with rock, country and blues notables including Tommy Castro, Kenny Rogers, George Jones, T. Graham Brown and Mark Collie.
He has recorded and performed with former Styx guitarist Glen Burtnik and was a member of the band Left End, before joining Godz, which supported Metallica on its first headlining U.S. Tour back in the mid-1980s.
He has released nine albums with his own band — the Steve Schuffert Band – and has performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival.
With the help of his girlfriend Joni DeYoung, Schuffert calculated he has played at least 8,000 live gigs during his 42-year career.
“I learned to play quietly, so I just started playing instrumentals. I would actually improvise on the spot, and sometimes that would be the whole gig...”“Classic” Steve Schuffertguitarist
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"I started playing when I was 17 and now the big 59 is coming my way," he said during an interview with The Park Record.
All of that experience didn't prepare the guitarist for something he started to do after moving to Park City from Nashville five years ago.
"I had never played a solo guitar show," Schuffert said. "It was terrifying."
The biggest reason Schuffert felt those butterflies was because the performances were all on his shoulders.
"You're by yourself," he said. "There is no interplay with anyone else on stage. And no one can cover for you. You got nothing."
Still, Schuffert pressed on and in the past five years has performed all around Park City, including gigs at the Waldorf Astoria at Canyons, St. Regis Deer Valley, Montage Deer Valley, Cognition Winery, the Grocery Cafe, Stein Eriksen Lodge, Bistro 412, Wasatch Brew Pub, the Blind Dog, Mojo's, the Boneyard and more.
For many of these performances, Schuffert had to tone things down because of the intimacy of the venues.
"I learned to play quietly, so I just started playing instrumentals," he said. "I would actually improvise on the spot, and sometimes that would be the whole gig."
The only other sound from the stage would be some chords he would lay down on a looper, a recording and playback devise, which he would play quiet leads over.
"I love the looper, but it doesn't talk to me like my band members," Schuffert said. "It just plays the chords that I loop into it."
In 2014, Schuffert released his latest rock album, "Resonate," which was his first release since his 2010 album "Destination Anywhere."
"When I finished 'Resonate' in 2014, I just kept going," Schuffert said. "I did another 16 or 17 songs, and then I did even more after that period. So I have enough songs for a couple of other records."
The guitarist has spent the last three years thinking about recording a new album.
"'Resonate' was a very high-energy album," Schuffert said. "It's intense, and there are some medium-paced albums, and when I listen to it now, I hear all the work that went into it. And then I wonder if I can do all of that over again, because as you get older, the stuff does get harder."
For Schuffert there's the added pressure of not only recording the songs, but engineering, producing and mastering them.
"When you make an album by yourself, it's a tremendous amount of work," he said. "While I'm playing and engineering, I don't have a producer who has an ear to tell you what sounds good and what doesn't."
In addition to the work, Schuffert added another challenge to the pile — figuring out what type of album he would record.
"After I finished 'Resonate,' I started listening to some Keb' Mo,'" he said.
Mo,' known to his family as Kevin Moore, is a three-time Grammy winning blues musician.
Schuffert also played guitar on the song "One Foot in the Grave," a track from Josh Kelly's 2016 release "New Lane Road."
With those influences in his head, Schuffert tossed around the idea of making an album that dialed back the rock.
"Regardless of my intention, I'll probably have a couple of face-burners on the album," he said with a laugh. "I mean, I'm a guitarist who wants to show I can still do it. But I think when I do make another album, it will define itself."
Meanwhile, Schuffert will continue to perform around town.
"Music is the first and foremost thing in my life, and I still love to play," he said.
Although he loves playing for an audience, Schuffert is also happy strumming his guitars at home.
"I have a little baby one-watt Marshall amp by my side, and then I'll go downstairs and there's a Fuchs ODSII amp that I bought a year ago," he said. "I've been around for awhile and I've had some amps but the Fuchs is incredible. There is usually a honeymoon period with my amps, but every time I go down and plug it in, it still lights the fire."
Schuffert knows he is lucky to still play music after all of these years.
"I'm fortunate that God has given me a few passes in life," he said. "I've taken some interesting paths in my younger days. I did the major-label thing and got to see the upper-end of stuff, but I've also seen the lower end of things. But what it all comes down to is that I still love to play. And I just try to play cool and bluesy stuff."
For information about "Classic" Steve Schuffert, visit steveschuffert.com.
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