“Steve’s been known to trade CDs for a floor to crash on or even just a few kind words. He likes whiskey after
his set, too—just saying. Stephen Lee performs “featured sets” of original music, and traditional four hour sets, including bar room and outlaw country standards by The Grateful Dead, Willie Nelson, Credence Clearwater Rival, George Jones, Neil Young, and many hits from the American Song Book.”

Stephen Lee is an Americana/Cowpunk songwriter from Baltimore, MD who’s latest release is his West of Twenty – Three full length via Okay Recordings. As I coax Stephen to head up on over to Pittsburgh for a gig, join me in thanking him for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?

Limp Bizkit – Chocolate Star Fish in the Hotdog Flavored Water Radio Edit. I went to the store to buy the album cause I liked the songs I heard on the radio but it was $12.99 so I was looking through the bargain bin to find something that was $10.00 or less and I found the radio edit version of the album for $6.99. In hindsight this really should have been a red flag but I was so stoked to get the album that I just bought it immediately. I don’t remember it being particularly bad, but there were definitely whole verses bleeped out, ha-ha.

Your last album bought?

The last album I bought was with an iTunes gift card I got from an internship I did with a royalties distribution company. It was Lucero –1372 Overton Park. I’m a big fan of theirs, but currently being a starving artist, with a spotify subscription my brother got me for Christmas I don’t buy albums of bigger bands. I save my money for local and touring acts’ merch.

Favorite album of all time?

Favorite album is a tricky thing for me. It changes based on mood, but one that I can come back to again and again is The Weight – Ten Mile Grace (on spotify). I’m partial to a country sound, but nonetheless the lyrics are so thoughtful and crafted and express emotions that are so pure and straight forward. The music is perfectly timed and matches the mood of the stories exactly, while ranging from solo acoustic guitar to full on rock and roll. Eight out of ten times I can listen to this record no matter what’s going on in my life.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?

Music is such a complex thing that rarely I find an album that is exactly what I want. I can’t really think of an album that disappointed me, usually I only pay attention to the albums I really like.

First concert attended?

AFI, The Art of Drowning Tour in 2001. It was in Hawaii so there was only one local opener, The Knumbskulls and they did an AFI cover. It was amazing.

Last concert?

I don’t get to go to many concerts I’m not actually playing these days, but I had a day off in OH back in October and I caught Matt Woods in Circleville, OH on his Jail Break (Full Band) Tour. It blew my mind. His songwriter and performance is always stellar but having a full band backing him just floored me. My brother, Adam Lee also opened that show and his performance is always amazing. As a performer watching both Matt and Adam is such a learning experience. I was torn between watching the show and just sitting in the back and taking notes, ya know? One of the best shows I’ve seen in along time.

Favorite concert ever?

I played with this band Wyd Eyd, from Mass. last weekend in Richmond VA that completely blew my mind. I’d never heard of them, but their live set was so inspiring. It’s a two piece, melodic-thrash band with yelled, but not screamed vocals, and a mixture of written and improvisational lyrics.

Least favorite concert?

Any show where the band makes no effort to connect with the audience. Unfortunately, a lot of bigger well known acts just phone it in.

Any thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?

Pittsburgh is a great town! I’m not gonna lie, its kinda cold and coming up from the south there is an element of culture clash, but once introductions are made yins couldn’t be a warmer and friendlier people. [Did I use yins right?!] ALSO Pittsburgh is the first place I had a Yuengling 32oz! Pittsburgh will forever have special place in my heart–even if I get lost every time I play there.

Thanks, Stephen. You did use the term correctly. We’ll give you that. Although I hate to be the bearer of bad news but it’s is definitely not yins. It is spelled yinz. Try not to make that mistake again… ?