Steve Fisher
 
 
 
   
  Steve Fisher - Biography  
 

Steve Fisher was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1954 and lived there for nine months while his father was completing a degree at the University of Oklahoma. Fisher has one older and one younger male sibling. He was raised on his father’s ranch in Longview, Texas and still resides there from time to time. Steve’s mother was a singer in church choirs [her father had been a fiddle player and guitarist], but his father showed little interest in music. Fisher’s first musical experience came while singing a cappella in church. In his early/mid-teens Fisher’s parents purchased a piano, and a year later Steve started playing it. Concurrently, he had begun teaching himself to play guitar, but never had any formal music lessons. At this time Steve was listening to the music of Elton John, Neil Young, Michael Martin Murphey and the late B.W. Stevenson. Fisher earned a degree in Engineering Technology from Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas during the mid seventies, and concurrently wrote a couple of original songs. Based in Houston for a time, Steve pursued a career in engineering while continuing to write. Giving up his day job, Steve took to the road on a motorcycle ala Kerouac, in the process visiting all three coasts.

In 1983, in Oklahoma, Steve joined the Southern Cross band, which performed in clubs and roadhouses in Oklahoma, Texas and Arkansas, and was their keyboard player for around three years. Returning to Longview, Steve went on to play a three year long, three nights a week residency as a solo act at the McCann Street Bar And Grill. He played his own songs and covers he liked. In 1988 Steve began work on his first cassette. Fisher met Austin based songwriter Mary Melena at the 1988 Winfield Bluegrass Festival, and she suggested that he attend the Kerrville Folk Festival. In 1989, Steve was one of three winners of the songwriter competition at the Sugarbush Festival in Vermont, and was also short listed for the Kerrville songwriting contest. The following year Fisher was one of the half dozen annual winners of the Kerrville Folk Festival New Folk songwriters contest. Future Bitchin’ Babe, Sally Fingerett, and Wisconsin’s Johnsmith also won that year. 
 
1989 saw the release off Fisher’s debut recording “That’s My Toy,” co-produced Gary Boren, on cassette only. Recorded at the enigmatic sounding Hidden Forest Studio in Longview, the ten songs were penned by Fisher, incl. the closing track “High Upon A Mountain,” co-written with Herb Teat, who also sang on the sessions. Two years later, with the recording sessions taking place at the same location, Steve cut his sophomore cassette “Nobody Home.” Co-produced by Fisher, Boren and Scott Brown, and also containing ten Fisher originals, the opening selection “When The Past Comes To Call” was co-written with Brown.

“A Boy’s Life In Texas,” Fisher’s debut CD was released in 1995 by the, then, Evanston, Illinois [now Portland, Oregon] based imprint, Waterbug. Totalling fifteen tracks, the disc featured four new songs, a new interpretation of “That’s My Toy,” and ten tracks taken from “Nobody Home.” Following a four-year long silence, Fisher next appeared on the duet recording “The Looking Glass” with California based, songbird Jamie Byrd. Recorded at Jamie’s San Francisco, Byrdhouse Studio, and produced by the pair, they each contributed six originals song, penned individually, to the collection. Standouts included Fisher’s “Down Here” and Byrd’s “Carolina Mae.” That year, Fisher self-published a book of poems titled “Epiphanies Of The Obvious” which is still available from the Waterbug web site.

Steve Fisher’s first recording of the twenty-first millennium, “The Coming Attraction,” recorded at the Byrdhouse, appeared in the Spring of 2003. Apart from a new reading of “Down Here,” the disc featured fourteen previously unreleased Steve Fisher originals. Subsequent releases have been titled "The Ancient Causeway" and "Count Me In." Steve Fisher is one of the finest songwriting treasures that Texas has ever bred.

Discography :
Solo -
“That’s My Toy” cassette only [1989] ; “Nobody Home” cassette only [1991] ; “A Boy’s Life In Texas” [1995] ; “The Coming Attraction” [2003] ; "The Ancient Causeway" [2004] ; "Count Me In" [2010] :
with Jamie Byrd - “The Looking Glass” [1999] ;

Arthur Wood
Copyright Kerrville Kronikles 04/03 & 01/11

 
   
  Steve Fisher - Album Reviews  
   
  "That's My Toy" & "Nobody Home"  
   

 

Steve Fisher pitched his bivouac next to my tent at Camp C.A.L.M. this year. He was a New Folk performer in 1989 and also released his first self-produced cassette "That's My Toy," during that year. Last year, saw the appearance of the follow up, "Nobody Home." Suffice to say, if you're seeking a musical slot for Steve, I'd try the John Prine of Texas. "A Boy's Life In Texas" from his second cassette, is one hell of a song. The remaining songs don't trail far behind.

Arthur Wood
Copyright Kerrville Kronikles 08/92

 
   
  with Jamie Byrd "The Looking Glass" Roosterdog Records  
   
 


This recording was available last year as a cassette. Now it’s available as a CD, with the same contents - six songs each by Fisher and Byrd. Rare as they are, it’s always a pleasure when Steve Fisher releases something new. Compositions such as “Born of Grace,” “The Mission Trail” and “The Time is Now,” furnish irrefutable evidence that Steve is an existential spirit whose words [and melodies] reflect on cherished recollections and minor vignettes recalled from his life journey. It’s hard to decipher how much of an inspiration each of the participants have been to the other’s writing. I’d surmise that it is immense. Byrd’s lyrical approach is that of a conversational storyteller, and there’s little doubt that the unnamed hero in her “Minuteman Man Café” is Steve Fisher. Elsewhere, her heroine “Carolina Mae” recalls a stolen moment of youthful pleasure at sixteen and a child that she never saw grow to full bloom. Reflecting, on her role in the Civil War and subsequent events, some thirty years later, Carolina Mae muses “Did they let you keep my photograph ?” As for Fisher’s “Down Here,” the special place where water tastes like wine and clocks run slow all the time, could be Kerrville’s, Quiet Valley Ranch……Essential undersells this recording, be it Byrd or Fisher.

Arthur Wood
Copyright Kerrville Kronikles 07/00

 
   
  "The Coming Attraction” no label  
   
 

Breaking cover after a four-year silence, Steve Fisher’s “The Coming Attraction” is a fifteen-song collection of originals that sparkles like a multi-faceted diamond from the get go. Fisher isn’t a conventional storyteller per se. In fact the personal appellations me, my and I regularly occur in his lyrics, yet in summation Steve’s simple uncluttered words constitute stories for life. Homilies. Eulogies. Spiritual enlightenment. Song poet introspection and self-flagellation are no part of Fisher’s oeuvre.

For well over two decades the everyday, life-affirming tales that were the currency of the late Kate Wolf’s lyrics have been, for me, a place of wonder to revisit when in need of spiritual renewal. My countryman, Dougie MacLean, has consistently written about a time and place, largely set in Scotland, when life was simpler and closely bound to the life giving earth. Fisher possesses an equally powerful gift in the marriage of word and melody. A vast chasm opened up when we exchanged the push button immediacy and power of the chip for, say, the simpler, horse drawn plough. The aforementioned song scribes, and others, are our life-line to reality.      

So far I’ve employed the word simple, or derivatives of it, three times. Lest confusion has set in, in relation to what I mean by simple, let me say that Fisher’s lyrics do not wrestle with complexity. Earlier, I used the term everyday in relation to Wolf, and that is where Steve, subjectively, fairly and squarely pitches his tent. Of course, quite naturally, Fisher employs the occasional poetic device, as in “The Coming Attraction” where the next movie and the ones that will follow at the “old Marquee,” are compared to the cycle of friends who pass through our lives as they evolve, decade upon decade. In terms of a lyrical sub-device, the next new friend also becomes, the coming attraction as well as “a brand new mystery.” Steve also alludes to the passage of time as “slippery.” Where the songs of Wolf and MacLean have been known to touch my inner core causing tear duct moisture, a King Size box is nowhere near adequate to cope with the purity, honesty and beauty of “The Coming Attraction.” The ultimate aim [and success] for the songwriter lies in creating the universal. Taken collectively “The Coming Attraction” is a fully realised symphony, in which the foregoing title cut is but one magnificent movement.

Death is one of the themes that thread’s itself through the lines of “Son, No One Knows You Well,” as Fisher recalls a fellow songwriter, now passed, who “never banked that much on fortune and fame.” Later, Steve attests how “I listened closely to every word he had to say.” Despite having lived a full life “somewhere between heaven and hell” the deceased songwriter would postulate, “in the long run, no one knew me well.” While the foregoing was true, Fisher succinctly adds, as the song closes, that it really didn’t matter, since “in the long run, I loved him more than these words will tell.” With no credit in the liner, I am left wondering if the late Al Grierson was the deceased songwriter. There’s a hot, lazy, Texas afternoon feel to “Home In Time For Dinner” – “watch the horses in the pasture, leave the dogs to their sleeping, put a stop to all this thinking” - reminiscent, in fact, of the Keen/Lovell penned Texas classic “Front Porch Song.” Rather that waste too many words of praise for “The Puppeteer” let me merely say that an option is to place “God” in control of the strings, and the meaning of the “larger plan” will become clear.

“Who Knows, Not Me” appears at first sight to be practically a throwaway title, yet the truth is that even the most thoroughly educated [and rounded] individual is far from being all knowing and all seeing in terms of “the grand design.” “Down Here,” a long time personal favourite, opened the Steve Fisher/Jamie Bryd collaboration “The Looking Glass” [1999]. Although the actual location is not specified, and while not a total fit, lyrically, my personal interpretation remains Kerrville’s Quiet Valley Ranch. “Down here water tastes like wine, Down here clocks on the wall run slow all the time,” and “Down here it’s like the Garden Of Eden,” are just a few of the aspects of that annual musical retreat and source of regeneration/inspiration. Alternatively, once more reflecting upon the universal, “Down Here” can be any place that we consider special.   

The melodically effervescent “The Ever Open Door” may, subjectively, be a spiritual love song, but the lines “a child is called again and again to the thrill of the slide or swing” recall the unsullied innocence we all once possessed. “Photographs,” is an almost four minute long movie in which the camera simply enters a bedroom and closes in “on the table by the light” on which there’s an old black and white picture of a “six year old, little girl, a hand to hold” walking home from her first day at school. Fisher then imagines “the picture that’s really there“ which was taken just last year “but the child still shines through, And I hold her hand and I won’t let go, As we walk along on our way back home.” It may be nothing more or nothing less that a song that closes with the line “It’s because we know love is true,” but it’s a lyric that has been taken, like some photographs, from a very subtle angle. In the words of Guy Clark, simplicity is the stuff that works.   

Fisher traces his restless family bloodlines in “This Heart [My Parents Gave Me],” and openly declares his admiration and affection for his parents and forebears. His mother “Was raised with four brothers, By her aunts and her grandmother, They were poor…poor…Indian poor,” while his father’s blood “came from the Amish.” Steve recalls how his parent’s moulded him “With one hand on the Bible, And the other hand upon the heart, That shows me what to do.” On one level, “Mother’s Return” could be interpreted as a child’s lullaby, while self-discovery and realisation are the themes that permeate “A Point Of View.”

The closing pair of cuts, respectively “Thank You” and “Children,” are inextricably linked. If you will, they constitute the climax of the symphony. The former, a hymn of praise for each God given day, opens with the line “Days pass like Christmas” and Fisher further employs the festive allusion in “They’re unfolding, And unfolding, As from bright paper” by way of delivering his 365/24/7 message. If the gift of time is reason to constantly say “Thank You” then, irrespective of age, Steve’s “Children” is an analogy for mankind. We are yesterday, today and………….tomorrow - the coming attraction.   

This recording is aural medicine for the soul.

Score 10 out of 10

Arthur Wood
Copyright Kerrville Kronikles 06/03