Guitarist and singer-songwriter Steve Poltz loves telling stories. From his early days playing in The Rugburns and his 1996 collaboration with Jewel on the chart-topping You Were Meant for Me, to his 2015 album Folk Singer, there is rarely a moment when Steve isn’t ready to weave a tale, and his live performances prove it.
Although Poltz is known for recording everything from stripped-back acoustic ballads to lumbering full-on rock songs, he prefers to play on his own live – just him, his guitar, and whatever stories come to mind in the meantime.
Old Settler’s Music Festival attendees will remember Poltz’s performance in 2013, where every song was a potential segue into a new story, or a previously undiscovered insight into the artist’s life. That level of intimacy is something characteristic of Poltz’s performances, and it’s the main reason why he keeps things simple while on tour.
“I love playing solo and I’ve been doing it for years. It’s cool to compress things in that way. It puts me closer to the power of the crowd. My performance is like making a painting. You have a blank canvas and you’re not sure what’s going to come out. When I’m on my own I can make sudden judgement calls and let the music speak for itself. Music is magical, it’ll take you places.”
This approach lets Steve stop mid-song and tell stories if he wants – and he does occasionally. It lets him change his set list on the fly if he feels like a certain set of songs won’t cut it for the audience. Steve Poltz is a walking encyclopedia of songs, and he’s all too happy to share them with his listeners.
“There’s a treasure trove of great songs out there…I used to think that I’ve got to do it all by myself, but as I got older I figured out how to learn from other people’s songs. It reminds me of Hunter Thompson typing out the entirety of The Great Gatsby just to feel how it’s like. When I play someone else’s song, I live through someone else’s actual experience.”
For Poltz, songs echo through generations and relay important experiences from person to person, one performance at a time. He hopes that songs like Folk Singer will inspire people – both now and far into the future – to understand a tiny slice of his life. The song itself is very autobiographical, talking about getting snowed in on tour, having tour vehicles break down, getting guitars lost on airlines, and more of the unique-yet-universal experiences that artists and touring musicians like him have.
Steve says he’s currently in the studio working on new material, but isn’t quite ready to say whether he’ll have a new record out by the time he hits the stage on April 21st and 22nd, 2018. Nevertheless, if you catch him putting together a set list in his head several minutes after walking onstage, you might be able to convince him to offer a sneak peek. Even if not, there’s always something new and unexpected about a Steve Poltz performance, and Old Settler’s Music Festival 2018 will be no different.
Get the lowest price tickets to see Steve Poltz in action both Saturday and Sunday – buy a weekend-long early bird pass now.