Great Beer! Great Music! Hope you can make it!
At the young age of sixteen, Dan Stevens' romantic streak was ignited by his first guitar teacher in small town central Pennsylvania who told him stories about the lives of traveling blues musicians like Mississippi John Hurt and Fred McDowell. After being inspired by Woody Guthrie’s book, “Bound for Glory”, the magnetic lure of the road captured his imagination and with a driving passion he hitchhiked and hopped freight trains, guitar in hand across the United States five times, eventually covering over 100,000 miles.
Always seeking diverse experiences, he has worked as a teacher in Pennsylvania and Arizona, a rock climbing instructor in New Mexico, broke his collarbone riding bulls in Colorado.and sailed schooners for a living on the Eastern seaboard. He lived full time on his own wooden sloop in Mystic CT for a couple of years while performing solo up and down the East Coast. A highlight of this period was sailing throughout Central and South America as mate aboard David Crosby’s (Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young) sailboat, the Mayan.
Musically, Dan continued to hone his guitar skills taking lessons from renowned acoustic guitarist and W.C. Handy Award winner Paul Rishell, who taught him how to play slide. Later, he was blessed to study with Greenwich Village based folk/blues icon Dave Van Ronk during the last years of Van Ronk’s storied life. His repertoire reflects the influence of his revered teachers who actually knew and performed with many of the legendary blues masters. His tastes include delta blues “bottleneck slide” tunes, the more carefree piedmont style, and arrangements comprised of complex orchestration with plenty of chord changes up the neck in the spirit of Dave Van Ronk. His originals remain true to the traditional forces which powerfully shaped his early musical development and prompt listeners to praise the authenticity of his approach.
As a full time professional musician since 1991, Dan continues to tour incessantly along the East Coast, U.S. Virgin Islands, U.K., Germany and Canada. He has appeared with such artists as Johnny Winter, James Cotton, Charlie Musselwhite, Arlo Guthrie, Richie Havens, Charlie Daniels, Livingston Taylor, Ronnie Earl, and others. An irrepressible guitar collector, Dan surrounds himself with vintage and custom instruments acquired in his many travels. Usually packing three guitars, any given performance may find him choosing to play a Gibson J-200, 1950’s Sears Silvertone, a 1931 National Steel, a retro lime green Resophonic, and more.
Dan’s most recent CD, “Dirt Floor Sessions”, has been described as having a real, raw, rockin' feel with songs encompassing sounds from his major influences. Several cuts are interpretations of intricate finger style arrangements learned directly from mentor Dave Van Ronk. Others invoke the spirit of the delta through his newfound interest in primitive homemade instruments, specifically the 3 stringed cigar box guitar and one stringed diddley bow. Rounded out with Dan's originals and the addition in just the right spots of tuba, clarinet, lap steel and percussion, the disc is a true snapshot of his musical evolution.
Termed “Connecticut’s hardest working bluesman” by the New York Times in 2002, he plays over 200 engagements a year, including concerts, clubs, festivals, coffeehouses, community and private events and educational programs. He has appeared at Long Island’s Riverhead Blues Festival, the Berlin Blues Festival in Connecticut and was the closer in the acoustic section of the Fleet Blues Festival in Albany, New York. and Pennsylvania’s Harry Smith Festival. Dan was a finalist at the International Blues Challenge '08 on Beale Street in Memphis TN with partner Chris D'Amato and has been chosen to be included on the roster of the Music Under New York program enabling him to perform in prime locations throughout the MTA system such as Times Square and Grand Central Station. He is also endorsed by Connecticut’s State Arts Commission and the New England Foundation for the Arts. He lives in on the shoreline in Old Lyme, Connecticut with his wife Gail and daughter, Haley.