List your band members and the instruments that they play.
I work with a mix of some amazing musicians from around the WNY area, however on this show I have Tim Webb on drums, Paul Yates on Bass and Matt Valerio on keys.
What is the name of your group?
I usually perform a mix of both classic and modern Pop, Soul and R&B tunes (as well as originals) with my band the “Steve Balesteri Band,” however for this performance at the Pan-American Grill at the Lafayette (Wednesday Aug, 7, 2013), I will be changing it up and singing the classics from Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Dean Martin and more and am calling the show “Steve Balesteri Sings the Standards.”
When did it form?
While I have been performing around the WNY area for a few years, this particular group is brand new –only having been put together for our performance at the Buffalo Italian Festival last weekend. Our performance this Wednesday at the Lafayette will be our second show together a group.
Where are you from originally? If not from Buffalo, why are you here?
Born and raised in Buffalo.
What’s it like to perform in front of a crowd? Give me three words.
Fun, Challenging, Rewarding
I first started playing in 3rd grade when I took up the Clarinet in elementary school. I always knew that I wanted to learn an instrument and I chose the Clarinet after hearing some old Benny Goodman and Pete Fountain records and loved what they did with the instrument. I began singing around the same time in the school choir and would continue on to sing in any groups my middle and high school offered.
What was the first tune that you remember “really” playing well, when you knew that you would be a musician?
Billy Joel’s “The Longest Time.” I had been selected to perform in the all-male singing group at my high school called the “Varsity Singers,” and when I auditioned to sing one of the verses of this tune, I was actually given two of them. Before this I was generally thought of as pretty quiet and shy (and probably a bit nerdy now that I think about it), but as soon as I finished the song, the audience went nuts! I was in total shock, as were they apparently…like, “where did THAT come from?”
Describe your voice/instrument. If you were to name your instrument (maybe you have) what would its name be?
My main instrument is my voice, which my parents decided to name Steven some 29 years ago. I’m cool with it.
Did music come naturally to you? Or were you driven to learn and play/sing? What sparked the passion? Do you come from a musical family?
I always loved music and really felt a connection to it since I was little. I definitely have it in me from both sides of my family. My Grandmother on my Mom’s side was a great singer. She was actually asked to audition for the Metropolitan Opera in New York City when she was younger, except as one of eight children, she was needed at home to help care for her siblings. We always shared a very special connection because of our love of music. Also, although you would likely never hear this and I may get scolded for saying so, my Mom has a very nice voice as well! On the other side, my Dad always loved singing and has said many times throughout my life that he wished he had pursued it. He even sang in some nightclubs during a period when he was living in Miami. Everyone in my family has been incredibly supportive of my musical dreams and I have been very blessed to have their love and encouragement.
Are you schooled in music? From where?
I had considered going to school for music, although I decided to go for business instead, graduating from the University at Buffalo with a degree in Finance. I have however been studying voice since my sophomore year of high school with local teacher Virginia Greenan. All these years later and I still leave each lesson having learned something new.
Where is your favorite place to play/sing in Buffalo? Where would you most like to play/sing in Buffalo?
I am fortunate enough to get to play at some of the best venues in town. I could go on and on with my favorite spots for different reasons, but I would say two of my top favorites are venues where I get to play with my full band -the Shadow Lounge and the 31 Club. Both of these places have great atmosphere, great crowds and amazing staff! If you want to see an extended list of some great places around town, be sure to check my schedule!
I am a full-time musician; however I also do Real Estate part-time at my father’s company Century 21 Balesteri.
How would you describe your music style? Influences?
My style is somewhere in the middle of Pop, Soul/R&B and probably some Jazz thrown in there. I’m sure I have been influenced by nearly everything I have listened to over the years either as something I connected with or something that I did not. However if I were to pick some of my biggest influences I would say (in no particular order) Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Elvis, Ray Charles, Marvin Gaye, Bill Withers or if I were to mention more current artists, Justin Timberlake, Robin Thicke, Maroon 5 and Michael Buble.
What was the last live music performance that you caught? What was the best show you ever caught? What was the show that got away – the one that you never got to see?
The one show I never got to see was Ray Charles when he came to the UB Center for the Arts a few years back. That was his last time in Buffalo before he passed away and I really would have liked to have seen him.
Do you play/sing covers or all originals? Or a combination of both?
I currently perform mostly covers; however I am starting to incorporate more originals and plan to keep adding more as they are finished. Throwing a few originals into a night of mostly cover music is a great way to test them out and see how the crowd reacts.
Do you have a label? A recording studio? Have you recorded a CD?
I have some original songs recorded, however I am going to be heading into the studio this fall to begin work on a new EP! Stay tuned…
Where and when is your next gig(s) in the city?
Wednesday August 7, 2013 I will be playing at Pan American Grill and Brewery at The Lafayette Hotel from 7-10pm. It’s part of the Jazz, Rhythm and Blue series hosted at the hotel every Wednesday.
I will be at Brennan’s (Transit Road) on Friday from 10pm til 2am and at the Brickhouse on Maple Road in Amherst from 4 til 7pm this Sunday. We will also be at the Shadow Lounge the following Saturday (August 17th).
Here is a direct link to sound clips on my music page:
If you play in a group/band (or solo) here in Buffalo, and have an upcoming gig at a venue(s) in the city, consider sending buffalo rising an email requesting to be emailed a Q&A interview that we can then post, along with concert dates. It’s a fun and easy way to get your name in front of another audience that is interested in learning about the local music scene. The requirements are: