Steve Jevne has become a Monday night fixture on the stage at Airdrie’s Bambino’s Neighbourhood Pub; he’s also becoming a regular at the SLAM on AIR contest.
Jevne’s entered the original songwriting event three times, making the finalists list each year, but aspiring to win isn’t the reason he participates.
“I don’t do it to play on a professional level; I’ve done that. I do it because I like to do it and people like it.”
Jevne, 35, who went to school in Airdrie but now lives in Calgary, has had a long career playing in bands and as a live acoustic rock solo act. He continues to work in Airdrie, doing day shifts at The Canadian Brewhouse, and hosting Bambino’s popular Monday night open mike stage.
A believer in networking with other musicians, for Jevne the SLAM (Supporting Local Area Musicians) contest was just another opportunity to connect.
“The good part about Airdrie is that there’s no one butting heads. Everyone works well together,” says the musician.
He also likes the changes made to the contest this year, in particular the introduction of online judging by such industry giants as Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal, Nick Catanese, Sean Kelly and U.S.-based concert promoter Donnie Frizzell.
“It’s a cool concept, especially in Airdrie. It felt good to be chosen (as a finalist) by these guys,” Jevne says.
He credits SLAM’s marketing director Steve Gilliss with the direction the contest has taken.
“It’s always been organized, but Steve’s brought a structure to it that has taken it to the next level.”
The grand finale took place at Bert Church Theatre in September and featured local judges who critiqued performances and offered feedback before choosing the winner.
With acts like Flaysher, Savage Playground, Xander Nils, Kieran Clarke and The Martin Project, the energy was amazing, Jevne says.
“The vibe in there was, ‘just go have fun.’ No one really cared who won.”
Edmonton’s Savage Playground won the contest, but even they, “were just a bunch of regular guys,” he adds.
One of the songs Jevne performed was his When We Were Young, which is seeing increased airplay.
He writes and records his own music, but not to be popular.
“I write to write, I don’t write for any other reason,” he says, explaining that he’s at his best when “spot writing” lyrics.
“I don’t like to think about it too much. When We Were Young was written that way. I wrote it in about 15 minutes. It was exactly the way I was feeling at that moment.”
The song is popular, Jevne believes, because it asks the question: ‘Would you go back and change anything?’
“It’s kind of an every-person concept. We all ask ourselves that question.”
Jevne credits his musical style to Guns N’ Roses’ iconic guitarist Slash.
“Anybody that’s my age that plays guitar pretty much was worshipping Slash when they grew up.”
He says his cousin gave him the Guns N’ Roses album Appetite For Destruction in 1990, and as soon as he heard the intro to Welcome to the Jungle, he was hooked.
“I was like, ‘that’s it, I’m gonna smoke Marlboro Reds, wear a top hat and play Les Pauls for the rest of my life.’ I’ve done two of those things.”
For now, Jevne continues to manage Monday night’s open mike at Bambino’s, and performs wherever he can.
“I’ve been pretty lucky. I’m making a living at this.”
Will he enter next year’s SLAM on AIR contest?
“Oh, yeah. The energy there was amazing.”
His album of original music, The January Sessions, is available on iTunes.