By Scott Sechman | Correspondent
Of all of the musicians that ply their trade on the Banks, Steve Hauser has got to be one of the hardest workers. I know he’s much younger than I (don’t let his graying locks fool you), but this cat works his butt off every year. This season is no different. Perhaps a bit different in that he didn’t accept a steady Friday at one particular venue, opting to leave it open for one-night-only’s and the rare night off with his lovely wife and road manager, Donna.
Vaccine-happy and urged to get back into the swing of things, restaurants are able to pack ‘em in again. That “normalcy” concept is just something that was akin to a pipe dream as recently as January.
I myself, and perhaps due to just over a year’s worth of habit, am still reticent and keep a wary eye. Steve, on the other hand, has taken on his seven nights a week with the positive attitude that the vaccines offer him sufficient protection. A tool that allows him to interface with the general public.
Given that he’s exhibiting his ample skills at a wide variety of venues this year, I asked him if there were any situations he’s found himself in that gave him pause or concerned him. “Not really. …I know it’s still out there”, he told me. “I know most people have been responsible and have gotten the shot. That doesn’t mean we can’t get it, but if we do, most of us won’t get sick … much less die. So I’m not too worried about it.”
And for music-loving visitors (as well as residents), that’s a wonderful thing, as Steve is a veritable human hard drive, packed with songs, streaming them at will.
A fine vocalist and guitarist, Mr. Hauser has an innate ability to reinvent a song you may have heard a million times and make it fresh, while still holding on to its best aspects. When you go to one of Steve’s gigs, you can expect a massive list of tunes ranging from the ‘60s to now. Not only are they enthusiastically performed, the energy’s a bit infectious (if I can safely use that word again, post-pandemic) when you’re an audience member. Don’t be afraid to request something, because he may surprise you and whip it out. I’d wager that if he doesn’t know your song, he probably knows something by the artist that did your song.
Born in California, he grew up playing Dick Dale records (King of the Surf Guitar) and listening to Wolfman Jack on the radio (who made his home in Belvidere — about an hour’s drive inland). He moved to Washington D.C. for high school and later to Alaska in ‘80s. Towards the end of that decade, he came back to D.C./Virginia area where he played in an alternative band until a decision was made to settle down to try to be an adult. “Now, I’m here on the Outer Banks trying to be a kid, I guess!” Steve says. “The Outer Banks is one of my favorite beaches. There is a nice balance between quirky beach town and outdoor activities.”
When it comes to his music, he was raised on the classic guitar bands like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Deep Purple. “The ‘Book of Taliesyn’ ” was one of the first records I owned, so it got way more of my attention then it probably deserved. What kept drawing me back was Ritchie Blackmore’s guitar. His bends, whammy bar, vibrato and sense of tonality blew me away. Still does.”
Another characteristic Steve goes for in his style?
“Upbeat,” he says. “A good friend of mine, Mike Magnum, commented once that he tries to keep things upbeat. That struck me as good advice for a musician in a resort area.”
Given that the Beatles pretty much set the direction of my life in 1964, I asked if a particular band or person motivated him.
“There was this hippie that worked for the Forest Service or Conservation Corps. Not sure. He was assigned a job living in a tent or something, so he left this enormous record collection with my parents. He gave me this mysterious look as he said ‘You can listen to them.’ So I had to check it out. …”
I didn’t ask him if that hippie ever knew how much he inspired and influenced Steve with that massive vinyl collection, but I know he deserves our thanks.
Steve can be heard at various locations on the Outer Banks this season including, but not limited to, Hurricane Mo’s, Ocean Boulevard Bistro and Martini Bar and Rundown Cafe in Kitty Hawk; Miller’s Waterfront Restaurant & Sunset Bar and Grill in Nags Head and Avenue Waterfront Grille in Manteo.