Steve Hauser has got to be one of the hardest working men in the OBX music business. If you go to one of the various websites that list the daily or weekly appearances of local musicians at local venues, or check the listings in our publication, Mr. Hauser’s name is ubiquitous.
A fine vocalist and guitarist, Steve has an innate ability to take a song you may have heard a million times, hold on to the best aspects of it, but still keep it fresh. When you go to one of Steve’s gigs you can expect a massive list of tunes ranging from the '60s to well…now. 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.
In situations where Steve is accompanying someone else, or when he extends an invitation to someone else to join in his obvious fun, he allows them to shine and never engages in “one-upmanship.” A more “giving” musical partner is hard to come by.
There’s not much more to add other than he’s a genuinely nice guy.
I recently posed a series of questions to him. Here’s what he had to say.
Q: If you’re not a native, what brought you to the Outer Banks?
A: I was born in California. Playing Dick Dale records and listening to Wolfman Jack on the radio. Moved to Washington, D.C. for high school, moved to Alaska in ’80s, came back to the D.C./Virginia-area later in the ’80s. I played in an alternative band until I decided to settle down to try to be an adult. Now, I’m here trying to be a kid, I guess. The Outer Banks is one of my favorite beaches. There is a nice balance between quirky beach town and outdoor activities.
Q: How would describe your music?
A: Upbeat. 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.
Q: Who is your greatest musical influence?
A: I am influenced a lot by my bandmate, Dan McIsaac. He brings a musicality to his performance in many ways, for example, dynamics. When we first started playing together, sometimes he would get so quiet that all you could hear is the crowd.
Q: What is it about music that touches you?
A: I like that it makes me feel more alive. I also enjoy the crazy, imprecise, human math of it.
Q: What was the first concert you attended?
A: It was actually The Beach Boys or Seals and Crofts, with my parents. What really caught my attention was the aroma.
Q: Was there a person in your life that motivated you to pursue music?
A: Yes. There was this hippie that worked for the Forest Service or Conservation Corps. 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.
Q: If you could perform with anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why?
A: Charlie ”The Bird” Parker. I think he would be more fun to play with than say, Beethoven. Oh, no wait: Jerry Garcia! Sorry, Charlie Parker!
Q: What one song have you heard that you wish you’d written?
A: “Feel it Still.”Portugal. The Man.
Q: Do you listen to new music and if so, what are you listening to?
A: Normally, I like alternative, but some of it is getting to be whiny, washed out noise. I am enjoying things like Leon Bridges “Smooth Sailin’.”
Q: The music business can be tough. Did you ever consider quitting and doing something else?
A: I never considered getting into the music business. That sounds like a terrible idea. I just like to play.
Q: McCartney or Lennon?
Q: Where were you the first time you performed onstage and old were you?
A: When I was a kid, maybe 14. I was playing pinball outside a bar at a ski resort. The guitar player had this sunburst Les Paul guitar. When they came back from the parking lot, I said “I like your guitar.” He was probably messed up, but he said, “Do want to play it?” So we did some blues jams, and then I went back to playing pinball.
Q: When you write a song, is it positive or negative inspiration that drives you?
A: Different ways. One time, I had a dream where someone turned up the radio and said, “You are probably going to like this new song by Hannah Montana.” I woke up, recorded it and then wrote down the lyrics.
Q: Your favorite album?
A: Three-way tie. “Presence” by Led Zeppelin. “Animals” by Pink Floyd. “Book of Taliesyn” by Deep Purple.
A: Great guitar playing probably has a lot to do with it. “Presence” was a weird thing because I didn’t like it at first, but then started the album over again at the beginning and was hooked. I used to stack records up on my turn table and put my headphones on when I went to bed. Pink Floyd’s “Animals” is perfect for that. David Gilmore is definitely the “Master of the Stratocaster.” 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.
Q: If you were me, what question should I be asking you?
A: Do you want to jam?