The Charleston quartet Almost Steve spent the better part of a decade, from the late 1990s to the early 2000s, touring throughout South Carolina and eventually up and down the East Coast, playing a catchy style of acoustic-electric rock. It was tonally similar to what some of their contemporaries like the Blue Dogs were doing, but Almost Steve’s music had a bit more of a ragged edge and more complexity in their rhythms.
Whatever the formula, it was an effective one, and the band routinely drew crowds 300-500 strong throughout South Carolina. And they had an especially strong following in the Upstate, even naming their album “Greenvegas Super City“ as a nod to Greenville.
“I felt like in Greenville, we were really enjoying a fair amount of popularity,” says singer/guitarist Jeff Buchanan, who founded the band with his childhood friend, singer/guitarist Bill Johnson, and bassist Brian Buchanan (no relation). “We got together as a band in Charleston, but we got out there and toured a lot so, we’d always stop into Greenville a couple times a year. And we were seeing 3, 4, 500 people coming out to the shows back in those days. We were fortunate enough to get some people paying attention and supporting us.”
Eventually, the band stopped touring and recording, for what Buchanan says is a very simple reason: “The other guys are jerks,” he says with a laugh. “That’s primarily what the problem was.”
In truth, there wasn’t any one reason that Almost Steve became inactive. “There’s no one big story,” he says. “Life happened; people started going in other directions and following other pursuits. It was more of a fizzle than a big bang. All of us continued doing music in one way or another. Bill and I continued to do a lot of playing as an acoustic duo, as well as doing stuff on our own. It was just a matter of us going in different directions after doing one thing for so long.”
Despite their different paths, the members of Almost Steve still worked together, either in the aforementioned acoustic duo or in Jeff Buchanan and Brian Buchanan’s project Frozen Concrete. So, it makes sense that eventually, they decided to get back together under their old name for some new shows to commemorate the band’s 20th anniversary, one of which will be at Gottrocks in Greenville on Friday. The show will be recorded for possible future release.
There is one member who unfortunately won’t be along for these shows, and that’s drummer Todd Verdin, who died unexpectedly in 2010. Brandon Gallagher, who started out as a fan of Almost Steve in his teens, will be behind the kit for the band’s shows in Charleston, Columbia, and Greenville.
“I’ve got a lot of history with Brandon,” Jeff Buchanan says. “He’s a phenomenal drummer who’s in like five different bands. He was already familiar with the material because he had our CD in high school.”
When the quartet decided at the end of last year to play some shows, they didn’t want to disappoint themselves or their fans, so they immediately began a rigorous rehearsal schedule that’s taken up much of the past seven months.
“We all agreed that we wanted to really get in there and spend the time and put forth the effort to rehearse and prepare the material,” Buchanan says. “And that’s what we’ve done. And it’s been a lot more enjoyable than I would’ve imagined. We wrote this music when we were very young and played it so much that it became old to us. So, when we went back and rehearsed it, I found that I liked the songs more than I thought I did.”
Buchanan does have one caveat about Almost Steve’s return: Don’t call it a reunion.
“I don’t like the term ‘reunion shows,’ because I don’t like the idea that we’d broken up,” he says. “We left things open-ended so that anything was possible.”
Almost Steve w/ The Kenny George Band
When: Friday, June 15, 9 p.m.
Where: Gottrocks, 200 Eisenhower Drive
Info: 864-235-5519; https://www.eventbrite.com/e/almost-steve-w-kenny-george-band-tickets-46348849657