Category Archives: Live Performances

The Blue Door

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I played The Blue Door in Oklahoma City a while back. Doug and Telisha from Wild Ponies were gracious enough to have me open their show. It’s a venue I hold in high regards; a place I have always dreamed of earning the right to play. That stage has graced so many of my musical heroes, including Doug and Telisha.
My sister, a few of her friends and my step dad came to the show. My step dad had never seen me play other than on youtube. I was nervous to play in front of him. He doesn’t really get what I do, but he was there in support and shot this footage. He gave me a thumb drive with the files on it and I forgot about them, because I thought it was a bad set and didn’t want to see the video. I just found them while looking for something else.
Shortly after this night he died. I’m putting them online because I’ll probably lose them if I don’t and I kind of would like to hold on to them because it was the last time I saw him.
Enjoy.

Wil Cope CD Release

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Wil Cope - Sunset CravesI met Wil Cope at the Cactus Cafe a couple of years back, but hadn’t seen him in a while. I noticed he was having a CD release at The Scoot Inn last night, so my friend Dan and I went to see the show.

His CD is entitled “Sunset Craves” and features a top notch band, including three members of The Heartless Bastards, two of whom  played with him on stage last night. The drummer of The Heartless Bastards, Dave Colvin produced the CD as well.

I would have liked a more attentive and less raucous crowd, but the Scoot Inn is in general a more rowdy place, meant for rowdy bands. Wil’s music does not really fit into that category. His music is slow and laid back, with some tracks singer/songwriter song with a hit of country. Then some songs are more in the vein of old-time country, featuring a lot of slide guitar. Through it all is a laid back vibe, which certainly fits Wil’s personality.

Wil doesn’t mince words. The words are simple and to the point, but poetic in their bareness. His CD has a vibe of some of the work of now disbanded The Scud Mountain Boys. Hard to say at this point if the songs will get under my skin like The Scud Mountain Boys, but to me it’s a CD meant to enjoy when you just want to enjoy sitting under the sun and enjoying the beauty of the small things in life.

Weekend of friends, music and food

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Friday night I headed to a friends birthday party downtown. It was a super crowded bar and I’m not good in crowded bars where I’m not getting to watch someone play music. We stayed for a few minutes and then walked over to the CD release of Hard Proof Afrobeat and we also caught a couple of songs of Kalu James. A friend of ours, Michael Rubin plays with Kalu, so we got to see him in action, which was cool.

What I saw of Kalu, I really enjoyed.

Hard Proof Afrobeat was wicked. I would try to describe it, but it’s best told by this short video. Just take this video and imagine a full set like this basically. Same venue, same girl dancing, it was exactly like this.

Then Saturday night I went to the Eagle Eye Williamson CD release. It was on a big double decker river boat in downtown Austin.

My friend works with Eagle Eye. I had never seen him before, but it was entertaining. He played a drum set, guitar and sings at the same time. He played guitar with one hand. He did all hammer on and pulls offs on the guitar which was impressive.

He also had a keg of Chimay, a keg of Live Oak HefeWeizen and sandwiches, so for 20 bucks it was a pretty good deal.

We road the river boat up and down Lady Bird Lake in downtown Austin, the night could not have been any nicer. We smoked fine cigars, drank fine beer and listened to some fine music.



I picked up his CD, which is printed on old album covers, so everyone is different. Dan Grissom was the originator of this idea, but Eagle Eye Williamson was the first one to be able to use the idea. It is great. It makes a really nice and unique package. Here’s the one I got.


This show was over fairly early so we headed to a vitagraph, american thanksgiving movie night. Vitagraph, American is put on by my friend Cole Roulain who is a huge movie buff. Once a month he selects movies to show outside on a big sheet, usually at my house, but this night it was being hosted by Stephen and Lauren Smith. We watched A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and Big Night. Big Night was excellent. It was released in 1996 and I’ve always wanted to see it. It was nice to watch it outside with perfect weather. There was tons of food at the party as well, so we ate spaghetti, meatballs, pies and so on.

For the last 4 years at my house there’s been a potluck Thanksgiving party. We had this years on Sunday. I made my great grandmothers macaroni and cheese recipe. It was a blast. Charles brought me a big goblet that said, “playa” on it, so I also busted out my necklace that says “pimp” on it, so I was straight up pimpin’.



We then set up mics in the living room and recorded some hand claps for Alexa Woodwards new CD.  Her CD is sounding amazing! It is being engineered by Stephen Orsak.

I then had to head out to see the Dresden Dolls. I had never seen them before. I rode my bike over to La Zona Rosa and got there in time to catch 4 or 5 songs of the opening act, Girl in a Coma. I enjoy seeing girls rock. It’s a beautiful thing.

Then the Dresden Dolls came on and kicked ass for 3 full hours, ending the encore with the song “Boston” and “War Pigs”. Boston is my favorite song of theirs and it was so moving. They both were crying and so into it.  Dresden Dolls are a duo and have also had an intense love for each other. The song Boston tells the story perfectly. Here’s a video of the song.

Tonight, the Cactus Cafe open mic. Come out and play some tunes with me.

The Calm Waters of Youth

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I’m late to the game. Real late. I released my first full length record at age 41. I am a grandpa. It’s crazy times.

Although I’m throwing my hat in whatever ring it is I’m throwing it into, I’m happy and proud to do it.

Last night I released my CD at the world renowned Cactus Cafe. The premier listening room in Austin, TX. I was joined on stage by an amazing cast of musicians. Andrew Pressman (Raina Rose Situation, Sick’s Pack to name a very small few), Derek Hansen (Wino Vino), Adam Rader (Some Say Leland, The McMercy Family Band).

These three guys have contributed to 17 CDs in the last year that I know of. I’m honored to have them on my CD and I’m honored to share the stage with them.

Southpaw Jones was gracious and started off the festivities with an amazing set.

I’m still riding high from the show last night. Thanks to everyone that came out and supported. I really appreciate it.

If you would like to hear the CD or buy a copy you can do so at robertsteel-music.com.

CD Release – OCT. 14th at The Cactus Cafe!

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Artwork by Adam Kobetich

In spring of this year I began recording my first full-length CD. Originally it was going to be a solo acoustic EP, but grew into something bigger.

I have had some things slow down the release of this CD, but the time is finally here. On October 14th at The Cactus Cafe we will present, “The Calm Waters of Youth”. Most of the musicians that appeared on the CD will be joining me on stage. The doors open at 8PM. It is a FREE SHOW and to add to that, the amazing songwriter and Austin legend Southpaw Jones will be playing a set as well.

To listen to the new CD go here. I hope you can join us celebrate this CD as we are very proud of it.

Matt Burnett Making things sound awesome.

Matt Burnett who is a sound/recording engineer in Austin, TX was at my house with his equipment to have my roommate (Andrew Pressman) record some upright bass for his own record. I walked in to find an impressive amount of quality gear set up in my living room. I complimented Matt on his gear and he said he’d love to record some of my songs sometime. I was heading out of town the following morning for a few days, but we scheduled time to record for the day I got back into town.

Adam Rader laying down electric guitar

We got together and laid down 4 or 5 guitar tracks over a 2-3 hour period and then decided to get together the next day and record a few more. We wrapped up 8 tracks over two days with guitar and scratch vocals.

We had a lot of fun doing it and worked well together so I asked him if he was interested in having a few musicians come over to contribute. It snowballed from there. With every session came magic and new possibilities. We ended up scheduling drums, bass, electric guitar, rhodes, cello, accordion, trombone, harmonies and before we knew it we had ten songs with a full band.

Derek laying down drums. Also with out the shirt cause he canb pull it off.

We used my original guitar tracks. They had a looseness to them they really helped contribute to the vibe of this record.  You can also hear dogs barking, buses going by, birds, wind chimes, etc. We embraced these sounds as best we could. Sometimes they ruined takes, sometimes they contributed to takes.

Derek Hansen from Wino Vino was the first to come over and lay down tracks. We recorded Drums over two nights. Derek had a lot of great ideas and came right in and nailed things. It was such an easy session. Matt and I were giddy after Derek’s sessions.

Derek playing items found on the porch

Derek sent me an e-mail about an idea he had for a song. He wanted to record some things on the patio. Far be it from me to get in the way of that, so that is what we did. He set up the patio with things he wanted to use and recorded it. We ended up using it in the track.

Next we brought in Adam Rader from the band Some Say Leland and The McMercy Family Band to play electric guitar. Adam has a knack for knowing what to play and pulling melody lines out of thin air. We recorded him over a couple of afternoons.

Andrew Pressman was next on upright bass. Andrew plays with tons of bands and songwriters, but spends most of his time playing with Raina Rose.

Andrew Pressman, bass player extraordinaire

Not only is he a tremendous bass player, but invaluable on a recording project all the way around. He knows a lot about music and how to record it and how to make something sound great.

Stephen Smith from Some Say Leland and The Biographers came in and laid down rhodes, trombone, accordion and glockenspiel. He also thoroughly entertained us with some improv silliness. There’s video of it floating around somewhere. I can’t really describe that moment.

Stephen Smith on Accordion

Stephen is an amazing musician and composer.

David Moss laid down cello. David is in the band The Blue Hit and is an an extremely incredible musician, as well as songwriter. He released a CD this year to rave reviews.

Then Dan Grissom from Some Say Leland laid down some harmonies on a couple of tracks and my friend Linky Dickson laid down harmonies on one track.

We wrapped it up by having it mastered at Cacophony Studios by Erik Wofford.

Adam Kobetich did the artwork for the CD packaging. Dan Grissom and I will be letterpressing the artwork. I made 24 page booklets for the insert. It has been a fun process!

David Moss from The Blue Hit

I would be delighted and honored if you could join us at The Cactus Cafe on October 14th for the official release. It is a FREE SHOW and I am very proud of what we created. Again Southpaw Jones will be playing a set as well. He is one of my favorite songwriters and if you haven’t seen him, you are in for a treat.

Annie Street Arts Collective Field Recording Sessions

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Annie Street Arts Collective Central Presbyterian Church show

The venue for the show. Central Presbyterian Church.

Over a year ago I started a project under the Annie Street Arts Collective. I was going to field record different bands and songwriters in strange places and release a CD of it. What started as a small, quick project quickly turned into something large and magical.

The word grew quickly and I got to as many people as I could and we narrowed it down to a 2 CD set.

The first person I recorded was Country Willie. We headed to a tunnel in South Austin next to some railroad tracks. What happened during that recording session set the tone.

From there I recorded under bridges, in creek beds, abandoned mental institutions, abandoned strip clubs, docks, parking garages, stairwells, park restrooms and so on.

I recorded somewhere between 40 and 50 hours of audio. We picked the best moments from all those sessions and have spent the last few days printing everything up and making it look pretty for our CD release tomorrow at 8PM, Central Presbyterian Church at 200 E 8th St. Austin, TX.

Adan Falconberry, Some Say Leland, Country Willie and Merritt Fields will be playing live in this beautiful space.

Please join us for a magical night of music.

Adam Kobetich of The Electric Mountain Rotten Apple Gang

Adam Kobetich recording among a pile of trash at Mckinney Falls State Park

Dana Falconberry

Dana Falconberry and band recording in creek bed in South Austin

Robert Steel recording session

Robert Steel recording session at abandoned strip club in South Louisiana

Some Say Leland

Some Say Leland recording in abandoned mental institution

Southpaw Jones

Southpaw Jones recording among a gaggle of geese

Posters from the shows

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I did not have time to design posters for every show at Flipnotics, but here is a collection of posters I did design for some of our shows.

This Monday is my last show at Flipnotics for a while. I hope to get a poster designed for it. I will be joined by Andrew Pressman on upright bass and hopefully some others as well.

Southpaw and Robert Steel Live at Flipnotics

I was lucky enough to book many of my favorite Austin musicians to play shows with me. Graham Weber was the first guy I saw play live when I got into town. He was hosting an open mic. I walked in to see him sound checking and he was so good I freaked out and left to go home and practice. For this poster I used an old picture of my mother with a nice stringer of fish.

Graham Weber and Robert Steel playing live at Flipnotics

Johann Wagner is a local favorite and in my eyes somewhat of a local legend in the folk world. He is king of the Kerrville Folk Festival in a way because he’s a crowd favorite and takes full advantage of playing and listening non-stop while he is out there.

Johann Wagner and Robert Steel Live at Flipnotics

Last and certainly not least it was my honor to share the stage with Dan Grissom of  Some Say Leland. Dan is one of my favorite songwriters right now. Period. Not just in Austin. The way he goes about telling a story is very compelling and very well written.

Dan Grissom and Robert Steel Live at Flipnotics

I also shared the stage with many other friends and great songwriters whom I did not get a chance to design a poster for. Among them are Matt Burnett, Max Gutierrez, Adam Kobetich, Country Willie, Merritt Fields, Nic Walker, Ron Scott, Sunny Fairly.