By Alix Bruch
CALGARY – Playing anywhere between 180 and 210 shows a year, Steve Poltz spends most of his time on the road. After factoring in travel days on either end, this number hits around 300, which probably sounds daunting to the ordinary human. But the Halifax born and Californian raised singer-songwriter is anything but ordinary.
“I don’t like to say no,” explains Poltz. “I think there are three main reasons to do shows. One is that the money might be good and you like the gig. That’s ideal. Another reason is the money might not be good, but it’s a really good hang. And every once in a while there is one that is a horrible gig, but the money is so good you’d be a fool to say no. There are always offers coming in. I love playing!”
When he is not travelling the world entertaining the masses, Poltz returns to Nashville where he continues eating, sleeping and breathing music. He has only lived there for a couple of years, but the scintillating storyteller has fallen in love with the musical metropolis, speaking fondly of the little things that make it feel like home.
“I really enjoy being home because I get together with people and do co-writes and I record. I go every morning to this coffee shop called the Ugly Mugs in East Nashville. I just go there, and something always happens. I kind of have an open schedule and then I run into somebody and they’re like, ‘Hey we’re doing this video for charity, come sing a verse,’ or ‘We’re all going down to this park,’ or ‘Tonight come to the American Legion Hall’. Every Tuesday the American Legion Hall has the most amazing music where there are old people and young people and everyone is swing dancing. The old people are dressed up all western and cowboy-esque and they’re perfect swing dancers, and the young people are learning how to do it. It’s hipsters mixed in with oldsters. It’s super fun.”
A child at heart, it is hard to know if Poltz falls in with the ‘hipsters’ or the ‘oldsters’, but perhaps part of what makes his music so captivating is that it transcends generations. Upon attempting to count on his fingers the number of years it has been since the release of his first four song cassette with the Rugburns, Poltz admits that not much has changed since 1985.
“I wouldn’t say I’m more mature or anything…hopefully I’m less mature!” Poltz quips. “I just don’t ever want to censor myself. I still write songs about dog-doo and boogers, or the one I wrote last month called ‘Go Fuck Yourself’, but then I’ll turn around and do a really pretty song. So yeah, nothing has changed. And the shows are still a hodgepodge free-for-all. I’ll do any song I’ve ever written.”
It is safe to say that Steve Poltz is not slowing down anytime soon. While drinking his beloved PG Tips tea that he orders online, the wayward traveller tells BeatRoute he is able to keep his mind sharp and his body young because the only thing he is addicted to is reading the news.
“I’m 58 and I sweat every night on stage. I don’t drink any alcohol and I take no drugs. I’m totally sober, so I feel like I’m set for the long haul. My friends love going out with me because I’m the best designated driver. I love driving them after they’ve been drinking, especially when I go by check points. I love when I pull up and I look crazy and the cops are like, ‘Oh we got a live one,’ and I say crazy shit to the cops and they’re like, ‘He’s not blowing anything! Zero!’ And I’m like, ‘I don’t drink or take drugs, dude.’”
Steve Poltz is at the Canmore Folk Festival from August 3-7, the Ironwood Stage and Grill (Calgary) on August 7, and the Edmonton Folf Festival August 9-12.Canmore Folk Festival, Edmonton Folf Festival, Ironwood Stage and Grill, Steve Poltz