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Steve Young

To have your songs covered by the likes of Joan Baez, Del McCoury and the Eagles might be enough of a reward for some artists. And certainly if you had written the near-signature tune for one legitimate country hero (Waylon Jennings' "Lonesome, On'ry and Mean") and a hit for another (Hank Williams Jr.'s "Montgomery in the Rain"), you might be fending off requests from music publishers all across the country. Yet, despite the flow of royalty checks coming his way, Steve Young has always sought his riches from within and has kept on the move, far away from the spotlight.

Young was raised a Southern Baptist, but is now steeped in the arcane of the East -- Zen Buddhism to be exact. His songs can be classified as Americana, but they have a worldly, authoritative bent rare in any genre. Steeped in Southern culture -- his family shuttled back and forth from Alabama, Georgia and Texas, where he attended high school in Beaumont -- Young eventually found a niche in the growing country-rock melting pot of mid-1960s California. He even had a stint in one unknown band with Stephen Stills on rhythm guitar. That was right before he signed on with the bong- blowing garage band Stone Country; that project didn't last, and a year later, Young released his first solo record, Rock Salt & Nails.

Whether plucking out folksy triads or bluegrass licks or even hitting vocals in a high register, Young always produces music from the heart. Or, as he puts it, a place in his head where he stores the "primal mountain music" he heard as a child. His combined talents make for a mesmerizing performance, especially in an intimate venue like Old Quarter.

 
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