Stevie Cornell

Who is this guy? Well, I'm a native New Yorker who's spent most of his life between the SF Bay Area and Northern New England. I came west in 1977 at the age of 18 and landed right in the middle of the crazy and wonderful punk rock scene that was just getting going in the Bay Area. I was an art school drop out who was coming from the early seventies prog and glam scene and suddenly things were being stripped down and sped up and anything was possible! I had been exposed to the strange New York bands while in Boston, but they were the obscure CBGBs second line, bands  like Manster, The Shirts. and The Laughing Dogs. In SF, there were great bands like the Avengers, The Nuns, Crime and a bit later, The Dead Kennedys. 

 I was in a group called the Young Adults who's only recorded legacy is a show at the long defunct Keystone. The other punks didn't know quite what to make of us as we had long hair and wore leisure suits (That was a tip of the hat to Manster). The YAs were a great band, but didn't last very long. 

I eventually started playing with the late JD Buhl in his band The Believers through the early eighties. We ended up as an acoustic duo and joined up with some other indie acoustic acts called the New Acoustic Review, as a way of getting gigs - in the mid eighties, no one wanted to book acoustic acts! We played the Starry Plough and the old Freight and Salvage and out of that talented group of musicians we formed the Movie Stars in the spring of 1987. 

The Movie Stars were a total mash up of styles and quickly became a top draw in SF, putting out a couple of critically acclaimed independent albums around the turn of the decade. We were all pulling hard in very different directions though, and didn’t quite make the jump from local favorites to national exposure, eventually calling it quits around 1992. 

That fall I tried out the role of hired gun with the alt folk singer songwriter Wesley Stace, who was going by John Wesley Harding at that time. It was a blast, and I got to play on the Tonight Show, but I realized that I wasn’t cut out to be a sideman...  Back in SF I got a call from my old friend Scott Young; he was looking for a pedal steel player for a retro country band he was starting called Red Meat. If you haven’t heard that band I suggest you check them out on Spotify- They are honestly one of the best country bands in the nation and are only obscure because they don’t tour much. 

 I stayed with Red Meat, working on my steel chops until the late 90s when I moved down to LA to study film scoring at UCLA. I learned a lot about arranging but found out my ego was too big for the scoring biz, so my wife and I moved back to Oakland and then to Vermont. We lived there for 11 years, raising a son in the woods while I taught guitar to Vermont kids, (including Noah Kahan and Iva Wich who both have blossoming music careers...) before moving back to the Bay Area. 

Now I write, play and sing as a grand old man who’s head is filled to the brim with every conceivable style and who plays a multitude of instruments, some quite well and some barely at all. I’m busy synthesizing everything into what I think of as sort of parallel pop- not quite old, not quite new, just a bit jumbled and eclectic. I love a good song, and pretty much let each tune tell me how it wants to be produced. I’m lucky to have met the mysterious Mr. Mojo while on tour with Red Meat, and he and his orchestra are capable of many cool sounds that surprise even me! I hope you like it too.

Stevie Cornell

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