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A Life Of Note-On Stage And Off, Music Is The Lifeblood Of Steve Buslowe



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A Life Of Note—

On Stage And Off, Music Is The Lifeblood Of Steve Buslowe

By Shannon Hicks

Steve Buslowe likes to think that he has had a reverse midlife crisis.

He did the traveling with the band thing when he was younger, for a number of years –– living out of suitcases, playing gigs at major venues around the world –– and now he’s living a life that’s a little more disciplined.

The Newtown resident is happy these days making a living working from the studio he has built in his home, where he teaches and continues to write music. He and his wife, Jane Calverley, and their four dogs live in a home near a busy stream and a backyard that continues to open and host grander gardens each year thanks to work the couple put into their land. But it’s the work that he does indoors –– the writing and teaching –– that makes Mr Buslowe happiest. And it’s within his studio, surrounded by 38 gold and platinum records, guitars, instruments, photos and other souvenirs that Mr Buslowe is happiest.

He is teaching bass guitar and popular songwriting to students of all ages,  many of whom share the dreams he had.

“Even when I was touring I always worked with a few students,” he said. “Now I’m devoting all my time to teaching. There are many guitar teachers, but not many who specialize in the bass.”

Students range from those who have never picked up a bass before beginning lessons to people who have played for a few years in bar bands who know they can sound better.

Music has played a large role in Steve Buslowe’s life. His family –– he grew up in West Haven, where he has also recently begun teaching –– had a piano that he played on as a young boy, just plucking tunes by ear. He received his first guitar around age 10 and switched to bass a few years later when the band he was in needed a bass player.

“We had two guitarists, no bass player, and the other guy was better on guitar than me,” he readily admits.

“One thing I learned quickly is most people can play guitar but not everyone can play bass. You learn how to play bass, especially if you do it well, and everyone’s your friend,” he continued.

Playing in bands continued through high school and college. He took a year off from college “to travel and live day by day,” he said, before returning to school to finish studies for a math degree.

Around that time Mr Buslowe got into a club band that was playing gigs five to six nights a week. One night a musician named Michael Bolotin saw them play, and a few performances later Mr Bolotin –– who later became better known as the performer Michael Bolton –– invited Mr Buslowe to join his band.

Mr Buslowe said No Thanks at that point, but only because he wanted to finish school. After receiving an associate’s degree he took up Bolotin’s offer, joining Bolotin’s band Blackjack.

“Michael was a stepping stone for me,” Mr Buslowe said recently. “He gets a bad rap sometimes but I have the highest respect for him, and he always treated me with respect.”

With Blackjack, Mr Buslowe played a number of clubs and met New York City-based musicians and songwriters (including Frankie Previte, who wrote the words and co-wrote the music for the Academy Award-winning song “I’ve Had The Time of My Life”).

One day Mr Buslowe got a call inviting him to play “with some guy named Meat Loaf,” he says. This was well before the career-establishing release of Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell, but it was an invitation to an audition so Mr Buslowe took the chance. What he had no way of knowing was that landing that gig turned out, he says, “to be a dream come true … it was a great time.”

Mr Buslowe ended up working with Meat Loaf, a former Redding resident, for two decades.

Mr Buslowe joined The Neverland Express –– Meat Loaf’s band –– as its bassist and a backup vocalist when the band formed in 1977, and became its music director by 1988. Within a year the band went from playing smaller clubs such as The Bottom Line in Manhattan (small in size perhaps, but monumental –– like New Haven’s Toad’s Place –– in the number of major bands that have graced its stage over the years) to selling out Nassau Coliseum less than ten months later.

While working with Meat Loaf, Mr Buslowe was also introduced to Jim Steinman, who pens many of the songs performed by Meat Loaf. Mr Buslowe and Mr Steinman hit it off very well, and that association has led to more introductions for Mr Buslowe within the music world.

His work can be heard on a number of Meat Loaf albums including Bat Out Of Hell II: Back Into Hell (1993), Midnight At The Lost and Found (1993), Welcome To The Neighborhood (1995), Dead Ringer (1996) and Live Around the World (1996).

His resumé is long and varied. Studio credits include session time with Celine Dion, Bonnie Tyler (with whom he has also performed live), and Air Supply, and he has recorded with Barbra Streisand, Aldo Nova, Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes, and Paul Stanley, among others. He has also played on commercials and movie soundtracks.

He once took part in a live television broadcast from Modena, Italy, with Meat Loaf and Luciano Pavarotti, as well as Simon LeBon (Duran Duran) and Dolores O’Riordan (The Cranberries). He performed at one of President Clinton’s 1997 inaugural balls, and also on Hulk Hogan’s track on WWF’s Wrestling Album.

The common link to much of his career was Mr Buslowe’s work with Meat Loaf. After 20 years, Mr Buslowe began to feel like it was time to take a break.

“It was like a marriage. We had our ups and downs,” he said. “I was happy, don’t get me wrong, but I began thinking about things in the business that I didn’t like and just felt like it was time to make a change.”

When Meat Loaf moved from Connecticut to the West Coast to focus more on his acting career, it was the perfect time for Mr Buslowe to retire from The Neverland Express. In June 1997 he earned his realtor’s license and worked in that field for a time. It was completely different from the music world and enabled him to develop more marketing and networking skills than he’d ever had before, but it wasn’t where his heart was.

“The funniest thing would be when I’d be in the real estate office and the radio would be playing in the background and suddenly one of the songs I’d recorded on would come on,” he said. “I’d be sitting there talking on the phone or doing paperwork but also listening and thinking ‘Hey, that’s me!’”

His heart was obviously still in music, so back to work it was. When a friend who owns a music store invited Mr Buslowe to sit in for one of the store’s instructors while on vacation, it felt right. After that temporary work, Mr Buslowe realized teaching was the next natural place for him.

Mr Buslowe describes his teaching style as “karaoke for bass.” He does a lot of sequencing these days, so what he’ll do for students is create chord sequences, burn them onto a CD, and then send the students home with the CD to work with the sequences. When the student returns to the studio Mr Buslowe picks up the lesson from the point to which the student has done his or her “homework.”

In addition to his home studio, Mr Buslowe is one of eight teachers at RVP Studios in West Haven. His creative focus is more on the music than the lyrics –– “I’m just not as motivated with the lyrics any longer,” he said. “I can write song after song all day, but it’s the lyrics that are tough.”

Steve Buslowe has lived what most musicians wish for: The international tours, the performances in front of thousands of people at sold out arenas, the big show. He was in the right place at the right time, and offers the following for up-and-coming musicians.

“You just have to do what you can,” he says. “Keep going. I can’t even tell you how many times I went to auditions.

“I’ve lived my life backwards,” he says happily. “I was able to go on the road for 20 years, and then look for something with more discipline. This is just perfect for me.”

Mr Buslowe can be contacted at 270-3394 or at www.RVPStudios.com.

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