Quite Great has been an industry establishment for some years, forging a niche as the go-to for marketing in a tough and cutthroat environment. There are certain individuals we encounter that have been in the industry far longer, Steve Hampton being one. Having been a jobbing musician for some 30 years, Steve has an intimate knowledge of the scene, seeing first hand how musician’s methods of promoting themselves and interacting with fans has changed over the years. He speaks about his current musical project and gives some advice to younger artists.
A singer and lead guitarist, he is the frontman of numerous bands. Steve’s success is due to his variety and ability to take his guitar and simply learn different styles, understanding exactly what his audience want to hear. A favourite of local festivals and music venues in Hampshire is Dead Crow Road, a self-proclaimed redneck rock and roll outfit that creates music which is wild and vicious. Steve explains: “the Dead Crow Road style is raw, real americana flavour, we use a pedal steel and mandolin to get it just right.” The band was formed with the soul idea to exemplify the true grit and power of country music, banishing any twee and syrup soaked notions. “Our first gig was in Portsmouth, a favourite spot for me and my band mates, at the Eastney Cellars, a small, spit and sawdust venue that really appreciates live music. The response was a positive one, and we have been going ever since.”
Dead Crow Road is made up of musicians who have an undying love and passion for playing music, with Nick Evans on guitar and mandolin, George Allen on bass, Dave Gilgannon on guitar, and finally the band’s youngest member Chris Dennison on drums. Collectively they have many years of experience, both within and on the periphery of the industry. In his conversation with me, Steve openly admits that the industry is not what it used to be. “I don’t want to sound like some old curmudgeon” he says, “but there’s not really much these days, in more ways than one, to make. You have any specific game plan for a band, the wider industry is less about talent now and more about promoting a certain product.” The band have found success by their independent means, finding ways to promote themselves via social media and secure gigs by word of mouth.
As a fixture of venues at a county level, Steve has noticed a change in the mindset of venue managers, and a change that can prove detrimental for up and coming musicians desperate to play to an audience: apathy. “They’ve been inundated with mediocre bands for so long, so when you approach them for gigs you automatically get tarred with the same brush.”
Steve’s primary advice for an aspiring artist is simple: “be true to what you are, this is the most important thing of all” he says, “if you’re constantly unsure and pretending to be something you’re not, you’re going to fail before you’ve even begun. It’s such a distinct and obvious thing, but for many musicians I’ve met over the years, some just don’t get it”. Finally, he says, “remember your own self worth, the musician is the top of the food chain. Without musicians there would be no music on films, no radio, no record companies, no publishers, no venues, no promoters.”
Steve Hampton is living proof that you can be a fulltime musician – it just takes self confidence and a lot of hard work and determination!