DEAD ROCK STAR: Baskin Alive and Well on New CD
By Dean Poling, firstname.lastname@example.org
VALDOSTA — Steve Baskin’s latest CD, “Dead Rock Star,” has a lot of flavors. Pop, country, classic rock, bluegrass.
Mostly original songs written by Baskin, or Baskin with co-songwriters. And a killer sorta-kinda bluegrass, twang-fest, big-brass-backed cover of Queen’s “Killer Queen.”
There are threads of his current home in Atlanta, his old hometown of Valdosta, the sensibilities of a guy who runs his own business but never lost his musical soul, a man who’s made new musical friends but never forgot his old Valdosta musical friends who also live in Atlanta and those areas just to the north of us.
They’re all available. These flavors. Each tasty one. Right there in the music of Baskin’s “Dead Rock Star.”
Baskin admitted this album reaches more toward country than his past albums. Not on every song. That “Dead Rock Star” title is no Declaration of Independence from rock & roll. The majority of the CD is rock and pop, but there’s a country flavor here.
Baskin and Shiflett at a recent show in Atlanta.
Baskin’s country is more Austin, Texas, than Nashville.
“Well, I grew up in Valdosta, so country isn’t very far from my roots,” he said. “When I was a kid, the family car had just as many Johnny Cash, Buck Owens and Charlie Pride eight-tracks as Sam & Dave and Percy Sledge. My first two records had a taste of country, but we did go a little further with this record. But yep, it’s much more Austin than Nashville.”
His fellow musicians influenced some of the twangs in “Rock Star.”
Scott Shiflett’s guitars, vocals, harmonica. Rich Herring’s multi-dimensional guitar work. His album production with Baskin in Nashville.
Herring is also part of that Valdosta mix. Herring played the hometown Valdosta circuit before heading for a musical career of Nashville, the Little River Band, and more.
Richard “Zoot” Blasingame is another Valdosta-related name on this CD.
Speaking of Herring, Baskin added that he often steered the album away from country, emphasizing the rock notes in “Dead Rock Star.”
Still, why are there country tunes in an album titled “Dead Rock Star"?
Probably because the album was intended to be a movie soundtrack rather than a stand-alone CD. Another one of the colors in Baskin’s palette of talents.
“I started working on the screenplay, ‘Dead Rock Star,’ around this time three years ago,” he said. “(Shiflett) and I met around the same time. Our guitar and vocal styles immediately clicked, and we started writing songs together. After we’d birthed a few songs, I thought it would be a nice idea to aim toward writing a soundtrack for the movie.
“What was cool about thinking in terms of a soundtrack is how it disconnected the songs from our personal biographies. ‘Ooh, I don’t want to write about that. It might hurt someone’s feelings.’ Whenever it felt like we were getting into dangerous waters with our imaginations, we just applied it to the rock star in the movie, who starts out as a bit of a jerk. It was totally freeing.”
Baskin has pursued many things since growing up in Valdosta.
He’s president and chief strategy officer of Tribe, an internal communications agency. A business he runs with wife Elizabeth. They work with GE Software, Aaron’s, La-Z-Boy, CSM Solutions, Coke, Georgia-Pacific, Ameris Bank, the Weather Channel, Porsche, etc.
He has two sons. Mom Jean Baskin still lives in Valdosta. As do aunts, uncles, cousins. He still regularly visits.
As for a Valdosta show ...
“A bunch of old friends and high school class mates have started lighting up my website and Facebook pages and want us to get down there,” Baskin said. “So yes, we’ll be down soon as we can get something booked. It’s been quite a long while since I’ve played in Valdosta – decades, maybe – and am really looking forward to it.”
Until then, folks can hear Baskin on “Dead Rock Star,” available by visiting www.stevebaskin.com.