A Hard Day’s Night, every Day, every Night
BY DEAN POLING firstname.lastname@example.org
Interview most musicians about their latest CD, they will talk about long hours spent in the recording studio laying down tracks, singing and playing the same song, repeatedly, for what makes a very long day or an even longer night.
Steve Baskin may have spent just as many hours preparing the tracks for his debut album, “I Sometimes Think,” in the digital recording studio in his home. But, as one old friend noted, “It’s pretty amazing since it was done in 15-minute increments.”
Baskin’s schedule wouldn’t allow him time to spend long hours at a stretch in the studio. Is there any executive with an international corporate who has such time?
Steve Baskin’s day job is a sweet gig as a marketing executive with ING, one of the world’s largest financial corporations. In truth, most folks are more familiar with Baskin’s work from his day job than they are with his music.
Remember the television commercials with what appears to be most of a word blocked by a mime or someone or something else with the exception of an “ing,” clear and readable, at the end of the bench? Usually, a person in the commercial as well as viewers were curious enough to wonder what the entire word was to learn that the entire word was “ing,” and then left everyone curious enough to ask, What is ING?
Baskin was the man behind developing those commercials.
For many South Georgians, though, Steve Baskin’s name and face are familiar because Valdosta-Lowndes County is where he grew up before moving off to Atlanta to become a corporate executive, a solo musician, and a musician who has played with groups like the B-52’s Cindy Wilson’s side band, HugoAgogo, and the Hippycrickets.
Baskin is the son of Jean Baskin and the grandson of Vanelle Baskin, both of Valdosta. He’s a 1982 graduate of Lowndes High School and attended Valdosta State before moving in 1987 to Atlanta. He played several years with the now-defunct Reunion Blues Band, a group that also featured Al Turner, a local attorney who has been Valdosta band Skannyardles’s drummer for several years. Baskin mentions Valdosta musicians Tim Teasley and Chris Coleman, the old Remerton hang-out The Mill House, Lisa Love who once played bass in Valdosta Band Room 19 but he knows through her work with the Georgia Music Hall of Fame and now as editor of her Georgia Music Magazine.
Meanwhile, since his CD’s release this past summer, Baskin and “I Sometimes Think” have been receiving positive mentions in various music publications, including Paste Magazine which included one of the album’s songs in its November issue’s CD sampler.
“I Sometimes Think” is a poppy blend of groove and soul with a nice slice of edge.
Some listeners may hear a Beatles influence in Baskin’s song “Better (I Can’t Sleep)” especially followed by his hard-hitting, slowed cover of The Beatles’ “A Hard Day’s Night,”but “Better,” Baskin laughs, owes more to a riff from the Atlanta Rhythm Section than it does John, Paul George or Ringo. While others may cry “Heresy” for daring record a Beatles cover, Baskin brings a fresh voice to a familiar tune, finding new power in something so subconsciously well known, similar to Beatles producer George Martin’s current reworkings of the Fab Four’s songs on the CD “Love”.
The majority of “I Sometimes Think’s” songs are by Baskin, with co-songwriting credits also going to Trey Hollingsworth; Mary Dean on “Trip Begin”; Tracy Fagan on “Bad Idea.”
After his series of 15-minute recording sessions, Baskin had his CD mixed by Glenn Matullo, who has worked with the Indigo Girls and John Mayer. Tom Durack produced a couple of the songs at ElevenFifteen in New York. Alex Lowe of Red Tuxedo mastered the entire album.
He met many of these individuals while playing music with various bands. He was lead guitar on the Hippycrickets’ debut CD, “Inconceivable.”
In 2003, Baskin joined the Cindy Wilson Band, which he describes as “an album project featuring Cindy Wilson of the B-52s,” as a vocalist and guitarist. With this band, he was part of numerous concerts and even played on Turner South cable TV’s “Live from Music Midtown,” sharing the stage with Wilson and several other well-known musicians like Don “American Pie” McLean and the late June Carter Cash. He considers joining Cash for a rendition of “May the Circle Be Unbroken” to be a highlight of his musical career.
Which brings one to a curious realization: Given Baskin’s credentials, why not hew to the dream of so many musicians and delete the day job for a full-time career in music?
Simple enough answer: “I like what I do in my day job,” he says. “Maybe if it wasn’t as creative an outlet, I might go with music full-time, but I enjoy what I’m doing and music fits in nicely with that.”
Yet, with all of his music experiences, the album is leading down new paths. Despite years of playing with various bands in hundreds of shows for audiences of thousands, Baskin played his first solo show in 25 years this past December. Playing songs from the CD, he performed at the prestigious songwriter’s showcase, Eddie’s Attic, Atlanta.
“I was terrified,” Baskin admits in a phone interview, “but it was a satisfying terror.”
One he will return to soon, with a back-up band, featuring as one of the musicians, another former Valdostan, keyboardist Richard Blasingame.
With more gigs and attention coming his way, though, surely, Steve Baskin must be just a little tempted to give up the day job.
He relates a story about a colleague who played baseball; yet, by the age of 17, when the major leagues hadn’t called, the guy knew his days of playing baseball were numbered. Not so for a musician.
At 42, Baskin is just getting started.
“There’s still plenty of time,” he laughs, “to become famous as a musician.”