- CHARITY BENEFIT
Written By John Weatherford
“All I have to do is sit back and rake in the dough,” Steve Doyle stated lightheartedly, as he told the big crowd at 54 Below about his expectations of sales from the release of his new CD, Home to You. Mr. Doyle is best known in the city as one of the most accomplished bass players to be found. He has performed with such musical luminaries as Christine Ebersole, Linda Lavin, Billy Stritch, KT Sullivan to name just a few, as well as many a Monday at Birdland’s popular Cast Party open mic with Jim Caruso. Seeing him instead at the piano, singing and playing, was a great treat. He has a warm presence and approaches his audience with a boyish charm that instantly makes one feel comfortable. He sang many of the selections from his album. This accomplished and award-winning musician has a distinct vocal style. As the evening progressed, each new song took on more of “the Essence of Steve.”
He shared with his enthusiastic audience the journey of his musical life. He explained how, at age six, while watching his older brother allowed to take piano lessons, he interjected his own prowess for music. This resulted in his getting lessons as well. He and his brother performed their music and even got to share most magnificent matching outfits. Mr. Doyle brought along a picture of the “young Steve” in one of those delightful designs. The picture then took a prominent place on the stage for the remainder of the show. Highlights of the evening included a trio with Sean Harkness (arguably the best guitarist in New York) on the ukulele, with the clarinet played by Qunsin Nachoff (who was heard on several reed instruments) and Mr. Doyle taking on his more familiar instrument, the bass. He sang a medley of “Ain’t She Sweet”/ “Ain’t Misbehavin’” that brought in elements of humor and pathos. Other members of his musical group were equally gifted, and included Greg Ritchie on the drums and Matt Clohesy, on bass.
Steve Doyle is a masterful musician. He understands his music and he understands his charm. With ease, he glides from song to song, taking the spectators on a winding and visual path. There were times I wanted him to bond more closely to his microphone, as his communication to his band and his audience would cause the sound to occasionally fade out.
This triple threat is a joy to experience. Seeing him in the role of singer/pianist/conductor often made me feel I was back in a time when music was music and the sounds that swirled around you were meant to be uplifting and empowering. Mr. Doyle puts on a great show and has assembled a tremendous group of like musicians to support him. He will always be a performer who should be followed and admired. Congratulations to 54 Below for supporting such important talent.
*Photos: Russ Weatherford