Artist of the day: Steve Vaclavik and the Woeful Ones
In 1994, singer/guitarist Steve Vaclavik started playing solo gigs around the Tampa Bay in the singer-songwriter scene. After doing this on and off for several years, he decided to devote more time to his music.
"2007 was when I seriously thought about putting a lot of effort back into music and seeing where it went, regardless of where it went,” Vaclavik said.
Last year, on his latest CD, The Roof Needs More, he and producer Jody Gray expanded his sound to that of a full band by playing all the additional instruments themselves. Then, partly by necessity and partly just because it was something that he’d meaning to do, Vaclavik finally put a real band together. He recruited a few friends who, in turn, brought in a few of their friends, and Steve Vaclavik And the Woeful Ones were born.
Accompanying Steve are Brandon Ruck on guitar, Mike Worrall on bass, Mike McKee on guitar and Jay Ingle on drums. Together, they take the country-folk songs of Vaclavik and give them new a new depth, adding elements of rock and blues to the mix.
Steve couldn’t be happier with the band he ended up with.
“I’m surrounded by great bunch of musicians that have given the songs that I put together a whole new life,” he said. “I’m a three-chords, a-mic-and-the-truth kinda guy, and those guys are the real musicians that give us the full sound that we have when we’re playing.”
Though they get put into the Americana genre, the Woeful Ones have a name for the type of music they play.
“We’ve come to call it, for ourselves, 'Twang Rock,’ because we like that connotation,” Vaclavik said. “Also, our guy Brandon, he hates the idea that we play anything close to being 'country’ because he’s the rock dude.”
This Saturday, Vaclavik and the Woeful Ones will play as part of WMNF’s Do Me Like That: The Tom Petty 60th Birthday Party/Tribute. It’s a big deal for Vaclavik, as he sites Petty as big influence on his music.
“I grew up in north Florida and I came across Tom Petty at a pretty early age,” Vaclavik said, joking: “I honestly don’t have a classic singing voice. I never had any vocal training, so you get what you get with me. Part of that, I blame on Tom Petty, because I tried to sing exactly like him, which may not have been the best route to go.“
At the tribute show, Vaclavik and the Woeful Ones will take on three very different Petty songs: You Got Lucky, Something Big and Refugee, putting their own slightly twangier touch on each.
The group is one of more than a dozen bands performing at WMNF’s Tom Petty tribute concert at 5 p.m. Saturday at Skipper’s Smokehouse, 910 Skipper Road, Tampa. Tickets are $12-$15. (813) 971-0666.
-- Gabriel Loewenberg, tbt*