Steve Wolff performs in a solo act, a duo act and his trio band. (courtesy of Wolff)
Wolff goes back to the future
Scripps Ranch resident Steve Wolff can be considered somewhat of a modern-day Renaissance man. He has a full-time career in technology for airport security. He plays music. He writes music. But his most impressive talent is that today he writes music of a popular yet bygone era, and possibly makes it better than music from the era at the time it was popular.
Wolff performs in a solo act, a duo act and his trio band. Wolff is the name he has chosen for all three. While the duo and trio mostly cover popular songs, Wolff’s solo act includes not only the entire set of cover songs, but every song on his two CDs as well. Steve Wolff wrote and performed each song on these CDs: “Sins of the Times” and “American Dream.”
Wolff grew up in London, but moved to the United States in 1980. He lived in the Bay Area for 20 years and moved to Scripps Ranch in 2000. The British 1980s influence is evident in his solo music. He said he is influenced by bands such as U2, Simple Minds, Echo and the Bunnymen and The Police.
“That’s kind of more my sort of genre of music that I pick up on and tend to play,” he explained. “But I’ve sort of melded that with ’70s rock bands like Pink Floyd, who’s a great favorite of mine, and The Who and bands like that.”
To get a gist of his original music, visit wolff.rocks, click on “Playlist,” then click on the highlighted American Dream, the name of one of Wolff’s CDs. This will take you to his page on CDBaby.com where you can sample some of his tracks. Released in 2016, “American Dream” sounds like it was released in 1981, with fresh tunes and meaningful lyrics. It’s an admirable body of work.
Known as new wave in the U.S., this style started slowly at first, but swept the nation in the early 1980s. While much of rock ’n’ roll up to that time centered around love songs, new wave had a distinct tendency toward social commentary regarding important issues.
“I tend to write social-political lyrics as well, and tend to be much more into that style of writing songs,” Wolff said.
As a trio, the band plays about three originals and the rest of the tunes are covers. But as a soloist, Wolff can play more than 100 songs including his originals from his CDs.
“I do what I call ‘almost unplugged,’ a one-man rock band,” he said. “So, the one-man rock band is kind of like the super-set of both the duo and the trio.”
Steve Wolff has been performing since 2006, singing and playing guitar.
“It started out solo. Then I found a bass player who is another Scripps Ranch resident,” Wolff said. “Then, in 2014, we found ourselves a drummer.”
Chris LeBaron is the bass player and Steve Satnik is the drummer. Together, they play a selection from both Britain and the States ranging from as far back as the 1960s to the present.
“We play what we call ‘rockin’ tunes from both sides of the Pond and beyond.’ We try to pick artists that most other bands in San Diego don’t pick,” Wolff explained. “A lot of the bands we do are bands you won’t hear many other bands playing. So, bands like The Clash, U2, The Police. But then we’ll also dig back, anything from the ’60s. We do some Doors, some Yardbirds, some Monkees and then we’ll play some ’70s stuff.”
Their set might include covers from Joe Jackson, Elvis Costello, The Cure, Black Keys and the Killers.
“We do a real mix of stuff, trying to get through a lot of different eras of music,” Wolff said.
Wolff simply enjoys playing music in San Diego and doesn’t intend to take it any further than that. He said he grew up living next door to a drummer who played for the Kinks, and heard tales about what the touring lifestyle was all about. Wolff said he travels enough for his day job.
“At this point it’s a paying hobby more than a profession,” he said. “I don’t see myself becoming a professional musician who goes touring around the nation. … We do it more for entertaining people and having fun. I would say my aspiration is to be more of a well-known artist in San Diego than to really go hunting around the nation.”
This weekend Wolff is performing at a private block party in a Scripps Ranch neighborhood along with another band. On Thursday, Aug. 31, Steve Wolff will perform at Sanctuary Lounge, 12090 Scripps Summit Drive, #C.