“Steve Hartsoe sings with the conviction of a nomad bleeding his heart dry, performing for anyone from the side of a boxcar.”
— -- Richard Murray, POW Magazine, San Francisco
Mixing the honesty of a veteran singer-songwriter with the raw angst of a garage rocker, Steve Hartsoe plays Americana rock in the style of Tom Petty, Son Volt and Jason Isbell.
Hartsoe’s latest single, “San Pedro Square,” a punchy roots rocker about his neophyte band days in his hometown of San Jose, California, dropped Nov. 15, 2019.
The common thread in Hartsoe’s music is a refreshing honesty. Or, as one writer sees it: "It’s been too long since we’ve heard Americana this genuine. Inspired by Tom Petty and Ryan Adams, Steve Hartsoe is full of melodic spirit and gruff guitar lines. ...” (Milk Crater).
“San Pedro Square” features Hartsoe, who now lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, on vocals and guitars, son Eli Hartsoe on drums and Chris Carbone, the Hartsoes’ bandmate in their alt-rock band London Down, on bass.
Kevin McNoldy (Dave Matthews, Mary Chapin Carpenter) mixed and mastered “San Pedro Square” at Cphonic Mastering in Raleigh, North Carolina.
McNoldy also mixed and mastered Hartsoe’s most recent indie album, “The Big Fix-Deluxe Edition” (released December 2017).
Hartsoe and his bandmates plan to record and release an EP of new material in the first half of 2020.
Hartsoe honed his musical skills fronting one of the San Francisco Bay Area’s popular indie rock bands of the late 1980s and early ’90s, London Down, later renamed The Raging Marys. As a band member and later a solo artist, he shared the bill with such notable artists as Dan Vickrey (Counting Crows), The Smithereens, Chris Isaak, Mudhoney and Todd Rundgren.
Burned out and needing to move on to a “real job,” Hartsoe then devoted his energy to building a career as a journalist and raising a family, with the occasional coffeehouse gig.
Fast forward to 2014: Thanks to a Father’s Day gift of recording studio time that jump-started his music career, Hartsoe is again writing songs, recording and performing in around his current home near Raleigh, North Carolina.
Joining him in the studio and live as The Beacon Souls are teenage son Eli Hartsoe on drums (who learned the instrument by playing along with his Uncle Ken’s drumming on London Down/Raging Marys records), Wahba, who owned the home studio where Hartsoe did much of the recording and provides guitar, bass, keyboards and background vocals. Their first project was the four-song EP, “Neo-Traditional,” released digitally in 2014. Russ Bullock joined the band in 2017, adding guitar and mandolin at shows and future recordings.
Also contributing to “The Big Fix-Deluxe Edition” are Ristrim, who along with pedal steel adds B-bender electric guitar, banjo and Dobro, Hartsoe’s former London Down bandmate Phil Benjamin (guitar solo on “Trailer”), Kurt Wuerfele (lap steel, guitar solo on “Only God Knows”) and Jennifer Allred (harmony vocal on “Only God Knows”).
London Down reunited in Nashville to record a new album in August 2018. The 13-song indie effort, "Gnashville," reached the top 50 in college radio that fall. The band released a single, "Tiger Baby," in January 2020 and plans to release a live album and studio album in 2020.
-- Steven McReynolds