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North Jersey Notes


Sometimes it’s good to hear something you don’t hear every day. When I was sent a link to check out Steve Keene’s new EP, It Is What It Is, it was definitely not something I would listen to on a daily basis, but I’m always willing to give something a shot. After listening to songs like “Can’t See It When You’re In It,” “Don’t Blame It On The Alcohol,” “By Your Side,” “Far Better Friend Than Lover,” and the title track, the similarities to the great Bob Dylan are pretty interesting.

Brooklyn-born, Steven Keene began his career by playing folk clubs and cafes in Greenwich Village in the early nineties. He crisscrossed the streets of McDougal and Bleecker playing open mics and small clubs. In 1990, Steven released his first album, Keene On Dylan with Bob Dylan band members, Howie Wyeth and Rob Stoner, on an eclectic mix of originals, covers, and traditional songs. Well, that makes sense. In 1995, Steven released his second album, No Alternative, by way of Moo Records, featuring more of Bob Dylan’s band members Tony Garnier, John Jackson, and Bucky Baxter. He also played a tune on this album called “Only Homeless” with legendary musician from the sixties Village scene, Danny Kalb. No Alternative was distributed through BMG in Europe and a video soon followed for the single, “Far Better Friend than Lover,” which appeared on MTV Europe and led to a European tour. In 2001, Steven released Set Clock on Moo Record, which received high praise with the local New York press. He was featured on Vin Scelsa’s Idiot’s Delight and toured, as well, to promote the album. With the dawning of war, Steven wrote a protest song entitled, “How Much Blood’s In A Barrel,” which was very Bob Dylan of him. The song received extensive airplay in the U.S. and was picked up and released by ZYX Music in Europe, along with two other protest songs, “Two Twins” and “Top Gun.” The 3-song maxi-single has been distributed throughout Europe.

Recently, Steven signed with One RPM, and this past January, he released It Is What It Is, which has nine songs on it. So, I’m not really sure why it’s an EP and not an LP. I’m sure Steven Keene will be touring to promote It Is What It Is, but at the time of this writing, there were no live dates posted just yet. If you love Bob Dylan, you will love the music of Steven Keene. For more info or to find out where he’s performing next, visit