Steve Pineo and his horns blow into Calgary

By Peter Hemminger

When Steve Pineo sings he should “ruin a perfectly good friendship” on the title track from his 2000 release, he’s singing about moving a platonic relationship to the next level. Never being content with something is reflected in Pineo’s attitude toward music.

The Calgary songwriter is a local institution with gigs at the Merlot and his role in the universally praised Co-Dependents. He may not be a name outside Calgary, but his songs certainly are–Paul Brandt’s cover of Pineo’s “Canadian Man” was a national hit. With royalty cheques flowing and an established reputation as one of Calgary’s premier roots artists, Pineo could’ve settled into a comfortable routine.

Instead, he branched out, moving away from the country sound he’s been known for since 1999’s Hindsight, to explore a wider variety of musical themes on 2000’s A Perfectly Good Friendship. While that album contained some of the polished roots sound Pineo was famous for, it featured everything from jump blues (“You Ain’t No Good”) to Dixie-inspired swing (“Depending On You”), all pulled off with enough aplomb to earn Pineo a Prairie Music Award in 2001, the only one awarded to an Albertan that year.

From there, it was a natural progression to incorporate a full horn section into his live show for special occasions. Steve Pineo With Horns has been a hit every time it’s been presented, popular enough to warrant the live recording Around The Horn. In fact, the CD release for that disc at Inglewood’s Ironwood Stage and Grill sold out so quickly the venue had no choice but to add a second show. Clearly Calgarians have a fondness for Pineo’s performances.

Pineo’s constant evolution and apparent inability to be content with the status quo have made him one of Calgary’s most consistently entertaining performers. With a song selection including originals, jazz standards like “Mack the Knife” and pop classics like the Beatles’ “All You Need Is Love”, Pineo’s horn shows provides something for every musical taste. His liquid smooth guitar playing and skilled, soulful vocals backed by a tight, talented band, Pineo should have no trouble holding his own against the rest of Blues and Roots Fest’s already stellar line-up.

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