AJMF: OTP Music Scene Strong at Steve’s

AJMF: OTP Music Scene Strong at Steve’s

By David R. Cohen / david@atljewishtimes.com

Steve’s Live Music in Sandy Springs is one of the most diverse venues in metro Atlanta.

Steve’s Live Music is on Hilderbrand Drive just west of Roswell Road in Sandy Springs.

From blues and bluegrass to jazz and international folk, owner Steve Grossman brings in local and national touring acts to his intimate, 95-seat space each week. This month Steve’s will host two events at the sixth annual Atlanta Jewish Music Festival, including opening night March 12.

“When I opened this venue” in the summer of 2012, Grossman said, AJMF founder Russell Gottschalk “said it would be a great place to do the opening night. To be able to do something up in Sandy Springs, where more of the Jewish community lives, was really important to help build the Jewish Music Festival from a diversity standpoint. We want to get young people involved closer to Midtown, but we also want to get people involved who live up here as well.”

Opening night of the festival will feature Montreal-based Jump Babylon, a high-energy Jewish rock band. Up-and-coming songwriter and performer Zale will have her CD release show at Steve’s on March 14. The rest of the festival will be held at other venues through March 23.

But Grossman’s venue off Hilderbrand Drive isn’t just about hosting established acts and festivals. He has always wanted to provide a performance stage for local musicians who otherwise would not be heard.

When Steve’s Live Music opened, it was the culmination of a dream 20 years in the making.

“I’ve always had a love for music,” Grossman said. “I looked at the model 20 years ago to open up a music venue, and we weren’t ready. I got to a point where I said, ‘Let’s look at the model again and figure out how to make it run.’ I didn’t want to just have a bar. I really wanted to have a place where I could contribute music to the community like a museum contributes art to a community. I’ve always seen it as more of an art form than an entrepreneurship.”

Prioritizing art over entrepreneurship hasn’t been easy for Grossman. Instead of choosing sure-fire artists that will sell out the venue, Grossman often books artists that aren’t well known. He also refuses to have TVs inside his space, even during football season, sending a clear message that Steve’s is all about the music.

From hosting established acts to booking rising stars, Steve’s Live Music is the center of Atlanta’s outside-the-Perimeter music scene. Visit Steve’s on Celtic Monday or Bluegrass Tuesday, and you’ll find dozens of local musicians enjoying the vibrant community that the space encourages.

Zale was one of the early local artists who called Steve’s Live Music home. Now she has an album, “Fortress,” being released this month, and she recently appeared on CBS 46 to promote it.

“I can’t say enough good things about Steve’s,” she said. “He and his venue welcomed me with open arms. It was the first place I ever played guitar in front of people, and I met my duet partner there. It’s been a really great place to go and hang with friends and showcase talent.”

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