Michael Stegner’s debut songwriter album, Fascination Nation, combines cultural influences of his rural Kentucky upbringing with his musical influences of Leon Russell, Willie Nelson and Randy Newman.
Recently I had the opportunity to attend a music show in my neighborhood at a local music spot called the Royal Room. I went there on the premise of its marrying of good food and even greater musical entertainment. The model they have built is that most of the acts are free. At the end of our dinner, an envelope is set where we are to donate money to the musicians who played on stage. My first time going to the Royal Room, the wife and I got to listen to a middle eastern percussion band. It was great, but in looking at the calendar noticed that there was a tribute night to Leon Russel and Ray Charles. I’m a big fan of both and just had to have the food and listen to the music that was going to be playing that night. Aptly titled, A Song For You, the show did not disappoint.
I quickly asked our server, the sound guy, the manager…all of them if I can take photographs. They all pointed me to Michael Stegner. Michael is a tall man with a great aura. I saw him first entering the restauraunt and thought to myself, “He just has to be the musician, I just know it.” I was with fellow photographer, Rod Habon, and enlisted him to take shots with me. He was so down. We had free reign of the stage and although the low light was not conducive for mobile photography, we made the best of it, as well as got to know Michael and his musicianship.
You have to check out his music, support his work, and sip on your favorite libations. It’ll bring you back into a world where you can not only relax but imagine the world as it was. He’ll tell you stories and make you feel like you are one of the characters in his story.
Tell us a bit about yourself, where you’re from, your family, friends…what do you do other than music?
I was born and brought up in Mt. Sterling, Kentucky and moved to Morehead, Kentucky in high school. Both my parents taught choir in the public schools so my sister and I were always around music. My friends keep me upright and prop me up constantly – giving the illusion that I have my act together. Other than music; I like to swim, read fiction, write, draw, practice tai chi and go hear friends play music.
Who are your biggest influences and inspirations? The hero elders: Willie Nelson, Miles Davis, Prince, Bjork, Squarepusher, Gil Evans, Bill Frisell, Ray Charles, Leon Russell, Joni Mitchell, Kool Keith, Amon Tobin and The Roots Teachers: Margie Murphy, Jay Flippin, Jeff Laibson, Robin Holcomb and Barry Ries Players: The Jongleurs, John Wicks, Aiko Shimada, Wayne Horvitz, Joe Doria, Jeff Fielder, Michael Shrieve, Andy Sells, Colin Higgins and so many more.
If you could play the stage with anyone, who would it be and why?
I really like playing music on stage with my friends. I always learn a lot and there is no better way to hang than to create something with people you care about.
As an artist, what advice can you give anyone who aspires to be an artist in any genre/art form?
It’s probably different for everyone. But for me – I try to be patient, passionate and disciplined. There is never a perfect time to create so I try to create all the time. It’s really life and death for me to express. I try and learn something about myself each day and that knowledge usually results in more genuine art – which leads to more genuine growth in my life.
Where can we see you next? Where can we buy your work?
Fascination Nation is the current CD. It’s available at shows or iTunes, Amazon, Spotify and all the usual places online.
Any last words for our readers across the world?
Thanks for reading about the music. I hope to meet you all in person at a show in the future.
Press Quotes About Fascination Nation “Here’s a voice you want to tell people about, knowing all too well (and rather enjoying the fact) that some of those people will wonder what the heck you’ve been smoking.”
Liam Wilkinson – Northern Sky (UK)
“Michael Stegner is a Story Teller, pulling no punches… He’s unique and definitely outside the expected formula box. This Kentucky lad takes his own path and in today’s often identical mass marketing offerings, that’s no bad thing.” – Stella C – Country Routes Magazine (UK)
“This is a music of character, of originality and singularity in a marketplace of ever dwindling difference.” - Aaron Ducat, NWMainstage.com
“Fascination Nation is an extraordinary debut, and I’m already looking forward to whatever Michael Stegner and the band have planned for the future! – Van Ramsey, Pull The String Radio Show on KSER FM
“Carefully constructed and expertly recorded, the debut album from this strange bird brings tears, shakes asses, and takes a stab at assholes who deserve it.” – The Gartland Ave Plainsman
“It’s a well performed and well recorded affair with Stegner’s rich semi spoken vocals laid over styles ranging from country to blues and mainstream.” – Get Ready to Rock – Pete Whalley