The Texas Music Scene – both the TV show and the general concept) – is known for keeping the doors open fairly wide to our northern neighbors (aka the Oklahoma “Red Dirt” crowd), but perhaps it’d be wise to keep an ear out for artists just a little to the east of our borders, too. Steve Judice is the sort of Louisiana man any Texan would be proud to call a neighbor, a smoky-voiced singer who brings a warm, wise and weathered sort of everyday poetry with him any time he steps on to a stage or into a studio. From his Baton Rouge home, he’s made inroads to the Lone Star State through several mini-tours (often with local collaborators like Slim Bawb and Roger Cowan) and an audience cultivated through the Radio Free Texas website/radio station. Putting the finishing touches on a third album, he’s already given the world a couple of fine records (2009’s Stormy Goodbyes & Laughing Eyes and 2011’s Whenever Darkness Falls) that are available on iTunes. His songs can be bitingly specific (“Deepwater Horizon,” “Private Wilson’s Mama’s House”) but never preach to the audience or hector the powers that be: he’s just a gifted artist, calling ‘em as he sees ‘em and seldom failing to put his idea in the context of a good story.
In your own words, describe your sound.
Unrefined and ill-defined. Hell, that might make a good album title someday.
Where are you based out of?
Baton Rouge, but I travel a lot to Texas.
What are some of your favorite and/or most frequently played venues?
Here in Baton Rouge, my favorite venue is the Red Dragon Listening Room. It’s a place where people go for the express purpose of listening to the original works of songwriters. And I’ve never played a Texas venue that I didn’t like.
Name a couple of career highlights, so far.
Last year, I opened a show for Guy Clark and Verlon Thompson. That was indeed a bucket list moment in my music career. Other highlights include opening for Adam Carroll and Michael O’Connor, and a brief guest appearance at Gruene Hall.
What music do you have out already, and what’s coming in the near future?
I’ve got two CD’s out. Stormy Goodbyes and Laughing Eyes was released in 2009; When Darkness Falls came out in 2011. My third CD, Dead End Gravel Road, is set for release this summer.
If someone’s only gonna buy one song of yours … where to start?
Hard to say. According to sales reports on individual songs, “Skoal Dippin’ Blues” from the first album seems to be the most popular.
Name some of your main influences as a songwriter/musician.
John Prine, Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt.
Who have you played more song swaps or co-bill with that anyone else?
Here in Louisiana, Barry Hebert and I do a lot of song swaps together. In Texas, Slim Bawb and I have shared the stage most often. It’s a genuine pleasure to play with both of these guys. For Radio Free Texas events, I’ve been most often paired with Roger Cowan and that’s always a fun time.
If a fan’s buying you a drink … what’ll it be?
I rarely turn my nose up at a shot of Jim Beam.
Name a couple of people you’d like to publicly thank for helping you in your career.
Gordon Graham, the producer of my first album has been a wonderful musical mentor, Lauren and Bawb Pearce have been gracious and generous in their hospitality and support on albums 2 and 3. If not for Radio Free Texas providing an outlet for independent artists, I doubt seriously that I would have ever recorded even one CD, so my thanks go out to Daniel and Cara Miller.
What’s one of the strangest gigs you’ve ever played?
Years ago I was a keyboard player for a band called Gunsmoke. We played a combination “New Year’s Eve Party/ Midnight Team Roping” event in Mississippi.
RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Houston Marchman, Fred Eaglesmith, Owen Temple, Tommy Alverson