Monday, July 21, 2008

A Few Words About Steven Page

Steven Page is my friend. If you are looking for more salacious accounts of rock stars gone wild, head back to Google and try another link. I'm here to tell a different version of Steve and his band. Steve is a wonderful talent, a fantastically nice person, and someone who obviously is in need of support. The following is a personal account of the memorable times I have spent in the company of BNL.

These photos were taken the very first time I met BNL in Dekalb, Ill. Ed took the photo above of me and Steve. I have one that Steve took of me and Ed (but my eyes are closed in that one).

Here's the group at the BBQ before the Dekalb show in 1996. The entire band (and members of opening band Geggy Tah) were sharing grub with a few fans. You can see me on the left side of the picture next to Ed looking a bit star struck. Plus, dig my hair style pre straightening. Some memories are rougher than others.

Like many Barenaked Ladies fans, I was saddened to hear of Steve's recent arrest for drug possession. And, also like many BNL fans, I have had the distinct pleasure of getting to know Steve and his bandmates. I first saw BNL in 1992 in Cincinnati at Bogarts, and quickly became a a loyal follower. About 12 years ago, due to some luck and timing, I somehow befriended BNL, and went to many shows over a three-year period (1996-1999). (You can find accounts of the shows I attended at, but be kind about the 1997 Web design style. That site was what ultimately sparked an entire career change.) Before now, I never shared these personal experiences in public, mainly because I didn't want the guys in BNL to feel that I was trying to capitalize on my access to them. But, now I feel compelled to share my impressions of a group that is being unfairly characterized by many media outlets.

One of my favorite photos. But, I have a whole scrapbook full of memories like this.

Over the entire time that I was in the company of Barenaked Ladies, I never saw a drug, heard of anyone discussing drug usage, never felt that anyone associated with the band was involved in any sort of drug scene. Even drinking was conservative. During that three-year period, I probably went to a show a month, on average, sometimes shows over several days in a row, in cities around the U.S. I even took a trip to Germany to see a BNL show in 1999. I spent time with them before and after shows, occasionally tagging along for meals or other events. They even came to my house in 1997 after their Earth Day Show in Houston. I have introduced many friends and family members, including my mother, to the guys in BNL, and they have always been welcoming, friendly, and charming. There may be others with different impressions, and granted, I haven't been in the fold for a few years, but these are my experiences.

BNL at my house when I lived in Houston. They all came over for a cookout after their Earth Day show in 1997. Several of my friends and co-workers came over, and for just one day, I was the most popular girl at Compaq.

Each show I attended, Steve has always had a warm greeting, a kind word, and a sincere interest in what was going on with me. Although I stopped "touring" to see BNL when I entered graduate school in 1999, I still see them when they come to Austin, the last time being about a year and a half ago. Steve has had a particular interest in my academic career, and I have been equally interested in his work with the Canadian Music Creators Coalition. He is one of the most intelligent people I have ever met and had the privilege to get to know. His family has always been important to him, so it saddened me to hear of the breakup of his marriage.

Ed and Steve pose with my sister, mother and me in Raleigh in 1999. Note the new hair style.

If you haven't seen a BNL show, then you might not be aware of what a rare talent Steve is. He's got an amazing voice and a quick wit. He can belt out "Memory" from Cats better than any Tony-award-winning actress. He breaks your heart with "Break Your Heart," and was surprisingly light on his feet during the show-stopping rap numbers that ended BNL sets for many years. If you search around the rest of my site, you'll see that I have seen quite a few bands in my time. But, few have delivered the consistently delightful performances that I experienced with BNL.

Those years traipsing around with BNL were very important to me. The memories are special. I remember my car getting stuck in the mud at HORDE in Austin, and Ed hanging out with me until someone came to tow it out. I remember a lovely sunset at Zilker Park, sitting on a rock with Kevin and Jim. I remember playing frisbee with band and crew behind the stage at HORDE in Oklahoma City while Smashing Pumpkins performed. I remember hanging out with Kevin in Germany, after his successful treatment for Leukemia.

Whatever the current circumstances, I support my friend Steve. I feel I have some insight into his true character, and I am pained by reading the accounts of his arrest. I wish him health, peace of mind, and the same joy that he has provided to me through his music and performances. I know the days ahead will be complicated for both him and the band, but he needs to know that his fans love him and want the best for him.


G said...

Thanks for sharing some unique insight into the band. I too have been a long time fan (since 1993) and was sad to see the recent developments. I am an attorney in Maine and, while criminal law is decidedly not my specialty, I think this will ultimately be a minor bump for Steve and the band. A clean record, personal use, private locale, no mitigating factors. Steve will be ok, I think. Anyway. Thanks for sharing. I wish I'd known you when you were making introductions to the band. :)

Jim said...

It's such a shame that this happened. I think Steven Page is a great guy that just got caught up in bad behavior. Besides, he wrote some of my favorite Barenaked Ladies songs.

I hope everything works out okay and they can go record their new album soon!


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Anonymous said...

I was also there - My boss's son and brother in-law provided the food/ grills - in your first photo - the guy in the pic with you and Steve was my boss's brother-in-law and in the second photo, they guy getting a beer ( bending over by the tree ) thats my boss's son. I wasnt a BNL fan at that time but today I am.

Steve -

Anonymous said...

Forgot to say - those first two photos were from Dekalb, IL