Janis, Mozart and Lightning Bolts (Or "When I Knew")

Bobby Steel of Elm TreasonOkay, we’ve got the funny band name. Sure we do. We do this acoustic rock thing, Andy and me.  And in more ways than one – at least in my case – that’s probably a real good thing for humanity at large.

Honestly, you wouldn’t want me to be operating on your heart, fixing your roof, or rebuilding your transmission. Trust me. I’m not really that good at too many other things.

But music is different. And I actually recall there was that moment for me – that lightning bolt of a moment when the giant light bulb upstairs suddenly flips on and opens our eyes to something we did not expect to see – when I knew that music was going to be the driving force of pretty much everything I do.

Okay, that sounds a bit corny and dramatic, I know. But no kidding….I can see and feel that moment as clearly as I can see my fingers tapping out this little missive on the keyboard.

And the thing is…music had always been a huge part of my life, even before “the” moment  – an existing, ever-present entity, like the furniture in the living room or that odd table statuette Mom liked so much. Music was a thing. But it wasn’t the thing….not yet.

My mom claims everything from Mozart to Janis Joplin filtered into my fetal ears through her navel. She was always singing around the house. My dad crooned in a doo-wop group.

I had been given various musical instruments as a boy: I broke my first toy drum set at five. I struck my first piano key at seven. I strummed my first guitar chord two years after that. My Grandpa even started me on piano and trumpet lessons to “keep me out of trouble.” I really enjoyed all those things, to be sure, but they weren’t transforming. They just were.

But that moment I was talking about – the instant of an almost otherworldly revelation that hit me like the heat of a thousand suns – happened was when I was nine years old.

Yup. Nine.

I was playing my first concert in an auditorium filled with 400 parents. I recall being a bit nervous, eager to perform well. Pretty normal stuff.

But almost immediately, once taking the stage, that lightning bolt of a moment – the “epiphany,” I call it – hit me hard and unexpectedly. I can’t explain it other than to say it was like a “Wizard of Oz” moment, stepping from two-dimensional black-and-white into 3-D color. It was amazing. The music was suddenly alive and real to me. What I was doing was having an actual affect on the people out in front of me. It was overwhelming. It was akin to those feelings you get when you first fall in love – like a tidal wave. That’s the best way I can describe it.

Feeding off the feedback of the audience as they absorbed what I was sending out to them was incredibly powerful – and something I knew, from that moment on, I could never walk away from. “So, that’s what all those lessons were for,” I said to myself. Making music and connecting with others through that music was all I wanted to do.

To this day, those feelings have not dissipated in the least.

It’s difficult to quantify.

But incredibly easy to appreciate and be grateful for.




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Bobby Steel


  1. Shelley Stewart on January 10, 2020 at 7:35 pm

    Okay, guys, comment take 2!Lost my first draft hope I can recreate! I have read all blogs and am just generally commenting as they have helped me grasp the mystery and the WWWWWTF? response I have to your music! Afterall, I bought box set based soley onnotes of Days of Reaction. So reading your words I can finally conclude that you both Andy and Bobby are insanely talented, diverse in your music history and training, you love what you do, are passionate about it and are just a little crazyLOL This combo has brought joy into my home and heart! Admittedly, I do not understand the process from a note, chord, phrase to the end result but it has always fascinated me. So I do what I do best and that is love and connect with the finished product. For me music is second only to oxygenin sustaining my life! So thank you!
    A puzzler for you, what happens when you leave a blind chick alone with 4 albums(yes, I think of them as albums as they have that vibe) that she cannot wait to listen to but has not taken time to braille label them? Chaos!!! Thought that I had been listening ‘Rhyme’ over xmas, but in fact was listening to Acoustic Treason. Still love it and it definitely has a daydream quality to it. Now I am on track and looking forward to sinking my mind into’Rhyme’ and ‘Days’. I am going to listen as if each is a new and the only album to really get a true sense of them. Even as I write this my mind is singing’another new’? The words to that song have been playing in my head for days! So thank you for the music,fb posts and these blogs and the joy! Keep them coming, stay crazy!

    • Elm Treason on January 15, 2020 at 2:18 am

      Hi Shelley! It is such a joy to hear from you. It is wonderful of you to take the time to reach out.

      First of all, it rocks our world that you laid out your hard-earned coin to buy our box set. And from what we can gather, you seem to be enjoying…..so that makes our day.

      Thanks for the amazingly kind words. Truly. Yes, DAYS OF REACTION is, you might say, our “Glad To Meet Ya” tune. But we take what you might call a more “diverse” approach to our songwriting (for the want of a better phrase). We like to approach our albums much like, say, the Beatles did…or Queen – that is, varying styles on one record. After all, we wrote DAYS OF REACTION once. We don’t need to rewrite it. πŸ™‚

      Bobby and I were THRILLED that you’ve been playing ACOUSTIC TREASON (Our second album). The song “ANOTHER NOWHERE” (a tune you mentioned on FACEBOOK) is a personal fave of ours for multiple reasons. Bobby NAILS the vocals, for one. We exchange guitar lines during the solo, going back and forth, which we love doing…..and we REALLY love the “middle eight” – the song’s middle section. Please don’t take this bragging in any way. Our songs seem to FIND US, so we’re fortunate in that way.

      DAYS OF REACTION is our first record. RHYME AND TREASON, our latest. We do believe there is musical growth from the first to the third, but we love each album equally. (It’s funny that you started with the second one. Kinda cool, really).

      Thank YOU for taking so much time to get to know our music. We are so pleased it is worth enough to keep your attention.

      By the way, “Blind Chaos” is a great title for something.

    • Bobby Steel on January 17, 2020 at 2:51 am

      Shelly you are simply awesome! Music is second to oxygen for us too (and maybe pizza).
      Whatever album or song you decide to listen to, we are just over the moon that you’re listening and enjoying the music!
      And thanks for buying the catalog. You rock!

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