Its definitely harder to get bookings, says Jason Drahosh, the bands manager. Most places want rock, blues and cover tunes. But once people hear how much variety and originality these guys have, theyre hooked.
The band includes Caul Bluhm, 26, of Traverse City, who started playing cello at age eight, and guitar at 14.
Everyone in our family played something, my mom played fiddle, my dad played banjo, my brothers guitar and drums so it was definitely in our family when I was growing up, Bluhm says. For Steel Toe, he contributes guitar, cello and vocals Kurt Cobain-style on some of the angrier tunes like Grind, a song written by Bluhm, as a social statement against what he calls deadbeats.
Originally from Orange County, California, Jerry Graham, 28, also grew up in a musical family and started playing guitar and singing in his teens. With a voice reminiscent of Jim Morrison and a mean lead guitar, Graham meandered across the country for a few years in various bands until landing in Northern Michigan and finding a musical connection in Steel Toe.
Percussionist Pat Huff, 39, is a Detroit native who has played drums since high school and worked as a sound engineer for Motown. He played with many Detroit area musicians including Martha Reeves, David Ruffin, George Clinton and the Parliament/Funkadelics and Bootsie Collins who played with James Brown. Huff also played with and learned from such legendary musicians as the late John Bonhan of Led Zepplin and with technical drummer Bill Bruford, known for his work with the Yes and King Crimson. Huff has been in Traverse City for four years and likes the room the band gives him to express himself.
The diversity of the band shows through when they start with Leave it Alone their tribute to Alice in Chains and then switch into Inner Lights a Santana-ish tune with a slightly heavier beat and then onto the funky-bluesy Fire. All three musicians are songwriters and feel in tune with each other like brothers. In fact, they soon will be as Jerrys sister is soon marrying Pat. Were already family, Jerry said, and we just love playing music.
Theyve been together just over a year but have played a variety of places including the Union St. Station, the Outer Limits, the Freshwater Lodge and several private parties.
Locally, you can catch Steel Toe Aug. 13-14 at Sleepy Bear Lounge in Honor and at other fine establishments later this fall.