Perhaps inspired by his mother, who is a jazz singer and voice teacher in New Jersey, Steve Conte was playing drums at age seven and writing songs on a guitar at age 10. With his brother John Conte on bass, the Conte brothers played in bands at dances, school variety shows and church "folk" masses in their youth. At 17, Steve accepted a music scholarship to Rutgers University and learned to play jazz guitar. As an adult he played in countless rock and jazz fusion bands on the New York music circuit and also began getting studio work, playing on commercials, soundtracks and other artists' albums. He also toured in Willy Deville and Eric Burdon's bands, but started getting noticed when he joined the revamped New York Dolls for six years. He left the Dolls in 2010 to back former Hanoi Rocks front man Michael Monroe. In between tours with Monroe, Conte began work on what was to be his first official solo album, naming the project Steve Conte NYC. The self titled debut album was released on February 28, 2014.
At the Bowery Electric tonight, Steve Conte NYC reunited the Conte brothers for a set of original pop songs driven by Steve's rocking guitar work. Ironically, while much of Conte's past has been in impromptu jams, the compositions performed tonight were tightly crafted. The songs sported traditional rock and roll verse/bridge/hook chorus, with vocals way up front, much in the style of the Rolling Stones and other 1960s rockers. Some songs had a honky tonk feel, some even a country feel, but it was all rooted in 4/4 rock and roll. Occasionally Conte ripped on the guitar, but never for too long and never flamboyantly. The performance was perhaps a bit too clean; perhaps a slightly dirtier, grittier approach would have better matched his rock and roll haircut and tight leather jacket. Conte is building on something solid, however, and all signs point to him becoming a formidable force in the New York club scene.
Visit Steve Conte NYC at www.stevecontenyc.com.