“Too Tall” Steve Scheurman and the Howlin’ Mercy Blues Band
Rochester’s blues rhino skulks on-stage at an ostentatious mass of 6-foot-5-inch, 300-pound passionate soul. And he knows it. Steve “Too Tall” Scheurman has been strangling the neck of his guitar since the third grade and has developed his music to be larger than the man that plays it. “Too Tall blues is just that. It’s Big. Bigger than all of us,” the words crept out of Too Tall’s mouth at a maniacal pace as he overflowed his diminutive barstool like an erupting volcano. Too Tall is an impressive artist – in talent, as well as stature.
Originally from Palmyra, Too Tall was “baptized” into the blues universe. The blues became a natural obsession during the formative choir years of his life. Like most of us, the epiphany came at a ripe age while watching PBS. “I saw Son House perform ‘Death Letter’ on a soundstage in black and white…listening to that alien sound – that deep painful blues moan, combined with a steel resonator guitar that answered every lament. It put tears in my eyes…I haven’t been the same since.”
Now, Too Tall has performed his brand of music everywhere from the “Windy City” to the tip of Long Island, but the Finger Lakes is his home. “The Finger Lakes music scene is funky. Quite often in interviews, you hear people say ‘It’s all about the music…’ Well, in the Finger Lakes – that’s the truth,” he says. There is something magical about Too Tall’s presence and the way he speaks about his craft and the way he thumbs a G-chord with the precision of a heart surgeon, that makes you believe that the Finger Lakes truly has a blues legend in its midst.
With a second album in the works, Too Tall states that this one will be a more eclectic mix of music – all original. He feels that a diverse and colorful sound epitomizes his style precisely. “A tasteful, swinging blues player combined with an excessive rocker…that’s me,” he admits. This artistic schizophrenia is what makes Too Tall’s charming layers of guitar giant and unique.
So if you happen to spot a size 16-boot print on any nearby stages, or you come across the broken neck of a killed guitar – Too Tall was there. And as long as people will give the blues a listen – Too Tall will be back. “I want the crowd to feel like they have been ‘baptized.’ Baptized into that blues world that I became a part of some 30 years ago. I want them to be humming a tune that they heard at our show. I want them to be smiling when they think about it. I want them to start their own blues journey.”
To book an event or to be included on the band’s mailing list, send an email to email@example.com.
To jump on the same train that Janis Joplin, Joni Mitchell, and Joan Baez rode to female rock success is not such an easy task, but one rising sensation from Auburn is amped for the challenge. Going down this same track is a dream for singer, songwriter and guitarist Molly Shea, and dreams do come true, especially when you have the talent that she has. “The one thing I want to do as a musician is invoke an emotion in the audience,” Molly says whole-heartedly with a serious smile. “I want to make them laugh, cry – move them in some way.” Molly Shea is the perfect combination of “girl-next-door” beauty and raw, unbridled musicianship with a jaw-dropping voice.
Her ascent to the stage began at a very young age. In her hometown, she performed in many player’s productions and local theaters, and has moved on to clubs and venues located all over upstate New York and extending to New York City. Molly has a sultry, raspy singing voice that is comparable to Melissa Etheridge, and she has learned to play the guitar, violin, trumpet, piano, and drums. She embodies a range that covers six decades of musical styles that produces a unique versatility and affable panache on stage.
“I love to perform,” Molly says. “It’s an intimate experience. You get such a high.” Offstage, Molly is a quiet-mannered and pleasant young lady, but once the guitar is in her hands and the microphone at her lips, Molly transforms into a rock ’n’ roll diva. “It’s difficult to go up on stage and sing your heart out,” she admits. Although you would never know she thought that if you were to see one of her wowing performances.
Her first album, Electraglide in Blues, was released in 2001 and was a major hit with the area. “My first CD was a success and is still selling well,” she states with pride. “There is a new album in the works, and we’re hoping to release it in early 2004.” Molly gives her take on a few cover songs on the first album, but most of the songs are originals written by her, and that is a precedent she plans to exceed on her next project. She has found a lot of comfort in the Finger Lakes region and is very confident she will acquire a similar acceptance for years to come. “I love the area. Everyone I have met, whether it is other musicians or the patrons, have all been very supportive and kind. They always seem in the mood to have a good time – and that is what I hope to give them.”
Visit www.mollyshea.com for more information.
Travis “Shleprok” McCoy of Gym Class Heroes
“I had the chance to compete in a hip-hop battle on MTV last summer in New Jersey,” he said humbly. His statement was concluded with a bit more swagger, “I ended up defeating my opponent with ease, and on national television. Everyone gets their 15 minutes, I guess.” (An opinion about himself that conflicts with the opinion of most that have witnessed his mesmerizing vocal talent.) The spotlight has only flickered on Travis “Schleprok” McCoy, and the Finger Lakes provides an ample launching pad to propel him into success far beyond 15 minutes.
For McCoy, 22, of Geneva, Hip-Hop has been a prominent life influence and a skill he has excelled at for several years. Named for an ill-fated Hanna-Barbera character, Schleprok began making music with a group of high school friends that soon became the Geneva hip-hop ensemble, the Gym Class Heroes. The group released their first full-length album entitled For the Kids in 2000, and has created a hearty local following with their three demos and numerous live exhibitions.
It is far too customary for young artists to have sophomoric visions of grandeur for their future, but Travis is a gem of a different nature. “I don’t intend to change the world. I just want my little piece of it and a little time to myself.” Words flow out of Travis’s mouth like a waterfall, each statement having more conviction and natural rhythm than the previous. “I just love to make good music and entertain everyone. I feel I have something to say, and it’s more relevant than clothes and cars.”
Travis is real, and so is his flair as an emcee. The combination has offered him, and his band, the opportunity to perform with bands from West Virginia, New York City, and Ithaca, including shows with members of the nationally renowned Rusted Root.
Travis’ true roots are instilled in the Finger Lakes region. Being a product of Geneva, most of his performances occur across upstate New York and with other promising acts from the area. “I think there is a lot of fresh music and magnetism being produced in the Finger Lakes,” he admits. “There is a human element as well, I like to connect with the crowd. I’ll tell them about a dream, or about my day, so the shows are never the same. I like to laugh at life and make other people laugh too while I’m at it.”
There is no question that Travis McCoy enjoys the seesaw effect of life and his music, for he is an artist – an artist with far more than 15 minutes ahead of him.
Learn more about Travis at www.gymclassheroes.com.
by David Diehl
David Diehl is a Writing & Rhetoric major at Hobart and William Smith Colleges as well as the Arts & Entertainment editor of The Herald, the college’s only student-run newspaper. He is also a weekly contributor to The Town Crier.