Musician named to Iowa hall of fame

October 6, 2009

By David Hayes

Steve Crawford, inducted into the Iowa Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, recalls one of his songs at his Issaquah home, with some of the equipment he and his group, Con Brio, used. By Greg Farrar

Steve Crawford, inducted into the Iowa Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, recalls one of his songs at his Issaquah home, with some of the equipment he and his group, Con Brio, used. By Greg Farrar

Steve Crawford only dabbles in music these days. Now 52, the Issaquah resident since 2002 has long left his touring days in rock ’n’ roll decades in the past.

So, imagine his surprise last month when he received a call from an old friend from Iowa. It was the drummer from his 1980’s band, Con Brio. It seems the five-piece rock ’n’ roll group had been nominated for the Iowa Rock ’n’ Hall of Fame.

“I didn’t even know Iowa had a Rock ’n’ Hall of Fame, let alone they would remember us,” Crawford said.

Sure enough, soon after the phone call, Crawford began receiving paperwork from the Iowa Rock ‘n Roll Music Association confirming Con Brio was going to receive the honor. It was a rock band from the ’80s that “had a lot of flash pots, was really loud, that would knock you down.”“I was totally shocked,” said Crawford. “After, what, 38-39 years? I just thought ‘Oh. My. Gosh.’”

Having played the keyboard since he was 8, Crawford was sent a CD of music by his former bandmates to hone his skills. The Sept. 6 induction ceremony came with a caveat.

“We had to prepare a half-hour live set to perform. So, we rehearsed together when we got there and discovered we could still do this,” Crawford said. “And darned if we didn’t pull it off.”

Con Brio was one of five bands to be inducted amid 10 total inductees, including some DJs and other music personalities, for the class of 2009. Crawford said the most notable act in the class was probably Crow, which received some national airtime in the late ’80s and early ’90s.

“I hadn’t heard of most of them, since I’d moved on to blues bands by the time they came around,” he added.

The group Con Brio, he added, was typical of the ’80s Iowa bands at the time — with nothing to do in Iowa, if you had any musical talent, you joined a band.

In its heyday, Con Brio toured the Midwest, hitting stops in Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. And no, Crawford said, they were not consciously trying to recreate Buddy Holly’s “Tour From Hell,” hitting many of the same spots during the bitter cold winter of 1959.

“The funny thing is we did play the old Surf Ball Room, and the Roof Garden Ballroom hosted the induction ceremony, both places Buddy Holly played,” Crawford said.

The old ballrooms also had green rooms, where the bands signed the walls while waiting to perform.

“We saw on the Roof Garden Ballroom greenroom Buddy Holly’s signature and we found ours, too,” Crawford said.

He first caught the bug to perform in a band when his very first band, Outfit, won a battle of the bands contest at the Iowa state fair. He admitted the hall of fame induction ceremony performance has lit a fire under him.

Working in building and property maintenance at Gilman Village, Crawford never let music totally leave his life. He still has a Yamaha CLP 260 keyboard hooked into a Roland SL50 sound system that can create 264 different voices from the keyboard at will.

“I’m just now getting to know it. It’s an old friend,” he said.

While he’s not quite ready to take his old friend back out on tour, Crawford is looking forward to jumping onstage at some local jam sessions.

David Hayes: 392-6434, ext. 237, dhayes@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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