I’ve known Steve Bello for almost half my life. I met him when I was around 18 years old and even then he was one of the most amazing guitar players I’ve ever seen grace the stages of the local music scene. I would always place him on the scale of a Steve Vai or a Joe Satriani. He was just that good! Through the years, Steve was a phenomenal self-promoter for his band, and I always gave him tons of credit for that. He was always gracious whenever I wrote about him in North Jersey Notes. The guy used to send me 20 emails a day letting me know about his band or his latest projects. Steve tells me, “It’s pretty funny when people come up to me at gigs asking me to hook them up with you since you write about me so much!” I told Steve that’s what happens when you’re just that good of a self-promoter.
Steve Bello recently found himself in an amazing position, as he was tagged by legendary bass icon T.M. Stevens to be his guitarist for a summer show at The Brighton Bar in Long Branch, NJ. According to Steve, “This has been an opportunity that I waited almost 20 years for! I told T.M. back in 1993 when I first met him at a Steve Vai show that one day I will play guitar for him and that day came! I’m still reeling over it. When I first got the call, I thought that T.M. was calling to ask me to open for him, but then he said, ‘I want you to play guitar for me!’ and I freaked!” I told Steve during our conversation that he and I have been on the scene for so long paying our dues, selling tickets for numerous venues and posting flyers everywhere we played instead of posting things on Facebook, and this was our time to collect. He responded with, “Are you kidding me? I still feel like I’m at the bottom of the ladder still paying my dues! I’m happy that you think that it’s time for us to collect, but I still feel like I have to keep fighting to pay my dues!” With all his talent, I think it’s humorous that he’s still so humble. And about the Brighton Bar show that Steve performed with T.M.? It was sold out! According to one promoter from The Brighton Bar, it might’ve been the most packed that club has ever been! Did I mention that Steve was an amazing self-promoter?
Bello was humbled again recently when The Brighton Bar offered his solo band, simply titled the Steve Bello Band, a headlining slot on Saturday, Sept. 29. Steve says, “I just called the promoter for a gig, and he was so happy with the T.M. show that he offered me the headlining slot! I was like, ‘How is this happening to me?’” Joining Steve for this show will be his bass player from the amazing Go Berzerk! CD, Joe DeMott, and T.M.’s drummer and Plasmatics legend, T.C. Tolliver. If that’s not enough to humble one person, T.M. Stevens recently had to write a 15-minute song for the Warwick Basses anniversary, and he once again selected Steve to record the guitar parts for this recording. How can this guy not think he’s finally getting his due? Steve says he’s still not done yet, adding, “I still want to open for Living Colour!”
When I asked Steve if this gig with T.M. was a one-shot deal, he told me, “Even if it is a one-shot deal, who cares? I accomplished what I always wanted to do for close to 20 years, and that was share the stage with the legendary T.M. Stevens!” He went on to say that even if it was a one-shot deal, he still has his solo band to worry about. He released Go Berzerk! a few years ago and has only played one gig to promote it, as he opened for Uli Jon Roth and Leslie West at the Starland Ballroom last year. That was a gig which might’ve been the catalyst to his gig with Stevens.
When Bello isn’t on stage being a guitar whiz, the father of three works as a sales rep for DR Strings, which he’s also endorsed by. As many of the local bands out there know, it’s hard to nail down a good endorsement deal. Well, Steve has been endorsed by Ibanez for almost a decade now and most recently was hooked up with a Morley pedals deal through Stevens. That makes three endorsements! How is this guy still so humble? This is way more than any local musician can ask for. Steve also teaches guitar in his spare time and loves giving his time to educate these kids on how to be better guitar players.
In almost 20 years of knowing Bello, he’s told me on numerous occasions that he was done playing music, and I would laugh every time he would email me letting me know that he was giving it another try. It made me think of that line in The Godfather Part III, “Every time I try to get out, they keep pulling me back in!” That’s the epitome of Steve Bello’s music career, and I have to say that I’m happy he hasn’t given up! His guitar playing skills are second to none! Like he says, “My style of music is a niche thing! It’s all instrumental, which means there is no singer, so it’s tough for me to find gigs where people appreciate that sort of thing.” Well, I think that people will enjoy this type of thing because he’s amazing to watch play and the musicianship around him is just as remarkable! I told Steve that if he enjoys what he’s doing, then he should never think about giving up! Who gives up on something they’re happy with? You give up on things you’re unhappy with!
The Steve Bello Band will be at The Brighton Bar in Long Branch, NJ, on Sept. 29. For more information on Steve Bello, go to reverbnation.com/stevebello.