Steve Poltz & Friends
San Diegopoltzalooza by Robert Dunstan
Canadian-born but San Diego-based singer songwriter Steven Joseph Joshua Poltz is coming back to Australia for what must be something like his fifth or sixth visit which began back in the late ’90s when he toured with Jewel with whom he had co-written her hit song You Were Meant For Me. Since then Poltz been a regular solo visitor and has won many new friends, enticed many of the female persuasion to provide him with their telephone number and usually ended up after his Adelaide shows at the Exeter Hotel on Rundle St drinking a good number of beers.
His current tour, however, promises to be three times as much fun as Poltz is also bringing with him San Diego-based friends and musicians Gregory Page and Jeff Berkley.
We spoke to Poltz, the former alter boy who has won the title of San Diego’s Best Acoustic Artist three times, Artist Of The Year twice but Influential Artist Of The Decade only once, over the telephone.
“G’day, mate,” he began in a mock Australian accent. “How ya goin’ cobber?”
Poltz was greatly looking forward to touring Australia again introducing us to the talents of UK-born but now San Diego-based Gregory Page (who, as a small child, once sat on Paul McCartney’s knee and is not that yellow bloke from The Wiggles) and Jeff Berkley.
“Gregory was in The Rugburns with me and he toured Australia last year with Marshall [Crenshaw] but didn’t make it to Adelaide,” Poltz explained. “Matter of fact he didn’t even make it to Brisbane because he just played Melbourne and Sydney.”
How will the concerts be presented?
“Well Gregory will do some stuff and then Jeff Berkley will do some stuff – and that guy’s just awesome, man. You’re gonna love him,” Poltz stated. “And then Jeff will play some percussion with me – just djembe – and Gregory will be playing a little bit of bass. At least I hope he’s bringing down his bass [laughs].
“So, unlike my last tours, it will be almost a full band,” he added. ‘So it’ll be really cool to come over and bring a little piece of San Diego with me. It’ll be like San Diegolapoltzalooza. And it’ll be good to have people in Australia see two very, very good singer songwriters.
And then, of course, there’s Poltz.
Born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, he later graduated from the University Of San Diego with a political science degree but formed a band known as The Rugburns with Gregory Page and they released three albums. Poltz went solo in 1998 and released One Left Shoe which scored a glowing review in Rolling Stone magazine. His next solo release, Answering Machine, contained 56 songs of 45 seconds duration and is said to be one of Neil Young’s favourite albums.
Poltz has also had his songs featured in numerous television shows including Dharma & Greg, Dawson’s Creek and Party Of Five as well as having his compositions included on the soundtrack to motion pictures such as Notting Hill and Jack Frost. Poltz also co-wrote US singer Jewel’s massive hit You Were Meant For Me and was featured in the video clip for that song (without his shirt). Poltz has also issued a live album, Live At Largo, which is generally only available at gigs or over his informative website at <poltz.com>.
Last time we spoke, the musician had mentioned that he’d been doing some songwriting with AJ Croce, son of the late Jim Croce.
“You know what, I almost talked AJ into coming down with us as well?” Poltz stated. “And now he’s jealous that we’re coming down without him. But I’ll probably bring him next time because he’s really keen to come.
“And I always have a good time in Australia because Aussie audiences are so cool,” he quickly added. “So I always have a good time. I just love it down there.”
On his fourth visit to our country, Poltz played Sydney’s The Basement where the show was recorded and then issued as a live DVD, Steve Poltz Live At The Basement. There are now plans for another DVD with the focus also being on Australia.
“Yeah, Gregory will be bringing his movie camera and we’ll be filming all the shows,” Poltz said. “And we’ll be taking lots of road footage. So there’ll be lots of weird shit of us invading Australia.”
The shows will also be recorded each night on computer hard disc and then be sold as a souvenir immediately after the show.
“I have a bunch of new songs and a lot of people will come up and say, ‘oh, I really liked what you did tonight’,” Poltz reasoned. “So we’ll be recording each show and then we can give people exactly what they just heard.
“And if you buy the CD, you also get a free microwave oven,” he then announced. “My dad works for a microwave oven factory so I’m shipping something like 700 of them over to Australia to give away with the CD That’s why I won’t be making any money on this tour.
“So when you guys eventually get electricity down there, it’s gonna be bitchin’,” Poltz added.
Yeah, but we can’t use American plugs.
“Oh yeah, I forgot about that,” he sighed.
Poltz is also looking forward to visiting his favourite Adelaide restaurant.
“Yeah, I wanna take Gregory and Jeff to Gauchos on Gouger St because they’re meat-eating bastards,” he concluded with a laugh. “They wanted to know if they could bring their guns down and shoot some Australian cows.”
Steve Poltz, Gregory Page and Jeff Berkley play Jive on Fri Aug 26.