STORY WRITTEN BY BRIAN BINGAMAN
@brianbingaman on Twitter
When Glenside resident Steve Solotist straps on his guitar, he becomes A.C. Steel.
A member of the Philadelphia band Dukes of Destiny and frontman of A.C. Steel and the Galvanizers, Solotist pulled back the curtain on his macho stage name. “I was in HVAC professionally from the mid-’80s till now — I’m recently retired,” he said, adding that it’s also an homage to saxophonist A.C. Reed.
The “Steel” comes from encouraging remarks made by a friend while Solotist was going through a divorce: “We’re gonna make you tough, like steel.”
Solotist’s story is like a variation of “Almost Famous.” On his 17th birthday, he was in a band opening for Humble Pie and Chicago at the original Electric Factory. When he lived in England in the early ‘70s, he nearly became a member of Bad Company and was present for the recording sessions of their first album. “For marketing purposes, they decided to keep the band English,” he said.
Not long after that, he was in a band with future Hooters drummer David Uosikkinen. “We played a mixture of original rock and covers, playing local clubs in the area. He has credited me with giving him his real start playing in bands of that type,” said Solotist, who is part of the on-call lineup of musicians for Uosikkinen’s ongoing “In the Pocket” project.
Formed in 2000, four of the current Galvanizers are residents of Abington and Cheltenham. Keyboardist “Chicago” Carl Snyder “is a true legend in the national blues music scene and has appeared on close to 50 recordings,” according to Solotist.
A Dec. 3 show at the North Penn VFW in Glenside will feature songs from the new album “Now or Never” — which includes flashes of Americana, funk and rock — as well as brand-new songs like “Go Pound Sand” and “Nine Lives.” “We’ll see if we can throw in some Christmas songs, since the show’s in December,” he said.
According to Solotist, “Now or Never” has received airplay on WXPN’s “The Blues Show.”
During all December A.C. Steel and the Galvanizers shows — including an opener slot for The Nighthawks at the Bucks County Blues Society Christmas Party Dec. 15 at the Terchon VFW in Levittown — 20 CDs or download cards will be given away on a first-come, first-served basis.
For every CD or download card of “Now or Never” sold between December and April, half the proceeds will go to Keystone Warriors, a nonprofit dedicated to assisting wounded post-9/11 veterans from Pennsylvania, or with ties to Pennsylvania.
The album’s opening track, “Can’t Keep the Big Man Down,” is about the health struggles of the band Little Red Rooster’s Kevin McCann. The band puts an unusual jug band feel to Robert Johnson’s “Come On in My Kitchen.” On “Tequila Seals the Deal,” “I was trying to get the feeling of a guy noodling on the guitar, and his girlfriend is visiting. Rich (bassist Rich Curtis) was doing (the girlfriend’s voice) in Eddie Murphy comic relief,” Solotist said, noting that it’s one of his songs that channels the lightheartedly risque music of Willie Dixon.
The band is also scheduled to play The Lucky Well in Ambler Dec. 17 and Kennett Flash Feb. 4. For more information, go to www.acsteelblues.com.