Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Steven Van Zandt is bringing his Disciples of Soul to Thebarton Theatre on Tuesday April 16.
Known for his music and acting talent in such projects as Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, The Sopranos, Lilyhammer and Little Steven’s Underground Garage, the Soulfire tour is set to be one of the best shows this year.
Adelaide was a later addition to this tour and was thanks to Steven’s dedication to taking the show to as many places as he can.
“It’s difficult,” he says. “They don’t always encourage to go to every city. People tend to go with what they consider to be the safe cities, but I insisted on Perth and Adelaide because I like going to the cities that are not necessarily on the regular path. I just think that there’s audience everywhere, you have to go to them and find them. I don’t even care. It’s my risk. I take the risks.”
And with the normal line up of Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul boasting an incredible 15 musicians, Little Steven is promising a touring show that is just as impressive.
“I want the people to come out and see this band. This band is a chiller, they’re all chillers. This is the best musicians in New York and we take people on quite a musical trip. We have two hours really escaping this very ugly world that we’re living in at the moment,” he says.
“The show transports people to another place for a couple of hours and give them some sanctuary and people leave with more energy than they come with, you know what I mean? It’s a very, very positive experience. I hope people come out.”
With so many incredible credits under his belt, as well as being a producer, radio DJ, an actor, musician, director and probably an international man of mystery, Steven says he feels his most creative when he’s producing.
“I think, first and foremost, I’m a producer and writer. I like the creative process the most. I produce records, radio shows, I produced a show on Broadway, I produce live events. I like that, I like that the most; the sort of behind the scenes, creating something from nothing, and all the facets that go with a live production. It’s so much fun. The writing, the creative process, whether it’s writing a song, or creating a radio or TV show. That kind of stuff is what really justifies your existence in my mind,” he says.
“The rock star thing or the acting thing is the fun part. It’s the reward in a way; it’s the way you relax, really. It’s like the vacation part of life. You don’t have to think, you don’t have to, it just sort physical, you know what I mean?”
In the 1980s, Steven Van Zandt was well known for his political activism, which included organising the now legendary Artists United Against Apartheid event.
But these days, his activism is focused on music in education and making sure both teachers and students have access to creative arts.
“I actually changed my ways, because I was the most political guy in the world in the ’80s. Everything I did was political. Back then it was a different time and all politics was being hidden, it wasn’t in your face all day. You would go months without thinking about the government. It was wonderful but meanwhile Ronald Reagan was playing the role of everybody’s cowboy grandfather and I everybody thought he was a wonderful old man, but behind the scenes he was doing a lot of terrible things around the world. I felt it necessary to shine some light on those things back then, like South Africa,” he says.
“Now it’s completely different situation. The politics is 24/7, you can’t get away from it and there’s nothing hidden at all, it’s all very, very upfront right in your face, I don’t really need to explain anything about a government that kidnap children as a deterrent for immigrants. What can you possibly add to that? I thought it redundant just talking about it, so I think my usefulness is best used for a way of people coming together and try to create some common ground, using music. We’re so divided now in our country. We’re on the verge of a civil war, so I’m trying to create an atmosphere that’s peaceful, not divisive, not partisan. I haven’t been partisan since I started my education project.”
The project Steven refers to is Teach Rock which is a program offering workshops and resources to teachers and students across the USA.
Steven is also using the tool to connect with teachers globally, offering a professional development session before shows and free tickets to teachers to attend the gig.
“I am really concentrating on my education, music history curriculum teachrock.org. We just went public with it this past year and after working on it for ten years and it’s really off to a very good start,” he says.
“The arts classes all got cut in America, so we’re trying to make sure we’re keeping arts in the DNA of the education system and we’re doing it through music history. It’s been quite a successful start so we put aside 400 tickets for teachers to come to our shows free.”
If you’re a teacher, all you have to do is register at teachrock.org and you can attend a professional development session with Steven Van Zandt, which will quite possibly be the coolest PD session you’ve ever attended.
“It’s been nice, using the tool as a way of reaching out to teachers directly and not depending on the bureaucracy and not worrying about the budget cuts, because it’s free,” Steven says.
“We are showing our gratitude to teachers and saying thank you to them. It’s a worldwide phenomenon that teachers are just under appreciated and under paid and under funded and we’re trying to do something about it. That’s what I have concentrated my energy on.”
You can buy tickets to see Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul on Tuesday 16 April at Thebarton Theatre HERE.
And if you’re a teacher, get along to the professional development session by registering HERE.
Written by Libby Parker