Randy Steele is an award winning banjo pickin' singer/songwriter from Chattanooga, Tennessee. Randy’s creative music ranges from character based narratives to deeply personal and revelatory. Emotionally powerful, Steele can wake you up with a hard-drivin' song, draw you in with deep lyrics, and have you laughing (or crying) with a compelling confession. Steele independently released a new single, “A Golden Smile,” today!
"Bright banjo tones and Randy's smiling vocals and a poppy click track set the tone for this tale of woe," wrote Americans Highways in their premiere of “A Golden Smile.” The song, which landed him as a finalist in this year's Kerrville Folk Festival's Grassy Hill New Folk Competition and a semi-finalist in American Songwriter’s Song of the year 2022, is based on Randy's remembrance of his own self doubt and fear when he first started dating his wife; they have been married for 22 years.
If I had a heart of stone
Ventricles of granite
Pumping gravels thru my veins
I don’t have a heart of stone
So it don’t matter anyways.
Randy says of “A Golden Smile,” “The click is an old Seth Thomas metronome that is sitting in front of a microphone. This very metronome sat on my Mom’s piano for decades and she recently gave it to me. It’s one of those crank up styles that will hold time for a bit but eventually slows then just dies. It does have a more aesthetically pleasing acoustic sound than most of the modern day metronomes. I’ve played banjo and guitar scales with that old thing for so long now that the song feels like a duet with an old friend.”
Steele’s songwriting is often storytelling in nature, Randy says, “As of late though, the songs that are more personal are tending to be the ones that mean more thus they end up on the recordings.”
Randy’s high-energy bluegrass band, High Cold Wind, brings out the best in his charisma and superb storytelling and they are set to independently release a 5-song self-titled EP this August which will also contain “A Golden Smile.”
The first single was released in March: A good old heartache song about growth ,“There’s a Part of Me,” was premiered by Americana UK with Jonathan Aird writing, “It’s a song that sounds as traditional as heck, but take a careful listen to the lyrics and you’ll find very modern sensibilities and concerns being thought about. Not too many Bluegrass songs include scenes like: ‘I remember that Christmas / When you got a neck tattoo / And your momma cried and / Spent the holidays holed up inside her room / She said that you can’t be buried / With your family anymore.’”
Bluegrass Today praised the music video for “There’s a Part of Me” as “a clever music video that mixes animation and live action on this story of heartbreak and recovery.” Nicholas Edward Williams of American Songcatcher says of it, “ You couldn’t name enough bluegrass songs on one hand that cover that much ground emotionally. Then add the depth of the looming chorus, that Steele’s heart ‘heals a little every day, that I spend away from you.’ It’s the kind of break up song that we all wish were true to our own lives.”
The other three upcoming songs included on the EP are: “Nashville Drinking Song” (a fun fast paced song about leaving the big city and moving back to the country), “It Happened” (quick tempo and fun bluegrass song about life in the country, maybe robbing some banks, and lying to the police!), and “Eight Thirty Eighteen” (a song born out of frustration and channeled into a super fast, major key, knee slappin’ bluegrass number).
Joining Steele in High Cold Wind is Fiddlin’ Faye Petree, regional fiddle legend of the North Carolina and Georgia music scene; flat pick wizard and member of Americana favorites Strung Like a Horse, Tyler Martelli, on acoustic guitar; multiple state, multiple instrumental contest champion and well known teacher John Boulware on mandolin; and Justin Hupp holding it down on the upright bass.
Randy says, ”For a while now I’ve been wanting to do more bluegrass. I love bluegrass. It is a great example of simplicity and complexity combined. Every time I hear the simple 1 & 3 low thump of an upright bass contrasted by the 2 & 4 hard chop of a mandolin, I am immediately reminded of a thousand great evenings playing with friends. Memories of a million banjo breaks on standards, just trying to find where the banjo fits, come flooding back to me each time. Usually I had a smile on my face and maybe a little whiskey on my breath. I wanted to convey that feeling with this group of songs. The subject matter for the most part is southern living, particularly based around my youth growing up in a Pentecostal Church.”