By Joanie Cox-Henry, 23 March 2013, Sun Sentinel.com
Steve Howe has been wowing audiences as a guitarist for progressive rock band Yes since 1970. He picked up his first guitar at the age of 12. It was a Christmas present from his parents. The self-taught guitar enthusiast from England went on to have multiple hits with Yes, which released its first album in 1971 and he continues to create solo albums and teach guitar workshops. Now 65 years old, Howe shows no signs of laying his Gibson down anytime soon.
On their current tour, Howe and his fellow Yes members are perfoming 1971’s The Yes Album, 1972’s Close to the Edge and 1977’s Going for the One live. For the group’s casino concerts, the band will be presenting two albums live (The Yes Album and Close To The Edge) due to time restraints.
“Some people only have a few hit songs. We’re lucky to have many popular albums,” Howe said while phoningCitylinkmix.com from Los Angeles. “To perform an album in its entirety presents a concept on stage. It gives us a new feeling. Some years ago, I said to the guys ‘Why not?”
Yes, which is known for its symphonic psychedelic melodies and extended live versions of songs has influenced bands such as Rush and sold more than 13 million albums in America, but one of Howe’s most memorable moments in his career took him by surprise at the very beginning.
“My favorite memory on the road happened in the ‘70s during the days it was all new to us,” Howe recalled. “Playing Madison Square Garden for the first time was amazing. I always liked when my wife was on the road with me and we’d have a giggle.”
While Yes achieved mainstream success with ‘80s anthem “Owner of a Lonely Heart,” the group was never afraid to take risks with its sound. Howe has taken the same approach with his various solo albums, which he continues to be passionate about.
“Yes has always been a morphing transitional orchestra,” Howe explained. “It never gets boring. We have frequent rehearsals. Our touring schedules can be intense. We’ll typically tear off in a rental car or my Mercedes at the end of a long day. A tour is a very structured and highly prepared thing. It’s truly a mixture of personalities. If you don’t like people, don’t join the music business.”
Howe attributes his group’s classical roots that give the band its edge and staying power. “When we first started, you got to play what you liked and a more structured version of psychedelic music. We were more discerning and holding a tradition that started with Mozart and Beethoven,” Howe said. “We were not punks spitting beer on the front row. I always wanted to be a multi-style guitar player and that suited Yes.”
As a guitar player, Howe is often amused when other artists cite musical influences as the “rock star du jour.” But for this no-nonsense rocker, keeping it authentic is the only option.
“I like lively music with energy like The Libertines,” Howe added. “I also really like Alison Krauss and Union Station. She draws influence from the whole space. They really knock me out. I also really like jazz and classical music. What I don’t like is when older musicians like me start saying they like the trendiest artist out there. If it’s not really your bag, don’t put your foot in it!”
See Yes perform 7 p.m. March 24 at Hard Rock Live at Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood. Tickets cost $44-$74. Visit Hardrocklivehollywoodfl.com for tickets or details.
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