I started playing the pedal steel in 2004 or 2005. Tutorials by DeWitt Scott and Winnie Winston were very helpful, as well as lessons from Jan Visser. Right away I tried to approach the steel from different angles, listening and studying Hawaiian players, Western swing, jazz and rock steel guitarists. My first jobs included studio work for Spinvis and other artists, and performing with singer/songwriters Outlaw Express and Western swing outfit Panhandle Swing. Currently I play a lot of pedal steel with Men In Blues and the Freelance Band, and occasionally with Change of Key and other bands.
My main instrument is an Excel double-neck, but I also have a Fender stringmaster 50s double neck without pedals and an old 6-string lap steel. I use various amps depending on the situation, these include a Boss Katana, a Fender DeVille tube amp, an Evans pedal steel amp and a 1930s Supro tube amp.
Herb Remington, Maurice Anderson, Buddy Emmons, Vance Terry, Tom Morrell, Curly Chalker, Jerry Byrd, Doug Jernigan, Bud Charleton, Hal Rugg, these are a few of my favourite steel guitar artists, innovators, pioneers. Steel guitarists tend to be enthusiastic generous people and always encourage newcomers with advice and good suggestions, and I'm very happy to have spent time with first and foremost Jan Visser but also Johan Jansen, Hans de Jong, Marcel Parijs, Andre Sommers, Harrie Brekelmans, Lionel Wendling, Muriel Calmel, Bernard Glorian, Ellio Martina, and so many other wonderful steel guitarists.
The steel guitar (with or without pedals) is such a beautiful and versatile instrument! Here's a Spotify playlist of my heroes as well as a few examples of me playing the steel. Enjoy!
STEEL GUITAR FAVORITES
1. SLEEPWALK - SANTO & JOHNNY
One of the best known steel instrumentals, recorded by many different bands, but the original version remains unsurpassed.
2. TEACH YOUR CHILDREN - CROSBY, STILLS, NASH & YOUNG
Probably this song was my introduction to the sound of the pedal steel guitar and to the amazing Jerry Garcia, although I wasn't aware at the time that the sounds in the songs introduction were produced by a pedal steel. Jerry had only been playing the steel for a few weeks when he recorded this beautiful part.
3. REMINGTON RIDE - HERB REMINGTON
One of Western Swing steel guitar pioneer Herb Remington's best known songs. Innovative and beautiful.
4. BURNING BUSHES - BERTOLF
Yes, that's me playing the pedal steel on this beautiful song by Bertolf, who's a pretty good pedal steel guitarist himself.
4. MY HANDY MAN - DIANE VAN DEURZEN & LISA OTEY
Me again playing the steel. Recorded in Tucson, Arizona on a borrowed steel. Always a tremendous pleasure working with these talented ladies.
5. WOLVERTON MOUNTAIN - CURLY CHALKER
Another steel hero with a very distinctive style and sound, amazing technique, please check out his fantastic Counterpoint album.
6. OKLAHOMA STOMP - SPADE COOLEY
That's the genius of the steel guitar at work: Joaquin Murphey, in one of his most beloved performances.
7. FALLING OUT OF LOVE WITH YOU - HARM VAN SLEEN
Me playing a non-pedal 50s Fender steel through a 30s amp to get that authentic old timey sound.
8. I CAN'T GIVE YOU ANYTHING BUT LOVE - TOM MORRELL
Jazz on the non-pedal steel guitar by the amazing Tom Morrell.
9. CARELESS LOVE - TEX WILLIAMS
That's Joaquin Murphey again!
10. I'VE NEVER SEEN HAWAII - HARM VAN SLEEN
An ode to the country that was probably responsible for the steel guitar's popularity in the first place.
11. SAND - JERRY BYRD
And here a Hawaiian song performed by the master with the magic touch, Jerry Byrd.
12. TWIN GUITAR SPECIAL - BOB WILLS
Herb Remington is at it again. These days the steel guitar is usually associated with country music, but as this playlist illustrates, the steel guitar was used to great effect in many different musical idioms including jazz, Hawaiian music, rockabilly, rock music and of course in the Western Swing of Bob Wills.
13. LONESOME - HERB REMINGTON
I love this tune, Herb Remington in a sensitive mood.
14. STILL UP IN THE MORNING - FREELANCE BAND
Me playing the steel on this beautiful song by the Freelance Band.
15. IK WIL ALLEEN MAAR ZWEMMEN - SPINVIS
The first recording I ever did playing the pedal steel, which I'd started playing just before this was recorded, it immediately outsold any other recording I'd ever played on. My contribution is minimal but I like the song.
16. TOO DRUNK TO QUIT DRINKING - HARM VAN SLEEN
Another song from my THE SECRET TO SUCCESS album. If you enjoy this song or #7 and #10 from this playlist, please check out the rest of the album.
17. CHEROKEE - BUDDY EMMONS
Buddy Emmons is possibly the best known of all steel guitar vrtuosos. Of all jazz standards, this is a song that to my idea most effectively utilises the possibilities of the pedals on the C6 neck. Beautiful.
18. PAISLEY WIRED - BART DIETVORST
Me on the pedal steel in this up tempo duel with Bart's lead guitar.
19. VOULEZ-VOUS - JUDITH NIJLAND
Jazzy, Tom Waits influenced cover of the Abba classic, with me on pedal steel.
20. DEEP FEELING - CHUCK BERRY
Let's finish with rock & roll icon playing the steel guitar on his instrumental Deep Feeling.