Trevor "BabaJack" Steger talks about the African name of band, the early bluesmen and his homemade "wine box" guitars

"Blues is the basis from which other music is made. It is simple, passionate and very real, very human.  When it is played well, it has a rhythm and tone that touches you to your very soul."

BabaJack is an acoustic blues/ folk band from Malvern that is fast becoming an established band on the Folk and Blues Festival circuits in the UK and into Europe: in the last year, they have played or are playing Warwick, Bromyard, Bromsgrove and Shrewsbury Folk Festivals on main stages, Wychwood Festival (Big Top Stage), Blues in Wonderland, Upton, Skegness, Gloucester, Tenby, Buxton and Leamington Spa Blues Festivals on main stages. The new album ROOSTER just finished and so be ready for that release is coming next month.

Trevor Steger (acoustic/resonator/ winebox guitars & Harmonica) and Becky Tate (African drum, cahon, stomp & vocals) form the songwriting nucleus of the band, and have been joined by Marc Miletitch on double bass.

BabaJack is one of the most exciting blues, roots outfits in the UK. (BLUESMATTERS MAG) and Trevor Steger is one of the founder members.  He is co-songwriter and guitarist/harp player, and he is best known for his slide style, his rack harp sound and his home made ‘Wine Box’ guitars.

Interview by Michael Limnios

When was your first desire to become involved in the blues & who were your first idols?

I started out playing in punk bands in the early 80s and listening to stuff like The Stranglers and Generation X.  One day I came across Nine Below Zero, and that changed my world.  Blues took over.  The next thing I did was buy a Sonny Williamson Album and a harp. And I never stopped!

Tell me about the beginning of BABAJACK. How did you choose the name and where did it start?
It’s kind of my name! I lived and worked in Zimbabwe for a few years in the Shona lands.  My eldest son was born there, and the local Shona people renamed me ‘BabaJack’, ‘Father of Jack’.  I remember thinking back then: ‘that scams well – great name for a band’!
So Babajack the band started when I met my partner Becky ten years ago.  She and I started playing and writing together, fell in love and had children… Now that the children are a bit older, we can concentrate more on the music and so really BabaJack has been our project for the last 31/2 years. In that time we have been joined by Marc Miletitch, played hundreds of gigs and recorded 3 albums!

What are some of the most memorable gigs you've had?
There have been so many gigs, but I guess one of the most memorable was Skegness Rock & Blues Festival last year.  We had a great audience, it was like a sea of blues lovers in front of us, having a great time. It made playing feel so easy, so real, a great feeling between us.  It’s the people that make great gigs, whether it’s on a big stage in a big festival or in the little bar somewhere, that’s what matters!

Any comments about your experiences with BECKY and MARC?
Well Becky is my partner, and co-songwriter for BabaJack.  We live, play and write together with our kids.  She’s a fantastic musician and performer and my best friend!  Marc is our double bass player.  He joined us full time last year, and is just as much part of the band now as Bec and I are.  He’s classically trained, and brings some really great arrangements to our songs.

What characterize the sound of BABAJACK?
‘BabaJack is one of the most exciting blues, roots, folk outfits in the UK’ This is how we were described in BluesMatters Magazine.  Our sound is  rootsy, growling, guitar and percussion driven with energy and passion.  It’s all about taking the principles of early blues and making it contemporary.

What experiences in your life make you a GOOD musician?
I found that I could play guitar and harmonica. I play my guitar every day, I listen and learn from others and I make it my life’s work to refine my blues guitar style and combine it with rack harmonica.  I love it.

Which of historical music personalities would you like to meet?
Robert Johnson, definitely, and Mississippi John Hurt, Son House, Charley Patton, Muddy Waters…  I wish I could meet them all.  They played the blues with the original passion.

Where did you pick up your guitar style & what were the first songs you learned?
I picked up my guitar style somewhere along the road… Mainly I listened to the early blues players and gave it a go, listened to other players too.  It was also the guitars I’ve played.  I started off with a rough old ‘F’ hole arch top, and a cranky national copy.  I saved up for my beautiful hand crafted Stonebridge Acoustic, and my Dobro Hounddog Reso.  They are great guitars and that makes playing such a joy.  Then I started making my own guitars out of old wine boxes…

What are the secrets of winebox guitar? What does “winebox guitar” mean to you?
The Winebox guitars came about because I’m a woodworker as well as a musician.  It has long been an ambition of mine to make a guitar, and there is a great blues tradition to play homemade guitars.  From the 1850’s to 1950’s it was common for poor people in the States, black and white, to make their own instruments. They made them out of whatever was lying around: cigar boxes, old oil cans...  For me that was a wine box.  I started by making a four string guitar out of a winebox.  I cut it down, used bits of walnut from a wardrobe for the sound holes, made the neck out of a bit oak, stripped my son’s electric guitar for the winders and pick up and the dog’s bone for the nut and markers.  We call it ‘The Beast’ because of the great growl!  Then I had to try my hand at a six string version which I call ‘Joanna’, the old name given to pianos, because she’s made with old piano keys.  She has a mellower sound.
I would love to make some more, and people have asked me.  When I have some more time, I will!

Some music styles can be fads but the blues is always with us.  Why do think that is?
Blues is the basis from which other music is made. It is simple, passionate and very real, very human.  When it is played well, it has a rhythm and tone that touches you to your very soul.

What advice would you give to aspiring musicians thinking of pursuing a career in the craft?
Love it!  Play every day, play with passion, and find someone who understands the business side!

What are your plans for the future? Do you have a message for the Greek fans?
We are just about to release our third album :  BabaJack – Rooster.  We’re really excited about it!  It’s the best thing I’ve ever done, other than have my kids!  We’re going to be touring and playing festivals to promote the album.  That will keep us busy!
And we would like to say THANKS to the Greek fans for getting to know us. I hope we can come to Greece and play the blues for you soon!

Baba Jack's website

Views: 736

Comments are closed for this blog post

social media


© 2023   Created by Michael Limnios Blues Network.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service