The band Steal Your Face is no stranger to One Unified and vice versa. We’ve featured the band before, they are regulars on our entertainment calendar and our interviews with frontman Paul Baroli Jr. go back to the earliest days of our project. So this week we are happy to feature them once again for our Sunday Spotlight because this week they are celebrating their 10th anniversary as the band that we have come to know and love.
Happy Anniversary Steal Your Face!
A band known for turning clubs and bars into psychedelic rock shows is celebrating their 10th Anniversary in 2016. Steal Your Face played their first shows in 2006 and they are proud and slightly shocked at what they have accomplished over the last 10 years. “What we have now, the scene, the community, the fact that our shows have become a gathering place of friends and not just Dead Heads but now Steal Your Face fans is just humbling to me.” Says founder and front-man Paul Baroli Jr.
The band now known as Steal Your Face played their first show at a friend’s wedding in April 2006. “We had just started kicking around and putting some tunes together, they asked and I jumped at the chance – probably biting off more than we could chew”. For their first year the band was called August West and even though it featured current members Baroli, Curt Eustace and Garry Engel, things looked much different than they do today. “I was playing acoustic guitar and sort of prancing around a lot, putting on more of a show than a musical contribution. A guy by the name of Steve Lynn put us all together, he had placed an ad on Philzone, (a Grateful Dead fan site in honor of Dead bassist Phil Lesh) I answered the ad and met Steve as well as Curt and Garry not long after.”
Garry Engel had experience in a popular country-western band called Union Pacific and had just retired from owning his own heating and air conditioning business, Engel Heating and Air. Garry’s first Grateful Dead concert was at Franklin and Marshall College in 1971, seeing the band’s original line up. Garry is a life-long rhythm guitarist and has been the only full-time rhythm guitarist in Steal Your Face, “I’m amazed at the music that we produce. It has to do with our high level of talent, our love for music and the love for each other. By the end of each set, I’m shaking from the excitement of making such great music. Of course, I love our fans’ enthusiasm. It’s the icing on the cake!” Paul and Garry formed a friendship and partnership that keeps the band business running to this day. The two manage the band together, Engel said, “We complement each other really well. We both put our experience in other businesses to work for the band.”
“The first time I heard Curt play guitar it was obvious to me the kid was special.” said Baroli. “The Kid” was 15 at the time and was happy to hang around the band and play when he could along with the band’s first drummer Chris Brennan. Chris was Curt’s childhood best friend who tragically passed away in 2010.
After a few shows in 2006 frustrations in August West started to grow and Baroli convinced Engel to leave and regroup as Steal Your Face. Curt and Chris were teenagers and were not legally allowed in the establishments the band was playing. Baroli and Engel decided to seek players who were over 21 and in 2007 Steal Your Face performed with a lineup of Baroli, Engel, Mike Christy on lead guitar, and Mikey MacBride, Baroli’s cousin, on drums. “Mikey’s from Miami, he was an all-state jazz drummer in high school and going to school at Drexel in Philadelphia. Garry and I found a drum set on Craigslist and bought it for him and we were off and running.” said Baroli. Of Christy Engel said, “Mike and I hit it off, he was at Woodstock and we are of the same generation. His experience really helped us out.”
The band has seen several lineup changes since those days, most notably bringing Curtis back to play lead guitar in 2008. Says Engel, “All the things we’ve been through, all the moves we made or had to be made, they’ve always worked out for the best. It’s always just felt like it was moving in the right direction.” Baroli chimes in, “slow and steady baby.”
Paul, Garry, Curt and drummer “Blue” Lou Zalvino formed the core of the band for the next 5 years. Baroli said, “Lou is a marine, he expected us to work hard and we did. We were not only having fun but starting to draw people and book regular gigs. We’d put together a couple of new songs during the week and debut them on the weekend. We’ve always wanted to keep our shows fresh and innovative and in those days we had to run to keep up.”
The band started to gain some accolades during that time performing at Gathering of the Vibes music Festival in Bridgeport, CT in 2009 and winning the 2010 Bucks-Montgomery County Music Award for Best Jamband. Steal Your Face was building a loyal local fan base as well as appearing at music festivals up and down the mid-Atlantic and Northeast. “Some shows will always stand out, dream come true stuff. Pennypack Park Music Festival in Northeast Philly. I used to ride my bike past that amphitheater when I was a kid. I would get on stage and pretend I was putting on a concert there. Then one day there I am, standing on that stage and literally looking out at thousands of people on the lawn. One of the few times I’ve been physically rocked by nerves, my legs were shaking walking out for the first song.” said Baroli.
Following the birth of his daughter in 2011, Lou decided he wanted to focus more on his family and left the band. The core four had become three and the guys were not only missing their friend but on the hunt for a new drummer and solid lineup. “They were strange times. We had shows booked and people showing up to see us. We had an obligation to be “Steal Your Face” but it was tough. There were weekends where Friday Me, Curt and Garry would play out with two guys and the next night me and Curt would be on stage with three different guys. We stayed unified and strong and persevered, staying true to what we felt should be done with the music and eventually got the right guys together and solidified the lineup.”
Those guys were keyboardist Dan Galvano and drummer Matt Ginsburg. “Danny G” had spent about a year with Steal Your Face while studying music at The New School in New York City beginning in 2009. The burden of the band’s schedule as well as the commute from New York and his classes proved to be too much at the time and Danny’s first stint with the band came to an end. Upon finishing school, Danny came home to Lawrenceville, New Jersey and was playing with his original band “The Bansai Bills”. “We always loved Danny and were real glad he was back in town. He was the first keyboard player we had that really fit with us and it seemed like we went through hell with keyboard players when he wasn’t with us. There were a lot of them.” said Baroli. “Too many” adds Eustace.
Matt Ginsburg came to Steal Your Face with a quarter century of experience playing the music of the Grateful Dead, “I named the band Living Earth in 1980 and played with them for 25 years. This band takes that experience and expands upon it with nonstop energy and love.” Of Ginsburg, Baroli says “We just love the guy. Musically, he’s so much more than a drummer. He taught me how to sing harmonies correctly and nuances of this music that were missing.”
Most weekends the current lineup of Baroli, Engel, Eustace, Galvano and Ginsburg can be seen performing at bars and clubs in and around Bucks County and Philadelphia. “We’ve been Blessed to build our lives around this music, the shows, the love and each other.” says Baroli. Spring and summer bring music festivals for Steal Your Face. Keyboardist Dan Galvano said, “We love the festivals. Travel and adventure, camping and partying together.” Ginsburg adds, “Playing outside for big crowds is where it’s at.” The band’s upcoming schedule includes a Cinco De Mayo party at Chickies and Pete’s on Roosevelt Blvd Thursday May 5th. They will be kicking off this year’s Pennypack Park Music Festival on Wednesday May 11th and have a schedule full of music festivals and local shows through the summer.
The 10 year anniversary celebration culminates July 23rd at a music Festival called “Caveman’s Love Fest” in White Haven, PA. The band has a four-hour headlining time slot that night and plans to bring back several alumni to share the stage. “I’m really excited about that. The festival is at a great campground just two hours from Philly with running water, bathrooms, a lake and an in ground pool. We are really hoping a lot of our fans who spend weekends at our local shows will make the trip. I’ve been in touch with some of the guys we used to play with and can’t wait to see what kind of music and collaborations are made that night. It will be a true celebration and love fest.” said Baroli. The band may include more festivities later in the year, information and their full schedule at their official website http://www.StealYourFaceBand.com.
Steal Your Face (from left to right) Garry Engel, Curt Eustace, Matt Ginsburg,
Paul Baroli Jr., Dan Galvano