Euge’s latest album hit the top of the charts upon release and was voted album of the year by the prestigious JazzTrax. Two tracks have already done well, the title track hit #1, and had the second most spins (times it is played on radio and in public) for 2007, as Chillaxin from Just Feels Right did in 2006. Baby If You Only Knew was chosen the Jazz Trax Vocal Song of the Year and has continued to chart proving once again that Euge is always in the groove. Known for delivering one hit after another he has delivered another home run! His enthusiasm and passion for all of his projects is more evident in his live performance where he has learned to read his audience and tailor the performance to them.
Writing, arranging, and programming almost every track himself, Euge's accomplishments have earned him a slew of awards including, Radio and Records Breakout Artist of the Year, JazzTrax Debut Artist, and a Prism Award nomination. Co-producing with the award winning Paul Brown, he continues to receive such accolades as his career unfolds.
Steven Eugene Grove was born on November 27, 1962 in Hagerstown, Maryland. His Mom played piano and led the church children’s choir, so it was natural for Euge to gravitate towards music. Euge started singing in the choir at age five, taking piano lessons at age seven and the started saxophone at nine in the school band, all with a strict classical influence. Introduced to jazz in high school, and then at the University of Miami, School of Music in the early eighties, Euge incorporated his vast classic knowledge with jazz to develop his own signature style.
SJN: People always ask about your stage name and we have heard several different versions, so we thought that we would ask you for the record?
Euge: My middle name is Eugene so it got shortened to ‘Euge’ by my brother in-law about 20 years ago and it just kinda caught on. Then ‘Groove’ is just a mispronunciation of ‘Grove’ because I was working a lot in Europe and I guess in the romantic language they say ‘Grove’ and they pronounce it ‘Groove’. So the ‘Euge Groove’ thing just came out of that.
SJN: Do your friends call you Euge or Steve?
Euge: ‘Mr. Groove’ (laughs) I have some friends that call me ‘Steve’, it’s kind of a mood thing, you can change the mood by what name you go under.
SJN: What does your wife call you?
Euge: ‘Honey’, (laughs) it’s the same thing, she’ll call me ‘Steve’. She’ll call me ‘Euge’, she’ll call me ‘Grover’, that was my first nickname as a kid, ‘Grover’.
SJN: Your fifth CD in seven years, Born2Groove, is doing very well. It was named Jazz Trax album of the year, among other accolades. Things are going well…
Euge: Yeah, it’s scary. I don’t know what to do next, normally I have a plan as to what to record next. Everybody’s asking me when the next CD is coming out, good Lord this one hasn’t been out six months and people are asking when the next one is coming out. It feels like doing five CD’s in seven, eight years time, it was kind of a marathon. That’s a lot of work because you have to write the CD, I write material all the time, six months to write the CD, then producing and making the CD, then touring to support it. After a couple of months of touring to support the CD you’ve got to start working on the next one. I can’t really enjoy the moment and kind of take it all in. I think after doing this one, I kind of beat myself up in a lot of ways making this record and really trying to stick to certain things and not let things slide that I normally would let slide and it kind of beat me up physically and mentally. So I’m just kind of happy taking time for a second and seeing what’s next.
SJN: You again hooked up with Paul Brown and you used HD audio for the first time. What did you think of this new format and will you use it again?
Euge: Yeah, I’ll definitely do that. I was never a big fan of digital stuff before. I’ve done my first couple of albums in just straight analog, I’ve always been an analog guy. I like working and editing on the computer, I do all my writing on there and stuff, but I’ve never been crazy about the sound of it. The third album, we did that completely in ProTools, that was the old system, and it felt like something was always missing for me. So we went back to all analog again for the fourth album and then this one, finally the computers were up to speed to be able to do the whole album in HD because it really is processor intensive. To me it just sounds beautiful, it’s just so open and clean and a really distinct sounding. It presented a lot of troubles, there was a big learning curve for me on how to deal with that, now I feel comfortable with it, I’ll never go back.
SJN: We notice that you have always stretched the envelope with choice of guest artists on your CD’s. You obviously do this on purpose, do you feel it has enhanced your success?
Euge: I don’t do it on purpose to be honest, I really don’t. In fact, compared to a lot of guys I have less guest artists than most. I’ve never picked someone for namesake, like this will be beneficial to me if I only had so and so, it kind of has to make sense musically for me to have the person on. If Peter White comes on I can’t think of a better nylon string guitar player than Peter White, so you call Peter White to get that done. This time some of the singers, we agonized over, especially ‘I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know’, that vocal track we agonized over which singer to have. There were ten or fifteen singers that we had considered and really thought hard about getting to do the track, it is a very special track, covering something that Donny Hathaway made famous is hollowed ground and to get Ollie Woodson to do it was totally the right call. He was the right man for the job. The song I wrote with Jeffrey Osborne, that was actually going to be an instrumental song but I just kind of throw it out to him by chance, he’s such a great writer and it kind of reminded me of that period when he was doing LTD, that kind of vibe and he just killed it so bad, I can’t imagine anyone else doing it. It’s never been grabbing someone for namesake, it’s always what they musically do, the right person for the job.
SJN: You have worked as a sideman for some of the best in the industry, Tower of Power, Tina Turner, Richard Marx, Joe Cocker, Huey Lewis, Bonnie Raitt, Aaron Neville, the Eurythmics and Elton John, …which artists influenced you the most?
Euge: Probably the ones I worked with long enough. You mentioned some of them where I was in and out of the studio and barely shook hands, I really didn’t get a vibe off them. Doing a year long tour with Tina Turner or four world tours with Joe Cocker you get to be kind of intimate with these people. Sharing a tour bus, you really get to know them and see what they’re about. They always have great lessons to teach you, even if they don’t know they’re teaching. It’s always been my thing to really pay attention and try to analyze what they do and I really learned so much from these guys. Tina had such class and how she meticulously controlled everything, she wouldn’t let things slide, she knew what she wanted and she was very diligent about getting her way, but making everyone comfortable about that. And Cocker, he’s just pure passion. Richard Marx was an amazing songwriter and really analyzing how he went about writing songs. They all had lessons to teach.
SJN; What other artists have influenced you in your career?
Euge: I guess when I was growing up and studying and listening to different sax players, through my parents and geographically where I lived, back in Maryland, growing up, there was a lot of country music and one of the first sax players to influence me was Boots Randolph. Everybody thinks of him as Yacketty Sax, he was such a master technician of the horn, an amazing player, impeccable intonation, technique, and a lot of things to learn from him. I studied a lot of classical music when I was growing up and there was a French saxophonist, Marcel Mule, who was incredible, he sounded like violas playing the alto, just a beautiful tone and technique. Later, as I got into college I kind of got more into the rock and roll guys. I didn’t discover the straight ahead jazz guys till much later in my life, the Coltranes, or Charlie Parker, those kind of guys, not until much later, out of school, I kind of missed that first, I always went for the pop sound. I always went for guys like King Curtis or Jr. Walker, I loved Jr. Walker.
SJN: You have replaced several renown artists in bands, Richard Elliot in Tower of Power, Dave Koz in Richard Marx. What an honor, large shoes to fill, how did you handle that?
Euge: Back in those days it was probably large hair to fill, (everyone laughs) you’ve got the right hair, it was all hair bands back in the eighties. It was cool, again, I learned a lot from those guys, coming in, anyone who has had a gig for a long time like that, they had it for a reason and the smart man would figure out what that reason was and that’s what I always did. I always tried to figure out what it was about Richard Elliot that made him so successful in Tower of Power. I learned a lot from him, I emulated him a lot and still to this day there are a lot of licks I steal from Richard Elliot. That’s the key to it; it’s trying to figure out what you want to keep and what you can bring in new.
SJN: You have played the largest venues in the world as a sideman and opening act, and medium to small venues as a Smooth Jazz headliner. Which is more fulfilling?
Euge: I think, different venues for different things. It’s usually the people, I love the smooth jazz cruises; that has to be my favorite thing. You’re pulling people from all parts of the world that are really tuned into the smooth jazz scene. They know everything and they’re an easy crowd and a really tough crowd all at the same time. They want to be entertained but they know if you messed up, they know that something’s not right and they want it a certain way, that makes it a great gig. I love those venues, it’s a great sized venue, about a thousand seats and to me that’s the perfect sized venue. Wineries are great too. People buy the season concert tickets and you have a community of people that are so passionate about the events that happen there that they’re season ticket holders. It’s more about the people than it is about the location. . Being here at Yoshi’s, what a great environment, there’s not a bad seat in the room, the sound is really good here , the stage is the perfect size and the sushi is unbelievable.
SJN: While in college, you had a summer job at Disneyland. What a dream job! This must have been a once in a lifetime experience…can you tell us about it?
Euge: (laughs) There’s a lot of aspects of that summer of learning, some of whom were the five cent Pabst Blue Ribbon nights that we used to go to in downtown Orlando, those were a lot of fun. Disney had a lot of educators come in and teach us about the business. They were really doing it to kind of groom college kids to maybe come work for them after they graduated. There was a lot to learn about the music business there.
SJN: You of all artists know the power of the internet…..
Euge: You’re referring to the songs I put up on MP3.com back in 1999! I was on the road with Joe Cocker that whole year of 1999 and kind of watching MP3 unfold and the possibilities of it. I really liked it. I did my entire first album and I was waiting for Paul Brown to mix it. He was really busy at the time and it took a couple of months to get with him so I put the songs up on MP3.com before that. That was the first time that I officially went under Euge Groove and it started taking off. I was getting tons of downloads, of course they were free at the time. You could buy the CD all over the world, it was really exciting. Now I think it’s a complete mess, the internet is a complete mess and it has pretty much single handedly destroyed our business.
SJN: Do you think that CD’s will disappear completely with the younger generation not having a need to hold it and look at the cover art?
Euge: I think that most definitely the CD will disappear, it should have disappeared a long time ago. The fact that it has stayed around this long, I can’t for the life of me figure out why. It is such an antiquated medium, it makes no sense. You could put it on a flash drive or something, there are so many other mediums that are so much better and less destructible. You can scratch a CD and it’s done, I never understood how it stuck around this long. I think people are always going to be into the artwork, there’s going to be people who want it and people who don’t care. I think it’s only going to get better. Soon we will get everything on flash drives and display all of the artwork right on whatever player it’s on.
SJN: What about the formatting of the CD where you have a dozen or so songs that often times tell a story. Do you think that formatting will disappear ?
Euge: I don’t think so, it’s kind of hard to say but I think that the tradition of making an album, of shooting for a sixty minute album, fifty or sixty minutes of music to try and tell a story will stay around. Certainly a lot of kids are picking and choosing and cherry picking what songs that they go after. I think that format will stay around. I think that some of these artists that come out with sixteen or seventeen, eighteen songs, that’s crazy, there’s going to be a lot of garbage in there and often there is. It’s like everything else American, we always want a lot more, it’s less of a quality and more of a quantity.
SJN: What is your take on the future of the music industry?
Euge: Hopefully it’s going to be good, it’s in really bad shape right now. The concerts and touring, all that stuff is great, but the record industry per se, records and radio too, they’re all going through the same thing, it’s turmoil right now. The whole essence of intellectual property, whoever owns it should be able to control it, it’s a joke, I don’t understand how songs can be passed along the internet for free for so long. The only way it’s going to change is if the industry puts mandates on it and forbids it. I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to that point.
SJN: During the making of, Living Large, you sold your house in LA and moved the family to Italy to work for one of the most successful Italian singers and songwriters of all time, Eros Ramazotti. Please tell us about this experience?
Euge: It was great, it was great to pull the kids out, they were both in Jr. High, which is a really awful time for kids to be in school, so it was a really good time to pull them out. It was something we really wanted to do, it really shook our lives up, made us look at life differently. We got away from the TVs and video games, we had no car so we were walking everywhere and taking the bus. We really immersed ourselves into another culture and it certainly has forever changed us and we can’t wait till we get to go back.
SJN: We have heard about your wonderful family, wife Bane, and kids, how are they doing?
Euge: Everyone’s wonderful, no complaints.
SJN: The kids are how old now?
Euge: My oldest (Dax) is seventeen, he’s out working with me, he’s here today. I have a sixteen year old (Canyon) and my daughter (Lilah Belle) is ten, almost eleven.
SJN: Euge, when you do have free time, how do you spend it?
Euge: I’m on the board of my kids lacrosse board, that’s all non-profit and I spend a lot of time dealing with that. We have eight hundred kids in that so it takes a lot of time. I practice diligently everyday and there’s a lot of business and things going on, so not quite as much free time as you may think. I have more time at home than I’ve ever had before, from not doing the rock and roll tours where I’d be gone for months and months on end. The days are pretty full.
SJN: Do you have any hobbies ?
Euge: I don’t, when the sunshine comes out I love to go to the beach, that’s very relaxing for me. I love to cook.
SJN: Have you started working on a new CD?
Euge: I’ll have to have something out the first quarter of next year. It’s about every eighteen months.
SJN: What’s next in your life, anything exciting coming up?
Euge: Lots of exciting things, lots of gigs coming up this year. I love going out and playing, each year I do more and more live gigs and it’s fun for me, and I have two smooth jazz cruises coming up.
|March||8||Boulder Station Casino||Las Vegas, NV|
|April||4||Rams Head||Annopolis, MD|
|5||Berk's Jazz Festival||Reading, PA|
|20||Seabreeze Jazz Festival||Destin, FL|
|May||18||Newport Beach Jazz Festival
|Newport Beach, CA|
|June||6||Hyatt Regency||Newport Beach, CA|
|7||Thornton Winery||Temecula, CA|
|22||Big Bear Jazz Festival||Big Bear, CA|
|July||12||Hyatt Wastlake Plaza||Westlake Village, CA|
|15||Wiggins Park||Camden, NJ|
|25||Norfolk Jazz Fest.||Norfork, VA|
|26||Lake Tahoe Music Festival||Homewood, CA|
|August||9||River Raisin Jazz Fest||Monroe, MI|
|10||Long Beach Jazz Festival||Long Beach, CA|
|October||18||Catalina Jazz Festival||Catalina Island, CA|
|November||2-9||Dave Koz and Friends at Sea||Ft. Lauderdale, FL|
|22||Boulder Station Casino||Las Vegas, NV|
Just Feels Right
March 9, 2004
July 2, 2002
May 2, 2000