The Eric Steckel Band is a guitar-oriented blues-based band from Jacksonville, Fl. Havana is the name of their latest release, and it features 11 tracks recorded live at the Havana club in Pennsylvania. The CD features a mixture of original songs and covers, including the following songs: San-Ho-Zay, Radio Blues, Espirita, Me and My Guitar, Philips Highway, The Thrill Is Gone, Deep Fried, Jaywalkin, Hey Sister, Little Wing, and All Your Love. As a side note, the physical CD itself is interesting in that it looks and feels like a record.
At first glance, it’s easy to say that the most remarkable thing about the Eric Steckel Band is that guitarist Eric Steckel is still only 16 years old, but once you start listening to him play, you realize that the most remarkable thing about the band is Eric’s guitar playing. His playing belies his age with a maturity and soulfulness that shines through on each track.
Eric and his band infuse some fun and enthusiasm into the blues-rock genre with a style of their own, while hinting towards his influences such as BB, Albert and Freddie King. His take on classics like The Thrill Is Gone and Little Wing are fresh and unique, and the original tracks display how Eric is taking his influences and creating something new.
Even though Eric is only 16, Havana is his third CD release. His first CD, A Few Degress Warmer, was released when he was only 11 years old. He has already played with blues legends, including John Mayall, Hubert Sumlin, and many well-known blues artists, such as Joe Kubek, Bnois King, Kenny Neal, Debbie Davies, and Bob Margolin.
Like many blues-rockers, Eric uses a Fender Stratocaster, and he endorses Allessandro Working Dog amps. Some bootleg-style videos are available on the Eric Steckel Band Web site, where you can check out some live performances by Eric and his band.
All in all, I think that Havana is a very solid album by Eric and his band, and it really highlights what a talented guitarist Eric is. The only nit I have about the album is that it’s obvious that the focus is on the guitar playing, not the vocals, as they do not seem very polished. However, at 16, Eric has plenty of time to develop a unique vocal style in addition to his excellent guitar playing, and the vocals are good enough that they don’t take away from the experience at all. It’ll be interesting to see how Eric and his band develop over the next few years.