"It's just a Midlife Christmas, so tell me why do I feel so strange? Well I'm having a Midlife Christmas, but I'm prayin' tomorrow for a change." And a change is exactly what Steve Stefanowicz has achieved with his new holiday CD, "Midlife Christmas." Yes, there are some of your holiday favorites, done in traditional fashion, featuring Steve's distinct guitar style and rich vocals. But he has taken some of these songs and made them truly his own. There is a general feel of "new country" to the CD, which is a different direction for Stefanowicz. His blues roots can clearly be found threaded throughout the vocal and instrumental arrangements, but the guitar work is tasteful, melodic, and shows off Steve's ability to carefully craft a beautiful solo. Especially notable are "Away In A Manger" and "Midlife Christmas." "Away In A Manger" begins with a simple rock-a-bye acoustic guitar, then Steve's buttery rich vocals are joined by a music-box Nashville High-Strung guitar as the verse begins. The listener is swept away to a moment in time where a mother rocks her baby quietly to sleep on a Christmas eve long, long ago. Stefanowicz's newest original offering, "Midlife Christmas", is a toe-tapping, sing-along, self-deprecating portrait of a fellow wondering what happened to all the vices he once loved. The simple, clean acoustic guitar perfectly sets off Steve's darkly humorous melody about the sacrifices that come with turning 40. The press has dubbed him 'the human jukebox'. He calls himself a "reluctant tenor." He claims he knows over a thousand 'cover' songs. But, that's not the only thing he knows. A consummate showman, Steve Stefanowicz knows how to delight audiences with his unique blend of acoustic guitar, rich vocals and sharp wit. Steve has been blind since birth. He began playing the guitar at age four, when his father would tune the guitar to a chord, hold Steve on his lap, and sing along while Steve strummed the guitar. At age twelve, Steve became seriously interested in studying the guitar, and began taking lessons. He went on to study classical and jazz at Central Washington University. Originally, Steve gained notoriety as lead guitarist for his 1980s Tacoma band, Blind Ambition. In 1984, while playing with "Malice", the lead vocalist failed to show up for a gig, and Steve's vocal talents were called upon. He became aware that he enjoyed singing nearly as much as playing guitar, and picked up the acoustic for a stint on "the Steve and Ron show" at Wilson High School. During college, Steve formed a classic rock cover band called "Rock Slide," with bassist, Tony Cooper. Upon returning from college, he put together "Smilin' Jack," who enjoyed regional success throughout the West Coast in the early 1990s. Since their breakup, Steve has focused on his solo career as a singer/songwriter, but does enjoy performing with the band when the opportunity arises. His performances feature both original music and "cover tunes" that keep the crowd singing along. With a wide range of influences, including James Taylor, Warren Haynes, Bonnie Raitt and Black Sabbath, Steve brings a broad menu of musical choices to his fans. Steve organized local favorites Blind Ambition, Rock Slide, Big Love, and the Steve Stefanowicz Band, along with his recent Duo project. He also founded the well-known regional band Smilin' Jack. His CD releases include Vortex Bluz, Lies My Sister Told You, On The Feast Of Steven, and his 2004 release, Time, which have all received regional radio attention. He has performed with Lou Rawls, Sam Andrews' Holding Company, Blue Spark, Junkyard Jane, Garth Reeves, and Cliff Eberhardt. Steve has also shared billing with Savoy Brown, Kansas and Elvin Bishop. Showing his flair for musical diversity, he is also vocalist for the nationally acclaimed big band, The Groovin Higher Jazz Orchestra. He was named 'Blues Man of the Year' at the 1998 Tacoma Blues Festival. The Steve Stefanowicz Band has been featured on the nationally syndicated "Locals Only" on the WB Network. Steve is beginning work on a new collection of original music for release in early 2008. Review From 'The Weekly Volcano' Nov 21, 2007 by Angela Jossy 'Santa Stefanowicz's gift' Steve Stefanowicz releases new album, Midlife Christmas A Midlife Christmas never sounded so cool. I wasn't quite ready for the holiday season this year. It seems impossible that it could be time for Christmas shopping and Thanksgiving celebrations already. No matter how many commercials for diamond pendants and sport utility crossovers I saw on television; I just couldn't seem to get into the holiday spirit at all. But then I received my first present of the year, a Christmas CD titled Midlife Christmas by Steve Stefanowicz. I've been a fan of his music for many years so I was tickled to receive an advance. Stefanowicz's deft and seemingly effortless guitar skills and his clear and gentle vocals make his Christmas CD the perfect easy listening for this season. The CD has 21 wonderful tracks, some traditional songs, some lesser known holiday songs, a couple of instrumentals and lots of personal touches and guest appearances by his friends and family. Lucky for us, his friends and family are a talented bunch. The CD is full of both humor and poignancy. For instance on Track 4, "Baby, It's Cold Outside," Stefanowicz and guest vocalist Amanda Holbrook (pictured with Stefanowicz on the CD cover) break from song lyrics into some dialog where they discuss his new car (also featured on the CD cover). "I plan on driving it too," claims Stefanowicz, which is an inside joke for those who know him. Sarah Thornton plays violin and Rich Wetzel plays trumpet on Track 7, "I Believe in Father Christmas." Holbrook appears again on Track 9, "Ava Maria" showcasing her lovely lilting voice. The title track, number 10, "Midlife Christmas" is a new original country-style Christmas song by Stefanowicz. It seems to be a very frank account of where he's been, where he is and where he intends to go in his life. I think a lot of people will relate. I love the way Stefanowicz twists and bends the old songs into something fresh and fun to hear. Track 11 is a fun, bluesy rendition of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town." Track 12 is a scat-infused jazz version of "Silver Bells" full of air tight harmonies. This song is so catchy that I think it might be stuck in my head until well after New Years Day. After the toe-tapping fun of the last three songs, I wasn't emotionally prepared for Track 13, "Christmas in the Trenches," which Stefanowicz dedicated to Spec. Michael Holbrook. Thornton's violin is also heard on this song. When I heard it for the first time, I was driving my car wishing I had windshield wipers for my eyes. The song tells the true story of a temporary truce that occurred on a World War I battlefield because one German soldier started singing a Christmas song and pretty soon all the soldiers were singing along, which led to a respite from the war. The soldiers from both sides drank brandy together, played soccer and shared stories about their families making it nearly impossible to return to the business of war the following day. Sniff. Stefanowicz rocks out on electric guitar during the solo of Track 18, "Winter Wonderland." I also really enjoyed Stefanowicz's twanged-out version of "Jingle Bells." I never thought of "Jingle Bells" as a bad-ass cowboy song. I tell ya, the creativity on this album is incredible. Stefanowicz's son helps out with "Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer" - so cute. On the last track on the CD, James Holbrook joins Stefanowicz in a dramatic (and comical) reading of the poem "The Night Before Christmas." Holbrook reads lines from the poem, and Stefanowicz attempts to recall from memory each following line. He doesn't always get it right, but the commentary asides are hilarious. If you're feeling a little holiday resistant this year, I recommend you light some candles, pull out those boxes of Christmas decorations and listen to this CD while you deck the halls and trim the tree. You'll be in the Christmas spirit in no time flat.