Steve Macdonald- Harmony Slut

by Gretchen Roper (2004)

As you probably know, I am part owner of Dodeka Records, a small record label specializing in Filk music. Back in the spring of 94 we had only produced four albums and were considering what our next project should be. Roper, my partner, came in one day and said, "There is this guy named Steve Macdonald. From Michigan. He has a master in hand. We're going to publish it."

I went ballistic. What kind of nerve was this to agree to publish an album that I had not heard, by a fellow I did not recall ever meeting, without consulting me first. It was a yelling fight. With crying. Then he played a copy of the album for me. I hrumphed a bit, and agreed it was pretty good.

Then we found that one of the songs had some problems. We couldn't use it. The album would be too short if we left it off. And it wouldn't balance. It needed a funny song in that spot.

Roper called Steve and asked if he had something funny to replace it with. Well, there was this one song...

The trouble was that the only time Steve could come and record was the same weekend that Roper had to be out of town. I had to do the recording. I panicked. I had very little experience with the new recording gear. But it had to be done...

Steve showed up Friday evening, I fed him dinner and we went up to record. The song was "I Just Love Those Old B-Movies", an appreciation of old bad movies. It has a 50's pop sort of feel.

After we recorded the guitar line and the primary vocal line I figured we were done. We listened through it and I sighed. "What this really needs is a do-wop chorus. Shame we don't have time to put one together."

Steve concentrated for a minute, asked me to play the tape through. Then he asked me to play it again, this time recording. He sang a harmony line. The we did it again. And once more. He laid down a near perfect three part do-wop harmony line with himself. OFF THE TOP OF HIS HEAD!!!!

I quietly went into the other room, called Roper, and apologized. Profusely. He was right and I was wrong. This guy was awesome.

Steve can, and will, sing along with anybody. He can make even the duffiest duffer sound good. And Welcome. The thing that sets filk apart from just a bunch of people sitting around playing music is the sense of community. At it's best, a filk circle is a warm, welcoming place where anybody can belong. Steve Macdonald is a big reason for that welcoming feeling.

Gretchen H. Roper

Copyright ©2004 Steve Macdonald