-- Steve Sweigart --
Steve played drums and did percussion arrangements.
Before the band:
Steve was born and raised in Aurora, IL where he currently resides. He was four years old when he received his first Mickey Mouse paper drum set for Christmas, which was destroyed within a week. Next came the Mouse Guitar, which he still has with two original strings. The folks insisted that he have music lessons, since in Europe the family had been in the circuses and the arts were naturally in the blood. He played cornet in grade school then started drum lessons when he was ten and was in his Junior High band on percussion. In high school Steve got his first real drum set - Ludwig four-piece kit. That kit was used during the first years of OM and the Kitchen then replaced by a Premier four-piece kit.
Steve’s first band in high school was a Dixieland band with members from the high school band. Tuba, trumpet, trombone and clarinet with drums were the instruments in that band. Throughout high school he played in the school band and continued with drum lessons. He studied with Bill Drake, who was a jazz drummer and would keep him after lessons to listen to the jazz masters like Cozy Cole, Jake Hanna, Buddy Rich, etc. Influences on Steve’s music were Big Bands, small jazz groups, the Ventures and Sandy Nelson.
In Steve’s sophomore year, the group “The Secrets” was born with John Huddell on guitar, a rhythm guitar and bass. That group played parties and Friday night sock hops at the YMCA. Then he played with “The Zaviers” replacing Dave Scafe on drums. That group consisted of Tom McCabe on vocals, Jim Thompson on lead guitar, Greg (Nazz) Schmizer on rhythm guitar and Rich Felts on bass and trumpet. The Zaviers cut a demo 45.
Steve started at Southern Illinois University in the summer of 1966 and formed the band “Hearts of Darkness” with his roommate Rod on lead guitar. At the beginning of his sophomore year a member of the group “OM” asked him to play with them. After the first rehearsal, he asked if he was in the band, “You’re our drummer” was the reply.
After the band:
Steve, wife Carla (who he met in high school), son Shawn, and daughter Gretchen returned to San Francisco area and setup house in Fairfax, CA. He started another group, “Woarmwood Star” featuring Peter Tork of “The Monkeys” fame on guitar. He also met up with Robbie and did some recording with Mickey Hart and the “Rhythm Devils”.
Divorced in 1974, Steve left California and returned to the Chicago area. He started “Shawnee Percussion Studio”. Within a week he was playing in local bands. Some of the bands he played with were “Raintree County Band”, timpanist and percussionist for the “Fox River Valley Symphony Orchestra”, percussionist with the “Elgin Symphony Orchestra” and local rock, country and jazz bands, "Freshwater", "Bill Blough Combo" and "RWJJT Rangers".
He was a consultant with Sadler’s Music Shop in Aurora and received a Bachelors and Masters of Music Degree from Northern Illinois University, studying percussion with G. Allen O’Connor and Jeff Kowalski. Along with formal training, Steve studied with percussion great Bobby Christian. He was the percussion instructor for Waubonsee Community College in Sugar Grove where he started, directed, and arranged for the “Waubonsee Steel Drum Band”, the first community college steel drum band in North America.
A couple members of the Waubonsee band wanted to start a smaller band and the group “Stainless Steel Band” with Mark Pelczarski and Trish Glen was born. They recorded two CDs that they sold at gigs; one was “Pan Overboard”. Later Steve was asked to form another steel band at Harper College in Palatine, the “Harper College Steel Band”. Steve had all of his steel band instruments built by Cliff Alexis, who is still the director of Steel Bands at NIU. Steve arranged “Cantina Band” which is published by “Panyard Publishing” and is working on several other arrangements for steel band.
Along with his professional projects, Steve has been active in assisting local junior and high schools with percussion activities. He served one term as the Secretary for the Illinois Percussive Arts Society. Steve is retired and no longer active in music.
Robbie Brett Bob Stories