Steam Machine is a band that bridges the old-time bluegrass divide. These four young Midwesterners have a vast repertoire that pulls from the fiddle traditions of Missouri, Illinois, and Kentucky, interspersed with rare early country and bluegrass songs. While serious about old fiddle tunes, Steam Machine also carries forward the “power and glory of the old stuff” with a drive and relevance that appeals to a broad listenership. Clean, powerful fiddling, rolling three finger banjo, and classic brother-style duets over a driving, rock-solid rhythm section combine to form a big sound on stage and square dance floor alike. All four band members are actively involved in perpetuating roots music and dance traditions as players, teachers, and organizers in their home communities and on the road.
"Steam Machine represents the exciting frontier where old-time string band meets bluegrass. The tunes come from the fiddlers most influencing the current generation of players, and fiddler AJ Srubas gets his elbow into every note. Banjo, bass and guitar follow AJ through every crooked tune, and the group dusts off old songs and plays individualistic versions that will serve as reference points for bands to follow. The outcome of Steam Machine's relentless attention to detail is a highly polished performance style that is simultaneously rustic and sophisticated."
-- Phil Nusbaum, Bluegrass Saturday Morning, KBEM-FM
IN THE BAND
AJ Srubas- fiddle
AJ grew up in a musical household and became obsessed with the fiddle at age 10. Eighteen years later, he is a tireless collector of old recordings and a versatile player and teacher. AJ has played concerts/dances and taught fiddle workshops at Augusta Heritage Center (WV), Berkeley Old-Time Music Gathering (CA), Rocky Mountain Old-Time Music Festival (CO), many Minnesota Bluegrass and Old-Time Music Association festivals, the Minnesota State Fiddlers Association and many other events. AJ also plays in several other groups, including the Blake Miller and the Old Fashioned Aces (Cajun), and the New Riverside Ramblers (Cajun).
Aaron Tacke - banjo, vocals
Tacke first learned to play clawhammer style banjo, but he was inspired to learn three-finger style after hearing Kyle Creed and the Blue Ridge Square Dance. He has quickly become a much desired player for his driving three-finger sound. Tacke has played concerts/dances and taught banjo workshops at the Berkeley Old-Time Music Gathering, Rocky Mountain Old-Time Music Festival, Minnesota Bluegrass and Old-Time Music Association festivals, and more. When not playing old-time, Tacke likes to play and sing country songs in the Minneapolis-based Hello Heartache, and build guitars and banjos at the Red River Banjo Co.
Rina Rossi- guitar, vocals, square dance calling
Rina first came to old time music as a dancer, performing across the midwest and Europe as a member of the Wild Goose Chase Cloggers for ten years. After some local callers encouraged her, she learned to call dances for the Monday Night Square Dance in Minneapolis, and has gone on to call from California to Germany and many places in between. Early on in her clogging days she started learning to play fiddle and guitar and liked it so much that she eventually transitioned from dancer to band member. A former educator, she has led many workshops in flatfooting, fiddle, bass, and guitar.
Nokosee Fields- bass
Born and raised in Stillwater, Oklahoma, Nokosee Fields began studying classical violin at a young age. After years of learning and performing Classical and Early music, Nokosee has recently turned his attention to various forms of traditional American music, performing, teaching, and touring professionally. As a bassist, he tours with the country band Western Centuries. As a teacher, he has taught at the Augusta Heritage Center and has been involved with Dancing with the Spirit—an Alaska-based youth and community music program that aims to re-inspire fiddle and dance traditions in indigenous communities throughout the region.
“Steam Machine comprises four very talented musicians, all with impressive musical backgrounds, abilities, and influences…I think the style of music here could be described as a bridge joining original old time to the awakenings of bluegrass…” - Old-Time News