Steam Machine is a band that bridges the old-time bluegrass divide. These four young midwesterners bring a unique repertoire that highlights 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 drive and relevance. 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. After releasing their first album in 2018, the band has been keeping busy playing festivals and venues around the US.
"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 Wisconsin household, grandson to a church organist. He latched on to the fiddle around age 10 after experimenting with the many instruments around his home. Initially an Irish player, he soon discovered old-time when his brother took up banjo. It wasn’t long before he met Chirps Smith, also living in Wisconsin, who introduced AJ to the lesser known old-time repertoire of the Midwest. Other influences on his old-time playing include Dwight Lamb and Al Murphy who in turn played with Cyril Stinnett, Lyman Enloe, and Gene Goforth. A versatile player and teacher, AJ has played concerts/dances and taught fiddle workshops at Augusta Heritage Center, Fiddle Tunes, and many festivals in between. He also plays Cajun fiddle with Blake Miller and the Old-Fashioned Aces.
Aaron Tacke - banjo, vocals
Tacke first learned to play clawhammer style banjo while living in his hometown of Fargo, North Dakota. He was later 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 repair guitars at Hoffman Guitars and build banjos at the Red River Banjo Co.
Rina Rossi- guitar, vocals, square dance calling
Rina grew up in Michigan and was introduced to traditional music at a young age by her parents. She later moved to Minnesota where she joined the Wild Goose Chase Cloggers and discovered the thriving Midwest old-time scene. She learned to call square dances and took up fiddle, bass, and guitar. 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. She has led many workshops in flatfooting, square dance calling, bass, and guitar, including Augusta Heritage Center, Fiddle Tunes, Folklore Village, Rocky Mountain Old-Time Music Festival, and many Minnesota Bluegrass and Old-Time Music Association festivals.
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