Interview and story by Don Wilcock
Steve Katz has been on my wish list to interview for almost half a century. This former Schenectadian returns to Nippertown to play Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs on Friday night (May 9), on his 69th birthday. In a recent phone interview I told him his name had cropped up in conversation for decades. Another now deceased Steve Katz was our jam master for years with the Northeast Blues Society, and I felt a little weird talking to him.
“You feel weird talking to me now,” he answered. “Maybe you’re coming down with something.” I knew right then that I was in for a Coney Island roller coaster ride of an interview. And, boy, was I right. Katz has a razor quick wit and an incredibly varied background turning him into Forrest Gump with a Jon Stewart attitude.
As a singer/songwriter he’s been associated with everyone from the Greenwich Village movers and shakers Rev. Gary Davis and Dave Van Ronk to the Blues Project. He wrote hit songs for Blood, Sweat & Tears and produced two of Lou Reed’s career defining albums, Rock and Roll Animal and Sally Can’t Dance. With his band American Flyer he worked with Beatles producer George Martin and helped mold Mercury Records’ catalog during the New Wave-era as one of their vice presidents.