Steven Keene grew up in Brooklyn New York and got his start playing the folk clubs and cafes of the Greenwich Village scene in the late ’80s and early ’90s alongside contemporaries Beck, Susanne Vega, Shawn Colvin, and others.
Heavily inspired by the songwriting of Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie and Leonard Cohen, he began performing his earliest material at The Speakeasy, the now-closed folk club that was a singer-songwriter staple in the ’90s.
Keene played regularly at joints like Sun Mountain Cafe and the Chameleon, and for years would crisscross the streets of McDougal and Bleecker, playing well-known clubs including the Bottom Line, Lone Star Cafe, the Mercury Lounge, the Bitter End, Arlene’s Grocery, and the legendary CBGB’s.
But for Keene, it was always about the music, and never about the fame. Maybe that’s why he surrounded himself with only the best players, focused only on the music, and became obsessed with honing his craft as he gigged his way from one smoke-filled Village club to the next.
“Sometimes the perspective is from myself, and sometimes I’m writing a song through someone else’s eyes,” reflects Keene. “I’m not very big on insisting on explanations behind the songs I write, only because everybody’s got their own take on them, like a painting or any art form. I think less is more when it comes to talking about my own personal experience of a song.”