Album Reviews


Bluegrass Unlimited Magazine Review, January 1999

"Here is a thoroughly delightful production of original material all written and arranged by multi-talented musician, Steve Hartz. Crooked Steep & Rocky consists of 15 selections exuding a unique bluegrass influence but intermeshed with older traditional flavorings. For almost 50 minutes, Hartz explores a myriad of aspects of rural Americana through song. Several pieces obviously mirror personal experiences such as the title song which recounts his adventures on an Ozark back road. "Take Me Back To Bristol/Wildwood Flower" commemorates the automobile trek in 1927 of A.P., Sara, and Maybelle Carter from their home in Maces Spring, VA to Bristol, VA/Tenn., and the historic recording session with Ralph Peer. A few of the supporting pickers include Jeff Scroggins(banjo), Randy Elmore(fiddle), Kevin Carter(fiddle and cello), Kelly Lancaster(mandolin and mandobass), and Sheryl Lynn Hartz(lead and harmony vocals). A sizable portion of Hartz's repertoire consists of lively instrumentals like "Buffalo Shoals," "Goin' Back to Calico Rock," and "Windy Gap," all conjuring up kaleidoscopic images of yesteryear. Included among the more poignant vocal offerings are Steve's "John Murrel" and the performances of "Oldtime Christian Band" and "Wildcat Ridge," and especially fascinating tale of a hermit moonshiner and a daring mountain rescue. "

  "Crooked Steep & Rocky is a passionate collage of adeptly structured acoustic masterpieces all eloquently capturing the pioneer spirit of the American experience. Nothing else need be said except to encounter an elegant listening experience from start to finish.(Mystery Ridge Recording Co., 216 East Pillar, Nacogdoches, TX 75961, 936-564-8692)" LM

Country Music News Review, March 1999

"A concept album of travelling and road tunes, composed by Steve Hartz and performed predominantly as instrumentals, with several vocal entries all providing a common thread to the theme. The all-acoustic musicianship is exceptionally well done -- vocals by Hartz and various contributors are well suited to the laid back strengths of the album. The West Virginia born, Tennessee raised and now East Texas-based Hartz, also shows special creative talents with his artistry on front and back covers of the CD's sleeve...tasty stuff!!"

Melissa Flynn, Cowboys and Indians Magazine, June 2003 Issue

"With earthy lyrics and toe-tapping rhythms, By the Muddy Angelina is a collection of songs, folk history, and personal interviews compiled in a CD/book package that explores the music and spirit of East Texas pioneers.....Through history, folklore, and photography, the accompanying book brings more than 20 old songs to life as we begin to understand the dedication and sacrifice of these early pioneers. Author Steve Hartz's inspiration for this book was drawn from early storytellers, balladeers, and fiddlers as he sought to walk in their world and tell a few of their stories through music."

Bluegrass Unlimited Magazine, June 2002

"By the Muddy Angelina is a marvelous journey into the history and traditions of East Texas, capturing the spirit of the hearty settlers who gave the region its distinctive cultural spirit."

Dr. Archie P. McDonald, Executive Director and Editor, East Texas Historical Association

"...anyone interested in the oldtime music will find joy in this little book, because, first, it features an engaging essay on Steve's interest in the music, and then discussions of various songs, all written or arranged by Steve, that narrate the history of East Texas."

Sarah Greene, The Gilmer Mirror, November 20, 2002

"Since so many of the traditional words and music, passed down orally, have been lost or nearly lost, Hartz has been inspired to write music in the noncommercial, old-time style. He has a perfect touch."

Hudson Old, East Texas Journal, May 2003

"Steve Hartz's blend of stories and music, coupled with skillfully produced illustration make this a truly unique presentation, something so different as to stand alone as a genre. It succeeds in capturing a lost culture."


"Steve is a master songwriter." (Janice Mclaughlin, WMUB Radio, Oxford, Ohio)

"Congratulations on a job well done! I'll be doing my best to spread the word here in Nashville." (David Higgs, WPLN Radio, Brentwood, Tennessee)

"Wow! This is a great sound! My listeners will love it." (Joe Colvin, WYSO Radio, Yellow Springs, Ohio)

"I like acoustic music, and this is the best." (Robin Mathis, WCPC Radio, Houston, Mississippi)


Reviews and Praises