Steve Tapper and Audie Bridges are a flute
and guitar duo who have
been entertaining New England audiences for four years. Their premier album,
"Island Dance" has been released on Victorian Records and has been featured
on radio stations across the country.
Their tuneful, spirited music has made them a staple of some of the
area's leading venues and radio stations. They can be seen regularly as a
duo and also perform as a quartet with bass and drums. Besides the local
original circuit, they also perform for weddings and other functions.
An eclectic blend of styles and sound, Tapper and Bridges are
breaking some of the barriers normally associated with instrumental music.
Their variety and skill give them a wide appeal. Fans of jazz, pop, New Age,
classical, rock, and world music can all enjoy and relate to their clever
arrangements and soulful playing.
Tapper and Bridges talked to Metronome about their experiences
playing music and releasing their first album.
S.T. "For seven years, from 1976 to 1983,
I was in an acoustic duo called
Burton & Tapper. We toured around the whole country playing colleges. In
1986, I decided it was time to get back into original material, and also
play with acoustic guitar, which is my favorite instrument to work with. So
I asked a friend if he knew someone who played acoustic guitar who could
play jazz and classical. He mentioned Audie and it turned out that not only
could he do those styles, but he could play folk, he liked R&B as much as I
did, he didn't have and elitist attitude; it was a perfect match.
For the first couple of years Audie and I wound up doing a lot of
functions, weddings, bar mitzvahs. When you play those gigs with someone who
is a good musician and has a good attitude they're really enjoyable and we
get to do a lot of material we wouldn't do otherwise. As time went on, it
was frustrating because we had worked out some wonderful original material
and didn't have any place to play it. So we decided the only way to build an
audience for our original material was to do an album.
I was living in Somerville at the time and the Arts Lottery put
their notice out and suddenly it hit me "why don't we apply for a grant to
do the recording?." I really didn't expect to get it but I gave it my best,
put together a good application and got some money. Even though it only
covered a certain fraction of the recording, it really gave us that push to
get us into the project. We went into the studio for the first time on April
Fool's Day, 1988.
A.B. "We did a dry run at Steve's house.
He has a four track and we went
through all the songs there. That made us start thinking about arrangements.
It helped when we hired musicians, gave them the tapes and asked for their ideas."
S.T. "We met Drew Townson and wanted him
to be our engineer. He suggested
Newbury Sound. Drew was a good engineer for us because he's really good with
microphone placement and choosing the right microphone."
"We tried to avoid getting the "slick" sound. One thing we were
going for was to have the instruments sound like they were right in the room
with you instead of that glossy, almost theatrical sound you hear a lot now."
A.B. "You can't expect only one style
at our shows. We go through a lot of
different styles. We usually start off kind of folky, some fingerpicking and
blues things. As the night goes on we get a little more sophisticated. We do
some Brazilian sounding things, some jazz pieces, our acoustic fusion
pieces. It's kind of like a musical journey."
S.T. "We do music from all over the world:
a Yemenite-Jewish tune called
"Shababe", a Mexican folk song, some pop tunes, some of the ballads from the
British Invasion years, like Chad & Jeremy and Gerry & the Pacemakers - a
lot of different kinds of music. It's really enjoyable."
"I play flute, alto flute piccolo, and lately I've been playing more
and more recorders. Sometimes I play the flute through special effects; it
really keeps the sound changing. Audie switches between steel string, 12
string, and classical."
S.T. "I hadn't even considered the idea
of being on commercial radio. It
seemed so unobtainable. A friend of mine who works in radio knows Ann
Williams (WJIB Nightscapes) and he gave her our CD. A few weeks later he
called us and said "Hey guess what! Anne Williams is playing your recording
on WJIB." She's just been a wonderful supporter. When you hear her show on
the radio, the whole persona she gives off is really the way she is. She's
dedicated to the music she plays, she's very sincere. It's basically what
got us going. We could say we were played on 'JIB and in a couple of weeks
we were getting played on so and so, and so and so. The other station that's
really been helpful to us in Boston is WBOS. Tom Newman has been very
A.B. "In the evening, they have a jazz
show called "Jazz Horizons" and after
that is "Lights Out", their New Age show."
S.T. "We have two cuts on the jazz show
and three on the New Age show. It's
been exciting to get hometown radio...driving along, in the car and hearing
our music on the radio"
A.B. "It's exciting to go into a record
store and see your own little
category. We got picked up by a syndicated show called "The Breeze" which
goes to 30 or 40 stations around the country."
S.T. "On of our tunes is background music
for a radio commercial for Cape
Cod Co-operative Bank."
A.B. "They have a "family" oriented bank."
S.T. "Warmth, friendliness, and congeniality.
I like to communicate those
positive feelings. I feel like we've only scratched the surface of what we
can do. It seems to get better and better musically. We find more and more
in the songs. What you leave out sometimes define the music as much as what
you put in"
S.T. "Last year we did "From All
Walks of Life", the AIDS pledge walk, and
we're doing it again this year. I like playing music for a cause like that.
A.B. Lately we've been getting into doing shopping
malls, in the food area
at lunchtime. They're good gigs because you get heard by a lot of people."
S.T. Our music can appeal to a lot of generations
simultaneous. One things
that's always bothered me is when people like one kind of music and they
have to state that by putting down other kinds of music. I think all kinds
of music are equal."
S.T. "Berklee was great I thought for
a lot of the reasons that some people
don't think it's great. It's more like a music trade school than a college.
The kind of harsh, competitive environment prepared me for the way it is in
the music business. Even though it wasn't always pleasant, it was beneficial."
A.B. I came to Berklee in '72 from Seattle/Tacoma.
In the early 70's, it was
one of the only two places you could be an electric guitar major."
S.T. "I think about the people who have
inspired me., like Gary Burton and
the Modern Jazz Quartet. They have kind of a funky elegance or an elegant
funkiness. It's not really ethereal but it's not totally wild either. Jazz
is at the center of what we do but it's only the center. I'm very interested
in Brazilian music. We do several styles of Brazilian music including an
older style called "choro".
A.B. "Going way back, I was inspired by
pop music and "surf" music, the
British music with the Beatles, blues, and country rock with the American
groups. After that, I started getting interested in jazz and classical."
S.T. "Sometimes the different categories
set up expectations. If we say
we're New Age, we don't sound like a lot of the New Age artists. If we say
we're jazz, we don't necessarily sound like jazz band. In terms of pop
music, not much pop is instrumental so what do we call ourselves? We kind
of just are what we are."
A.B. "Tower Records says we're New Age."
S.T. "It's interesting to see where people
place us. One of the most
positive things to come out of the New Age movement is that that more
different kinds of music are being heard. Instrumental music now isn't just
jazz. And there's a market for non-improvised instrumental music that isn't
classical. A lot of the categories aren't created by the people who listen,
they're created by the people in the business. Most people approach music as
just music, they don't think about what kind is is. I think people are a lot
more open than they're given credit for and I think people can listen very
"I guess the best way to define our duo
is to think of everything that you
can do with flute and guitar."