Updated: Aug 7, 2019
Ben Rubino and Bo Steele of The Band Steele are living the dream. Backed by a New York City record label, the duo is touring the country promoting their new single to country radio and watching Sit Awhile (with one million streams on Spotify) climb the charts. But this opportunity might never have happened if it wasn’t for a trip Bo made to visit his ailing grandmother in the hospital seven years ago.
On one of his visits, a nurse working at the hospital desk commented that Bo’s dad mentioned his son could sing. Urged on by others in the waiting room, Bo decided to sing an a capella version of Victory in Jesus. “I sung that, and the next thing I know, all the people in the lobby pulled me into another room and we all sat around singing old hymns and reading out of the Bible; we pretty much had church service!” A stranger asked Bo if she could record him singing and she then posted it on YouTube. (The video is below)
Bo went home and didn’t think anything more about it – until the following week when he got a call from the local TV station. “I didn’t realize the video went viral. I called Ben and told him crazy stuff was happening!” After riding out that wave of excitement and unexpected publicity, they continued to write songs and play gigs while working all sorts of odd jobs including fast food, construction, installing insulation in a chicken plant, and moving furniture. Ben was working at Home Depot and ready to enlist in the Air Force when fate intervened.
Ben explains what happened next. “I was working my regular shift and my boss’s boss came and got me and said I had a phone call, which had never happened in my history at Home Depot. It was the record label!” They had seen the YouTube video(s) and wanted to set up a meeting. “If they wouldn’t have called me on that day, our lives would have gone in a completely different direction.”
A few weeks later, a team from Fire River Records flew to Alabama to see the duo perform live. Stacy Stavola was part of that group. Although she had left the music industry to raise her kids, she was enticed to return to the music industry by the talent she saw in Bo and Ben's YouTube videos (including Victory in Jesus and a cover of Whiskey). After seeing their live show, Stacy was “all in” and went to work as President of A & R for the record label. She says, “The songs that they write and the way they sing and play them is different and reactive. They pull emotions and connect with people in a way you seldom see.”
The connection they make with their fans stems from the friendship that started when Bo and Ben were in their early teens in Alabama. They first started singing and writing songs together after they met at a school talent show where Bo sang Broken by Seether. Bo says that as teenagers, “We always said we were going to change the world, we’re going to help people.” They are seeing that dream come to fruition with their current single, Sit Awhile.
Sit Awhile was originally written about Bo’s step-father. When it came time to make the music video (which currently has more than 800,000 views), Bo says, “We saw an opportunity to be able to show our appreciation to members of the military for what we’re able to do because of them.” He adds, “It’s amazing how these guys (veterans) come up to us and tell us how our song is getting them through their day and helps them with PTSD.” Bo and Ben say it is very rewarding to see that one of their original songs is helping people. “It’s humbling and it’s a blessing.”
Sit Awhile is the third single from the album Moon in a Mason Jar. All the songs were written exclusively by the duo. Bo says, “Ben and I have always tried to write our songs in a way that is 100 percent about our experience, but that anybody can relate to.” Ben adds, “We wanted people to know who we are, with all original authentic music; we’re proud of that.”
The Band Steele has lost count of how many radio stations they’ve visited on their current radio tour. Ben says, “it seems like 100,000!” They average three stations a day, and often play a live show the same night. “When we know we’re going to play a show, there’s a certain energy and excitement for the day.” There is nothing they enjoy more than connecting with people through their music. “We’ve noticed the difference between doing campaigns online compared to meeting people in person and shaking their hands and performing live for them; the quality of the relationship is 100 times better.”
As much as Ben and Bo enjoy traveling, playing their music, and meeting people, radio tours can be exhausting. What do they look forward to after a week on the road? For Ben, it’s sleeping and spending time with the family. For Bo, “I want to go fishing.”
FUN FACTS AND TRIVIA
Bo and Ben spent time with John Travolta when their original song Good Times got placed in the movie Life on the Line and Bo performs the song in a scene in the movie.
Country star Craig Campbell makes an appearance in The Band Steele's music video for the song 195
Bo: Jason Aldean, AC/DC, Grateful Dead
Ben: Lynyrd Skynyrd, Eric Clapton, Shania Twain, Motown
Dream band to tour with
Bo: Lord of the Flies. Currently reading books on how to survive in the woods
Ben: Game of Thrones. Currently reading books about real estate investing.
Bo: Jason Mraz
Ben: Changed his answer from Elton John to Jason Mraz when Bo reminded him how much fun they had!
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