Steve Adams (musician)

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Steve Adams
Steve performing with Mars Hotel at Jerry Day (Jerry Garcia tribute), McLaren Park, San Francisco, 8/4/19. Photo by Glenn Mar.
Steve performing with Mars Hotel at Jerry Day (Jerry Garcia tribute), McLaren Park, San Francisco, 8/4/19. Photo by Glenn Mar.
Background information
Birth nameSteven Rue Adams
Born (1975-01-16) January 16, 1975 (age 49)
San Jose, California, United States
LabelsBrushfire Records
Member ofAnimal Liberation Orchestra

Steven Rue Adams (born January 16, 1975) is a California-based American bassist and co-founder of San Francisco rock/pop/jam band Animal Liberation Orchestra (ALO) and current bassist for Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers. In addition to his work with ALO, Steve has toured and recorded with many other musicians. Recording credits include Jack Johnson, Tim Bluhm, Nicki Bluhm, Zach Gill, Forest Sun, John Craigie and Big Light. Touring credits include Brett Dennen, Sara Bareilles, Tea Leaf Green, Laurie Lewis and Matt Costa.


Early years[edit]

Steve was born in San Jose, and has been in California most of his life. He lived in Germany for a couple years where his little brother was born. By age 5, his family had settled in Saratoga, California. Steve and his two brothers and one sister all studied music growing up. His older sister studied piano and his older brother, the baritone horn. Steve took piano lessons off and on from age 5 and up. He also joined the school string orchestra in 5th grade playing violin, and played alto saxophone in the school concert band in 6th and 7th grades.

By the end of 7th grade, Steve had met up with future ALO bandmates Zach Gill and Dan Lebowitz to form their first rock band, One Percent Away. Steve bought a short-scale electric bass guitar and started lessons at the local guitar store, Torres Guitars, as well as taking notes from Gill's dad. The band changed their name to Django in high school and recorded their first album during their senior year, entitled Contact.

College years[edit]

Steve and his bandmates left for Santa Barbara, California after graduating high school to pursue degrees in music. After wavering between different studies within the UCSB Music Department, Steve took his last couple years of college to focus on a degree in ethnomusicology, writing his final thesis on the origin and evolution of Mariachi music from Mexico. Steve was also very active in the Jazz and Middle Eastern Music Ensembles. In the middle of college, Django picked up drummer Dave Brogan during the Summer of 1996, just before folding the project altogether. Following Django, Steve and bandmates Gill and Lebowitz continued creating new bands, including Magnum Family, I.V. Dogs, The LAG Acoustic Buffet and eventually, in their last year at UCSB, The Animal Liberation Orchestra & The Free Range Horns.

After graduating from UCSB, Steve went on tour with Gill, Lebowitz and high school friend Rob Binkley, driving around the U.S. playing coffee shops, bars, small clubs and street corners, under the name The BLAG Buffet. On this trip, Steve was gifted his grandfather's Vega Artist banjo upon a pitstop/visit in Billings, MT. Upon his return to CA, Steve resettled back in his hometown of Saratoga for a few months, just before moving to San Francisco, California, which would be his home for the next 6 years.

San Francisco years[edit]

In San Francisco, Steve worked restaurant jobs and eventually picked up a full-time job at a design firm where he learned print and web design skills that would later apply to a number of years as a freelance designer. Steve continued playing with ALO while in SF, with the addition of Shree Shyam Das on drums, who became a close friend and musical collaborator. Steve also picked up many gigs within the local scene, playing local clubs as well as private events for the booming dot-com businesses in the Bay Area. Through an outreach from Gill's keyboard repair technician, Steve ended up joining a bluegrass outfit called Philboyd Studge, playing string bass and singing occasional lead vocals. He also filled in occasionally with college friends who had also relocated to SF, The Court & Spark, as well as lending string bass to several of their studio recordings. During a break with ALO, Steve and Lebowitz did some Winter touring with the group Global Funk Council, a spin-off of Karl Denson's Tiny Universe.

ALO reunited in the Spring of 2002 with college bandmate Dave Brogan on drums, and has been touring the globe and recording steadily ever since. Through their college friendship with surfer/singer/songwriter Jack Johnson, Steve has also become part of the Brushfire Records family with ALO signing a record contract with the label in 2005. Steve has not only recorded three full-length records with ALO for Brushfire, but also appeared on several label compilations such as A Brokedown Melody and Thank You... Goodnight. With occasional breaks and an ongoing interest to promote side-projects from within the band, Steve has additionally toured with Brett Dennen, whom he met at the High Sierra Music Festival. While on tour with Dennen, Steve also met support act Sara Bareilles which later resulted in some Winter touring in her band as well. Through the Bay Area jamband scene connection and from a long-time friendship with keyboardist Trevor Garrod who also graduated from Saratoga High, Steve has also done substantial touring with San Francisco rockers, Tea Leaf Green, filling in for their permanent bassist, Reed Mathis.

Steve joined San Francisco country/soul/rock band Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers in 2009 and has been their main touring and recording bass player since.


Currently, Steve resides in Oakland, California where he has been since 2006, and tours with both ALO and Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers.


With Animal Liberation Orchestra
Year Album Label
1998 ALO vs. LAG Lagmusic Records
1999 One Size Fits All Soundtrack Lagmusic Records
2002 Time Expander Lagmusic Records
2006 Fly Between Falls Brushfire Records
2006 Surf Stronger Vol. 1 Surf Stronger
2006 A Brokedown Melody Soundtrack Brushfire Records
2007 Roses & Clover Brushfire Records
2007 Endless Highway: A Tribute to The Band 429 Records
2007 Thank You. Goodnight. Live Tracks from Bonnaroo & Vegoose Brushfire Records
2009 This Warm December: A Brushfire Holiday Vol. 1 Brushfire Records
2010 One Percent For The Planet, The Music Vol. 1 One Percent For The Planet
2010 Man of the World Brushfire Records
2011 This Warm December: A Brushfire Holiday Vol. 2 Brushfire Records
2012 Sounds Like This Brushfire Records
With Other Artists[1]
Year Artist Album Contribution
2000 Philboyd Studge Philboyd Studge string bass, vocals
2001 Matt Butler Good Options bass guitar
2003 Jack Johnson, Zach Gill & Dan Lebowitz Thicker Than Water bass guitar on "Sandbar", bonus DVD content
2004 Samantha Stollenwerck Square One bass guitar on all tracks except "Don't Ya Know" & "The Party Life"
2004 The Court & Spark Witch Season string bass on "Steeplechasing"
2005 Forest Sun Walk Through Walls string bass
2005 Jack Johnson A Weekend at the Greek bass guitar on "Girl, I Wanna Lay You Down" & "Walls of Jericho"
2006 Michael Talbott & The Wolfkings Freeze, Die, Live string bass on "Winter Streets" & "Angel of Light"
2006 The Court & Spark Hearts string bass on "We Were All Uptown Rulers" & "The Oyster is a Wealthy Beast"
2006 Jack Johnson, Matt Costa & Zach Gill w/ Steve Adams & Dan Lebowitz A Brokedown Melody bass guitar on "Let it be Sung"
2006 Tim Bluhm Surf Stronger Vol.1 bass guitar on "Junipero Dusk"
2007 Jack Johnson & Animal Liberation Orchestra Endless Highway: The Music of The Band bass guitar on "I Shall Be Released"
2008 Forest Sun So Nice bass guitar, acoustic bass guitar & string bass
2008 Forest Sun Harlequin Goodnight bass guitar, acoustic bass guitar, string bass
2008 Zach Gill Zach Gill's Stuff bass guitar on "Back in the Day", "Bettina", "Handy Man", "Poseidon's Navel", "Beautiful Reason" & "Fine Wine"
2008 Surf Stronger House Band: Tim Bluhm, Steve Adams, Adam Topol, Dan Lebowitz & Jackie Greene Surf Stronger Vol. 2 bass guitar, production
2008 Nicki Bluhm Toby's Song bass guitar on "Love, Home & Me", "Down The Beach" & "Danny's Song"
2008 Tim Bluhm House of Bluhm bass guitar on "You Can't Dive In"
2008 Big Light Big Light EP bass guitar on "Hard Knocks" & "Separation Anxiety"
2008 Tistrya Seremplicity bass guitar on "The Way I Like To Be", "Nervous Hands", "Inspiration Song" & "Creeping Thoughts"
2009 Bill Schafer First to Believe string bass, bass guitar
2009 Jeconte Sweet Northern California bass guitar on "Downtown Brown" & "Run to the Sea"
2010 Big Light Animals in Bloom bass guitar, vocals, piano, organ
2011 Nicki Bluhm Driftwood bass guitar
2011 John Craigie October is the Kindest Month bass guitar, acoustic bass guitar, string bass
2013 Nicki Bluhm Nicki Bluhm and The Gramblers bass guitar
2013 John Craigie The Apocalypse is Over bass guitar, percussion, vocals
2014 Brokedown in Bakersfield Brokedown in Bakersfield Live! bass guitar, vocals


  1. ^ Full Discography, Retrieved 20 Aug, 2010.

External links[edit]