Staying Creative and Remaining Relevant
Musician, producer, actor, and founder Steven Van Zandt has been a part of globally successful projects that have stood the test of time – from the E Street Band to The Sopranos. Van Zandt has gained unique insight into how to stay creative while also staying relevant, no matter the industry. In entertaining talks, Van Zandt shares anecdotes from his storied career, illuminating how people from any industry can uphold their creative integrity while adapting to the ever-changing demands of the world around them.
A Life of Activism: Collaborating for a Cause
For four decades, rock ‘n roll icon Steven Van Zandt has been leveraging his platform for causes that matter to him and impact the world. In 1985, he formed Artists United Against Apartheid and wrote Sun City, an anthemic protest song. Over 50 artists performed on the track, which was considered by political experts to be a fatal blow to Apartheid. Van Zandt produced a documentary about the experience and was honored by the United Nations for the project.
Van Zandt has also worked to promote Indigenous sovereignty, to foster economic development in harmony with the Earth, and performed on behalf of Vietnam veterans, missing children, and more. In uplifting and engaging talks, Van Zandt shares how he has focused on world issues through his music, entrepreneurship, and philanthropy.
The Importance of Music Education
Steven Van Zandt knows firsthand how music changes lives. Van Zandt’s foundation, Rock and Roll Forever, was founded to provide solutions to two escalating problems – music classes being cut, and a growing high school drop-out epidemic. Van Zandt believes that student engagement is a significant facet of the crisis, and so he conceived a curriculum based around popular music that can be taught by any teacher or department.
Rock and Roll Forever has attracted powerful partners including Scholastic Inc., ABC News, the Grammy Museum, and more, and has launched an online educational resource – TeachRock.org – to support teachers and students everywhere, for free. In speaking engagements, Van Zandt explains the importance of creative curriculum for student growth and engagement, and the profound impact his foundation has achieved.
Steven Van Zandt joins the E Street Band for an epic global tour
Rock and Roll disciple STEVEN VAN ZANDT met Bruce Springsteen when he was still a teenager – as Van Zandt was just trading in his devotion to the Baptist religion of his childhood for an obsession with Rock and Roll. Springsteen would become one of his most important friends and bandmates, as they founded the E Street Band and conquered the Rock and Roll world. After anchoring the band, Van Zandt embarked on his own odyssey as a musician, producer, entrepreneur, actor, activist, and author of the international bestseller Unrequited Infatuations. Now, Van Zandt has rejoined the E Street Band for an epic global tour that he calls “a hurricane from beginning to end” (USA Today).
On LAMag’s The Originals podcast, Van Zandt explored the meaning of success and failure, and how even obstacles can instead “provide untold opportunities for achievement and fulfillment.” As in all his keynotes and conversations, Van Zandt brings star power, an undeniable sense of humor, and wisdom drawn from a singular life of creativity and rock.
Steven Van Zandt’s ‘Unrequited Infatuations’ was an instant NYT bestseller and an epic tale of self-discovery
This story starts in suburban Jersey in the early 60s, unfolds on stage across the globe, and demonstrates over and over again how Rock ‘n Roll has the power to change the world for the better. STEVEN VAN ZANDT anchored the E Street Band as they conquered the Rock and Roll world, and then embarked on his own odyssey – and he shares his epic tale of self-discovery in Unrequited Infatuations: A Memoir. Unrequited Infatuations became an instant international bestseller, gracing bestseller lists for The New York Times, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, and Publishers Weekly.
A rocker, an activist, and a successful and beloved actor on The Sopranos, Van Zandt shares the twists and turns of his surprising life in his writing and in entertaining events. His book is one of a kind, because Van Zandt is a complete original – devoted to the arts, activism, and forever, rock and roll.
STEVIE VAN ZANDT
Musician, Performer, Songwriter, Arranger, Music Producer, Music Supervisor, TV Producer, Actor, Director, Broadway Producer, TV and Film Composer, and Live Event Producer, International DJ, Activist, Historian, Teacher, member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and recognized internationally as one of the world’s foremost authorities on both Contemporary and Traditional Rock and Roll.
“He’s not the only one, nor the oldest, nor the richest. But Little Stevie Van Zandt might currently be the planet’s most charismatic, dedicated and visible crusader scrapping to preserve the dirty purity of Rock ‘n Roll.” - BruceSpringsteen.net
“I know it sounds a bit silly but I do believe Rock and Roll can change the world. It’s about bands, and that for me suggests brotherhood, family, friendship, and community” - Stevie Van Zandt
After creating the “Jersey Shore” sound with the Asbury Jukes he became a founding member of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, and went on to become a successful solo artist in his own right recording and performing solo with his band Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul. In 2017 he released his first new album in over 15 years returning to his Rhythm and Blues roots entitled “Soulfire” which Rolling Stone named one of its “Best Albums of 2017.” He has recently released “Soulfire LIVE!” a 3 disc CD box set, a 7 Vinyl box set, and 2 disc Blu-Ray, recorded live during the “Soulfire Tour,” his first solo tour in over 20 years. He has just finished a new album called “Summer of Sorcery” his first album of original songs in 20 years, and is also working on a box set release of all of his solo albums.
Solo Albums –
Men Without Women (1982)
Voice Of America (1984)
Sun City (1985 - Artists United Against Apartheid)
Freedom No Compromise (1987)
Born Again Savage (1999)
Nobody Love and Leaves Alive (1999 - The Lost Boys, Unreleased)
Soulfire LIVE! (2018)
Summer of Sorcery (2019)
His songs have been performed by Jackson Browne, Pearl Jam, Margo Price, Damian Marley, Jimmy Cliff, Southside Johnny and The Asbury Jukes, Gary U.S. Bonds, Darlene Love, Nancy Sinatra, Brian Setzer, Black Uhuru, and more.
He Co-Produced the seminal Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band albums “The River”, and “Born in the U.S.A.” He has also produced albums for Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, Gary U.S. Bonds, Ronnie Spector, Demolition 23, Majek Fashek, Lords of the New Church, Arc Angels, The Chesterfield Kings, The Cocktail Slippers, The Breakers, and more. He recently Arranged and Produced “Introducing Darlene Love”, the critically acclaimed new album for the legendary Darlene Love, star of the Oscar winning documentary "Twenty Feet From Stardom".
- “Between the Lines” Directed by Joan Micklin Silver, for MGM, 1977
- “Christmas with the Kranks” Directed by Joe Roth, for Sony Pictures, 2003
- “Not Fade Away”- Producing the band’s evolving sound throughout the film which would essentially serve as the score. (In reality was a band comprised of actors with little to no musical experience), David Chase film, for Paramount Vantage, 2012
- “Lilyhammer”- Wrote the theme song and half of the score for season 1, and all of the score for seasons 2 and 3, Various Directors, for Netflix, 2012-2014
- Co-Starred in all seven seasons of the Sopranos, the single most critically acclaimed TV Drama in history, playing principle character "Silvio Dante,” a character that he created.
- Starred in, Co-Wrote, Executive Produced, provided the music supervision and scoring, and Directed (the final episode) for the award winning series "Lilyhammer”, which was the FIRST original programming for Netflix. The show won back to back Golden Nymphs at the Monte-Carlo Television Festival for Best International Comedy Series with Stevie twice taking home the award for Best Actor in a Comedy Series.
In 1999, Van Zandt founded Renegade Nation to oversee Content creation, Production, Management, Live Events, and Distribution.
LITTLE STEVEN’S UNDERGROUND GARAGE
-Little Steven's Underground Garage (Weekly Syndicated Show).
In April of 2002 launches Renegade Nation’s flagship brand “Little Steven’s Underground Garage”, his internationally syndicated terrestrial radio show. Each week he takes audiences on a two hour trip of what was cool in all six decades of Rock and Roll, and also features the best emerging bands worldwide. The show has aired over 750 consecutive weekly episodes and has introduced over 700 new bands. It is broadcast on over 130 stations in more than 200 markets including internationally in Canada, London, Italy, Spain, Ireland, Sweden, Belgium, Peru, and Australia, as well as worldwide on the American Forces Network and Voice of America.
“It’s the best Rock and Roll Radio show in the world. Period.” - Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day
“It’s the first thing I listen to in the morning. It always sounds good late at night. One of my favorite things to do is listen to it on the way to band practice because I get inspired.” - Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam
“The coolest DJ in the country. A proud throwback to the late-night hipster jocks of long-gone 1960's and '70s FM Radio.” - MTV
The success of the radio show has allowed Little Steven’s Underground Garage to expand beyond the world of radio into television, live events, albums, satellite radio, and more.
-Little Steven's Underground Garage (24/7 SiriusXM Channel 21)
In 2004 Sirius Satellite Radio recruited Stevie to create it's first original content. He would start the services first 24/7 branded music channels, while continuing to record his syndicated terrestrial show. The first channel was “Little Steven's Underground Garage”. Stylistically the format is a continuation of the syndicated terrestrial show. Spanning multiple genres the music is fully integrated so that listeners hear records from Rock pioneers juxtaposed with records from up and coming bands, and tying it together with artists from the five decades between. He is not an actual DJ on the channel but his stories, Rock and Roll history lessons, and anecdotes are pulled from the syndicated radio show and air over the course of 3 separate hours everyday on SiriusXM.
-Outlaw Country (24/7 SiriusXM Channel 60)
The other channel created by Van Zandt was “Outlaw Country,” which has also become one of SiriusXM’s most original and acclaimed channels since launching in the Spring of 2004. As the “country cousin” to the “Underground Garage,” the format spans a wide range of genres, including classic Honky Tonk, Alternative Country, Americana, Southern Rock, Roots Rock, and more, while playing the undisputed heroes of Outlaw Country, like Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard, alongside emerging artists like Sturgill Simpson, Jason Isbell and Blackberry Smoke.
At a time when radio was moving towards pre programmed playlists and eliminating DJ's all together, Stevie would go in the opposite direction. In a throwback to the heyday of FM/AM radio he would hire Rock and Roll and Country personalities from various backgrounds as DJ's for the two new channels to add their own stories and anecdotes to the music.
The Underground Garage / Renegade Nation have presented hundreds of live events and like the radio show they feature Rock and Roll legends, while also showcasing the best up and coming bands and local talent.
- Over a hundred “Underground Garage A Go-Go” and "Underground Garage Presents" concerts. The most recent being a partnership with the Hard Rock Café. Yankee Stadium, and the New York Yankees for pre game “Underground Garage” concerts at Yankee Stadium before Friday home games featuring up and coming bands from the radio show.
- The continuing Underground Garage series of concerts at The Count Basie Theatre.
- “The Underground Garage International Festival” with over 40 bands co-headlined by Iggy Pop and The Stooges, and The Strokes that Entertainment Weekly called “an awe inspiring event” and the Village Voice named it “Concert Of The Year.”
- “The 500th Show” radio special featuring Green Day, Debbie Harry, and more from the Hard Rock Cafe New York.
- “The Underground Garage Stage” at the Hard Rock Calling Festivals.
- Three national tours featuring over 50 bands including the New York Dolls, The Zombies, The Supersuckers, and more.
- “The Outlaw Country Cruises” sold out 5 day music festival cruises with over 25 bands including artists like Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle, Blackberry Smoke, The Mavericks and more.
- SXSW showcases.
- “CBGB Forever” rally in Washington Square Park.
- “Teen Vogue’s - Rock Meets the Runway” from the Hard Rock Cafe New York.
- “The Rascals: Once Upon A Dream”, the critically acclaimed theatrical event/reunion concert tour that included a 15 night sold out run on Broadway.
Renegade TV is the Television/Streaming/Video Content arm of Renegade Nation.
Past productions include:
-Lilyhammer, which Stevie starred in, co-wrote, executive produced, provided the music supervision and scoring, directed (the final episode) and was the FIRST original programming for Netflix.
-The MTV Underground Garage National Battle of the Bands,
-VH1 Halloween special, “Cheap Trick or Treat Halloween Ball”, featuring Cheap Trick, Roky Erickson and more.
-First New Years Eve Concert Special on ESPN Co-Hosted by Stevie and Stuart Scott.
WICKED COOL RECORDS
2007 marked the beginning of Wicked Cool Records, the imprint Van Zandt started to further support new Rock and Roll bands. Among the label’s releases are eleven critically acclaimed compilations featuring music from Little Stevie’s Underground Garage (CBGB Forever, Christmas A Go-Go, Halloween A Go-Go, and Coolest Songs In The World Volumes 1-8).
-“Introducing Darlene Love” was a co release of Wicked Cool Records and Columbia.
-In 2015 Wicked Cool Records entered a distribution deal/partnership with The Orchard to distribute the labels back catalogue and any new acts that Wicked Cool Records signs.
- In 1985, forms Artists United Against Apartheid and wrote “Sun City,” an anthemic Rock/Hip Hop/R&B song protesting the Apartheid system symbolized by the South African resort, Sun City. Over 50 artists including Gil Scott-Heron, Ringo Starr, Bob Dylan, Bono, Keith Richards, Run DMC, and Miles Davis, performed on the track which spawned a conscious raising album of the same name. It was described by rock critic Dave Marsh as "the most diverse line up of popular musicians ever assembled for a single session.”
As one of the first collaborations among major recording stars to support a political, rather than a social cause, it is considered by most political experts to be a fatal blow to Apartheid, leading to Nelson Mandela being freed only a few years later.
-Produces "Sun City: The Making of Sun City" which won the prestigious International Documentary Association award for "Distinguished Documentary Achievement”.
-Twice honored by the United Nations for the “Sun City” project and film, and his involvement with “International Peace Day” along with Peter Gabriel.
-In 1983 establishes the Solidarity Foundation to promote the sovereignty of indigenous peoples and to foster economic development in harmony with the earth.
-Releases the single and video "Leonard Peltier" to raise awareness and try to free Native American activist Leonard Peltier 1989
- Releases the single “Trail of Broken Treaties” to raise awareness about the U.S governments continuing breaking of treaties made with Native Americans
- Releases “Native American” the subject of which was living in harmony with the earth and the universality of Native American philosophy
- Solidarity Foundation pressures the Quebec government to cancel the Grande-Baleine hydroelectric project due to its environmental impact and social impact on First Nations communities 1994
- Solidarity Foundation publishes magazine "Native Nations" that deals exclusively with Native American rights 1997
- Solidarity Foundation creates "The Language Project" documenting Native American languages 1997
- Solidarity Foundation creates the "Encyclopedia of the American Indian in the Twentieth Century" a comprehensive overview of Native American culture through profiles of key individuals, organizations, government policies, and events that have defined Native history since 1900. 2015
- Performs at the “No Nukes” concert in New York City
- Performs at the “Vietnam Veterans of America” concert
- Produces and performs at “LaBamba's Christmas Show for the Benefit of Missing Children”
- Performs at the “Anti-Apartheid” concert in Central Park
- Performs in New Jersey for Passaic Fire Victims
- Performs at the “Amnesty International A Conspiracy of Hope” concert
- Performs at Hurricane Irene concert; a benefit in Tokyo for the University for Peace
- Performs at the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute concert at Wembley Stadium.
- Co-writes “Maria” a song about Mexican migrant workers in Texas for Brian Setzer
- Co-writes “You Don't Have to Cry”, about the gasoline riots in Jamaica, for Jimmy Cliff for the soundtrack of the Jonathan Demme film, “Something Wild”
- Releases “Solidarity” single for the union movement in Poland
- Releases “Vote!”, a thematic 12" single for the 1984 Presidential Election
ROCK AND ROLL FOREVER FOUNDATION
The Rock and Roll Forever Foundation was founded to provide a simultaneous solution to two escalating problems, music classes being cut, and a high school drop out epidemic. Believing that student engagement is a significant facet of the crisis, he conceived a curriculum based around popular music, a subject that provides immediate common ground with student interest and passion. He has created with his team a curriculum that is not restricted to music departments alone, a truly interdisciplinary curriculum. Now endorsed by the National Council for the Social Studies and the National Association for Music Education, with partners including Scholastic Inc., Reelin' in the Years, ABC News, Rock's Backpages, New York University's Steinhardt School, and the Grammy Museum, Van Zandt's Rock and Roll Forever Foundation is launching TeachRock.org.
-TeachRock is an online educational resource presented by Stevie Van Zandt's Rock and Roll Forever Foundation and offered free-of-charge to educators and individuals everywhere. Interdisciplinary in nature, TeachRock is geared toward middle and high school students but includes resources for learning at all levels. Launched in Fall 2013, the website will offer new lesson plans and teaching resources on a monthly basis. Educators are encouraged to create user accounts, which will allow them to receive notifications when new content is made available.
-TeachRock now has 70 (of the 200 lessons planned) on-line and being used by teachers worldwide for free.
- The Rock and Roll Forever Foundation has recently announced a collaboration with The New Jersey School Boards Association to provide teachers and administrators in the all of the state's public school districts with access to arts-based, STEAM-aligned professional development and educational materials, free of charge.
-TeachRock has partnered with "Sonic Highways", the HBO series produced by Dave Grohl, to create "The Sonic Highways Pilot Program" which encourages students to become the filmmakers, sending them to research the musical histories of their own hometowns. Groups of students will interview locals about their musical experiences, gather historical source materials and compile and edit footage to create short documentary videos.
-TeachRock has created six interdisciplinary lessonplans to accompany the forthcoming Ron Howard directed Beatles documentary, "8 Days a Week: The Touring Years" as well as partnering with Scholastic to host a “Live Beatles Webcast” broadcast to potentially a million students.
-TeachRock in partnership with PBS, has also created 16 lesson plans, two for each of the eight episodes of the "Soundbreaking: Stories from the Cutting Edge of Recorded Music" series. The final project of Beatles producer Sir George Martin, "Soundbreaking" explores the ongoing interactions between musical sound and technology.
-Rock and Roll Forever hosted the NY Premiere of Ron Howard's 8 Days A Week film as it’s 2016 annual fundraiser, raising approximately $750,000.
- Gave the commencement speech to the Class of 2017 and received an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from Rutgers University
-Notodden Blues Festival has named their education project “Little Steven’s Blues School” where Teach Rock has contributed the curriculum.
-Stevie taught two master classes on the “The 5 Crafts of Rock and Roll” and “Songwriting”. Two weeks before the festival begins teachers put kids from all over Europe into bands and educate them about the various elements of the music business.
-Keynote speech at South by Southwest 2009.
-Keynote speech at the annual Lions Awards for the Advertising world 2009.
-Taught Master Class on “The Role of the Arranger” and “The 5 Crafts of Rock and Roll” for E Music 2010.
-Taught Master Class at the University of Oslo, Music School 2012.
-Taught Master Class on Acting at the Lilyhammer Film School 2013
-Editorials for The Huffington Post, Politico, and New York Times on subjects like South Africa, Campaign Finance, Disaster Relief, and Haiti.
-Wrote a weekly column for 83 weeks and established a Garage Rock Music Chart for Billboard magazine. Chart was taken down after a change of editor at Billboard.
-Writes a 25 page script for every new weekly radio show (790+ and counting).
CHARITY EVENTS/ NON PROFIT
Named first Ambassador for the Ronald McDonald House Charity. Along with being Ambassador Stevie has created the “Little Steven’s Magic Bandanas” program where he, along with friends like John Varvatos and Tommy Hilfiger, have designed bandanas to be given to all kids in the Ronald McDonald Houses and all proceeds from bandanas sold will go to the charity.
Stevie and his wife Maureen have recently been named to the Count Basie's board of trustees and directors and it was announced that the Count Basie is being expanded to a world class Arts Center that includes music, theater, and dance education. The Underground Garage will also be presenting a series of concerts at Count Basie in 2017.
Produces The Little Kids Rock Fundraisers three years in a row, (2012,'13, '14), taking them from $48,000 to netting over a million dollars to buy guitars and other musical instruments for kids.
The Rock and Roll Forever Foundation has also partnered with Little Kids Rock to get TeachRock into the same schools that Little Kids Rock is donating instruments.
In 2015 Stevie began Producing the annual "Little Steven's Policeman's Ball" raising over $300,000 this year, $150,000 each for two charities, NYPD Widows and Orphans Fund and Arms Wide Open for handicapped children.
With wife Maureen honored by the “Kristen Ann Carr Fund” for their continued support in the fight against cancer.
Awarded “Big Man of the Year” by Little Kids Rock, the ceremony included artists like Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, and Tom Morello performing songs Stevie had written over the course of his career and raised over $1 million dollars for the charity.
With wife Maureen honored at Rockit Kids inaugural Gala to benefit Rockit Live Foundation’s scholarship fund.
With wife Maureen honored by The Count Basie Theatre Vanguard Awards for a “lifetime devotion to the arts"
Receives Humanitarian Award by the “We Are Family Foundation” for his continued fight against racism.
Receives the “Harry Chapin Humanitarian” award from the Long Island Music Hall of Fame.
Inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014.
Inductee into the New Jersey Hall of Fame in 2018.
Serves on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee.
Inductes The Rascals (Sopranos creator David Chase asked Stevie to join the series after seeing the induction ceremony on TV), Frank Barsalona, The Hollies, and Bert Berns to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Inducts Gary U.S. Bonds into the Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame.
Inducts Link Wray into the Native American Music Association's Hall of Fame.
- Produces and Directs “Eddie Brigati: After The Rascals” featuring Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Eddie Brigati not only performing classic Rascals hits but also songs from the Great American Songbook, the Brill Building era, Modern Broadway, and more, as well as sharing stories from his more than 50 years of performing. The unique and intimate performance just finished a series of 4 sold out shows at the Cutting Room NYC.
- Writes, Directs, and Co-Produces with wife Maureen the Broadway show “The Rascals: Once Upon A Dream” creating a new hybrid of concert and theatrical event that had a 15 night sold out run on Broadway.
- Along with wife Maureen, Paul Shaffer, and Joe Grano (Jersey Boys), he has joined the Broadway-bound musical "Piece of My Heart: The Bert Berns Story" as lead Producer. He will also serve as the show’s Musical Director.
- Co-Produces and occasionally participates in wife Maureen's Renegade Theatre Group which she Co-Directs with Vinnie Pastore staging Off-Broadway and Off/Off Broadway productions.