Steve Klingaman
Friday 9/20 | 8:30-9:00 PM | ArtStart Stage


Steve Klingaman is a guitarist, singer-songwriter, and producer with an ear for American roots. His five releases—three albums, a cassette EP, and a single are available from Humuncules Music.

He is an accomplished songwriter whose style can be described as lyric-driven in the tradition of Dylan, Cohen, Newman, Prine, and Costello. In a band context his musical framework is closest to Costello and Mark Knopfler. As a solo artist, he is too eclectic to pin down.

Born and raised in Chicago, his credits include a solo stint in New Orleans, the 70’s indie-folk band Harlequin in Montreal, the San Diego-based alt-rock band Streetlife, and the San Francisco-based Beat Freaks and Body Politic. His songwriting is influenced by the study of poetics with poets like Diane DiPrima and Robert Duncan. He currently writes and records in his own NoName Studio and operates Humuncules Music, a micro-label and publishing company.

Steve co-founded the Montreal band Harlequin with violinist Joel Zifkin (The McGarrigle Sisters, Richard Thompson, others). The band started out performing early English ballads, playing its first gig at McGill University’s Redpath Hall in 1974. The trademark sound of the band was built around acoustic guitars and harmony vocals, complemented by Joel’s violin work, on originals, traditional songs, and covers. Harlequin was known for extended, intricate instrumental passages that featured Joel’s violin over Steve’s fingerpicked acoustic guitar.

After a brief stint with the Hard Times Revue in Montreal, Steve co-founded the indie rock band Streetlife in San Diego. It performed throughout the San Diego area for four years and released the single “Lucky’s Cafe.”
Steve moved to San Francisco in 1980 to attend the graduate program in Poetics at New College of California where he studied with poets including Robert Duncan, Diane DiPrima, and others. After grad school, Steve joined the S.F. music scene as lead guitarist for a world beat band the Beat Freaks. When the Beat Freaks broke up, Steve formed Body Politic as a vehicle for his own songs.
Steve quit playing live after Body Politic folded in 1991 and set up a studio, wrote song demos, and cultivated a rootsier, singer-songwriter groove. In 1994, he began writing Packwood.

Drawing on his folk roots, he constructed Packwood as a unified contemporary folk album, where the songs addressed a single, larger, theme—the disappearing family farms of the American Midwest. He released the album in 2001. His follow-up, Vanishing Point (2003) addresses unsolvable notions of romantic love. It showcases his electric side and features Lenne Klingaman on duet and backup vocals.

Today, Steve remains active as a producer, engineer, songwriter and solo artist. Until recently he was based in Minneapolis he now makes his home in the Northwoods of Wisconsin. His songwriting features a strong lyrical thrust and an increasingly eclectic approach to composing and arranging. He wrote music reviews for the webzine from 2002-18.

In 2015 Humuncules Music released The Heart Is the Hunter, the debut album by his daughter, Lenne Klingaman, a singer and actress. The album was co-produced by Steve, who was the principle writer of all of the original material, and played all guitar, bass, and some of the synth and organ. Under the auspices of Sara Bareilles, Lenne leveraged the album to star in the role of Dawn in the Waitress extended national tour and on Broadway.

Steve released his newest album, Roots and Branches on June 24, 2021. The album showcased music he has always wanted to sing, including his own catalogue and strategically selected covers.

Following the pandemic, he has returned to solo performance in the beautiful Northwoods of Wisconsin, where he moved to in 2020. He works as a studio guitarist from his makeshift Studio HVAC, where his recording style can be described as lead-driven guitar orchestration. He is currently performing regularly at Gather in Lake Tomahawk and has written an entire album of new songs in 2023. In 2021, Sterling Silver Editions published his book DogBlog: The Collected Works of HarleeGirl, a slightly satirical take on an erstwhile canine blogger in the late aughts and early teens.


Steve Klingaman Website