Ask Steve Poltz how he would like to be remembered, and he doesn’t hesitate: He says he’d like to be thought of as a guy who brought people together. He explains that his audiences are fans who don’t necessarily attend other rock shows. They come to Poltz gigs to be with each other in some kind of a solidarity thing that even he doesn’t fully comprehend. The Rugburns’ founder marvels at the amassing of such a curious fan base, one that extends halfway around the globe. He considers them comrades who share (or at least are drawn to) his own mental state. “And I’m not right in the head,” he says by phone from his home in San Diego.
How else to explain a singer-songwriter who can perform a fragile love song such as “Everything About You” and then turn around and sing “Hand Job on the Church Bus”? “If I don’t do that song live,” he says, “people get pissed.” But Poltz fans also come for the stories. A broken hand proved that last year in Canada. Rather than cancel, the promoter asked Poltz to talk to the sold-out house for 20 minutes. He did, and the show ended up lasting 90 minutes, during which he played two songs with a slide affixed to his pinkie, producing music that he says “sounded like a dead cat.”
Steve Poltz is now 50. He released his eighth CD, Dream House, in July. He still drives cross country to shows throughout the U.S., and he still has unlikely but loyal fan bases in Nova Scotia (where he was born) and Australia. He may be the perpetual class clown, but he says it isn’t an easy job: “You gotta really work on your live show all the time.”
Tim Flannery opens.
STEVE POLTZ: Anthology, Friday, November 26, 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. $22.