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the contes - artist biography
Back in the day…a beautiful singer named Rosemary gave birth to two little boys. Brothers Steve & John Conte met in the playpen, learned their first musical instruments shortly thereafter, and have been playing together ever since...
New York City brothers The Contes are a rare breed: musician/singer/songwriters that make great records of their own, yet are often called upon to work with many of the music industry's greats, including Paul Simon, David Bowie, Joan Osborne, Ian Hunter, Maceo Parker, Peter Wolf, and Billy Squier.
Influenced by The Beatles, Philly soul, Bob Dylan, bubble gum pop and Led Zeppelin, the Contes wrote and recorded their first "album" in their living room at ages nine and ten*. Big brother Stevie played drums a la Ringo and sang like Jagger-meets-Lennon on helium. Johnny would hang a plastic tape recorder microphone into the sound hole of a cheap acoustic guitar to achieve a killer electric "tone." By the time the boys were in their early teens, they were earning partial keep backing their jazz vocalist mom at local venues. The brothers knew then what they would be doing for life: nothing but music.
Although Steve and John are currently making their CD debut as The Contes, they're no strangers to the record business. Their new CD, "Bleed Together" marks their third independent release since leaving Mercury Records and their band, Company of Wolves, in 1992. In early 1993 they began a new project, Crown Jewels, and recorded two critically-acclaimed CDs -- 1996's "Spitshine," and 1998's "Linoleum." Both records enjoyed coast to coast and international airplay and had many of the songs featured on network television and in films.
Cut to early September 2001, New York City. Weary after three years of touring and longing to release something under their own names, Steve and John began work on what was to become "Bleed Together." Then the worst happened on 9-11, work stopped, and like everyone else in Manhattan the brothers were left numb, seriously questioning the relevance of their chosen profession. Slowly the motivation to go on returned, and the result is an eclectic CD that shines new light on the Conte's talents. "Bleed Together" became a soulful stew of everything from power pop to Bossa Nova, soul ballad to lounge, rock and roll to Americana. In addition to their usual strengths, bass player John plays guitar, banjo, and sings lead on three tunes, while guitarist/singer Steve stretches out on keyboards, mandolin, four and six string bass, and handles some of the editing and sampling chores.
As always, The Contes are well supported by some of the best musicians in the biz...drummers Charley Drayton (Keith Richards, B-52s, diVinyls, Shelby Lynn), Nir Z (John Mayer, Genesis, Alana Davis), Aaron Comess (Spin Doctors, Joan Osborne) and Rich Pagano (Patti Smith, Ian Hunter). Multi-instrumentalist Mark Stewart (Paul Simon, Bang On A Can) plays crazy, homemade instruments like the Chaladoo and the Uboingy, while The Uptown Horns (Rolling Stones, Joe Cocker ) alto flautist Danny Wilensky (James Brown, David Bowie, Steve Winwood) and violinist Antoine Silverman (Sheryl Crow) are the icing on the cake. Other members of the Conte family also appear here: mother Rosemary adds jazzy scat vocals, while John's newborn son, Leonardo, makes his recording debut with his in-utero heartbeat.
Describing themselves, the brothers offer, "We've always tried to balance good songwriting with musicianship and feel, to blend the raw and the smart." Steve's solos have been described as "gems of reckless intelligence" by Guitar magazine and Rolling Stone says, "Conte strokes his Gibson to great effect..." Not only can these guys write songs, they can play. Keep an ear out for The Contes. They're serious about music and they're not going away.
* (The song "Peace" from Crown Jewels "Linoleum" CD comes from these sessions)

 
crown jewels
The Conte brother's band, Crown Jewels began as a hard working live act in the mid 1990s. They pumped out bluesy rock and roll and thoughtful power pop on many stages in New York City before releasing their debut album, Spitshine, in 1996. Since then, their musical reputation has built steadily across America and into the U.K., Germany, Italy, Belgium, France, Sweden and Japan. The band's various incarnations read like a who's who of great NYC players; drummers like Shawn Pelton (Sheryl Crow), Paul Garisto (Iggy Pop), Rich Mercurio (Chris Whitley), Tony Beard (Hall and Oates), Rich Pagano (Willie Nile), Kevin Hupp, Steve Murphy (Jack Bruce), percussionist Joe Bonadio and keyboard players Chris Palmaro (Joan Osborne), Doug Petty (Enrique Iglesius) and Rob Clores (John Popper).
During the early 90's they were one-half of Company of Wolves, a bluesy rock quartet signed to Mercury Records. After two albums and videos, extensive touring, solid radio support and critical acclaim, Steve and John formed Crown Jewels in order to showcase Steve's passionate voice, exquisite melodies and wry lyrics, as well as the brothers' master musicianship. Crown Jewels sophomore effort, Linoleum was released in 1998 and was embraced by listeners and critics alike for it's soulful stew of rock, psychedelic folky grooves, blues and pop.
With Linoleum, the band's music found a home on over 120 college, AAA and modern rock radio stations as well as being featured on television (WB Network's "Smallville", "Jack and Jill" and "Maybe It's Me", NBC's "Providence", CBS's "Jag", Fox TV's Angel, ABC's "That's Life", ESPN's "Winter X Games") and in films (Wirey Spindell [1999], Two Ninas [2000], Spring Break Lawyer (2001), The Stand In [1999], Face The Music [2001] and Rules [1998]).
Touring of clubs, colleges, and conferences brought Crown Jewels to the attention of many, including Musician Magazine, which named them one of its "Top Ten Unsigned Bands in North America" and Billboard Magazine, which selected Crown Jewels as one of "Billboard Talent Net's Most Outstanding New Acts of 1999." New York's Village Voice raved, "steeped in rock's royal tradition, Crown Jewels is a return-to-your-roots treasure." London's Classic Rock magazine agreed, giving them "four stars" and noting, "Linoleum has, acclaim aside, all the accepted merits of songwriting greatness, now they have to wait for the rest of the world to catch up."

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