Today the Venice Paparazzi spotlight shines on musician Steven Sherak. Venice Paparazzi’s “In the Spotlight” is an interview series that highlights people and organizations in the Venice community. The purpose is to shine a light on all the positive things being done by the fantastic folks in our town!
Let’s get to know Steven Sherak!
Give us a brief bio of yourself:
I am the songwriter guitarist for Urban Grass, a music teacher and the owner of Nomadic Guitar Repair and Lessons. As well, I am the exclusive music teacher for Google/YouTube’s Venice and Playa Campus. I also have 4 locations for instrument repairs.
Tell us about your music/band:
Urban Grass is group of musicians performing and recording urban style bluegrass, funky rock and reggae. Band members: Steven Sherak, Joshua Mooers, Serge Milenkovic, Evan Chudnow and Tom Frazer.
Urban Grass is the result of 15 years of playing and touring together with my best pal Joshua Mooers. We started playing as a band in the NY/NJ area doing runs up and down the east coast and yearly tours in the USVI. We relocated to LA 12 years ago and it was the best move a band like ours could have made. We call it “RockinReggaeGrass” and it is original tunes and sounds with adapted covers. We are a 4 piece band with guitars, bass, drums, mandolin, and 3 part vocal harmonies. We have a rotation of several rhythm sections that have all become like family. This allows for musical flexibility and allows us to take a variety of different opportunities that come up. As you get older it’s harder to count on pro players to take every gig. With awesome guys in the book that all know the material and bring unique talents, the shows are always fresh for us and the fans.
Your job in the band:
Guitar, mandolin, vocals, booking and promo.
All reggae. The Beatles. Radiohead. Marley. U2. Funk. Bluegrass. We are lifer musicians and listen to everything.
How many years have you been a musician, and how did you get into it?
25 years. I picked up a guitar and never put it down. I gave up a possible corporate career and became a “band guy” at night and a music teacher and instrument repair entrepreneur during the day.
What would you say has had the largest impact upon your particular style?
Probably an early 90s phase of getting into The Dead and the beat history they came out of.
What projects are your currently working on?
We are working multiple projects; recording an EP called Forward, trying to get gigging around LA and California, and setting up our yearly run on St John St Croix and St Thomas.
Past bands/albums recorded:
We’ve all been in tons of bands and recorded on many projects.
We played the Venice Sign Lighting in 2017. The night prior George Francisco called me to ask if we would be cool with Robbie Krieger playing with us or vice versa. We individually ran through Roadhouse Blues and did it with Robbie the next night. I got to be Jim Morrison with RK jamming to my left under the Venice Sign. The video is on the Urban Grass YouTube page. Sweet time!
View video of Urban Grass playing with Robbie Krieger at the Venice Sign Lighting in 2016!
What moves or pivots have you made during Covid-19 and the lockdowns?
We were shut down for over a year. Once the vax came out, we started doing outdoor shows at The Rustic Theater up at our mountain studio in Idyllwild Ca. We are slowly getting back to it.
Anything else that you want to share with our readers? Announcements, upcoming events, etc.?
In Venice we do one Saturday a month at Hinano Cafe. Upcoming shows at Hinano Cafe: 4/30 and 6/25. We have two shows summer booked at the Rustic Theatre in Idyllwild 7/2 and 8/20. We play quite a bit and hope to get some stuff going on up the coast and into Marin county.
A few personal questions:
Success is feeling inspired and sharing time and positive energy with all kinds of people.
What causes do you support?
We love animals. Through the years we’ve done a lot with Best Friends Animal Society.
What is the best advice you have received?
Never take no for an answer and in LA don’t be afraid to go for it. Keep your head on a swivel and grab the opportunities that make you feel alive.
Favorite affirmation, mantra, or quote:
Om Mani Pame Hum
Favorite book, band or movie?
- Book: Sidartha
- Band: The Beatles
- Movie: Shawshank Redemption
Finish off the statement “Music is…”
Always on in my brain.
List 1-2 things on your bucket list?
I’d love to press a vinyl record if UG tunes and listen to it in my earbuds while walking through a giant Moso bamboo grove in Japan. I’m a huge bamboo farmer on the side fyi.
Anything else you want to share about yourself to the world? Fun facts or accomplishments:
I grow bamboo. I can fix just about anything. I have two Wolf Dogs. I grew up as a mate on the family fishing boat.
View Video of Urban Grass playing at Hinano Cafe, their home bar in Venice, California!
Venice resurrected my life. When I moved in to my place and met all kinds of new uplifting peeps, I felt like a kid again. It is an adult amusement park.
Describe your perfect day in Venice?
- Morning walk with the pups up Washington Blvd, then right turn at the Venice Pier and up to the party around Windward Ave.
- An early afternoon bike ride and a gig by the Venice Pier with the sawdust on the floor.
Anything else about Venice that you would like to say?
We are really stoked that Venice has a new venue to play in The Venice West. Venice is such an artistic inspiring place for me, so the more great places to bring UG music the better!