Local act opening Montgomery CityFest

Published 11:47 pm Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Some musicians work their entire life in search of an opportunity to stand elbow-to-elbow with the industry’s major players.

This Memorial Day weekend Demopolis’s Steven Padilla will get his turn. The Steven Padilla Band will share the stage at Montgomery’s Jubilee CityFest May 22-23 with Montgomery Gentry, arguably one of the largest country music acts on tour today.

Padilla, a Demopolis native, got his first guitar from his neighbor’s attic at age 15. In the few years since, he’s seldom looked back.

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At age 17, Steven wrote his first song, titled “Just Close Your Eyes.” He then went on to open up for Farmer’s Daughter at the Bama Bike Fest in 2004 and became a regular acoustic performer at the Foscue House and Red Barn.

At 22, he moved to Tuscaloosa and quickly became well-known for his solo performances on the bar circuit and at private parties.

“As much as I love Demopolis, if I was going to make it with my music, I had to get in a larger city,” Padilla said. “When I got to Tuscaloosa, I started playing some of the larger bars for larger crowds.”

Soon after playing several gigs with mandolin picker, Rob Thornhill, Steven eventually formed the Steven Padilla Band in the fall of 2008.

Among those who joined the band was fellow Demopolis native Stephen Davis. Davis, who mans the drums, has been playing since the age of 2.

“We’ve really only been together for about six months,” Padilla said of the band, “but almost immediately we started playing larger shows. Everything’s moved really fast for us.”

The crown jewel in the band’s accomplishments will be serving as an opening act in Montgomery, where they will stand on the same stage with acts like Montgomery Gentry, 3 Doors Down and former Hootie and the Blowfish front-man Darius Rucker, who have sold hundreds of millions of albums between them.

“It’s huge,” Padilla said of the opportunity. “The goal is to make it as big as those guys did, so we’re pretty excited.”

The first major hurdle the band has to overcome en route to selling a few million CDs is fairly obvious: The Steven Padilla Band has yet to cut its first album.

However, Padilla — who describes the band’s sound as a mixture of modern and traditional country — said the band is getting ready to hit the studio and hopes to have a CD out by the summer.

“I like a lot about the traditional country sound,” he said. “I like the fiddle and the steel guitar, but I also like the loud lead guitar you find in modern country,” he said. “I would say some of my biggest influences are George Strait and Dierks Bentley.”

And while one opportunity after another seems to await them around each new corner, Padilla said those successes are rooted in the City of the People.

“A lot of my songs are about small-town life, and it all comes back to growing up in Demopolis,” he said.