The galvanic sparks of inspiration were so tangible you could chew them. The inaugural BaHOOTenzie Songwriting School and Folk Fest in 2022, held on the ethereal Joshua Tree Music Festival campus, caught everyone in attendance off guard – the impact was dizzying. We were fed an experience we didn’t even know we were starving for. True to its name, the days of BaHOOTenzie Song School and Folk Fest were awash with many indelible blessings, and yes, we all went a little delightfully nuts. One can’t NOT go a little nutty around Steve Poltz. His spirit is highly flammable, and the flame he and his fellow troubadours lit in our hearts is still burning. We were the lucky ones who had followed this pied piper and his partner in crime, Barnett English, to this ground zero of roots music phenomenon. This would become our annual pilgrimage, if Poltz and English made it happen again. We hoped against hope that they would, and they did.
With the announcement of BaHOOTenzie’s return May 2-6, 2023, calendars have been cleared, and tickets purchased for a portion, if not all, of this life enhancing music-centered experience. If you love the craft of lyric-based songwriting and acoustic performances, I strongly suggest that you do the same soon. There are limits to the number of Songwriting School attendees, as well as the seating for the Folk Fest.
ABOUT STEVE POLTZ
The prolific songwriter and witty consummate entertainer who spent many of his most formative years here in the desert is widely known for his co-write with Jewel, “You Were Meant for Me.” He has a multitude of albums under his belt. The energy and light that emanates from Poltz’s performances, whether he’s being incredibly vulnerable or wildly funny, is elvish in nature, and deeply endearing. Fellow Nashville singer/ songwriter, Tim Easton, describes Poltz as follows: “…I met different kinds of travelers and people with big hearts and wide-open minds. Some attempt to shine a light, surround hate, and force it to surrender. They must, or else spend the day in the dark. Mr. Steve Poltz is one of those lights. He doesn’t need tattoos, HE IS TATTOOS. He tattoos his mental DNA on everyone that comes within earshot of his voice. He’s doing it right now, maybe in Tasmania.”
When asked where his light energy comes from, Poltz confesses, “I’m not sure. It’s all magic. I seriously don’t really understand it all. I sorta found my bliss, as in this is what I love to do. I still marvel at the fact that I get to do this. If someone had told 12-year-old me that I’d be doing this as my job, I would’ve said, ‘Sign me up now!’ It all seems like a scam and someone’s going to find out and ring the bell of, ‘No More Fun.’ But it still hasn’t happened, and I’m flummoxed that this is my ‘job.’ It gives me energy. I still get excited when offers come my way. I’m the least jaded of most of my peers. I’m a glass is half full guy. Obviously not always, but I’d say most of the time. There are definitely down days, hurdles, obstacles, and potholes I need to navigate. The travel can kick my arse. But the shows always remind me of why I do this. They’re a booster shot. It’s pretty cool. It all started from doing a show, and that show led to another show, and that led to another. It’s all organic. A spark started it. I followed the energy, and now here I am at 63 years old. Yikes. It all goes by so fast.”
For Poltz, Folk music can be anything. “I’m not one for staying in my lane and genres and such,” he explains. “Labels don’t really come into play in my organizational structure of my grey matter. But it seems like people like to know what things are, and I totally understand that. For me, it’s all music. I love a song that takes me on a journey. It can be anything as long as it holds my interest – an instrumental or a story song or just a good hook. So, I guess folk music is music for the folks. Maybe I learn something from the song, a different point of view, or one that reinforces mine.”
The idea for BaHOOTenzie developed from a show at the Joshua Tree Music Festival grounds during the pandemic. “Everything seemed topsy-turvy, inside out, and upside down,” explained Poltz. “I played a show in Joshua Tree. It was one of those outdoor socially distanced shows where people sat in their pods not too close to each other. It was a beautiful evening. The stars were out, and the moon was shining. I casually mentioned in the middle of my show that it would be fun to have a folk fest; I had a lot of musical guests, and it seemed like a mini festival. Everyone was happy, and the music set a mood. Barnett English heard me suggest the festival. He called me the next morning and said, ‘If you were serious about throwing a little folk fest, then I think we should talk this through, because I’d love to be a part of it.’ The rest, as they say, is history.”