Wilmington’s cultural scene always beckons the inauguration of fresh outlets. Filmmakers, musicians, writers, and other independent artists cultivate their talent in the port city to fill local venues with vast talent. The recently opened Giant Café serves as one of Wilmington’s latest ventures into quenching locals’ thirst for artistry. They will host singer/songwriter Steven Fiore on Friday, February 7th.
Headed by film industry veterans Sam and Jodi Kaufmann, Giant Café aims to provide a public place for their film-production facility, Post 1200. The café and production studio share the 5000 square feet. The Kaufmanns worked in L.A.’s film industry for nearly 20 years before opening up their sister space in Wilmington, across from Screen Gems in 2012.
“It’s an amazing creative space,” Jodi Kaufmann describes, “very inspiring, which is key when you have the type of artists, directors, industry talent and filmmakers that use our space.”
Since opening, they have hosted a plethora of impressive guests, such as Danny McBride (“Eastbound and Down”), Giancarlo Esposito (“Revolution”), Nicolas Gonzalez (“Behind Enemy Lines II”), as well as Melissa McCarthy and her husband Ben Falcone (“Bridesmaids,” “Tammy”), among others. With the addition of their public café, they now make true on a goal they’ve had for a long time: to connect the film industry to a larger crowd. Giant Café consists of an art gallery, indie cinema, a listening-room live music venue, a center for learning—with routine workshops with Vanessa Neimeyer of NCasting—and an organic coffee bar.
Kicking off their music lineup for February will be Steven Fiore. Hailing from Charleston, South Carolina, the crooner first picked up the guitar at age 14.
“[I started playing] to meet girls and have yet another outlet to complain about being a teenager in the suburbs,” he quips. “I started singing very shortly after I started playing guitar. Once the two were connected, that’s when my dream of becoming a paleontologist took a backseat to a real career opportunity—being in a band. Needless to say, my parents and neighbors were thrilled.”
Fiore’s formative years in the music industry came typified by low-key gigs at restaurants and bars. It took about four years to find a fan base; ever since the prolific musical storyteller has garnered much attention. He’s been contract with Universal Music Publishing since 2009 and has worked with a number of artists, including Kate Voegele, Ryan Cabrera, Jason Castro, and most recently Art Garfunkel. The latter comes as quite a serendipitous; Fiore says he’s been compared to Paul Simon in the past.
Having toured relentlessly, Fiore’s hit the road with idols, such as two of his favorite songwriters, Jay Clifford of Jump Little Children and Michael Flynn of Slow Runner. James Taylor, Neil Young, Ben Gibbard (Death Cab For Cutie), Stephin Merrit (Magnetic Fields), Kathleen Edwards, Beach House and Huey Lewis maintain inspiration over Fiore’s music, too. The influence becomes apparent as his music evokes a dreamy love-sick vibe—almost otherwordly.
His folk-pop melodies come bourne from a number of quirky muses. The sci-fi and fantasy fanatic comes through in his writing, as do children’s stories, such as the song Fiore wrote called, “Little Prince,” based on his favorite children’s book of the same name. Likewise, his cat, Oliver, scored his own song, too. Much like Phoebe Buffay, Fiore’s ode to the cat has left a lasting impression among fans. Despite the interesting choice of subject matter, the song maintains his soft, heartfelt vocals, as the acoustic chords beautifully complement his voice.
His career spans over four EPs and a full-length album, “Youth and Magic.” “[Writing a song is] a lot like the process a student would go through when writing a paper,” Fiore states. “I have notebooks filled with thesis statements that I eventually would like to turn into songs. Whenever I come up with a melody, I usually connect which idea fits best, almost immediately. There’s really no telling, day to day, what will create a spark and make me what to add an idea to the book.”
Having just moved to Los Angeles three weeks ago, the outlook for the burgeoning artist is promising. Despite his success, however, he still indulges in humble pie. Noting the difficulty of breaking into the music industry, Fiore wants to make personal connections with his fans, and hopes his future beholds Steve Martin playing banjo on one of his records. As well, he started a blog on his website, www.stevenfioremusic.com, which goes beyond promoting his career. Instead, it offers an intimate gaze into the artist’s touring life.
A typical performance from Fiore culminates in a late-night hangout session with fans. “It’s one of the best parts of my job,” he beams. Over the course of his cross-country travels, the number of magnificent people he’s been able to meet truly excites him most.
Fiore will bring his unique and charming songs to Wilmington for the first time this week at Giant Café. Tickets can be purchased at squareup.com/market/giant/steven-fiore
“I hope people walk away feeling inspired emotionally fulfilled, and perhaps a little bit drunk,” he muses. “I, myself, really enjoy sharing my stories and seeing how different people in different parts of the country respond.”DETAILS:
Music by Steven Fiore
Giant Café • 1200 N. 23rd St. Suite #209
Fri., Feb. 7th, 7 p.m. • Tickets: $5-$10 http://stevenfiore.bandcamp.com/