It was a small village in upstate New York. Brothers Steve & John Conte met in a playpen. Learned their first musical instruments shortly thereafter. Been playing, writing and recording music together ever since.
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Influenced by The Beatles, Pop Radio, Philly Soul, Bob Dylan and Led Zeppelin, the Conte's wrote and recorded their first "album" in their living room when they were 9 & 10 years old. 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 playing behind their jazz vocalist mom at local venues. You can hear it in the music: An amalgamation of psychedelic folky grooves, rock & roll, pop, blues and jazz. Over the next decade the Conte brothers found themselves in an eclectic bunch of musical situations to pay the rent. Among other things, Steve was guitarist and musical director for Prince back-up singer Jill Jones (Paisley Park) while John laid it down for people like Dr. John and Johnny Winter. After being in a series of bands led by others, they decided it was time to start their own band once again. Crown Jewels was born five years ago in New York City with Steve on lead vocals and guitar, John on bass and harmonica and former Psychedelic Furs/ Iggy Pop drummer Paul Garisto. Since the release of Spitshine, Crown Jewels first CD on their own Thunderdog Music label, their musical reputation has been building steadily across the country and overseas. Now into its second pressing, Spitshine and their new CD Linoleum are available through local record stores, catalogues, direct mail and the band's website--although touring and word of mouth are mainly responsible for the bulk of it's sales. The music has spread into The U.K., Germany, Sweden and Japan. In Belgium, Music Mania Magazine reports, "Really great... ...brilliant songs and lyrics." When the band played F-Musicfest '97 in Los Angeles, the Concrete/Foundations festival program advised, "A&R folks take note: everyone's raving about NYC's Crown Jewels..." Describing themselves, the Jewels 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. And play they do, regularly filling clubs in NYC and surrounding areas. The New York Times reported on how, "fans crowd the stage at Irving Plaza to watch Crown Jewels in concert..." when the band opened for Graham Parker in a stripped down acoustic set. They've also shared the stage with The Wild Colonials, Too Much Joy, The Gathering Field, Honky, J. Geils & Magic Dick and Ruth Ruth. Keep an ear out for Crown Jewels. They're serious about music and they're not going away.
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