Crestwood’s evolution to a blues-informed, jazz-inspired duo with a throwback vibe was a long time coming. The band was started as a fluid solo project by Steven Maier in 2010. Stints with successful Saskatoon bands Sexually Attracted to Fire and the Seven Levels left him with a growing reputation as a talented songwriter, and soon had an album’s worth of unrecorded songs but no band to record them with. Crestwood was chosen as the name for the project, in honour of the sunny, brightly coloured apartment building that housed the dark, dingy basement apartment in which Steven lived and the album was written. Only a few steps from Broadway Ave, at that time a vibrant bastion of Saskatoon’s local music scene, the apartment was often frequented late at night by musicians looking for a place to happen, and sometimes sleep. From these musicians grew the first installation of Crestwood, with the apartment eventually serving as a makeshift recording studio.
Crestwood’s first show was their CD release party of 2010’s “The Movies” and featured a six piece rock band. The line-up changed constantly during the next two years, occasionally featuring 2 percussionists and keyboards, and other times stripped down to Steven's guitar and voice. In 2011, Steven and current bass player Gent Laird took part in the 2ndTusq duo competition under the name Crestwood. By the final performance the duo had time-warped to the 1950s and were surprised to find themselves quite comfortable there: Gent had put away the electric bass in favour of a stand up, the fellas were wearing suits, and Steven was crooning like Sinatra. Owing largely to their outstanding performance in the finals (and perhaps in part to those suits), Crestwood finished as the first runners-up.
The band went back to its usual line-up changes after the competition, but a new seed had been planted. Gent began introducing Steven to classic jazz artists and albums - in the tour van on the way to shows they were listening to Oscar Peterson, Duke Ellington, and Miles Davis; later exploring the likes of Cannonball Adderley, Charles Mingus, and Joe Pass. As that seed lay dormant for the next two years, Crestwood continued to play rock shows locally and across Western Canada with various drummers. Despite the great musicians playing with them, the response was never the same as when they performed as a duo, and the moments of genuine musical connection were fewer and farther between. At the same time Maier found himself ready to begin writing the next album, but wrestled with new songs for months as his proficiency at guitar caught up with the ideas in his head. At some point he could no longer ignore the fact that he was learning to play jazz guitar, and embraced jazz elements in his own pop infused writing.
Today, in a different basement somewhere in Saskatoon, Steven and Gent are moulding a new sound, writing new songs and rearranging old jazz standards, and generally enjoying their new creative freedom. During live shows, which they now play exclusively as a duo, Gent and Steven contour and shape the music as they play. Improvisation is a vital part of what makes Crestwood so interesting to hear live, and they believe that inspiring musical moments are not planned, but rather happen naturally when players are listening to each other and celebrating the environment they are playing in. Their simpler instrumentation strengthens these moments at the same time as it evokes a sense of nostalgia for a simpler time. Crestwood is excited to entertain audiences with their genuine, distinct brand of music.