"Mark Stepakoff is a songwriter's songcrafter. While he creates vivid tales of love and life that are close to his heart, Stepakoff maintains a universal message that resonates well with all who listen. On his latest well penned offering, "Any Port In A Storm", Stepakoff delivers an inventive collection of tunes that feature love, commemorative rememberance, gunmaking, sausage ingredients, the weather, bad recall, enduring love and a couple of April Fools. Well recorded and produced, al the songs vibrate with beautiful sentiment even when Stepakoff turns on his unique wit. Favored tracks include the revealing opening track, "Fires Gotta Burn", the meticulously crafted "Memory Museum", the clever prose of "Rottweilers", the enlightening "I Didn't Come This Far (To Only Come This Far)", and the uplifting jaunt of "April Fools" featuring a vocal duet with singer Rose Polenzani." - Metronome Magazine on "Any Port In A Storm"
"Fires Gotta Burn" is a killer opening track, somewhat reminiscent of the ice-cool stylings of Mark Knopfler. The remaining tracks, nearly all of them equally good, run the gamut from sweetly melancholic ("Memory Museum"; "I Didn't Come This Far") to jaunty country hokum ("Excuse Me for Living"; "Rottweilers") to slice-of-life tomfoolery (the excellent, John Prine-esque "Making Guns"; the gruesome and jolly "The Sausage Factory," reminiscent of the Holy Modal Rounders) to spare and stark love songs ("Talk About the Weather"; "Bad Memory"). Topping it all off are two decidedly odd songs, the mocking and treacly "They're Not Making Love Like That Anymore," and a sweetly swinging duet with Rose Polenzani, "April Fools." Nearly all of these songs are highly entertaining, written with wit and performed with verve. I would go to see this performer anytime. Highly recommended." - The Noise on "Any Port In A Storm"
A top 5 selection for November 2013: " One of the finest recordings you'll hear from any artist locally or nationally . . . Stepakoff is a poet of the highest order . . . Outstanding!" - Metronome Magazine on "The Story Behind The Story"
"Just listened to a rarity -- an album where EVERY song is an A+. His name is Mark Stepakoff . . . This is one of the best songwriters I have ever heard." - Christine Lavin on "The Story Behind The Story"
"These are great songs, very John Prine. It's easy to be funny, but much harder to be witty, and make it look [so] effortless" - Mark Erelli on "The Story Behind The Story
"I've really only got three things to say about "The Story Behind The Story" - love it, love it, love it. As a freeform DJ of 17 years standing I have kissed a lot of frogs to find a prince and [this] album is one of those rare princes" - Eddie White, The Cosmic Cowboy Cafe 88.5 FM Sydney, Australia
"Easy swayin' country tunes, laugh out loud lyrics and kind of a sweet nostalgia.
This is super-heartfelt writing and smart rhymes -- each song a little box to open -- love this!" - CD Baby Customer Review of "The Story Behind The Story"
"Boston singer-songwriter Mark Stepakoff's third CD, "Some Assembly Required"
features the sort of cynical and humorous lyrics associated with Warren Zevon
delivered in a style also reminiscent of John Prine. . . . [Mark's] trademark
wordplay is on display in "Some Assembly Required" , "Vicarious" and the
hilarious ode to an indigestible breakfast after a severe hangover, the Tex-Mex
flavored "Huevos Rancheros". . . . But the best song comes at the end of the CD,
"When Vernon Moved From Tupelo", a slow song that tells the tale about the move
from Tupelo to Memphis of the then 13 year old Elvis Presley. A wonderful song
with beautiful violin and equally beautiful harmony vocals from Joyce Andersen.
. . . Along with his previous album "There Goes The Neighborhood", "Some
Assembly Required" confirms Mark Stepakoff's place in the upper echelon of
songwriters to emerge so far this century." - Rootstime
"Mark Stepakoff's "Some Assembly Required" explores the ups and downs of relationships, and alcoholic beverages, with altcountry blues melodies and a humorous touch. . . .Sounding like John Prine meets Steve Earle with Warren Zevon lending a hand, Mark has delivered another CD worthy of radio airplay." - Altcountry Forum
"Mark Stepakoff's genius is reflected in his musical ability, style, and lyrics. It is what I would call "happy music." I find myself singing along with his songs and, when I am off doing other things, his catchy tunes invariably find their way into an audible display. While actively listening, a sense of identification with experiences resounded in his lyrics stirs me, and is sureto reach a vast audience. When passively listening, his music makes me smile and feel a sense of joy. His story telling abilities remind me of Slaid Cleaves, Todd Snider, Hayes Carll, Greg Klyma, and Fred Eaglesmith. Mark's musical career is sure to go a long way." - CD Baby Customer Review of "Some Assembly Required"
"Boston-based singer-songwriter Mark Stepakoff certainly deserves to be a national folk figure, up there with the likes of Christine Lavin and Jonathan Richman. The clever lyrics in the title track describe living next door to the blues and the troubles, but mention that "A funny thing's been happening since you and I did meet / There are moving trucks all up and down the street," giving new meaning to the phrase "There goes the neighborhood." The creative rhymes found in "Worst Cast Scenario" will put a smile on your face (Lake Ontario and Lothario), while acoustic guitar and pedal steel keep the music humming along beautifully. "Barbecue Sauce" could be the next commercial jingle for Heinz . or Crest toothpaste: "When the meal's over, don't forget to brush and floss / I wish they made a toothpaste that tastes like barbecue sauce." It's impossible not to chuckle while listening to Stepakoff's unbeatably original songs; There Goes the Neighborhood should find its way home to your collection."- Performing Songwriter
"In the '60s, we had Shel Silverstein offering humorous songs with a bite. In 2006, we can turn to Mark Stepakoff to perform this vital service, and this album is an excellent introduction to his work. Mark has a way with words and he knows how to add the right piece of music to complement the lyrics and sentiments. "Worst Case Scenario" is probably one the most unusual love ditties you will hear in many a year. Yet the sentiments are true. I never expected to hear a catalogue of disasters incorporated into true romance. But Mark is not all about fun. Listen closely to "Regrets Only" and find a new perspective on how that innocuous phrase we see almost every day can bring heartbreak. The magic of this writer is how he can see this connection and then write a song about it. The love theme continues with "It Ain't Over," another lovely song about a dilemma brought about by love. "Amanda Peet" is his rather offbeat love song to the actress and a diatribe against overly thin people. Maybe if he has a crush on Amanda he could take his own advice as on "Means to an End." "Mighty Sam McClain" is a story/song and tribute to the blues legend of that name. It is also a chronicle of changing music popularity; as he says, "soul turned into disco and Sam lost his way." One of the best tracks on offer is "General Gao." Here again we get some history but also some fun. Who ever connected ancient Chinese wars with takeout food? Stepakoff does and ordering Chinese will never be the same. The saying goes that we should hide our profound messages in the long grass. Mark hides his in humour and it hits home all the more powerfully for that."-Rambles.net
"Wry, whimsical and with eye-in-habitual-wink mode, Mark Stepakoff has a most unique musical view of this world. Yes, he writes and sings about relationships, the proverbial mother lode for those who make a living with wordplay, but he does it in his especially own way. Exhibit A appears with the initial cut: rather than sing sweet praises of his newfound love in "There Goes The Neighborhood," Stepakoff words come out this way:
"Around the corner where the troubles used to be
Well it's said that they left town quite unexpectedly
And it seems the hurts and sorrows are just nowhere to be found
They last were seen the day you came around..."
Exhibit B, the second song, employs a similar method of communication:
"I could jump out of an airplane, then realize my parachute won't operate
I could be on board a sinking ship where white sharks are known to congregate
I could be beaten, robbed and left for dead, stark naked in the middle of the barrio
But to have to live without your love, well that would be worse case scenario..."
The trifecta is achieved with "If She Wasn't Half Bad," about the dark side of a woman being the attraction. Staying in the same eccentric mode, Stepakoff offers sweet nothings to a trio of Hollywood actresses in the caloric-obsessed "Amanda Peet." Adding Julia Roberts and Sandra Bullock to the mix of actresses he swears by, his only complaint is that they all need a heftier girth. "Means to an End" provides insight into the strategic planning, including measureables and timelines, involved in wooing and acquiring a new flame.
Some smart ad agency will pick up Stepakoff's "Barbecue Sauce" for a television spot as he is so head over heels with the condiment that he ends the song with: "Oh Lord I wish they made a toothpaste that tastes like barbecue sauce."
The most unique song is a tribute to a human-turned culinary delight. "General Gao" is a historical Chinese military figure whose name was somehow tranformed into a chicken delicacy. Stepakoff, at his most tongue in cheek, provides these delectables: "He used to order thousands, now thousands order him" and "fearless and courageous, but he's just chicken now."
Also appearing are this trio: an accolade to singer Mighty Sam McClain, a sad tale of never summoning the courage to express one's attraction to an unrequited love, and the ending of a relationship announced by what is first thought to be a robbery--an inside job as Stepakoff calls it. He returns home to discover his partner's clothes closet empty and their bed stripped of linen. Columbo he isn't.
Probably the only thing that's missing here is a remake of "How can I miss you when you won't go away?"
Stepakoff's offerings are set to a large dose of country style music, some folk, a bit of blues and a dash of Western swing. Irony on the side at no extra charge."-Kevin's Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews
"Singer-songwriter-guitarist Mark Stepakoff assembles a talented cast of musicians to accompany him on his new album There Goes The Neighborhood. Guitarist Duke Levine, bassist Sandy Martin, drummer Lorne Entress, Jake Armerding on fiddle, John Curtis on mandolin, dobro, banjo and classical guitar, Tom Eaton on accordion and percussion, keyboardist Larry Luddecke, saxophonist Billy Novick, Mark Erelli, Susan Levine, Lisa Bastoni, Chris Elliott, Oen Kennedy, Rob Siegel;, Marcie Schaefer and Greta Schaefer on backing vocals all show up on the tracks of this lighthearted, upbeat project from Stepakoff that ranges in subject matter from a tribute to Mighty Sam McClain, to the advantages of barbecue sauce (on everything you can eat), as well as an ode to a Chinese food staple, General Gao. Throw in a broken heart and a love affair with Amanda Peet and Stepakoff leaves no stones unturned.
Mark Stepakoff's music is as poignant as it is comical. He's got an acute sense of zeroing in on day-to day occurrences while finding a little bit of humor in it all. Fused to the backdrop of some of the finest playing from some of New England's best musicians and Mark Stepakoff delivers an entertaining CD that spans the generations." -- Metronome Magazine
5 Stars--This CD has so many excellent songs on it. The songs are clever, sweet, funny,
and wonderfully written and produced. I highly recommend it, with personal
favorties being "Amanda Peet", "If She Wasn't Half Bad", "General Gao", "That's
All she Wrote", and "Mighty Sam Mclain". It will make you laugh and feel so
happy that you picked it up. -- CD Baby Customer Review of "There Goes The Neighborhood"
"I really like [There Goes The Neighborhood] . . . The Mighty Sam tune is amazing." -- Holly Harris, WUMB, Boston
"[One of Boston's] Top 10 Unknown or Under-Known Acts . . . Songs [that] give the most bang for the buck. Mark possesses an incredible wit and sensitivity. Buy his CD . . . You'll be glad you did." -- The Noise
"4 out of 5 stars-- My wife and I had the pleasure of seeing Mark at a Town Hall event in Holliston, MA . . . [He was] the last act of the night [and] broke out into a set of 4 -5 very clever, very well written songs, including "Mall Cop" which I defy you to find a comparable song. I found Mark on the way out and bought the CD. Over the course of the next four days I played the CD on the drive to and from work and loved it - even more great songs and some very good back up musicians and singers . . . This guy is a top-drawer songwriter. Do yourself a favor and get this one. -- Amazon.com Customer Review
"Worth the price of admission alone on this CD is 'Singer-Songwriter Hell', a clever and funny takeoff on the folk music scene . . . Yet Stepakoff can play it straight too, recounting a comforting first relationship in the title track." -- Bostonia Magazine on Amateur Hour
"[Amateur Hour is] getting great response from my listeners. [It] will be getting quite a bit of airplay here." -- Lee Bolton, WOBO Radio, Cincinnati
"Amateur Hour [is] great. Wonderful humor and nice, dry, ironic delivery." -- Carlos Alden, KPBX-FM, Spokane
"Good songwriting and good tunes." -- Keri Green, Jefferson Public Radio