Stephen Eckstrom was forever in trouble as a kid for drumming on his desk in school.
â€śIt was a sign, I guess,â€ť he said.
Over the years this Lakelands resident has found a more productive outlet for his music.
â€śI have always loved music,â€ť he explained. â€śI took piano as a child, which I didnâ€™t really like. For years, I was a collector of music and had over 1,000 albums. I was a DJ and really liked putting together sets as well.â€ť
Eckstromâ€™s passion for music took a decided turn when he picked up a toy harmonica one day on a lark. After friends told him his playing sounded pretty good, he called a local band that performed at the Star Diner and asked if he could sit in.
â€śThey told me to learn a specific song and to call back when I had,â€ť said Eckstrom. â€śWell, I called back a week later and sat in for that one song during the bandâ€™s set. Afterwards they told me I could sit in any time. Having no idea how I sounded, I was amazed. I knew I could sing but didnâ€™t really have a sense whether the harmonica sounded good or bad.â€ť
Thus, at age 50, a performer was born. Eckstrom now leads the blues-based band Almost Blue and is a member of the group The Crossing. Both bands perform locally, and he has become plugged into the local music scene.
â€śSometimes local club owners will ask [for] my help in finding performers. We are a very supportive group. When we are not performing, we often go out and watch othersâ€™ bands or sit in for a song or two.â€ť
That type of networking is second nature to Eckstrom. â€śI love putting people together and networking,â€ť he says.
His day job in marketing and customer service at York Flowers in Washington, D.C., is a reflection of that love of people as well.
Not only is Eckstrom sharing music with the public, but he is passing it down through the generations as well. â€śMy father was a professional singer, and my 16-year-old daughter is a classically trained pianist and budding vocalist. I recently gave her a ukulele that was my grandfatherâ€™s, and she showed great interest in learning to play it.â€ť
Eckstrom is a firm believer in following his inner voice. â€śThis opportunity sort of presented itself to me, and I was lucky even at age 50 to be able to identify it and take this journey. This life is a limited trip, and sometimes you have to pull your head out of the ground and follow a different path.â€ť
Writing and recording are both next steps on Eckstromâ€™s musical journey.
â€śI find with music that when you love it, it just flows through you,â€ť he says. Which explains a lot about drumming on that desk all those years ago.
Almost Blue is scheduled to play in the Star Diner Concert Series on Sept. 1 from 7 â€“ 10 p.m. in Kentlands Downtown.