By day, Steve Lewis is a commercial/residential painter, by night and every weekend, a national banjo champion. He still lives in Todd, the small mountain community near Boone where he grew up. Steve lives with his wife, DeAnna, and their children, Josh, Scott, and Molly.
Just before his third birthday in 1967, Steve held his first guitar. More than forty years later, he is still picking. By the age of seven, he was listening to his father’s albums, the radio or watching musicians on the television. Influencing Steve during this time were Tony Rice and close-by neighbor in Deep Gap, Doc Watson. Not only did Steve spend his time picking the guitar, but by age ten he began playing the banjo. This self-taught picker’s heroes included J.D. Crowe, Earl Scruggs and Tony Trishka.
His father still enjoys telling the stories of “hauling” Steve around the Boone area to pick for everyone who would listen. From entertaining at the local restaurants to playing at nearby Lees-McRae College, Steve fascinated people who enjoyed seeing this wonder boy with a guitar bigger than he was, playing favorites like Foggy Mountain Breakdown. In 1976, he played for the Daniel Boone Cloggers and performed for many at Opryland in Nashville, Tennessee. His first professional gig was as a member of Tommy Faile band.
Steve also played in the noteworthy band, Vintage Blend, and its successors, Ric-O-Chet and Last Run. During his tenure with Ric-O-Chet, the band had a hit, “My Last Run,” written by Willard Gayheart, that was on the national bluegrass charts for four months. Lewis has traveled throughout much of the United States performing and winning contests that have included RenoFest, Galax Old Time Fiddlers Convention, MerleFest, and Walnut Valley. He currently holds the title of Walnut Valley National Bluegrass Banjo Champion, and he placed second in their guitar competition. Despite his many honors, Lewis, a genuinely modest man, makes light of being an award-winning musician and a true champion, and he quickly deflects the praise and recognizes others.
Steve Lewis is in demand as a teacher. He gives banjo and guitar lessons in his home; however, his waiting list can be long. Several of his students have won contests and have established successful bands of their own. Some of his time is spent in the recording studio producing projects and playing on albums for other musicians.