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ABOUT STEPHEN UNDERWOOD
 
 
   
“A fantastic drummer”, “An Accent Drummer”, “That Drummer Knows What He’s Doing” and “Simply the Best Drummer in Gospel Music on the West Coast” is often heard when talking about Stephen Underwood.

Stephen grew up in a very musical family. His Great Grandpa TJ Palmer & Great Uncle Merle Norton used to play fiddle in Oklahoma.  His uncle Merle Norton also competed on fiddle at the Grand Ole Opry.  Stephen's family had gone to Church with and knew Semie Moseley who founded Mosrite Guitars as well as some of the Mosrite employees and His Grandfather "Joe Underwood" was a regular singer on a Bakersfield local Christian Radio program in the 1950s. In 1974, Two of Stephen's uncle's "Mark Underwood" & "Steve Johnson" and His Father "Bill Underwood" formed "The Lighthouse Boys"; a Southern Gospel Quartet still going almost 40 years later.  By the time Stephen was age 6 he had already been around the Buckaroos as well as many other well known musicians.

Stephen has always been a drummer of multiple styles, soaking up his influences from listening to such legends as Buddy Rich, Herb Brochstein, Keith Moon, Matt Sorum, Louie Weaver, Robert Sweet and Steve Smith.  Stephen began playing Tambourine at age 2 and then Drums by the age of 3 by dragging out the pots and pans from his mothers kitchen; by Christmas of 1979 He had his first drum set under the Christmas Tree.  After having 2 Jr Sets, finally at the age of 11 He was given a 3 piece vintage set by a friend and mentor, also that same year Stephen played his first Recording Studio Session at Maximus Recording Studios in Fresno, CA as a Tambourine player, engineer Jeff Hall pulled a chair up to the recording console and told Stephen to watch everything He does; this was the session that sparked Stephen’s interest in Recording.

At the age of 12, Stephen officially became The Lighthouse Boys drummer and he got a 7 piece vintage drum set.  Stephen also attended Standard Jr High School in Bakersfield, CA where He joined the Standard Warrior Band under the new direction of DR. Rayford Grady Walls, Jr.  Under Mr Walls' leadership, Stephen learned the basics of learning to read Drum notes, the importance of Time and how to write his own notes.

In the fall of 1990, Stephen entered the studio for the 2nd time and for the first time as the Drummer for The Lighthouse Boys, it was this time The Lighthouse Boys schedule started to pick back up drastically, by 1994 The Lighthouse Boys had already began touring outside of California and finally re-entered "Fat Tracks Recording Studio" (formerly Buck Owens Recording Studio) in Bakersfield, CA.  It was there that Stephen began to draw more studio experience from watching and talking to Engineer Max Reese (Korn, Tom Petty, Big House).  Stephen would go on to record several sessions at Fat Track with The Lighthouse Boys from 1994-1997, Stephen calls this time some of the most influential sessions in His life, working with both Max Reese and Dollywood award winning pianist/producer & friend "Tracy Heaston."  It was also during these years, The Lighthouse Boys really moved out of the confines of the west and toured thru-out the US becoming the next national California based Gospel artist.  They talked to several labels, eventually inking a deal with "Lamp Music Group."

In the 90s Stephen also began branching out joining a side band called "Sudden Storm," after that band broke up, He and a couple of former members including Stephen's brother "Tommy Smith" started another side band in 1995 called "Images of Christ"; the band would go through several lineup changes, until Stephen shut it down in January 1999.  Stephen also began joining the "Watchmen Quartet" on major stage events such as the WSGMA Memorial Day and Labor Day events and The Great Western Quartet Convention.  In 1999 it was during a GWQC performance with The Watchmen Quartet that brought Stephen a chance of a life time to play for legendary Dr. James Blackwood of the Blackwood Brothers which would be the last time James Blackwood would perform at the Selland Arena, Fresno, CA.

In 2001, The Lighthouse Boys began sessions at Oreely Multi-Media, a small home studio owned by Mark Yeary (Merle Haggard).  Stephen said "I was enjoying these sessions very well, I remember I didn't feel nervous or tense what so ever, Mark Yeary was drawing out some really creative stuff musically."  In 2008 Stephen and his brother and "Images of Christ" band mate "Tommy Smith" agreed to finally launch their own Recording Studio, "NashvilleWest Productions".  During that same year Stephen also became friends with former Capitol Records & Hightone Records recording artist "Bobby Durham" and set in on a couple of songs with the band.  Between 2008 and 2009 Stephen added Country Music and Classic Rock to his repertoire of bands He has helped out.

In 2010, Stephen re-joined a couple of former Images of Christ members in a Christian Rock band called “Red Letter Edition.”  Their debut EP was recorded at NashvilleWest Productions and was released in April 2011.  Now at age 37, Stephen is playing for “RLE”, “The Lighthouse Boys” & "Blue Diamonds" from Long Beach, CA.  As of 2012, Stephen is playing J&B Custom Drums from Las Vegas, NV.  His snare was built by owner Jim Brown and is the first of what Stephen feels will be many years with a great dedicated Drum company.   Stephen has future plans for a Jazz Duet with his brother “Tommy Smith”, and plans for his first solo drum album in the works.

 

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