Steve Allen has been one of the most active and influential players on the Tulsa, OK music scene since the late '70s, and long ago got used to people mistaking him for that television personality who plays the piano, makes deadpan comments, and wears glasses. Actually, the Tulsa Allen does have one important thing in common with the Hollywood celebrity, and that is versatility. Although he first established himself as a guitar slinger and vocalist, and continued appearing as a session guitarist from time to time throughout his career, the later stages of Allen's development feature a cornucopia of creative talents including keyboards, mandolin, vibraphone, and bass and production expertise including engineering and mixing. He has a real ear for instruments, often tweaking an arrangement or mix just right by the introduction of a 12-string guitar or the honky-sounding Wurlitzer keyboard.
Allen can claim success with almost the first puff of the pipe, creating the enduring 20/20 band out of a musical relationship with high school buddy Ron Flynt, a bassist and vocalist. Of course, any musician in Tulsa will have thoughts about leaving, and this pair decided to relocate to Los Angeles in 1977.
With the necessary addition of Mike Gallo on drums, 20/20 began playing local clubs, resulting in Bomp honcho Greg Shaw focusing his own, quite often sharp vision on the Tulsa refugees.
"Under the Freeway," a power pop anthem as well as a common local hangout, was their first single and led to a deal with the Portrait label. By 1982, Allen and his collaborators were feeling disappointed with what the group had achieved and 20/20 basically disbanded for more than a decade.
Allen himself was not particularly active on the national scene during the period prior to a '90s resurgence in interest in 20/20. In the second half of that decade the group created two new projects, and Allen himself sprang into action on a variety of fronts. He used his experience to help craft collections of songs by upcoming songwriters, some of them from Tulsa. His instrumental palette widened, and so did his range of stylistic influences. Predictably enough for anyone who has spent so much time in Oklahoma, country music strode in. The Things Fall Apart CD by Lonesome Bob is a good example of Allen's heading in the alternative country direction as a producer, plus he picks some nice mandolin.
In and Out of Light, his first recording under his own name, was released in 2001. ~ Eugene Chadbourne