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Over the last decade Connecticut native Stephen Kellogg has performed more than 1500 concerts around the world, raised thousands of dollars for causes close to his heart, been named Armed Forces Entertainer of the Year, and penned singles for artists like "American Idol" winner Nick Fradiani and legendary guitarist Robert Randolph. He's also had his songs covered by international major label acts and released eight albums of his own that have yielded hundreds of thousands of ticket and album sales.
When it comes to performing, CBS radio has called him "the best live act you've never seen" and another writer for No Depression gives him the oddly flattering title "the best songwriter you're not listening to." Filmmaker Peter Harding was so moved by the underground nature of Stephen's story that he made a documentary called "Last Man Standing" which went on to become an Amazon exclusive film. While it's true that Kellogg may not currently be a household name to everyone, he has persisted in building a substantial career that has landed him onstage with some of the biggest and best touring bands in the world (Train, Sugarland, Jason Isbell, Sara Bareilles, Hanson and OAR to name a few). Kellogg's music has found it's way onto the Billboard charts and been featured in numerous films and TV shows. His Americana-tinged, folk, pop and rock stylings can make his sound hard to define, but to his core this musician and father of four brings heart and incredible energy to everything he does.
Pete Muller's newest album, Two Truths and a Lie, is driven by the same themes that shape his life: connection and growth.
Some people know Muller as a pioneer in quant investing. Not as many know that, while he was emerging as a giant in the financial world, he was also busking in New York City subways, sharing his original and wholehearted songs with harried New York City commuters.
This journey has given Muller an unusual perspective.
“There are times in your life when you’re in flow,” Muller says, “when there is nothing but joy and love in your heart, and everything feels like it is meant to be. You’re completely relaxed, but energized and aware at the same time. To me, success in life is about being in that state as often as possible.”
That state informs everything about Two Truths and a Lie. And it's one of the reasons Muller's songs tend to capture audiences on first listen. On the new album, he's joined by his long-time trio members Skip Ward on bass and Kyle Rowland on drums. Cameos include well-known artists such as trombonist Walter Hawkes. The album was produced by Rick DePofi, whose credits include Rosanne Cash’s Grammy-winning The River & The Thread.
Muller's lyrics tend toward the honest and the straightforward, echoing the best of songwriters like Shawn Colvin, Patty Griffin, and Elvis Costello – to name a few who've inspired Muller to connect and grow. Muller was trained early in jazz improvisation and honed his skills hosting a songwriting circle in New York City.
When people get to know Muller better, they discover other intriguing aspects to his story, such as his interest in crossword puzzles. “The first crossword puzzle I submitted to the NY Times was rejected,” Muller says, reflecting on the ways growth has shaped his life, “but with an encouraging note that made me want to do better. I kept going.” Muller has since published several crosswords in the Times, and he even runs a music-themed crossword contest.
Most recently, as a Berklee College of Music Trustee, Muller partnered with the music school and the City of New York to renovate and revitalize the storied Power Station Recording Studios in New York. With an emphasis on “reinventing” music education, the new facility will concentrate on continuing education for school-age children, teacher training, and providing internships to current Berklee students. Muller's vision is to give back to the musical community, and create an environment where evolving musicians are allowed to reach their creative potential.
Do better. Keep going. Muller's message is as simple as it is inspiring.