Note to Readers
We critics should stand proudly behind our opinions, it's true, but there will always be those who say, "What gives you the right to judge?" Not that it will make my exquisite prose stylings any more or less authoritative, but I thought it might amuse you to read my long history of failure in show business and say, "Oh, so he's completely unqualified to judge!" It's arranged in chronological order by the date on which I joined the group. Note that the fact I played an instrument in the band does not mean I possess any degree of skill on it.
Abraham and Dennis have their own entries after mine.
Since 1987, I have operated (and by operate I mean keep tapes in a spare room and make copies whenever someone wants one) Crabapple Tapes Company, distributor of all the recordings listed on this page. If you're interested in purchasing anything, please contact me for more information. Items marked with an asterisk are also available on CD. I've linked to published reviews, as well. I am currently upgrading the entire Crabapple catalog to digital as time permits - the early items available on CD are now part of the "Crabapple Classics" reissue series.
The Pseudonyms Tenure: 1985-present Instrument played: On stage, acoustic guitar and backing vocal; on recordings, guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, saxophone, vocals Style: folk-punk/post-pub/acoustic soul/thrashabilly (we've developed a distinct brand of music that I can't really categorize) Gigs: dozens, including several outdoor festivals; our most active period was 1994-1996, but we still play occasionally Recordings:
The Prevention and Cure of the Modern-Day Consumer, 1987*
Death Valley He-Man Woman-Haters' Society Clubhouse Marching Band, 1988*
Tocsin/Toxin [two albums in one package], 1997 [REVIEW]
In the Throes of Musical Ecstasy [live], 1998
Apotheosis Now, 1999* [REVIEW] Notes: The Pseudonyms consist of Ian Kabell and myself; we met in the eighth grade when Ian moved next door to me. Our story has many parallels to the famous saga of Low-Maintenance Perennials - years of making low-fidelity recordings in the basement, finally starting up a stage act, playing out to largely indifferent audiences, and finally acceptance that our fate was not to be the next Ween. We improved considerably over the years. For Apotheosis Now we pooled our savings and made a CD of our "greatest hits" in an actual studio with talented musicians. Since then I got married and had Abe, so things have slowed down a little, but we're still working on new songs.
Mt. Pleasant High School Marching Band Tenure: 1986-1987 Instrument played: Tenor saxophone Style: Marches & show tunes Gigs: Half-time of every home football game Reason for termination: Failure to convince the rest of the band to march on the same foot as me
The Kowalski Trio Tenure: 1986-1987 Instrument played: Bass, keyboards, banjo Style: Minimalist/aleatory instrumental rock Reason for termination: Transitioned into the act known as "John and Steve Knowlton" Recordings:Twist and Shout, 1987*
Schafer & Knowlton Tenure: Spring 1989 Instrument played: Bass, harmonica, vocal Style: Original guitar rock Gigs: High school talent show Reason for termination: Sang a number offensive to librarians, was later banned from that facility
John & Steve Knowlton Tenure: 1988-1990 Instrument played: Bass, vocal Style: Politically-oriented neo-folk Gigs: Several coffee house gigs Reason for termination: John hooked up with another group Recordings:Mene, Mene, Tekel, Parsin, 1989*
Solo work Tenure: 1989-1999 Instrument played: Drums, bass, guitars, keyboards, saxophone, vocal Style: Same as the Pseudonyms, but less punk and more folk Gigs: A few open mic nights Reason for termination: Sold my drums when the neighbors started complaining Recordings:
People Are Coldcuts, Too., 1990
A Whole 'Nother Thing, 1992
Steve Knowlton Jumps on the Country Bandwagon, 1992 [REVIEW]
Knowlton Road, 1999*
Blue Dog Studio ad hoc band Tenure: one week in 1990 Instrument played: Bass Style: Classic rock covers Reason for termination: Fired for incompetence
Gratiot County Players' Godspell pit orchestra Tenure: three weeks in 1993 Instrument played: Acoustic guitar & ukulele Style:Godspell, the musical Reason for termination: The show ended its run
The Salesmen Tenure: 1996-1997 Instrument played: Drums Style: Alt-country Gigs: Four, including a radio show Reason for termination: Guitarist moved to New York without telling us Recordings:Anthology, 1997
Peppermint Lounge Tenure: three weeks in 1997 Instrument played: Bass, drums Style: Psychedelic lounge music interspersed with ska Reason for termination: Was hired to replace bassist who moved to Europe; he moved back
Rhythm Jones Tenure: one week in 1998 Instrument played: bass Style: Classic rock covers Reason for termination: Fired in favor of previously fired bassist who wanted a second chance
Phlip Tenure: 1998-2000 Instrument played: Bass Style: Christian folk Gigs: Occasional church services around Michigan Recordings:Phlip, 1998* [previously issued as Pony Tail Preacher]
The Keith Meisel Conglomerate Tenure: 1998-1999 Instrument played: Bass Style: Original guitar-rock, "Hendrix meets Paul Simon" Gigs: One Reason for termination: Guitarist decided he lacked necessary inspiration to continue
Steve Knowlton and the Knowl-Tones Tenure: 1999-2001 Instrument played: Guitar, lead vocals Style: Garage pop Gigs: About one a month, mostly in bars Reason for termination: Imminent birth of Abe Recordings: