Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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‘Evening of Stories and Songs’ — Evanston’s Steve Rashid takes on his own Studio5

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Sammy Krimstein/The Daily Northwestern
Rashid founded Studio 5 with his wife, Béa Rashid.

Evanston musician Steve Rashid (Bienen M.M. ’83) hosts a jazz series called “Live at Studio5” most spring and fall weekends. Rashid, who founded the venue Studio5 with his wife Béa Rashid, typically opens each show by introducing local jazz artists to the Evanston community. This weekend, though, he was the one being introduced.

On Friday and Saturday night, he sang a few covers and debuted his 2023 EP, “is it beautiful there?”

Rashid, an Emmy-winning composer and Bienen School of Music alum, said he considers himself a “musical omnivore,” consuming and creating music of many genres. While he comes from a jazz background, Rashid has always fought against labels. Instrumentally, he primarily focuses on playing keyboards, harmonica and singing, but he says he can play plenty of other instruments as well.

“He’s very down-to-earth, and a very genuine, loving person,” said Bobby McSweeney, an audio engineering intern at Studio5.

In addition to managing operations at Studio5, which functions as a dance studio during the week and a performance venue on the weekends, he founded his studio in Evanston, Woodside Avenue Music Productions, where he works with local artists from a variety of genres.

He has scored short films for fellow NU alumni and former Saturday Night Live cast members Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Brad Hall (Communication ’80) — and has also composed for television, theatre and dance, receiving 25 national awards for his work.

Rashid said he accumulated bits and pieces of his own songs for a potential solo project through the decades. He said he always had something “bubbling in the background,” but he was unable to cross the finish line.

Rashid said he knew he was crafting something special during the COVID-19 pandemic. As he wrote, Rashid said he felt the presence of his late brother and realized that the song he had been creating was for him.

“I really do think that love is eternal,” Rashid said. “I just feel like he’s still around.”

He finished the song honoring his late brother, titled “whereareyouwhoami,” and soon churned out five other pieces — enough for an EP. He said writing the EP was like a “floodgate opened” and that he couldn’t finish fast enough.

Rashid said much of his inspiration and love for music stems from his father, Bob Rashid, who passed away when he was in high school.

He said he vividly remembers being with his father when he fell in love with music. Growing up in Ripon, Wisconsin, he recalled the frustration of being last chair out of all the trumpet players in his junior high school band. Just as he was on the brink of quitting, his father gave him some words of wisdom: anything worth having is “worth working for.”

Rashid decided to stick with the trumpet. By the end of eighth grade, he worked his way to first chair. Not long afterward, he bought his father a Louis Armstrong record, and Rashid was moved to tears at the first note.

Rashid said he knew at that moment that music was his calling.

“It felt like someone had just told me this great secret, and I needed to tell everybody,” Rashid said.

At this weekend’s performances, Rashid shared that secret with Studio5’s sold-out crowd.

Hugs, laughter and old memories filled the room as NU friends, musical collaborators and family came together to support Rashid and his band. As Béa introduced her husband at the start of the show, she took note of all the familiar faces in the audience.

“I feel I know everybody in the room,” she said.

Rashid played a variety of tunes at his shows this weekend, including a cover by one of his jazz heroes, Mose Allison, a song reminiscing about teaching his now-grown son (who played drums for the performance) how to ride a bike, and comedic piece with lyrics entirely made of former President George W. Bush quotes.

With every number, Rashid said he made sure to tell a personal story.

“I always think of music as a language,” Rashid said. “Somehow it’s connecting to our hearts in ways that we don’t really understand.”

Email: [email protected]
X: @skrimstein

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