Steam Machine

Originally formed in Minneapolis in 2017, Steam Machine brought to the national stage a midwest influenced string band aesthetic that didn’t draw such hard lines between bluegrass and old time music. Combining smooth, powerful fiddling with rolling three finger banjo and front-of-the-beat rhythm backup, the resulting sound was “bright and fresh,” commanding, and “suspiciously entertaining.” Fronted by award winning, in-demand Minneapolis fiddler AJ Srubas and Twin Cities old time music/dance instigator Rina Rossi, with the support of other gifted musicians, “Steam Machine a stout example of the vitality of fiddle music up north these days.” (Old Time Herald)

Soon after forming, the group decided to compete in the traditional band contest at the Appalachian String Band Music Festival in West Virginia. Better known as Clifftop, the event is perhaps the largest annual gathering of old time musicians in the country. After having to come back on stage for two spontaneous tie breaker rounds, Steam Machine was awarded second place finalist in the 2017 contest. In 2018 they competed and landed second in the finals again, recorded and released a full length album, and began performing around the country in settings ranging from festivals to concerts to square dances. They have shared bills with old time icons like Bruce Molsky and Foghorn Stringband, and opened for diverse bluegrass acts from the Arcadian Wild to Peter Rowan.

While not purists, Steam Machine does listen closely to the “old stuff” and strives to capture the essence of what makes these tunes and songs special, as they hear it. The project continues to be an evolving vehicle for playing music they love and honoring the brilliance left behind by old time heroes like Lyman Enloe, Cyril Stinnett, and more. Equally comfortable playing for an old time/bluegrass loving crowd or listeners that are brand new to these sounds, Steam Machine aspires to keep midwest style old time music alive and well wherever they’re found.

In addition to performing, band members are actively involved in perpetuating roots music and dance traditions as players, teachers, and organizers in their home communities and beyond.

AJ Srubas has played and taught fiddle for over 20 years, from the Augusta Heritage Center to the Berkeley Old-Time Music Convention. Early in his fiddling years he met Chirps Smith who introduced AJ to the lesser known old-time repertoire of the Midwest. Other influences on his old-time playing include Dwight Lamb and Al Murphy who in turn played with Cyril Stinnett, Lyman Enloe, and Gene Goforth. Rina Rossi first came to old time music as a clogger and then square dance caller, performing across the midwest and Europe with the Wild Goose Chase Cloggers. She later took up bass and guitar and enjoys laying down a strong beat as a foundation for fiddle and banjo. They are joined by other gifted musicians from the midwest and around the country.

Past Shows


Jan
15
th
2024
Turf Club
Jan
15
th
2024
Turf Club

The Cactus Blossoms

January 2024 Monday Residency

★ Local Show ★
with Steam Machine

More Shows

Jun
9
th
First Avenue

Burning Spear

with Kabaka Pyramid
Jun
25
th
7th St Entry

Barely Trev

with Chase Elliott and Izek Rose
Jun
16
th
Turf Club

Emily Nenni

Jun
12
th
Turf Club

Arkansauce