Common Chords By Randall Hill
A strand of dark brown hair partially covers the face of 17-year-old Steve Pethel as he emphasizes a note recently during a practice session at his parent’s home in North Myrtle Beach. The rising North Myrtle Beach High School senior has used his skills with songwriting and music to help make it through the sometimes tough and turbulent teenage years. “The message I want to tell is just getting out the fact that we’ve all got a story. We’ve all been through the same troubles. You are not alone. I want people to hear my music and go, ‘ I’m not the only one that feels like this.’ I want to pull every one together.”
Playing the guitar started early for Pethel. His father Steve Pethel Sr. got his oldest son playing chords at the age of 7. The influences of seeing the elder Pethel gigging at local bars and restaurants set in motion the continuing legacy of music for the family.
“I want to send out a message of truth, honesty and really being who you are,” the young Pethel said after playing one of his signature songs about relationships. His compositions are honest and straightforward and sometimes dark. It’s almost as if he is channeling the spirit of J. D. Salinger’s Holden Caulfield with song only in a more edgy, modern feel.
“I’ve struggled with a lot of friends getting into drugs and getting into trouble. Songwriting has been like an escape. I can come home and with my guitar get it out of me by just writing how I feel. I put bits and pieces together and it forms an expression.”
Pethel works constantly honing his skills as a songwriter. “Since the time I wake up till the time I go to sleep, I’m playing the guitar. I put it down to eat and drink and that’s about it. I feel more comfortable with a guitar in hand than not having anything there.”
Pethel has started performing live, which has helped the young troubadour to connect with other like-minded musicians in the area. With the help of his mother, Sue Pethel, Pethel has started to show his talents at local open mics and music venues.
“It really helps to have that there,” he said about songwriting. “Sometimes you feel like you’re breaking down. Everything is going to somewhere bad. You just go in your room and write music. It saves you.”
Please check out these exclusively music only videos performed for Common Chords.
Sound recorded by James Rimes
Steve Pethel performs "Never Meant to Hurt You"
Steve Pethel performs "Good Friend"
Steve Pethel performs "Out of Your Way"