BY JEFF ELBEL | FOR SUN-TIMES MEDIA
Steve Wynn’s career path isn’t straight. It’s a maze in which many become happily lost. With roughly thirty albums and numerous groups, any entry point reveals musical treasure. “Wherever anybody wants to get on is fine by me,” says Wynn. “I’m glad to take newcomers and guide them through the twists and turns.”
Wynn’s solo acoustic show at FitzGerald’s should thrill veterans and rookies alike. “I can choose from any point in my career, and take it back to where the song was written while sitting on a couch,” he says. “The solo shows are very interactive. Everyone’s along for the ride.”
Many fans were introduced to Wynn through The Dream Syndicate, which fused Television’s improvisational twin-guitar excursions with snarling Neil Young feedback and the Velvet Underground’s heady drone. Featuring the discontented “Tell Me When It’s Over,” 1982’s “The Days of Wine and Roses” helped lay the blueprint for ‘80s alternative and psychedelic rock. A revealing radio session called “The Day Before Wine and Roses” was reissued in February.
The Dream Syndicate’s sporadic reunion schedule included last year’s Old Town School of Folk Music show. “So much for folk music,” says Wynn, nonetheless remembering the venue fondly. “We definitely turned it up that night, but no one seemed too shocked.”
Wynn’s work with the the Miracle 3 is among his most potent. The band’s super-charged rocker “Amphetamine” from 2003’s “Static Transmission” has emerged as one of Wynn’s signature songs. “I’m not saying you should do amphetamines or drink a triple espresso,” says Wynn with a laugh. “You could spend three hours at the gym or do whatever gets you to that place where you feel invincible.”
Wynn has a home run with The Baseball Project, an alt-pop loving sports fan’s dream. The recent album “3rd” includes “The Baseball Card Song.” Wynn sings about other kids who put cards between their bicycle spokes, while he prized his own collection. “Like favorite songs, they remind you of times in your life,” he says.
Among bristling post-punk originals on Wynn’s newly released “Sketches in Spain” is a cover of “Never Been to Spain.” Wynn was surprised that his Spanish collaborator Paco Loco didn’t know Three Dog Night’s #5 hit version. “Nor did anybody I met over there,” he says. “But they all knew the version by Elvis, which might explain how showy and brass-driven our recording became. It was super fun to make.”