The Third Step plays music beyond their years

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Bailey MacKinnon, Donovan Stewart; back: Zack Glenen, Nathan Snell, Alex Beaton. 

The Third Step, in my humble opinion is a group of young musicians who present so much promise that I really get excited for them. Their sound offers us quality. Hints of music vintage. Youth. Vitality. And, although this group has only been together for about one year, they have been able to produce a classic rock acoustic sound that seems as though it were years in the making.

The Third Step is made up of lead vocalist Bailey MacKinnon, lead guitar players Donovan Stewart and Alex Beaton, on drums Zack Glenen, with Nathan Snell on bass. They are students at Northumberland Regional High School, ranging from ages 15 to 18.

Our conversation in the Beaton living room in Stellarton starts with Donovan pointing out "we came together because of our music. We were really the least likely people to hang out together at school. The group came about by myself and Zack wanting to start playing more music. We then linked up with Alex, Bailey and Nathan. It was the music that brought us together."

Their name The Third Step derived from a Lynyrd Skynyrd song "Gimmie Three Steps." Donovan explains further, "we're all fans of classic rock and that song we thought represented a new generation rock movement... bringing back old style roots and adding in a new sound." It's a blending of older and newer music styles that has been sculpted to near perfection.

In November the group ventured to Denmark Productions in Halifax where they recorded three songs, two of them originals. The group all agree that the process was a bit challenging at first, especially having to sing and play individually while keeping time to a metronome. The learning process whetted their appetite for more.

"They came into the studio and basically recorded three songs in seven hours, one day. They are focused and know their music," said Dennis Fields, of Denmark Productions, "they really are a band well beyond their years musically, but willing to take advice. They're smart and open to learning."

After hearing The Third Step, Fields invited the group to be on his compilation CD which will be ready in a few weeks. "I don't just ask anyone to be on the CD."

Their production on Soundcloud (link below) is evident of their ability to achieve exactly who they want to be: a quality classic rock band with their own originality. Overtones of Jimi Hendrix which is Alex's influence is incorporated throughout their two original tracks: "I'll Change For You" and "Walk with Me." Bailey's control of breath and phrasing while hitting her notes, combined with Zack's tasteful drumming, Nathan's smooth bass lines, and the two guys Donovan and Alex on lead, produce a sound that can only be recognizable as The Third Step.  

Influences for their music came from their parents, and further to that Alex says "with the Internet there is so much available while searching out your interests. More so than ever. Back in the day, you had to buy the album and listen through it, but now we can surf around a bit."

As for material, they currently have about five or six original pieces in their repertoire. Bailey, Zack and Alex are the main writers in the group. Bailey says "we don't find it difficult to write together at all. We sometimes pick a topic that we'd like to cover, then write it from there." The Third Step members all have had some type of formal music training, ranging from 11 years of vocal instruction (Bailey), and all have taken either guitar or piano lessons. Currently Alex teaches guitar and is newly experimenting with the slide. 

Upcoming performances for The Third Step include Clara's Big Ride on April 16 at the Pictou County Wellness Centre. During this event they will be unveiling an original piece co-written by Alex and Bailey. They have also entered the Sounds of Youth Music Competition at the DeCoste Centre in Pictou during March and April. And, so far for this summer they have Cranfest, Westville Canada Day and RiverFest in Bridgewater on their roster.

An event that The Third Step is equally excited about is Halifax Plugged In-13. The group gives a shout out to Dennis Fields at Denmark Productions for directing them toward not only being part of a compilation CD, but with his suggestion to be part of Halifax Plugged -In 13. As part of Plugged In-13 the group will have an opportunity to play live on CKDU (Dalhousie University) Radio Station on May 30, in a 30-minute time slot. 

I personally hope this group recognizes how special they are. To find each other during a growing adolescent period, who come together because of their like-minded love of music is special. As listeners we look forward to growing along with you. 

Visit The Third Step: Facebook;  twitter @The_Third_Step; soundcloud at https://soundcloud.com/thethirdstep/sets/denmark-productions.

Organizations: Northumberland Regional High School, Bailey's, Nathan's Big Ride DeCoste Centre Dalhousie University Radio Station

Geographic location: Stellarton, Pictou County, Bridgewater

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