July 04--Neil Young quite rightly receives credit for influencing dozens of acts since the dawning of grunge in the early 1990s.
The members of Stealing Neil actually went the extra mile and paid tribute to the iconic rocker by putting him right in their name. It's a good, catchy moniker, and plenty of music fans across the region feel the same way about the cover band's music.
On the regional scene for nearly a decade, Stealing Neil has cultivated a devoted and ever-growing following these last few years thanks to the diverse talents of the band's current lineup -- lead singer and guitarist R.J. Scouton, lead guitarist Jared Scavone, rhythm guitarist Pauly Young, drummer Tony Scavone and bassist/vocalist Bruce Christian.
"Getting to where we've gotten so far has been a lot of work," Scouton said. "It didn't just happen overnight."
Scouton is Stealing Neil's only remaining original member. He and a friend started the band as a duo around 2004, then added a drummer and became a three-piece. They played a lot of original tunes written by Scouton.
Scouton came up with the band's name based on the fact that the '90s grunge bands he was most influenced by -- Pearl Jam, Nirvana, etc. -- were influenced by Neil Young, who many dubbed the "Godfather of Grunge." In effect, they all were, in some way or other, "stealing" from Neil.
Scouton eventually parted ways with the band's other members, yet kept the name. From there, he hooked up with Jared Scavone, a Berklee College of Music graduate who had occasionally filled in with the band, and Scavone's cousin, Tony Scavone.
From there, Christian joined the fray. Not only could he play bass, but also he could sing.
"He gives me a break sometimes," Scouton said.
Two years ago, Pauly Young, a former member of the band Panacea, came on board when Jared Scavone took a short leave of absence. Young ended up staying permanently, which gave Scouton the opportunity to focus less on playing guitar and more on being an animated frontman who could freely roam the stage.
Panacea played all original music, which made for "a difficult scene to navigate," Young said. Stealing Neil's commitment to covers is "a completely different animal," he said.
"With this, it's a little easier. You're playing songs people want to hear," Young said. "I just love music, I love playing. I get to play music and have fun."
Since Young's arrival, the band has flourished, with regular gigs at venues all over the region, among them the popular Breakers at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs.
"We're booked through the next six months to a year," Scouton said. "We do weddings, parties, all sorts of gigs. Name a bar and we've played it."
The band's set list is wide-ranging, thanks to the members' eclectic tastes. Scouton has his grunge influences, but also an extensive knowledge of country music. The Scavones love classic hard rock acts like ACDC, Led Zeppelin and Bad Company. Christian is a hair metal aficionado. And Young is "a human jukebox" who can play anything, Scouton said.
"When you come see Stealing Neil, you can hear anything. Creedence (Clearwater Revival) to (Jimi) Hendrix to (Lady) Gaga. We've done everything," said Scouton, noting the band plans to release some original material within the next year.
"We give it to them, whatever the crowd wants," he continued. "We're all blue collar people. We all have day jobs. We can relate to people. ... You know that when you leave one of our shows, you're going to leave happy."
About Stealing Neil
Members: R.J. Scouton, lead vocals and guitar; Jared Scavone, lead guitar; Pauly Young, rhythm guitar; Tony Scavone, drums; and Bruce Christian, bass and vocals.
For fans of: Pearl Jam, Neil Young, Led Zeppelin
Up next: Friday, Woodlands Inn & Resort, Plains Twp.; July 26, Lake Carey Inn, Tunkhannock
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