Day job: I’m retired, but I spend a lot of time woodworking and remodeling my home. I also spend a lot of time playing music at different jam sessions, at places like Donnie and Cheri’s Pickin’ Parlor in Cutler, Indiana, and Lonnie’s Music Barn in Kokomo.
Musical roots: At the age of seven, I would watch my grandmother play an old Gulbransen piano without looking at the music in front of her. Playing by ear did not mean much to me then, but by the time I was nine, I was playing boogie-woogie, and my brother Charlie gave me the nickname “Boogie.” At 14, I played with an old country band called Calvin and the Cool Cats. After that it was rock ’n’ roll, until I was drafted and went to Vietnam in 1967. All of my bandmates were soon drafted and the music stopped for several years. Around 1985, my oldest son Terry started playing guitar and wanted to go to a jam session. I haven’t stopped since.
Band: Today I play in a country band called Ramblin’ Fever. We play old and new country, along with some current and classic rock. We play several private clubs and upscale bars, and we’ve been playing the Howard County Vietnam Veterans’ Reunion for the past four years.
Influences: I guess you could say that my grandmother started it, and Jerry Lee Lewis took over from there. I’ve also learned to love classical and gospel music along the way.
Why I play: My life revolves around music. The second greatest gift God gave me is that I feel everything I play. My wife says she’s not my real wife. She says my keyboard is, and she’s only my mistress.
Floyd Cramer, Favorite Country Hits (Ranwood)
Steve Vermillion is known as “Boogie” to fellow musicians in Kokomo, Indiana. “I play what my friends call ‘hot-rod’ country,” he says. “My music is never boring.” But Steve also loves mellow country tunes that tug on the ol’ heart strings. One of his favorites is Floyd Cramer’s instrumental rendition of “Last Date,” which topped the U.S. pop and country charts in 1960. You’ll find it, along with 17 other Cramer classics, on the CD Floyd Kramer: Favorite Country Hits.
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Bat For Lashes