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Nashville band featuring Blairsville native returns for Knotweed Festival performance

Ashley L. Evans - The Devious Angels band includes Blairsville native Stephanie 'Steevie' Steeves (right) and Jon Decious.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Ashley L. Evans</em></div>The Devious Angels band includes Blairsville native Stephanie 'Steevie' Steeves (right) and Jon Decious.
Submitted - Quilt display planned at St. Peter's This 'Hot Wheels' quilt, owned by Andrew 'Andy' Miller IV and designed and quilted by his grandmother, Karin Miller, will be among the estimated 18 quilts to be displayed 1-4 p.m. Aug. 16 at the 2014 Knotweed Festival Quilt Show at St. Peter's Episcopal Church, 38 W. Campbell St., Blairsville. Cupcakes and cold drinks will be sold in the church parish house.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Submitted</em></div>Quilt display planned at St. Peter's This 'Hot Wheels' quilt, owned by Andrew 'Andy' Miller IV and designed and quilted by his grandmother, Karin Miller, will be among the estimated 18 quilts to be displayed 1-4 p.m. Aug. 16 at the 2014 Knotweed Festival Quilt Show at St. Peter's Episcopal Church, 38 W. Campbell St., Blairsville. Cupcakes and cold drinks will be sold in the church parish house.

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Parade kicks off activities

Blairsville's second annual Knotweed Festival will be held 10:30 a.m. to 1 0 p.m. Aug. 16, with most activities occurring on or near West Market Street.

The schedule includes:

Parade, 10:30 a.m., beginning on East Market Street

Nature walks on the Blairsville Riverfront Trail, 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., meeting at the Water Street trailhead

Story times, 11 a.m. to noon or 3 to 4 p.m., near the bandstand on the Diamond at West Market and Liberty streets

Diamond Dolls Twirling, 11:30 a.m. to noon, performance on the Diamond

History at High Noon (walking tour), noon, meeting at S&T Bank lot on East Market Street

Blairsville Community Band, 1 to 2 p.m., performing near the bandstand

Scavenger hunts on the Blairsville Riverfront Trail, 1 p.m. or 5 p.m., meeting at the Water Street trailhead

Quilt show, 1 to 4 p.m. at St. Peter's Episcopal Church, 38 W. Campbell St.

Bag printing (art activity), 1 to 5 p.m. on Market Street

All That Jazz dance show, 1:30 to 2 p.m., on the Diamond

Rain barrel workshop, 2 to 2:30 p.m., near the bandstand

K-9 demonstration, 2:30 to 3 p.m., on the Diamond

Jerry B and the Bone Tones, band performance, 4 to 6 p.m., on the bandstand

Duck Race launch (Buy ducks at the Blairsville Community Development Authority booth.), 6:30 p.m., Bairdstown Bridge

The Devious Angels, band performance, 7 to 9 p.m., on the bandstand.

Visitors should bring their own chairs for the free band performances. Other activities throughout the day include children's activities, caricatures, face painting, Knotweed Knovelties such as handmade soap, a bee and honey demonstration, wood crafts, tole painting, environmental displays, a butterfly and moth exhibit, an electric bike conversion demonstration and merchandise from the Historical Society of the Blairsville Area.

Festival fare will include burgers, hot dogs and ethnic treats.

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014, 10:15 p.m.

When organizers made plans for Blairsville's Second Annual Knotweed Festival, they had to decide what portions of the community celebration to change and what successful elements to repeat.

Given the warm reception the band received last year, it seems a natural choice to have The Devious Angels once more close the festival with its music that mixes country, rock and other influences.

Bandmates Stephanie “Steevie” Steeves, a 2003 Blairsville High School graduate, and Kentucky native Jon Decious will be back performing on Blairsville's West Market Street bandstand, from 7 to 9 p.m. Aug. 16.

Speaking by phone Monday from the group's home base in Nashville, Steeves was looking forward to sharing music once more with a hometown crowd.

“I'm happy to be coming back home again,” she said. “We had such a good time last year. I didn't expect all the love I got last year from old teachers and classmates, neighbors and old band members. It was absolutely delightful.”

Steeves was a vocalist with two area groups — Broken Arrow and Steph and the House Band — before relocating to Nashville and forming a musical partnership with Decious, beginning in 2010.

She revealed that, if not for scheduling conflicts, the Blairsville bandstand stage might be more crowded this year, as The Devious Angels has expanded beyond a duo for many of its shows.

Steeves and Decious have joined forces with two friends and fellow musicians from Nashville, Charlie Pate on upright bass and Aaron Raitiere on “ganjo” — a cross between a guitar and banjo.

In addition to supplementing the band's instrumentation, the two men also sing, providing opportunities for four-part harmony at Devious Angels shows.

“It's a fuller sound,” Steeves said. “We're thinking bigger, and our sound is getting bigger.”

For the Knotweed gig, Steeves explained, Pate and Raitiere “will be out of town, so they couldn't go to Blairsville.”

Still, audience members at the Blairsville festival will be able to witness the growth Steeves and Decious have experienced in the past year, as performers and songwriters.

“We've got new music. Our songs are getting a little bit more intricate and more artist-driven,” Steeves said. “We're more comfortable in our shoes right now. We're writing about our life and not catering to the mold.”

As for her performance style, “I've gotten way better with my tambourine skills,” she said.

But her delivery of vocals is where Steeves really has stepped up her game.

“I'm belting them out a little bit more,” she said. “I'm a little more comfortable being the lead female singer in the band.”

She said she's made an effort to infuse a more elemental, bluesy vibe into the band's country material.

“I think that there's not enough women... bringing that side out right now. I feel it's a responsibility of mine. If I've got the voice for it, I'd better do it,” she said.

“A lot of our songs are gender-friendly,” being equally appropriate for a female or male vocalist, Steeves noted. A case in point is “Hillbilly Bills,” The Devious Angels' take on the universal challenge of “making ends meet.” It's available in a performance clip posted on the band's website (

The band's lively “Country Cantina,” written together with Raitiere, was spotlighted by American Songwriter magazine April 4 in its online Daily Discovery feature. In the song, Steeves expresses a “hankerin'” for her date to “Spin me round like a ballerina/To the mariachi, have a margarita... No dress code, just up the road, let's go.”

Steeves and Decious also have stretched their songwriting skills by collaborating with other artists outside of the group.

“We have a good core group of phenomenal songwriters we work with,” Steeves said.

She penned the reflective “If I Don't Love You Anymore” with Hannah Bethel, whose video performance of the song also can be viewed on The Devious Angels site.

According to Steeves, Decious worked with Anderson East on the song “What A Woman Wants To Hear,” which is due to appear on the latter's album.

“It's a good song,” Steeves said, adding that the lyrics reflect “what I would want to hear.”

As for The Devious Angels, “We're playing out as much as possible with our new material,” Steeves said. “We're probably doing more touring this year and making new rounds at festivals.

“There are a lot of shows where we've been asked back to play. People really want to hear us. I think that's the greatest feeling.”

Adding to their full schedule is the fact that both original band members continue to hold down day jobs, Steeves as a waitress.

But, she said, she‘s excited about the direction their music is taking them.

With a self-titled debut EP under their belts, they've been preparing an as-yet-untitled follow-up with producer Greg Droman, who has worked with country star Gary Allan.

“We have so many new songs, we're trying to figure out what songs to put out,” Steeves said.

The Devious Angels also has signed a new management deal with Nashville's 1680 Entertainment and has joined the roster of Nashville Unleashed, which books various tour dates for performing songwriters like Steeves and Decious, who have been showcased at Nashville's legendary Bluebird Cafe.

“It's the Bluebird vibe, but we take it outside of Nashville,” Steeves said of the touring group.

The Devious Angels also is among Nashville Unleashed artists set to be featured in a related television series slated to air beginning this fall.

“I'm excited for that to come out. Our episode is going to be really good,” Steeves said, noting she was able to screen series footage of the group performing the song “Take Me Away.”

Steeves said the show is expected to be available on the Palladia channel.

All told, “It's been a very busy year for us,” Steeves said.

Jeff Himler is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-459-6100, ext. 2910 or

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