By John Benson
The younger Torme’s musical style is different from that of his father Mel’s.
It’s never easy being the son or daughter of a celebrity.
Just ask Steve March Torme, son of the inimitable Mel “The Velvet Fog” Torme. However, the junior Torme isn’t complaining these days as he’s put together his own successful career in music, which brings him to Youngstown on Sunday.
“The truth is, most of the people who come to my shows don’t know who I am anyway,” said Torme, calling from Appleton, Wis. “They show up saying, ‘OK, Mel Torme’s son. I didn’t know he had a son. I didn’t know he sings. Who is this guy?’ So from the first minute I’m on stage, it’s kind of new to them.
“But the reason why people should come to the show is they will hear a terrific trio and they’ll hear a bunch of really good stories. I don’t want to sit here and toot my own horn, but I do think they’ll come away from the show saying, ‘That was worth every penny I paid for it.’ I hope that’s what they say. If they don’t, we’ll talk about sports.”
A working musician for the last three decades, Torme got his start in the late ’70s by releasing his critically acclaimed debut, “Lucky.” From there he went to work with Liza Minnelli and other artists before eventually taking a gig as the featured singer on game show “$100,000 Name That Tune.” The latter job was sort of following a family tradition. After Torme’s parents were divorced when he was 2 years old, his mother remarried actor-comedian Hal March, who was the host of “The $64,000 Question Show.”
Today, Torme performs everything from Great American Songbook material to his own music, which he said is influenced by the likes of The Beatles, Todd Rundgren, Steely Dan and more. His current focus is on finally releasing tentatively titled new album “Smoke in the Dark.” The studio effort acts as a follow-up album to “Lucky.” Youngstown audiences can expect to hear new songs “Say It Ain’t So” and “A Different Time.”
“I finished it about a month ago, and I’m going to release that in February,” Torme said. “That’s the next thing I’m doing and so far, so good. I’m really thrilled about it. I’m real proud of the album. It’s just a different side of what I do with much more pop-oriented melodies.”
Even though Torme’s appetite for music falls stylistically into the latter half of the 20th century, he stresses he also enjoys playing his father’s era of music. Having grown up in his dad’s shadow, Torme said he’s experienced a varied career that most of all he thinks would have made his dad proud.
“I sure hope so,” Torme said. “That’s one of the most common things I hear after a show, besides, ‘I saw your father in 19-whatever.’ It’s ‘Your dad would really be proud of you.’ And I can’t hear anything nicer than that.”