Call it fate or call it coincidence that Neal Shulman and Rex Fowler were in the same place in Boston, Massachusetts, one day in 1971.
Fowler, more of the singer/songwriter type, came down from a little town in Maine while Schulman, more the singer/guitar player, took the trip up from Manhattan. It just so happened both were interested in the folk rock genre.
Both were just looking for some type of musical opportunity.
“It was an open mic night,” Shulman said. “Club owners do it to give new artists a chance to show a little of themselves. You just don’t know when the next great artist is going to walk in.”
They combined and called themselves Aztec Two-Step. The name comes from a poem by beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti.
“It was just a line in the song and Rex just threw it out,” Shulman said. “There’s always been a connection, for us, to the beats because our signature song is a song based on Jack Kerouac’s novel ‘On the Road.’”
Just a year after they met, the duo moved to New York, signed with a record label and were putting the finishing touches on their first album.
Some people take a long route to cut a record, but for Shulman and Fowler, it was almost a whirlwind.
“None of it can happen - in some crazy way - fast enough,” Shulman said. “If I look back at it now, I don’t think I had the wonderment that I have now. It was a little bit like don’t look left or don’t look right or this house of cards may crumble.”
Now, over 40 years later, Aztec Two-Step has 15 albums, two concert DVDs, two documentary DVDs, a songbook/anthology and has had appearances on television shows, including David Letterman.
Not to mention they’ve also appeared in concert with world famous musicians such as Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Jim Croce, The Beach Boys and Jimmy Buffet, just to name a few.
“I have too many things on my mind these days to look back at it,” Shulman said. “I think the thing about it is this – the essence of being together is more about the gig that you’re playing and not looking back at the gigs that you played.
“Sure, you wouldn’t be human if you didn’t look back and reflect once in a while. The reason we’re still going is because the last show we played was really good and the show before that was really good. It’s really about the immediacy of it.”
Aztec Two-Step, winners of the 1987 New York Music Award for Best Folk Album, is bringing their latest tour of folk rock music to Kennett Square at the Kennett Flash May 16 at 8 p.m.
Tickets are $30 in advance or $35 at the door.
The duo has no intentions of slowing down any time soon and will continue to bring their genre of music to anyone willing to listen.
“I need more coffee than there is around,” Shulman said. “The immediacy of going out and playing the live show for the audience and having the fun and having it go well (keeps us going). As you get older and the list of medications that you need to take every day and amount of doctor visits you need to go to - you start to realize it might not be up to you (to call it quits). Life may make some decisions for us, but I’m just getting ready to go to the next gig.”