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Charles Steinhauser

1951 - 2013

Photo: Oswald S. Copeland, License: N/A

Oswald S. Copeland

There’s a video on YouTube of Charles Steinhauser doing what he loved. He’s there next to drummer John Kessell, long white hair and beard, bobbing his head as he swings Maynard Ferguson’s “Nice N’ Juicy” on his Fender bass.

It’s 2009, Steinhauser is backing the Community College of Baltimore County, Essex’s Powerhouse Big Band, throwing down the funky bottom and looking like he’d rather be nowhere else.

He did that for more than 40 years, in bands as diverse as the Rubber Band and what came to be known as Downstairs Jazz, holding court in the basement of Supano’s restaurant every Friday and Saturday night.

Steinhauser was a Baltimore fixture, semi-famous, rock-solid, professional, and beloved by those who encountered him. He had a beat a lot of people danced to.

“He was just a really good guy,” says Mike Kraus, a friend of 50 years and bandmate (on guitar) back in the ’70s when the Rubber Band was the Hippo’s house band. That came about after the men joined a previously all-girl trio called Female Revolution, Kraus says. “Many years we played together. We were the Soul Searchers. For the longest time it was called the Up Band. My memory isn’t that great, but I think that was for maybe up until 1995.” Kraus, who has been on the waiting list for a kidney transplant for four years, says he and Steinhauser spoke often and openly about their respective illnesses after Steinhauser was diagnosed with cancer in 2010.

Steinhauser did the chemo, worked out to stay in shape. He cheered up the other cancer patients at the Jewish Community Center in Owings Mills.

“I use to call him King Zeus,” wrote one JCC admirer on Steinhauser’s online memorial, “as he was so buff, handsome and had incredible long flowing white hair.”

Steinhauser grew up in Lochearn and graduated from Pikesville High. Friends remembered him as a generous and outgoing lover of conversation. He had two brothers. In 1985 he started Accurate Builders, Inc., a home improvement company, and advertised that every customer would talk to the founder—himself. He completed jobs on time and on budget, and had many repeat customers. His company was sued only once in its history.

Steinhauser loved his wife, Susan, his daughter, and his dogs. He collected antique cars. Kraus remembers a 1950s Thunderbird and a 1960s-era Chevy. But it was as a bass player that Steinhauser impressed strangers and made lifelong friends who would never forget him.

“They used to play Connie’s Hideaway,” says Candis Marks Rivera, an old friend from the Rubber Band days. “Later they called it the Zodiac. It was the butches and their stripper girlfriends mostly. They played rock and roll. They always played ‘I Shot the Sheriff.’ The Bob Marley tune? He was an amazing bass player.”

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