|By BRIAN P. HEFFRON
Times Staff Writer
GENEVA - Stephen Duell would have some interesting stories to share at
his class reunion if he could ever get to one.
Duell, 47, is a musician who performs in Miami clubs and on Caribbean
cruise ships. He has lived on the Grand Cayman Islands and hiked through
the mountains of Costa Rica. Last month, he released his first compact
disc, "Sandy Clams."
He said he regrets missing his high school reunions, but said he has
been touring or cruising every time one was scheduled.
The son of the late George and Gert Duell, formerly of Elm Street and
Pre-Emption Road, Duell lived in Geneva until he was about 12, then moved
to the Phelps school district. Duell was part of the first class to
graduate from Midlakes High School in 1971. One of six children, Duell's
siblings are scattered throughout Upstate New York. In November, his
sister Joan Ann passed away, before hearing the CD he had dedicated to
"She was very supportive of my career and I had hoped she would
get a chance to hear it. It became important to me that the CD exist - as
long as the album stays in print, she'll be remembered," Duell said.
Duell has taken private lessons in voice, guitar and piano, but never
finished college. He has worked full-time as an entertainer for about 24
"I don't know how to do anything else, and I'm very protective of
my hands and voice," he said.
Duell said performing on cruise ships is like working at a five-star
resort, and that many passengers recognize him from his performances,
greeting him in the ship's passageways. A typical ship has 850 employees
who live on-board year round, and 2,300 passengers. The crew has its own
exercise facilities and dining rooms.
"Ship life is a very odd animal, and it certainly is not for
everyone," he said.
Entertainers come from a variety of locations - Caribbean islands,
America, Europe and the Philippines - and Duell enjoys watching how
different people approach the same issues.
Duell works about 20 hours each week in one-hour shows and spends much
of his free time reading.
One of his favorite jobs was working for an Italian cruise line, when
he was able to buy fine Italian wines for about $1 per bottle because
there were no duties to pay.
Before moving to Florida in 1975, Duell and some friends played
locally. After a few years of playing in clubs, he began performing on
Duell is divorced from fellow Midlakes graduate Cynthia Smith. Their
daughter, Jessica, lives near her mother near Atlanta, Ga., and recently
had a daughter of her own.
Duell said Smith helped his music career before they were married, as
she and her roommate let him use one of their four bedrooms on High Street
as a recording studio.
Now, his studio is in his home, although it also serves as an office,
and he has to turn off the air conditioner while he's recording because of
"It's hard to sing in a home studio because there's no one
there," he said, adding that he gets his energy for performing from
Duell said he learned much about producing an album from this CD. He
hopes to register as a business officially so he can accept credit card
payments over his Web site. He also plans to join a bar code association
so he can bar code his next CD, which would enable him to sell it through
Internet retailers such as Amazon.com.
He tried to imitate the musical variety of his live shows on
"Sandy Clams" but said he plans to concentrate on fewer styles
for his next CD.
Duell said he loves Miami's weather, especially the abundant sunshine.
He wears shorts and a tank top year round and has no curtains in his
living room, giving his 28 plants plenty of light.
Duell said the cost of living in Miami is very different from Upstate
New York. His utility bills and mortgage for his lakefront condominium are
low, but any products that must be transported there, such as electronics
and clothing, are very expensive.
"The only way I can afford to live here is if I don't stay
here," he said.
Duell said speaking a little Spanish helps him get by in Miami, adding
that most public access channels broadcast in Spanish.
He misses the smell of the Finger Lakes region, as Florida always
smells humid. He also misses the gentle hills and winding, scenic roads,
and fresh strawberries and apples. Miami has many major highways and is
flat, he said.
He also said he wishes he could stay in touch with more old friends,
since he tries to visit his family in New York about once a year. Usually,
he makes the trip in June.
"The more you stay down here the more your blood thins," he
said, adding that he misses the days when 65 degrees was a warm day.
He also enjoyed hiking as a youth, packing a soda and a sandwich and
heading into the woods.
"I loved the first hike after a snowfall because of all the rabbit
tracks," he said.
Music was always his main interest, however.
"In a way, it was easier to learn an instrument back then because
there was a lot less distraction - you had to entertain yourself,"
He began playing the guitar around age 14 picked up piano about 10
He particularly remembers playing Iron Butterfly's "In-A-
Gadda-Da-Vida" and James Taylor's songs from a lowboy trailer at the
Sauerkraut Festival in Phelps.
Steve Duell's debut album, Sandy Clams, will soon be available at
Martin Music in Geneva and can now be purchased through Duell's Web site, www.onebusyguy.com.
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İFinger Lakes Times 2000