The Multi-Instrumentalist Lawyer
Florida attorney Steven Kramer recalls his past in the Gainesville music scene, life on the road, and playing South by Southwest
Super Lawyers online-exclusive
By Carly Nairn on March 10, 2023
Music was the passion from the very beginning for Steve Kramer, founder of TK Law with offices in Orlando and Altamonte Springs.
“My family has a history of musicians and professional musicians,” says Kramer. “I saved up and bought a Casio keyboard from, I think, Service Merchandise and taught myself. And then when I got a little bit older, I got interested in playing guitar. Being a teenage boy, I wanted to get girls, and that was the way to do it.”
By college, Kramer was a multi-instrumentalist and played in several bands, but he wanted a deeper connection to the music, too. So he moved to Gainesville, where there was a burgeoning indie scene and established hardcore punk scene, which brought a lot of talent to the north Florida borough.
“For being such a little small town, there were a lot of great bands that came out there, and we were kind of part of it,” he says. “Our band shared space with Hot Water Music. I played in projects all around town. I was friends with the people in this band called Discount, and their members went on to great things.”
Gainesville has a couple of record labels, such as No Idea Records and Fueled By Ramen Records. “It was kind of an upstart label at the time that was started by John Janick and I believe Vinnie [Fiorello] from Less Than Jake,” Kramer says of the latter.
Kramer’s band The Æffect put out their debut EP, A Short Dream, with the Fueled by Ramen label in 2000. After some licensing deals, where The Æffect songs played on MTV shows such as the The Osbournes and Sorority Life, the band went on tour.
Being on the road in a rock band, says Kramer, wasn’t always hangover days and hard-partying nights.
“When you’re going from like Boise, Idaho to Plains, Montana to Fargo, North Dakota, those are gigantic, long drives. And somewhere in West Texas, there’s no descript landmarks. It just almost like scrub. So, it’s very hypnotizing, and when we were driving through there, our drummer was driving. It was 11:30 in the morning, and all of a sudden, I heard our roadie yelling at him, ‘Brad, Brad, wake up, wake up.’ He’d fallen asleep and drifted into the median and could not take back control of the vehicle. So, eventually, what stopped us was the mud. Our RV got buried in four or five feet of mud.”
Everyone was OK, and they continued the tour without major incident. One of the highlights was at South by Southwest, where Kramer got to rub shoulders with musicians he admired.
“My experience going there was really cool,” he says. “I got to hang with the guys in Blur. I remember Damon Albarn was playing ragtime piano, and I play ragtime piano too, so that was a cool bonding experience talking to those guys, and I liked Blur a lot growing up.”
It wasn’t like it is now, Kramer adds—“it was nowhere near as big.” Back then, it was all about “the secret shows, the parties, the mood, the electricity of all these aspiring artists. They’re all trying to get somewhere and make it. You have to be frankly pretty good just to be there. And so, it was an honor to play it. It was exciting. We got great opportunities from it. I would go back in a heartbeat.”
After stints in multiple bands, Kramer decided to pursue law. He became the legal analyst for the Orlando Fox affiliate and then a legal analyst for the CBS affiliate, WKMG. He also wrote for alt-weeklies and hosted a weekly radio show on iHeartRadio and on Real Radio 104.1.
“I did a sports show where I basically gave analysis of sports law issues, which believe it or not, every single week, there is some lawsuit, somebody getting arrested, something happening in sports, something happening in entertainment,” he says.
In a way, Kramer became a kind of multi-instrumentalist with how he’s used his J.D.
“I did some music law, where I’ve represented a lot of artists over the years. I’ve represented record labels. I’ve been a producer on movies. You know, I’ve done a lot behind the scenes as a producer on the business side representing artists, representing performers, photographers, actors, and musicians,” he says. “I’m basically a creative person, and I just found different outlets for that creativity.”
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