You might know him as the sleeved, tattooed guy at Murphy’s Irish Pub, but have no idea he is actually a talented singer-songwriter – and you wouldn’t be alone. Steve T. Ney is quietly one of those “hidden away” musicians that doesn’t follow the spotlight, content to write songs and do his own music for himself, and maybe a songwriting competition or two, which he typically wins.

We asked him about his musical influences and to name “the best song on the planet.”

Many musicians in our generation cite the Beatles on “The Ed Sullivan Show” as that moment when they knew music was what they wanted to do. When was your moment of truth?

I was with my mom and driving somewhere and I heard a song by the Staple Singers, not even sure which one, but that was it, right there. I knew what I wanted to do. Oh, and maybe my first KISS concert.

That first instrument you owned. What was it and do you still have it?

Was a 1963 Gibson Melody Maker, that I truly had too young, as I really didn’t know what I had. A friend came over and was playing it and dropped it and broke the headstock and that was it. No, I don’t have it any longer, nor do I have the seven or so vintage ‘70s Les Pauls I used to own either. I really wish I would have kept them.

Who are you’re influences?

Funny, but my influences are all over and I don’t sound like any of them in my music, but Yes, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Issac Hayes, Curtis Mayfield.

What are you listening to in your car these days?

This might sound weird, but lately it’s my own songs I’ve been writing. I record them then listen back while driving to see what needs to be changed or if I can get additional inspiration from them. But, the White Stripes or Skynyrd are always a distinct possibility

Tell us about your current acts.

Doing mostly songwriting for the West Coast Songwriters Association competition. They have them quarterly in the North Bay. Funny, this round I’m up against a lot of locals, Dawn Angelosante, Adam Traum, Bobby Jo Valentine and others. And we have the one off show this Friday at Murphy’s Irish Pub with myself, Shiloh Hobel, Michael Freeman, Tony Gibson and Dawn Angelosante. We’re billing as the “Hey-Heys.”

If you could have written one song, which one would it be?

(Without hesitation) “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” by Roberta Flack (written by Ewan MacColl). Hands down the best song on the planet.