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Entrevue audio avec Steve Hill
La succession de deux virtuoses, qui plus est disposant chacun d’une renommée bien établie, est prometteuse d’une soirée inoubliable. Le scénario s’est en effet avéré explosif, vendredi soir au Théâtre Banque Nationale, alors que le Festival Jazz et Blues de Saguenay avait réuni la fougueuse Ana Popovic et l’inimitable Steve Hill. À preuve, l’énergie surgissant de l’amphithéâtre bondé allait à double sens.
Il est rare que ce soit des Québécois qui assurent les premières parties d’artistes internationaux de passage au Centre Vidéotron. Mais le 16 août prochain, c’est Steve Hill qui se chargera de chauffer les planches du groupe culte ZZ Top.
C’est grâce à l’équipe du Centre Vidéotron que le guitariste québécois pourra faire la première partie de ses idoles.
«ZZ Top est le groupe qui m’a donné le goût de jouer de la guitare, a déclaré le musicien. Eliminator et Afterburner sont deux des albums qui ont marqué ma vie, je suis évidemment très heureux de pouvoir partager la scène avec eux.»
Steve Hill lancera le 11 mai prochain «The One-Man Blues Rock Band», son premier album live en carrière.
Quant à ZZ Top, le trio texan s’arrêtera au Centre Vidéotron dans le cadre de la tournée The Tonnage Tour, amorcée en février 2017. Leur dernier passage à Québec remonte à 2013. Un arrêt est aussi prévu à la Place Bell de Laval, le 17 août.
Trois Rivieres native and guitar player extraordinaire Steve Hill is a busy guy. Following a very successful jaunt to Europe – Hill is home for a little bit before heading off to England and Germany once more.
It was while he was ‘home’ and doing a gig in the province of Quebec that Steve finally recorded a long awaited live album.
“The One-Man Blues Rock Band” is the name of the album and it was a project that Hill wanted to get right. Hence the nine studio album delay. A live album can be a tricky thing when work dictates reality and time is short.
Steve Hill defines himself as a ‘one man blues rock band’ but, in reality, he’s more of a revelation. Over the years there have been many solo artists, but few who have taken the art of playing solo to such heights and, to listen to his latest live recording, you’d be easily forgiven for screaming “overdubs” from the moment the crunchy ‘damned’ detonates with bass guitar and drums all apparently intact but, check out the live show (or the handy video clip in this piece) and you’ll realise that he’s got it all figured out. A remarkable performer, Steve Hill has been nominated for (and won) many awards for the work he’s done over the years, most notably ‘solo recordings’ volumes 2 & 3 and, in just over a week, he returns to the UK to play a string of shows with Danny Bryant and King King. I had the pleasure of catching up with Steve, a relaxed and friendly interviewee, by phone and what follows is the complete discussion.
Finding the Ins and Outs of Being a One-Man Band with Steve Hill
BD: Thank you for taking time out to speak to Bluesdoodles this afternoon. Another digital experience to add to the bucket list – first conversation using Facebook Messenger. With Special Guest slots on two UK Tours and a new live album, you must be excited and busy. Before we talk about the here and now let’s find out a bit about Steve Hill and why he became a one-man band with a difference.
BD: What were your first musical influences growing up in Trois-Revieres near Montreal Canada?
SH: Always loved music. I never thought that I would become a musician. My big brother listened to hard rock etc. First song I remember, I was about four, was Cheap Trick’s Dream Police. Then ZZ Top’s Eliminator album and AC/DC all were played and are big favourites of mine. It was Brothers in Arms by Dire Straits that I first heard the guitar sing and I thought I really want to do that. I was in year 12 and started to listen to Cream, Hendrix, Zep it was 1986 and not into pop and hairband music of the times. My friend’s big brother had all the good British Rock of the 60’s & 70’s in his collection I heard Sunshine of Your Love and I knew I gotta do that. A friend had electric guitar another played drums. All of a sudden it felt that it was possible. Then I was shown the riff to Pink Floyd’s Interstellar Overdrive from the Sid Barrett era. Then learnt the E Chord and still playing that chord I keep it basic. Started playing the guitar at 13 and by the time I was 15 years old I was in a band. By the time I turned 18 I was a professional musician and that was 25 years ago. The live album that is out soon is my tenth album, the first was released back in 1997. I played lots of gigs and went through a dark period. Then with Solo Records Vol 1, it all changed. I became a one-man band and it seemed to work just fine people enjoyed the thing and I have notched up 800 shows in the last 6 years. Playing solo I found my sound through being limited by being a one-man band.
Steve Hill releases his first ever live album, the 14 track “The One-Man Blues Rock Band” on Manhaton Records in the UK on Friday 11th May 2018, recorded at “La Chapelle” Quebec on November 30th 2017. Steve Hill is having a very successful time over the last few years as his “one man band” approach to his hard hitting blues/rock style has seen him perform on stage with many of the biggest names in blues/rock music and many of his own musical heroes. Along the way, Steve Hill has picked up some very prestigious awards as a musician and a performer. To some, this may look an overnight success, and maybe it is if you turn a blind eye to the previous 10 years of album releases and 20 years of getting out there and performing his music.
“The One-Man Blues Rock Band”, the first live album from Steve Hill, is perhaps not the best introduction to his live music for me as I have never to date managed to see Steve playing live, and the whole point of a live album is to capture a little bit of that essence for the fans. This album is live though in every sense of the word. Not only does it capture some of the energy that you would expect from a performer gaining a lot of attention for his live shows, but this is all Steve Hill playing everything without any added trickery and over-dubs in the studio. I did review Steve’s “Solo Recordings 3” album last year though, and most of the songs on this live album come from Solo Recordings 1, 2 and 3.
Steve Hill may not be a household name in the UK, but this one man blues rock band is well established in his home nation of Canada; holding an impressive number of musical accolades and awards. His unique act sees him standing on stage alone playing a guitar, bass, drums, harmonica and singing to produce a highly convincing full band sound.
I caught up with Steve on the phone from Canada ahead of the launch of his new live album, ‘The One-Man Blues Rock Band’ and upcoming UK tour to get to know a bit more about this highly talented musician.
One good thing about reviewing Steve Hill – there’s none of that having to go checking the names of his bandmates. That album title, The One-Man Blues Rock Band, is the literal truth. Credit to Hill though, I didn’t spend the duration of this live album, recorded in Quebec last autumn, brooding about the truly solo nature of his enterprise.
The album opens with the spiky guitar intro of ‘Rhythm All Over’, leading into a jagged, ringing riff. And the rhythm in question is stomping. When Hill sings “I’m beating on your door”, you very much get the idea.