Steve Hill has the outward appearance of a legit rock ’n’ roller, from his long, Gregg Allman-like hair and healthy beard to his whisky-and-cigarettes rasp. Yet he continues to gain recognition as one of this country’s foremost bluesmen.
There’s good reason for that, even if Hill would rather be described as someone who plays “guitar music.”
It is safe to say that 2015 has been one heck of a year for Montreal’s Steve Hill.
The bluesman picked up a Juno Award for his most recent album, Solo Recordings Vol. 2. He also won four Maple Blues Awards and five Lys Blues Awards.
“It has been a great year,” Hill said. “I’ve never had as much success as I am having now.”
It’s been 16 years since Steve Hill last played in Kamloops — and, in that time, the Quebec blues musician has gone through a lot of changes.
The biggest one came courtesy of an old Gibson guitar.
Hill, who returns to Kamloops for an Oct. 22 show at The Blue Grotto, said a friend was willing to sell the guitar, one that dated back to the 1950s, but Hill was short on cash. His friend offered to trade it for a solo concert.
When it comes to one-man bands, guitarist and singer extraordinaire Steve Hill has no limits. Throughout his lengthy and intense live shows, Hill performs standing up while singing and playing guitar, with his feet playing bass drum, snare drum, hi-hats and, with a drum stick fused to the head of his trusty guitar, any other percussion within reach.
To watch Hill onstage is a special thing. Whether plucking the strings or using a slide, he coaxes out intricate melodies. He has the deep, rough voice of so many blues musicians before him, but it’s injected with a sweetness that feels fresh and new.
“The one-man band style has resulted in two albums so far in his Solo Recordings series. They’ve made him the top star in the Canadian blues scene right now.”
– Bob Mercereau, CBC New-Brunswick
There are many dance floors in nightspots around Calgary, but I wonder how many start to see usage during an artist’s sound check?
Well, that was the case last night at the Ironwood as Steve Hill, the explosive Canadian guitar blues rocker out of Montreal hadn’t even turned on the stage lights to that point, while he was assessing the acoustics of the room.
For the balance of the set-and-a-half that I was able to stay and check out, that floor continued to draw eager dancing disciples of Hill’s driving electric blues, which had to have come dangerously close to setting off the facility’s smoke alarms a few times. This from one single guy standing on the stage, while attacking his guitar with the same intensity that he was using to whack a cymbal over to his left with the dang thing while he was playing it. In perfect time. While drumming along to his other efforts with whatever other appendages he had available. Hill is something to experience, to say the least…
Steve Hill blows that notion to bits, with this telling excerpt from his press release bio: “throughout his lengthy and intense shows, Hill performs standing up while singing and playing guitar, with his feet playing bass drum, snare drum, hi-hats and with a drum stick fused to the head of his trusty guitar, any other percussion within reach. With roots in blues, rock and a little bit of country, Hill performs his original songs, blues classics and quite often raucous renditions of Jimi Hendrix tunes.”
In My Record Collection, we dig down to the bottom of musicians’ souls to find out what the most treasured parts of their record collection are. This week, it’s the turn of Steve Hill, award-wielding Canadian singer and blues guitar great whose latest, Solo Recordings Volume 2, is now available. Let’s see what he picks out…