Anna Popovic et Steve Hill, tout pour séduire

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.

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Steve Hill en première partie de ZZ Top au Centre Vidéotron

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.

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SonicAbuse Interview

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.

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Bluesdoodles Interview

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.

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Southend Advertiser: Live Album Review

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.

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MNPR Magazine Interview

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.

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Blues Enthused: Live Album Review

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.

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L’homme à qui l’Europe a tendu les bras

S’il y a une justice en ce bas monde, Steve Hill décrochera le Félix de l’artiste s’étant le plus illustré à l’étranger, l’automne prochain. Lancé il y a six ans, son spectacle en solo a pris une dimension internationale dont l’ampleur l’étonne lui-même. L’Europe l’a adopté avec enthousiasme, en particulier l’Allemagne et l’Angleterre, où le blues-rock qu’il affectionne l’amène à tourner de plus en plus souvent, de plus en plus longtemps.

Juste l’an dernier, celui qui assume les rôles de chanteur, guitariste et batteur sur scène, simultanément, a donné 80 spectacles sur le vieux continent. Plus d’une trentaine ont eu lieu dans la patrie des Stones et de John Mayall, un nombre équivalent au nombre de fois où le Québécois a joué dans des villes allemandes. À cet élan initial se sont ajoutés d’autres rendez-vous, si bien qu’en 2018, il sera plus facile de le voir ailleurs que chez lui.

« J’avais un plan. Dès le troisième volume de ma série Solo Recordings, je pensais aller à l’international, sauf que ça se passe plus vite que je l’avais anticipé, notamment en Angleterre. Après mon premier spectacle là-bas, trois agents m’ont soumis une offre et j’y retournerai pendant tout le mois de mai », a raconté Steve Hill il y a quelques jours, à la faveur d’une entrevue téléphonique accordée au Progrès.

Tournée reportée

L’une des conséquences de la forte demande en Angleterre tient au report de la tournée provinciale que le musicien comptait effectuer en mai, laquelle comprenait une escale à la Salle Desjardins-Maria-Chapdelaine de Dolbeau-Mistassini (11 mai). « Je m’y rendrai à l’automne », annonce-t-il. En revanche, l’agenda n’a pas bougé en ce qui touche mars et avril. Il jouera donc à la Salle Calypso de Jonquière (8 mars), puis au Théâtre Banque Nationale de Chicoutimi (20 avril).

« En Europe, j’ai le même agent que Joe Bonamassa, le bluesman qui attire les plus grosses foules ces temps-ci. J’ai signé avec une compagnie de disques en Angleterre, ainsi qu’un nouveau promoteur en Allemagne. En plus, je jouis d’une bonne visibilité dans les médias », mentionne Steve Hill. À ces atouts, il faut ajouter l’expérience acquise en solo, le fait que l’artiste maîtrise pleinement le créneau qui est devenu le sien.

C’est devenu sa marque de commerce, un élément distinctif qui l’a incité à renoncer temporairement à son projet de former un groupe. « Je pensais à le faire, mais ils veulent que je continue seul parce que ça va bien en Europe », confie-t-il. C’est donc en mode one-man-band qu’il se produira aussi en Italie, en France et en Espagne, tout en apparaissant en juin, en Allemagne, au Crossroads Music Festival.

Cet événement rassemble 12 000 personnes et la prochaine édition sera marquée, justement, par la présence de Joe Bonamassa, que le Québécois n’a jamais rencontré. « Le fait de me ramasser là après 18 mois, c’est extraordinaire. Comme l’Angleterre, l’Allemagne constitue un super bon marché pour le blues-rock », fait-il observer.

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Concert avec l’Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal

Le vendredi 16 février, Steve Hill sera en concert avec l’Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal (OSM) pour une expérience unique.

Une fois l’orchestre dissimulé derrière un rideau et la salle plongée dans l’obscurité, il ne vous restera plus que la musique pour vous faire planer dans l’ambiance des années 60 avec, entre autres, une création pour guitare électrique et orchestre de John Anthony Lennon.

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Fireworks Magazine – Solo Recordings : Volume 3 Review

Now here’s something! A literal one-man band and an artist steeped in the purest of music styles — the Blues! Steve Hill lays down some of the sweetest Rock ‘n’ Blues heard in some time! He performs solo and this man plays a razor-sharp style of guitar, and at the same time, lays down those pulsating beats from his assorted drum kit. All the while, that whiskey-soaked voice of his just floats above all that intense and textured music! He is also Canadian which naturally makes my heart sing a little louder!

As you can surmise, this is Hill’s third solo outing. ‘Solo Recordings: Volume 3’ was actually recorded and released last year, however, it’s only now seeing the light of day in the UK. It’s an album loaded with rockers, but never losing that rich and deep vein of Blues! Possessing not only an authentic voice that drips with the Blues, Hill is an indisputable guitar slinger and also plays a mean harmonica to boot! He is a seasoned twenty year veteran, one that has been involved in numerous recordings but has recently struck out literally on his own.

Since 2012 he has decided to play all the instruments, and sing each and every song — and all at the same time (if that sounds implausible, just take a peek at the latest album cover for proof)! His first solo outing, aptly titled ‘Solo Recordings: Volume 1’, garnered him Album Of The Year from the International Blues Challenge of 2013. In addition, Hill also won a Canadian Juno for his second solo effort! What will ‘Solo Recordings: Volume 3’ bring? Who knows, but it certainly is the proper one to launch this one-of-a-kind Blues Rocker into the global universe of music!

From heart-wrenching and Blues-soaked ballads to absolute all-out rockers, Steve Hill’s latest should touch the heart of millions of Blues lovers the world over!

Bruce E.J. Atkinson