Montreal Blues Society: Home Run!

The first performer to tackle the stage was the barefooted Australian Kim Churchill with his acoustic guitar, setting up in front of a bass drum, a snare, and a harmonica. Churchill’s style is like new age folk. He has quite a distinctive way of playing his instrument; down tuning and barring the low strings from over the top of the neck, tapping, as well as playing in the traditional way. He uses guitar and vocal effects creatively given that he is playing an acoustic style. His tunes have great melody. Some get pretty aggressive and the twenty-three year shows plenty of emotion.

Slotted in the middle of the lineup was Matt Andersen and his acoustic guitar. A little tame when you think of the other two musicians playing various instruments simultaneously you may think? What Andersen omits instrumentally is more that made up for vocally. The man’s voice sounds like a choir. He is a fine guitarist as well and gets a colossal sound. Factor the two together and it’s a one man band impersonating a full ensemble.

Rounding out the show was Steve Hill. Steve Hill…what else can we say about him that we haven’t already covered? Does anybody remember when Bugs Bunny was paired up against the Scotsman and they have a golf battle? In the end Bugs wins the golf duel so the pissed off Scotsman says, “Well, you can’t beat me at the pipes” and proceeds to magically produce some bagpipes. Not to be outdone, Bugs miraculously generates a big bass drum, cymbals, horns, and bagpipes and plays them all at the same time. Quite absurd I used to think. Until I witnessed Hill doing a solo show. I’ve been enjoying his performances over the last few years and each time there is progression in his performance and with the instruments he is adding. His latest addition has him affixing a drumstick to the top of the guitar neck which he drives into a cymbal on a stand to his left. He is the Hit Man of one man bands. He has no limits. It was another flawless performance. The material from Solo Recordings: Volume 2 is powerful and raw with a pronounced, fuller sound than Volume 1.

With the talent in the hall that night it only made sense that the three artists unite on stage and conclude the show that way. The trio chose to play a few cover songs. They started with ‘Key to the Highway”, followed by “Stuck in the Middle” by Stealer’s Wheel, then ‘Can’t you See’ by the Marshall Tucker Band from 1973. The guitar interplay on this one is something to behold. Churchill is blowing harp on that one and Andersen’s voice is just booming even though he was 6 feet from the mic. The finale allowed each musician to shine vocally and instrumentally. The trio had the Sunday night crowd clapping along like it was a Saturday night and no one had to get back to work the next day. They concluded with a superb version of The Weight by The Band.

When you’re batting one thousand, it’s a great night for all involved.

 

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