STEVE HILL, the one-man blues rock machine, will release his new 14-track live album “The One-Man Blues Rock Band” on Manhaton Records in the UK on Friday 11th May 2018.
To support the release, Steve will tour the UK in May supporting King King and Danny Bryant.
Steve is the true definition of a one-man-band: he performs standing while he sings and plays guitar. He beats the bass drum with his feet, together with the snare and hi-hats, while the stick welded to his trusty guitar clouts anything within easy reach.
We described his recently released “Solo Recordings Volume 3” as “unfeigned, unadulterated, blues-rock excitement with enough skilled flick and tuck to suggest a lifetime of brilliance and dexterity…”
Canadian musician Steve Hill could well be in the running to add another award to the JUNO and Maple Blues awards he already owns – for the most accurate, self-explanatory and straight to the musical point album title of the year.
That said while The One Man Blues Rock Band tells you all you need to know about Steve Hill and the solo performance you will find behind the cover, it can’t tell you how full-sounding Hill’s brand of one man blues is – until you hit play (unless of course you have seen and heard the musician perform, the good news being the album, recorded at La Chapelle in Quebec in November 2017, does a fine job of capturing the energy of Steve Hill live).
Steve Hill’s primary weapon for his raucous, riff-driven blues is his guitar, but an arsenal of surrounding instrumentation – bass drum, snare drum, hi-hat, crash cymbal (the latter pair the recipients of a guitar head stick skewered with a maraca), an octave pedal hooked up to a bass amp (Hill’s guitar has an extra, offset pick-up to catch the three top strings) and a stereo output collectively showcase a one man band that sounds and plays like a hard hitting, blues rocking trio.
There is no history to the overnight sensation, the back story, the will and the desire are rarely played upon, it is all very sudden and instant, the immediate that gives way to the soon forgotten, the very best are those that gradually come up through sheer hard work, determination and set back after disappointment, hard times after frustration. It is in the satisfaction of knowing for a while that you were your best friend, harshest critic and withstood the pressure of being the only one to believe that makes The One Man Blues Rock Band you pursued, all the more sweeter.
It would be fair to come across Steve Hill’s music and wonder where he has been all your life; this Canadian troubadour, award winning, one man collective appears out of nowhere it seems and serenades the listener with great songs and a mountain filled with experience, enough to cram into Lake Ontario, to satisfy a train carriage journey from Montreal to Vancouver and still have time for one last story in a café on the station concourse. It is in this immense life that Steve Hill opens up and the one man band is illuminated and coveted.
A Manic Street Preachers gig might seem an odd place to start a review of a blues record, but the other week MV saw the Manics for the first time in almost two decades. Before the show they flashed up these words on the big screen: Everything is a memory, except this one moment and you’re struggling to remember what just happened.
Therein, actually, they’ve hit the nail on the head with regards to live albums.
I’ve got countless of them, the best, “Live And Dangerous”, “Live After Death” “Live In Hammersmith”, to pick just three, capture shows from before I was able to go to concerts myself, but all the ones I’ve bought since can’t – however good they are – bottle the moment. The moment when you know something special is going to happen at a truly great gig.
And yet, Steve Hill absolutely should release a live record, because he was born to do just that. Why? Well, the why comes in “The Collector” when he goes into something approaching a trance like state and intones “just give me the truth. Just give me something real.”
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.