Rick Keene’s Club Soda review

Some people are born to bake cakes. For others – mechanics may be their thing. Steve Hill of Trois Rivieres, is meant to play guitar …

At Club Soda on Saturday night, in a concert dubbed ‘A Return to Montreal‘ – Hill proved once more why he is considered to be one of the best blues guitarists in North America. How about one of the best blues guitarists period!

” The tour has be great so far …” Says Hill following his two hour performance. ” Everywhere I have played it’s been sold out and my solo performance is getting approval.”

Hill is referring to his latest album; Steve Hill Solo Recordings Volume One. A disc which was released this past summer and is a homage to the great blues artists such as Muddy Waters, Elmore James and Robert Johnson. From the moment the blonde-haired guitarist steps on stage and takes his place behind a bass drum and a high-hat, it is clear. This is the way the Blues are supposed to be played. This is the way Steve Hill is supposed to play …

Once upon a time – Muddy Waters plugged his guitar into an amp and commenced playing on the street in front of his girlfriend’s place. It was fierce, it was unique and it garnered attention from the many passerby on the way to work or play. Now – people gather at a club in Montreal to listen to the same fierceness and uniqueness that Hill provides.

It comes from original compositions such as ‘King of the World’, ‘About Phase’ and ‘Ever Changing World’. Within these songs are a young Robert Johnson and Elmore James. Angry riffs sustaining the music which was at one time the tunes of the oppressed and underprivileged. Anthems to freedom.

Hill is a presence on stage. The way he plays his guitar with conviction. Alone, with no backing band to fill in the gaps. Nobody to supply security as is the case in many groups. If Hill makes a mistake – it would resonate around the room like a weasel attempting to escape a box without holes. Maybe that is what makes Hill so good. Perfection arrives through a self -induced musical coma. A trance which few can match and no player can play along with. Charlie Parker, the great Jazz player was in that zone for much of the time as was Miles Davis.

Steve Hill is the same type of player.

“The first set was okay.” Says Hill. “The second set I really felt it all come together. I can see myself start to gain momentum.”

‘Preachin Blues’ – the Robert Johnson song, was one of the second half songs. Following a brief introduction where Hill asks the crowd if they are aware of the fabled artist who sold his soul at the ‘crossroads’ and if not, they should be because Johnson’s songs have been covered by the Stones, Zeppelin and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Hill then proceeds to play a slide guitar which boggles the mind and ears.His fingers as fast as a mouse scurrying along a vinyl record. Watching this talent within a five foot radius, ‘shrinks’ even the greatest cover band player into a self-induced inferiority complex they may never come out of …

Members of the audience who are witnessing tunes such as ‘Got To Be Strong’ and ‘Coming Back to You’ for the first time will have sore eyes in the aftermath of a show. Their eyes widen like crop circles in the making. Each second Hill does something magically with his guitars. Each song delivering a ‘How did he do that?’ moment. A ‘shake the head’ anthology primed for Ripley’s Believe It or Not segment.

Hill and his ‘non-band’ have a couple of shows left before Xmas and then he is settling down to enjoy the holidays before hitting the studio to record a new album. Steve Hill Solo Recordings Volume Two? Nothing is certain except …

Steve Hill is meant to play guitar …

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