On St. Patrick’s Day , especially in Montreal – it is easy being Green and it’s even easier being Steve Hill.
The Trois Rivieres and Quatre ‘Solo Recordings’ native is normally used to the ‘ it ain’t easy being Green ‘ moniker. Bucking precedent in recent years and pioneering the ‘one man band ‘ genre single handily made him a sort of ‘musical abnolity’. After all – ‘ it ain’t easy‘ being a vocalist, drummer, guitar, bass and harmonica player on stage now is it ?
All the above talents alone can be labelled magical. An aberration in a musical world filled with duos, trios and bands. The fact all four of Hill’s Solo Recordings albums contain mostly original compositions shoves the word magical into mystical territory.
Bottom line, at Club Soda on March.17th – one very talented musician packed the house.
Almost five years has passed since Steve Hill released Solo Recordings Volume 1. Almost the same time frame has elapsed since Steve took the stage like a ‘Jack Sparrow‘ type of pirate and performed his then simple set up. A stage presence containing a bass drum , high – hat and amps. It was in the embryo stages and Hill was learning on the fly to be an entity into himself. Whatever mistakes were made live were forgiven in lieu of ‘ a learning curve ‘ along with Steve’s brilliance on the guitar.
The All Star player survived his ‘rookie‘ season and like many hockey players before – the Hall of Fame will be waiting. Just a matter of what size the display will be to contain the numerous awards Hill has collected and – will collect in the future.
Speaking of collecting …
The song ‘ The Collector ‘ off of the disc Solo Recordings Volume 2 was the groove song on Friday night. In most concerts or ‘ shows ‘, there is usually one song where all band members or solo artists feel okay in their skin. The trepidation of meeting a new audience, the anxiety of playing a new tune and sometimes the instrument ‘not feeling right’ can all be factors in a ‘start – stop‘ non groove.
Last evening on St.Laurent Blvd. – The Collector raised the bar and seemingly lowered the nerves of Hill. From that point forward , the punters were treated to an evening of Old School Blues embedded into an old Blues soul.
In true Blues fashion, Hill doesn’t shy away from the Blues – Country connection. His guitar picking in songs such as ‘ Out of Phase ‘ – glistening with Hank Williams riffs. Jimmy Reed’s ghost not so transparent within The Ballad of Johnny Wabo , Ever Changing World and King of the World.
Like a true Bluesman – Steve Hill knows from where he came. The Crossroads and all it’s deals remain devilishly inside every Hill performance.
Steve Hill has gained much National recognition as of late. A Juno Award and a slew of Maple Blues Awards (Canada’s equivalent of The Grammys for Canadian Blues). He has completed an anthology of Solo Recordings with no end in sight (he has hinted a band album may be next ) Steve also recently completed his first important tour in Germany and other countries in Europe. A tour which should open doors to the ever important American scene.
On stage and off – in very much the same way Keith Richards has remained true to himself , Steve Hill is Steve Hill. Aside from perfecting his one man band act and adding a drum stick to his guitar and a couple of cymbals, Steve Hill remains a student of the cornerstone of popular music; The Blues.
There are no bells, whistles and elaborate costumes and / or costume changes. It would not be a surprise if Hill ‘s signature cut – off Jean jacket has been repaired more often than The Mercier Bridge.
It is easy being Steve Hill and easy being Green, Yellow, Red or any colour. As long as the hues are mixed with The Blues.
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*Additional photos Rick Keene