January was an exciting month for Steve Hill. On January 18, Steve attended the Maple Blues Awards in Toronto and won the same three awards as last year – ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR, ELECTRIC ACT OF THE YEAR, and… GUITARIST OF THE YEAR. We spoke with Steve the day after receiving these awards to ask him about his accomplishments and his music career and here’s what he had to say: Where do you get your inspiration for your songs and lyrics?
I base my songs around my life and what I see around me. I spend a lot of time touring, I’m on tour for about 150 shows a year; so I spend a lot of time away and on the highway crossing the country and that really influences me. A lot of what I write is personal – not always completely personal – but is based on something personal. How do you think your music has transformed in the last several years?
Over the years I’ve done a lot of different types of music. For a while I did stoner hard rock and then I was more country-rock or southern-rock. I’ve also done the pure blues. Then five years ago I started doing this one-man-band thing and that really changed everything for me. Suddenly I started having some real success. I never would have thought it would have happened by becoming a one-man-band.
I had to adapt my song-writing to the limitations created by being a one-man-band and those limitations helped me find a sound – and it’s a sound that I could see in my head but couldn’t hear it yet. And I never thought it would happen by doing it on my own but I guess it’s what I had to do.
For most guys, after performing and being a musician for over 20 years it’s hard to find a new sound but for me I had to learn to play drums with my feet and I had to adapt the way I play guitar and reinvent myself – and that’s always a good thing. Where did you get the idea to create the unique one-man-band that you have?
When I started doing the one-man-band I was playing guitar and stomping my foot on the floor, then I realized I could get a base drum and then after a while I wanted to use my other leg – so I got a high-hat. I wanted the back-beat that you have in rock ‘n roll and you need a snare for that, so I found a way to use a snare by using a base drum pedal. Eventually I wanted to have the cymbal so I found a way to put a drumstick on the end of my guitar – and that took a while to get used to but now it’s completely natural. I can now do a regular drummer-beat. I’ve also modified my guitar so I can play bass and guitar at the same time.
Learning to play harmonica and do the foot work and play guitar at the same time was probably the hardest. How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard it before?
It’s high-energy blues, rock, roots music. A lot of people tell me after a show that it’s like you’re at Woodstock but it’s a blues show at the same time. Some of it really rocks but there are also more mellow segments. I play acoustic songs as well. It’s not your typical blues show – it’s different and high-energy.
People say I’m a blues artist but I don’t do the traditional blues. I never do the twelve bar blues and stuff like that so there’s a big rock element to my music. Muddy Waters in the 50’s said blues had a baby and they called it rock ‘n roll and basically rock ‘n roll is what happens when you mix blues and country music. I just do music. I don’t think “I’m going to do a blues song, or I’m going to do a rock song,” I just do a song, and all of these elements mix themselves together.
Steve Hill will be pairing up with Paul Reddick for his concert on March 9. Steve said he’s a big fan of Paul Reddick and he looks forward to him opening for his shows. “I love playing with him so I’m sure there’s some magic to happen.”
Don’t miss this chance to see a Canadian award-winning blues artist when he stops in Kitchener on March 9. Get your tickets today.
Just before Christmas we spoke with Canadian singer, songwriter, Frazey Ford and delved into her life as a musician to find out what music means to her, how it defines her, and where she gets her influence from.
Frazey… Ford describes her music as something between Bob Dylan folk and Otis Redding soul. Growing up in a free-spirited home with lots of music and creativity, it’s no surprise that Frazey is as inventive and passionate as she is. “My mom sang all the time. She was always playing the accordion and piano and singing and my dad wrote a lot of poetry and did a lot of visual art. The record player or the stereo was always on with all kinds of music. I think if you have that backdrop around you, you’re liable to absorb some of it” says Frazey.
Growing up she would fall in love with different artists based on how they looked and how they sounded. She remembers being fascinated with Linda Ronstadt and Juice Newton at the young age of 7. From there she really got into the Supremes, which led her to mo-town music around the age of 11.
For Frazey, it’s been a long process of listening to music her whole life and being interested in making music. When asked about the inspiration behind her music she said, “It’s been a long exploration. In your youth as an artist you’re absorbing people all the time, so I absorbed a lot of folk music and soul music and I listened to Otis Redding, Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan. There’s a long period of figuring out what inspires an artist and understanding what that artist wants to be.”
Growing up in a creative household, music has always been a part of her life. “My relationship to music is probably close to being the most important relationship I have in my life, other than my son” says Frazey. “It has always come first, and I think that’s what part of being an artist is – you have a connection to a creative form that is as much a part of you as your best friend or your relationship to spirituality – it’s such a huge part of who you are – and it’s probably one of the most important things in my life in terms of how I understand myself and how I understand the world around me and how I make sense of difficult things, how I choose to keep moving forward, how I process and it’s my most primal spiritual relationship.”
Over the years her love and passion for music has landed her in many different bands. One of her earliest cover bands was an Al Green cover band. “I’ve done a lot of different cover bands and went down a lot of different paths musically,” says Frazey, “but soul was always kind of my first love.”
From cover bands, Frazey was a founding member of The Be Good Tanyas, a folk music group in the late 90s. From there she released her solo debut in 2010, Obadiah. Filmmaker Robert Gordon was working on a documentary on Memphis soul when he heard Ford’s Obadiah song, “If You Gonna Go,” and invited her to record at Royal Studios in Memphis. That journey sparked a collaboration that eventually became the album Indian Ocean. “That whole experience was almost a very strange dream, and it affected me so profoundly” says Frazey. “When you get to the point where you’re working with people you consider to be your heroes it’s a huge change between admiring something for so long to becoming it in a way.”
Frazey will perform on our OnStage set-up February 16. With all of our OnStage shows you have the additional option to attend a delicious three course meal in our CentreStage Lounge, hosted by our sponsor, Borealis Grille & Bar before each performance when you purchase tickets by calling box office at 519 578 1570. Seating is limited, make your reservation* when you purchase tickets. *Three-course dinner is $29.95. This price does not include, tax, gratuities or drinks. Please inform us of any allergies and sensitivities when making your reservation.
Two amazing Canadian shows will be joining the OnStage line-up in 2016. Frazey Ford will perform with her band on February 16, followed by the performance of Steve Hill and Paul Reddick on … rel=”noopener”>March 9. These two Canadian shows possess their own distinct sound and style that is sure to add new dimensions to the OnStage line-up. Frazey Ford
Canadian singer-songwriter Frazey Ford made her solo debut with Obadiah in July 2010 after being a founding member of The Be Good Tanyas. After filmmaker Robert Gordon (who was working on a documentary on Memphis soul at the time) heard Ford’s Obadiah song, “If You Gonna Go,” he invited her to record at Royal Studios in Memphis. That journey sparked a collaboration that eventually became the album Indian Ocean which has since reached #6 in the Sunday Times UK’s top 100 albums of the year. You can feel the power and spirit of the Memphis soul and folk-blues in Ford’s latest album Indian Ocean, which incorporates the skills of at least 16 musicians, including Al Green’s band, The Hi Rhythm Section.
Have a listen to “September Fields” from her newest record.
“It was an amazing feeling being in that studio, singing into those old microphones, and collaborating with these incredibly talented heroes of subtle groove and soul. I could feel the history and vibe of that place coming up through the floor,” Ford says. “I’ve worshiped all of them for 20 years. These guys are our heroes,” Ford says.
Join us on February 16 as Frazey Ford makes her Centre debut and unearths lyrical intimacies with honesty and a giving heart. Steve Hill With Paul Reddick
Steve Hill is widely considered one of Canada’s most inventive and exciting guitarists, and owns the stage as a one-man band. Hill sings and plays guitar standing, with his feet playing bass drum, snare drum, hi-hats and several other percussions using a drum stick fused to the head of his guitar.
Check out “The Collector” and see the one-man band in action.
Hill recently released Solo Recordings Volume 2, the much anticipated follow-up to his JUNO nominated Solo Recordings Volume 1, which won album of the year at the International Blues Challenge in 2013. With eight original songs and three covers, including Little Walter’s “Hate To See You Go”, Muddy Water’s “I Want You To Love Me” and Ray Bonneville’s “Simple Things”, Solo Recordings Volume 2 is sure to please blues and music lovers alike.
Watch this multiple award winning Canadian blues artist live on stage for his Centre debut on March 9. Steve Hill will be joined by Opening Act Paul Reddick.
With all of our OnStage shows you have the additional option to attend a delicious three course meal in our CentreStage Lounge, hosted by our sponsor, Borealis Grille & Bar before each performance when you purchase tickets by calling box office at 519 578 1570. Seating is limited, make your reservation* when you purchase tickets. *Three-course dinner is $29.95. This price does not include, tax, gratuities or drinks. Please inform us of any allergies and sensitivities when making your reservation.