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.