By Ken Wallis, Blues & Roots Radio
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“Everything comes out in blues music: joy, pain, struggle. Blues is affirmation with absolute elegance. It's about a man and a woman. So the pain and the struggle in the blues is that universal pain that comes from having your heart broken. Most blues songs are not about social statements.”
You betcha we got the blues. And lovin’, livin’ the blues.
The Ides of March
As Ebeneezer Scrooge would say, HUMBUG! The Ides of March has no impact on the blues. There are some great events coming up in March. Here are just a few.
This Burlington Ontario based band is making some great music waves in the Hamilton area. Catch them Sunday March 11 at Stonewall’s No Cover Sunday Matinee.
Cosmic Blues Band
Famed for their longstanding residency at B.B King’s Blues Club on Times Square, this high energy band has set up in Toronto for some blues that’ll get you up on your feet and dancing. Catch them at the Gladstone Hotel in Toronto on Friday March 16. Here’s a quick sample:
Making Moments Matter – An Evening 0f Ray Charles
Now here’s an event that demands attention. It’s a wonderful fund raiser for Lisaard and Innisfree Hospices that features early evening cocktails, silent auctions, a luscious dinner and then, my oh my, what a line-up of music. It’s an evening of Ray Charles music with a star-studded lineup of Shakura S’Aida, Chuck Jackson, Harrison Kennedy, Matt Weidinger, Lance Anderson and Jesse O’Brien. It takes place Saturday March 24 at the Walper Hotel in Kitchener.
The Juno Awards
The big Juno weekend is coming up March 24–25 and the award for the blues album of the year will be handed out. Over the next few weeks we’ll turn the spotlight on the nominated musicians.
Guitarist, songwriter and vocalist Steve Strongman makes Hamilton, Ontario his home. Originally from Kitchener, he started playing guitar at 16 and learned his trade by studying with famed bluesman, Mel Brown.
He played in a band called Plasticine with Rob Szabo, which was the start of a life-long friendship and collaboration. Steve also played with Kazzer and toured in the U.S. and Europe.
He moved to Hamilton 2007 and released his debut blues album Honey and was recognized by a Maple Blues nomination.
The album also features a great Mel Brown/Steve Strongman tune,
“How Blue Can You Get”
His next release was Blues In Colour in 2010.
The song “Lie To You”, shows he was on his way to stardom.
Steve’s career really took off when he rolled out an acoustic release in 2012 entitled A Natural Fact.
This cd caught everyone’s attention. Steve was recognized with Maple Blues Awards for Recording, Songwriter, and Guitarist Of The Year plus a Juno for Blues Recording of the year. This cd contains one of my favourite songs of all time, a duet with Suzie Vinnick called “Leaving”.
Here there are at Steve’s annual Christmas party in Hamilton
It was at this time, I first met Steve. We arranged to do an interview and he said he’d come to the radio station. I was busy on-air and awaited Steve’s arrival. I had this feeling someone was watching and I glanced up at the studio’s glass windows. There was Steve with his nose pressed against the glass. What a hoot 😊 He’s a real genuine guy
Next up was Let Me Prove it To You. This cd also garnered a Juno nomination for Blues Album of the Year .
Steve lets his electric guitar talent come to the forefront with a plethora of great tunes. I love the tune “Older”, which features the lyric:
“I said, the past is in the past, ain’t no way we’re getting it back, them glory days were gold, I might be getting older, but I ain’t getting old”
So now we’re caught up. Now on to this year’s nominated Blues Album of the Year, No Time Like Now. It’s an album that takes Steve’s music into fresh, new territory .
In an interview with Steve on my radio show, Blues Blast, he commented:
“I always think as an artist you have to try and push the boundaries of what it is you do. I certainly feel that way….Now is the time to do something a little different”
This cd features terrific musicians; Dave King and Adam Warner on Drums; Rob Szabo and Alec Fraser on bass; Jesse O'Brien on bass; and Randy Bachman joins the fun with Steve’s rendition of Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s, You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet.
There are some great songs on this cd. My favourite has to be Old School.
If you haven’t already bought the cd, THERE’S NO TIME LIKE NOW!
Steve is frequently on tour so if you get a chance catch him live. It’s an experience you’ll thoroughly enjoy.
You can peruse his list of appearances at https://www.stevestrongman.com/live
Next week we’ll put the spotlight on another of the Juno nominees.
Till then, keep the blues close to you.