Steve Hill performs at the Queen’s Thursday (June 30).

Steve Hill performs at the Queen’s Thursday (June 30).

Steve Hill performs solo with full-band sound

NANAIMO – Blues musician performs at the Queen's Thursday (June 30).

Steve Hill says he got the greatest lesson of his music career while tuning the guitar for Hubert Sumlin.

Sumlin was the guitar player for blues legend Howlin’ Wolf and was in town for a gig, which Hill’s band was asked to back up.

Sumlin’s manager asked Hill to tech his guitar – set it up, tune it and get it ready to play.

“I opened the case and it was this cheap Stratocaster,” Hill said, describing it as the type of guitar he’d buy for his nephew.

Sumlin was also using an amp that Hill described as less than his favourite, so he put together a simple setup for the guitar player.

“When he started playing, it was the exact same sound as the album,” Hill said.

It was then Hill understood a universal truth about music.

“The sound doesn’t come from the equipment – it comes from the soul,” he said.

Hill is a 25-year veteran of the music scene, who began performing as a teen and earned recognition in the blues music community for his first album. He toured across the globe, opening for the likes of B.B. King and Buddy Guy. But it wasn’t until he started releasing his latest solo efforts that accolades, awards and popularity rolled in for Hill.

He stripped down his music to tour as a solo performer and with his foot tapping, he realized he could add a bass drum for some extra kick.

Then came the snare, hi-hat and a couple of extra strings added to his guitar so he could throw in a baseline, too.

“I did a big tour for [Solo Recordings Vol. 1] … like, 140 shows, and I just kept adding stuff,” Hill said. “I like to keep myself busy.”

He says the new album, Solo Recordings Vol. 3, which dropped in March of this year, contains a blend of styles, from rock to blues to country – “I think there’s also some jazz in there,” he said – which ends up a hard-rocking record.

The album was released on the heels of his triple win at the Maple Blues Awards in Toronto in January, where he picked up Guitar Player of the Year, Electric Act of the Year, and Entertainer of the Year.

He went solo to help keep tour costs down, but now has three roadies to help load gear and lights. It’s this production that he’ll take to the Queen’s on Thursday (June 30).

He promises a high-energy show.

“If I remember well, people like to dance,” he said, adding that folks were on their feet from the first song during his show back in October.

The show begins at 8 p.m. with Mark Crissinger. Tickets $25.50 through the Port Theatre box office at 250-754-8550 or A donation of $1 will go toward the Nanaimo Blues Society and the Loyal Nanaimo Bathtub Society from each ticket sold.

For more information on Steve Hill, please visit

Nanaimo News Bulletin