It was a fitting way to lead into JUNO week in eastern Ontario as two incredibly talented, and award winning, Canadian musicians, Steve Hill and Matt Andersen, took to the stage at the Brockville Arts Centre on Friday night and boy did they put on a show for the sold-out crowd.
Montreal native Steve Hill boasts a 2015 Juno Award for Blues Album of the Year and 4 Maple Blues Awards ( Electric Act of the Year, Guitarist of the Year, Recording/Producer of the Year and Entertainer of the Year) and Matt Andersen, hailing from Perth-Andover New Brunswick, boasts 2 East Coast Music Association awards (Male Solo Artist of the year, Blues Recording of the year for “Something In Between”), he’s the first Canadian to win duo/individual of the year in the Memphis, Tennessee, International Blues Challenge, he’s won a total of 9 Maple Blues Awards (Entertainer of the Year 2x, Acoustic Act of the Year 2x, Male Vocalist of the Year 5x) as well as a JUNO nomination for Roots & Traditional Album of the Year for his 2014 album Weightless.
Hill kicked off the night with an incredible set with just him, his guitar and a harmonica. I’m no musician but I have seen a few perform and know a few but never have I seen anyone make a guitar sing like Steve Hill can. It was truly incredible to watch.
Andersen took to the stage after a short intermission. As he sat down on his chair at center stage he said to the crowd that Steve Hill played most of the notes and he was going to play the ones he missed and that would be the show.
The first thing that stood out for me during Andersen’s set was the power of his voice and what he could do with it. One of the things I love about blues music is that it’s one of the few genres of music that you can actually feel when it’s performed right. And Matt delivers such a powerful performance when he’s on stage that his music and vocals go out over the crowd like a blanket and wrap themselves around the audience.
I’ve always loved blues music but usually I’d be listening to it in a bar but on Friday night if you closed your eyes and just let the music take you away you could imagine sitting in a smoky bar with Matt the lone musician sitting on a chair on a small stage in the corner.
One of my favorite things about Matt was his sense of humour, turns out he’s actually a really funny guy as well as a very talented musician. He’d tell stories behind the songs, stories from the road and even managed to improvise and keep the crowd in stitches while he changed a broken string mid-set (by sheer luck it was the G string that broke on his guitar which opened the door perfectly for a number of G-string jokes and even gave him the chance to take a shot at the guitar tech by teasing him that he wasn’t needed anymore after he managed to fix it himself.)
On their own Steve and Matt were both equally incredible artists and put on fantastic performances but when Matt invited Steve to join him on stage midway through his set the end result was nothing short of magic.
Steve and Matt have two tour stops remaining together, tonight in Peterborough and Wednesday in Quebec City. Matt will visit Montreal on Thursday but will be joined by Ian Janes. Following the Montreal show Andersen will head west for a few tour dates on The Last Waltz Remembered tour with Corb Lund and Amy Helm. Andersen will spend much of the spring in Europe before returning to Canada for a few festival slots including Ottawa’s RBC Bluesfest July 7, Orillia’s Mariposa Folk Festival July 8 & 9, Grande Prairie Alberta’s Bear Creek Folk Fest August 18-20.
For full tour information for Matt Andersen visit http://www.stubbyfingers.ca
For more information on Steve Hill and where you can catch him live visit http://www.stevehillmusic.com/