Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Hey, Steve Strongman could use a little East Coast love.  Not widely known in these parts, he really should be, given all the blues festivals and fans and venues.  The Hamilton, ON, singer-songwriter-guitarist is one of the country's best solo blues guys, and don't just take my word for it.  At the recent Maple Blues Awards, the one where Matt Andersen grabbed a couple, including Entertainer of the Year, Strongman took home the Guitar Player of the Year honours, ahead of some pretty awesome company.

Now, being an excellent guitar player is worthy enough in the blues, but that's just one part of Strongman's make-up.  He's a strong songwriter, who comes up with numbers that sound as if they are already established classics.  His new work, the acoustic-guitar workout A Natural Fact, features songs you'd swear you've heard before, because they have the feel of Delta classics, or Chicago standards.  I looked for famous names in the writing credits, but just found Strongman.  He's no copycat; I can't think of another song that includes the theme of You Do It To Yourself, a fast finger-picked number here, but it has all the qualities that will attract any blues fan.  My favourite is Can't Go Back, about the dumb things we say sometimes:  "Have you ever thought now, why'd I go and say that?  And as soon as the words leave your mouth, you wanna take 'em back."

I've seen him live a couple of times, both solo and with a band, and he's a winner either way, with a fine voice, and a sneaky command of the stage that builds up until you realize you're fixed on him.  With all this going on, it's time for the playing to shine.  The new disc showcases his acoustic work, with lots of picking, skillful slide, and a driving rhythm style.  There's also lots of his smooth harp playing included, and with him already proving himself in so many areas on the disc, I'd accuse him of showing off by adding that skill to the mix, but I've met the guy and he's humble, too. 

About half the tracks on A Natural Fact are solo, and the rest feature a tight backing group of just bass, drums and piano, so it's not a busy album, nor a show-off festival; it's all class.  Speaking of class, the wonderful Suzie Vinnick shows up for a duet on the cut Leaving, a great sparring number.  And a hats off to producer Rob Szabo, keeping it, in the best sense, real, and letting this all-around talent shine.


  1. I've been to tons of concerts, he still goes down as the only opening act (for Buddy Guy of all people) to get a standing ovation!

  2. Saw him in Hamilton on Saturday. His Hamilton Place (Studio Theatre) shows are always a treat. Intimate, in front of family and friends, usually with Jesse O'Brien joining on piano (and of course Colin Lapsley and Dave King supporting) it's a great night of blues.

  3. The first time we saw him, he opened for Jimmie Vaughan...when Steve started playing, we forgot all about who we thought we had come to see. He is the total package - an amazing blues artist and a real gentleman. If you haven't seen him yet, get out there!

  4. Thanks Folks! That's always been my experience with Steve too.

  5. And congratulations to Steve for winning Guitar Player of the Year, Songwriter of the Year and Record of the Year at the 16th Maple Blues Awards on January 21, 2013.