MAPLE BLUES MAGAZINE REVIEW - JOHN VALENTEYN MAY 2014
Steve Strongman Let Me Prove It To You Self
A Natural Fact was most unusual for Hamilton’s Steve Strongman and not just for winning the JUNO award. It was an acoustic album from an artist known for his electric shows. To say that news of his next disc was eagerly anticipated is a major understatement. Well, here’s the news: it will be released on May 13, it’s electric (mostly) and it’s great. The opener is a stunning rocker – “There’s Something Goin’ On” is a ‘there’s mule kickin’ in my stall’ song with a slide hook to die for and a great chorus (with Emma-Lee). “What I Believe” is a slower & heavier, with some neat little shifts and a section with harp over an acoustic slide. “Get Used To It” is mostly acoustic, again with slide and again with a good tune and Jesse O’Brien on piano. The song says you’re not going to get everything you want. It’s not the only one here about getting older, “We’re Going Out Tonight” has an old friend calling him up and wanting to go out like the old days but our narrator has a wife and kids and things to do. Again with an inventive arrangement and tune. While Strongman plays some pretty mean harp himself, he’s brought along Guy Bélanger from Montreal for “Lookin’ For Trouble”. Somewhat unusually, the song fades in as Strongman sings over his slide, the two have a dueling solo feature. The acoustic “Older” confronts the issue head on and the chorus, rather tunefully, says ‘he’s getting older but not old’- uptempo and optimistic. Strongman is a one of our finest entertainers and one of our strongest songwriters. This album keeps that all-important momentum going. A strong contender for next year’s JUNO and he’s debuting it in Hamilton on May 9 at Hamilton Place, the Molson Canadian Studio Theatre. Our turn comes at Hugh’s Room a week later, on May 15th. The web site is www.stevestrongman.com<http://www.stevestrongman.com> .
HAMILTON SPECTATOR FEATURE "NOTHING LEFT TO PROVE" MAY 6,2014 HERE
STEVE STRONGMAN OPENS FOR THE LEGENDARY BB KING
Steve Strongman fulfilled a lifetime dream of opening for the legendary BB King, in his hometown of Kitchener, Ontario Canada, on Saturday, October 12, 2013. Strongman and his band performed an inspired set of music in front of a completely sold out crowd of over 2,000 people at The Centre in the Square. During his set, he paid tribute to one of his mentors, blues guitarist Mel Brown, who settled in Kitchener after a lifetime on the road with some of the blues world's biggest names. "I don't think I would be doing what I am today if it weren't for Mel Brown", said Strongman. The 2013 Juno award winner also sent out a special thank you to his family, who were in attendance.
"To be able to return to my hometown as a JUNO award winner, and open for a living legend, is an incredible feeling. Thank you all for your support over all these years."
Steve Strongman Wins the JUNO 2013 Blues Album of the Year "A Natural Fact"
STRONGMAN'S SONG "LEAVING" MAKES FINALS IN INTERNATIONAL SONGWRITING COMPETITION!!!
Steve Strongman's CD "A Natural Fact" continues to garner accolades and rave reviews, with the latest recognition coming via the International Songwriting Competition. "Leaving", written by Steve Strongman and producer Rob Szabo, features multiple Maple Blues award winner Suzie Vinnick singing with Strongman. "When I wrote this song, I knew that I wanted it to be a duet right away, and I'm really pleased with the way that it turned out." Strongman also won the SOCAN sponsored Maple Blues Award for Songwriter of the Year.
The International Songwriting Competition (ISC) is proud to announce the 2012 finalists. ISC experienced a huge increase in entries in 2012, receiving over 20,000 entries in 22 categories of contemporary music from 119 countries worldwide. The entries were narrowed down to 324 finalists who hail from 45 countries throughout the world, from Pakistan to Latvia, from Ecuador to Tanzania, from Trinidad to Ukraine, and everywhere in between. These finalists' songs have now been sent to the ISC judges (see below for complete list) who will select the final winners. Winners will be announced in April, 2013.
Check HERE for a full list of finalists _________________________________________________________________
JUNO NOMINATION FOR STEVE STRONGMAN'S "A NATURAL FACT"!!!!
This has been a fantastic start to 2013 for Steve Strongman. On the heels of winning three Maple Blues Awards, the Hamilton based artist has now been nominated in the category for a JUNO in the category of Blues Recording of the Year, for his latest offering, "A Natural Fact" This is his first JUNO nomination. Awards will be presented April 20 and 21 in Regina, Saskatchewan. For the full list of nominees click HERE
What a start to the year!! Three Maple Blues Awards and now a JUNO nomination. Looking forward to celebrating with everyone in person at the shows...thanks for your support and hope to see you soon. Western Canada here I come.... Steve
See below for the press release
Just six weeks in to 2013, Steve Strongman has already achieved years worth of accolades and recognition for his latest release "A Natural Fact", including a JUNO nomination for Blues Album of the Year. "I’ve dreamed about this for years and it has finally come true," Strongman said. The JUNO nomination follows Strongman winning three Maple Blues Awards at the gala ceremony in January, where he received awards for Guitarist of the Year, Songwriter of the Year, and along with Rob Szabo, Recording/Producer of the Year for "A Natural Fact".
Strongman had been nominated for six Maple Blues Awards, including nominations in both categories for Electric Act of the Year and Acoustic Act of the Year, as well as Entertainer of the Year. Strongman also had the honour of performing at the gala awards concert, and a rousing showcase at Blues Summit 6. For a complete list of all the Maple Blues Award winners, visit torontobluessociety.com
He has also been nominated in the category of Blues Artist or Group of the Year for the 13th Annual Independent Music Awards, to be held during Canadian Music Fest on March 22. indies.ca
Upcoming Performance Dates
Friday, February 22 and Saturday February 23, 2013 Yardbird Suite, Edmonton, AB
Monday, February 25 - Wednesday February 27, 2013 Blues in Schools, Saskatoon Sponsored by the Saskatoon Blues Society
Thursday, February 28, 2013 StirCrazy Blues Festival, Swift Current SK
Friday, March 1st, 2013 Saskatoon Blues Festival, Saskatoon SK
Saturday, March 2, 2013 Aurora Winter Blues Festival, ON
Steve Strongman wins THREE Maple Blues Awards including Guitarist of the Year, Recording/Producer of the Year, (A Natural Fact, Produced by Rob Szabo), and the Socan Songwriter of the Year. Strongman led the National Maple Blues Awards nominations with six, including Electric Act of the Year, Acoustic Act of the Year, and Entertainer of the Year.
"What an amazing night. I am humbled and thrilled. Thank you to the Maple Blues Awards Nominating panel, and to all the people that voted for me. Congratulations to all the nominees and winners. Je tiens à dire un speciale grand merci à tous mes amis et fans au Québec pour tout votre soutien, je me réjouis de vous voir bientôt." Steve Strongman
STEVE STRONGMAN LEADS 16TH ANNUAL MAPLE BLUES AWARDS WITH NOMINATIONS IN SIX CATEGORIES
Hamilton's Steve Strongman leads the pack this year with nominations for Entertainer of the Year, Electric Act of the Year, Acoustic Act of the Year, Guitarist of the Year, Recording/Producer of the Year, and Songwriter of the Year.
Winners in all categories, except the instrumental categories, will be selected by blues fans across the country.Anyone in Canada with a valid email address is eligible to vote. Winners in the guitar, harmonica, piano/keyboards, horn, drum, and bass categories will be determined by the Nominating Panel.
VOTING IS NOW CLOSED - THANK YOU FOR VOTING!!!
WINNERS ANNOUNCED AT THE MAPLE BLUES AWARDS GALA ON JANUARY 21st, at KOERNER HALL IN TORONTO. TICKETS
************* SZABO WINS!!!! "A NATURAL FACT" PRODUCER ROB SZABO WINS CANADIAN FOLK MUSIC AWARD PRODUCER OF THE YEAR
I'm thrilled to tell you I will be in the upcoming documentary about the legendary Mel Brown.
I was in studio Monday with producer Sean Jasmins, and cameraman Danny Bailey.
It was an absolute pleasure to talk about Mel and re-live so many great stories, and remember what a special person and talent Mel Brown was. Can't wait to see the final footage! I will keep you posted, but I believe the release date is Spring 2013.
Steve Strongman makes acoustic guitar sing
Saturday, 28 April 2012 15:20 Richard Amery
Steve Strongman knows how to make an acoustic guitar rock on his new CD “Natural Fact.” He won the 2011 Maple Blues award for best blues guitarist of the year, and one listen to “Natural Fact,” it is easy to hear why.
You can hear pretty nimble fingerpicking right from the first track on “Haven’t Seen It Yet.” And it only gets better from there. While he sometimes has a band behind him, which make him sound a lot like Juno nominees Monkey Junk, he shines when left to his own devices and acoustic like on “You Do It To Yourself.”
He breaks out the harp for some hot playing on “ the jazz tinged “ Full of You.” and again to end the CD with “Just One Thing.”
He has a gorgeous liquid voice throughout and plays very impressive , usually fingerpicked guitar throughout the disc.
There is lots of beautiful slide guitar playing and superb harp blowing.
Respected singer/ songwriter Rob Szabo produced “Natural Fact,” and even adds extra bass on “Coming Home Tonight.”
One of the many highlights of this CD is the upbeat “Leaving,” with Juno nominee Suzie Vinnick,
which features a little boogie woogie piano to get thing started and a solid beat to get the feet moving. The two complement each other very well.
He slows down slightly on “Coming Home Tonight,” but then tears into “I Got Trouble,
which sounds like a long lost blues classic, but it is all his. All of the songs were either written by or co-written by Strongman.
“Full of You,” starts to bring the CD to close with a lot of hot picking. And he ends on a slower, almost all a cappella note, though with a lot of tasteful harp playing on “Just One Thing.”
With “ Natural Fact,” Steve Strongman is well on my way to becoming my new favourite Canadian bluesman and definitely a hidden treasure everyone should discover, like many people including Buddy Guy, Joe Cocker and Randy Bachman already have.
— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
HAMILTON SPECTATOR - APRIL 28, 2012
This husband and father knows all about Coming Home Tonight
Hamilton's Steve Strongman performs songs from his new CD at Molson Canadian Studio on Saturday, May 5.
Steve Strongman Hamilton's Steve Strongman performs songs from his new CD at Molson Canadian Studio on Saturday, May 5.
Success is a mixed blessing for a professional musician. Take Steve Strongman. The Hamilton blues guitarist has gone from playing local pubs to touring the world.
In Canada, Strongman has built a reputation as one of the best in the country. He’s opened for the legendary Buddy Guy four times and toured across the country with New Orleans’ great Sonny Landreth. Just two weeks ago, he performed at a special tribute for the late Jeff Healey at Toronto’s Sound Academy with Randy Bachman and Jack de Keyzer.
He’s been a familiar face on the Canadian festival circuit for several years, and last year toured France, Brazil and Mexico. Germany will likely be next, since he just signed a European record deal with German blues and jazz label Peppercake Records.
But Strongman can also be seen pushing a baby carriage on Dundurn or Locke streets near the home he shares with his wife, Meredith. Strongman, 39, is the proud father of two daughters.
“Ella is six. She’s in Grade 1 at Earl Kitchener,” Strongman beams, pulling out family photos over lunch at the West Town Grill. “Scarlett is three and she starts school in September.”
When he’s not on the road, he’s very much a house dad while Meredith works as a science teacher at Sir John A. Macdonald Secondary School.
For Strongman, the blues is often about missing home.
“It can be really tough to do what I’m doing because you’re trying to have a family life, be the best parent and husband you can be,” he says. “But when you’re away, you’re gone, you’re touring. There’s no way I could do it if I didn’t have the support that I have at home.”
You’ll hear that sentiment on Strongman’s new album, A Natural Fact, which he will debut at a concert Saturday, May 5, in the Molson Canadian Studio at Hamilton Place.
As a matter of fact, it’s at the core of the album’s centrepiece track, a beautiful acoustic folk ballad called Coming Home Tonight. It’s also there on the more traditional blues number, Rockin’ Chair Blues.
“I wrote all the songs and I always write from personal experience,” Strongman explains, “So Coming Home Tonight, for example, I wrote when I was on the road in Europe, missing my family, missing my friends. I have an amazing network of friends and family here. It’s the only way I could ever do it, honestly.”
A Natural Fact is Strongman’s fourth album and marks a change from his previous efforts which are dominated by his fiery electric guitar. This time around, Strongman showcases his abilities on acoustic guitar, with a full band backing him.
“I’ve always loved acoustic music,” Strongman says. “There’s an intimacy that happens with acoustic instruments. I played guitar for five years before I ever picked up an electric. There’s always been an acoustic influence on all of my records.”
The album, produced by Strongman’s longtime friend and collaborator Rob Szabo, was recorded in Hamilton, Toronto and at the Barn Window Studio in Caistor Centre, with Alex Fraser on bass, Dave King on drums, Jesse O’Brien on piano and a guest appearance by Suzie Vinnick on vocals.
Check out this review of the new album...thanks to John the Rock Doctor from Gonzo online.
A Natural Fact Steve Strongman (Independent) 5/5
A Natural Fact is the sweetest, most enjoyable disc of acoustic blues I’ve heard in a very long time- maybe even ever. A joyous blues album- is such a thing even possible? Yes it is- and here is all the proof you need.
Strongman was the Maples Blues Award winner last year for “Guitar Player Of The year”, and after hearing the new album I have no trouble believing it. “I’ve always had a love for acoustic based music, especially the blues” he says, and it shows here in the joy of his performance. His playing is driven yet supple, some tasty slide work, and you never get the feeling that he’s fighting the instrument. Part of the appeal of this record is that it feels so natural (hence the title I’m sure) and- I hate to use the word, but ‘effortless’.
There are several solo acoustic numbers here, just Steve with his guitar and voice. Elsewhere he’s joined by Dave King and Adam Warner on drums, Alec Fraser and Rob Szabo (producer) on bass, and Jesse O’Brien on piano. The bio says Strongman has shared stages with Buddy Guy, Jimmie Vaughan, Randy Bachman, Roy Clark, Otis Clay, Jeff Healey, Sonny Landreth and Joe Cocker, just to name a few- wish I’d been to any one of those shows!
I’d recently thought of giving up writing reviews, but as long as treasures like A Natural Fact cross my desk for me to pass along, I’ll keep at it. I’m sure I’m not the only one already considering this album for “Best Blues of 2012”.
TOP TRACKS: I Forgot, Can’t Go Back, I Got Trouble