It was a banner year of Hamilton’s Steve Strongman and while he’s still riding high on his newest collection of songs, Tired of Talking, it’s recently got a re–release on vinyl just in time for his annual Christmas show.
“I would say it was a pretty good year for me kicking off the year winning the 2019 International Blues Challenge Best Guitarist (solo/duo) and then releasing my newest album, Tired of Talking and I’ve just been riding that wave ever since,” says Strongman. “We’ve been playing on tour a lot — just back from beautiful but freezing Quebec for three shows there. It’s been a really busy time but playing live is the cornerstone of everything I do. We keep adding more shows and that’s going to continue into the New Year.
“I’m very pleased to tell you that we have a vinyl version of my new album just in time for Christmas,” adds Strongman. “The vinyl has been selling really well at all the places we play in Ontario and Quebec, which is fantastic. It’s great to see such a resurgence for vinyl. This is my seventh album but my first release on vinyl so it’s been interesting but people are interested in the vinyl and buying it so I’ve been happy with it so far. We had it re–mastered for vinyl back in Nashville and and there really is something about the sound you get from vinyl. I was never really a vinyl hound but people are responding well, it’s available at some shops around town and at the show this weekend.”
Strongman is busy year round but the holidays offered a special chance to connect with fans and his holiday show has become a tradition for the blues guitarist and singer.
“The tradition actually started in Kitchener with my friend Rob Szabo,” recalls Strongman. “We started it there fifteen years ago with that show happening on December 21. It went so well that I asked my self, ‘Why am I not doing this in Hamilton, too?’ It gives us a show in town but it also gives us a chance to celebrate together and it’s turned into a big party atmosphere for the season. It’s fantastic.
“It’s a little bit different than just coming to a regular Steve Strongman show,” adds Strongman. “In terms of the material I play, it’s quite varied. One year, I added a lot of Christmas material and everybody said, ‘why are you playing so many Christmas songs — we want to hear Steve Strongman songs?’ so I try to mix and match the set list a bit. I always have guests so that’s always a highlight for me and different. Every year it’s a little bit different and it’s always a lot of fun. I get Jesse O’Brien whenever I can. We’re cousins but we don’t get to play together as much as we’d like because he’s always on the road with Colin James and a few other people. Any chance that we get to play together is a blast for me. Darcy Hepner has been a guest previously and it’s always a bit different instrumentation for me having a sax player, especially as one as great as Darcy. And young Spencer MacKenzie and I have done some work in the past — I’ve known him since he was about fifteen years old — so I thought he’d be a really good addition to the line up this year.”
Colin Lapsley and Dave King join on bass and drums respectively for the live concert that will also raise funds for a local charity that promotes music in Hamilton.
“Five dollars of every ticket sold will go directly to An Instrument For Every Child,” says Strongman. “As well, there will also be a live auction of a guitar with the proceeds also going to AIFEC. We have a great relationship with Long and McQuade and they’ve decided to donate a guitar so every performer that’s there that night is going to sign it and it’s a unique way to raise a little more money for AIFEC. Astrid Hepner does such great work with AIFEC and I actually got to go and help out with one of their events. It’s such an important cause now with all of the provincial cut backs to make sure that kids get a chance to enjoy music and that’s what they do, so it’s nice to give a little back to them. The Stinkbugs are a young band of 12 and 13 year olds currently graduated from or in the AIFEC program so it’s a great opportunity for them to show us what the program is all about at this show. I wanted AIFEC to be represented on the show.
“Anybody who likes live music should come out to this show because it’s always a high energy, entertaining show that we try to bring to the table and certainly with the band and guests that I have this year, it should be more of the same,” adds Strongman. “But it’s more important now than ever for people to come out and support live music because we need to keep it going and bring people out and this is a perfect night to do it and celebrate the season.”
The Steve Strongman Tenth Annual Christmas Party happens this Saturday December 14 at the Leander Boat Club (50 Leander Drive) with Spencer MacKenzie, Jesse O'Brien, Darcy Hepner and the Stinkbugs. Doors open at 7pm and tickets are $30 in advance or $35 at the door with $5 from every ticket sold going to An Instrument for Every Child (AIFEC). Click on stevestrongman.com