Juno Award winner and 2019 International Blues Challenge Best Guitarist (solo/duo) Steve Strongman returns to his hometown to offer his newest album. Recorded in Nashville, Tennessee and Hamilton, Tired of Talking could be Strongman’s finest outing and contrary to the album title, he's quite eager to chat about the new release.
“Dave King producer, drummer and one of my best friends, was a huge part of this record,” notes Strongman. “It was a very organic process with Dave having a new recording studio in Hamilton but Dave suggested I visit some friends in Nashville. I was looking at recording studios and Dave was recording with Creamer down there. The plan was to start down south and then see what we could do with our guys. All of the pieces fell into place and we were only going to do a couple of songs but ended up with almost half an album.”
The Nashville sessions included the talents of Pat Sansone (Wilco, Mavis Staples) on keyboards, Audley Freed (Sheryl Crow, the Black Crowes) on guitar and James Haggerty (Steve Cropper, Blues Brothers) on bass, and drummer and producer Dave King (Creamer, Autumn Defense). The Hamilton recording sessions feature the talented longtime touring bassist Colin Lapsley, and King on drums with Jesse O’Brien (Colin James) on piano.
Blues music purists like to insulate themselves in a protected scene but Strongman has been able to transcend that with gusto time and time again. His new album is driving rock and roll and powerful soul at any given turn as well as the gritty blues vibe only Strongman can do but for Strongman, it’s all the blues if only different shades. I could offer comparisons to the Rolling Stones (Tired of Talking), Tom Petty (Livin the Dream), the Band (Still Crazy ‘Bout You) and well, the Al Green cover speaks for itself with that kind of soul — the sweetest of pop confection with conviction on “Let’s Stay Together”.
“People bring up the Stones, the Faces or the Black Crows when they hear that song,” Strongman notes on the titular track. “I wrote it with Dave and Jesse O’Brien and it was always a rock and roll song but to me the Rolling Stones sound like a blues band. I told Audley that I thought the Black Crowes were a great blues band so the influences are there but we didn’t want to reinvent the wheel. We approached this record trying to get something raw and real and what the band sounds like live.
“This is my seventh release and none of them have been a pigeon holed sounding record,” adds Strongman. “As an artist, it’s important to reflect on what you want to do and say — and the music that I love is very diverse so if I’m honest, what I put out into the world is going to reflect that. In the end, it all sounds like blues to me. I’ve been playing “Let’s Stay Together” in my live set for years — it’s got such a great groove and melody to it — and people have asked me why I haven’t recorded it. We thought we’d try it out and I didn’t want to listen to the original again, the song had evolved over the years for me and we didn’t worry about the original track. People that have followed me for a while won’t be surprised that I’m doing a lot of different styles of music. This record covers a lot of ground from the straight up funky stuff to singer/songwriter stuff but to me I hope it just sounds like Steve Strongman.”
Steve Strongman sounds world class with this solid collection of songs and while the recordings shine, for years Strongman has built his reputation with his live shows. On the stage, Strongman shines best and he’s happy to spotlight his newest offering this weekend in a more novel locale.
“I was happy to see what’s happening at the Westdale Theatre with the renovations and all,” says Strongman. “I thought it’d be a good fit for me and the Hamilton Music Collective got on board to make sure artists like myself can do these kind of shows. The venue seems great and supporting these kind of community hubs is important.
“For this release party, there will be a definite heavy focus on this record but I’ll be doing a little something from everything I’ve done up to this point,” adds Strongman. “I always say, there’s nothing like hearing music live. I’m hoping everyone comes out for an incredible live experience. Hopefully we get a lot of people that just love music whether it’s blues or rock or whatever, I just want to try and connect with people on an emotional level every time I take to the stage.”
Steve Strongman plays this Friday June 28 at the Westdale Theatre with Hailee Rose opening. It's an 8pm start and tickets are $35. Click on stevestrongman.com