Meet Cliff Stevens
Blues guitarist Cliff Stevens is an award-winning artist from Montreal, Canada. He has played the blues and toured for several decades throughout Canada, Europe and Morocco. His solo debut on Preservation Blues Review featured two original songs that received critical acclaim.His self-titled album Cliff Stevens received awards & praise:
“Top 10 Albums, Top 10 Guitarists, Best Original Song” – Real Blues Magazine. It also spent 18 months on the Top 100 new CD’s charts.
Blues Matters Magazine (UK) commented “…fine slide…finely wrought vocal style…quality quality songs.”
Cliff Stevens has been playing guitar professionally for longer than he sometimes cares to admit, around 35 years to be vaguely precise. Like so many blues musicians before him, he spent much of his career displaying his significant talents in relative obscurity as a sideman with various travelling groups. Crowds ranged anywhere from 14,000 at the Montreal International Jazz Festival to 1,400 at the Medley Club in Montreal to 14 drunks in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.
Like a moth to a flame, Stevens was drawn irresistibly to the genre. He recalls learning to play at 13 jamming for hours to slow blues in a coffee house in his home town of Montreal that was a hot bed for Canadian guitarists like Frank Marino of Mahogany Rush and being influenced by the foremost British and American blues rock guitarists of the day. “Clapton just jammed all night long and I was blown away,” Stevens says of a Cream concert that he attended in Montreal in 1968. “I then saw Johnny Winter in 1970 and memorized every lick I could.”
The non-stop grind of six-nights a week on the road mixed with alcohol and drugs took its toll. “I was burned out, disillusioned, I badly needed a break,” says Stevens who stepped away from music from 1982 to 1985 to drive taxi in Toronto.
He also went back to school earning a Masters Degree in Music and Education from Concordia University in Montreal and explored other musical styles. “I really got into jazz for a while but I kept getting calls for blues gigs and had no real opportunity to master the jazz language,” he says.
After 7 years of sobriety, Stevens headed back out on the road but suffered a relapse while performing in Morocco. “It lasted close to 3 years and almost did me in – it was really rough,” he confides.
Alcohol and drug-free since 1998 and with a renewed focus on his forte of the blues, Stevens’ solo career has taken flight. Two songs, Said the Wrong Thing and Crying My Heart Out that he composed in Paris in 1997 appeared to much acclaim on the Preservation Blues Review compilation CD.
In 2009, Stevens released his self-titled debut album comprised of 15 tracks, 8 of them original. It spent 18 months on the Top 100 New CD chart and was nominated for Album of the Year by Le Lys Blues. Real Blues Magazine ranked it among the top 10 Canadian blues albums of 2009, Stevens among the top 10 blues guitarists and nominated Don’t Walk Away for Best Original Song.
With his Clapton-like looks, raspy vocals and vast knowledge and virtuosity as a blues guitarist, Stevens is recognised as the world’s premier Eric Clapton impersonator, faithfully and respectfully recreating the music of a legend and one of his formative influences. www.EricClaptonTribute.com
He is currently working on his second CD, tentatively titled Grass Won’t Grow scheduled for release this year. A great guitarist who sings the blues with the road-hardened voice of experience, Cliff Stevens is a must see.
– Ken Wright
2017 European Tour Dates