Home of Steve Fisher, acoustic guitarist, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Bio

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I grew up in a small village in southern Ontario called Sharon about thirty-five miles northeast of Toronto. Saxophone was my first instrument but I started playing guitar after high school while working in a bush camp in northern Ontario. I learned a few chords that summer but didn't really start to play tunes until after I went to university in London, England in 1976. A friend played me a recording of "Stack O'Lee" by Mississippi John Hurt and I was totally knocked out by it. I was amazed by how much sound you could get out of an acoustic guitar. Over the next three years I taught myself to play a few rags and some country blues with the help of recordings from Stefan Grossman's Kicking Mule Records. One of my favourites was a ragtime guitar sampler called "The Entertainer" featuring Bob Evans and Jim McLennan. I listened to these guys as much as I could. It was pretty heady stuff and way beyond what I could play at the time. Some of it still is!


After getting a B.A. in English Literature, I moved back to Calgary in 1979. I was in a local folk music store one afternoon and noticed an ad for ragtime and fingerstyle guitar lessons. The teacher was none other than Jim McLennan who had moved here from Edmonton a couple of years before. For the next two or three months I would show up at Jim's place for the best half hour of my week. I learned some great rags, 'Blue Finger' by Jerry Reed and a bunch of Bruce Cockburn tunes and was quite disappointed when Jim told me one day that I'd learned enough and really just needed to go out and play. Law school intervened for a few years but I still ended up getting the 'Slowhand' Award from my classmates for "the best musician masquerading as a law student"' in the class of '83.


A few years later I started learning about bluegrass music and playing fiddle tunes with a flatpick. If you had a bluegrass band in Alberta and B.C. in the late 80's, work was easy to find. The money wasn't always great but the playing experience sure was. On my first trip to the Peace Country Bluegrass Festival near Chetwynd, B.C., I had the pleasure of meeting Roland White who was there with Country Gazette. I remember him graciously joining our band at a late jam where we played all the Kentucky Colonels tunes we knew and a few that we didn't. After that I had the bluegrass bug and over the next twenty years I played many of the clubs and festivals in the folk and bluegrass scene in Alberta and British Columbia with bands such as Rocky Road, the Hot House Bluegrass Band and the Sheep River Rounders. My current band is called Restless Lester.  I also regularly perform with a collection of musicians known as the Steve Fisher Group and as a guitarist with singer/songwriter Cori Brewster.  Over the two or three years I have performed with Connie Kaldor, Bob Evans, Jim Nunally, John Reischman, Steve Spurgin, Ben Plotnick, Noah Zacharin, Jenny Lester, Chris Stevens, Matt Hotte, Merl Johnson, Mike Munford, Danny Booth, Terry Kruger, Lizzy Hoyt and many others.


I'm still listening and learning but my main influences so far have been Doc Watson, John Hurt, Clarence White, Tony Rice and Ron Block. I'm also a big fan of Davy Graham , Nic Jones, Pierre Bensusan, Pat Metheny, Ry Cooder, Peter Green, Bill Frisell, Charlie Byrd, Lenny Breau and the solo guitar playing of Earl Klugh.


Thanks for visiting!

 

Steve Fisher

Photo by Todd Korol


 

BANDS

 

I've had the good fortune to play with some fine musicians over the years.  Here are some of the bands that I've played in.

 

ROCKY ROAD  (1985 - 1989)

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The Rocky Road lineup changed several times in the early days but this was the band that played most of the gigs during the first couple of years.

From left to right:  Kevin Bell, Steve Fisher, Terry Kruger, Ron Paxton and Elmer Udahl.

(Photo by David Ballantyne)


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Here is the 1987 to 1989 lineup:

(From left to right) Steve Fisher, Michael Heiden, Terry Kruger, Bill Figeczki and Kevin Bell.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Here's a song we recorded in 1987 as part of a demo with Terry on lead vocal, Kevin on baritone and me on tenor.  Engineered by Graham Jones.


One Morning in May


 

The HOT HOUSE BLUEGRASS BAND  (1989 - 1995)

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After the breakup of Rocky Road in the fall of 1989, Al LaMonaca and I got together to do a little playing.  Before long a gig prospect developed for us. As the president of the Foothills Bluegrass Music Society, one of my duties was to find opening acts at little or no cost.  So I asked Al and Bill Figeczki if they would like to play a set with me before Ron Block, Eric Uglum and Sandra Block who were coming through under the name New Wine.

 

The New Wine show went well and the following month we opened for The Weary Hearts, Ron and Eric's old band, coincidentally.  This group also had a future star studded lineup:  Butch Baldassari on mandolin, Mike Bub on banjo, Chris Jones on guitar, Nick Haney on bass and Ward Stout on fiddle.  Michael Heiden joined Al, Bill and I and a new band was born.  Six months later people were calling us 'the hot house band' and the name stuck.

 

After a year or so Michael moved to Vancouver and Kevin Bell joined us.  That lineup recorded an album in '92 called "Bluegrass Proud".  The four of us played a ton of shows and had a lot of fun. The photo at the right is from the 1992 Calgary Folk Festival (from left to right:  Kevin Bell, Bill Figeczki, Steve Fisher and Al LaMonaca).  Kevin left in the fall of '93 and we continued for a couple more years with Boh Woodward, another fine mandolin player.  For a number of dates in '94 we also had the incredible Norm Rombeck on fiddle.

 

Here are a couple of tunes from the Hot House Bluegrass Band album "Bluegrass Proud" recorded by Richard Harrow.  The first is the title cut with Al on lead (tenor on the chorus), Kevin on baritone and me singing the chorus lead. The second song is "If That's The Way You Feel" with me on lead, Al on tenor and Kevin on baritone.


Bluegrass Proud

If That's The Way You Feel

 

The SHEEP RIVER ROUNDERS  (1998 - 2002)

In 1996 Renay and I moved to the Turner Valley area.  In those days there were quite a number of musicians living in the neighbourhood and the local amenities included a guitar store, a recording studio, two or three music venues and a community that was very supportive of the arts.  Before long I hooked up with Nathan Tinkham, Myran Szott and Richard Gullison and we formed a band called the Sheep River Rounders.  Ian Tyson sat in on our first gig for the Beneath the Arch concert society and sang a few songs.  After about six months Nathan moved to the west coast and John Cronin, another former member of Ian's band The Chinook Arch Riders, joined us.  In late 2000 we recorded our album 'Four Rode By' at Dwain Sand's studio in Turner Valley.  Here's the title cut written by Ian Tyson with me singing lead and baritone vocals and John Cronin on tenor.

 

Four Rode By


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From left to right:  Myran Szott, John Cronin, Steve Fisher and Richard Gullison.  Photo and design by Bill Faulkner and Penny Corradine.  Illustration by Frederick Remington.

 

 

RESTLESS LESTER  (2002 - present)

band2.pn.smIn 2002 I formed a bluegrass band called Restless Lester with Brad Lindberg and Bruce Blair.  We played our first gig live on CBC radio at the Eyeopener Stampede breakfast.  A few months later Keith Burgess joined us on bass and we started gigging fairly heavily.  Over the first year or so we played the Calgary Folk Festival, the Edmonton and Red Deer bluegrass music societies, the Blueberry Bluegrass Festival, the Shady Grove Bluegrass Festival and a slew of other venues and events.  In 2005 we recorded our album "Endless Skies" and have continued to tour around Alberta, BC and occasionally into Saskatchewan and Washington State.  The current lineup is Bruce and I plus Erik Smistad on bass and Ryan Schroeder on banjo.   

 

Photo by Todd Korol.  From left to right:  Steve Fisher, Brad Lindberg, Bruce Blair, Keith Burgess.

 

Here is the song that provided the title for 'Endless Skies', written by John Cowan, Wendy Waldman and D. Lowery.  I'm singing lead, Bruce tenor and Keith baritone.  Recorded by Jerry Woolsey at Beta Sound Recorders in Edmonton.

 

 

My Heart Will Follow You

                                                          

 

STEVE FISHER and JIM McLENNAN  (2004 - 2011)


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After taking some guitar lessons from Jim McLennan in the early 80's, we didn't reconnect until a chance encounter in 2003 at a Christmas concert in Okotoks.  Neither one of us was performing at the show but I recognized him at the break and introduced myself.  We chatted for a bit and made plans to get together in the new year and pick some tunes.  In June of 2004 we played a short set at Mike and Jo MacLeod's Back Porch Swing and then started gigging as regularly as we could after that.  It was a lot of fun and we made a heck of a big sound with two fingerpicked guitars and two voices. 

 

Jim was one of the musicians who appeared on my solo CD 'River' and one of songs we recorded was an original instrumental he wrote called "Prairie Rose'.  Here is a duet version with Jim on the melody and me playing a harmony line.

 

Photos by Lynda McLennan


Prairie Rose

 

  The STEVE FISHER GROUP   (2007 - present) 


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All Photos by Tracy Kolenchuk

 

After the making of my solo CD 'River' in 2007 I put together a band to play some Alberta CD release shows and a BC tour. The group consisted of me on guitar and lead vocals, Bruce Blair on fiddle, Cedric Blary on clarinet, Jim McLennan on guitar and Paul Bergman on bass.  For the next two years we played quite a few shows together as a trio, quartet or quintet.  The band is still active and often features other musicians such as Kodi Hutchinson, Kevin Jacobson and Erik Smistad. 

 

Although there are bluegrass elements in the sound of this band, the group has much more of folk, blues and swing flavour.  Here is a Fred Carter, Jr. song called 'Lost Dog Blues' from River that is a good example of the music we play.


Lost Dog Blues