BIOGRAPHY

Biography

‘Cowboys and Moonbeams’ marks the first album by Scottish born songwriter Sam Hill Jr for fourteen years. He has performed and recorded as artist, producer and songwriter with an impressive list of top drawer British and American musicians in the UK and USA.

‘Cowboys and Moonbeams’ is a reference to the songs his father taught him to play on the guitar when he was just nine years old. His father was a musician and preacher with a love of American gospel, bluegrass and Scottish folk music which he passed on to his son.   Sam relocated from the North of England to Cornwall in 2002 to “take care of family business”.

Hill has appeared at many well known venues and festivals throughout the UK and Ireland. From The Borderline in London to The Edinburgh Festival.         He has performed overseas in Holland, the former Soviet Republic of Georgia and the USA. He says,    “My family have always had to take first place so being ‘successful’, whilst once an attractive possibility to me, was never the the most important thing in my life.     Song writing and performing are a part of who I am, something I have to do for its own sake, whether its going be heard by ten people or a thousand”.

So why no recordings for so long?  
"When disaster strikes you quickly find out what is important in life. Then sometimes the wind blows so hard it's difficult to stand up and see clearly. My partner pointed out that I sing a lot about the weather, the elements, perhaps it's living in Cornwall on the edge of the ocean, no-one can control the weather and no-one knows what life is going to throw up at you.Yes it's been a long time for people looking in but the time capsule we've been in has passed in it's own dimension".

Live dates?
"Yes, I now enjoy performing in a way I never have before so getting out and playing for people is great, not everyone will get it but some will. Painting, food etc etc is the same, we all have different taste".

 

Reviews

"Sam Hill Jr is one of the most talented musicians and songwriters I have ever heard. His back catalogue however is mostly many years old. In the interim he has been living a life blown around by tough things - and this is what these tender honest songs are about... when the last track is sung, life is enhanced for the listening"

READ MORE : This Fragile Tent Review

"American writer Frederick Buechner said that the artist needs to cut a vein and bleed onto the page. Sam Hill has opened a vein onto a record. These songs are as raw as Joni Mitchell’s Blue and out of this honesty, and probably entirely unknowingly, Hill gives us songs to help us open our veins that will then bring solace. Actually they whisper into all of our souls. The work is excellent, the songs are tender and gentle in sound and content"

 READ MORE : Soul Surmise Review

 
Cowboys and Moonbeams
Hill says, “The album is my most honest work to date with one dominant theme, love and commitment in the face of life’s struggle, each song is a real conversation with those closest to me. I’ve tried to connect the words with simple melodies and minimal production, much of the album was recorded at home in Cornwall and other locations including Somerset, Lancashire and Nashville TN.

The music nods towards bluegrass and folk but is hard to put into any one box” Hill has a rich, warm, distinctive voice, he performs from the heart and it’s hard to make comparisons with other artists. Hill says, “From early on as a songwriter I was drawn towards songwriters like John Prine, Neil Young, John Martyn, Paul Simon and Randy Newman, but I’ve never had the desire to write in any one genre or to sound like someone else”.

‘Cowboys and Moonbeams includes contributions
from some great musicians:.

Richard G. Mitchell - Ivor Novello Award winning film composer co-produced the album. Some of Richard’s best known work includes the films ‘Gram Theft Parsons’, ‘To Kill A King’ and the recently completed score for ‘Moby Dick’ starring William Hurt, Ethan Hawke. Sam has produced various projects with Richard including his ‘Thunder and Rain’ album and an EP, ‘Masquerade’..  www.richardgmitchell.co.uk

Phil Madeira - Grammy winning songwriter and musician plays dobro on this album. Phil recorded with Sam in Nashville, USA on Hill’s ‘Sunset Grill’ album and is best known as member of ‘The Red Dirt Boys’, Emmylou Harris’s band, in 2012 he produced the album ‘Mercyland’ featuring The Civil Wars, Buddy Miller and Carolina Chocolate Drops to name just a few.
 
Alan Gregson - Producer and member of Cornershop. Alan played some guitar and mixed the album. Sam has worked for with Alan many years in the studio and live. Alan has long been known for his work with Corner Shop and a host of other artists such as Badly Drawn Boy and Russell Watson.  www.westorange.co.uk
 
Geoff Orr - Multi instrumentalist and educator. 
Geoff played piano and concertina and has been involved with much of Sam's recordings and live performance for over 20 years playing bass and piano.
 
Mark Prentice - Upright bass player. An very gifted player introduced to Sam by Baggaley.
 
Gracenotes
Sam Hill Jr’s last album in 2002, ‘Gracenotes’, released by Gold Records was a collaboration with the Irish writer, poet and preacher, Steve Stockman.
I had been writing songs with Steve for a few years and was a big fan of his poems, particularly when he performed them live. We did a few shows together in Ireland and it seemed to work, it was only a matter of time till we worked on a recorded project together.
Phil Baggaley and Neil Costello made it happen on their newly formed 'Gold Records' label . They brought in two top class musicians, Dave Clifton and Mark Edwards and the result was wonderful.
 
Dave Clifton is an amazing guitar player, he has worked with Tanita Tikaram, Julia Fordham to name two.     Dave now lives in the USA and owns Little Room Music who publish all Sam Hill Jr songs. www.littleroom.com
Mark Edwards is a stunning pianist, he has worked with Paul Weller, Chris Rea, Marc Almond, Aztec Camera, Terry Callier, Liane Carroll, Beth Rowley and Duke Special and  jazz artists such as Bobby Wellins, Alan Barnes, Ken Peplowski.  facebook/markedwardspiano
 
 
 
 
Sunset Grill
Sam Hill Jr. remembers.
By 1993 I had stopped performing solo and was working with Alan Gregson, Richard Curran and Geoff Orr. All three are excellent trained musicians and could hold their own in on any stage. February 1994 we all went to Nashville USA to record an album at Russ Long's studio, 'The Car Port'. We were with musicians who were working at the very highest level in Nashville, Alan, Richard and Geoff slotted right in".

I was introduced to Russ Long by my then manager, Richard Bickersteth. I met Russ in the UK when he was on a trip with the singer Steve Taylor, Russ was Steve's sound engineer. Steve Taylor's band 'Chagall Guevara' had just split up and I think Steve and Russ were on a global tour making a video to promote Steve's album 'Squint'.

Dave Perkins and Mike Mead were both members of 'Chagall Guevara', I first met them in the Uk when 'Chagall Guevara' were headlining the Greenbelt Festival in 1991. Phil Keaggy was also appearing at that festival, I was introduced to Phil by my friend James Tweed. I met Phil again the next year at the Cornerstone festival in Illinois. It's a mystery why 'Chagall Guevara' didn't become a huge band have a look at
 
I think Russ Long suggested we ask Phil Keaggy to come in and play on a song, he did and played a solo on 'Apple Pie', we were blown away by this mans talent and humility, he is a legend.

Phil Madeira made a major contribution to 'Sunset Grill' (Phil Madeira and Dave Perkins had been members of 'The Phil Keaggy Band'). Phil came to play Hammond B3 on a couple of songs and ended up playing on almost the whole album. Phil lit up the studio, his warmth and generosity were infectious. Phil is a multi talented musician, he has worked with a long list of revered artists, he is also great songwriter, poducer and artist and in 2014 won a Grammy. Phil is currently a member of Emmylou Harris's band 'The Red Dirt Boys'. Over 20 years on Phil has recently played on Cowboys and Moonbeams.

Al Perkins arrived at the studio to play pedal steel and I had to pinch myself, another incredible talent and humble guy who went out of his way to play what we wanted. Al was a member of 'The Flying Burrito Brothers', played on the two solo albums recorded by Gram Parsons and has worked with a whose who of musicians from the last 50 years including Leonard Cohan, Dolly Parton, James Taylor, The Eagles... he even played on 'Exile On Main Street' by 'The Rolling Stones', what more can you say!

Meeting and having these guys play on my album was a privilege, not only are they great musicians but easy to work with and great company.

Sadly 'Sunset Grill' has never been available in it's original form until now (2014) but here it is at long last.
 
The name 'Sunset Grill' came from a restaurant in Hillsboro Village, Nashville we fequented late at night after recording. An iconic see-and-be-seen destination in the 1990s and 2000s that has recently closed down after 24 years.
 
Richard Curran and Alan Gregson
For many years Sam worked extensively with Alan Gregson (see above) and violin and mandolin player Richard Curran, Richard is known in the folk world for his work with Bert Jansch and Steve Tilston and has worked with Albert Lee. They recorded Sam Hill’s ‘Sunset Grill’ album in Nashville USA, pedal steel player Al Perkins and guitarist Phil Keaggy also appeared on the album. www.rickcurran.co.uk