The Steve Fisher Band
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.