Steve Clisby

Steve Clisby – Jazz Up North

With 60 years of experience as a musician under his belt, renowned R&B and Jazz Soul artist Steve Clisby returns to Cairns to perform at The Tanks Arts Centre as part of the Jazz Up North series on Friday 9th September. A novice to fame, but not to music, Clisby has lived an inspirational life in the US, Europe and Australia following his love of rhythm & blues and jazz around the world before finding his breakthrough moment via The Voice in 2013.

Moving seamlessly from his jazz background to northern soul revival, Clisby performances set out to bring a fresh interpretation to his African American heritage and inspire a new generation of fans. Jazz lovers of all ages will no doubt adore these timeless songs by an old soul with a young heart.

Speaking to Steve Clisby recently after his return from Europe, he was genuinely excited about performing in Cairns this Friday.

“We’ve played a few concerts at The Tanks before, it’s fantastic. I was actually bragging about it (The Tanks) to someone in Amsterdam last week about how it’s a uniquely beautiful place to play. I remember the last time I was there; there were heaps of warnings out cause a Crocodile was stuck in the one of the waterways in town. It was crazy (laughter). It’s a great place and I love it there.”

Well known for showcasing supreme musicianship and legendary cool. Steve Clisby ageless appeal has brought him a legion of loyal fans and his upcoming performance for Jazz Up North at The Tanks will sure to be no different.

“I’ve got Bill Risby joining me and we’ll be playing some original songs, quite a few from ‘The Golden Ring’ album (2009) and also some jazz standards and we might also play some Jimi Hendrix, why not?”

“I recently saw the film Miles Ahead. In it Miles Davis explains that he didn’t like the term ‘jazz’ and he preferred to call it ‘social music’. I tend to think that the music that we play is popular music but it has the improvisation aspect which makes it unique, and people tend to relate that to Jazz.”

Having been in the industry for 60 years and travelled the globe, Steve Clisby wealth of musical knowledge and insight is truly impressive. At the age of 21 he decided to make music his life’s work and in 1969, found himself on stage jamming with the great Jimi Hendrix in Sunset Boulevard.

“We played with 4 other bands at a club called ‘The Experience’ and he (Jimi Hendrix) came in late one night to jam, which was pretty terrifying for me (laughter) because I wasn’t planning on going on stage. But one of the agreements we had with the club owner was to allow the other bands; Golden Earing and The Bonzo Dog Do-Da Band, to use our equipment. We played first and because the other bands were using our gear we’d hang around to the end. There was rumour around that Jimi was going to come in, which was what he did back in the day. He’d just hop around place to place to jam late at night. I hung around and Hendrix just came in, jumped on stage and plugged in. He was just on stage playing by himself. I was hesitate to get up there and kept talking myself out of it. What triggered me to get up was one of the roadies went to move my Fender Rhodes piano off the stage to make some room and that made me jump up there. I was like ‘man don’t touch my piano’. So I sat down and started playing, luckily for me he was playing in the key of E, which made it real easy for me. Then we had a bass player join in and a drummer who messed it all up. He was high on something I don’t know what it was (laughter)”.

Until 2013, Clisby was the best kept secret in his adopted home of Australia. But that all changed after he captivated a national audience on TV talent juggernaut ‘The Voice’. Finishing in the semi finals and gaining him a new legion of fans who would continue to support him post The Voice conclusion.

“I was a big fan of Idol and all the other reality shows, but being on the other side of 40, I’d never really seriously considered it. Some friends of mine overseas let me know about the concept of The Voice when it started in Holland and I was fascinated by it, because age wasn’t a barrier. It came over here and I didn’t enter the first season, I was still a bit hesitant. But some friends of mine did and one of them, Darren Percival actually came in second place for that season. So the next year I decided to send in an audition and was lucky enough to be invited on. All in all it was a great experience. The most fun I had was actually watching a lot of the kids have meltdowns (laughter). Not being mean about it, but a lot of people don’t realise how much work goes into it. One making a television program and two the whole entertainment part of it. On top of being professional, not complaining and the reality of the business. That was something interesting and sometimes funny to see who could handle it and who couldn’t. For me it was a bit of a walk in the park cause of my experience and plainly cause I knew not to make an arse of myself (laughter). But overall it was great to me and well worth it.”

Mitch Sullivan

Steve Clisby perform at The Tanks Arts Centre on Friday 9th September as part of the Jazz Up North Series. Doors open 6.30pm. Show starts 7.30pm. Tickets from Ticketlink.

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