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  • The Sound Cafe

A Conversation With Montreal Bluesman Cliff Stevens


By Ken Wallis.



Cliff Stevens is an accomplished guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter who’s toured the world with his special brand of music, garnering a multitude of awards along the way. He’s been compared to Eric Clapton, not only because he looks like him, but he can shred a guitar with the best of them. Hailing from Montreal, Cliff has just released his fifth solo album, Better Days and it promises to be his best ever.


Ken Wallis interviewed Cliff Stevens for the radio show BluesSource Canada. The following are edited excerpts from that interview.



Ken Wallis

Cliff Stevens has a new album out. It’s called Better Days and joining us to tell us all about it is Cliff Stevens. Cliff how you doing today?


Cliff Stevens

I’m great Ken, thanks for having me.


Ken Wallis

Cliff it's a great album. I'm sure everybody wants to know why you wanted to feature Better Days?


Cliff Stevens

When the pandemic hit, I was on tour, and everything just came to a crashing halt. I think everybody everywhere around the world, have all got that one thing in common. We were just waiting for better days. I got a job during the pandemic, and I came up with this tune. I had the tune in my head, and I had a few other lyrics. I was going to make it a heartbreak blues tune, but then i said no man, Better Days, they're going to come soon.


Ken Wallis

And there’s a pretty cool video for that song and it features people holding up signs Better Days in different languages.


Cliff Stevens

I was actually in Mexico; I was doing some gigs there and in January I was supposed to go to Germany for a tour. Of course, we know about the pandemic, so my tour was cancelled. I decided to stay in Mexico for a bit and then I decided to film the video there. I contacted people I know, and I wanted to have the theme of better days, with an international kind of flavor. Everybody held up different signs in their nationality that said Better Days. I have Ukrainian, I have a Mohawk, French, English, Spanish, all sorts of different languages.


Ken Wallis

How would you describe the music on this album?


Cliff Stevens

I decided to take a bit of a different approach and I injected some straight up blues into the album. I just wanted to do a classic slow blues and I wanted to do some other kind of classic blues grooves. I also put in kind of quote-unquote, my style of tunes plus there's some country kind of picking almost Chet Atkins style tune at the end of the record. I don't know if you call it adult contemporary but it's kind of a country-ish ballad that I wrote. My brother passed a year ago and I had this tune in my head for a few years but just ideas, and when that happened it just came together within about two days. It just seemed right so I put it on the album.

Ken Wallis

Most artists consider their songs to be like children, they're all equal. Is there one song on the album that really gets you the most?


Cliff Stevens

It's funny you ask me that because I would have to say there's a tune called, I Believe. I wrote that four years ago, but I came up with the germ of the song. I was in Morocco; I was on a gig and I was walking down the street and I came up with these two words I believe. I knew sort of where I wanted to go with it but I it took me four years to put it all together and to make it into a song. For me it's a kind of a personal manifesto of how I feel. I just put it all out there so I’m really proud of that song.


Ken Wallis

Did you write extra songs for the album and then start paring it down? I know a lot of artists do that. They may have 20 songs and they bring it down to 10 or 11. Did you go through that process?


Cliff Stevens

Absolutely. I started off with almost 40 ideas they weren't all songs but there were 40 ideas. I Believe was an idea for the last album, but it never made the cut. I paired it down to 12 tunes: there's 12 tunes in the physical album and there's 11 on the digital release. There are still some songs or some ideas that I may use in an upcoming album.


Ken Wallis

What happens to those songs?


Cliff Stevens

I think the operative word here Ken is hope. I hope that they will turn into a song. I have one, it's a guitar lick and it's a groove and I’ve tried to get it off the ground for two albums now and I just can't get the thing to make sense, so I’m gonna try it again on the next album, because I really think it's a cool guitar lick. I played it for other people, and they like it, but I just can't make it into a song. So yes, I do keep coming back. I have all my ideas recorded. Sometimes they're just me, because I take a lot of walks so sometimes just singing into my voice memos with an idea or a lyric or something. That's how I Believe came about.


Ken Wallis

You just came back from a rather extensive tour. What's going to happen for you this summer?


Cliff Stevens

I mentioned before that I got a job during the pandemic, and I don't really have that much booked this summer. I have some local gigs. I don't have any festivals booked or anything like that so I’m probably just gonna go back to the job for maybe part time and do some local gigs. I'm planning a tour for Europe next year. I'm really putting a lot of time and energy into promoting this album because I think it's my best album and I’m really proud of it.


Ken Wallis

Where can fans get a hold of your album?


Cliff Stevens

CliffStevensmusic.com, there are order links there.


Ken Wallis

I hope a lot of people get out there and buy it and hopefully we'll get to see you perform live one of these days soon again.


Cliff Stevens

Oh, I’m sure that will happen because they say you can't keep an old blueser down.





Website: cliffstevens.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/cliffstevensmusic

Twitter: twitter.com/cliffstevenscom

Instagram: www.instagram.com/cliffstevensmusic