Ukulele player James Hill will be opening the Live Kicks series with a concert at the Golden Civic Centre on Sept. 25.

Ukulele player James Hill will be opening the Live Kicks series with a concert at the Golden Civic Centre on Sept. 25.

Live Kicks opens with the ukelele

The first Live Kicks performance of the season will feature a Canadian artist who has brought the simple ukulele to new heights.

Kicking Horse Culture’s first Live Kicks performance of the season will feature a Canadian artist who has brought the simple ukulele to new heights.

“When I was about 18 I remember my dad saying, ‘you should record an album of ukulele songs.’ I thought he was nuts,” said James Hill, who will be taking the stage at the Golden Civic Centre on Thursday Sept. 25.

“It took three or four years but I finally came around. The ukulele has always opened doors. People are charmed by it, curious about it and often skeptical. It’s always fun to change a person’s perception of the instrument.”

Hill followed his gut, and his father’s suggestion, and has never looked back – not in 12 years. Not only has he produced some groundbreaking music, he has also taken his role as a teacher (along with his father, a retired teacher) and launched the James Hill Ukulele Initiative Teacher Certification Program.

He learned how to play in a Grade 4 public classroom, and Hill thinks the ukulele is “an unbeatable platform for music literacy in schools.” He also has an online learning program, The Ukulele Way, which can be found at www.theukuleleway.com.

However it is his love of performing that is bringing him to our mountain town.

“(The concert) will be full of surprises. There’s lots of variety: original songs, instrumentals, usually a cover tune or two,” said Hill. “And we always have a few laughs. I mean, what’s a ukulele concert without a bit of fun?”

After touring for years, Hill has found that large stadiums shows in cities, and small venues are much the same. It all depends on the audience.

For the concert in Golden, Hill will be joined by cellist Anne Janelle. The pair will be performing some songs from the new album, The Old Silo, which was produced by Canadian musician (and Live Kicks performer from two years ago) Joel Plaskett.

“I think fans will see this as a departure; it’s a bigger, bolder sound.  Tunes like “She’s Still Got It,” and “Tie One On” are rockier and have more swagger than anything I’ve ever done.  But that’s where my heart was on this album.  My biggest fans are the ones who come along for the ride; they want to be part of the musical journey I’m on.  This album is a new curve in the road… a good one, I hope,” he said.

“I’m a big Joel Plaskett fan so working with him was a dream.  We worked well together and got a lot done.  I respect him so much as a writer and musician so I was really open to his suggestions and direction.  I’ve always produced my own stuff and I thought I might have trouble ‘letting go’ but it was a breeze.  In fact, I was thrilled to have his input.  He made every song better.”