"I call it roots, rock & soul; that place where old-school r&b, rock, country and jazz come together. I try to make new music in traditional ways, good songs played by live musicians, recorded at the same time, emphasis on good songs."
Al Hill is what blues, rock, country and jazz have in common. Thumping a shuffle, rocking the 88s, or honey dripping a ballad, his American roots music grabs a careening modern world and brings it back to earth.
Al currently is collaborating with long-time Lee Rocker guitarist Brophy Dale on a record of roots-rock rhythm & blues. A mutual friend who passed away two years ago wanted them to make the record they never did when they were tearing up Southeast Michigan in the ’80s, and this project is a gift to her. With Al in Nashville and Brophy in L.A., they find time to record between their respective tour dates. A record release and live shows will be announced.
Since 2002 Al has been Music Director for two-time Grammy nominee Bettye Lavette. Since then, the Lavette band has played festival and concert venues throughout North and South America, Europe, Africa, Japan and Australia, with Al often opening the show. The Lavette band has performed on the Late Show with David Letterman, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, the Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson, and Austin City Limits. When not touring with Ms. Lavette, Al finds time to perform and record his own songs, and accompany his wife Whit Hill in her alt-folk-country band The Postcards, releasing “We Are Here” in 2003, and “Farsighted” three years later. He collaborates with friends, works as a freelance sideman and teaches piano and guitar.
Ann Arbor, MI in the '6os and '70s was a regular tour stop for many r&b greats, and by the time he was gigging with his older brothers at age sixteen he had seen B.B. King, Stevie Wonder, Jr. Well's, Buddy Guy, Ike and Tina, James Cotton, Luther Allison, Otis Rush, Hound Dog Taylor, Roosevelt Sykes, Big Walter Horton, Dr. John, Johnny Winter, Bonnie Raitt with Sippie Wallace and many others. After years as a sideman and singer, Al began leading bands in the '80s, playing from Detroit to Chicago and up through northern Michigan. Releasing his debut recording in '98, “Willie Mae” blended blues, soul and some expert boogie-woogie on eight rootsy originals and four reworked classics. “Willie Mae” was voted “Best CD” at the Motor Cities Blues Awards in ’99, Al and his band won the “Best Unsigned Band” competition, held at Buddy Guy’s Legends in Chicago in 2000, and Al was voted “Outstanding Blues Artist” at the Motor City Music Awards in 2005. In 2008 Al was inspired to move south and now calls Nashville home.
All Music Guide says “One of the most exciting of the roots blues bands to ever come from Ann Arbor/Metro Detroit, pianist/guitarist/vocalist Hill has everything going his way. He has a clear, distinctive, soulful voice, his guitar or piano playing tasty and literate… Highly recommended…”
Al has performed or recorded with Rock & Roll Hall of Famers Johnny Johnson and Wanda Jackson, Delbert McClinton, Lazy Lester, Marva Wright, T. Graham Brown, Detroit blues luminaries Johnnie Bassett, Alberta Adams and Sir Mack Rice, Luther Allison, Buddy Guy, Kermit Ruffins, Harper, and rockabilly legend Sleepy LaBeef.