For someone who makes musical art for a living, Steve Bell has some unusual beliefs about originality. “I don’t believe in it”, says Bell. “We don’t really create anything. We work with what has already been created - arranging the good gifts we receive in ways that are unique to us”. “Our best work, my best work, grows out of the soil of someone else’s work and life.”
Bell’s career is rooted in a music making family; it grew from a personal fascination with playing guitar, budded into the lifestyle of a working musician, and ultimately found its fruition in the musical niche of singer/songwriter.
Throughout that journey, Steve Bell was being nourished and shaped by others. His family provided not only the legacy of lasting melody and captivating harmony, but a grounded spirituality that deeply informs Bell’s work. His celebrated guitar skills were aquired at the feet of numerous guitar heros, while singer/songwriters (including Cockburn) inspired him to craft and capture songs that, like good poems, offer the listener access to a universe in which honesty and hope live side by side.
In this rich humus, Steve Bell has cultivated a remarkable body of work. Twelve albums and tireless touring over 16 years have resulted in numerous awards (including JUNO’s in 1997 and 2000), the sale of over 250,000 units worldwide, the launching of Signpost Music (Bell’s own independent record label) and thousands of loyal fans. Larry LeBlanc (Billboard Magazine) calls Steve “a Canadian musical treasure”.
There have been hurdles along the way. Bell describes 2004/2005 as containing “a disquieting constellation of events”, including the physical relocation from a much loved country home into the city, the death of a dear friend and mentor, and a renewed personal encounter with the struggles of the oppressed.
Of these challenges, Bell says, “When our kids were little, Nanci and I would tell them that if they ever got separated from us they should return to the last place we saw them and wait, and we would come and find them. When all these events took place in my life, I felt somewhat dislocated...a bit lost. So I just did what I always told my kids to do. I went back to something familiar and waited to be ‘found’. For me, in this season, that familiar place was the songs of Bruce Cockburn.”
“My current album, My Dinner With Bruce, is as personal as any I’ve ever offered. These songs have connected themselves so deeply to my own story that I can’t not sing them. They have been good gifts to me, and I’m happy to share them.”
Bernie Finkelstein (President / True North Records) sums up My Dinner With Bruce this way: ”Steve Bell finds the beauty, strength, and intrigue in Bruce Cockburn’s songs and gives each track his own fine interpretation. Simply said, this is a wonderful record.”