Reece Hillis

Reece Hillis @ The Howlin Wolf, Glasgow

Reece Hillis @ The Howlin Wolf, Glasgow


Style: Classic Blues, Delta Blues

Influences: Brownie McGhee, Son House, Robert Johnson


K:  Hi Reece, I noticed you were one of the nominees for “Young Artist of the Year” in the British Blues Awards last year.  Can you tell me a bit about that?

R:  At the time I’d been playing with a harmonica player and we had just released a debut album together.  It was mainly just Country Blues, there was no experimentation or anything like that.  We just sent it out to radio stations and reviewers and somehow, I don’t know how it came about, but I popped up as a nominee for the award.  I was really excited about that!  Just being nominated for something like that was a great honour.

K:  Fantastic, and I think you have another album this year?

R: Yes, that will be released in January, it was be a self titled debut solo album.  I’m using Blues as a root and I’m trying out different styles over it.  It’s a really solid album with lots of different genres but always with Blues at it’s roots.

K:  Is that all original material?

R:  Yeah, I’ve written it all myself.  I’ll probably release three singles off it on iTunes just to give people a taste of the diversity.  That’s the whole aim of it really, being a bit more diverse than just straight Blues.

K:  I noticed that the gigs are really picking up for you?

R:  Yeah, I’m playing about 3 or 4 times a week now.  It’s becoming really consistent.  I’m really happy with it and I’m gigging down South a lot more as well.  I’ve played all over Scotland and have been quite surprised at how big a Blues scene there is in Scotland.

K:  Any plans for the States or Europe?

R: I’ve got plans for next summer to go to France and Northern Ireland as well, just to broaden the circuit a little.

K:  I know one of the other Glasgow Blues players on this site who goes to France quite a bit.  George Lindsay, I’ll mention you’re looking to head over and he can maybe point you in the direction of some gigs.

R:  George Lindsay?  Glasgow Blues Club?

K:  Yep.

R:  Cool that would be great, thanks.

K:  So are you doing this full-time now Reece?

R:  Yeah, I am now.  I was at college doing a bit of sound production and getting a taste of music in a bit of a different area from performing and eventually I just got so busy with playing that I had to make a choice.  It was either going to be College or actually going out gigging.  It was just a bit unlucky with the way they both happened at the same time.  In the end I spoke to one of my lecturers and he advised that I would be much better going out and doing rather than staying there and learning it, so I went for it.  It’s been a lot of fun recently, playing all of these places and meeting all of these people.

K:  You look as if you’r really enjoying it up there.

R:  I’m absolutely loving it!

K:  To come into a joint like this at this time of year is quite a challenge.  There are loads of Xmas parties going on and there’s all sorts of folk here, from all kinds of businesses having their office night out and there are the normal Blues fans in amongst all of this as well.  You’re up there with your voice and a 12 string guitar and you’re rocking the place.  Everyone is jumping.  That takes some doing.

R:  Yeah, I think it’s down to the old Blues guys I started listening to.  With them it all about using the thumb and fingers and it fills out a lot more space…

K:  Who was the first guy you heard?

R:  Son House.  It just got me!  That’s music.  That’s proper music to me.

K:  If there was one Delta Blues man you could sit down and play a couple of tunes with, who would it be?

R:  Well…I wouldn’t say he was Delta Blues, but my favourite Bluesman is Brownie McGhee.  That’s the East Coast Blues, really similar but if it was a choice of the real Delta Bluesmen, it would have to be Robert Johnson.  I love the Gospel stuff as well though, the Blind Boys of Alabama are superb.  So it’s all Old World music I listen to. I’ve never really listed to much new stuff.  Blues is just a really simple form of music that just….connects.

K:  Just out of interest from your childhood, what do you think was the first song you ever heard?

R:  Earliest memory of actual music was “The Soft Parade” by The Doors.

K:  Really:

R:  Yeah, a great introduction eh?

K:  Absolutely, I’m a big Doors fan myself.

You’re concentrating on the acoustic stuff at the moment.  Do you see you moving into electric with a full band?

R:  No, I quite like the idea of the authentic acoustic sound and all I need is my guitar.

K:  I was watching you play earlier and you have a really interesting picking style when you play that 12 string.  How did you develop that?

R:  Yeah, well originally when I bought the guitar the strings were on a certain way and I had to swap a few of them around because the bass notes would hit the treble notes on some of them and it didn’t really sound great.  After I swapped them around it worked really well.  I really like the sound of it.  About 2 years ago I could only play about 3 chords but I’ve really sat down and concentrated over the time in between and can play in any key now.

K: Did you say 2 years?

R:  Yes.  I used to use a capo all over the place to allow me to play in different keys before.

K:  Bloody Hell!! (Laughs).  That’s quite a learning curve you’ve put yourself through there!  Love your set Reece.  All the best for the future.

Date: 05/12/2015



The Howlin Wolf, Glasgow

Camera info

Camera: Nikon D750
Lens: Nikon 50mm f/1.4
Focal length: 50mm
Exposure: 1/160 sec at f/1.4
ISO: 4000
Time of day: 21:47
Conditions: Interior
Lighting: Ambient