(I was requested to interview & write this article on Steve Kozak by a magazine overseas. It has been published internationally with a circulation of over 500,000 unites)
Steve Kozak – The Making of a Canadian Icon
The way we experience things depends largely on the way we expect to experience them.
When you first see Steve Kozak take the stage, you expect the usual blues tunes presented in the customary manner. Into the first four bars, there is a distinct energy, a rockabilly sound, and a realization that this is different. Here is a spellbinding way of bending the notes that grabs your attention, and pulls you toward that stage.
There is an easy-
Kozak’s attitude when he won the Maple Blues Award from the Toronto Blues Society was, “Isn’t nice to be new again”, he chuckles.
In 2017, Steve received a nomination for a Western Canadian Music Award as Blues Artist of the Year.
The fourth released album It’s Time (2017) has received good reviews and has been talked about worldwide. He has released three previous albums -
Kozak’s previous self-
When Steve was in high school, his cousin in Campbell River, British Columbia, Canada, exposed him to Muddy Waters, Johnny Winter, and many the British blues and contemporary recordings of that time. He met and hung out with Muddy Waters in 1977 when Waters performed in North Vancouver, B.C. That meeting left a huge impression on the young musician.
His diligence in listening to all these recordings made such an impact that he picked up the patterns, the 1-
There are great memories of Big Joe Duskin; Sonny Rhodes, who he played with at one time; vocal lessons from Pee Wee Crayton; playing with Jack Lavin from the Powder Blues Band. Jamming with some of our iconic Blues masters has been a thrill, James Harman at the Edmonton Blues Festival, Duke Robillard at the Winnipeg Blues Festival, Mitch Wood at the old Yale Hotel, and Kenny Blues Boss Wayne at the Pender Harbour Blues Festival. At one point, Kozak initiated the Powell River Blues Festival. The location, weather, and downturn in the economy necessitated a one-
Steve Kozak has also opened shows in Vancouver for the late Nick Curran and the Low-
Another passion runs deep. Fly-
With the help of a Factor Fund, a private non-
Although he has been a Vancouver fixture for many years the band has been successful with performances at the 2016 Salmon Arm Roots & Blues Festival; the 2014 Burnaby Blues & Roots Festival; Big Blues Bender All-
Naturally, the conversation got around to preferred gear. Although he owns nine guitars there are favorites. His first axe was a Bill Nash Telecaster from Olympia, Washington. Now on the road and for home gigs he plays a 1962 ES-
Quilter Amps endorses a solid-
The need for lighter weight gear came about because of his 2006 serious life-
In January 2016, Kozak had a total hip replacement. He has worked hard at rehabilitation. He was back sitting, playing at his gigs three months later. Workouts in the swimming pool continue to make sure all strength returns to normal. He advised that it really requires a good year to get over this particular surgical procedure.
The very interesting backstory of Vancouver born Kozak is that he has always loved being around horses. He and his wife, Sue, have ridden for decades.
At one time, he was a certified registered farrier shoeing horses. With working at local racing stables, farms, and other areas in the province of British Columbia who needed this particular service it gave him great satisfaction to be with the animals he loves. His conversation is fully of interesting stories of working with horses, including self-
When asked the proverbial question of what comes first, instrumental or vocal, the response is a hearty laugh. He loves to walk. During these daily constitutionals, lyrics seem to flow easily in creating new ideas for a tune. More stories and low chuckles fill the conversation when talking about the original tunes on It’s Time. He is proud of the work he has done and grateful to have so many friends in the music industry that have helped him along the way. Special acknowledgements go to Holger Petersen, of Stony Plain Records and CBC Radio’s Saturday Night Blues, Duke Robillard, James Harman, Cam Hayden, Brent Zwicker, and Paul Norton.
Here is a musician who has learned his craft exceptionally well.
By Suzanne Swanson©