The album “Rule of Thumb” will give proof positive of Steve Hicks' reputation as an accomplished fingerstyle guitarist and dazzling performer of American ragtime, blues and jazz standards. But he is also a very sensitive interpreter of Celtic music.
The British musician renders the most complicated passages with unbelievable lightness and calm, while earnest ballads are given all the space necessary and can therefore unfold all their beauty. Indeed, his erstwhile mentor and teacher, Duck Baker, once said, tongue in cheek, that so much talent in one place was simply not fair. Mostly, however, Hicks has deep knowledge and appreciation of the American musical tradition of the early 20th century, and he shares known and lesser-known material from the 1920s to the 1940s. So “Rule of Thumb” almost sounds like an anthology of ragtime. It features works from American vaudeville and ragtime pianists like Felix Arndt and George Botsford. Listeners will also discover a brilliant interpretation of “Egyptian Glide” by Alexander Maloof dating to 1919, and the surely unknown “Three Quarter Blues” by George Gershwin, and “Sunrise Serenade,” a 1940s hit song by composer and pianist Frankie Carle. Hicks doesn't hesitate to combine a piece by saxophone player Oliver Nelson with an Irish reel, before winding up and giving a wild rendition of “Ragtime Annie and Angeline The Baker.” Fingers and pulse get some rest and recuperation with ballads and traditionals interspersed throughout the album.
These pieces from the Celtic tradition, which produce wonderful overtones thanks to the use of various open tunings, join with Hicks' rhythmically accentuated ragtime interpretations and reveal the many impressive facets of his musicality and technical capabilities.
'East Tennessee Blues'
'Irish Medley: John Dwyer Of The Glen / The Flax In Bloom / The Peeler's Jacket'