John "Shorty" Hill

.....Guitarist, Singer, Writer, Entertainer

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Shorty's Bio

I guess for every performer there have been a few defining moments… something that seems to turn on a light… something that says "Yeah, this is who you are, and this is what you're going to do!" 

I think my most important moment came at the age of 6. I was chosen to "conduct" the annual performance of the First Grade Rhythm Band at the Summer Street School in Lynnfield Massachusetts. Why me? Because I was the only first grader who could reliably keep time to the music. I was all decked out in a white suit and black bowtie. The performance went flawlessly. At the conclusion I turned to the audience to take my bows. Though logic now tells me otherwise, to that 6 year old boy, whose memories still reside in some remote corner of my brain, there must have been about 35,000 cheering fans in that elementary school gym. I knew then that I had "connected", and that somehow it had made a difference, and that's what I wanted to do in my life.

Of course there were other "defining" moments: The day my older sister brought home a copy of "I Want to Hold Your Hand" - I knew I had to play guitar in a rock band. As a young teen, standing in the mud at Woodstock (the first) - so this was what it could sound like!

So I've been asked to name my biggest musical influences. 
That's a tough one…. Everyone I guess. Fats Waller, Wynnonie Harris, Luis Jordan, Cab Calloway, Charlie Christian, Elvis, The Beatles, Eric Clapton, Randy Newman, early Fleetwood Mac, Tchaikovsky. A pretty incongruous lot, I know, but each with an indelible impact on my own ever-evolving guitar and vocal style. Add to that another 100 or so greats, near-greats and n'er do wells, as well as each and every one of the bandmates I have had the honor of collaborating with over the past 40 or so years.

So Here are a few highlights since that first Summer Street School gig:

In the mid 60's my budding young career as a clarinetist took back seat to a new found interest - the electric guitar, and a new gig - lead guitarist for The Shadows. 
We were clean cut boys who could actually harmonize quite nicely!  Playing mostly creative covers of then current Pop tunes, the "cute" Shadows were local favorites, garnering more than their fair share of school dances in Newburyport Massachusetts. 
By 1969 The Shadows had a regional following, and had changed their name to The Shadows of Time, whose recording of "Search Your Soul" has become a 60's Garage Band classic. 

With maturing musical interests, combined with a bit of more "formal" musical training at UNH, The Shadows evolved into Lord Timothy. Though still very vocally oriented, this band had a much harder edge, and mixed rock covers with originals. Playing in clubs throughout New England, Lord Timothy paid for much of my college education!

"The Shadows"  circa 1966

For the whole Shadows story, be sure to visit
The Shadows of Time

Now available , their all new CD
Can't Let Go!

In the early 1970's I teamed up with several creative rockers from the region who were seriously interested in music as a profession. For the next decade or so, with some inevitable variation in lineup, we played in venues throught the Northeast. For me this was a highly creative period, during which I explored a passion for blues, swing and country, as well as an ever-evolving rock n' roll foundation. The names of the various bands during this period reflect these emerging interests: American Stone, Sugarbear, The Full Moon Travelling Band (which included percussionist Matt Patuto and New Orleans musician Vic Shepherd), and finally, Shorty Hill & the Longhaulers.

Quite a few years before the recent resurgent popular interest in Swing music, Shorty Hill & the Longhaulers was successfully combining small combo swing with blues, rock and country music influences. This unique band enjoyed a very avid following throughout the Northeast.

My apologies to those who must have thought that I just disappeared during the mid-1980's. I took a little hiatus - during which I went through graduate school, and then lived and worked for several years in New York City….a life experience I have truly valued.  Of course I still played guitar, still sang a bit, but my "professional" involvement was far more casual than it had previously been.


Want to hear some of my recent song?

Is This Love?
J. Hill / B. Chase

In 1989 I returned to New England, and teamed up with some of my original rock n' roll buddies in Lickitty Splitt - a straight ahead fun, classic rock band.

Around 1994 I ran into Gary Schena, with whom I had long shared musical interests, aspirations, venues, and even musicians. I enthusiatically accepted Gary's offer to play lead guitar in his band, A Little On The Side. It was a real pleasure making music with Gary and fellow band mates John Fichera, Annie Zannini and Kevin Van Hecke, as well as the frequent "guest" performers.  Gary chose to "retire" at the end of 2001. The rest of us stayed together to form something new and exciting - DISTANT NEIGHBORS.

In addition to the band, I'm also actively involved as a guitar teacher and as a singer/songwriter/studio musician.  I split my time and life's passions between my home in New England and my beautiful finca in Costa Rica Though the foundation of my music is clearly rock, the influences are varied, and the musical challenges diverse. And that's what I like, always learning, always growing, always striving to make new music that "connects" to people, as it often does, and as it always should.