Aussie guitar maestro Shannon Bourne has made a habit of collaborating with some of the finest names in Australian blues.
And the tradition continued this week with news Russell Morris’ blues LP Sharkmouth had landed in the ARIA top ten album charts; a record Bourne lent his considerable guitar skills to.
It’s another reason why Bourne is bullish about the Australian blues scene.
”The blues is in a good state I think,” he says. ”That (record) gives me a feeling that sometimes the cream will rise to the top.
”I look at some bands and certainly question the honesty of their output. Music isn’t a business decision. It is an art form.
”It’s a depth thing. It doesn’t matter what type of music it is, if it’s deep and honest, it’ll hit me just right.”
Bourne has made beautiful music with some of the greats, like Chris Wilson and Tex Perkins in the Helpmann Award winning show, The Man in Black.
As he works his way towards creating a ”definitive Shannon Bourne sound” , it was the chance meeting with Wilson which provided the greatest impetus.
”Chris Wilson without a doubt. There really are many others like Jeff Lang and Matt Walker. Tex Perkins as well, but Chris is the biggie for me,” he says.
”Chris also encouraged me to write songs and find distance from my influences. There is just so much I can’t cover.”
The partnership was formed by sheer luck- Bourne was working at the Belman Guitar Factory when Wilson walked in one day back in 2000.
”He heard me playing Mystery Train in the office,” he says.
”He got my number and called me about four days later for a gig. We spent a day at his house in Thornbury listening to records and working out a set list and that was it.
”It had a huge impact! Going from teaching guitar at some local schools to doing your first interstate tour with your heroes Jeff Lang, Matt Walker and Ashley Davies was huge! (But) it was really hard as well.”
Both intense performers who command a room’s attention through sheer presence, Bourne says there isn’t much that seperates Wilson and Perkins, apart from lifestyle choices.
”Both Chris and Tex have that absolute single minded dedication to the genre and the song they are performing at that time,” he says.
”If someone took the time to write that song you should take the time and care to honour that.
”I think I have taken a strength and a certainty in uncertainty (from them).
”One difference was transport and accommodation. Fly versus drive, smelly room versus non smelly room.”
While Bourne has been fronting bands since the age of 14, he admits going out on his own with debut solo record, 2005’s Burn It Down, was a leap of faith.
”Sometimes you know that you have more to say than you have room for in others projects, ”he says.
”I started from scratch on the writing front and taking the influence of Don Walker, Matt Walker, Richard Thompson and Chris Wilson I set about scribbling down my rather poetic images and just hoping that it could draw enough of an outline for the listener to colour in themselves.
”I set my poles far apart and there is so much space to create within. So in essence I am always trying to stretch my boundaries all the time.
”Music is the best for stoking the fires of knowledge and heaven knows that there is so much good, and bad, music out there to explore.”
Shannon Bourne plays the third Bendigo Blues & Roots Music Festival showcase for 2013 at Big Hill vineyard.