Geoff Achison is Australian blues royalty. The internationally-renowned guitarist, who spent his early years in Malmsbury, has just embarked on a lengthy tour that also takes in the UK and US.
Bendigo’s Golden Vine, tomorrow night, Saturday, February, 11 is gig number six of a scheduled 52 which also sees Achison play at the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, and the evocatively-named Paradise Lake Campgrounds in Hammonton, New Jersey.
It sounds like a pretty gruelling schedule.
“And we’re actually going to add more dates,” said Achison from his care this week, driving to a gig. He enjoys his visits to the US. An Australian accent in some places is apparently quite a novelty. “I sometimes think they’d be happy if I just stood up and spoke to them,” he joked.
Achison has an extensive back catalogue of albums – many recorded live, including five in the last eight years. New album, Another Mile, Another Minute, due for release in March, features 14 Achison originals including A New Bad Habit, Front Porch Farewell and Baby Come Back. It’s his first studio album in eight years.
“The songs were written over a long period. I’d been talking about it for years,” he said. “There’s blues in there, and some light-hearted philosophy…”
His song writing explores various themes including politics, as well as love and loss.
These days, nearly a quarter of a century after releasing his first album, playing live drives Achison more than getting into a studio. “I thrive on getting on stage and playing,” he says. His touring schedule backs that up.
There’s a solid blues foundation to Achison’s music, which also embraces a range of both acoustic and electric styles, and has drawn comparisons with the Allmans and Eric Clapton. His vocal style has been compared to Joe Cocker.
Born in 1965, Achison spent his early career with well-known jazz musician Alan Watson. Briefly he switched to bass guitar, giving him a more rounded appreciation of the work of the rhythm section. In 1987 Achison joined Aussie blue legend Dutch Tilders’ band on lead guitar before going out on his own, releasing debut album, Big Machine, in 1994. A year later he won the coveted Albert King Award. During an extended period overseas Achison lived in London and recorded an album in Portland, Oregon.
Achison is Official Patron of the Melbourne Blues Appreciation Society.
A Bendigo gig – Achison plays here two or three times a year – is like coming home. “There’s a big music community in Bendigo with a lot of people dedicated to a common interest. I see Bendigo as a kind of ‘homeland’ for me. When I’m touring and speaking to people, I’m proud to show off central Victoria to the wider music community.”
Support tomorrow night comes from Seed – the Watts family et al ensemble. Seed released their debut CD last winter at a packed Goldmines Hotel.
“Geoff is the real deal. He’s one of my favourite guitarists, as well as an awesome performer and songwriter,” said Andrew Watts.
Achison will play an acoustic set before being joined by Seed’s rhythm section for some Souldiggers tracks.
“My sons, Kane and Sam are huge Souldiggers fans. They’ve been taught and mentored by Geoff’s band, Gerry Pantazis and Roger McLachlan. The boys are over the moon that Geoff has asked them to back him. They’ve been rehearsing hard.”
The show starts at 9pm.