Over the past few weeks there has been considerable talk about whether or not blues and rock music has a place in the Australian music scene. When you think about it, there really is not an argument to this statement. To be put in a local sense, blues music could not be healthier in the Geelong and Surfcoast community yet, you just have to know where to look to find it. One of the greatest live blues music venues is Pistol Pete’s. Having been a local musician, I have had the opportunity to play there many a time and it has such an amazing juke joint feel to it. It feels a little like I am preaching to the converted, however if for some reason you haven’t had the opportunity to get around PP I highly suggest you get on it. Over the next few months, there are some amazing blues players coming to play and so there is no better time to indulge in the best that Geelong has to offer than now.
Starting out playing guitar in around 2003, the rock guitar revolution had definitely taken affect by the time that I started to become besotted with guitar. If I’m being completely honest with you Forte, my first guitar teacher was great and gave me the foundations to playing, yet his taste for what I should be learning and playing left a little more to be desired. From the likes of Van Morrison to classic Pete Murray and Paul Kelly songs, it was great way in and lead me on a massive journey of discovery. Franz Ferdinand’s debut record came out in 2004 as well as Jet’s debut which featured ‘Are You Gonna Be My Girl?’ – as you would expect along with every other kid in the neighbourhood the track fuelled the idea for writing simple rock songs that were catchy and easy to sing along to.
Come 2007 and I’m joining my first rock band. A jam session in the music room at school laid the groundwork, however it wasn’t blues. I think it is at this point that I should point out one of the landmark albums that got me into the blues. Having woken up many Saturday mornings to the sound of Video Hits, it was watching John Mayer walking around New York singing ‘Waiting on the World To Change’, when the penny started to drop. Alright, let’s be honest here, this is not a blues album. It’s pop rock with some bluesy elements and some kick arse guitar solos, however, it made a sincere impact on my musical life. It led me to discover how to write a song in particular it has allowed me to write some upbeat, catchy pop numbers.
Following the dissolution of that band, after many years of denying it, I took the advice of my father and discovered the delta blues – Son House, Robert Johnson and RL Burnside. I studied the greats and discovered open tuning on guitar and have since never looked back.
One of the greatest moments in my career was having the opportunity to support Diesel, Richard Clapton and the Black Sorrows at Courthouse Arts. I was MCing the Conversation in the Key of with Ross Hannaford. I can’t exactly recall what happened in the lead up, however at a whim I decided to take along my resonator guitar. As soon as I got there, Hannaford was in the middle of his soundcheck, with his orange jumpsuit and colourful electric guitar.
As one of the quirky elements to the concert, the feature artist and support play a cover and it was decided that it should be the classic track ‘Mustang Sally’. The most welcoming of men, Hannaford thought it would be a bit silly if I didn’t join in on the fun and so began one of the best moments of my life. Such a legend, we started grooving along to this song, with Anderson and Hannaford taking the lead and my slide guitar just cruising along in the background. I got the opportunity to additionally sit down with Hannaford and have a chat to write a feature story ‘day in the life’ piece. I cannot thank Forte enough for the opportunity.
What a sad moment that we have lost such a true legend of the Australian music scene. He’d give you as much time as you needed and was always there with a smile on his face and happy to chat to you. Hannaford thanks for everything. Blues music in Geelong and the local area is as strong as ever, get out and experience it now!
Written by Tex Miller