Geoff Achison

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Geoff Achison

Geoff Achison is a familiar name in the blues scene in Geelong, and there’s a reason why we have him coming back. Now armed with a new resonator and an album on the way, we spoke to Geoff about the local scene, blues origins and his show at the Workers Club.

Hi Geoff, thanks for taking the time to chat with Forte Magazine, how are you and what are you up to at the moment?

Right now at the moment? Well I’ve just arrived home after doing a fun little photo shoot. It’s a part of this gig I usually find to be boring as hell but we did some goofy stuff today. Hopefully the shots we got are usable.

You recently posted a Facebook status updating fans that recording for your new album is currently underway. Would you say it’s been the best recording process you’ve had so far? 

We’re all pretty gee’d up about this one, yes. The past six releases have all been ‘live’ albums so I’m thrilled to get back to doing a studio project. There’s been some fantastic advancements in technology too which is giving us much better capability to blend the best of warm analogue sound and the speed and precision of digital recording. It helps when you’ve got a guy at the desk who really knows his stuff too, which we have in Ben Harwood.

Quite a few of your shows recently you’ve brought along your Regal Resonator. How’s the new sound coming along with it?

I just love that instrument. The metal bodied instruments sound nothing like a regular acoustic guitar. It has a wonderfully unique voice. It’s got that old down home on the back porch tone to it. This one I acquired just last year and whilst I feel like I’m still on ‘L’ plates, it did deliver me a couple of new tunes almost immediately after I pulled it out of its case. A lot of players out there have become more adept on these things than I’ll ever be, but it’s never too late to learn something new.

You have lived extensively in both Australia and America, and while Australia’s blues scene isn’t quite at the same point as America, with the increase in blues acts do you think we’re putting up a great competition? 

Yes, there is a very long history in American blues and for any student of the form it’s important to understand its origins. We’ve got some great artists here in Oz making some amazing  adventurous music, no doubt about it. I’m wary of calling it ‘Australian Blues’ though. I have been for a long time. The music isn’t from here and artists like myself aren’t really ‘blues’ artists. It was by listening to American blues that I learnt how to make my own music but by writing and producing our own stuff here, we’re developing something else. It’s certainly a derivative but to call what we do the some thing is a misnomer. It’s that deep, spiritual essence that I’ve taken from listening to the blues. It’s the 5 note. pentatonic scale that I love the sound of and base so much of what I do. That doesn’t make me a bluesman. Nor does drinking whiskey or wearing a pork pie hat. Still, we don’t know what else to call it, but I do try to be respectful of the true origins of this music. What I’m proud of is that we make original, Australian music and it’s being enjoyed all over the world. Coming from a penniless kid that arrived in Melbourne in the late ’80s hoping to get a pub gig playing bluesy music, that’s great.

At the end of February you are playing at the Workers Club in Geelong alongside with The Soul Diggers, as well as a handful of other regional shows around Victoria. Being renowned for your live shows, what can people expect from a Geoff Achison live set in an intimate regional setting such as the Workers Club?

I travel around playing solo quite a bit but with the new album on the way I’m taking the opportunity at The Workers Club to bring in the full band and do a complete show. That means we’ll do some oldies, some newbies and there’ll also be an acoustic segment. Our good mate Alister Turrill is joining us this night too. Besides his set I reckon there’s good danger of him sitting in with us so it’s going to be a great night.

You have been playing in bands since you were 13 years old and have a huge list of achievements and accolades including playing with the legendary Les Paul and being in the top 50 Australian guitarists by Australian Guitar Magazine in 2012. What would be your fondest memory or achievement as a musician?

Oh yeah, sitting in with Les was one of the biggest moments of my life. That was in New York and the next time I was there I got to jam with The Allman Brothers Band, so in musical terms, they were a both ‘top of the mountain’ moments. Still, more important or fond memories are of playing with the band in a small club or pub and having people dancing and singing along to our tunes. That’s just the best feeling. Tommy Emmanuel reckons it’s like being in the happiness business and lord knows we need more of that in the world.

Thanks for giving up the time to have a chat, do you have anything else you would like to share with readers?

Honestly, the opportunity our local scene has given me and fellow artists to continue to grow and develop has been remarkable. We’ve gone from all of us being in this very underground scene presenting very similar sets of our favourite blues tunes in the local pubs and clubs to now writing and producing genuinely original albums which are being enjoyed on a global scale. I’m not just referring to me, I mean our whole blues/roots scene here. There is capacity for great growth and development for so many of the new artists coming up too. But it is all due to music loving people turning up at shows and giving us a fair crack. Without an audience we have nothing to work with. Some cities have no live music scene at all because people have stopped getting together for music. So I’m grateful for living here with our awesome live music scene … and hope to see y’all soon!

When & Where: The Workers Club, Geelong – February 26