BluesWax Sittin' In With Geoff Achison
By Bob Putignano
Geoff Achison taught himself to play in rural Australia, creating a unique style all his own. Achison has toured the world where he has opened shows for Jorma Kaukonen and Hot Tuna, John Mayall, Gatemouth Brown, Hubert Sumlin, Derek Trucks, Levon Helm, John Mayer, and countless others. Achison's first visit to the United States was in 1995 when he represented the Melbourne Blues Society at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis and won the Albert King award for his guitar skills. Since 1998 Achison also has been an annual guest instructor at Jorma Kaukonen's Fur Peace Ranch guitar camp in Ohio.
With a never-ending schedule of gigs and tours Achison has managed to find time to release the live Souldiggin' DVD featuring the Australian Souldiggers in an energetic performance at one of their regular venues. A new batch of original songs appeared on his Little Big Men album that was released in 2006, and Achison's tenth album, Acho Solo, is a collection of solo acoustic songs released in February 2007. In October of 2007 Achison's own label, Jupiter 2 Records, released a CD version of the Live DVD session titled Souldiggin'.
Just prior to Achison making his way back to Australia with his family was the exact time I had an opportunity to catch up with him.
Bob Putignano for BluesWax: How are you doing this morning, Geoff?
Geoff Achison: Ah yeah, very good thanks.
BW: You are heading back home, right?
GA: Yep, we've been in the U.S.A. for the best part of two years and been on the road for most of that time and it's been wonderful, a wonderful opportunity especially when you consider that I got the opportunity this time to bring my wife and little boy with me, which is the longest all of us have been away from Australia for one hit. And we are kind of excited to be going home.
BW: It's been a while that we've spoken what have you been up to lately?
GA: We've been completing this final U.S.A. tour schedule that my agent Nancy set up for me.
BW: She is one hardworking lady!
GA: She sure is and we both have a similar work ethic, which is why we've worked together for so long. But, man, I've did a lot of miles while I was here, as you can imagine what a thrill it has been for me being from the other side of the world to travel this beautiful county. Well, let's just say that it's been a big adventure for me. I've just loved it; getting the opportunity to meet so many people is wonderful.
BW: You've been well received here, too.
GA: Thanks. I've really enjoyed it; something that I have here that I don't have home is the exotic edge. It's also fun to tell people here about what the Blues scene is back home too, as people often comment, "Really, they play Blues down there?" And I tell them we do and our fans love it, we've actually got quite of healthy Blues scene in Australia.
BW: I've never been there, but many musicians I speak with tell me that they do quite well when they visit your country.
GA: Oh yeah, we love U.S.A. visiting artists, plus I'm in a very privileged position, as I've seen both ends, here in the Americas and from Down Under. Plus thinking back to the first time I came here, I so desperately wanted to hear the Blues in its natural habitat, I was a aware that my understanding of Blues was somewhat distant, because of the information I received about the old masters like Robert Johnson, Muddy Water, and Howlin' Wolf was only read in books and from old album record sleeves. So this was important for me to see this scene here in the States. And, yeah, there is a big audience for roots, Blues, and Jazz in Australia, too, and we are very fortunate that so many American musicians visit us, especially during the festival seasons.
BW: Interesting, and I bet it's not easy for you to get over here to establish yourself in the U.S.A.
GA: No, it's not and it's a long way, too.
BW: Ian Parker was on with me a few months ago and told me you guys did some shows together.
GA: Yes, I've run into Ian Parker a couple of times in the U.K. and you have to understand Ian is quite well established over there; he's a fabulous musician and always has a kicking band.
BW: He's an outstanding guitarist, too.
GA: Great guitar player! An awesome songwriter, too. So I've enjoyed our times together in the U.K. Plus there was one time when I jumped on stage with him and did a song there and more recently we did a gig here in New Jersey together and I returned the favor by having Ian jump up with us. And, man, we tore it up; perhaps overindulgent for us, but I think the crowd enjoyed it.
BW: Are you looking forward to heading back home?
GA: Yes, we actually did our last 2008 U.S.A. gig last night and two days later we'll be back home, which will be nice.
BW: What are your future plans for returning back to the Americas?
GA: I do have to comeback to San Diego in January for the Sandy Beaches cruise with Delbert McClinton.
BW: Good for you!
GA: I met Delbert in Nashville.
BW: He's a good cat.
GA: One of the greats, and one of the best. So I will be here for a quick trip with Delbert, plus we are looking at a separate U.S.A. summer tour as well. But it's time to take the family home; so now Australia will be the permanent home base.
BW: Sounds good, Geoff. I'll be looking forward to seeing you back here next year and until then safe travels, keep rolling, and stay well.
GA: You too, Bob, thanks again, great talking to you.
Note: In addition to Geoff Achison's 2009 tour schedule there will also be a new CD coming out in the spring which features Ted Pecchio and Tyler Greenwell (Susan Tedeschi, Codetalkers), Oliver Wood (Wood Brothers), Yonrico Scott (Derek Trucks Band), Deji Coker (OutKast), Marcus James (Marshall Tucker, King Johnson), and Marty Kearns (Shawn Mullins). So stay tuned!
Bob Putignano www.SoundsofBlue.com
Radio Host WFDU's "Sounds of Blue"
President of the NY Blues and Jazz Society