Publisher Richard L’Hommedieu spoke with Geoff Achison on his show LIVE from the Midnight Circus. Geoff is an old friend of the Show. He is an amazing musician and brings a fresh perspective to the blues from Down Under.
Geoff Achison is an independent Australian musician who has forged his own path to a successful career that has won him fans all over the world.
Having taught himself to play in the isolation of rural Australia, he has developed a blues/funk style all his own that can be delicate one moment and explosive the next. Unaware of how the sounds he was hearing on his limited record collection were produced, he invented some of his own techniques – without the aid of pedals or gadgets. Just watching him wrench a myriad of sounds from his simple set-up can be something of a spectacle.
He is also a very capable vocalist with a gritty, soulful quality to his voice. Inspired by the great Blues and R&B music of yesteryear, Geoff’s live set features an infectious mix of gutsy original tunes, improvised jams and dynamic new arrangements of blues & soul classics.
Growing up in the small town of Malmsbury in south eastern Australia, Geoff developed a passion for American blues music and taught himself to play on a beat up instrument he discovered ‘under the stairs’ of the family home. In his early 20’s he found employment as lead guitarist with Melbourne’s top blues band ‘Dutch Tilders & The Blues Club’. After 5 years relentless touring around Australia Geoff departed to pursue his own musical ideas and formed the first incarnation of his own band ‘The Souldiggers’.
“The idea was to have a name that described the music and I greatly admired the blues philosophy – tapping into one’s soul for honesty and truth. That’s what ‘Souldiggers’ is meant to convey.”
He formed his own Jupiter 2 Records in 1994 with fellow music enthusiast Nic Quittner and released the first of many recordings of his original blues/funk/soul flavoured materiel. These early recordings were well recieved by fans & critics alike and encouraged Geoff to take his music to other parts of the world.
Geoff started his worldwide explorations in 1995 with his first trip to the USA. He represented the Melbourne Blues Society at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis and won the coveted Albert King Award for his guitar skills. He went on to accept an endorsement deal with the Gibson guitar company’s acoustic division. He formed a US based Souldiggers group in 1998 and recorded his third album ‘Gettin’ Evil’ in Portland, Oregon. Geoff has also conducted his guitar workshops at Jorma Kaukonen’s Fur Peace Ranch guitar camp in Ohio.
He moved to London in 1997 to establish a UK following. Some tough touring and perseverance early on led to appearances on BBC radio and the recording of a live album with his British Souldiggers group. The band was featured on a BBC radio special with host Paul Jones in 2007 and Geoff graced the cover of Blues In Britain magazine in July 2009.
His annual tours have extended throughout Australia, the UK and USA playing either his immensely popular Solo Acoustic shows or hiring the best musicians available to form The Souldiggers as he goes.
He has won a swag of awards over the years for writing, performing and recording. In 2007 Geoff & The Souldiggers picked up the Chain Blues Music Award in Australia for ‘Group Of The Year’ and a Guitar Player Magazine readers poll voted Geoff one of their ‘Top Ten Hot New Guitarists’ in June 2008.
In early 2007 Geoff accepted an offer to relocate to the USA. He spent 2 eventful years living and working in the US performing with local musicians and racking up thousands of miles on the road. Highlights included jamming with the iconic Les Paul in New York City and being joining legendary R&B vocalist Delbert McClinton aboard his annual Sandy Beaches concert cruise sailing from San Diego to southern Mexico.
Since returning to Australia as home base, the relentless touring has continued with regular visits to the USA, UK and Europe. The tireless travel has kept fans enthused and gleaned several ‘live’ cd releases from different corners of the world. The title of his last studio recording was 2009’s ‘One Ticket, One Ride’ – an apt sentiment for a creative musician with an adventurous spirit.