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This article by Richard J. Skelly was prepared for the September

19, 2001 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

The Blues Down Under

Given America’s longstanding and friendly relations

with Australia, it seems likely that musician Geoff Achison, on tour

from Down Under, may be able to deliver the kind of comforting music

Princetonians and New Jerseyans will need after a week scarred by

terrorist violence in New York and Washington, D.C.

Unlike many other guitarists who have chosen to make blues a

specialty,

Achison adds his own flavor and arrangements to classic blues tunes.

His latest CD, "Mystery Train: A Solo Acoustic Session,"

provides

ample audio evidence of his percussive, rough-edged blues guitar

stylings

that are smoothed out by mellower, fatter jazz chords. His vocals

are more than adequate, and since he is doing his date in Princeton

with his backing band, the Souldiggers, he’s bound to offer a

memorable

performance. Achison will be at Triumph Brew Pub on Nassau Street

on Thursday, September 20, beginning at 9:30 p.m.

Although Achison is just now heading down the long road to U.S.

recognition,

his string of awards and previous albums indicate he’s serious about

and dedicated to his craft. His earlier releases include

"Souldiggin’

in the U.K," "Live at St. Andrews," "Getting

Evil,"

"Mystery Train," "Big Machine," and a video, "Live

at the Continental."

In 1995, at the Blues Foundation’s 12th annual International Blues

Talent Competition, Achison was presented with the prestigious Albert

King Award. For the last four summers, he’s been invited as a guest

guitar instructor at Jorma Kaukonen’s magnet guitar school in southern

Ohio, the Fur Peace Ranch. Kaukonen, a founding member of Jefferson

Airplane and Hot Tuna, has carved a national reputation for his own

guitar performance and lecture presentations. At home, Achison won

the Australian Songwriters’ Award for "Comin’ To Getcha" in

1999 in the blues/jazz category, and also won an award as top male

performer. His song, "Adam & Eve" has won an Independent Music

Award.

Achison has developed his reputation through virtual

non-stop touring. The Times of London calls him "one of the most

gifted artists to arrive on the scene. The man could be King."

Last year, he took to the road with several original members of Hot

Tuna, including Kaukonen, and he was introduced to domestic audiences

at larger venues throughout the U.S. An Atlanta-based critic for

alternative

weekly, Creative Loafing, writes that "Achison deftly mixes Jimi

Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Robin Trower’s intensity with a

jazzer’s

technique and a tasty rhythmic sense."

Achison’s deep, soulful voice seems somewhat out of place within his

slight frame, and his guitar playing can mesmerize his audience. At

Triumph, he and his band will romp through a potpourri of originals

and classic blues and R&B chestnuts, which may include Robert

Johnson’s

"Ramblin’ On My Mind," Muddy Waters’ "Rollin’ Stone,"

Elmore James’ "The Sky Is Crying," and even more contemporary

fare, such as Randy Newman’s "Guilty."

Achison was raised in Victoria, Australia, far away from any blues

clubs. The blues he heard came by way of the radio. When asked why

he chose the blues for his favorite means of self-expression, Achison

told Brisbane’s Scene Magazine: "The first time I heard music

played in the blues style I wanted to hear it again. The more I heard

it, the closer I wanted to get to it. If there had been a bunch of

blues clubs where I grew up, I probably would have hung out down there

and been happy with that. But there weren’t any at all. None. If I

wanted to get closer to the music than the ol’ record player would

allow, I had to learn to reproduce it myself."

"I learned to play the blues from old Freddie King albums,"

he says. "He was this sensational guitarist/vocalist [from Texas]

who had the sweetest, thickest guitar tone I’d ever heard. I wanted

to be Freddie King."

Perhaps it’s because of the lack of blues clubs around Achison’s

native

land during his formative years that his style is totally distinct

and refreshing. And that’s good for American blues fans, some of whom,

like country fans, may be a little tired of the old, familiar themes.

— Richard J. Skelly

Geoff Achison , Triumph Brewing Company, 138 Nassau

Street, 609-924-7855. From Australia, blues guitarist Geoff Achison.

Thursday, September 20, 9:30 p.m.


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