Updated Wed, Jun 4, 2014 10:24 pm
Australian blues guitar virtuoso Geoff Achison is no stranger to Southeast Ohio, having been invited to teach and perform at Jorma Kaukonen’s Fur Peace Ranch every year since 1998.
This week, Achison returns to the region for two performances: a solo acoustic show at the Buckeye Community Center in Jackson on Thursday, and a Friday show at Uncle Buck's Riding Stable and Dance Barn in New Marshfield, where he will be joined by his band The Souldiggers.
Achison was raised in rural Victoria in Southeastern Australia. He taught himself to play by tuning in to a Thursday evening blues radio broadcast and by listening to hard-to-find recordings by the likes of Freddie King, T-Bone Walker, Duane Allman, Buddy Guy, Jeff Beck and B.B. King.
Listening and learning in isolation, he essentially invented his own technique by trying to duplicate the sounds he heard on the radio and on the records in his limited collection.
In his early twenties, Achison moved to the big city of Melbourne, where he heard acoustic blues played by a Dutch emigrant, Dutch Tilders. Tilders introduced the young Achison to the country blues guitar styles of Big Bill Broonzy and Mississippi John Hurt.
"When I first heard this Dutch guy playing this American blues and ragtime on acoustic guitar, I was just knocked out," said Achison. "I had never heard an acoustic sound like that…so I developed a taste for acoustic blues as well."
After joining Tilder’s band and touring extensively around Australia for five years, Achison made the decision to form his own blues unit, dubbing it "The Souldiggers." While the band was rehearsing for their first gig and auditioning lead singers, Achison took on the singing responsibilities so the band could learn the arrangements.
A singer was never hired and Achison became the singer by default, as well as the principle songsmith.
"The singing and songwriting came about later, rather out of necessity than desire. I never wanted to be the guy out front--I just wanted to play guitar--but as you move through your journey, somebody has to do these things," he explained.
By doing all those things, Achison has become a quintuple threat: an acoustic guitarist, electric guitarist, singer, songwriter and bandleader.
In 1995, Achison made his first sojourn to this country as a representative of the Melbourne Blues Society at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis. He took home the Albert King Award for his guitar playing. He also was given an endorsement by the Gibson Guitar Corporation, which lead to an invitation to the Fur Peace Ranch.
In 1998, he started a U.S. version of The Souldiggers which allowed him to tour the states while keeping the overhead down. Since that time, Achison has released ten CDs, won Band of the Year at the 2007 Australian Chain Awards and was included in Guitar Player magazine's "Top 10 Hottest New Guitarists."
After stints in the U.S. and U.K., Achison moved back to Australia and is currently based in Melbourne. He still tours the world relentlessly, doing solo acoustic concerts and Souldigger shows.
For information on the 7 p.m. Thursday solo acoustic performance in Jackson, call 740-286-5089. The Uncle Buck’s performance, featuring The Souldiggers, also starts at 7 p.m. Local band Blues Cowboys will open the show. Visit Uncle Buck's Facebook page for details.