Memphis may be the home of the blues, but the musical format has no geographic limitations.
Geoff Achison confirmed the theory in 1993, when he accompanied a small group of friends from Australia to ground zero — Beale Street — virtually in the backyard of B.B. King.
“It was exciting to learn how popular the blues were all over the world,” Achison says. “There was a vibrant blues society in Melbourne. When I got hip to the Memphis Blue Challenge, thing started to change.”
In 1995, the Melbourne Blues Appreciation Society sent Achison to the Memphis International Blues Challenge, where he won the coveted Albert King Award for most promising guitarist in the finals.
The victory earned him an endorsement contract with the Gibson Guitar Cooperation and instant credibility in the blues world.
Fast forward two decades and accolades continue to roll in for Achison. In February, he captured five awards at the 2017 Australian Blues Music Awards, including Best Artist, Best Song, with “I'm Gonna Ride,” and Best Album, with “Another Mile, Another Minute.”
Achison will bring his sizzling guitar mastery and energetic vocal style to the Old Feed Store in Cobden at 8 p.m. Friday for a Singer Songwriters Acoustic Jam and CD release party with Tommy Talton and Kevin Gordon.
Tickets are $15 and can purchased at www.brownpapertickets.com. For more information, call 618-614-2251.
Raised in the Victorian country town of Malmsbury, Achison began his musical journey by discovering a forgotten old guitar beneath a stairwell in the family home. He became proficient enough playing in his father's dance band, that he attracted the attention of local jazz musician Alan Watson.
Watson's impact on Achison was monumental.
“He drummed it into me that original ideas is what its all about. He didn't want to hear me try to copy anyone,” Achison says. “You are always after the spontaneity of the moment, bending and twisting parts of a song. You have to find your voice on the instrument. Improvise a solo. Compose on the spot. Extend a way of thinking.”
Achison's career can be divided into acoustic and electric guitar categories. He has released four solo acoustic albums, including “Live At Burrinja Cafe” in 2011.
With his band The Souldiggers, which includes two ex-members of the Little River Band, he has released 10 albums, including a special 20th anniversary double disc DVD/CD set in 2014.
“I've seen a lot of changes through the years. There has been many mountains and deserts,” he says. “And I'm still livin' the dream.”
Talton, a native of Orlando, experienced regional success in the band We The People, before becoming a founding member of Cowboy, a nationally established country rock band that released four albums from 1971-77.
Cowboy was signed to Capricorn Records strictly on the recommendation of Duane Allman. The group practiced nonstop for three months at a house in Jacksonville, with marathon sessions often attended by teenage locals that would later become Lynyrd Skynyrd, after signing the deal to prepare for recording sessions in the legendary Macon, Georgia, studio.
A tremendous guitarist and songwriter, Talton has also toured with Gregg Allman and played countless recording sessions with major stars like Paul Butterfield, Billy Joe Shaver, Johnnie Rivers, Bonnie Bramlett and Kitty Wells.
Giving the name of an iconic John Steinbeck book a little twist, Talton came up with the title track of his latest album, “Somewhere South Of Eden,” which was released in February. Rolling Stones keyboardist Chuck Leavell and Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame member Spooner Oldham, the organist for the legendary Swampers in Muscle Shoals, contributed to the project.
Talton has released five albums on the independent HittinTheNote Records.
Gordon rose to national acclaim with of his last two recording projects, “Long Gone Time” in 2015 and “Gloryland” in 2012, which included the powerhouse one-two punch of “Colfax/Step In Time.” Vivid tales of growing up in the South ooze from each album. His music has drawn praise from the unofficial godfather of the Americana genre.
“Gordon's songs remind me of why I love music,” says Buddy Miller, who toured recently as Robert Plant's lead guitarist. “I get transported to a beautiful, strange, familiar place.”
A native of Monroe, Louisiana, Gordon's musical influences range from Ray Charles to Jerry Lee Lewis and Buddy Holly. He used music to overcome childhood shyness and as a key to open future doors.
Gordon earned a Master's Degree from the prestigious Writers Workshop at the University of Iowa. He was a poetry student by day and a roots rocker at night, joining the band of his mentor, Bo Ramsey.
Now a resident of East Nashville, Tennessee, Gordon has written songs for Lucinda Williams, Keith Richards and Levon Helm. He has nine new songs recorded for an album due out later this year.