0626AchisonGeoff Achison talks about his first love, a 1969 Gibson Les Paul Gold Top.
Geoff Achison was playing basic rhythm guitar in his dad's dance band, performing around rural southwest Australia, when he made a discovery that changed his life.
During a break in one evening's performance, someone put on a blues record. Achison remembers watching the record spin around and around, being mesmerized by the music.
"Somebody told me, ‘Oh yeah, that's blues. People used to be into that stuff,'" he said.
But that record paved the way for hours spent in the record store in the town closest to where he lived, pouring through bins looking for blues artists he heard of through the musician grapevine.
"It kind of filtered in slowly; I learned it bit by bit," said Achison, who performs Sunday at The Crimson Moon in Dahlonega. "The good thing about it was I so rarely got a new record that I could just take it home and play it over and over again and really get to know it."
The result of hours of blues surrounded by miles and miles of countryside? A unique, earthy sound that recalls blues greats like Muddy Waters and B.B. King, with a contemporary vibe flowing through it.
Ultimately, he said, the music of these jazz greats spoke to him at a time when hair spray and New Wave music was hitting the airwaves.
"I was a child of the '70s, and 'round about the time this was happening, 'round about 1979, 1980, this New Wave music was happening. And I do remember, I simply wasn't into this whole New Wave thing," he said. "But right around that time I hear this blues music, and it sounded like people I knew. The music sounded natural; it sounded real."
Music videos hitting televisions at the time had images of guys with makeup singing about things Achison said he couldn't relate to.
"I felt music at that time was a lot of Hollywood glitz and fairy dust all over it," he added. "But the blues made sense to me. I had only been playing guitar for a couple years and there was something about it that made sense to me.
"But I heard this blues music from America ... my life was so affected by what these guys put down on a plastic disk. I really felt like I was able to tap into just the deepest human feelings that these guys put down around the time I was born."
Now an Atlanta resident, the Aussie transplant said he's living his dream of being able to travel around the United States and see the places he had only read about back home.
Touring incessantly for the past 16 months, he said, is a great way to see the country.
"It's all just, it's all dream-like stuff for me," he said, adding that the musical history in the States is always something he envied while living down under, despite the similarities between our two cultures.
"Just last Friday we were down in Tallahassee in this old juke joint that's been around for like 50 years, and it really does seem to come out of the walls, you know, out of the floorboards," he said. "And that's something we really don't quite get at home."