As your debut single, ‘When the Levee Breaks’, is so relevant as the River Murray floods across parts of Victoria, causing huge damage, is this what led you to record this song?
We were preparing for the Glenmaggie Blues and roots fest in March 2022, and the devastation and up north in Lismore was heartbreaking, people in the Northern Rivers were losing their home and the relentless rain just kept travelling down south from NSW and actually even washed out that festival which moved indoors. We included that song to the repertoire then and it continues to resonate with our listeners. ‘When the Levee Breaks’ made it into the top 10 on Metropolitan AMRAP charts just before Christmas and we’re so grateful it’s starting to get airplay around the country along amazing national and international artists and songs.
You’ve referenced Memphis Minnie as a mentor on a few occasions, what is it about her that inspires you?
I consider Memphis Minnie a revolutionist, survivor, and genius way ahead of her time. Rising above oppression not just because she was an African American woman destined for slavery. She became a practicing musician and band leader in what can still be consider a man’s domain in a white man’s world. She developed and performed brilliant and lasting guitar that accompanied her desperate and bold vocals. Minnie had to be better than men and her material is still relevant and continues to resonate with songs of oppression, slavery, sexuality, domestic violence, systemic corruption, prostitution, forbidden sex and love, rape which just skims the surface of her tribes struggles. So if I feel blue, down or done, I think of her, and play and sing, dust off and get up and go on!
Who makes up the Blues Messengers?
The band really is a team of world class talent is led by me with the watchful ear and mentorship John Durr, president of Melbourne Blues Appreciation Society. All the musicians, including myself, are a work in progress embracing life learning. Playing dixieland piano is Lisette Payette (Kelly Auty), Connor O’Neill (Dream Boogie) recorded the fretless Sussaphone style electric bass guitar and Tim Matthew (Melbourne Ska Orchestra) joined us last year for the Double Trouble Blues Session & Ruth Robertson (Sweet Inspirations) deputy Double Bass and Clarinet was session on recording for Levee Terry Wheelan from NSW recording specialist but not really blues specialist and Darren came to fill-in live until Nicholas Peirce (Tism) just joined to specialise on Blues Clarinet and some Baritone.
You’ve been working with Geoff Achison, Ian Collard, Jimi Hocking – some of the great names of Australian Blues… what are some of your personal highlights What are your future tour plans?
Whilst we’re preparing our 2nd single and original release “Troublin’ Blues”, I have and continue to learn allot from these national icons, and Geoff is my serious goto mentor and guitar teacher. Playing with these artists is like a six month master class! I often consult them on teaching and learning aspects. With Geoff, I’m learning about the Zen of performance and guitar – simmering an intro or a 1 chord and a solo. Jimi – sound production as well as dual guitar concepts. Ian – slide guitar and open tunings, swing/shuffle, and the finer early blues specific nuances related to the style I’m honing on in. I’m like a baby excited and absorbing everything – loving the blues.