Geoff Achison answers our questions:
How long have you been playing guitar?
Since I was 10 … 42 years!
Why did you first start playing guitar? I wanted to be a musician and I had actually attempted other instruments. Drums, Trumpet, Keys & Sax. Once I found the guitar things started to come together.
Which guitarist most influenced your playing?
Initially I’d say Freddie King. He was one of the great pioneers of electric blues. There’s been many other influential players of all styles, but it was Freddie’s style I first tried to emulate.
Describe your favourite guitar.
For electric style I play a PRS Studio model. It has a humbucker at the bridge and 2 x mini-buckers with a 5 blade switch and a trem kit. It’s kind of laid out like a strat but it has a robust tone like a Les Paul. All the features work perfectly too so it’s just superb to play. My #1 acoustic is a 1997 Gibson EC-30 which was a gift from the company back in 1997. I have some other great acoustics but that’s the one I feel most at home with.
How do you prepare for a show?
I’m pretty pedantic about having my sound just right and everything in working order. As often as I can, I will set everything up at home and test for sound and function whilst brushing up on the material and certain techniques. Besides that I always allow as much time as I can to set up at the venue so I have time to deal with any mis-haps or shoddy operators who’ve left a mess for next act. Sadly, it happens all too often.
Which artist/band was/is your favourite to play guitar with?
Naturally I cite my band The Souldiggers as my favourite to play with. Roger, Gerry & Tank know my style inside out so it is quite a tantric experience every time. To name someone outside of our group as a ‘favourite’ is a hard call but I’d say that my biggest onstage moment was jamming with The Allman Brothers Band in New York City in 2012. I was on stage for a full 10 minutes trading licks with Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks … so how’s that for name-dropping?
How would you describe your sound in food form and why?
I like to think of it as making up a big pot of soup. You start with a good base or stock (the blues is a good foundation) and then you add all sorts of ingredients to make it as simple or as complex as you like. Mix in some jazz, a little funk, a chunk of soul, a sprinkle of folk, rock it up and don’t forget the groove! I think most creative musicians like to do this. (Listen to King Curtis’ ‘Memphis Soul Stew’ – that’s what I’m talkin’ about)
Tell us a quick, on the road or studio, anecdote. I was playing at a theatre in France in 2005 opening for John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers. I’m a big fan of those guys too. I watched their show from side of stage and at the end of the set, with the crowd screaming for more, Bluesbreaker guitarist Buddy Whittington handed me his vintage Fender strat and said ‘May the force be with you’. That was super nice of him and I happily walked back on stage behind the legendary John Mayall to sit in on the encore. [pullquote]Bluesbreaker guitarist Buddy Whittington handed me his vintage Fender strat and said ‘May the force be with you’. [/pullquote]Unfortunately Buddy Whittington is a mountain of a man and I am a mere waif by comparison. So when I put Buddy’s guitar around my neck the shoulder strap brought the vintage strat to dangling around my ankles! In order to play I desperately wound the strap around my arm as John Mayall counted in the last song of the night. And so, as the littlest Bluesbreaker of all, I jammed on a blues shuffle in the key of C with the guitar strap effectively cutting off the circulation to my fingers and I played the most awkward blues guitar solo ever in front of 2 thousand bewildered French folks. My tip? Never, ever pack your guitar away until the show is over!
What, or who, inspires you?
Originality, conviction, honesty. I am usually best engaged by hearing something that I haven’t heard before. In electric guitar world the great Jeff Beck delivers this every time. That’s why he’s so revered. Derek Trucks is another I regard highly and Shannon Bourne is right up there too. On acoustic guitar, Tommy Emmanuel is simply the best, Daniel Champagne is delivering something extraordinary and I love Lloyd Spiegel.
Which song do you wish you wrote the riff for?
Good grief, only one? Well since it’s on today’s playlist, I’d say Robin Trower’s Bridge Of Sighs … it’s just superb.
If you had unlimited money, what would your dream guitar setup be?
One of everything!
What’s next for you?
Touring, writing and hopefully recording again soon but always, always learning to play guitar.
What is the best thing about the Melbourne Guitar Show this August?
The performances are great and the guitarist community all get together there but mostly there’s a mother load of new gear to check out. Anyone who plays guitar will almost certainly discover some new innovation that they can no longer live without.
What’s your scene?
I play guitar and sing, I’m a blues/roots artist but I’m into all sorts of music. Anything from delta blues to symphonic rock and beyond, so long as it’s good stuff and pleases my ears. I like traveling to new places, spending time with my wife and son, I just love a day at the footy (whether it’s AFL, VFL or a local game) and a night around the dinner table with friends is just the best.
It was big in 2015, huge in 2016, and today the Australian Music Association has announced the 2017 return of the Melbourne Guitar Show to rock Caulfield Racecourse on August 5 and 6 – and this year, it’ll be bigger than ever. Proudly presented by Triple M and Australian Musician, the line-up boasts not only an incredible haul of local guitarists, but also massive international artists – UK’s legendary Steve Hackett (Genesis), Canada’s renowned Nick Johnston and UK superstar Alex Hutchings.
In addition to some killer performances, MGS will also hold a monster exhibition that will feature a gigantic variety of electric and acoustic guitars, effects pedals, amps and more state-of-the-art guitar technology, both home-grown and from around the world. It will continue to be Australia’s biggest guitar pop-up shop…and that’s not all. In addition to this, the Melbourne Guitar Show will host information seminars, demonstrations, and live performances from Australia’s most talented guitarists, including: Lloyd Spiegel, Nick Charles and Bob Spencer with many more to be announced.
This year will be extra special as the Melbourne Guitar Show welcomes UK guitar royalty, namely, the original Genesis guitarist and successful solo artist in his own right, Steve Hackett, in a very special premium ticketed event. Hackett will be touring Australia for the very first time with his lavish Genesis Revisited tour, playing classic Genesis prog-rock tunes as well as selected material from his 25 solo albums. For the Melbourne Guitar Show however, in a more eclectic and informal setting, Steve will play an exclusive up close and personal acoustic-based show featuring musical director Roger King on keyboards and woodwind/ brass virtuoso Rob Townshend. This will be the only Australian performance by the Steve Hackett Acoustic Trio.Genesis, only ever made it to Australia once, in 1986 – years after Steve and singer Peter Gabriel left the band, so Steve is making it up to fans by bringing some Genesis magic to our shores. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for long serving Genesis fans and aficionados of 70s prog-rock. Steve will also participate in an onstage Q&A session following his guitar show performance. Excited about the upcoming tour, Steve says, “I’m thrilled to bring my Genesis Revisited tour to Australia. I’ll be playing there for the first time and I’m hugely looking forward to it! It’ll be great to meet fans and friends, and I know it’s an incredibly beautiful country. I can’t wait!”
Another star joining the stacked line-up is the Canadian guitar virtuoso Nick Johnston. Known for his catchy, melody-driven instrumental music Nick has been able to carve out his own unique style within a crowded landscape of instrumental guitarists. Nick’s playing has attracted sponsorship from massive international brands including Friedman Amps, D’Addario and Schecter Guitars. Also on board this year, we welcome world-renowned guitarist Alex Hutchings (UK), a modern fusion guitarist parextraordinaire, lauded by many as one of the finest players in the genre. His international following has exploded in recent years thanks to millions of YouTube views via both his own channel and JamTrackCentral (alongside such contemporaries such as Guthrie Govan, Andy James and Jack Thammerat). Regularly touring around the globe, Alex performs under his own name and as an international demonstrator for BOSS/Roland.
Drawing over 5,500 guitar lovers and enthusiasts to last year’s exhibit, the Melbourne Guitar Show is gearing up for the biggest event yet. The voice of the Australian music products industry, the Australian Music Association (AMA) will be teaming up with Australianmusician.com.au and presenting sponsors Triple M and Aon to present this year’s guitar-centric weekend. “We are looking forward to a show this year that builds steadily based on the merit and popularity of the first two and on the presentation of the best people we can find”, says AMA executive officer and MGS organiser, Rob Walker. Not only will the 2017 MGS provide a hands-on chance to see, hear and play a broad range of the world’s favourite brands, it will also see exhibitors offering great show deals, plus an opportunity to get close to some hand-crafted, locally made instruments and epic guitar and gear collections. Describing the exciting developments, Rob continues, “We will have more exhibitors this year, as well as bigger stand presentations by many brands. We are in discussions with an increasing list of players who want to be a part of it, so we are sure this show will provide great value for guitar enthusiasts once again.”
The first artist line up announcement includes: Steve Hackett (UK), Nick Johnston (Canada), Alex Hutchings (UK), Lloyd Spiegel, Nick Charles, Bob Spencer, Shannon Bourne, Lloyd Spiegel, James Ryan and many more to be announced over the coming weeks.
The Melbourne Guitar Show will be held at Caulfield Racecourse on August 5 and 6.
Tickets are on sale now!
Online ticket prices when pre-ordered:: Adult day pass $20, adult weekend pass $30, family day pass $35, concession day pass $10, concession weekend pass $15, premium ticket** $40
**Premium tickets include admission to Steve Hackett show – limited tickets available
MELBOURNE GUITAR SHOW DETAILS
SATURDAY AUG 5 | CAULFIELD RACECOURSE |10.00am – 6.00pm | TICKETS
SUNDAY AUG 6 | CAULFIELD RACECOURSE | 10.00am – 6.00pm | TICKETS