Backsliders, St Francis Xavier’s Primary, Ballina Saturday
2011 ARIA blues and roots nominees and iTunes Australian blues and roots album of the year winners, Backsliders have been playing, touring the festival circuit and recording for 25 years. Despite this maturity, the latest release, Starvation Box, heralded as their best to date, has been described as sounding like ‘hungry youths from the Deep South’. Their sound melds driving delta and Mississippi hills country blues sounds with original 21st century new blues anthems.
Slide guitarist, multi-stringed instrumentalist, songwriter and vocalist, Dom Turner, is the founding member of the group. Dom’s influences are many and varied – a blend of delta blues, ‘Piedmont’ blues, rock, dub and sounds of Asia. He is a highly regarded speaker on blues and roots music and has guested on ABC (Australian Broadcasting Commission) radio programs and presented music workshops at festivals and in universities (both nationally and internationally). As well as playing in the Backsliders, Dom has toured as a solo artist in the USA, playing Augusta Blues week in West Virginia in 1996 and 1998, and in early 2006, he toured Mexico with US blues greats Del Ray and Steve James. In 2004 Dom was voted Songwriter of the Year at the Australian Blues Awards in Goulburn, NSW and has a sculpture in recognition of this honour at the Goulburn Visitor Centre.
Drum and percussion virtuoso and songwriter Rob Hirst (Midnight Oil), an acclaimed name synonymous with the best of Australian music, has been with Backsliders for 12 years. As a founding member spending 25 years in Midnight Oil, Rob’s work needs no explanation – he stands as one of the world’s great drummers – now drawing on his early jazz and swamp-rock influences to produce a sound that is integral to the Backsliders 21st-century blues grooves. Rob’s achievements in the music industry are many and varied including publishing his first work of prose on Pan McMillan – Willies Bar & Grill telling the story of Midnight Oil’s USA & Canadian tour just after September 11.
Joining Dom and Rob are two of Australia’s most innovative and dynamic harmonica players, the legendary Brod Smith (Dingoes, Brod Smith’s Big Combo) and ARIA award-winning harmonica genius Ian Collard (Collard, Greens & Gravy). The two blues-harp dynamos play alternate gigs, each blazing his own trail to the raw energy of the Backsliders sound. It’s a furious ride – with Dom Turner and Rob Hirst doing their things, setting the grooves and taking no prisoners, and Ian and Brod (you never know who you will get) firing-up the amps to fuel the maelstrom.
These guys are renowned for captivating live shows – an eclectic mix of blues styles moving from driving delta blues riffs and jungle-like rhythms to ‘Piedmont’ blues-influenced ‘all-acoustic’ unplugged treatments of 1920s songs by blues heroes such as Mississippi Fred McDowell and Robert Johnson.
See the ‘Sliders at the Yodifee House Cambodia fundraiser at St Francis Xavier’s Primary Ballina on Saturday.