It could be hard to imagine an Australian guitarist obsessed with music grown and groomed in America.
Well, sort of.
Geoff Achison is an award-winning Australian guitar player recognized for his talent on the instrument and compelling performances. He’ll be performing at the Iredell Arts Council in downtown Statesville May 2 in support of his new album, “Sovereign Town.”
Much of Achison’s performance repertoire lies in what many would call blues music, but he isn’t a fan of pigeonholing himself.
“I don’t really like to call myself a blues musician,” he joked. “I’m a blues enthusiast.”
Achison was quick to mention that American blues, Appalachian mountain music, bluegrass and country music have found a strong foothold in Australia. He said he was one of the many Aussie musicians that studied the music in order to write their own songs, and that he was never really a fan of pop music.
“I guess to me, I couldn’t stand the fairy dust, or fluffiness, of pop music,” Achison remarked. “I’ve always felt pop music is an affront to music in its pure form. I don’t know why I feel like that because people enjoy (the) music and there’s certain pop songs that I can even (enjoy). It’s OK, but it’s like the crème cakes of music.”
He mentioned there’s a sort of raw honesty and truthfulness in blues music, something he found substantial and compelling. He recalled listening to early blues artists like Robert Johnson and “Blind Lemon” Jefferson.
“I went way back in just trying to understand the source of this mode of expression,” he said. “… I never questioned why honesty and truthfulness in music would be anything but desirable.”
And that mentality has seemed to serve Achison well. He won the Albert King Award at the International Blues Challenge in 1995, has been an NPR featured artist and maintained an international touring schedule for nearly two decades.
He’s also rather fond of North Carolina, adding that Asheville was home to many of his early shows in the United States and he plays a guitar made in Tryon.
For his new album, Achison’s takes more of a stripped down approach with just acoustic guitar, upright bass, drums and organ. “Sovereign Town” is his stab at examining gold mining in America and Australia; a press release for the album said it focuses on the miner’s internal reasons for leaving home, seeking fortune and the personal costs than ensue.
He spoke to the album’s personal ties to his youth.
“(Mining is) a very big part of our story at home,” he said. “I grew up in an area where we were surrounded by these heaps of dirt, these mullock heaps. That sort of marked where all the mines were, when people dug tunnels and shafts and things like that. We used to go out there as kids, ride our bike out there and explore all these places.”
And although the Appalachian Mountains, with its own mining history, and Australia are several thousands of miles apart, Achison said those who sought wealth may have something in common.
“From what I’ve read, the story is very similar,” he said. “These discoveries and the method of extracting gold out of the earth back in those times was much the same. It was left up to individuals to decide to explore these areas … and take to it with a pan and a shovel and try and dig this stuff out of the ground, and in brutal times in a lot of ways.”
Achison will be performing a solo show May 2 at the Iredell Arts Council located at 203 S. Meeting St. The show begins at 7:30 p.m. with tickets starting at $12. Tickets can be purchased brownpapertickets.com/event/3923792 .