GEOFF ACHISON : UP CLOSE & UNPLUGGED Terri Lee Fatouros December 6, 2014 Columns & Blogs, Live N Local I was invited to Geoff Achison and The Soul Diggers 20th Anniversary DVD/CD Launch Party at The GH in ST.Kilda recently and was blown away by their sheer genius and musical bent on all originals performed. Achison writes all their material and is main vocals and guitar virtuoso, with Mal Logan on Keys, Roger McLachlan on bass, and Gerry Pantazis on drums. These outstanding muso’s astounded punters as they performed Achison’s creative trademark of eclectic blend of funk, blues, rock, jazz with snippets of reggae originals. In fact, their performance in March 2014 was captured on film, which has been superbly produced and was available for sale during the gig. Achison has been around for a long time, gigging with greats like Dutch Tilders and many others. He’s travelled the world and has a huge international fan base following. The Souldiggers band gives expression to Achison’s creative genius. With Logan feeling the music pulse in his fingertips and merging with the keys, and McLachlan’s expressive/soulful bass; Pantazis drums created the background rhythmic glue, enabling each to create and play off each other during their sets. The drums simply don’t offend and aren’t in your face. Rather it’s seductive and draws you into the mood of the song being played. These drums definitely glue bass and keys into sync with Achison allowing him to creatively express himself while literally creating original material in the moment. Its mind blowing. Troy Wilson was the acoustic support act and played amidst a smoke infused atmosphere accentuated by kaleidoscopic lighting. With a well-chosen repertoire and cruisy execution, Wilson was the perfect accompaniment before the main act. Achison was born on Phillip island and grew up in Malmsbury, Central Highlands in Victoria amidst 80s pop music, which didn’t excite him. However, as a kid it was the 70’s music he heard that did excite him, and from 13 he gigged in his dads band, which revealed to him his life’s passion and path. Around 16 he discovered John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers, with the young Eric Clapton on guitar. It gave him a definition to the Blues and he realized that this is what does it for him. It gave him a point of focus. Achison is the whole package, transcending words, because music’s soul pulsates within, expresses in him, is alive in him, transmuting all genres, allowing output to his creative interpretations in all his original material. His masculine, husky voice and guitar unanimity takes you into sublime spaces and time. I was in awe. As a self-taught muso he feels whatever gifts he’s been given, he’s mighty lucky enough to have a damn good feel for it. ‘I don’t necessarily have a good ear, they are ok and the technical skill, I guess is ok. But I think the main strength I have is to really be able to feel the music. It affects me deeply. These days to call what we do is blues is a misnomer. Part of what you get from the music when you are inspired from it, is like a pathway, a window into discovering deep heart felt broad musical expression. Soul diggers band is the vehicle for me to present my original tunes. I hopefully tap into the musical cosmos, that’s what I try to do.” I asked him what does this feel like. “Its like a full body organism, it’s the greatest, that’s why its so addictive, and for various reasons too. You could feel fantastic cause it’s charging you with energy, making you feel like you could beat the world and anything else. Or it could be a release of emotions, like being happy or sad for example. And throughout the course of the gig it can be like this roller coaster of energy. I need musicians able to go with that flow. I first found a portal into this energy through blues music. I used to listen to old delta blues, Mississippi blues, and electric pioneers like Albert king. For me, that was the portal into it. In order for a musician to truly and honestly learn the lessons laid down by the great blues players, you need to discover what you sound like. Now I’m a country boy from Australia, I didn’t grow up picking cotton in Mississippi, and so I’m going to sound different if I’m honest to that. It might upset some people because they come along and say that’s not blues. I cant help that because if I’m truly tapping into it and not putting on an act, and not pretending then I’ll be a channel into that portal.” Thankfully most people get this understanding and appreciate greats like Achison’s channeling of creative expression into heartfelt emotive compositions. We chatted about viewpoint and life in general and Achison’s humble philosophy was revealed. “Humankind still haven’t figured it out yet and if there is no definitive, absolute answer then who am I to figure it out. So it has helped me to relax a bit. But through music I have discovered something so powerful, so beautiful, and so addictive. On a personal level I don’t have any particular belief system, I don’t subscribe to anything or any religion. I think common sense and common courtesy are ideals that are important. Treat others as you wish to be treated yourself. I’m very passionate about the power of music and how it has affected me deep inside. To me that is the very closet thing I’ve ever found to the meaning of life; is becoming so engrossed in the music and becoming so inside music at that particular moment is all that’s matter. And when you come out of it at the other side then everything else just seems day-to-day.” Geoff Achison is a genuine nice guy with positive self worth. He adores doing his guitar workshops, which takes him all over the world, and coaching and helping people to bring out their own unique skills. Achison’s awards, honors and achievements are extensive indeed and way to numerous to mention. Its no wonder he’s consider a musical genius by many.