Over a century ago, north of the steamy Mississippi delta, up in the hill country surrounding it, a certain strain of the blues manifested, feeding off the hardship of the people who lived there, their lives and stories set to a sound now regarded as part of the blueprint for modern music. It’s from this almost primeval sound that Australian blues stalwarts Backsliders take their sonic cues. That driving, repetitious groove, its minimal chord changes giving it a distinct feeling and focus, something Backsliders have proven adept at mastering, all whilst adding their own, unique Australian way to it.
Formed in 1986 by guitarist Dom Turner, Backsliders quickly became festival favourites, a tag they carry to this day, almost thirty years later. The line-up boasts the drumming talents of Rob Hirst, along with the alternating harmonica attack of Ian Collard, Joe Glover and Broderick Smith backing Hirst and Turner to the hilt.
It’s a lineup that carries serious weight, not just on the Australian blues scene, but across genres and styles the world over.
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 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 Rey 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 Visitors Centre.
Drum and percussion virtuoso and songwriter Rob Hirst, an acclaimed name synonymous with the best of Australian music, has been with Backsliders for 16 years. 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 Backsliders 21st century blues grooves. Rob’s achievements in the music industry are many and varied including In 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.
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 1920’s songs by blues heroes such as Mississippi Fred McDowell and Robert Johnson.
The achievements, success and reviews over the band’s 30 years tell it all.
“A Backsliders show is like no other..” Far from the Mississippi delta, they took us to the water’s edge, ‘til we felt the riverbed beneath our feet” Rhythms Magazine 2015
“It is no wonder that The Backsliders are regarded as Australia’s greatest blues outfit: they consist of four world-class exponents of their respective instruments.” Glam Adelaide 2015
“If the band was any tighter it would burst.” “This is one tightly rehearsed outfit, which may have something to do with the fact that they have been working together for many years and are masters of their respective crafts.” BWW Reviews
“Led by Dom Turner, the Backsliders are the real deal in the blues..” Sydney Morning Herald 2015
“Australian blues that goes well beyond the 12-bar, Backsliders remain as important and endearing as ever.” The Music.com.au 2014
“The [tracks] sound like they’re being made by some hungry youths from the Deep South with empty bellies saved for the fires burning bright inside of them.” @thedwarfsite Natalie Salvo