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Backsliders

Australian blues legends Backsliders have been touring and recording together for more than 30 years, and Darwin audiences benefit regularly from their captivating live shows. Slide guitarist, multi-stringed instrumentalist, songwriter, vocalist and founding member Dom Turner spoke to Off The Leash about what keeps them going – and what keeps them coming back.

Backsliders are regular visitors to Darwin. Do you have a stand out gig from over the years? Is there anything typically Territorian you're looking forward to doing while you're here? 

It was the heat of the very first Darwin gig a few years ago before the aircon at the Railway Club was happening. It transported us to South East Asia – the band did a Vietnam and Cambodia tour a few years prior – and I was personally reminded of a Louisiana gig I had done with some friends. Although time is always against us, we love just heading to the Parap Market, or down to the Waterfront and enjoying the view.

It will still be hot. And sweaty. And sticky when you're here in March. Does our steamy, tropical weather influence your setlist? 

Darwin audiences – and the weather – seem to guide our performances and bring out even more spontaneity than usual. The band functions around musical interaction between members at live gigs and the heat seems to stimulate it. 

Can you tell us a little bit about the band’s journey over the last three decades?

It’s been a great ride with Backsliders right from the outset in 1986, as a purely acoustic blues act. I’d just returned from a lengthy trip to the US and came back to Australia wanting to start a band that drew on my first musical love – rural blues – however I wanted to present it in a band format. At the time most acts playing that form of blues were either solo or duo. As time went on, a number of other similar Australian acts began to appear, so I moved into writing originals as a focus. The next big change was in 2000 when Rob Hirst joined on drums. We began to co-songwrite, and I moved to electric guitar, drawing on rural blues artists Mississippi Fred McDowell and R.L. Burnside.    

What else are you working on at the moment? 

I have a number of international collaborations, particularly with American artists – but for now I'm focussing on my main project – Backsliders.

SAT 10 MAR | 7PM | RAILWAY CLUB | $32.50 | darwinrailwayclub.org

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