Australia was so embarrassed when it entered a hockey team into the Winter Olympics, it has never returned a squad to the Games.
Australia made just 10 goals while being scored upon 87 times in its six matches at the 1960 Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley, Calif.
While there are not many Australian hockey players, there are even fewer blues artists. However, the one we know would have made his country proud with his performance July 28 back at the same location as the 1960 Games.
Hamish Anderson wrapped up and eight-show California and Canada tour with two stellar sets at Squaw Valley’s Tuesday night musical staple, Bluesdays.
“It was fun,” the 24-year-old said. “It was really nice to be playing outdoors with beautiful scenery. A couple of people came up to me and said they had been to Melbourne. It’s great to come to a place I’ve never been and have a crowd there that’s really into the blues and rock.”
Blues fans are just getting to know Anderson, who now will begin extensive studio work in Los Angeles. The largest crowd on the tour was the Ottawa Bluesfest.
“In the next two months, I will start recording for what hopefully will be the first full-length album,” he said. “I’ve just been writing as much as I can. I’ll do as much as possible and then take a break over Christmastime and go back home, and then return here in January and try to finish up the album. Even before the tour I was writing a lot so I have quite a bit of demos to do. I really enjoy touring, but the studio is the other side of it where it’s really fun to explore.”
Anderson’s U.S. tour last fall ended after two shows. He was the opener for B.B. King for what ended up as the legendary player’s final performances.
He was to open for King on about a half-dozen shows in the fall of 2014, but after the second night the legendary artist became ill at the House of Blues in Chicago, and he never performed again.
“It was very much a crazy bittersweet experience,” Anderson said. “He didn’t look right or feel right. He looked kind of out of it.”
King, who had dealt with diabetes for years, died a few months later at the age of 89, on May 14, 2015.
Anderson, 24, grew up idolizing King. “I remember asking my dad who B.B. King was when he was playing the album ‘B.B. King Live at the Regal,’ and him becoming such a huge influence and inspiration to me.”
Blues players in Australia are as rare as kangaroo with ice skates, yet Anderson was intrigued by the music from a very young age. He began playing guitar at 12 years old.
“I learned about blues through the British Invasion guys,” Anderson said. “People like Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton who didn’t come from the Mississippi Delta, how they translated that kind of music.”
Like so many other blues fans, Anderson dove deeper into the music.
“I like everything from the Delta stuff to the Chicago stuff,” he said. “Obviously, guys like B.B. and Buddy Guy, Otis Rush and Albert King, Freddie King, Albert Collins and “Son” House and the ’60s stuff like Eric Clapton and Peter Green with Fleetwood Mac all that Chess Records stuff and Alan Lomax stuff. It was the real stuff that got me.”
Like the British Invasion artists, Hamish has his own blues-based style. A genuine triple threat, Anderson wrote the material on his two EPs and has a great singing voice. His talent and style can be compared to Davy Knowles and Jonny Lang.
“All the musicians I really like, it’s interesting to see how far they can really take that and explore new territory,” he said. “I like exploring and doing different things, but at the core of it the blues is really my foundation. It’s still the music I go back to.
“I think everything I do, even if it’s not in the traditional sense, I come back to the same place, which is the blues. I like it when it’s mixing with other genres. Mix it with rock music or folk or pop music. It’s a really interesting ingredient.”
Anderson and the San Francisco band the Stone Foxes stand out at the two most nontraditional performers on the Bluesday lineup. Brent Harding, who books the music with his company Devil Dog Productions, explained:
“It crosses the line,” Harding said. “I am trying to make a point to everybody that they need to embrace some of these younger guys because as we see with B.B. King’s passing, these guys are passing away and there is no one carrying the torch, so I am trying to support these younger guys and get their name out there. I think Hamish Anderson and Stone Foxes are really, really big talents that need to get exposed.”
Anderson has some solace in that he was able to see one great show from King on the opening night of the tour in Phoenix.
“I learned from him by watching his command over the band,” Anderson said. “Watching him from the side of the stage, it was pretty surreal.”
Anderson, too, displayed command as well as maturity during his show at Squaw Valley. He wore an Australian slouch hat, dark glasses and a T-shirt that quoted the Rolling Stones: “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”
He said it was the only show on the tour that was split into two sets. Nevertheless, his performance was captivating. Attendees in the crowd included many of the area’s blues players and devout fans who came to see the young Aussie for the first time.
“When I do a live show, I’ll do a couple of fast ones and then bring it down,” said the man from Outback about being onstage. “I like to mix it up and try different things. It’s nice to have different tempos and different moods.”
Anderson’s touring band included Jerry Borge, keyboards; Jonny Flaugher, bass; and Fern Sanchez, drums.
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