Biography

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 

Over a century ago, north of the steamy Mississippi delta, up in the hill country surrounding it, a certain strain of the blues manifested, a sound now regarded as part of the blueprint for modern music. It’s from this almost primeval sound that 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. 

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 Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) 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 with a number of his international music collaborations (The Turner Brown Band, Phil Wiggins & Dom Turner). 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 two decades. As a founding member of the legendary Australian band, Midnight Oil, 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 the 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. 

Joining Dom and Rob some of Australia’s most innovative and dynamic harmonica players; ARIA award winning Ian Collard (Collard, Greens & Gravy), as well as younger prodigy, Joe Glover, and the legendary Broderick Smith (Dingoes, Carson, Big Combo). The 3 blues-harp dynamos play alternate gigs, each blazing a trail to the raw energy of the Backsliders sound. It’s a furious ride—with Dom Turner and Rob Hirst doing their thing, setting the grooves, and Ian, Broderick or Joe (you never know who you will get) firing-up the amps to fuel the maelstrom. 

It’s a lineup that carries serious weight, not just on the Australian blues scene, but across genres and styles the world over.

The latest release (August 2016) ‘Heathen Songbook’ the band’s 14th to date, is a varied and eclectic mix of 21st Century original blues as well as a number of versions of songs by artists as diverse as diverse as Robert Johnson, Dock Boggs and John Fogerty. 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. 

The 2011 album, ‘Starvation Box’, their 12th release, was heralded as their finest work to date. The 2007 ‘Left Field Holler’ is an eclectic mix of hard-hitting, frenetic new blues mixed with poignant ballads again taking the band to new limits. The 2005 ‘Live’ album is a collection of live performances from the Basement in Sydney, as well as the Melbourne blues festival. The 2003 DVD, ‘Live at the Basement’ features live footage from one of Backsliders many gigs at The Basement in Sydney. The concert featured tracks from Backsliders’ 8th and latest album, ‘Hanoi’. Described as a new direction for a band that welcomes evolution and seems to expand their audience with every new release, ‘Hanoi’ was voted ‘Rhythms’ Magazine Readers Poll Blues Album of the Year for 2002 and was a 2002 finalist at the prestigious Australian Record Industry Awards (ARIA). ‘Hanoi’ is a studio album of mostly original songs by Dom Turner and Rob Hirst. The band’s previous album, ‘Poverty Deluxe’ (1999), was a 1999 ARIA Finalist. A variety of tunes from the Backsliders’ back-catalogue of recordings has featured in the ABC TV programme 'Seachange’, as well as the soundtrack to the latest read by Tim Winton, ‘Dirt Music’ in particular ‘Down by the Riverbed’ from the Backsliders’ ‘Wide Open’ (1995) album. Backsliders have also appeared on a number of compilation albums featuring renowned international and Australian artists including the Byron Bay International Blues and Roots Festival and Live at the Basement Sydney, compilation albums. 

Backsliders have made numerous television appearances in Australia and are regulars at major Australian festivals – Womad New Zealand and Womadelaide, East Coast Blues Festival (14 appearances) Adelaide International Guitar Festival, the Melbourne International Music & Blues Festival (alongside Bob Dylan, Ray Charles & Tony Joe White), Woodford Folk Festival, Bridgetown Blues Festival the Festivals of Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide to name a few.