Australia is coming.
The one-man invader is Melbourne’s Hamish Anderson, a blues-based rocker who is in Southern California finishing up his first full-length album.
Anderson plays at the Belly Up Tavern in Solano Beach, California tonight, New Year’s Eve, at 9 p.m. for an hour-long set, opening for Los Lobos. Candye Kane also will perform, playing at 5 p.m. DETAILS
The record, which has not yet been titled, is being produced by both Jim Scott (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Ryan Bingham, Wilco, Grace Potter). Anderson’s first single from that album, “Trouble,” will release in February.
It will feature Chris Bruce (Seal, Doyle Bramhall II) on bass, Johnny Radelat (Gary Clark Jr.) and Aaron Sterling (John Mayer) on drums, and Jerry Borger on keys (Jonathan Wilson).
“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,” Anderson said after an eight-show tour that ended in Squaw Valley, California last summer
Anderson’s first United States’ 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 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.”