John Durr was interviewed by Tanya Catelli about his love of and lifetime involvement in the Australian Blues Music Industry.
John is an Aussie Blues icon. He is a Blues Music Producer and founder of Black Market Music. He is also currently the President of MBAS.
Q. You're President of the Melbourne Blues Appreciation Society (MBAS). How did you get involved in the blues and how did you become President of MBAS?
John: I became involved in blues music as a teenager in the 1960s. I saw T-Bone Walker on the TV and was fascinated. At the same time, a friend of a friend had a Muddy Waters album that was also a revelation.
As to becoming President of the MBAS, I had been involved in an advisory role for quite a while. Initially I joined the Committee as Vice President then took over as President when the late John Jerman (RIP), the previous President, stepped down.
Q. Who are some of your favourite blues musicians and what is your favourite type of blues?
John: Blues covers such a huge expanse of styles, from Bessie Smith in the 1920's to Joe Bonamassa today, with a lot in between. I tend towards the older styles, probably my age!!! Also, the fact that so much could be achieved with obstacles such as poverty, racism etc. To overcome demonstrates the power of the artistic spirit involved.
As to favourites, well it changes week to week, month to month. I am getting back into T-Bone Walker at present. Being the first electric Blues guitarist to achieve success is a huge accomplishment.
Q. Do you play any musical instruments and have you played in bands and if so, which?
John: Yes. I play a bit of guitar and keyboards. I played clarinet in high school!! I played in a wide variety of bands in my much younger days. Growing up in regional Australia, you just took what you could as far as styles, genres etc. There were no dedicated blues bands.
Q. You founded Black Market Music, a record label. What prompted you to do this?
John: I had come to a stage in my life where I had done almost everything in the music industry - driving trucks, lugging PA's, putting up posters, mastering cassettes for AMWAY etc. I really wanted to do something that made some kind of difference. I saw an opportunity and went for it!
Q. You must've met a lot of interesting people in your blues career. Do you want to tell me about some of the people you've met and worked with?
John: I’ve met some real heavyweights in the blues and soul world, such as Stan Lewis, Roger Hawkins, Bo Diddely and John Abbey. They all had some great advice, a lot of which went over my head at the time! I’ve worked with some genuinely talented Australian acts - Collard Greens & Gravy, Fiona Boyes, Lloyd Spiegel, Ash Grunwald, Jimi Hocking etc. It is pleasing to see the local acts go onto achieve what they have.
Thank you for your time, John.