Backsliders (band)

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Backsliders (Australia)
Backsliders Dom Rob V2 5 meg CLOSE UP.jpg
Background information
OriginSydney, Australia
Years active1986–present
LabelsRocket Distribution
Associated actsDom Turner & Phil Wiggins
Dom Turner & Ian Collard
The Turner Brown Band
Dom Turner & Supro
Kim Sinh & Dom Turner
Angry Tradesmen
Midnight Oil
Hirst & Greene
MembersDom Turner
Rob Hirst
Brod Smith
Ian Collard
Joe Glover
Past membersRex Hill
Pete Burgess
Jim Conway

Backsliders are a three piece Australian blues based band. The current line up consists of guitarist/vocalist Dom Turner and drummer/percussionist Rob Hirst joined on alternating nights by either Brod Smith, Ian Collard or Joe Glover on harmonica.


2011 ARIA Best Blues and Roots Album nominees and iTunes Australian Blues and Roots album of the year winners, Backsliders, have been playing, touring the festival circuit and recording since late 1986.

Their latest releases, 'Bonecrunch' (2020), was described by the Sydney Morning Herald as "in the hands of these vets the blues element isn’t staid, but is led down different, swampy paths to create something new and, indeed, hopeful.[1]/ref>"

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[2] He is a speaker on blues and roots music and has guested on ABC radio programs and presented music workshops at festivals and in universities (both nationally and internationally). As well as playing in the Backsliders, Dom has toured as a solo artist in the US, playing Augusta Blues week in West Virginia in 1996 and 1998, and in early 2006, he toured Mexico with US blues greats, Del Ray and Steve James. 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 (Midnight Oil), an acclaimed name synonymous with the best of Australian music, has been with Backsliders since 2000. As a founding member in the legendary Australian rock group 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 11 September.

Joining Dom and Rob are harmonica players Broderick Smith (Dingoes, Brod Smith's Big Combo), Ian Collard (Collard, Greens & Gravy) and Joe Glover. The three blues-harpists play alternate gigs.

The band's live shows mix blues styles from Mississippi hill country to Delta blues and jungle-like rhythms to 'Piedmont' blues influenced 'all-acoustic' unplugged treatments of 1920's songs by Mississippi Fred McDowell and Robert Johnson.

Backsliders have made numerous television appearances in Australia and are regulars at regional Australian towns and cities, as well as major Australian festivals, including Byron Bay Bluesfest, Great Southern Blues Festival, Blues on Broadbeach, Girrakool Blues Festival & BBQ, Womad, Woodford Folk Festival, Wingham Akoostik Festival and Blues at Bridgetown.

The band has played with international acts such as Old Gray Mule, Phil Wiggins, Peter Green, Junior Wells, Little Charlie and the Nightcats, John Mooney, Rory Block, Roy Bookbinder, Guy Clarke, Cephas and Wiggins, Leo Kottke, Charlie Musselwhite, Christina Olsen, John Prine, Del Rey, Steve James and toured nationally with John Hammond.

Formation & Short History In the early 1980s, Dom Turner and harmonica player Rex Hill began gigging around Sydney as an acoustic blues duo. After returning from the United States in 1986, enthused by the idea of blurring the lines between rural and urban blues, Dom began rehearsing a new rural blues band concept with drummer Peter Burgess in duo mode, which moved to the inclusion of Rex Hill on harmonica. The sound drew inspiration from the Mississippi Fred McDowell records where Fred was accompanied by a drummer, or a rural blues version of the sound Beausoleil achieved without bass guitar. The name 'Backsliders' came from a Library of Congress recording of Lead Belly singing 'Backslider Fare you Well'.

After a short stint of rehearsals, and a run of early local gigs, the newly formed band was offered a live performance at the Sydney Town Hall for radio station 2MBS FM (host to Stormy Monday blues Program) by blues DJ Austin Harrison scheduled for August 1987. The band played in duo mode (Dom and Peter) and directly after the performance was approached by the station label manager with an offer of an album release to be the first blues album on the 2MBS FM music label. The debut album 'Preaching Blues' was released in 1988 to critical acclaim. The band continued to gig locally in Sydney, particularly around the Balmain/Rozelle area of Sydney including a residency at the Bridge Hotel, Rozelle. In 1989 Rex Hill resigned from the band.

As both Dom and Pete were fans of Captain Matchbox Whoopee Band, Jim Conway was contacted as replacement for Rex. Jim agreed to join on harmonica (Jim had filled in for a Rex at a number of gigs in late 1988). A follow up album 'Sitting on a Million' was recorded and released (1989) and the band quickly moved onto the Australian music festival circuit beginning with the Port Fairy Folk Festival, The East Coast Blues Festival and the Woodford Folk Festival as well as touring Australia, in particular travelling to Melbourne and regional Victoria as a strong live blues music circuit had developed in that region of Australia. Throughout the 1990s the band continued on the touring circuit as well as playing a number of residency gigs in Sydney, including the Rose Shamrock and Thistle Hotel in Rozelle. The band also took advantage of the various television opportunities available to independent music acts in the1990's, performing live on a variety of daytime and evening news and variety programs.

In 2000, drummer Peter Burgess resigned. After meeting at a 1996 recording session by Sydney band 'Ghostwriters' (Rob HIrst and Rick Grossman) Dom became friends with legendary drummer Rob Hirst. Rob was asked to join Backsliders. A very brief rehearsal followed and Rob and agreed officially joining in 2000, however with the understanding that there were to be some upcoming Midnight Oil commitments. Drummers Angus Diggs and Ashley Davies filled the drum role during Rob's occasional absences, however with the disbandment of Midnight Oil in 2002, Rob was able to focus on touring, writing and playing with Backsliders.

In 2006, Jim Conway resigned from the group. Broderick Smith (Dingoes, Big Combo) and Ian Collard (Collard Greens and Gravy) took the harmonica role at alternate gigs. In 2010, Joe Glover (Shelley's Murder Boys) added to the harmonica team. The band continues to tour nationally and internationally and record, with the latest album 'Bonecrunch' released in 2020.


Studio albums[edit]

  • Preaching Blues (1988)
  • Sitting on a Million (1989)
  • Hellhound (1991)
  • Wide Open (1995)
  • Poverty Deluxe (1999)
  • Hanoi (2002)
  • Left Field Holler (2007)
  • Throwbacks (2009)
  • Starvation Box (2011)
  • Dark Side (2014)
  • Heathen Songbook (2016)
  • 'Bonecrunch' (2020)


Live albums[edit]

  • Live at The Royal (1993)
  • Live (2005)

Compilation albums[edit]

  • Downtime (A Ten Year Collection) (1998)


  • Live at The Basement (2003)


External links[edit]