TROOPER: 8 Ball Aitken sets himself a punishing tour schedule each year.
TROOPER: 8 Ball Aitken sets himself a punishing tour schedule each year.

8 Ball Aitken is on a roll

THERE'S one rule that swamp blues guitarist, 8 Ball Aitken knows well.

"If you want to make it in the music industry, you just have to go for it, really hard," he said.

For the singer song writer, who grew up on a banana plantation in Mareeba in Far North Queensland, going hard is something he knows all about.

"I worked on farms and banana plantations from the age of 14 and that was pretty hard work, and I played and partied hard on weekends too," he said.

"But when I was around 20 I hit the road with my guitar and I've been touring ever since."

8 Ball reckons he averages over 220 gigs each year, when you factor in travel, it's a punishing schedule.

"On this tour I'll be performing at least six days a week for the next six or so months, there's not a lot of people can pull that off," he said.

He'll be travelling in good company though, his girlfriend, the subject of his recently released single, Lindy Loo has accompanied him on the road.

"She keeps me on the straight and narrow," he said.

"We really focus on being creative and making the best music we can."

8 Ball's love of country, delta and swamp blues played by musicians like JJ Cale and Tony Joe White influenced his own musical style which fused into a unique blend of blues and country rock infused with a healthy dose of tongue in cheek humour.

In a career spanning 15 years, 8 Ball has released eight albums and toured through 18 countries and says there are too many highlights to mention.

"Touring through Europe and being able to share my music is always fun, playing in the rain to over 10,000 people in Canada was up there too," he said.

"But I get my biggest kick out of writing songs then performing them and hearing the crowd singing along.

"I really get a buzz out of that," he said.

He's also a fan of the small gigs where the crowd is right up close.

"I played at Ubobo last weekend which was pretty cool and the Blues fest at Agnes Water really kicked me off in CQ, I can't wait to get back there next year," he said.

His advice to anyone thinking of making the leap into music industry is simple.

"For me it was just choosing to be an original musician, playing my own songs and sticking at it.

"My fans have given me the best job in the world," he says.

His latest album, 'Swamp Blues' is currently #2 on the Australian Blues charts.

The album was released on CD but also on vinyl and cassette tape, which comes with a free pencil for rewinding it.

"The market is asking for vinyl and cassettes again," 8Ball said.

"Lots of people drive old cars and they want a cassette, they like to feel it and hold it in their hands."

8Ball said it was a much more expensive process to produce the vinyl records.

"But it's worth it," he said.

"People who listen to vinyl records, they're true music lovers, they don't mind getting up every 20 minutes to turn the record over - it keeps them fit."

8Ball, who splits his time between Australia and the US said he's happy to be in the land down under.

"Australian fans are great," he said.

"They love to support their musicians; when they love you, they support you.

For that reason, 8 Ball said, he plans to keep coming back as often as he can.

8 Ball Aitken is playing at the Tannum Sands Hotel this Friday night at 8pm. It's a free show.

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