Love of music sustains blues performer Sugarcane Collins
"IT'S the love of music that sustains us all in the end."
That's the message that Sugarcane Collins avidly shared to The Observer about following a career in music.
The acoustic blues performer is back on the road, touring his latest album released this year, Downunder The Blues.
He will be playing at the Agnes Water Tavern on Friday January 25 at 8pm and the Lighthouse Hotel at Burnett Heads on Saturday January 26 at 1pm.
Sugarcane Collins has been touring as a soloist since 2005, picking up the 2007 Australian Blues Album of the Year along the way for his 'tour de force' blues debut Way Down The River and the award for Queensland Songwriter of the Year in 2004.
The talented blues singer said the new album, his fourth album of original material, has a more Australian flavour to it.
"There's a little bit more - casting my eye over Australia," he said.
"Down under of course being the catch call."
The album features songs touching on reworkings of old folk songs to indigenous issues, the carnage on Australian roads, his childhood days on the farm to environmental musings, and even a pretty little lullaby for the health of mother earth.
The 57-year-old is well-known in the States for his iconic style for Australian blues and with over 30 years experience in the industry, is still planning more dreams on the horizon.
When asked if the music has helped keep him young, Collins laughed.
"The bad blues man stays up all night drinking whiskey, which isn't me," he said.
"Maybe I've got good jeans."
As a self taught musician Collins said learning the guitar and playing it like he does today was hard yacka.
"I always considered myself a singer first and a guitar player second.
"My voice could always carry my inexperience.
On the other hand Collins said, "Singing was a mother nature gift."
And with his gift, Collins has continued to follow what he loves and does best - travel and perform.
The blues enthusiast has travelled all over the world from the USA, South America, Turkey and even Argentina.
"I was the very first Australian blues man to perform in Argentina," he said.
Collins realised his debut album in 2006 in the United States, which proved highly successful but he admits it's not always easy following a music career.
"Not many people are game to try and make a career in music," he said.
"You dive off the deep end initially, but if the music calls you must obey."
As for his highlight, Collins said his last album springs to mind.
"I'm still getting royalty checks from the US for radio airplay," he said.
"That's quite a feet for an Australian blues guy."
Collins said this was the major turning point for him.
"It gave me a lot of confidence.
"To go to the land where the blues began. Being told by the black people's culture that I'm on the money and really doing something right."
Even so, Collins remains humble in his attitude.
"I've never really been overly concerned about moving to the big smoke," he said.
"I wasn't looking for fame and fortune, I was just wanting to play the guitar and live my life as a musician."
"I've followed my muse and it's not over by a long shot."
Being on the road is simply part of his life and Collins said, in response to his trip to Seventeen Seventy, he often wondered what was down there.
"I haven't been but I've seen the turnoff."
With old memories of singing along to the radio and the catchy television jingles, Collins was always born to pursue music.
"My father used to sing in the cow shed all those years ago," he said.
"But look, no I'm the only professional musician anywhere in my family.
"It's not an easy path to tread.
"You have to believe in the music and believe in yourself.
"I could have just as easily chosen to be a carpenter.
"If you can spin a good yarn, people will always listen."