An Interview with Australian Slide Guitarist Dave Hole: Love for Music & Passion for Blues

DAVE HOLE

The Guitar Man is Here to Stay

Dave Hole born in England, is an slide guitarist well known for his style of playing rock n' roll and blues. Hole movied to Perth, Western Australia, when he was 4. He became interested in the blues at a very young age, after hearing a school friend’s Muddy Waters’ album when he was around 6. Hole received his first guitar at age 12, but had to start teaching himself due to lack of guitar teachers in Perth, using the blues albums.

Hole broke his finger in a soccer accident, so, even though he was left-handed, he started playing the guitar with his right. He did this by putting the slide on his index finger and then hanging his hand over the top of the guitar neck. By the time his finger healed, he had gotten so used to the ‘wrong’ way of playing that he never turned back. 


Hole became a professional in 1972, working with a band in London. He returned to Perth in 1974 and spent the next 20 years touring the Western Australian pub circuit. To keep his fans happy, he eventually released “Short Fuse Blues,” a tape which he had financed, produced, and recorded with his band, Short Fuse in 1990. He sold the album during pub performances. A copy of the album was soon in the hands of Alligator Records president Bruce Iglauer who signed Hole as the first non-American artist in the label’s history. 

Dave signed a deal for Europe with Provogue Records, with the albums and tours of the U.S. and Europe helping him to increase his popularity worldwide. Later tours of Europe have seen him headlining festival shows in Germany, Denmark, Holland, France and Switzerland with the Leverkussen Blues Festival in Germany televised nationally. He has also performed in Brazil, Sweden, Norway, Russia, Italy, Spain, Belgium and the UK.
 

Under the Spell won an ARIA Music Awards (Australian Recording Industry Association) in the Blues/Roots category in 1999. Now having ten albums under his wing, he continues to tour worldwide, but still has his home in the Darling Scarp of Western Australia as his base for the other six months of the year.

  His name is written in the history of blues and it's meant to stay...

 

Interview by Michael Limnios

 

When was your first desire to become involved in the blues?

When I heard a Muddy Waters record for the first time at the age of 16.  I had never heard such powerful music before and it had a big effect on me.

 

Who were your first idols?

Well obviously Muddy Waters was one.  Some of the others were Robert Johnson, Elmore James, Hubert Sumlin, Albert King and Jimi Hendrix.

 

What have been some of your musical influences?

The music of nearly all the well known blues artists has had an influence on me.  As a slide guitarist I have been most influenced by Elmore James,  Earl Hooker, Rory Gallagher and Duane Allman.

 

What were the first songs you learned?

“Apache” by The Shadows,  “Rave On” by Buddy Holly as well as some Beatles and Rolling Stones songs.  The first blues songs I learned were “Mojo” by Muddy Waters and “Dust My Broom” by Elmore James.

 

Is “blues” a way of life?

I guess it is for those of us who live and breath it.  In another sense it is a way of life for all of us, since it is basically a reflection on the human condition, with all it’s sadnesses and joys.

 

Which was the best moment of your career and which was the worst?
The best was when I received a phone call from Jas Obrecht, the then manager of “Guitar Player” magazine, to tell me that he had heard my first album and that he loved it and was “going to give it the best review he’d given anything in years”.  The worst was my first professional engagement with my band.  It was at my high school dance and we began by playing the introduction to “Satisfaction” with the curtains closed.  Unfortunately the curtains got stuck and by the time they were opened we had been playing the opening riff for about 15 minutes and most of the audience had become bored and gone outside for some fresh air!

 

What does the term BLUES mean to you?

For me it means the chance to express myself in the most elementary way.  When I perform I am able to express exactly the way I am feeling at that very moment – happy, sad, angry, nostalgic, etc.

 

Do you think the younger generations are interested in the blues in Australia?

Yes I do.  When I perform in Australia there is often a mix of all age groups and it is usually the younger ones who seem most keen to come up and talk to me after the show.  They want to know more about the blues and it’s history.

 

Which of your work would you consider to be the best?

I hope it’s the album I am currently working on but it’s a very difficult question for me to answer.  I think I’m just to close to it and it’s best to leave it to others to judge.

 

What does Blues offered you?

It’s been a great joy for me because it has given me the chance to express myself creatively.  It’s also given me the chance to travel the world and meet many wonderful people from different countries.

 

What do you learn about yourself from music?

I think music can reveal who you really are deep inside and it teaches you to be in touch with your emotions.

 

How would you describe your contact to people when you are on stage?

Every night is different and every audience is different but when it’s at it’s best it feels like I’m at one with the audience and we are all inside the moment being carried along by the music.  Then it’s a wonderful feeling and it’s what makes being out on the road worthwhile.

 

Which is the most interesting period in your life and why?
The most interesting part so far is probably the early 1990’s.  It was a very exciting time for me because I had just had my first album released world-wide and was touring extensively in America and Europe for the first time.

 

Why do you play the blues?
Because I love it and it speaks to me like no other music.

 

What experiences in your life make you a GOOD musician?
Well I don’t think you have to have to be very old and have had a lot of different experiences.  Jimi Hendrix and Robert Johnson were amazing musicians at quite a young age.  To be a good musician I think you have to be passionateand become totally obsessed with it at some point in your life.  That’s what makes you spend all those hours that are necessary to master an instrument.

 

How do you want to be remembered?
I don’t mind if I’m not remembered at all but I suppose I’d be happy if people thought of me as a decent guitar player who has added their little bit to the history of the blues.

 

What was the first gig you ever went to?
My mother took me to see the Everly Brothers when they came to Australia in 1958.

 

What advice would you had given to Duane Allman?
Don’t ride motorcycles!

 

What gift would you had given to Elmore James?
A video camera so he could film himself performing.  That way we would be able to see the way he played and what he used for a slide, etc.

 

What would you ask Jimi Hendrix?

I’d ask him if I could jam with him.

 

Which of historical music personalities would you like to meet?
Robert Johnson.  He is such a mysterious figure.  I’d love to know what he was really like.  So little is really known about him.

 

Are your music dreams fulfilled?
Yes, because all I ever wanted from music was the chance to play for people and to be heard.  Making records and touring has given me that chance.

 

What is the “think” you miss most of the ‘70s
I miss touring with my band through the mining towns and the outback of  Western Australia.  They were memorable times.

 

Were there any places for gigs where you did especially well?
There are lots of places but a few would be ‘The House Of Blues’ in New Orleans, ‘Paradiso’ in Amsterdam, ‘The Bridge’ in Sydney and ‘The Swedish Rock Festival’.

 

What are some of the most memorable gigs you've had?
My first American performance at ‘Buddy Guy’s Legends’ in Chicago and ‘The Royal Albert Hall’ in London.

 

Which are your favorite guitars?
My 1962 Fender Stratocaster and my 1971 Gibson ES345.

 

Let’s go back even further. What do you like about your very first sessions in Planet studios, Perth?
I like the sound we got.  The “Short Fuse Blues” album still sounds good to me.  This was largely due to the engineer, John Villani.

 

What’s the best band you ever played in?
My current touring band – Roy Daniel on bass and Ace Follington on drums.  These are the guys I feel most comfortable playing with.

 

In which track can someone hear the best of your guitar work?
That’s a tough one.  There are bits all over the place.  Maybe some of the slow blues like “Up All Night Thinking” or “Short Fuse Blues”.

 

Where did you pick up your slide style?
From listening to records by Elmore James, Robert Johnson, Earl Hooker etc.  Also much of my style comes from the fact that I play with the slide from over the top of the neck, which gives a slightly different sound.

 

What are your best songs, the songs you’d most like to be remembered for?
Personally I like some of the quieter stuff, like “Berwick Road”, “Lost At Sea” and “Don’t Say Goodbye”.  Some of these have very personal meanings for me.

 

Are there any songs that you've written where the lyrics are very personal for you?
Yes, the ones I’ve just mentioned.

 

What are some of your favorite blues standards?
“The Things That I Used To Do” (Guitar Slim), “As The Years Go Passing By” (Albert King), “Killing Floor” (Howling Wolf).

 

What would you use for a slide?
A standard Dunlop chrome slide (#225).


Three words to describe your work & your sound?
Energetic, joyous, plaintive.

 

What do you think is the main characteristic of you personality that made you a bluesman?
Well I can only think it’s a love of music and a passion for blues in particular.

 

 

Do you believe MUSIC takes subject from LIFE?
Absolutely.  It should be a reflection of what it is to be human with all the joy and sadness that we all experience.

 

Did you ever expect, when you started recording, that the group would become such a big hit?
No.  My first recording was done so that there would be a tape available for my local fans here in Perth, Western Australia.  I had no idea or expectation at the time that it would be released all over the world.

 

Describe the ideal rhythm section to you?
My current band is excellent but I guess as a kind of experiment it would be interesting to hear Johnny B Gayden on bass, Mick Fleetwood on drums and Bill Payne on piano.

 

How did you begin playing music and when did you know you would do this for a living?
I started at the age of 11 when I got my first guitar.  I told my father right away that I was going to be a professional musician but I didn’t really believe it until I had graduated from University aged 22 and my band won a ‘battle of the bands’ competition.

 

How/where do you get inspiration for your songs?
From almost anything.  From things that happen to me or someone I know or from something I read or hear someone say.

 

Do you have a message for the Greek fans?
Thank you for supporting the blues and keeping it alive in Greece.  I guess you have a few blues of your own there right now so keep smiling and please know that you have friends all around the world.

 

Do the media help the blues in Australia?
Not very much.  Most of the press here is for pop music.

 

What are the main influences of Blues in Australia? Do you think that the main influence is the scene of England or the U.S.?
It used to be that the main influence when I started out was from England but it’s definitely from America now.

 

You have traveling all around the world. What are your conclusions?
It’s definitely round!

 

Give one wish for the music
I hope it continues on evolving in new and interesting ways while still respecting it’s roots.

 

What is the interest in indigenous peoples (aboriginals) for the blues, there is a native to play the blues?
There is quite some interest for the blues and roots music in general.  Many aboriginals like country music also.  There are some truly excellent aboriginal musicians here.

 

and one last question I would like to put a song next to each name and term.

Bruce Iglauer: “Who Do You Love”

Blues: “It’s My Life”

Slide: “The Sky Is Crying”

Aussie Blues: “Black and Blue” (by Aussie group ‘Chain’)

Dave Hole: “Guitar Man”

 

Dave Hole's website


 

 

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