Interview with bluesman Sugarcane Collins - an Aussie storyteller, he rides the blues train all over the world

"You know, emotionally, l think the blues is all about freedom, subversion and fun."

Sugarcane Collins: Southern Cross Blues

From the far north of Australia but with his musical roots embedded in the deep south of the USA, Sugarcane Collins is a one of a kind singer-songwriter-guitarist. Inspired by the slashing delta blues of Charley Patton and Son House, the sparkling ragtime of Blind Blake and the powerful songster traditions of Leadbelly, Sugarcane sings passionately with a voice that is big and soulful, writes songs that are potent and rich with imagery and he spanks the guitar like no one else around. He started his career in the rough canefield pubs and dangerous waterfront bars of Cairns' famed and feared but now gone Barbary Coast and his 30 year career in far north Queensland is the stuff of local legend.

Andy Sugarcane Collins has just added the "CHAIN" Award for 2014 Australian Blues Singer of the Year to his impressive list of career awards. At the recently concluded Australian Blues Music Awards night of nights in Goulburn NSW, Collins was singled out for top honors compliments of the power packed vocals on his latest outstanding original album Downunder the Blues. This prestigious award surely confirms he is one of the very best solo bluesmen going round Australia today.

He hit the road at eighteen and found himself way up north in Cairns, Queensland in the late 70’s at the peak of the Barbary Coast days, where in the wild stretch of waterfront pubs, boozing and brawling were given equal opportunity. The entertainment either learnt how to fight or play well enough to please the fishermen, canecutters, miners, bikers and all manner of desperado who drifted around the north when Cairns was a sugarcane town and the end of the road on the east coast of Australia.

Collins, learning from older experienced songsters like Geoff Munton, Donny Andrews and Chuck Hutchin, survived this baptism of fire and was soon in demand for the raw soulful interpretations of the old southern country bluesmen he so reveres. He started working on his songwriting, for just like the early country bluesmen, Sugarcane is an exceptional storyteller. Sugarcane Collins now rides the blues train all over the world for all he is worth. From juke joints in Mississippi to Buenos Aires to countless gigs around Australia, Sugarcane performs his potent no frills blues with an emotional intensity and raw abandon that only the very best solo bluesmen achieve.

Interview by Michael Limnios

What do you learn about yourself from the blues and what does the blues mean to you?

First time l met the blues was around 1974. I heard Sonny Terry and Brownie Magee and that sweet sound of harmonica and acoustic guitar. I don’t remember which song it was, but I do remember that the acoustic guitar and harmonica sounded alive and raw and real. I mean, I was nineteen years old and all of a sudden acoustic roots-based music became my passion and changed my life!

Like most people I was brought up on a diet of popular culture via TV and Radio and wasn’t aware that there was a whole universe of music waiting to be explored. Not only was I now plundering funky little record stores of all their acoustic blues albums and sending away to Elderley Instruments in Michigan for countless records on the Yazoo label, but I was also discovering King Oliver and Jelly Roll Morton, Fats Waller, Django Rheinhart, Bob Wills, Moon Mullican, Woody Guthrie, Bill Monroe and the list goes on and on. 

But when I heard those black American men and women playing and singing their folk music, I knew I had found something that went much deeper and l have been studying and playing and loving the old time acoustic blues for the last fourty years. And l've learnt that even a little ol' white boy from the far north of Australia has something to offer the ongoing story of the blues.

Some music stars can be fads but the bluesmen are always with us. What means to be Bluesman?

Well it don't mean a thing if it aint got that swing, so if you are going to call yourself a bluesman you better swing baby!

And you better know the history of all that crying and pain and longing for a better life and you better respect your blues elders and remember that there were plenty who suffered to play the blues and you better remember that deep in the heart of those simple blues lies the sophisticated concept of the 'Conflict of Rhythms' - the push ahead of the beat, pull back behind the beat, then resolve it by playing on the beat - that creates the tension and brings the blues to life. Learn how to do that and you'll be playing the real blues! 

What is your own personal definition of The Blues?

You know, emotionally, l think the blues is all about freedom, subversion and fun. Before the blues was born all those plantation owners thought they had happy little darkies singing in the fields but actually, something else was going on. They were having a public meeting! They were communicating with each other, passing on coded messages and laughing at their masters peculiar habits and weaknesses and hypocracies. They were saying “you might own our bodies but you’ll never own our souls” and that’s exactly what human beings have always been telling those who wish to oppress them. And over time as African Americans got their hands on European musical instruments, the best of them developed a folk music that was all about the freedom to express themselves in the moment. Not for them the slavery of set pieces you had to play the same way over and over again. No sir! They managed to distill those calls and responses, polyrhythms and offbeat phrasing, those blue notes bent notes parallel intervals and chords, the constant repetition of rhythmic and melodic phrases and rock steady beat - into three simple beautiful little chords and they improvised the words and the music till the cows came home. And that’s exactly what the early players in New Orleans picked up on from their country cousins up in the delta and developed into their own style of music that came to be called Jazz. They were subverting the sophisticated songs of the day with the freedom of improvisation. And what was the measure of those early Jazzmen? How well you could play a blues! And the Rhythm and Blues players of the 40’s and 50’s were still using those three little chords in their songs and still sending out the same coded messages of sexual freedom and subversion and fun. What do you reckon “I’ve got a sweet little angel and l love the way she spreads her wings” is all about? Sounds like the mile high club to me! Why do you think the youth in white American culture embraced people like Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis & co who were basically reinterpreting black music. And why do you think the Bruce Iglauers and Dick Watermans and Charlie Musselwhites & co wanted to hang around and be involved with the black musicians? Freedom man! The black slaves eventually set the white slaves free! You’ve got to love that!

How do you describe the Sugarcane Collins sound and progress, what characterizes your music philosophy?

My music philosophy? Fundamentally, l believe there is no such thing as too much music and that all musicians have something to contribute. Obviously great musicians have great things to contribute, but no matter where we fit into the order of things we all have something to offer. In fact I wish everyone played music - think about it - when the governments of the world told their peoples to go to war they would look up and say "Hey, go and do your own dirty work yourself! l'm too busy working on my latest song!!"

I guess my sound has been most inspired by the delta blues of Charley Patton and Son House, the fingerpicking of Blind Blake, the songster and folk traditions of Leadbelly and the laid back urban blues of Lightning Hopkins. I sing with a big voice, write songs with meaningful lyrics and spank the guitar like no one else around. 

What experiences in your life have triggered your ideas for songs most frequently?

If you listen to the songs on my four original albums you will find that l have pretty much documented my life through music and l cover a wide range of subject matter, but l suppose more often than not it is my observations of the places and faces l have seen and experienced throughout the course of my life that crop up most often. The main exception being my 2007 Australian Blues Album of the Year 'way down the river'. This collection of songs is set entirely in the Mississippi Delta of the 20’s and 30’. It’s all about the characters, the cotton fields, Baptist churches, juke joints, prison cells and street corners of the south that gave birth to the blues. This album was a big success in the USA and l'm proud to say l receive royalty cheques every six months for airplay on Sirius/XM Satellite Internet Radio.

Which is the most interesting period in your life? Which was the best and worst moment of your career?

When you get to my age, NOW, is the most interesting period in your life!! Sure I have been a professional musician for the past 34 years and have travelled the world with my music and that has been quite a journey, but the road goes on and on and you are only as good as your last gig and you never know when your last gig will actually be, so l don't get too far ahead of myself these days.

The worst moment of my career was back in 1990. I started out professionally as a solo singer/guitarist in 1981 but was always more interested in getting a band together. For the next decade l was a bandleader putting various combos together culminating in the late 80's with a red hot six piece country swing band. Steve Gilbert, a harmonica player, had been with me through thick and thin since 1982 and l loved him like a brother. We had just returned triumphant from the biggest country music festival in Australia, in a town called Tamworth, our equivalent of Nashville, having been acclaimed the hottest unsigned country band in Australia. Ten years of hard work was paying off - our future seemed assured. Then a month later Steve comes around to my house and out of the blue hands me a letter composed by him and the other guys in the band telling me that l was sacked and out of the band and they would carry on without me!! Looking back now l wished l had punched him out, but instead l broke down in front of him and cried like a baby. It took me years to get over being stabbed in the back by someone who l thought was my friend. I never saw it coming. It was a real Shakespearean moment. You too eh Brutus?? I have never had another band.

The best moment of my career was in 2005 when l was in the Mississippi Delta for the very first time. I was in Clarksdale and staying at the Riverside Hotel and telling everyone that l was a bluesman. After four or five days l figured l had been talking the talk and it was time to walk the walk. Frank 'Rat' Ratliff, the then owner of the Riverside Hotel, was sitting in the hotel parlour with a few of his buddies so l went to my room, got my guitar and announced l was going to play for them. So here l was, white boy from Australia about to sing my blues for a group of middle aged African Americans from Mississippi. You might say l was a bit nervous!! I warned them that the lyrics to my song 'way down the river' were hard hitting and close to the bone and l hoped l would not offend them. You could have heard a pin drop when l started singing -

way down the river where the blues began

so much beauty came from a hostile brutal land

way down the river where the blues began

so much beauty came from a hostile brutal land

pick the cotton yeah and pull the corn

and live in slavery from the moment you were born

sold down the river deep down to the delta land

and so much beauty came from a hostile brutal land

at the end of the week when the work was done

sing and dance to a distant tribal drum

and make new music with whatever comes to hand

and so much beauty came from deep down in the delta land

freedom comes but then it's old jim crow

anyway you can get there sweet home Chicago

play the blues and pay your dues your'e a south side citizen

and dream of the days down south where the blues began

way down the river after a midnight shower of rain

some lonesome woman's calling out some no good ramblers name

but the 'ol Mississippi don't say nothing but sure does understand

about the beauty and the terror deep down where the blues began

'Way Down The River', Copyright A. Collins

They never said a word while l sang the song but when l had finished they looked me in the eye and started telling me stories about what it was like to be second class citizens in their own country, what is was like to live through the 40's and 50's in the segregated Jim Crow south, how if you dared to even look at a white man or god forbid a white woman, you might end up lynched and swinging from a tree on a Saturday night, how there was nothing on "the other side of the tracks" for them and there still wasn't. In return for my honesty and understanding they did me the honour of confiding in me in a way they never would have done if l was a white American, l was even invited to Sunday lunch at one of their houses out by the cottonfields, and Nate Davis, a longtime resident at the Riverside, gave me the greatest award a little ol' whiteboy Australian bluesman could ever receive when he told me " Sugarcane, you've got something going on!!"

What’s the best jams you ever played in? What are some of the most memorable gigs you've had?

The best jam that springs to mind was at the Winthrop Rhythm & Blues Festival. This is the longest running blues festival in Washington state, Winthrop being about five hours drive east of Seattle, and was my very first blues festival appearance in the USA back in 2005. It is two days of blues with the All Star Jam the last event of the festival on the Sunday night.

On the saturday afternoon l was sitting stage side in the green room helping myself to a few free beers when an immaculately dressed older African American bluesman wanders in. It was Leon Blue, then playing keyboards for the Mannish Boys. At 74 years of age Leon was well known in the blues world having played with many of the greats and doing major stints with Ike Turner, Albert King, Albert Collins, B.B. King to name a few.

"Hey man and who would you be buddy?" he politely asks me whilst offering his hand.

"I'm Sugarcane Collins bluesman from Australia" l reply and shake his bejewelled fingers.

"Sugarcane Collins huh! Do you know Sugarcane Harris?" he asks me.

"Yeah l heard of him" l reply. And wondered what might be coming next!

"I played with Sugarcane Harris you know" says Leon.

I started to get the feeling he might be setting me up for a fall.

"Well" I says "we both know that he is dead and l have every respect for the man, but l'm here to tell you l'm Sugarcane Collins bluesman from Australia" l says and waits for his reply.

He looks me up and down, sticks out his hand again and says "That's cool man. You are Sugarcane now" and we shook on it!!

It was a beautiful thing to be given that unconditional acceptance by an elder statesman of the blues......

So on the sunday night l was asked up to jam with a bass player, drummer, sax player and keyboard player. The accepted practice is you do three songs then get off stage and let some others up. Half way through my second song, a slow blues in E, l see out of the corner of my eye that Leon Blue has jumped up and taken over the keyboard seat to jam with me. Beautiful. I give him the wink and off he goes playing the hell out of them keys until he looks up and points at me to do something. So l launch into my best moves and then bingo! l pops a string! So now l'm doing what l can with five slightly out of tune strings and barely making it. Meanwhile Leon is pounding away laughing his head off and yelling "Hey there Sugarcane, you stop your showing off!!

Man, that was a blues jam made in heaven!!

Best gigs? Well l can count my gigs in the thousands and there sure have been some real good ones.

Being the first ever Australian bluesman to perform in Argentina was pretty cool. I played the number one blues club in Buenos Aires called 'Mr Jones' one night in 2009 and came back the following week to support Mud Morganfield who was on a South American tour. I did a short season in a café right next to a bullring in Puerto Banus, Spain back in 1992 which was a hoot and l also played the Kas Rock & Blues Festival in Turkey 2010. I played a pub called the Ferntree Gully Hotel on one of my Australian tours. It was a pub my father used to drink and fight at when l was a little boy. It was like going full circle - here l was singing the blues in the lounge bar and telling the audience about my dangerous dad who used to bash blokes out in the public bar!! Another one that sticks in my memory was at a festival in America. On my many trips to the USA l got to know a young blues guy called John Nemeth. In 2012 we were both on the bill at the RockCut Blues Festival and he asked me up to do a number with him and his band during his Saturday night set. John rocks and his band is hot and we did an off the wall version of Route 66. I sing and the band plays and as one of his guitarists cuts loose on an extended solo John sidles over puts his arm around me and tells me "you just relax man" as he hands me a bottle of Jack Daniels. He is one cool cat and l don't think l ever sang better!!

My very first gig in American was also quite memorable. It was July 2005 and I had arrived at the Bronco Inn, Spokane, Washington State for a sound check after a six hour Greyhound bus trip from Seattle and there behind the bar is my poster for the gig right next to a WANTED poster for some desperado called "HUSH" offering a $2500 REWARD! A couple of locals give me a hard time about shrimps on the barbee and Crocodile Dundee aint so tough and what direction does the water go down the toilet bowl in Australia and is the Queen sort of like your president? OK, so far so good. Looks like this joint might be a live one. Then someone asked me if everybody in Australia drinks Fosters Lager to which l replied "no way mate, we wouldn't drink that horse piss. We just sell it off to you guys"!! Well, that got a laugh and now l knew we were going to have a bit of fun. Then the promoter pulls out the PA and proudly tells me its probably older than l am. Unfortunately, he was right and it sounded less than good. I wrestled with it for the next half hour and got the best sound l could. We then headed off to a truck stop so l could get cleaned up and changed and the promoter paid $6.50 for my shower and l looked into the mirror and had to have a laugh. Meanwhile, back at the Bronco the duke box is blaring in the backroom, the TV is playing todays baseball game in the bar and the place is starting to fill. l don't even ask for them to be turned off or turned down cause I'm going in with both barrels smoking and l'm not going to worry about a thing. The promoter introduces me and tells them all that this is Sugarcane's first gig in the USA and l launch into "Mess of the Blues" and by the end of the next song the duke box goes quiet the baseball flickers silently and l've just about got em with me and the midrange honky old boxy old PA morphs into a hard edged blues machine and two hours later its slaps on the back all round and big blond American babes wanting to be photographed with Sugarcane and welcome to the good ol' US of A.

Which meetings have been the most important experiences for you? What is the best advice ever given you?

Back in 1978 l was 23 years old and had just arrived alone in Cairns far north Queensland. I had driven 2500 miles north from Melbourne and wasn't sure about what the future might bring. I had played bass in a little rock and roll band and knew a few chords on the acoustic guitar but that was it. Having played next to a very loud electric guitarist l knew rock and roll and electric music in general wasn't for me! My ears still ring!! As it turned out Cairns had a great live music scene and quite a few old folkies and blues players who had migrated north from Sydney back in the sixties were still about and playing. At a festival in Cooktown in 1979 l met Donny Andrews aka 'The Brain', who was a fine guitarist and wonderful singer and who had a monster repertoire, hence the nickname 'The Brain'. He took me under his wing showing me songs and styles and things l needed to know and introducing me to people like blues guitarist Chuck Hutchins and harmonica player Shane Duckham. These were seasoned old troopers who recognized a bit of talent in me and who sort of initiated me into the musicians life and encouraged me to work hard/ play hard/ drink hard. Another influential meeting was with a dude called Geoff Munton. He was one of Cairns top solo singer guitarists at that time and we shared a house for about a year. He helped me a lot with the technical side of things like how to set up a PA, microphone technique, putting together interesting and varied set lists, negotiating with venues etc etc. I was blessed to have met these mentors at exactly the right time in my life. All these men are dead now, but they will never be forgotten.

The best advice l was ever given was by the bass player who was with Junior Wells and the eight piece Chicago AllStars when they played at Johnos Blues Bar in Cairns one time. I did the support for the two nights they were in town and the bass player particularly liked a Bessie Smith song l did and we had a nice conversation back stage. I complimented him on how hot the band was and how they had put on a great show in our little town for an audience way smaller than the ones they would play for in Sydney and elsewhere. I asked him how they got up for it when they could just as easily have coasted along in front of the small crowd.

"Sugarcane" he said to me "when you have finished paying your dues in this business you are finished in this business"!!  

They were mighty words of wisdom. It was like saying the blues don't owe nobody nothing so keep playing like your life depends on it. If l ever start to thinking l'm so good that the music owes me something, l'll know it's time for me to quit and do something else.

Are there any memories from recording and show time which you’d like to share with us?

My most recent recordings were done in the USA on my last tour there in 2012. I got together in the studio with local musicians in New Orleans and Clarksdale Mississippi musicians and recorded a dozen or so songs for my next album. The recording sessions went really well in Clarksdale and luckily for me, most of the stuff l wanted to record in New Orleans l got down before Hurricane Isaac struck and shut down the town for a week!! Man, it was tough!! New Orleans in summer is one hot and steamy city - and with the power out there were no lights and no air conditioning and no restaurants. It was like stepping back a century - wake up with the sun go to bed when it gets dark and l lived on dried fruit and nuts and water!! But hey, l'll be releasing those recordings on an album in 2015 titled "Going back to Clarksdale" and it looks like being something special!! Stay tuned to my site for more news!!

Which memory from WC Clark, Junior Wells, Pinetop Perkins and Sonny Payne makes you smile?

My only memory of WC Clark is what a nice friendly human being he is and the fantastic duelling guitars showdown that went down when he joined Coco Montoya on stage at the 2005 Winthrop Rhythm & Blues Festival. I was sitting side stage with my jaw on the ground! Man, they tore those guitars to pieces and the crowd went wild!

Whenever l think of Junior Wells l smile and remember those two nights l got to bat the breeze back stage with the coolest cat l ever met. At this time in his career he was an elder statesman of the blues and baby, did he ever dress for the gig!! Beautiful suits and shirts, stunning waistcoats, sartorial hats and seriously expensive alligator hide shoes. All colour coordinated, all brand spanking new and all with matching jewellery!! After my warm up support set l went back stage and Junior called me over to sit with him. I was dressed as fine as l could - pressed trousers/pressed purple shirt with tie/very colourful stars waistcoat/twotone black&white shoes. Let's just say he recognized my blues heart and he sure did admire my waistcoat! He opened up his brief case and pulled out a nice fresh bottle of gin from which he took a thirsty swallow and then handed it to me as casual as you like. We talked a little and he asked if l would sell him my waistcoat. He dipped his hand into his coat pocket and pulled out a big roll of green backs assuring me he could pay. I told him it wasn't for sale which he accepted graciously, but he peeled off a couple of bills and gave me his card and said if l could find one just like it to send it over to him in Chicago. By this time his band had started up and before long they would be calling him on stage so Junior is on his feet and yelling out for a radio microphone which is duly given to him by a soundguy. He winks at me then turns it on and starts ooohing and ahhhing and high stepping and clicking his fingers. "Where's my gin" he says and l hand over the bottle and he takes a good long drink and hands it back and the band is ready and Junior is ready and he starts in on the lyrics to the song the band is playing and he reaches into his other coat pocket and pulls out a harp and he prances to the top of the stairs and bats me one more wink before he floats out to centre stage and nails a ferocious flurry of harp notes then leans towards the crowd and sings " can call it what you want to, but l call it messing with the kid".

My fondest memory of Pinetop was having breakfast with him at the Delta Amusement Blues Café in Clarksdale Mississippi. I'd been jamming with him at a party in Bloomington Illinois and l had headed off to Clarksdale via Memphis for the 2005 Sunflower River Blues & Gospel Festival. Anyway, it's a couple of weeks later and l walks into the Delta Amusement and there is Pinetop enjoying his breakfast of two eggs over easy crispy fried bacon and lightly buttered wheat toast. He motions me over and gets my coffee filled. He don't talk too much but the warmth is there and when he finishes his plate he pushes it away and lights up a cigarette. Now this man was in his 90's and most who live that long have given up the cigarettes years ago. I ask him about it and he replies "You only live till you are dead son"!! You got to love that.  

"Sunshine" Sonny Payne is also an older man and quite a character. The first time l was on the King Biscuit Time Radio Show was 2005 and Sonny didn't quite know what to make of this dude calling himself Sugarcane. He was referring to me as sugarman and sugarbaby and sugarwhatever!! But he started taking me a bit more seriously after l sang a song or two and in 2006 he had me back on the King Biscuit Time Show to launch my new album 'Way Down The River'. He genuinely liked it and now l'm his good friend Sugarcane. Being on the King Biscuit Time Radio Show with "Sunshine" Sonny Payne was real bucket list stuff and l'm proud to say that every so often someone out there in Arkansas requests one of my songs and Sonny plays it on the show.

(Both these appearances on King Biscuit Time were recorded and you can listen to them at my BIO page at my website)

What do you miss most nowadays from the blues of past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of music?

In a word - Authenticity. The old time original acoustic bluesmen and women, followed by the earliest of the electric Chicago blues players, lived the songs they were singing and that's why we have all been enchanted by the beauty and honesty of what they created. It was primal and it was earthy and it was erotic as only the African Americans can do. The Blues in its earliest form was all about telling the stories of the day – the floods and the fires and which towns had the toughest police and meanest plantation owners and which trains were the best to ride as well as all the immediate inter personal stuff like love, betrayal, jealousy, money, murder, sex, and survival. It was communicating the concerns of the day in a celebratory kind of way. It was a true evolving folk music – by the people, for the people, of the people. For me, those were the best days of the blues and those days and those artists are now dead and gone. But wait a minute, the blues sure aint dead. The Blues are still alive and kicking. But that said, it does bother me how inane and superficial the lyrics in most modern blues songs have become. The melodies and chords still have the magic but l'm afraid most of the modern lyrics lack the real life intensity that inhabits the blues of the past.

My hopes for music? That not too many of our bright young musicians are attracted to the bright lights, big cities and baubles of mainstream musical success. We all know how superficial that has become.

My fears for the future of music? That rules, rules and more rules will slowly but surely strangle off the little live music venues and it will be harder than ever for the next generations of real deal musicians to pay their dues and play their blues and they'll all be attracted to the bright lights, big cities and baubles of mainstream musical success and the mediocrity it mostly inspires.

What are the lines that connect the legacy of the Blues from The States to Australia and from Argentina to Europe?

Art belongs to the world and the Blues is now a world music played almost everywhere. Since the advent of the internet people can be listening to a blues radio program broadcast from Argentina whilst sitting at home in Australia. How cool is that! The lines that connect up the blues from around the world are getting longer and stronger. You only have to look at all the blues festivals, blues societies, blues bars, blues radio programs, websites and magazines in many many countries all over the world as proof that the blues is still alive and kicking. And now you can add blues tourism to these connecting lines, as more and more people are making the trip to the Mississippi Delta and Memphis and Chicago to experience it for themselves in the land where the blues began. 

Make an account of the blues in Australia. What has made you laugh lately and what touched (emotionally) you?

I'm not sure about Greece but here in Australia people in their 50's/ 60's/ 70's are coming back home to the blues. These were the dudes who grew up with The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Animals, The Doors, Led Zeppelin etc. and have stopped working, but they have some money to spend and they still want to have a good time and they sure aint interested in listening to all the puppy love songs on mainstream radio. These are the dudes who are coming to the shows and buying cds, listening to the blues DJs, buying the magazines and joining the blues societies and often dusting off their neglected old instruments and strutting their stuff at blues jams.

When we talk about Blues we usually refer to past memories. Do you believe in the existence of real blues nowadays?

Sure l do. Saying that only poor African Americans from Mississippi or the south side of Chicago can perform real blues is a bit like saying only German's can play real Beethoven or only Greeks can really understand Plato! The blues is a living art form. But that said, in my opinion a lot of modern blues has become meaningless and boring and lacks real heart. The songs are just "baby baby baby...." followed by guitar solo after guitar solo after guitar solo. To get to the real blues l do believe you have to go to the source and deeply study the greats who created the blues. For those of us who weren’t brought up in the black American culture it takes a lot of listening and a lot of living and a lot of love and a lot of gigs to develop the “feel” that allows you to achieve an authentic blues sound. Your blues better not be superficial. Your blues better not be from your head. Your blues better come from your heart.

Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go for a whole day..?

Just one day. That's tough! But l think l would go into the future 100 years from now and see what sort of shape the planet is in.

I have genuine fears for my great grandchildren. Air pollution, water pollution and land clearing and land degradation is getting out of control and I believe there is a big price to be paid for our modern prosperous lives unless we embrace an age of sustainability. If it's not sustainable then we shouldn't do it. I addressed these issues in the final two songs, Line in the Sand & Connect the Dots, on my album Downunder the Blues.

you can't drink oil you can't eat gold

and our political and corporate masters need to be continually told

we're just passing through we're supposed to be custodians

we've got to take good care of the land

and let me tell you people l'm drawing a line in the sand

'Line in the Sand', Copyright A. Collins


global warming we're denying forests burning rivers dying

sometime somehow some things have to change

mass extinctions species slaughtered

we'll be fighting wars for food and water

sometime somehow some things have to change

the warning bells are loudly ringing still

but we drown them out with all that money jingling in the til

and when l get that same old feeling

that poor old mother earth needs healing

sometime somehow some things have to change

sometime somehow some things are going to change

'Connect the Dots', Copyright A. Collins

Sugarcane Collins - official website

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