Fiona Boyes is Professin' The Blues
FIONA Boyes is new to the Clarence Valley, but she isn't new to the world of blues.
Her tenth album under her name, Professin' The Blues, is a showcase of acoustic blues that was recorded in Skywalker Sound studios live, in real-time with no overdubs or effects by legendary audiophile producer the 'Professor' Keith O Johnson.
"Blues is relatively new for them," Fiona said.
"Most audiophiles are symphony orchestras and it's fabulous that a label of this quality of this reputation decided that acoustic blues would be interesting thing for them to explore."
Never having recorded in an audiophile studio before, Fiona said she was working on trying to create different tones throughout the album.
"They were interested in having that huge recording space but just one or two musicians at a time, I had my trusty main acoustic which I've always played, and it my main instrument," she said.
"I bought a brand new resophonic acoustic; they've got such a special tone.
"I was trying to have guitars with different tones, so you could get a range of different tones, not only the writing but with the guitar tones."
But it wasn't just the resophonic acoustic that helped create the tones of Professin' The Blues.
"I used a one-off four-string cigar box guitar which I play on my lap, it's a strange beast with a number plate screwed to the front and the neck is a lump of wood with two bolts," she said.
"It's got two notes, it's limited in terms of the notes you can get out of it."
Fiona has picked up a few tricks from other blues musicians throughout her career, including using a whiskey bottle as a slide for her cigar box guitar.
"It's full of whiskey, so you can do a dramatic end to a song, and take a whiskey shot out of your slide," she said.
With those sounds, Fiona tells beautiful stories of her time travelling around Australia and America, including her time living in the Clarence Valley.
"There is one gorgeous ballad which is Angels On Boats and that is a song I wrote when staying at a friend's in Palmers Island," he said.
"It's not as bluesy, but that particular song is a favourite of mine, it's about weaving some different stories that people in Palmers Island told me about their experience during the floods."
The 16 song album boasts a set of 14 original songs that showcase everything blues has to offer.
"There are some big kind of grittier acoustic sounds, but there is acoustic finger picking which comes from another part of America," she said.
"There is a range of music which is one of my interests as a songwriter, if you put in one or two traditional blues, it rounds out the whole picture, blues is a traditional sort of music, it goes in all different shades of blue and I'm part of that tradition."
Included in the covers on Professin' The Blues is the iconic Baby Please Don't Go.
"I've put out a lot of albums now and I'm proud of my body of work. The albums are predominately original material, it's good to have one or two traditional songs to give your own songs some context," Fiona said.
"For me as a songwriter, I find it interesting that blues has historic tradition.
"Even though I write songs that I could consider in the blues tradition, it's quite broad stylistically."
Fiona has always tried to feature other musicians' work on her albums as a way of helping people explore the world of blues and all it has to offer.
"On my first couple of albums, my recent albums have been recorded in America, I'd do one song from a fellow Australian blues performer," she said.
"I'd have all my songs... and one from Chris Wilson or something like that, so we can indicate to American listeners we've got some great talent in Australia."