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Complete truth: Alister Turrill is the future of Australian blues

"For a long time, I didn't feel like I had the tools or the ability to write anything decent. I was 18 before I was finally convinced I had something people would want to hear."

“As soon I heard Pre-War Blues for the first time, I realised I’d found the most honest music I’d ever heard. The men and women who wrote these songs managed to convey raw emotion, hardship, celebration, personal stories and many more aspects of their respective realities without hiding behind anything. That’s something that can’t be faked and something I continue to strive for with each song I write.”

It seems that anyone who knows anything about blues music has touted Alister Turrill as an artist to watch. The honest and authentic quality that first made him fall in love with the genre permeates his work, and his songwriting is laced with an authenticity and maturity beyond his 25 years.

However, despite his love for music, the naturally quiet individual had to work up to this confidence to release his work.

“For a long time, I didn’t feel like I had the tools or the ability to write anything decent. I always messed around with different ideas, but I was 18 before I was finally convinced I had something people would want to hear.”

Labelled as a “songwriter of the highest order,” and “a sign that the future of Australian blues is in good hands,” by blues legend Lloyd Spiegel, two releases have followed on since Turrill gained that confidence to share his music. 2015’s Reverence & Resonance, and 2017’s A Toast to Better Times.

In the year that has passed since the release of his sophomore album, Turrill has been consciously pushing himself as a writer, fervently avoiding complacency.

“I’ve tried to force myself out of my comfort zone and tell myself it’s okay to try new things, even if they don’t work initially. Or at all for that matter. Anything is better than becoming stagnant."

A large part of that challenge to himself has seen Turrill embrace his multi-instrumentalist identity.

“I’ve started writing on my dobro again. I’ve only written for the acoustic guitar in the last couple of years, so it’s been very refreshing to be able to create something new on this beautiful instrument. I’ve also got myself a Baritone Telecaster, which has been great fun to write with and has led to a lot of new ideas,” Turrill says.

Though Queenscliff Music Festival has played a large part in his songwriting identity, Turrill's relocation to Melbourne has really spurred on his career. The supportive nature of the Melbourne music community has played a huge part in his booming confidence.

“The people I’ve met so far have been amazing. Being a very nervous person, especially when it comes to sharing my music, I was very relieved to find people who were friendly, welcoming, keen for a beer and passionate about sharing their music. There’s still so, so much I’m figuring out about the scene and music in general, but it’s been a great experience so far that has made me want to continue putting in the hard yards.”

In a Melburnian baptism of fire, of sorts, Turrill is playing as a part of Brunswick Music Festival’s iconic Sydney Road Street Party. As Melbourne’s longest running festival, the diverse and inclusive event epitomises Melbourne’s music scene, that Turrill is so happy to be a part of.

“People will walk away from the festival reminded the scene has something for everyone willing to go out and find it. The place is full of world class bands and artists from different backgrounds, all offering something different, exciting and often life enriching.”

Alister Turrill plays at Edinburgh Castle on Sunday March 4 as part of Brunswick Music Festival’s Sydney Road Street Party.