|8 Ball Aitken|
|Coming from a farming community in Far North Queensland, 8 Ball Aitken is the oldest son of an impoverished family of twelve children. 8 Ball spent his adolescence on a banana plantation, living in a rough tobacco shed with resident rats, bats, snakes, and spiders as his sleeping companions. He started work as a farm labourer aged fifteen, doing back-breakingly hard work on the mango and banana plantations of the Atherton Tablelands, a man's work for a boy's pay. He had to help support his family with these wages.
When 8 Ball was nineteen years old, a radical conversation altered his life path. “I used to work on a farm all week, then party all weekend,” he explains. “An Aboriginal elder from Townsville was visiting my town, and we were talking on Sunday morning after he had been watching me play guitar all weekend. He sat me down and told me off sternly – ‘I will be really disappointed if I visit next year and see you still here drinking and smoking, just wasting your talent and your life away,” explains the ex-farm worker, recalling his labouring in the Atherton Tablelands fruit plantations as a young teenager. “This was a ‘time stands still’, life-changing experience”, adds 8 Ball. “From that point on, I have stayed true, and followed my dream of making music and taking it out to the people”. He packed his bags, grabbed his guitar, and hitch-hiked south to the Big Smoke of Brisbane to seek his fortune.
The 27 year old former banana picker from Mareeba, Far North Queensland has created a uniquely Australian contemporary sound -- original roots music which reflects his origins in the steamy heat of the Far North Queensland tropics. This hot musical mix is striking the right note with audiences around the world.
8 Ball has recently released his third album, ‘REBEL WITH A CAUSE’, recorded on vintage analogue equipment and produced by notable producer Garth Porter (ex-Sherbet), distributed internationally through MGM. Since the album’s release, a whole lot has happened for the red-headed guitarist. “It’s even busier around here right now than Mareeba during the banana harvest season!” laughs the red-headed guitar-slinger. Aitken’s most recent award nominations include being selected as a Grand Finalist in the thirtieth anniversary presentation of Toyota Star Maker, as well as for the finals of the New Talent of the Year category in Australia’s most prestigious country music awards, the Golden Guitars, as well as nominations for the Most Promising Future Star Award at the People’s Choice Awards, a Male Vocal Award in the TIARA Awards, and the Male Vocalist of the Year Award nomination and the Hawking Brothers Best New Talent Award in the Victorian & National Country Music Awards.
In 2008, he won the EMI Music Q Song Award for Blues & Roots Song of the Year at the Q Song Awards in Brisbane, Queensland. The next week, he was flown to Mildura, Victoria, where he performed live on national radio during the Southern Stars Awards. During this event, Aitken was presented with the Rising Star (Male) Award. In October, Aitken also received a Silver Medallion Award for Touring Artist of the Year at the Gold Medallion music awards in Queensland.
In 2009, 8 Ball toured to Toronto, Canada, where he performed at Canadian Music Week, and gigged across Tennessee and Texas, where he went to South By Southwest in Austin, Texas. He will return to the Northern Hemisphere in June, gigging in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Canada. In 2008, 8 Ball Aitken performed on his first world tour, playing in Singapore, England (appearing live on the BBC), Poland, and his fourth tour of Japan, where he played to enthusiastic crowds at Japan’s mountain-top Rokko Sun Music Festival. He also played on his third tour of Fiji in 2008, where he was employed by the Australian government, performing music as a cultural ambassador on behalf of DFAT and Austrade. Additionally, 8 Ball has been touring Australia throughout 2009 in support of ‘Rebel With A Cause’, playing a wide range of festivals, clubs, pubs and special events. Highlights of his previous Australian tours include shows at the Tamworth Country Music Festival, the Gympie Muster music festival, the East Coast Blues & Roots Festival in Byron Bay, the Australian National Blues Festival in Goulburn, Coastfest, Peats Ridge Festival, the Woodford Folk Festival, as well as the Melbourne & Adelaide Fringe Festivals, among many other gigs.
The first single from the album, ‘Cowboy Movie’, received radio airplay around the world in 26 countries, including charting in the European Country Music Top 40. The red-headed Queenslander’s single ‘Cyclone Country’ has been a hit around Australia, spending 7 weeks in the national country Top 10, (also earning him the 2009 Golden Guitar nomination for ‘Best New Talent’). Another single, ‘Hands On Top Of The Wheel’ from his album ‘Rebel With A Cause’, was also a Top Ten hit in the Australia national country charts, receiving radio airplay nationally as well as music video television broadcasts around Australia. The next single offering ‘Outback Booty Call’ has just been released
Produced by Queensland’s Jason Millhouse, the video is currently being broadcast on the ABC’s ‘RAGE’, on the Country Music Channel, via the CAAMA network, on Air Pacific Inflight, and is featured on the internet website YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/8ballaitken.