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In Acoustic Mode

Posted by phillsimmons on September 17, 2021 at 9:45 AM Comments comments (0)

The latest album "In Acoustic Mode" has gone to No. 3 in both the AMRAP and ABARAC charts. We have a new track. "Coronaverse Blues' coming out soon on Big Rock Records and Laneway Music on the Delta Variants EP, a track " Shame" in November on a composite album 40 Years of Big Rock and The DP EP out February 22.

Here is the latest bio


The Durham Project started out with songs written by Alan Blackburn (keys) and Phill Shute (Simmons) (guitar/vocals). They were joined by long time friends and allies Lee Willsher (drums/vocals) and Tony Jex (bass) to get the band on the road. Another long time friend Jeff Cripps (Mississippi Shakedown) invited them to record at A Sharp Studios and Jeff did the engineering and production as well as some drums, percussion and backing vocals on their first release The DP EP out on the legendary Big Rock label.

The guys started a residency at Taverners Hill Hotel joining with Joey D (guitar/vocals) and things started to move. They did the Songwriters Across Australia Big Rock concert at "The Wall" in Sydney to great acclaim...things were looking good until a very serious motorbike accident and ill health brought this progress to a shuddering halt.

After a long hiatus for recovery Al and Phill re-started the project. As Tony and Lee had moved on to further their careers a new rhythm section of Mitch Mitchell (bass) and Pedro Mello (drums, percussion, cajon and vocals) were recruited and an acoustic based album is completed and ready for release on Big Rock Records. Mitch has been busy with many musical commitments so Ross Johnston is the latest team member to join on bass, double bass and vocals. The band have released an EP and an acoustic album, and are putting the finishing touches to a track for the Big Rock Records 40th anniversary album.


Line up

Phill Simmons (Shute); guitar and vocals

Phill started his career working the Sydney dance circuit with, Sherbet, Hush, AC/DC, La De Das etc. as a 16 year old. He was cajoled into the business side of the industry helping and nurturing some of the greats of Australian music including Cold Chisel, Jeff St John, The Angels, TMG, Ayers Rock to name just a few, working as a manager, promoter, agent and A & R manager. He still managed to keep his own song writing and performing alive while doing conservatorium courses and being a dad. Phill set up successful agency, promotions, management and record companies, working with the best of Australian performers and international acts like Blood Sweat and Tears, Bo Diddly and Midnight Oil. His interest in producing his own material led him to form The Durham Project with Alan. After a long collaboration in both original and cover bands the guys were reunited by Richard Mercer to expand his "Love Song Dedications" national radio program into a live format. Phill also toured with the Del Shannon show and produced and performed in "The Great Rock'n'Roll Songbook". After hours of recording with the Durham Project Phill and Al have an EP, the "In Acoustic Mode" CD and a track for "40 Years of Big Rock" all ready to go.


Alan (Blackie) Blackburn; keyboards

Al started his career in New Zealand in various cover bands alongside the guys from Dragon. He studied classical piano from the age of 5 with the secretary of Trinity College, and the Royal Schools Of Music (NZ), later studying at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Al also studied industrial design at Wellington Polytech but left to pursue a career in music. Al joined the free spirited outfit "Airlord" and they became the first Kiwi band signed to Festival Records Australia. After touring with major international acts, including Cliff Richard, 'Airlord" disbanded. Their drummer, Richard Mercer (The Love God) went on to national radio fame with his show "Love Song Dedications". Al then formed "Machine" with guitarist, vocalist and song writing partner Steve Mackenzie. The band played extensively on the Oz east coast working with Midnight Oil, Mi-sex, INXS, Air Supply, The Angels, Australian Crawl etc. and was featured on the iconic Alberts Canned Rock album with Rose Tattoo, The Reels, Kevin Borich Express and many more, the album was recorded as a series of live concerts in Parramatta Gaol! The band released a couple of singles on the RCA label with moderate success then disbanded. Al ran his own recording studio whilst working in cover bands all around Sydney until he was head-hunted to work for the NSW Education Department as Assistant Manager of their Braille Unit. The yearning to play in a band again got the better of him so he answered the call from Richard Mercer to expand his "Love Song Dedications" national radio program into a live format and was reunited with long time musical partner Phill Shute (Simmons). After Richard retired from radio Al and Phill got back into song writing and re-formed the Durham Project.


Pedro Mello; drums, percussion and vocals

The Brazilian Whiz Pedro Geraldo Barros Pires de Mello was born in January 1963 in Volta Redonda city in the State of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. His father was a musician from the extinct Rádio Nacional (National Radio Station) and Ruy Rey’s Orchestra. Pedro learned his very first beats listening to Milton Banana, Buddy Rich, Bituca and Tom Jobim with his father. When he was six he put a set of pot lids and played accompanying the radio’s songs.

Later, when he was eight, he received his first drums from his grandmother. When he was eighteen he studied Law at the Lawyer’s University in Rio de Janeiro City until the 8th period while he had private drum’s classes with Rubens Ohana (Tamba Trio’s drummer). The music beats stronger inside his veins, so he gave up the University and started studying drums at the Music School “Villa Lobos”. In 1980 he started his career as an amateur drummer in the band Auto-Forno. In 1984, as a professional, he played with a great Brazilian singer and composer Tunai on a Brazilian Tour. He played with Simone Caymmi, Tunai, Raimundo Costa, Tânia Maria, Zélia “Cristina” Duncan, João Pinheiro, Rosanna, Tim Maia (Vitória Régia), Cláudia Otero, Eliane Faria, Joanna, Junior Marvin, International artists plus others in the national “MPB” (Brazilian Popular Music) scene. He took part in the Orquestra de Guitarras da Universidade Estácio de Sá (Guitar Orchestra from Estácio de Sá University).

Pedro performed regularly in recording sessions and songs for TV soap operas and special shows for the biggest national TV system in Brazil called “Rede Globo”. His most recent work for “Rede Globo” was the recording of all the percussion on a children's program called Sítio do Pica Pau Amarelo and the drums and percussion of Tempos Modernos, Renascer, Da Cor do Pecado, Como uma Onda, Sinhá Moça, Paraíso, Cama de Gato, Tempos Modernos, Morde e Assopra and Os Caras de Pau. As a percussionist Pedro recorded two tracks of a reggae CD (live) by The Wailers in Brazil, invited by the leader, singer and guitar player Junior Marvin. Pedro is a graduate in Musical Production and Recording Engineering at Estacio de Sá University. He has also been a drummer from ZéPerê, Mob Jay, Raphael Lós, Jonas Miller Band and O Nome do Grupo. As a drum teacher Pedro taught in Mega Star - Produtora deTalentos Musicais, at Nova Friburgo - RJ, in Rio de Janeiro State and gave private drum lessons to many different ages and levels. Pedro has an instructional video with a bass player, on many international grooves and also many Brazilian grooves like Baião, Salsa, Funk, Samba, Bossa Nova, fusion etc. Pedro and family migrated to Australia where he is now a member of The Durham Project.

Pedro Mello is sponsored by Pearl Drums and is a Vic Firth Inc. Drumsticks and Mallets International endorsee.


Ross Johnston; bass and vocals

A man of many bass talents and instruments Ross has entwined a music career with commitments in health and rehabilitation over many years. He started in local bands, one of which, Asleep at the Wheel, supported Elton John. He worked with the international Abba tribute show "Bjorn Again" touring on the East Coast of Australia and has been part of the engine room of many Sydney covers bands including Love Handles. Ross worked on the cruise ships for many years as well as doing regular seasons in the resorts of the New South Wales snow fields. Ross has been a part of long running production shows "Committed to Soul" and "The Cocker Story" using his vocal talents as well as playing bass. Due to a love of acoustic bass he joined the Durham Project who are about to release their debut album "In Acoustic Mode". There will be acoustic as well as full electric band shows to follow.


Joey Degiorgio (Joey D); guitar and vocals

Joey started in the entertainment industry at an early age, studying and performing with the Waverley College Brass Band playing trumpet. At the age of fifteen he began playing guitar and developing his stagecraft. Joey has performed with many successful bands and performers throughout Australia and overseas, including well respected Abba tribute act Abbacadabra, and bands Jukebox Heroes, Kings Image, and The Crew. Joey has worked in Five Star Hotels throughout Australia and overseas, and done regular appearances on P&O & Princess Cruise Liners throughout Europe and America. Joey owned and managed Canterbury Studios, in Sydney where many well known local bands and artists rehearsed and recorded.


1st gig back with the new line up 10/2/19 at The Red Bar

Posted by phillsimmons on January 28, 2019 at 7:20 PM Comments comments (0)

1st gig back with the new line up


10/2/19 at The Red Bar 36 Glebe Point Rd Glebe Sydney 2pm-5pm Free Admission

To the Light

Posted by phillsimmons on May 11, 2015 at 9:20 AM Comments comments (0)

1st gig back with the new line up


10/2/19 at The Red Bar 36 Glebe Point Rd Glebe Sydney 2pm-5pm Free Admission