If you’ve attended a community event in the Riverina or stopped by your local pub for a cold one on the occasional weekend, there’s a very good chance you’ve encountered Aaron Oldaker and his bright blue guitar rocking out in the corner or up on a stage.
A self-described “blue-collar tradie musician”, Aaron has found his one-man rock band in high demand following the lean years of COVID-19.
“For musicians like me, I don’t think I’ve seen it this good ever,” he says with a grin.
“Looking at my diary for this year, I think I might have one Friday and a few Sundays free and I actually just booked a gig this week for January next year.”
A Major in the Army Reserve, Aaron balances his growing schedule of gigs with his part-time role as a public affairs officer at Kapooka.
“I’m kind of in a bit of a transition I guess. I’ve spent a lot of time in the Army and I really love being at Kapooka, but my real passion in life is trying to learn the guitar,” he says.
“Guitars are like an undiscovered country and I keep finding little nooks and crannies and gullies and valleys and mountains to climb.”
Aaron’s adventures in pub rock began well before his military career and regulation grooming.
“Back when I was a young adult with a mullet and no real job, I used to play bass guitar in cover bands in Tasmania,” he says.
“And now, a couple of decades later after flirting with real jobs and careers, I’m once again a musician without a full-time job, except this time my hair’s a lot neater.”
Aaron and his wife moved to the Riverina in 2012 after he “quit the Army for the first time”, and began playing bass at occasional gigs as part of a duo and later with a band.
It wasn’t until 2018 that he decided to shift to electric guitar.
“I headed down to Allison Music where I bought my blue Telecaster and I basically haven’t put it down since!” he says.
“Even though I admit I have an overinflated opinion of myself most of the time, I also realise that I’m not a virtuoso guitarist and I’m never going to be, so I’m an entertainer first and foremost, and that means that I tend to choose to play songs at gigs that people will like.”
With an aversion for backing tracks, Aaron invested in a ‘loop station’ that allows him to record and repeat riffs and bass lines to create his own accompaniment during his gigs.
“I’ve found looping a lot of fun because you can create sounds on the fly, and there’s an element of risk about it so you can be in front of a crowd of people, and you might get it wrong, and then have to try and cover it up and when you go with it and people notice, that can be entertaining as well.”
With a diary full of gigs, including a role with pub-rock band Radio Velvet, Aaron says it’s great to be part of a community that loves live music.
“I’m not ambitious, I just want to do covers. I don’t want to be famous, I just want to get local gigs, and I’m getting heaps of local gigs because the local community is so supportive,” he smiles.
“I really love it. I love the Wagga community!”
You can follow Aaron’s music and keep up with his gigs here.