Bendigo holds good memories for Australian blues icon Lloyd Spiegel. “Bendigo was the first place I ever went outside of Melbourne to play, when I was 11. At that age, it felt like a ‘tour’.” Spiegel told the Weekly. He reckons he’s now played here about 50 times.

It’s not only gigs that bring him here though.

“I go to Bendigo quite often without a guitar. It’s been a favourite spot for me for many years to get away for a few days. In part that’s because the blues is a strong genre there, so I feel at home, but also it has the mix of history and cafe lifestyle I crave.”

Spiegel’s next formal visit is Saturday, August, 12 at the Old Church on the Hill on one of the final legs of his current Australian tour. Little rest though; he’s off to Canada at the end of August, followed by another round of Australian venues.

This punishing-looking schedule is in support of new album, This Time Tomorrow, which was released in early July. It’s his first studio album since Tangled Brew in 2010.

Spiegel’s approach to this album was a bit different.

“Usually I tour tracks for months before recording them, but this CD was made prior to any of the tracks being heard or performed. That means that you go in blindly hoping people like the songs. It’s quite daunting,” he said.

“Night one of the tour in Sydney, I was trying to get that point across to the audience and for some reason at that moment I felt it was best explained by saying ‘You know how you never know if your kids are ugly till others start recoiling in horror? That’s how I feel about these songs. I’m hoping they’re not ugly children.’”

It seems they’re not ugly children though; the album has been rapturously-received by public and media alike. “Spiegel is an artist who understands how to get a guitar to sing and cry and scream,” said Benjamin Smith in his Amplify review of This Time Tomorrow.

“I find more and more these days that the best reactions I get are not to the blistering guitar tracks but to the songwriter tracks that are simple in their delivery.” Spiegel said.

“That surprises me because so much of my career has been based on the guitar, but maybe it means I’m improving as a writer. Either way, performing the new tracks has opened-up a new chapter with new stories and new ideas.”

Lloyd Spiegel has come a long way since Sunday afternoons at the Station Hotel in Prahran as a young boy sitting on a milk crate, watching and listening in awe to the likes of Dutch Tilders and Geoff Achison. Spiegel is approaching Blues Legend status domestically, and has a dedicated international following. He recently toured the Czech Republic for the first time.

Spiegel’s shows are intense, albeit littered with insightful and humorous anecdotes. His guitar playing though, is just something else. A great night is in store.

Lloyd Spiegel plays at the Old Church on the Hill on Saturday, August, 12. Doors at 7.30pm.

Local boy, Animal Time front man and 2004 Lazenby Young Guitarist award winner, Sean Nudl is supporting.