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Tjungu Indigenous Cultural Festival returns to Central Australia

The Tjungu Festival is returning to Central Australia at Ayers Rock Resort from April 26-29 for the fifth consecutive year.

The celebration of Australian Indigenous culture features music, dance, film, fashion, food and sport and will include a special focus on Indigenous art and a performance by Australian country music favourite Troy Cassar-Daley.

"Tjungu (pronounced tjoo-ngoo) means coming together in local Anangu language, and the festival brings together the best of traditional and contemporary Indigenous culture, providing a platform for exciting new performers, designers and producers," said Andrew Williams, Chief Executive Officer of Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia.

"This year, we are pleased to introduce a new art initiative which will shine a spotlight on prominent and emerging Central Australian artists."

Highlights of the four day festival include an Indigenous fashion parade featuring top Indigenous model Samantha Harris, and celebrity chef Mark Olive will return to present the "Tastes of Tjungu Desert Dining Experience under the stars" featuring a contemporary bush foods-inspired menu.

Troy, and rising young star Alice Skye (pictured), will also give a special performance.

New for 2018 will be the Tjungu Collective, an exhibition featuring art works from Central Australian Art Centres, and Tjungu Curates.

The annual Tjungu Cup, including softball and AFL matches featuring local football teams, will play, supported by AFL hero and Indigenous rights ambassador Nicky Winmar.

Weblink here.



Country Rocks Sydney

James Blundell, Adam Brand, Lee Kernaghan and Tania Kernaghan have been announced as headline acts for Country Rocks Sydney early next month.

The new one day event will be staged at Bella Vista Farm in Sydney's Hills District on Saturday March 3.

Headline acts will be supported by Brewn, Matt Cornell, Paul Costa, Tori Darke, Rachael Fahim, Jade Holland, Christie Lamb, Ingrid Mae, Drew McAlister, Neilly Rich, Ben Ransom, Jonny Taylor and The Wolfe Brothers.

As well as the music, the day will feature "an array of family friendly experiences" including rides, food and market stalls and demonstrations.

Country Rocks Sydney General Manager Michael Bond said: "We’re proud to be bringing country music back to Sydney and showcasing some of the finest artists we have here in Australia.

Pictured (from left): James, Adam, Lee, Tania.

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Longhorn Festival kicks off today

Australia's newest country music festival – the Longhorn Music Festival – kicks off at Deepwater (NSW) today.

The brainchild of Deepwater Inn owners, Longhorn Country runs up to and including Sunday with a feast of entertainment and activities.

Walk-ups run from today with "great prizes" and camping is available for visitors.

Deepwater is on the New England Highway between Glen Innes and Tenterfield.

The artist line-up includes Kylie Adams-Collier, Jeff Brown, Peter "Smokie" Dawson, Col Finley, Amber Goldsmith, Bobby Howson, Dave Prior, Anita Ree and Graham Rodger.

Weblink here.



WA Awards finalists

Finalists have been announced for the 2018 West Australian Country Music Awards.

Winners will be announced during the Boyup Brook Country Music Festival which runs from Thursday to Sunday February 15 to 18.

And the finalists are...

For Female Artist of the Year... Jasmine Atkins, Sarah Broome and Julie Kember.

For Group of the Year... Jane Germain & Ian Simpson, Donna Lou & the Jay Katz and Savannah & The Strays.

For Independent Single of the Year... Sun Will Come Out Again by Jasmine Atkins, Lonely Night, Still Got You and Wherever You Area, all by Karin Page.

For Independent EP of the Year... Gypsy Woman by Julie Kember (produced by Matt Cole, Bryan Retter and James Newhouse), Keeping It Real by Sarah Broome (produced by Mark Donohoe) and Key To My Heart by Jasmine Atkins (produced by Mark Donohoe).

Independent Album of the Year... Heart, Soul, Feeling by Tracey Barnett (produced by James Newhouse), Home On The Hill by Jane Germain & Ian Simpson (produced by Jane Germain and Ian Simpson) and Savanah & The Strays – self titled and produced.

Video Clip of the Year... Lonely Night by Karin Page (produced by Tom Blake and Karin Page), Still Got You by Karin Page (produced by Josh Favaloro) and Sun Will Come Out by Jasmine Atkins (produced by Jesse Anderson).

For Emerging Artist of the Year... Applejack & Moonshine, Jasmine Atkins and Scarlet’s Way.

For Songwriter of the Year... Lonely Night by Karin Page, Luca by Codee Lee and Your Shoes by Julie Kember.

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Gord heads "home" for a tour

Australian born Canadian country star Gord Bamford is heading "down under" for a series of performance dates next month.

He will be supported on the tour by well known Aussie country star Kevin Bennett.

Gord's tour is predominantly to showcase his latest album release – his second in Australia, eighth studio album in Canada.

Titled Neon Smoke, the album has already made an impact overseas. The first single – Livin’ On Summertime – broke through the top 10 in Canadian country music charts and is gaining airplay here.

Part of Gord's tour is to appear at CMC Rocks Qld on the weekend of March 16 to 18 but also takes in shows in Hobart, Melbourne, Newcastle and Sydney.

Gord has established himself as one of the premier country music artists in Canada with 24 Canadian Country Music Association awards and two CMA (Country Music Association America) awards under his belt.

He has scored 23 top 10 singles, including the smash #1 hit When Your Lips Are So Close from his sixth studio release Cowboy Junkie.

After signing a record deal in Australia with ABC Music in 2016, Gord headed down for his first Aussie tour, an east coast run with The Wolfe Brothers. The tour was to promote his first Australian album release, Tin Roof which spawned three local top five singles.

Returning to Australia in 2018 is something he has been working towards since the last tour. "I have been looking forward to getting back to Oz since I left," he said. "The industry and the country music fans have treated me so well and I believe it’s a hidden gem of a market for country music. It is a great atmosphere and I just feel blessed to be able to come to the place I was born, play my music and reconnect with my father and family."

Gord grew up in Traralgon until the age of five when his parents separated. His mother moved him – and his sister Twila – to Canada. It was almost two decades before he returned to Australia again. Despite the time away, he says he has always felt an affinity with Australia.

Neon Smoke will be released in Australia on March 16.

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Brian is the king of Bungendore!

Country balladeer crooner Brian Letton dominated the weekend's Stan Coster Memorial Bush Ballad Awards presented during the Bungendore Country Music Muster.

Brian snared four of the seven awards being named winner of the Male Vocal award with The Boyup Brook Waltz, Album of the Year for Western Australia Is Calling Me Home, the Comedy award for She’s Gotta Be Emu Export and the Songwriter award (with Warwick Edwards) for The Legend Of Wally Dowling.

There was an unusual situation with the Female Vocal which was shared by Sharon Heaslip with A Thousand Different Pictures and Dianne Lindsay with Uncle Harry.

New Talent went to Bob Gregory with The Ghost Of Bold Ben Hall and the Instrumenta Group or Duo award going to Lindsay Butler & Anthony Baxter for Things Are Not The Same On The Land.

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Caves Beach this weekend

The fifth annual Caves Beach Country will be held at Caves Beach, NSW (between Newcastle and the Central Coast), this Sunday (February 11).

The Viper Creek Band will headline on the day with support from Tori Darke, Outlaw Avenue and Josh Setterfield.

An outdoor event, the show gets underway at 12noon at the Caves Beach Surf Lifesaving Club.

The event is a major fund-raiser for the surf club.



CMC Awards open for voting

Voting is now open for the CMC (Country Music Channel) Music Awards.

Voting is limited to a pre-determined list of finalists; voters can vote every day until the close of voting on February 26.

Finalists for Australian Video of the Year are Kirsty Lee Akers' Take Me Back, Baylou's Closing This Memory Down, Adam Brand's Drunk, Kasey Chambers' Satellite, Imogen Clark's Collide, Travis Collins' Hometown Calling, Travis Collins & Amber Lawrence's Our Backyard, Jody Direen's Dirt Rich, Melanie Dyer's Save My Cents, Jetty Road's Shakedown, Lee Kernaghan's Drive On, Christie Lamb's Bad Habit, Missy Lancaster's Forget, Amber Lawrence's The Lucky One, Fanny Lumsden's Roll On, Drew McAlister's Coming Your Way, The McClymonts' Don't Wish It All Away, Shane Nicholson's I Don't Dance, O'Shea's Start Over and Caitlyn Shadbolt's with Bad.

For New Artist of the Year... Imogen Clark, Rachael Fahim, Tori Forsyth, Hayley Jensen, Missy Lancaster, Paddy McHugh, Melody Moko, Karin Page, Tailgate Drive and Gretta Ziller.

For Group or Duo of the Year... Baylou, Busby Marou, Travis Collins & Amber Lawrence, Jetty Road, The McClymints, O'Shea, The Sunny Cowgirls. Viper Creek Band, The Weeping Willows and The Wolfe Brothers.

For Female Artist of the Year... Kirsty Lee Akers, Chelsea Basham, Kasey Chambers, Melanie Dyer, Christie Lamb, Amber Lawrence, Fannu Lumsden, Caitlyn Shadbolt and Aleyce Simmonds.

For Male Artist of the Year... Adam Brand, Troy Cassar-Daley, Travis Collins, Matt Cornell, Paul Costa, Morgan Evans, Lee Kernaghan, Drew McAlister, Shane Nicholson and Jason Owen.

For Austraian Artist of the Year... Kirsty Lee Akers, Adam Brand, Busby Marou, Kasey Chambers, Travis Collins, Morgan Evans, Jetty Road, Lee Kernaghan, Christie Lamb, Amber Lawrence, Fanny Lumsden, The McClymonts, Shane Nicholson, O'Shea and The Wolfe Brothers.

There are also categories for Internayional Vido of the Year and International Artist of the Year.

The CMC Music Awards will air live on the Country Music Channel at 7:30pm (Qieensland time) on Thursday, March 15. The presentations will be hosted by The McClymonts.

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Gold Medallon winners

The 2018 Gold Medallion Awards, judged by Australian radio announcers, were announced during the Tamworth Festival.

Becci Nethery was announced as winner of the National Female Artist of the Year, Caseuy Barnes National Male Artist and Group or Duo of the Year was The Long And Short Of It.

Phoebe Jay (pictured) was announced as New Talent of the Year, Anthony Baxter & Lindsay Butler, Collaboration of the Year.

Regional winners are also announed, one for NSW, one for Queensland and one for SCW (South/Central/West).

For Female Artist of the Year, the winners were Emma Jene for NSW, Becci Nethery for Qld and Rebecca Lee Nye for SCW.

For Male Artist of the Year, Casey Barnes was winner for SCW, Dale Duncan for NSW and Justin Standley for Qld.

For Bush Balladeer of ther Year, Greg Bain was the winner for NSW, Terry Bennetts for SCW and Ashley Cook for Qld.

For Musician of the Year, Lindsay Butler was the winner for NSW, Rusty Cochrane for SCW and Lindsay Waddington for Qld.

Awards were presented at Butlers Auditorium on Wednesday January 24.



The ICMAs are a more low-key fan-voted awards presented to independent artists, groups, balladeers and bands during the Tamworth Country Music Festival.

This year's ICMA winners are...

Male Artist – Casey Barnes, Female Artist – Seleen McAlister, Balladeer – Kalesti Butler Group – Whiskey Business, Duo – Caswell & Carpenter.

Photographer – Kat Blackwell, Producer/Director – Michael Carpenter, Album – Matt Cornell (pictured) My Soundtrack, Community Radio – Alan Gilmour (todayscountry94one).

Video Clip – Simply Bushed Raise Your Glass, EP – Will Day, Single – Simply Bushed Raise Your Glass and Casey Barnes Just Like Magic (tied category), Encouragement Award – Sophia Chesworth, Best New Zealand Independent Artist – Phil Doublet.

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Bush poetry winners

Western Australia's Keith Lethbridge (pictured) was a triple winner at this year's Golden Damper Bush Poetry Performance Awards held during the Tamworth Country Music Festival.

Keith won all three categories... for Established Poetry with One Of The Best (written by Peter Blyth), Original Poetry with The Legend Of Mother McQ and the Frank Daniel Award for Walk-up Poetry with The Flying Dogma.

Jacqui Warnock from NSW was second in Established Poetry with Cream Cowrie Shells (written by Noel Stallard) while Queensland's Anita Reed was third with The Waste of War.

Catherine Boomer from NSW was runner-up in Original Poetry with Charlemagne and NSW's Jacqui Warnock was third with Leaving Town.

In the Blackened Billy competition for written verse... Catherine Lee (pictured) was named the winner with And Did Those Hooves, Tom McIlveen was second with Pappinbarra Dreamtime and Shelley Hansen was third with On The Brink.

Competition judges also "highly commended" Donald Adams' Horse Sense, Tom McIlveen's Bluey and Val Wallace's A Parcel From Home.

"Commended" were Shelley Hansen's Communication Breakdown, Helen Harvey's Her Place, Tom McIlveen's Pappinbarra Burning and Terry Piggott's The Love of her Life 2, The Poverty, The Ruins and Top Camp, Up in the Devil’s Lair.

Thanks were extended to Jan Morris, co-ordinator of the 2018 Blackened Billy Verse and to the Tamworth Poetry Reading Group and the Australian Bush Poets Association for their support of the competitions.

Photo: the capacity audience at the bush poetry finals in Tamworth in January.

"What a wonderful selection of poems this year," a spokesman said. "There was such a variety of subjects and styles. There were poems of nostalgia and regrets for past or passing eras. There were poems of the bush and about the ‘true blue’ characters who reside or travel there.

"There were stories of war. There were stories about our relationships with other species (especially dogs and horses). Then there were poems of life as it is in city, coastal, country or outback locations, highlighting the concerns and issues faced by Australians today. So many ‘stories’ to make you laugh, cry, think or marvel!"

In southern NSW, winners in the Kembla Flame written Bush Poetry Competition were announced by Illawarra Breakfast Poets and Illawarra Folk Club.

Winner of the Kembla Flame trophy was Brenda Joy (pictured) with Lament, second was Leonie Parker with Billy Crow and third, David Campbell with Cap In Hand and fourth was Terry Piggott with The Long Dusty Road,

The Novice Prize went to Maureen Stahl with Rounding Up The Chooks.

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More Tamworth talent quest winners

Kathryn Luxford was judged winner of this year's Tamworth City Bowling Club Walk-up Competition held during the January country music festival.

Second place went to Alyssa Brache while Paul Crowder was third and an enouragement award was made to the duo Georgia & Locki.

Fellow finalists in the competition were Greg M Dillon, Johnny Doyle, Finnian Johnson, Leon Milner, Rod & Rhonda Owen, Cheri Penshorn, David Reeve, Eliza Spalding and Georgie Taylor.

This was the third year of the competition which awarded cash prizes to placegetters as well as a "paid gig" at the January 2019 festival.

Photo (by Al Slade): Paul, Kathryn and Alyssa.

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Troy carries Queen's baton

Troy Cassar-Daley was a key carrier of the Queen's (Commonwealth Games) baton in Tamworth, Country Music Capital, yesterday afternoon.

The baton – nearing the end of it's almost year-long journey from Buckingham Palace to the Games on the Gold Coast in April – came to Tamworth via Gunnedah.

Sixteen baton bearers were selected as carriers through Tamworth ending with Troy at a special celebration next to the city's Bicentennial Park.

Troy said he was humbled to be given the honour of carrying the baton alongside local "unsung heroes".

"They’ve done things you don’t ever hear about it – a lot of fundraising things, people who have fought for our country," he said. "I just want to say I was completely humbled sitting in the bus hearing their stories..."

Arriving in Australia in Canberra, the baton has travelled to Wagga Wagga, Narrandera, Griffith, West Wyalong, Forbes, Parkes, Orange, Wellington, Dubbo, Coonabarabran and Gunnedah.

From Tamworth, the baton heads north to Armidale, then to Bellingen and Coffs Harbour before going down south to Sydney, Hobart, Melbourne, across to Adelaide and Perth, up to Karratha, Alice Springs, Darwin to Cooktown, Mt Isa, Cloncurry, Birdsville, Charleville, Longreach, Winton, Charters Towers, Cairns, Mackay, Rockhampton, Gympie. Caloundra, Kingaroy, Dalby, Toowoomba, Warwick, Brisbane and many other centres along the way before "landing" at Main Beach on the Gold Coast.

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Alex is Tamworth's Queen of Country Music

Alexandra Kellahan is Tamworth's 2018 – and the 34th – Queen of Country Music.

Cheyanne Conolon was announced as the 2018 Princess while Samantha Duncan was awarded Miss Congeniality and Julie Fleck, Miss Social Media.

Alexandra was sponsored by H&L Plastering, Cheyanne by Plush Hair Designs, Samantha by Tamworth Aboriginal Lands Council and Julie by Tamworth Regional Council.

A total of 12 young ladies were a part of the 2018 Queen of Country Music Quest which was organised again this year by Tamworth Zonta.

In addition to the title holders named above, the entrants were Tamara Ferguson (Ruralco Property Davidson Cameron Real Estate), Ashley Ginn (sponsored by The Northern Daily Leader), Eedi Jennar (Kirinari Community Services), Jade Johnston (Challenge Community Services), Jessica Anne Kaizer (Kirinari Community Services), Brittany Meissner (AELEC: Tamworth Regional Council), Eliza Simpson (Challenge Community Services) and Jessica Joan Lloyd (House With No Steps).

The Queen of Country Music Quest was launched in 1984 by the Tamworth & District Chamber of Commerce & Industry as a promotional event for local business involvement in the annual country music festival.

It aims to find two young women to act as ambassadors for the Tamworth region and the Tamworth County Music Festival.

The Quest is not a beauty pageant. Entrants are judged on their presentation, personality, participation, deportment and knowledge of the Tamworth region and the country music festival.

Among quest prizes are an all expenses paid trip to Tamworth sister city Gore, New Zealand for the Queen and Princess, for that city's annual country music festival.

Top photo: 2018 Queen and Princess Alex and Cheyanne (second and third from left, respectively) pictured with last year's Queen Taylor Fletcher (left) and Princess Tara Grant with Gore District Ambassador Tyler Dowling.



Tamworth busking champion

The 2018 Toyota LandCruiser Country Music Busking Champion is Haystack Mountain Hermits.

The family band of six – Kerrie Gambley, husband Dave Church and children Ella, Jackson, Lachlan and Marcus – hail from Mt Tamborine in Queensland and have been winning a swag of awards since organising as a musical outfit in 2011.

These include the the Qld Regional Busking Championships last year which led to the Australian National Busking Championship title of Best Band in November.

Between them, they play accordion, bass, double bass, drums, guitar, harp, mandolin, resonator guitar, ukulele and xaphoon... and they sing.

Fellow finalists in the Busking Championship final were Shania Bonita, Andrew Cousins, Jimmy Davis, Embers, Charlie Fittler, Simon Gudgeon, Horizon, Emmagen Rain and Zac & George.

Hundreds of buskers signed up to the Tamworth event.

Tamworth Regional Council Country Music Manager Barry Harley said the Busking Championships was a great launch pad for aspiring musicians and one of the most vibrant and exciting parts of the Toyota Country Music Festival Tamworth.

"Busking in Tamworth is a key part of the country music journey,” he said. “It is perfect for aspiring musicians as it helps them get their music out there to a large audience. It also helps them build a solid foundation in Tamworth and set themselves up to take on other opportunities...”

As winner of the 2018 Toyota Landcruiser Busking Championships, Haystack Mountain Hermits took home prizes including a number of performance opportunities.

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Cavalcade winners

The other major event that takes place on the main Saturday of the Tamworth Country Music Festival is the giant street parade, the Country Music Cavalcade.

Almost 100 individual floats made their way down Tamworth's Peel Street on Saturday morning to the cheers and applause of thousands of fans lining the street.

Winners in the commercial section were Ballet Stars (first), Tamworth City Dance Academy (second) and Dance Dynamics (third).

In the non-commercial section, Filipino Association of Tamworth (pictured) took out first place with Fire & Rescue NSW second and The Northcott Society third.

In the non-vehicle/equine section, King of the Ranges Stockman’s Challenge was first, High Velocity Trick Riding came second and Australian Representative Tent Pegging Team was third.

In addition to the official placings, two entrants received "highly commended" from the judges, Australian Air League Cadet Group and Tamworth Pipe Band.

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Tamworth Champions

Tayla Clavarino and Rory Phillips are Country Music Capital's Champions of Champions as determined by the Capital Country Music Association (CCMA).

The CCMA inited all solo winners of known talent quests in Tamworth this January to compete on Saturday afternoon (the main day of the country music shindig) for the titles of junior and senior Tamworth Champions of Champions.

These included winners of the CCMA's own SongStars songwriting competition as well as the junior and senior talent quests conducted in the Tamworth Town Hall during the week.

As well as the "champion" titles, Tayla and Rory won scholarships to the Australian Academy of Country Music.

Photos: Tayla above left with CCMA President Steve Newton and (right) Rory Phillips with Steve and CCMA Jamboree compere Marg Campbell.



Kasey on the rock

Kasey Chambers is the 51st inductee to the Country Music Roll of Renown, at 41, the youngest yet to be elevated to Australasian country music's highest honour.

From the age of 10 when she joined  her parents, Bill and Diane Chambers, in their Dead Ringer Band, Kasey has been behind a microphone.

In making the presentation during last night's Golden Guitar Awards, last year's winner Troy Cassar-Daley said Kasey had earned the admiration and respect of both her industry peers and her multitude of fans all over the world.

Time and time again, Troy said, she has demonstrated her extraordinary ability to connect with country and mainstream audiences in both Australia and overseas. "She's certainly one of a kind," he said.

Accepting the Award, Kasey paid a special tribute to her parents Bill and Diane and to her brother Nash her long-time record producer. "I probably wouldn't have got to first base without my family and their involvement," she said.

Born in Mount Gambier on June 4, 1976, Kasey grew up on the Nullarbor, sharing the music that infused the lives of parents Bill and Diane and brother Nash. Kasey's first solo album, The Captain, released in 1999, was a national sensation, hailed as fresh inspiration for Australian country music.

Kasey has released a string of highly awarded recordings including some with other artists, all featuring her distinctive vocals, powerful lyrics and unique contemporary approach. Acclaimed in Australia, she has also gathered a large following in the USA.

At last nights Awards, Kasey's album Dragonfly won the Golden Guitar for Alt Country Album of the Year (to add to her current tally of 14 individual and 12 shared Golden Guitars). Dragonfly also took out the ARIA Award for Best Country Album in November.

The Australasian Country Music Roll of Renown was launched when the Father of Australian Country Music, Tex Morton, was honoured in Tamworth in January 1976. The Roll itself comprises large bronze plaques mounted on a cluster of giant granite boulders in front of the Tamworth Regional Entertainment Centre.

The full list of inductees (in chronological irder) is Tex Morton, Buddy Williams, Smoky Dawson, Slim Dusty, Shirley Thoms, Tim McNamara, Gordon Parsons, The McKean Sisters, Reg Lindsay, Rick & Thel Carey, Johnny Ashcroft, Chad Morgan, John Minson, The Hawking Brothers, Stan Coster, Barry Thornton, Nev Nicholls, Shorty Ranger, Jimmy Little, Ted Egan, Dusty Rankin, John Williamson, Rocky Page, Brian Young, Rex Dallas, Arthur Blanch, The Schneider Sisters, Frank Ifield, Kenny Kitching, The Webb Brothers, Athol McCoy, The Singing Kettles, Reg Poole, Lindsay Butler, Kevin King, Geoff Mack, Jean Stafford, Slim Newton, Anne Kirkpatrick, Phil & Tommy Emmanuel, Terry Gordon, Wayne Horsburgh, Norm Bodkin, Les Partell, Lee Kernaghan, Ray Kernaghan, Graeme Connors, Troy Cassar-Daley and now, Kasey Chambers.

Photo: Kasey at this morning's unveiling of her Roll of Renown plaque with (from left) Tamworth Mayor Col Murray, Tamworth and country music industry identity Max Ellis and the Member for Tamworth in the NSW Parliament Kevin Anderson.


2018 Golden Guitar winners

Winners in the 2018 Toyota Golden Guitar Awards - the 46th Country Music Awards of Australia – were announced in Tamworth last night.

Album of the Year went to The McCymonts for Endless (produced by Andy Mak), adding to previously announced wins for Contemporary Album Of The Year and Group of the Year.

Alt Country Album of the Year was won by Kasey Chambers with Dragonfly (produced by Nash Chambers and Paul Kelly) while Traditional Album of the Year went to Ashleigh Dallas with Lighthouse (produced by Brett Dallas).

Bluegrass Recording of the Year was presented to the Davidson Brothers with Back Where I Started together with Instrumental of the Year for Evelyn's Kitchen.

Shane Nicholson was announed as Male Artist of the Year with Love And Blood while Alecye Simmonds was crowned Female Artist of the Year with More Than Meets The Eye.

Dean Perrett took out Bush Ballad of the Year with Henbury Blues (written by Neville Anderson) and New Talent of the Year went to Brad Butcher with Well Dressed Man.

Tom Curtain and Luke O'Shea won both Heritage Song of the Year and Video Clip of the Year with Never Never Land. They also wrote the song and directed the video clip.

The collaborative efforts of Travis Collins and Amber Lawrence were recognised with their win of Vocal Collaboration of the Year, Single of the Year and Song of the Year for Our Backyard. The song was by Amber and Travis with Matt Scullion).

Clare O'Meara was named Musician of the Year and Kasey Chambers was elevated to the Australasian Country Music Roll of Renown.

Lee Kernaghan had been previously announced as winner of the "top selling" award for his 25th Anniversary album.

Pictured (standing, from left) – Clare O'Meara, Brett Dallas, Brad Butcher, Ashleigh Dallas, Luke O'Shea, The McClymonts (Sam, Mollie and Brooke), Shane Nicholson, Aleyce Simmonds, Kasey Chambers, Amber Lawrence, Matt Scullion, Dean Perrett; (kneeling) – Andy Mak, The Davidson Brothers (Hamish and Lachlan), Tom Curtain, Travis Collins and Lee Kernaghan.



SongStars winners

Tayla Clavarino and Kasey Kilsby have taken out the Capital Country Music Association (CCMA) SongStars talent quest.

Conducted as a part of the CCMA's revised talent quest schedule (most sections running in the Tamworth Town Hall in conjunction with Coca Cola Country competitions, the SongStars session was conducted as a Facebook live activity out of Tamworth's Enrec Studios on Thursday.

Tayla, from Victoria, won the Senior SongStar title while Tamworth's Bruce O'Hara was runner-up.

Kasey, from Queensland, won the Junior SongStar title with Lili Crane from the Newcastle area was runner-up.

As well as their SongStar titles, Tayla and Kasey now compete in the Champion of Tamworth Champions at the Town Hall this afternoon against other talent quest winners from this year's festival.

The Senior and Junior Champions will each win a scholarship to the Australian College of Country Music next January.

Photo (from left): Bruce, Lili, Tayla and CCMA President Steve Newton. Junior winner Kasey left the event before the announcement of winners to honour a performance committment.

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Mt Franklin winners

The 2018 Mt Franklin Junior Talent Quest wrapped up at Wests yesterday wirh Hattie Oates and Rory Phillips (pictured) taking top honours.

Hattie won the Senior section from runner-up Finnian Johnson.

Rory won the Junior section with Albina Niceforco in second place.

Hattie and Rory also have the opportunity to compete in today's Champion of Tamworth Champions event.

This year's Mt Franklin quest attracted dozens of entries.



People's Choice winners

Winners in this year's Australian Country Music People's Choice Awards were announced in Tamworth last night.

Popular bush balladeer Graham Rodger (pictured at right) took home two trophies, for Best Male Vocal and Best Song with Waltzing Matilda No More (written by Graham with Marc Glasby).

Brothers3, another perrenial winner, snaffled their 12th People's Choice Award, this one for Best Group.

Gina Timms (pictured here receiving her trophy from presenter and fellow award winner Dale Duncan) was named Best Female Vocal winner.

Paul Costa took out the Best Album category with his latest release Whisper In The Crowd.

Dale Duncan won Best Bush Ballad for Just Like Your Dad, written by Allan Caswell and Manfred Vijars.

Whitsundays based MICKS was voted the winner of Best Video, produced by Joshua Stoll, directed by Tommy Medveczky and edited by James McQualter.

Rising star Blake O'Connor (pictured at right) beat a strong field to win Most Promising Future Star.

In the broadcast categories, it was a double for the NSW Central Coast's todayscountry94one which was named Most Popular Country Music Radio Station while Alan Gilmour, one of the station's leading on-air identities, was named Country Music DJ of the Year from his program the Australian Country Songwriters Show.

An almost capacity crowd attended the gala Awards presentation which was hosted by Jane Kellaway and Paul Grierson and Chris Rieger from Simply Bushed.

Finalists and winners Brothers3, Paul Costa, Dale Duncan, Cassidy Rae Gaiter, The Long & Short Of It, MICKS, Blake O'Connor, Ali S, Steph Penrose, Graham Rodger, Gina Timms and Jim Williams performed during the gala Awards concert.

Moving tributes were paid during the night to three legendary broadcasters who passed away during the past year... John "Mr Hoedown" Minson, Wally Sparrow and Frankie T Thatcher.

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Allan added to Galaxy of Stars

Lading Australian songwriter Allan Caswell was announced as the 2018 addition to Tamworth's Galaxy of Stars.

With more than 600 songs recorded by artists including James Blundell, Graeme Connors, Dale Duncan, Slim Dusty, Anne Kirkpatrick, Chad Morgan and Jasmine Rae, Allan is recognised as one of our most prolific and successful songwriters.

He was first recognised in 1980 with the New Talent Golden Guitar for his recording of his own song King Of The Rodeo, picking up Song of the Year in 1981 (with brother Brian) for One Armed Bandit, in 1983 (with Keith Potger) with Used To Be A Gold Song and then again in 1986 for The Garden.

The Galaxy of Stars was introduced in 2000 with Slim Dusty. John Williamson and Arthur Blanch were added in 2002 followed by Lee and Tania Kernaghan in 2005, Graeme Connors and Gina Jeffreys in 2006, Smoky Dawson and Joy McKean in 2007, Troy Cassar-Daley and Jimmy Little in 2008, James Blundell and Beccy Cole on 2009, Adam Brand and Felicity Urquhart in 2010, The Bushwackers and Tommy and Phil Emmanuel in 2011, Ted Egan and Chad Morgan in 2012, Adam Harvey and The McClymonts in 2013, Colin Buchanan 
and Anne Kirkpatrick in 2014, Melinda Schneider in 2015, Kasey Chambers in 2016 and Sara Storer last year.

The Galaxy of Stars was introduced to formally recognise the achievements of outstanding country music stars. The actual "star" plaques are displayed in the forecourt at Tamworth Regional Entertainment and Conference Centre.



Country Entertainer of the Year winners

Jorja Dalton and New Zealand's M.A.C. Trio – Michelle Hendriks, Angela Landrebe & Campbell Landrebe – have taken out the 2018 Aristocrat Country Entertainer of the Year quest.

Staged annually at Wests Diggers, the quest carries prizemoney approaching $3,000 plus recording time.

Jorja was judged winner of the junior section while the M.A.C. Trio won the senior section.

Alison Jensen was judged second in the senior section, Outback Opry (comprising Jorja Dalton & Harriet Kelly) came third.

Finnian Johnson was runner-up in the junior section, Kasey Kilsby third.

Matthew Munro was presented with the Nathaniel O'Brien Encouragement Award (Nathaniel, a previous Entertainer of the Year winner, died tragically in a motor vehicle accident while still very young).

Photo (by Bob Mcgahan) from left, standing: Alison, Matthew, Finnian, Jorja and Harriet; front: Michelle, Campbell and Angela; with Aristocrat representative Peter Henderson.


Tracy's album launch

Among numerous albums being launched this Tamworth Country Music Festival is Tracy Coster's new album Coster Country Take II.

The album will be launched at Wests Diggers (in the upstairs showroom) at 10am.

Tracy will be joined at the launch concert by fellow balladeers Jeff Brown and Glenn Jones which will double as a tribute to the late Stan Coster, Tracy'

Coster Country Take II features duets with the likes of Beccy Cole, Adam Harvey, Anne Kirkpatrick, Lee Kernaghan, Chad Morgan and John Williamson.



Song awards

Tamworth Songwriters' Association announced the annual Songwriter Salute Awards and National Songwriting Contest winners last night.

Key among the accolades was Greg Champion's elevation to the ranks of Song Maker, Australia's country music songwriting hall of fame.

In the Salute Awards...

Contemporary Ballad of the Year and Country Song of the Year went to Life’s About The Little Things by David & Merelyn Carter, Samantha Bellamy, John Collins, Mary V I Harrison, Robyn Hull & Shirley Lynn.

Traditional Bush Ballad went to A Thousand Different Pictures by Shaton Heaslip.

Contemporary Song of the Year was won by Chloe Styler with Control.

Ian Quinn & Roger Corbett took out Comedy/Novelty Song of the Year with New Age Computer Man.

Anzac Song of the Year went to Through The Eyes Of A Boy by Wendy Wood (pictured, photo by Robmac).

Gospel Song of the Year was Little Old Church On The Hill by Dale Duncan & Lola Brinton.

The Alt Country/Blues/Bluegrass award went to Wendy Phypers with Highway 39.

The Tex Morton Award was presented to Amber Lawrence.

TSA's prestigious New Songwriter Award was won by Noeleen Smith with The Bottle.

In the songwriting competition...

Ray Rusty Strings Smith won the Novice category with Follow The Wind.

Colin Buchanan took out Open Traditional with That Old Bloke.

Becci Nethery won Open Contemporary with Just Not Today.

Ian Burns was announed the winner Alt and Blues and Bluegrass with Best Friend Is Whisky.

The Lyrics Only section was won by Lloyd Clarke with Eureka and the Youth Songwriting Award went to Sam Dyball with Million Ways.

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New faces for CMAA Board

The Country Music Association of Australia (CMAA) added five additional members to its Board at the Association's annual general meeting in Tamworth yesterday.

Although some have been involved at Board level before, the "new" faces are artist manager Dan Biddle, artist manager, publicist Tom Inglis, Kix Country Program Director Justin Thomson and ABC Music & Events General Manager Natalie Waller.

Association Chairman Dobe Newton and current Director Lachlan Bryan were re-elected.

These members join current directors Rebecca Belt, Roger Corbett (Vice Chairman) and Meryl Davis (Secretary) and Ross Johnson (appointed Treasurer).

Retiring Directors (who did not seek re-election) are Allan Caswell, Peter Hebbes and Paul O'Gorman.

Pictured (from left): Dan, Lachlan, Tom, Dobe, Justin, Natalie.

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Beccy stars on Adelaide's Walk of Fame

Beccy Cole is one of the inaugural inductees to the new Walk of Fame at the Adelaide Festival Centre.

The Centre hosted a gala concert on the occasion featuring Paul Blackwell, Greta Bradman, Rhonda Burchmore, Beccy, Peter Combe, Slava Grigoryan, Nancye Hayes, Tim Minchin, James Morrison, Niki Vasilakis and the Australian Dance Theatre.

Adelaide's "In Daily" reported that, together with host Todd McKenney, a show that was entertaining, amusing and moving was produced.

The Walk of Fame features a selection of stars from the Festival Centre’s 40 year history with 130 names initially and more to be added.

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Big Golden Guitar turns 30

If Tamworth identities Warwick Bennet and Max Ellis had been able to collect a 10 cent royalty every time anybody took a picture of the Country Music Capital's Big Golden Guitar, they reckon they would have a pile of cash.

"Of course it's only a guestimate," Warwick said, "but since we opened the Big Golden Guitar 30 years ago, "we estimate there could have been more than a million pictures taken of our baby."

It was January 22, 1988, when Slim Dusty, the King of Australian Country Music, together with the head of NSW Tourism, Commissioner Paul Crombie, supported by a huge crowd of enthusiastic fans, officially unveiled the 12 metre high, fibreglass Golden Guitar in front of the newly built Country Collection with its Wax Museum and souvenir shop beside the Longyard Hotel.

Modelled on the already famous Golden Guitar trophies of 2TM's Country Music Awards, the Big Golden Guitar, was made in Tamworth by Len Surtees, closely following the original design by Harry Frost.

"It's hard to believe now, but when the project was announced, there was a short flurry of negative publicity, mostly from one nearby resident, but that quickly subsided and today, the Big Golden Guitar has become a much loved symbol of Country Music Capital." Max said.

Acclaimed as one of Australia's most recognisable "Big" icons, it shares the spotlight with a handful of other famous big statues such as the Big Merino at Goulburn and the Big Banana at Coffs Harbour.

Over the past 30 years, it's been featured in countless newspaper, TV, radio and magazine stories, advertisements, tourism books and material and even telephone directory covers and at least one movie.

Since Warwick, a former Mayor of Tamworth and tourism chief, and Max, one of the founders of the Tamworth Country Music Festival, built the Golden Guitar with Margaret Bennet managing the shop, it's been owned and operated by Wendy and Noel Bennet and is now owned by Tom Coulton and managed by Caroline Singleton.

It is a major tourism centre and attraction now with a wax museum, a cricket museum, a busy cafe and country music souvenir merchandise.

Importantly, it is one of the attractions that provides Tamworth with a year round country music presence.

Max and Warwick are pictured acknowledging the 30th anniversary of the Big Golden Guitar.



Brad wins Toyota Star Maker

Brad Cox from Jindabyne (NSW) has been judged the winner of Toyota Star Maker 2018, the 39th recipient of Australia's most prestigious country music talent search title.

Brad trumped fellow finalists... Tanya Cornish, Emily Joy, Heath Milner, Tammy Moxon, Taylor Pfeiffer, Cassidy Rae Gaiter, Jake Sinclair, Chloe Styler and Hayley Wilson to win the coveted Star Maker crown in Tamworth last night.

Brad says he was inspired to pursue his country music career after a month-long songwriting trip to Nashville in 2015. He recorded his debut album of which his first single, Too Drunk to Drive, debuted at number two on the iTunes country chart.

Judges this year were artist managers Dan Biddle and Roxanne Brown, Adam Eckersley, Toyota Ambassador Brooke McClymont, HSF Artist Manager Tom Inglis, ABC presenter on Australia All Over and Saturday Night Country Scott Lamond, Craig Power from The Pub Group and KIX Radio Program Director Justin Thomson.

Star Maker Co-ordinator Cheryl Byrnes said: "Toyota Star Maker continues to unearth exciting new talent and tonight is no exception. Brad has a unique country spirit.

"Everyone knows just how difficult it is to judge any competition, however one as significant as Toyota Star Maker has an expectation to the industry and fans to introduce a brand new star who is going to go all the way, and they want to travel with them.

"Many of the benefits of being part of Toyota Star Maker family are intangible – but absolutely priceless. The networking is extraordinary. You can’t put a price on that," she said.

Brad's victory sees him take home a prize pack including the use of a Toyota RAV4 for 12 months with an unlimited fuel card, Maton, Fender and Jands products, guaranteed performances at major festivals throughout Australia including at West Tamworth League Club and The Pub Group plus a return trip to Nashville in June for the annual CMAFest (Country Music Association America Music Festival) by courtesy of Chris Watson Travel... and more.

Brad thanked his family and friends for coming out to cheer him on "all the way" from Jindabyne, NSW.

"I'm incredibly thankful for all of their support and also to Toyota Australia for making my dream a reality tonight." Brad said.

Toyota Australia Senior Manager Marketing Integration Andrew Wearing was delighted to see Brad join the Toyota Star Maker family.

"We’d like to congratulate Brad and the rest of the Toyota Star Maker finalists for showcasing the amazing talent that Australian country music has," he said.

"Toyota Australia also wants to thank Rachael Fahim, 2017 Toyota Star Maker winner, who has truly made the most of her crown and is making her way into the country music industry."

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It's all-in at Tamworth

It's true to say there's nary a venue that works in Tamworth that doesn't have some sort of activity running during the January country music festival.

Pubs, clubs, major theatres, local halls, church halls, the main street of town and most of the shopping centres.

The shopping centre with the most activity is Tamworth Shoppingworld off Bridge Street, West Tamworth, which hosts a big program of entertainment for nine days of the Festival.

As most previous Festival visitors from recent years would be aware, the main attraction at Shoppingworld is one of Australia's best known country pioneers, Chad Morgan.

Chad – aka "the Sheik from Scrubby Creek" – kicked off his regular series of performances on Friday and continues every day up to and including Saturday from 12:30 to 1:30pm.

Supporting Chad are a number of well known acts and up and coming stars of country, including James Blundell, Brewn, The Bushwackers, Melanie Dyer, Germein Sisters, Angus Gill, Kerrie Hayward, Johanna Hemara, Hillbilly Goats, Hurricane Fall, Michaela Jenke, Jetty Road, Troy Kemp, Ben Leece, Tyson Lucas, Josh Needs, The Pigs, Josh Setterfield, Whistle Dixie Band and Jim Williams.

Dare 2 Dance linedancing demonstrations will be conducted all of this week, Monday to Friday, from 2pm to 4pm.

All shows at Shoppingworld are held in the centre food court area and there is no charge for admission.



Hands of Fame inductees announced

Seven new hands will be added to Australia's Country Music Hands of Fame in Tamworth next Saturday following an announcement at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Tamworth yesterday.

They are Don Costa and Paul Costa, Hugo Fitz-Herbet, Graeme Hugo, Nev Molloy, Peter Simpson and Kevin Sporer.

Based on the Queensland Sunshine Coast, Don Costa has been one of our best known independent entertainers for many years. He has a number of recordings under his belt, has performed at numerous country music festivals and has been inducted into the SA Country Music Hall of Fame. For many years, he performed with brother Paul as the Costa Brothers.

Since deciding to pursue solo careers, Paul Costa has built an impressive list of awards and accolades including numerous finalist nominations in the Golden Guitar Awards. He has four successful albums to his credit including Wheels & Steel which debuted at number two on the ARIA Country Albums chart.

Long involved in country music, especially in Queensland, Hugo Fitz-Herbet started in the business playing drums for the Webb Brothers but played professionally in Sydney during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Moving back to Brisbane in 1973, he rejoined the Webb Brothers, “and so began the busiest 10 years of music in my life,” he said.

Hugo is also well-known for publishing, in 1998, “Reaching For The Stars” which he calls “a technical reference book about festivals” and for facilitating music related workshops at a number of festivals. He was presented with an OAM (Order of Australia Medal) in 2008 for service to country music and to the community.

Graeme Hugo began his music career in 1972 at the age of 18 and continues to this day. South Australian based, he has toured throughout Australia several times with a number of high profile artists and has performed at numerous notable venues including the Sydney Opera House.

Graeme has helped many up and coming artists gain experience within the industry and has helped raise money for numerous causes including Isolated Children, SIDS, Kids with Cancer, Aged Care, Angel Flight, Variety Clubs and the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

Hailing from Forbes (NSW), Nev Molloy is well known particularly for his guitar playing prowess. Apart from his work as a musician, Nev has also run an independent recording studio which has recorded numerous artists over the years.

In September, Nev released a collaborative CD with Kate Daniel and Bob Gregory titled Along The Track with 18 tracks, four of which were either written or co-written by Nev.

Peter Simpson has become more known in recent years for his marital and musical collaboration with Dianne Lindsay but prior to that partnership, he has had a long and successful career of his own.

He is very well respected for his guitar playing, and especially for his bush ballad style playing, and as an award-winning songwriter.

South Australian based Kevin Sporer has performed throughout Australia as a guest artist and musician, including support for artists like Bill & Boyd, Lee Conway, Johnny Mac, Chad Morgan and Kevin Sheggog. He has a number of his own recordings.

Kevin worked as a long-distance transport operator for a period before working as a professional musician. At one time, he wrote and recorded for the then RCA label and had his own country band, The Hilltones.

The 2018 hand imprinting ceremony will be held at the Hands of Fame, next Saturday (January 27) from 10:30am.


Broadcaster inductees

Also announced yesterday were inductees into the Australian Country Music Broadcasters Hall of Fame.

Three names are being added this year... Marge Graham (pictured), John Slaven (pictured) and Wally Wray who, between them, have been playing country music on the radio for more than 35 years.

Marge is a long-time broadcaster on community radio on the NSW north coast, John has been associated with a number of community stations in the Newcastle area (including 2NUR FM) while Wally has been broadcasting since the 1980s on 3MBR FM in Victoria.


Eric Watson award

The final award announced yesterday at the Hall of Fame was the Eric Watson Literary Award, named after one of Australia's most prolific country music historians.

Pioneer country music writer and historian Ian Hands was presented with the honour.

Ian is particularly known for his concentration on recording the history of our early country music pioneers.


Anna honoured

In a surprise announcement yesterday afternoon in the Tamworth Town Hall, leading Australian country music journalist and writer Anna Rose was recognised for her service to Tamworth via country music.

The special award is simply known as The Tamworth Award and has been presented by Noel and Dawn Smith (theyre the folk who organise the Golden Guitar trophies every year, among other things!) every year for many years.

Long-time broadcaster and country music personality Brian Howard makes the presentation annually on behalf of Noel and Dawn.




Cowboy Up a highlight

Highlights of day two of the 2018 Tamworth Country Music Festival include Cowboy Up, a rodeo-horse-sports oriented fundraiser for the Westpac Rescue Helicopter service.

Cowboy Up, being staged for the second year running, kicks off at 6 this evening at the AELEC (Australian Equine & Livestock Events Centre) Arena.

Organisers say the event features "elite bull riding, saddle bronc riding and Australia’s smallest cowboys in the mini bull ride".

Billed as a family event, Cowboy Up will also include a two hour concert starring American singer and recording artist Eric Lee Beddingfield (pictured) and a ute and truck show.

Eric was a key supporter of the inaugural staging of Cowboy Up in Tamworth last January.


TFSS fundraiser

Another special fundraiser will take place this evening under the stars in Toyota Park (Tamworth's Bicentennial Park) in Kable Avenue, for Tamworth Family Support Service.

It gets underway at 6:30 and will feature Homegrown, Finnian Johnson, Amber Lawrence and Thompson & Arna Georgia.

Word has it there will also be special appearances by Elsa from the movie Frozen and Belle from Beauty & The Beast, especially for younger members of the audience.

Pictured: Homegrown, Finnian, Amber.


New ABC Tamworth Festival partnership

A new broadcast partnership has been announced by the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) and Tamworth Country Music Festival.

The partnership includes ABC Landline's Facebook Livestream of the Golden Guitar Awards next Saturday night, including red-carpet arrivals, plus Awards highlights on ABC TV and ABC iview.

Daily live radio broadcasts from the Festival will also take place as well as live broadcasts from Tamworth of Saturday Night Country and Australia All Over on Sunday morning.

Tamworth Regional Council's Country Music Manager Barry Harley said: "We greatly appreciate the ABC for their commitment to the Tamworth Country Music Festival, the Golden Guitar Awards, and the entire country music community.

"As Australia’s leading source of information and entertainment, we are thankful to have such a cooperative relationship with the ABC, and we look forward to working together to show the rest of Australia, and the world, the wide array of incredible country music talent we have on offer in Tamworth each January."

Fiona Reynolds, Director of ABC Regional, said: "The ABC has always enjoyed its special relationship with the Festival and the Awards going back many years. This partnership takes the relationship to an exciting new level, enabling the Festival and ABC to reach country music lovers across all our platforms in all corners of Australia and internationally."

The Tamworth Country Music Festival runs until next Sunday. The 46th Golden Guitar Awards will be staged next Saturday night at the Tamworth Regional Entertainment and Conference Centre.

Fans who can’t make it to Tamworth can catch "all the action" from the Golden Guitar Awards via the ABC Landline Facebook Page.

A "best moments and highlight performances" coverage will go to air the following day – Sunday January 28 – on ABC TV in addition to an exclusive collection of videos on ABC iview.


Hands of Fame inductees

The 2018 inductees into Australia's Country Music Hands of Fame will be announced this morning at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Tamworth.

Handprints will be set in concrete the following Saturday at the Hands of Fame cornerstone at the corner of Kable Avenue and Bridge Street.

Other announcements, all taking place at the Country Music Hall of Fame at the corner of Murray and Peel Streets, will include inductee/s into the Australian Country Music Broadcasters Hall of Fame and the Eric Watson Literary Award.

Amber Lawrence will host the announcement event from 10:30 with entertainment from Zeta Burns, Dianne Lindsay, Reg Poole and The Rattling Brown Sisters with the Gorgeous Grannies from Goonoo Goonoo.



Tamworth Festival underway

Forty-six years ago this month, the established Capital Country Music Association (CCMA) Talent Quest and Jamboree were joined by the very first Golden Guitar Awards and the Tamworth Country Music Festival was born.

From those humble beginnings, "Tamworth" grew to a three day weekend festival, then to a week and ultimately to the jam-packed 10 days we now see every year in the northern half of NSW.

From a talent quest, winners concert and gala recording awards presentation, the annual January shindig has grown to become Australia's biggest music festival, the second biggest country music festival and one of the top 10 music festivals in the world.

The variety of country music is endless during the 10 days with more than 700 performers and 2,800 shows across 120 different venues in and around Tamworth, Australia's Country Music Capital.

Bush poets come to town, buskers, bluegrass players, singers, songwriters, broadcasters and industry people all converge on Tamworth for the annual music fest and unofficial industry "convention".

All culminating in a giant weekend which still features the CCMA Jamboree, the glitter of the Golden Guitar Awards and one of the many new events, the massive Country Music Cavalcade along Tamworth's "boulevarde of dreams".

But for Day 1 (as an indicator of the days to come) the activity kicks off at breakfast time with the Big Breaky Show in Red Cross Hall, Kable Avenue at 7:45, Pete Denahy's Bluegrass & Comedy at Wests at 8, Darren Carr's Ballads & Belly Laughs at Wests Diggers and Wild Bill Davey's True Grit Breakfast Show at the Tudor Hotel in Peel Street from 8:30.

Dozens of shows and performances run through the day – far to many to list – concluding with the Australian Academy of Country Music Graduation Concert at Wests from 4pm and the Official Opening Concert from 7pm (although visitors should arrive much earlier to claim a seating area).

Stars on this year's Opening Concert will include Mark Atkins, Travis Collins, Paul Costa, 2017 Toyota Star Maker Rachael Fahim, Tori Forsyth & The Spurs, Judah Kelly, Troy Kemp, 2017 Tamworth Busking Champion Tim Scanlan, Simply Bushed and Gretta Ziller & Andrew Swift.

For full program details, visitors can buy a Festival Guide from numerous locations and/or download the Festival app from the Apple App Store of GooglePlay for android users.

Pictured (top, from left): Mark, Travis, Rachael and Judah; above: Chris & Paul from Simply Bushed and Gretta Ziller.

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Throughout the Festival, the Bulletin will be covering all the news with talent quest and award winners and all other aspects that need reporting. Updates will be posted to our facebook page as we report...



Country Music Capital Milestones

There are many subjects that one of Tamworth’s Festival founders, Max Ellis, is passionate about, but two in particular have been exercising his mind recently.

Country Music is always in his thoughts and, over the years, his passion has seen the development of not only the Festival itself, but a wide range of activity which has stimulated and encouraged the growth of the genre and industry that goes with it, all over Australia.

The other is the recording of the history of Australian country music since its inception by Tex Morton, the acknowledged "Father" of the uniquely Australian version of the genre, in 1936.  By co-incidence it was also the year of Max's birth so he can claim that his entire existence has run parallel to Australian country music's life line.

In 2005, Max set up a website called and since then it has been expanded and augmented to carry not only the story of country music but also many stories of the people, events and circumstances that created it.

In 2014, Max wrote and published through Fairfax Media, Stars, Hurrahs and Golden Guitars, the colourful story of how Tamworth became Country Music Capital. The book celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Golden Guitar Awards and the beginning of the Festival in 1973.

Now he has produced another Milestone, or rather a series of Milestone events and happenings since Tamworth first took notice of country music way back in the 1930s.

"It's a special series on which allows anyone to check the dates and circumstances of any of the significant events in Country Music Capital's vivid and busy history," Max said.

He has researched and compiled the list of hundreds of events and happenings which have shaped the Capital and placed them in chronological order, often with background material to assist with an understanding of their importance.

"Tamworth Milestones, as it is called, is a permanent reference to how and when country music has made such significant and valuable impact on Tamworth, an influence that continues today and will continue to enrich the city both economically and culturally into future generations," Max said.

The feature also references a list of both 2TM staff and country musicians from the early period of the Awards up to the 1980s.

Max insists it's a work in progress so if anyone has any comments, corrections or omissions they are concerned about, he'd love to hear from you, at



Artist line-up announced for People's Choice

Organisers of Australia's annual Country Music People's Choice Awards today announced the line-up of finalists who will perform at this year's gala presentation.

In alphabetical order, they are Paul Costa, Dale Duncan, Cassidy Rae Gaiter, The Long & Short Of It, MICKS, Blake O’Connor, Steph Penrose, Graham Rodger, Ali S, Gina Timms and Jim Williams (all pictured below).

Country music broadcaster and a previous winner of the Most Popular Country Music DJ award Jane Kellaway will compere the event with special surprise guest hosts and award presenters.

The Awards will be held at the Tamworth Services Club in Marius Street from 7pm on Thursday, January 25.

"We are delighted with the line-up of performers again this year," said Bob Kirchner, spokesman for the organisers.

"Especially as we have a host of new stars to showcase to our audience together with a number of well established acts."

The People's Choice Awards provide recognition and encouragement to artists and country music announcers as voted by the people.

"We opened the voting earlier this year," Bob said, "and as a result many more thousands of individual votes were cast.

"The thing we are particularly proud of with these Awards is that we don't ask people to vote for a pre-determined list of finalists – anyone can vote and they can vote for anyone.

"As a result, we usually see hundreds of artists, songs, albums and videos nominated by our voters – a marvellous result in any estimation."

This is not a criticism of other more established and longer running awards, Bob said, "like the Golden Guitars which are peer-judged and peer-voted".

The People's Choice Awards have been running continuously since the turn of the century.

Further information, including a complete rundown of finalists and a link to ticket sales, can be obtained from the website...



Anniversary time for James

In 2017, James Blundell celebrated a career milestone of 30 years since winning the prestigious Star Maker talent search in Tamworth, the same event that launched the highly successful careers of Lee Kernaghan and Keith Urban among others.
This January celebrates another major achievement for James... 30 years since he was awarded his first Golden Guitar at the Country Music Awards, for New Talent of the Year.

To mark the occasion, a special album – 30 Years Of Pride – A Tribute To James Blundell– will be released in February celebrating three decades of the iconic artist’s music and songwriting.

James is acknowledged by many as the act that single-handedly shaped modern Australian country music.

The first single from the album has been released – a reworked version of James' biggest chart hit Way Out West, his duet of The Dingoes original with James Reyne in 1992 that shot to number two overall on the national ARIA mainstream singles chart.

In 2018, James is joined on the recording by established artists Adam Brand, Paul Costa, Tania Kernaghan and Bec Lavelle and rising stars Brewn and Ben Ransom.

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52nd CCMA Jamboree

Tamworth's Capital Country Music Association (CCMA) will stage it's 52nd Country Music Jamboree on Saturday January 27.

"It's an amazing accomplishment for a small volunteer organisation," said CCMA President Steve Newton paying tribute to the hundreds of committee members and helpers and the thousands of entrants who have received a "leg up" via Australia's National Country Music Talent Quest.

"This also has to be something of a record," he said. "We've researched worldwide and the closest activity to ours that we've been able to find is a local talent quest in Chicago that has been running for around 30 years."

The CCMA has issued a challenge to try and determine if there are any still continuously running talent quests that have been going longer than the National Talent Quest.

A change to CCMA activity this year sees the Jamboree re-badged as the Champion of Tamworth Champions which will be an invitational for the winners of all solo-entrant talent quest activity taking place during the January Country Music Festival.

This event will determine senior and junior champions, each of whom will win a scholarship to the Australian Academy of Country Music in January 2019... in the Senior and Junior Academies, respectively.

This year sees a rationalisation of the National Talent Quest which moves back to the Tamworth Town Hall where it all started back in the mid 1960s as a part of the Coca Cola Country events run by Tamworth Regional Council (and formerly by Fairfax Rural Events).

The CCMA is still directly running one section of the talent quest, the senior and junior songwriting sections under the banner Battle of the SongStars.

This will be conducted as a "facebook live" event at 2pm on Thursday January 25.

The first 2018 Festival activity for the CCMA will be it's annual Jam at the South Tamworth Bowling Club two days before the official start of the Festival this Wednesday evening (January 17) from 6:30pm.

Special guest at the Jam will be leading singer/songwriter Wendy Phypers (pictured) from The Cartwheels (and formerly The Sparnetts).

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Friends together again for June

Four friends (or five to be precise) of the late June Smyth are coming together for two special concerts during this year's Tamworth Country Music Festival to honour June's life.

The long-time host at Tamworth's famous Longyard Hotel, and more latterly the country music specialist at Tamworth Council, June died tragically in November 2015 after retiring to the NSW coast some years earlier.

For eighteen years they sang and played together at The Longyard: from 1991 to 2008... (pictured above from left) Colin Buchanan, Jane Saunders, Michael Fix, Colin Buchanan and Gary Carruthers.

Colin, Gary, Greg and Jane will perform at the first show at 2pm on Thursday January 25 and Gray, Greg, Michael and Jane will perform at 2pm on Saturday, January 27. Both concerts will staged at The Cattleman Sundance Park, Goonoo Goonoo (or Sydney) Road just south of the AELEC (Australian Equine Livestock & Events Centre.

Colin, Greg and Jane were mainstays at The Longyard in its early days. June’s passion for Aussie-style songwriters saw her give a huge kick start to numerous Tamworth and country careers, not the least of which were Champs, Bucko, Jane, Fixy and Gary.

Tickets here.



Country Music Capital Bluegrass

A number of special bluegrass events will be staged during this year's Tamworth Country Music Festival.

Bluegrass Comes To Tamworth: A Celebration Of Acoustic Music will be held in the city's Capitol Theatre on Australia Day at 10am.

Returning by popular demand for the fourth year, the show will feature Bluegrass Golden Guitar winners Kristy Cox and Pete Denahy with the Karen Lynne Band, The Weeping Willows and newcomers Montgomery Church as well as "a few extra special guests".

More information on this event can be found here.

Pete Denahy will also host his infamous Bluegrass & Comedy Breakfast at Wests daily at 8am from Friday January 19 to Sunday January 28.

In the famous Tamworth Town Hall through the main Festival week, Cpca Cola Battle of the Bluegrass will run.

The 2018 event will seek out four finalists in each section, Fiddle, Banjo and Guitar with the winners to receive a number of special prizes to determine junior and senior Tamworth bluegrass champions.

Photo (from left): Kristy Cox, Karen Lynne and Pete Denahy.



Aussie country song in dispute

Ed Sheeran, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill are among the targets of a US copyright lawsuit launched by two Australians who claim their country song was ripped off.

The Industry Observer reported...

The complaint was filed on Wednesday (January 10) in New York federal court by ex-Thirsty Merc guitarist Sean Carey and keyboardist-producer Beau Golden who say the McGraw/Hill work The Rest Of Our Life, released through Arista Nashville in 2017, is "blatant copying" of their own 2014 piece When I Found You, performed by Jasmine Rae (pictured at right) and released by ABC Records.

Sheeran, along with co-writers Johnny McDaid, Steve Mac (real name Steve McCutcheon) and Amy Wadge and their respective publishing firms were named. McGraw and Hill sing on the disputed track and are identified in the suit, as are industry heavyweights Sony/ATV, Universal Polygram, and others.

"The copying is, in many instances, verbatim, note-for-note copying of original elements of the song, and is obvious to the ordinary observer,” states the complaint.

Carey and Golden claim in their lawsuit that the two songs are musically, lyrically and thematically similar. Specifically, the lawsuit says, the songs are "substantially similar in bars 1-8 of both songs" and a detailed analysis of chord structure and melody are presented in the paperwork.

Photo: Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Ed Sheeran.

They are seeking at least US$5 million in damages and for a permanent injunction blocking the use of the song.



Country turns pink

This year's Country Turns Pink Concert will be held at West Tamworth League Club on Sunday, January 21.

Stars of the show will include Lyn Bowtell, Mike Carr, Matt Cornell, Adam Harvey, The Hillbilly Goats, Libby O'Donovan, Stuie & Camille and Gina Timms.

Darren Coggan will host the event that will also showcase new and rising stars.

Proceeds from the event go to The McGrath Foundation.

Pictured (from left): Lyn, Mike, The Pigs, Libby and Darren.



Country Muster for Gunnedah

The town of Gunnedah, near Tamworth, will be running its Country Music Muster this year on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, March 22, 23 and 24.

Muster stars will include Rex Baldwin, Rob Breese, Trevor Coombes, Jed & Trudi Hintz, Brian Letton and Val Williamson.

Event organisers have allocated camping at the Gunnedah Showground (sites from $10 per night, unpowered).

Further information, including booking detail, can be obtained via



The Balladeers Homestead

One of the most popular venues at the annual Tamworth Country Music Festival is the Balladeers Homestead, set up and run by the Australian Bush Balladeers Association (ABBA).

The Homestead is located in the Salvation Army Complex on Tamworth's Goonoo Goonoo (Sydney) Roadand has been running duccessfully as such for a number of years now.

A wide range of traditional country music concerts and showcases will be staged from Friday to Friday January 19 to 26.

Artists appearing this year include... Kylie Adams-Collier, Big Al & Graeme Double Day, Greg Bain, Anthony Baxter, Terry Bennetts, Owen Blundell, Garth Brand, Bev Branson, Jeff Brown, Zeta Burns & Ian Hands, Jeanette Parsons Cains, Laurel Calvert, Kylie Castle, Tom Chesterfield, Michael Clare, Peter Coad & The Coad Sisters (Lynette and Virgina), Ashley Cook, Len & Jeanne Connor, Ernie Constance, Dennis Costigan, Ginger Cox, Greg Dillon, Malcolm Doyle, Dale Duncan, Dianne & Bob Easter, Col Edmonds, Ray Essery, Alita Fahey, Angus Gill, Terry Gordon, Marcus Greene, Bob Gregory & Kate Daniel, Johnny Greenwood, Lynette Guest, Lindsay & Gail Hammond, Kevin Harris, Gus Helm, Jim Hermel, Kate Hindle, Henry Hollis, Wayne Horsburgh, Shirrelle Jackman, Keith & Caitlyn Jamieson, Graeme Johnson ("The Rhymer from Ryde"), Tom & Tahlia Kennedy, Anne Kirkpatrick, Lachie & Georgia, Allan Lavender, Cheryl Lethlean, Brian Letton, Trevor Letton, Dianne Lindsay, Sandra Lindsay, Ken "Chainsaw" Lindsay, Sam Lovell & Rodney Rivers, Lyn Manning, Tom & Phil Manning, Tom Maxwell, Allan Morgan, Chad Morgan, Chad Morgan Junior, Dorrie Muller, Len and Jeanne Connor, John O’Dea, Jim O’Neill, Rod & Rhonda Owen, Bill Murray & Ann Penman, Taylor Pfeiffer, Dean Perrett, Lorraine Pfitzner, Evan Platschinda, Reg Poole, Ray Pratley & Samantha Bellamy. Sandra Rasmussen, Rebel, Anita Ree, Runaway Dixie, Ron Sadler, Wally Sanderson,, Paul Seils, Peter Simpson, Alisha Smith, John & Christine Smith, Pete Smith, Chris Strohfield & Laurel Calvert, Col Taylor, Trevor Tolton, Rodney Walker, Vicki Walsh, Rob Walters, "Chooka" Williams and Geoff Williams.

The Salvation Army Canteen provides food and hot and cold drinks at the venue and there is plenty of parking for patrons.

During their stay in Tamworth, the Association will be running its annual general meeting on Saturday, January 27 at 2pm.

Photo: Runaway Dixie (the Coad Sisters Sisters with Jim Hermel) outside the Homestead.

For a full rundown of shows, visit



New from Tracy

Balladeer Tracy Coster is set to release a new album during this year's Tamworth Country Music Festival.

Titled Coster Country Take II: A Tribute To My Dad, the album will launch on Australia Day at Wests Diggers.

Tracy is doing double duty this January and for most of this year as she is now featuring in the Australian Country Music Hall of Fame and will do so until November.

"I was so surprised when approached by the (Hall of Fame) to see if I would like to have a display of my memorabilia and tell the story of my country music career," Tracy said.

"It is such an honour to stand among the greats; our country music forefathers. I have dedicated a lifetime to country music, loved every minute and would not change a thing.

"Now I get to hang with my dad (Stan), Slim, Buddy, Tex and more. I can’t stop smiling."

The Hall of Fame said they wanted to recognise all generations of Australian country music artists and Tracy was part of the middle to younger generation currently being featured.

Hall of Fame volunteers said Tracy’s father was so well known and she was also a balladeer like Stan, so it was time she was honoured.

Tracy’s exhibit features the outfit she wore when she won the Golden Guitar for Vocal Collaboration of the Year with Anne Kirkpatrick for Back To The Saltbush Plains in 2005, the Golden Guitar, and one of her guitars.

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TSA finalists

Following the release last month of semi finalists, the Tamworth Songwriters' Association has now announced top five finalists for the Salute Awards and National Songwriting Contest.

In the Songwriter Salute Awards, the finalists are...

Alt / Blues / Bluegrass... Highway 39 by Wendy Phypers. The Hole by Luan Baldwin, Over Again by Harvey Russell, Southbound Train by Virginia Hermel and The Wish by John Murphy

Anzac Song of the Year... Coat Of Arms by Kalesti Butler & Anita Ree, The Last Anzac by Anne Doherty, Joh Doherty & Errol Ingram, Stretcher Bearer by Brendan Smoother, Such A Shame by Terry Bennetts and Through The Eyes Of A Boy by Wendy Wood.

Bush Ballad... A Thousand Different Pictures by Sharon Heaslip, The Clarence River by Dale Duncan, Ray Essery & Keith Jamieson,Dad’s Younger Days by Sharon Heaslip, Mother Nature by Keith Jamieson,We Still Sing Three Rivers Hotel by Ian Quinn.

Comedy/Novelty... Looney Bin by Patricia Thompson, Matilda The Boxing Kangaroo by Gerard Hintz, New Age Computer Man by Ian Quinn & Roger Corbett, Nobody Uses The Camp Kitchen Anymore by Brian Stitt and Wherever You Are by Allan Caswell & Michael Carpenter,

Contemporary Ballad... Bourbon Every Time by Allan Caswell, Just Down The Hall by Lola Brinton & Kevin Bennett, Life’s About The Little Things by David Carter, Tori-Rae (Davies), Jason Forsyth, Donna Mathews, Iona Grace, Merelyn Carter & Samantha Bellamy, Little Country Town by Brian Stitt and Mountains To The Sky by Gerard Hintz.

Contemporary Song... Cars And Guitars by Rory Phillips & Roger Corbett, Control by Chloe Styler, Karma Cafe by Wendy Wood, Keep This Old Truck Tickin' by Greg Champion & Johnny Chester, My Midnight by Luan Baldwin, Not Where I’m Supposed To Be by Wendy Wood and Stand Tall by David Carter & Merelyn Carter.

Gospel... Across The Jordan Wide by Peter Christie, Born Again by Peter Christie & Roger Corbett, God, Guitars & The Open Road by Peter Christie, Allan Caswell & Roger Corbett, Little Old Church On The Hill by Dale Duncan & Lola Brinton and World Full Of Angels by David Carter & Merelyn Carter,

Finalists for the New Songwriter Award are Lloyd Clarke with Threading The Eye Of The Needle, Dane Owen with Inner-City Daze and You And Me and Noeleen Smith with The Bottle and Since You Came Along.

In the TSA's National Songwriting Contest, the finalists are...

In Alt Country / Blues & Roots & Bluegrass... Ian Burns with Best Friend Is Whisky, Spike Flynn with The Gypsy Dancer and It’s The Travelling Through (More Than The Where You’ve Been), Sean Griffiths & Catherine Nona with Fall To The Ground and Brendan Smoother with Love Street.

In the Lyrics Only section... Lloyd Clarke with Eureka, Dianne Coombes with Get Us Through Winter, Kevin Pye with Backroads, Merv Webster with Will It Really Happen, Dad? and Allan West with Hooroo Uluru.

In Novice... Dennis Blackford with Darwon Town and White Water, Aurelle Brunjes with Cowboy Blues, Tony Kennely with Hot Ice And Bourbon and Ray Rusty Strings Smith with Follow The Wind.

In Open Contemporary... Catherine Dobson with A Break In The Clouds and Jericho Rose, Sam Dyball with Million Ways, Paul Kostal with Please Come Back and Becci Nethery with Just Not Today.

In Open Traditional... Terry Bennetts & Keith Lethbridge with Station Minderoo, Marie Bowden & Mike McClellan with The Gloucester Song, Colin Buchanan with That Old Bloke, Brendan Smoother with Burrumbuttock Hay Runners and Wendy Wood with Library On Livingstone Street.

In the Youth section... Sophia Chesworth with Shine On Me, Sam Dyball with Million Ways, Matthew Munro with Everything Happens For A Reason and Lucy Parle with Dancing With The Wrong Girl and Wrong.

The TSA is showcasing a number of finalists in the Association's weekly program "TSA Showcase" on Capital Country Radio Tuesday evenins at 9 and Saturday mornings at 6.

Award and competition winners will be announced in Tamworth on Tuesday January 23 at The Longyard Hotel.

Photo: a regular winner in the TSA Awards Allan Caswell (left) pictured with Pat Drummond when he was presented with the Association's Song Maker award.

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Keith is our top seller for 2017

It's no surprise that Keith Urban has topped the chart of Australia's top selling country albums for 2017.

Not only is Keith's latest studio album – Ripcord – at number one, he has three other albums – two "best of" collections and his previous studio album – Fuse – in the top seller list... and the figures are impressive.

Ripcord alone has been in the chart, compiled by ARIA, the Australian Recording Industry Association, for 87 weeks; The Story So Far (at number eight) has been in 293 weeks (almost six years) and Greatest Hits: 18 Kids (at number six) has been in a massive 476 weeks (just over nine years).

Lee Kernaghan's 25th Anniversary Album (35 weeks in to date) comes in at number two while Kasey Chambers' Dragonfly is at number three for the year, the second in the Great Country Songbook series (this one by Adam Harvey and Beccy Cole) is at number four and The McClymonts' most recent studio album – Endless – is at five.

The Very Best Of Slim Dusty, at number seven, is a perrenial seller, notching up a mighty 976 weeks in the chart as of this week. If it remains as popular as it looks like it's going to, the "best of" release will pass 1,000 weeks (almost 20 years) in early July.

Judah Kelly – "The Voice" 2017 winner – comes in at number nine with Count On Me and John Williamson's His Favourite Collection rounds out the top 10.

The top seller list includes Lee Kernaghan's Ultimate Hits (at 11) and Spirit Of The Anzacs (16), John Williamson's A Hell Of A Career! (20) and Anthems – A Celebration Of Australia (22), Adam Brand's Get On Your Feet (13), Graeme Connors' 60 Summers (18), Troy's Things I Carry Around (19) and The Wolfe Brothers This Crazy Life (at 23).

The full listing of the 23 Australian entries in the ARIA Australian international country chart can be viewed here.

Interestingly, country fared better than "pop" in the respective 2017 charts. Half of the country top 10 were Australian acts compared to no homegrown hits in the 10 of the broader Australian international albums chart.



Tamworth Fanzone 2018

A preliminary rundown of artists scheduled to appear at the popular Toyota Fanzone in Tamworth during this month's country music festival has been announced.

The line-up will be headlined by Golden Guitar winners Kevin Bennett, James Blundell, Lyn Bowtell, Travis Collins, Ashleigh Dallas, Davidson Brothers, Tania Kernaghan, John Krsulja, Amber Lawrence, Fanny Lumsden, The McClymonts and Sara Storer.

Sharing the bill will be a number of rising stars including Casey Barnes, Rachael Fahim, Tori Forsyth, Germein Sisters, Kaylens Rain, Judah Kelly, Missy Lancaster, Jasmine Rae, Caitlyn Shadbolt, Aleyce Simmonds and Gretta Ziller.

The 2018 Toyota Star Maker winner will also appear.

Pictured (from the top): Travis, Ashleigh, Judah and Jasmine.

Situated in the heart of the city's central business district, the Toyota sponsored activity features a continuous program of free entertainment with established and rising stars alike.

Festival Manager Barry Harley said "Toyota Fanzone is the perfect place for musical discovery with different acts every 30 minutes," as one of the Festival’s free curated stages.

"The main difference with Toyota Fanzone is that it not only showcases great live music, it also engages the audience by offering up close and personal performances and experiences including the opportunity to meet country music stars following their performances inside the Toyota Fanzone building."

Over the years, Toyota Fanzone has grown to be one of the most popular destinations for artists to get close to their fans. "It’s also been a great spot for up and coming artists to showcase their talent and encourage fans to follow their journey’s," Barry said.

Fanzone operates from 9.30am each day on the Post Office corner, an intersection that now features a new plaza type setting in the bottom section of Fitzroy Street constructed recently by Tamworth Regional Council at an initial projected cost of $4.5 million (photo below).


Bush poets at Tamworth

A large concentration of bush poetry will be a highlight again at this year's Tamworth Country Music Festival.

Tamworth Golf Club will feature the well known Marco Gliori (pictured, top), Alan Glover and Murray Hartin and The Longyard Hotel will host Neil McArthur (pictured middle) with his Bush Poets Breakfasts.

Other venues featuring bush poetry will include Econolodge (Frog & Toad), North Tamworth Bowling Club, Peel Inn Nundle and West Tamworth Sports & Bowling Club.

The Australian Bush Poets Association, meantime, will be running its Golden Damper Performance Awards from January 23 to 27, a competition that has long been the starting point for many careers in the bush poetry world.

Two sections will be open – Original and Established (Modern or Traditional). A choice of day is offered to competitors as there are three heats before the finals on Saturday January 27.

The first heat is Tuesday January 23, the seond, Thursday, January 24 and the third Friday January 26. Sessions kick off at 10.30am and will be held at St Edwards Parish Hall, 72 Hillvue Road, South Tamworth.

Entry forms are available from the ABPA website Entries will close when all sessions are filled.

For the second year, the Frank Daniels Walk Ups Award will run at the same location with heats on Saturday 20th, Sunday 21st, Tuesday 23rd with the finals on Thurs 25th. All sessions from 2pm to 4pm.

This year, the Bush Poets Association will be running two workshops both on Monday January 22 and also at the Hillvue Road venue.

A Writer's Workshop will be presented by Tom McIlveen and Bill Kearns. A Performance Workshop will be presented by Rhonda Tallnash (pictured, bottom) and Jack Drake. All presenters are award winning poets with "a wealth of tips and information to share".

The Writer's Workshop will run from 10am to 12 noon, the Performance Workshop from 2pm-4pm.



The Winners 2018

The 2018 Country Music Association of Australia (CMAA) Winners compilation, showcasing finalists from the 46th annual Toyota Country Music Awards (Golden Guitars), will be released next week.

Friday January 12 is the release date of what is number 26 in a series that launched with the CMAA's first staging of the Awards in 1993.

The double album has 33 songs representing all Awards categories.

"It is a wonderful achievement for an artist to be a Golden Guitar Awards finalist," said Roger Corbett, Vice-Chairman of the CMAA. "(The Awards) represents the best in country music across the industry for the past year and we congratulate every artist named."

The CMAA partners with Tamworth Regional Council in presenting the Awards, billed as the pinnacle event of the annual Tamworth Country Music Festival, on Saturday 27 January.

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Vale – Frankie T Thatcher

Frankie T Thatcher – a long-time broadcaster on and life member of community radio 2MCR 100.3 FM in Sydney – has died. He was 87.

Frankie was well known for his support of many young up-and-coming country music artists and established acts, providing them with opportunities for wider exposure of their music.

He was a staunch supporter of numerous country music activities as well as charities like the Fred Hollows Foundation and was an ambassador for research into prostate cancer.

Macarthur Community Radio President Rodney Simpson said Frankie joined the group on January 21, 1998, providing more than 20 years of service on community radio in the Macarthur Region.

"With his Monday morning 'Aussie Country Music' program, along with his own style of presentation, Frankie T made everyone welcome, either as a listener or a participant on air.

"His hard work as Treasurer for many of those years has built a solid foundation, his Legacy will be never forgotten."



New from Adam & Brooke

Adam Eckersley and Brooke McClymont are combining professionally as well as maritally in 2018.

The couple has been married for around eight years, but up until now they’ve mostly kept their musical lives separate from each other.

Babies have meant Brooke and her sisters are taking time out from The McClymonts allowing more time for making music with Adam.

The duo's first album together – Adam & Brooke – is to be released in February along with a number of east coast shows.

Brooke said they were both surprised there were no arguments about chord progressions or riffs and thrilled how smooth the process was.

"We were quite aware this working together might be a challenge and so kept the bar pretty low," she said.

"It was certainly better than we anticipated," Adam added.

"The album overall reflects that, the challenges and the positive nature of being in a relationship and kids and all that sort of business. We’re not 18 anymore... it’s a bit of a snapshot of our life and our friends."

The pair believes the country music scene is strong and growing.

"People still need live music, I reckon it’s still important for people to go and have a good time on a Friday [and] Saturday nights and shake it loose," Adam said.

He likened the relatability of today’s country songs to that of great Australian hits from the '80s and '90s by "real musicians with real stories".

The couple's five-year-old daughter Tiggy starts school next year which could prove interesting around tour time, as mum and dad are scheduled to be away each weekend from February to May.

"We’re still working (that) out," Brooke said. "We’re kind of like ‘oh, okay, this is going to change things a little bit’ –  it hasn’t stopped us before, we’ll work something out."

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Finalists announced for 2018 People’s Choice Awards

Finalists have been announced for the 2018 Australian Country Music People’s Choice Awards to be announced in Tamworth next month.

And they are…

For Best Female Vocal… Laura Downing, Christie Lamb, Stephanie Penrose, Amber Joy Poulton and Gina Timms.

For Best Male Vocal… Ian Burns, Paul Costa, Graham Rodger, Ali S and Jim Williams.

For Best Group or Duo… Brothers3, Destiny, The Long & Short Of It, The Viper Creek Band and The Wolfe Brothers.

For Best Album… Clickbait by Jim Williams, Couldn’t Do This On My Own by Ali S, The Plains Of Nappa Merrie by Graham Rodger, Thank You by Gina Timms and Whisper In The Crowd by Paul Costa.

For Best Song… Gypsy Whitemoon by The Long & Short Of It (written by David Baird, Kenny Royster & Patsy Toop), I Need A Beer by Ali S (written by Catherine Britt & Ali Sacipovic), No More Waltzing Matilda by Graham Rodger (written by Graham Rodger & Marc Glasby), Thank You (Just Doesn't Seem Enough) by Gina Timms (written by Gina Timms) and Whisper In The Crowd by Paul Costa (written by Paul Costa & Drew McAlister).

For Best Bush Ballad… Engine Angels by Ali S (written by Ali Sacipovic), Just Like Your Dad by Dale Duncan (written by Allan Caswell & Manfred Vijars), One Last Muster by Allan Caswell (written by Manfred Vijars & Allan Caswell), The Plains Of Nappa Merrie by Graham Rodger (written by Graham Rodger) and Uncle Harry by Dianne Lindsay (written by Peter Simpson).

For Best Video… Everything Will Be Alright by MICKS, The Homesick Boomerang by Graham Rodger, Puttin’ On A Show by Cassidy Rae Gaiter,Thank You (Just Doesn't Seem Enough) by Gina Timms and Whisper In The Crowd by Paul Costa.

In a positive sign for the future of country music in Australia there was a marked increase in voting For Most Promising Future Star, so much so that Awards organisers resolved to nominate 10 finalists rather than the usual five. They are Cassidy Rae Gaiter, Phoebe Jay, Emma Jene, Finnian Johnson, Tyson Lucas, Blake O’Connor, MICKS, Stephanie Penrose, Ali S and Jim Williams.

For Most Popular Country Music Program or Radio Station… Aussie All The Way (2MCR), The Australian Country Songwriters Show (todayscountry94one), My Kinda Country (2SSR), Planet Country (Alive 90.5 FM) and todayscountry94one.

For Most Popular Country Music DJ… Alan Gilmour (Australian Country Songwriters Show), Jane Kellaway (2MCR), Rhonda Francis (2SSR), Tracy & The Big D (104.9 Sunshine FM) and Big Stu & Mal (Planet Country).

Award winners will be announced at the Tamworth Services Club on Thursday evening, January 25.

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Lee to star in the Ord

Lee Kernaghan will headline the 2018 Ord Valley Muster in WA in May.

Lee will feature with The Cat Empire in the Kimberley Moon Experience.

The festival, which runs from May 11 to May 20, will also feature rodeo events and acts from the Melbourne Comedy Festival.

"To think there’s a country rodeo, the comedy festival, the culinary offerings with the indigenous food and arts and dance... I think the Ord Valley Muster should be on everyone's bucket list to go at least once," Lee said.

Since its inception 18 years ago, many of Australia’s biggest artists – like Jimmy Barnes, Daryl Braithwaite, Bernard Fanning, Paul Kelly and Guy Sebastian – have headlined the Kimberley Moon Experience.

Ord Valley Events Chairman Narelle Brook said: "Every year the Ord Valley Muster rewards locals and thousands of visitors from around the country and overseas with a spectacular festival earning itself a reputation as a ‘must-attend’ on the national social calendar.

"It’s held in Western Australia’s most remote yet most captivating region – the country is simply breath-taking and has such a connecting force that everyone who experiences it is truly touched by the magic of it."

The host town – Kununurra – is situated some 800 kilometres from Darwin and more than 3,000 kilometres from Perth. Organisers have a number of transport options for visitors.

The Ord Valley Muster is a nine-time Festival & Events winner at the WA Tourism Awards including induction into the Hall of Fame in 2011.

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"Hell of a ride" for Ray

Leading Australian bush poet Ray Essery – "The Mullumbimby Bloke" – released his autobiography, Ray Essery – One Hell of a Ride, recently.

The 75-year-old Brunswick Heads retiree worked with former Tamworth journalist and "grey nomad" Anna Rose to document his life.

"Fortunately, Ray has been somewhat of a bowerbird, keeping photos and mementos of his early years on this earth," Anna said.

In one particular incident a capacity crowd at the Lismore Showground in 1985 saw Ray flung from his trotting gig in a near-fatal accident. The indomitable Essery returned 12 months later to win the same race, the Inter Dominion.

His first public performance was at the Byron Community Centre in 1989 where, he said, he was shaking with nerves.

"I hope the book helps to let young people of today know that you can succeed in life even if you're born into a low income family with little education," he said.

"It just means you have to work harder, have more determination and above all common sense."

The book can be obtained from Book Warehouse, Keen Street, Lismore for $25, telephone 02 6621 4204.

Ray is pictured above with Anna and the book.



Country stars at Carols

A number of country stars are featuring in a variety of Christmas Carols events in Australia this month.

First cab off the rank was Adelaide last Sunday which featured Amber Lawrence (left) with co-stars including Cameron Daddo, Taylor Henderson and Hugh Sheridan .

Tonight is Sydney's Carols In The Domain which will feature Beccy Cole and Adam Harvey alongside the likes of Dami Im, Samantha Jade, Justice Crewm Jay Laga'aia Katie Noonan and The Wiggles.

Next Sunday, the iconic Melbourne Carols by Candlelight at the Myer Music Bowl will feature Australian Idol winner Judah Kelly (right) together with Anthony Callea, David Campbell, Casey Donovan, Colin Hay, David Hobson and Marina Prior.



Boyup Brook announces 2018 line-up

Organisers of the 2018 Boyup Brook Country Music Festival have announced the line-up of entertainers for the event.

To be held from Thursday February 15 to Sunday February 18, Boyup Brook is billed as one of the top country music festials in the nation.

The star line-up includes Craig Adams, Jasmine Atkins, Billy Bridge & Rebecca Nye, Kathy Carver & Desert Mist, Sandie Dodd, the Benn Gunn Band, Codee Lee Band, Pete Delle Coste, Kate Hindle, Hussy Hicks, Keith Jamieson & Alisha Smith, Latehorse, Donna Lou & the Jay Katz, The McClymonts, Ray Rider, Graham Rodger, Simply Bushed and Warren H Williams (with Dani Young).

In addition to the music, the festival has a street carnival, truck and ute musters, buskers and markets as well as the West Australian Country Music Awards.

Industry activities such as workshops, a panel session on songwriting, bush poetry and more are also a part of the festival program.

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Buried Country Homecoming

Buried Country: Live in Concert – the touring stage show version of Clinton Walker’s iconic book/film/CD "Buried Country: The Story of Aboriginal Country Music" – will have a "homecoming" in Tamworth this January.

Co-presented by the Jimmy Little Foundation, the show will be staged in the city's Capitol Theatre during the country music festival on Sunday January 21.

Buried Country came out in 2000 and after the book and album were re-released in new editions in 2015, a new found success propelled it up onto the stage, premiering in Newcastle in August last year. It subsequently appeared at Melbourne Festival and Artlands Dubbo, and then, even despite the sad death of cast-member Auriel Andrew, at the Port Fairy Folk Festival and Dark Mofo in Hobart in 2017.

Buried Country’s Tamworth Festival concert at the Capitol Theatre on Sunday, January 21, is a much anticipated homecoming to where the show began two years ago, and its first full-scale performance at Australia’s home of country music.

"The program brings together a rotating cast of star singers from across the generations and across the continent performing a selection of the genre’s greatest hits," a spokesman said. "It is a moving and coherent song-cycle full of laughter as well as tears, complete  with a video-remix component drawn from the original Buried Country documentary plus a production design based on artwork by famed Aboriginal painter the Blak Douglas."

Buried Country appearances will include legendary elders like Roger Knox and L J Hill with those by rising younger talents like Leah Flanagan, Luke Peacock and James Henry and those in between like Warren H Williams, Buddy Knox and Franny Peters-Little.

"House-band the Backtrackers, under the musical directorship of Brendan Gallagher, numbers an all-star line-up of some of the country’s hottest pickers. The repertoire includes classic songs written by the likes of Bob Randall, Jimmy Little, Bobby McLeod, Vic Simms, Black Allan Barker and Harry Williams, many of whom cut their teeth in Tamworth."

Co-presenting the show in Tamworth is the Jimmy Little Foundation. Jimmy Little was the first Aboriginal musician to achieve mainstream success in Australia enjoying a career that spanned six decades.

Jimmy's music saw him officially recognised as a National Living Treasure, awarded an Order of Australia Medal and induction into the music industry's ARIA Hall of Fame in 1990, and on to the Country Music Roll of Renown in 1994. Jimmy died in 2012 after a long illness.

Pictured (from top): Leah, Buddy, Roger, Warren H.

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TSA semi finalists

Semi finalists have been announced for Tamworth Songwriters' Association activities this January.

In key categories, they are...

Bush Ballad... A Dog Or Two by Anita Ree, A Thousand Different Pictures by Sharon Heaslip, Battered Old Quarts by Gerard Hintz, The Clarence River by Dale Duncan, Ray Essery & Keith Jamieson, Corner Country Traveller by Peter Coad, Dad’s Younger Days by Sharon Heaslip, His Last Rodeo by Lex Kunst, The Legend Of Wally Dowling by Brian Letton & Warick Edwards, Mother Nature by Keith Jamieson, The Plains of Nappa Merrie by Graham Rodger, Uncle Harry by Peter Simpson, We Still Sing Three Rivers Hotel by Ian Quinn, Woman Of The Outback by Graham Rodger and Yesterday’s Men by Lex Kunst.

Contemporary Ballad... A Lifetime Loving You by Carmelo Cacciola, Beautiful Silence by David Carter, Merelyn Carter & Antonio Corea, Behind The Seen by Brendan Smoother, Blow My Way by Luan Baldwin, Bourbon Every Time by Allan Caswell, Mary V I Harrison, Robyn Hull, Shirley Lynn, John Collins & Michael Carpenter, Can’t See Me by Ali Sacipovic, Coat of Arms by Kalesti Butler & Anita Ree, Couldn’t Do This On My Own by Ali Sacipovic, Gypsy Heart by Rebecca Lee Nye & Peta Cherae Peters, If I Don’t Have Love by Peter Christie & Roger Corbett, Jacaranda Tree by Col Finley, Just Down The Hall by Lola Brinton & Kevin Bennett, Life’s About The Little Things by David Carter, Tori-Rae (Davies), Jason Forsyth, Donna Mathews, Iona Grace, Merelyn Carter & Samantha Bellamy, Little Country Town by Brian Stitt, Leaving Old Ireland by Patricia Thompson, Looking Through The Eyes Of A Child by Heath Watts, Mountains To The Sky by Gerard Hintz, Nobody Wanted To Know by Shaza Leigh & Anthony Brookes, Not Counting The Days Go By by Scott Douglas & Emily Joy, Once In A While by Wendy Wood, One Tear In My Heart by Rebecca Lee Nye & Peta Cherae Peters, Our Love Will Always Live by Graham Rodger, So Close Not Far Enough Away by Michael Carpenter, Kylie Whitney & Casey Atkins and Want To Sing by Ian Burns.

Contemporary Song... Above The Blue by Col Finley, Because I Have You by Sharon Heaslip, Beside Myself by Scott Douglas & Paul Grierson, Brisbane To Barbed Wire by Ian Quinn, Cars And Guitars, by Rory Phillips & Roger Corbett, Control by Chloe Styler, Country Rhythm by John Abbott, Crazy For One by Tony King & Roy Nicolson, Don’t Worry ‘Bout That by Rebecca Lee Nye & Peta Cherae Peters, Drive by Rebecca Lee Nye & Billy Bridge, Dust If You Must by Tony King & Rose Milligan, High Hopes by Allan Caswell & Michael Carpenter, High Time Rollin' by John Abbott, Karma Cafe by Wendy Wood, Keep This Old Truck Tickin' by Greg Champion & Johnny Chester, Lately by John Murphy, May There Always Be A Country Hall by Lex Kunst, Me And The Radio by Rebecca Lee Nye & Billy Bridge, My Midnight by Luan Baldwin, Not Where I’m Supposed To Be by Wendy Wood, Pass Me By by Chloe Styler & Lyn Bowtell, The Secret’s In My Eyes by Kalesti Butler & Val Butler, So Much More by Renee McAlpin & Luke O’Shea, Stand Tall by David Carter & Merelyn Carter, Storm Chaser by Chloe Styler & Lyn Bowtell, Sweden by Chloe Styler, Talking 'Bout Brooks And Dunn by Ali Sacipovic, Travelling With You by Lloyd Back and You’re Not The One by Kalesti Butler, Roger Corbett & Kathy Dobson.

Finalists for the New Songwriter Award are...

Carmelo Cacciola with A Friend Forever and A Lifetime Loving You, Lloyd Clarke with Threading The Eye Of The Needle, Scott Douglas & Emily Joy with Not CountingThe Days Go By, Arna Georgia & Michael Carpenter with Broke And Single, Scott Leslie with All Is Well, David Martin with Eight O Three To Eight Three O and North Coast Road,David Martin & Eileen Newell with Jacaranda, Dane Owen with In This World, Inner-City Daze, Inside My Head and You And Me, Ali Sacipovic with Engine Angels, Noeleen Smith with The Bottle and Since You Came Along, Ron Till with Railway Man, Gina Timms with Thank You and True Aussie Hero, Heath Watts with Belle Of The Ball, Leonie Wheeler & Stuart Seymour with Made In Australia and Kylie Whitney & Casey Atkins with Patsy Cline Times Two.

Semi-finalists for additional Songwriter Salute Awards categories can be viewed on the TSA website together with semi finalists in the TSA National Songwriting Contest. A full listing can be viewed on the TSA website.

The TSA will be showcasing a number of finalists in the Association's weekly program "TSA Showcase" on Capital Country Radio from this Tuesday at 9pm.

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Star Maker finalists announced

Ten of Australia’s top emerging country artists will vie for the honour of becoming the 39th Toyota Star Maker in a winner-takes-all, free event during the 2018 Tamworth Country Music Festival this January.

The star search takes place at Country Music Capital's Bicentennial Park (known as Toyota Park for the duration of the Festival) on Sunday evening January 21.

And the finalists are... Brad Cox (from Jindabyne, NSW), Tanya Cornish (Tintinara, SA), Emily Joy (Sorrento, WA), Heath Milner (Mackay, Qld), Tammy Moxon (Hermit Park, Qld), Taylor Pfeiffer (Walkerville, SA), Cassidy Rae Gaiter (Flagstaff Hill, SA), Jake Sinclair (Springhurst, Vic), Chloe Styler (Gold Coast, Qld) and Hayley Wilson (Aspley, Qld).

Toyota Star Maker Co-ordinator Cheryl Byrnes said it was always a joy seeing who applied for Toyota Star Maker each year.

"Within the industry, the quest is a highly-respected vehicle and there are any number of aspiring artists wanting to emulate the feats of previous winners such as Keith Urban, Lee Kernaghan and Beccy Cole," Cheryl said.

"It’s the ideal platform for artists to showcase what they have. It’s the perfect jumpstart to any career, with the $100,000 prize package that goes along with the prestige of the title.

"Many of the benefits of being part of the Toyota Star Maker family are intangible – but absolutely priceless. The networking among the past alumni and the current crop of Star Makers is extraordinary. You can’t put a price on that."

Toyota Australia spokesman Andrew Wearing said he was delighted to see continuation of Toyota’s support of Star Maker.

"It’s a wonderful thing that Star Maker continues to be accessible to a worldwide audience through live-streaming in the park," he said.

Toyota Star Maker continues the tradition as the main event of the first weekend of the biggest music festival in Australia.

For the second time in its long history the event will be free to the public with all 10 finalists being judged on the night to decide the winner who will receive a prize package which includes the use of a new Toyota motor vehicle and an unlimited fuel card for 12 months plus guaranteed performances at major festivals and events throughout Australia.

The 2018 Toyota Star Maker event will include a performance from outgoing title holder Rachael Fahim as well as compere and Star Maker 1996 winner Darren Coggan.

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Senior Academy students announced

The class of 2018 has been announced for the Country Music Association of Australia (CMAA) Academy of Country Music.

Participants are... Ainslie Allen (Porirua City, NZ), Benny Allen (Menzies Creek, Vic), Mikayla J Birthisel (Tannum Sands, Qld), Maddison Collier (Leumeah, NSW), Rachael Duggan (Gracemere, Qld), Lara Duncan (Avalon Beach, NSW), Jessica Emily (Belmont, Qld), Brittany-Elise Johansen (Clinton, Qld), Aaron Jurd (Toronto, NSW), Mitchell Lyneham (Wynnum West, Qld), Matthew Munro (Bundaberg, Qld), Blake O'Connor (Port Macquarie, NSW), Jessica Panegyres (Glenbrook, NSW), Mellissa Preusker (Hope Valley, SA), Cath Purcell (Mt Isa, Qld), Tegan Reid (Tauranga, NZ), Elizabeth Steadman (Kootingal, NSW), Kevin Sullivan (Gerringong, NSW), Jarred Taylor (Tamworth, NSW), Kaitlyn Thomas (Wallan, Vic), Rebekah Thornton (Nambour, Qld), Sammy White (Townsville, Qld), Kelly Winning (Riverview, NSW) and Kim Wright (Blackstone, Qld).

Instrumental participants are Joel Cummins (Gulgong, NSW), Luke Dallas (Moonbi, NSW), Molly Goodeve (Cambridge, NZ), Sharon Russel (Dehradun, India) and Ben Westphal (Rothwell, Qld).

The course runs in Tamworth for two weeks culminating in a graduation concert just prior to the start of the January country music festival.

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Lee on the radio

Lee Kernaghan will host a regular country music program on the Triple M regional network next year.

From mid-January, the Aussie country star will present The Range With Lee Kernaghan each Sunday morning from 6 til 8, "sharing his love for country music and the stories and artists behind 'Today’s Best Country’."

Lee has long been a champion of the country music scene with two million album sales, 34 chart topping singles, four ARIA awards and 36 Golden Guitars.

He has been named Hit Maker of the Decade twice, in 2001 and 2011, for having more chart hits in Australia than any other country music artist in the world.

Southern Cross Austereo’s regional head of content Mickey Maher said: "We are looking forward to showcasing great country music from Australia and the world across our Regional Triple M network and syndicated partners.

"To have someone of Lee’s calibre host the show is the icing on the cake!"

"I’m super excited to be hosting The Range in 2018 and to get the opportunity to play some of the hottest country songs from Australia and around the world," Lee said.

"I grew up on country and it literally has been the soundtrack to my life. So I’m looking forward to cranking out some great tracks and having people tune in, turn up their radios and be a part of the show."

The new show begins on January 28 during the Australia Day long weekend, the day after the 2018 Golden Guitar Awards in Tamworth and will be heard on more than 66 stations.

Named Australian of the Year in 2008, Lee has raised millions of dollars for drought, flood and bushfire relief, hospitals, schools, ambulance and volunteer organisations.

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Jessica release with Warren H

Jessica Mauboy has released a cover of the classic song Always On My Mind with Warren H Williams.

The track features on the second album from the television series "The Secret Daughter".

Warren is an elder, mentor and a significant part of Jessica’s wider Aboriginal family connections.

It was Warren H who opened the door at CAAMA Music to the then 11 year old Jessica, immediately recognising her vocal talent.

He swiftly got her into the studio where Jess was able to record for the first time.

In 2004 at age 14, Jessica won the Tamworth grand final of the Telstra Road to Tamworth talent search and reclorded a cover of Cyndi Lauper's Girls Just Wanna Have Fun before moving further into the pop music field with her involvement in Australian Idol.

Fast forward to the Yabun Festival in January this year when a chance meeting saw Jessica and Warren H make a pact to record together again.

With a tight schedule and little time outside of her television and promotion responsibilities, Jessica made the duet project happen in the course of her busy life by writing Warren into an episode of "The Secret Daughter" (Season 2).

Warren plays a cameo role in a scene which showcases a duet of Always On My Mind performed acoustically around a campfire.

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Morgan weds Kelsea

Rising Aussie country star Morgan Evans has tied the knot with his American star beau Kelsea Ballerini.

News of the US time Saturday wedding was announced yesterday by various media.

One such medium, reported the couple exchanged vows in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

"With our careers, we get to do what we love, then we get to find time to be with who we love. I think that makes for a really full life – when you can do everything that you want, and then share it with someone," said Kelsea.

"In the lead-up to a wedding, you ask a lot of your married friends — especially people that are in similar situations or similar age — 'Does anything change or is it just the same but a little more awesome?' Everyone keeps telling us, 'Ah, it gets better,'"

Morgan added: "And so whatever that means, I’m looking forward to that, and it’s gonna be fun."

The couple met in Australia when they co-hosted the CMC Awards. After a whirlwind nine months of dating, they got engaged last Christmas.

Photo: a selfie of the happy couple from Morgan's Instagram.



Bungendore finalists

Finalists have been announced for the 21st Stan Coster Memorial Bush Ballad Awards to be staged during the 2018 Bungendore Country Muster in February.

They are...

For the Female Vocal award... Sharon Heaslip with A Thousand Different Pictures, Trudy Hintz with Saddle Up And Ride and Dianne Lindsay with Uncle Harry.

Pictured at right (from left): Sharon, Trudy and Dianne.

And below: Brian, Tom and Graham.

For Male Vocal... Brian Letton with The Boyup Brook Waltz, Tom Maxwell with Behind The Boundary Gate and Graham Rodger with Our Love Will Always Live.

For Album of the Year... A Thousand Different Pictures by Sharon Heaslip, The Plains Of Nappa Merrie by Graham Rodger and Western Australia Calling Me Home by Brian Letton.

For the Songwriter award... Dale Duncan, Keith Jamieson & Ray Essery for The Clarence River, Brian Letton & Warwick Edwards with The Legend Of Wally Dowling and Graham Rodger with No More Waltzing Matilda.

For New Talent... Kate Daniel with Trading My Crown For A Ring, Bob Gregory with The Ghost Of Bold Ben Hall and Jim Samphier with Greendog.

For Instrumental or Vocal Group or Duo... Terry Bennetts with Turquoise Bay, Lindsay Butler & Anthony Baxter with Things Are Not The Same On The Land and Peter Simpson & Alisha Smith with The Bushman’s Song.

For Comedy Song of the Year... I’ve Been Married Mate by Nev Malloy & Bob Gregory, The Old Bush Telegraph by Sharon Benjamin and She’s Gotta Be Emu Export Mate by Brian Letton.

The awards have attracted nominations from the very best Australian country artists this country has to offer, said a spokesman for the orgaisers, proving that the bush ballad is thriving and is a major component of today’s modern country music industry.

Winners will be announced on Saturday February 3. The Festival of Australian Country Music (more widely known as the Bungendore Muster) turns 33 at the time.

Announcements and presentations to the successful artists will take place with a special concert that evening on the Greg Gordon stage at the Bungendore Showground featuring performances by all 2018 finalists.

"These awards are a true celebration of the Bush Balladeer and the music of Australia and an experience never to be forgotten," the spokesman said.

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Longhorn Festival

A bevy of Aussie country acts will descend on the northern NSW town of Deepwater in February for the Longhorn Festival.

Stars including Jeff Brown, Col Finley, Bob Howson and Graham Rodger will be supported by Andy Abra, Kylie Adams-Collier, Terry Clark, Peter Smokie Dawson, Keith Dunn, Amanda Faulkner, Amber Goldsmith, David Prior, Dave Proust and Anita Ree will appear.

The event will run over three days, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, February 9, 10 and 11 at Deepwater Inn on the New England Highway with space available for camping.

A walk-up artists competition will be held on the Friday morning with "great prizes" available for those judged to be winner and runner-up.

Further information and tickets can be obtained here.

Pictured (from left): Kylie, Jeff and Graham.



Allan honoured

Allan Caswell, one of Australian country music’s most prolific songwriters, has been honoured with his own exhibit in at the Australian Country Music Hall of Fame in Tamworth.

Allan has written songs for many artists over the years and he has had a great many successes, many of these with his own recordings.

His exhibit, which includes his beloved bowler hat along with a guitar which helped him pen his first four Golden Guitar winning songs, was unveiled in on Friday where some of his closest country music friends gathered for the moment.

"It’s special," Allan told the city's Northern Daily Leader. "It shows how long I’ve been doing it for, there’s a photo of me without a beard and I can’t remember how long it’s been since I haven’t had one.

"I’m really big on the history of it all. I’m right next to Denise Morrison who has been my close friend for as long as I can remember."

Allan said he was pleased Australian country music had a permanent tribute in Tamworth.

Photo: Allan pictured with his exhibit.

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Kasey wins Country ARIA

Kasey Chambers has won the 2017 ARIA Award for Best Country Album with her latest release Dragonfly.

Kasey beat fellow finalists Lee Kernaghan with his 25th Anniversary Album, The McClymonts' Endless, Shane Nicholson's Love And Blood and O’Shea's 61-615.

All Our Exes Live In Texas won the Best Blues & Roots award with When We Fall from fellow finalists Busby Marou with Postcards From The Shell House, Paul Kelly & Charlie Owen with Death’s Dateless Night, Archie Roach with Let Love Rule and Tash Sultana with Notion.

John Clarke's Clarke’s Classics won Best Comedy Release from a field that included Buddy Goode's More Rubbish.

The Awards, presented by the Australian Recording Industry Association, were announced in Sydney tonight.

Photo: a capture from the video of Kasey's acceptance speech.

Weblink (for a full list of winners) –



John portraits on show at NERAM

Well known country music photographer and writer John Elliott will have an exhibition of his works featured at the New England Regional Art Museum in Armidale (NSW) from next month.

The exhibition – titled "Gifted Country: Portraits by John Elliott" – will run from Friday December 15 until Sunday March 18.

As an official event of the 2018 Tamworth Country Music Festival, the exhibition will be opened by Tamworth Mayor Col Murray at 6pm on December 15. Emerging Aboriginal country music singer Quarralia Knox will perform at the opening.

John has been taking portraits of Australian country music artists for more than 30 years and this exhibition brings together a selection of his iconic images of stars such as Slim Dusty, Kasey Chambers, Lee Kernaghan and many more.

"Country music and photography are two passions that drive my life," said John. "Photographing country artists is my way of saying 'thank you' to the singers for the music that sustains me. All great country music has a respect for the past and I hope my photographs help young artists connect with what came before."

John says he is as passionate about photography today as he was when he started clicking away in the 1960s. "Taking pictures is a bit like breathing; it’s something I do every day.

“Photography is another tool in the storytelling process and the longer I keep learning about photography the better I get at it. My work depends a lot on my ability to get close to my subjects. I spend more time developing that close working relationship with the subject than I do on the photography."

The exhibition will feature large-scale prints, memorabilia, moving images, data projection, performances, photography workshops and talks by John.

"Elliott has worked closely with every significant Australian country music performer, especially Slim Dusty with whom over many years he developed a creative rapport which is seen in his photographs and the many projects that they did together including the Slim Dusty Living Legend Stamp Series, multiple publications and books as well as a number of album covers," said Robert Heather, Art Museum Director.

"(The exhibition) will also be an opportunity for visitors to the 2018 Tamworth Country Music Festival to make a detour through Armidale and discover the collections here at the New England Regional Art Museum and our beautiful city," he said.

John has been a writer, photographer and documentary maker who is mainly concerned with Australian culture, the bush and music.

His work is published regularly in magazines and newspapers and he has authored fourteen books including the best-selling On The Road With Slim (Harper Collins, 2002) and Where Country Is, a pictorial history of the 25 years of Australian Country Music from 1985 to 2005 (Rural Press, 2005).

John received a Churchill Fellowship in 2005 to study social documentary photography and publishing and has exhibited in galleries around Australia, his exhibition "1000 Mile Stare" was commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery in 2004.

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Branxton Drover's Camp tomorrow

The third annual Country at the Camp music festival will be held at Drover's Camp near Branxton (NSW) tomorrow, Saturday.

The event kicked off in 2015, born out of the love of a good time and of course, great country music, according to a spokesman., with a combination of "laid-back atmosphere, stellar line-up of artists and beautiful bushland setting" proving a winning formula.

This year’s Country at the Camp will be headlined by award-winning trio The Wolfe Brothers who have gone from strength to strength since they captured the nation’s attention on Australian’s Got Talent in 2012.

In 2014, the band won Country Music Channel’s New Artist Of The Year award and, two years later, Group Of The Year.

Joining the Wolfe Brothers on the artist roster this year will be Crawfish Stew, Jade Holland, Kaylens Rain, Sarah Leete, Outlaw Avenue, Tailgate Drive (featuring Troy Kemp and Damien Baguley), The Trade-Ins and Whiskey Business.

Up-and-coming Cessnock singer Finnian Johnson will also appear, together with popular local band the Gasoline Halos.

Drovers Camp is located just out of Branxton on Elderslie Road.

Gates will open at 11.30am with activities kicking off at noon. Camping sites are available.

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More gongs for Keith

Keith Urban took home three gongs at the American Music Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday.

The Aussie country star swept the country awards for which he was nominated and seemed genuinely shocked with his triple – for Male Artist, Song and Album according to a report by

He won the Album award for Ripcord, of course, and Favorite Song for Blue Ain't Your Colour.

The latest awards follow Keith's recent win at the American CMAs and four more awards in June from the CMT (Country Music Television Awards) in Nashville.

Keith's wins were for Video and Male Video of the Year with Blue Ain’t Your Color, Collaborative Video of the Year for The Fighter with Carrie Underwood and a Social Superstar award.

The Fighter was inspired by Keith’s marriage to actress Nicole Kidman who watched proudly from the audience.

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2018 Golden Guitar finalists

Finalists for the 2018 Toyota Golden Guitar Awards - the 46th Country Music Awards of Australia – were announced in Sydney yesterday.

Leading the charge with six finalist places each are Kasey Chambers, Travis Collins & Amber Lawrence (as a duo) and The McClymonts.

The full listing...

Alt Country Album of the Year

Dragonfly by Kasey Chambers (producers Nash Chambers & Paul Kelly)
From The Bottom of A Well by Brad Butcher (producer Matt Fell)
Love And Blood by Shane Nicholson (producer Matt Fell)
Queen Of Boomtown by Gretta Ziller (producer Paul Ruske)
Real Class Act by Fanny Lumsden (producer Matt Fell)

Contemporary Album Of The Year

61-615 by O'Shea (producer Lindsey Jackson)
Coming Your Way by Drew McAlister (producer Andy Mak)
Endless by The McClymonts (producer Andy Mak)
Get On Your Feet by Adam Brand (producers Alex Kline & Erin Enderlin)
Our Backyard by Travis Collins & Amber Lawrence (producer Matt Fell)

Traditional Album of the Year

Lighthouse by Ashleigh Dallas (producer Brett Dallas)
The Wide Horizon by Darren Coggan (producer Ben Edgar)
All You Need Is Music by Davidson Brothers (producers Mark Thornton & Larry Marrs)
All Australian Girl by Tania Kernaghan (producer Stuart French)
The Hungry Mile by The Bushwackers (producer Roger Corbett)

(The winners of the album categories will vie for the overall Album of the Year Golden Guitar.)

Male Artist of the Year

Adam Brand with Get On Your Feet
Brad Butcher with From The Bottom Of A Well
Darren Coggan with The Wide Horizon
Matt Cornell with My Soundtrack
Shane Nicholson with Love And Blood

Female Artist of the Year

Kasey Chambers with Dragonfly
Ashleigh Dallas with Lighthouse
Tania Kernaghan with All Australian Girl
Fanny Lumsden with Real Class Act
Aleyce Simmonds with More Than Meets The Eye

Group or Duo of the Year

The Bushwackers with The Hungry Mile
Carter & Carter with Better Day
Davidson Brothers with All You Need Is Music
The McClymonts with Endless
O'Shea with 61-615

Vocal Collaboration of the Year

The Bushwackers & John Williamson, Sara Storer & The Bush Choir with Waltzing Australia
Kasey Chambers & Paul Kelly with Hey
Travis Collins & Amber Lawrence with Our Backyard
Lee Kernaghan & James Blundell with Back In '92
The McClymonts & Ronan Keating with When We Say It's Forever

Bush Ballad of the Year

Henbury Blues by Dean Perrett (songwriter Neville Anderson)
Just Like Your Dad by Dale Duncan (songwriters Allan Caswell & Manfred Vijars)
Plains Of Nappa Merrie by Graham Rodger (songwriter Graham Rodger)
Uncle Harry by Dianne Lindsay (songwriter Peter Simpson)
We Still Sing Three Rivers Hotel by Ian Quinn (songwriter Ian Quinn)

Heritage Song of the Year

Dirt Under My Nails by The Bushwackers (songwriter Rich Davies)
Never Never Land by Tom Curtain feat Luke O'Shea (songwriters: Tom Curtain & Luke O'Shea)
Our Backyard by Travis Collins & Amber Lawrence (songwriters Amber Lawrence, Travis Collins, Matt Scullion)
Outback Club Reunion by Lee Kernaghan (songwriters Garth Porter, Lee Kernaghan, Colin Buchanan)
Roll On by Fanny Lumsden (songwriter Fanny Lumsden)

Instrumental of the Year

Easy Does It by The Bushwackers
Eva Waits by Tommy Emmanuel
Evelyn's Kitchen by Davidson Brothers
Pick Me! by Michael Fix
Porch Pickin' by Mickey Pye

Bluegrass Recording of the Year

Back Where I Started by Davidson Brothers
Cumberland Plain by The Morrisons
Long Way Over by Wide Island
Southbound Train by Runaway Dixie
Too Young, Too Cute, Too Pretty by Carpenter Caswell

New Talent of the Year

Casey Barnes with The Way We Ride
Brad Butcher with Well Dressed Man
Matt Cornell with It's Only Midnight
Judah Kelly with Count On Me
Small Town Romance with Halfway Up The Hume

Song of the Year

Don't Wish It All Away by The McClymonts (songwriters Brooke, Sam, & Mollie McClymont, Lindsey Jackson)
Our Backyard by Travis Collins & Amber Lawrence (songwriters: Amber Lawrence, Travis Collins, Matt Scullion)
Outback Club Reunion by Lee Kernaghan (songwriters Garth Porter, Lee Kernaghan, Colin Buchanan)
Safe by Shane Nicholson (songwriter Shane Nicholson)
Satellite by Kasey Chambers (songwriters Kasey Chambers & Harry Hookey)

Video Clip of the Year

Damn Good Mates by Lee Kernaghan (director Duncan Toombs)
Don't Wish It All Away by The McClymonts (director Jeremy Dylan)
Never Never Land by Tom Curtain featuring Luke O'Shea (directors Tom Curtain & Luke O'Shea
Our Backyard by Travis Collins & Amber Lawrence (director Paul Stefanidis)
Satellite by Kasey Chambers (directors Duncan Toombs & David Bromley)

Single of the Year

House by The McClymonts
Kiss Somebody by Morgan Evans
Our Backyard by Travis Collins & Amber Lawrence
Safe by Shane Nicholson
Satellite by Kasey Chambers

At the finalist announcement, Minister for Tourism & Major Events Adam Marshall said the NSW Government was proud to support the Golden Guitar Awards and Tamworth Country Music Festival, "such a renowned regional event".

"The ... Festival is recognised world-wide, attracting significant overnight visitation to the State and delivering important economic and community benefits," he said. "It’s an absolute standout on our NSW Events Calendar and we look forward to welcoming the many artists and visitors to the region next year for 10 days of great entertainment and regional NSW hospitality.

"Congratulations to all of the finalists announced today for the 2018 Golden Guitar Awards, the most prestigious award ceremony for the Australian country music industry."

Commencing in 1973, the Awards are the nation’s longest running music awards and play an important role in developing and promoting Australian country music talent and is the pinnacle event of the Toyota Country Music Festival in Tamworth.

The Festival will run from Friday January 19 to Sunday January 28 with the 46th Toyota Golden Guitar Awards on Saturday January 27 at the Tamworth Regional Entertainment & Conference Centre. Tickets are on sale now and available via

The Toyota sponsored Awards are supported by APRA AMCOS, Coca-Cola, Country Music Capital News, the NSW Government, Qantaslink and Regional Australia Bank.

Dobe Newton, Chairman of the Country Music Association of Australia which organises the Awards in conjunction with Tamworth Regional Council, said: "Today’s finalists announcement has demonstrated the quality and depth of talent we have in Australian country music across a range of genres, with many artists receiving their first nomination and others multiple nominations."



Vale – Wally Sparrow

Long-time South Australian country music broadcaster, writer, recording artist and industry personality Wally Sparrow died at his home yesterday morning. He would have been 75 tomorrow.

A tirelesss worker for country music in Australia, and particularly South Australia, for more than 50 years, Wally worked as a songwriter, singer, recording artist, promoter, broadcaster and with the industry organisation SACCM (South Australian Council for Country Music).

Concentrating more on broadcasting in recent years, Wally has been widely recognised for his contribution to country music, including various radio awards and induction into the Australian Country Music Hands of Fame in Tamworth in 2008 and the SA Country Music Hall of Fame at Barmera.

Fifty-five years in the industry as an entertainer, singer, musician, comedian, songwriter, compere, producer, journalist, adjudicator and trainer, Wally performed all around Australia, the USA, Canada, Fiji, Japan and on cruise ships.

With three albums under his belt, Wally was particularly known for his country music broadcasting and writing including a regular weekly column on country music in the SA Stock Journal and for regular contributions to Capital News, the Country Music Bulletin and Country Roundup. He says at one stage he was writing more than 100,000 words a year.

Wally reported on the latest industry news weekly to Dave Prior’s Coast to Coast, a program broadcast out of Sydney's 2UE and at one stage picked up by 30 stations around Australia. He presented a program of country music once a fortnight on the ABC for a period of time and had been a regular guest on ABC, Coast FM, Hot FM Mildura, 4TTT in Townsville and 101.5 FM in Brisbane.

Wally was made a Tennessee Ambassador of Goodwill in Australia by the Tennessee Governor following a visit to the area in 1997 when he was involved in a lot of media work and also worked with schoolchildren in Alabama and Tennessee.

As a result of his visit to Ohio, the Musicians Union formed a group that started off the Ohio Country Music Alliance, based on the SA Council for Country Music with which he was involved from the outset serving on its steering committee and then served as secretary and CEO over a 10-year period. During this time, he wrote the Council newsletter Prelude.

In 2001, Wally was presented with the SACCM Industry Award for his efforts in helping to develop the industry in this state.

During his career, Wally was a judge of the ARIA Awards and Golden Guitars as well as at numerous talent quests in SA, Victora and Queensland and introduced the Champion of Champions concept to his home state.

In his working life, Wally worked professionally in sales and journalism. He had a degree in agricultural studies and had considerable training in marketing. All of his working life was spent in the agricultural chemical industry in sales, research and development.

During the latter patrt of his working life he had become a horticultural specialist and wrote a monthly column for Rural Press on the subject.



Terry dominates Gidgee Awards

West Australian based Terry Bennetts has dominated this year's Gidgee Coal Bush Ballad Awards announced yesterday.

Terry won two awards... Album of the Year with Salt Of The Earth and Instrumental with Turquoise Bay.

Kylie Castle won the Female Vocal award with Under The Belah Trees while John Smith won the Male Vocal award with R.M.

Peter Simpson & Dianne Lindsay took out the songwriting award with The Bridge and Ricky Shippe was honoured with the Legend Award.

The Group or Duo/Collaboration award went to Dale Duncan and Keith Jamieson with Yesterday Is History Mate.

Bob Gregory won the New Talent Award with The Ghost Of Bold Ben Hall while fellow New Talent finalist Kate Daniel was presented with an encouragement award.

Ged Hintz won the Comedy/Novelty category with Matilda, The Boxing Kangaroo.



National Archives highlight Slim anniversary

On this day in 1946, Slim Dusty made his first commercial recording, including the song When The Rain Tumbles Down In July which he wrote at the age of 18.

Today, the National Archives of Australia highlighted this aniversary by posting online a copy of Slim's application for copyright on his songs From Australia’s Heart and Goin’a Settle Down (In Kempsey Town).

Slim went on to record more than a hundred albums in his lifetime and has sold more than seven million records. He is the recipient of 37 Golden Guitar awards and has been inducted into both the ARIA Hall of Fame Tamworth Country Music Hands of Fame and the Country Music Roll of Renown.

He was also honoured with an MBE (Member of the British Empire) and AO (Officer of the Order of Australia).

Members of the public can view records like Slim's copyright application online at the following address

Image: the copyright application mentoned in our story.



New country music channel set to air

A new, live streaming Australian country music channel will launch on Monday.

Designed to "put Australian Country Music in the hearts and minds of the fans" Country Music World will bring fans Australian only country music videos 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

The brainchild of Mick Lockhart and Jay Peters, Country Music World is being billed as something that "will change how fans can see Australian Country Music and will give an incredible boost to Australian Artists".

"We’re presenting a video channel here for primarily our newer independent artists, as well as our top recognised label artists," said Mick Lockhart, producer and musician.

"We felt there needed to be a designated platform that promoted our Australian artists 100 percent of the time with no agenda. It’s a talent-based industry and we are finding a lot of talented artists aren’t surviving in the industry because a lot of fans don’t even know they exist, as there are not enough commercial outlets for them to be seen or heard," Mick said.

"So CMW is here with a focus to generate a wider viewing audience which will have a flow on effect as artists can tour to more places and be confident people will know who they are. It will be a boost for the whole industry."

The CMW app will stream to any device and will help fans discover new artists whenever they are watching. It’s not a video on demand system like other platforms but a pre-programmed stream of clips over the course of the day."

"One of the big reasons behind what we are doing is to promote new country music," said Jay Peters. "We don’t want people just logging in and listening, we want them discovering all the great music that exists in Australian Country Music and we want to promote these fantastic artists."

While taking on the "bigger outlets" might seem like a mountain too hard to climb, Mick and Jay are confident their product will provide a point of difference for Aussie country music fans.

With 100 percent Australian content, a lot of artists who invest heavily in their career and produce quality video clips and albums will have a platform to be heard, Mick and Jay said, something that hasn’t always been the case.

"We want to create an awareness for our Australian fans of the amazing talent we have right here in Australia. In the past we’ve seen so many great acts give up because they can’t be heard. Now, these artists that produce amazing music and videos have a voice."

Further information, including subscription option, can be obtained by visiting

The Channel will launch on Monday evening at 7 o'clock. Mick (pictured at left) and Jay will be on air via CMW's facebook page –



Gidgee Coal finalists

Finalists have been announced for this year's Gidgee Coal Bush Ballad Awards to be announced at Pittsworth (Qld) this Sunday at the conclusion of the annual Awards Festival which started on Monday.

And they are...

For Female Vocal... Kylie Castle (pictured) with Under The Belah Trees, Sharon Heaslip with A Thousand Different Pictures and Trudy Hintz with Mother Nature.

For Male Vocal... Dale Duncan (pictured) with Clarence River, Bruce Lavender with Hair Growing Inside Me Legs and John Smith with R.M.

For Songwriting... Ged Hintz with Battered Old Quarts, Bruce Lavender with My Grandad's Wrinkled Old Hands and Peter Simpson & Dianne Lindsay (pictured) with The Bridge.

For New Talent... Kate Daniel with Trading My Crown For A Ring and Bob Gregory with The Ghost Of Bold Ben Hall.

For Group or Duo/Collaboration... Dale Duncan & Keith Jamieson with Yesterday Is History Mate, Dianne Lindsay & Peter Simpson with Aren’t We Lucky and The Ree Family with Hot Up Here.

For Instrumental... Terry Bennetts with Turquoise Bay, Ray Cullen with Valma Jean Waltz and Bob Gregory & Nev Molloy with Why Worry Now.

For Album... Terry Bennetts with Salt Of The Earth, Sharon Heaslip with A Thousand Different Pictures and John Smith with To An Old Stockman.

For Comedy/Novelty... Ged Hintz with Matilda, The Boxing Kangaroo, Bruce Lavender with Night Out and Pete Smith with Sort From West Kempsey.

The artist line-up at this year's festival includes Jeff Brown, Dale Duncan, Ray Essery, Gary Fogarty, Kev Groves, Sharon Heaslip, Keith & Caitlyn Jamieson, Bruce Lavender, Dianne Lindsay & Peter Simpson, Alisha Smith, John & Christine Smith and Jim Strohfield.

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Alison’s talent recognised

Whyalla (SA) singer, songwriter and recording artist Alison Hams has been named a State Finalist in the category of Sustained Contribution by an Individual at the prestigious 2017 Ruby Awards to be held in Adelaide on Saturday December 2.

The Ruby Awards are described as one of the most important ways in which Arts South Australia acknowledges and celebrates the contribution of the arts to the cultural life of South Australia.

Alison has been appearing on stage since the age of three. Among many other achievements, she danced at State and National Calisthenics for many years before turning to fulltime music.

Her career has seen her appear on national television, tour across Australia, have a song used in a feature film and perform regularly at country music festivals including Tamworth, Mildura, Bay Of Islands (NZ) and in Nashville.

With award wins at the SAMIs (South Australian Music Industry Awards), Independent Country Music Awards and the UK Songwriting Contest, both she and husband Mark Tempany have been inducted into the SA Country Music Hands Of Fame and the Brand SA Hall Of Fame.

Since 2004, Alison and Mark's Stormfront Productions has offered audio and visual recording, songwriting and performance workshops across the state, a popular music tuition service, graphic art, website design and stageshow production for events such as "Carols On The Park".

Stormfront’s annual Jamm for Genes charity concert became the highest J4G Fundraiser in SA this year with the event now having donated well over $6000 since its inception.

January will be the 20th anniversary of Alison’s debut single release and she says she is now very proud to tutor others,  believing everyone should have access to music regardless of age or ability.

"We’ve done an awful lot so far, and continue to see the ups and downs of the music industry on a daily basis," she said.

"We’re extremely proud of the many young people we’ve helped train and develop – some for over 10 years. When music is your life’s work you hope the young people you now mentor will also dream big and aim to be the very best musicians – and people – that they can be."



Adam, Mickey and Abby lend a hand to Jaylene

Country stars Adam Harvey, Mickey Pye and Abby Smith (pictured below, from left) will help raise money and awareness for Bathurst girl Jaylene Reynolds who suffers from Multiple-Systemic Infectious Disease Syndrome (MSIDS), a symptom complex of Lyme Disease and multiple tick borne co-infections.

The city's Western Advocate newspaper reports that despite living with the condition for 13 years, it was only in October last year that doctors could finally give her a conclusive diagnosis.

As a result of this MSIDS, the 25-year-old endures issues with her joints, problems with her balance, tremors, severe jaw and mouth pain, fatigue and seizures.

It is uncertain just how she contracted the bacteria, but it was likely from being bitten by a bug of some sort that carried the bacteria, which got into her blood, tissue and muscle fibres and later her brain.

Jaylene (pictured at right) and her mother Jacqui Monroe have been trying to raise money that will cover some of the medical costs and help with the next step in her treatment, an overseas trip.

They contacted Adam in the hope he would help them, and he was happy to put his name to the cause, the newspaper reported.

A benefit concert will be held at Bathurst Panthers on Saturday November 25, featuring Adam, together with local artists Mickey Pye and Abby Smith (half of the duo Smith & Jones).

The three will perform as solo acts and perhaps possibly something together.

Adan said he would also be taking requests. "I will do some of my songs, but what is always good fun is taking requests from the audience," he said.

All proceeds from the night will go to Jaylene. 

Adam has helped raise money for charity previously, but this cause was one he wanted to get behind as it was a condition people knew very little about.

"Hopefully down the track I can help raise some more awareness for this as it was something I had never heard of," he said

Star Maker 2015 Mickey felt the same, saying it takes events like this to help educate people on a lot of issues. "Raising awareness of what happened to (Jaylene) is hopefully going to make it better for the rest of us," he said. 

Jaylene said she was "absolutely speechless" and "blown away" that all the musicians were choosing to help her. 

Tickets for the benefit concert can be purchased from Bathurst Panthers for $40. An auction and raffle will also be held on the night to help raise money.

Anyone who can’t attend but wants to help is encouraged to donate to Jaylene's GoFundMe page.


New from Ernie

Aussie bush balladeer Ernie Constance will launch his new album this weekend.

The album is titled Lead A Horse To Water.

There are two launch locations... the Cooma Ex Services Club on Saturday night from 7 and Queanbeyan Tigers Club Sunday afternoon from 2.

Guest artists Dianne Lindsay and Peter Simpson will join Ernie for the launch.

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Keith wins another CMA

Australia's Keith Urban has added another American Country Music Association Award to his impressive tally of trophies.

At last night's Awards in Nashville, Keith was presented with Single of the Year for Blue Ain’t Your Color, a song written by Steven Lee Olsen, Hillary Lindsay and Clint Lagerberg and recorded previously by numerous artists including Johnny Mathis.

It is understood Keith's version has been by far the most successful commercial release.

Keith was also a finalist for Entertainer of the Year and Male Vocalist of the Year and, with iBlue Ain't Your Color, Song and Music Video of the Year.

Other winners at this year's CMAs included Garth Brooks (Entertainer of the Year), Miranda Lambert (Female Vocal), Chris Stapleton (Male Vocal), Jon Pardi (New Artist), Brothers Osborne (Vocal Duo), Little Big Town (Vocal Group) and Mac McAnally (Musician).

Photo (CMA Instagram): Keith performs at the 2017 CMAs.

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Kyabram RV Country Music Festival

The sixth annual Kyabram RV Country Music Festival will be held this week.

Kyabram is located near Shepparton in north-central Victoria’s Goulburn Valley about 200 kms north of Melbourne.

Although a relative newcomer on the festival circuit, the Kyabram event has become a popular destination for RV (recreational vehicle) and caravan enthusiasts as well as country music fans.

The event will be held at the Kyabram Showgrounds over four days from Thursday (November 9) to Sunday (November 12) and will incorporate the town’s annual bush market in the main street on the Friday (November 10). The showgrounds will open for a full week (from Tuesday November 7 to Tuesday 14th) to accommodate travellers who want to spend a few extra days in town before or after the festival.

Stars of the event will include John Battle, Olive Bice, Peter Coad & The Coad Sisters, Country Horizon, Col Driscoll, Callum Gleeson, Robyn Gleeson, Jim Hermel & Runaway Dixie (pictured above), The Hoffmans, Trevor Keilar, Brian Letton (pictured at right), Vol Perkins, Evan Platschinda, Roland Storm and Kathy & Ross Vallance.

"The Kyabram Country Music Festival offers a great base for visitors who wish to explore the area and its attractions,"according to a spokesman.

"The high number of early registrations indicates that the event is becoming a regular fixture on the festival circuit with many RV travellers planning well in advance to make Kyabram a destination stopover during their travels."

Festival sponsors include The Kyabram Club, the Kyabram Country Music Club, the Campaspe Shire and the GMCU "our local bank".

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Nambung Muster success

This year's four-day Nambung Country Music Muster (NCCM) saw close to a thousand country music fans enjoy the concerts around the historic Nambung Station shearing shed, 200kms north of Perth last week.

Stars of the Muster included Terry Bennetts, Ginger Cox, Laura Downing, Tom Maxwell and Evan Platschinda supported by the Band of Mates with Outback Paddy, Billy Higginson and Connie Kis Andersen.

Local talent included Sarah Broome, Mark Donohue, Kate Linke, Kevin Lansdell and Warwick Trant.

Boot scooting and old-time dancing were popular to the sounds of Therese and David's Campfire Country. Freshly baked scones, with strawberry jam and cream, were quickly sold out with the local CWA cooking up a storm. Pizza, Indian Curry and ice-cream were also popular with the crowds.

The Bush Poet’s Breakfast saw performances by Bill Gordon, Stinger and other talented poets to the aromas of freshly cooked bacon and eggs. The Sunday finale brought all the stars together to sing Waltzing Matilda, We are Proud and a stirring rendition of Slim Dusty’s Lights On The Hill.

There were many talented walk-ups this year, according to organisers, with this year’s Best Talent award going to singer and guitarist Clive-Bill.

This year, the NCMM raised $16,000 for charity, more than doubling the previous year’s effort. This included $1,020 chipped in by Brian White to secure the guitar signed by all of this year’s artists. Charities that received donations were Angel Flight Australia, Cervantes Historical Society, Children’s Cancer Research WA, CWA Cervantes, Lyme Disease Australia, Make a Wish Albany, Moora Hospital Auxiliary and St John Ambulance Cervantes.

NCMM 2017 acknowledged the work of volunteers and the support of our sponsors Challenge Batteries WA, Tim Butler of WFI Insurance, Emerald Grain, Image Resources, Kosmic Sound Osborne Park, Shane Love and Martin Aldridge - Nationals WA, Afgri Moora, Primaries Moora, Landmark Moora, McIntosh and Son Moora, Cervantes Hardware and Marine, Pinnacles Visitors Centre, Cervantes Bar and Bistro, Jurien Signs, Avon Waste, Shire of Dandaragan and Curtin Radio.

Next year's Muster will run from October 25 to 28.

Photo (by Steve Kruger): the Muster finale.

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Leeton Roudup this weekend

Artists have been announced for this weekend's Leeton Country Roundup.

John Battle, Sharon Benjamin, Col Driscoll, Ged & Trudy Hintz, Marie Hodson, Wayne Horsburgh, Tom Maxwell, Paul McCloud, Pete Smith, Anthony Teenace and Rodney Vincent are featured guest artists for the event which runs from tomorrow (Wed) to Sunday.

Pictured (from left): Ged & Trudy, Marie, Wayne and Paul.

The Roundup will be launched tomorrow evening with a live broadcast on 2MIA FM from the venue, the Leeton Jockey Club on Racecourse Road.

Always held on the weekend before the Melbourne Cup, the Leeton Country Roundup was founded in 2005.

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