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FRIDAY, JUNE 7, 2014

Blue Water Festival

Running from today until Monday is the Blue Water Country & Blues Festival at venues in and around the NSW coastal towns of Nelson Bay, Salamandar Bay and Shoal Bay.

Previously only a country music event, Blue Water this year incorporates blues music as one of its features.

More than 50 artists are scheduled to perform across 20 outdoor and indoor venues, including Catherine Britt (pictured), Brothers3, Bobby C, Carter & Carter, Bob Corbett & The Roo Grass Band, Paul Costa, Jayne Denham, Emile, Georgia Fall, Chris James, Graeme Johnson, The Harmonators, Brooke Harvey, Johanna Hemara, Jack Daniels & Co Duo, Kathryn Jones, Amber Lawrence, Bec Lewis, Kim Mackenzie, Wayne Metcalf, Amos Morris, Ian Moss, Karen O'Shea, Luke O'Shea, Steve Passfield (pictured), Zane Penn, Gleny Rae & Her Playboys, Ben Ransom, Tanya Self, Milton Taylor, the Mark Wells Trio, Rob Wilson and The Blue Water Cowboys.

Venues include d'Albora Marina, Country Club Shoal Bay, Fingal Bay Sports & Recreational Club, Ibis Styles, Mantra Aqua Resort, Mavericks on the Bay, Nelson Bay Bowling Club, Nelson Bay Foreshore, Ramada Resort Shoal Bay, the Salamander Bay Shopping Center, The SeaBreeze Hotel, Soldiers Point Bowling Club, Vues on the Bay and West Diggers.

Weblink – www.bluewatercountrymusic.com.au.

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Chart Update – Tanya hangs on to the top spot

Tanya Self's The Jacaranda – from her new album Random Truths – retains the number one position on the coming week's national Country Tracks Top 30.

Carter & Carter's Little Patch Of Heaven edges up one to number two while Graham Rodger's Scrub Bull Hunters jumps two places to number three and Doug Bruce's former number one – Clock Out At Five – is at four.

Roo Arcus's Out On The Farm is at five, Arthur Blanch's Buy That Man A Beer is up three places to six and Keith Urban's Cop Car edges up one place to seven.

The Black Sorrows debut in the chart at number eight with Save Me while Tania Kernaghan's Call Home debuts in the top 10 at nine and Kate Cook's Hit The Highway is also new in the top 10 at 10.

Bullet performers for the week include Christie Lamb's Manhunt (20 to 12), Morgan Evans' Like A Tornado (25 to 14), Karen Lynne's Will I Be Good Enough (23 to 17), Kylee B's This Girl's Got A Men's Shed (20 to 27) and Kristy Cox's One Heartbreak Away (28 to 21).

Other new entries to the chart this week include the duet by Dale Duncan and Johanna Hemara, I Told You So (new at 30).

The full chart can be viewed at www.countrytrackschart.com.au.

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THURSDAY, JUNE 6, 2014

CMA MusicFest underway

America's biggest country music festival, CMA (Country Music Association) Music Festival is underway in Nashville.

The celebration kicked off on Wednesday and runs until Sunday and will attract thousands of visitors to 11 stages with 450 artists and celebrities participating at a number of major venues in America's Music City.

"We are so proud to present the 2014 CMA Music Festival to the fans," said CMA Chief Executive Sarah Trahern. "The sheer volume and level of talent and activities this year will offer the best Festival experience to date."

Earlier this week, an annual international curtain-raiser event featured a number of country acts from around the globe including Australia and New Zealand.

Kaylens Rain (pictured), O'Shea, 2014 Toyota Star Maker Jared Porter and Tamara Stewart from Australia joined New Zealand's Cameron Scott and Canada's Jaida Dreyer, Emerson Drive, Kira Isabella, Wes Mack and the duo One More Girl (sisters Britt and Carly McKillip), Sweden's David Park and the UK's David Bradley for the CMA World GlobaLive! on Monday.

Morgan Evans featured in the Festival's Kick-Off Concert while Keith Urban (pictured) stars during a showcase tomorrow night (Saturday). Roo Arcus was scheduled to appear at a venue by the name of Durango Music Spot.

Weblink – cmamusicfestival.com.

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WEDNESDAY, JUNE 5, 2014

New studio album from Adam

Adam Brand is set to released a new studio album this August.

Titled My Side Of The Street, the new work is Adam's 10th release with 13 tracks.

It features a duet with Jasmine Rae on Quit This Time and also has a cover of the Billy Thorpe & The Aztecs classic Most People I Know Think That I’m Crazy.

"They say you get your whole life to write and record your first album," Adam said. "In some respect I feel I have been waiting my entire life to release this album. I threw the rule book out the window and said everything I wanted to say, exactly the way I wanted to say it."

Whatever gives Aussie music its heart, Adam Brand breathes plenty of life into its soul, according to a spokesman for the artist.

"For more than 15 years, Brand has been one of the country's best-loved and most successful recording artists."

First single from the album will be What Your Love Looks Like. A national tour to support the new release will kick off in Sale, Victoria, on Wednesday September 3.

"Adam Brand is undeniably a fixture on the local music landscape," the spokesman said.

"The versatile star has three Platinum and five Gold albums to his name, along with 12 Golden Guitars, an ARIA Top 5 album in 2012's There Will Be Love, and multiple ARIA Nominations for Best Country Album.

"He has toured with the likes of Jimmy Barnes, Ian Moss and James Reyne locally, and hit the road with Taylor Swift across the USA."

Weblink – www.adambrand.com.au.

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TUESDAY, JUNE 4, 2014

Choir gives voice to power of music

Beccy Cole firmly believes music can be a tool for breaking down the barriers of race, disability and sexuality.

"When you hear someone singing and they have a great voice, all of those other things don't matter," she said.

Beccy said her long-held view was reaffirmed by a visit to Perth earlier this year for the Variety Youth Choir's 15-year anniversary concert.

The group formed in 1998 after rave reviews of what was supposed to be a one-off performance by Variety WA scholarship recipients.

It has grown into a successful 55-person choir that includes able-bodied, disabled and disadvantaged youth.

Choir member Katie O'Donnell, 31, said the group aimed to promote the Variety message, encourage inclusion and put on good shows.

"The choir showcases what Variety is all about and shows audiences that things like disabilities don't have to be an obstacle," she said.

Story and photo from The West Australian

Photo (by Nic Ellis): Beccy with Variety Youth Choir members Chris Cutler, Perri Hinton and Lilyan Smith.

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MONDAY, JUNE 3, 2014

APRA finalists

Finalists in the 2014 APRA (Australasian Performing Right Association) Music Awards were announced on Thursday.

In Country Work of the Year, the finalists are...

Be With You Tonight, written by Tim Nichols, Jay & Mark O'Shea, recorded by O'Shea...

Flying With The King written by Colin Buchanan, Lee Kernaghan & Garth Porter, recorded by Lee...

The Girl, The Bottle, The Memory, written by Nicholas Wolfe, recorded by The Wolfe Brothers...

I Learned The Hard Way, written and recorded by Chelsea Basham... and

Thank You Angels, written by Jay & Mark O'Shea & Matt Scullion.

Busby Marou feature strongly in the Blues & Roots Work of the Year with Get You Out Of Here, written by Tom Busby & Jeremy Marou, and Luck, written by Tom Busby and Don Walker.

Another nominee with strong country roots is Kylie Sackley (pictured), the winner of Toyota Star Maker 2001 and the 2002 Golden Guitar for New Talent of the Year. Kylie is a finalist for Breakthrough Songwriter of the Year.

Although not so well known in Australia since her Star Maker and Golden Guitar wins, Kylie has had a good deal of success in America in particular, during the last decade or so.

The 2014 APRA Music Awards will be announced and presented on Monday, June 23, in Brisbane.

Television partner MAX will film the Awards for broadcast on Wednesday July 9 at 8pm with an encore presentation at 10pm on Sunday July 13.

Two special awards decided by the APRA Board of Directors will be presented on the night, Songwriter of the Year and the Ted Albert Award for Outstanding Services to Australian Music. Lindy Morrison has already been announced as the recipient of this award.

Weblink – www.apra-amcos.com.au.

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FRIDAY, MAY 30, 3014

"MO" winners

Winners in the 2014 "MO" (Australian Entertainment) Awards were announced in Sydney on Tuesday night.

Country Act of the Year went to Benn Gunn, from fellow Kel-Anne Brandt, Beccy Cole, Nicki Gillis, Wayne Horsburgh and Snowy Robson.

Country Act finalists Kel-Anne Brandt and Snowy Robson were named winners of Best Female Vocal Performer and Best Solo Performer, respectively.

Country broadcaster Carter Edwards took home the John Campbell Fellowship Award and country comic Buddy Goode was named joint winner of Comedy Act of the Year with Harriet Littlesmith.

Photo: Kel-Anne with her awards trophy.

Weblink – moawards.com.

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MONDAY, MAY 26, 2014

New Zealand winners announced

Winners of the New Zealand Country Music Awards have been announced.

Twenty-five-year old Kaylee Bell (pictured) won Best Album for Heart First at the awards ceremony held in Gore.

Originally from Waimate, south of Timaru, Kaylee now lives in Australia where she was the first Kiwi since Keith Urban to win Australia's Toyota Star Maker title.

Her win also follows a Tui for Best Country Music Album.

Tami Neilson & Delaney Davidson won best song with Whiskey & Kisses.

The New Zealand Country Music Awards, which attract 5,000 fans, are part of a week-long celebration of country music.

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FRIDAY, MAY 23

Chart Update – Tanya at number one

Tanya Self's The Jacaranda – from her new album Random Truths – has taken over the number one spot on the coming week's national Country Tracks Top 30.

Doug Bruce's number one from last week – Clock Out At Five – is at number two while Carter & Carter's Little Patch Of Heaven is steady at three and Roo Arcus's Out On The Farm is at four.

Graham Rodger's Scrub Bull Hunters is back up to five, the Johnny Cash track She Used To Love Me A Lot bounds into the top 10 at six and The McClymonts Going Under (Didn't Have To) is at seven.

Keith Urban's Cop Car enters the top 10 at eight, Arthur Blanch's Buy That Man A Beer debuts in the chart at nine and the Adam Eckersley Band's Give Her The World is at 10.

Bullet performers for the week include Seleen McAlister's I Wanna Live Like That (23 to 18), Morgan Evans' Like A Tornado (new at 25) and Tania Kernaghan's Call Home (new at 26).

The full chart can be viewed at www.countrytrackschart.com.au.

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WEDNESDAY, MAY 21, 2014

Norfolk winners

Cheryl Anderson from Gore, New Zealand, has taken out the main prize of Trans Tasman Entertainer of the Year at Norfolk Island.

Judah Kelly from Queensland was the runner up while Hannah Cosgrove from Tauranga in New Zealand won the Encouragement Award.

Cameron Scott from Nelson, NZ, won the category for Most Original Song and also for Most Promising artist.

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MONDAY, MAY 19, 2014

Gympie announces initiatives

Organisers of the Gympie Muster staged a 2014 launch event recently and announced a number of initiatives they say will have "a significant and beneficial impact" on the local community and economy.

But it wasn't all speeches and protocol as Muster Ambassadors The McClymonts also graced the stage and giving attendees "a rockin' taste of what's in store when they perform at The Muster on Saturday August 30".Muster General Manager Jeff Chandler announced the re-launch of the Farmers Aid Appeal, a concept that they hope will raise more than $30,000 for its recipient, the Buy A Bale Campaign.

"Queensland is once again in the grip of drought which has been described as the worst drought ever," Jeff said. "The aim is to enable Buy A Bale to provide as many bales of hay as possible to farmers in drought stricken areas of Qld and NSW with the funds generated.

"This is just one of the many ways in which the Muster event works to celebrate the true spirit of Country Australia and the strength and resilience of regional communities."

The Gympie Muster has a strong focus on community and fundraising. In the past 31 years, it has raised almost $14.7 million for organisations and charities, bringing benefits to local and regional communities.

The Muster also has a direct economic impact on the regional economy, of which more than $10 million will benefit the state of Queensland. An estimated $4.6 million is delivered into the Gympie region alone.

One of the initiatives announced is the return of the Pre-Muster Street Party being held the day prior to the event, this year on Wednesday August 27 in the Gympie township.

This event has been in hiatus for the past few years and is being re-introduced by popular demand from the local community. Australian Institute of Country Music students will perform a showcase at the street party with some of the Muster's Talent Search entrants performing throughout the day as well. Fans can also expect to see buskers, join songwriter sessions and catch performances from line-up acts such as Adi Burgess, Pete Denahy and Stealing Lincoln.

Another initiative is the focus of this year's event on "celebrating our own" with the Muster lineup primarily consisting of Australian music acts. New talent is expected to travel from all areas of the country and more than 50 emerging acts will be selected through on-line entries for the New Kid in Town and Talent Search showcases which will take place across the four days.

"This year shapes up to be even more exciting for our Talent Search showcase, as for the first time ever, acts will perform on the main stage," Jeff said. "Heats will be held on the Saturday, with the grand finale taking place the next day. This is a great opportunity for singers and musicians to experience the 'real deal' and perform on a festival main stage in front of thousands of people."

The Music Muster has also revealed a special show ticket offer for this year's event. Fans are able to buy any combination of one day tickets (Thursday to Sunday) at the special Gympie Show price of $70 for adults and $40 for 5 to 17 year olds. Including booking fee, tickets also give fans free camping at the Muster grounds.

Now in its 33rd year, the Gympie Music Muster will be held from Thursday August 28 to Sunday August 31 in the Amamoor Creek State Forest Park just south-west of Gympie and a little more than a 90 minute drive north of Brisbane.

Weblink – www.muster.com.au.

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FRIDAY, MAY 16, 2014

JW's life story

Australian country star John Williamson will release his life story in July.

The long-awaited book is titled, not surprisingly, "Hey True Blue".

In the book, John takes readers on his life journey from growing up on the land in the Victorian Mallee and Moree in NSW in a family of five boys, to being the recognised as one of Australia's leading songwriters and recording artists.

Since Old Man Emu launched his career after he performed in television's "New Faces" John has steadily grown to become one of the nation's most successful entertainers.

After his huge initial success, his music career did flounder for 10 years or so until he reinvented himself by chronicling the subjects and issues that are close to his heart.

John's songs are all about Australia – he expresses his love of our land (Mallee Boy), his outrage at environmental destruction (Rip Rip Woodchip), his pride in the Australian character and spirit (Hey, True Blue) and captures our sense of humour (Old Man Emu).

His life story is also all about Australia – his love of the land, the importance of family and what it really means to be "true blue".

John has performed at huge public events, ranging from the Sydney Olympics, NRL grand finals and Tamworth Country Music Festival to smaller more intimate events like the upcoming Big Red Bash at Birdsville in July and his own Live In The Hinterland concert in early June.

Beyond the songs, he has revealed barely anything about his private life in his 40-year career. But in the book, he opens up, talking about the tough times, the great times and what matters to him, according to his publisher Penguin Books Australia.

The book will be available from July 23.

Weblink – www.johnwilliamson.com.au.

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Chart Update – Graham bounds into number one

Bush ballad star Graham Rodger will debut in the top 10 at number one on this week's national Country Tracks Top 30 with his hit Scrub Bull Hunters.

Doug Bruce's Clock Out At Five has also bulleted... from number nine to number two as does Luke O'Shea's Three Brothers (The Great War) from 10 to three while Sara Storer's Come On Rain is also new in the top 10 at four.

Christie Lamb's number one from last week, All She Wrote, is at five, Roo Arcus's former number one Out On The Farm is at six and McAlister Kemp's Tats is at seven.

Sandra Humphries You Drink is at eight, The McClymonts Going Under (Didn't Have To) is at nine and a release from the late Johnny Cash – She Used To Love Me A Lot – is at 10.

Bullet performers for the week include Allan Caswell's Kick The Bucket (30 to 11), Carter & Carter's Little Patch Of Heaven (new at 12), Ashleigh Dallas' Sail Away (20 to 17), Kaylee Bell's Little Bit Small Town (21 to 18), Korey Livey's Route 63 (23 to 19), Karen Lynne's Will I Be Good Enough (new at 20), Kristy Cox's One Heartbreak Away (26 to 23), Taylor Pfeiffer's You Were The Stranger (new at 24) and Christie Lamb's Manhunt (new at 25).

Other new entries to the chart this week include Seleen McAlister's I Wanna Live Like That (in at 28).

The full chart can be viewed at www.countrytrackschart.com.au.

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THURSDAY, MAY 15, 2014

Graham on tour

Award winning bush balladeer Graham Rodger is launching a new tour concept which will take place later this month and in June.

Since the age of 12 when he first learnt to play the guitar, Tex Morton has been a major influence on Graham's professional development. It wasn't too much longer before Slim Dusty was also becoming a major influence in his life.

Several decades later, Graham is setting out to pay tribute to both men as he tours from Miles to Birdsville determined, as was often Slim's way, to take good quality country music to his fellow Australians living in the outback.

Touring 15 towns, Graham will zig-zag his way through outback central Queensland but doing it with a bit of a twist. Just like Tex Morton about half a century ago, Graham has invited his supporters from the Queensland coast and interstate to join him on a tag-along... more than 55 vans and a hundred people will be touring with Graham, commencing on May 23 at Miles and concluding on the June 14 at Birdsville.

When asked why such a successful artist would take so much time out of his schedule to tour to towns like Windorah or Muttaburra (both with populations of about 50), Graham's replied...

"Over the years I have been fortunate enough to win 27 Tamworth Songwriters' Association awards. So many of these have been inspired by true and often very personal stories entrusted to me by my fellow Australians living in the outback.

"It is a trust nearly impossible to repay, but I do like to think that a tour like this is a start. Besides, I cannot think of a better way to spend a cold Australian winter than in sunny outback Queensland accompanied by a hundred friends and supporters, enjoying incredible vistas and history by day and entertaining by night."

For most of his life, the Channel Country has been Graham's back yard. He firmly believes it is the most beautiful and interesting part of the planet and he is as excited to be taking fellow Australians to the outback as he is to be taking his music to the isolated towns along the tour route.

Photo: Graham in front of an old caravan with the towns marked on a tour map.

Weblink – www.grahamrodger.com.au.

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Lindy to receive Ted Albert Award

Musician, teacher and advocate Lindy Morrison has been named the 2014 recipient of the Ted Albert Award for Outstanding Services to Australian Music.

The annual award is decided by the Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA) Board of Writer and Publisher Directors, with the recipient deemed to have made an outstanding contribution to Australian Music over a number of years.

Lindy has been heavily involved in the Australian music industry since her membership of pop group The Go-Betweens.

She teaches music business at the Sydney Institute, is the National Welfare Co-ordinator for musical charity Support Act and sits on the board of the Phonographic Performance Company of Australia (PPCA).

Last year, she received an Order of Australia medal for services to the industry.

The award will be presented to at the APRA Music Awards on June 23 in Brisbane, the town in which The Go-Betweens were formed.

Previous recipients have included Ian "Molly" Meldrum (1993), Harry Vanda and George Young (1995), Ron Tudor (1996), Michael Gudinski (1998), Slim Dusty (1999), Don Burrows (2004), Michael Chugg (2005), Bill Armstrong (2006), Denis Handlin (2009), Jimmy Little (2010), Paul Kelly (2011) and The Seekers (last year).

Weblink – www.apra-amcos.com.au.

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WEDNESDAY, MAY 14, 2014

Goldheist concerts for drought relief

Sydney based Goldheist (aka Hester Fraser) is playing a series of concerts promoting the single Dust raising money for drought relief.

All proceeds from the song, available via iTunes, is going to the "We're For The Bush" Drought Appeal, helping to raise funds and awareness for drought in rural Australia.

The accompanying video for the song can be found here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p5u12IFtmmA

Hester, who often includes guest artists in her shows, has played Armidale, Sydney and Gloucester so far in the concert series and will be at Tamworth this Saturday night (with Natalie Magee), Canberra on Saturday May 24 (again with Natalie), Yass on Sunday May 25 (with Natalie and Katie De Veau and Mudgee on Saturday June 7 (with Natalie).

Weblink – www.goldheistmusic.com.

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TUESDAY, MAY 13, 2014

Felicity's City Of Light

Felicity Urquhart's most recent release is an EP titled City Of Light.

The EP follows the three most successful recent albums which established her as one of the most respected writers and singers in Australian music.

"Five years after the last collection from Urquhart," said a spokesman for the artist, "the inspirational spark has returned.

"Working on this project was her most trusted and talented musical partner Glen Hannah as producer with a supporting cast that included Jeff McCormack, Steve Fearnley and Michel Rose."

Felicity has enjoyed a change of lifestyle in the last 12 months with a step back from playing gigs and her weekly national radio program on ABC Radio "Saturday Night Country" since taking time to have a family.

The Tamworth-born and raised star says her home town holds a special place for her. The first single from the EP, the title track, pays tribute to the city which is also now known as Australia's Country Music Capital.

(The City Of Light tag comes from the fact that Tamworth was the first city in the southern hemisphere to have electric street lighting, even before the likes of Sydney/Melbourne/Brisbane).

The EP contains new songs Slow It Down and Gone By The Wayside & Give.

“After visiting my folks back home in November, I finished the song City Of Light which... I guess it's the sequel to Girl In The Mall and that's why I showed it to Mark Seymour, co-writer of the song.

"He sorted the wheat from the chaff and I had this rush inside me, to record it immediately for January," Felicity said.

"Life used to be quite crazy but since motherhood it's eased up and I've learnt to slow things down, which is what Slow It Down is all about. It would be a shame to miss the good stuff. Karl Broadie and I have worked and written together for many years now, and we have a great time. It must be the Scottish names that make us kindred spirits. He loves the song too.

"Give is for the amazing people in this world who are carers. They do so much for everyone else that there’s often nothing left for themselves. They are ordinary people doing extraordinary things who get lost along the way.

"Gone By The Wayside is a cheeky look at reminiscing about the things we let go and the quirks we forget about.

"I had been putting songs together for a new album," Felicity said, "with no particular release date in mind but these songs just had to come out now. The rest of the album will be later in the year when the songs dictate."

Weblink – www.felicityurquhart.com.

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Chart Update – Christie takes the top spot

Christie Lamb has taken over the top spot of this week's national Country Tracks Top 30 with her hit All She Wrote.

The McClymonts Going Under (Didn't Have To) edges up one to number two while Roo Arcus's Out On The Farm – number one for the last two weeks – is at three and McAlister Kemp's Tats is up one to number four.

Sandra Humphries You Drink bounds into the top 10 at five, as does Kate Cook's Highway at six and Kaylens Rain's She's A Wildflower is up two to seven.

Adam Eckersley Band's Give Her The World enters the top 10 at eight, Doug Bruce's Clock Out At Five is at nine and Luke O'Shea's Three Brothers (The Great War) is at 10.

The full chart can be viewed at www.countrytrackschart.com.au.

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FRIDAY, MAY 9, 2014

Entries open for Southern Stars

Entries are now open (closing June 30) for the 2014 Australian Independent Country Music Awards, or Southern Stars as they are also known.

Awards will be presented in nine categories, eight open to all CD product by independent Australian country music artists, as the highlight of the annual Mildura Country Music Festival which runs from Friday September 26 to and including Sunday October 5.

The categories are Single of the Year, Album of the Year, Heritage Track of the Year, Rising Star Male, Rising Star Female, Male Vocalist of the Year, Female Vocalist of the Year and Group/Duo of the Year.

The ninth category, Independent Artist of the Year, is judged separately, the winner selected from artists entered in any of the other categories.

Full details of eligibility can be found on the entry form which can be downloaded from the website www.milduracountrymusic.com.au.

Photo: Allan Caswell, the big winner from last year's Southern Stars.

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THURSDAY, MAY 8, 2014

Adam and co win song gong

Adam Eckersley (pictured), Jason Reeves and Danelle Joy Leverett have taken out the Country section of the 2013 International Songwriting Competition.

Adam is front man of the Adam Eckersley Band while Jason and Joy are well-known American songwriters.

The songwriting team won the award for Give Her The World which is on the band's debut album.

An Australian placegetter of country note was Charles Jenkins (Charles Jenkins & The Zhivagos) with Pray, My Dear Daughter, achieving second place in Folk/Singer-Songwriter.

Grand prize winner in the competition was New York based virtuosic jazz trumpeter and accomplished composer and arranger Shunzo Ohno with Musashi.

Honourable mentions across all sections included Cyndi Boste from Victoria with Outta Here (Ballad Of Chris Green) and Casey Barnes & Rick Price from the Gold Coast with Flesh And Bone.

Entry in the 2014 competition is now open.

Weblink – www.songwritingcompetition.com.

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TUESDAY, MAY 6, 2014

Vale – Martin Erdman

Renowned Australian record producer Martin Erdman has died at the age of 77.

Martin started his career in Sydney in the mid 1950s in his parents record store in Rose Bay. He built his first studio at the back of the shop. He is best known as in-house producer for Festival Records from the 1970s.

He produced the first Australian single to sell a million copies in the US with Sister Janet Mead's "rocked-up" The Lord's Prayer reaching number one there.

Martin was behind Peter Allen's I Still Call Australia Home, Abigail's Je T'aime and John Waters & Jackie Weaver's They're Playing Our Song.

Festival Artist & repertoire Manager at the time Peter Hebbes said Martin was one of the most active and prolific producers of Australian talent, having a tremendous success with a cross-section of artists. And, "many of today's recording engineers and producers owe a lot to Martin and those exciting pioneering years in the Australasian music industry."

His first commercial recording was four songs for country singer Nev Nicholls' Country Playboys. In 1993 he opened his own record store in Ramsgate in Sydney and rebuilt the studio at that store.

In 1969, Martin started his own record label Du Monde Records. The label quickly became one of Australia's most successful independent labels generating the hits Life Is Getting Better for Flake, Unforgotten Dreams for King Fox and The Wheat In The Field for Harry Young & Sabbath.

Following his work at Festival, Martin ran an audio/video studio with wife Sandra. More latterly, his activities at Du Monde included a number of special country releases including from Jimmy Little and Nev Nicholls' Country Playboys.

He was also a staunch fundraiser for Support Act Limited through his "Break-a-leg" lunches.

Martin died in Sydney yesterday following a brief illness. He was 77.

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Chart Update – Roo holds number one

Roo Arcus retains the number one position this week on the national Country Tracks Top 30 with his hit Out On The Farm.

America's Zac Brown Band is at two with Sweet Annie while The McClymonts Going Under (Didn't Have To) jumps another two places to number three as does Kristy Cox's One Heartbreak Away to number four.

McAlister Kemp's Tats is steady at five, Christie Lamb's All She Wrote is at six and Sara Storer's Come On Rain is at seven.

America's Dierks Bentley is at eight with Hold On, Kaylens Rain's She's A Wildflower enters the top 10 at nine and The Wolfe Brothers' Lovin' In The Summertime is steady at 10.

Bullet performers this week include Adam Eckersley Band's Give Her The World (15 to 11).

The full chart can be viewed at www.countrymusicradio.com.au.

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MONDAY, MAY 5, 2014

Joy's Riding This Road

EMI Music have released the album Riding This Road (The Record Collection) by Joy McKean.

Described as a time capsule of Joy's early career as a performer and songwriter, the album was collated from rare vinyl and reel-to-reel recordings. "This truly unique collection of songs shows why Joy McKean is one of Australia's most prolific songwriters," said a company spokesman.

"From country halls to showgrounds, cities to the most remote communities, Joy performed everywhere and won the hearts of legions of fans. She became famous performing with her sister Heather in the 1950s, writing songs that have become Australian country music classics, and creating a lifelong partnership with Slim Dusty."

Joy wrote many of Slim's most famous songs, has been awarded six Golden Guitars and was a founder of the Country Music Association of Australia.

She has received lifetime achievement awards from the Country Music Association of Australia and Australian Country Music Foundation, the Song Maker Award from the Tamworth Songwriter's Association, an Australian Bush Laureate Award, an Order of Australia Medal and the McKean Sisters (Joy with Heather) have been elevated to the Country Music Roll of Renown and inducted into the Country Music Broadcaster's Hall of Fame.

Several of the songs on the album have been unavailable for many years and were only uncovered during a recent trip to the EMI archives and through contacting some avid Slim Dusty/Joy McKean music collectors.

Of the process, Joy's daughter Anne Kirkpatrick commented: "Putting together an album of Joy's solo recordings tracing her unique musical journey proved quite a challenge as it covers seven decades of writing, performing and recording, with all the subsequent changes in recording technology!"

Now available on CD for the first time the special release is in companionship to the new book by Joy McKean from Hachette Australia of the same name.

"For the first time, Joy turns her talent as a writer to telling us about her own life. On the way she reveals a lifestyle that has long gone, when performers would load up their trucks and caravans and drive across the country, putting on a show at every town –big, small and tiny – then moving on to the next place to do it all again the next night.

"With honesty and love, Joy explores her life from childhood to the present, decades of marriage to Slim, songwriting, recording and constantly touring right around Australia while raising their children Anne and David.

"Joy's is a life full of music and memories that will inspire and entertain."

Weblink – www.slimdusty.com.au.

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FRIDAY, MAY 2, 2014

Nominations open for National Indigenous Music Awards

Nominations have opened for the 2014 NIMAs (National Indigenous Music Awards) to be announced in Darwin on Friday August 15.

Nominations are open to the general public and close on Friday June 20. Finalists will be announced on Wednesday July 16.

Awards will be presented for Artist of the Year, Album, Song, New Talent, Film Clip and Cover Art of the Year, plus the Community Music Project Award – Community Music Clip of the Year 2014.

There are also special Northern Territory categories... the Traditional Music Award, School Band of the Year and the G R Burarrawanga Memorial Award.

The Awards ceremony will star Dan Sultan with a full line-up of guest artists yet to be announced.

Winner of triple j's Unearthed competition will also perform. Entries for this have also just opened.

Weblink – www.musicnt.com.au/national-indigenous-music-awards/home.

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Rob and Carter

A chance meeting in March saw Rob E G (Robie Porter) guest star on the Carter Edwards radio show which airs nationally on the Super Radio Network every Saturday and Sunday night.

But it wasn't an "average" interview – after an hour and three quarters, the pair had to call it a day but fans will be delighted to hear, the marathon interview is to be continued this Saturday night (May 3) from 8 o'clock.

Live from Carter's home station (2HD Newcastle) studios, Robie will once again join Carter to celebrating the star's return to the performing stage, and the radio program is being billed as a "This Is Your Life" type show.

Guest stars will include Gary Young and Wayne Duncan of Daddy Cool, Les Gock, leader of Hush, and up-and-coming Australian country star Ben Ransom.

Originally finding fame as a singer and instrumentalist under the name Rob E G, Robie was Australia's number one selling recording artist in the mid-1960's, Logie Award winner and "This Is Your Life" honouree. His own 15 hit singles include the hits 55 Days At Peking, Jezebel and Si Senor.

He moved to America in 1966 and went on to be a successful singer, television performer and movie actor there, at the same time becoming Australia's all-time number one hit record producer. Included in his 29 number ones as a producer, songwriter and publisher are the iconic Daddy Cool's Eagle Rock, Air Supply's All Out Of Love, Marcia Hines version of I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself, Rick Springfield's Jessie's Girl, Hush's version of Boney Maronie and Tommy Emmanuel's Dare To Be Different.

Photo: Robie (left) and Carter.

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THURSDAY, MAY 1, 2014

Injune... Where Country Is...

Another major country music event in Queensland this weekend is in the South-Western Queensland town of Injune where the Where Country Is (Outback Festival) is being staged.

In a town of less than 400 people, such an event is always going to be a "big deal" according to organisers.

An hour north of Roma and about seven hours north-west of Brisbane, the former cattle and dairy hub town is surrounded by scenic national parks including Carnarvon Gorge, Ka Ka Mundi, Mt Moffatt, Salvator Rosa, Nuga Nuga, Lonesome, Expedition and Beilba.

The make-up of the Where Country Is festival changes each year, organisers say, but everyone agrees, "the entertainment and activities are first class".

Artists appearing at the festival, which runs tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday, include Chris Pritchard, Travis Holland and Gary Fogarty.

Weblink here for more information.

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Charters Towers wraps up

This weekend is also the final big weekend for Charters Towers Ten Days In The Country.

Tomorrow night sees performances from Roo Arcus, Peter Denahy (pictured) and last year's Charters Towers Country Music Talent Search Overall Winner Christie Polinelli, last year's Juvenile Winner Kasey O'Donoghue and this year's Overall Winner and the Anthony Taylor Band.

Saturday night showcases the talents of Lyn Bowtell, Tommy Contour, McAlister Kemp, Mustered Courage and the Anthony Taylor Band.

Weblink – www.charterstowerscountrymusic.com.

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New from Harmony

Brisbane singer/songwriter Harmony James will release her third and highly anticipated album Cautionary Tales on Friday June 13.

The former jillaroo, who has always preferred to "drift in lonely outposts, learned her songwriting craft under wide-open skies. Now, thanks to the success of her first two albums, she hasn't been near a horse for a couple of years.

And the change of scenery has inspired her songwriting further.

Cautionary Tales was recorded mainly at the famous Alberts Studio on Sydney's lower North Shore and Ramrod Studios, also in Sydney, with long-time producer Herm Kovac and her regular band (guitarist Glen Hannah, bassist Jeff McCormack and drummer Steve Fearnley).

The album features appearances from Mike Carr, Drew McAlister (McAlister Kemp), Brooke McClymont (The McClymonts) and Mark Sholtez.

First single from the album will be Skinny Flat White, written with Brooke as an observation of interaction in the city. It will be released to radio on Monday May 19.

Harmony’s 2009 debut album Tailwind gained numerous accolades including a breakthrough award and APRA, Golden Guitar nominations for Female Artist and Album, eight top 10 hit songs and first prize in the country division of Nashville's International Songwriting Competition.

The follow-up, 2012's Handfuls of Sky, won Country Music Artist of the Year at the 2013 Queensland Music Awards and produced Pride which spent six weeks atop country music airplay charts.

Weblink – harmonyjames.com.

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TUESDAY, APRIL 29, 2014

Urban Country this weekend

One of Queensland's biggest country music events – the Urban Country Music Festival at Caboolture – gets underway this Friday and runs through to and including Sunday.

Adam Brand, Kasey Chambers, Beccy Cole and The McClymonts booked as headline acts with a star-studded "support cast", including...

Don Allen, Luke Austen, Ky-lee B, Casey Barnes, Alice Benfer, The Buckleys, Busby Marou, Adi Burgess, Brad Butcher, Terry Clark, Megan Cooper, Paul Costa, Michael David, Jesse Davis, The Deadliners, Dozzi, Morgan Evans, Lee Fielding, Mary Finch, Wally Finch, Michael Fix, Good Oak, Johnny Greenwood, Dana Hassall, Karrie Hayward, Sarah Head, Harry Hookey, Adam James, Jim Harding, Harmony James, Vaughan Jones, MACK, Seleen McAlister, Cameron Milford, Jen Mize, Noisy Minors, Noel Parlane, Taylor Pfeiffer (the Banjo Girl), Richard Perso, Penny Rides Shotgun, The Pigs, Kylie Ann Price, Brendan Radford, Ben Ransom, Redlands Bluegrass Boys, Josh Rennie-Hynes, Livi Robins, Graham Rodger, SAMI, Tanya Self,Caitlyn Shadbolt, Mark Sholtez, Chad Shuttleworth, Simply Bushed, The Smokin' Crawdads, Justin Standley, The Sunny Cowgirls, Te Whanau Tautoko, Reg & Ellie Thompson, Sara Tindley, Trevor Tolton, Trainwreck Trio, the Viper Creek Band,Whiskey Ridge and Carl Wockner.

Last year's Voice of Urban Country Winner Kiara Rodrigues will also appear, as will 2014 Toyota Star Maker Winner Jared Porte r and Mud Bulls & Music Talent Search winner Julieann Lynch.

The three-day Urban Country Music Festival is being held at Caboolture's Queensland State Equestrian Centre and the Caboolture Historical Village with more than 160 artists appearing.

Also on the program is the National Finals Rodeo and the all new Country Fairground.

Weblink – www.urbancountry.com.au.

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Chart Update – Roo takes over the top spot

Roo Arcus (pictured) has hit the top of the national Country Tracks Top 30 this week with his hit Out On The Farm.

Christie Lamb's number one from the last two weeks – All She Wrote – slips to number two while America's Zac Brown Band is at three with Sweet Annie and Sara Storer's Come On Rain is up one to number four.

McAlister Kemp's Tats bounds up three places to number five, The McClymonts Going Under (Didn't Have To) jumps four places to six and Kristy Cox's One Heartbreak Away is up two to seven.

Doug Bruce's Clock Out At Five is at eight, The Wolfe Brothers' Lovin' In The Summertime enters the top 10 at nine and Kaylee Bell's Little Bit Small Town is at 10.

Bullet performers this week include Kaylens Rain's She's A Wildflower (14 to 11), Adam Eckersley Band's Give Her The world (18 to 15), Graham Rodger's Scrub Bull Hunters (22 to 19), Kate Cook's Hit The Highway (23 to 20) and Luke O'Shea's Three Brother The Great War).

New to the chart this week is Korey Livey's Route 63 (in at 30).

The full chart can be viewed at www.countrymusicradio.com.au.

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MONDAY, APRIL 28, 2014

Big Red Bash in June

Details have been announced for a two day music festival to be staged at Australia’s "magnificent outback desert sand dune" the "Big Red" at Birdsville in July.

Some of Australia’s most recognised music legends will appear at the new two-day event titled, appropriately, The Big Red Bash.

Kasey Chambers and John Williamson (pictured) will headline the festival with Daryl Braithwaite, Joe Camilleri, James Reyne and Ross Wilson, supported by Bill Chambers, Ashleigh Dallas, Victoria Edwards, Harry Hookey and Saxanova.

Organisers say "the natural amphitheatre on top of Australia’s largest sand dune on the edge of the Simpson Desert played host to John Williamson last year and has inspired The Big Red Bash."

“It was a country entertainer's dream, John said. "The show flew like a wedge-tail eagle soaring on a thermal and I can't wait for the next one with some of my music mates."T

The Big Red Bash will take place on is on Wednesday and Thursday July 9 & 10. Tickets and packages are on sale via Ticketek.

It is supported by the Queensland Government through Tourism and Events Queensland as well as Outback Queensland Tourism and the Diamantina Shire Council.

Birdsville is one of Australia’s most iconic outback towns, perched on the edge of the vast Simpson and Sturt Stony deserts and the famous Channel Country. Despite its isolation and wild foreboding country, it has been named Queensland’s friendliest town and its famous pub is noted for true outback hospitality.

Weblink – www.bigredbash.com.au.

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THURSDAY, APRIL 24, 2014

Long and Short Of It launch new work

The country duo known as The Long And Short Of It – Dave Baird and Patsy Toop – launched their latest album, You Made Me Stronger, in Country Music Capital tonight.

Dave and Patsy played songs from the new release to a delighted audience of mainly industry identities at Tamworth's Big Golden Guitar, including one of their own, the title track.

You Made Me Stronger is the duo's fifth album since the pair created their act just over five years ago.

David, on guitar and lead vocals, and Patsy on keyboards and vocals, are both classically trained musicians but never played professionally until they teamed up in 2009.

Latter Day Cowboy will be the first single release from the new album.

Weblink – www.thelongandshortofit.com.au.

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New from Tanya

Star Maker 1995 Tanya Self is on the comeback trail with a new album set to be released.

Tanya has released the first single from the new work this week, The Jacaranda. The album's title is Random Truths.

After 10 years away raising her family, the first single lifted off the album signals a welcome the return of the Brisbane-based artist.

The Jacaranda is described as "a toe-tapping Aussie love story about family life, enduring 'flying in, flying out' for work in the mines – the story gripping from the first bar."

Random Truths is a collection of 14 "heartfelt, brave and insightfu" songs, all country, all penned by Tanya with co-writers on four tracks including Olivia Crick, Sarah Godden and Rick Price.

Weblink – tanyaself.com.

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WEDNESDAY, APRIL 23, 2014

Vale – Marius Webb

The Australian flag flew half-mast at Widgee yesterday as the tight-knit rural community awoke to the sad news that one of its favourite three sons, Marius Webb, the second eldest Webb Brother, had died suddenly on Sunday.

The gentle, quietly spoken husband, brother, father, grandfather and grazier succumbed to pneumonia in a Brisbane hospital on Sunday night, leaving behind his wife Julia, daughters Maria and Philomena and six grandchildren.

Along with his brothers Fabian and Berard, Marius was Gympie's most famous musical export to date.

He put Gympie on the map in 1981 and catapulted the Webb Brothers to the highest echelon of Australian country music when he penned, and the group sang, the song that asked Australia who put the roo in the stew.

It took him one day and most of the night to write the song, and nine days later it roared up the charts, debuting at number seven in the 4BK Top 40 Hits and reaching number one on October 1. It was the fastest-selling single ever for RCA Records.

Before that, Marius and his brothers had already had hits with, among others, The Call Of The Bellbird, been inducted into the Tamworth Hands of Fame, received a Golden Guitar for Best Group and elevated to the Country Music Roll of Renown, Australian country music's highest honour.

They won another Golden Guitar for Roo In The Stew in 1982 and founded the Gympie Country Music Muster on their family property "Thornside" at Widgee.

Marius retired from the Webb Brothers in 2007, though he went on to do several guest performances and continued to drive the Widgee school bus for some time.

— The Gympie Times

Marius's funeral will be held at 11am in Gympie next Tuesday, April 29.

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TUESDAY, APRIL 22, 2014

Dueling Banjos composer dies

Arthur "Guitar Boogie" Smith, the multi-instrumental country musician who wrote the song that would become Dueling Banjos, died earlier this month at the age of 93.

Together with his brothers Ralph and Sonny, Arthur formed a dixieland group called the Carolina Crackerjacks who had some local success including radio appearances.

In 1951, he began hosting "The Arthur Smith Show" on Charlotte (South Carolina) television station WBTV, a program that would eventually become the first syndicated country music show nationally with a 32 year run in 90 markets.

Arthur's early morning program, "Carolina Calling", was also carried on CBS television during the summer during the 1950s.

He was a very active composer with more than 500 copyrights including his 1955 piece Feudin' Banjos which he recorded with Don Reno. In 1972, the song was performed as Dueling Banjos by Eric Weissburg and Steve Mandel for the movie "Deliverance", going on to reach number two on the Hot 100, number five on the Country Singles and number one on the Adult Contemporary chart.

Arthur wasn't given credit for the composition at first but, after filing a lawsuit, his name was added as its composer.

As a recording artist, Arthur hit the Country top 10 in America three times with Banjo Boogie (1948), Guitar Boogie (194) and Boomerang (1949).

Over his life, he amassed a long line of honours including a Grammy for Dueling Banjos and a number of awards for his broadcasting and songwriting.

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Chart Update – Christie still at the top

Christie Lamb's latest hit All She Wrote retains the number one position on this week's national Country Tracks Top 30.

Doug Bruce's former number one – Clock Out At Five – is steady at two while Sara Storer's Come On Rain edges up one to number three and Roo Arcus's Out On The Farm bounds up three places to number four.

America's Zac Brown Band is at five with Sweet Annie, Kaylee Bell's Little Bit Small Town is steady again at six and Catherine Britt's Who Cares is at seven.

McAlister Kemp's Tats edges up another place to number eight, as does Kristy Cox's One Heartbreak Away at nine while The McClymonts Going Under (Didn't Have To) enters the top 10 at 10.

The full chart can be viewed at www.countrymusicradio.com.au.

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THURSDAY, APRIL 17, 2014

Easter's big country weekend

The Easter weekend always features a number of regular country music (and other related) festivals and events, and this year is no exception. Following we highlight just a few. A full listing can be found here.

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Bundy Roundup kicks off tomorrow

The 30th Bundy Easter Roundup kicks off tomorrow and runs through to and including Sunday.

Organised by the Bundaberg Country Music Club and staged at the Bundaberg (Qld) Recreational Precinct, the Roundup features a talent quest with 31 sections open to junior and senior contestants.

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Hartwood...

The Hartwood Campfires & Country Music weekend runs at the property "Hartwood" off the Black Stump Way (between Coolah and Tambar Springs) in NSW.

Stars of this year's event are Charley Boyter, Jamie Davis, Royden Donohue, Laura Downing, Peter Horan, Wayne Horsburgh, Tania Kernaghan, Tom Maxwell, Paul McCloud, Rodney Vincent, Lindsay Waddington and compere Barry Williams.

The event runs tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday.

Weblink here.

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Stone The Crows

A unique event taking place at Wagga Wagga, NSW, is the Stone The Crows Festival aimed to cater to an audience, particularly, of "grey nomads".

Launched last year, the Festival runs before, through and after every Easter weekend, Thursday to Tuesday.

This year's event takes place at the ACTA Grounds in Tasman Street and will feature music, bush poetry, seminars, workshops, markets and the gReyVee Awards.

Entertainers will include Darren Carr, Jim Haynes, Mike and Thom Jackson, Amber Lawrence, Grant Luhrs and Neil Smith plus a raft of bush poets.

Weblink – stonethecrows.com.au.

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MONDAY, APRIL 14, 2014

Roma Easter in the Country

This weekend, the Queensland town of Roma will stage it's 35th annual Easter in the Country festival which this year will feature leading Australian group The Wolfe Brothers as the headline act.

The Brothers will perform in the inaugural country rock concert on Saturday evening (April 19).

The band came to the nation's attention after finishing second in "Australia's Got Talent" in 2012. The band’s debut album, It's On, remained in the ARIA charts for 35 weeks and generated three hit singles.

The Hobart-based band was nominated for four Golden Guitars at this year's Country Music Awards of Australia and will release their second album in June.

Support acts for the concert will be Jamahl Hamilton's El Vaquero, Tamika Taylour and the band Unwritten.

Weblink – www.easterinthecountryroma.com.au.

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Chart Update – Christie at number one

Christie Lamb's All She Wrote has taken over the number one position on this week's national Country Tracks Top 30.

Doug Bruce's number one from last week – Clock Out At Five – slips to second place with Catherine Britt's Who Cares steady at three and Sara Storer's Come On Rain up one to number four.

Jasmine Rae's Just Don't Ask Me How I Am is up two to five while Kaylee Bell's Little Bit Small Town is steady at six and Roo Arcus's Out On The Farm is up one to number seven.

America's Zac Brown Band is at eight with Sweet Annie, McAlister Kemp's Tats edges up one to number nine and Kristy Cox's One Heartbreak Away enters the top 10 at 10.

Bullet performers for the week include the Adam Eckersley Band's Give Her The World (23 to 20), Graham Rodger's Scrub Bull Hunters (27 to 23), Natalie Howard's Paradise (29 to 26) and Luke O'Shea's Three Brothers (The Great War) (30 to 27).

New entries to the chart this week include One Eye For An Eye (at 28).

The full chart can be viewed at www.countrymusicradio.com.au.

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FRIDAY, APRIL 11, 2014

Slim Dusty Foundation and TAFE support youth skill development

The Slim Dusty Foundation and North Coast TAFE will sign an agreement at the Slim Dusty Centre on Tuesday to formalise their collaboration in supporting workplace training for local youth.

Representatives from both organisations will be present, along with special guest Joy McKean and a range of community leaders.

"Slim supported youth and learning," Joy said, "and I believe he would be really pleased to see this Centre contributing to skills development for students in our community.

"The Slim Dusty Foundation is looking forward to working with North Coast TAFE to achieve tangible outcomes that will benefit the Centre, TAFE and its students."

Kathryn Yarnold, Chief Executive Officer for the Foundation, said the partnership was aiming to build regional capacity.

"Together, we will be providing students, including long term unemployed, young people and Aboriginal community members with opportunities for training and work experience."

A series of agreed projects will help the Slim Dusty Centre become a community asset as a regional cultural centre.

Elizabeth McGregor, Institute Director for North Coast TAFE, said the organisations would work co-operatively on those projects by supporting workplace training in a variety of skill areas.

"The areas could include, for example, construction, tiling, carpentry and joinery, shop fitting, landscaping… even media, hospitality and events management."

Photo: from the announcement function.

Weblink – www.slimdustycentre.com.au.

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THURSDAY, APRIL 10, 2014

Doug announces new album

Australian Independent Country Music Awards Rising Star winner Doug McIntyre has announced he will soon be releasing a new album.

"I've have been having so much fun in the studio recording my new album Riding Free with Matt Fell," Doug said.

"The songs are sounding awesome, and that's before mixing and mastering! I have just one more day in the studio myself, laying down the vocals for the song everyone's been keen to see me record – Frank The Fox.

The new album will be available by ordering direct via the singer's website (weblink below).

It will also be available through WJO Distributors, Bigpond, i-Tunes and Sanity Music.

"Ever since I won the award for Male Rising Star... at Mildura, so many of you have been asking when on earth I will actually perform there. Well finally, I am pleased to say that I will be there this year!

"I really look forward to performing songs off the new album. And, of course, it will be great catching up with old friends Don Costa, Johanna Hemara, Dean Perrett and Luke O'Shea.

Doug has also announced a partnership with NG Management who will be performing a booking agent and management role with the artist.

And, he has also launched a facebook page... www.facebook.com/doug.mcintyre.180.

Weblink – www.dougmcintyrecountrymusic.com.au.

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WEDNESDAY, APRIL 8, 2014

New from Jess

Mudgee NSW born "powerhouse" country singer Jess Holland has released her second album, Whole Lot To Say.

After the success of her 2011 debut release Introducing… Jess Holland, the 2011 Voice of Urban Country winner made some big steps in her music career, and it's been a steep learning curve to say the least, according to a spokesman for the artist.

Stepping away from outside employment, Jess pursued her love of music full-time. "and she hasn't looked back since.

"The result is evident in her music, her latest album shows a more mature focus and a sound that perfectly suits the former Country Music College graduate's incredible vocals.

"Whole Lot To Say is tipped to be a career-defining release that will see Jess Holland's music embraced by country and rock fans alike."

The first single from the album – Fine Lines – was released to radio last year and garnered positive reviews.

Jess says she is really comfortable with the way her latest offering sounds.

It features some "rippin' rock tunes" as well as some beautiful ballads. "I have learnt a lot as a songwriter and artist since my first album," she said. "I think my sound has become more definite. The style of the tracks are still brazen and feisty, however, this new material reflects how much I have matured in the past few years.

"I love that rockier-bluesy side of country music and a lot of my music influences reflect that. I tend to naturally steer towards this style rather than purposefully set out to write for a certain genre. As my lyrics are quite sassy, they tend to be suited to the rock-bluesy side of country."

As a proud independent musician, Jess continues to self-fund all her music projects, and Whole Lot To Say was no exception. This time she also took out a crowd-funding campaign with Indiegogo to help raise the collateral to record and release the album.

She says doing this was a great experience and enabled her to interact with her music fans. "It is a great way for people to contribute to the recording process and pre-order a copy of the new album," Jess said.

"A huge thankyou to those who contributed to this album campaign. I definitely could not have started this project without their support, so it means a great deal to me!"

Jess has toured through central, western and northern NSW in support of the likes of Luke Dickens, Diesel and Adam Brand. She has also been a two-time Toyota Star Maker finalist and has been earning acclaim from fans and critics alike.

Whole Lot To Say was launched on Friday, March 28, and Jess followed with three successful launch gigs, one each at Mudgee, Mungindi and Newcastle.

The singer/songwriter has now embarked on a national tour.

Weblink – www.jessholland.com.au.

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MONDAY, APRIL 7, 2014

Keith wins three ACMAs

Australia's Keith Urban has taken out three gongs at this year's Academy of Country Music Awards announced in Las Vegas last night.

Keith's awards were for Music Video of the Year with Tim McGraw and Taylor Swift for Highway Don't Care and Vocal Event of the Year with Miranda Lambert for We Were Us which he co-produced with Nathan Chapman giving him his third gong for the night.

George Strait won the night's top honour, the fan-voted Entertainer of the Year, while Miranda Lambert won her fifth straight Female Vocalist of the Year award.

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WEDNESDAY, APRIL 2, 2014

New Zealand digital sales overtake physical

New Zealand's digital sales exceeded those on physical formats for the first time in 2013, figures by Recorded Music NZ show.

The Music Network reported digital sales increased three percent to 51 percent of sales, amounting to NZ$27.9 million. Streaming revenues tripled to nine percent of total digital gross.

The remaining 49 percent physical sales drove $27.1 million in revenues. Digital's rise, however, failed to balance physical's fall and the market fell by 9.8 percent to $55 million.

Vinyl continued its resurgence, with album sales up 29 percent since 2012, although still a small fraction of the overall picture. "It's encouraging to see the rapid growth and take up of streaming services by New Zealanders," said Recorded Music NZ CEO Damian Vaughan.

It was a strong year for domestic repertoire. Sales for New Zealand acts showed an eight percent rise in digital singles, up 45 percent for digital albums and up 39 percent for physical albums.

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Chart Update – Doug takes over the top spot

Doug Bruce's latest hit – Clock Out At Five – has taken over the number position on this week's national Country Tracks Top 30.

Christie Lamb's All She Wrote edges up one place to number two, as does Catherine Britt's Who Cares to three and 8 Ball Aitken's number one from the last two weeks – I'm Going To Jail – is at four.

Sara Storer's Come On Rain is also up one to five, as is Kaylee Bell's Little Bit Small Town to six while Jasmine Rae's Just Don't Ask Me How I Am is steady at seven.

Roo Arcus's Out On The Farm is up two places to number eight, America's Zac Brown Band is at nine with Sweet Annie and McAlister Kemp's Tats enters the top 10 at 10.

Bullet performers for the week include Kaylens Rains' She's A Wildflower (17 to 14) and Kate Cook's Hit The Highway (29 to 26).

New to the chart this week are Natalie Howard's Paradise (at 29) and Luke O'Shea's Three Brothers (The Great War) (at 30).

The full chart can be viewed at www.countrymusicradio.com.au.

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