This website dedicated to bringing you the latest Australian country music news
Forum – 2006 Archive
Thanks for the opportunity
Thank you for the opportunity to promote what I believe is a most necessary cause in Australian Country Music.
For the past nearly 20 years I have built a database of celebrity births, deaths and all sorts of trivia. My desire grew when I realised that many early Australian recording artists were not immortalised as far as their history being recorded. I do this not for money, but entirely as a hobby. Of course the Slim Dusty's and Johnny O'Keefe's were well documented, but many more were not.
It is as I mature (is 63 years mature?) history becomes more important, not just to me, but all of us. Juanita Coco a Young Talent Time performer passed away suddenly just as her career was blossoming; so it does not make sense to say, I'll do it later.
Some years ago I got similar responses when I approached, some of today's superstars; "Why would you want my birthdate, I'm a nobody." My reply; "There is no such thing as a nobody."
As people pass away, so does anything which hasn't been recorded somewhere or made public knowledge. Quite often we become even more famous or infamous after our deaths. Some of us only find fame for a brief time, but still worthy of a place in Country Music history.
With some help I have been able to record the birth and death dates of Bryan Watkins; the inspiration for writing to this forum. Left unresearched for a year or two and would probably have been an impossible task.
I pride myself in the fact that everyone who has offered birthdates etc to me over the years, must trust me. Finding a single, simple but reliable database to handle 50,000 + names already listed is near impossible, so I have settled for using Word document with tables. Writing a mini biography for each name is my dream... probably always will be.
The two main things I am aiming to do, are;
Make sure every person who had an impact on Australian Country Music is covered... and... Because I'm like everyone else and not immortal, make sure the files remain in good hands when I'm long gone.
I'm open to ideas, and desperate for input from all in the industry.
Peter Ramsey (Adelaide)
Thanks for People's Choice
First up thanks to anyone who participated in the new categories of the People's Choice Awards for best DJ and Best Radio Station.
Now the Tamworth community radio station 2YOU FM hasn't rated and that I find surprising. Not being fully into the country music scene, I might be missing something.
Well done to Beccy Gray and 2MAX FM (yes, I am from Narrabri) but what's happening in Tamworth? Is 2YOU FM not as popular as they would imagine in country music circles?
Editor's note: as highlighted in the media release announcing the top 10 (or 12 in the case of radio programs/stations!) the response to all categories this year was overwhelming, especially for the two new categories. As in all Awards, there can only be one winner and a relatively small number of finalists. In the case of radio programs/stations, more than 150 individual programs or stations were nominated. 2YOU FM was one of almost 70 receiving multiple votes.
Bull by the horns
Recently a John Beland from America took issue via the Forum with views I'd expressed regarding the CMAA's mooted changes to the Golden Guitar Awards. The full text of what I actually wrote appears further down this page. I'd like the opportunity to simplify some of what I said; keeping in mind, that I'm only going through this the once.
John starts out "I haven't a clue who Norman Burke is." However, not having a clue doesn't prevent him from launching into a fabrication with "Perhaps he considers..." blah, blah, blah... "feels compelled", "constantly bash", "American Country music artists" etc, and ends up with "I find his views offensive etc". Norm's views? Cut it out! These are John's own "perhapses". Nothing to do with facts at all. That he finds his own ramblings offensive is good, though. It's a bit like a kangaroo attacking its own tail. Or should I say "tale."
John goes on with a selective [but accurate] quote from me: "Co-writes with Americans: Why we need to go down this track is a real puzzlement." Judging by John's following paragraph, he has again got the bull by the horns. I'll make this as clear as I possibly can: This is not [repeat NOT] a general comment on the viability or otherwise of Australian/American co-writes, has nothing to do with Brian Cadd's expertise, whether different styles can merge, where these items are released, has nothing to do with isolation, danger, infections, paranoia, wheat exports, who John works with, or any related permution that a fertile mind can dredge up in support of a misguided observation. My comment only addresses this: The CMAA has mooted a change to the Golden Guitar Awards rules that would allow Australian/American co-writes to be entered in the songwriting section of those awards. This would mean that an Australian writer could go to Nashville [lovely place] with a few ideas, front, say, Pat Alger [great writer] to sort out the song, then bring it back to be entered in the awards. This co-write would then be competing against, say, little Mary Brown from Halls Gap who has secretly written a song in her bedroom. This would obviously create a lopsided playing field. Whether John likes it or not, that is a widely held view in Australia. Not just mine. It's an Australian trait that everybody should get a fair go. That some don't agree is bad luck. Further, I've spoken to twenty or so Australian writers who've co-written with Americans [not Brian Cadd, though], and who'd be eligible for the Golden Guitars under the proposed rule changes. Most of them claim to not be releasing product commercially in America. I believe them. Keep in mind that I'm only discussing the CMAA rule changes, nothing to do with commercial releases in America as such. The significance of young Australians singing with fake American accents probably escapes John altogether, so I'll leave that for someone else to explain. But it's somewhat like when Robert Mitchum took on an Australian accent for that movie he made out here; didn't work.
Then John goes for a real jump over the shark with "they are real musicians and artists... unlike Mr Burke." That he can assess someone's expertise from such a distance, when he admits not having a clue who they are... Come on, John, surely you're cringing about that one yourself! Watch the shark doesn't getcha!
John's piece continues with more perhapses, assumptions, could-bes, fabrications, haven't a clues etc, which amount to rehash of the same awkward guessing game he began with.
However, because John was able to write at such length about me, without having a clue who I was, I was tempted to ask "Where do you get your facts John?" But, as he never mentions anything remotely factual about me, I'll have to pass. His closing observation that "Music should be embraced on its content" also applies to people. No-one should make unsupported and wild accusations about others, especially when they admit to not having a clue about them in the first place. That John ends with "This isn't an attack on any one individual..." I have to presume is meant to be humourous. We all had a good laugh anyway. Now let me finish with a confession: As recently as this year, I figured on the American charts myself; true! Yet it might be best if John and I keep this clue to ourselves, otherwise some people might get the impression that long-distance prognostications about me are a load of old rubbish!
Regards, Norm [Norman] Burke
I haven't a clue who Norman Burke is. Perhaps he considers himself the champion for traditional Australia country music and feels compelled to constantly bash anyone in Australia who has anything to do with American country music artists. As a producer who continues to work with many indi country acts in Australia, I find his views offensive and at times amazingly ludicrous.
To quote Norman:
* Co-writes with Americans: Why we need to go down this track is a real puzzlement! All it does is encourage misguided youngsters to write and sing from an American point of view. We could even have Australians singing with American accents! Really?
Is this guy for real? What's so misguided about an Australian artist wanting to explore his or her musical horizons by writing with American songwriters? For over 30 years I've been proud to co-write with such great Australian artists such as Brian Cadd, Digby Richards, Lee Conway, Michael King and many others. It's been a thrill for each of us to be able to join together our different styles and perspectives and merge them into great music. And most of my collaboration with these artists HAVE seen releases in America AS WELL as internationally. Where do you get your facts from Norman?
I think Burke's views on country music are very dangerous for the growth of Australian country music. His isolationist views are based upon some kind of twisted notion that Australian country music is being infected by American influence. I work with many of the top Aussie country musicians and artists who have welcomed me into their circle with respect and friendship, based upon a mutual love for country music... ALL COUNTRY MUSIC. Never have I heard them express such negative anti Nashville sentiment. Of course, they are real musicians and artists... unlike Mr Burke.
Perhaps we would see a major growth in the country music scene down under if we could eliminate the narrow minded thinking of misguided isolationists like Norman Burke and welcome any and all influences that might help expand the growth of Australian country music. I'm excited at the future of country music in Australia. I've been lucky and humbled to have worked with some amazing Australian songwriters, engineers, singers and musicians... and continue to do so. We share a common love for country music that goes beyond any negative paranoia expressed by Norman.
This isn't an attack on any one individual as it is on the narrow minded rubbish aimed at setting Australian country music back 25 years.
Music should be embraced on it's content... nothing more, nothing less.
Just thought I should clear some things up re the Top Selling debate...
The ARIA chart is in fact based on sales figures. It is Platinum and Gold certifications that are based on shipped units.
If you consider Keith Urban to be a country artist, then he was unquestionably the highest selling artist last year - selling more than double the quantity of any other country artist in 2005.
Some points about Awards changes
As someone who has often campaigned against the CMAA's highhandedness [without support from anyone much apart from Eric Watson], let me make some points about the changes/modifications as recently mooted for the Golden Guitars. Leaving aside questions of short notice, but considering the actual changes themselves...
* Single Of The Year: Surely this award is irrelevant, simply because many of the so-called "singles" are not commercially available as singles at all; are only marketed on promotional compilations. I've lost count of the artists I've interviewed who when asked about the availability of their "new single", sheepishly admit that it's really just a track on one of their albums [often an oldish album as well]. Hence, not available as a single in the accepted sense. So people who go to the expense of actually releasing a genuine single [meaning the traditional two songs] are competing against make-believe singles earmarked for promotional use. That at some time in the future recorded items might be downloaded from the computer doesn't cut it either. Complete albums being available as downloads could nominate every track as a single. Getting rid if the Single Of The Year shouldn't be cause for regret! A tick for the CMAA.
* Top Selling Album/Album Of The Year: These are clearly a duplication of each other. However, the CMAA might have been better advised to turf the Top Album Of The Year rather than the Top SELLING Album Of The Year, [provided we could come up with accurate sales figures - including those of the Independents]. And the reason to go with Top SELLING Album is because the notion that the the Golden Guitar judges might know more than the record buying public isn't relevant. The CMAA almost got it right this time.
* Co-writes with Americans: Why we need to go down this track is a real puzzlement! All it does is encourage misguided youngsters to write and sing from an American point of view. We could even have Australians singing with American accents! Really? Hush my mouth! And the joke is that most of these co-writes won't be released in America anyway; simply dumped in Australia. The modification here probability hasn't been thought through properly. No cigar for the CMAA in this case.
The other changes/modifications are matters of pedantics.
That's one man's thoughts.
Secretive Awards changes criticised
The Country Music Association of Australia (CMAA) is currently under fire for secretively and unfairly changing the structure and eligibility rules of the annual Golden Guitar Awards. And quite rightly so.
For an organisation supposedly representing the Australian currently music industry to substantially alter the industry's main awards scheme and promotional avenue without even consulting its members, let alone the broader industry, is institutional arrogance in the extreme.
A petition against the changes has been organised by a group of concerned industry people for delivery to the organisation this weekend.
Although the petition criticises the changes it is not solely the changes the petition is against but the manner in which they were made.
When the CMAA took over the Awards in the early '90s, at a time they came under threat from the then organisers, the new industry group was passionate about protecting the Awards and the Awards processes in the best interests of the industry.
One of the planks of these processes was a convention that no changes which could adversely affect an Awards nominee could be made to the Awards structure or eligibility rules in the current Awards eligibility period (that is, providing for a full 12 months notice, at least, to be given).
With the current changes, the convention has either been clearly breached, or perhaps it has been thrown out by the current Board.
It is hoped the Board will see reason, reverse the changes and open a debate about them, at least within the membership, before considering them again for the future.
And what about the changes?
Although no official announcements of any kind have been made about the changes to the Golden Guitar Awards or the reasoning behind them, some positive spin is beginning to leak through.
And though some reasonable points seem to have been made in this spin, a closer look at three of the more major ones is required...
It has been suggested that this award may be announced on the night determined purely from ARIA (Australian Recording Industry Association) figures and that nomination not be required. If this was going to be the case, then it should have been announced. But even if they did want to do this they can't because (a) such a process automatically excludes anyone not selling via major distribution (i.e. going through the ARIA system which is not 100 percent reliable anyway as it quotes product "shipped" rather than actually "sold"). And (b) although artists with major distribution have been dominating the award for quite a few years, they haven't always and may not again in the future, especially considering the dramatic changes in music delivery and a lessening in dominance of the "major" record companies. This award, incidentally, has never been a judged award, it has always been based on the provision of audited sales figures in the particular Awards eligibility period.
In some reasoning put forward in support of this change, mention has been made of a possibility that Keith Urban should have won the Award last January and that perhaps he might not have been nominated. If he wasn't nominated than he should have been so the fault there lies solely with his record company. But Keith is clearly not selling anywhere near the proportion of CDs in Australia as he is in America so he probably wasn't the top seller in Australia at the time as suggested. (A major aside to this is the pity that Keith does not appear to be have been nominated in the Golden Guitar Awards after 2004 which means, unlike Golden Road which was a finalist for Album of the Year and Keith was a finalist for Male Vocalist of the Year in 2003, neither Be Here, Keith, or any of his songs from that album were able to feature among Australia's best in our showcase of the best in 2005, its year of key eligibility. You don't see them doing that to Shania Twain in the Canadian Awards!)
To drop Single of the Year after only a few years in place demonstrates a lack of consistency at best. It has been suggested that the award be discontinued because there aren't enough sales. There has never been any suggestion that the Award be determined based on sales (singles of any genre haven't been selling in any substantial quantities for years). The release and promotion of singles by artists can be a lifeblood of their commercial existence in today's music business and the deletion of Single of the Year denies recognition of this important aspect of industry operation.
The proposal to broaden eligibility of Song of the Year is commendable but ill-considered as proposed. As one industry observer puts it, what if the songwriting team consists of one Australian and five non-Australians. That would make the Awards a laughing stock. Whether you agree with the thrust of this change, and many do, it needs to be much more strictly controlled. Like, for example, with Album of the Year, which requires 50 percent or more of material to be first release, perhaps there needs to be a proviso that a songwriting team needs to be 50 percent or more Australian to be eligible to nominate for Song of the Year.
Aussie radio station wanted
I hope that whoever reads this will be able to assist me. I am a country music fan and would like to help a friend in Nashville receive some recognition of his album outside of Nashville. His name is Rick Alan Carpenter.
I am trying to locate a radio station over there in Australia who might be interested in airing Rick's 7-song CD, I will send a copy to an address supplied.
Many thanks for your help. In the meantime may I wish all Australian country artists the best of luck.
Friendfully & Musically, Diana Putnam email@example.com
Newcastle still has country
I read with interest the demise of country on 2NUR, the Saturday program has been running since the '80s. Any listeners of this program can still get country on Saturdays by tuning in to my program on 1629 AM 3pm to 6pm Music Memories and Homegrown Country. Keep in touch with what's happening, interviews and up to date Australian country music.
No mention of community radio
I have been given a copy of the latest edition of the Independent Country Music Bulletin to read from one of our presenters. On reading this Bulletin and especially the editorial column, I am a little dismayed that no mention was made of the enormous contribution the Community Broadcasting sector makes in promoting Australian Country Music.
I will be bold enough to say that if it wasn't for the Community Broadcasting Sector a great majority of Australian country music would not be promoted on air. So some recognition for the Community Broadcasting sector's effort in your publication would be nice.
5EFM has four country programs per week, two are 100% Australian. Your editorial was more about the commercial broadcasting sector for its scant recognition of Australian country music. Asking for more commercial licenses and requiring licensees as a licence condition to play a certain amount of Australian Country music will not solve the problem.
You would be very well aware that a commercial broadcaster will create a broadcast format targeted to an audience that will give the best monetary return on the investment on behalf of its shareholders. No community broadcaster in Australia can survive without income from sponsorship.
This brings us back to the broadcast format. Community broadcasters have more flexibility in being able to arrange a format that is more conducive to the communities within their broadcast area. The old saying is this: If the product you are promoting is good it will sell itself. Broadcasting is only one of many ways that a product can be promoted.
Thanks for the memories, Larry
Bush Poet and Balladeer
Thanks for a couple of things
Thanks for remembering that I hosted the Awards in 1989, 1990 and 1991. I reckon Beccy did an outstanding job this year under what seemed to be very difficult circumstances. One has to wonder if there was a stage manager?
Thanks for providing a forum in which the country music community can have a say. As a born and bred Tamworthian who has been involved with the Festival from day one I am most concerned about the issues raised by Matt O'Leary. Maybe it's time to remind those who sit in the seats of power in the country music industry that without the singers and musicians they would not have jobs just a thought...
Just want to say how great this new ezine is and how great a job your doing with it. I am from Idaho in the U.S. and have been here 4 years now, 3 of them in the Hunter Valley area. Being a country music lover most my life it has been exciting fror me to learn how Australian music is done. Has not been easy to find information about it and to learn the pleasures that the Australians enjoy with country music. So, yes, thank you for what your doing as it really is helping me learn 'who is who' in country music.
Cheers, Ellis Girrard/Colt.45/EGM Lochinvar, NSW
Music & Entertainment by COLT.45/Ellis Girrard
Can anybody explain to me please how a big club in Tamworth can charge nearly $10 commission for selling an independent artist's album? Or have the nerve to charge the artist commission for the artist selling them?
Why the same club can charge a square metre price for displaying the posters of performers who have been booked to play in the club? Whilst paying the acts less per gig than they received a year ago? (I bet the beer has gone up...
I am not performing this year for the festival but I am friends with many who are and I have heard these reports from more than one artist.
Nobody ever complains to the clubs because they are too scared if they comment they won’t be booked next year. I know several performers (not amateurs) who are so disillusioned that they will never return to the festival here again.
I myself will never seek work during the festival at any of these venues unless things change in a major way.
I would be interested to hear back from anyone who feels they have been ripped off by a venue in Tamworth and is willing to stand up and say to these venues no more…
I am sure that when the only acts available to do their shows are the out of tune buskers or buskers spare chickens things might just change a little.
Deniese was the first
In announcing artists for the upcoming Golden Guitar Awards recently, it was also announced that Beccy Cole was to be the first female host for the Awards. This is incorrect.
Deniese Morrison hosted the 18th and 19th Australasian Country Music Awards (1990 and 1991) solo after co-hosting with Johnny Chester in 1989. (The 18th Awards was also where Deniese won her third Golden Guitar for Female Vocalist of the Year.)
A number of other female personalities have also co-hosted part or all of various Golden Guitar Awards presentations over the last 10 years or so including Laurel Edwards who played a big part in the mid '90s with Colin Buchanan.
CD retail ripoff?
I have just arrived in Tamworth for the Festival and amazed to find the local Big W store selling double sets of popular albums for ridiculously low prices.
Not that I mind low prices! But two of Kasey Chambers' albums, two of Troy Cassar-Daley's and two of John Wiliamson's, each twin pack selling for only $12.93... for two CDs???
I bet there's a lot of fans out there feeling pretty ripped off now as they would have paid $20 to $30 for EACH album... now others (like me!) can buy the twin packs and get the same albums for about $6.50 each!!!!!
No wonder the public is taking to the new digital downloading like crazy when record companies or retailers (or both?) are pricing CDs like this...
Can someone please tell me why it is that only mostly the popular country music artists' music gets played on radio? As a country music presenter on community radio i try to play a lot of Australian country music artists. So if there are any artists out there who would like their music played you can always send a CD to me at one of the addresses below.
Annie Henness, 16 River Road, Walwa 3709 Vic Phone 02 6037 1294 Mobile: 0427 456 156 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Annie Henness (Secretary) Radio Upper Murray 55 Main Street, Walwa 3709 Vic Phone & Fax 02 6037 1410 Email: email@example.com
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