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DATELINE : WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 9, 2006

Petition being organised against Awards changes

A group of concerned members of the Australian country music industry are organising a petition to the board of the Country Music Association of Australia (CMAA) in reaction to the significant changes to the annual Golden Guitar Awards released on July 24.

When the nomination form for the 35th Country Music Awards of Australia was posted on the CMAA website, it was discovered that a number of significant changes had been made to the awards, effective immediately. These changes included the dropping of the Top Selling Album and Single of the Year awards and modification to Song of the Year, allowing the eligibility of songs co-written by non-Australian writers in this category.

"There is a great deal of concern within the industry about the decisions and with the way they were announced," says three times Golden Guitar winner Deniese Morrison, who is coordinating the petition.

"There has been a long held view that people in the country music industry never stand up and question poor decisions made by the CMAA. This time we need to let the board know these decisions, and the timing of them, are not in our best interests.”

The petition is being circulated this week via a number of industry mailing lists and is available for downloading on this website (see below). People wishing to be included on the petition should lodge their name with Deniese Morrison by this Friday (August 12).

The letter with all the names collected will be sent to the chairman of the CMAA this weekend.

Click here to download the petition invitation.

Jean gains American awards nomination

Jean Stafford’s Steelin' The 2 Step two "stepped into the heart of Texas" with two nominations at this year’s 11th annual Academy of Western Artists (AWA) Awards to be held in Dallas, Texas, in September.

Jean is a finalist for Western Swing Female of the Year and Western Swing Song of the Year.

Co-produced by Jean and the late Jimmy Crawford, Steelin’ The  2 Step, penned by Jean and recorded in Nashville in late 2004, was released in Australia last year.

It fascinated its western swing radio audiences in the United States, captivated fans recently in the United Kingdom, Europe and Scandinavia and re-entered the playlist in Australia.

Its success in the US, however, has been the forerunner to this year’s AWA nomination.

The song is still listed in the top five on the US Western Swing Charts after its phenomenal consecutive 26 weeks at number one.

A complete list of nominees can be found at www.awa-awards.org.

Weblink – www.jeanstafford.com.au.

Keith releases first single from new album

Keith Urban has released the first single – Once In A Lifetime – from his as yet untitled new album which is slated for release in the next few months.

In just a short period of time, Keith has amassed seven number singles, 11 top fives and has firmly established himself as one of the music industry’s most electrifying and prolific talents.

He’s received accolades and recognition from the Grammy Awards, the American Music Awards (AMAs), the Billboard Music Awards and is the reigning Country Music Association (CMA) Entertainer of the Year as well as the CMA and Academy of Country Music (ACM) Male Vocalist of the Year.

Once In A Lifetime is described as another in a line of upbeat, infectious rockers that have come to be one of Keith’s trademarks. Co-written by John Shanks, the song reunites the writing tandem responsible for inking Somebody Like You from Golden Road, the longest running number one of 2004. The song was co-produced by Keith and longtime producer Dann Huff.

"Keith puts every ounce of his creative being into his music," said Mike Dungan, President Capitol Records Nashville, Keith's record label. "He’s proven time and time again that his connection to his fans and to those at radio, who continue to support him, is about musicianship, drive and a passion for the music he makes."

After what Keith called, "a low-key visit to Australia" this past month, he returned to Nashville where he is still working to finish his fourth studio recording. He plans to post a message for his fans about the forthcoming album, the single and future online plans at his website, www.keithurban.net.

Meanwhile, Keith has also been named as a finalist for Musician of the Year in the Christian Country Music Association's 2006 Inspirational Country Music Awards. See Awards story below.

JW to release The Platinum Collection

In a career that has spanned more than 35 years, John Williamson has become one of Australia’s most respected songwriters and musical poets.

Over the course of his career, John has delivered songs that have changed the musical landscape of Australia and have stood the test of time.

On August 26, EMI Music Australia will release John Williamson The Platinum Collection, with more then 60 songs over three CDs covering John’s songwriting and recording career in chronological order, a release described as "a true retrospective, to date, of what has been an astonishing career that continues to go from strength to strength".

Tracks include Old Man Emu, The Breaker (with Narration by Charles "Bud" Tingwell), True Blue, Diggers Of The Anzac (This Is Gallipoli), Wrinkles, Queen In The Sport Of Kings, The Shed, You And My Guitar, Goodbye Blinky Bill (with Bullamakanka, Ami Williamson and Georgie Williamson), The Vasectomy Song, Mallee Boy, Galleries Of Pink Galahs, Raining On The Rock, Cracker Night, Cootamundra Wattle, The Budgie Song, Boomerang Café, Boogie With M’Baby, Rip Rip Woodchip, Shelter, Waratah Street, A Bushman Can’t Survive, Papa Whisky November, This Is Australia Calling, Tropical Fever, Three Sons, The Baggy Green (with Steve Waugh, Gavin Robertson and Boys Of The Bankstown District Cricket Association with Commentary by Alan McGilvray, Waltzing Matilda 2000, Salisbury Street, Raining On The Plains (with Sara Storer), Old Farts In Caravan Parks, Glory To Australia (with Pixie Jenkins and Warren H Williams) and Chandelier Of Stars.

Weblinks – For full & up to date tour dates please go to -
 
www.johnwilliamson.com.auwww.musichead.com.au.

Meanwhile, John is set to appear at the Drovers Festival, Camooweal, Queensland, on Saturday, August 26, following a series of appearances at the Festival Inter-Celtique, in France late July/early August.

After Camooweal, he will then launch his Stone & Wire Tour with special guest Warren H Williams scheduled to run over three months with around 30 shows ranging through NSW, the ACT, Western Australia and Queensland.

Full details can be obtained from John's website.

Aleyce's song pays tribute to pipeline workers

Country Music Capital favourite Aleyce Simmonds played a very special role in the official opening of the Central Ranges natural gas pipeline opening ceremony in Tamworth last Wednesday.

Aleyce was called upon to sing the national anthem at the ceremony before official proceedings began, and then later, appeared in the corporate video on the history-making project.

Following the video presentation, Aleyce performed a song she and Rod McCormack had written for the occasion, concentrating on the men who worked on the construction of the gas pipeline.

The $130 million project pipes natural gas along 294km from Dubbo to Tamworth, providing supplies for eight local government areas along the way.

NSW Energy Minister Joe Tripodi, who was on hand to declare the project open, described the rollout of natural gas throughout the region as a massive boon for local business.

Aleyce was approached to write the song and was inspired by the stories she was told of the workers, some of whom came from Ireland, England, Western Australia and other parts of the country, to bring their expertise to the project.

The result was a moving tribute to their efforts, titled We’ve Come So Far, which Aleyce performed live, accompanied by Daniel Conway on guitar, before the large gathering.

In fact, Central Ranges Pipeline Board Chairman Jock Murray ensured the workers were the focus of the official opening, which was also attended by Tamworth Regional Council Mayor James Treloar, Member for Tamworth Peter Draper, Labor MLA Christine Robertson and other dignitaries.

Mr Murray highlighted the dedication of the men, who worked in remote areas, isolated from their friends and families, while the project forged ahead.

– Anna Rose

Photo: Aleyce Simmonds with Energy Minister Joe Tripodi.

Upbeat prediction for Australian music business

Christie Eliezer asks in his weekly music column at themusic.com.au this week "is the bloodletting all over for the Aussie music biz".

PricewaterhouseCoopers' annual "Australian Entertainment & Media Outlook 2006-2010" says that 2006 marks a turning point, as digital sales will more than compensate for the drop in physical CD sales.

By the end of this year, the local recorded music market will be worth $956 million, says the report. (ARIA figures for 2005 valued the sector at $533 million).

Matthew Liebmann, the author of the 208-page report and a PWC director, forecasts that the legitimate download market will have more than tripled in revenue to $253 million by 2010.

This will account for 22 percent of a total recorded music market of $1,131 billion. Ringtones revenue will grow from $78 million to $209 million.

Gold Medallion winners

Winners of the 2006 Queensland Gold Medallion Awards were announced at a gala concert in Toowoomba on Friday night.

Male Vocalist of the Year was shared by Arthur Blanch and Noel Parlane while Shaza Leigh took the Gold for Female Vocalist of the Year and a Silver going to Anita Ree.

Dean Perrett took the Gold for Bush Balladeer of the Year, Silver going to Graham Rodger.

Nellie Donovan won Gold for New Talent of the Year, the Silver going to Julie Perandes.

Musician of the Year Gold went to Lindsay Waddington, Alisha Smith taking Silver.

Touring Artist of the Year Gold went to Troy Cassar-Daley, Silver to Graeme Connors.

Songwriter of the Year Gold was taken home by Graham Rodger, Silver going to Ian Quinn.

Photo (from left): Julie Perandes, Dean Perrett, Lindsay Waddington, Nellie Donovan, Shaza Leigh and Noel Parlane.

Graham honours the Battle of Long Tan

Graham Rodger's Gold Medallion songwriting award was presented for his song The Battle Of Long Tan which commemorates the 40th Anniversary of the historic Vietnam conflict.

"The song is a graphic account of the battle 40 years ago when Australians overcame such unbelievable odds to gain victory," Graham said. "Long Tan is the icon of the Vietnam War, a battle fought by Delta Company 6 RAR which was awarded the US President Citation. The anniversary will be remembered this month on August 18."

Released to radio on NfS 104, the song is taken from Graham’s latest album Muster On The Great Divide. Other tracks gaining interest include The Bushman, Woolshed Ball and Down At The Pub On A Friday Night.

This year has been an award-winning year for Graham with success in the TSA Songwriter Salute Awards, People's Choice Awards and gaining a finalist berth in the 2006 Golden Guitar Awards for Bush Ballad of the Year.

Graham has also recently branched into film with the release of his debut DVD True Blue Country – a one hour video produced by Swiss film-maker Peter Haussener. It includes scenes of rodeos and nature and "the beautiful Australian countryside which intensifies the mood of the songs". The title filmclip has also made the Top 50 CMC video chart.

Weblink – www.grahamrodger.com.au.

Sally-Anne releases new single

Sally-Anne Whitten has released her latest single – On The Inside – on the latest NfS (107) and will celebrate the release at Country Music Capital's Regent this Thursday (August 10th).

The single's accompanying video clip will premiere on "the big screen" followed by a live performance.

On The Inside follows the release of How Do You Sleep At Night? and a successful trip to Europe last year where Sally-Anne was invited to perform at a French country music festival.

Weblink – www.sallyannewhitten.com.au.

Longreach Muster

The inaugural R.M.Williams Longreach Muster will be held at the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame and Outback Heritage Centre, Queensland, on Saturday, September 16, an event aiming to attract a crowd of 10,000 people and cement the future of Longreach as the capital of outback Australia.

The inaugural Longreach Muster will include an invitational Golden Spurs Campdraft, Invitational Rodeo and a Lee Kernaghan Concert.

“The event offers locals and tourists the opportunity to experience the best the bush has to offer in one incredible day,” says R.M.Williams Chief Executive Officer Hamish Turner.

Proceeds raised from the event will go to the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame and Outback Heritage Centre and the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

“Many people make the pilgrimage to the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame and Outback Heritage Centre and many others just dream about it. This event creates the perfect weekend to visit Longreach and experience some of the best our nation has to offer in campdraft, rodeo, country music and outback hospitality,” Hamish said.

"Longreach and the wider region is a unique destination to experience the outback with museums to visit including the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame and Outback Heritage Centre, the Qantas Founders Outback Museum, the Waltzing Matilda Centre in Winton and the Australian Worker’s Heritage Museum in Barcaldine. Outback Queensland tourism operators always receive visitors to their district with the warmest of welcomes."

Weblink – www.showbiz.com.au/rmwilliams.

Australian country on tour in Thailand

Kross Kut Records and traveldoitnow.com are teaming up to take Australian country music to Asia.

A seven night package to Thailand has been developed providing travellers a holiday in Thailand's capital, Bangkok, and premier beach resort, Pattaya.

Travellers also get to see Australian country music recording stars perform. Artists confirmed for the tour at this stage are Neil Buttsworth (pictured), Tarscha and Terry Gordon, Ken "Chainsaw" Lindsay and Lindsay Waddington.

Included in the tour is the Kross Kut Records Golf Tournament where travellers get the chance to team up with one of Kross Kut's country music stars to attempt to win the inaugural event.

Further information can be obtained from the websites www.traveldoitnow.com or www.krosskutrecords.com.au.

Terry launches website

Meanwhile, Terry Gordon has announced his long awaited website has been launched.

Located at www.mustbecountry.com, named after the television series Terry hosted for Country Music Capital-based 9-8 Television in the 1970s, the site was launched this week.

Terry invites fans to join him on his newly created and published website where many of Terry’s DVDs and CDs can be purchased as well as those of other artists.

He also invites readers to submit news items or stories.

Kirsty to support Adam

Rising country star Kirsty Lee Akers will open for multi Golden Guitar winning performer Adam Brand at his Blacktown (NSW) concert on August 19.

A long time fan of Adam's, Kirsty is delighted she was invited to perform as Adam's curtain-raiser.

Like Adam, Kirsty has started spending time in Nashville recently returning from co-writing at Universal Music Publishing and gathering songs for her debut CD album. She won this opportunity at the Telstra Road To Tamworth talent search in January this year.

Kirsty will be performing a number of new songs at the Blacktown concert as well as her more well-known songs including the current hit Bashed Up, Beaten, Battered, Broken Heart.

Weblink – www.kirstyleeakers.com.

Vanessa wins SA Champion of Champions

Nineteen year old  Vanessa Lee Shirley from Murray Bridge in SA is the new South Australian Senior Champion of Champions.

Vanessa's win was announced at this year's Champions event held late July at The Burnside Town Hall.

She won a career development program including performances at the Buttercup show in Tamworth, Queensland Champion of Champions and entry to the Norfolk Island Trans-Tasman Entertainer of the Year quest.

The prize package also includes a cash prize, a $1,000 voucher from RM Williams Clothing, a free photography session with Rising Star Media, and eight hours recording time with Billy Hyde’s Recording to record a professional quality demo track.

On the same night, Kristal Collins from Morphett Vale in SA was announced as winner of the Junior Champion of Champions title.

The SA Champion of Champions event is an initiative of the South Australian Council for Country Music.

Section winners were Vanessa Lee Shirley, Senior Female (17 and over) winner; Danny Gyory, Senior Male (17 and over) winner; Kristal Collins, Junior 16 & Under winner; Nathaniel O'Brien, Junior 13 & Under winner and Georgie Shortt, winner of the Len Wakefield Memorial Award.

Kevin Bergen, Alison Hams, Paul Orchard and Anthony Stewart provided backing for the competition, Dave Prior hosted the awards night which featured guest artists Jessie Che, Alison Hams and Mark Tempany.

Photo: Vanessa (left) with Kristal.

Jimmy launches Foundation

Jimmy Little's long-time dream of a foundation to deal with health issues in the indigenous community officially launched last week in Alice Springs with a story on last night's ABC Television "7.30 Report" highlighting the concept.

The Jimmy Little Foundation was established to help improve kidney health in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across regional and remote Australia.

After two years on dialysis and a successful kidney transplant, Jimmy realised the importance of all Australians being able to access quality health care no matter where they live and wanted to make a concrete contribution to those communities most affected by kidney disease.

Jimmy is living proof that there can be productive life after diagnosis of kidney disease which is decimating indigenous Australians at an alarming rate.

Kidney failure affects 15,000 Australians, with 2,000 new patients requiring dialysis or a transplant each year to stay alive.

In some remote indigenous communities the incidence of kidney failure is 30 to 50 times the national average, responsible for more than one third of aboriginal deaths and half of sufferers live in regions with no dialysis facilities forcing them to take long road trips sometimes twice a week or to relocate far away from their communities.

While most Australians are living longer than ever before, one in every three indigenous Australian males can expect to die before they reach the age of 55.

In conjunction with existing agencies and peak health bodies, Jimmy plans to use his reputation and influence to raise money to improve kidney health in regional and remote indigenous communities across Australia.

The Foundation will fund projects involving education and training of indigenous nurses and doctors in kidney health, construction of safe dialysis rooms and fostering "Return to Country" programs so those who have to move far from home for treatment can return regularly to connect with family, community and culture.

The Jimmy Little Foundation will source its funds primarily from entertainment related activities, including television documentaries, variety shows, live concerts and from the associated CD/DVD sales. Jimmy will be calling on entertainers, sportspeople and well known personalities to lend their services to the Foundation and participate in these activities.

The inaugural fund-raising event is proposed for International Diabetes Day in November 2006.

This will be followed by other events including a concert at Uluru in July 2007. It will be a television event featuring the cream of Australian music talent broadcast to live sites in each capital city of Australia and overseas. Sponsors will be invited to participate at a number of key levels. The Federal Government will be encouraged to donate dollar for dollar to the fund.

Jimmy's manager, Graham "Buzz" Bidstrup, a 30-year veteran of the Australian music industry, will produce the events.

Weblink – www.jlf.org.au.

Kerrigan hits number four at moosak

Kerrigan La-Brooy beat American Idol Taylor Hicks and other Idol finalists to claim the number four spot for July amid fierce competition from around the world on the music popularity website www.moosak.com.

Kerrigan scored a total of nearly 95,000 and thanks friends and fans from Australia, New Zealand, America, Canada and other countries who took the time and effort to support him.

Kerrigan's next single – Holding On – is due for release shortly.

Cedar Guitar Festival

The Cedar Guitar Country Music Festival will be staged at Lismore, NSW, from August 30 to September 3 with a host of entertainers attending.

Stars this year will include Terry Gordon, Reg Poole, Owen Blundell, Graham Rodger, Tony Wagner, Brian Letton, John Grills, Nathan Charlton and Tony Wagner.

The Festival is mainly being held at the Lismore Workers Club with the Talent Quest included.

It is the 26th year for the festival and promises to be a big one according to organisers with talent quest prizes valued in excess of $3,000.

"Country Community" celebrates 10 years

The national country music artists profile program "Country Community" with Helen Kay celebrates 10 years on air this month.

The program debuted in its present format in August of 1996 (for some time before, there were other presenters from many stations around Australia presenting the program and Helen only did the program every 10 weeks).

"After that, it was every five weeks," Helen said, "and then, after a telephone call from Jim Beatson from the Community Radio Network (CRN), as it is known today, or ComRadSat as it was known then, I was given the program called Country Community and asked to 'build up the program's profile' in order to increase its listener base.

"At that time, there were only three stations accepting it and the idea was if I could not improve the ratings of the program it would be 'axed'.

"CRN liked the way I presented, produced and packaged my programs and, as there were no other artist profile programs around that represented the ountry music industry at the time, I decided to accept the challenge," Helen said. 

"These days, there are not too many of the established artists or working artists in our industry who have not made the sometimes long journey out to the radio station 2MCR 100.3FM in Sydney to be a guest on 'Country Community', Helen said.

"My guests are also presented on the Helen Kay Show at the same time and we pre record 'Country Community' in the afternoon each week on a Monday. I travel over from Dural each week, which is north west of Sydney, to Campbelltown (in the west) leaving at 5.30am and arriving home again around 6.30pm to 7pm in the evening. The radio station have wonderful coverage and, being based in the Campbelltown RSL Club, is very accessible for my guests whichever way they wish to travel.

"To say that I am proud of the success of 'Country Community' is probably an understatement. It has been there for 52 weeks of the year without a break at prime time and has never faulted in all that time with the quality of programming presented each week," Helen said.

"I would like to pay homage to all the artists who have made the time and sometimes waited many months at times to be my guest and to the CRN stations that have supported 'Country Community' with their uptake of the program. You are the reason for the program's success.

"'Country Community' would never have survived without those people who have supported me over the years as I have never had Government grants... and have for the most part funded the program myself because of its Australian content so any help offered has been gratefully received.

"How long will 'Country Community' last you might ask? Who knows? For the moment I am just proud to have had it survive 10 years and to wish the program a very happy birthday!"

Stations taking "Country Community" include 2ARM Armidale, 2BAR Bega, 2BBB North Bellingen, 2CCC Gosford, 2CHR Cessnock, 2EAR Moruya, 2HOT Cobar, 2KRR Kandos, 2LVR Forbes, 2MCE Bathurst, 2MIA Griffith, 2MCR Campbelltown (Sydney), 2MNO Nimmitabel, 2NCR East Lismore, 2UUU South Nowra, 3BBR Drouin, 3GCR Morwell, 3MBR Murrayville, 3MGB Mallacoota, 3UGE Alexandra, 4BRR Gayndah, 4BSR Beaudesert, 4CCR Manunda, Cairns, 4RRR Roma, 5GFM Kadina, 5GTR Mount Gambier, 5TCB Bordertown, 7HRT Poatina and Diamantina Radio.

And "All Oz Country Hour" celebrates 100th episodes

The "All Oz Country Hour", a weekly radio program dedicated to promoting "the hottest" Australian country artists – both major and independent – is about to reach its 100th episode with a special Muster edition.

Presenter Aleta Tulk is excited about reaching this milestone.

"It’s great to see what started out as an experiment two years ago still going strong," she said. "As major record companies are signing less acts, our independents have become a big feature of country music radio and of this show also.

"After years of working in radio, music is still the love of my life and I still believe in the music above all. If I can help some of those amazing singer/songwriters out there get heard – then it’s worth it. Many thanks to our wonderful sponsors whose support keeps the show going."

The 100th episode of Aleta's program will feature most of the big name artists appearing at this year’s 25th anniversary Toyota National Country Music Muster in Gympie.

The "All Oz Country Hour" can be heard weekly in Far North Quensland on 88.7 KIK FM – Wednesdays at 12 noon and Thursdays at 8pm thanks to Telstra Countrywide, and in Sydney on Cool Country Radio – Saturday evenings at 6pm and Wednesday nights after American Country Countdown, thanks to The Rooty Hill RSL.

Chart update – Beccy hits the top

Beccy Cole has taken over the number one spot on the Country Tracks Top 30 singles chart this week with her hit song Poster Girl pushing Lee Kernaghan's The New Bush down to number two.

Keith Urban is steady again at number three with Tonight I Wanna Cry while Felicity Urquhart rises another place to number four with My Life.

Jeanette Wormald also rises one place, to number five, with Boundary Rider's Daughter as does Arthur Blanch's With Every Breath to number six and Trisha Yearwood & Garth Brooks' Love Will Always Win to number seven.

Kenny Chesney's Living In Fast Forward drops to number eight while Bobby Cash and Faith Hill are steady at nine and 10, respectively, with Tumbleweed and The Lucky One.

Bullet performers this week include Carter & Carter's Ride (19 to 15), Adam Brand's Open Ended Heartache (20 to 16), The McClymonts' Something That My Heart Does (21 to 18), Sara Storer's Ballad Of Tommy Foster (24 to 20), Kasey Chambers' Nothing At All (25 to 21), A Good Day by Donna Boyd (28 to 24) and Catherine Britt's Swingin' Door (30 to 28).

This week's only new entry is Paul Costa's What Else Could Go Right (in at 29).

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

CMC Top 50 – Kasey takes over at number one

Kasey Chambers (pictured) takes over the top spot this week on the CMC (Country Music Channel) Top 50 playlist this week with her clip of Nothing At All, the debut single release off her upcoming new album.

Catherine Britt's Swingin' Door jumps to number two while Adam Brand's former number one Open Ended Heartache drops to number three.

Bullet performers this week include Melinda Schneider who debuts at number 14 with her clip of Big World Small World, Graeme Connors' On A Roll (25 to 18), Donna Boyd with A Good Day (30 to 24), Carter & Carter's Ride (29 to 25), Gemma Doyle with Permission To Breathe (38 to 30), Jetty Road's Run To You (36 to 32), Matt Scullion's Hard Earned Money (49 to 36), Cat Southern's Last First Kiss (40 to 37), Wildseed's The Fire (48 to 41) and The Sunny Cowgirls' Six Pack Short (debuting at 44).

Bluesfest wins Helpmann Award

The International East Coast Blues and Roots Festival at Byron Bay has won the Robert Helpmann Award for Best Contemporary Music Festival for the second year in a row. 

Festival Director Peter Noble said, "We are very proud to be recognised for our efforts locally, and I’m humbled and grateful to the Australian music industry for voting us as winners two years running. We really are trying to put on something very different every year in Byron Bay – an event which looks beyond the traditional rock festival to take in blues, soul, reggae, jazz, world and roots pop music – in an environment which celebrates local talent, diversity and ethnicity and a safe environment for families."

For Peter Noble and the Bluesfest team, the Helpmann Awards and the local acknowledgement in this country, validates his dream of creating an international festival in Australia on par with the most prestigious events in the world.

For the last two years, the US based Pollstar Concert Industry Awards has voted the East Coast Blues and Roots Festival as a finalist for International Music Festival of the Year. The first Australian event ever to be recognised at Pollstar, this has placed the Byron Bay five-day music and cultural party alongside big name festivals like Montreaux Jazz festival and Glastonbury.

"It’s taken us a long time to get this kind of reputation and momentum, but now Australia has a festival which is regarded as one of the world’s very best.

"It’s a lot of work putting on the East Coast Blues and Roots Festival, but we love every minute of it, and the feedback we get from fans, local and international artists gives us all the motivation we need."

The Helpmann Awards, named in honour of Sir Robert Helpmann and to commemorate his memory and achievements, annually recognises distinguished artistic achievement and excellence in the many disciplines of Australia's vibrant live performance sectors, including musical theatre, contemporary music, comedy, opera, classical music, dance and physical theatre.

-I -N -T -E -R -N -A -T -I -O -N -A -L----U -P -D -A -T -E -

Freddy Fender diagnosed with incurable cancer

Grammy award-winning Freddy Fender is battling incurable cancer after doctors told him in June he had multiple tumours on his lungs.

Fender, 69, who began his career in the late '50s, topped the Billboard charts throughout the decades with Before The Next Teardrop Falls and Wasted Days And Wasted Nights.

Now resting at his Corpus Christi home, Fender hasn't performed since New Year's Eve and all his bookings have been canceled, according to Fender's wife and manager Vangie Huerta.

"Doctors said there wasn't anything they could do for him," said Huerta, who didn't ask doctors how long her husband might live. "We can prolong his life with medication or chemo, but it's not a cure."

Since the start of the year, Fender's health has been a roller coaster ride. He went in for an operation in early January to remove the upper left lobe of his lung because of a fungal infection called aspergillosis, but the lobe was left intact because two lemon-sized tumors were discovered. Fender is taking antibiotics for the fungal infection.

He underwent chemotherapy in late January but decided later to stop treatment because of the severe effects on his body.

While a PET scan showed the tumors shrank from the chemotherapy, it also revealed nine smaller tumors in his pleura — membranes covering the lungs and lining the chest cavity.

The couple decided Fender would undergo a lower dosage of chemotherapy once every three weeks at the Cancer Therapy & Research Center in San Antonio. According to Huerta, other alternatives presented by doctors were taking medication or letting the cancer take its course.

On September 27, Fender will go to the Cancer Treatment Centers of America at Southwestern Regional Medical Center in Tulsa, to discuss his options.

Huerta said the 5-foot-10 entertainer’s weight has dropped from 170 to 145 pounds. "The chemo is hard, but Freddy is taking it," said Huerta, who gets tears in her eyes when she talks about her husband’s condition. "We’re hoping for a miracle. We’ve just gotten very spiritual."

Fender, who in 2002 received a kidney transplant from his daughter Marla Garcia and a liver transplant in 2004, isn’t ready to give up the fight.

"I woke up this morning and I’m ahead of the pack – to my surprise," joked Fender. "I feel OK. I feel all right, but I’m on chemo, so I get side effects. I’m getting ready for my third treatment for the second time."

Fender hasn’t lost his sense of humor either, saying that with his hair, still short from earlier chemotherapy, and a full mustache, he looks more like Santa Claus. He’s practicing his singing at home and says his voice sounds as good as ever. One of these days, he said he hopes to get back on the road for more shows.

"I feel very comfortable in my life," said Fender, who prays daily. "I’m one year away from 70 and I’ve had a good run. I really believe I’m OK. In my mind and in my heart, I feel OK. I cannot complain that I haven’t lived long enough, but I’d like to live longer."

Weblink – www.freddyfender.com.

– Corpus Christi Times

Canadian awards nominees

British Columbia's Aaron Pritchett leads this year's Canadian Country Music Awards nominees with nods in six categories for Male Artist, Album, Songwriter, Single, Independent Male and Independent Single.

Brad Johner, Johnny Reid and The Road Hammers are close behind with five nominations each, while other multiple nominees include George Canyon, Terri Clark, Corb Lund, The Cruzeros and Amanda Wilkinson.

The Fan's Choice winner, to be chosen through online voting, will be one of Paul Brandt, Canyon, Clark, Aaron Lines or The Road Hammers. The award will be presented by the winner of the "Ultimate Fan" contest at the September 11 awards ceremony at Harbour Station in Saint John, New Brunswick.

Weblink – www.ccma.org.

Top 10 nominees announced for Inspirational CM Awards

The top 10 category nominees have been announced for the 12th annual Inspirational Country Music Awards to be staged by the Christian Country Music Association in Nashville on Thursday, November 9.

The member-voted awards are the keynote event of Inspirational Country Week, slated for November 5-10 in Music City.


ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR

For a full listing of finalists check the weblink – www.icmawards.com.


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