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Gillian tours down under

Americana star Gillian Welch is heading down under for a seven-date series of concerts kicking off in Melbourne on Saturday in Perth.

The singer/songwriter last toured Australia 11 years ago and has already sold out shows at Melbourne’s Palais Theatre and two shows at the Sydney's Enmore Theatre.

Gllian will also play Melbourne and Sydney as part of the Dave Rawlings Machine concerts in Sydney on February 16 at the nmore Theatre and in Melbourne on February 19 at the Palais. The Machine also features Willie Watson (Old Crow Medicine Show), Paul Kowert (Punch Brothers) and Brittany Haas.

Having sold out one date at Banglow’s A & I Hall, an extra Dave Rawlings Machine has also been added on February 14 and it is also expected to sell out soon.

"Tickets for all other Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings Machine shows (sux dates) are moving fast," said a spokesman for the artists, "so what ever you do, don’t wait for your chance to see them live."

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Jim Haynes OAM

Well-known singer/songwriter, author, broadcaster and bush poetry promoter and recording artist Jim Haynes has been honoured with an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) in this year's Australia Day honours list.

Jim's award was presented for service to the performing arts as an entertainer, author, broadcaster and historian.

With a long-time involvement in the country music industry in particular, Jim has recently authored many literary works ranging from compilations of bush poetry to trucks, trains and Gallipoli.

While teaching in Inverell, NSW, in the late 1970s, Jim formed the Bandy Bill & Co Bush Band. He rejoined in 1985 and the band recorded two albums on the Hadley label and had airplay on the ABC radio show "Australia All Over".

Jim worked weekend shifts on commercial radio station 2NZ, began providing stories and poetry readings for "Australia All Over" and quit teaching to work full-time on that program in 1988.

He had a minor hit with Mow Ya Lawn in 1989 and signed his first solo record deal with Festival's Kookaburra Label in 1990. Embarking on a career as an entertainer, performing at clubs and touring a school show called "Singabout Australia", Jim's "break" came when Warner/Chappell Music signed him to a publishing deal.

Two songs from his album It's Nothing Serious, produced by Greg Champion, became hits... Don't Call Wagga Wagga Wagga, recorded with Greg and Ted Egan, was a number two hit in 1994 and Since Cheryl Went Feral topped the country charts for five weeks in 1995.

Jim signed a three record deal with ABC Music and began touring his own show and also touring with other artists like Adam Brand, Greg Champion, Beccy Cole, Slim Dusty and Melinda Schneider. He has since recorded quite a few albums of songs, verse and humour on his own label Singabout Australia.

A double CD of old material, The Complete Jim Haynes Collection, was released in 2011 and an album of new songs, Galah Occasion, appeared in 2012, featuring duets with Melanie Dyer and Wayne Horsburgh.

Having "invented" the perfect country town of Weelabarabak in the 1980s, Jim began writing verse about the town and its characters and events. These poems were self-published as "I'll Have Chips!" which sold more than 10 000 copies. A book of short stories, "Memories Of Weelabarabak", followed, published by ABC Books.

Jim's "Aussie Verse" column was a weekly feature of the nation’s oldest magazine Australasian Post until its demise in 2004 and for many years he has had a segment on Sydney radio station 2UE.

He was a long-time member of the Country Music Association of Australia board, ultimately being presented with Life Membrtship, and for some 14 years, compered the Australian Bush Laureate Awards in Tamworth.

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Troy's night at the Golden Guitars

It was Troy Cassar-Daley's night at the Golden Guitar Awards in Tamworth last night, the star winning five of the prized trophies plus a special award for Producer of the Year.

Following a tough personal 12 months and his ground-breaking self-produced Freedom Ride album release, Troy won Single of the Year, Song of the Year, Heritage Song of the Year (with Paul Kelly), Male Artist of the Year and Album of the Year.

Lee Kernaghan was a triple winner taking home Top Selling Album of the Year, Video Clip of the Year (directed by Duncan Toombes) and Vocal Collaboration of the Year for his album ("with friends"), Spirit Of The Anzacs.

Peter Denahy was a double winner with gongs for Instrumental with Cluck Old Hen and Bluegrass Recording of the Year with Singin' Shoes.

Catherine Britt was judged to be Female Artist of the Year with Boneshaker.

Alt Country Album of the Year went to Shane Nicholson with Hell Breaks Loose (produced by Matt Fell) and Group of the Year was won by the Adam Eckersley Band with The Second Album.

Allan Caswell & Manfred Vijars won Bush Ballad of the Year with One Last Muster and Christie Lamb was named New Talent of the Year with Broken Record.

Doug Gallacher was presented with a special Musician of the Year award and Graeme Connors was announced as the latest inductee to the Australasian Country Music Roll of Renown.

Photo (from Troy's facebook page) all winners, including Troy at front with his haul of Golden Guitars!

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Karin wins Star Maker

Karin Page of Wembley Downs, Western Australia, has won Toyota Star Maker 2016.

Karin took the title in a sing-off with Tamworth's Allison Forbers and Picton's Miss Lancaster.

The final was staged as part of Toyota's Concert for Rural Australia in Country Music Capital's Bicentennial Park last night.

Karin wins a huge prize including the full use of a Toyota vehicle for 12 months, recording and video production plus guaranteed performances at a number of venues including Tamworth and Nashville.

Photo: Karin pictured after winning the contest with one of Star Maker's most notable successes, Lee Kernaghan

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Jasmine, Campbell & Alyssa win CCMA's 50th

Jasmine Atkins and Campbell & Alyssa Landrebe have taken top honours in the Capital Country Music Association National Talent Quest in Tamworth, the 50th event in the Association's long history.

Jasmine, from Western Australia, was judged as Overall Senior Winner following her twin wins in the Female Vocal and Songwriting sections.

Campbell & Alyssa, who hail from New Zealand, won Overall Junior Winner after contesting other events individually in the talent quest and winning the Junior Group/Duo section to make their way into the winners concert.

There were almost 150 individual entries in this year's National Talent Quest which introduced a new category – Golden Oldies – in recognition of the Jamdboree's 50th anniversary.

A full listing of section finalists, runners-up and winners follows...

Female Vocal Senior... winner: Jasmine Atkins, runner-up: Karen Maimon, finalists: Amber Goldsmith, Kim Kool, Amanda Quade.

Female Vocal Junior... winner: Shalani Thomas, runner-up: Jordana Jones, finalists: Sophia Chesworth, Tiana Dennis, Amy Pain.

Female Vocal Juvenile... winner: Felicity Kircher, runner-up: Kathryn Luxford, finalists: Bonnie Grant, Alyssa Landrebe, Hattie Oates.

Male Vocal Senior... winner: Kelvin Cummings, runner-up: Paul Crowder, finalists: Peter Armstrong, Matt Pratt, Adrian Thomas.

Male Vocal Junior... winner: Jack McDougall.

Male Vocal Juvenile... winner: Kasey Kilsby, runner-up: Owen Foster-Griffith, finalists: Campbell Landrebe, Jesse O’Brien, Rory Phillips.

Group/Duo Senior... winner: The Mason Boys, runner-up: Melanie Gray & The Dirty Jeans Band, finalists: Country @ Heart, Mikara & Ruby, Triple Threat.

Group/Duo Junior... winner: Campbell & Alyssa, runner-up: Just Between Us, finalists: The Dennis Sisters, Zoe & Jack.

Instrumental Junior... winner: Shalani Thomas.

Songwriting Senior... winner: Jasmine Atkins, runner-up: Paul Crowder, finalists: Peter Armstrong, Melanie Gray, Chris Stubbs.

Songwriting Junior... winner: Sophia Chesworth, runner-up: Kasey Kilsby, finalists: Tiana Dennis, Zoey Mills.

Golden Oldies... winner: Peter Armstrong, runner-up: Paul Crowder, finalists: Brian Galloway, Jim Hartley, Maurie Marion.

Photos: pictured with CCMA President Steve Newton and judges Anne Kirkpatrick and Tracy Coster... top: Jasmine Atkins, bottom: Campbell & Alyssa.

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Brothers3 and Graham Rodger dominate People's Choice 2016

Brothers3 and Graham Rodger, two of the perennial favourites in the Australian Country Music Peoples Choice Awards, dominated the 2016 presentations in Tamworth last night.

Brothers3, still riding a wave of popularity and success following their recent involvement on televsion’s X Factor, took home Best Group, Best Video and Song of the Year, all for their self-penned song Brothers Never Part. The video was directed by Duncan Toombes.

Graham Rodger, who has built a formidable fan base over the last few years, took home Best Male Vocal and Best Album for They Answered The Call. The album was produced by Michael Fix.

Amber Lawrence won her second People’s Choice Best Female award, ending the grasp held on this category by Dianne Lindsay for the last two years.

Steve Passfield and Kathryn Jones were successful with Kathryn’s song Even Cowgirls Sing The Blues in Best Vocal Event from the album Lil Gypsy that Steve produced for the North Coast based singer/songwriter.

Dale Duncan continued his successful People’s Choice run with the Terry Bennetts/Keith Lethbridge-penned track The Old Camp Oven winning Best Bush Ballad.

North Queensland country singer/songwriter and rising star Becci Nethery was voted Most Popular Future Star by the thousands who voted in this year’s Awards.

In the broadcast categories, Jane Kellaway of Sydney’s 2MCR FM was named Most Popular Country Music DJ for the second year in succession while Alan Gilmour’s Australian Country Songwriters Showcase on the NSW Central Coast’s todayscountry94one was voted Most Popular Country Music Radio Program.

“All round, another very successful Australian Country Music People’s Choice Awards,” according to spokesman Bob Kirchner.

“Our voter numbers continue to grow year on year,” Bob said, “and we are already looking forward to the next round of voting which should get underway in just a few months time."

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TSA winners

Winners in the 2016 Tamworth Songwriters' Association Salute Awards were announced in front of a good crown at Country Music Capital's Longyard Hotel tonight.

Keith Jamieson won the Bev Daniel Commemorative Award for Traditional Bush Ballad with Plain And Simple Drifter.

Dana Hassall took out Contemporary Song of the Year with Spinning Wheels while Brendan Smoother was successful in Contemporary Ballad of the Year with Warning Signs.

Peter Salata won Comedy/Novelty Song of the Year with The Wallaby Hotel with Virginia Hermel winning Gospel Song of the Year with Golden Bridge.

Jeff Aschmann took out Alt Blues Bluegrass Song of the Year with I Don’t Need No Plastic Jesus while John Walsh & Imogen Clark won the special Anzac Song of the Year with While Women Wait.

Country Song of the Year was presented to Rodney Moar for 100 Years The Anzac. Rodney also won the APRA/TSA New Songwriter award

The special Tex Morton Award was presented to Lawrie Minson and Pat Drummond (pctured) was announced winner of TSA's prestigious Songmaker Award.

In the National Country Songwriting Contest...

Garry Koehler was named winner of both Open Traditional (with Spirit Of The New Frontier) and Open Contemporary (with No White Card).

Novice winner was Lloyd Clarke with Daisy Chains and the Youth title went to Sophia Chesworth with There For Me.

The Blues & Roots & Bluegrass award went to Billy Bridge with Ghost Town and the Lyrics Only category was taken out by Patricia Thompson with A Library Shuts Down.

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MONDAY, JANUARY 18, 2016 – Tamworth Day Four

Allison, Karin and Missy: Star Maker Top 3

Allison Forbes, Missy Lancaster and Karin Page are a step closer to taking out the 2016 Toyota Star Maker prize after singing their way into the grand final of the talent search last night.

The three withstood tough competition to make the judges grade.

Allison, from Tamworth, was the solid local favourite while Missy is from Picton, NSW, near Sydney and Karin, from Wembley Downs, was one of three Western Australians in the Final.

The field of seven women and three men also included Damien Agius, Tom Coulson, Kate Hindle, Hayley Jensen, Sharmain Kendrick, Liam Kennedy-Clark and Hayley Marsten.

Friday night is the night the grand finalists come together to vie for the top prize of Toyota Star Maker 2016, including the full use of a Toyota vehicle for 12 months, recording and video production plus guaranteed performances at a number of venues including Tamworth and Nashville.

The Star Maker Grand Final will be staged as part of the Toyota Concert for Rural Australia on Friday night in Tamworth's Bicentennial Park.

Photo: the top three grand finalists, from left, Karin, Missy and Allison with Toyota Sponsorships Manager, National Marketing, Nic Lloyd.

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SUNDAY, JANUARY 17, 2016 – Tamworth Day Three

Four for Hands of Fame

Four more well-known names were announced today for cementing in the Country Music Hands of Fame cornerstone next Saturday.

Bush ballad star Jeff Brown, country rock singer/songwriter Drew McAlister (half of the successful but now defunct McAlister Kemp duo), long-time country singing and recording star Patti Morgan (pictured) and leading producer, instrumentalist and industry figure Steve Newton (also pictured) will all be immortalised in concrete after the induction ceremony at Hands of Fame Park from 10:30am.

The honour for Patti and Steve is particularly poignant. Not that it was bestowed for this reason but they are currently Secretary and President, respectively, of the Capital Country Music Association which is running its 50th National Talent Quest in Tamworth this year.

The inductees were announced yesterday morning by the Australian Country Music Foundation (ACMF), operators of Australia's Country Music Hall of Fame in Tamworth, together with a further inductee into the Australian Country Music Broadcasters Hall of Fame, Mike Kennedy of Newcastle.

Special recognition was also afforded to long-time ACMF Director and volunteer Judy Loffell who was presented with the special "Tamworth Appreciation" award by local country music stalwart Noel Smith. Judy is pictured here with long-time presenter of the special award, broadcaster Brian Howard.

Judy has worked continuously at the ACMF and the Hall of Fame since the mid 1990s, including as Treasurer and Museum Curator, often under difficult circumstances when the organisation was scratching for enough funds to keep the Hall of Fame doors open.


Golden Dampers on again

Followers and performers of bush poetry will be pleased to know that the famous Golden Damper Awards will be on again this year at the Tamworth Country Music Festival.

For 30 years, performers have competed in the Traditional and Original sections of what used to be called the Tamworth Bush Poetry Competition. Competitors vied for the locally made Golden Dampers and the name of the trophies has become the name of the competition. These days the competition is run by the Australian Bush Poets Association and has acquired the name of the ABPA Golden Damper Awards.

"If you are a performing poet this is your chance to strut your stuff," said a spokesman for the organisers. "But hurry, as spaces in the program are filling up quickly."

The competition heats will be held in the Outback Room at West Leagues Club, Phillip Street, West Tamworth, on Tuesday January 19, Thursday 21 and Friday 22, starting at 10:30am.

Finals will be held on Saturday January 23 in Blazes Auditorium at Wests with an early start of 7am.

This year’s Finals is a ticketed show with a $5 entry fee.

"We strongly advise patrons to pre-purchase their tickets from the Box Office in the Club Foyer before the event to avoid congestion and delays entering the auditorium on the day," the spokesman said.

Pre-purchase tickets are also available on line from the Club at (then follow the link to Ticket Sales).

Anyone who would like to enter can contact the Competition Convenor on 0419 415 137 or email


Star Maker tonight

The major event on today's Tamworth Country Music Festival program is the elimination final of Toyota Star Maker 2016.

Ten acts will battle it out for three grand finalist positions to compete for the major prize next Friday night.

Going up against each other will be Damien Agius (from North Eton, Qld), Tom Coulson (Honeywood, Tas), Allison Forbes (Tamworth NSW), Kate Hindle (Collie, WA), Hayley Jensen (Pyrmont, NSW), Sharmain Kendrick (Landsdale, WA), Liam Kennedy-Clark Sippy Downs, Qld), Missy Lancaster(Picton, NSW), Hayley Marsten (Gladstone, Qld) and Karin Page (Wembley Downs, WA).

The show gets underway at 7pm in the Tamworth Town Hall and will also feature performances by reigning Star Maker Mickey Pye (pictured) and previous Star Maker winners Bob Corbett and Darren Coggan (Darren is also compere).

Tickets can be purchased here, or at the door, subject to availability.

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Tamworth, Day Two

The biggest news about day two of the 2016 Tamworth Country Music Festival is about what's NOT on... namely the annual Roll of Renown Concert usually held in the Tamworth Town Hall.

Organised and staged for many years by the Australian Country Music Foundation (ACMF) to announce a number of honours, including the Roll of Renown, the concert is not being held in 2016 following a move of the Roll of Renown announcement back to the Golden Guitar Awards next Saturday.

It also follows a move of the Australian Country Music Hall of Fame, also operated by the ACMF, to larger premises at the site of the former Tamworth Visitor Information Centre, a larger and more extensive building.

The Hall of Fame will announce inductees into the Country Music Hands of Fame Cornerstone and the Australian Country Music Broadcasters Hall of Fame during a gala official opening ceremony this morning from 10:30.

Meanwhile, fans will have to wait until the Golden Guitar Awards night to find out who will be elevated to the Roll of Renown this year.

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Official Program

For the umpteenth year, Fairfax Rural Events (previously Rural Press Events) have published the Tamworth Country Music Festival Guide which includes the Official Festival Program.

The Guide is available at numerous locations throughout the Tamworth region and comes complete with a free souvenir CD.

Festival App

A companion to the Official Guide is the Official Guide App for both iPhone and Android users.

Apart from the full program, the App includes information on artists and venues, maps and bus routes, links to live streaming, ticket sales and allows users to see what's "on now" and what's happening "near me".

Festival FM

And rounding out the specialist festival information outlets is the specialist festival radio Toyota Festival FM broadcasting on 106.1.

The station broadcasts continuous Australian country music and has news and features, interviews and more all about the Festival.

Festival FM will also feature live broadcasts of the Toyota Star Maker Final and the 44th annual Golden Guitar Awards.



Tamworth, Day One

For all the country music lovers waiting for the start of the 2016 Tamworth Country Music Festival, day one is here!

Over the coming 10 days, more than 700 performers and 2,800 shows will be staged across 120 different venues.

There will be hundreds of buskers on "the Boulevarde of Dreams" (Peel Street) providing a diverse range of entertainment each day, other free and paid hr

Free shows and paid shows abound throughout the city and environs.

A series of important Awards presentations will be made, including the Tamworth Songwriters' Association Awards, accolades handed out by the Australian Country Music Foundation and the Australian Country Music People's Choice Awards... all leading up to...

The pinnacle event, the Country Music Association of Australia's Toyota Golden Guitar Awards when the who’s who of Australian country music gather with country music fans to see who will win the famous Golden Guitars.

Here at the Bulletin, we'll be keeping you up to date with all the news from the country music extravaganza, the 44th to be staged, as well as on-going and happening news of Australian country music everywhere.



Warren H returns to Tamworth

Golden Guitar winner Warren H Williams, one of Australia’s most loved and highly decorated Aboriginal artists, is returning to the Tamworth Country Music Festival this year.

Warren has collaborated with emerging artist Dani Young to write and produce an album of "original yet traditional style" country duets aptly named Desert Water (due for release early this year).

The duo will debut their new music at the Festival on January 20 with a live band and a string of Australia’s top artists as special guests at the city's Family Hotel from 3:30pm.

The pairing is described as "an historic musical union to their sound and journey, being the first Black (Aboriginal) and White Australian duo to record an album".

Tickets are available here or can be reserved by the venue by phone (133 390) or in person.

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Jimmy bust for unveiling

The newest bronze bust to feature in Country Music Capital's Bicentennial Park – that of the late Jimmy Little – will be unveiled on day one of the 2016 Tamworth Country Music Festival, this Friday, at 10:30am.

The honour was awarded to Dr James "Jimmy" Little AO in 2013, after which an extensive fundraising campaign kicked off, including a successful Bush Balladeers concert during the Hats off to Country event in July last year.

Members of Jimmy's family will be in attendance and are excited to witness this important point in Australian country music history.

Jimmy recorded his first single in 1956 and rose to prominence as an Aboriginal entertainer throughout the 1960s. His hit Royal Telephone shot him to fame in 1963 after it sold more than 75,000 copies and went gold.

Throughout his career, Jimmy was honoured with every major Australian music industry award, plus several honourary doctorates. He was elevated to the Australian Country Music Roll of Renown in 1994 and inducted into the ARIA Australian Music Hall of Fame in 2009.

Jimmy will join country music icons Stan Coster, Reg Lindsay, Tex Morton, Gordon Parsons, Shirley Thoms, Barry Thornton and Buddy Williams whose faces are all immortalised in bronze in the Park.

As well as Smoky Dawson, Slim Dusty and Joy McKean who have been honoured with lifesize statues in place in the city's busy Peel Street.

The busts are the work of countless hours of fundraising and are important in preserving the history of country music and its icons.

Chad coming next

Fundraising has already begun for the next artist to be recognised with a bronze bust... Chadwick (Chad) Morgan – "the Sheik of Scrubby Creek".

Chad was discovered on Australia’s Amateur Hour radio program more than six decades ago and has had an extensive career to date after making his first recording with Regal Zonophone, a subsidiary of EMI, all those years ago.

Chad is considered an institution in Australasian country music, its most unique character and one of the biggest drawcards.

He has many accolades including being initiated into the Hands of Fame in 1979 and inducted to the Roll of Renown in 1987. He has received a Living Legend award at Kempsey and in 2004 was a recipient of an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for his contribution to entertainment.

In 2010, Chad Morgan was the first person to be honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the Country Music Association of Australia (CMAA).

The first fundraising concert for Chad's bust will be held at the Balladeers’ Homestead, Goonoo Goonoo Road, Tamworth, at 7pm on Sunday, January 17.

It will feature performances by Rex Baldwin, Jeff Brown, Johnny Greenwood, Kate Hindle, Ged & Trudy Hintz, Tommy Kennedy, Lyn Manning, Tom Maxwell and the subject of the campaign himself, Chad Morgan.

A donation of $15 is payable at the door.



CCMA introduces new talent quest category

Australia’s Capital Country Music Association (CCMA) will introduce a new category to its National Talent Quest this January.

The category is for Golden Oldies, “a very appropriate addition to our category list given that 2016 sees the Golden Anniversary staging of the Talent Quest,” said CCMA President Steve Newton.

Golden Oldies is a category for solo performers aged 49 or more as at the Talent Quest date, Thursday January 21, 2016.

“It’s a category many other country music talent quests in Australia have had as a part of their roster for some time,” Steve said.

“And so we thought, when our talent quest turned 50, it was only fair that we have a dedicated category for those of the same or similar vintage!

“People in this age group have always been able to enter our Talent Quest, of course, but they would have competed in senior male/female vocal categories.

“By having a dedicated category, we are providing a specific opportunity for amateur performers who have been singing and playing for many years.

“But it will also provide an opportunity for any ‘late starters’ to showcase their talents without being in direct competition with some of the younger acts.”

First placegetter in the new category will win $1,000 of recording time at the city’s Enrec Studios. The runner-up will win $500 worth of recording time.

The CCMA 50th Anniversary National Talent Quest runs in Tamworth on Friday and Saturday January 21 and 22 at the Northwest Church Auditorium in South Tamworth.

Entries in all categories except Songwriting remain open until the day of the Quest.

Entry can be made here, on line, at



Bungendore finalists announced

Finalists in the Stan Coster Memorial Bush Ballad Awards, to be announced during this year's Bungendore Country Muster in February, are...

Male Vocal... Tom Maxwell (pictured) with Drift Back In Time, Pete Smith with Country Way of Life and Justin Standley with Return Of The Stockmen.

Female Vocal... Laura Downing with The Vanishing Breed, Dianne Lindsay with Charlie and Norma O’Hara Murphy (pictured) with Solid Gold.

New Talent... Graeme Doubleday with The Boy I Left Behind, Allan Herbert with Country Lovin' and Caitlyn Jamieson with My Mum And Dad.

Duo... The Coad Sisters with Things Are Not The Same On The Land, Sharon Heaslip with Further Out and Shaza Leigh & Lynette Guest with Something Of A Privilege.

Instrumental... Lindsay Butler with Beneath The Old Moon, John Kilcullen with Freight Train Yodel and Ray Pratley with Rabbit Flats.

Album... Always On The Road by John Smith, Pictures In The Smoke by Tom Maxwell and Plain And Simple Drifter by Keith Jamieson.

Songwriters... Laura Downing with The Mt Tamborine Drover, Tootie Hiles with The Condamine and Keith Jamieson with Plain And Simple Drifter.

Comedy... Keith Jamieson with Baby Boomin’ Grey Nomads, Country Hat and Thirty Sows And Pigs (bound to pick up a gong here!).

The Bungendore Country Muster runs on February 6 and 7.

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The Winners 2016

The Winners 2016 – the Country Music Association of Australia (CMAA) compilation of finalists in the 44th annual Golden Guitar Awards, will be released on Friday.

Released through Universal Music Australia, The Winners 2016 compilation will continue last year's format that featured 38 songs across a double CD set.

The album represents all award categories and features artists including Adam Eckersley Band, Catherine Britt, Troy Cassar-Daley, Beccy Cole, Ashleigh Dallas, Lee Kernaghan, Amber Lawrence, Mustered Courage, Shane Nicholson, Luke O’Shea, Dean Perrett and Aleyce Simmonds.

Roger Corbett, Vice Chairman of the CMAA, said: "The CMAA is proud to be growing its membership and support of country music in Australia. We congratulate every artist named as a finalist. The Golden Guitar Awards celebrate the very best that Australian country music has to offer."

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Academy gets underway this week

This Saturday, the second day of 2016, 29 students of country music will descend on Tamworth for the year's senior course in the Australian Academy of Country Music.

Organised and run by the Country Music Association of Australia (CMAA) the Academy course will run for two weeks leading up to the start of the giant Tamworth Country Music Festival

In alphabetical order, students participating are Sharna Butcher (from Broken Hill, NSW), Tanya Cornish (Edwardstown, SA), Eloise Cosgrove (Rosslyn Bay, Qld), Kelvin Cummings (Dunedin, NZ), Blake Dantier (Emu Heights, NSW), Emma Dykes (Kew, NSW), Aimee Hannan (Minto, NSW), Bonnie-Lee Jessen (Goondiwindi, NSW), Courtney Keil (Eltham, Vic), Josie Laver (Booroowa, NSW), Sarah Leete (Baan Baa, NSW), Hayley Marsten (Gladstone, Qld), Erin McKinney (Yandina, Qld), Olivia Nolan (Mitchelton, Qld), Kalana Norton (Forcett, Tas), Sophie Rainbow (Curtin, ACT), Jacob Ridgeway (Moorooka, Qld), Katie Rose (San Remo, NSW), Charlie Scott (Kallangur, Qld), Arna Stoupas (Sydney, NSW), Kiara Taylor (Camden, NSW), Adrian Thomas (Box Hill, Vic), Andrew Thompson (Burua, Qld) and Aaron Walton (Moree, NSW).

In addition to these, the 2016 Academy Seniors course will include a number of specialist instrumentalists... Joseph Balfe (from Oamaru NZ), Andrew Jessen (Goondiwindi, Qld), Liam Kennedy-Clark (Sunshine Coast, Qld), Kahlia Martin (Cobar, NSW) and Chloe Nott (Tamworth, NSW).

The Academy course will culminate in a Graduation Concert to be held at West Tamworth League Club in Phillip Street, 7:30 for 8pm Thursday January 14. Tickets are available here, or by telephoning Wests on 02 6765 7588.

Director of the Academy in January will be Lyn Bowtell with group leaders Kevin Bennett, Karl Broadie, Simon Johnson and Amber Lawrence.

The 2016 junior Academy course will run in July.

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People's Choice finalists

Finalists in the 2016 Australian Country Music People’s Choice Awards, to be staged in Tamworth this January, have been announced.

Leading the finalists list are regular winners Brothers3 and Graham Rodger, together with a number of past winners, numerous previous finalists and a raft of newcomers.

Names like Terry Clark, Paul Cowderoy, Dale Duncan, Christie Lamb, Amber Lawrence and Simply Bushed – who have all been previous winners at the People's Choice Awards – feature strongly.

Newcomers include the likes of Peter Christie, Ryan Daykin, Hayley Marsten, Becci Nethery and Martin Vella who join previous nominees such as Brett Clarke, Sami, Col Finley, Rachel Jillett, Anita Ree, Jay Seeney and The Viper Creek Band.

In the radio categories, previous winners Jane Kellaway and Today's Country 94 One join newcomers like Big Stu & MJ, Rhonda Francis, Alan Gilmour and Nigel Jones and previous nominees including Geoff Williams and Kevin Walsh.

Previous finalist Nathaniel O'Brien, who sadly died in a tragic car accident just recently and who was certainly a star on the rise, has been voted by his fans among the finalists for Best Male Vocal.

Speaking on behalf of the Awards organisers, Bob Kirchner said he was delighted with the voter support of the 2016 People's Choice Awards.

"It never ceases to amaze us the number of artists, songs, albums, and so on, that people vote for in these awards. We are especially proud of the fact that we don't restrict voting to a small number of pre-selected finalists and are always gratified to see the huge number recognised by their fans.

"Once again in the current awards, there were literally hundreds nominated... and so many votes cast that we had to extend our nomination list once again to 10 in each category rather than the more standard five," he said.

The 2o16 Australian Country Music People's Choice Awards will run from 7pm Thursday January 21 in the Northwest Church Auditorium at the corner of Anne & Kathleen Streets, South Tamworth – a gala awards presentation featuring performances from a number of finalists.

Winners will be announced in 11 categories including two dedicated to the Australian country music radio sector.

Tickets can be purchased here...

A full listing of finalists is included below.

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Best Female Vocal

Kasey Chambers Christie Lamb
Beccy Cole Amber Lawrence
Sami Dianne Lindsay
Laura Downing Jasmine Rae
Kathryn Jones Caitlyn Shadbolt

Best Male Vocal

Peter Christie Nathaniel O'Brien
Brett Clarke Steve Passfield
Paul Cowderoy Graham Rodger
Ryan Daykin Justin Standley
Dale Duncan Martin Vella

Best Group or Duo

Adam Eckersley Band The Long And Short Of It
The Bobkatz The McClymonts
Brothers3 The SUnny Cowgirls
The Jay Seeney Band The Viper Creek Band
Jetty Road The Wolfe Brothers

Best Album

Freedom Ride by Troy Cassar-Daley
Heartbeat by Jasmine Rae
Kicking Up Dust by The Viper Creek Band
Lil' Gypsy by Kathryn Jones
Spirit Of The Anzacs by Lee Kernaghan
Standing Back by Brett Clarke
Take Some Time by Peter Christie
They Answered The Call by Graham Rodger
Wet Hessian Bag by Paul Cowderoy
You Made Me Stronger by The Long And Short Of It 

Best Song

Australia's Colonial Sons – written & recorded by Graham Rodger
Brothers Never Part – recorded by Brothers3, written by Shardyn Fahey-Leigh, Makirum Fahey-Leigh, Tayzin Fahey-Leigh, Daniel Skeed
Even Cowgirls Sing The Blues – recorded by Kathryn Jones, written by Steve Passfield & Kathryn Jones 
Hard Easy – written & recorded by Justin Standley
Indescribable –recorded by The Jay Seeney Band, written by Jay Seeney 
Man Of Few Words – recorded by Paul Cowderoy, written by Paul Cowderoy & Rod Pascoe
My Father's House – written & recorded by Peter Christie
Saturday Night – recorded by Simply Bushed, written by Paul Grierson, Chris Reiger & Niko Downing 
You Made Me Stronger – recorded by The Long And Short Of It, written by Patsy Toop & David Baird 
Your Wedding Day – written & recorded by Martin Vella

Best Bush Ballad

Blue Gums Calling Me Back Home – recorded by Rachel Jillett, written by Harry Williams
Brothers Never Part – recorded by Brothers3, written by Shardyn Fahey-Leigh, Makirum Fahey-Leigh, Tayzin Fahey-Leigh, Daniel Skeed
Jacaranda Tree – written & recorded by Col Finley
Long Way Round – written & recorded by Anita Ree
My Hometown – recorded by The Viper Creek Band, written by Damien Baguley
The Old Camp Oven – recorded by Dale Duncan, written by Terry Bennetts & Neil Lethbridge
One Last Muster – recorded by Allan Caswell, written by Manfred Vijars & Allan Caswell
Return Of The Stockman – recorded by Justin Standley, written by Stan Coster & David Kirkpatrick
Territory Man – recorded by Graham Rodger, written by Graham Rodger & Merv Maltman
This Country – recorded by Simply Bushed, written by Paul Grierson & Chris Rieger    

Best Video Clip 

Brothers Never Part by Brothers3
Fallen Soldier by Gemma Louise Kirby
Fifty Bucks And A Case Of Beer by The Long And Short Of It
Indescribable by The Jay Seeney Band
My Father's House by Peter Christie
My Hometown by The Viper Creek Band
Rollin' On by Terry Clark
Saturday Night by Simply Bushed
Still Searching by Sami
The Vacant Chair by Rachel Jillett    

Most Promising Future Star

Brett Clarke Kathryn Jones
Sami Gemma Louise Kirby
Ryan Daykin Hayley Marsten
The Jay Seeney Band Becci Nethery
Rachel Jillett Martin Vella

Best Vocal or Musical Event 

Amazing Grace by Paul Kelly & Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu
Back To The Bush Again by Dale Duncan & Dean Perrett
Bittersweet by Kasey Chambers & Bernard Fanning
Broken Hill by 8 Ball Aitken & Peter Denahy
Even Cowgirls Sing The Blues by Kathryn Jones & Steve Passfield
I Will Catch You by Amber Lawrence  & Luke O'Shea 
Old House On The Hill by Melissa Robertson & James Gillard
Spirit Of The Anzacs by Lee Kernaghan & Friends
Sydney Or The Bush by Shaza Leigh & Melissa Bajric
You Saved Me by Erica Sunshine Lee & The Viper Creek Band

Most Popular DJ

BIG STU & MJ of Alive 90.5 FM
ALAN GILMOUR of Today’s Country 94.1
THE OUTLAW of Today’s Country 94.1
TRACY & THE BIG D of 104.9 Sunshine FM 
KEVIN WALSH of Good Morning Country 
GEOFF WILLIAMS of Radio Northern Beaches

Most Popular Radio Station or Program

2MCR FM Campbelltown, NSW
2SSR FM Sutherland, NSW
88.9 FM Tamorth, NSW
98.9 FM Brisbane, Qld
TODAY'S COUNTRY 94.1 Central Coast, NSW



A new Australian country chart

This week we introduce coverage of a new weekly Australian country music singles chart.

Compiled by Country Music Capital's 88.9 FM, the Top 20 is announced each Friday with tracks featured in an on-air countdown from 6pm.

Number one this week is Man Gone Missing by Justin Standley (pictured), steady in the top spot after five weeks in.

Clelia Adams' The Captain & The Gypsy is at number two (up four places from number six) while Drew McAlister's Til Summer Slips Away is at three (up from seven) and Fanny Lumsden's Soapbox is steady at four.

Adam Harvey's Harvey's Backyard Bar is at five (down two places from number three), Seleen McAlister's On The Inside is at six (rocketing up 14 places from number 20) and Lachlan Bryan & The Wildes' Afraid Of The Light is at seven (up three places from number 10).

Aleyce Simmonds' Greatest Companion is at eight (down six places from number two), Dale Duncan's former number one – The Old Camp Oven – is at nine (down four places from five after 11 weeks in the chart) and Catherine Britt's We're All Waiting rounds at the top 10 (down two spots from number eight).

New to the chart this week, The Long And Short Of It's Carry Me (new at 16) and Benn Gunn's All I Need Tonight (at 20).

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New from Dianna

Dianna Corcoran is set to release her new album In America at the end of January.

Her debut American release was self produced and features a "12-track collection of songs that bring the best of Australia’s country flavor stateside".

Infusing pop into country, Dianna contributes a unique sound and feel to the genre with her impressive songwriting and agile vocals, according to a spokesman for the artist.

"From the upbeat fun of God Did Good to the subdued, angelic vocals of A Better Me, there’s a song for every country fan."

"In America is a collection of true stories," Dianna said. "It’s all real, from the first note to the last raw guitar strum. I hope that by sharing honesty through my music, I’ll have the chance to connect with people across the world."

The leadoff single God Did Good hit radio in August and is available for download on iTunes and Amazon. "The upbeat love song features Dianna’s clever songwriting skills and vocal prowess. The video, which recently took the number one spot on America's Taste of Country’s Top 10 video countdown, can be viewed here.

Fans can preorder In America now on iTunes.

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DECEMBER 9, 2015

Star Maker finalists announced

The top 10 finalists for Toyota Star Maker 2016 have been announced and organisers are reverting to a previous format for running the popular talent quest.

Billed as Australia’s most prestigious country music talent search, the event will revert to a top 10 "sing-off" on the first Sunday of the Tamworth Country Music Festival with a top three to battle it out for the major prize on the second, and major, Friday evening.
In addition to bragging rights, the winner of the 37th Star Maker Quest, will take home a prize package including use of a brand new Toyota vehicle for 12 months, an unlimited fuel card for that time plus guaranteed performances at major festivals and events throughout Australia and overseas.

In 2016, Toyota will celebrates 21 years of support of Star Maker which offers emerging country music talent the opportunity to realise their dreams. It’s been a stepping stone in the careers of some of the industry’s biggest names including Lee Kernaghan, Keith Urban, Beccy Cole, James Blundell, Darren Coggan, Travis Collins, Samantha McClymont, Kirsty Lee Akers, Luke Austen, Bob Corbett, Luke Dickens, Jared Porter, Kaylee Bell and the 2015 winner Mickey Pye.

The 2016 Toyota Star Maker finalists are... Damien Agius (North Eton, Qld), Tom Coulson (Honeywood, Tas), Allison Forbes (Tamworth NSW), Kate Hindle (Collie, WA), Hayley Jensen (Pyrmont, NSW), Sharmain Kendrick (Landsdale, WA), Liam Kennedy-Clark Sippy Downs, Qld), Missy Lancaster(Picton, NSW), Hayley Marsten (Gladstone, Qld) and Karin Page (Wembley Downs, WA).

The Star Maker Final takes place on Sunday January 17 in the famous Tamworth Town Hall where three grand finalists will be selected to compete in the Grand Final on Friday January 22 as a part of the Toyota Concert For Rural Australia.

Toyota Star Maker Co-ordinator Cheryl Byrnes was full of praise for all the entrants.

"Toyota Star Maker is a fabulous opportunity and it truly is getting harder to judge each year with those entering continuing to raise the bar," she said.

"It’s a great platform giving finalists and the winner a jumpstart in their careers. For the winner the title also brings exposure to great contacts in the industry and a variety of exciting challenges."

During the main week of the Toyota Country Music Festival Tamworth, the three grand finalists will have a busy week of media and promotional appearances at Tamworth Shoppingworld, The Pig & Tinder Box, Coca-Cola Country and Toyota FanZone. In addition, the three will appear as guests of The McClymonts at the trio’s only major Tamworth show on Thursday January 21.

The Toyota Concert for Rural Australia will feature country music stars and Toyota ambassadors Lee Kernaghan, The McClymonts and Toyota Star Maker Winner 2015 Mickey Pye.

They will be joined by former Star Maker winners Luke Austen, Kaylee Bell, Lyn Bowtell and Kate Ballantyne with Karen O’Shea (as Bella), Travis Collins, Luke Dickens, Jared Porter and Grant Richardson... and special guest artists.

Funds raied from the 2016 Toyota Concert for Rural Australia will go directly to the McGrath Foundation.

Tony Cramb, Executive Director of Sales & Marketing for Toyota Australia said: "We would like to congratulate the 2016 Toyota Star Maker finalists, making it this far is a huge achievement in itself. The Toyota Star Maker is a competition we are extremely proud to support."

Tickets for the Toyota Star Maker Final on Sunday January 17 can be obtained by clicking here. It will run from 7pm and will also feature former winners Darren Coggan (as compere), The Bob Corbett Band (2011) and reigning Star Maker Mickey Pye.

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TSA finalists announced

Finalists have been announced for the Tamworth Songwriters' Association (TSA) Songwriter Salute Awards to be staged in January.

Finalists for the Bev Daniel Commorative Award for Traditional Bush Ballad of the Year are... The Big Rodeo by Virginia Hermel, The Old Camp Oven by Terry Bennetts & Keith Lethbridge, Charlie by Dianne Lindsay (pictured) & Peter Simpson, The Drover And The Brumby by Graham Howle, Old Timber Town by Garth Brand, One More Muster by Allan Caswell & Manfred Vijars, Plain And Simple Drifter by Keith Jamieson, Red Dust On The Road by Maurie Marion, Stretcher Bearer by Brendan Smoother, Territory Man by Graham Rodger & Merv Maltman and Back To The Land by Maurice Hardy.

For Contemporary Song of the Year... Golden Rings by Kathryn Jones & Steve Passfield, In your Arms by Peter Christie & Roger Corbett, Just Another Song About a Girl by Allan Caswell (pictured) & Roger Corbett, My Dad’s Shoes by Michael Waugh, Paramedic Suicide by Brendan Smoother, Russian Joe by Allan Caswell & Marian, Spinning Wheels by Dana Hassall, This Too Will Pass by Michael Waugh, Until The Hurtin’ Starts by Allan Caswell and Who Pays The Bills by Kathryn Jones.

For Contemporary Ballad of the Year... Balance Is The Word by Adam Power, Bottom Of The Tide by Anita Ree, How Strong You Are and Invisible by Aimee Hannan, Gina Jeffreys & Makaylie Foodey, Just Call Me Tonight by Steven Sherrah & Christine Sherrah, Love Remains by Peter Shurley, Storm With You by Adam Power, Stronger To Be Me by Aimee Hannan, Warning Signs by Brendan Smoother and While Women Wait by John Walsh & Imogen Clark.

For Comedy/Novelty Song of the Year... Everybody's Doing It by Darryl Bowen, Grandma Doing Bootcamp by Sharon Heaslip, Hairy Hunter by Anita Ree, I Don’t Drink Beer Anymore by Paul Owen, Little Old Fergie Tractor by Peter Salata, My Old Acco by Al Herbert, On The Double by Gordon Station, Starting Over by Kerrie Garside, That Is A Beautiful Beer by Greg Champion, Brent Parlane & Jim Haynes and The Wallaby Hotel by Peter Salata.

For Alt Country, Blues and Bluegrass Song of the Year... The Devil’s Garden by Lola Brinton & Jasper Shelton Hollis, Do You Remember by Shaza Leigh (pictured), I Don’t Need No Plastic Jesus by Jeff Aschmann, Kimberley by Aly Cook & Alan Jansson, Lonesome And Blue by Virginia Hermel, Letting You Go by Michelle Walker, Lousy Coffee by Allan Caswell & Melissa Bajric, Trolley Is A Worry by Pearse Coleman and Whirlwind by Merilyn Steele & Tony Martin.

For Gospel Song of the Year... Angel Called Rose by Allan Sinclair & Leonie K Wheeler, Golden Bridge by Virginia Hermel, I’m Doin’ Fine by Linda Milne, Jesus Is A Working Man by Virginia Hermel & Jim Hermel, My Shepherd's Call by Carmelo Cacciola, Praise The King by Peter Christie & Roger Corbett, Reach Out Your Hand by Virginia Hermel, Their Love Was Built On Stone by Steven Sherrah, Trying To Pray by Lola Brinton & Jasper Shelton Hollis and With Love For My Lord by Sharon Heaslip.

Finalists for the APRA/TSA New Songwriter of the Year award are... 100 years the Anzac by Rodney Moar, Batman Song by Eden Green, Even Cowgirls Sing The Blues by Kathryn Jones (with Steve Passfield), Gypsy In My Heart by John Williams, I Wrote This One For You by Becci Nethery, It’s A Great Time In Tamworth and I’ve Been Missing You by Graham Brennen (pictured), Raindrops On The Window by Tracey Stewart, Shadows by Loni Manners & Mercia Manners and Walk Away by Becci Nethery.

For TSA Anzac Song of the Year... 100 Years The Anzac by Rodney Moar, The Anzac On The Wall by Hendrick Koopman & Jim Brown, Baptism Of Fire by Sven Tydeman & William Britt, The Battle Of Long Tan by Graham Rodger & Alan McPherson, Beersheba Wells by Robert Pearce, The Boy I Left Behind by H Doubleday & Tom McIvor, Castlereagh Digger by Virginia Hermel, P Coad & L Coad, God Bless The Fallen by Jay Poder, Heartbeat Of Australia by Dianne Lindsay & Peter Simpson, I’m Proud To Be An Anzac by Billy Bridge, I’m Surrounded By Mates and My Grandfather And I by Jim Bibby, The Lost Soldier by Peter Campbell & Brendon Walmsley, Mates by Hendrik Koopman & Duncan Butler, My Last Goodbye by John Krsulja, Stretcher Bearer by Brendan Smoother, Such A Shame by Terry Bennetts, Three Gumleaves in Tobruk by Dianne Lindsay and While Women Wait by John Walsh and Imogen Clark.

Finalists have also been announced for the TSA's National Country Songwriting Contest. These are listed on the TSA's website here.

The TSA's gala awards night is set for Tuesday, January 19 from 7pm at The Longyard Hotel, Ringers Road, Tamworth.

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Nominations Open for the Queen Quest

Nominations have opened for the 2016 Queen of Country Music Quest running in conjunction with Tamworth's Country Music Festival in January.

Now in its 31st year, the Quest aims to support young women who are interested in advancing their personal skills such as public speaking, networking and community service. There is also a strong professional development focus, with the 2016 winner being offered a mentoring program.

The Quest is open to women aged 18-35 years who are nominated and sponsored by their employer, a local Tamworth region business or community organisation.

If successful, entrants to the Quest are expected to be advocates of the Festival and also of Tamworth as a destination of choice in regional Australia.

This year's winner, Katrina Higgins, encourages women from all walks of life to consider entering the program, explaining that the Quest is a badge of honour for young local females who appreciate the ability to get involved in the Festival and give back to their community.

"I would absolutely recommend anyone who is interested in personal development to give the Quest a go. It was a once in a lifetime experience and I have made some lifelong friends and connections by participating.

"It’s amazing how, when you put on your sash, the community embraces you. I had people from all walks of life come up and chat to me. It was an experience I am so grateful for," she said.

Country Music Festival Unit Manager Barry Harley explained that entrants must be confident and have the ability to represent Tamworth on the international stage.

"One of the drawcards of the Quest is the major prize which is a trip to Tamworth’s sister city, Gore, in New Zealand, where the winner will represent Tamworth at the city's Country Music Festival.

Further information and nomination form can be obtained by clicking here.

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Shane wins 2015 Country ARIA

Shane Nicholson has taken out the 2015 ARIA Award for Best Country Album with Hell Breaks Loose.

Finalists for the award were Catherine Britt with Boneshaker, Troy Cassar-Daley with Freedom Ride, Lee Kernaghan with Spirit Of The Anzacs and Mustered Courage with White Lies And Melodies.

Lee Kernaghan was presented on the night with an Outstanding Achievement Award for his Spirit Of The Anzacs project.

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Tamworth wins Silver

The Toyota Country Music Festival Tamworth was in the spotlight again overnight winning Silver in the Major Festival & Events category at the 26th annual NSW Tourism Awards in Sydney.

Tamworth Regional Council General Manager, Paul Bennett and Destination Tamworth Director John Sommerlad say they are ecstatic that the event continues to be recognised among the best major Festivals in Australia.

John accepted the award on behalf of the city and said it was humbling not only for Festival organisers and stakeholders but also the residents of Tamworth without whom, the Festival would not exist.

"Tamworth offers one of the best festival experiences in the world no matter your age, music taste or style and we are very proud to be accepting this Award on behalf of everyone in Tamworth," he said.

The Major Festival & Events category was hotly contested with a high calibre of finalists including Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour 2015, Vivid Sydney and the Byron Bay Blues Festival which took home the win.

Tamworth is no stranger to the awards, however, winning Gold in 2014 and previously winning the Australian Tourism Award.

"Just being a finalist in the category is a great accolade," John added, "so winning silver is fantastic and I would like to acknowledge our strategic partners Toyota and Destination NSW for helping make the Festival one of the best experiences in the world."

Tamworth Country Music Festival Unit Manager Barry Harley said: "This award has demonstrated that it really doesn't get any better than the Toyota Country Music Festival, Tamworth.

"For 10 days every summer, Tamworth shows the rest of Australia how to celebrate what's great about our country with free concerts headlined by the best in Australian country music and I encourage everyone to come and experience it for themselves."

The 2016 Festival will run from Friday to January Sunday 15 to 24.

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Vale – June Smyth

Long-time Country Music Capital venue manager and promoter June Smyth has died, losing a battle with cancer yesterday.

June came to Tamworth in the mid 1980s to run the then new Longyard Hotel with her husband Don and was instrumental in helping boost the success of the January country music festival at the time.

After leaving the hotel, she worked for a time with the then Tamworth City Council as an events co-ordinator with specific duties connected to the festival.

In one of many facebook tributes to June, broadcaster Barbara Morison said: "June was a remarkable lady. Along with her late husband Don they were great supporters of country music.

"Most would know their days in Tamworth and the famous Longyard Hotel and the many hours of great entertainment that was hosted not just thru the festival but thru the year. It was the hotel that supported the music, the poets, the stars, and the ordinary bloke/woman; and always had a welcome to all."



Slim Dusty Centre to open

The Slim Dusty Centre at Kempsey is set to open on Thursday.

Slim's wife Joy McKean will join distinguished guests, the country music community, locals and tourists to celebrate the life and music of Australia's national treasure as the centre is officially opened.

Radio personality Ray Hadley will be the MC for the opening ceremony that will run from 1pm for an hour on the grassed area in front of the Slim Dusty Centre in Slim’s hometown.

Slim’s daughter Anne Kirkpatrick and son David Kirkpatrick will also be in attendance while country star Graeme Connors will perform one of Slim’s most famous recordings – We’ve Done Us Proud – and the West Kempsey Primary School Choir also will perform.

Key members of the country music community have already shown their support for the day with artists including Golden Guitar greats Lee Kernaghan, Troy Cassar-Daley and Adam Harvey expected to be there.

NSW Premier Mike Baird believes the Slim Dusty Centre is sure to become an "iconic landmark" for Kempsey and country music.

So says his message of goodwill to be conveyed by Oxley MP Melinda Pavey at Thursday's official opening.

The Premier wished the centre a "long and prosperous future" while Ms Pavey acknowledged it had been a "journey since 2001 which had walked all political paths".

The Slim Dusty Centre includes a museum, a travelling exhibition gallery, a visitors centre, a retail shop called The General Store, a function centre and the Dusty’s Dinner Camp Cafe.

It's designed for schoolchildren, adults, fans, locals, international visitors, and will cater to all manner of ages and backgrounds because, in addition to being a tribute to the country music icon, it helps to tell the story of Australia and its history.

The Centre actually opened its doors to the public on October 17, with an average of more than 200 people per day visiting the multi-purpose facility during the first week. Visitors came from all over Australia, including Mt Isa, WA, Broken Hill, Brisbane, Victoria and New Zealand, and had only positive things to say.

The Slim Dusty Centre is located at 490 Macleay Valley Way, South Kempsey and opens daily from 10am-4pm.

Photo shows just one of the Centre's display areas including Slim and Joy's faithful touring car "Old Purple".

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Golden Guitar finalists announced

The 2016 Country Music Association of Australia (CMAA) Golden Guitar Awards finalists were announced today at a special industry gathering in Sydney.

Seventy-five finalists have been determined by judges from more than 500 nominations and offer an exciting balance between industry heavyweights and the emergence of newer artists, according to the CMAA.

Nominated for eight Golden Guitars, Lee Kernaghan (pictured) is no stranger to the Awards and leads the finalists field with his album Spirit Of The Anzacs.

Nominated for seven Golden Guitars is Troy Cassar-Daley. The Brisbane based artist will celebrate his 35th year performing in Tamworth in 2016.

Also receiving seven nominations is Shane Nicholson with his sixth solo album Hell Breaks Loose. In addition to his seven individual nominations, the multi-talented artist is also the producer of Beccy Cole's album Sweet Rebecca which has been nominated for Album of the Year.

Beccy joins Catherine Britt to lead the female finalists with six nods apiece and will be up against one another in a number of categories including Album, Female Artist, Vocal Collaboration and Heritage Song of the Year.

The 2016 Awards sees debut nominations for a number of artists including reigning Toyota Star Maker Mickey Pye and 2014 X Factor finalists Brothers3 and Caitlyn Shadbolt all vying for the New Talent Golden Guitar.

CMAA Vice President Roger Corbett said 2015 had been an incredible year for Australian country music.

Finalists across all categories were of the highest calibre, he said. Male Artist of the Year was extremely strong and nearly 70 nominations were received for New Talent of the Year.

"We have also seen some of the most gifted ladies of country music contend for Female Artist of the Year, while Bush Ballad Of The Year sees very strong contenders in the award for Australia's unique musical style."

Tony Cramb, Executive Director of Sales & Marketing for Toyota Australia, said: "We're very excited to again be a part of the Golden Guitar Awards, it's such an important part of the country music industry and something we at Toyota are proud to support.

"The depth and calibre of the nominees, which includes a number of Toyota Star Makers, is a great thing and we're already looking forward to the big night."

At the function, NSW Minister for Trade, Tourism and Major Events Stuart Ayres said the Tamworth Country Music Festival, where the Golden Guitar Awards are staged every year, was recognised worldwide, attracting significant visitation to the State and delivered important economic and community benefits.

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

"The NSW Government is proud to support the Tamworth Country Music Festival through its tourism and major events agency Destination NSW, and we look forward to welcoming the many performers and visitors to Tamworth in January next year for a spectacular event," he said.

The Golden Guitar Awards is the pinnacle event of the Toyota Country Music Festival in Tamworth each year and in 2016 will be staged on Saturday January 23 in the Tamworth Regional Entertainment & Conference Centre.

The Toyota Country Music Festival Tamworth will run from Friday to Sunday January 15 to 24.

Tickets for the Golden Guitar Awards are on sale now and can be purchased here.

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Gala open day for Hall of Fame

The newly re-located Australian Country Music Hall of Fame will have a gala opening on Saturday January 16 from 10:30am.

Special guests Lindsay Butler and Dianne Lindsay will cut the ribbon and Tamworth Mayor Col Murray will "unlock" the front door hand the keys to over.

The ceremony will also include announcement of the 2016 Hands of Fame and Broadcasters Hall of Fame inductees.

And then the doors will be opened to the public.

The Hall of Fame moved to the new building, formerly the Tamworth Visitor Information Centre which has re-located, at the corner of Peel and Murray Streets earlier this year.

It includes revamped displays from the previous building, new exhibits and the popular Walk A Country Mile interpretive centre.

The Hall of Fame is operated by the Australian Country Music Foundation (ACMF).

Foundation officer bearers continuing from this year's election are President Eric Scott, Vice President Lorraine Pfitzner, Secretary Athol Latham, Treasurer & Membership Officer Margaret Lansley and Directors Barrie Brennan, Barry Davis, Judy Loffel, Hilary Scott and Jon Wolfe. Max Ellis is Patron.

Photo (by Lou Farina): an aerial view of the new Hall of Fame building.



Vale – Nathaniel O'Brien

The Australian country music industry, fans and celebrities are mourning the tragic death of singer and X Factor contestant Nathaniel O'Brien, who has been killed in a car crash.

The 19-year-old's car left the road and hit a tree near Burra, in South Australia's mid-north, yesterday.

Earlier that day, Nathaniel had played at the Burra Country Music Festival, which his parents helped run, and was set to perform at the Tea Tree Gully Hotel, in Adelaide, that night.

The talented country artist has been described as a kind, caring and genuine young man in tributes that flowed over social media on Monday.

Singer Natalie Bassingthwaighte, who was Nathaniel's mentor on the reality singing show last year, tweeted her tribute to the budding artist.

"My heart goes out to Nathaniel's family after hearing of his tragic passing. What a spectacular young man with the voice of an angel," she wrote.

X Factor judge Dannii Minogue and host Luke Jacobz both expressed their sadness.

"I remember him as such a warm, sunny person," Dannii tweeted.

"Thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this sad time," said Jacobz.

As well as being heavily involved in country music in South Australia, Nathaniel was recognised as a rising star in the industry nationally.

He had numerous successes in talent quests across the country, including the presigious National Talent Quest in Tamworth in January 2014 and was a multi-finalist in the 2015 Australian Country Music People's Choice Awards.



Gidgee Coal Bush Ballad winners

Winners of this year's Gidgee Coal Bush Ballad Awards are...

Album of the Year... Take Me Back by Bruce Lavender; runners-up The Pride Of Australia by Tom McIvor and Murrumbidgee Mud by John Smith.

Female Vocalist of the Year... Kylie Castle with The Friend I’ve Never Met; runners-up Sharon Heaslip with The Drought and Rachel Jillett with Blue Gums Calling Me Back Home.

Male Vocalist of the Year...Terry Bennetts with Fitzroy River; runners-up Bruce Lavender with Take Me Back In A Song and John Smith with Old Axe Man.

Group/Duo/Collaboration... The Gunbarrel Highwaymen with Do It All Over Again; runners-up Sharon Heaslip & Keith Jamieson with Further Out and
Ged & Trudy Hintz with Looks Like The Drought Has Broken.

Songwriting... Tom McIvor with Tent Show Fighters; runners-up Terry Bennetts & Keith Lethbridge with Fitzroy River and Bruce Lavender with Our Bushmen Of Yesterday.

Instrumental... Terry Bennetts with Gnangara Sunset; runners-up Ray Pratley with Rabbit Flats and Peter Salata with Saddle The Wind.

Comedy/Novelty... Tom McIvor with Vegemite On Toast; runners-up Bruce Lavender with Santa Claus Is A Cowboy and John Smith with Mailman’s Mate.

Legend Awards went to Rick Carey and Norma O'Hara Murphy, New Talent to Garth Brand and an Encouragement award to Rachel Jillett.

A special Award of Appreciation was presented to Keith Jamieson and Alisha Smith from John and Margaret Staunton, Ros Scotney and Friends of the Gidgee Coal Awards.



CCMA’s 50th

January 2016 will be a momentous month for the Capital Country Music Association (CCMA).

In it’s 51st year, the CCMA will be staging its 50th National Talent Quest & Jamboree, a significant achievement for any organisation (even America’s CMA Awards won’t stage their 50th event until the following year).

The Capital Country Music Association formed initially as a branch of the Modern Country Music Association (MCMA) in October 1964. The MCMA had a number of branches in Queensland and NSW.

The CCMA name and structure was adopted in 1969 but the Association had run its first Talent Quest & Jamboree in June the previous year.

“But if it only started in 1968, that doesn’t add up to 50,” we hear you say! The thing is, in 1969, two Jamborees were staged, one in January and another in June.

So January 2016 will be the 50th CCMA National Talent Quest & Jamboree, and to celebrate the occasion, a special commemorative Jamboree Concert is being planned for Saturday January 23 on the main weekend of the Tamworth Country Music Festival.

The National Talent Quest will run for two days as usual on Thursday and Friday January 21 and 22 with a winner’s concert to be staged on the Friday night.

On the Saturday afternoon, the special Jamboree will feature the male and female talent quest winners plus a multitude of previous winners who have come through the National Talent Quest over the previous 49 years.

The CCMA is joining with Tamworth Regional Council and Country Music Capital News to stage the special event in recognition of the significant role the CCMA has played in the development of the annual Tamworth Festival over the years.

In January 1973, the first Australasian Country Music Awards were staged which, together with the National Talent Quest & Jamboree, saw the official commencement of the Tamworth Country Music Festival as we know it today (a festival is defined as an activity featuring two or more events).

Invitations are currently being compiled to go out to previous winners of the National Talent Quest to develop a roster of artists for the commemorative Jamboree Concert.

The CCMA is also seeking information from some of the years where details of winners may not be known. A number of records have been lost for some years, especially in the earlier days, and the organisation would like to be able to fill in the gaps. Not only for this coming January but for the sake of historical accuracy.

Anyone who knows, or knows of anyone who might have information about any of the CCMA National Talent Quest years, is asked to contact the Association via the email

Entry in the Talent Quest is now open. Entry can be made on-line at the CCMA website

The Talent Quest and Winners Concert will be staged again at the Northwest Church Auditorium at the corner of Anne and Kathleen Streets, Tamworth.

The commemorative Jamboree event will be staged in the historic Tamworth Town Hall where it all began all those years ago.

Tickets can be purchased by clicking this link.



Aleyce shines at the Southern Stars

Country Music Capital based Aleyce Simmonds has taken top honours at the 2016 Australian Independent Country Music Awards – or Southern Stars – at Mildura.

Award winners were announced on Saturday night with Aleyce taking home Single of the Year and Female Artist of the Year with Joshua and being named Independent Artist of the Year.

The Bobkatz were also major winners capturing Group of the Year and Heritage Track of the Year with The Gallery.

Album of the Year went to Allan Caswell with Sometimes When You Lose You Win.

Heritage Track of the Year was taken out by The Bobkatz with The Gallery.

Male Artist of the Year was won by Michael Bryers with Sideshow.

The Rising Star Female award was taken out by Courtney Conway with Burning Your Memory Down while Rising Star Male went to Glen Moffat with Superman Lunch Box.

Nick Erby was presented with the Barry Thornton Memorial Award which recognises a significant contribution to country music.

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Southern Stars finalists announced

Finalists in the 2015 Southern Stars – the Australian Independent Country Music Awards – have been announced.

For Single of the Year, finalists are (in alphabetical order by track title) Girl In A Million by 8 Ball Aitken (pictured), Gotta Take A Minute by Dana Hassall, Joshua by Aleyce Simmonds and Sometimes When You Lose You Win by Allan Caswell.

For Album of the Year... Cowboys & Sunsets by Roo Arcus, The New Normal by 8 Ball Aitken, Sometimes When You Lose You Win by Allan Caswell and Somewhere Better To Be by Doug Bruce.

For Heritage Track of the Year... Australia’s Colonial Sons by Graham Rodger, The Gallery by The Bobkatz, Lorraine by Dean Perrett and When We Were Young And Stupid by Allan Caswell.

For Male Artist of the Year... 8 Ball Aitken with Girl In A Million, Doug Bruce with Broke Down Heart, Michael Bryers with Sideshow and Allan Caswell with Sometimes When You Lose You Win.

For Female Artist... Clelia Adams with Play The Song, Tori Darke with I Belong To You, Seleen McAlister (pictured) with She’s Getting Stronger and Aleyce Simmonds Joshua.

For Rising Star Make... Steve Cheers with Roger That, Glen Mofffatt with Superman Lunch Box, Brendan Smoother with Stretcher Bearer and Justin Standley with Return Of The Stockman.

For Rising Star Female... Courtney Conway with Burning Your Memory Down, Dana Hassall with Gotta Take A Minute, Becci Nethery with I Wrote This One For You and Michelle Plozza with Colour Me Happy.

For Group/Duo of the Year... The Bobkatz with The Gallery, Carter & Carter  with What A Wonderful World, The Col Finley Band with She Country and The Sherrahs with Shadows.

Award winners will be announced as part of the Milrura Country Music Festival which runs at the end of September through the October long weekend.

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OCTOBER... 2015

New from Slim

To coincide with the long awaited opening of the Slim Dusty Centre and Museum at Kempsey in November, EMI Music will release a new Slim Dusty album, The Den Tapes.

Released on November 13th, the new album features all previously unreleased recordings by Australia’s legendary King of Country. These are the last known unreleased recordings by Slim Dusty.

The Den Tapes is a 10 song collection of recently unearthed solo material recorded on cassette by Slim himself in his small office ‘den’ at home. These unique solo acoustic recordings show Slim’s raw talent at its very best. His relaxed performances on this collection of home recordings are pure and simply brilliant...and it is simply Slim’s voice and a guitar!

For posterity no doubt, sometime in the late 90's Slim started recording and collating these private recordings of his favourite songs from his youth, traditional Aussie songs which he grew up listening to back on his family farm, songs which probably inspired and shaped his own future musical direction. Slim's longtime producer Rod Coe discovered this personal collection of solo recordings on a single cassette by sheer accident when looking for something else in Slim’s Den.

To quote Slim's wife and songwriter Joy McKean: “The songs you have here are some of those he heard and learned from the radio and the old portable gramophone when he was just a quiet country boy up in the isolated Nulla Nulla Creek. Many decades later, as a nationally known and loved singer and travelling showman, he still turned to the old songs for the pure enjoyment of singing them”.

Leaving the final comments on The Den Tapes to Slim’s wife, Joy McKean says, “These recordings reveal a very happy album; a man and his guitar, singing for the absolute joy of it…just singing”.



Vale – Dusty Rankin

Australian country music pioneer Dusty Rankin died yesterday aged 91.

Dusty, aka Roger Hogan, lived in Birchip, Western Victoria, for all of his life and was revered for his early recordings for Regal Zonophone, Hadley and Columbia labels.

Dusty was honoured in 1980 by being inducted into the Hands of Fame in Tamworth, and the ultimate accolade being elevated to the Roll of Renown in 1996.

With a very strong fan base, even into his latter years, he was a regular attendee at the Tamworth Country Music Festival until his age got the better of him.

His home town recognised his contribution to Australian country music by erecting a plaque in Birchip's main Street.

Photo: Dusty pictured with his Birchip plaque.



Vale – Jeff Walker

The music industry is mourning the loss of one of its best known figures, Jeff Walker, who died suddenly yesterday in Nashville aged 65. 

Jeff, head of the AristoMedia Group/Marco Media Group, a diversified entertainment company with branches in publicity, radio and music video promotion and country dance club marketing, among other areas, suffered a heart attack at Nashville International Airport and died later that night in an area hospital.

His company, which worked with both country and Christian music acts, marked its 35th anniversary in April.

"When I saw a need for something, I just tried to fulfill the need because I liked the challenge of it," Jeff told the performance industry magazine Encore in a 2010 interview, explaining the broad reach of his company.

In addition to being known as an avid supporter of both artists and the country music industry in general, Jeff is remembered for being a constantly upbeat presence, appreciated as much for his puns as for his prowess in the industry. He also had a keen eye for executive talent, and provided early-career jobs for numerous people who later populated businesses all over Nashville's Music Row, many of whom were hailing him as a mentor on social media following his death. 

As well as championing Nashville acts, the Sydney, Australia, native was an advocate for international country music artists and for 12 years organised the packed annual global artists showcase in Nashville for talent from around the world during the CMA Music Festival.

America's Country Music Association (CMA) honored him for his efforts in expanding country music's reach internationally with its Jo Walker-Meador International Award. Last year, Country Music Association of Australia (CMAA) also honored him with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Jeff was a longtime board member for both the CMA and the American trade group Country Radio Seminar (CRS). He served on the latter board for 35 years and had recently been re-elected as its treasurer. In June, he was honoured with the CRS President's Award.

A 1992 graduate of Nashville's prestigious Leadership Music program, Jeff continued to give back to that organisation, most recently serving as co-chairman of the group's 25th anniversary gala last year.

His company employed both his son, Jon Walker, and his daughter, Christy Walker-Watkins, as well as her husband, Matt Watkins. His wife Terri, father Bill Walker, stepmother Jeanine, daughter-in-law Tessa and two granddaughters also survived him.

Jeff was a second-generation member of the country music industry. His father, Bill was the musical director for "The Johnny Cash Show" in addition to producing records for Donna Fargo, Roy Rogers, Billy Walker, Ferlin Husky and Wanda Jackson.

He moved to Nashville in 1974 and initially worked as an accountant before joining his father's business, Con Brio Records and Publishing. He worked there for three years before starting his own company, one of the first independent publicity firms to operate in Nashville.

Nashville Mayor Karl Dean issued a statement to Music Row: "Jeff Walker played an important role in spreading country music overseas and bringing country music talent from other countries to perform in Nashville. His zeal for growing country music's appeal around the globe made him an integral part of our Sister Cities program. In particular, Jeff helped develop our partnership with Tamworth, the Country Music Capital of Australia, and nurture our relationship with Edmonton, which also has strong music ties to Nashville."

"Jeff was instrumental in so many CMA efforts over the years, but chief among them was our international outreach and initiatives," said CMA Chief Executive Officer Sarah Trahern. "He was incredibly passionate about supporting US country artists going overseas, but he was just as dedicated to providing opportunities for international country artists to perform here. His tireless energy on behalf of our organisation, our artists, and our fans will be sorely missed."



Vale – Audrey Auld

Aussie expat country singer/songwriter Audrey Auld-Mezera lost her battle with cancer on Sunday. She was 51.

Audrey released 11 albums and three EPs on her own label, Reckless Records, and recorded with the likes of Bill Chambers, Kasey Chambers and Americans Fred Eaglesmith, Mary Gauthier and Dale Watson.

She haad been based in Nashville for the last few years.

Born January 14, 1964, in Tasmania, Audrey she recorded first in 1999 with Bill Chambers. Her 2000 release, The Fallen, was nominated for Album of the Year in theCountry Music Awards of Australia while her 2003 release, Losing Faith, increased her presence in the American market.

Audrey married Mez Mezera and became a US resident, living in Stinson Beach, California, north of San Francisco. In 2006, she won the MerleFest Song Contest.

When she was diagnosed with cancer last year, she moved to Stinson Beach as she considered it "a beautiful place".

Audrey's last release was an EP that came out earlier this year, Hey Warden. It was based on writing workshops that she led at San Quentin prison with the songs written by her and inmates.



EKKA's Country Music Showdown

The Royal Queensland Show in Brisbane – otherwise known as the Ekka – this month aims to uncover new country talent in its Country Music Showdown Competition.

A number of Queensland's rising country music stars will have the chance to showcase their talent and get a true live music experience when they are backed by live band 'The Smokin' Crawdads'.

Performers will also have the opportunity to meet Queensland's own country music legend and Ekka star, James Blundell (pictured).

Last year's inaugural competition unearthed Tori Somers, the winner of the junior section and open winner Karen Maimon (pictured). Both artists have gone on to record their first singles and are now pursuing careers in the music industry.

Junior winner Tori's mother thanked Ekka organisers and said last year's prize, the Troy Cassar-Daley Ekka Junior Country Music Scholarship, was an amazing experience that Tori would never forget.

RNA Chief Executive Brendan Christou said the Ekka was about bringing the country to the city and encouraging the development of new talent in all industries, including the arts.

"Ekka wouldn't be Ekka without country music," he said.

"The Ekka Country Music Showdown is about unearthing the best of the best and providing a platform for these artists."

The first prize in the junior competition (aged 12-16) is valued at over $2,500 and includes a coveted Troy Cassar-Daley Ekka Junior Country Music Scholarship to The Tamworth Academy of Country Music.

The prize for the senior winner, those who are 17-years-old and over, is valued at over $3,000 and includes a recording session and basic video package with Tamaralin sound and a photography package with Robin Reidy Photography.

Aspiring musicians should warm up their vocal chords, dust off their boots and show us what they've got - Enter Now.


Vale – Pee Wee Clark

Renowned steel guitar player Pee Wee Clark has died, aged 84.

Born Charles Phillip Clark on September 18 in Georgia, USA, Pee Wee was playing guitar on a regular basis on a morning television show in the US before moving to Australia.

He had recorded with Buddy Emmons and "Thumbs" Carlisle on The Country Jazz album.

Upon arriving in Australia he teamed up with Reg Lindsay and worked in his band for a number of years.

Pee Wee owned the Dixie record label and recorded with his son A Touch of Paradise which was voted Instrumental of the Year by Australian "Playboy" magazine in 1979.

Other recordings included The Georgia Gentleman, Hot Tempered Steel and Out Of Nowhere.

Pee Wee also helped Reg Lindsay run his country music store in Parramatta and was heavily in demand both as a touring artist and studio musician.

He was inducted into the Country Music Hands of Fame in 1980 and the Australian Steel Guitar Hall of Fame in 2012.



New from Hayley

Brisbane based rising star Hayley Marsten has released a video clip to accompany her popular song Storm In A D Cup.

The clip was filmed on location in Hayley’s home-town of Gladstone, Qld, including at The Rocky Glen Hotel where Hayley’s debut EP Even was launched.

The 21-year-old singer/songwriter said she was humbled when Bill Chambers, the EP’s producer, flew in to play in the band and also open the sold-out show.

The clip can be viewed here.

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Rhiannon single gains airplay

Rhiannon Cooke says she is thrilled at the reaction of radio to her second single Power Of A Woman.

The single, written by Rhiannon with Tanya Carboni and Allan Caswell, had a high reach on the Australian Country Tracks Chart and also gained success in Tasmania where it reached number two.

Described as her anthem for empowering women, the new single has obviously hit the mark with many across Australia, a spokesman for the singer said.

"With news bulletins over the past few weeks full of comment about the status of women in this country, this has no doubt been a timely release."

The video clip can be viewed here.


New from Brewn

My Town is the title of Brewn's latest release, described as "taking their music to the next level with the release of their second album".

Brewn themselves are descibed as "a dynamic Australian-based country rock band whose sound, as well as their story, centres around good times, good music and good ole’ fashioned 'blue collar' hard-work.

"Here is a working class band, writing about their jobs, their cars, their lovers and their hometown, projecting pride in their identity and in a language their fans can understand."

Written over two years under the Pacific International Music label, the highly acclaimed second album reflects the unique mix of sounds of lead singer Mick Bond, drummer John Barbara, guitarist Anthony Barbara, and bassist Zach Whittaker, the spokesman said.

"We wanted to tell a story that most people can relate to," Mick said, "thinking that you need to escape the place you grew up in, then missing it when you eventually leave.

"Each song is reminiscent of a different stage of those emotions. We hope that through our music, people can reflect fondly on their own similar experiences."

My Town is the follow up album to Rusted On. The first single from the album is the title track.

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FRIDAY, JULY 31, 2015

Vale – Lynn Anderson

American country legend Lynn Anderson died yesterday aged 67.

Lynn held the Top Grossing Song by a Female Artist record for 27 years with her signature tune Rose Garden.

Described as "truly a trailblazer" on the country music scene, Lynn was recognised across Tennessee as the voice behind one of the iconic state songs, Rocky Top.

She charted three number one and 15 top 20albums in her career, as well as 12 number one singles, 18 top 10s and more than 50 top 40 as well as numerous awards and accolades.

As one of the first to be launched via television, Lynn's featured performances on "The Lawrence Welk Show" served as the only country music on network television at the time.

Billboard would recognise her as "Artist of the Decade" for 1970-1980. In addition, she was the first female country singer to headline and sell out Madison Square Garden in 1974.

Aside from her music, Lynn was also successful in the equestrian community winning 16 National Championships and four world championships across the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) and National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA).

One of the keys to Lynn's success was that she always made her fans a priority. Since the inaugural year of Fan Fair (now CMA Music Festival) in 1972, Lynn only missed one year due to illness as she greatly valued "the direct connection to her devoted and loving fans at that event".

Lynn raised millions for a variety of charities throughout her career. For 20 years, she worked with both the Roundup for Autism and the Cariety Foundation, an organisation supporting families of cancer patients.

Other notable contributions were made to the Mary Kay Ash Foundation, The North American Riders for the Handicapped Association and military support organisations.



"MO" winners

Melinda Schneider has won the "MO" for Country Act of the Year in this year's 39th awards.

Melinda took our the award from fellow nominees Kel-Anne Brandt, Benn Gunn, Snowy Robson and Twyce Daily.

Darren Carr was named Performer of the Year and also won the Best Specialty Act.

Aubrey & Martin were successful being named Best Duo while the late Reg Lindsay was inducted into the "MO" Hall of Fame.

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TUESDAY, JULY 28, 2015

YoungCare to benefit from Gympie

Organisers of the Gympie Muster have announced YoungCare as its 2015 charity partner.

Youngcare creates choice, dignity and independence for young Australians with high care needs through buildings, grants, research and the Youngcare Connect hotline.

"The Muster is proud to be associated with Youngcare," said Festival Director, Jeff Chandler. "We’ve always strived to provide quality access and amenities at our event for all members of the community and we truly believe that the work carried out by Youngcare makes such a huge difference to the lives of young people living with high care needs."

Last year, the Gympie Music Muster won the award for Best Entertainment Event inclusive Community Champion 2014 presented by Spinal Injuries Australia for their work on improving disability access at the Muster event and their efforts to ensure that everyone can participate in and enjoy Australia’s favourite family friendly music and camping Festival.

The Muster is run by the community, for the community, and has raised almost $15 million for community groups and charities since it began 34 years ago, making it Australia’s largest charity festival.

After much anticipation, the final Gympie Music Muster 2015 lineup has been announced completing a stellar lineup this year headlined by Adam Brand, Troy Cassar-Daley, Mary Chapin-Carpenter, Amber Lawrence and Sheppard.

The final list of artists to be included in the Gympie Music Muster line-up for 2015 further illustrates the diversity of talent and genres within "country" on offer.

This year sees the return of Golden Guitar winners Kristy Cox, Jetty Road and Melinda Schneider. And making a welcome return and recently back from a tour of Ireland is iconic singer songwriter and former Goanna front-man Shane Howard and crowd favourite Roo Arcus is also back after a two year absence.

A few first timers are also included... Tasha Amaroso, Briggenshaw, The Mercurys, Mickey Pye, Jenny Queen, The Settlement and Matt Stillert.

Fans of the Bush Poets Breakfast will be happy to know that the Muster Poets will take to the Muster Club stage led once again by Marco Gilori.

There are a couple of new workshops in 2015 including harmonica with music industry veteran Lawrie Minson and guitar with master axe-man Tim Gaze.

Completing the line-up are powerhouse singer Adi Burgess, seasoned country stars Lindsay Butler & Shaza Leigh (in a full show format) and last year's Gympie Talent Search finalist Mitchell King.

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MONDAY, JULY 27, 2015

The McClymonts' 52 weeks

The McClymonts have added a new milestone to their list of achievements with their latest album, Here's To You & I amassing 52 weeks on the ARIA Country Albums Chart.

The multi-award winning work becomes the first new album of original material by an Australian signed country act to achieve this feat since Lee Kernaghan's Beautiful Noise released in 2012.

The news comes two weeks after Sam McClymont was announced as the new host of the Australian reality dating program on television, "The Farmer Wants A Wife" on the Nine Network.

It has been a banner year for the group with Here’s To You & I producing three hit singles; two of which were nominated for the APRA Award for Country Work of the Year while Forever Begins Tonight received high rotation airplay on Smooth FM and has become the "wedding song of the year" to scores of fans that have reported using the ballad as the "first dance song" at their weddings.

The tour in support of the album has seen the girls play to packed houses nationally, a tour widely regarded as one of the most successful country tours of 2014/15.

Meanwhile, fans heading to the Tamworth Country Music Festival in 2016 will be pleased to know that The McClymonts will be performing at the Tamworth Regional Entertainment & Conference Centre on Thursday January 21.

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Four inducted into Steel Guitar Hall of Fame

Four new players have been inducted into the Australian Steel Guitar Hall of Fame.

The inductions took place at this month's Brisbane Steel Guitar Club Festival.

Inducted were John Bertram, Garry Brown and John Minson.

John is best known as the steel guitar plater of early Golden Guitar-winning group 1901 with Graeme and John Howie.

One of Australia's foremost dobro/lap steel players, Garry also runs his own studio in Sydney specialising in acoustic recording.

Known across the world of country music as "Mr Hoedown", John Minson was also well known as a very strong supporter of steel guitar music, including as the designer and builder of the JEM Steel Guitar.

Photo: Jeff Spencer presents Garry with his induction plaque.



Hats Off coming up

The annual Hats Off To Country festival hosted by Tamworth City Toyota will run in the Country Music Capital from Wednesday, July 2 to Sunday, July 5.

Luke Austen, Kevin Bennett, Karl Broadie, Brothers3, Lachlan Bryan, Lindsay Butler, Michael Bryers, Mike Carr, Allan Caswell, Beccy Cole, Matt Cornell, Don Costa, Carter Edwards, Col Finley, Shaza Leigh, Ryan Morris, Libby O'Donovan, Alby Pool, Mickey Pye, Tamara Stewart, Felicity Urquhart and The Viper Creek Band are just a few names on the Hats Off artist roster.

Beccy Cole will headline the festival at West Tamworth League Club on Saturday July 4 on the back of her new album, Sweet Rebecca, and self-penned "Poster Girl" memoir release. The show will introduce Libby O'Donovan and two Toyota Star Maker winners, Golden Guitar winner Luke Austen and the current winner Mickey Pye.

In addition to the Saturday night concert, the Wests Entertainment Group has programmed a variety of events at both clubs – West Tamworth League Club and Wests' Diggers with Buddy Goode, Don Costa, Mike Carr and Matt Cornell, Two Gals, the Shaza Leigh and Lindsay Butler Show and Dare 2 Dance Linedancers 17th Birthday Social.

The DAG Sheep Station in Nundle will host the annual Songwriters' Retreat, concerts and Christmas in July with Allan Caswell, Felicity Urquhart, Karl Broadie, Tamara Stewart, Aleyce Simmonds, Lachlan Bryan and Kevin Bennett. All inquiries and bookings can be made direct to the venue.

Photo (by Anna Rose): Allan Caswell, Felicity Urquhart, Kevin Bennett, Tamara Stewart, Lachlan Bryan, Aleyce Simmonds and Karl Broadie at The DAG.

From 8:30pm 'til late on both Friday and Saturday nights, The Viper Creek Band will take festival goers into the night at the Longyard Hotel.

This year's Toyota Star Maker winner Mickey Pye will launch his first single at The Longyard on Saturday July 4 from 6-7pm and from 11am to 2pm Sunday join the Tamworth Songwriters' Association for their Songwriters Over Lunch sessions before artist-to-watch Ryan Morris sings you home from 3pm.

Award-winning venue The Pub on the Gunnedah Road is the place for authentic country with Marie Hodson & The Bootleggers Band from 8pm on Friday July 3 and Australia's Got Talent stars Brothers3 from 4pm on Saturday July 4.

The Australian Bush Balladeers Association presents the final fundraiser for the Jimmy Little Bronze Bust at the Southgate Inn on Saturday from 1pm.

The South Tamworth Bowling Club has a jam-packed program of country artists including Alby Pool, Anthony Taylor, Don Costa, Dan Murphy, James Stewart Keene and Brad Marks Acoustic Sessions, Darren Carr and the CCMA's All Women Salute to Anne Kirkpatrick with stars Tracy Coster, Allison Forbes, Christina George, Lynette Guest, Johanna Hemara, Patti Morgan and Sally-Anne Whitten.

Photo (by Mel Birrell): Christina George, Patti Morgan, Lynette Guest, Wendy Wood, Tracy Coster, Anne Kirkpatrick, Sally-Anne Whitten, Johanna Hemara and Allison Forbes at the standing-room-only, CCMA all-girl salute to Anne Kirkpatrick at South Tamworth Bowlo.

The CCMA also has its regular monthly Jam at the Family Hotel from 7 on Thursday night while the Albert Hotel presents their weekly Musos' Jam the same night from 9pm. The Albert is also bringing The Round Mountain Girls down from the hills to headline two big nights – Friday and Saturday, July 3 and 4 from 8.30pm.

The Servies Group is bringing in some Australian culture with Simply Bushed performing over two nights Friday, July 3 and Saturday, July 4 at the Tamworth Services Club and get on down to the North Tamworth Bowling Club for Shane Teinaki from 8pm on Friday. Col Finley, Kel Cork and Michael Bryers have one session on Saturday and one Sunday.

The Australian Country Music Hall of Fame will open its doors for the first time since relocating to the old Visitor Information Centre at 561 Peel Street on the corner of Peel and Murray Streets from Thursday through to Sunday.

The July program is slight when compared to the January festival but with nearly 100 artists over four days it’s as important and relevant as the list of festivals throughout Australia. It won't take you long to get hooked on all that Hats Off has to experience.

The festival is organised by a dedicated task force operating under the banner of the Tamworth Country Music Stakeholders Group and is sponsored by Toyota and Destination Tamworth, together with a group of regional venue operators.

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Photos (by Anna Rose) – we've taken the liberty of updating this story with a couple of photos from the actual event... the CCMA Tribute to Anne Kirkpatrick and the DAG songwriter sessions. – Ed.



Slim's forgotten Golden Guitar

The number of Golden Guitars won by Australia's King of Country Slim Dusty has increased by one to 38, thanks to a "forgotten" award.

Slim, who died some 12 years ago in 2003, hasn't actually "won" another Golden Guitar. it’s simply a matter of rectifying a mistake that was made in the statistics decades ago.

The inaugural Australasian Country Music Awards were staged by Radio 2TM in the Tamworth Town Hall on a very hot Sunday night on January 28, 1973. The initial Award that compere Kevin Knapp announced that historic night was for APRA Song of The Year.

To present the Award, well known composer George Dasey (They’re A Weird Mob) was invited to the stage and he presented the first ever Golden Guitar to Joy McKean for her composition Lights On The Hill.

For many years Slim has been credited for winning only two Golden Guitars at those first Awards in 1973. One was for the Best EP or Single (Lights On The Hill) and another for the Best 12 inch LP Album (Me And My Guitar).

But recently, Joy McKean and Anne Kirkpatrick have been going through the collection of Slim memorabilia, preparing it for the move to The Slim Dusty Centre in Kempsey later this year, and discovered an extra Golden Guitar from 1973 and were puzzled about it. They wondered if it could be a duplicate they had acquired for some reason.

However, after checking a rare tape recording of the first Awards in 1973, from the Tamworth Sound and Film Archive, it was discovered that Slim had also been awarded a Golden Guitar as the artist who sang Joy’s Best Composition.

"So now we know that Slim won three Golden Guitars in January 1973," said Country Music Historian Max Ellis, "and not the two that had been counted previously.

"Things changed considerably in later presentations. 2TM dropped the Golden Guitar for the singer of the Best Composition and Golden Guitars given to winning record companies were dropped."

With the Slim Dusty Centre in Kempsey nearing completion, it is appropriate that the great Slim Dusty is now credited with the third forgotten trophy he won in 1973, bringing his grand total up to 38 Golden Guitar awards, a tally still unmatched to date.

Commenting on the change, Country Music Association of Australia Secretary Meryl Davis said: “It’s great to see Slim’s tally of Golden Guitars being updated.

"As a person who contributed so much to Australian country music, Slim deserves all the recognition and thanks we can give him. It will be exciting to see the Golden Guitars he won on display in the Slim Dusty Centre.”

All of Slim’s 38 Golden Guitar awards will be on display in a special feature at the Slim Dusty Museum in Kempsey when it opens later this year.

There's photographic evidence, too: our picture shows Slim receiving the until now forgotten Golden Guitar.

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FRIDAY, MAY 1, 2015

Tenthill Turnout

Balladeers and fans come together on Saturday May 23 for the Tenthill Turnout, the annual concert that pays tribute to the late Stan Coster.

It will be held at the Ma Ma Creek Hall from 7pm. Ma Ma Creek Hall can be found via Gatton in south east Queensland.

Stan’s daughter Tracy Coster (pictured) will be on the show along with Jenny Brosnan, Errol Gray, Pixie Jenkins, Brian Letton and Steve Newton.



Graham's Anzac tribute tour

Bush ballad star Graham Rodger will be taking to outback Australia with his "Tribute To The ANZACS Tag Along Tour next month.

The tour kicks off on the May 22 with around 45 caravans. This will be the second year Graham has taken his music on the road, with a "tag along" group of music lovers.

From Miles to the Red Centre, towns include Alice Springs, Camooweal, Charleville, Cloncurry, Longreach, Miles, Mitchell, Mt Isa, Ross River, Tambo, Tennant Creek,Yaraka, Whycliffe Wells, Windorah and Winton.

A one off concert in Mt Isa will be staged with Brothers3, long-time multi People's Choice Award winners, just like Graham.

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FRIDAY, APRIL 24, 2015

Country goes global

A number of Australian acts will feature again as part of the Country Music Association of America's (CMA) GlobaLive! concert in Nashville as a prelude to the CMA Music Festival.

To be held from 6pm on Monday, June 8, the event will feature Australians Adam Eckersley Band, CMA Global Artist Award winner Morgan Evans and reigning Toyota Star Maker winner Mickey Pye (pictured).

New Zealand's Horizon Award winner Cam Luxton will also appear, together with international acts from Brazil, Canada, India The Netherlands and the UK.

"This event continues to grow in attendance and popularity with our fans," said CMA Chief Executive Officer Sarah Trahern. "Each of the artists performing has already achieved a high degree of notoriety abroad and GlobaLive! provides (them) with a platform to reach and cultivate domestic fans, as well as garnering attention from the music industry."

Beginning in 2004 as the Global Artist Party, CMA World GlobaLive! serves as a showcase for international talent leading up to the Festival. Each year, the concert attracts standing-room-only crowds of enthusiastic fans which prompted CMA to move the event from a club setting to a larger outdoor stage on Broadway in 2014.

The concert now has the capacity to house its largest crowd yet with an audience of fans and press from around the world.

In 2015, GlobaLive! will be held on an outdoor stage in Walk of Fame Park.

"We are excited about this year’s lineup and the burgeoning popularity of country music..." said Jeff Walker, expat Aussie and CMA Board member and Executive Producer of the event with Associate Producer Matt Watkins and Music Co-ordinator (also an Aussie ex-pat) Mark Moffatt.



Vale – Gavan Arden

Gavan Arden – acknowledged as "Gippsland’s Original Country Music Star" – died in Victoria yesterday at age 75 from a massive stroke.

Gavan was born in Warragul, Victoria, on the September 20, 1939, growing up in the West Gippsland timber-milling town of Rokeby. His parents gave him a guitar when he was 15 and Gavan made his first recordings about 1968 at the Hadley Studios and they were issued on the Hadley Custom Label. Later he would form his own Valley label.

In 1971, Gavan toured with Slim Dusty. During the 1970s, he toured and recorded under the stage name of Jim Brumby and recorded under that name for Picture Records, RCA and M7.

In Brisbane, he was a regular on TV programs presented by John Crook, Bobby Limb, Reg Lindsay and Paul Sharratt. In the mid 70s, Gavan had his own weekly segment on Maryborough (Qld) TV station SEQ8 which ran for almost two years.

In the early 90s, Gavan returned to his roots in Gippsland and reverted to his own name.

In 1999 his song Burnt Out And Dried Up Old Ringers won the best Independent Artist Award for Best Bush Ballad at Tamworth. He was inducted into the Hands Of Fame in 2012.

Gavan would travel interstate once or twice a year and in recent times had teamed up with Brisbane artist Johnny Greenwood when touring, mainly in Queensland.

Apart from singles and EPs issued in earlier years, Gavan had recorded nine albums, mostly of his own compositions or occasional co-writes with other composers. His latest album Keeping It Country was only just recently released.

He is survived by his wife Marie (they were married in 1961) six children (three boys and three girls) 13 grandchildren and 8 great-grandchildren.


Adam wins Country APRA

The Adam Eckersley Band has taken out the Country Work award in this year's Apra Music Awards staged in Sydney last night.

Adam (pictured here giving his acceptance speech) earnt the gong for Give Her The World, co-written by Adam with US songwriters Danelle Leverett and Jason Reeves.

Fellow finalists up for the gong were...

Adam Brand with Freedom Rebels (written by Adam with the US based Barry Dean and Troy Verges);

The McClymonts with Going Under (Didn’t Have To), written by Brooke McClymont, Mollie McClymont and Samantha McClymont with Lindsay Rimes;

The McClymonts again with Here’s To You And I, written by Stuart Crichton with Brooke, Mollie and Samantha McClymont;

And Morgan Evans with One Eye For An Eye, written by Morgan with Mark Wells.

Industry identity Fifa Riccobono was presented with the Ted Albert Award for outstanding services to the Australian music industry.

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ACE Awards

Beccy Cole (pictured) has won the Country Performer award in the 2015 ACE (Australian Club Entertainment) Awards announced last night.

The McClymonts were named winners of the Country Group category.

In country related wins, Darren Carr took out the Sight Award gong while the Tribute Show Award went to Desparado, The Eagles Show.

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Troy releases Freedom Ride

As Australia focuses this year on the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings, Troy Cassar-Daley is shedding light on another significant moment in Australia's history, the Freedom Ride of 1965.

During the Freedom Ride, Aboriginal activist Charles Perkins and a group of students travelled into NSW country towns on a bus protesting for Aboriginal rights.

The Freedom Ride generated huge publicity at the time and exposed the racial segregation and discrimination suffered by Aboriginal people.

Two years later, a referendum on Aboriginal rights was held and was successful, leading to amendments made to the Australian constitution.

The amendments allowed Aboriginal people to be included in the national census and formally recognised them as Australian citizens.

"Freedom Ride was a special thing for me as an indigenous kid," Troy said, "such an important issue and an important happening in indigenous history."

The singer says he was blown away to learn as a kid that before the Freedom Ride indigenous Australians, including his own grandparents, couldn't vote.

"I didn't think that could happen in Australia," he said. "I didn't think there was segregation in Australia."

Now, 50 years later, Troy is putting the story back out there, front and centre, with his ninth record titled Freedom Ride.

"The importance of Gallipoli is something that everyone is going to be stopping and having a real good look at," Troy said, "especially around Anzac day. I think there are so many other parts of history, too, that we can't just ride rough shot over as well.

"Being the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Ride, for what it did for indigenous Australia, for me, is an important happening as well, and I just wanted to make sure that I reminded people that there's a lot of other things going on."

The Freedom Ride is not the only Australian story the country star is telling on his album. He also touches on Australia's mining boom from the perspective of a young miner from Karratha on the track Two Weeks Off, Two Weeks On.

"I wrote this song about this young miner coming back from Karratha. I didn't realise that their life revolved around this schedule that says three weeks on, one week off," he said.

"Talking to him, my heart was going out to his family and himself. He was chasing big money... but he said the trail of devastation isn't really documented anywhere."

It's the other side to Australia's mining boom, and a story Troy thinks is important.

Each of the 12 songs on the record tell some untold story. Troy teamed up with legendary songwriter Paul Kelly for a couple of songs on the record, writing both Freedom Ride and Tennessee Rain together.

"We're historians because this mining boom may be a part of history we won't see again," Troy said. "People might look back in 50 years and see this song that I've written in a similar way to something Banjo Paterson has written about, or like something Henry Lawson has written about a shearers' strike."

Cassar-Daley took his task very seriously and it's all part of a great plan.

"I love this country and I want to make it a good place for my kids to live and I'll go about the best way I can to do that."

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Spirit Of The Anzacs

In this 100th anniversary year of the Anzac's landing at Gallipoli, Lee Kernaghan has teamed up with a host of local artists and musicians on Spirit Of The Anzacs.

Recorded with long-time producer and collaborator Garth Porter, the new album is a tribute to those that have given their lives, those who have served, and those that still today step bravely into the unknown to serve our country, according to a spokesman for Lee.

Lee and Garth were granted unique access to the Australian War Memorial archive while researching for the album, collecting letters penned by diggers to their loved ones at home and spanning World War I to the present day. Each song on the 16-track recording is inspired by one of those letters.

"This is some of the most powerful material that I’ve ever had the privilege to record in my career," said Lee. "he album takes you on a real journey, from the trenches of the Western Front to the bombing of Darwin, Kokoda, Long Tan, and the dust of Uruzgan Province in Afghanistan. It is a project that goes to the heart of who we are as a nation."

"Every nation has its story," said Brendan Nelson, Australian War Memorial Director. "This is ours. From the bloody Gallipoli landing to the dusty deserts of Afghanistan, precious war letters held at the Australian War Memorial have inspired this moving tribute from one of Australia’s great storytellers, Lee Kernaghan. The spirit of the men and women who wrote them, their courage and sacrifice lives in these songs – and in us."

Artists featured on the album include Lisa McCune, John Schumann, Sara Storer and Fred Smith, in addition to the talents of Guy Sebastian, Sheppard, Jon Stevens, Jessica Mauboy, Shannon Noll and Megan Washington, who lend their vocals to a charity single and the album title track.

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MONDAY, MARCH 16, 2015

Chart Update – Jetty Road hit number one

Jetty Road have taken over the number one spot on the national Country Tracks Top 40 chart for the coming week with their hit What We Did Last Night.

Travis Collins' number one from last week – Curves – is at number two while Troy Cassar-Daley's Take A Walk In My Country is steady at three and Doug Bruce's Somewhere Better To Be is up one to number four.

Sandra Humphries' You Still Turn Me On is up one to number five, Christie Lamb's Love Me Tonight is at six and Lee Kernaghan's Spirit Of The Anzacs is at seven.

Roo Arcus' Let's Get Out Of Here is at eight, the Keith Urban/Eric Church duet Raise 'Em Up is at nine and Georgia Fall's Wish You Home debuts in the top 10 at 10.

Bullet performers for the week include Amber Lawrence's I Will Love You (14 to 11), Ben Ransom's One More Beer (23 to 12), The McClymonts' Forever Begins Tonight (27 to 13) Aly Cook's No Phone, No Mail, No Internet (20 to 15), Caitlyn Shadbolt's Maps Out The Window (21 to 16), Luke O'Shea's Sing You Up (24 to 17), Victoria Avenue's Knock Knock (new at 18), Natalie Howard's Yes (A Love That Lasts) (new at 25), Deep Creek Road's I Wanna See Ur Crazy (new at 26), Tori Darke's Disposable (new at 27), Neil Anthony's Peanut Butter On Toast (new at 28), Allan Caswell's Sometimes When You Lose You Win (37 to 31), Adam Brand's My Side Of The Street (36 to 33) and James Blundell's Hills Of Brisbane (40 to 34).

Other new entries to the chart this coming week include Jodi Martin with Saltwater In My Hair (new at 39).

The full chart can be viewed at


FRIDAY, MARCH 13, 2015

Beccy Cole – Poster Girl

Beccy Cole has released her autobiography, Beccy Cole Poster Girl.

The daughter of country star Carole Sturtzel, Beccy is one of the most popular country singer/songwriters in Australia today.

At 14, Beccy was performing in her mother's group, Wild Oats. By her late teens, she had teamed up with the Dead Ringer Band – Kasey Chambers' family band – and had attracted the attention of the country music world by winning the Star Maker quest: the same award that started the careers of Keith Urban, Lee Kernaghan, James Blundell and Gina Jeffreys.

It was just the first of many awards and accolades for this multitalented woman with a big heart. With refreshing candour, Beccy shares her story...

Leaving everything she knew to pursue her dream, making a name for herself with her own band; her marriage and motherhood; her subsequent divorce, becoming a single mother and maintaining the nurturing love of family...

Performing for the Australian troops in Iraq; coming out, and what it has meant for her and her fans; taking control of her own life – and finding love.

Described as "heartfelt and honest, Poster Girl is the inspirational memoir of a strong woman who epitomises the authentic spirit of country music, and of Australia".

To co-incide with the book release next month, Beccy is set to release a new album and its lead single in conjunction. The album is Sweet Rebecca, the single, Broken Soldiers.

"Broken Soldiers was inspired after I attended a memorial for a returned soldier who had taken his own life due to Post Traumatic Stress D.isorder. What struck a chord with me was the strength with which his mother spoke of her son, her 'broken soldier'," said Beccy.

"She spoke of the importance of recognising and supporting returned servicemen and women and highlighted that some injuries can't be seen, but still need to be addressed and treated. Broken Soldiers shines a light on the importance of providing ongoing care for returned women and men."

Sweet Rebecca will be Beccy most daring and genuine album yet, according to a spokesman for the artist, "It is an engaging mix of heart-on-sleeve acoustic ballads, coupled with a dash of her trademark humour."

Produced by acclaimed producer/musician Shane Nicholson Sweet Rebecca is Beccy’s 10th studio album, and the first on which she has written on every one of the album tracks. Libby O’Donovan, Sara Storer and Gina Jeffreys team up with Beccy on two of the album tracks.

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Urban Country

Dubbed "the affordable festival" – the 2015 Urban Country Music Festival is set for three big days in and around Cabollture, Qld, over the May 1 to 3 weekend.

The Festival kicks off on Friday night with an expansive open-air concert featuring the likes of 8 Ball Aitken and Beccy Cole.

Continuing Saturday, Caboolture's Historical Village and Parklands precinct come to life with unmissable performances from a diverse list of acts from Lee Kernaghan to The Delta Riggs and The Cairos to Christie Lamb, "and all that's inbetween".

"With more than 30 acts on Saturday alone there is something for everyone with tickets available at the unbelievably low-price of just $50," according to a Festival spokesman.

It's the 12th annual event and will wrap up on the Sunday in "a blaze of glory" with two large outdoor bonfires among performances from more than 25 acts including Casey Barnes, Kiara Rodrigues and Alabaster Ink and 2014 Voice of Urban Country Winner Wal Neilsen.

A portion of the proceeds from the Sunday go to the local SES (State Emergency Service) and Rocksberg Rural Fire Brigade.

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Billy seeks support for new album

Aussie country singer/songwriter Billy Bridge has written and prepared a new batch of songs which he believes will be some of his finest work and he has launched a fundraising campaign to help with a recording project.

Billy, who was nominated for a Golden Guitar for his stirring story of a man on the land – Mallee Dust – has put together an entire album based around stories of people and places uniquely Australian.

"Stories of hardship, triumphs and a little bit of tongue in cheek Australian humour," he said.

A crowd funding campaign has been launched on the website Indiegogo. Crowd funding allows fans and supporters to contribute to the cost of creating the album and be the first to hear it prior to its release.

"You will also have access to the process of creating the album like no-one else." Billy said. "There are many levels of funding available to fans and varying rewards for being a part of the process. So not only do you get to contribute to the successful creation of the album but you get something in return."

Details are available at

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Kirsty signs with Maven

Kirsty Lee Akers – the only artist to have won all three Golden Guitar, Telstra Road to Discovery and the Toyota Star Maker awards – has just signed a record deal with Sydney-based label Maven Agency with distribution of her upcoming studio album to occur through Sony Music Australia.

After being signed at 16, Kirsty took a few years out to record and release independently so she could explore her creative objectives "in a more organic environment".

Having produced and released her highly regarded and Golden Guitar nominated album Naked, she has now changed focus and relocated to Nashville. The record deal and the team she gets to work with at Maven will provide her the opportunity to make sure more people hear her new music, she said.

"While I have loved being independent I am so excited to bring on board this new team and have my new music reach as many people as possible. I really admire the work of Ken Outch and the team at Maven, so I'm extremely proud to now be a member of the Maven/Sony family," Kirsty said.

The upcoming album is described as a labor of love that is being produced in the USA and Australia, a combination predicted to accurately reflect Kirsty's personality, which is distinctly Australian, paired with her style that sits somewhere between Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn, according to a spokesman for the artist.

"I haven't released a new album in four years so I've got plenty to say. I try to be as honest as I can get away with when writing, so lots of these new songs are my stories. My producer Trey Bruce and I have been writing together since 2007. He makes me believe in myself more as an artist. We have eight years of songs we can choose from and I can't wait for them to come to life on this new album!" she said.

Kirsty is currently in Australia but will return to the United States in April before recording the new album and attending major events in Nashville over the course of 2015 including CMA Fest and Americana.

After writing consistently for the last 18 months, Kirsty is now in pre-production and completing content selection for the new album. It is due for release in the last quarter of this year.

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Morgan wins Global award

Australia's Morgan Evans has been named this year's winner of the American Country Music Association(CMA) Global Country Artist Award.

The award recognises outstanding achievements by a country music artist originally signed outside of the United States in both furthering the popularity of country music and bringing attention to the country music format in their foreign-based territory.

Most recently, Morgan was co-host of the Country Music Awards of Australia (Golden Guitars) in Tamworth.

Last year, he won three CMC (Country Music Channel Music) Awards.

Recently signed as a presenter, host and ambassador for CMC in Australia, Morgan has toured with a number of overseas country stars including Alan Jackson and Taylor Swift as well as headlining his own tours in Australia and New Zealand.

In other awards announced at the weekend by CMA in the lead-up to C2C, Country to County, the United Kingdom's largest country music festival...

Brad Paisley won the International Artist Achievement Award; singer/songwriter and BBC broadcaster Ricky Ross won the International Country Broadcast Award; Big Machine Records' Scott Borchetta was named winner of the Jo Walker-Meador Award (recognising outstanding achievement by an individual or company in advocating and supporting country music's marketing development outside the United States); and BBC Radio 2 Controller Bob Shennan won the Wesley Rose International Media Achievement Award (recognising outstanding achievements in the media that contribute to the development of country music outside the United States).

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Reg statue to be unveiled Sunday

A bronze statue of Australian country music pioneer Reg Lindsay will be unveiled in Cessnock (NSW) on Sunday.

The unveiling coincides with the return of the Reg Lindsay Rodeo Show to the Cessnock Racecourse tomorrow. The event was staged in Morisset and Tomago for the past two years but was born in Cessnock in 1994.

Sculptor Tessa Wallis created the statue in her workshop in Kew, Victoria.

It will take pride of place at East Cessnock Bowling Club, where a series of concerts have been staged to raise funds for this huge project to be delivered to the country music legend's last hometown.

It will be unveiled by country star Adam Harvey at 11am on Sunday on the grassed area near the club's new undercover bowling green along with a statue lookalike of Reg's parade horse.

Ros Lindsay, who has organised the annual Reg Lindsay Rodeo since its inception, said anticipation of its return had been building in the town for weeks.

"Everyone in the shops is talking about it, I've had people saying for so long 'we need the rodeo back'," she said.

Gates open at noon with market stalls plus entertainment from Lochinvar Music Club, children's entertainment, full bar, and catering.

The rodeo itself starts at 3pm with the open bull riding, saddle bronc and bareback, both open and rookie competitors.

Rodeo tickets costs $20 for adults and $10 for children 14 years and under. Children under five get in free. A family of two adults and three children 14 years and under costs $60.



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