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** If you missed last week's news, here are some of the headlines... Jazzer Quest winners * Beccy announces appointment of new manager * Vale – Jack Munting * 2007 Golden Guitar winners * 2007 Coca-Cola Battle of the Bands winner announced * State Premier surprise Cavalcade participant * Star Quest winner * Marcela named top fiddler * A new Queen of Country Music * Joy & Heather tribute dinner * Joy and Smoky in Galaxy of Stars ** click here for more...

2007 Harmonica Champion

In some results still coming in from the Tamworth Festival, Roger Cufone (pictured) from Ingle Farm, SA, is Australia's new Hohner Harmonica Champion following the championship staged on Sunday.

Roger, who plays with his own band Roj & The JamJets, took first place on the day from 15 strong competitors, according to organisers.

As well as the championship title, Roger took home the prestigious Golden Harmonica trophy made by Tamworth's Noel Smith.

Honhner harmonica prizes were presented to placegetters in the championship... runner-up to Roger was Billy James from Coffs Harbour with 78-year-old Katie Somers from the NSW South Coast third.

Three young members of the Erina, NSW, based Lazic-Kirk family won the audience encouragement award with siblings Nina and Douglas playing harmonica accompanied by Bernadette on spoons.

Championship judges were Doug Lyons from Blue Tongue Harmonicas and "Mr Hoedown" John Minson who also performed a guest spot on the day with son Lawrie before a capacity crowd at Tamworth's Southgate Inn.

This year is the 150th year of Hohner Harmonicas and next January will see the 25th staging of the Hohner Golden Harmonica Championship.

Battle of the Country Bands

Melbourne band Ruckus took out the 2007 Northern Daily Leader Battle of the Country Bands title at West Tamworth League Club on Sunday.

It's a sort of a double for the band as their fiddle player Marcela Taylor won the title of best fiddle soloist at the 2007 Golden Fiddle Awards in Tamworth (see story in "last week's news).

Ruckus is Sandie, Marcela, Kevin, Michael and Andy.

Second place in the competition went to Dean Johnson and the Renderers with Simply Bushed third from a total of seven contenders for the title.

Ruckus won $1,000 first prize, Dean's band took home $500 while Simply Bushed won $300.

The lead guitarist in The Renderers won the special prize of a custom-made Tomkins guitar made from Australian red cedar valued at $3,000.

As title winners, Ruckus have also won two appearances with Tim Bailey on Network Ten's 5pm news bulletin through 2007.

A capacity crowd was on hand to witness the battle as it went well into the evening.

2007 busking winner

Juzzie Smith (pictured), from Bangalow, NSW, has won the Australian Country Music Busking Championship in Tamworth, this year sponsored by Bisley, for the second year running.

In the "busk off" on Saturday night, 10 acts were invited to compete for $1,600 in prizemoney.

Jabaru were named runners-up while Johnny Huckle placed third.

2007 WAMis

Finalists for the 2007 WAMi (Werstern Australia Music Industry) Awards have been announced.

In the Best Country Music Act category, finalists are Connie Kis Andersen, Felicity Groom, The Jayco Brothers and Ronni Rae Rivers.

Winners will be announced during the WAMi Festival which runs from February 18 to 25.

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Ringbark success

Ringbark Records artists Anita Ree and Ian Quinn are both enjoying a busy time following their successful 2007 Tamworth festival.

Both of the multi award winning artists secured several finalist berths in awards held during the Festival with Ian winning the writer's trophy for the Best Bush Ballad win by Would Clancy Be Welcome? (recorded by Dean Perrett) in the 2007 Australian Country Music People's Choice Awards.

Ian (right) and Dean are pictured here with their People's Choice Awards trophies. Photo Barry Davis.

Anita held finalist nominations in the Golden Guitar Awards in two categories – Bush Ballad with Bush Girls Heart and Vocal Collaboration with Tracy Coster with Itching Feet. Anita was also a finalist in the People's Choice Awards in three categories, the TSA (Tamworth Songwriters' Association) Awards and the Tamworth Independent Artist Recognition Awards (TIARAs).

Ian's songwriting also had him as a finalist in two categories of the Golden Guitars – for Bush Girls Heart, written for Anita and Would Clancy Be Welcome? written for Dean. He was also a finalist in the TSA Awards.

Both artists are finalists at the Bungendore Country Muster this weekend and Anita holds three finalist spots at the Victorian Country Music Awards to be held during the Whittlesea Country Music Festival in February.

Tamworth, Bungendore and Whittlesea round out a successful year of touring and performance in 2006 with both artists releasing new albums – Bush Girls Heart from Anita (released in May) and River Or The Road by Ian (released in November).

Both Anita and Ian have plans for extensive touring throughout Australia this year.

Long live the lead break

Rob Bostock (pictured, right, with Phil Emmanuel) won the inaugural Long Live The Lead Break – The Battle of the Axe competition staged at Tamworth's Locomotive Hotel during the Festival taking home a Cole Clark Stealth Mistress Guitar and winning a guest spot at Guitar Heroes 2007.

As runner-up, Smokin' Joe Robinson was awarded another guest spot on Guitar Heroes.

The competition featured, in addition to Rob and Joe, "the hottest guitarists in Australia" according to organisers including Phil Doublet, Darren Ebbels, Louie Shelton, Steve Flack, Gypsy Jazz Master Ewan McKenzie, Adam Miller, Kieran Murphy plus Young Guns' Bad Robot and Sumassault.

Connie Kis in Nashville

An update from Connie Kis Andersen in Nashville says the WA country star was singing backing vocals on the same recording session as Louis Nunley and Curtis Young from the legendary Jordanaires (Elvis' backing band for many years).

"It was an honour to be part of it and an awesome experience," she said, "to see and hear them at work with their friend Alan Hensen (often referred to as the 'fifth' Jordanaire). We were singing backing vocals for the multi Grammy winning artist Jimmy Sturr."

Connie has been doing some edits in the studio and putting "the finishing touches" to her new album due out in Australia in April.

"I have also secured another US release from my current album Gone Wishin," she said. "Wicked Game, the Chris Isaak track I have covered, will be going to national radio here on March 19.

"I am in with the majors again... the selection process to get on to CDX (the NfS equivalent in America) is tough with foreign independents usually the last to be selected, so I feel grateful and blessed for being accepted.

"So far I have played at the French Quarters Cafe, The Commodore Sports Bar and Grill, The Nashville Palace and the renowned Tootsies where I have an open invitation to return anytime to perform again," Connie said.

She is also the guest artist at Cowboy Church and will be performing at the service to be held on Sunday morning (February 4, 10am Nashville time) at the Texas Troupadoure Theatre. Joanne Cash is one of the hosts with her husband Dr Harry Yates who is the pastor.

"Then that same evening, I am a guest artist at the famous Bluebird Cafe for a writers' night," Connie reports. "The Nashville City Paper is running a story this Thursday about it all.

"I have also received invitations to front a band for a show in Alabama while here, but I am not sure I can fit it all in. That's a 'we'll see' project but something I certainly would love to be able to do."

Connie returns home mid February to open the Boyup Brook Festival "which I am looking forward to as well.  It should be a wonderful festival with the line up that has been advertised."

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$1,500 up for grabs in Burdekin song comp

Funding of $1,500 has been approved for the Burdekin River Bridge Songwriting competition.

A thousand dollars will go to the judge's choice as winner with $500 for the listener's choice, by courtesy of the Burdekin (Qld) Shire Council in association with Radio 97.1 Sweet FM.

The Burdekin Bridge was officially opened in June 1957 and the Shire Council, in conjunction with the Department of Main Roads, Queensland Rail, Sunwater, Ergon Energy and CSR Sugar, are planning to host a week-long event to celebrate the bridge's 50th anniversary.

The event will start on Sunday June 10 and end on Sunday June 17.

A Fun Run will be held on the first day of the event, with a riverbed picnic, including musical and children's entertainment in the afternoon with a range of events to be held throughout the week, including the opening of the Power Station Museum "Bridging the Gap" exhibition; an old time movie session at the Burdekin Delta Cinemas; a poetry workshop with poet Melanie Hall; the songwriting competition; art displays; an official dinner; a morning musical production; and a re-enactment of the bridge opening and walk across the bridge from north to south with brass bands leading the way.A

A vintage car display and steam train at the Home Hill Railway Station will be on show; a race meeting will be held at the Home Hill Race Course and the evening will see a bush concert and dance held in Watson's Green with a fireworks display.

For more information and entry form, telephone Merle Scott on (07) 4783 2076, email or write to PO Box 1088, Ayr, North Queensland 4807.

$5,000 to Help Country Music College

The State Member of Parliament for Tamworth Peter Draper has announced a Government grant of $5,000 has been provided to the Australian College of Country Music to assist with tutoring fees for "budding young stars".

The money was supplied under the 2007 Music Program and will help the College offset the cost of providing tutors.

"More than 90 applications are received by the College from both Australia and New Zealand each year," Peter said, "however only 22 can make it into the final cut. As with every year, the selection process for 2007 was very intense and competitive and, naturally, the final 22 artists are of an exceptionally high quality."

Getting over Tamworth in Sydney

Canterbury Country at the Canterbury-Hurlstone Park RSL in Sydney will stage its traditional "Tamworth Recovery Party" next Thursday, February 8.

Co-ordinated by the Australian Country Music People's Choice Awards' 2007 Musician of the Year Bob Howe, the "Party" will be conducted in the Club's Starlight Auditorium with key artists Jason-Lee, Kel-Anne Brandt and Tall Timbre together with surprise guests.

Guest host for the function will be Nicki Gillis (pictured) and Hillbilly Heaven.

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Keith's world tour

As reported recently, Keith Urban will undertake a "world tour" in 2007.

Music industry insiders say Keith will play the Brisbane Entertainment Centre in the second week of May ahead of dates in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth with tickets expected to go on sale in mid-February.

Keith will preview his "Love, Pain and the Whole Crazy World Tour" show at a club in Munich on April 19, followed by other small-venue shows in Germany and Britain before he launches into the full-on arena gigs in Australia in May and the US and Canada in June.

The North American leg of the tour will begin on June 8 in Phoenix, Arizona, and take in 36 arena shows across 33 cities.

A music industry source said Keith would play arenas in the other major capitals at two or three-day intervals from mid to late May.

The Grammy-winning singer performed at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre and other large Australian venues two years ago and is expected to play more than one date in the major capitals on this tour.

Keith, one of country music's biggest-selling acts, locked in the tour dates after a stint in rehab and a Christmas holiday in Australia with his wife actor Nicole Kidman.

"I'm looking forward to getting back on the road, to reconnecting with everyone and to doing what it is that I love to do," he said on his website. "To finally be able to present the songs from Love, Pain (& the Whole Crazy Thing) live is something that I've been looking forward to doing since recording the album."

Chart Update – Felicity still at number one

Felicity Urquhart holds on to the number one spot on the Country Tracks National Top 30 Singles Chart this week with her hit, Big Black Cloud.

Rodney Atkins moves into second place with If You're Going Through Hell, George Strait is at three with Just Give It Away while the Paul Costa/Aleyce Simmonds duet The Way You Make Me Feel bounds up to number four.

Troy Cassar-Daley's former number one Walking Away drops to five, Travis Collins' Full Tank falls to six while Jeanette Wormald's Opal Blue jumps another three places to seven.

Adam Brand's Cigarettes And Whiskey enters the top 10 at number eight, as does Gina Jeffreys' Live It at nine and Arthur Blanch's For A Song at 10.

Bullet performers this week include Lee Kernaghan's Love Shack (16 to 11), Anne Kirkpatrick's Showman's Daughter (18 to 15), Nick Kingswell's Hope For Me Yet (20 to 17), Donna Boyd (pictured) with Luckiest Girl Alive (22 to 18), The McClymonts' Baby's Gone Home (25 to 29), Camille Te Nahu & Stuie French with Let's Make A Family (26 to 22) and Melinda Schneider's Men In Trucks (27 to 24).

New entries this week include 2007 People's Choice Awards Best Bush Ballad winner Dean Perrett with Jewel On The Newell (in at 29) and Alex Watt with Watch The Sun Go Down (in at 30).

The full chart can be viewed at

CMC Top 50 – Lee hits the top

Lee Kernaghan (pictured) hits the top of the CMC (Country Music Channel) Top 50 playlist this week with his clip of his latest single, Love Shack.

Gina Jeffreys is steady at two with Live It, Steve Forde & The Flange rise to three with Aussie Philosophy, Melinda Schneider is at four with Men In Trucks while Nick Kingswell drops one place to five with Hope For Me Yet.

Bullet performers on the playlist this week include The Flood with 2003 (13 to 10), Dianna Corcoran with Then There's Me (18 to 11), The Sunny Cowgirls' Still Circling (22 to 15), Anne Kirkpatrick with Showman's Daughter (26 to 20), The Davidson Brothers' Raised On The Road (new at 21), Matt Scullion with Giddy Up (30 to 23), Rebecca Lee Nye with Gotta Say Goodbye (new at 30), Kelly Hope with Heartbreak Road (34 to 31), Lou Bradley with Love Someone (new at 32), The Distance with This Land (39 to 34), Kelly Cooper & Billy Bridge with Stumblin' In (46 to 42) and Wildseed with Don't Lie To Me (new at 44).

New entries to the playlist this week include Jeanette Wormld's Opal Blue (in at 46) and Dale Duncan's award-winning track Malabar Mansion (new at 48).

The full playlist can be viewed at

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Country has three of of music's biggest money makers

In a report by America's Forbes magazine on music's biggest moneymakers, country music stars score very well with Tim Mcgraw/Faith Hill, Rascal Flatts and Kenny Chesney (pictured) in the top 10.

The acts on the list checked in with a collective $973 million in 2006, down a bit from last year's total of $994 million, The Rolling Stones topping the list for the second year in a row with $150.6 million from their "A Bigger Bang" tour.

The Top 10 is...

  • The Rolling Stones $150.6 million
  • Tim Mcgraw & Faith Hill $132 million
  • Rascal Flatts $110.5 million
  • Madonna $96.8 million
  • Barbara Streisand $95.8 million
  • Kenny Chesney $90.1 million
  • Celine Dion $85.2 million
  • Bon Jovi $77.5 million
  • Nickleback $74.1 million
  • Dave Matthews Band $60.4 million


The Netherlands calls

The Bulletin has had an email from Albert Huizeling who broadcasts a radio program called "Countrytime" ( in The Netherlands.

Albert says he gets a lot of promotional music from the USA and Canada but not from Australia.

"And I know that in Australia (there) are very good country artists. Can you (tell your artists) that I want to get the music from those artists that are independent, also the artists that will be played on your big radio stations so that they will get airplay in Europe?"

Adam Brand was the program's Artist of the Month in December.

Albert's program can be heard from the website

CDs can be sent Albert at kolkweg 5, 9163 HK, Nes-Ameland, The Netherlands.

Mp3 files can be sent to or


The city goes quiet...

The air is still and the night is quiet as midnight Sunday January 28 officially brings to an end the 2007 Tamworth Country Music Festival.

For the past 10 days, and seven days of Festival Countdown, the night air (and days, of course) has rung with the sounds of country music, all styles, all types.

Overnight, barricades and re-direction signs are being pulled down for today, the city of Tamworth returns to "normal" for 11 and a half months.

Most visitors, including visiting artists, have made their way home and residents of the fair city (and region) reflect on what, as we report below, is being touted as one of the best January country music festivals ever.

Country Music Capital now begins to gear up for the mid-year Hats Of To Country festival and planning is already underway in most quarters for the January 2008 festival which will run officially from Friday January 18 to Sunday January 27, most likely concluding on another long weekend as Australia Day is Saturday the 26th which means Monday the 28th will most likely be a public holiday).

Jazzer Quest winners

Katie Thompson and Hannah Cosgrove (pictured) have taken out the 2007 Jazzer Quest staged at The Pub, Tamworth, during the festival just ended.

Katie won the senior section while Hannah took out the junior section.

Taryn Traustch was runner-up among the seniors while Lance Coassin was third and Melanie Dyer came second in the junior section with Daniel Cosgrove in third place.

Last results

Several major competition results from the 2007 Tamworth Country Music Festival are still to come and will be posted here as soon as they're received.

These include the Capital Country Music Association National Talent Quest and the Battle of the Country Bands quest.

Winners of competitions conducted in association with the new Regent Country Live venue will also be announced here after being drawn later today.

Any other competition organisers who would like their results published here can send details to


Farewell, adieu...

The last day of the 2007 Tamworth Country Music Festival has arrived and the vast majority of visitors and entertainers will be packing up and going home.

From an industry standpoint, dozens of artists, established and rising stars and newcomers have been involved in competitions and awards ceremonies – many are taking home cash, prizes, trophies or other awards, some the experience of competing (see all Awards results on these pages)..

This year's Festival has been described by many as one of the best ever and this augers well for the future of Australia's biggest country music activity. Most are now already looking forward to January 2008.

Quite a few – visitors and artists – are thinking about returning in July for the lower key Hats Off To Country Festival.

The Bulletin has been pleased to keep you up to date with the most significant news from Tamworth 2007 as the leading comprehensive news service for Australian country music.

Virtually any information you require can be found in these pages. If not, contact us and we'll see what we can find out.

But don't leave just yet! There are quite a few activities on today to keep you busy and entertained.

On behalf of all of us at the Country Music Bulletin, Australian Country Music People's Choice Awards, Regent Country Live and Tamworth Festival Musician's Headquarters, thanks for your patronage and support. We look forward to doing it all again next year!

Last Roundup

The Last Roundup, traditional "closer" to the Festival, is on at the Tamworth Regional Entertainment Centre from 11am.

Beccy announces appointment of new manager

Three times Golden Guitar winner from last night Beccy Cole announced during the Awards presentation that she had a new management team, Jeff and Vicki Chandler of Face The Music.

Unconfirmed reports had been circulating over the last few days that Beccy had changed away from the Vital group but this was not confirmed until one of her acceptance speeches during last night's Awards.

After her three wins at this year's Awards, Beccy has now won a total of seven Golden Guitars since her New Talent win in 1994.

Face The Music also represents two other leading Australian country stars Troy Cassar-Daley and Sara Storer.

Vale – Jack Munting

Legendary Tasmanian country artist Jack Munting passed away on Tuesday (January 23).

Jack’s career began in 1942 when he purchased his first guitar. His first performance was at Tasmania’s Perth Hospital in the same year. Jack performed live on Launceston radio 7EX for some time before joining the Navy in 1945. He took out second place in the Australian Amateur Hour in 1946 while still in the Navy. After leaving the Navy in 1947, Jack decided to settle down in Launceston.

Just after his discharge from the forces, the Manager of Launceston’s radio station 7EX gave Jack a three month trial as a radio compere. The unashamedly country and western show was titled Down The Hillbilly Trail and went on to become the longest running live artist show in Australian country music. Jack estimated that he sang more than 10,000 songs over the 15 year span of the show.

In 1957, he first recorded with Festival Records in Sydney, a song medley titled Down The Steven Foster Trail that proved to be his biggest seller.  He was delighted to be honoured with inclusion into the Hands of Fame at the 1992 Tamworth Country Music Festival after 50 years service to country music.

On Australia Day 2002, Jack was awarded Tasmanian Citizen of the Year after celebrating 60 years as a country music performer and in 2004 he was awarded the Dudley Higgs Memorial Shield for services to Tasmanian country music.

Jack was still performing up until mid 2006 when illness caused the end of a 64 year career.

– Greg Coad


2007 Golden Guitar winners

The 35th annual Golden Guitar Awards were announced in Tamworth, Australia's Country Music Capital, tonight.

Winner, Single of the Year ... Poster Girl (Wrong Side Of The World) by Beccy Cole, from finalists Big World Small World by Melinda Schneider; Open Ended Heartache  by Adam Brand; The New Bush by Lee Kernaghan; Too Far Gone by Catherine Britt.

Winner, Heritage Song of the Year... Close As A Whisper (The Gift) by Lee Kernaghan (written by Lee, Colin Buchanan and Garth Porter); from finalists Poster Girl (Wrong Side Of The World) by Beccy Cole; The Battle Of Long Tan by Graham Rodger; The Hat by Michael O’Rourke; Women Of The West by Anne Kirkpatrick.

Winner, New Talent of the Year... The McClymonts with Something That My Heart Does; from finalists Donna Boyd with A Good Day; Katie Brianna with Jindabyne Fair; Nik Phillips with Not In This Life; Cat Southern with Last First Kiss.

Winner, Video Clip of the Year... Big Black Cloud by Felicity Urquhart (directed by Glenn Wilson); from finalists Big World Small World by Melinda Schneider; Listen To The Radio by Lee Kernaghan; Permission To Breathe by Gemma Doyle; Poster Girl (Wrong Side Of The World) by Beccy Cole.
Winner, Vocal Group or Duo of the Year... The McClymonts with Something That My Heart Does; from finalists Carter & Carter with Ride; The Flood with 2003; Camille Te Nahu & Stuie French with Let’s Make A Family; The Sunny Cowgirls with Six Pack Short.
Winner, CMC (Country Music Channel) Oz Artist of the Year... Adam Brand. (A special trophy for a CMC viewer voted award.)
Winner, Bush Ballad of the Year... Peppimenarti Cradle by Anne Kirkpatrick (written by Joy McKean); from finalists Bush Girls’ Heart by Anita Ree (written by Ian Quinn); Down The Bucketts Road by Glenn Jones (written by Glenn); What Country’s All About by Graham Rodger (written by Graham); Would Clancy Be Welcome? by Dean Perrett (written by Ian Quinn).
Winner, Vocal Collaboration of the Year... Allan Caswell & Drew McAlister with A Little Bit Of Country In Us All; from finalists Bill Chambers & Kevin Bennett with Big River; Anita Ree & Tracy Coster with Itching Feet; Matt Scullion & Lawrie Minson with Hard Earned Money; Jeanette Wormald & Peter Pratt with Out Here.
Winner, Instrumental of the Year... Gameshow Rag/Cannonball Rag by Tommy Emmanuel; from finalists Mister Sandman by Stuie French; Redliner by Travis Collins; Scrub Turkey by The Davidson Brothers; Triona Akba by Mike Kerin.
Winner, Outstanding Achievement in Country Music... Keith Urban.
Winner, Song of the Year... Poster Girl (Wrong Side Of The World) by Beccy Cole; from finalists 2003 by Kevin Bennett (recorded by The Flood); Life Will Bring You Home by Adam Brand and Michael Carr (recorded by Adam); Showman’s Daughter by Anne Kirkpatrick; The New Bush by Lee Kernaghan, Garth Porter & Colin Buchanan (recorded by Lee).
Winner, Top Selling Album of the Year... The New Bush by Lee Kernaghan.
Winner, Female Artist of the Year... Beccy Cole with Poster Girl (Wrong Side Of The World); from finalists Catherine Britt with Too Far Gone; Anne Kirkpatrick with Showman’s Daughter; Melinda Schneider with Big World Small World; Felicity Urquhart with Big Black Cloud.
Winner, Male Artist of the Year... Lee Kernaghan with The New Bush; from finalists Adam Brand with Open Ended Heartache; Travis Collins with Full Tank; Graeme Connors with Louisa; Michael O’Rourke with The Hat.
Winner, Album of the Year... The New Bush – Lee Kernaghan (produced by Garth Porter); from finalists My Life – Felicity Urquhart; Stronger – Melinda Schneider; Too Far Gone – Catherine Britt; What A Life – Adam Brand.

The Awards television special, presented by Jayco, will be broadcast on the Southern Cross Network next Saturday, February 3, at 6.30pm. Network Ten will also be airing the program in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth the following day (Sunday, February 4, at 12 noon.

A further broadcast of the Awards will be shown on CMC on Friday, February 9, at 7pm (all times Eastern Daylight Summer Time) and will include a Red Carpet and backstage special hosted by Steve Forde.

Best of the Buskers

As we went to "press", the top 10 buskers entered in the Bisley Australian Country Music Busking Championship in Tamworth were announced by organisers to compete in the final "busk-off" at Bicentennial Park tonight.

The 10 were selected from the estimated 300 or so busking acts who made up the total of 610 registered musicians this year.

And they are Corn Liquor, Couch Potatoes, Culprits, Chester Story and the Glory, Johnny Huckle, Jabaru, Lewis Parter, Pirate Brides, Juzzie Smith (last year's grand final winner, pictured) and Tornado Alleycats.§      

2007 Coca-Cola Battle of the Bands Winner Announced

Winner of the second annual Coca-Cola Battle of the Bands competition staged at Coca-Cola Park during this year’s Tamworth Country Music Festival has been announced.

President Roots (pictured) from Victoria’s Mornington Peninsular took top honours this afternoon with Berowra, NSW, band Handpicked a close second.

Hailing from Mittagong in the NSW southern highlands, Cowpoke was named third placegetter while the High Country Band from Shepparton, Victoria was highly commended.

All week long during the famous Tamworth Festival, competition was fierce as bands from all over battled for the title.

Coca-Cola presented the first prize of $1,000 prize money to President Roots, with the $300 second prize going to Handpicked and third prize of $200 Cowpoke.

Coca-Cola has been a proud supporter of the Tamworth Country Music Festival for 29 years. The development of the Coca-Cola Battle of the Bands has been a substantial addition to the many successful activities staged at Coca-Cola Park every year during the Tamworth Festival including Coca-Cola Festival Photos, Mad Cow Entertainment, the famous Coca-Cola Country Session Concerts and Artist Walk-ups and, this year for the first time, Coca-Cola Festival FM 101.5FM.

Next year marks the 30th Anniversary of the Coca-Cola Concerts in the Park during the Tamworth Country Music Festival.

State Premier surprise Cavalcade participant

NSW State Premier Morris Iemma was a surprise visitor to the Tamworth Country Music Festival today when he took part in the annual Country Music Cavalcade street parade.

The Cavalcade, the biggest public event of the Festival, was supported by Toyota again this year (the company was major sponsor of the parade for a number of years through the '90s) and contributed a fleet of vehicles to carry a contingent of festival celebrities, including Premier Iemma who travelled with Lee Kernaghan in one of the lead Cavalcade cars.

The Tamworth Hospital float, depicting a century of health care including a simulated surgical procedure with doctors acting out a bizarre lifesaving operation complete with limbs and body parts and a centenary ambulance, was judged the best float of the 65 who took part in the giant Cavalcade.

Chief judge Deniese Morrison, the multi award winning Golden Guitar singer, said the Cavalcade attracted more artists this year which added to the spectacle.

Deniese said it was pleasing to see the artists support the cavalcade in such strength. She said they added to the great carnival atmosphere and the crowds obviously appreciated and applauded their part in the parade.

There were heavy crowds along the route, particularly in the main central business district block. Organisers estimate up to 20,000 people watched the cavalcade and there were no major problems with traffic or parking caused by road diversions and closures, although congestion was heavy for about two hours.

The Best Visitor Float category was won by Telstra Child Flight. The popular local baby boomers band Well Primed won the Best Commercial section with Humes second and We R Kids Learning Centre third.

Tamworth Hospital was first in the non-commercial category followed by the Combined Rotary Clubs float and the Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care.

The equine centre category went to the Australian Miniature Horse Association which included a posse of tiny horses along with tiny riders and handlers and a baby dog with the Coonamble Shire Council and Rodeo Committee second and the RM Williams and Australian Stock Horse Northern Branch entry in third place.

Star Quest winner

Greg Bain from the NSW town of Gunnedah has won the 2007 Australian Bush Balladeers' Association (ABBA) Star Quest.

Greg beat out the other finalists – Debbie Beckett, Ann Leuba, John Parker, Rachel Richards and Chris Strohfield to take the prestigious title.

Born in the Hunter Valley in 1960, Greg’s family moved quite a bit while he was growing up. They finally settled in Gunnedah when he was 14.

Greg has worked in the mining industry all his life. He bought his first guitar in his 20s and began playing at barbecues and family functions and last year made his first CD with nine original tracks.

Slim Newton encouraged Greg to get up on stage at Bellbird Country Music Club and Greg now plays regular backing guitar in the club band.

Greg joins a growing list of Star Quest winners – Julie Perandes (2006), Jeff Gibson ('05), Matt Manning ('04), Anita Ree ('03), Nathan Charlton ('02) and Dave McCallum (in 2001, inaugural year of the quest).

As part of his prize, Greg wins recording time and appearances at major festivals (Tamworth, Bungendore, Gympie, Mildura) and publicity support throughout the next 12 months.

The Bush Balladeer Star Quest purpose is to offer direction to young artists, a greater understanding of the industry and media and to give them an opportunity to develop a solid foundation on which to build their career in bush ballad music.

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Marcela named top fiddler

Classically trained Marcela Taylor, who these days is a star performer with the Melbourne based country rock band Ruckus, has been named Australia’s best fiddle soloist at the 2007 Golden Fiddle Awards in Tamworth.

This makes it two in a row for the high speed player. Marcela received a highly commended in the best fiddler category in 2006.

This year, it came down to a battle between finalists Marcela and Ronni Rae Rivers who is considered one of the most successful independent artists in Australia.

Marcela joins a prestigious line-up of solo winners, classical player Asmira Woodward-Page who won the first solo award in 2005 and top jazz violinist Ian Cooper who was last year’s soloist of the year.

Marcela walked away with two Golden Fiddle Awards this year as she also beat stiff competition from The Davidson Brothers and The Bostocks to win best composition with Black & White. In the composition category, judges also awarded a commendation for Mojo by The Davidson Brothers.

The best band featuring fiddle was Sydney based FourPlay String Quartet but because there was such a huge range of musical styles entered in this category, the judges introduced a second best band award in the alternate category which was won by CODA.

Top Melbourne performer Jenny Thomas, who has toured extensively as soloist in Europe and Australia, received the Golden Fiddle Award for Farewell To Old England Forever, in the best CD by a soloist category.

The best CD by a band award went to Fiddlers Feast for Frenzee. Formerly known as the Fiddlers Festival, the group of highly accomplished players is regarded as Australia’s premier fiddle band.

The lifetime achievement award went to the late Don Harper who composed theme music for countless television programs in the UK over an 18 year span. A jazz violist and conductor, he went on to become the leader of one of Australia’s most successful big bands and, when he returned to Australia, he was made head of jazz studies at the Wollongong University’s School of Creative Arts. During his career he performed as solo artist on luxury liners and his cabaret performances put him on stages around the world with some famous stars.

The best teacher category was won by Gympie, Queensland, teacher Kylie McIvor. Kylie teaches instrumental music at five schools and runs a private teaching study for a range of styles. The youth achievement award went to Jess Randall who plays with the Crooked Fiddle Band, a young, "high-octane" four piece from Sydney)

The third Golden Fiddle Awards were handed out in a violin studded music fest at the height of the Tamworth Country Music Festival on Thurday morning. 

Tamworth legend Pixie Jenkins, who has accompanied John Williamson’s music for more than 20 years as well as starring in his own cabaret show, was master of ceremonies.

Among the entertainers were The Davidson Brothers, Andrew Clermont, Mark Oats, Clare O’Meara, Marcus Holden, George Washingmachine, the Bostocks, Marcela Taylor, Barry Easton and Jess Randall.

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A new Queen of Country Music

A banjo playing singing nurse is the newest queen of the country music festival in Tamworth.

Twenty-five year old Leanne Coddington (left) has been crowned the 2007 Telstra Queen of Country Music after a glittering gala night in front of 270 people on Thursday.

She hasn’t exactly taken to busking on the streets yet but the new festival ambassador is a regular at muso’s sessions and music walkup shows around the Country Music Capital.

Leanne graduated with her Bachelor of Nursing two years ago and currently works in the surgical wards of Tamworth Base Hospital. She is interested in pursuing a career in rural health but has also aiming to improve her grasp of banjo playing and get a few more paying gigs for her balladeer type music.

Outside work, Leanne loves country music with a passion – she strummed the tennis racquet as a kid and then took guitar lessons at the age of 10 and two years ago started to learn banjo.

She describes her style and interest in music as more the Slim Dusty or Anne Kirkpatrick/Sara Storer type than anything else and loves "a good old singalong". 

The 2007 Telstra Princess of Country Music is 20-year-old Tamworth Regional Council customer services officer Katie Alchin.

Katie’s studying towards becoming a strategic environmental planner and reckons she can’t play or sing a note to save herself – but loves listening to country music of any sort. Katie will play both an understudy to Leanne and support role as a Festival promotions face.

Leanne and Katie succeed the 2006 Queen and Princess Kasey McCulloch and Emma Skey. Kasey has described her reign as a fantastic year where she attended something like 110 different events with her sash and tiara. She says those two queenly accompaniments helped break down any barriers with anyone she ever met – and helped her talk and meet an incredible number of people from diverse backgrounds.

The quest this year attracted 25 entrants and a prize pool of about $34,000 backed by regional sponsors and businesses.

Telstra Road to Tamworth winner Morgan Evans and this year’s Toyota Star Maker winner and 2006 Telstra Road to Tamworth Songwriter winner Kirsty Lee Akers performed at the crowning dinner.

Regent Country Live

Country Music Capital's newest Festival venue wraps up a big week of activity this weekend.

This afternoon features the finals of the No Holds Barred Fiddle Competition finals at 1pm while later this afternoon (at 5pm) Shane Hogan presents Working Class Country with the Working Class Band.

Joy & Heather tribute dinner

Friends and industry figures gathered in Tamworth last night to pay tribute to Joy and Heather McKean as The McKean Sisters, one of the nation's pioneering country music acts.

Tributes were presented by fellow pioneer Rick Carey, Max Ellis and Kate Nugent and the sisters' daughters Anne Kirkpatrick and Dianne Lindsay (in song).

The McKean Sisters leant music from an early age and had their own radio show – The Melody Trail – on Sydney radio station 2KY from 1949 for 11 years.

In 1950, Joy and Heather recorded 16 tracks (or "sides" as they were then known) for Rodeo Records.

Soon after this, The McKean Sisters effectively disbanded as they ultimately drifted apart to support their respective husbands (Slim Dusty and Reg Lindsay) careers.

The annual tribute dinner is organised and staged in Tamworth to pay tribute to Australia's pioneers of country music and as a key fundraiser for the new Australian Country Music Hall of Fame.

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Photo: John Elliott.

Joy and Smoky in Galaxy of Stars

Joy was also inducted into Tamworth's Galaxy Of Stars in the forecourt of the Tamworth Regional Entertainment Centre together with Smoky Dawson on Thursday.

They join Arthur Blanch, Graeme Connors, Slim Dusty, Gina Jeffreys, Lee Kernaghan, Tania Kernaghan and John Williamson in Country Music Capital’s version of the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

"Thursday's induction recognises Joy and Smoky’s iconic status and their significant contribution to country music over more than 50 years," organisers said.


The Wolverines, Felicity & Troy head up 2007 People’s Choice winners

The Wolverines, Felicity Urquhart and Troy Cassar-Daley head up the winners list from the 2007 Australian Country Music People’s Choice Awards announced in front of a near capacity audience in Tamworth yesterday afternoon.

As the Wolverines, Darcy Le Year, John Clinton and Chris Doyle won two awards – Best Album for Good Times and Best Song for Angel Eyes, written by Matt Shelton (Matt’s award was accepted on his behalf by his father Louie).

Felicity took home the award for Best Female Vocal while Troy won Best Male Vocal.

Jonah’s Road won the award for Best Group, Dean Perrett won Best Bush Ballad with the Ian Quinn-penned Would Clancy Be Welcome while Dale Duncan won Best Heritage Song (his first award in country music) with Malabar Mansion written by his father Dave who was also in attendance to accept his award.

Cat Southern was named Most Promising Future Star (also her first award apart from her 2006 Star Maker win, and she took home a special prize of an Ayers guitar to boot) while John Nutting won Most Popular Country Music DJ and Country Music Radio won Most Popular Country Music Radio Program.

A number of special awards were announced during the ceremony.

Founders of the annual People’s Choice Awards, Smoky & Paula Sheldrick from the Australian Country Music Listener’s Association were honoured with a Founders’ Award, Bob Howe was named Musician of the Year while popular award-winning duo Carter & Carter were presented with a Career Achievement Award.

Organisers of the Awards were delighted with results and attendance at today’s gala presentation and acknowledged the support of sponsors Australian Audio Supplies, Ayers Guitars, Blade Guitars, Blundstone Footwear, Cole Clark Guitars, Country Music Bulletin, Drayton’s Family Wines and Jocks’ Journal.

The 2008 Australian Country Music People’s Choice Awards will be staged in Tamworth, Australia’s Country Music Capital, on Thursday, January 24.

Voting is expected to get underway mid year.

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"Long live the lead break"

The Jim Beam/Coca-Cola sponsored Guitar Heroes "Long Live The Lead Break-The Battle of the Axe" concludes tonight at The Locomotive Hotel in Tamworth.

Billed as featuring "the hottest guitarists in Australia" – including Louie Shelton, Steve Flack, Adam Miller, Kieran Murphy, Gypsy Jazz Master Ewan McKenzie, Phil Doublet, Rob Bostock, Smokin' Joe, Darren Ebbels plus Young Guns' Bad Robot and Sumassault.

Public admission prize is $12. Meanwhile, Louie Shelton appears at Regent Country Live this morning from 10 in the "Louie Shelton-The Riffs That Made Me Famous Showcase" supported by Gypsy Jazz Master Ewan McKenzie, Steve Flack and rising star Victoria McGee.


TSA award winners

Winners in the 2007 Tamworth Songwriters' Association (TSA) Songwriter Salute Awards were announced during the January festival in Country Music Capital last night.

Beccy Cole (pictured) took out Contemporary Country Song of the Year with Poster Girl while Graham Rodger (pictured) won the Bush Ballad category with What Country’s All About.

Country Ballad of the Year went to Alan McPherson & Graham Rodger with The Battle Of Long Tan, Shaza Leigh took out the Gospel Song category with Strength Within and Melissa Bajric won Children’s Song of the Year with Little Girl In Me.

Ernie Constance was named winner of the Comedy/Novelty Song category with If They Put A Tax On That, Beccy's Poster Girl was named Country Song of the Year and Arthur Blanch was named winner of TSA's 2007 SongMaker Award.

The TSA/Capital News New Songwriter Award went to Sophie Clabburn of The Sunny Cowgirls with Still Circling while Country Music Radio's Nick Erby was presented with the Association's Tex Morton Award.

In the TSA National Country Songwriting Contest, Graham Rodger was named winner of the professional section with Woman On The Land, Jude Rodrigues won the amateur section with She Taught Me To Pray while Anna Macdonald won the junior section with Home and Merv Webster took out the lyrics only section with I Wish I Were A Crocodile.

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Galaxy of Stars unveiling

The 2007 inductees into the Galaxy of Stars in the forecourt of the Tamworth Regional Entertainment Centre took place place this morning at 11.30.

Members of the industry and public are invited to attend.

Two outstanding country music icons will be recognised through their induction today.

People's Choice Awards today

Winners in the 2007 Australian Country Music People's Choice Awards will be announced at the Regent Theatre in Country Music Capital this afternoon.

Tickets are selling fast for the gala presentation and concert in Tamworth's newest Festival venue, the Regent Theatre from 1.30pm.

Special guest artists Dale Duncan, Craig Giles, Jonah's Road, Peter Pratt, Anita Ree, Graham Rodger, Cat Southern, Wildseed and Jeanette Wormald will be joined by special guest presenters Carter & Carter, Greg Champion and Deniese Morrison together with finalists in the Awards.

Winners will be announced in 11 categories and a number of special awards are to be made.

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Country Queen contestants line-up

Tonight is the night for contestants in the 2007 Telstra Queen of Country Music Quest in Tamworth, Australia’s Country Music Capital.

Twenty-five contestants have lined up to compete for the title which will be announced, together with the Country Music Princess title, at the gala crowning dinner at Tamworth Racecourse from 7.30.

This year’s contestants are... Katie Alchin (sponsored by Tamworth Regional Council), Lauren Allott (Vickstar), Emily Anderson (Interact injury Management), Amy Asbury (The Pub Group), Abbey Camalleri (Bella), Bonnie Clark (Newtrain), Leanne Coddington (Tamworth Base Hospital), Louise Cooke (Egan Murphy Solicitors), Melinda Cookson (Mahony’s Southgate Pharmacy), Karly Davidson (Harvey Norman), Samantha Doust (Target Australia), Courtney Fox (Max Fox Electrical & Inland Hot Water), Sarah Grattan (Big W Tamworth), Crystal Gray (All Settlers Motor Inn and Gregorys on Goonoo Goonoo), Alana Higgins (Tamworth Shoppingworld), Lauren Howden (Tamworth Co-Operative), Clementine Johnson (2TM/92.9),Marina Lawrence (Lifeline Tamworth & Northern Inland), Lucinda McKnight (Tamworth Jockey Club), Felicity Nash (Dial A Security Door), Kate Shaw (PRD Nationwide), Jody Southwell (Tamworth Shoppingworld), Tara Suckling (Castlereagh Imaging), Laura Swanston (Mahony’s Guardian Pharmacies) and Alex Vodic (Cargill Beef Australia).

The winner receives a prize pack including a trip to New Zealand to represent Australia's Country Music Capital at New Zealand's Home of Country Music, Gore.

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Recycling Queen

A Victorian grandmother who decided to drive all the way to Tamworth to camp by herself to "take in the music" is the 2007 Tamworth Country Music Festival’s new recycling queen.

Marlene Spurr from Bacchus Marsh, near Ballarat, is the Don’t Waste Tamworth Recycling Rouseabout winner after doing her bit to keep the Riverside camping grounds festival friendly and cleaner and greener.

Marlene decided only two weeks ago that she wanted to visit the festival for the first time.

So the grandmother of seven, who lives with her husband and children on the family farm, had the car fixed, left the rest to look after the farm and brought her two-man tent to town.

She was spotted by one of the Festival Recycling Rouseabouts doing the right thing by recycling her bottles and went into the draw with another 350 festival-friendly recyclers.

Now she’s won tickets to see Don’t Waste Tamworth’s special green-and-gold ambassador Troy Cassar-Daley perform his Friends and Heroes Show at the Tamworth Regional Entertainment Centre this afternoon.

About 30 Lions and Lioness club members volunteered about 45 hours to patrol festival sites to find fans helping keep the city clean.

Marlene says she’s been a recycling advocate for years and coming from a farm knows the value of environmentally-friendly conservation methods.  Their farm was once part of a forest but when they moved there the trees had been cut down. For the past 35 years they’ve been restoring the tree cover with more than 5,000 trees, mainly gums, replanted.

She’s tickled pink about winning because she’s never seen Troy in concert. And she’s amazed at the Festival and "the whole darn thing" about Tamworth in January.

"I’ve been here for two weeks and I think it’s wonderful. I’m getting out and seeing a lot of things, including the tourist sites too," Marlene said.

She’s also impressed with the festival’s waste system. She can’t believe there’s so little garbage or rubbish around and is amazed there’s not more flies with so many people in town.

Tamworth Regional Council Waste Services Manager John Davis (pictured above with Marlene) says the Festival has so far produced more than four tonnes of recycling – a great load diverted from landfill – and wants fans to keep up the good work by dropping their drink containers in the special yellow bins. He’s also encouraging people to pick up litter and put it in the bin.


Morgan wins Telstra Road

Morgan Evans from Newcastle was announced as winner of the 2007 Telstra Road to Tamworth talent search last night.

Singing before a crowd of more than 1,500, Morgan was selected as the overall winner after "wowing the judges" with two of his own songs, including There’s No Time. He thanked the sponsors and judges before dedicating his win to his grandparents.

"I’m super-stoked," he said. "Grandpa, it’s for you mate. One of my biggest supports was my Nan, and I’d also like to dedicate this to her."

A performance from Jessica Mauboy, the inaugural winner of Telstra Road and last year's Australian Idol runner-up, was just one of the highlights in an entertainment extravaganza which saw the top eight grand finalists battle it out for top honours in the competition.

The grand final was held at the Tamworth Regional Entertainment Centre and webcast live to thousands of country music enthusiasts across Australia and overseas. Two international judges joined a panel of local industry officials live online to determine the outcome.

Briana Lee from Kialla was named winner of the Songwriter's Encouragement Award.

Both Morgan and Briana will travel to Nashville later this year as part of their respective prize packages, Morgan to record his prize-winning single, Briana to meet and work with a number of leading country music songwriters in Nashville.

For their prize packages, Morgan and Briana sang alongside seven other grand finalists who initially qualified for the finals series after winning their hometown heat... Sinead Burgess from Beachmere, Qld; Daisy May from Mackay, Qld; Sharnee Fenwick from Glendale, NSW; Mick Lindsay from Toowoomba, Qld; Michelle Murphy from Alice Springs, NT; and Danni Stefanetti from Sorrento, WA.

Around 700 singers from across the nation entered the competition at heats all over Australia through last year.

Telstra Country Wide Group Managing Director Geoff Booth said the 2007 competition provided a way for young country music hopefuls to live out their musical dreams.

"The competition just gets better every year and the depth of talent it is uncovering shows that the country music genre has a bright future in this country. We are so excited to have uncovered another up and coming star through the program and look forward to following his career closely," he said. 

In addition to the single recording and travel expenses, the package of prizes Morgan takes home from the competition includes various performance opportunities, publicity support, production and airing of a video clip and a Maton guitar.

Weblink – Telstra Road To Tamworth.

Rajon signs Matt

Rajon announced yesterday that they had signed rising country music star Matt Scullion, the first country artist to be signed by the independent music company.

Already in 2007, Matt has been nominated for Vocal Collaboration of the Year with Lawrie Minson at this weekend's Golden Guitar Awards for his single Hard Earned Money.

He was also a finalist at yesterday's TIARAs (Tamworth Independent Artist Recognition Awards) for the songwriting award with Hard Earned Money, is a finalist in the 2007 TIARA AWARDS (Tamworth Independent Artists Recognition Awards) nominated for First Thing On My Mind, and his second single – Giddy Up, from the album Put It Down To Experience – is receiving good airplay on CMC (Country Music Channel).

Last year, Hard Earned Money made it to 13 on the CMC (Country Music Channel) Top 50, staying in the playlist a number of weeks.

The success of Hard Earned Money also saw Matt named a top five finalist in the 2006 Musicoz Awards for Best Country Artist and Best Folk Artist.

He also won the inaugural ICE (Independent Country Entertainer) award for Best Country Rock Performance for his new Giddy Up single.

Rajon says the company was quick to recognise Matt’s outstanding achievements and talent as something that could really help put Rajon on the country music map. The company says it is dedicated to building a strong Australian country music roster and is looking to announce further significant signings in the near future.

Ken Outch, Chief Executive Officer DESTRA Entertainment, parent company of Rajon, said: "Matt is a perfect fit for Rajon and where we are looking to take country music. We are extremely proud to have signed him and are looking forward to 2007 and the endless opportunities that have now been presented as a result of this partnership."

The Rajon Music Group was formed in July 2000 after the merger of three leading independent record labels (Rajon Entertainment, Redx Entertainment and Startel Entertainment). Consequently, the group is now one of the largest independent record labels in Australia.

Rajon’s core business includes television compilations; budget, mid price and catalogue marketing and concepts; and single artist development.

Rajon, distributed in Australia by Sony Music, owns and controls a very successful catalogue of artists which has earned many awards including 32 gold records, six platinum records and 42 major industry awards.

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Three big shows at Regent Country Live

Today is another highlight day at Country Music Capital's newest Festival venue, Regent Country Live.

The second Cole Clark Guitars Cowboys & Angels Showcase is on at 10am with Anthony Snape, Adam Miller, Lloyd Spiegel, Amy Vee, Bob Corbett, Morgan Evans, Katie Brianna and a special surprise guest.

The second International Showcase runs from 2pm with The Borderers, Beez and Steve Rowe.

At 8 o'clock tonight, Nicki Gillis appears with Rose Carleo and Bryen Willems.

More information on all shows can be obtained here.

Country Music Challenge – first time success

The inaugural Country Music Challenge: Band Search was staged in the Goonoo Goonoo Room of the Longyard Hotel during Tamworth Country Music Festival 2007 and has been described by organisers as a great success.

"Six bands lined up to present their best original material as well as entertain the substantial fan turnout for this first country music band friendly event," said Jim Guider speaking on behalf of the organisers.

Luke O’Shea and Medicine Wheel made a feature guest appearance during the night to launch the Challenge.

Bands competing were the Aaron Daniels Band, Chester Story & The First Glory, Cowpoke, Cyclone Jason & The Hurricanes, LoveBilly, Ruckus and Ten 13.

"Local band Standin' Still had to withdraw," Jim said, "because of the bass player’s ill health and he is wished a speedy recovery by all concerned, including all bands taking part in this event."

Bands competition veterans the Aaron Daniels Band came out the winners by a narrow margin and walked away with the cash plus prizes, including $1,500 cash courtesy of sponsor Toohey’s New and the Longyard, an Enrec Studio Demo Recording Package, Country Music Bulletin Printernet Package and Enhancement Profiles on the Musician’s Headquarters website.

"Second on a close margin was the hard-working band Ruckus who played up a storm," Jim said. Ruckus received $500 cash courtesy of Toohey’s New and the Longyard plus a Tapco mixer processor from Australian Audio Supplies.

"All sponsors are well satisfied with the outcome," Jim said, "and keen to be involved with Country Music Challenge: Band Search 2008 to be held at the Longyard again with a bigger and better prize package."

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Chart Update – Felicity at number one

Felicity Urquhart (pictured) takes over the number one position on the Country Tracks National Top 30 Singles Chart this week with Big Black Cloud.

Troy Cassar-Daley's former number one Walking Away drops to number two while Travis Collins' Full Tank falls to number three and Rodney Atkins' If You're Going Through Hell moves up to four.

Keith Urban's Once In A Lifetime drops back to five, the Paul Costa/Aleyce Simmonds duet The Way You Make Me Feel rises to six and George Strait's Just Give It Away rises to seven.

Karen Lynne drops to eight with We Should Only Have Time For Love, Casey Watt's I Don't Want To Work This Hard falls to nine while Jeanette Wormald hits the top 10 at number 10.

Bullet performers this week include Adam Brand's Cigarettes & Whiskey (16 to 11), Arthur Blanch's For A Song (15 to 12), Gina Jeffreys' Live It (18 to 13), Lee Kernaghan's Love Shack (22 to 16), Anne Kirkpatrick's Showman's Daughter (21 to 18), Nick Kingswell's Hope For Me Yet (23 to 20), Donna Boyd's Luckiest Girl Alive (25 to 22), The McClymonts' Baby's Gone Home (28 to 25), Camille Te Nahu & Stuie French with Let's Make A Family (29 to 26) and Melinda Schneider's Men In Trucks (30 to 27).

The full chart can be viewed at


Australian Bush Laureate Award winners

Winners in the 2007 Australian Bush Laureate awards were announced before a capacity audience in the Tamworth Town Hall this afternoon.

In Book of the Year, Original Verse, for the best original Australian work in book form, the winner was "The Exodus And Other Verse" by Bob Magor. A sheep and cattle farmer from Myponga in South Australia, Bob is now the author of seven top selling books of his bush verse.

In Album of the Year, the winner was I'm Better Than She Is by Carmel Dunn & Jennifer Haig. Both Carmel and Jennifer, from Queensland, have built a strong reputation over a short period of time for their work and have achieved a great deal of success with this collaborative work.

For Single Recorded Performance of the Year, the winner was Why? by Carol Heuchan (pictured) who also took out the inaugural Bush Poetry Performer of the Year award which was determined by public vote.

Those aware of the prolific poetry successes of Carol Heuchan in recent years might imagine that she has been doing it forever.  Not so!  An instant top selling book in 2002 led to her first bush poetry competition and the rest, as they say, is history with poetry taking over her life, to the point where Carol has won more than 30 performance competitions in just a few years including state and Australian championships.

Winner of the Judith Hosier Heritage Award, for outstanding achievement in nurturing Australia’s heritage of verse, went to the Carmel Randle, a tremendous worker for the cause of bush poetry (see following).

The Australian Bush Laureate Awards were first staged in 1996 to recognise excellence in published and recorded Australian bush poetry.

The 13th Australian Bush Laureate Awards will be held in Tamworth on Tuesday January 22, 2008.

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Carmel Randle – Australian Bush Laureates Heritage Award winner

Born and educated in Brisbane, Carmel Randle spent most of her life in rural Queensland. Until retirement, she taught speech and drama, music and english, but she always found time  to devote to her other great interest, rhymed poetry.

Carmel travelled extensively throughout Australia performing poetry and appeared at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Nevada, USA, in 1999 and 2000.

Although she has published three books of her own work and won many awards for her writing, including an Australian Bush Laureate Award for Book of the Year in 1997 and the prestigious Bronze Swagman Award in 1996 and 1999, it is for her efforts to further the cause of bush verse that she receives this award today.

Carmel worked hard to establish the judging rules and categories for competitions and was a founding member of the Australian Bush Poet’s Association.

She has edited and produced three “Co-operative Books of Verse for Aussie Children” and her publication “Help” – a handbook for writers and performers of rhymed verse – is the only practical guide yet written for Australian bush poets.

Carmel also worked tirelessly to establish the Australian National Bush Poetry titles and helped make Winton a centre of excellence for bush verse.

Last year, this award went to the Winton Tourist Association, partly because of Carmel’s recommendation that they were “a marvellous bunch of people doing a great job...”

This year, it’s her turn!

TIARAs go live on the internet

The 2007 Tamworth Independent Artist Recognition Awards (TIARAs) will celebrate their 10th anniversary with "a webcast to the world" this afternoon from Blazes Auditorium at West Tamworth League Club.

Hosted by Kevin Anderson and Melinda Smith of NBN Television, the Awards will be webcast internationally.

The webcast has been made possible by the services of Production Manager and TIARAs Vice President Peter Scott from PC Scott Audio Productions and the time of radio presenter Beth Brown and her production crew from QBN FM 96.7 in Queanbeyan and the Texas Broadcasting Network in Forth Worth USA.

The Awards will be simultaneously webcast internationally profiling even further the achievements of the many independent artists who have been named finalists and who receive awards at the gala presentation.

Tickets to the event are available from Wests on 02 6765 788, online at or "at the door" (subject to availability).

And the winners are...

Winners of Tamworth Independent Artist Recognition Awards (TIARAs) were announced in Tamworth this afternoon.

The Female and Male vocal awards went, respectively, to Sandra Humphries with Biggest Fool Around and Lee Forster with A Fire in the Bar.

The One Stop Entertainment Album of the Year award went to The Davidson Brothers with Raised On The Road while Carter & Carter took out the Duo award with Ride.

Luke O'Shea & Medicine Wheel won the Group award with Making Memories while Casey Watt & Brendan Radford took out the Vocal Collaboration gong with If I Needed You.

The Stan Coster Memorial Bush Ballad Award went to Matt Manning for Timeless Country, Karen Lynne & Richard Porteous won the Michael Cowdroy Songwriting Award with Blue Mountain Rain and The Davidson Brothers took out the Barry Thornton Memorial Instrumental Award with Scrub Turkey.

The Geoff Brown Memorial Award was presented to Greg Champion for Been There Done That, Alan Clement was presented with a Services to Industry TIARA and Peter Schroeder, an early supporter of the awards, received an Honourary Acknowledgement from organisers.

Aristocrat Entertainer of Year

Nick Laing and Mitchell King came out winners of the Aristocrat Entertainer of the Year Quest at West Tamworth League Club last night (January 22).

Nick won the seniors title and a prize valued at $2,000 while Mitchell took out the junior title a prize valued at $700.

Runner-up in the senior section was Kimberley Bowden with Country To The T third.

Runner-up in the junior section was Nathaniel O'Brien while Olivia Hally was third.

Women's Wall of Fame

Tracy Coster and Patti Morgan are this year's inductees to the Women In Country Music Wall of Fame in Tamworth.

The induction will take place this Friday at 6pm at the South Tamworth Bowling Club, instigators and administrators of the Wall of Fame, located in Margaret Street, South Tamworth.

The Wall of Fame was instituted in 1997 to recognise the achievements of women in Australian country music, paying homage to singers, songwriters and industry people.

Tracy and Patti join previous inductees Bella, Catherine Britt, Kasey Chambers, Beccy Cole, Anne Conway, the Crosby Sisters (Jodie and Kelly), Christina George, Lynette Guest, Gina Jeffreys, Tania Kernaghan, Anne Kirkpatrick, Shaza Leigh, the McKean Sisters (Joy and Heather), Deniese Morrison, Kate Nugent, Norma O'Hara Murphy, Anna Rose, Mary Schneider, Melinda Schneider, Sara Storer and Felicity Urquhart.

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Today's main events

The Australian Bush Laureate Awards, the TIARAs and the grand final of the Telstra Road to Tamworth talent search head the list of "main events" during the 2007 Tamworth Country Music Festival today.

Both the TIARAs and Bush Laureate Awards are running at the same time this year, the Bush Laureate Awards in the Tamworth Town Hall, the TIARAs at West Tamworth League Club. The TIARAs are normally held in the evening of the main Tuesday of the Festival.

The Telstra Road grand final will be staged at the Toyota Country Theatre in the Tamworth Regional Entertainment Centre at 7.30pm


Kirsty Lee Akers wins Toyota Star Maker 2007

Kirsty Lee Akers has taken the crown as winner of Toyota Star Maker 2007.

Twenty finalists were whittled down to a final five during yesterday's finals plus an additional "wildcard" entry who competed for the title during last night's grand final, one of the main events at the annual Tamworth Country Music Festival.

Kirsty Lee, from Kurri Kurri, NSW, said she was excited by the prospects that lie ahead. "It’s an amazing feeling to be awarded a prize that has started the careers of some of the biggest names in country music," she said. "It’s a huge opportunity and I intend to make the most of it."

Since stepping into the spotlight at age three, Kirsty has not looked back. Her musical talents have been recognised nationally and internationally, including winning the 2006 Telstra Road to Tamworth Songwriter's Encouragement Award and making it to the top 70 of Australian Idol.

Toyota Star Maker has been a major stepping stone in the careers of country music legends including James Blundell, Beccy Cole, Gina Jeffreys, Lee Kernaghan and Keith Urban.

Previous Toyota Star Maker winners James Blundell, Beccy Cole, Gina Jeffreys and Brendon Walmsley appeared as guest artists during the Grand Final last night together with last year’s winner Cat Southern.

Toyota’s Manager of Promotions and Event Management Wayne Gabriel said the finalists were of an extremely high standard and were all to be congratulated.

"With the announcement of this year’s prize package, competition grew incredibly fierce, but each and every artist rose to the challenge. The quality of the performances was excellent and all finalists have spent an incredible amount of time fine-tuning what they presented," he said.

General Manager of Rural Press Events Barry Harley said the new Star Maker format, which reduced the final 20 performers to five instead of 10, was appealing to both finalists and audience and increased the level of competition.

"This is undoubtedly one of the highest quality fields we’ve seen for many, many years," he said, "a big call for a talent search that has the reputation of being the ultimate in its category.

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Guitar legend to showcase talents

Guitar legend Louie Shelton will showcase his talents in a concert titled "The Riffs that made me Famous" this Australia Day (Friday) in Tamworth.

The concert will be staged at 10am on Australia Day at Tamworth's newest Festival venue, Regent Country Live at the corner of Kable Avenue and Brisbane Street, diagonally opposite Hands of Park.

Louie is the renowned session guitar player and producer responsible for songs and riffs recorded by The Monkees, Neil Diamond, Dan Seals, Lionel Ritchie, Glen Campbell, Joe Cocker, James Brown and many more.

He also produces the Wolverines and up and coming star Victoria McGee who will join him on the Australia Day showcase. Louie will be supported by international gypsy jazz master player Ewan McKenzie who is also joint co-ordinator of Brisbanes Gypsy Jazz Festival with Remo Mayer from Vintage Guitars.

Diverse guitarist Steve Flack is also part of the mix. Steve brings to the show his successful acoustic showcase in jazz, blues and classical playing.

Backing up the talents of Louie, Ewan, Steve and Victoria will be "the not so shabby" rhythm section of Guitar Heroes, Michael Smith and Mick O’Shea.

The Riffs that made me Famous is sponsored by Tamworth Festival Musician’s Headquarters and supported by Vintage Guitars, Liverpool Academy of Music, Country Music Bulletin and

Unique showcases at Regent Country Live

Two special showcases will debut at Tamworth's newest country music festival venue – Regent Country Live – today.

The first of three Victorian Showcases gets underway at 2 o'clock this afternoon while the first of three Cole Clark Guitars sponsored events is on tonight at eight.

Today's Victorian Showcase stars the internationally renowned Davidson Brothers (pictured) together with Melbourne band The Distance, country roots rockers The Joelenes and the duo Ginja Rowe.

Today's Cole Clark Guitars Showcase will star Anthony Snape, Adam Miller, Lloyd Spiegel, Amy Vee, Bob Corbett, Morgan Evans and Katie Brianna (pictured).

Tickets for each of these shows are just $15 and available from The Regent box office, or by phone on 02 6766 3162.

Southern Cross Uni in Tamworth

After more than a decade educating musicians and performers, Southern Cross University (Lismore) has dipped its toes into the Tamworth Country Music Festival for the first time.

Dr Jean Griffiths (pictured), head of the Uni's School of Arts, will make a flying trip to the festival to present the Contemporary Country Song of the Year winner with their trophy at the Tamworth Songwriters’ Association Salute Awards of Australia on Wednesday night.

The event, traditionally a sellout, is held in Blazes auditorium at Wests at 7pm.

Dr Griffiths said this was, to her knowledge, a unique partnership in that no other university had ever forged ties with the long-established and much respected TSA Awards.

"Although it will be a fleeting visit, I’m hoping to soak in the some of the atmosphere of the Festival and catch up with some of our star graduates," she said. "Not many people would be aware of just how many graduates SCU has turned out in the past 10 years, many of whom are now making a professional living in the country music industry."

The honour roll of SCU graduates includes Glen Hannah (Kasey Chambers/Felicity Urquhart bands), Scotty Hills (The Flood), singer/songwriter Jodi Martin and guitarist/songwriter/producer Sam Hawksley.

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Volunteers help keep city streets clean

Thirty volunteers have taken to the city streets to help keep the Tamworth Festival cleaner and greener.

The special "Recycling Rouseabouts" are a Tamworth Regional Council (TRC) initative to boost the festival’s enviro-friendly reputation and cut back the amount of garbage.

The "Rouseabouts" – the main members of the Tamworth Lioness and Lions clubs, are walking the streets to spot festivals fans doing the right thing.

Those people caught in the act of recycling win tickets to a draw for free seats to Troy Cassar-Daley’s big Friends & Heroes Show at the Toyota Country Theatre this Thursday.

According to TRC Waste Officer Ange Cooper, the "Rouseabouts" will help visitors conserve litter, boost recycling figures and keep the streets cleaner.

"The Festival generated about 9.6 tonnes of recycling material last year – about equal to 12 tip trucks which otherwise would have gone into landfil," Ange said. "Hundreds of extra wheelie bins have been rolled out in Tamworth and in two different colors to collect different garbage.

"Yellow bins are for drink containers and green bins for general garbage. They’re stationed around 10 metres from each other one all around the CBD area and Riverside camping grounds to help fans dispose of their garbage in the bins rather than on the ground."

The "Rouseabouts" will be handing out tickets for the Troy draw on Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday before the winners are announced for the Thursday concert.

A high profile Festival visitor

Meanwhile, while Tamworth Regional Council reported, after "day three", that the Festival continued to run smoothly, high profile State Minister for Tourism Sandra Nori (pictured) was in town.

Ms Nori said at a press conference yesterday that she’d first come to "the Tamworth hoedown" in 1993 – simply by accident as a politician from the highly urbanised, yuppie, cappuccino electorate based around Balmain – but has been back most years since then because "it’s such fun" and she got hooked with the festival party.

She said Tamworth is a model in regional tourism of the value of a branded event as a tourist attraction generator.

Camping numbers in the Riverside area continue to climb with more than 1,000 sites already taken and Council's Festival Operations Manager Ken Reid preparing to open overflow camping areas in the next few days.

Busking registrations are already up to 400, way ahead of previous years and it is suggested that they could top last year's record 590.

Council's Festival Director Steve Bartlett has already said that the opening weekend has gone exceptionally well and, on trends, suggests a bumper long weekend next weekend. 


Lindsay Butler, Kevin King elevated to the Roll of Renown

Australian country music legends Lindsay Butler and Kevin King were elevated to the Country Music Roll of Renown in Tamworth yesterday afternoon.

One of Australia’s leading country guitar players and record producers, Lindsay's professional career began in the 1960s when he toured with Athol McCoy. Since then, he has played with all the greats from Slim Dusty, Buddy Williams and Gordon Parsons to Rex Dallas, Brian Young, Stan Coster and Barry Thornton.

Lindsay was the first Australian guitarist to record a full solo instrumental album (in 1976) which won him his first Golden Guitar. His distinctive guitar technique and mastery of the bush ballad style is featured on more than a thousand recording projects, many of which he also produced in his parallel career in the recording business.

Lindsay’s LBS studios reached a milestone output of 100 albums in 2006.

Kevin King first recorded in 1954 on the famous Regal Zonophone label. That first session included the popular Rub-a-dub which became a hit on radio and made Kevin King a household name. Numerous releases followed, including some of the first on the all-Australian Festival label in the 1970s.

Through the 1950s and 1960s, Kevin featured in a number of high profile touring shows including with Reg Lindsay and Slim Dusty and as a key figure in the All Star Western Show with the likes of Rick & Thel Carey, Chad Morgan and Nev Nicholls. A pioneer of our music, Kevin King is widely respected and recognised as one of Australia’s most successful early country music entertainers and recording artists.

Lindsay and Kevin are the 34th and 35th inductees to Australia’s highest country music honour.

They join Tex Morton, Buddy Williams, Smoky Dawson, Slim Dusty, Shirley Thoms, Tim McNamara, Gordon Parsons, The McKean Sisters, Reg Lindsay, Rick & Thel Carey, Johnny Ashcroft, Chad Morgan, John Minson, The Hawking Bros, Stan Coster, Barry Thornton, Nev Nicholls, Shorty Ranger, Jimmy Little, Ted Egan, Dusty Rankin, John Williamson, Rocky Page, Brian Young, Rex Dallas, Arthur Blanch, The Schneider Sisters, Frank Ifield, The Webb Bros, Kenny Kitching, The Singing Kettles, Athol McCoy and Reg Poole on the Roll of Renown located in front of the Tamworth Regional Entertainment Centre.

Their plaques will be unveiled this Tuesday morning (January 23) at 10.30am.

The Roll of Renown honour is presented annually to those artists who have made a lasting and significant contribution to Australian country music.

Six more for Hands of Fame

Another six famous country music names will be immortalised in concrete in Country Music Capital’s Hands of Fame this coming Saturday, January 27.

The 2007 Hands of Fame names were announced by the Australian Country Music Foundation at the Roll of Renown Concert in Tamworth yesterday afternoon.

They are... James Blundell (pictured, left), Freddy Bowen, Ken Cameron, Peter Coad, Col Edmonds and Eric Watson (right).

James Blundell is well known in Australian country music for leading the new wave of more contemporary country artists in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. After winning Star Maker 1987, he went on to record a number of successful albums and is still going strong, winning awards and audiences all over Australia.

Forty years a multi-talented entertainer, compere, promoter, judge and radio presenter, Freddy Bowen toured with The LeGarde Twins, Brian Young, Rick & Thel, Bill & Boyd, Reg Lindsay, the Gill Bros and more. He has featured and supported hundreds of artists in club, festival and television appearances and has released five singles and an album.

Ken Cameron is known and respected throughout the country music industry for the long and substantial contribution he made as a record label owner and producer, predominantly through his Dubbo based studio CM Records.

Peter Coad is known and widely respected as one of the nation’s leading contemporary bush balladeers. As well as his substantial recording and performing career, Peter is also President of the successful Australian Bush Balladeers Association.

Col Edmonds started playing guitar at age 14 and made his first public appearance at 17 going on to play at venues as varied as rodeos and cabaret. Over the years, Col has won numerous awards, including Barcoo Bush Ballad Awards. He has made and released many recordings since his debut album in 1980.

Eric Watson is known as the owner/operator of perhaps Australia’s most successful and fiercely independent country music record label, Selection Records.  Also a songwriter of note, Eric was recognised as the nation’s most pre-eminent country music historian with the inaugural Australian Country Music Literary Award last year.

The 2007 Hands of Fame imprinting ceremony will be held at the Hands of Fame Cornerstone in Kable Avenue next Saturday, January 27, at 9.15am.

The Hands of Fame are co-ordinated for the City of Tamworth by the Australian Country Music Foundation.

Two additions to Broadcasters’ Hall of Fame

Two new names were added to the Australian Country Music Broadcasters’ Hall of Fame in Tamworth, Australia’s Country Music Capital, at the annual Roll of Renown Concert yesterday afternoon.

They are Alan Clement and Eric Scott.

Most recently, and for many years, Alan Clement worked as Manager of 3MFM at Inverloch in Victoria’s Gippsland. He has had a long and illustrious career in broadcasting, and especially country music broadcasting having worked at Radio 2TM in the station’s famous country music hey day, including a strong involvement in staging and production of the very first Australasian Country Music Awards (or Golden Guitar Awards) in 1973.

After Tamworth, Alan worked for many years in Port Pirie, South Australia, where he was involved in developing that city’s major country music festival at the time.

More known for his role in establishing Hadley Records, one of the most important and influential independent record labels in Australian country music, Eric Scott has also had a substantial career as a country music broadcaster. He was working for 7LA Launceston, Tasmania, in the late 1950s when he established Hadley and moved, as a broadcaster, to 2VM Moree in 1966 then to 3AW Melbourne and 2TM Tamworth where he and the family settled in 1968.

As the studio business grew, Eric left 2TM but later found a place doing a regular country music program on ABC radio for some 15 years.

The Broadcasters’ Hall of Fame was inaugurated by the Australian Country Music Foundation (ACMF) to honour and pay tribute to those broadcasters, past and present, who have played a significant role in the development and promotion of Australian country music through broadcasting.

Inductees to the Hall of Fame are now Mike Bedford, Mel Cameron, Hedley Charles, Gary Coxhead, Dick Cranbourne, Smoky & Dot Dawson, Carter Edwards, Gene Fisk, Bob Fricker, Brian Howard, Maurie Huxley, Peter Leslie, Reg Lindsay, Helen Kay, Doug “The Bandit” May, The McKean Sisters, Barry McMahon, Tim McNamara, John Minson, Barbara Morison, Nev Nicholls, John Nutting, Don McGuire, Dave Prior, Rocky Page, Keith Melbourne, Neville Pellitt, Earl Reeve, Bob Spence, Allan Wallett, Barry Williams and Kathy Winkler.

The Broadcasters’ Hall of Fame Honour Roll is located at the ACMF in Brisbane Street, Tamworth, Australia’s Country Music Capital.

Golden Guitars on metro TV

The Country Music Association of Australia has announced that the television program produced from next weekend's Golden Guitar Awards will go to air in metropolitan Australia.

This will be in addition to the broadcast on the Southern Cross Network on Saturday, February 3.

The metropolitan broadcast will be at 12 noon on Sunday, February 4.

A further airing of the Awards will be on CMC (Country Music Channel) on Friday, February 9 at 7.00pm. 


Building up for day two!

The first day of the 2007 Tamworth Country Music Festival has come and gone and could be described as a little slow-ish although numbers appear to be building solidly for the first weekend.

Although no specific reports are to hand, the official opening concert in Bi-centennial Park had good weather and, as a free show, should have been well-attended. The main Tamworth street (Peel) grew busier as the evening progressed and you could hear the strains of entertainment beating through the night from buskers in the street to bands in every pub.

The main event on the program today is the Roll of Renown Concert in the Tamworth Town Hall at 2.30pm featuring announcement of the 2007 Roll of Renown inductee/s, announcement of Hands of Fame and Broadcasters Hall of Fame inductees.

Guest artists and special guests are Charley Boyter, Sinead Burgess, Rick Carey & Lynne, Peter Coad, Peter Denahy, Gina Jeffreys, Anne Kirkpatrick, Amber Lawrence, Reg Poole and Cat Southern with compere John Nutting.

Tickets available from Tamworth Visitor Information Centre on 6767 5300 or at the door from 1.30pm.

Today's official program lists some 200 events.

Photos: busking (above) are country duo Country To The T (Taryn and Tori) while the picture at right higlights the street (Peel) in nightime glory.

More at Toyota Country Theatre

Celebrating more than 15 years of support to the Australian country music industry, Toyota has again combined with Tamworth based Rural Press Events to transform the Tamworth Regional Entertainment Centre (TREC) into the city’s biggest concert venue for the Tamworth Festival – the Toyota Country Theatre.

Toyota a sponsor of numerous significant country music events over the years including the Golden Guitar Awards, Toyota Star Maker, the Tamworth Festival Cavalcade, the National Country Music Muster at Gympie, many individual artists and, for the fourth year, the Toyota Country Theatre.

Popular features of the Theatre precinct include all day free entertainment, the now famous Toyota Hat giveaways and free sausage sizzles for breakfast and lunch and vehicle demonstrations.  Interactive displays and the Country Café feature in the TREC foyer together with the CD and merchandise store.

The first star to rise at Toyota Country Theatre for 2007 will be Melinda Schneider today at 2pm with support acts The Flood and The Sunny Cowgirls.

At 8.30 tonight, John Williamson returns for his only Tamworth performance with The Stone & Wire Tour featuring Warren H Williams.

Tomorrow at 10.30am, the Toyota Star Maker finals get underway building to the grand final at night which, in addition to the grand finalists will also feature performances by former Star Maker winners James Blundell, Beccy Cole, Gina Jeffreys, Cat Southern (reigning Star Maker) and Brendon Walmsley.

On Monday and Tuesday, Toyota Country Theatre hosts for the first time the finals and grand final of the Telstra Road to Tamworth talent search. In addition to heat winners, guest stars will include last year's winners Nick Kingswell and Kirsty Lee Akers, Telstra Road Ambassador Adam Harvey and winner of the inaugural competition and 2006 Australian Idol runner-up Jessica Mauboy.

Colin Buchanan takes the stage on Wednesday for his annual kids show while Gina Jeffreys will launch her long awaited latest album on Wednesday afternoon and Adam Brand fills the night-time slot.

Carter & Carter launch their new album with Donna Boyd (and Donna's new album) on Thursday morning, Troy Cassar-Daley takes the stage in the afternoon while Sara Storer has the night time slot.

All tickets for all concerts staged at Toyota Country Theatre (except Carter & Carter/Donna Boyd) are available from the Tamworth Visitor Information Centre at the corner of Peel and Murray Streets, telephone 02 6767 5300 or online at

Future stars...

Century 21’s Future Stars Now 2007 Concert will be staged at Butlers Auditorium, Goonoo Goonoo Road, Tamworth, on Sunday January 28 at 2pm.

It's the second year of new concert concept with a unique focus, according to organiser Greg Williams.

Greg has "spotted" all of the performers on the show, having caught his eye and ear and impressed him with their unique talents, and he has invited them to be a part of this concert, declaring that he’d like to record each one in the future.

Greg recently joined forces with the legendary Lindsay Butler Studios to produce recordings in Tamworth on the Advance Music label, embracing "a broad market for rising stars".

"Sponsor Century 21 has again recognised that this concert showcases the future of country music," Greg said, "along with LBS who have long been recording and promoting Australian country music.

This year's "future star" line-up is Sinead Burgess from Beachmere, Qld (pictured), Daisy May from Mackay, Qld, Penelope Somerville from Fosterville, Vic, Ryan Sampson from Toowoomba, Qld, and Kris Wason from Brisbane, Qld.


Tamworth Festival 2007 underway

Yes it's on! At last, for those sweating (most literally!), on the beginning of the 2007 Tamworth Country Music Festival, it's here. And 10 days of great country music is underway.

Following on from a busy seven-day countdown to the Festival, today's official day one program has 124 events and activities listed (click here for a view only version of the program) and the daily programs grow longer and longer as the Festival builds to its climax the following weekend.

Tonight's free Official Opening Concert in Bicentennial Park starts at 6.30pm and is expected to again draw a crowd in the thousands.

The College of Country Music Graduation Concert at Wests (starting at 8) is another highlight of day one of Tamworth 2007 as are the dozens of events in clubs and pubs around town.

Slim Dusty Movie premiere

Although the Festival didn't officially start until today, one of the more special events took place last night when a re-release of The Slim Dusty Movie was premiered on the big screen at Tamworth's Regent Cinema.

The movie, originally released in 1984 by Ken Chadwick, has been described as "a film experience like no other, filmed over 20,000 kilometres in a variety of Australian frontier towns, truck stops, highways, bush tracks, rodeo arenas and concert halls.

Attendees at last night's premiere journeyed back to an Australia of country showgrounds, back-breaking roads, irrepressible bush larrikins, long trains and ever-rolling trucks, paddocks of ripened wheat, kegs of amber fluid and coverage of one of Slim's special visits to the people of Peppimenarti.

Every year, the fans waited for his travelling country band, from Alice Springs to Sydney, from Cunnamulla to Gundagai, and he never disappointed them.

Combining nostalgic historical recreations, exhilarating concert scenes and on-the-road candid footage with the man himself, The Slim Dusty Movie big screen adventure spanned 50 years in the life of a remarkable performer and celebrates a great Australian icon who was known the world over as “The Man Who Is Australia”.

Attending the premier were members of Slim's family and numerous country music identities and local dignitaries from Country Music Capital.

The movie, which is also currently available in a special collector's edition including substantial bonus footage and two CDs of the soundtrack, screens throughout the Festival at The Regent at 3pm daily.

Photo: Jane and David Kirkpatrick, Lauren Lang from Dreamcoat (publicists), Jeff Harrison and Heike from Umbrella Entertainment (who put the re-release project together), Anne Kirkpatrick, Joy McKean and Greg Arneman (Anne's husband).

Independent songwriters showcase

One of the first major independent shows – and the first event to be staged in the new Regent Country Live venue – is the Tamworth Indie Songwriters Fest at 2 o'clock tomorrow afternoon (Saturday) during the January country music festival.

The concert features long-time Tamworth all-girl band Those Gals, "as heard on the John Laws program... Steve "The Bear" Charles, "as seen on ABC TV's "Rage" and heard on JJJ"... and Sally-Anne Whitten (pictured), "as seen on CMC", with a new single out, On The Inside.

Those Gals have a brand new album out which they will be showcasing during the concert while Steve will be playing tracks from his latest CD Mr Small Town Guy while Sally-Anne will be highlighting her original music including the current hit single On The Inside.

All three acts on the showcase are renowned far and wide for the songwriting expertise.

Toyota Star Maker – a serious career boost

When it comes to talent searches in Australia, Toyota Star Maker is up with the best as it aims to provide annual winners with the best possible start to their careers.

The quest has helped launch many of today’s leading country stars by giving them firm professional support through the early development of their careers.

Stars like James Blundell, Darren Coggan, Beccy Cole, Gina Jeffreys, Lee Kernaghan, Samantha McClymont, Cat Southern, Travis Collins, Keith Urban, of course, and Brendon Walmsley, just to name few.

Now, with the full album deal as a part of the generous prize package, Toyota Star Maker support to its winner has increased dramatically.

This in addition to the use of a Toyota RAV and fuel card, filming of a video clip, Maton guitar, Bose public address system, high exposure through Country Music Capital News and, of course, the highly sought-after Toyota Star Maker title itself.

In relation to the album recording, through award-winning label Compass Brothers, the deal will offer an option for an on-going arrangement to the winner with additional albums.

Graham Thompson, Managing Director of Compass Brothers Records, said his team was extremely excited to be involved and believed their involvement would continue to guarantee to deliver the best, most exciting new talent to Australian fans.

“There is a lot of young talent out there and we believe that with the combined enthusiasm of the recently enlarged Compass Brothers team and the guys at Capital News and Rural Press Events, the winner of Toyota Star Maker 2007 will be a household name that much quicker,” he said.

“We are looking forward to launching the next star of country music to join the galaxy of stars that have gone before.”

The 20 finalists in Toyota Star Maker this year are now busily preparing for their participation in the finals which will run in the Toyota Country Theatre at the Tamworth Regional Entertainment Centre this Sunday (January 21).

As well as their on-stage performances, contenders go through gruelling interview sessions with Star Maker judges to ensure they “have what it takes” to give themselves the best possible chance of career success.

The 20 will be reduced to a field smaller than the previous top 10 who will do battle on Sunday night in the grand final to determine the 2007 Toyota Star Maker winner.

Finals kick off on Sunday from  10.30am, the Grand Final from 7.30pm.  Tickets are available from Tourism Tamworth on 02 6767 5300 or online at

Bush poetry comp

The Country Energy Tamworth Bush Poetry Competition is on again at The Big Backyard, West League Club, Phillip Street, West Tamworth, during this year's Tamworth Country Music Festival.

The competition comprises three days of heats this coming Wednesday to Friday (January 24 to 26) with the finals on Saturday (January 27). All activities commencing 9.30am.

Organisers say there are still places available in the competition for anyone who wants to compete. Enquiries can be directed to Jan Morris on 02 6765 9478.

At 9.15am on Friday (26th), winners of the Blackened Billy Verse Competition, for written bush poetry, conducted by the Tamworth Poetry Reading Group and considered one of the top written competitions in Australia, will be announced.


Roll of Renown Concert Saturday

One of the most significant events of the entire Tamworth Country Music Festival – the annual Roll of Renown Concert – will be a major highlight of the Festival's first weekend this Saturday.

The Concert is the venue where announcement of the inductee or inductees to the Country Music Roll of Renown is made, "and excitement is mounting as to who will be elevated to 'Australian country music legend' status this year," according the Australian Country Music Foundation which has responsibility for co-ordinating the Roll.

Last year's inductee Reg Poole will be on hand to help with this year's announcement together with Gina Jeffreys who is making a big comeback at Tamworth this year after some time off to tend to family affairs.

The Roll of Renown Concert will be staged at 2.30pm on Saturday (January 20) and will also feature a strong line-up of entertainers... Charley Boyter, Sinead Burgess, Rick Carey & Lynne, Peter Coad, Peter Denahy, Anne Kirkpatrick, Amber Lawrence and Cat Southern with compere John Nutting.

Other highlights of the Concert are announcement of 2007 inductees into the Hands of Fame and the Australian Country Music Broadcasters' Hall of Fame.

Tickets for the Concert are available from Tamworth Visitor Information Centre at the corner of Peel and Murray Streets, by telephone on 02 6767 5300 or online at

Photo: two stars of the Concert, Anne Kirkpatrick and Peter Denahy.

Adam and Melinda among Global Artist nominees

Adam Harvey and Melinda Schneider (pictured at right) have been announced as among the nominees for this year's Global Country Artist Award presented by the American Country Music Association (CMA).

Ballots are being distributed this week to a panel of international music industry leaders to determine the recipient of this year's award.

Initiated in 2002 by CMA's then-Global Markets Task Force, the award recognises outstanding achievement by a country music artist who has furthered the popularity of country music and brought attention to the genre in their own territory.

"As CMA continues to promote country music around the globe, we honour the artists who perform country music in their homelands and beyond," said Tammy Genovese, CMA Chief Operating Officer. "On CMA's international trips, I have learned how important recognition from CMA is to country music artists in other nations as they continue to build their careers."

Other nominees for the 2007 award are Tom Astor from Germany, the group Calaisa from Sweden, Rodrigo Haddad from Brazil, Corb Lund from Canada, Rachael Warwick from the United Kingdom and Michelle Wright from Canada.

"These eight artists have all achieved great success in their countries as well as other territories," said Bobbi Boyce, CMA Director of International. "CMA is proud to recognise the success of all the nominees."

Candidates for the Global Country Artist Award are chosen from artists nominated by CMA's international membership. The winner will be invited to accept the honour at the 2007 CMA Music Festival to be held from June 7 to 10 in Nashville and perform during one of the daily concerts on the at Riverfront Park.

Previous award winners are Lee Kernaghan (the inaugural award in 2003), Kasey Chambers and (posthumously) Slim Dusty (2004), Paul Brandt from Canada (2005) and and Jason McCoy of Canada (2006).

New album from Carter & Carter

Top Australian country duo Carter & Carter will release their eagerly awaited new album – Leap Before You Look – at the Toyota Country Theatre in Tamworth next week.

Theirs will be among the most anticipated of releases at this year's Tamworth Festival, a traditional launching pad for new CDs by artists well-known, new and up-and-coming.

The Carter & Carter launch will be held on Thursday January 25 at 10am and will be combined with a new album launch by Donna Boyd. Both Carter & Carter and Donna are finalists for Golden Guitar awards the following the Toyota Country Theatre (TREC) on Thursday January 25th at 10.00 am

Donna's new album is titled Luckiest Girl Alive and has already spawned a chart hit with A Good Day, a pre-release from the new CD last year.

Carter & Carter look like continuing their award-winning way in Australian country music with finalist nominations in the Tamworth Independent Artist Recognition Awards and the Victorian & National Country Music Awards as well as having already taken out the group/duo gong in the inaugural ICE (Independent Country Entertainers) Awards.

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Keith to re-launch in Europe

It's all over the news... Keith Urban, who has been in rehab for alcohol abuse, will take to the stage in Britain and Germany in April to launch his world tour.

The short run of club shows in the UK and Germany would launch Keith's world tour to promote his latest album, Love, Pain & The Whole Crazy Thing, the singer's spokesman Paul Freundlich said.

Keith, 39, went into treatment just before the album came out in November, forcing him to delay the tour and several TV appearances, the Associated Press reported.

Key dates were still being finalised but, after the club shows he would play in Australia in May and in the US and Canada in June.

Keith's album still went to the top of the country chart despite his lack of promotion and created the hit singles Once In A Lifetime and Stupid Boy.

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Telstra road finally winds to Tamworth

Twenty-seven heat winners in the Telstra Road to Tamworth talent search converge on the Country Music Capital during this year's Festival to compete in the finals and grand final.

And they are...

Victoria Baillie (winner of the Wollongong, NSW, heat), Kimberley Bowden (Richmond, NSW), Lauren Brede (Boyup Brook, WA), Sinead Burgess (Toowoomba, Qld), Brett Clarke (Dubbo, NSW), Megan Doherty (Geelong, Vic), Morgan Evans (Newcastle), Sharnee Fenwick (Tuggerah, NSW), Mandy Giles (Port Pirie, SA), Chloe Graham (Penrith, NSW), Jade Holland (Cairns, Qld), Christie Ikin (Roma, Qld), Dean Johnston (Casino, NSW), Briana Lee (Bendigo, Vic), Mick Lindsay (Gold Coast, Qld), Kodie Maree (Inverell, NSW), Tahlia McGahey (Taylors Arms, NSW), Emma Jane Montgomery (Cobram, Vic)), Michelle Murphy (Darwin, NT), Craig Phillips (Caboolture, Qld), Brodie Ryan (Horsham, Vic), Keira Smith (Mildura, Vic), Penelope Somerville (Frankston, Vic), Danni Steffanetti (Geraldton, WA), Daniel Webb (the ACT) and Daisy May Wegner (Rockhampton, Qld).

Telstra Road to Tamworth finals take place at Tamworth Regional Entertainment Centre this coming Monday and Tuesday, January 22 and 23.

All 27 finalists will contest the semi-finals on Monday before the top eight artists are selected to compete in the grand final the following day.

The 2007 Telstra Road to Tamworth winner will head to Nashville next year to record a single with Sony BMG and spend five days writing music with some of America’s leading country music songwriters.

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Frank wins Lions Club award

The Peel Valley Lions Club of Tamworth, Country Music Capital, has announced South Australia's "chookman" Frank Turton as winner of its annual community service award.

The award was instigated in 1994 to honour people who have used country music to give community service in a voluntary capacity.

Nominations are called through Lions Clubs around Australia and Frank “The Chookman” Turton from Paringa, South Australia, was selected to receive the 14th annual award. Frank’s nomination came from the Lions Club of Renmark, South Australia.

The award will be presented by Tamworth Lions President Mike Mooney on Festival FM 101.5 FM on Tuesday, January 23, at 12.30pm.

Frank has nominated "Greenwood Lodge" – an accommodation house set up in Adelaide for riverland people to stay when they need time in the city for Cancer treatment – as recipient of the $500 cheque which is part of the winner’s prize.

Bulletin opens office in Tamworth

Country Music Bulletin Publishing – publishers of this website and the quarterly industry magazine of the same name – have established a permanent office in Tamworth, Country Music Capital.

"Just in time for the January Festival," said Managing Editor Bob Kirchner.

In addition to the Bulletin, the office will be set up as a shop and print service provider offering photocopying and small quantity poster printing for the industry, photo downloading, printing and internet access to Festival visitors.

The Bulletin has also taken on organisation, promotion and staging of the annual Australian Country Music People's Choice Awards which are staged every January.

"We'll also be using our new premises to promote the Awards and artists involved in the gala presentation concert by way of CD and DVD retailing," Bob said.

"The artists put so much into their work and time and effort into supporting the Awards, we're delighted to be able to return the favour in such a pro-active way.

An association has also developed over the last few months with operators of Tamworth's Regent Theatre which is converting its main theatre into a performance venue for the duration of the 2007 Festival.

The Bulletin office is located in the Regent building at 5 Brisbane Street, diagonally opposite Hands of Fame Park. Telephone remains the same – 02 6761 2652 and 02 6762 2993 – fax 02 6766 9918 – email

The office will open between 9am and 5pm every day of the Festival.

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A distinctly businesslike Wolverines

Top line, award-winning country group the Wolverines may or may not don suits for a special appearance next week but band members will definitely be stepping out of their comfort zones.

The boys in the band – John Clinton, Chris Doyle and Darcy LeYear – will be special guest speakers at Country Music Capital's Tamworth & District Chamber of Commerce regular monthly meeting.

Chamber Membership & Events Co-ordinator Carrie Frith said the boys "do have some stories to tell! They have assured me they won’t be helping with the cooking, but they may do a song or two."

Members attending the luncheon will receive a complimentary signed  Wolverines CD by courtesy of John, Chris and Darcy.

Proceeds from the Luncheon will be donated to the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service.

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Music Managers at Tamworth '07

The Music Managers Forum (MMF) will hold two events aimed at managers and self managed artists during this year's Tamworth Country Music Festival.

The activities will be held Friday and Saturday January 26 and 27 at the Tamworth Festival Musician's Headquarters in the Small Business Centre in the city's main street and will include a free barbecue where managers can network.

MMF directors and staff will be present to inform and advise members and prospective members about the work of the MMF nationally and internationally.

Special guest on the Saturday is Stan Moress (pictured) of Artist Services (past clients included the Bellamy Brothers, Leif Garrett, Eddie Rabbitt and Tammy Wynette).

Friday's guest will be Diana Bailey of Diana Bailey Promotions whose clients have included Grace Knight (whom she managed) and Suzi Quatro (negotiated and managed her latest album released through EMI), spent the last year working with Rob Potts Entertainment Edge as the Telstra Road To Tamworth project manager and is now working exclusively with The McClymonts as their publicist and agent.

Ellaways expands with new store

Christie Eleizer reports in his weekly music business column at that Ellaways Music, the 44 year old music product store at Kedron, Brisbane, this week opens a superstore at 39-45 Compton Road, Underwood (picture, artist's impression).

It is 2,000 sqm – four times larger than most stores in Australia – and comes with a 270-seat concert venue for in-house events. They've got 20 genre-specialists on staff including former Savage Garden bassist Lee Novak and Resin Dogs' Chris Bosley as their dj and technology adviser.

Managing director Paul Ellaway said: "We don't just 'sell the gear' – we partner to create opportunities for people to play music and get people connected and involved with other players for music to happen."

Ellaways has an events team to run jam sessions, tribute and theme shows, workshops, masterclasses and ongoing professional development sessions. It's hired Greg Dodge's company Oxygen 4 2 to find ways to get people to play instruments: one of the initiatives is an international guitar festival this year.

Commemorative port celebrates 2007 People's Choice Awards

Organisers of the Australian Country Music People's Choice Awards and Unique Exposure have joined with Drayton’s Family Wines to produce a special port to commemorate the 2007 event.

The "fine old tawny port" will be available to order and collect throughout the Festival (and after, subject to availability) at $25 each. An additional charge of $10 applies for postage and handling.

The port can also be ordered via the Internet at by downloading an order form pdf.

The family enterprise now known as Drayton's Family Wines was started by Joseph Drayton in 1853 is now in the hands of Max Drayton and sons John, Trevor and Greg.

Max’s 50 years of experience in the wine industry makes him an invaluable source of advice, not only for his sons, but also for other growers in the district.

The Drayton family is very proud of its history over five generations and the part it has played in the development of the region that is rapidly becoming known as “Hunter Valley Wine Country”.

Order forms for the commemorative port can be obtained from the Regent Country Live venue and the Country Music Bulletin office.

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Fargones hit Tamworth

The Fargone Beauties will play one show in Tamworth this January at West Tamworth League CLub on Thursday, January 25 at 11.30pm.

After an absence of more than a decade, The Fargones have released a "best of" CD – A Load Of Old Bullocks – and made a big impact when they reformed to appear at the 2006 Toyota National Country Music Muster at Gympie.

Support for the band's Wests gig is Harley Smith & Band.

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Chart Update – Troy hits the top

Troy Cassar-Daley (pictured) takes over the number one position on the Country Tracks National Top 30 Singles Chart this week with Walking Away.

Travis Collins' Full Tank edges up one more place to number two while Keith Urban's former number one Once In A Lifetime drops back to three.

Felicity Urquhart's Big Black Cloud jumps yet another three places to four while Karen Lynne and Casey Watt are steady at five and six respectively with We Should Only Have Time For Love and I Don't Want To Work This Hard.

Rodney Atkins' If You're Going Through Hell enters the top 10 at number seven, the Paul Costa/Aleyce Simmonds duet The Way You Make Me Feel rises to eight, Tania Kernaghan's 30 Something drops to nine and George Strait debuts in the top 10 this week at 10 with Just Give It Away.

Bullet performers this week include Jeanette Wormald's Opal Blue (16 to 12) Lee Kernaghan's Love Shack (25 to 22).

Only one new entry to the chart this week, Melinda Schneider with Men In Trucks.

The full chart can be viewed at

CMC Top 50

Melinda Schneider, Gina Jeffreys and Felicity Urquhart hold the third, fourth and fifth places on the CMC Top 50 playlist this week with their clips, respectively, of Men In Trucks, Live It and Big Black Cloud.

Nick Kingswell is at seven with Hope For Me Yet while Adam Brand is at eight with Cigarettes & Whiskey and Lee Kernaghan bullets to 12 with Love Shack.

Other bullet performers this week include Dianna Corcoran (pictured) with Then There's Me (27 to 20), Anne Kirkpatrick with Showman's Daughter (32 to 26) and The Sunny Cowgirls' Still Circling (debuting at 30).

The full playlist can be viewed at

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Buck Owens' bassist Doyle Holly dies at 70

Doyle Holly, a member of Buck Owens' band during its heyday in the '60s, died on Saturday (January 13) in Nashville after battling prostate cancer. He was 70.

Born Doyle Floyd Hendricks in Oklahoma, he became bassist in Owens' band, the Buckaroos, in 1963 and left in 1971 to pursue a solo career. On the road and in the studio, Holly worked in the Buckaroos during Owens' creative peak, including an appearance on the 1966 album, The Carnegie Hall Concert, widely regarded as one of the greatest live albums in country music history.

Guitarist-vocalist Don Rich, another member of the Buckaroos' classic lineup, died in a motorcycle accident in 1974. Two members are still playing music – steel guitarist Tom Brumley (who lives in Missouri) and drummer Willie Cantu (who resides in Nashville).

Owens died in 2006.

As a solo artist signed to Barnaby Records, Holly charted seven singles in the '70s. His most successful single, Lila, peaked at number 17 in 1973.

Carrie goes quintuple

Some Hearts, Carrie Underwood's debut album, has been certified quintuple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for shipments of five million copies.

In making the announcement last week, officials at 19 Recordings/Arista Nashville said the accomplishment has earned Carrie the fastest quintuple-platinum certification ever for a debut album by a female country artist.

Released in November, 2005, Some Hearts has spent a total of 20 weeks at the top of Billboard's country albums chart.



Tamworth '07 for LBS

LBS – Lindsay Butler Studios – has another big program of activities lined up for the 2007 Tamworth Country Music Festival.

First up is the LBS Studio Open Day Concert at the LBS Moonbi studio on the New England Gully Road this Sunday, January 21, from 10am. This annual festival event features more than 25 of the most popular Australian independent recording artists backed by triple Golden Guitar winner Lindsay Butler and his show band The Butler Boys.

Included on the bill will be Dale Duncan, Terry Gordon, Darryl Lamb, Shaza Leigh, Brian Letton, Tom Maxwell Lindsay Waddington and Brian Young.

The official album launch for Ashley Cook’s second LBS release Beneath The Qld Moon will be part of the concert and many other recording artists will appear including Melissa Bajric, Nathan Charlton, Bob Easter, Lynette Guest, Michael and Pat Pincott, Charmaine Pout, Lana Ross, Peter Salata, The Sidey’s and Naomi Therese.

Butlers Auditorium at the in-town LBS Studios (336 Goonoo Goonoo Road, Tamworth) opens on Monday January 22 running major country showcases each day until Sunday January 28.

The program will include the popular LBS Studio Museum Morning Teas from 10am featuring Lindsay, Shaza Leigh and The Butler Boys together with various guest artists from the studio roster including Melissa Bajric, Ernie Constance, Ashley Cook, Dale Duncan, Bob Easter, Darryl Lamb, Tom Maxwell, Charmaine Pout, Naomi Therese, Lindsay Waddington and Brian Young.

At the end of each concert, an artist is inducted on to the LBS Wall Of Honour. The studio is then open to the public to wander through and have a look at the awards lounge and the actual recording studio that many of today’s albums are recorded. Artists also mingle with visitors for a chat and to sign autographs.

Other daily showcases run from 2pm to 5pm and 7pm to 10pm hosting package shows run by various promoters and featuring many top line country and bush ballad performers in concert.

Some of the major showcases already confirmed are  Country Crooners, Travelling Country Theatre, All Girls Show, Australian Touring Greats, TSA Members Showcase, Kross Kut Records Show, Country Corner Showcase, Songwriters Spectacular, TSA Pass The Guitar and Future Stars Now.

Photo: Lindsay and Shaza play host to another big program of LBS events at Tamworth 2007.

Jeanette's Opal Blue Tamworth

Jeanette Wormald heads to Tamworth this week with more than one reason to smile about the success of her album Opal Blue.

The South Australia based artist is not only a Golden Guitar Awards finalist for Vocal Collaboration of the Year for her duet Out Here with Peter Pratt, but will be showcasing songs from Opal Blue at three major awards concerts during the 2007 Tamworth Country Music Festival.

Jeanette will be a featured performer at the prestigious Tamworth Songwriters' Association Awards, Australian Bush Laureate Awards and People's Choice Awards.

All this as the second single from the album, the title track, continues to climb the Country Tracks Top 30 charts, jumping four places to number 12 in this week's chart.

Meanwhile, the single and accompanying music clip, which is being shown in high rotation on Country Music Channel, and Jeanette's top four hit Boundary Rider's Daughter, have all been selected for a special project in her home state showcasing the best the State has to offer during its annual world renowned summer festival season next month.

Arts SA has initiated the project to showcase the creativity of South Australian artists where festival patrons can download the cream of SA music and film directly to their mobile phones.

Jeanette, who is travelling to Tamworth as a host on the Country Music Express this Saturday, is performing at a range of venues during the Tamworth Festival. You can catch her at the following venues.

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Stephen kicks off national tour

A new name in Australian country and roots music is Stephen Rowe who kicks off his national tour this month in Adelaide in support of his debut album Broken Hill.

Originally from Broken Hill, Stephen left school at a young age to pursue a trade as a builder/carpenter. He also raced motocross for Suzuki and, to keep in shape for motocross, he did four years of boxing and also studied ballet (a rarity for a boy from Broken Hill., according to his publicist).

At the age of 19, Stephen left his hometown and moved to Adelaide where he was offered a two year scholarship to study classical ballet. He went on to an international career in ballet for the next 15 years.  While touring with ballet companies, Stephen started writing his own songs. He grew up with traditional country music and classic Australian and British rock.  His inspirations included the legendary Slim Dusty and artists such as Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Hank Williams, Merle Haggard, Kris Kristofferson, the Beatles and David Bowie.

"Stephen's debut album reflects these influences while telling the story of his hometown, his family and his country," his publicist said. "It’s a personal journey which engages the listener from start to finish. Co-produced by alt-country star Anne McCue, Broken Hill is country music at its coolest and very best."

Now based in California, music is the primary focus of Stephen’s life, but he continues to work as a carpenter. He also explores artistic endeavors through painting and sustains a healthy acting career.

Broken Hill will be released through Red Rebel Music/MGM Distribution on February 3.  The title track is currently impacting radio and television.

Stephen's national tour starts on Thursday (January 18) and moves directly to Tamworth where he plays a number of venues including Regent Country Live in the International Showcase on Wednesday January 24 at 2pm – then moves to Melbourne and Sydney.

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Today's Picks

More walk-ups at the Oasis Hotel-Motel today on the Armidale Road from 4pm while the Australian Country Music Hall of Fame in Brisbane Street stages another Country in the Courtyard from 6.30.

Chris Watson & Dare 2 Dance are on at Tamworth Tennis Club from 7 while the Oasis continues its program of entertainment with Graham Rodger from 7, John Goodare at 8 and Kevin Harris at 9.

Anthony John, Brendan Marolla and Sarah Taylor are at Wests Diggers in Kable Avenue also from 8 while Alby Pool & No City Limits feature at West Tamworth League Club from 8.15.

Community involvement ensures success of Festival

With the 2007 Tamworth Country Music Festival officially kicking off in less than a week, Tamworth Regional Council has expressed thanks to the local community on behalf of the dozens of Festival organisers and venues for their continued support and understanding during the Festival period.

"With an influx of 50,000 visitors expected to descend upon the city in the coming week, we would like to pass on our gratitude and sincere thanks to residents and businesses throughout the local region and the wider New England North West area," said Steve Bartlett (pictured), Council's Festival Director.

"We again ask for your patience and understanding over the next couple of weeks. We... are not oblivious or even immune to some of the inconveniences caused by road closures and access restrictions.

"(With) the massive economic injection of over $40 million and the general profile raising of the city... it is worth the 10 days of minor inconveniences," he said.

Though Council and the dozens of venues and organisers involved in making the Festival happen, have been planning since February '06 to ensure it runs as smoothly as possible, "the most important message we want to get across at the moment," Steve said, "is that we are extremely appreciative of our local community for their on-going support – this Festival is owned by the people of Tamworth and we extend our sincere thanks to them."

"Tamworth always puts on a fantastic show during the Festival and gives visitors a wonderful welcome," said Reel Thomson, General Manager of Tourism Tamworth, and "we’re sure this year will be no different.

"The community has made the Festival the great success that it is and we whole-heartedly thank them for the last 35 years of support. With a party in the streets all day and all night for the next couple of weeks, we encourage everyone to get out and about and embrace the exciting atmospheres found in every venue and around every corner; who knows what electrifying acts will be found this year."

Council and Tourism Tamworth have offered up "a few tips to keep in mind while the Festival is on...

Road Closures in the central business district (CBD) will be in place from late evening on Thursday January 18 with an extension on Peel Street between Bourke and Darling Streets added between Friday January 26 to Monday January 29. There will be no access to Kable Avenue between the Brisbane Street junction and the back of the Tamworth Regional Council building; and there will be no access to Brisbane St between Marius Street and Kable Avenue unless turning left out of Dowe Street.

Car Parking There will be a number of public car parks available to residents and visitors around the CBD area including Gipps Street, the bottom of White Street, City Plaza, Power station Museum/Community Centre, Tamworth Visitor Information Centre, Byrnes Avenue and behind the Regional Library.

Parking which has been available behind the Town Hall is strictly limited this year because of the construction of the new shopping centre and multi level carpark (but think how great this will be from 2008! – ed).

Public Transport There will be taxi zones outside the Central Hotel and Westpac Bank on Brisbane Street and the Festival Shuttle Bus Terminal will be located behind Target in Kable Avenue.

Emergency Services There will an increased Police presence in town to assist in managing unruly behaviour as well as St Johns Ambulance team members on the ground.

Any further information about the 2007 Tamworth Country Music Festival, presented by Telstra, or the operational logistics that will be place over the Festival, can be obtained by contacting the Media Unit at Festival HQ on 02 6767 5710 or on 0409 985 997 or 0407 204 192.

Bush poet brekkies on again

One of the favourites of the annual Tamworth Country Music Festival is the bush poet brekkies, the most famous, those presented by leading country comic Jim Haynes (pictured).

Jim's "Big Bush Brekky Variety Show" will again run every morning of the Festival proper from this Friday right through until, and including, Sunday, January 28, at Wests Diggers in Kable Avenue.

This year, some of Jim's guests will include Darren Carr, Amber Lawrence, Paddy Ryan, Casey Watt and many of Australia's top-line performers as special guests.

Grant Luhrs presents "The Best Bloody Bush Poets Breakfast Ever" at West Leagues every morning of the Festival (Bush Poetry Club Show at 7.30am, main show 8m, breakfast available from 7).

Grant's guests will include "Australia's best bush poets" – John Best, Jack Drake, Gary Fogarty, Melanie Hall, Carol Heuchan, Bill Kearns, Garry Lowe, Bob Magor, Col Milligan, Greg North, Paddy Ryan and Noel Stallard with Angus & Cameron Young.

Sam Smyth presents a bush poets breakfast daily at 7.55am at Tamworth City Bowling Club in Napier Street. His guests, from time to time, will include Emily Breckell-Smyth, Jack Drake, Shirley Everingham, Cay Fletcher, Bill Kearns, John Lloyd, Garry Lowe, Col Milligan, Claire Reynolds and Noel Stallard.

Bush poets will also feature at The Longyard Hotel from 8am daily, Saturday to Sunday, January 20 to 28.

More coverage of other bush poetry events and activities during Tamworth '07 will be featured in the coming days.

Cowpoke announce Festival schedule

Mittagong band Cowpoke has announced its full schedule of appearances during the 2007 Tamworth Country Music Festival.

The program incorporates five full three hour night shows at the Fitzroy Tavern as well as a number of showcase appearances at venues around town.

Performances will include songs from their current successful album Pokin' 'Round and preview numbers from their forthcoming 2007 release. Night shows will also feature the band's favourite country covers.

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Today's Picks

A special fundraiser for the Westpac Rescue Helicopter will be staged at the Oasis Hotel-Motel, Tamworth, on the Armidale Road at 12 noon today.

The concert will feature Dally Croft, Rex Dallas, Graham Doubleday, Brian Howard, Tom Maxwell and Brian Young.

Countdown and Festival line dancing activity gets underway with Chris Watson's Line Dancing Welcome Social at Tamworth Tennis Club in Napier Street from 1pm.

The second of the Australian Country Music Hall of Fame Country in the Courtyard activities – with walk-up artists welcome – kicks off at 6.30pm.

Evening entertainment (all at 8pm) includes Graham Doubleday at the Oasis, Anthony John, Anthony Taylor and Brendan Marolla a Wests Diggers in Kable Avenue and Those Gals at West Tamworth League Club.

Singer's life wasn't meant to be easy

Carmen Fraser is a new name in Australian country music, but the name is not unfamiliar to most Australians – or at least the surname.

Carmen is the granddaughter of former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser and his wife Tamie.

Now in their 70s, the Frasers have been checking out the live music scene in Melbourne to see Carmen perform.

Twenty-one year old Carmen said her grandparents were probably biased but they had enjoyed her performances. "They came to a gig at Manchester Lane in Melbourne the other week, when I was supporting Gangajang," she told The Weekend Australian.

Carmen, who said she was inspired by fellow Geelong Grammar graduate Missy Higgins to turn her back on a career in law and pursue a singing career, will be one among hundreds of aspiring singer/songwriters jostling to be heard during this year's Tamworth Country Music Festival.

Few in showbusiness can claim such a distinguished political pedigree, but it meant little to audiences, she said. "His (her grandfather's) role hasn't either hindered or helped me," Carmen said. "It was two generations back. That's quite a long time ago – and a lot of my friends weren't around when he was Prime Minister (from 1975-1983)."

Malcolm Fraser said he and his wife had gone to see their granddaughter perform her jazz-pop-country tunes at many venues over the years.

"She's got a remarkable natural talent," he said. "It was a huge decision to concentrate on music, but she gives it 1000 per cent."

After Tamworth, Carmen will go to Byron Bay to record her second album, after last year's Blame It on Love.

Carmen, who has been involved with the Jimmy Little Foundation and indigenous issues, said she was more interested in human rights than political history. "My grandfather's humanitarian work inspires me, but so does a lot of people's. It's hard to be objective, when you are not," she said.

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Festival ticket sales "in hot demand"

Tickets are in hot demand for the 2007 Tamworth Country Music Festival according to Tourism Tamworth which sells a majority of tickets for major events during the 10 day country music extravaganza.

Tourism Tamworth reported its first sold out show yesterday – all of its allocated tickets for the Saturday January 27 session of the ABCRA (Australian Bushmen's Carnival & Rodeo Association) National Finals Rodeo.

"The Rodeo is always an extremely popular event with Festival-goers and followers of the rodeo circuit alike," said Rebel Thomson, General Manager of Tourism Tamworth.

Tourism Tamworth is selling tickets for more than 60 shows that are being held over the course of the Festival from major acts and concerts through to smaller Festival favourites.

Many popular shows are filling fast, Rebel said: "the 2007 Festival is proving to be a big year with a lot of great entertainment on offer. Some of the favourites shining through this year with strong sales include the Toyota Star Maker Grand Final, Troy Cassar-Daley’s 'Heroes & Friends Show' and Carter & Carter.

"We urge everyone to get in early and purchase tickets to avoid the disappointment of missing out," Rebel said.

For the first time ever, Tourism Tamworth launched a special internet-only sale of tickets in October which was a great success peaking at more than 7,000 pre-sales.

"Today, only a week out from the Official Festival Opening Ceremony, Tourism Tamworth now proudly boasts over 25,000 physical tickets sold and expects this number to rise dramatically once the Festival gets underway."

Tickets are available over the counter at the Tamworth Visitor Information Centre at the corner of Peel Street and Murray Street (the New England Highway or Sydney-Armidale Road), by phone on 02 6767 5300 or online at

During the actual Festival, Tourism Tamworth will have a second ticket sales outlet based in the Festival Headquarters in the foyer of the Tamworth Regional Council building in the city's central business district. It will be open Friday to Sunday January 19 to 28.

Photo: aerial view of the guitar-shaped, currently very busy Tamworth Visitor Information Centre.

Second album for John

South Australian based John O'Dea has released a new album titled Old Rusty Ute.

The new work follows John's successful debut album If Stones Could Talk and is touted as adding considerably to his credibility as a top-line singer/songwriter.

Trev Warner produced the new album and played guitar, banjo, mandolin and dobro on the recording with Stuie French featured on several tracks with both electric and acoustic guitar.

Eight songs on the album were written by John with one track, As If He Knows, a cover of the Eric Bogle song.

Songs on Old Rusty Ute have already won five South Australian songwriting awards and the Frank Harding Award of Excellence (John's second consecutive win of this honour) at the South Australian Country Music Festival at Barmera.

John's Woman From Saigon has won a spot as a finalist in the Tamworth Songwriters' Association’s New Songwriter of the Year Award this year and he will be making a number of appearances at this year's Tamworth Country Music Festival.

The title track is the first single released from the album – via NfS 110 – is getting airplay and positive feedback from around the country.

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Shop for drought relief!

On Tuesday, January 23, Woolworths and Safeway will be donating their entire supermarket profits for the day to the drought relief.

The funds will primarily be used by the CWA (Country Women's Association) for immediate support for rural families with the remainder to help fund research into sustainable farming practices.

More than $3 million dollars is expected to be raised on the day.

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Tamworth Country Music Train concerts

The Country Music Express to Tamworth will be serving up a feast of luncheon and dinner concerts during the Tamworth Country Music Festival this month.

Outback icon Ted Egan (pictured) and Golden Guitar finalists Carter & Carter, Anne Kirkpatrick and The Sunny Cowgirls are among the stars featuring in the Train's "Up Close and Personal" concerts.

Director of the Country Music Express Arthur Smith said the concerts, which only seat 36 people over a two course a la carte style meal, are growing in popularity each year.

Tickets were already selling fast and as seats are strictly limited, he urged interested people to book through Tourism Tamworth as soon as possible.

"The concert series has been so popular over the past two years that we have created a full program of five lunch time and five dinner shows during the week," Arthur said.

Other artists appearing at the shows from January 22 to 26 are Owen Blundell, Maria Forde, Jim Haynes, Reg Poole, Hank Sasaki and Cat Southern with the 2007 Star Maker winner.

Today's picks

A standout event today during the Countdown to the Tamworth Country Music Festival is the special fund-raising concert for The Salvation Army's Hope Cottage.

See story below (click here) for details.

Also included on the agenda today is walk-up entertainment at the Oasis Hotel (on the Armidale Road) from 4pm, a Country Flavour Showcase at the Riverside camping ground from 6pm and the Kerry Kennedy Duo at Tamworth Services Club from 8.30pm.

Open in the Country Music Capital all year round, and certainly through the annual January Festival from 9am are the Australian Country Music Hall of Fame in Brisbane Street, the Big Golden Guitar Tourist Centre & Wax Museum on the Sydney Road and Walk A Country Mile exhibition in the Tamworth Visitor Information Centre.


Festival DEFINITELY still on!

The annual Tamworth Country Music Festival is definitely still on this January despite some rumours to the contrary which suggest the event has been cancelled because of water restrictions in the northern NSW city.

The drought has forced water restrictions on Australia's Country Music Capital but Rebel Thomson, General Manager of Tourism Tamworth (the organisation that has an overall role for marketing the Festival) said this month's 35th annual festival will go on.

Rumours about the cancellation arose due to talk about water and what impact 50,000 visitors would have on the city, she said.

"We are hearing that people from Dubbo to the Northern Territory think the festival has been cancelled," Rebel said, but she assured country music fans (many of whom are already setting up camp in the city) the 10-day festival would kick off on Friday, January 19.

Tamworth Regional Council Director Steve Bartlett said water consumption did not rise significantly during the festival period despite the number of visitors.

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Country in the Courtyard, tonight!

One of the first activities to be staged in the Festival Countdown is Country in the Courtyard, an evening of country music with entertainment by walk-up artists in the forecourt of the Australian Country Music Hall of Fame in Brisbane Street, Tamworth (next to the Imperial Hotel).

Administrators of the Hall of Fame, the Australian Country Music Foundation, stages Country in the Courtyard every month during the year but decided to organise extra activities this year after a big response to the event in January 2006.

The activity gets underway at 6.30pm with meals and refreshments available.

Additional Courtyard events scheduled for this year will be this Sunday, Monday and Tuesday evenings, all commencing at 6.30.

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Concerts in the Chapel

Mark Tempany joins Alison Hams (pictured) and 2007 Golden Guitar finalist Peter Pratt for his seventh consecutive year of concerts at the Tamworth Regional Conservatorium of Music during the annual January country music festival.

"Concerts in the Chapel" have run since Mark created the Festival venue in 2000 with a stated aim "to establish an intimate, theatre-style performance space for the very best in Australian original music."

Since that single opening show (performed by Mark alone), the concert series has grown to three annual festival-time concerts also featuring Mark's talented wife and fellow songwriter and performer Alison Hams.

In 2005 and 2006, Mark and Alison were joined by multi Golden Guitar winner Michael Fix and, in 2007, Peter Pratt will become part of the "Concerts in the Chapel" family.

"'Concerts in the Chapel' provide an audience with the best possible chance to see live music performed in an historic and intimate setting," Mark said.

The Chapel holds a maximum of 90 people and a free supper is served in the courtyard at interval each night with concert-goers having the opportunity to meet the artists.

Bookings are recommended on 0418 700 819, although tickets can be purchased at the door (subject to availability) on the night.

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Graham's Tamworth 2007

Graham Rodger has been booked to sing at the People's Choice Awards and the TSA Awards this January during the Tamworth Country Music Festival.

He has received 15 finals nominations for Tamworth this year, his writing abilities taking him into the finals of the Golden Guitar Awards with two nominations, for Bush Ballad and Heritage Song.

Tamworth Community Centre is the venue for three shows of Graham's, on Sunday January 21, Monday January 22 and Tuesday, January 23 with guest artists including Terry & Jenny Bennets, Amos Morris and "the Japanese Cowboy" Hank Sasaki.

In March, Graham will tour Tasmania with Terry & Jenny. His new album – Thunderbolt – is being launched at Tamworth this year as well as his second DVD, The Matilda Highway.

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Ronni Rae jets off

Ronni Rae Rivers will perform her last show (for the time being) in Australia this Sunday (January 14) at Mojos in Perth before "jetting off across the globe to work on a new musical project".

Joining Ronni on stage on Sunday will be Dom D'Leno on drums and percussion, Andrew Figliomeni on lead guitar and Laurie Smithers on bass, "creating a hybrid of country, rock, blues and world music," she said."

Also adding to the party atmosphere on the night are one of my fave bands, (the) Dead Kelly's and wonderful singer/songwriter Tessa Davis.

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Rick to launch new album

A new album to be launched by country pioneer Rick Carey during this year's Tamworth Country Music Festival is being hailed as a highlight of the 10 day event.

The 14-track CD was produced by Bill Chambers who, together with Rick's daughter Lynne, was joined in the studio at various times by Troy Cassar-Daley, Anne Kirkpatrick, Tracy Coster, Rod McCormack, Jeff McCormack, Stuie French, Mick Albeck, Simon Johnson and Rick’s grandson, Brad Wrightson.

Bill Chambers decided at eight years old he wanted to be a country singer when he grew up – all because his mum and dad took him along to see the Rick & Thel Travelling Country Music Show.

Imagine the thrill for Bill when he met Rick a few years back and was able to tell him just what an inspiration he and Thel had been – and that he’d love to record with Rick one day.

That day arrived, midway through last year.

"Not only does the album capture 'the authentic Rick & Thel sound' but they also managed to create a fresh sound that retains the integrity of Australia’s country music heritage," according to publicists.

"Bill was totally blown away when he was given the honour of playing Thel’s old Gibson Dove guitar on a few of the tracks and described making the album as 'one of the most rewarding projects of my career'."

"It felt like I was a part of history in the making," Bill wrote in the album liner notes.

Rick will launch the album at 10am on Tuesday, January 23 in the Scully Room of SouthGate Inn and will be joined by some of the all-star cast who contributed to the project.

A limited number of tickets will be made available to the public at the door on the day for $10 per person.

Rick and Lynne will also feature as part of the star line-up on the 2007 Roll of Renown Concert in the Tamworth Town Hall on Saturday, January 20.

Second Festival broadcast for Today Show

The Nine Network's Today Show has announced it will broadcast from Australia's Country Music Capital for two days of the upcoming Tamworth Country Music Festival rather than one.

The program will now go to air live on the morning of Wednesday January 24 as well as the previously announced broadcast on Thursday January 25.

Tamworth Regional Council Festival Director Steve Bartlett said: "We’re really excited that the program will be experiencing two days of our iconic Festival and giving their viewers a greater insight into what is on offer."

"The logistics team and our media unit have been working closely with the Today Show since late August in order to arrange this unique broadcast event," he said.

As the Tamworth Festival toasts to 35 years in 2007, the Today Show will be celebrating 25 years of continuous broadcasting, including a number of years broadcasting from previous Tamworth Festivals.

The broadcasts will kick-off on both days from 6am running through until 9am, and "everyone is welcome to come down to Peel Street and watch the breakfast program go live across Australia and New Zealand from Tamworth," said Rebel Thomson, General Manager of Tourism Tamworth.

"This is really an event for all and a great opportunity for future visitors to Tamworth and the Festival to experience a little bit of the Country Music Capital from their living rooms."

Already confirmed to appear on the program are Troy Cassar-Daley, Melinda Schneider, Tamworth Regional Council Mayor James Treloar and Felicity Urquhart. Whip-cracking and line dancing will also feature.

Part of The Today Show's Tamworth programming will be to assist in the national launch of "The Australian Women's Weekly (AWW) – Commonwealth Bank On The Road with Today Tour" – a 40 foot truck rig with interactive displays and lifestyle demonstrations.

During the Tamworth Festival, the rig will also feature a number of big-name artists cooking their favourite meals... before stopping to give a performance and/or sign a few autographs.

The rig will be parked at the corner of Peel and Brisbane Street (outside Treloars) from Wednesday to Saturday January 24 to 27.

"The Tamworth Country Music Festival is an iconic event in the Australian calendar and all of the team are excited about meeting our readers face-to-face and bringing The AWW pages to life," said Editor-in-Chief Deborah Thomas.

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Tamworth Festival Official Guide now available

The Official Guide to the Tamworth Country Music Festival, presented by Telstra, is now available.

With 228 pages of special features and advertising of numerous Festival events, the Guide contains the Official Program and the only artist by artist listing of who’s performing, where and when during the 10 days of the Festival and seven days of the Countdown to the Festival.

The Guide is available from numerous locations around Country Music Capital now and will be during the Festival for $6 per copy and can also be obtained by mail order for $8 including postage within Australia.

Publishers of the Guide, Rural Press Events, also publishers of Australia’s country music monthly Capital News, have also posted a view-only copy of the program on the Capital News website

Anyone wanting to purchase a copy of the Guide prior to the Festival should contact Rural Press Events on 1800 649 866.

Concert for drought relief

A major fundraising concert will be held in Country Music Capital this Saturday (January 13) as part of the Countdown to the 2007 Country Music Festival.

The concert is being organised by The Salvation Army and will be staged in the Army's concert hall in its complex on the Sydney Road.

Stars appearing include Melissa Bajric (pictured), Lindsay Butler, Merelyn Carter, Sharnee Fenwick, Lynette Guest, Jim Haynes (who will also compere), Shaza Leigh, Tom Maxwell, Mike McClellan, Paddy Ryan and The Salvation Army Band.

Proceeds from the concert will aid drought relief and The Army's Hope Centre (counselling unit for drugs, alcohol and gambling).

Tickets are available from The Salvation Army Store in Peel Street, Tamworth, or at the door (subject to availability).

Coca-Cola Park set to spark

One of the longest-standing Tamworth festival sponsors – Coca-Cola – are set to celebrate 29 years involvement this January preparing for its well-known and highly popular free Coca-Cola Park activities.

"We’re really looking forward to another great year here at the Festival," said Coca-Cola Amatil District Sales Manager John Eggins. "2006 was a highlight for us in terms of introducing new activities and modernising the Park itself.

"We’re hoping we can continue enticing Festival goers in 2007 with the exciting activities on offer in Coca-Cola Park, for musicians and country music fans alike."

Running from January 20 to 27, Coca-Cola Park (known as Hands of Fame Park for most of the year) is at one of Tamworth’s main intersections, the corner of Brisbane Street and Kable Avenue diagonally opposite the Regent Theatre.

Making a comeback in 2007 will be the many successful activities introduced in 2006 as well as "the regular favourites... and new thrills for Festival goers."

Activities will include...

Festival FM 101.5, broadcasting live for the first time from Coca-Cola Park. From Friday 19 until Sunday 28 January, listeners will be "treated to 24 hours of great Australian country music hits, live interviews with the stars, including: Adam Brand (pictured), Tania Kernaghan, The Wolverines, James Blundell and more, Coca-Cola giveaways and all the latest from Coca-Cola Park and what’s on during the Festival."

Coca-Cola Battle of the Bands, the highlight of 2006, back for '07 from 3pm-5pm daily offering international and local bands the opportunity to "show the crowd what they’ve got, impress the judges and vie for a share of the $1500 up for grabs". (Enquiries to Rural Press Events on 02 6762 2399 or email

Walk-up visiting acts from 10am to 3pm daily along with graduates from the Australian College of Country Music from 1pm to 2pm on Monday 22, Wednesday 24 and Friday 26 January.

The ever-popular South Australian Showcase scheduled for between 7pm and 9pm on Thursday January 25 with a host of artists including Murray Mac, Talia Whittman and more.

Continuing its commitment to the environment, Coca-Cola is also rewarding visitors who recycle their beverage containers with mini Coca-Cola vending machines up for grabs! By placing any 600ml Coca-Cola product in the recycling container in the park, recyclers will receive a raffle ticket for a chance to win.

Ashley heads back to Tamworth

Ashley Cook is heading back to Tamworth for the launch of his second album.

Beneath The Queensland Moon – an album with "a different selection of bush ballads" from his first album, Cattle Dust And Leather – will be launched at LBS Studio’s Open Day Concert at Moonbi on Monday, January 22.

Two of the songs were written by locals from Ashley's "neck of the woods" (Wilf Elliott of Biloela and Trevor Shaw of Thangool) while the others were written by songwriters as far away as Western Australia, Victoria and North Queensland.

The title track was written and recorded by the late Buddy Williams while other song topics range from draglines to trucks, trains, fishing, the Nathan Dam and Clydesdale horses.

A highlight of Ashley’s visit to Tamworth this year will be a guest appearance at at the Tamworth Songwriters' Association Awards with Carter & Carter, Anne Kirkpatrick, Lee Kernaghan and Reg Poole.

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Vale – Garner Wayne

When 86-year-old Garner Wayne died on Wednesday, an era in New Zealand’s country music history died with him.

During his long career, the enduring musician wrote 100 songs, made about 300 recordings and earned himself a gold disc. While his roots remained firmly in Ashburton, his reputation was New Zealand wide.

Chief reporter with The Ashburton Guardian Sue Newman paid tribute to "a man who lived with a smile on his face and a song in his heart".

In 1982, Garner wrote: "Music, singing and composing songs have given me tremendous satisfaction and one of the most important rewards is the friendship and happiness I found and have been given. I love all music, but country music is my first love. Maybe, because it is all about life, people, places and events that concern us in our beautiful country."

During the height of his career, Garner's contemporaries described him as "a singer with a cheery voice and a sunshine personality, a man whose songs were simple in construction with a language that was good, basic Kiwi. They were about everyday matters, often comic situations".

"Many times Garner thought his career was over, but just as many times, the enduring nature of his songs, the irrepressible optimism of their singer/songwriter won through, and he found himself back in the limelight," Sue Newman said.

In the early 1980s, he thought his time on stage had come to an end, but by 1985 he was back on the road, touring again as part of the Australian Country Music Travelling Show.

As his career once more moved upwards, Garner decided to begin recording music from his rapidly developing home studio.

Garner wrote his first song in the early 1950s, I Love the Land and, in 1954, he formed the group the Saddle Pals which was to become part of the Garner Wayne legend playing together until 1978.

By 1966, Garner was recording with Viking Records and had made five LPs, four EPs and started touring outside home base Ashburton.

Garner Wayne was farewelled by family and friends on Monday.

He is survived by his three daughters Joy, Dawn and Irene, his eight grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. His wife Nancy died in June 2005.

Jetty Road launch national tour

Rising star country band Jetty Road have commenced a national tour in support of their latest album release Dirt Roads~City Limits.

The Australian tour is taking them to many major cities and surrounding townships from Melbourne to Brisbane and will pit stop at the Tamworth Country Music Festival for the entirety of the event.

Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia will be included where they will be performing for the first time and will include playing as support act for the likes of James Blundell, Amber Lawrence, Kelly Llewellyn, Ronni Rae Rivers, Sara Storer and Felicity Urquhart.

In recent weeks, Jetty Road was thrilled to be nominated for a TIARA in the Best Group category for Till The Day I Die, a special Tamworth release from their new album.

Band members were also delighted to discover they were nominated for Best Group for Heart and Soul (from their Full Circle album) in the debut ICE Awards.

Jetty Road’s lead vocalists, twin sisters Lee and Paula Bowman, said: "We are extremely pleased to hear about the recent nominations." The girls are also looking forward to "a very exiting tour that will provide a brilliant opportunity to get our new music heard throughout the entire country."

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Bucko's free charity show

Colin Buchanan will present two shows at Tamworth 2007, his regular Toyota sponsored Kids Show at TREC on Wednesday, January 24, and a new free charity show at the new Festival venue The Regent Theatre on Thursday, January 25.

Described as live and accoustic, the Thursday event is also sub-titled Bourke To Beaconsfield as Colin will be showcasing his new "best of" album of the same name.

The Salvation Army's Hope Cottage will benefit from the concert as fundraisers will be passing around a bucket for donations.

There will also be 10 double passes for $150 which will be framed and signed by Colin with platinum seating and once again proceeds will go towards Hope Cottage.

Colin says his latest album was "15 years in the making!" – a collection of the singles, Golden Guitar award winners and stand-outs compiled from his five country albums to date, "plus a couple of extras!"

From his award-winning debut, Galahs In The Gidgee, through nearly two decades of "authentic, heartfelt, vivid songs", the album is described as "a collection for those who have been there all the way and those who are new to Colin's country career".

"Part travelogue, part journal, part portrait," the album features songs like North Bourke Bridge and Edge of the Kimberley, She Waits and A Drover's Wife.

The CD includes two new studio recordings of songs that carved a unique place in recent history – Beaconsfield (about the dramatic Tasmanian mine rescue) and the Steve Irwin tribute Goodbye Crocodile Hunter.

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Country Music Challenge: Battle of the Bands

The inaugural Toohey’s New Country Music Challenge: Battle of the Bands will run at Tamworth's famous Longyard Hotel on Monday night, January 22.

Cash and prizes with a total value of $3,500 are up for grabs but organisers say competitor spaces are limited.

Winner of the competition will receive an Enrec Studios demo recording package while the runner-up will take home a Tapco processor by courtesy of Australian Audio Supplies.

Both winner and runner-up will receive website enhancement profiles by courtesy of Tamworth Festival Musician’s Headquarters and Guitar Heroes, on both sites for 12 months.

Also, in the package is a Country Music Bulletin Artist Update Printernet Package for each band.

Entry, open to mainstream country, country/rock and cross genre country bands, is $20.

Entries can be submitted at the Musician’s Headquarters in Peel Street, opposite the Central Hotel during the festival.

Country Music Challenge: Battle of the Bands is co-ordinated by Musicforce. Additional supporters include The Times Festival Guide, Australian Guitar Magazine, CRN Satellite, Musician's Headquarters and Guitar Heroes.

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Enquiries can be directed to 0409 795 492.

Dean set for a big Tamworth Festival

Dean Perrett has racked up five finalist nominations in awards to be announced during the 2007 Tamworth Country Music Festival.

Heading the list is a top five nomination for the Bush Ballad Golden Guitar for his already award-winning song Would Clancy Be Welcome which is also up for Best Bush Ballad at the Australian Country Music People's Choice Awards and the Tamworth Independent Artist Recognition Awards (or TIARAs).

At the Tamworth Songwriter’s Association (TSA) Songwriter Salute Awards, Dean is a finalist for Bush Ballad of the Year with Channel Country Ringer and Gospel Song of the Year with The Bright Tomorrow.

In addition to his Tamworth nominations, Dean has two finalist nominations in the Stan Coster Memorial Australian Bush Ballad Awards to be announced at the Bungendore Country Muster in February... for Album of the Year with New Traditions and Instrumental or Vocal Group or Duo with Over The Hill” (a duet with Tracy Coster).

All the "awards action" tops off a big 2006 for Dean which included the release of his ground breaking and multi award winning album New Traditions in March, the song Would Clancy Be Welcome featuring in the Country Tracks National Top 30 Singles Chart in August, winning a Queensland Gold Medallion Award for Bush Balladeer of the Year in August, the Australian Independent Country Music Award for Heritage Track of the Year at the Mildura Country Music Festival and an Australian Country Recording Award for Bush Ballad Album of the Year in October.

Dean has two feature shows at the Frog & Toad Convention Centre on the Sydney Road during the Tamworth Festival – a show titled "The Story Tellers" on Monday January 22 at 1.30pm with Peter Pratt and a show titled "Old Mates" with Jeff Brown on Wednesday January 24 at 9am.

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CMR's Tamworth 2007

Country Music Radio (CMR) has announced its major coverage of events during the Tamworth Country Music Festival.

On Saturday, January 20, CMR will be broadcasting from the foyer of the Toyota Country Theatre at TREC (Tamworth Regional Entertainment Centre).

On Sunday January 21, Melinda Schneider will be hosting the Country Tracks Countdown from the Toyota Country Theatre ahead of a live broadcast of the 28th Toyota Star Maker Grand Final on Sunday night.

On Friday January 26, CMR will present an Australia Day Special from noon (live from the TREC) and will also be on air that night with special guests and Festival highlights.

On Saturday January 27, the program will act as host broadcaster of the 35th annual Golden Guitar Awards.

On Sunday January 28, CMR will feature a Festival wrap.

CMR goes to air on numerous NSW and Queensland stations every weekend night and overnight and regularly on public holidays.

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New Galston Festival head

The Rotary Club of Galston has appointed a new chairman Richard Young – to head up the Galston Country Music Festival organising committee, filling the position vacated by inaugural and long-time chairman Tony Page (pictured) in September.

Tony, who is the current President of the Rotary Club of Galston decided after 10 years that it was time for him to stand down.

"Tony and Vikki Page’s wonderful work will always be remembered and has played a huge part in making The Galston Country Music Festival the success it is today," a spokesman for the Rotary Club said.

"Richard’s experience is second to none and he has been with the Festival for the whole 10 years," the spokesman said. A past President of the Club, Richard said: "There are still many of the key people continuing with the organising of the festival and I am looking forward to implementing some new fresh ideas and to also continuing the fundraising which underpins the festival."

The 2007 Galston Country Music Festival will be staged on Sunday September 9 at Fagan Park, Galston (just to the north of Sydney city) including the final and presentation of the Cooper’s Golden Saddle Award.

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Cooking with the stars

Australia’s top contemporary country music stars reveal their favourite recipes in a new cookbook, Taste of Country, to be launched on Sunday January 21 at two concerts in the Tamworth Town Hall during the 2007 Tamworth Country Music Festival.

The concerts will be held at 10am and 1.30pm.

Tickets are available via and (adult tickets) include a copy of the cookbook as well as a chance to win lucky door vouchers from Good Guys Tamworth and more.

Proceeds from the venture go to The Australian Foundation for Mental Health Research in Canberra, The Salvation Army Hope Centre in Tamworth and The Anglican Counselling Service.

Tamworth-born chef James Maiden conceived the project after a close family friend committed suicide. He was shocked to learn that suicide and depression kills more Australians than heart disease stroke and cancer combined.

Country stars Bella, Colin Buchanan, Bill Chambers, Greg Champion, Graeme Connors, Tommy Emmanuel, The Flood, the Kernaghan family, Jimmy Little, Melinda Schneider, Felicity Urquhart and Warren H Williams are just some of the contributors to the cookbook which retail for $30 at various locations in and around Tamworth.

Chart Update – Keith at number one for five weeks

Keith Urban (pictured) continues his strangle-hold on the number one place on the Country Tracks National Top 30 Singles Chart this week with Once In A Lifetime.

The next three places also remain unchanged from last week with Troy Cassar-Daley's Walking Away at two, Travis Collins' Full Tank at three and Tania Kernaghan's 30 Something at four.

Karen Lynne's We Should Only Have Time For Love edges up one more place to five, as does Casey Watt to six with I Don't Want To Work This Hard while Felicity Urquhart's Big Black Cloud jumps another three places to seven.

Adam Harvey's Lady Lay Down falls to eight, Shaza Leigh's Fiddler's Creek is steady at nine while the Paul Costa/Aleyce Simmonds duet The Way You Make Me Feel enters the top 10 at 10.

Bullet performers this week include Gina Jeffreys' Live It (23 to 20), Nick Kingswell's Hope For Me Yet (27 to 24) and Lee Kernaghan's Love Shack (29 to 25).

New entries to the chart this week include The McClymonts' Baby's Gone Home (in at 29) and Camille Te Nahu & Stuie French with Let's Make A Family (in at 30).

The full chart can be viewed at

CMC Top 50 – Felicity still at number one

Felicity Urquhart, meanwhile, maintains her place at the top of the CMC (Country Music Channel) top 50 playlist with her clip of Big Black Cloud, as she has right throughout the Christmas/New Year break.

Adam Brand features at number four (down from number two) with Cigarettes & Whiskey while Melinda Schneider rises to six from 10 with Men In Trucks, Nick Kingswell's Hope For Me Yet is at seven and Gina Jeffreys' Live It at number eight.

Bullet performers on the playlist this week include the Paul Costa/Aleyce Simmonds duet The Way You Make Me Feel (rising from 17 to 13), Steve Forde & The Flange with Aussie Philosophy (debuting at 18), Dianna Corcoran with Then There's Me (debuting at 27), Anne Kirkpatrick with Showman's Daughter (debuting at 32) and Kelly Hope with Heartbreak Road (43 to 35).

Other new entries to the playlist this week include Lee Kernaghan's Love Shack (debuting at 45).

The full playlist can be viewed at

Aussies figure well in ARIA Top 50 country albums for 2006

Half of the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) top 50 selling country albums tracked in Australia last year were by, or featured, Australian artists.

Twenty-one, or 42 percent, were complete albums by Australian artists, while four were compilation albums featuring both Australian and foreign artists.

This number contrasts sharply with the lack of mainstream radio exposure for Australian country music with industry pundits suggesting that the impact of community radio is growing compared to commercial radio and the influence of live country music at concerts and festivals is a major key to record sales.

Very few independent albums, some of which sell well into their thousands would blow the ARIA figures out further in favour of Australian artists.

The continuing influence of mega-star the late Johnny Cash in the charts is also an influence which cannot be regarded as normal.

A comparison of the top 50 country albums compared to the top 50 mainstream albums for 2006 is also interesting with only 16 (or 32 percent of the mainstream 50) being by Australian artists.

Australian artists featuring in the year-end country chart are...

Keith Urban at five and seven, respectively, with Be Here and Love, Pain & The Whole Crazy Thing, Lee Kernaghan (pictured) with The New Bush at five and The Big Ones Greatest Hits at 24 and John Williamson's The Platinum Collection at eight...

The Winners 2006 at 12, Adam Brand's What A Life at 13, The Very Best Of Slim Dusty at 19, Troy Cassar-Daley's Brighter Day at 21, John Williamson's Chandeleir Of Stars at 22 and Paul Kelly & The Stormwater Boys' Foggy Highway at 25...

Slim Dusty Live at 27, John Williamson's Wildlife Warriors: It's Time (A Tribute To Steve Irwin) at 29, Catherine Britt's Too Far Gone at 32, Melinda Schneider's Stronger at 36, Sara Storer's Firefly at 37 and The Sunny Cowgirls' Long Five Days at 38.

Top spot in the year-end country chart was held by the Dixie Chicks with Taking The Long Way.

The full chart can be viewed here.

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People's Choice in America

American country superstar Kenny Chesney was among performers on America's 33rd annual People’s Choice Awards scheduled to go to air on television last night (today, Australian time).

Kenny is nominated for Favorite Male Singer against Trace Adkins and Toby Keith.

Country singers dominate other categories in the Awards with Fairh Hill and Carrie Underwood up against Shakira for Favorite Female Singer, Nickleback against The Black Eyed Peas The Red Hot Chili Peppers for Favourite Group.

Rascal Flatts' Life Is A Highway from "Cars" is nominated for Favorite Song from a Movie and Favorite Remake against Alanis Morissette's Crazy from "The Devil Wears Prada" and Sheryl Crow's Real Gone (also from "Cars") in the movie section and Crazy by Alanis Morissette and Save the Last Dance for Me by Michael Bublé in the remake category.

Finalists for Favorite Country Song are Before He Cheats by Carrie Underwood, What Hurts The Most by Rascal Flatts and When the Stars Go Blue by Tim McGraw.

Vale – Pete Kleinow

US country rock star "Sneaky" Pete Kleinow, a steel guitar player and one of the original members of the Flying Burrito Brothers, has died aged 72.

He co-founded the band in 1968 with the Byrds' Chris Hillman and Gram Parsons.

He recorded with John Lennon and Joni Mitchell and was said to have influenced groups such as the Eagles.

Pete also worked as an animator, special effects designer and director of commercials, and won an Emmy award for the TV series "The Winds of War" in 1983.

Other credits included "The Empire Strikes Back", "Under Siege", "Fearless" and the relaunched version of "The Twilight Zone".

Seven years ago, he founded the band Burrito Deluxe, playing and recording with them regularly until he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's and moved into a nursing home.

His final recording with the group will be released in February, the group's manager said.

– BBC News

Tim to release 11th album

Tim McGraw, Grammy, Academy of Country Music, Country Music Association and People’s Choice Award winner (among others) will release one of 2007’s most anticipated albums on March 27... his 11th album – Let It Go – his first studio album in nearly three years

In March 2006, Reflected: Greatest Hits V. 2 became McGraw’s ninth consecutive album to debut at the number one spot on the Billboard Country Albums chart while his previous studio album Live Like You Were Dying, released in 2004, debuted with a career high in sales of 766,000 copies in just its first week. To date, it has sold nearly four million copies.

"I am really excited about this new studio album," said Tim who again enlisted the help of his touring band The Dancehall Doctors on the project, their third consecutive project.



Tamworth introduces acoustic busking zone

Tamworth Regional Council has announced the introduction of a special acoustic only area for buskers at this year's January country music festival.

The area allocated to acoustic buskers, all part of the Bisley Australian Country Music Busking Championships 2007, is in the city's main street (Peel Street) in the block bounded by Bourke and Brisbane Streets.

Amplified busking as usual will run in the remaining two main block's of the central business district between Brisbane and White Streets (and in side streets).

Winner of the Championship in 2007 will receive $1,100 in cash, a certificate and an invitation to perform at the Last Roundup & Closing Concert on Sunday, January 28 in the Tamworth Regional Entertainment Centre (TREC).

Second place getter will receive $500 in cash and a certificate and the third place getter will receive $300 in cash and a certificate.

All finalists performing at the Best of the Buskers Concert – to be held at 7pm on Saturday, January 27 in Bicentennial Park – will also receive a special certificate.

Entry form for the Championship can be downloaded from, collected from the Council office in Peel Street or ring 02 6755 4555.

The Tamworth Festival runs officially from Friday January 19 to and including Sunday January 28 with a Festival Countdown running from Friday January 12 to Thursday January 18.

Festival visitors are already trickling into the city.

ICE Award winners announced

Winners of the inaugural ICE (Independent Country Entertainers) Awards have been announced.

They are...

For Female Vocal Performance – Donna Boyd with Luckiest Girl Alive.

For Male Vocal Performance – John Stephan with I'm Sorry.

For Group/Duo PerformanceCarter & Carter with Ride.

For (the previously unannounced category of) Country Rock Performance – Matt Scullion with Giddy Up.

And for Song of the Year, 2006 – Why Does She Love Me by Jonah's Road.

The Awards are organised by Deborah Minter of ICE International.

Pictured (from left): Donna, John, Carter & Carter, Matt and Jonah's Road.

Felicity in the Solomons

While most people in Australia are recovering from their Christmas excesses and planning to break New Year’s resolutions, country star Felicity Urquhart has another New Year’s mission in mind.

Felicity left Australian shores last week as part of a group of 12 performers to entertain Australian troops and Federal Police officers in the Solomon Islands over New Year.

Bush poet Dave Proust, rock band Night Train and Felicity, together with musicians Brett Wood, Simon Johnson and Rudy Miranda, all performed in a series of New Year’s Eve concerts for Australian troops and members of the Australian Federal Police serving in the Solomons.

Picture shows Felicity performing on the Solomons on New Year's Eve (photo: Simon Sawyer, AFP). Click on the image for a larger photo.

Also performing for the troops was the Royal Australian Air Force's Central Band from Melbourne under the baton of Squadron Leader Steve Wright.

"I was absolutely thrilled to be invited to go to the Solomons to do something positive for our defence force personnel," Felicity said. "It would have been easy to stay at home and celebrate New Year’s Eve with family and friends, but when I thought of all those people who didn’t have that luxury because of their commitment to Australia’s defence, I couldn’t stay away.

"The troupe of entertainers will arrive back in Australia early in the New Year. Felicity will then prepare for her major concert at the 2007 Tamworth Country Music Festival at Wests’ Diggers on Wednesday, January 24. She will also appear as a special guest on Sara Storer’s concert at Tamworth Regional Entertainment Centre on Thursday, January 25.

Felicity’s new single, Big Black Cloud, from her Golden Guitar-nominated Album of the Year My Life, is enjoying extensive airplay across Australia and the video clip is in residence on the number one spot on the CMC most requested clips chart.

Meanwhile, some photos have been made available from the visit to the Middle East by an Australian troupe of performers (see last week's news).

Pictured here, The McClymonts, oviously in a fairly cool environment, entertaining the troops.

Gina supports memorial fund

Gina Jeffreys has pledged her support to the Somebody's Daughter Memorial Fund set up by the Ipswich Evening Star in the UK in the wake of the deaths of Gemma Adams, Tania Nicol, Anneli Alderton, Annette Nicholls and Paula Clennell, the five victims of the red-light killings.

Money raised will go to help vulnerable young people in Ipswich and already several hundred pounds has been raised.

Gina, one of Australia's most successful artists with more than a quarter of a million record sales and countless awards to her credit watched the red-light tragedy unravel in shock like many thousands of others across the world.

Gina contacted The Evening Star to back the campaign and to allow the paper to use her song Somebody's Daughter in any way necessary to help raise money.

"I was incredibly saddened to read about the five girls," Gina said. "As a mother I know how terribly painful it must be for their families and children. I hope everyone gives generously to the Somebody's Daughter Memorial Fund to help those who have been left behind – especially the children, in the hope that they can grow up to lead happier lives."

Donations to the Somebody's Daughter Memorial Fund can be made by visiting and clicking on the memorial fund logo.

Steve Wright, 48, of London Road, Ipswich, has been charged with the murders of the five girls. He was remanded in custody until yesterday (January 2), when he was due to appear before Ipswich Crown Court.

Country art for cancer

Graham Archer from Attitude Productions has announced details for a major fund-raising project to be staged as part of Hats Off To Country 2007.

The fund-raiser, titled Country Art for Cancer – help us find the Ancer 4 Cancer  – will see country music artists and associated media personalities creating and donating a painting or drawing expressing their own creative talent.

The artwork will be publicly exhibited in Tamworth leading up to and during the Hats off to Country Festival. All the works will be judged by a selected panel which will provide "an honest and fun appraisal of the donated artwork," Graham said.

Finally, the art will be auctioned by a guest auctioneer or auctioneers and sold during the Festival. All proceeds raised will be donated to The Cancer Council NSW.

Attitude Productions in association with the Cancer Council NSW are calling on country music artists and media personalities "to play your special role in this innovative project, where together we can find the Ancer 4 Cancer".

Graham can be contacted on 0419 817 215.

Brian recognised with Human Spirit Award

Jurien Bay, WA, resident Brian Bitter – aka "Buzzer the Bush Balladeer" – has been recognised for his valuable contribution to local road safety with the receipt of a Human Spirit Award.

The Human Spirit Award, administered by the WA Local Government Association’s RoadWise Program, is awarded to members of the community who demonstrate a commitment to road safety by working together to save lives and reduce road trauma in the state.

Brian was nominated by RoadWise Regional Road Safety Officer Ross Miles for his unconditional commitment to helping reduce fatigue in the Wheatbelt.

"Buzzer" is a regular at the Badgingarra Roadhouse during the Christmas holiday period where he plays the guitar and hands out White Ribbons for Road Safety to drivers who have stopped for a break.

He has also been spotted at the Moora Country Campout, entertaining the crowds and
promoting road safety.

WA Local Government Association President Cr Bill Mitchell said the Human Spirit Award Program had recognised more than 100 groups and individuals in the past eight years. "There are dedicated road safety champions working in local communities across the State and the Human Spirit Award provides an opportunity to recognise their valuable contribution," he said.

"'Buzzer' is to be commended for working with the Association’s RoadWise Progam and other local road safety partners to raise awareness about road safety and help eliminate road crashes as a major cause of premature death and injury in our community."

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The Distance plays Tamworth

Melbourne based band The Distance will play nine shows at Tamworth '07, including three major Victorian Showcase events at the Regent Theatre.

The Regent Theatre Showcases will include the Davidson Brothers, Ginja Roe, The Joelenes and Briana Lee. "Not forgetting our fellow Victorians, we have already booked two more Victorian Showcase gigs around Melbourne for late January and early February," the band said.

"And if you miss us there, then catch us at the Between the Bays festival in March or at the Palais theatre in Hepburn Springs with Canadian act Madviolet.

The Distance have also announced that songs from their album Don't Look Back can now be download from Apple iTunes.

And the band's new video clip of This Land is now showing on CMC

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Picton's Antill Park Golf Club announces 2007 line-up...

The Antill Park Golf Club at Picton south of Sydney has announced the January/February line-up for its free Acoustic Cafe shows every Friday night.

This Friday (5th), the venue features Tony Martin, then next Friday (12th) Victoria Baillie (pictured) and the 19th, Steve Graham (26th to be advised).

In February, featured acts will include Jessie Fairweather, Luke O'Shea and Amber Lawrence.

The Loaded Dog continues its monthly shows...

The Loaded Dog Hotel in Tarago, NSW, has announced its free entertainment line-up fro the first half of 2007.

With live music on the third Saturday of each month, the venue has booked Luke O'Shea for February, Amber Lawrence for March, Lianne Rose for April, Rob Wilson (pictured) for May and Nicki Gillis for June.

And Bungendore's The Harp adds country

Meanwhile, Bungendore's The Harp Inn has announced it will feature live country music every Sunday afternoon kicking off this weekend.

Bryen Willems gets the launch gig this Sunday while Tracey-Lee Killeen (ex-SweeneyKilleen, pictured) is on Sunday the 14th and Steve Graham the 21st (Sunday 28th to be advised).

The first two Sundays of February are yet to be advised with Steven Anthony booked for Sunday the 18th and Paul Grierson from Simply Bushed on the 25th.

The entertainment runs from 4pm until 8.

Pixie back in Tamworth with a new show

Australian country music legend and iconic fiddle player Pixie Jenkins will perform his new show - "Hearts On A String" - at the annual Tamworth Country Music Festival this January.

Using a "real" string quartet and a small ensemble of some of Australia's best musicians, Pixie will perform his "top 10 list of the world's greatest country songs".

Pixie has asked Tamworth's own Vivace String Quartet to perform this debut and they will be playing special glossy white acoustic/electric instruments (violin, cello, viola and double bass) supplied by Pixie's long time sponsors Epoch Stringed Instruments.

"This will give the show a new and exciting look," Pixie said, "as well as sounding world class because of the technology used in the electronics of these wonderful fiddles."

The show will be held in The 'Dawson Room of the Best Western Sanctuary Inn (formerly Country Comfort) at the corner of Marius and Murray Streets.

Tickets can be obtained from the Tamworth Visitor Information Centre at the corner of Murray and Peel Streets, by phone on 02 6767 5300 or online at

Photo: Shot By Jake.

And Champs...

And Greg Champion has announced that he will only have one show in Tamworth this January.

"I will be performing just the once at this stage," he said, "on Wednesday January 24 at noon at The Longyard Hotel." The gig was only decided upon last week.

Jazzer Quest on again

The Bundaberg Rum sponsored Jazzer Talent Quest – named in honour of the late Australian country music icon – is on again in 2007 at The Pub on Tamworth's Gunnedah Road.

"The Pub’s newly expanded entertainment room was the perfect venue for the 2006 Quest, an important part of Tamworth Country Music Festival," said organiser since 1995 Greg Williams.

Contestants have now “found” the quest, he said, which relocated after "a year off" from the city's central business district.

"Heats were hotly contested from the first Friday of the festival to the following Wednesday and audiences were thoroughly entertained.

"Standout performances were many during each of the six daily heats, resulting in a high quality talent showcase for the grand final on final Friday– and a highly entertaining wild card heat on Grand Final eve.

"The wild card section on the Thursday was a successful innovation and very well received by the audience and contestants," Greg said. "It allowed for some of those contestants you couldn’t possibly leave out, to get another shot at the Grand Final and the big prize pool."

Entry fees collected from contestants are donated to the Peter MacCallum Cancer Institute in Melbourne where the quest’s namesake Jazzer Smith was treated for many years for non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

Entry details can be obtained from or by ringing The Pub Management on 02 6765 4875.

Chart Update – Keith still at number one

Keith Urban remains at the top of the Country Tracks National Top 30 Singles Chart this week for the fourth week in a row with Once In A Lifetime.

Troy Cassar-Daley's Walking Away edges up to number two for the first chart of the new year while Travis Collins' Full Tank jumps two places to number three.

Tania Kernaghan (pictured) is steady at four with 30 Something, Adam Harvey's , Lady Lay Down drops back to five, Karen Lynne's We Should Only Have Time For Love rises one place to six and Casey Watt jumps two places to seven with I Don't Want To Work This Hard.

The Wolverines' Up And Done Died falls to eight, Shaza Leigh's Fiddler's Creek edges up one place to nine and Felicity Urquhart's Big Black Cloud bounds into the top 10 at 10.

Bullet performers this week include Adam Brand's Cigarettes And Whiskey (23 to 20), Gina Jeffreys with Live It (27 to 23), Anne Kirkpatrick's Showman's Daughter (28 to 24) and Nick Kingswell with Hope For Me Yet (30 to 27).

New entries to the chart this week include Donna Boyd's Luckiest Girl Alive (in at 28) and Lee Kernaghan with Love Shack (in at 29).

The full chart can be viewed at

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Dolly named Tennessean of the Year

Country superstar Dolly Parton has been named Tennessean of the Year (2006).

Dolly is known world-wide as a Grammy-award-winning recording artist and movie star, but to fellow Tennesseans she is also one of the state's most gleeful philanthropists, a cheerful giver whose advocacy for the Volunteer State's children of tomorrow is Dolly big.

Her cachet in the recording studio and on screen made her famous enough to be honoured by the Kennedy Center, this country's patron saint organisation of the arts, but it is what Parton has done with her accumulated wealth and power for the betterment of, as she called them, "her people," her fellow Tennesseans, that brought her the second honour.

Vale – Del Reeves

Country music star Del Reeves, known to pop music audiences for his 1965 crossover Girl On The Billboard, died on New Year's Day at his Centerville, Tennessee, home at the age of 73.

Reeves had battled emphysema and other diseases for quite some time.

Born Franklin Delano Reeves in Sparta, North Carolina, in 1933 (obviously named after President Roosevelt), Del joined the Opry in 1966, known then as "The Doodle-Oo-Doo-Doo Kid" because he sang that during the opening to Girl On The Billboard, which was a number one country single.

While the song only got to 96 on the pop charts – his only appearance there – he shows up 55 times on the country charts, including the top 10 hits Be Quiet Mind (his first hit in 1961), The Belles of Southern Bell, Woman Do Funny Things To Me, Looking At The World Through A Windshield, Good Time Charlie's, Be Glad and The Philadelphia Fillies.

He had his own TV show, "Country Carnival", and appeared in five films.

– Peter Leslie

© Copyright 2007, ICMB Publishing