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Bungendore Muster underway

The 2009 Bungendore Country Muster and Stan Coster Memorial Bush Ballad Awards got underway yesterday, Thursday.

Excellent nominations were received for the Awards which will be presented Saturday night. Organisers say the overall standard was extremely high, and competition keen in all categories.

Organisers issued a thank you to the Awards judging panel, "who give freely their time and expertise to undertake this onerous and very important task for us."

The format for the full festival program remains basically the same as in 2008. The Showground will be available to campers who were able to set up from Monday. Following Wednesday night's "sausage sizzle" and entertainment, local hotels and the bowling club featured entertainment last night and will do so again tonight.

The Rotary Club Busking Competition will take place on Saturday morning while the festival program commences at the Showground at 2pm (Saturday) with Melissa Bajric (pictured), Charley Boyter (pictured above left) and the Muster Band, the busking competition winner, Bob Easter, Keith Jamieson & Alisha Smith, Dianne Lindsay, Ken (Chainsaw) Lindsay, Doug McIntyre (pictured), Charmaine Pout, Track to Tomorrow winner, ABBA (Australian Bush Balladeers Association) Star Quest winner Sharon Smith and "our old friend 'Frank Spencer'".

Following Presentations of Awards, all finalists will perform, backed by the Lindsay Butler Band. Finale for the night will be Peter Coad & The Coad Sisters.

The Sunday Program will commence at 10am with Lindsay Butler’s Band again backing and finalists back for their full spots, plus Owen Blundell, Terry Gordon, Shaza Leigh, Brian Letton and Matt Manning... "in all, a wonderful line-up of talent".

Awards finalists were reported in November (click here for listing) or visit the Muster website.

Weblink – www.bungendorecountrymuster.com.au.


Fifth "Saturday Night Country" compilation

The fifth compilation of songs featured on ABC Radio's "Saturday Night Country" was released earlier this month to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the program.

Tracks from many of Australia's leading country music artists are featured including Adam Brand, Catherine Britt, Carter & Carter, The Flood, Adam Harvey, Anne Kirkpatrick, Lee Kernaghan, Graham Rodger, Melinda Schneider, The Sunny Cowgirls, Sara Storer and John Williamson.

Classics like Reg Lindsay's July You're A Woman and Matilda No More by Slim Dusty (recorded with Kasey Chambers) are also highlighted together with tracks by artists like Mike Brady, Bob Howe, Neil Murray and Gary Shearston.

Overseas acts including Alan Jackson and Gretchen Wilson are also on the double CD which has a total of 38 tracks.

"Saturday Night Country" – hosted by John Nutting – is heard Saturday nights from 10 o'clock.

Weblink – www.abc.net.au/snc.



More Tamworth winners

As the dust settles from another very successful Tamworth Country Music Festival, news of more winners keeps filtering through.

Latest results to hand...

Winners of The Northern Daily Leader Battle of the Country Bands competition held at Wests and Wests Diggers clubs were The Dennis Boys Band (pictured).

Second place went to Craig Morrison Little Cowboys while The Perch Creek Family Jug Band were announced as third placegetters.

Winner of the competition took home $1,000, second place received $500 and third $300.

Meanwhile, winners of Wests Diggers Mount Franklin Kids Talent Quest were Breanna Gerritson (senior) and Kiara Taylor (junior).

Runners-up were Jacynta Lee Glaspy (senior) and Triston Severs (junior).

First prize in each category was $200 while runners-up received $100.

Winners of Blowes Trousers Australian Country Music Busking Championship was Racz 'n' Waters (comprising Karen Anne Waters, Ingrid and Talia Racz).

The girls won a first prize of $1,400.

Second place in the championship went to Daly Stephenson from Comet, Queensland, third place to Royden Donohue from Nyngan (NSW).

Winner of the fourth annual Coca-Cola Battle of the Bands competition staged at Coca-Cola Park was Melbounre-based Ruckus.

Bullet, also from Melbourne, was named a close second, with Brisbane based The Horse You Rode In On taking third place and high commendations going to Gympie's The Institute (from the Australian Institute of Country Music) and Rustick, from Rutherglen, Victoria.

First prize was $1,000, second $300 and third $200.

And organisers of "The Longest Line Dance" claimed an Australian record when 3,392 dancers lined up in the city's main street on Saturday morning (January 24), the biggest number in three years.

Tamworth held the world record from 1997 to January 2002 (with 5,502 to 6,744 dancers) but were overtaken by Singapore in May 2002 with 11,967 dancers. The current world record was established the same year (December) in Hong Kong with 12,168 dancers.


CMC Top 50 – Taylor at number one

America's Taylor Swift is at number on this week's CMC (Country Music Channel) Top 50 playlist with the clip of her song Love Story.

Sinead Burgess edges up another place to be at number two with You Get Me while Keith Urban's duet with Brad Paisley – Start A Band – is up one to three and last week's number one – The Sunny Cowgirls' Dancing On The Darling – is at four.

Jetty Road's Good Times is up two to five, Kirsty Lee Akers' Knocked Up is steady at eight and Sam Hawksley's Sounds Like Summer enters the top 10 at 10.

Jasmine Rae's Look It Up is at 11, Steve Forde's I Ain't That Guy jumps three places to 14 and James Blundell's Good Wood is at 15.

The McClymonts' Shotgun debuts at 16, John Williamson's Hillbilly Road is steady at 19 and Carter & Carter's Open Road is at 20.

Bullet performers for the week include The Bobkatz' The Red Top Table (32 to 29), 8 Ball Aitken's Hands On Top Of The Wheel 41 to 37) and Kristy Cox with Destination Heartache (new at 38).

Other new entries to the playlist this week include Kaylah Anne with Why Me (in at 49).

The playlist can be viewed at www.countrymusicchannel.com.au.



Keith, Defying Gravity

Defying Gravity is the title of Keith Urban's new album to be released on Saturday March 28.

"I've always approached making records as a journey," Keith said, "where I just have to let myself go. If the conditions are just right the music will reflect the mood and feeling of where I am in my life.

"Defying Gravity comes from the lyrics of a song on the album and it just struck me at the time as a phrase that really defined the joyous, optimistic and uplifting spirit that seemed to show itself while making the album."

This year is shaping up to be a busy one for Keith. This May will mark the launch of his "Escape Together World Tour" (which will visit 58 cities across North America). He will team with a different touring partner in each city, including American superstars Sugarland and Taylor Swift.

Weblink – www.keithurban.net.


"Capital News" celebrates 34 years

This year marks the 34th year of Australia's longest running country music publications, "Country Music Capital News" (January issue cover pictured).

First published by Radio 2TM in quarter-fold format in January 1975, the then specialist newspaper was initially intended to be a part of the promotional backup for the very new annual country music festival in Tamworth.

But as time went by, it became evident to 2TM that "Capital News" had achieved a life of its own and it was growing as quickly as the country music scene it served.

By 1981, "Cap News" (as it is often referred to) had developed into a monthly tabloid and was required reading for the country music industry and fans alike.

In 2002, still keeping up with the times, "Capital News" re-invented itself again, this time into the modern glossy magazine format it enjoys today.

The Australian country music industry has recognised the publication and its contribution to the industry with Media Achiever Of The Year awards in 2002, 2005, 2006 and 2007.

Barry Harley, General Manager of Rural Press Events (RPE), publishers of "Capital News", said it was good to know all the hard work and planning that went into keeping the magazine attractive to fans and relevant to industry professionals, was acknowledged by the industry.

"Over the 34 years it’s been published, 'Cap News' has covered each and every story and issue of any significance to country music, and it will continue to play a central role in bringing readers all the news and information about every aspect of the music they love," he said.

As well as publishing "Capital News", Rural Press Events makes other major contributions to the country music scene with the annual "Directory of Australian Country Music", "Official Guide to the Tamworth Country Music Festival", the national Toyota Star Maker Quest and many other activities.

To celebrate its 34th year, "Capital News" is running a special January subscription offer. Details can be obtained from RPE on 02 6762 2399 or by emailing capitalnews@ruralpress.com.


Top 10 Australian country albums

The top 10 Australian country albums, according to ARIA (Australian Recording Industry Association, at January 26, 2009), not including compilations with less than 50 percent Australian content, are...

At number one (pictured, up one from last week), THE WINNERS 2009, compilation of finalist and winners in this year's Golden Guitar Awards.

At two (down one from last week), RATTLIN' BONES by Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson.

At three (a re-entry to the chart), The McClymonts' CHAOS AND BRIGHT LIGHTS.

At four (down three from last week), Keith Urban's GREATEST HITS: 18 KIDS.

At five (another re-entry to the chart), The Sunny Cowgirls' DUST WILL SETTLE.

At six (debut listing), Victoria Baillie's START BRAND NEW.

At seven (another re-entry), John Williamson's HILLBILLY ROAD.

At eight (down two from last week), John Williamson's PLATINUM COLLECTION.

At nine (another re-entry), Adam Harvey's I'M DOIN' ALRIGHT.

And at 10 (down seven), Kirsty Lee Akers' BETTER DAYS.


Chart update – The Sunny Cowgirls still at number one

The Sunny Cowgirls (pictured) keep a throttle hold on the number one position on this week's national Top 30 Country Tracks chart for the third week in a row with their hit Dancing On The Darling.

Jetty Road's Good Times edges up one place to number two while James Blundell's Good Wood is up two more to number three as is Amber Lawrence's The Mile to number four.

Brad Paisley & Keith Urban are down three to five with Start A Band, Talia Wittmann's Ladylike is up three to number six and America's Alan Jackson slips three to seven with Country Boy.

Keith Urban's Sweet Thing bounds into the top 10 at number eight, as do Brooks & Dunn with Cowgirls Don't Cry while Drew McAlister, Allan Caswell & Matt Scullion also slip into the top 10 at 10 with The Billy Joel Song.

Bullet performers for the week include 8 Ball Aitken with Hands On Top Of The Wheel (15 to 12), Felicity Urquhart's I Fall (18 to 15), Graeme Connors' A Beach House In The Blue Mountains (21 to 17), Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson with Wildflower (24 to 20), Catherine Britt's I'm Not Your Cinderella (27 to 22), The Bobkatz The Red Top Table (26 to 23), Ted Egan's Last Of The Packhorse Bagmen (28 to 25), John Williamson's Cydi (29 to 26) and Sinead Burgess with You Get Me (30 to 27).

New entries in the chart this week include Kirsty Lee Akers' Knocked Up (in at 30).

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



Wally awarded OAM

Melbourne based artist manager and promoter Wally Bishop (pictured in his earlier days) has been awarded an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) in this year's Australia Day honours announced today.

The award has been made "for service to the community through support for a range of charitable organisations, and to the music industry as a manager and promoter".

In the 1970s and '80s, Wally was directly involved with the country music business through his management of acts like, first, The Hawking Brothers and, later, Johnny Chester.

For 20 years, Wally managed the career of Max Merritt and was heavily involved in a 2007 benefit concert for the ailing rocker.

Photo: "The Book Of Australian Country Music".



Pixie honoured at Golden Fiddle Awards

At an emotionally charged Golden Fiddle Awards concert in the Tamworth Town Hall on Thursday, country music legend Pixie Jenkins (pictured) received the ultimate honour from organisers of a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Pixie, who was also compere of the annual event, was taken by surprise as Awards Chairman and Golden Fiddle sponsor Mark Mitchell of Epoch Musical Instruments, followed by music industry associates Andrew Clermont, Lawrie Minson and Steve Newton, lauded Pixie’s life and achievements in Australian country music.

"Pixie was a popular choice and the 700 strong audience at the Town Hall loved every minute of it," Mark said.

"The Lifetime Achievement Award is presented only to very extraordinary people. Just to be considered for this award, not only are you required to be a brilliant fiddle player, have an enormous ability to compose music, have the skills of a producer, the desire to teach and pass on your knowledge, but you also need to have dedicated most of your life to playing the fiddle.

"Pixie adds even more prestige to this award because there is no–one else like him. There is nobody who comes close to being everything Pixie is – fiddle player legend, songwriter, producer, showman, singer, comedian and all out extraordinarily driven human being," Mark said.

"No other Australian player has portrayed the persona of the fiddle in his music as Pixie has, and made a lifetime commitment to this craft."

Pixie is regarded as a pioneer road show entertainer, touring constantly around Australian entertainment venues. He was, for more than 20 years, the fiddle support for John Williamson, and his zany and highly entertaining shows have earned him enormous respect in the industry.

At Thursday's presentation, the prestigious award as Australia’s best solo fiddler went to classically trained Daniel Weltlinger, considered one of Australia's most unique and original voices in music today.

"An expert in Gypsy-swing, experimental and Jewish klezmer music, Daniel was born in Sydney in 1977. His is a musical heritage largely passed on by his maternal grandfather (also a violin player) who, as a young man, played professionally in the café orchestras of Paris and Marseilles, mixing with the likes of Edith Piaf, Maurice Ravel and many other musicians and artists of the period," an Awards spokesman said.

"Daniel performs internationally with top name stars and regularly travels to Europe to seek out his own cultural and spiritual identity."

Violinists of all genres received eight awards at this year's star-studded ceremony.

George Washingmachine was announced as winner of Best Fiddle Teacher while the Crooked Fiddle Band featuring Jess Randall took out Best CD by a fiddler as a soloist with Rise.

Jigzag was announced as Best Band featuring a fiddler and the Youth Achievement Award went to George Jackson.

Best Fiddle Composition was won by Clare O’Meara for Spicy Fruit Reel while Best CD by a band went to Trouble In The Kitchen with The Next Turn.

Weblink – www.goldenfiddleawards.org.au.


Mike and Makaylie take out Entertainer of the Year quest

Mike Pye and Makaylie Foodey have won top honours in the 2009 Aristocrat Country Entertainer of the Year contest in Tamworth.

The grand final of the competition was held at Wests Blazes Showroom last Monday night following two heats at Wests Diggers the previous day.

Mike won the senior title while Makaylie took out the junior title. Contestants from as far away as New Zealand competed in the quest.

On accepting his award, Mike encouraged others to compete next year as his own experience was "awesome".

Event organiser and co-ordinator and chairman of the judging panel Gina Timms said the calibre of entrants just kept getting better every year, "and we turn people away as the quest fills very quickly".

Placegetters in this year's quest were Mitchell Smith and Ben Hazell (second and third, respectively, with cash prizes of $1,000 and $500, in the seniors category) and Christie Lamb and Jaimee Evans (second and third, respectively, with cash prizes of $350 and $250, in the juniors category).

For her overall juniors win, Makaylie won a $700 cash prize while seniors winner Mike took home $2,000 cash and recording time.

Resident band The Palmer Brothers provided backing, "once again (they) didn’t disappoint and all the contestants came away thrilled that the band had 'nailed' their favourite song," Gina said.

Local journalist and publicist Anna Rose was the other resident judge, "Her tenth time on the panel, Anna once again was reaching for the tissues when many of the talented juniors reduced her to tears of joy.

"Guest grand final judge Beccy Cole has been the guest judge for over 12 years now and contestants love the opportunity to perform to Australia’s own queen of country music."

Photo: Aristocrat Leisure Industries Regional Manager Peter Henderson (centre), Mike Pye and Makaylie Foodey following last week's grand final.



Kasey & Shane sweep the Golden Guitars

Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson (pictured) dominated the 37th annual Golden Guitar Awards in Tamworth tonight with their hit song and album Rattlin' Bones.

The new duo took out Song, Single and Video Clip of the Year for the album's title track, and Highest Selling Album and Album of the Year (the album was produced by Shane and Nash Chambers, the award winning video clip was directed by Helen Clemens).

Adam Brand and Catherine Britt were named Male and Female Artists of the Year for Get On Down The Road and What I Did Last Night, respectively, while The McClymonts won Vocal Group of the Year with Finally Over Blue, The Davidson Brothers took out Instrumental of the Year with Left Hand Drive and Talia Wittmann, last year's Toyota Star Maker winner, won New Talent, with The Reckless Side Of Me.

Vocal Collaboration went to Melinda Schneider & Paul Kelly with Still Here while John Williamson, Warren H Williams & Amos Morris won Bush Ballad of the Year with John's song Australia Is Another word For Free and Darren Coggan came up trumps in Heritage Song of the Year with Too Dark For The Light Horse (co-written with Ken McBeath).

Before the main awards presentation, Adam Brand was announced as Oz Artist of the Year (from a public vote in association with the Country Music Channel, CMC) and three Country Music Achiever Awards were presented, to Rod McCormack (Producer of the Year), Jeff McCormack (Engineer of the Year) and Michel Rose (Musician of the Year).

The Awards television special will go to air on Network Ten and Southern Cross Ten next Sunday, February 1 at 2pm and on CMC from Saturday, February 14 at 7pm.


A big Tamworth Festival day today

As the 2009 Tamworth Country Music Festival begins drawing to a close, what many feel might be a record crowd is in town today for the big variety of events and activities.

A crowd in the multi thousands witnessed today's Toyota Country Music Cavalcade which reportedly featured a record number of 72 floats.

Best Overall Float (and winner of the non-commercial section) was the Lions Club of Tamworth entry, Best Visitor Float was the Leukaemia Foundation, Best Commercial section winner was Prime Super, Best Equine section winner was Tamworth Team Penning.

Prior to the Cavalcade, this year's Hands of Fame inductees had their handprints set in concrete... Dally Croft, Jim Hermel, The McClymonts and Ian Quinn (pictured), together with Warren H Williams who was inducted last January but had other commitments on the imprinting day.

And the city's Peel Street was packed with buskers and visitors today. Almost every available seat for lunch was taken many times over.

Meanwhile, the country music industry, and fans, are preparing for tonight's Golden Guitar Awards at the Tamworth Regional Entertainment & Conference Centre. Winners will be reported here later tonight.

The entertainment continues through tomorrow and tomorrow night with a number of farewell shows set for Monday including the official "Last Roundup".


National Talent Quest results

Nathan Lamont from Wagga Wagga (NSW) was named Overall Winner of the 2009 Capital Country Music Association (CCMA) National Talent Quest in Tamworth this afternoon.

Nathan also won the Camerata Scholarship prize while Lance Coassin took out the Norfolk Island Prize (entry into the 2009 Trans Tasman Entertainer of the Year competition).

A packed audience in the historic Tamworth Town Hall witnessed the CCMA's 2009 Jamboree or winner's concert today with special guests including Greg Champion and The McClymonts.

In talent quest results, Jordy McMillan was named winner of Best Young Talent Vocal 13 years and under (with Katelyn O'Donoghue second, Andre Drysdale third and Margie-May Hockey taking out the Barry Thornton Memorial encouragement Award).

Nathan Lamont won Best Young Talent Vocal 14 to 17 years (with Jacynta-Lee Glasby second, Mitchell Smith second and Glennifer Altman winner of the Barry Thornton Memorial encouragement Award).

Katelyn O'Donoghue won Junior Gospel 13 years and under (Romany Elmas second, Andre Drysdale third) while Paige Jeffrey won the Junior Gospel 14 to 17 years (Bree De Rome second, Michell Smith third).

Ben Hazell took out Best Senior Vocal 18 years and over (Michael Pye second, Kristy James third. Kristy also won the Shirley Thoms Award for Best Female Vocalist, Ben Hazell the Buddy Williams Award for Best Male Vocalist.

Lance Coassin won the Best Country Gospel section (Ben Hazell second, Nichole Bone third) while Jared Scott & Jessie Fairweather won the Sunset Serenaders Award for Best Country Duet (The Thompson Sisters second, Jordy & Lucy third).

Christie Lamb took out first and second place in the Open Songwriting section (Paul Buckbery third) while Paige Jeffrey won the Bush Ballad Award.

Weblink – www.ccma.net.au.


Mitchell wins Jazzer Quest

Seventeen-year-old Mitchell Smith (pictured, centre) from Dunedin, New Zealand, has won the 2009 Bundaberg Rum Jazzer Quest which concluded last night.

Country Music Capital's The Pub was packed for the grand final hosted by ABC Radio's John Nutting (of "Saturday Night Country" fame).

Mitchell won a cash prize of $2,000 (from The Pub) and a Fender guitar, provided by Fender Australia.

The Pub also provided the second prize of $1,000 which was won by Kris Wason (right) from Brisbane, and third prize of $500 to Jared Scott (left) from Tamworth.

An encouragement award (also a Fender guitar) was taken out by Wagga Wagga performer Nathan Lamont.

The Pub and Axiom Entertainment provided two scholarships (worth $1,500 each) to the Tamworth Camerata (annual youth country music school). These were won by Linc Phelps from Gympie and Ashleigh Dallas from Tamworth. Camerata runs for six days in July, and in its seven years to date has graduated 124 performers and players from all over Australia and New Zealand.

"The fantastic prize pool didn’t stop there," said Jazzer Quest organiser Greg Williams, "a last minute generous gesture by quest judge Simon Johnson resulted in Schofields (NSW) brother and sister duo The Harrisons being awarded the opportunity to record a track at The Sound Hole Studio on the NSW Central Coast."

Twenty-one grand finalists were selected from four heats "hotly contested" by more than 100 competitors, hosted by Bec McCarthy and John Nutting through the preceding days, watched and listened to by large audiences every day.

"A wonderful backing band of great musicians was available to all competitors," Greg said, "namely Brett Dallas on guitar, Terry Phillpot on drums and Glen Skarratt on bass."

During the heats and grand final, judging duties were carried out by Rosie Adsett, Sam Burgess, Darren Carr, Jodie Crosby, Simon Johnson, Darryl Kirkup, Bec McCarthy, Steve Newton, Allan Tomkins, Sally-Anne Whitten and Paul Wilson.

At the completion of the grand final, while points were being tallied, the large audience was entertained by country star Felicity Urquhart and Toyota Star Maker 2009 winner Liam Brew.

The Jazzer Quest has been discovering new talent since 1981, firstly in the Kmart complex. The brainchild of the late Jazzer Smith, who died in 1987, the quest has been continued in his honour to the present day with several organisers, the latest of which is Greg Williams, who has carried out the task for the past 17 years, the last five years at The Pub.

Further information about the Quest can be obtained from Greg, by email – gregrwilliams@bigpond.com – or by telephone, 02 6766 2616, mobile 0408 255 908.



Tamworth Country Music 2010 to be held earlier

The 2010 Tamworth Country Music Festival will run a week earlier than usual.

Next year's festival will run for 10 days from Friday January 15 to Sunday January 24 with the seven day Countdown commencing on January 8.

Almost every one of the 37 annual festivals to date have concluded on the last full weekend of January. This year's event timing was generally the earliest the festival was ever held before rounding out again (as it would have done normally next year) with January 30 and 31 falling on Saturday and Sunday.

If this timing policy continues into the future, the festival will become more of a mid-month event and Australia Day, previously an important part of the annual celebration of Australian music, will rarely be included.


Galaxy of Stars

Tamworth saluted two new Galaxy of Stars inductees in Country Music Capital today.

In a special salute from the city and region, James Blundell and Beccy Cole unveiled their Star plaques in the forecourt of TRECC (Tamworth Regional Entertainment & Conference Centre).

The TRECC pavement now has 13 star signs embedded there, in addition to James and Beccy – Arthur Blanch, Troy Cassar-Daley, Graeme Connors, Smoky Dawson, Slim Dusty, Gina Jeffreys, Lee Kernaghan, Jimmy Little, Joy McKean, and John Williamson.

A spokesman for Tamworth Regional Council said the Galaxy began as a civic celebration by Tamworth Council in 2000 to honour our Australian country music stars.

Local industry identities Max Ellis and Nick Erby introduced the new inductees.


Queen of Country Music crowned

Jacqueline Marsden has been crowned Telstra Tamworth Queen of Country Music 2009.

The announcement was made at a gala function in Country Music Capital last night.

Stephanie Whitbread was crowned as runner-up, or Princess of Country Music.

Sponsored by gym operator Club Synergy, Jacqueline recently completed her HSC at McCarthy College and is a keen horse enthusiast. She says she was grateful for the opportunity to take part in the Telstra Queen of Country Music Quest as she believed it was a chance to develop her on-going passion for the Tamworth region.

"Jacqueline has demonstrated enthusiasm towards her new trainee position at Club Synergy," said a spokesman for Quest organisers, "and shown extensive contribution to school and local community events." One of her proudest moments was being selected her school's representative to attend the Namoi Catchment Management Authority seminars which aimed to further improve town and scenario planning as well as various community fundraisers.

Nineteen-year-old Stephanie, sponsored by Tamworth Regional Council, has lived in lived in Country Music Capital all her life. She is currently employed as a Trainee Business Support Officer with Tamworth Regional Council. Stephanie, who completed her HSC in 2007 at Oxley High School, has recently completed business administration course.

She says she has a keen interest in town planning and hopes to study in this field. Her interests include listening to a variety of music, team sports and dancing. Stephanie said she was very excited to be involved in the 2009 Telstra Queen of Country Music Quest and is looking forward to promoting the Tamworth region.

Photo (by June Underwood): 2009 Telstra Princess of Country Music Stephanie Whitbread (left) and 2009 Queen Jacqueline Marsden.



APRA PDA finalists announced

APRA, the Australasian Performing Right Association, has announced finalists for its 2009 Professional Development Awards (PDAs) which carry a total of $120,000 in cash and prizes.

Twenty-four finalists have been announced in the country music category. The winner will receive $12,000 cash to advance their career through study or travel plus a Gibson guitar, studio time at Trackdown Recording Studio and access to an on-line course provided by the award-winning Berklee College of Music.

The finalists are... 8 Ball Aitken, Benn Allen, Luke Austen, Phil Barton, Megan Bawden, Mishelle Bradford Jones, Tracey Bunn, Katrina Burgoyne (pictured), Sophie Clabburn, Morgan Evans, Joseph Fenech, John Flanagan, Shane Hobbins, Daniel Hooper, Kelly Hope, Kate Jacobsen, Amber Lawrence, Troy Loakes, Roz Pappalardo, Chris Pickering, Jasmine Rae, Mark Vanden Boom, Sally-Anne Whitten and Bradley Wynd.

Winners of the eight 2009 PDAs will be announced on Monday March 2.

Weblink – www.apra.com.au.


Slim to present a copy of the "Redback" book

Slim Newton – this year's Country Music Roll of Renown inductee, writer and recorder of Redback On The Toilet Seat, one of Australia's most legendary country music songs, will make a special presentation to Tamworth Regional Library tomorrow (Friday).

Slim will present copies of the book "Redback On The Toilet Seat" – part of the Aussie Gems series published by International Omnibus Books Publishing with illustrations by Craig Smith – to the Library at 10.30am.

The words are a new version of Slim’s classic country song that now has a cane toad as the main character. The cane toad recovers from the redback bite he received on the toilet and goes on to take revenge on the nasty spider.

The Library, in Peel Street, has had a busy week hosting celebrity Children’s Storytimes every day during the country music festival. The storytime presenter tomorrow, commencing at 10am, will be Jay Collie from Jonah’s Road.



Tributes and awards at a gala songwriter's night

Songwriters gathered last night at the Tamworth Songwriters' Association (TSA) annual awards night.

Compered by Clair Hayes and Grant Luhrs, the event showcased an array of singer/songwriters each performing two of their own songs.

The capacity crowd was entertained by some of the country’s most gifted writers and was more than enthusiastic in their response as the winners were announced.

A special event dedicated to honouring one writer for substantial long term contribution to songwriting is an annual feature on the evening’s bill. This year, the late Reg Lindsay was honoured in a tribute performance by Johnny Greenwood.

In clearly popular results, the Tex Morton Award went to Eric and Hilary Scott, the TSA Songmaker Award to The Schneider Sisters and Life Memberships to Lindsay Butler, Clair Hayes and Vicki Walsh, recognising those who have given generously to the Association.

David Delle Vergin was awarded the Salute Song of the Year and Connie Neilsen won the TSA/Capital News New Songwriter Award.

Gospel Song of the Year went to Heaven's Park by Lana Ross, Children's Song of the Year to Louie by Anita Ree and Comedy/Novelty Song of the Year to The Devil's New Girlfriend by David Delle Vergin.

Traditional Bush Ballad and Country Ballad of the year were won by Graham Rodger, with, respectively, A Saddle For A Throne and Give This Hug To Daddy, Contemporary Song of the Year went to Manfred Vijars & Shaza Leigh with Strum.

In the TSA National Songwriting Contest... Maurie Marion was named winner with My Hometown, Christie Lamb won the Amateur - Contemporary section with Back Again.

Graham Rodger won the Professional - Traditional section with The Almond Tree, Doug Bruce took out the Professional - Contemporary section with I Know About Lonesome, Merv Webster took out the Lyrics Only section (seniors) with The Times Have Changed So Quickly, and Christie Lamb won the junior lyrics-only section.

Photo (by June Underwood): Anita Ree, Rita & Mary Schneider with their TSA awards.

Weblink – www.tsaonline.com.au.


CMC Top 50 – The Sunny Cowgirls take over number one

The Sunny Cowgirls (pictured) take over the top spot on this week's CMC (Country Music Channel) Top 50 playlist with the clip of their song Dancing On The Darling.

Sinead Burgess edges up one to number three with You Get Me while Keith Urban's duet with Brad Paisley – Start A Band – jumps four places to number four and Jasmine Rae's number one from last week – Look It Up – slips to number five.

Jetty Road's Good Times is steady at seven, Kirsty Lee Akers' Knocked Up is up one to eight and Sam Hawksley's Sounds Like Summer is up two to 12.

James Blundell's Good Wood jumps five places to number 13, Carter & Carter's Open Road is up one to 16, Steve Forde's I Ain't That Guy debuts at 17, Jonah's Road is at 18 with Giddy Up and John Williamson's Hillbilly Road is up three to 19.

Bullet performers for the week include The McClymonts' Favourite Boyfriend Of The Year (26 to 21), The Bobkatz with The Red Top Table (new at 32) and Rob Black's I'm In Love And It's Getting Worse (40 to 35).

This week's CMC Country Pick is The McClymonts' Shotgun, one of the sisters' four finalist nominations in this Saturday's Golden Guitar Awards.

The playlist can be viewed at www.countrymusicchannel.com.au.



People's Choice winners

Winners in the 2009 Australian Country Music People's Choice Awards were announced in Tamworth last night.

Graham Rodger took out two awards, for Best Male Vocal and Best Album for The Fire Within Me.

Amber Lawrence was named winner of Best Female Vocal while Jetty Road won Best Vocal Group.

Carter & Carter took out Best Song with Slow Dancing At Midnight and Matt Manning & John O'Dea were successful in Best Bush Ballad with The Saddle.

Brad Cole won the Most Promising Future Star award.

Most Popular Country Music DJ was announced as Rebecca Gray from Narrabri (NSW) station 2MAX FM while the Community Broadcasting Association's satellite program "Good Morning Country" was named Most Popular Country Music Radio Program.

The Awards were presented in Country Music Capital's Regent Theatre.

Weblink – www.peopleschoiceawards.com.au.


Australian Bush Laureate Awards – 2009 winners

Winners in the 2009 Australian Bush Laureate awards were announced before a capacity audience in the Tamworth Town Hall yesterday afternoon (January 20).

In Book of the Year, the winner was "The Book Of Australian Popular Rhymed Verse" compiled by Jim Haynes.

In Book of the Year, Original Verse, for the best original Australian work in book form, the winner was "The Final Muster" by Ellis Campbell.

In the new Bush Poem of the Year category, the winner was "The Power Of Kokoda" by Dean Trevaskis.

In Album of the Year, the winner was “The Tartan Saddlecloth” by Gary Fogarty.

In Single Recorded Performance of the Year, the winner was “Faster, Higher, Stronger” by Murray Hartin (the second year running for Murray after his win last year with “Rain From Nowhere”).

In Children's Poem of the Year, the winner was “The Bush Animals Band” by Noel Stallard.

The Judith Hosier Heritage Award – for outstanding achievement in nurturing Australia’s heritage of verse, went to the Dorothea Mackellar Poetry Society, Gunnedah, for their annual competition, the oldest and largest poetry competition for school students in Australia.

The competition aims to "capture the imagination of students, inspiring them to express their thoughts creatively through poetry while celebrating the legendary work of Dorothea Mackellar, author of the famous poem My Country".

The Australian Bush Laureate Awards were first staged in 1997 to recognise excellence in published and recorded Australian bush poetry.

Photo (from left): Trisha Anderson, inaugurator of the Dorothea Mackellar Poety Competition Mikkie Maas, Gunnedah Mayor Adam Marshall and Beccy Cole who made the presentation.

The 15th Australian Bush Laureate Awards will be held in Tamworth on Tuesday 26th January (Australia Day), 2010.

Further information is available at www.bushlaureate.com.au.



TIARA winners

Winners in the 2009 TIARAs (Tamworth Independent Artist Recognition Awards) were announced tonight.

The TIARAs set out to recognise the talent of independent artists and their contribution and status within the country music industry.

This year's winners are...

Terry and Jenny Bennetts (pictured), Bush Ballad, with Where Has My Australia Gone; Doug Bruce, Male Vocal, with That’s What I’m Drinkin’ About; The Davidson Brothers, Instrumental (for the fourth time), with Left hand Drive; The Harmonators, Duo, with Don’t Come Back; Jetty Road, Group (for the third year running), with I Wanna Go Home; Jason Kemp, Songwriting, with Rivertown;Tracy Killeen, Female Vocal, with All Kinds Of Beautiful; Matt Manning & Mike McClellan, Vocal Collaboration, with Song And Dance Man; and Col Millington, Geoff Brown Memorial Award, with My Didgeridoo.

During the evening, the TIARA committee paid respect to one of its "best loved musicians" and member of the TIARA showband, fiddle player Wayne Goodwin who died in Sydney on December 15.

"Wayne will be remembered as a great mate, one of the best, who truly supported country music here in Australia," TIARAs organiser and committee President Rob Brown said.

"His achievements were many. Amongst them, his years of touring with Emmylou Harris before moving over 20 years ago to make his home here in Australia and few would forget his work on the music score Fields Of Fire released to television in Australia in the late '80s.

"Most of all, he will be remembered for his legacy as an entertainer, musician, composer and orchestrator, and the many albums as a session player where he contributed his mastery on the fiddle."

Weblink – www.tiara-awards.org.


Peter McWhirter wins Telstra Road '09

Nineteen-year-old Peter McWhirter (pictured) from Harrington Park, NSW, was crowned the 2009 Telstra Road to Tamworth winner tonight after outshining seven other finalists to win a prize package including a trip to Nashville and a full album deal with ABC Music.

Performing two original songs – Chasing Girls and Not Gunna Happen – Peter reportedly "brought down the house with his fresh and energetic stage presence".

A full-time musician and second time visitor to Tamworth, last year’s trip inspired one of Peter's winning songs.

After being announced the winner, Peter thanked everyone involved in the competition.

"To be up here on stage, hearing my songs played the way I’ve always dreamed, was just an awesome experience," he said. "Winning this prize can only mean bigger things ahead for my career."

Telstra Executive Director Telstra Consumer Glenice Maclellan presented Peter with his prize and said Telstra was commited to ensuring the on-going success of the country music genre...

"Telstra is proud to give talented young musicians the chance to reach for the stars and get that elusive break into the music industry," she said.

Corey Colum, 24, from Australind, WA, was announced as the 2009 Telstra Road to Tamworth Songwriter’s Award winner after impressing the judges with his two original tracks, Take The Bad With The Good, a song he wrote after his car broke down on the Nullabor, and New Direction, which was inspired by his recent move to Karratha, WA, where he currently performs on a regular basis.

Hosted by well known radio and television presenter Nick Bennett, the Telstra Road To Tamworth Grand Final was held at the Tamworth Regional Entertainment & Conference Centre and was webcast live to thousands of country music lovers across Australia and overseas. Former competition winners Morgan Evans and Jasmine Rae, together with competition national ambassador Adam Harvey, supported the eight grand finalists at the sold out event.

The judging panel consisted of Tim Catino, Vice President Artist & Repertoire Sony BMG Music, Nashville; Tim Daley, Program Director for the Country Music Channel; Pat Higdon, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Universal Music Publishing Group, Nashville; Tim Holland, ABC Music Country Music Label Manager; Gayle Madill, Editor of "Country Update" magazine; Mark Moffatt, expatriate Australian record producer; and Rob Potts, Chief Executive of Rob Potts Entertainment Edge.

"Now in its sixth year, the Telstra Road to Tamworth program continues to catapult aspiring Australian musicians into the international music spotlight," a Telstra spokesman said.

Weblink – www.beinvolved.telstra.com/countrymusic.



Sharon wins Star Quest

Sharon Smith from Oakey in Queensland took out the Australian Bush Balladeers Association (ABBA) Star Quest in Tamworth today.

From a talented field of fellow finalists – Natalie Foley, Bec Hance and Trevor Tolton – organisers say Sharon impressed not only the crowd at the West Diggers Club, but also the judges "with her outstanding performances as a finalist and grand finalist".

Sharon will record her Star Quest prize single in the near future as well as performing at many major festivals as part of her 12 month reign as Star Quest winner.

Born at Pittsworth, Queensland, Sharon has played bass for a number of well-known country music artists over the years.

In 2001, she made her debut solo appearances singing at country music festivals. Prior accolades have included the Stan Coster Perpetual Award at the Broxburn Bash (2007) and the overall Senior Bush Ballad section at Broxburn last year.


Craig Morrison Little Cowboys wins band title

Craig Morrison & Little Cowboys have taken out the Toohey’s New Country Music Challenge: Band Search held in Tamworth tonight.

"It's been an excellent competition," said Co-ordinator Jim Guider, "more diverse" than last year.

"The attraction of the substantial cash prizes, together with the Enrec Studio recording package and other add-ons has drawn a huge response from bands right across the country, Jim said.

A close second in the competition was newcomers Bushfire.

Adding to the already substantial Band Search prize pack is the WJO Distribution Pack for the winner, Jim said.

Aim of the Toohey’s New Country Music Challenge: Band Search is to make the country music band entry level "just a little bit easier by providing an opportunity to be recorded by one of the best in the business, Steve Newton from Enrec."

"The Enrec Studio package is all about encouraging the winning band to put their best original material forward, to get it professionally produced and noticed in the wider music industry,” Jim said.

Support is there for both winner and runner up with Electro-Voice, Country Music Bulletin and Musicians’ Headquarters also adding to the prize pool.

More information can be obtained from Jim by emailing jim@musiciansheadquarters.com.au.


Songbirds to film live DVD at Tamworth this week

Songbirds – Gina Jeffreys, Beccy Cole and Sara Storer – will film a live DVD at their only Tamworth concert this week.

The concert will be held at the Tamworth Regional Entertainment & Conference Centre on Thursday at 12.30pm.

Described as one of the most successful collaborations in Australian country music history, the Songbirds concept was a brainchild of the girls themselves. As long-time friends Gina, Beccy and Sara, had, through the years, appeared on each other’s live shows and recordings so it was a natural step for them to put together a live show that allowed them to share the stage, as well as perform some of their own songs.

Individually, Gina, Beccy and Sara are three of Australia’s most acclaimed and successful country music singers.  Between them, they have 26 Golden Guitars, along with a haul of ARIAs, Entertainer of the Year, APRAs and certified Gold and Platinum sales awards.

Since their formation in April 2007, Songbirds have sold out shows and wowed audiences across Australia. And while all three girls have had their own albums and DVDs available, there has not been any audio/visual memento for the audience to get their hands on until now, said a spokesman for the artists.

The DVD "is sure to be a spectacular musical and visual celebration," the spokesman said.

Gina, Beccy and Sara will perform many of the songs that have been the cornerstones of their own very successful individual careers along with some unique collaborations.

The concert will also feature extra special guests who will add yet another dimension to an already stunning live event.

Songbirds Live (title to be announced), will be released in April by EMI Australia.


Telstra Road to Tamworth grand finalists announced

Eight performers have been chosen to progress to the Telstra Road to Tamworth Grand Final after tonight’s finals series at the Tamworth Regional Entertainment and Conference Centre.

The grand Finalists are Daniel Bicanski from Devonport, Tas; Jessica-Jade Bruce from Berwick, Vic; Katrina Burgoyne from Waterford, Qld; Corey Colum from Australind, WA; Kyle Dessent from Cloverdale, WA; Rob Draper from Brighton, Vic; Peter McWhirter from Harrington Park, NSW; and Yuliana Pascoe from Karama, NT.

"Each year, the level of talent emerging continues to really impress the judges," said Entertainment Edge CEO Rob Potts, "and it gets more and more difficult to choose the top eight finalists. Tuesday night’s Grand Final is going to be an exceptional showcase."

The Telstra Road to Tamworth competition travels to every State and Territory in Australia each year in search of the "next generation" of country music stars. In just six years, the competition has become one of Australia’s biggest and most recognised country music talent quests.

With a total prize package valued at more than $140,000, the program offers performance opportunities and a 12-month career development program including an album release via ABC Music.

Last year's winner, Jasmine Rae, has two finalist nominations in the Golden Guitar Awards on Saturday.

In addition to the overall winner, a winner of the Telstra Road to Tamworth Songwriters Award will also be announced.



Liam wins Toyota Star Maker '09

Liam Brew (pictured), from Palmview on the Queensland Sunshine Coast hinterland, has taken the crown as winner of Toyota Star Maker 2009.

Liam won the title from nine fellow grand finalists... 8 Ball Aitken, Kaylah Anne, Michelle Cashman, Tori Darke, Bec Hance, Dean Johnston, Briana Lee, Amber Joy Poulton and Todd Stewart.

Following the winner's announcement, Liam said that he was excited by the prospects that lay 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," he said. "It’s a huge opportunity and I intend to make the most of it."

Eighteen-year-old Liam has already collected a number of accolades, most noteworthy, his win of the 2007 Maton Talent Search at the Toyota National Country Music Muster at Gympie.

He is a graduate of both the Tamworth Camerata (2007) and the Australian College of Country Music (2008).

All 10 grand finalists were joined at the event by Toyota Star Maker 2008 winner Talia Wittmann who is a finalist for two Golden Guitars in next week's Golden Guitar Awards.

General Manager for Toyota Star Maker organisers Rural Press Events Barry Harley said the quality of performers continued to grow in line with interest in the event.

"This year, we are celebrating the 30th year of Star Maker. As the years go by it is fascinating watching the on-going high standard of entrants that continues to take country music to new heights. Toyota Star Maker is the number one benchmark in showcasing Australian country music’s best new talent."

"Last year’s winner, Talia Wittmann, has made fantastic use of this opportunity and I have no doubt that Liam will do the same," Barry said

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.

"The success of previous Star Maker winners has no doubt provided motivation for many of our finalists today. The title, as well as the prize package, provides Liam with everything he needs to kick start his career in 2009," Wayne said.

"The quality of the performances was excellent and all finalists have spent an incredible amount of time fine-tuning what they presented. The judges certainly had a tough job and I don’t envy them."

Included in the 2009 Toyota Star Maker prize package are... use of the title Toyota Star Maker 2009, a big-budget album with Compass Brothers Records, distribution and promotion of at least two tracks from the album to radio and other media, , production of a video clip for one track by an award-winning director, media promotion, guaranteed bookings at a designated list of events including country music festivals in Tamworth, Caboolture and Gympie and the use of a fully serviced Toyota Rav4 CV and petrol card for the 12 months following the win.

Weblink – www.capitalnews.com.au.


New album from Champs

Greg Champion is set to release a brand new album officially in early February.

But he's taking the opportunity to promote the new work during his Tamworth Country Music Festivals.

Strayana was recorded mostly at Rod & Jeff McCormack's Music Cellar on the NSW Central Coast except for three tracks recorded at Stuie French's Swingin' Doors Studio and three recorded at Chris Wilson Recordings in Melbourne.

The album features musicians including Stuie, Jeff, Rod and Chris, Gary Carruthers, Mick Albeck, Chris Haigh, Brad Bergen and the Melbourne Ukelele Collective.

Support was also received from the likes of Jane Saunders, Colin Buchanan, Jodi Martin, Beccy Cole, Russell Morris and Rob Fairbairn.

Greg says he believes the album, which is being released through Compass Bros, is one of his best yet.

The album includes "light-hearted, fun songs about 'Straya such as Upper Upper Kumbukna, Those Deadly Koalas, Bushman From The Outback and I Was A Mate Of Don Bradman (featuring Kamahl)."

Greg's song Our Greatest River is also featured on Strayana which has a total of 12 tracks.

Songs from the album will be included in Greg's two shows at Tamworth this year, at the new Capitol Theatre, 2pm Wednesday January 21 (click here for tix), and at The Regent, 8pm Friday January 23 with special guest Michael Fix (click here for tix).

Greg will also feature as compere with Connie Kis Anderson and Graham Archer at the Australian COuntry Music People's Choice Awards tomorrow evening (Tuesday) at 6.

Weblink – www.gregchampion.com.au.


SA Festival Tamworth Showcase

Some of the best of South Australia's country music talent will feature in a special Tamworth Festival Showcase this Wednesday (January 21).

The talent will "strut their stuff on the Tamworth stage at the South Australian Tamworth Showcase in Hands of Fame Park on Wednesday January 21 from 7pm.

Kristy Cox, Billy February, Mahalia Fox, Murray Mac, Nathaniel O'Brien and 2009 Star Maker Grand Finalist Amber Lee Poulton (pictured) will form the key line-up for the showcase, together with "a whole barrage of great country music talent from South Australia," according to organisers.

The South Australian Tamworth Showcase is supported by the Adelaide, Barossa, Murray Bridge and Northern country music clubs and Bigwheel Recording Studio Tamworth.

Further information can be obtained by telephoning 08 8588 1030 or 0417 868 571.

The 2009 South Australian Country Music Festival & Awards will run this year from May 30 to June 8.

A special exhibit on the Festival and Awards can be seen at Tamworth's COuntry Music Hall of Fame in Brisbane Street.

Weblink – www.riverlandcountrymusic.com.


Chart update – The Sunny Cowgirls hold on to number one

The Sunny Cowgirls keep hold of the number one spot on this week's national Top 30 Country Tracks chart with their hit Dancing On The Darling.

Brad Paisley & Keith Urban are steady at number two with their duet hit Start A Band while Jetty Road's Good Times jumps two places to three and Alan Jackson's Country Boy is down to four.

James Blundell's Good Wood is up two to five, Amber Lawrence's The Mile is also up two to six while America's Lee Ann Womack is down to seven with Roll With Me.

George Strait's River Of Love is down tonight, Talia Wittmann's Ladylike bounds into the top 10 at nine while Montgomery Gentry's Roll With Me is at 10.

Bullet performers for the week include Keith Urban's Sweet Thing (15 to 11), Drew McAlister, Allan Caswell & Matt Scullion with The Billy Joel Song (17 to 14), 8 Ball Aitken with Hands On Top Of The Wheel (18 to 15), Felicity Urquhart's I Fall (21 to 18), Graeme Connors' A Beach House In The Blue Mountains (25 to 21), Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson with Wildflower (27 to 24) and I'm Not Your Cinderella by Catherine Britt

New entries in the chart this week, John Williamson's Cydi (in at 29) and Sinead Burgess (pictured) with You Get Me (at 30).

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



Slim Newton elevated to the Country Music Roll of Renown

Australian country music legend Slim Newton was elevated to the Country Music Roll of Renown in Tamworth this afternoon.

Slim is known to millions of Australians as the country music writer and artist responsible for the classic Australian comedy song Redback On The Toilet Seat, recorded and released in March 1972 to unprecedented mass popularity.

West Australian born, Slim Newton is steeped in the tradition of authentic Australian country music.

Moving to Tamworth in 1971 to record with Hadley, Redback was the first of many recordings by this well-known country music artist who continues to perform to this day now well into his 70s.

Redback On The Toilet Seat became an instant pop hit for Slim, selling more than 100,000 copies in Australia and New Zealand.

It earnt him three gold records, won the first “top selling” Golden Guitar in 1973, has been covered by many artists and used in commercials and films.

Just recently, it was announced that Redback, in its 36th year, was still as popular as ever and was the subject of a new children’s book.

Over the years, Slim has made numerous recordings, toured and performed constantly.

But it is Redback that changed his life, from an unknown singer and composer to a recording celebrity who will always be remembered as the creator of one of Australia’s greatest country hits.

Slim is the 38th inductees to Australia’s highest country music honour.

He joins 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, Reg Poole, Lindsay Butler, Kevin King, Geoff Mack and Jean Stafford on the Roll of Renown.

The actual Roll is located in front of the Tamworth Regional Entertainment & Conference Centre in Tamworth, Country Music Capital.

Slim’s plaque will be unveiled this Tuesday morning (January 20) at 10.15am. The Roll of Renown honour is presented annually to artists who have made a lasting and significant contribution to Australian country music.

Weblink – www.countrymusichalloffame.com.au.


Four new Hands of Fame inductees announced

Four new famous hands will be imprinted for posterity next Saturday following the announcement this afternoon of the 2009 inductees into the Country Music Hands of Fame in Tamworth, Australia’s Country Music Capital.

Dally Croft, Jim Hermel, The McClymonts and Ian Quinn were announced as the latest Hands of Fame inductees at the annual Roll of Renown Concert in the Tamworth Town Hall today.

Dally Croft is a well known musician from Tamworth. As well as playing on literally hundreds of recordings over the years, Dally has also toured extensively with many well-known country acts, including the late Stan Coster.

Jim Hermel is a leading country music entertainer from South Australia who has been in “the business” for many years. He began his career in the 1970s as a lead guitarist and session musician for many of Australia’s leading acts of the time and ultimately established a solid recording and touring career in his own right in the 1980s, including a number of international tours.

The McClymonts have taken the Australian country music world by storm since the three sisters – Brooke, Mollie and Samantha – came together as a serious unit only a few years ago (they had, of course, been playing together and supporting each other in solo careers for many years). Apart from their dynamic stage act which consistently has audiences crying out for more, the girls have had a good deal of success, individually and as a group, as recording artists.

Ian Quinn is best known for his expertise as a songwriter, a field which has garnered him a great deal of success over the years, including a Golden Guitar for Bush Ballad of the Year in January last year for Amos Morris’ recording of his Sign Of The Times. Ian also works as a touring artist and has a solid reputation for his own recordings, especially because of his songwriting.

This year’s inductees will be “imprinted” at the Country Music Hands of Fame Cornerstone in Hands of Fame Park at the corner of Brisbane Street and Kable Avenue, Tamworth, at 9.15am next Saturday (January 24)... together with Warren H Williams whose induction was announced last year but could not go ahead because of hs prior commitments at the time.

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

Photo: Ian Quinn (left) and Jim Hermel (right) with Tamworth Mayor James Treloar following the announcement of their induction into the Hands of Fame.


Two more for Broadcasters Hall of Fame

Two more names were added to the Australian Country Music Broadcasters’ Hall of Fame in Tamworth, Australia’s Country Music Capital, this afternoon.

They are Brian Amos and Nick Erby.

Brian has been associated with radio and television for more than 40 years. He is currently a presenter on Radio Eastern 98.1 FM in the outer East of Melbourne with studios located in Croydon, Victoria.

He became a radio presenter when he retired and has consistently supported home grown country music by programming independent country music.

In addition to the music, Brian’s programs have included artist profiles and he is proud of the fact he has helped many a now established artist on their way to a professional career.

Nick Erby is best known for his leading and award-winning program "Country Music Radio" which, up until recently, went to air on stations throughout NSW and Queensland.

In his long and successful career to date, Nick also produced and presented the long-running, widely-syndicated Country Music Jamboree and has had a long association with many aspects of the Australian country music industr

Nick is currently presenting and promoting Country Music Radio (CMR) as an Internet radio station 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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, Alan Clement, Hedley Charles, Gary Coxhead, Dick Cranbourne, Smoky & Dot Dawson, Carter Edwards, Gene Fisk, Bob Fricker, Terry Harkins, Brian Howard, Maurie Huxley, Peter Leslie, Reg Lindsay, Helen Kay, Doug “The Bandit” May, Don McGuire, The McKean Sisters, Barry McMahon, Tim McNamara, John Minson, Barbara Morison, Nev Nicholls, John Nutting, Dave Prior, Rocky Page, Keith Melbourne, Neville Pellitt, Earl Reeve, Eric Scott, Bob Spence, Max Thorburn, 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.

Photo (from left): Brian Amos and Nick Erby after presentation of their awards by Slim Newton.


Jazzer named as second recipient for country music literary award

The late James "Jazzer" Smith was posthumously awarded the Australian Country Music Literary Award at this afternoon’s Roll of Renown Concert in Tamworth.

It was also announced that the honour would henceforth be known as the Eric Watson Award in recognition of the first winner of the title who is renowned as Australia’s first Australian country music historian through the publication of his definitive books “The History of Country Music in Australia”.

Tasmanian-born "Jazzer" (as he was known from his christian name James [or Jas] and middle initial R... JasR) was one of Australia’s leading country music journalists and writers.

From his home state, "Jazzer" (pictured below) moved to Melbourne where he was heavily involved in the local music industry and got a taste for country through his writing involvement with "Across Country" magazine.

In the early 1980s, he was enticed to Tamworth to take on the role as the first dedicated editor of the fledgling country music magazine "Capital News" – now the nation’s leading country music publication – when it first became a monthly publication.

"Jazzer" also battled cancer (non-Hodgkins Lymphoma) for much of his adult life which took a huge toll, and eventually his life in 1987.

In addition to his prolific writings as a journalist, and at a time when he was seriously battling cancer, "Jazzer" wrote "The Book of Australian Country Music" (published in 1984) which is still recognised as one of the nation’s most significant country music publications.

An annual talent quest conducted during the Tamworth Country Music Festival in January is named in his honour, as is a special award in the Toastmasters (public speaking and communication) organisation where he also made a major impact.

"Jazzer" was presented with the Australasian Country Music Awards Country Music Capital Award Golden Guitar for services to the country music industry in January 1987.

The Eric Watson Award was established by the Australian Country Music Foundation in 2007 to recognise those who have made a significant contribution to Australian country music through written publications and the people and organisations, corporations and enterprises that have been involved in this field of music.

Photo: Jazzer's award was accepted by his former partner Anna Rose from Australian Country Music Foundation President Bob Kirchner.


End of the road for Wolverines

Since Darcy Le Year, John Clinton and Chris Doyle began their journey as the Wolverines at Tamworth 15 years ago, the trio has toured the length and breadth of Australia, entertaining thousands, in hundreds of venues.

"They’ve written great songs, won countless awards, raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for children’s charities, produced half a dozen quality albums and made lifetime friendships," said a spokesman for the band.

"It is now a time for change," they say.

"Perhaps the catalyst was their 2008 tour of the Middle East for our troops or maybe the loss of a loved one, but whatever the individual reasons, they have taken stock of their life situations and recognised how brief our time here really is.

"The passing of peers, parents, grandparents, the arrival of the next generationcontribute to the decision to no longer be part of the 'cat’s in the cradle; Darcy, Chris and John want more time with their families and to pursue their individual goals.

"After Tamworth 09, they are officially 'off the road'. The farewell shows – with special guest Ami Williamson – will run at 2pm and 8pm daily at Tamworth.

Although the Wolves will no longer be touring they have commitments to future festivals and special events.



Tamworth Festival '09 starts today

The 2009 Tamworth Country Music Festival presented by Telstra kicks off officially today.

Good crowds have been reported through the Country Countdown (lead-up to the main festival). Indeed, local media have been reporting Festival visitors in town from December and residents have been watching numbers in temporary camping and caravan areas building over the last few weeks.

A feeling of optimism pervades the city, with hopes and projections for another bumper event... not necessarily a record-breaker, but a very good year.

The official program lists more than 2,000 separate events and activities (including the Countdown) and highlights the involvement of more than 600 artists.

Major events like the Golden Guitar Awards, Toyota Star Maker, Telstra Road to Tamworth, Australian Bush Laureate Awards, People's Choice Awards, Tamworth Songwriters' Association Awards, Golden Fiddle Awards and Tamworth Independent Artist Recognition Awards (TIARAs) will join talent competitions like the Capital Country Music Association National Talent Quest, various battle of the band events and others to highlight achievements, recognise and uncover new talent.

The Australian Busking Championships are running again as a major Festival feature and pubs and clubs throughout Country Music Capital (and further afield) will be highlighting country music, and mostly, Australian country music performers and songs.

This first weekend's highlights will include, in addition to Star Maker (and the 30th anniversary Star Maker Spectacular Star Trek) on Sunday, the Roll of Renown Concert tomorrow afternoon at the Tamworth Town Hall where the next inductee or inductees to the Country Music Roll of Renown will be revealed, together with Hands of Fame and Broadcasters Hall of Fame inductees.

The Festival launches officially tonight at the big, free Opening Concert in Tamworth's Bicentennial Park. Mayor of Tamworth James Treloar and reigning Telstra Queen of Country Music Renae Sweeney will officially open the Festival and raise the Festival flag with entertainment to follow by Gina Jeffreys a tribute to 30 years of Toyota Star Maker, Chasing Bailey, Ted Egan and reigning Telstra Road to Tamworth winner Jasmine Rae.

For interim program, and details of how to obtain a copy of the printed official program, click here.


Bulletin – first with the news

The Country Music Bulletin Online will be first with the news during the Tamworth Country Music Festival.

As noted above, there are numerous awards, talent quests and other happenings taking place during the Festival.

And, with the exception of activities which will stream to air via the Internet, in most cases, the Bulletin will have the news before any other news medium.

Through the year, the Bulletin reports the Australian country music news "as it happens" and a weekly email alert is sent to country music media and industry and Bulletin subscribers.

The printed Country Music Bulletin printed edition (published four times a year) also has one, if not the, most comprehensive coverages of Australian country music news (and numerous other features).

Subscription to both the on-line and printed Country Music Bulletin is available, click on the links at left to sign-up.


New Hall of Fame exhibits for 2009 Festival

The Australian Country Music Hall of Fame in Tamworth will be conducting a number of important activities during this year’s Tamworth Country Music Festival.

3In addition to the Roll of Renown Concert in the Tamworth Town Hall on Saturday (January 17), the Hall of Fame features a number of new or updated exhibits for 2009.

Continuing its series on major country music festivals in Australia, this year, the Hall of Fame is highlighting the Bungendore Country Muster and Stan Coster Memorial Australian Bush Ballad Awards which are staged every February and the South Australian Country Music Awards & Talent Quest held annually in June at Barmera, South Australia.

This year’s exhibits follow on from last year’s display on the Mildura Country Music Festival and the Gympie Muster the year before.

The new Bungendore exhibition was officially opened on Thursday (15th) by Terry Gordon (brother-in law of the current Bungendore Muster Secretary Maureen Gordon and brother of the founder, the late Greg Gordon).

The Barmera exhibition will be officially opened this Sunday (18th) by representatives of event organisers.

Another new exhibit at the Hall of Fame is “How Tamworth Became Country Music Capital” – commemorating the 40th anniversary this year of the founding of the Country Music Capital concept.

The Hall of Fame has also assisted with special displays set up for this January at the Tamworth Regional Gallery in Peel Street and the Telstra Marquee at the corner of Peel and Fitzroy Streets.

Activities at the Hall of Fame for the January Festival centre round the Meet The Pioneers program where, each morning from this Sunday (18th) through until Friday the 23rd, a pioneer of Australian country music sits down with a small group in the Hall’s Smoky Dawson Room to tell “their story”, play some songs, introduce special guests.

The sessions run for about an hour and will this year feature Norma O’Hara Murphy on Sunday (18th), Ted Egan (on Monday 19th), Brian Young (on Tuesday 20th), this year’s Roll of Renown inductee or inductees (Wednesday 21st), South Australia’s Jim Hermel (Thursday 22nd) and Dianne Lindsay, daughter of the late Reg Lindsay (Friday 23rd).

Meanwhile, plans are all in hand for “a brilliant Roll of Renown Concert on Saturday afternoon,” according to organisers.

Tickets will be available at the door, subject to availability.

Further information can be obtained from the Australian Country Music Hall of Fame in Brisbane Street, Tamworth, by telephone on 02 6766 9696 or by visiting www.countrymusichalloffame.com.au.


Ayers Acoustic Lounge

Leading guitar maker Ayers Guitars will sponsor a new entertainment venue for the 2009 Tamworth Country Music Festival, the Ayers Guitars Acoustic Lounge at The Atrium from Saturday January 17 to Saturday 24th.

"The Lounge meshes in with the quality lifestyle aspect of The Atrium (formerly known as the Tamworth Arcade)," a spokesman said, "featuring class profiled entertainment every day under the guiding hand of internationally recognised feature artist Terry Lee Barker.

"Terry will provide the foundation with a mix of country blues and roots plus a sprinkling of genuine cowboy songs over the seven days."

Also taking part every day will be special guest and European success Jackson Mackay with his International Showcase, assisted by Terry as guitar sideman. "Jackson will be delivering a 'stripped back' acoustic show unlike his mega band gigs in Europe in countries like Germany, France and Switzerland," the spokesman said.

"Grammy Awards 2008 nominee Connie Kis Andersen will drop in for a couple of shows on Wednesday and Thursday at midday while Connie’s mate from WA, Andrew Winton, the slick rootsy guitar slapper, will appear as well as being a fixture on Adair’s Corner in the early part of the week.

"Globe trotting Queensland outfit Texas Tea will also be playing Adair’s Corner and Ayers Acoustic Lounge in the latter part of the week during mid afternoon. Golden Guitar finalist 8 Ball Aitken will be there delivering his own special breed of country roots that fits in so well with the steamy festival summertime."

Young Tamworth talent Arley Black will showcase her talents with Acoustic Lounge stints in the early part of the week as well as Jo Casely and Megan Cooper doing several spots each.

"The pinnacle of every day will be the Ayers Guitars Celebrity Playoff featuring prime Ayers Guitars players. This will run in conjunction with Draytons Wine tasting every day at 4pm and promises huge surprises as any major endorsed Ayers player can turn up, according to organisers."

Draytons Wines are also partnering with Westpac Rescue Helicopter in fundraising which will revolve around a special commemorative port being released for the 2009 Festival.

Acoustic Lounge sessions will commence at 10am every morning with a break between 1pm and 3. During the break, various activities will take place including linedancing sessions under the direction of Chris Watson from Travelworld in The Atrium.

"If you are seeking a quality entertaining chillout centre, and who’s not in the Tamworth heat, come to The Atrium Ayers Guitars Acoustic Lounge," the spokesman said.


Bush bards at WA festival

A bush poetry writers’ competition will be part of the Boyup Brook Country Music Festival’s program in Western Australia this year.

The "Donnybrook-Bridgetown Mail" reports that the competition will have two sections: Open and Emerging Poets for those who have not won a writers competition. There will be a $5 entry fee, and $100 prize money.

Irene Conner will coordinate the competition. Entries can be sent to her at PO Box 584, Jurien Bay WA 6156 or at email iconner21@wn.com.au. Entries close January 31.

"Jim Haynes (pictured) will conduct a two-hour Bush Verse Writers Workshop on writing and publishing your poems on Thursday, February 12, from 11am to 1pm at the bowling club," the paper reported. "Jim has huge experience in running workshops. Then the Poetry Performers Workshop, still with Jim, will be from 2 to 4pm.

"Jim Haynes is a professional artist whose Big Bush Brekky is a regular feature at the Tamworth Country Music Festival. Jim has tips on learning, selecting and performing poetry."

Over the last two festivals, Poets In The Park has become increasingly popular at the Boyup Brook festival. This will again feature on Friday, February 13, from 11am to 1pm at the rear of the Tourist Centre. "Any poets who are in Boyup Brook early are welcome to take part. It is an opportunity to try new skills learnt in the Haynes workshops."

Bush Poets At The Club on Saturday, February 14, from 8 to 11am will feature an open microphone program with all welcome. The bowling club will be selling breakfasts while poets recite in the bar.

The biggest Bush Poetry event in WA, the Bush Poets Breakfast, is on Sunday, February 15 from 7 to 10am.

The line-up of top country music artists will include Steve Ford and Keith Lethbridge, making a welcome return to Boyup Brook, and Jim Haynes, who will be accompanied by Greg North. Greg hails from the Blue Mountains in NSW and is the 2008 Australian Bush Poet.

"With three programs featuring bush poetry, there will be ample opportunity for all poets, whether beginners or seasoned campaigners, to have ago."

Friday and Saturday sessions will be for all who can make it to Boyup Brook for all or part of the weekend. Poets planning to attend are asked to contact Bill Gordon so he can include them. He can be contacted on 0428 651 098 (daytime), 08 9765 1098 (evenings) or email northlands@wn.com.au.


New CD from Luke

After two years in the waiting, Luke O’Shea will release his third album – Prodigal Son – at this year's Tamworth Country Music Festival.

Taking a step back from the "high octane" recordings of Medicine Wheel, Luke says he has deliberately slowed and simplified his new sound "to allow the diverse characters and heart wrenching stories" within his finely songs, take flight.

Distributed by One STop Country, Prodigal Son will be highlighted every day of the Festival at the Tamworth Services Club from 3:30 to 6:30pm. Luke will appear with "his good mates that make up Medicine Wheel... ready to deliver what promises to be an original Australian country music experience... the Prodigal Son has come home".

Weblink – www.lukeoshea.com.



People's Choice Awards 2009

Winners in the 2009 Australian Country Music People's Choice Awards will be announced next week.

The special awards presentation will take place at the Regent Theatre in Tamworth, Australia's Country Music Capital, at 6pm this coming Tuesday, January 20.

Winners will be announced in nine categories... Best Female Vocal, Best Male Vocal, Best Group or Duo, Best Song, Best Bush Ballad, Best Album, Most Promising Future Star, Most Popular DJ and Most Popular Country Music Radio Station or Program.

Award winners are determined by public vote. "For this year's awards again, thousands of people voted from across Australia," said People's Choice spokesman Bob Kirchner.

A concert featuring a number of finalists in this year's awards, together with some special guest artists and surprise guests, will follow the awards presentation.

Included on the concert line-up are 8 Ball Aitken, Connie Kis Anderson, Terry Lee Barker, Lou Bradley, Brad Cole, Dianna Corcoran, Jackson Mackay, Matt Manning, John O’Dea, Steve Passfield, Ronni Rae Rivers and Graham Rodger.

A number of surprise guests are also expected to appear. Tickets for the 2009 People’s Choice Awards are priced at just $10.

“This year, with all the economic uncertainty around, we are saying thank you to our voters by giving them the chance to come along and be a part of the show at a lower than usual admission price,” Bob said.

Tickets are available by telephoning 02 6766 3162 or by emailing info@peopleschoiceawards.com.au.

Weblink – www.peopleschoiceawards.com.au.


Wandong Festival in March

The 2009 Wandong Country Music Festival will be held on Sunday March 1 from 10.30am to 6.30pm.

Guest artists will include the Blackhill Ramblers, Carter & Carter, The Dalton Gang, David Delle-Vergin, Peter Denahy, Jayne Denham, Tim Farren, Damien Howard & The Playboys and Sara Storer. Compere will be Graeme Hosking.

The Festival, which was first held in 1972 and was at one time recognised as the biggest country music festival in the southern hemisphere, will be held on the L B Davern Reserve, Dry Creek Crescent, Wandong, just off the Hume Highway north of Melbourne.

As well as the music, a ute competition will also be held on the day.

This year, organisers are re-releasing a digitally-enhanced version of Wandong Country Live! – originally released as a double LP with 32 tracks in conjunction with the 1979 festival when the event was in its heyday.

As in 1979, five percent of royalties from the album will be donated to UNICEF.

Photo: part of the crowd at last year's Wandong Festival.

Weblink – www.wandongcmf.org.au.



APRA at Tamworth '09

APRA (the Australasian Performing Right Association) returns to the Tamworth Country Music Festival in 2009 where the organisation will present two Songwriter Speaks sessions in association with Mushroom Music Publishing and ABC Music Publishing.

Both sessions will be moderated by award-winning country songwriter and performer James Blundell.

The first will be held on Wednesday January 21 at 4pm at The Family Hotel in Bridge Street and will feature songwriters Karl Broadie, Lianna Rose and Sara Storer.

The second will take place at The Pub on the Gunnedah Road at 9pm on Thursday January 22. This session will feature Karl Broadie, Travis Collins, Mick Thomas and Felicity Urquhart.

In addition to these sessions, APRA, Tamworth Regional Council and the Country Music Association of Australia will be hosting "Networking Drinks" at The Quality Hotel Powerhouse at 6pm on Friday January 23.

All APRA events at Tamworth are free for APRA members but organisers say spaces are limited. "RSVP is essential to Narelle Butterworth by Friday January 16 to secure your place. Email nbutterworth@apra.com.au or ring 02 9935 7713."

APRA will again sponsor the Song of the Year Golden Guitar award on Saturday January 24 (as it has done every year the awards have been running). Nominees for the award are Comin’ From – written by Adam Brand & Sam Hawksley, recorded by Adam Brand, Cydi – written and recorded by John Williamson, Rattlin’ Bones – written and recorded by Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson, Shotgun – written by Brooke, Samantha & Mollie McClymont, recorded by The McClymonts, and Sort Of Dunno Nothin’ – written and recorded by Peter Denahy.

Weblink – www.apra.com.au.


Toohey Road to Tamworth

Following the success of Toohey Road – the first single from Bec Willis' self-titled debut album – the country singer is on the road to the Tamworth Country Music Festival for concerts featuring material from the work which was recently awarded the 2008 AIR (Australian Independent Record Labels Association) Award for Best Independent Country Album.

Shiver And Shake is the opening track on the Bec Willis album and was released to radio in December, the follow-up single to Toohey Road. It relates to vulnerability in a volatile environment, Bec says, "while the lyric is a tough subject, the melody saves it from being too dark."

Bec (pictured) says Kasey Chambers opened the floodgates for her to express what is real for the artist in her songwriting and while she says may be exposed... her honesty has drawn a legion of fans to her music.

The album was recorded over three years in the first production role for Kasey Chambers (with father Bill), mastered and engineered by Rod McCormack, released through Shock Records and is available at Bec's concerts, record stores and her website.

Click here to view Bec's shows during Tamworth 2009.

Weblink – www.becwillis.com.


Bush poetry comp

The Country Energy Tamworth Bush Poetry Competition is on again next week, starting with heats on Tuesday 20th, Thursday 22nd and Friday 23rd at 10am in The Outback Bar, West League Club.

The competition will culminate in "a spectacular finals event" in Wests' Blazes Auditorium at 10.30am on Saturday 24th. "This is a popular program for both locals and visitors who appreciate the cream of the bush poetry world coming together to compete for the Golden Dampers in both original and traditional Sections," organisers, the Tamworth Poetry Reading Group, say.

Friday audiences who turn up 15 minutes early will hear the announcement of the winners of the Blackened Billy Verse Competition, the popular written competition also run by the Tamworth Group.

"The winning poem, which is always a top class poem, will be read and the Blackened Billy trophy presented, as well as certificates and cash prizes."

Further information can be obtained from Jan Morris on 02 6765 9478.


Ute beauty!

A new "ute" is making its way around the country in memory of "a mate" – with R M Williams on the side and Amber Lawrence on the bonnet.

After tragically losing her son, Jay, in 1997, Helen Morris felt she had nothing left to live for. So, in an attempt to keep busy, she opened a small ladies wear shop – "Allure On Main" – in Forbes (country NSW). Over the years, the shop has grown from strength to strength and it is now NSW’s largest R M Williams stockist, a big effort for a little shop.

So what next for Helen? How about a ute? One that can travel the country, promote the ever-growing store and serve as a visual memorial to Jay. Jay’s best mate, Craig Dwyer from the Holden Racing Team, was instrumental in building the ute, calling in favours to find a ute, set up some suspension, source wheels, add some window tint and, most importantly, design the livery.

Final stop was to find the right country music star to paint on the bonnet. Amber Lawrence, Independent Country Artist of the Year, was quick to say yes, and there was the finished product.

The Ute will travel from Forbes to Tamworth via Mascot (Sydney, Amber’s home town) and will star in the Tamworth Country Music Festival Cavalcade on Saturday January 24.

After recently filling in as host for John Nutting on ABC Radio’s national program "Saturday Night Country", Amber Lawrence will perform one show only at Tamworth, with Chic Frontier cohorts Dianna Corcoran and Aleyce Simmonds on Friday January 23 at West Diggers Showroom.

Weblink – www.amberlawrence.com.


CMC Top 50 – Jasmine hits the top

Jasmine Rae (pictured) hits the top of this week's CMC (Country Music Channel) Top 50 playlist with the clip of her song Look It Up, almost 12 months to the day she was named winner of the 2008 Telstra Road to Tamworth talent search.

The Sunny Cowgirls' Dancing On The Darling edges up one to be at number three while Sinead Burgess is also up one from last week to four with You Get Me and Jetty Road jumps three places to number seven with Good Times.

Kirsty Lee Akers' Knocked Up bounds into the top 10 at nine, Jonah's Road is at 11 with Giddy Up and Sam Hawkesly's Sounds Like Summer is at 14.

Steve Forde's Life's Got Something Good For Me is at 16, Carter & Carter's Open Road is at 17 and James Blundell's Good Wood is at 18.

Bullet performers for the week include The McClymonts' Favourite Boyfriend Of The Year (32 to 26), Simply Bushed with The Great Australian Love Song (39 to 35), Shane Nicholson's Summer Dress (43 to 36) and Rob Black's I'm In Love And It's Getting Worse (45 to 40).

This week's CMC Country Pick is I Ain't That Guy by Steve Forde.

The playlist can be viewed at www.countrymusicchannel.com.au.



Manilla Motel gutted by fire

The Manilla Motel – one of the district motels used annually by visitors to the annual Tamworth Country Music Festival – was gutted by fire on Saturday afternoon.

"The Northern Daily Leader" reported that Motel owners Peter Steele and Marie Brennan have been left with nothing but the clothes on their backs after the $800,000 fire.

Although the owners were insured and say they intend to rebuild, one of their major concerns was that all records of forward bookings – including those for next week's festival – had been lost in the fire.

Tourism Tamworth is assisting the motel owners by offering to try and help find alternative accommodation for visitors.

Anyone who was booked to stay at the motel should contact Tourism Tamworth on 02 6767 5300.

Photo by courtesy, The Northern Daily Leader.


Guitar Unleashed

The Vintage Guitars Guitar Unleashed: Long Live the Lead Break will be staged in The Albert Hotel’s Big Marquee during the upcoming Tamworth Country Music Festival on Australia Day.

The competition will see "a hot mix of guitarists totally living the lead break and taking it to the max," according to organiser Jim Guider.

"Vintage Guitars, a brand successful through its 'retro look', have come on board as the major sponsor for the activity which is designed to attract guitarists to present their best lead breaks... the perfect place for players of all genres to showcase their playing, get noticed and win prizes worth $2,500," Jim said.

Special international guest at the event will be Jackson Mackay, a dedicated European guitarist who hails from France.

Guitar styles to be featured in Guitar Unleashed: Long Live The Lead Break include include country rock, hard rock, metal and neo-classical rock.

The six players involved will be announced closer to the event which kicks off at 8pm on Australia Day at The Albert.

Weblink – www.musiciansheadquarters.com.au.



Hosts and more artists announced for Golden Guitar Awards

The Country Music Association of Australia (CMAA) has announced more artists for the upcoming Country Music Awards of Australia (Golden Guitar Awards) presented by Jayco, and that Troy Cassar-Daley and Felicity Urquhart (pictured) will host the event.

"It will be great to join Troy in hosting the... Awards," Felicity said. "(They) represent the highest achievements in the Australian country music industry and to join my peers on our 'night of nights' is an honour."

"It's a great honour to be asked and I'm really looking forward to being on stage as a co-host with Felicity," Troy said, "especially as it's an opportunity to say more than a few lines as I usually do as a presenter. Tamworth and I have a lot of history and I look forward to continuing to be a part of that history moving forward into 2009 at the 37th 'Golden Guitar' Awards."

Troy will also be performing on the night, together with new guest artists Catherine Britt, the Davidson Brothers, Peter Denahy, reigning Telstra Road To Tamworth winner Jasmine Rae, Melinda Schneider and reigning Toyota Star Maker winner Talia Wittmann, announced yesterday.

They will join the previously announced Adam Brand, Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson, The McClymonts, The Slim Dusty Family and John Williamson as performers on stage for the gala awards presentation.

The Awards will be staged at the Tamworth Regional Entertainment and Conference Centre on Saturday, January 24, and will be broadcast on Network Ten and Southern Cross Ten on Sunday, February 1 at 2pm. They will also go to air on the Country Music Channel (CMC) from Saturday February 14 at 7pm.

Weblink – www.country.com.au.


Country stars play in charity cricket match

Country music stars from throughout Australia will play in the seventh annual Country Music Celebrity Charity Cricket Match at Tamworth this January.

Match organiser, Tamworth North Rotary Club’s John Bamford, said regular players have already registered.

"Regulars include such names as Jay Collie of Jonah’s Road, The McClymonts and Dobe Newton (pictured) of Bushwackers fame who will captain the artists’ team for the seventh consecutive year.

The Country Music Celebrity Charity Cricket Match is a major fund-raising event for the Rotary Club of Tamworth North.

John said part of funds raised provide a scholarship at the annual Australian College of Country Music.

"The match is usually won by the country music stars’ team," John said, "who always compete with the Tamworth Mayor’s team. While the country music celebrities have usually won, word is now out that, the Mayor’s team has a few tricks up its sleeve.

"Celebs team captain Dobe is more than a little concerned."

The limited-over match will be held at No. 1 Oval, Kable Avenue, Tamworth, Thursday January 22 from 10am to 1pm.

Providing commentary for the match will be country music "gurus" John Nutting of ABC "Saturday Night Country" and country music industry identity Jon Wolfe.


Oxley Bowlo offers big Tamworth festival program

Country Music Capital's Oxley Bowling Club has a substantial program for this year's Tamworth Country Music Festival.

Under the banner "Los Cabarets de Oxley" the club will be a focus of attention almost every day of this year's festival.

Performers appearing will include Bluegrass Ramble with Pete Fidler, Cyndi Boste, The Cartwheels, Jeffrey Delle Vergin, The Detonators, Austin Floyd, Jim Hermel, Leslie Avril (pictured) and Warren & Gus Williams.

Further details can be obtained from the Official Guide (click here for details).

Oxley Bowling Club is located at the top of Tamworth's Piper Street in North Tamworth next to Oxley High School Camping.



Finalists announced for Victorian Awards

Finalists have been announced for the Victorian & National Country Music Awards to be staged as part of the 2009 Whittlesea Country Music Festival early next month.

In National categories, finalists are...

In Male Vocal – 8 Ball Aitken, Billy Bridge, Doug Bruce, Brad Cole, Slim Dusty, Brian Letton, Cameron Mason, Harry Jon Nanos, John Stephan and John Williamson.

In Female Vocal – Catherine Britt, Kristy Cox, Denise Drysdale, Marcie Jones Anne Kirkpatrick, Sharon Lane, Brooke McClymont, Jasmine Rae, Lianna Rose and Tamara Stewart.

In Group – Crakajak, Davidson Brothers, The Distance, The Junes, Damien Howard & The Ploughboys, Jonah’s Road, The McClymonts, The Slim Dusty Family, The Sunny Cowgirls and Dave Walker & The Blue Moon Lodge.

In Duet – Clelia Adams & Bill Chambers, Billy Bridge & Rebecca Lee Nye, Kel-Anne Brandt & Daniel Thompson, Davidson Brothers & Trev Warner, Pat Drummond & Karen Lynne, Denise Drysdale & Marcie Jones, Lee Forster & Travis Sinclair, Adam Harvey & Larry Cann, The Sunny Cowgirls and John Williamson & Warren H Williams.

n the Hawking Bros Best New Talent – 8 Ball Aitken, James Arneman & Hannah Kirkpatrick, Larry Cann, Johanna Hemara, Sharon Lane, Joe Mandica, Kylie Moss, The Prairie Oysters, Jasmine Rae and Marcela Taylor.

In Songwriters Composition – Billy Bridge, Roger Corbett & Rebecca Lee Nye with Everything I Needed To Say, Doug Bruce with I Just Fixed My Heart, Kristy Cox with Fallen, Lachlan & Hamish Davidson with Long Distance Love Affair, Marcie Jones with Daddy, David Kirkpatrick with Old Purple, Cameron Mason with Count Your Blessings, The McClymonts with Shotgun, John Stephan & Galtieri with All My Life and John Williamson with Cydi.

In the Smoky Dawson Best Independent Release – Doug Bruce with All I Need, Greg Champion with Strayana, Kristy Cox with Fallen, Davidson Brothers with Davidson Brothers, Marcia Howard, Damien Howard & The Ploughboys with Live At The Shed 2008, Marcie Jones with Daddy, Sharon Lane with Second Chance, Karen Lynne with The Singles, Matt Manning with Borderline and Lianna Rose with Jack.

In The Trailblazers Heritage Award – Davidson Brothers, Pat Drummond & Karen Lynne, Denise Drysdale & Marcie Jones, Damien Howard & The Ploughboys, David Kirkpatrick & The Slim Dusty Family, Marcie Jones, Matt Manning, The Sunny Cowgirls, Dave Walker & The Blue Moon Lodge and John Williamson & Warren H Williams.

In Bush Ballad of the Year – Greg Champion with Only Dog, Slim Dusty with Sunburnt People, Marcie Jones with Daddy, Matt Manning with Bush Girl, The McClymonts with Ghost Town, Anita Ree with Auctioneer, Graham Rodger with A Saddle For A Throne, Shaza Leigh with His Little Shiralee, The Sunny Cowgirls with Kelpie and John Williamson, Amos Morris & Warren H Williams with Australia Is Another Word For Free.

In Instrumental – Lindsay Butler, Crakajak, Davidson Brothers, Pete Fidler, Michael Fix, Bob Howe, Matt Manning & Stuie French, Marcela Taylor, Lindsay Waddington and Nathan Warrick.

In Bluegras & Traditional Country – Terry & Jenny Bennetts, Billy Bridge, Doug Bruce, Davidson Brothers, Damien Howard & The Ploughboys, Marcie Jones, Anne Kirkpatrick, Karen Lynne, Matt Manning and Lana Ross.

In Victorian categories... for

Album of the Year – Billy Bridge with Doin’ OK, Doug Bruce with All I Need, Greg Champion with Strayana, Crakajak with Shakedown, Davidson Brothers with Davidson Brothers, Lee Forster with Keep Safe On The Track, Marcia Howard, Damien Howard & The Ploughboys with Live At The Shed 2008, Cameron Mason with Changes, Jasmine Rae with Look It Up and Dave Walker & Blue Moon Lodge with Diamonds On The Road.

For Group/Duet – Billy Bridge & Rebecca Lee Nye, Crakajak, Celestino, Davidson Brothers, David Delle Vergin & Kim Ritchie, The Distance & James Reyne, Denise Drysdale & Marcie Jones, Lee Forster & Travis Sinclair, Damien Howard & The Ploughboys and Dave Walker & Blue Moon Lodge.

For Male Vocal – Billy Bridge, Doug Bruce, Greg Champion, Pete Fidler, Lee Forster, Gavin Leadbetter, Cameron Mason, Harry jon Nanos and Travis Sinclair.

For Female Vocal – Kristy Cox, Denise Drysdale, Auriol Hannaford, Marcia Howard, Marcie Jones, Jasmine Rae and Kate Rowe.

Award winners will be announced on Friday February 6 at the start of the Whittlesea Country Music Festival whch runs through to Sunday February 8.

Weblink – www.whittleseacountrymusicfestival.com.au.


Countdown update

Activities in the Tamworth Festival Countdown continue today with entertainment at various venues around town.

The Australian Country Music Hall of Fame, Big Golden Guitar Tourist Centre and Gallery of Stars Wax Museum and Walk A Country Mile Interpretive Centre at the Visitor Information Centre open throughout the day (as they do every day).

In addition to the Westpac Rescue Helicopter fundraiser at the Oasis Hotel (see Friday's news bulletin), the second Festival Country in The Courtyard at the Hall of Fame in Brisbane Street gets underway this evening from 6.30.

A "Welome Line Dance" will be staged at Tamworth Tennis Club in Napier Street at 1 o'clock.

Tonight's entertainment includes Aaron Bolton and Those Gals at Wests Diggers, Bill Davey, Graham Doubleday and Jim Hartley at the Oasis, Anthony John & Friends at Wests and Shane Teinaki at Tamworth Services Club.

Click on the Festival Countdown logo to check the Interim Festival Program and for details on how to buy the 2009 Official Guide.



Golden Fiddle Awards coming up

The 2009 Golden Fiddle Awards will be presented during the upcoming Tamworth Country Music Festival.

Awards to be presented include Best Fiddler (as a soloist), Best Band, Group, Ensemble or Orchestra featuring a Fiddler, Best CD by a Fiddler as Soloist, Best CD by a Band, Group, Ensemble or Orchestra featuring a Fiddler, Lifetime Achievement Award (for excellence as a fiddler/contributor, or a band, to the furthering of fiddle playing/teaching within Australia and New Zealand), Youth Achievement Award (to honour young and emerging fiddle players, bands or bands featuring fiddlers) and Best Fiddle Teacher in 2008 within Australia and New Zealand.

The Awards and Awards concert – hosted and produced by "Pixie" Jenkins – will be held at the famous Tamworth Town Hall at 9.30am on Thursday January 22.

Pixie will include highlights of his famous Pixieland Show, a feature of Tamworth for many years, in the concert together with guest appearances by Epoch Musical Instruments chairman and awards sponsor Mark Mitchell and fellow Awards directors Andrew Clermont and Marcus Holden.

Guest stars will include Ian Cooper, Clare O'Meara and George Washingmachine and the concert will conclude with a grand finale scene with all fiddlers on performing on stage.

Tickets for the Golden Fiddle Awards can be obtained from Tamworth Visitor Information Centre at the corner of Peel and Murray Streets, over the phone on 02 6767 5300, or on-line by clicking here.

Weblink – www.goldenfiddleawards.org.au.


Top 20 Australian country albums for 2008

Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson had the most successful country album in Australia in 2008 with their Rattlin' Bones (cover pictured), according to ARIA, the Australian Recording Industry Association.

In a top 20 based on ARIA's top 50 country albums chart for 2008, Keith Urban is at number two with Greatest Hits: 18 Kids, followed by John Williamson's Hillbilly Road at three and The Slim Dusty Family's Reunion at four.

Adam Brand's Blame It On Eve comes in at number five, last year's Golden Guitar Awards Winners 2008 album is at six and The McClymonts' Chaos And Bright Lights is at seven.

Lee Kernaghan's Spirit Of The Bush is at eight, John Williamson's Platinum Collection comes in at nine while The Sunny Cowgirls' Dust Will Settle is at 10.

Adam Brand's Greatest Hits 1998-2008 is at 11, Adam Harvey is at 12 with I'm Doin' Alright and The Winners 2009 is at 13.

Catherine Britt comes in at 14 with Little Wildflower, Beccy Cole is at 15 with Live @ Lizottes and Steve Forde's Guns & Guitars is at 16.

The Very Best Of Slim Dusty is number 17, Sara Storer's Silver Skies is at 18, Melinda Schneider's Be Yourself is at 19 and Jasmine Rae's Look It Up rounds out the 20.

Editor's Note: compilation albums with substantial non-Australian material have not been included in this listing.



Festival Official Guide out now

The Official Guide to the Tamworth Country Music Festival, presented by Telstra, is out now and includes the Official Program for the highly acclaimed event which includes more than 2,000 events and activities featured over the countdown and 11 days of the Festival itself.

This year, the Official Guide comes with a special double CD celebrating Toyota Star Maker’s "spectacular 30 year journey". The CD is valued at more than $30.

The most popular feature of the Official Guide is the Artist by Artist Guide, a directory for fans to follow their favourite artists’ concerts in the Festival. It highlights more than 600 artists, where they are appearing, times and dates as well as numerous photos and biographies.

A detailed rundown of Festival venues with venue map, the Tamworth town map, bus routes and timetable, country music points of interest and helpful visitor guide information to Country Music Capital and the district are all included.

The Tamworth County Music Festival is now in its 37th year. The Official Guide features information on such important activities as previous winners of the Golden Guitar Awards, 2009 Toyota Star Maker grand finalists, Hands of Fame and Roll of Renown inductees, Tamworth Songwriters’ Award winners, Australian Bush Laureate Awards finalists and other major events.

Also included is a detailed story on Star Maker’s 30th Anniversary, new product releases and CD launches and new insightful stories into the famous Festival.

With a total of 224 pages of information, the Guide can be purchased direct from the publishers, Rural Press Events on 0267 622 399 or from newsagents in Tamworth, Tourism Tamworth, the Australian Country Music Foundation (Hall of Fame), the Big Golden Guitar and throughout newsagents in the NSW northern region.

Weblink – www.capitalnews.com.au.


The countdown begins

The largest music festival in the Southern Hemisphere is officially in countdown week with only six days until the 2009 Tamworth Country Music Festival, presented by Telstra, begins.

Buskers will take to the street this week, banners are flying around the city and the people of Tamworth are already welcoming visitors.

The Countdown period features performances by dozens of artists, from country pioneer Rex Dallas to rising star Aaron Bolton, and events and activities including the Australian College of Country Music in its second week and the Capital Country Music Association (CCMA) Young Guns Concert.

Click here to view program.

"Once again, Tamworth is going to shine with the great talent and excitement that enters the city annually," said Rebel Thomson, General Manager of Tourism Tamworth. "Not only do we get to enjoy the Festival for an extra 11th day, the week of Countdown will host a feast of entertainment."

Organisers are busy making final arrangements to ensure a smoothly delivered and "fun" Festival, hoping all aspects will be enjoyed by all patrons. Major annual events will include the Official Opening Ceremony and Concert on Friday January 16, the Roll of Renown Concert on Saturday January 17, Toyota Star Maker and Star Trek 30th Anniversary Spectacular on Sunday January 18, Telstra Road to Tamworth on Monday and Tuesday January 19 and 20, Australian Bush Laureate Awards on Tuesday January 20, TSA (Tamworth Songwriters' Association Awards on Wednesday January 21, Toyota Country Music Cavalcade on Saturday January 24 and 37th annual Country Music Awards of Australia, presented by Jayco, on Saturday January 24.

The superstars of Australian country music are all returning to Tamworth including James Blundell, Adam Brand, Troy Cassar-Daley, Kasey Chambers, Beccy Cole, Adam Harvey, Gina Jeffreys, Lee Kernaghan, Sara Storer and John Williamson.

The 2009 Tamworth Country Music Festival is expected to be yet another fantastic year, Tourism Tamworth says. "Let the countdown continue!" The Festival proper kicks off on Friday January 16 and runs through to and including Monday January 26 (Australia Day).

Weblink – www.tcmf.com.au.


Tracy becomes part of "Living Traditions"

Tracy Coster, daughter of legendary songwriter Stan Coster and a leading country music artist in her own right, has become part of "Living Traditions" – Folklore At The National Library of Australia, a permanent collection that traces the oral and musical history of Australia.

Tracy’s contribution to the collection is a recorded interview that provides an insight into the history of the Australian "‘travelling showman" with particular emphasis on the significant role women played in this part of Australian history.

The collection acknowledges the contribution her family and many other "travelling showman" families and women made to Australia’s heritage. The interview describes how life on the road - growing up, living and performing has influenced her musically and highlights the transition from traditional folk music to early country music.

"I was truly honoured to be asked to have a chat with Rob at 'Living Traditions'," Tracy said. "Looking back over the past 30 years in country music was quite an experience. Reliving the early years of constant travelling and performing brought back many wonderful memories and made me realise just how lucky I am to have been born into such a legacy."

For Tracy, the passion she has for her heritage and the heritage of country music, keeps the dream of the "travelling showman" alive as she continues to take her music on the road with renewed enthusiasm.

Her new album – Moving On – will be released during Tamworth 09, at The Family Hotel, 1pm, Sunday January 18.

Weblink – www.tracycoster.com.au.


Chart update – The Sunny Cowgirls take over top spot

The Sunny Cowgirls (pictured) take over the top spot on this week's national Top 30 Country Tracks chart with their hit Dancing On The Darling.

Brad Paisley & Keith Urban slip to number two with their duet hit Start A Band while Alan Jackson's Country Boy drops to third place and George Strait's River Of Love is steady at four.

Jetty Road's Good Times jumps two more places to number five, America's Lee Ann Womack is at six with Roll With Me and James Blundell's Good Wood rises to number seven.

Amber Lawrence's The Mile bounds into the top 10 at number eight, America's Montgomery Gentry is down to nine with Roll With Me as is Kenny Chesney's Everybody Wants To Go To Heaven to 10.

Bullet performers for the week include Talia Wittmann's Ladylike (14 to 11), Graham Rodger's A Saddle For A Throne (17 to 13), 8 Ball Aitken's Hands On Top Of The Wheel (21 to 18) and Felicity Urquhart's I Fall (25 to 21).

There is only one new entry to the chart for the week, Catherine Britt with I'm Not Your Cindarella (in at 30).

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



Tamworth Countdown underway tomorrow

The Country Music Countdown – countdown to the Tamworth Country Music Festival, one of the world's biggest and best music festivals – gets underway tomorrow, Friday January 9.

Countdown is an event and entertainment packed seven days leading up to the main event which kicks off NEXT Friday, January 16 and runs through to and including Australia Day, Monday January 26.

One of the first major shows of the Countdown will be the Tamworth Balladeers Family Fun Day & Fundraiser at the Oasis Hotel (Armidale Road) on Sunday from 10.30am.

The Fun Day will feature performances by Mike Casey, Trevor Coombes, Dally Croft, Rex Dallas, Graham Doubleday, Kevin Harris, Brian Howard, Tom Maxwell, Those Gals, Brian Young and "many more" in the words of organisers, the Tamworth Support Group for the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service.

Entry is by gold coin donation with food and drink available for purchase and "a great raffle" with prizes including a Walden guitar by courtesy of Cheapa Music.

Further information about the Fun Day – a byoc (chair) event– can be obtained from Marie on 02 6765 5571 or Maureen on 0408 211 843.

Also kicking off as part of the Countdown on Friday is the first of the Australian Country Music Foundation Country In The Courtyard events – a walkup stage in the courtyard of the Hall of Fame in Brisbane Street next to the new Centrepoint Shopping Centre.

Further information about the Courtyard events, which also run on Sunday 11th, Monday 12th and Tuesday 13th (all from 6.30pm) can be obtained from the Hall of Fame by telephone (02 6766 9696) or by emailing info@countrymusichalloffame.com.au.


Tamworth InTune 09

Tamworth – Australia's largest country music festival – will be televised for a second year by National Indigenous Television (NITV) following the popular response to its live music series "InTune @ Tamworth".

Production company Carbon Media will produce multi-media coverage throughout the Country Music Capital including on-line programming and concert coverage.

The production team says it is excited to be covering the event again and is looking forward to discovering new emerging talent and showcasing the big stars of the country music festival.

Series Producer Belinda Miller says "InTune" is about "sharing the music and atmosphere of this great festival and taking it into the homes and lounge rooms of every Australian.

"This series will take you on a journey through music allowing you to experience one of the greatest ways of storytelling," she said.

Carbon Media Executive Producer Wayne Denning said audiences around the world would have an opportunity to experience the festivities of Tamworth via the NITV website starting Monday the January 19.

"Each day we will feature the exciting action at the country music festival, keeping you up to date on all the goss and latest news from the hot spots around Tamworth," he said.

NITV can be viewed throughout the nation via the web, Foxtel and Austar and selected regional and urban centres including Sydney where it can be seen by more than eight million viewers.

Carbon Media says it is proud to be joining forces again with NITV to ensure audiences have an Indigenous perspective on Australian issues, events and culture.

Weblink – www.nitv.com.au.


Roll of Renown concert artists

Guest artists appearing on the 2009 Roll of Renown Concert in Tamworth were announced in December.

The star line-up is Donna Boyd, Rex Dallas (pictured, left), Craig Giles (pictured), Amber Lawrence (pictured), Dianne Lindsay, Norma O'Hara Murphy, Steve Passfield, Ian Quinn, Lindsay "Waddo" Waddington, supported by Sinead Burgess and Daly Stephenson.

Last year's Roll of Renown inductee Geoff Mack will be a special guest on the show. "Saturday Night Country" host John Nutting will be compere.

The Roll of Renown Concert is one of the most important of the annual January country music festival in Tamworth as it is where the year's Roll of Renown inductee or inductees are announced and where the names of the 2009 Hands of Fame and Broadcasters Hall of Fame inductees are revealed.

Saturday January 17 is the date of the concert which is staged in the famous Tamworth Town Hall. Start time is 2pm.

Tickets can be obtained from the Tamworth Visitor Information Centre at the corner of Peel and Murray Streets, by telephoning 02 6767 5300 or on-line by clicking here.

Weblink – www.countrymusichalloffame.com.au.


Melinda announces line-up

Melinda Schneider has announced the lineup for her Toyota Country Theatre Show at TRECC (Tamworth Regional Entertainment & Conference Centre) on Saturday January 17.

Joining Melinda for performances will be multi-platinum, Australian rock legend Mark Gable (Choirboys) plus one of Australia’s finest, award-winning comedians, Darren Carr.

Building on a friendship forged in 2008 during their work as ambassadors for the charity Nordoff Robins Music Therapy, Melinda was delighted when Mark (pictured, centre) agreed to be her special guest at Melinda’s Tamworth TRECC show.

"I have always admired Mark’s talent from afar, his songwriting ability and distinctive voice are legendary in this country," Melinda said. "When we finally met last year, I gained an even deeper respect for what he has achieved musically and what a huge contribution he has made to Australian rock history with his song Run To Paradise. I can’t wait to see him blow the audience away during the show, which is actually his Tamworth debut! He stands alone vocally and musically, there’s nobody out there like him."

Darren takes the stage on a Melinda show for the first time at TRECC. "It seemed only fitting to feature Darren," Melinda said. "We kind of grew up together in the entertainment industry. We have a lot in common, Darren’s dad being iconic pianist Warren Carr (most people would remember Warren playing piano on 'Play School') and my mum also being an artist.

"In fact, Warren and mum worked together many times over the years. I guess that kind of makes Darren like a brother to me. I love him, he’s incredibly talented and funny. We need more people like Darren in this world, you can never have too much laughter."

Melinda, herself, has been taking great strides over the last decade, winning five Golden Guitars and, in her words, "barely taking a breath" since the release of her hit album Be Yourself in July.

In the past six months, Melinda launched her independent record label, Be Music, dueted with Olivia Newton-John and Paul Kelly, been nominated for an ARIA (Australian Recording Industry Association Award) for Best Country Album and toured with Kenny Rogers.

She has four finalist nominations at the upcoming Golden Guitar Awards (for Female Artist, Single, Vocal Collaboration [with Paul Kelly] and Album of the Year) and appeared on Andrew Denton's "Enough Rope" with her mother Mary Schneider.

Meanwhile, Melinda has released her Golden Guitar nominated duet with Paul Kelly – Still Here – as the second single from her Be Yourself album.

Described as a "heart warming love song", Still Here was co-written by Melinda and long time Nashville collaborator Jay Knowles.

"It’s about a long term relationship gone right," Melinda said. "It’s the kind of love so many of us strive for in life, one of understanding and acceptance. When Jay and I finished the song, the first person who came to my mind to sing it with was Paul. I’ve always been a fan, so when he agreed to record it with me I was so happy."

Weblink – www.melindaschneider.com.


Buttercup Open House artists

Artists have been announced for the 2009 Buttercup Open House concerts to be held during the upcoming Tamworth Country Music Festival.

More than 30 artists have been confirmed to perform including a celebration tribute to the 30th anniversary Toyota Star Maker, together with guest compere and ventriloquist Darren Carr and the Alwyn Aurisch Backing Band.

Appearing on Wednesday January 21 are 8 Ball Aitken (Capital News Australian Independent Rising Star Male Award winner), Melissa Bajric, Aaron Bolton, Gary Boyle, Liam Brew, Kristal Collins (SA Champion of Champions Winner), Isaac Collins-Kennedy (Queensland Champion of Champions winner), Warren Derwent (1992 Star Maker Winner), Craig Giles, the Grand Junction Band (1979 Star Maker Winner), Tracy Killeen (pictured), Karen Lynne, Craig Robertson (1989 Star Maker Winner) and John Stephan.
Appearing on Thursday January 22 are Sharon Benjamin, Owen Blundell (pictured), Kel-Anne Brandt, Darren Colston, Tori Darke (Gympie Muster Maton Talent Search Winner), Benn Gunn, The Harmonators, The Heartleys (NZ Champion of Champions Winner), Michelle Little, Doug McIntyre, Dane Sharpe, Cat Southern (2006 Star Maker), Carolyn Taylor-Knight, Mark Tempany & Alison Hams, and the 2009 Toyota Star Maker winner.

Starting at 7.30pm each night, the doors to the Tamworth Town Hall open at 6.45pm. This year admission to the famous concerts is by ticket only. Patrons have to secure free tickets to the concerts to be able to gain entry. Tickets will be available on Wednesday January 21... from the Tamworth Town Hall and from Toyota Country Theatre at the (TRECC) between 12 noon and 1pm only.

Further information can be obtained from the organisers, Rural Press Events, on 02 6762 2399 or by emailing rpeprojects@ruralpress.com.


2YOU FM goes 24 hours

Tamworth's community radio station 88.9 2YOUFM will broadcast 24 hours daily during the this month's Tamworth Country Music Festival.

"The station has always had an active role in... (the) country music festival," a station spokesman said, "and has been part of many artist success stories over many festival years.

"With a firm commitment to community needs and diversity of programming, Radio 2YOUFM is keen to bring the listening public all the up to date happenings of Tamworth Country Music Festival 2009.

"This includes making the station available for artists to access for interviews and placement of their recorded material," the spokesman said.

"From country music breakfast shows to mainstream country shows to late night country to country/blues/roots, it's all on 2YOUFM reflecting the lateral programming of community radio ready to report on Tamworth CM Festival 2009."

Weblink – www.radio2youfm.com.au.


Nashville songwriters in Australia for seminars

Award-winning Nashville songwriters Karin Paparelli and Bill Diluigi (pictured)will be conducting seminars in six Australian cities with the JAWS (Just Add Water Seminars) 2009 team throughout January.

The new book "A Monkey Manual For Songwriters" by Paparelli and DiLuigi has already received rave reviews from industry professionals around the world.

Sydney NSAI (Nashville Songwriters Association International) Director Zelda Shelton says, "'A Monkey Manual For Songwriters' is the perfect little songwriting primer with songwriting gems scattered on every page with tips and exercises to help you think and write like a pro."

Content of the book is the foundation of Paparelli and DiLuigi's popular songwriting seminars. "Through practical and hands-on applications, they take songwriting techniques off the pages and into the hearts and minds of workshop participants," Zelda said.

"Expressing real life experiences honestly with image driven lyrics and infectious melodies. Reaching across ethnic, economic and even continental divides with universal appeal, touching lives. These are the challenges of every songwriter, Karin said. "However, I have discovered the very best songs we can write are waiting inside of us. Finding that 'hidden well' is just one of the gems you'll take home from JAWS 2009."

Joining Karin and Bill are renowned vocal coach Renee Grant-Williams whose techniques have helped make stars of many of today's top artists including Christina Aguilera, Kenny Chesney, Miley (Hannah Montana) Cyrus, Martina McBride, Tim McGraw, Carrie Underwood and Keith Urban.

Seminar organisers say this is a once in a lifetime opportunity for anyone serious about a career in music.

Tour cities include Brisbane, Cairns, Melbourne, Newcastle, Sydney and Tamworth.

Registration can be made through www.JAWS2009.com. Further information can be obtained by emailing info@jaws2009.com or by telephoning (02) 8006 0153.



Country Music Train not running

The Country Music Train which has for a number of years travelled from Victoria to Tamworth for the annual country music festival in January will not run in 2009.

Reports began coming in after Christmas that passengers had been advised that the train would not run as the train organiser and promoter had gone into liquidation.

It is understood up to 100 people will be affected, many of them having paid some $2,500 to be on the train.

Country music artists who were booked to perform on the train on the way to Tamworth are also out of pocket as they have had to make, or change, travel arrangements incurring extra costs.

In a statement issued today, Tourism Tamworth, which has no association with the promoter, said the train would be sadly missed in 2009.

"Tourism Tamworth is currently assisting any travellers seek alternate arrangements and working to not let the Country Music Train’s demise affect the visitors overall impressions and feeling toward Tamworth and the Festival," General Manager Rebel Thomson said.

"The Country Music Train has been a unique asset to the Festival and a different offering and option for visitors to travel to and stay at the Festival. It will be sadly missed in 2009, however our number one priority at present is to service as best we can those passengers who are currently seeking assistance in still being able to attend the Festival."

Tourism Tamworth was not aware of any of the communications the operators of the Country Music Train have had with confirmed passengers nor has Tourism Tamworth discussed the matter directly with the organisers.

With the need to help find accommodation for the passengers still making the pilgrimage, Tourism Tamworth said it believed it was important for the local community and business houses to be aware that accommodation is still available throughout the Festival.

"We can always fit someone else in, there are many accommodation options offered during the Festival and Tamworth has the unique luxury in being able to source accommodation for anyone seeking it during the Festival," Rebel said.

"At this late stage, it may not be the exact motel, farmstay or tent they were initially wanting but we will always find a bed for a friend or visitor of Tamworth."

The 2009 Tamworth Country Music Festival, presented by Telstra, runs from January 16 to 26 including Australia Day celebrations. The Countdown to Festival activities and scheduled entertainment will commence from January 9.

Weblink – www.tcmf.com.au.


New year Tamworth ticket sales strong

Meanwhile, Tourism Tamworth has reported booming ticket sales for the 2009 Tamworth Festival, now less than two weeks away.

The Remembering the Legends Concert (starring Craig Giles [pictured], Kinta, Peter Pratt and Dave Prior) was the first concert to be sold out in mid December and many will soon follow including Craig’s Rockabilly Concert, with only a few seats available, according to the organisation.

Tourism Tamworth is currently selling 65 shows including the newest addition, the ABCRA Junior National Finals Rodeo. The ABCRA Nationals Final Rodeo has also had solid bookings with Saturday night nearly a full house at the new Australian Equine and Livestock Events Centre (AELEC).

"The festive season has not slowed the sales with many tickets purchased over the holiday season contributing to the over 16,000 tickets sold through Tourism Tamworth since the first release of tickets on the 1st October via a special internet sale," said Tourism Tamworth General Manager Rebel Thomson.

“Inquires and ticket sales have increased significantly which is fantastic for the Festival and for Tamworth, and it will only escalate with the month of January already upon us."

The most popular concerts have been Troy Cassar-Daley & Friends, The Songbirds in Concert (Beccy Cole, Gina Jeffreys and Sara Storer), Star Trek – Star Maker’s Spectacular 30 Years and more than 2,500 seats have been sold for the annual Golden Guitar Awards.

Other shows that are proving positive and popular include The Bushwackers, Carter & Carter Country Gospel Show, the CCMA Jamboree & Winners Concert, Fiddlers Feast, The Flood, Sam Smyth's Bush Poets & Balladeers, Telstra Road to Tamworth Grand Final, Felicity Urquhart and The Young Guns Concert.

“The (Festival) Countdown commences at the end of this week and there will be a further increase in visitor numbers and ticket sales," Rebel said. "Additional staff is already available to help with the thousands of crowds that will pass through Tourism Tamworth during January."


Dianne to host Memory Trails

Dianne Lindsay will host the Reg Lindsay Memory Trails Concert in Tamworth this January.

The Memory Trails Concert will be a celebration of the songs and music of country music pioneer and legend Reg Lindsay who passed away in August 2008.

Appearances will be made by Reg’s friends, family and other artists that worked with Reg over many years.

Names including Trevor Day, Kevin King, the legendary Slim Newton and many more others will be a part of the concert, together with a few "very special guest artists" attending on the night.

The Memory Trails Concert will be held at the Balladeers Homestead on the Sydney Road on Saturday January 17 at 7.30pm.  Further information can be obtained by telephoning 0401 095 306.

During the Tamworth Country Music Festival, Dianne will also be appearing at many venues but, in addition to the Memory Trails COncert, she says she is especially looking forward to appearing on the Roll of Renown Concert and the TSA (Tamworth Songwriters' Association Awards Concert.

She feels Tamworth is a great time to catch up with friends from around Australia.

The past year has been a busy and rewarding year for the emerging country star attending many festivals and shows throughout the country and receiving several awards and finalist nominations.

Weblink – www.diannelindsay.com.



"Country Crossroads" '09

The next series of the television program "Country Crossroads" is set to air on Thursday March 19 at 8pm on the Foxtel, Optus and Austar (Aurora Community Channel 183) pay TV services.

Producers say the show will again feature independent Australian country music artists – "predominantly the unsigned and lesser known acts but also some of the higher profile independents such as Connie Kis Anderson and Owen Blundell.

Any independent artist wanting to be considered for an appearance on "Country Crossroads" should contact Rob via email – info@countrycrossroads.com.au – or via the website www.countrycrossroads.com.au.

"The series had a great viewer response in 2008," producers said, "with up to 40.000 viewers tuning in to the second series, a significant increase on the initial series which went to air in April and saw a very pleasing 25.000 households see some of Australia's finest country music pioneers, established and up and comers being profiled.


Aaron signs to Shock and releases debut album

Rising country star Aaron Bolton has signed a distribution deal with Shock Records who will distribute his upcoming debut album In My Head.

Having numerous professional achievements under his belt – including performing on main stage at the 2008
Toyota Country Music Muster – Aaron now joins a roster of select artists including the Davidson Brothers, Jayne Denham, Markus Meier, Tamara Stewart and Felicity Urquhart at Australia’s largest independent record company.

In 2007, Aaron became "the talk of the town" when his track Rockin' Up, written by Chasing Bailey's Daniel
Conway, was chosen to be the theme song for Tourism Tamworth’s advertising campaign for the annual country music festival in January.

The song was included on all national advertising for the festival and the film clip for the track spent four weeks atop the CMC (Country Music Channel) Top 50 playlist.

In My Head will be released to stores on Saturday January 17. The second single from the album – Wanna – is at radio now.

Weblink – www.myspace.com/aaronbolton.


Queen Quest already has 11 entries

Eleven entrants in the Tamworth Country Music Festival's 2009 Telstra Queen of Country Music Quest have kicked off what organisers say will be a star-studded month of festival fun.

The 11 young women are the first of 20 expected to enter one of the city’s biggest "star spots".

Among the lineup so far are Deirdre Burke from Tourism Tamworth, Emma Crosby representing BAE Systems, Lisa Robertson who is flying the flag for St Andrews Village and Stephanie Whitbread from Tamworth Regional Council.

One of the great traditions of the annual country music festival, this year the Quest chalks up 26 years as a festival veteran.

This year, a total of $33,000 in prizes is up for grabs in the Queen Quest which is open to women over the age of 18. It looks for city businesses and community groups to sponsor entrants who want to fly the flag for Country Music Capital.

The 2009 Queen will be announced during the Festival and she will spend a year as a roving ambassador for the city and festival, including a trip to the city's New Zealand sister-city, Gore.

A range of civic and community events are included in the Queen's reign, including guest speaking engagements, social and cultural presentations and corporate and festival functions.

The Quest runs throughout the Festival with entrants taking part in a social whirl of friendly formal and informal events. It culminates in a gala dinner where the new Queen and a Princess are crowned and embark on "a year of fun".

"After that," said a spokesman for organisers, the Festival might be over, but the fun is only beginning with a 12-month royal tour."

The current Telstra Queen of Country Music, Renae Sweeney, says she’s had a memorable year with some wonderful experiences.

"It’s a great way of meeting new people, forming new friendships, but also learning more about the world and spreading the message about the Festival and Tamworth," Renae said.

The official entry kit for the Quest is available online here. Nominations close next week. Further information can be obtained from Amy Crocker or Jodie McKenna on 02 6767 5701.

Photo: some of the 2009 Queen entrants (from left) Jessica Purkiss, Alicia Simpson, Megan Lott, Brooke Spokes and Sarah Bolitho.


Chart update – Brad & Keith still at number one

Brad Paisley & Keith Urban (pictured) remain at number one on this week's national Top 30 Country Tracks chart with their duet hit Start A Band for the third week running.

America's Alan Jackson is steady at two with Country Boy, The Sunny Cowgirls' jump three places to number three with Dancing On The Darling while George Strait's River Of Love is at four.

Kenny Chesney's Everybody Wants To Go To Heaven drops two places to number five, Carrie Underwood's Just A Dream is down to six and Jetty Road bound up three places to number seven with Good Times.

Another two overseas act – Montgomery Gentry and Lee Ann Womack – are at eight and nine respectively with Roll With Me and Last Call while James Blundell enters the top 10 at 10 with Good Wood.

Bullet performers for the week include Amber Lawrence with The Mile (14 to 11), Talia Wittmann's Ladylike (18 to 14), Graham Rodger's A Saddle For A Throne (20 to 17), Drew McAlister, Allan Caswell & Matt Scullion with The Billy Joel Song (22 to 19), Keith Urban's Sweet Thing (23 to 20), 8 Ball Aitken's Hands On Top Of The Wheel (24 to 21), Donna Boyd's Missing You (26 to 23), Felicity Urquhart's I Fall (29 to 25) and Graeme Connors' A Beach House In The Blue Mountains (30 to 27).

New entries for the week include Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson with WildFlower (in at 28), The Bobkatz The Red Top Table (at 29) and Ted Egan with Last Of The Packhorse Bagmen (at 30).

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


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