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Sara returns to ABC Music

Country star Sara Storer has returned to her original record label ABC Music.

Sara began her recording career with ABC in 2000 when she released her Gold selling album Chasing Buffalo. This was followed in 2002 by her Platinum selling Beautiful Circle and Gold selling album Firefly in 2004.

"Sara has a unique way of seeing and expressing her observations of love and life in the bush," said John Williamson, "so she is a songwriter who will be remembered beyond her lifetime."

Her return to ABC Music will begin with the release of her first "greatest hits" collection titled Calling Me Home – The Best of Sara Storer in April.

This will include a collection of tracks from her three ABC Music albums plus her fourth album, Silver Skies, along with new tracks and some re-recordings of previous chart topping hits.

The new tracks have been produced by Matt Fell and Josh Schuberth.

"Sara Storer has always had a unique connection...," said Robert Patterson, Head of ABC Music. "We are thrilled she is coming back to what we believe to be her true home. In many ways Sara is now becoming an even more impressive and intriguing artist as she embarks on new collaborations with highly credentialed songwriters both within and outside the country genre."

The first single from the upcoming release, Calling Me Home is now at radio.

Co-written with Mick Thomas (from Weddings Parties, Anything) and Nashville songwriter Trey Bruce, the new song was inspired by Sara’s old farm house and thoughts of compassion for her old home.

"There is also a strong sense of belonging and needing that place to fall back on even though we unfortunately have to move on to new places," Sara said. "If I sit and listen, I can hear my place (the old farm house) calling me back... to all those things I remember and love so much."

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Christie wins Jazzer Quest 2010

Seventeen-year-old singer/songwriter Christie Lamb from Kirkham Meadows, NSW, has won the 2010 Jazzer Quest staged at The Pub, Tamworth.

Once again, The Pub was packed for the Friday night grand final of The Jazzer, as it's popularly known, where compere Rebecca McCarthy, announced the winner.

Christie won a cash prize of $2,000 from The Pub and a red Fender acoustic/electric guitar provided by Fender Australia.

The Pub also provided the Second prize of $1,000 to Kiera Smith from Mildura, and third, $500, to Melissa Thomson from Eaglby in Queensland.

An encouragement award (Fender acoustic/electric guitar) was presented to Dayleford, Victoria’s singer/songwriter Archer Broughton.

The Pub also provided a $2,000 scholarship to Tamworth Camerata (annual youth country music school) and this was won by 13 year-old Andre Drysdale from The Gold Coast.

Camerata, now part of the Australian Academy of Country Music, runs for six days in July and in eight years has graduated 144 performers and players from all over Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.

There were 12 "Jazzer" grand finalists who performed a two-song set each, selected from four hotly contested heats and a semi-final.

Backing was provided by "a wonderful band of great musicians" ... Brett Dallas on guitar, Terry Phillpot on drums and Glenn Skarratt on bass.

During the heats and grand final, judges included Clay Algie, Liam Brew, Sam Burgess, Grant Cardwell, Nicki Gillis, Simon Johnson, Roxanne Kiely, Penelope Somerville, Aleyce Simmonds, Sally-Anne Whitten and Paul Wilson.

At the completion of the grand final, while points were being tallied, the large audience was entertained by 2009 Jazzer/Camerata scholarship winner Ashleigh Dallas and 2006 Jazzer winner Ryan Sampson.

The Jazzer Quest has been discovering new talent at Tamworth's Country Music Festival since 1981, firstly in the Kmart complex, the brainchild of the much loved Jazzer Smith who died in 1987.

It's been continued in his honour till the present day, with several organisers, the latest of which is Greg Williams who has carried out this task for the past 18 years, the last six at The Pub.

Photo Jazzer Quest winners 2010 with Greg Williams at right.



McClymonts album debuts at number one

The McClymonts new album Wrapped Up Good, released during the Tamworth Country Music Festival, debuts this week at number one on the ARIA (Australian Recording Industry Association) Australian and international country chart.

The album has knocked America's Taylor Swift off the number one spot and also debuted on the mainstream albums chart at number two.

Another successful release during Tamworth is The Sunny Cowgirls' new album – Summer – which has debuted at number three this week on the ARIA Australian and international chart and at 33 on the mainstream chart.

The debut release by Alister Kemp, meanwhile – All Kinds Of Tough – has debuted at eight on the Australian and international country chart.

Click here for listing of top selling Australian country albums.


25th Bungendore Muster & Bush Ballad Awards finalists

The 25th Bungendore Country Music Muster will be held on the weekend of February 6 and 7 and finalists for the annual Stan Coster Memorial Bush Ballad Awards, to be announced during the Muster, have been released.

Finalists for the Male Vocal award are Ernie Constance with Milestones, Brian Letton with Sorry Mate and Dean Perrett with The Dust of Kalkadoon.

For Female Vocal, Laura Downing with Tall Timber, Lynette Guest (pictured) with Isa and Dianne Lindsay with Cooper After Rain.

For New Talent, John Battle with In The Outback Of Australia, Ray Savage with Grey Nomads and Sharon Smith with The Day We Sold The Farm.

For Group or Duo, Charley Boyter Band with Axemark On A Gidgee, Dianne Lindsay & Anne Kirkpatrick with Long Road Home and Dean Perrett & Anne Kirkpatrick with We're Doing Fine.

For Album of the Year, Ernie Constance's Milestones, Dianne Lindsay's Heartbeat Of Australia and Dean Perrett's A Thousand Campfires.

For the Songwriter award, Ernie Constance with Milestones, Johnny Kaye & Tom McIvor with Manarichie Rails and Peter Simpson with Akubras In The Snow.

For Comedy Song, Ernie Constance with Over Fisher's Fence and Tom McIvor with Coleslaw and The Man who Hated Snakes.

Muster organisers say: "Making our 25th Muster a memorable celebration we have returning artists who performed at our first muster in 1986 – Chad Morgan, Ted Egan and Pixie Jenkins. Also returning will be Terry Gordon and Owen Blundell who have not missed a year yet.

"Nominations for the Stan Coster Memorial Bush Ballad Awards are of a very high standard and the judges will not have an easy time deciding the finalists.

"The Muster Committee is working hard to make this an unforgettable experience for everyone."

The Bungendore Country Muster is unique in that it is the only "all Australian" country music festival and has a core policy of existing for the betterment and benefit of the Bungendore community and Australian country music.

All money raised during the Muster goes to the local community and on improving facilities for patrons. It is held at the local showground.

The Muster is held on the first weekend in February every year.

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Whittlesea 2010 and Victorian Awards move forward to new date

And the Whittlesea Country Music Festival, usually held in March, will follow Bungendore with new dates for 2010 being Friday to Sunday, February 12 to 14.

Finalists have been announced for the Victorian & National Country Music Awards to be presented as a part of this festival which was ultimately cancelled due to the tragic Black Saturday fires.

The official launch of the Festival takes place on Friday February 5 with guest stars Liam Brew, Carmen Fraser, Greenwood Bluegrass and Chris E Thomas.

Organisers sat this year for the first time, the Festival will see a Friday night "packed full of festivities with live music spread throughout local venues".

This will followed on Saturday with a free street party in Church Street including bluegrass and gospel in the church with artists including Big River, Cousin Leonard, Courtney Conway & Fat Chance and Greenwood Bluegrass, followed by the gala Victorian and National Country Music Awards.

More than 45 acts will feature during the Festival this year including Troy Cassar-Daley, Catherine Britt, Greg Champion, Travis Collins, Darren Colston, Tori Darke, The Distance, Steve Eales, The Flood, The Hamonators, Jetty Road, Amber Lawrence, McAlister Kemp, The McClymonts and Felicity Urquhart.

The Festival will round up on the Sunday with a truck and ute show at the Whittlesea Showgrounds.

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Victorian Awards finalists announced

Finalists for the 2010 Victorian & National Country Music Awards are...

In the national awards...

For Male Vocal, Troy Cassar-Daley, Greg Champion (pictured), Darren Colston and Sam Hawksley.

For Female Vocal, Victoria Baillie, Harmony James, Sal Kimber and Amber Lawrence.

For Group, Australian Country Music Unites, Carter & Carter, Jetty Road and Sal Kimber & The Rollin' Wheel.

For Duet, Carter & Carter, Troy Cassar-Daley & the McClymonts, Davidson Bros and Harmony James & Kevin Bennett.

For Hawking Bros Best New Talent, Victoria Baillie, Tori Darke, Harmony James and Gayle O'Neil.

For Songwriters Composition, The Beggars with Carry My Load, The Bobkatz with The Writer, Steve Eales with Echuca Sun and The Harmonators with Move In Close.

For the Smoky Dawson Best Independent Release award, Sam Hawksley, Harmony James, Jetty Road and Amber Lawrence.

For the Trailblazers Heritage Award, Australian Country Music Unites, Carter & Carter, Paul Costa and Harmony James.

For Instrumental of the Year Geoff Achison, Davidson Bros, Marcy Taylor and Wildseed.

For the Bluegrass & Traditional Country award, Carter & Carter, Paul Costa, Davidson Bros and Steve Eales.

In Victorian categories...

For Album of the Year, Paul Costa, Davidson Bros, Jetty Road and Sal Kimber.

For Group or Duet of the Year, Carter & Carter, Davidson Bros, Jetty Road and Sal Kimber & The Rollin' Wheel.

For Male Vocalist, Greg Champion, Paul Costa, Steve Eales and Adam Toms.

For Female Vocalist, Carmen Fraser, Bec Hance, Sal Kimber and Paula Wilson.

For Entertainer of the year, Carter & Carter, Greg Champion, Paul Costa and Jetty Road.


Boyup Brook to follow

Then, following Whittlesea, Western Australia's Boyup Brook Country Music Festival and WA Country Music Awards, also celebrating their 25th anniversary, will run from Thursday February 18 to Sunday 21.

Boyup Brook is much more than the biggest country music festival in WA organisers say. "It is also home to the Western Australian Country Music Awards and has proved to be the launching pad for many up and coming performers who have gone to become firmly established in the country music industry.

"Former winners returning to join in the Festival's 25th anniversary celebrations include The Sunny Cowgirls, Ronni Rae Rivers, Rose Carleo (pictured), Debbie Beckett, Terry Bennetts, Cyclone Jason and Connie Kis Andersen.

" And future 'stars' young talent, Craig Sinclair and Codee-lee are also performing over the four day Festival together with Toyota Star Maker grand finalist Amber Joy Poulton...

"Local favourites Brian Letton, Frisco, Girls with Guitars and Country Horizon (who share their 25th year anniversary with the Festival), will be joined by Tania Kernaghan, Carter & Carter, Pixie Jenkins, Graham Rodger, Tony Wagner and a host of others, with everyone's favourite, Ernie Dingo, acting as MC on the Saturday evening."

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Chart Update – Planet Country first to make nine weeks at number one

Lee Kernaghan's Planet Country is at number one for the record ninth week this week on the national Country Tracks Top 30 singles chart.

Jetty Road's World Keeps Turning is steady again at number two while Troy Cassar-Daley's I Love This Place edges up one to number three and The McClymonts' Wrapped Up Good jumps three places to number four.

Carrie Underwood's Cowboy Casanova is down to five, Paul Costa's Survivor 1932 slips one to number six and Felicity Urquhart's Roller Coaster is at seven.

America's George Strait is at eight with Twang, Luke O'Shea's How Well Have You Loved is at nine and Lou Bradley's Uluru enters the top 10 at 10.

Bullet performers for the week include Kasey Chambers, Poppa Bill & The Little Hillbillies' Lost Music Blues (14 to 11), Ronni Rae Rivers' Things I Want (17 to 14) and Amber Lawrence's Wrecking Ball (19 to 15).

New entries for the week include Dianna Corcoran's Thank You For Cheating On Me (in at 29).

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Troy's Golden night

Troy Cassar-Daley took home six Golden Guitars from tonight's Country Music Awards of Australia in Tamworth, one of the biggest individual Awards night tallies of any artist.

The accolades – from the star's latest album I Love This Place – included Song and Single of the Year (Big Big Love), Album of the Year (produced by Rod McCormack, Troy and Jeff McCormack), Male Artist of the Year, Heritage Song of the Year (for Chasin' Rodeo) and Vocal Collaboration of the Year (Ain't Gonna Change For You with The McClymonts).

Troy also shared in production credits for the album with Rod & Jeff McCormack.

Felicity Urquhart was named Female Artist of the Year for her track Roller Coaster.

Jetty Road took out Group of the Year with Million Miles.

Keith Urban picked up Top Selling Album for Defying Gravity.

The Bushwackers won Bush Ballad of the Year with the Colin Buchanan song Road To Thargomindah.

Greg Storer & Sara Storer combined to win Video Clip of the Year with their duet When I Was a Boy (directed by Duncan Toombs).

Victoria Baillie was successful in New Talent of the Year with her track Make Me.

The Davidson Brothers won Instrumental of the Year with Fox On The Freeway.

A new award, the Horizon Award, recognising a young ambassador of Australian country music, was presented to Amber Lawrence.

Several tributes were accorded during the night, including to Chad Morgan who received a lifetime achievement award, and John Williamson, celebrating his 40 years as a recording artist.

The national telecast of the Awards will take place on Southern Cross Television and Network 10 (including all metro capital cities) on Saturday February 13 at 1.30pm.

They will go to air on Country Music Channel (CMC) from Thursday February 11 at 7pm.

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Duke Wilde wins Battle of the Bands

The Duke Wilde Band (pictured) from Gympie, Qld, has taken out Tamworth Country Music Festival's 2010 Coca-Cola Battle of the Bands competition.

Second place went to the Bob Corbett Band from Maryville, NSW, and third to The Freibergs from Durack, Qld.

Other contenders were Adoniis (from Brisbane, Qld), Amber Joy Poulton & The Holy Men (from Semaphore, SA) and the Mickey Pye Band (from Oberon, NSW).

All finalists receive a subscription to Capital News, Australia's number one country music magazine.

Hands of Fame Park in Tamworth has been home to the Coca-Cola Battle of the Bands competition since 2006 where the inaugural winner was the Aaron Daniels Band from Narre Warren South in Victoria.

In 2007, the winner was President Roots from Victoria's Mornington Peninsular, 2008's was from Marrickville in Sydney Craig Morrison Little Cowboys – and last year, the winner was Ruckus from the outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne.

Photo: the band (from left) – Nick Aitken, Linc Phelps, Aaron Partridge and Jason Bray.


Tamworth Bush Poetry comp winners

Winners have been announced in the 2010 Country Energy Tamworth Bush Poetry Competition conducted during the January festival.

They are, in the Original section, Peter Crawford first with "Billy", Heather Searles second with "The Meeting of Truth" and Gabby Colquhoun third with "The Hypochondriac".

In the Traditional or Established Works section, Peter Mace (pictured) was first with "The Sandy Hollow Line", Terry Regan was second with "Where the Eagle's Shadow Falls" and Lisa Quast was third with "Jillarooing".

According to organisers, the competition celebrated its pride in its claim of introducing new and very talented performers.


Cavalcade winners

Winners have been announced for the Country Music Cavalcade which once again drew tens of thousands of people to the main street of Tamworth this morning.

In the Commercial/Business Section, Travelworld Tamworth was judged to be number one, Commonwealth Bank second and Norco Milk third.

In the Community Organisations and Not for Profit Organisations section, the Tamworth Songwriters' Association float came first, followed by Don't Waste Tamworth with Friends of the Leukaemia Foundation in third place.

The Cavalcade started an hour earlier than usual at 9am in an effort to "beat the heat" this year.



Anne elevated to Roll of Renown

Anne Kirkpatrick was announced as the 39th inductee to Australian country music's highest honour – the Roll of Renown – in Tamworth this morning.

A true child of country music, Anne first came to prominence when she introduced an exciting new contemporary sound to the Australian scene in the late 1970s.

Initially recording her first solo album in 1974, she won her first Golden Guitar in 1979 for Female Vocal.

Over her long and highly acclaimed career since, she has won five more Golden Guitars including two for Album and Female Vocal and an ARIA Award for her watershed album Out Of The Blue in 1991.

A talented songwriter with a unique vocal style, Anne achieved great success as a recording artist and performer, both as an individual and in concert with her parents Slim Dusty and Joy McKean and her family.

For more than four decades, Anne's ability to blend a contemporary style with traditional themes influenced the way many Australians think about modern country music and her early success helped prepare the way for the many young artists who followed in her footsteps.

Preceding Anne, in order of their induction, were 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, Jean Stafford and Slim Newton on the Roll of Renown.

Anne's plaque will be unveiled at the Roll of Renown in front of the Tamworth Regional Entertainment & Conference Centre on Sunday at 10.30am just before the Official Tamworth Country Music Festival Closing Concert.


Anna is Festival Queen

Anna Redden has been crowned Tamworth's Queen of Country Music for 2010.

Lauren McPherson was announced as Country Music Princess at a special dinner last night.

Anna snared the crown from fellow entrants Kate Bayliss, Melanie Borg, Samantha Crebert, Rikki Frankel, Tegan Goodman, Tatum Handsaker, Michelle Lansley, Rhiannon Little, Nicole McLean, Rae Moody, Savannah Shepherd and Kylie Wherritt.

Country Music Capital's Queen of Country Music Quest was established by the city's Chamber of Commerce in 1984 and celebrates 27 years this year.


Two more recognised in Galaxy of Stars

Adam Brand and Felicity Urquhart are the latest country stars to be recognised in Tamworth Regional Council's Galaxy of Stars.

Special plaques for the two were unveiled in the forecourt of the Tamworth Regional Entertainment & Conference Centre yesterday morning.

The galaxy began as a civic celebration by Council in 2000 to honour Australian country music stars.

Adam and Felicity join Arthur Blanch, James Blundell, Troy Cassar-Daley, Beccy Cole, Graeme Connors, Smoky Dawson, Slim Dusty, Gina Jeffreys, Lee Kernaghan, Jimmy Little, Joy McKean and John Williamson in the collection.



David wins ABBA Star Quest 2010

David Baldi from Victoria won the Australian Bush Balladeers Association (ABBA) 2010 Star Quest in Tamworth earlier this week.

Seventeen-year-old David beat five fellow finalists to take the title...John Battle from NSW, Pat Brown from NSW, Kate Linke from WA, Ray Savage from Qld and Trevor Tolton from Qld.

From Park Orchards in Victoria, David has written 14 bush ballads so far, including a song about Black Saturday when bushfires devastated large areas of Victoria.

Still at school (in year 11 and studying certificate two in agriculture), he says his songs are about Australian people and places.

Guest appearances on the 2010 show were made by Eliza Parker, last year's winner Sharon Smith and Daly Stephenson. Comperes were Lyn Manning and Anita Ree. Backing was provided by The Charley Boyter Band.

The Bush Balladeer Star Quest is described as "not just another quest".

"The winner must be dedicated to the bush ballad style and intent on making a career in the bush ballad industry," a spokesman for the Association said.

Winner of the quest receives recording time for a radio single and major festival appearances around the country throughout their 12 months as winner.

"This will bring them into contact with not only new fans for their music, but introduce their talent to the industry, radio and give them lifelong promotion skills."

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TSA winners

Winners were announced last night in the Tamworth Songwriters' Association (TSA) annual awards.

Vaughan Baker & Bec Hance (pictured) took out the New Songwriter Award with their composition Just Add Water.

In the Songwriter Salute Awards...

Ben Jacobs & Shaza Leigh won Traditional Bush Ballad of the Year with Sorry Mate.

Garry Koehler (pictured) won Contemporary Song of the Year and Country Song of the Year with The Writer.

Graham Rodger was successful in Country Ballad of the Year and Comedy/Novelty Song of the Year with, respectively, The Almond Tree and The Barcaldine Cup.

Megan Bartlett-Horne took out Children's Song of the Year with The Aussie Outback School, the words of which had won Children's Poem of the Year at the Australian Bush Laureate Awards the day before.

Gospel Song of the Year went to Jim & Virginia Hermel with Golden Mile.

Jim Wesley was announced as the posthumous winner of the 2010 TSA Songmaker Award.

The TSA Tex Morton Award was presented to Heather McKean.

In the National Songwriting Contest, Magdalena MacDonald was named winner in the amateur - traditional category with A Man Who Works The Land while Kaylee Bell & Lance Coassin were successful in amateur-contemporary with The Seed.

John Seers & John Battle won the professional - traditional section with G'day, Mate while Wendy Wood took out the professional - contemporary category with When Grandma Would Reminisce.

Amelia Richards won the junior section with You're Mine while Merv Webster was successful in the lyrics only section with Down On Dogs And Ducks.

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Scots dominate fiddle awards

Players of Scottish fiddle music took out four of eight Golden Fiddle Awards in Tamworth today.

A Scottish fiddler from the Adelaide Hills, Catherine Fraser, was named the best solo fiddle player in Australasia for 2010. Catherine, who took up the fiddle at the age of eight, is now recognised internationally as a leading exponent of Scottish music.

She is the director of the popular Southern Hemisphere International School of Scottish Fiddle, held annually in New Zealand.

Finalists in the solo category were New Zealand player Marian Burns (pictured) and Melbourne fiddle veteran Andy Baylor. Both of these players won Golden Fiddle Awards in other categories, Andy Baylor for best CD by a fiddler as a soloist (Possum Stole The Pumpkin) and Marian Burns was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award for her dedication to fiddle music as well as her teaching skills and encouragement of music in children.

The surprise entry at this year?s Golden Fiddle Awards was the Melbourne Scottish Fiddle Club, which collected two Golden Fiddle Awards. The Club, a group of fiddle fans from age eight to 78, meet once a month to play tunes from Scotland, old and new.

The Club sends groups of fiddlers to festivals and has cut several CDs. One of them, Gates Of Gold, was selected by the judges as the best CD by a band featuring fiddlers, and original tunes composed by club members earned the Club a second gong for best fiddle composition.

The award for the best band featuring a fiddler went to the Davidson Brothers, Lachlan and Hamish who are recognised as Australia?s "hottest" bluegrass exponents. They are multi instrumentalists, were the 2009 instrumental Golden Guitar winners in Tamworth and have been nominated again for 2010.

The Golden Fiddle Youth Achievement Award went to Khalida Foster from the Atherton
Tablelands in North Queensland. She is one of the renowned sibling fiddlers from the De Ridder family, considered one of Australia?s finest traditional Irish groups.

Another Scottish fiddle specialist, Emma Louise Nixon, founder of the Brisbane Celtic
Fiddle Club, was judged Best Fiddle Teacher. A former member of the Queensland Youth Orchestra, Emma Louise was awarded a Newcastle (UK) University scholarship to complete a Master of Music specialising in Scottish fiddle playing.

Now in its sixth year, the Golden Fiddle Awards is the only program of its kind in
Australasia which showcases both professional and recreational fiddlers across all genres.

This year's awards show, hosted by fiddle legend Pixie Jenkins, has become well entrenched as an alternative feature of the Tamworth Country Music Festival.

Golden Fiddle Chairman Mark Mitchell, whose company Epoch Musical Instruments
helped establish the Awards and is still its major sponsor, said the standard and variety of entries for this year was the highest in the awards history.

“It is our responsibility to build on the Awards so that amateur and professional musicians, composers and teachers can enhance their own careers, stimulate fiddle music as a recreational pursuit, and provide a rousing entertainment package for the supporting public,” he said.

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Entertainer quest winners

Katrina Burley from Queensland has won the 2010 Aristocrat Country Entertainer of the Year quest in Tamworth taking home a $2,000 cash prize and 10 hours recording time.

Tamworth Festival newcomer Dave Hawkins from Tasmania was runner-up winning $1,000 cash while New Zealand’s Daniel Cosgrove took out third place and $500 cash.

Thirteen-year-old Margie-May Hockey won the title of Junior Entertainer of the Year while Mitchell Murdock was placed second and New Zealand youngster Jordon Watene coming third. Margie-May collected $750 in prizemoney.

This was Aristocrat’s 20th year as major sponsor of the Country Entertainer of the Year quest and local Aristocrat representative Pete Henderson, along with Aristocrat’s NSW manager Graeme Hallett announced the company would be on board again next year to celebrate the 21st birthday of Aristocrat’s involvement.

Competition Co-ordinator Gina Timms said both heats of the competition were full prior to the festival beginning. "We had a waiting list of entrants hoping for a cancellation so they could gain a spot," she said.

"The talent just gets better and better each year. I have been judging here for 18 years and we have seen some amazing performances, some that make you laugh, some that make you cry.

Photo: Margie-May Hockey, left, and Katrina Burley – junior and senior winners of the Aristocrat Country Entertainer of the Year 2010.



2010 People’s Choice Award winners

Winners were announced at a special ceremony in Tamworth yesterday in the 2010 Australian Country Music People’s Choice Awards.

Best Female Vocal went to Melinda Schneider while Troy Cassar-Daley was named Best Male Vocal.

Jetty Road took out their second Best Group award and also snared Best Song for Million Miles including as writers.

The First Lady Of Country (written by Graham Rodger & Deirdre Wilmington, recorded by Graham) won the award for Best Bush Ballad.

Lee Kernaghan’s Planet Country was named Best Album.

Young Queensland newcomer Daly Stephenson won the Most Promising Future Star award while Australian Country Music Unites (led by Tamara Stewart) won Best Video Clip with Tangerine Sky (production by Ross Wood).

Larry Cann of KIX Country was named Most Popular Country Music DJ while the station took out the  Most Popular Country Music Radio Station category.

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Photo: Greg Champion poised to intervene with the Jetty Road girls – Lee and Paula – trying to decide who gets to keep the trophy!


Australian Bush Laureate Awards – 2010 winners

Winners in the 2010 Australian Bush Laureate awards were announced in Tamworth yesterday.

In Book of the Year, Original Verse, two awards were presented... to Grahame Watt for “I Likes A Laugh” and the Winton Business & Tourism Association for “The Bronze Swagman Book of Bush Verse 2008”.

In Album of the Year, Original Verse, the Golden Gumleaf went to Noel Stallard for his “Bruce Simpson Bush Poetry” – a tribute to the poetry of Bruce Simpson.

In Bush Poem of the Year, the winner was “Brolga Dreaming” by Val Read.

The Single Recorded Performance of the Year went to “The Anzac On The Wall” by Jim Brown.

Children’s Poem of the Year, was won by Megan Bartlett-Horne (pictured) with “The Aussie Outback School”.

The Judith Hosier Heritage Award – for outstanding achievement in nurturing Australia’s heritage of verse – was presented to “Blue The Shearer”.

Real name Col Wilson, “Blue” is a writer, performer, satirist and retired bureaucrat who is legendary in Australia for his work as “resident poet” on ABC radio for many years. By the way, he’s not a shearer!

And in a moving presentation, Joy McKean was made patron of the Australian Bush Laureate Awards with the special presentation of a Golden Gumleaf.

Joy is recognised as one of Australia’s leading songwriters with a strong link to many of Australia’s bush verse writers.

This year was the 15th year for the Bush Laureate Awards which were established in 1997 to recognise excellence in published and recorded Australian bush poetry.

The Australian Bush Laureate Awards will be held in Tamworth again next January, with nominations scheduled to open in August.

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Tenielle and Luke win Telstra Road 2010

Twenty-two-year-old Tenielle Musulin (pictured) from Karratha, WA, has taken out the major prize in this year's Telstra Road to Tamworth talent search while Luke Webb, 26, from Sydney's Blue Mountains has won the songwriter title.

The pair triumphed over hundreds of country music hopefuls to win the competition.

Tenielle's prize includes a return trip to Nashville to record and a 12-month career development package.

“Wow, I’m speechless," she said when announced as the winner, "this is so amazing. I’d like to thank the other contestants who are all such brilliant musicians – if I could give a day in Nashville to each one of them I would."

Tenielle's Telstra Road success follows her top 17 placing in Australian Idol last year.

Accepting his prize which also includes a trip to Nashville, Luke said: "Thank you so much everyone for being here and supporting us tonight.  I’ve made some really great friends during this process and I really think all of the other contestants deserved this just as much as me."

Performing in front of a capacity crowd at the Tamworth Regional Entertainment and Conference Centre, Tenielle and Luke were both elated with their success and excited about the next stage of their Telstra Road to Tamworth journey.

Now in its seventh year, the Telstra Road to Tamworth continues to unearth a diverse range of music talent from around the nation and is widely regarded as a most progressive award of its kind in Australia.

Telstra Road to Tamworth alumni include inaugural winner Jessica Mauboy, who has gone on to achieve commercial success on the pop charts, and 2009 ARIA nominated country singer Jasmine Rae who took out the 2008 winner’s title, as well as Kirsty-Lee Akers, Corey Colum, Morgan Evans, Nick Kingswell, Briana Lee, Peter McWhirter, Aleyce Simmonds and Mark Wells.

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Talent packed gala Australian Bush Laureate Awards presentation today

Fans of Australian bush verse and country music are preparing for what has been described as a “talent packed” show supporting Tuesday’s gala presentation of Australian Bush Laureate Awards in Tamworth.

Awards will be presented in six categories – Book of the Year, Album of the Year, Bush Poem of the Year, Single Recorded Performance of the Year, Children’s Poem of the Year as well as the Judith Hosier Heritage Award.

Regarded every year as one of the best shows of the entire Tamworth Country Music Festival, the Australian Bush Laureate Awards this year will feature a number of Awards finalists as well as bush poets Greg North and Paddy Ryan.

The Awards also feature a number of special guest country music and variety stars – rising and established – and this year is no exception.

Included on the guest list are up and coming duo Brade, country comic and ventriloquist Darren Carr, Ashleigh Dallas, Rex Dallas, Melanie Dyer, Ted Egan, Grant Luhrs, Greg & Sara Storer and Ami Williamson.

Compere for the event is the ever affable and hilarious Jim Haynes. Tickets for the Awards can be purchased  online at, by telephoning 02 6767 5300 or over the counter at the Tamworth Visitor Information Centre on the corner of Peel and Murray Streets.

Tickets will also be available at the door.

The 2010 Australian Bush Laureate Awards will be staged in the famous Tamworth Town Hall at 2pm this Tuesday, January 19.

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And People's Choice Awards this evening

Winners in the 2010 Australian Country Music People's Choice Awards will be announced in Tamworth this evening.

The awards ceremony will take place at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Brisbane Street from 6pm

Limited seating for patrons is available at no charge. Organisers have requested that intending visitors call 0267 622 993 if they wish to attend, to ensure seating is available.

A full listing of finalists for the Awards can be seen here.



Luke wins Toyota Star Maker 2010

Queenslander Luke Austen has been crowned 2010 winner of Australia’s oldest and most successful country music talent search, Toyota Star Maker.

Luke won the title from four fellow grand finalists after competing with all 19 finalists during yesterday afternoon.

The original 20 was reduced by one due to prior illness while last night's grand finalist number was also reduced by one due to the illness of Rick Caballo who, although competing successfully during the day was not able to go on last night.

Luke won the talent search from fellow grand finalists Chelsea Basham (from WA), Tori Darke (NSW), Cory Harvgreaves (Qld) and Mandi Jarry (NSW).

Luke's win was a popular one with the audience and he said 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," Luke said. "It’s a huge opportunity and I intend to make the most of it."

Based in Margate, singer, songwriter and guitarist Luke has a wealth of experience in the country music industry.

Since winning the perpetual musicianship award at Charters Towers Country Music Talent Quest in 1997, Luke has since added to his trophy cabinet and broadened his horizons, touring with some of Australia’s best known country stars.

In 2000 and 2004, he completed four tours of Australia with legendary bush balladeer Brian Young and, in 2004, he became a fulltime member of Troy Cassar-Daley’s touring band.

Last year, Luke released a five-track CD, No Stranger To The Rain.

General Manager of 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 31st year of Star Maker. As the years go by we continue to enjoy a high standard of entrants which keeps taking country music to new heights.

"Toyota Star Maker is the number one benchmark in showcasing Australian country music’s best new talent,” Barry said.

"Liam Brew (last year's winner) has made fantastic use of this opportunity and I have no doubt that Luke Austen will do the same."

Toyota’s Manager of Sponsorship and Promotions 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 Luke with everything he needs to kick start his career in 2010," he 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."

The 2010 Toyota Star Maker prize package is bigger and better than ever and includes...

Use of the title Toyota Star Maker 2010 winner, a "big budget" recording session with one of Australia’s top producers, an album recording contract with award-winning Compass Brothers Records, a Maton guitar, 12 months use of a new, fully serviced, Toyota motor vehicle, a fuel card for the 12 months after winning.

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Concert tonight for Smoky raising funds to build memorial statue

One of the major events tonight in Tamworth during the January Country Music Festival is a special Concert for Smoky – a key fund-raiser for the appeal raising funds to build a memorial statue to the late, great Australian.

The concert is being staged in the famous Tamworth Town Hall from 8pm.

Supported by Tamworth Regional Council and Tourism Tamworth, the Concert for Smoky will feature many of his friends and colleagues paying tribute to the star.

The artist line-up at this stage (in alphabetical order)... Toyota Star Makers 2009 and 2010, respectively, Liam Brew and Luke Austen, The Brewster Brothers, Ashleigh Dallas, Melanie Dyer, Jim Haynes, The Howie Brothers, Amber Lawrence, Shaza Leigh, Tom Maxwell, Deniese Morrison and Ryan Sampson. Nick Erby will be compere.

“And we are getting people more people saying ‘yes, we’ll be there’ all the time," said organiser Deniese Morrison. "We expect to have a number of high profile unannounced special guests as well.

“Smoky touched so many people in his long lifetime, especially those in the country music industry, and they all want to help out if they can.”

As well as performances, the concert will include a number of special aspects celebrating the life of Smoky Dawson, the country music pioneer, and his long-time partner, Dot.

Another appeal activity running through the Festival is a Smoky Dawson Memorial raffle with a first prize of a $2,000 R M Williams open order.

Second prize is a Smoky signed pair of jeans with Smoky Dawson Memorabilia Packs also included as prizes.

Tickets for the raffle, at $5 each, can be obtained from a number of locations in and around Tamworth including the Country Music Hall of Fame in Brisbane Street, the Country Music Bulletin office diagonally opposite Hands of Fame Park at the corner of Kable Avenue and Brisbane Street, Howle’s Pharmacy in Tamworth Shoppingworld in Bridge Street, West, Tamworth, Inspirations in Peel Street and the Kingswood Country Store at Kingswood just south of Tamworth.

A CD with a special song recorded by country star Johnny Chester is also being sold to raise funds, together with copies of Smoky's autobiography.

Specific donations to the appeal can also be made with donation forms and further information available from the Hall of Fame, the Bulletin office or on-line at

The Smoky statue will be located in a prominent position in Country Music Capital and is expected to be unveiled next January.


Chart Update – Planet Country's eight weeks at number one

Lee Kernaghan's Planet Country retains its stranglehold on the top of the national Country Tracks Top 30 singles chart this week for the eighth consecutive week.

Jetty Road and America's Carrie Underwood are also steady, at two and three, respectively, with World Keeps Turning and Cowboy Casanova, while Troy Cassar-Daley's I Love This Place is at four.

Paul Costa's Survivor 1932 is another one holding on to last week's position at five, Felicity Urquhart's Roller Coaster jumps two to six and The McClymonts' Wrapped Up Good (title track to their new album) bounds into the chart at seven.

Luke O'Shea's How Well Have You Loved edges up one to eight, Dianne Lindsay's duet recording with her Dad Reg – Country All The Way – is at nine and Adam Brand's Ready For Love is at 10.

Bullet performers for the week include Kasey Chambers, Poppa Bill & The Little Hillbillies' Lost Music Blues (17 to 14), Ronni Rae Rivers' Things I Want (20 to 17), Amber Lawrence (pictured) with Wrecking Ball (24 to 19), Tania Kernaghan & Ray Kernaghan's We're A Lot Like Each Other (25 to 21) and Johanna Hemara's Starting Over (27 to 24).

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31st Anniversary Toyota Star Maker Grand Finalists Announced

The Top six Grand Finalists for the 31st presentation of Australia’s premier country music talent search – Toyota Star Maker – was announced this afternoon.

In alphabetical order, they are Luke Austen, Chelsea Basham, Rick Caballo, Tori Darke, Cory Harvgreaves and Mandi Jarry.

The winner will be determined during tonight's grand final and announced here later this evening.

Chairman of the Star Maker judging committee and Compass Brothers chief Graham Thompson said: "Once again we have unearthed a group of very talented, emerging artists and selecting the six was very hard and meant some long discussions among the judging group.

"Everything from vocal ability, musicianship, professional experience and presentation of application was taken into account in the selection process.

"Our judging group was eventually unanimous in their selection and we are very excited that the top six represent a great cross section of the country music industry and we have certainly got a super competition in January 2010.


Seven for Hands of Fame imprinting

Seven names were announced yesterday in Tamworth of famous people who will have their handprints immortalised in concrete in Australia's Country Music Capital.

The Hands of Fame announcement was made at the Country Music Hall of Fame Tribute Concert to the Pioneering Ladies of Australian Country Music.

Scheduled for imprinting next Saturday (23rd) are country music star Clelia Adams, leading musician, musical director and producer Rod Coe, nationally renowned country music broadcaster Nick Erby, country music writer Susan Jarvis, star bush balladeer Tom Maxwell, country music pioneer "Slim" Jim Pike and Tamworth musician and iconic Tamworth Cavalcade "one man band" Rodney Walker.

This year's imprinting ceremony will take place following the Festival's Country Music Cavalcade which gets underway an hour earlier this year at 9am.

Photo: three of the inductees from yesterday, from left, Nick Erby, Clelia Adams and Tom Maxwell.

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Country Music Broadcasters Hall of Fame

Meanwhile, two new names have been added to the Australian Country Music Broadcasters' Hall of Fame.

"They are"... iconic broadcaster and promoter John Laws (right), and historian, writer and announcer Kevin Knapp (the man who compered the Golden Guitar Awards radiocast for more than 10 years from their beginning).


A new star will be born today

Today's major event of the Tamworth Country Music Festival is Toyota Star Maker, the nation's leading country music talent quest.

Finals for the event will be staged throughout this afternoon with the grand final determining the winner tonight.

The quest is being staged, as usual, at the Tamworth Regional Entertainment & Conference Centre.

Finalists in Toyota Star Maker this year are Luke Austen from (Grafton, NSW), Chelsea Basham (from Wongan Hills, WA), Armstrong Brown (Glenbrook, NSW), Rick Caballo (Wollongong, NSW), Megan Cooper (Brisbane Qld), Tori Darke (Wollongong, NSW), Neil Douglas (Brisbane, Qld), Jesse Emmanuel (Boambee, NSW), Fiona Fields (Sydney, NSW), John Flanagan (Melbourne, Vic), Leila Fisher (Orange, NSW), Amanda Halloran (Bribie Island, Qld), Cory Hargreaves (Brisbane, Qld), Mandi Jarry (Sydney, NSW), Vanessa Lea (Coffs Harbour, NSW), Rebecca Moore (Melbourne, Vic), Craig Morrison (Sydney NSW), Mickey Pye (Oberon, NSW), Chad Shuttleworth (Eumundi, Qld), Tiffney Stroh (Mount Barker, SA).

Tickets for today's final and tonight's grand final can be ontained "at the door" (subject to availability).

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Hall of Fame Tribute

One of the Tamworth Country Music Festival's major events today will be the Australian Country Music Hall of Fame Tribute to the Pioneering Ladies of Country Music.

Scheduled for 2 o'clock this afternoon at the city's famous Tamworth Town Hall, the concert will pay tribute to pioneers Burnie Burnett, Thel Carey, Lilly Connors, June Holms (pictured), The McKean Sisters, The Schneider Sisters, Sister Dorrie and Shirley Thoms.

The show will star Clelia Adams, Lou Bradley, The Crosby Sisters, Laura Downing, Wayne Horsburgh, Tracey Killen, Anne Kirkpatrick, Dianne Lindsay,Steve Newton, Peter Pratt and Paul Wilson with special guest appearances by Sue Archer and Geoff Mack.

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TSA Tamworth Festival events

In addition to the prestigious awards presentation and concert coming up on Wednesday night, the Tamworth Songwriters' Association (TSA) stages a number of other activities.

These include...

Songwriter showcases at West Tamworth League Club on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday of the main Festival week...

A songwriters workshop on Tuesday morning at the Uniting Church in Marius Street...

The Association's Annual General Meeting on Wednesday morning, also at the Uniting Church...

And the well-known "pass the guitar" session at 6pm on Thursday, at the Uniting Church again.

Next Saturday, the TSA will be entered again in the Country Music Festival Cavalcade which kicks off this year at 9am and travels through Tamworth's Peel Street.

Further details on any of these activities can be obtained from the Association website –


Jetty Road prepare for a big year

With a major international tour, multiple award wins and a performance alongside Brooks and Dunn in America, 2009 was a busy year for country band Jetty Road.

Now with the Tamworth Country Music Festival underway, it would appear 2010 is going to continue the busy time for the band.

Finalists for three Golden Guitars (Album of the Year, Single of the Year, Group/Duo of the Year) and three Australian Country Music People's Choice Awards (Best Album, Best Group or Duo and Best Song), Jetty Road has also been confirmed for the line-up of performers at the Golden Guitar Awards.

The band's only other, and major, performance at this year's Festival s their own show at the Capitol Theatre on Thursday (21st) from 8.15pm.

The success of the band's current single World Keeps Turning at radio (number two on the Country Tracks Top 30 chart) has created "the latest buzz" for tickets for the show. The video for the single is sitting at number 12 on the CMC chart and Jetty Road have also been announced as a finalist for CMC Oz Artist of the Year.

In addition to all of this, Jetty Road were recently announced as finalists for multiple awards at the 2010 Victorian and National Country Music Awards to be presented in February at the Whittlesea Country Music Festival... Best National Group, Smoky Dawson Best Independent Release, Victorian Album of the Year, Victorian Group or Duo of the Year and Victorian Entertainer of the Year.

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Tamworth ute muster

The Tamworth Country Music Festival has joined the ranks of festivals looking at a "beaut ute" component.

According to a story in The Northern Daily Leader, "utes of all shapes and sizes will be heading down the road to Oakburn Park Raceway (just west of the city on the Gunnedah Road) for the inaugural Country Capital Ute Muster today (Saturday) from 9am until 8.30pm".

The Tamworth City Speedway and the Ned Kelly Gang Ute Club are organising the event to celebrate the utes that country music fans drive.

Ute club member Rebecca Stocks said, The Leader reported, people were coming from all over the three eastern states to take part whilst enjoying country music.

The club wanted to get a ute muster going with the country music festival, she said, to further promote Tamworth as Australia's Country Music Capital.

Representatives of perhaps the biggest ute muster in Australia, Deniliquin, are expected to attend.

Winner of today's circle work event will go into the finals of the Deniliquin Ute Muster circle work competition in October.

Further information can be obtained from Julie Eslick on 0418 278 629.

Photo: a shot from last year's Deni Ute Muster. Organisers are hoping to emulate the Deniliquin activity in Tamworth.



Finalists announced for 2010 People’s Choice Awards

Finalists have been announced for this year’s Australian Country Music People’s Choice Awards.

For Best Female Vocal, the finalists are Jayne Denham, Harmony James, Amber Lawrence, Melinda Schneider and Felicity Urquhart.

For Best Male Vocal ... Adam Brand, Troy Cassar-Daley, Adam Harvey, Lee Kernaghan and Graham Rodger.

For Best Group or Duo ... Carter & Carter, Jetty Road, The McClymonts, Simply Bushed and The Sunny Cowgirls.

For Best Song ... A Hat Like That (written and recorded by Graham Rodger), Big Big Love (written and recorded by Troy Cassar-Daley, Million Miles (written and recorded by Jetty Road), Shake This Town (written by Garth Porter, Colin Buchanan & Jayne Denham, recorded by Jayne Denham) and Surviving Black Saturday (written and recorded by Carter & Carter.

For Best Bush Ballad ... The Dust Of Kalkadoon (written by Ian Quinn, recorded by Dean Perrett), The First Lady Of Country (written by Graham Rodger & Deirdre Wilmington, recorded by Graham Rodger), Last Mile Home (written and recorded by Troy Cassar-Daley), Old Black Quart (written by Stan Coster, Tracy Coster, Ian Quinn, Chris Pritchard & Roger Corbett, recorded by Tracy Coster) and When I Was A Boy (written and recorded by Greg Storer & Sara Storer).

For Best Album ... Be Yourself  by Melinda Schneider, I Love This Place by Troy Cassar-Daley, Life At A Million Miles by Jetty Road, Planet Country by Lee Kernaghan and We’re Gonna Be Alright by Graham Rodger.

For Most Promising Future Star ...  Liam Brew, Tori Darke, Bec Hance, Lianna Rose and Daly Stephenson.

For Best Video Clip ... I Love This Place by Troy Cassar-Daley, Planet Country by Lee Kernaghan, Tangerine Sky by various artists, What Country’s All About by Graham Rodger and When I Was A Boy by Greg Storer & Sara Storer.

For Most Popular Country Music DJ ... Larry Cann (of Kix Country), Jeff Dunn (of 3MBR and the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia network), Carter Edwards (of the Super Radio Network), Nick Erby (of Country Music Radio), Barbara Morison (of 2SER’s All Kinds Of Country), Gary Parkhouse (of 2CHR Cessnock, NSW), Brendan T Moylan (of Born In Boots, Curtin Radio, WA) and John Nutting (of the ABC’s Saturday Night Country).

For Most Popular Country Music Radio Station or Program ... Cool Country 2KA (Western Sydney, NSW), “Country Music Radio” (interstate or national), CRN “Good Morning Country”  (interstate or national), Curtin Radio 100.1 (Perth, WA), FM 98.9 (Brisbane, Qld), KIX Country  (interstate or national), “Saturday Night Country” ABC (interstate or national), Today’s Country 94one (Central Coast, NSW).

Australian Country Music People’s Choice Awards winners will be announced at a function to be held on Tuesday, January 19, at 6pm at the Australian Country Music Hall of Fame in Brisbane Street, Tamworth.

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Schneiderville this Saturday

A special presentation will take place in Tamworth this Saturday at the Tamworth Regional Entertainment & Conference Centre (TRECC)... Schneiderville, featuring the remarkable mother and daughter talents of Mary and Melinda Schneider.

"The Schneider family home was like any other" says Melinda, "full of laughter, good times and yodelling!"

It seems Mary and Melinda were born to entertain.

The new show, written by Mary and Melinda, tells their unique story through song and will take patrons on a moving  journey of their combined 90 year history in music.

Inspired by their appearance on Andrew Denton’s "Enough Rope" in 2008, Mary and Melinda share the stage and their family stories, new songs and those well known songs that have made them so popular with audiences everywhere.

Internationally acclaimed Mary Schneider has won countless awards and has been wowing fans for more than 60 years with her amazing vocal and instrumental ability.

She’s been "yodelling the classics" all over the world and has performed with the likes of José Carreras, Sir Peter Ustinov and Bryan Ferry.

Melinda has been wowing audiences for the last 30 years, from her first recording at eight years of age to the release this decade of five acclaimed solo albums.

She has two Gold Records and six coveted Golden Guitars to her credit as well as numerous other award and has had songs recorded by John Farnham, Jimmy Little, Olivia Newton-John and Billy Thorpe.

Schneiderville takes place Saturday (16th) at 3pm.

Tickets can be obtained from the Tamworth Visitor Information Centre at the corner of Peel and Murray Streets, by phone on 02 6767 6300 or on line

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Click here to view Schneiderville Q & A...



Bush Balladeers' Star Quest

The 2010 Australian Bush Balladeers Association (ABBA) Star Quest will be staged at West Diggers in Tamworth on Monday afternoon (January 18).

A strong field of entries in the 2010 quest was narrowed to six finalists... David Baldi (from Victoria), John Battle (NSW), Pat Brown (NSW), Kate Linke (WA), Ray Savage (Queensland) and Trevor Tolton (Qld).

Last year's winner was Sharon Smith who will perform during the gala presentation concert next week together with guest artists Eliza Parker and Daly Stephenson.

Lyn Manning and Anita Ree will co-compere the event while the Charlie Boyter Band will provide backing.

The Quest winner will receive recording time for a radio single and major festival appearances around the country throughout their 12 months as winner, a process that will bring them in contact with not only new fans for their music, but introduce their talent to the industry, radio and give them lifelong promotion skills, said an ABBA spokesman.

Pictured, clockwise from top left, David Baldi, John Battle, Pat Brown, Trevor Tolton, Ray Savage and Kate Linke.

Tickets can be obtained from Wests on 02 6765 7588 or online via


CMC Rocks The Snowys

The final line-up for this year's CMC Rocks The Snowys event has been announced.

Presented by XYZnetworks’ Country Music Channel (CMC), Rob Potts Entertainment Edge and Chugg Entertainment, the event is billed as "Australia’s premier roots and country music festival".

Home grown country acts featuring on stage Kirsty Lee Akers, Victoria Baillie, Sinead Burgess, Mike Carr, Kasey Chambers, Steve Forde, Adam Harvey, Jetty Road, Lee Kernaghan, Tania Kernaghan, Amber Lawrence, Peter McWhirter,Jasmine Rae, Dan Sultan and Wilson Pickers.

Overseas acts appearing include America's Nanci Griffith, Jack Ingram and Phil Vassar and Canada's Doc Walker.

The event runs at Thredbo, southern NSW, over the weekend of March 5 and 6.

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LBS Studio Open Day Concert

Billed as "the biggest traditional country music concert at the Tamworh Country Music Festival", the annual LBS Studio Open Day Concert will be staged at Lindsay Butler Studios' Moonbi complex (New England Gully Road, Moonbi, north of Tamworth) this Sunday, January 17, from 10am.

This major festival event features more than 20 traditional country recording artists each year and attracts a huge audience of enthusiasts who enjoy a relaxed concert experience.

Lindsay Butler and The Butler Showband provide the backing for the line-up of talent over a four hour period.

Artists confirmed for the 2010 concert include leading male vocalists and bush balladeers Brian Letton and Tom Maxwell with Trevor Adamson, Greg Bain, Ashley Cook, Dale Duncan, Bob Easter, Les Lawson, Peter Salata, yodelling Pete Smith and Greg Williams.

The ladies line-up includes Melissa Bajric, Lynette Guest, Rachel Jillett, Shaza Leigh, Dianne Lindsay, Lana Ross and Chic Taylor.

Guitar pickers are always well represented including this year by Lindsay, of course, Barry Benning, Peter Simpson and Lindsay Waddington.

And bush poet Manfred Vijars will make his debut at the open day this year.

The open day will also feature three album launches... Lindsay Butlers Another Side, Peg Gilchrist's ‘Queen Of Country Piano and Judy Stevens' At Last.

Tickets to the LBS Studio Open Day Concert are $15 (bring your own chair).

Full catering is provided by the Kootingal Lions Club.

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Chart Update – seven weeks at number one for Planet Country

Lee Kernaghan's Planet Country remains at the top of the national Country Tracks Top 30 singles chart for the seventh consecutive week this week.

Jetty Road's World Keeps Turning edges up one place to number two while America's Carrie Underwood is at three with Cowboy Casanova and Adam Brand's Ready For Love slips to number four.

Paul Costa's Survivor 1932 jumps three places to number five, Dianne Lindsay's duet recording with her Dad Reg – Country All The Way – is at six and Troy Cassar-Daley's I Love This Place bounds into the top 10 at seven.

Felicity Urquhart's Roller Coaster is at eight, Luke O'Shea's How Well Have You Loved is at nine and Harmony James' Precious Little is at 10.

Bullet performers for the week include The McClymonts' Wrapped Up Good (16 to 11), Lou Bradley's Uluru (17 to 14), Kasey Chambers, Poppa Bill & The Little Hillbillies' Lost Music Blues (21 to 17), Kirsty Lee Akers' I Ain't Your Picket Fence Girl (22 to 18), Ronni Rae Rivers' Things I Want (24 to 20), Steve Eales' Echuca Sun (25 to 22), Amber Lawrence's Wrecking Ball (29 to 24), Tania Kernaghan & Ray Kernaghan's We're A Lot Like Each Other (28 to 25) and Johanna Hemara's Starting Over (30 to 27).

New entries to the chart this week are Sandra Humphries with Is That What He Told You (in at 29) and McAlister Kemp's All Kinds Of Tough (at 30).

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Finalists announced for Golden Fiddle Awards

Finalists have been announced for the Golden Fiddle Awards 2010 to be announced in Tamworth next week.

For Best fiddler as a Soloist, finalists are Andy Baylor, Marian Burns and Catherine Fraser.

For Best band featuring a Fiddler, the Davidson Brothers (Lachlan and Hamish Davidson), Evenish Khaleda Foster and Tom De Ridder), Lolovina (Jess Randall), Round Mountain Girls (Paul "Rabbit" Robinson) and Vardos (Alana Hunt).

For Best CD by a Fiddler as a Soloist... Just Fiddlin’ Around by Marian Burns, Possum Stole The Pumpkin by Andy Baylor and Rhymes And Reasons by Catherine Fraser.

For Best CD by a Band, Group, Ensemble or Orchestra featuring a Fiddler... Baro Love by Lololovina, Born To Play by the Davidson Brothers, Gates Of Gold by the Melbourne Scottish Fiddle Club, White Rum by Round Mountain Girls and Wild Side Of The Village by Vardos.

For the Youth Achievement Award... Khalida Foster and Penelope Somerville.

For Best Fiddle Teacher... Marian Burns, Catherine Fraser and Emma Louise Nixon.

For Best fiddle composition... Agony And Ecstasy by the Davidson Brothers, The Hills Of Kaitoke by Catherine Fraser, Hot Whiskey by Khalida Foster, Oily Rag by Clare O’Meara and The Original Set by the Melbourne Scottish Fiddle Club.

No finalists are announced for a further award, the Lifetime Achievement Award.

The 2010 Golden Fiddle Awards will be staged in the famous Tamworth Town Hall on Thursday, January 21, from 9am.

Tickets are available from the Tamworth Visitor Information Centre, by telephone, 02 6767 5300, or online by clicking here.

Photo (by Lou Farina): Pixie Jenkins clowns around after being presented with a Golden Fiddle Lifetime Achievement Award last January.

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McAlister Kemp album set for release

The debut album from newly signed ABC Music act McAlister Kemp – All Kinds Of Tough – will be released next week.

McAlister Kemp are Drew McAlister and Troy Kemp, both born and bred country boys... Drew born in Narrabri and raised in Moree, Troy born and raised in Kempsey.

The duo met when both were cast to perform in Aussie’s Walk The Line - A Tribute To Johnny Cash. The pair found that not only did they gel as songwriters but their voices blended effortlessly as a duo.

"All Kinds Of Tough in many ways sums up what McAlister Kemp are all about," said a spokesman for the duo.

"Their songs touch on the core issues faced on a daily basis by everyday Australians. And they also have a larrikin side! The title track to their debut album touches on the 'tough' challenges we all face during the different stages of our lives."

"We sat down with the idea that 'tough' doesn’t mean the same thing as it did when we were teenagers," Drew and Troy said. "The older you get the more 'tough' evolves into something else - it becomes more about the bigger picture in life.

"It’s about the average man going through life with all its challenges," they said.

McAlister Kemp recorded their debut album in late 2009 with producer Matt Fell (Sara Storer, Butterfly 9, Damien Leith).

The title track has been released as the first single from the new work.

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Telstra Road to Tamworth

Ten of Australia’s most promising young country music artists, along with James Blundell, Felicity Urquhart and official ambassadors The McClymonts will perform at the 2010 Telstra Road to Tamworth (TRTT) national talent search final next Tuesday January 19.

"We’re really excited about performing at the TRTT Final and watching some fantastic new country music acts all competing for that coveted winner’s title," said Mollie McClymont.

And the finalists are... David Agius from Greystanes (NSW), Aaron Bolton from
Tamworth (NSW), Imogen Clark from Bowen Mountain (NSW), Kristal Collins
from Mt Compass (SA), Makaylie Foodey from Ashtonfield (NSW), David Garnham
from Darwin (NT), Tenielle Musulin from Karratha (WA), Craig Sinclair from Mt Clarence, (WA) and, in the Songwriter Category – Tori Darke from Mt Annan (NSW) and Luke Webb from Blaxland (NSW).

The Final event is a culmination of several months of hard work by the top 10 finalists who will be vying for a prize package including two return trips to America's home of country music Nashville.

Seventeen competition heat winners were flown to Sydney in December to compete in the semi final and participate in a two-day music development “Boot Camp” under the guidance of music industry heavyweights including James Blundell, The McClymonts and Felicity Urquhart.

The winning performer and songwriter will be announced on stage during the final event which will be staged at the Tamworth Regional Entertainment and Conference Centre.

Last year's competition winners Peter McWhirter and Corey Colum will also perform.

Now in its seventh year, the Telstra Road to Tamworth aims to unearth and develop unique music talent across the whole of the nation by visiting every State and Territory of Australia each year.
Tickets can be purchased online through, via phone (02 6767 5300) or in person at the Tamworth Visitor Information Centre at the corner of Peel and Murray Streets.

Photo (by Ted Sealey): Telstra Road to Tamworth top 10 finalists with TRTT Ambassadors The McClymonts (from left sitting on stairs: Brooke, Sam and Mollie McClymont).

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International Spur Award Show comes to Tamworth

Tamworth will play host to Frank Ifield's International Spur Award Show this January.

The one-off show at the Tamworth Town Hall will be an opportunity for Frank to pay tribute to the international success of three Spur Award winners, "each one having proved a credit to Australian country music," Frank said, "both here and on the world stage.

Donna Boyd, Mike Carr and Nikki Gillis are the three Spur Award winners to feature in the show.

In 1996, during the early days of the Galston Country Music Festival, it was decided by the Rotary Club of Galston that Frank, the Festival's patron, should present his own unique award and that they would sponsor it to promote and further the careers of Australian independent country music talent for the world market.

Only one award is presented each year at a special Frank Ifield Awards Night.

The year 1999 saw the Spur Award presented from stage during Frank’s own radio show on the 2KY Radio Network to Mike Carr. Mike has "since gone on to achieve great heights as a singer and prolific songwriter," Frank said.

Then the new century spawned new concepts and the award became known as the Frank Ifield International Spur Award utilising Frank’s expertise to further promote winners overseas.

Donna Boyd, the 2003 winner, had a string of European top 10 hits and toured the UK and Ireland during 2004.

Then, last year, Nikki Gillis won the award and undertook a very successful tour of the UK in July (with a follow-up tour already planned for this year).

Together with Donna, Mike and Nikki, Frank will be introducing "a bright young talented performer" in Johanna Hemara who will also be doing her Tamworth record launch and all will be supported by Bob Howe's Hillbilly Heaven Band.

Tickets for the show, on Wednesday, January 20 at 9am, are available from the Tamworth Visitor Information Centre on 02 6767 5300 or click here to book on-line.


More success for Rachel

Australian Bush Balladeers Star Quest 2008 winner Rachel Richards has released the first single from her latest album Beautiful Dreams.

The release, titled Going Home, follows widespread airplay of Rachel's previous two singles.

"This is my 'home is where the heart is' or 'where you hang your hat' song," says Rachel. "Why does going to the place that I was born have to feel like going home? The memories are there, but there are new memories to be made in my new home town."

The song, which has an accompanying video clip, is described as powerful and compelling while the launch of Rachel’s new album in October drew enthusiastic reaction from both the country music industry and fans.

Accolades already gained from the new work include three finalist berths at the 2010 TSA Songwriters Salute Awards for Two Little Stars (in the Children's section), Handle With Prayer in the Gospel Section and Rose Beside The Highway in Country Ballad.

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Chart Update – Lee's six weeks at number one

Lee Kernaghan's Planet Country hangs on to the number one spot for the sixth week on this week's national Country Tracks Top 30 singles chart.

Adam Brand's Ready For Love remains at number two while Jetty Road's World Keeps Turning jumps three places to number three and America's Carrie Underwood is down to four with Cowboy Casanova.

Dianne Lindsay's duet recording with her Dad Reg – Country All The Way – is steady at five, Harmony James' Precious Little is at six and Felicity Urquhart's Roller Coaster is back up to seven.

Paul Costa's Survivor 1932 is up two to eight, The Bobkatz/Davidson Brothers duet The First Step is at nine and Luke O'Shea's How Well Have You Loved enters the top 10 at 10.

Bullet performers for the week include Troy Cassar-Daley's I Love This Place (15 to 11), The McClymonts' Wrapped Up Good (20 to 16), Kasey Chambers, Poppa Bill & The Little Hillbillies' Lost Music Blues (25 to 21) and Ronni Rae Rivers' Things I Want (27 to 24).

New entries to the chart this week are Amber Lawrence with Wrecking Ball (in at 29) and Johanna Hemara (pictured) with Starting Over (at 30).

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