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FRIDAY, JUNE 29, 2012

Academy inspires in lead-up to Toyota Hats Off

Some of the newest members of the Australian country music industry are described as "an inspiration" as they work day-in day-out in Tamworth, at the Australian Academy of Country Music to develop their skills and talents in the lead-up to the city’s mid-year festival Toyota Hats Off to Country.

It's all happening at the 16th Academy, run by the Country Music Association of Australia.

Right now, 22 students in the senior class (over 18s) are attending tuition and master-classes that provide them with special insight into their potential future as professional artists and musicians.

And next week, a total of 21 individuals will arrive in the city to take part in the junior class (under 18s) of 2012.

Both classes will climax with graduation concerts for each which feature as major elements of the Hats Off festival.

One of Country Music Capital’s leading venues, “Blazes” at the West Tamworth League Club, is the venue for both Academy finale concerts, the junior event on Thursday, July 5, the senior event on Saturday, July 7.

The senior class comprises... Ryan Daykin from Mansfield (Vic), Krystal Donnelly from Coomera (Qld), Zoe Giddings-Jones from Brisbane (Qld), Dana Hassall from Yalangur (Qld), Jackie Izod from Adelaide River (NT), Seleen McAlister from Brisbane (Qld), Matthew McNeilly from Blenheim (NZ), Kelly Menhennett from Barmera (SA), Emma-Jane Montgomery from Bunyip (Vic), Jon O Nicholson from Wellington (NSW), Melissa Partridge from Brisbane (Qld), Yuliana Pascoe from Darwin (NT), Ben Ransom from Sydney (NSW), Andrew Redford from Buderim (Qld), Amelia Richards from Sydney (NSW), Loren-Jade Ryan from Tamworth (NSW), Bryce Sainty from Woy Woy (NSW), Emily Smith from Windsor Gardens (SA), Trevor Tolton from Brisbane (Qld), Megan Williams from Tamworth (NSW), Hayley Wilson from Brisbane (Qld) and Benny Woodley from South Hedland (WA).

Senior students, live in for  two weeks at Tamworth’s Calrossy School. The under 18s join the seniors in for the following week.

The junior class comprises... Damien Agius from Mackay (Qld), Gabrielle Ballard from Port Augusta (SA), Brothers3 – Makirum, Shardyn and Tayzin Fahey-Leigh – from Drummoyne (NSW), Taylah Cox from Perth (WA), Breanna Dunn from Sydney (NSW), Angus Gill from Wauchope (NSW), Tia Gostelow from Hay Point (Qld), Karrie Hayward from Mackay (Qld),  Sam Jessen from  Goondiwindi (Qld), Jessica Kenworthy from Sandhurst (Vic), Breanna Kinlough from Adelaide (SA), Sam McCann from Gympie (Qld), Rebecca Nethery from Chillagoe (Qld), Taylor Pfeiffer from Clare (SA), Taylor Ralls from Moe (Vic), Rebecca Scholfield from Nelson (NZ), Caitlyn Shadbolt from Gympie (Qld), Sabrina Soares from Sydney (NSW) and Kiara Taylor from Elderslie (NSW).

Group leaders mentoring the senior class are Kevin Bennett, David Carter and Felicity Urquhart.

Tickets for the two Academy graduation concerts can be obtained from www.wtlc.com.au.

More information about the Academy can be obtained at academycountrymusic.com.au.

For more information about Toyota Hats Off to Country, log on to www.hatsofftocountry.com.

Photo (by courtesy Meryl Davis): a master class at this year's senior college course laps up the tuition provided by leading Australian instrumentalist and songwriter Lawrie Minson.



Aussies among Unsigned Only competition semi-finalists

Organisers of the Unsigned Only competition have released the names of semi-finalists for this year and six Australian acts have made the list.

A total of 725 semi-finalists were selected from more than 7,000 entrants, representing solo artists and bands from 80 countries worldwide.

Finalists will be announced on Thursday, July 19, winners in August.

Unsigned Only is a unique international music competition designed for solo artists, bands, and singers who are not signed to a major label record company or any of its affiliates, subsidiaries or imprints.

(We) look for outstanding, talented artists," said a spokesman. "A newcomer or veteran...raw or polished - the "gem" that needs to be discovered. Unsigned Only is looking for the total package."

The competition offers prizes, recognition, exposure and the chance to be heard by a judging panel of high-profile recording artists and industry professionals.

But, Unsigned Only takes it a step further and for the first time ever, a music competition offers the Grand Prize winner the once-in-a-lifetime chance to be mentored by and directly network with the top echelon of record company professionals and get guidance, advice, feedback, and networking opportunities.

The Australian/New Zealand country semi-finalists include Kaylee Bell (pictured), Jenna Brooks, Paul Cowderoy, Natalie Howard, The Mid North, Luke O'Shea and Shandell.

Judging criteria for the competition includes originality, songwriting, vocals, performance, and overall "likeability".


Chart Update – Adam retains number one spot

Adam Harvey's latest hit, Dig Two Graves, retains the number one position on this week's national Country Tracks Top 30 singles chart.

Jetty Road's Sweet Goodbye is steady at number two, while The Harmonators' Perfect Storm is up two more places to number three as is Camille & Stuie's Beverley Joy up two places to number four.

American artists Blake Shelton, Chris Young and Carrie Underwood hold the next three places... Blake at five with Drink On It, Chris at six with You and Carrie at seven with Good Girl.

Chelsea Basham's I Make My Own Sunshine is steady at eight, Troy Cassar-Daley's Live And Learn is at nine and The McClymonts' Piece Of Me enters the top 10 at 10.

Bullet performers for the week include Amber Lawrence's The Man Across The Street (14 to 11), McAlister Kemp's Cool Beer Hot Women (16 to 12), Craig Morrison's Just Another Sundown (22 to 19), Travis Collins' Summer Love (26 to 22) and O'Shea's Every Day Is A Good Day (29 to 26).

New entries to the chart this week include Paul Cowderoy (pictured) with Need To Need You (in at 28).

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


MONDAY, JUNE 25, 2012

Wayne inducted into Steel Guitar Hall of Fame

Wayne Appleby has been inducted into Australia's Steel Guitar Hall of Fame.

The induction took place on Saturday night during the 2012 Steel Guitar Festival in Geebung, Brisbane.

Wayne is the 13th recipient of the honour, following Sydney Downs and Paddy Long last year, Noel Anstead and Michel Rose in 2010, Benny Joyner and Jack Richards in 2009, Norm Bodkin and Warren Neilsen in 2008 and inaugural inductees Kenny Kitching and George Xanthos in 2007.

The the first Tasmanian pedal steel player to receive recognition from the steel guitar fraternity in Australia, Wayne has had a lengthy career in the business since he started playing in the mid 1950s.

He spent 40 years as a professional musician in live touring, television recording, show production and management in Australia, New Zealand and the USA and is featured on more than 300 albums as a session player.

Wayne worked as an assistant director and producer of music video clips, appeared as a musician in the movie "Flying Chips" in 1975 and was one of the musicians that recorded the score of the Australian film "Burning Fields" in the late 1980s.

In 1982, he was awarded a Life Membership in the Hall of Fame Steel Guitar Australia.

Wayne has toured with many artists including Dr Hook, Frank Ifield, Reg Lindsay, Daniel O'Donnell, Charley Pride, Jean Stafford, Kitty Wells and Slim Whitman.

The Australian Steel Guitar Hall of Fame names worthy recipients each year during the Brisbane Steel Guitar Club's annual festival.

Fellow players US expat who moved to Australia in the 1970s Pee Wee Clark and Sydney-sider Graham Griffith were also recognised.

Weblink – www.brissteelguitar.com/hall_of_fame.html.


Jimmy Little Salute

A tribute concert in memory of Australian country music legend Jimmy Little will be held in Armidale, NSW, on Saturday June 30.

Jimmy died in April 2012 and now his memory will be celebrated at a concert to will include performances by his grandson, singer James Henry Little, and by his daughter Frances Peters-Little.

The country star had a long association with Armidale through members of the early Jimmy Little Trio. Cyril Green and Doug Peters both received Order of Australia Medals in 2011 in recognition of their work in music and their contributions to the Aboriginal and Armidale communities.

From the early 1960s, the group they formed provided a highly professional and renowned backing band for Jimmy, creating a sound that contributed greatly to his continuing success.

This band will be reformed for the tribute concert with the addition of Cyril's son Tony Green and grandson Anthony.

Steel guitar legend Kenny Kitching, who was a frequent contributor to Jimmy's on stage and recording performances, will also be part of the concert along with television and stage star Emma Hannah who also worked with Jimmy over many years.

All proceeds from the concert will go to the Jimmy Little Foundation which he established with the aim of creating a healthier future for Indigenous Australians.

In recent years, the Foundation has been active in providing funds for many projects such as a Mobile Kidney Dialysis Unit in the Western Desert region and the Thumbs Up campaign to educate young Indigenous Australians about the benefits of healthy food.

The Jimmy Little Tribute Concert will be held in the Armidale City Bowling Club in Dumaresq Street on Saturday June 30 from 7pm. Tickets are $30, available through the club on 02 6772 5666.



McAlister Kemp tour

Award-winning duo McAlister Kemp have announced dates for a tour of NSW, Queensland, Victoria and the ACT in support of their latest album Country Proud.

When Country Proud was released in March, it debuted at number one on the ARIA (Australian Recording Industry Association) Country Albums chart and as high as 18 on the all genre album sales chart.

The Golden Guitar, CMC and People's Choice award winners kick off their tour in Canberra on June 29 taking in centres including Bathurst, Belmont, Cooma, Goulburn, Hallam, Macksville and in July. 

In August, the duo plays the Gympie Muster, in September the Deni Ute Muster, a gig in Brisbane in November and a stint on the "high seas" with "Cruisin' Country".

Pundits say the chart topping album title track is fast becoming Australian country music's new anthem.

The duo will feature a number of support acts during the tour including Chelsea Basham, Tori Darke and Markus Meier.

McAlister Kemp will release the third single and music video from Country Proud in the next couple of weeks. The current single, meanwhile, is racing up the Country Tracks national singles chart and the CMC (Country Music Channel) Top 30 playlist.

Weblink – mcalisterkemp.com.


Jessica stars

Jessica Mauboy, inaugural winner of the Telstra Road to Tamworth talent search in 2004, and now a well known pop star, is starring in a new movie, "The Sapphires".

Jessica stars with Chris O'Dowd in a movie set in 1968 about four Australian Aboriginal girls who form a group and head to Vietnam to entertain the troops.

The movie debuted at the Cannes Film Festival and received a standing ovation.

Directed by Wayne Blair and also starring Deborah Mailman and introducing Shari Sebbens and Miranda Tapsell, "The Sapphires" was inspired by the true story of four talented singers from a remote Aboriginal mission who are discovered by an unlikely talent scout (O'Dowd).

Plucked from obscurity and branded as Australia's answer to The Supremes, "The Sapphires" grasp the chance of a lifetime when they're offered their first real gig – entertaining the troops in Vietnam. For the girls, a whole new world opens before them.

The movie will debut in Australia at the Melbourne Film Festival on August 2 and go into cinemas on August 9.

Sony Music will release the soundtrack on July 29.

Photo: a snapshot from the movie trailer wih Jessica (left), Shari and Miranda.


Chart Update – Adam at number one

Adam Harvey's latest hit, Dig Two Graves, has taken over the top spot on this week's national Country Tracks Top 30 singles chart.

Jetty Road's Sweet Goodbye jumps another three places to be at number two, places to number five, Troy Cassar-Daley's number one from the last three weeks, Live And Learn, is at three while America's Chris Young is steady at four with You.

The Harmonators' Perfect Storm is up two to number five, Camille & Stuie's Beverley Joy jumps three places to number six and America's Blake Shelton is at seven with Drink On It.

Chelsea Basham's I Make My Own Sunshine bounds into the top 10 at eight, Beccy Cole's Waitress is at nine and Carrie Underwood's Good Girl is at 10.

Bullet performers for the week include The McClymonts' Piece Of Me (16 to 12), Amber Lawrence's The Man Across The Street (18 to 14), McAlister Kemp's Cool Beer Hot Women (20 to 16) and Craig Morrison's Just Another Sundown (25 to 22).

New entries to the chart this week include O'Shea with Every Day Is A Good Day (in at 29).

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


MONDAY, JUNE 18, 2012

Jonny and The Pigs in AGT running

Two country acts have made the semi finals of the Seven Network's "Australia's Got Talent".

Jonny Taylor, the Capital Country Music Association joint overall National Talent Quest winner 2012 will appear in his "Australia's Got Talent" semi final this Wednesday night (June 20).

The Pigs successfully competed in last week's semi final.

This week's semi goes to air at 7:30pm (double check timing in local guides).

For those who want to vote for Jonny, you will be able to do so during the show and up until 10am on Friday.

Text "Jonny" to 1977 8888 or visit his Facebook page for more information

Weblinks – www.facebook.com/jonnytaylormusic, www.facebook.com/thepigsofficial.


Catherine to headline Toyota Hats Off

Multi Golden Guitar winner Catherine Britt has been booked for the major show of Toyota Hats Off To Country 2012.

Toyota Hats Off to Country will run in Tamworth featuring more than 80 individual country artists, new, established and up-and-coming, in dozens of events and activities over four big days and nights from Thursday to Sunday, July 5 to 8.

Catherine is one of Australia’s leading contemporary country stars and comes to Toyota Hats Off just a month before the release of her latest album Always Never Enough.

Recorded in America, the album is the star’s fifth and features 13 new recordings, nine of which were written by Catherine. The first single from the album, the title track, was released this week.

Since the release of her most recent, self-titled, album in 2010, Catherine has won numerous awards for her songwriting. Her song Sweet Emmylou not only won Single of the Year at this year's Golden Guitar Awards but also took second place in the 2011 Vanda & Young Songwriting Competition.

Sweet Emmylou also took second place in the Americana category the 2011 International Songwriting Competition which had more than 16,000 entries from 112 countries.

This year has been a busy year so far for Catherine. She performed last weekend at Song Summit's Women Of Vanda and Young showcase along with Megan Washington. She has also been on tour with Beccy Cole, co-headlined at CMC Rocks the Hunter and co-hosted the seventh Australian Music Prize (AMP Awards).

Catherine also hosts the national "Alt Country" show on the Country Music Channel.

In July, she will head back to the USA where she was personally invited to perform at this year's Woody Guthrie Folk Festival after which she will head out on tour in August and September to support the release of the new album.

Catherine’s Toyota Hats Off Concert will be staged on Friday night, July 6, in Blazes Auditorium at the West Tamworth League Club.

More shows and artists are being added to the Toyota Hats Off program almost daily with, in addition to Catherine, the following now confirmed to appear… Sabrina Alison, Greg Bain, Rex Baldwin, The Blowflies, Bowen & Clair, Brothers3, Don Costa, Trevor Coombes, The Dally Croft Band, Graham Doubleday, Col Finley, Mal & Janet Gallagher, Christina George, Lynette Guest, Kevin Harris, Ged & Trudy Hintz, LeAnne King, Christie Lamb, Dianne Lindsay, Bruce McCumstie, Peter McWhirter, Lawrie Minson, Des Morgan, Patti Morgan, Amos Morris, Luke O’Shea, Paully & Chris from Simply Bushed, Lorraine Pfitzner, Alby Pool & No City Limits, Peter Simpson, Harley Smith, Col Taylor, Those Gals, Viper Creek Band, Rodney Walker and Wendy Wood.

More information about Toyota Hats Off to Country can be found at www.hatsofftocountry.com, including the festival program which is being updated on a daily basis.


Oakey Junior Festival entries close today

Entries in the Garden City Junior Country Music Festival, sponsored by Toowoomba's Mountain Tracks Recording Studio, close today.

The Festival runs this Saturday and Sunday at the Oakey Cultural Centre.

Sections in the talent quest range through novice and under 9's to juvenile and junior.

Guest artist at the grand final will be last year's overall winner Helen Stewart-Koster (pictured).

Further information can be obtained from Paul Wilson on 07 4634 4762 or mobile 0448 772 972.


SUNDAY, JUNE 17, 2012

Vale - Gary Brown

Talented Tamworth musician and recording studio operator Gary Brown has died.

Aged only in his mid 50s, it is understood he was diagnosed with cancer several months ago and succumbed to the disease early this morning.

A member of the well known and respected Brown musical dynasty in Country Music Capital, Gary had a long involvement in the music business starting out professionally as a player in his Dad Geoff's showband.

In the 1970s, he had a long stint with Nev Nicholls' Country Playboys at Sydney's Texas Tavern playing mainly for American servicemen on R&R (rest and recreation) leave from the Vietnam war.

In 1994, Gary established his Hilltop Recording Studio.

Gary's funeral will be held at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses, Goonoo Goonoo Road, Tamworth, at 11am on Monday, June 25.


Keith to launch 2013 world tour from Australia

Australian country superstar Keith Urban will launch his next world tour with two concerts in his home state capital city Brisbane in January.

The Australian leg of the tour only has four dates at this stage, the two in Brisbane plus Melbourne and Sydney.

"Being such a Queenslander at heart I'm stoked we can start the Australian tour in Brisbane," Keith said, "I reckon it's gonna go off. Can't wait to tour again, see you in January Brissy!!"

The Australian shows are being presented by Chugg Entertainment and Nine Live with tickets going on sale at 9am Monday June 25. Monkeyville (fan club) members will get the first opportunity to buy tickets at 10am this coming Wednesday June 20.

Keith has earned a valued reputation as an elite musician with an extensive and diverse musical knowledge. His energy charged concerts consistently receive high praise from both fans and critics as the star works his way around a stadium to perform to the entire audience from different locations, all the while singing and performing.

It's been a big year for Keith so far. He's achieved a number one selling album on the ARIA chart with The Story So Far, a definitive hits collection of his most popular songs, while working as a coach on the Nine Network’s "The Voice". The album also contains the previously unreleased song For You from the "Act Of Valour" soundtrack.

Keith's Get Closer 2011 World Tour solidified him as one of the music industry's best live performers with album sales of more than 15.5 million to date, four Grammy Awards, three ARIA awards and 11 Golden Guitars to his credit.

Weblink – www.keithurban.net.


FRIDAY, JUNE 15, 2012

New show announced for Toyota Hats Off

Three of country music's hottest new contemporary acts are combining for a special concert during the upcoming Toyota Hats Off to Country festival in Tamworth, Australia's Country Music Capital.

Multi award winner and 2012 Golden Guitar finalist, home-grown country star Aleyce Simmonds will star in the show with multi award winner Kristy Cox and 2011 Toyota Star Maker winner Luke Dickens.

Aleyce is one of Australia's most promising singer/songwriters having been named Female Rising Star at the 2011 Australian Independent Country Music Awards and earning three finalist berths at this year's Golden Guitar Awards. Aleyce's debut album is Pieces Of Me.

Kristy Cox is an artist who is described as staying true to her roots with her traditional style of bluegrass and country music.  The talented South Australian took home five Victorian & National Country Music awards in 2011 for her album Breaking New Ground. She's back with a new album, Miles & Timezones that has already won her a TSA Award at this year's Tamworth Country Music Festival.

Luke Dickens, also well known as an Australian Idol contestant in 2008, is making a name for himself within the country music industry. One is his most recent accolades was his New Talent Golden Guitar finalist placing in January. Luke's debut album is Devil In The Wind.

The concert, titled "Country Roots & Rock" will be staged at the Tamworth Golf Club at 4pm on Saturday July 7.

Weblinks – www.aleycesimmonds.com, www.kristycox.com, www.lukedickens.com.au.


New single from Paul

Tractors & Bikes is the title of the first single from Paul Costa's upcoming fourth album Wheels & Steel and it was released today.

The track is described as "the perfect representation of this evolving songwriter; an upbeat track that instantly grabs the listener and one of those tunes where it is hard to keep your feet still". The song was inspired by Paul's childhood and gives an insight into his life experiences and his early years growing up on a farm.

And it was this "upbeat" style that Paul wanted for a first single. "We wanted a song that really represented the sound and vibe of the album," he said. "This song is fairly indicative of this for me, this is the one that I chose from the word go that represented the energy of the album."

Growing up on a farming property in the Mallee, Paul says the two constants in his work life were tractors and motorbikes, something many from farming communities will resonate with. Paul co-wrote the track with Tamara Stewart and Drew McAlister, two impressive songwriters who helped bring the story behind the song to life.

"It's about how we worked hard, but played hard too," Paul said. "It was a whole lot of fun. Those are the years that really shape who you are."

When it came to filming the clip for Tractors & Bikes, Paul wanted to keep it as authentic as possible. Calling in the help of director Duncan Toombs, they set-up for a day of filming in the Mallee district, alongside the Murray River in Victoria, only 50 kilometres away from the actual farm where Paul grew up.

"The Mallee district is very distinctive, from the bush to the red dirt, it was a big thing for me to keep this authentic," he said. "There is Mallee scrub in the background. It is a story about me growing up and it was important to me that we brought that home."

The clip, which is also released today, features a big range of tractors and motorbikes, and some "standard fun shots of motorbike jumps, and lots of dust".

Wheels & Steel, which us due for release in July, showcases another side of Paul Costa, according to a spokesman for the artist. "It shows a songwriter who has found his feet, is comfortable with his music and has stemmed inspiration from his own life.

"The album really is Paul Costa and if the first single, Tractors & Bikes, is anything to go by, it's going to be turning heads in the Australian music scene over the next few months.

Weblink – www.paulcosta.com.au.



Emmylou tours down under

Twelve-time Grammy winner Emmylou Harris will tour Australia this November.

The tour will begin in Perth on Tuesday November 6 and end in Brisbane on Friday the 16th and will promote her latest album On Hard Bargain.

Emmylou has released 26 albums in a career spanning almost 40 years to date since her major label debut in 1975 with Pieces Of The Sky.

Weblink – www.emmylouharris.com.


Chart Update – Troy's three weeks at number one

Troy Cassar-Daley's latest hit Live And Learn is at number one for the third week in a row on the national Country Tracks Top 30 singles chart this week.

Adam Harvey's Dig Two Graves jumps two more places to number two while Beccy Cole's Waitress is at three and America's Chris Young is at four with You.

Jetty Road's Sweet Goodbye jumps four places to number five, Carter & Carter's A Good Life is at six and The Harmonators' Perfect Storm bounds into the top 10 at number seven.

The Bobkatz' Life's Like Fishin' is at eight, Camille & Stuie's Beverley Joy is also new in the top 10 at nine while Jasmine Rae's Let It Be Me is at 10.

Bullet performers for the week include The McClymonts' Piece Of Me (20 to 16), Amber Lawrence's The Man Across The Street (22 to 18), McAlister Kemp's Cool Beer Hot Women (24 to 20) and Craig Morrison's Just Another Sundown (29 to 25).

New entries to the chart this week include Travis Collins with Summer Love (in at 28) and Allan Caswell with Skin (at 30).

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


TUESDAY, JUNE 12, 2012

New from Adam

Adam Brand will release his first album in two years in August and with the title track – There Will Be Love – to be released as the first single at the end of this month.

The album, his ninth studio album, will be released on Friday August 10. The single is our on Friday June 29.

There Will Be Love is described as "an uplifting, personal song, reflecting on the power of love to heal and bind us with those we care for the most".

"I want this song to connect with anyone going through a tough time," Adam said, "and let them know that you have to keep believing in love."

After a couple of years living and working in the United States and recording his new album in Nashville, Adam has returned home to Australia.

"It was an amazing experience to record in Nashville," he said, "and certainly something I always enjoy doing.

"But it's also just as nice to be home again with this album under my belt! I'm excited about releasing this new album and playing the new songs to the fans. It's going to be an exciting second half to 2012!"

Adam's music gained international attention when he signed a deal with Arista Nashville (a label within Sony Music Entertainment) in 2009. The new recording deal followed a year of highlights including being named winner of the Male Artist Of The Year Golden Guitar and the Country Music Channel's OZ Artist Of The Year for the fifth year in a row.

Adam's career sales exceed 500,000 albums and DVDs. He has three platinum and three gold albums plus two gold DVDs and 12 Golden Guitars to his credit.

Weblink – www.adambrand.com.au.


Vale - Nola Hirst

Pioneer Australian country artist Nola Hirst has died.

Born in 1938 in Sydney, Nola (pictured at right performing with Frank Ifield in the early '50s) entered the usual talent quests, including "Australia's Amateur Hour" and the Ted Quigg Shows.

She sang on the McKean Sisters' radio program "Melody Trail" over 2KY and made her first recording for the Festival label in 1957.

The following year, she released two singles for Festival with Pat Ware's band Rollin' Rhythm.

In 1959, Nola recorded several songs and released with brother Alan also on Festival.

She was a weekly guest on the LeGarde Twins half hour television shows made in Sydney around 1963 but never aired until 2011.

In the late 1960s and early '70s, after a small number of releases through Festival, she joined her brother Alan and sister Christine as a trio on the Sydney club scene.

Nola's best recording was reputed to have been When The Sun Says Goodnight To The Mountains.

Nola was inducted into the Country Music Hands of Fame in 1984 and died in June 2012.


MONDAY, JUNE 11, 2012

Mary and Johnny awarded OAMs

Mary Schneider – Australia's Queen of Yodelling – and South Australia's Johnny Mac have been awarded Order of Australia Medals (OAMs) in today's Queen's Birthday honours.

Mary's honour was bestowed for service to the performing arts as a country music singer, songwriter and entertainer.

She began singing professionally at age 11 in a performing career that really began when, as the Schneider Sisters, Mary and her sister Rita had an instrumental/vocal variety act. They first recorded regularly for EMI Regal Zonophone and then had a long and successful career together. They appeared regularly on television and at venues and clubs throughout Australia and internationally.

Through the years, Mary developed into an accomplished musician and singer, taking operatic training and working on TV and radio all over Australia and the Far East as a jazz and country singer.

With a powerful voice and vibrant personality, Mary has been in constant demand for personal appearances and recordings. A frantic schedule of stage and media work, however, kept her away from recording for many years until the 1980s when she was persuaded to return to the studio to cut some yodelling albums.

These featured a mixture of country, novelty and European songs, that not only established Mary internationally as a yodeller of top quality but also triggered a yodelling revival. Mary has been recording ever since, and at present, is in the midst of a new album.

She has been inducted into the Hands Of Fame, Walk Of Honour, Walk A Country Mile and, with her late sister Rita, Mary was inducted to the Australian country music's highest honour, the Roll Of Renown.

Mary's career is still going from strength to strength after so many years and she still enjoys rave reviews due to her undeniable vocal excellence which is her trade mark.

Johnny Mac (awarded as Lewis John Mackereth) was honoured for service to the performing arts as a country music singer and entertainer.

The 79-year-old has performed with many legends in the business but says playing for Australian troops in Vietnam in 1969 and 1971 as the highlight of his life.

For six years, Johnny was contracted exclusively to Channel Seven in Adelaide working daily on the children's show "Wonderland" then weekly on "Country Style".

Johnny's extensive tours of South Australia over the years with his country band makes him one of the most recognisable personalities in the state.

He was inducted into the South Australian Country Music Festival Awards Hall of Fame in 1986.

Johnny Mac photo by I Fisk.


And an AM for Brett

Brett Cottle, Chief Executive of APRA (the Australasian Performing Right Association) was awarded an AM (Member of the Order of Australia) in the honours list.

Brett has been CEO of APRA since 1990. He was named for the award today for "service to the performing arts, particularly to songwriters, composers and publishers, through executive roles with copyright protection organisations, and to the community".

APRA represents more than 67,000 songwriters and publishers in Australia and New Zealand.

From December 1994 to April 1999, Brett also held the position of Chairman of the Asia-Pacific Committee of CISAC (International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers). In 2000, he was appointed Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of CISAC and in 2006 he was elected Chairman, a position he held until 2010.

Brett is also a past director of the Australian Copyright Council and the Copyright Law Review Committee and was also chairman of the Board of Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy Ltd from May 2008 to September 2009.


FRIDAY, JUNE 8, 2012

Slim Centre misses out on funding

The Slim Dusty Centre at Kempsey on the mid north coast of NSW is looking forward, according to operators the Slim Dusty Foundation, despite missing out on funding in the latest round of grants from the Regional Development Australia Fund.

"Well the news may have been morbid and drear," said the Foundation's media release, "but the Slim Dusty team won't let it dampen their spirits in the celebration of the inaugural Slim Dusty Day being held in just a few days' time (June 13)."

The Foundation was advised this week that their submission for funding under Round 2 of the Regional Development Australia (RDA) Fund had been unsuccessful.

"A positive result would have enabled this major cultural tourism attraction and function centre to be completed and finally open to the waiting public," the release said. "After years of hard work and a mammoth effort from the community to raise the co-funding required for the submission, the result left everyone very disappointed.

"The project was recognised by RDA Mid North Coast (MNC) as the top priority project in the region. The Board of the RDA MNC noted the national, state and regional benefits of the project, meeting priorities in areas of tourism, culture, employment, training and indigenous opportunities in a town with recognised high need."

Joy McKean, Chair of the Foundation and Slim's lifelong partner, congratulated the winning proponents.

"Well done to all the worthy projects throughout Australia who have been successful in receiving funding from RDA. Despite the lack of success for projects in the Mid North Coast Region, we, the team at the Slim Dusty Centre, will be redoubling our efforts to complete the outfitting of the Centre as one of the finest Regional Cultural Centres in the nation," Joy said.

Patron of the Slim Dusty Foundation Dick Smith urged people to unite to assist: "I ask my fellow Australians to join me in financially supporting the final fit-out of the Slim Dusty Centre. We owe it to Slim to get the Centre completed."

Mid North Coast Regional Tourism Chair Kathy Balodis echoed confidence in the Centre and its supporters: "It will become an iconic tourism attraction and destination for the Mid North Coast of Australia," she said. "Although unsuccessful with recent Federal funding, the support of the local community, the business and tourism associations, the council and individuals around Australia has been fantastic.

"I am sure all will continue to work together to bring the Centre to full fruition as soon as possible. Many travellers cannot wait until the Centre opens for them to visit the Slim Dusty Centre and the Macleay Valley."

The final stage of the Centre is estimated to cost $2.7million.

Foundation CEO Kathryn Yarnold said: "Exhibitions are designed and documented, road work plans are complete. We are ready to go. Moving forward, we'll focus on fundraising, particularly for the $600,000 plus needed for safe access off the highway, being a step closer to opening in the interim for functions and travelling exhibitions.

"We applaud those who stepped up to donate to support the submission, including Kempsey Shire Council, the Powerhouse Museum, GHD, the Slim Dusty family, Golden Chain, Laheys, Rotary Club of Kempsey West, Misty Mountain Health Retreat, Whitfield Earthworks, Macleay Valley Coast Tourism Association, Linda Raymond, International Art Services, Freeman Ryan Design, the Stafford Group, Kevin Farrawell, Brian Irvine and the Music Industry."



New from Catherine

Catherine Britt has released the title track to her upcoming new album, Always Never Enough.

Recorded in America, the album features 13 new recordings (nine of which were written by Catherine) and is her fifth studio album. It was produced by Catherine and Bill Chambers and features collaborations with US country/folk icon and master songwriter Guy Clark and Australia's Tim Rogers.

Others that feature on the album include Grammy Award-winning producer and musician Lloyd Maines, Carrie Rodriguez, Lucinda Williams longtime guitarist Gurf Morlix and Americana artists and musicians Jimmy LaFave, Eliza Gilkyson, Carrie Rodriguez, Bobby Kallus, Glenn Schuetz, Phil Hurley, John Silva, Chip Dolan, Ray Bonneville and John Blundell.

The single was released to radio on Monday. The album will be released on Friday August 10.

My nickname for Catherine is 'The Real Deal'," said Tim Rogers. "She's all heart and soul and trouble. She's a dear dear friend that I am consistently bedazzled by."

Since the release of her most recent, self-titled album in 2010, Catherine has won numerous awards for her songwriting. Her track Sweet Emmylou not only won Single of the Year at this year's Golden Guitar Awards but also grabbed second place in the 2011 Vanda & Young Songwriting Competition, sitting in-between Kimbra, who took home first prize for Cameo Lover and Goyte who came in third for Somebody That I Used To Know

Sweet Emmylou also took second place in the Americana category the 2011 International Songwriting Competition which had more than 16,000 entries from 112 countries.

This year has been a busy year so far for Catherine. She performed over the weekend at Song Summit's Women Of Vanda and Young showcase along with Megan Washington. She has also been on tour with Beccy Cole, co-headlined at CMC Rocks the Hunter and co-hosted the seventh Australian Music Prize (AMP Awards).

Catherine also hosts the national "Alt Country" show on the Country Music Channel.

In July, she will head back to the USA where she was personally invited to perform at this year's Woody Guthrie Folk Festival.

Catherine will also head out on tour in August and September to support the release of Always Never Enough.

Weblink – www.catherinebritt.com.


Chart Update – Troy's second week at the top

Troy Cassar-Daley's latest hit Live And Learn is at number one for the second week in a row on the national Country Tracks Top 30 singles chart this week.

Beccy Cole's Waitress is steady at number two, as is The Bobkatz' Life's Like Fishin' at three while Adam Harvey's Dig Two Graves jumps three more places to number four.

Carter & Carter's A Good Life is steady at five, Jasmine Rae's Let It Be Me is at six and America's Alan Jackson is at seven with You Don't Love Me Anymore.

America's Chris Young is at eight with You, Jetty Road's Sweet Goodbye bursts into the top 10 at nine while Brad Paisley is at 10 with Camouflage.

Bullet performers for the week include The Harmonators' Perfect Storm (15 to 11), Camille & Stuie's Beverley Joy (18 to 13), Chelsea Basham's I Make My Own Sunshine (17 to 14), The McClymonts' Piece Of Me (25 to 20), Bob Corbett's Lucky Country (24 to 21), Amber Lawrence's The Man Across The Street (26 to 22) and McAlister Kemp's Cool Beer Hot Women (28 to 24).

New entries to the chart this week include Craig Morrison (pictured) with Just Another Sundown (in at 29).

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



Gore winners

Kylie Price (pictured) of Dunedin has taken out the senior Overall Winner honours at this year's New Zealand Gold Guitar festival at Gore.

Nelson band State Highway One was named runner-up in the competition which concluded at the weekend.

Junior New Zealand Gold Guitar Overall Winners were Jemma and Jade Gibson (or The Two Js) from Murchison.

Hamilton's Hannah Cosgrove won the Intermediate title.

Meanwhile, Scottish-born singer Louise Lumsden won the MLT Songwriting Award during the festival with her song Money.

Runners-up were Kaylee Bell and Allan Caswell with their song Shame About The Weather.

Louise studied music at Aberdeen University and is now head of music at Albany Junior High School in Auckland. She does not normally perform her songs, preferring to write instead.

Tami Neilson (pictured at right) won her third Tui award in four years during the festival taking out Best Country Album for The Kitchen Table Sessions Vol II. Canadian-born Tami now lives in Auckland.

RIANZ (Recording Industry Association of New Zealand) Managing Director Chris Caddick said: "Sincere congratulations to Tami for winning the Tui for Best Country Music Album in what has been an outstanding year for country music. Tami's beautifully performed and produced album is a real gem and a superb example of the high standards being achieved in New Zealand Country music today."

The other two finalists for the RIANZ Country Album of the Year were The Harbour Union's self-titled album and the Unfaithful Ways' Free Rein.

Delaney Davidson won the APRA Best Song award with You're A Loser from his 2011 album Bad Luck Man.

An accomplished artist with six solo albums under his belt, Delaney spends his time between his hometown of Christchurch and living and touring in Europe. He is also part of the musical collective The Harbour Union.

"There is an honesty and integrity to all Delaney's songs," said Anthony Healey, APRA's Director of NZ Operations, "and is evidenced in spades in You're a Loser. This song is anything but a loser and we are immensely proud of the reputation Delaney has achieved both internationally and at home."

Aaron Jury's song 29 was also a finalist, as was Harbour Union and Unfaithful Ways member Marlon Williams with his song Ghost Of This Town.

Award-winning entertainers Brendan and his father Pat Dugan (pictured at right) were inducted into the Hands of Fame at a variety concert in Gore on Friday night for their years of service to the country music industry.

And finally, Gore woman Shanna Forbes has been judged the winner of the 2012 Gore Gold Guitar Young Ambassador title.

"I'm really honoured and excited to receive the award and I'm looking forward to getting involved in the country music events," Shanna said.

Shanna, who was one of four women vying for the coveted award. Originally from Invercargill, she attended Dunstan High School in Alexandra and gained a Diploma in Beauty Therapy before moving to Gore with her partner, and now husband, Aidan Forbes in 2009.

Weblink – www.goldguitars.co.nz.


Kasey announces US tour

Kasey Chambers has announced a tour of America to promote her current album Songbird.

The 12-date tour kicks off in Santa Monica (California) on Thursday August 2 and is scheduled to conclude ata folk music festival in Colorado on Saturday August 18.

Venues inbetween will be located in the states of Maryland, New York, Massachusetts, Oregon, Texas, Virginia and Washington.

Weblink – www.kaseychambers.com.


MONDAY, JUNE 4, 2012

34th SA Festival

The 34th annual South Australian Country Music Festival kicked off today and will run in the state's Riverland until Sunday, June 10.

The included SA Country Music Awards talent quest will be held on Friday, Saturday and Sunday with 12 sections being conducted across three Venues.

Winners of all sections will compete for the SA Award of Excellence at the Sunday Spectacular on Sunday at the Barmera Monash Football Club.

The talent quest is billed as "the biggest and the most prestigious of its kind in the State. "New and young talent is discovered every year and presentations will be made at the Awards Concert on Saturday night in the Bonney Theatre Barmera.

Known as the "Friendly Festival" (according to organisers) the SA event boasts a Country Music Hall of Fame and a Hands of Fame Park.

National artists will appear as part of the Sunday Spectacular together with "the best South Australian talent" at some 90 shows over 10 days in 20 venues and shows are held indoors or in heated marquees.

Among the dozens of acts appearing throughout the Festival are Laura Downing, Melody Feder, Meagen Laurie, Brian Letton (pictured), Murray Mac and his band True Grit, Tom Maxwell and Dave Prior (just to name a few!).

"Thousands of visitors from across Australia and New Zealand make the trip to the Riverland to enjoy 10 days of fun and country music and each year fans visiting Australia from places as far away as Sweden, England and the USA have stayed to attend this wonderful event.

"Many visitors have come to every Festival and catch up with old friends, and many come for the first time and make new friends," organisers say. "One thing is certain... they all continue to come back, and the month of June is the perfect time to visit the Festival with days spent in the winter sun that filters through, and crisp cool nights in warm cosy Venues."

Weblink – www.riverlandcountrymusic.com.


FRIDAY, JUNE 1, 2012

"MO" winners

Melinda Schneider has taken out this year's "MO" Awards for Country Performer of the Year and Female Vocal Performer of the Year.

Competition was strong in the Country category with Melinda taking the title from fellow finalists Kel-Anne Brandt, Beccy Cole, last year's winner Nicki Gillis, Wayne Horsburgh and The McClymonts.

In the mainstream category, Melinda won from Belinda Adams, Karen Beckett, Lisa Crouch, Alisa Gray and Jenifer Green.

Tahlia & Ingrid Racz & the group The Seltic Sirens won their second "MO" Award, this time for Best International Theme show.

The girls are considering returning to their original "duet" status as in the pre 2004 era so they can do more of what they want, ie country, according to the band's manager.

Award winners were announced this week in Sydney.

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