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News Archive



MARCH 2007


Debut album in the pipeline for Lee

Male Vocalist of the Year from this year's TIARAs (Tamworth Independent Artist Recognition Awards) Lee Forster will record his debut album this year.

Lee, who has achieved chart success with his last two single releases – A Fire In The Bar and Drinkin’ Bone – has also been announced as a finalist for the 2007 Golden Saddle Award.

Prior to heading into the studio – Stuie French's Swingin' Doors Studio – Lee will tour in the Northern Territory, South Australia and Victoria throughout April and May.

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Single release for Bryen

Bryen Willems has released the first single – Honky Tonk Song! – from his debut album Too Cold At Home which was launched during this year's Tamworth Country Music Festival.

Bryen’s musical interest was sparked after settling down in Australia, having moved from his Louisiana home with wife Karen and works in the country scene as a radio presenter and musician and fronting his band, The Bayou Boogie Boys.

Bryen says the album is a collection of originals and cover songs "drawing from a virtual treasure trove of the best country, blues, swamp and southern rock from the last 50 years".

It features self-penned tracks Honky-Tonk Song and Beer And Lipstick and some co-writes and a duet with Nicki Gillis, As Long As I Live.

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New Urban Country prize set to launch new artist

The inaugural Voice of Urban Country, a major new talent search for Australian country music, presented by RSL Caboolture, will be staged at the Urban Country Music Festival in May.

The competition is designed to provide professional artists with an opportunity to secure a prize "guaranteed to have the winner feeling like an established star from the outset".

"In its first three years, the QUT Urban Country Music Festival has served as a launching pad for emerging young artists and this new event in 2007 hopes to help a hot young talent go even further," said a spokesman for Festival organisers. 

"Valued at $13,500, the first prize will be like a dream gig for one talented entrant. Cash, recording time, referral to a major management company, a music store gift voucher, marketing package, advertising campaign and four performance bookings (are included).

"The QUT Urban Country Music Festival has a proud history of exposing future young talent and in 2007 is expected to launch a bright new star of the future. In years to come, the winner may even be a headline act at a future festival’s main concert."

Entry to the Voice of Urban Country closes on April 27 and with such a career-launching prize up for grabs, organisers are expecting no shortage of entrants.

Amateur artists are still a strong part of the festival, with the Urban Country Talent Search comprising junior and senior categories where contestants will be competing for cash and accommodation prizes.

This competition has helped many past winners make big inroads in their budding country music careers. Winner of the 2005 junior section, Sinead Burgess (pictured), is a prime example.

From the Urban Country Festival, Sinead followed went on to win the Festiva's 2006 busking championships, attended the 2006 Tamworth Camerata junior country music school and in August the same year won the prestigious Gympie Muster Maton Talent Search.

At this year's Tamworth Country Music Festival, 16-year-old Sinead was a finalist in the national Telstra Road To Tamworth competition.

Other previous QUT Urban Country Music Festival winners to make their marks include 2004 Senior Urban Country Talent Search winner Jacqui Ryan who was a grand finalist in Toyota Star Maker.

Claye Middleton, who took out the junior title in 2004, subsequently released his acclaimed debut album Your Way Home and was a finalist in Star Maker this year.

Urban Country Talent Search 2006 winners Jesse Davis (senior) and Kris Wason (junior) both went on to star at the 2006 Queensland Champion of Champions. Jesse was runner-up in the male vocal category and Kris took out junior vocal.

Amateur heats in the Voice of Urban Country will be held at the Caboolture Town Square stage on Saturday May 5 with the professional section on Sunday May 6 at the same venue. Both finals will be staged at the RSL Caboolture on Sunday May 6 from 2pm.

Entries close at 4pm on Friday, April 27.

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Country stars at Bluesfest '07

Australian country stars The Borderers (pictured), Kasey Chambers, The Flood, Johnny Green's Blues Cowboys, The McClymonts and The Pigram Brothers will star at next weekend's 18th annual International East Coast Blues & Roots Music Festival at Byron Bay (NSW).

Country aligned stars 8 Ball Aitken, Kev Carmody, Paul Kelly, The Re-mains and Juzzie Smith are also on the bill together with American country stars Bonnie Raitt and Fred Eaglesmith will also be among the extensive line-up of Australian and visiting acts on the bill.

The Festival runs from Thursday April 5 to Monday April 9.

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Harmony wins songwriting award

Harmony James has taken out first place in the country division of the International Songwriting Competition for her debut release Tailwind.

The song was written in a night, Harmony says, "but the story was years in the making".

"The idea came from a time when I was living on an isolated property and caught in a situation I really needed to get out of," she said. "I actually considered 'borrowing' a boyfriend’s car to get to the nearest town, hence the line 'I shouldn’t be driving'."

Already busy with radio interviews, performances and, just days after shooting the music video in Tennant Creek, Harmony says the news of the win came as another great boost.

Harmony has previously achieved success in her songwriting as winner of the Tamworth Songwriters' Association National Songwriting Competition in 2006.

Several other Australians had success in the International Songwriting Competition but not in the country or any related categories.

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"Stampede" at Dreamworld

A new event on the Australian country music calendar is Stampede @ Dreamworld, a star-studded "happening" scheduled for Saturday June 23 at the Queensland Gold Coast theme park.

Organised and staged by Empire Events, "Stampede" will run in three arenas at Dreamworld and will star Troy Cassar-Daley, Lee Kernaghan, Tania Kernaghan, The McClymonts, Sara Storer, Felicity Urquhart and the Wolverines.·

Some of Australia's "hottest" rising country artists will also be featured including Toyota Star Maker 2007 Kirsty Lee Akers, Lou Bradley, Dianna Corcoran and Nik Phillips.

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No Gems in 2007

Organisers of the Gems of Country festival in Emerald, Queensland, have announced there will be no festival this year.

Gems of Country, which started as part of the Emerald Country Music Spectacular weekend in 1997 is taking a break this year, organisers say, but will be back again next year.

Spokesman for the Gems of Country committee Fred Wild said some of the volunteers who put the event together had been bogged down by other commitments.

"We need to be 100 percent sure we can get sufficient sponsorships to meet our budget and volunteers to run the event," he said, "and we simply can't ensure this.

"Instead, we will be hitting the streets this year to tee up support for next year’s event. We have booked the Town Hall for June 13, 14 and 15 for Gems of Country 2008.

"The committee is also looking at staging a concert in September (this year) giving local talent the opportunity of being seen and heard," Fred said.

Fred can be contacted on 0416 095 997 for further information.

Crakajak and Donna join forces

Crakajak and Donna Fisk – two of Victoria's most popular acts -– have announced they are joining forces to perform at "a couple" of showcase gigs and in a recording venture.

Crakajak has developed a significant reputation Australia-wide among the B&S ball community and have invited multi award winning female vocalist Donna Fisk (Fisk & Cristian) to join the band for two shows this coming year.

Donna will perform a showcase set with the band which will include "lots of country/rock classic hits as well as a couple of great duets with Harry Jon Nanos".

"We are always looking for ways to keep our shows fresh and interesting," Harry said, "and for years have admired Donna as a singer and a performer. We are convinced Donna will be a huge hit at (the) Finley and Jerilderie B&S Balls and look forward to working with her when she has time to spare.

"We also intend to release a new product this year and plan to include a duet with Donna," he said.

Crakajak continue to support the B&S community helping to raise money for charities and towns around the country. Crakajak's management company Makia Media runs the successful website which has recently launched a B&S radio show featuring David Delle Virgin and Harry Jon Nanos as joint comperes.

"The show deals with all sorts of issues that are relevant to the B&S community and has many weekly guest interviews," Harry said.

Just last week, Harry invited friend and AFL (Australian Football League) legend Dougie Hawkins to the Elmore B&S Ball to work as a compere "and to do a bit of car park 'street talk' during the afternoon which turned out to be a huge success".

Elmore's numbers were more than 1,400 this year, another increase on last year which makes it one of the biggest balls in Victoria now.

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Kasey showcases Country Music Capital

The 2007 Tamworth Country Music Festival presented by Telstra has just received a unique promotion... it is the entire storyboard for Kasey Chambers' new video clip for her latest single Sign On The Door.

The clip was filmed during the day of Kasey’s Live & Free Concert in the Park on Friday January 26 and featured a pregnant Kasey and her family (including husband Shane Nicholson, son Talon and dad Bill), as well as extensive footage from the day’s rehearsal and evening concert.

"Kasey’s continued support of the Tamworth Festival is appreciated by everyone involved, especially the local community that she continues to interact with each year... we extend our sincere thanks to her," said Rebel Thomson, General Manager of the local tourism authority, Tourism Tamworth.

Over the past six years, Kasey has put on a live and free gig in the park for visitors to the Tamworth Country Music Festival and in 2007, teamed up with Australian songstress Missy Higgins for the two hour show. More than 20,000 fans take over the city's Bicentennial Park every year to support Kasey and her selected local charity, this year, the Tamworth Salvation Army Drought Relief Appeal.

"Kasey’s new video is a great addition to the showcase of Festival fun and exciting atmosphere that has become part of Tamworth’s culture," Rebel said.

Kasey herself has acknowledged the Festival and visitors to her concert on her official website which had the following thank you note listed... "We just wanted to thank everyone for once again making the Live & Free in the Park gig as wonderful as ever. Thanks for everyone's co-operation in the filming of the show. We've made the video to Sign On The Door and are thrilled with how it turned out. It really captures the vibe of the whole day. Keep an eye out and you may catch it on Rage or Video Hits or Music Max or CMT."

"Kasey first started out (in Tamworth) in the family band busking on Peel Street and has now become an internationally recognised, cross-genre artist... she is a true ambassador for Tamworth and the talent that the Festival continues to draw each year," Rebel said.

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PPCA election

The Phonographic Performance Company of Australia (PPCA) Board last week re-elected EMI Managing Director John O’Donnell (pictured) as Chairman and confirmed two new appointments.

Music industry lawyer and label manager David Vodicka has been elected as Licensor Representative while Paul Christie will replace Greg Macainsh as Artist Representative following Greg’s decision not to stand for re-election.

"I am delighted to continue my strong association with PPCA," said John O'Donnell, "and I look forward to working with fellow Board members and staff to maximise returns to artist and label stakeholders."

Stephen Peach, PPCA Chief Executive, said he looked forward to working with the new Board members who would bring different perspectives and new ideas to the Board.

"Over the past year, PPCA has achieved a lot, with continued growth delivering a record (more than) $10 million in net licensing revenue distributed to record labels and Australian artists," he said.

"We’ve also continued our partnership with the Australian Music Prize for the second year which recently saw Melbourne band Augie March take out the $25,000 prize provided by PPCA.

"I’d like to take this opportunity to formally acknowledge the contribution of Greg Macainsh during his term."

The PPCA Board is comprised of representatives from the four key record labels in Australia (Sony BMG Music Entertainment, Warner Music Australia, EMI Music Australia and Universal Music Australia), three directors representing the interests of Australian recording artists registered with PPCA under its direct distribution scheme, and a Director appointed by the non-major labels (the Licensor Representative Director).

The full Board is... John O’Donnell Chairman, George Ash (Managing Director, Universal Music Australia), Bill Cullen (One Louder Entertainment), Paul Christie, Denis Handlin (Chairman and CEO, Sony Music Entertainment Australia & NZ), Lindy Morrison, Ed St John (President and CEO, Warner Music Australasia) and David Vodicka (Principal, Rubber Records).

PPCA is a national, non-profit organisation established in 1969 to provide non-exclusive licences for the public performance and broadcasting of protected sound recordings and music videos.

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New album from Rita

Rita Schneider has released Big Belly Laughs! – her latest comedy/country/novelty album.

The album has 12 tracks including songs like I Eat Everything!, I Just Wanna Lose Me Fat Belly!, Down On The Farm, Aussie Lingo, Let's Abbreviate and many more with an Aussie comedy flavour.

"I even recorded Pass The Biscuits Mirandy!" Rita said. "Remember that song?"

And she reports the album is "going great" and getting quite a lot of airplay from both AM and FM stations in Sydney and throughout Australia.

Rita still does her own distribution although a number of specialist country music retailers – including the Big Golden Guitar in Tamworth and St Mary's Sound Centre in Sydney – have copies.

It is Rita's seventh solo album.

Direct purchases can be phoned through to (02) 9809 0503.

Another chapter begins for Anna

As one door closes, another chapter has opened in the life of long-time Country Music Capital journalist Anna Rose with her recent departure from The Pub Group.

For the past 19 months, Anna has worked with the Group booking bands and acts into the Douglas group of hotels in Tamworth – The Pub, The Family and SouthGate Inn, and marketing those pubs, as well as The Goodies, the newest hotel in the stable. She has also assisted the careers of The Pub Management artists The Baileys, Aaron Bolton, Katrina Burgoyne, Aleyce Simmonds and Felicity Urquhart.

"Last Friday, that association came to an amicable end," Anna said. With the desire to spend more time with her partner of 13 years John Burke and their growing family of two sons, one daughter and a new grandson, Anna resigned from her position with The Pub Group to begin a new, home-based venture. Working freelance, she has started a new business, Anna Rose Media Solutions, which began on Monday (March 26).

"I will be doing lots of different things for various organisations and individuals ranging from media releases and bios for artists through to promotional and publicity work for major corporations," Anna said.

With more than 20 years working in the media at places such as "The Northern Daily Leader" newspaper, Tamworth, and "Tamworth Times" newspaper in a variety of roles, Anna feels she has amassed the necessary skills to assist people with solutions to many of their media requirements.

"When I worked at 'The Leader' and 'Tamworth Times', I was involved in all facets of newspaper production from advertising sales through to editorial and production," Anna said. "Probably one of the only jobs I haven’t done there was actually printing the paper, but that's more than likely because I would have distracted the printers, telling them too many jokes instead of getting the paper printed on time!"

Anna’s regular country music column, which appears in each Saturday’s edition of "The Northern Daily Leader" and on three websites will continue as per usual and will also be posted weekly on her myspace site,

Anyone with information for the column can reach Anna on, telephone (02) 6761 8029 or mobile 0409 514 933.

Latest "Bulletin" out

The latest issue of the Australian country music industry magazine the "Country Music Bulletin" is out now.

The March issue of the "Bulletin" features Karen Lynne as winner of the 2007 Frank Ifield International Spur Award on the cover.

"Inside, a summary of Australian country music news provides a medium of record for the industry together with regular industry focussed features," said Editor Bob Kirchner.

"This issue we also cover results from the Tamworth Country Music Festival in detail, including all awards presentations and talent quests.

"The 'Bulletin' also highlights country music news and happenings across Australia including a comprehensive festivals listing, specifically of events with an industry focus with some form of talent search, seminar or workshop."

The printed "Bulletin" subsidises production of this ( website.

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Mistin wins acoustic music award

Up and coming Australian country singer/songwriter Mistin Renee Summers has taken out first place in the International Acoustic Music Awards announced recently in America.

Mistin was named winner in the Country/Bluegrass category with her song Down That Road.

The only other Australian featuring in the Awards was Debra Byrnes who was named runner up in the Best Female Artist category with the song Happiness.

Overall grand prize from the Awards went to America's Fertitta & McClintock with Do You Run.

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Tom succeeds on two fronts

Rising country star Tom Curtain has gained success on two fronts – country music and horse sports.

In what feels to Tom like a double triumph, he has returned home from a win at Western Australia’s Mayanup Campdraft (where he also performed) to hear his latest single release, Chew Like Hell, from his Heatwave album, had entered the Country Tracks Top 30.

The Queensland-based horse-breaker is a keen supporter of campdrafting, one of rural Australia’s favourite sports, where horse and rider are judged on their ability to cut out a cow from a herd and manoeuvre it around a course of two pegs and through a gate.

Tom competed on two local horses from Boyup Brook (home of WA's largest country music festival), taking out the maiden event on one and placing in the main open event of the weekend on the other.

"It was awesome," he said, "to get out there on the weekend! I’ve been flat out with the music this year, organising film clips, performing, and preparing for the upcoming 'New Stars of Country' tour with The Sunny Cowgirls and Col Finley so I haven’t had much of a chance to get out there and 'put a couple round'."

Tom's latest chart success follows a string of hits from Heatwave including the first release, Born Out Here, which reached the top 10. The video clip featured in the Country Music Channel's Top 30.

"This latest track is one of my most favourite songs," Tom said. "It tells the story of the resilience of rural Australians and their 'never say die' attitude in the midst of crippling drought and other hardships.

"They’re a tough mob, country people, they’re dedicated and I wanted to pay tribute to that."

While Tom says his focus this year will be his music and busy touring schedule, his thirst for the sport of campdrafting is unwavering and he's spending "every spare moment" training his group of young stock horses for a career on the circuit.

"I just have so much on right now with the music (including being named a finalist for this year's Golden Saddle Award – see story below) which is really exciting. Last weekend sure gave me a buzz for drafting again though, gee I miss it!"

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Homestead Youth Talent Expo

Homestead branch of the Australian Country Music Association in Queensland will stage its inaugural Youth Talent Expo in Caboolture on Saturday, August 4.

Organisers say the Expo will be "one huge day of junior country music talent" with sections for performers 12 years and under and 13 to 17 years inclusive.

The Expo is affiliated with Queensland Champion of Champions.

Entry forms and further information will be available soon at the branch's website

Otherwise, they can be obtained from Homestead Secretary Bob Cole on 07 5483 8236, 0400 638 236 or by email,


2007 Golden Saddle finalists announced

Finalists for the 2007 Cooper's Golden Saddle Award, to be presented at the Galston (Sydney) Country Music Festival in September, have been announced.

They are Victoria Baillie (from Fairy Meadow, NSW), Michael Bryers (Queensland Sunshine Coast), Lou Bradley (Mullumbimby, NSW), Tom Curtain (Kingaroy, Qld), Dale Duncan (Tamworth, NSW), Sharnee Fenwick (Glendale, NSW), Lee Forster (Bakery Hill, Vic), Nicki Gillis (Cranebrook, NSW), The Harmonators (Sydney, NSW), Markus Meier (Tamworth, NSW), Anita Ree (Maryborough, Qld) and Casey Watt (Yandina, Qld).

Finalists are selected by a number of "industry spotters" from a pool of Australian working independent artists whom they consider outstanding at what they do. The Rotary Club of Galston, organisers of the Galston Festival, whittle the 12 down to three grand finalists.

The grand finalists are invited to perform at the Galston Festival with the winner chosen on the day by a number of industry judges.

Prizes including a handcrafted Cooper’s Golden Saddle Award trophy, performance fee and a cash prize go to the winner as well as a special invitation to return as a special guest at the following year's Festival. The two runners-up each receive a performance fee, publicity, certificate and a Cooper’s Golden Saddle Award trophy.

The 2007 Galston Country Music Festival will begin on Friday September 7 at the Dural Country Club and conclude at Fagan Park on Sunday September 9 with a function at The Galston Club on the Saturday night where the three grand finalists will also be invited to perform.

Entertainment at this year's Festival will include last year's Golden Saddle winner Amber Lawrence and this year's three grand finalists who will be announced in June.

Pictured (from left) – top: Victoria Baillie, Tom Curtain, Dale Duncan; bottom: Sharnee Fenwick, Anita Ree and Casey Watt.

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CCMA elects new committee

The Capital Country Music Association (CCMA), the organisation responsible for running the National Talent Quest as part of the annual Tamworth Country Music Festival in January, has elected a new committee.

Kevin Harris (pictured) has been elected the Association's new President, taking over from long-serving Rod Hazell who saw the organisation through a significant period of consolidation during the last decade.

Rod continues as the CCMA's Senior Vice President with Di Walmsley, another long-serving committee member, as Junior Vice President.

Peter Izod continues as the Association's Secretary, as does Renee Bonomo in the Treasurer's chair.

Committee members for the coming year are Dallas Briggs (who also servces as the CCMA's Publicity Officer), Elizabeth Izod, Di Scott (Newsletter Editor) and David Roberts.

In addition to regular activities including monthly workshops, the CCMA also runs another major talent quest – the Junior Winter Talent Quest – each year in July.

The Association has been operating in Tamworth since the mid 1960s and has played an important role in establishment and development of the city's major Festival in January.

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And changes at the CMAA

Meanwhile, the Country Music Association of Australia (CMAA) has announced changes to its executive and board make-up following the resignation of Secretary Joan Douglas earlier this month.

Lee Kernaghan, elected to the board late last year, has been appointed Secretary while Rod McCormack has been appointed to fill Lee's board position.

Chart Update – The McClymonts hit the top

The McClymonts (pictured) have bumped Lee Kernaghan off the number one spot of the Country Tracks National Top 30 Singles Chart this week with their hit Baby's Gone Home.

Lee slips back to number two with Love Shack while Donna Boyd moves one place higher to number three with Luckiest Girl Alive and Brad Paisley jumps to four with She's Everything.

Camille Te Nahu & Stuie French are steady at five with Let's Make A Family, as is Melinda Schneider with Men In Trucks at six while America's Rascal Flatts rises to seven with What Hurts The Most.

Carrie Underwood drops to eight with Before He Cheats while Catherine Britt bounds into the top 10 at nine with I'm Gone and a new act in America – Sugarland – is at 10 with Want To.

Bullet performers this week include Dianna Corcoran with Then There's Me (14 to 11), The Sunny Cowgirls' Still Circling (16 to 12), Ian Quinn's Can't Cut Gidgee (17 to 13), Nicki Gillis' Leaving You For Myself (20 to 16), Lee Forster's Drinkin' Bone (22 to 17), Steve Forde & The Flange with Aussie Philosophy (24 to 18), John Williamson's Wildlife Warriors: It's Time (25 to 19), Sharon Benjamin's Jack Of Diamonds (26 to 21), Carter & Carter's Run Away (27 to 22) and Tom Curtain with Chew Like Hell (29 to 25).

New entries to the chart this week are Luke O'Shea & Medicine Wheel with Ragged Bloody Heroes (in at 28), John O'Dea with Old Rusty Ute ((at 29) and Jetty Road with Real Smooth Cowboy (at 30).

The full chart can be viewed at

CMC Top 50 – James Blundell at number one

James Blundell (pictured) has taken over the number one position on the CMC (Country Music Channel) Top 50 playlist this week with his clip of Higher Than Heaven.

The Sunny Cowgirls' former number one Still Circling slips to number three, Matt Scullion's Giddy Up is steady at four while Dianna Corcoran is down to eight with Then There's Me.

Bullet performers this week include Kylie Hogan with I Met You (46 to 40), Jetty Road with Till The Day I Die (47 to 41) and Tania Kernaghan with Life Don't Get Much Better (debuting at 43).

Other new entries to the playlist this week include Nici Blue Eyes from Perth, WA, with Again And Again (in at 44) and Aleyce Simmonds with Mighty Mighty Love (at 50).

The playlist can be viewed at

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Lucie Diamond to headline European festival

British country artist Lucie Diamond and her full UK band will headline the Mirande Festival in France – the biggest country festival in Europe - on July 14.

Lucie is the only female headliner on the five day festival which attracted 165,000 people last year and is filmed by national French TV.

UK (United Kingdom) fans will also get to see why she has made a name for herself in Nashville, Europe and many other countries when she takes to the main stage with her band at The South Will Rise Again festival at Canford Park Arena in England on July 29.

Lucie is on the road with her acoustic show at the moment and heads to Dubai and the Middle East for shows and media promotion from the end of this month through to the Easter weekend.

In May, Lucie will also be performing at the BMAD Festival on Paignton sea front on the 5th, then opens for her friend Albert Lee on the 22nd and 23rd in Portsmouth. Guitar legend Albert played on Lucie's 2005 debut hit single.

Towards the end of May, Lucie flies to the USA to begin a series of major shows and finish off her long-awaited album due for release this northern hemisphere summer.

On June 4, Lucie will represent the UK at the annual CMA (Country Music Association) Global Artist Party in Nashville.

In September, Lucie is booked to headline the Pride of Texas in Belgium on the 8th and the Bristol Acoustic and Roots festival on the 22nd. In October, she will make her first trip to South Africa for shows and media promotion.

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"Dukes" theme now a platinum ringtone

Waylon Jennings' song Theme From The Dukes of Hazzard (Good Ol' Boys) has been certified as country music's first platinum mastertone for sales of one million ringtones.

Waylon wrote the song, which was a number one country hit in 1980.

A mastertone ringtone uses the original recording rather than a synthesized instrumental version.



Felicity and Diesel double act

Felicity Urquhart and Diesel will do a double act on the 7 Network's Sydney Weekender this afternoon at 5.30.

During today's program, Felicity eats out at two legendary Aussie restaurants on the Central Coast.

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CD sales plummet

Sales of music compact discs plummeted 20 percent in America in the first three months of the year as downloading of songs continued to knock the underpinnings from record studio revenues.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported yesterday that 89 million CDs were sold from the start of the year through March 18 as compared with 112 million CDs sold during the same period in 2006, according to figures released on Wednesday by industry tracker Nielsen SoundScan.

Purchases of digitised albums online failed to make up the difference – instead they dropped from 119 million during that time period in 2006 to 99 million during the first three months of this year, SoundScan reported.

Meanwhile, sales of individual songs in digital format on the internet rose from 242 million tracks during those months last year to 288 million this year, according to SoundScan.

Consumers are sending a message to artists that "while you may have put a lot of thought into the sequence of the album, I only like these three songs," said digital music industry analyst Michael McGuire of Gartner Research.

"It comes back to consumers being in complete control of their media experience, and that is not going backwards," Gartner said while discussing the drop in album sales and the rise in single-song track purchases. "This is a tough business being a record label because they have to find new sources of revenue."

Overall album purchases, calculated by considering every 10 track sales the equivalent of an album, were down by 10 per cent in the first quarter this year from last year when 131 million albums were sold, SoundScan figures showed.

Music industry statistics show that CD sales have declined steadily for more than five years but still account for 90 per cent of album purchases.

The relentless popularity of digital music downloads on the internet is taking the legs out from under CD sales and leaving studios with nothing to stand on if they fail to adapt to online distribution, McGuire said.

"The last couple of years, the music industry didn't move fast enough and they are trying to catch up now," McGuire said. "But, the whole digital thing is a train that is picking up speed."

EMI and Warner Music, two of the world's four major studios, are quickly investing in online "search, discovery and recommendation" tools such as websites at which users share song playlists and recommendations, McGuire said.

Instead of letting CD sales erode as they warily eye online forms of distribution, studios should turn the Internet to their advantage, according to McGuire. Online communities can be courted and members given easy paths to websites or real-world stores where music can be purchased.

"The imperative is for studios to find as many frictionless transaction paths as possible for digital content," McGuire said. "An important component is embracing discovery tools on socialnetworks."

Protecting music from piracy is an unavoidable burden of online song distribution. Music must also compete more than ever with computer games and online video for people's "time, eye balls and wallet share," McGuire said.

A high-profile casualty of the shift to digital distribution of music was the iconic Tower Records chain of stores started in California in 1960. Tower Records closed its real-world stores in December of 2006 and exists as an online book, music and video stop.


Adam Brand launches Urban Festival

Multi-award winning artist Adam Brand (pictured) provided a preview of what to expect at this year’s QUT Urban Country Music Festival when he entertained guests at the event’s launch in Caboolture this week.

Eight times Golden Guitar winner and three times "MO" Award winner Adam, who also has one platinum and three gold records to his credit, will make his first appearance at this year’s Festival.

Adam is one of the headline acts ot the Festival’s main concert on Saturday May 5 with Troy Cassar-Daley, Beccy Cole, The McClymonts and John Williamson.

Veteran rocker Jimmy Barnes will also be making his debut at this year’s main concert, giving his first public performance since heart surgery in February.

Caboolture Shire Mayor Joy Leishman said anticipation about this year’s festival was growing quickly due in part to the success of the event’s first ever road show which has been promoting the event at major towns in South East Queensland.

"Road show volunteers have met with an enthusiastic response at each venue they have visited," she said.

"Not only are these communities happy to display our promotional material in their businesses, but many people are also buying tickets to our premier event, the main concert. As a result we are expecting a record number of visitors to this year’s Festival which boasts several new events and debuting entertainers."

New events this year include the Bush Balladeer Concerts to be held in the Caboolture Shire Memorial Hall on Saturday and Sunday May 5 and, the Voice of Urban Country Talent Search with a career kicking first prize worth $14,000, and Monday’s Farmers Markets.

Other Festival competitions include the Nova Ford Beaut Ute Show and the search for the Best Butts. Buskers will get their chance to shine in their own competition.

Now in its fourth year, the Urban Country Music Festival will include line dancing workshops, clogging workshops and demonstrations, pig racing and Caboolture Town Square activities aimed strictly at the kids.

A songwriters' cafe will present modern urban and traditional country artists singing and talking about their own material. Concerts will be held every day of the festival from May 4 to 7.

The free Burbs’n Bush Concert, which kicks off events on the Friday evening, features Kingaroy singer Tom Curtain, Jetty Road and Adam Kilpatrick, while moonlit campfires and fireworks add to the atmosphere of Sunday night’s Urban Blaze Concert.

Monday’s farewell concert will feature award winning duo Carter & Carter (pictured above) who will also perform on the Grass Roots and Gospel Stage.

Organisers are hoping to better last year’s festival, which attracted more than 32,000 visitors from throughout Australia over the four days.

The QUT Urban Country Music Festival is benefiting from a $25,000 investment under the Queensland Events Regional Development Program (QERDP), a State Government initiative designed to take unique and creative regional events to their full potential.

Since the program began in 2001, more than $7.8million has been invested in more than 370 regional events.

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Nathaniel in "Australia's Got Talent" semis

Another country act, 11-year-old Nathaniel O'Brien from Burra, South Australia, has made it through to the semi finals of the new television talent quest, "Australia's Got Talent".

Nathaniel has been scoring some significant successes in his career to date having been to Tamworth twice, this year winning the Capital Country Music Association (CCMA) Open Duet section as Two Blues with his sister Tracey Rains.

This January, he was also runner up to the winner in both the Aristocat Entertainer of the Year junior (17 years and under) section and the Coca Cola competition.

Nathaniel is in the third semi final of the TV series, the same as Tamworth based finalists Those Gals, which will now go to air on Easter Sunday, April 8.

Members of the public will have until 5pm April 15 to vote for their favourite acts. Phone number and SMS details will be announced on the night of the semi final.

Photo: Nathaniel and Tracey with their trophies from this year's CCMA National Talent Quest.

Jonah's Road sign to ABC Publishing

Rodney Auld and John Kater from contemporary country pop band Jonah’s Road have been signed to ABC Music Publishing.

Rodney and John bring to ABC their current repertoire (featured on the band's new album Counting Down The Days) and their personal and individual repertoires of original songs, according to a spokesman for the company.

Jay Collie, the third member of the band, is with Sony ATV Music Publishing (which he has been since 1999).

"With their own particular writing styles, Rodney and John created a collection of up-beat songs and strong ballads that move through a number of music genres including rock, country, pop, folk and alternative rock," said the ABC Music Publishing spokesman.

As members of Jonah’s Road, the writers have been involved in such achievements as Best Country Album in 2006 at the US Independent Music Awards for their debut album Hold On, Best Group at the People’s Choice Awards in 2007 and Best Group at the 2006 TIARAs (Tamworth Independent Artist Recognition Awards).

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Tori's star continues to rise

At just 16 years of age, Tori Darke from Mt Annan in NSW continues to make waves on the Australian country music talent quest circuit.

Tori's most recent successes were at the Cane Country Music Festival in Queensland.

Fresh from numerous top placings last year and a finalist position in the 2007 Telstra Road To Tamworth competition, Tori scooped the pool at the Cane Festival in suburban Brisbane taking out the Junior Australian Bush Ballad title, the Overall Junior title and the Overall Championship.

She also placed in Junior Country Rock, Junior Gospel and the Anything Goes sections.

The most recent wins give Tori the chance to compete at the Queensland Champion of Champions country music titles later this year.

Last year's titles included Junior Vocal, Junior Country Rock, Gospel, Australiana and Overall Junior Champion titles at the Hunter Valley Country Music Festival and various placings at festivals in Parkes, Macarthur, Illabo and Tamworth.

As part of the duo Country to a T with her friend Taryn Trautsch (also a winner and top placer in talent quests), Tori mainly performs around her home base including Campbelltown, Picton and Wollongong.

She admits she has had a meteoric rise in her chosen hobby, but said she had simply found a niche that suited her voice.

"Country music is extremely popular among the younger generation and there are now so many opportunities for young upcoming talent," she said.

The country music talent quest circuit is a crucial entry point and training ground for country music in Australia and can easily boast a launching pad for many of today's top artists including Beccy Cole, Kasey Chambers and Keith Urban.

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Second Mangalore Muster

A developing Australian country music festival kicks off its second year in Mangalore, Victoria, tomorrow with a big lineup of country stars.

In addition to the country music, the Mangalore Muster, which runs Friday evening and Saturday, will feature a bull ride, ute show, circle work comp and entertainment for all ages.

Venue is the Mangalore Airport, just over an hour north of Melbourne.

The star line-up includes Adam Brand, Kristy Cox, Tom Curtain, The Davidson Brothers (pictured), Lee Forster, Luke O’Shea & Medicine Wheel, Travis Sinclair and The Sunny Cowgirls.

The weekend concerts will be hosted by popular Victorian country DJ, Tim Ryan of "Truck'n with Tim".

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Keith "down under"

Keith Urban is currently in Australia promoting his new album Love, Pain & The Whole Crazy Thing and upcoming tour (in May).

He is slated to feature on the 7 Network's "Sunrise" program tomorrow (Friday).

During his visit so far, media have picked up Keith saying he and wife Nicole plan to spend much of this year "back home" in Australia.

While Keith has spent more than 14 years establishing his career in America, his movie star wife has been living life in the Hollywood fast lane. Both have been spending little time in their homeland.

Now, Keith has said it's time the couple got back to their roots. "This year is the start of us spending a lot more time here,'' the 39-year-old said on Sydney radio station Nova 969.

"It's great that we both have family here and are getting to the point where we have more ability to come back more often.''

Keith and Nicole married in Manly's Cardinal Cerretti Memorial Chapel on June 25 last year and will celebrate their first anniversary in Australia.

Following his promotional duties, Keith said the couple would return to Australia in April for Easter with Nicole expected to stay on to begin production on Baz Luhrmann's epic "Australia" co-starring Hugh Jackman.

Nicole's Australian publicist Wendy Day said she would be based here for at least six months. "She is really looking forward to making an Australian film in Australia and also seeing a bit of the Australian outback which she hasn't been able to do because of her overseas commitments,'' Wendy said.

While Nicole, also 39, prepares for the role, Keith will be overseas playing concerts in Germany from April 19, followed by four shows across the UK from April 24.

The New Zealand-born, Sunshine Coast-raised musician will then return to Australia for a national tour beginning in Brisbane on May 11, before playing concerts in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and wrapping in Perth on May 22.

Throughout June, Keith will be based in California for a string of shows while Nicole's filming commitments "down under" will be in full swing.

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Katrina and Danni chosen as Shorrock Scholarship finalists

Up and coming country singer/songwriters Katrina Burgoyne and Danni Stefanetti have been selected as two of seven finalists for the 2007 Glenn Shorrock Music Scholarship award.

Katrina (right), who was a grand finalist at Toyota Star Maker in January, and Danni, a multi finalist in various talent searches and 2004 WA Young Performer of the Year, join rhythm and blues singer MJay Chetcuti (Adelaide, SA), Robert Cini (from Innisfail, Qld), atmospheric band Ryan Oliver & Avedis (Lyndoch, SA), teen rock band Tom Sharrad & MPC (Coromandel, SA) and rock band The Wahas (Cremorne, NSW) to perform in the finals at Lyndoch Uncorked in the Barossa Valley on April 9.

Judges also extended Special Mentions to Emma Dean (Qld), Gatecrash (NSW), Jessica Paige (Vic), Peter McWhirter (NSW), Redice (SA) and Genevieve Spalding (SA).

Both Katrina and Danni are graduates of the Tamworth Camerata youth school of country music.

"Phenomenal is the best word to describe the talent of our up and coming young musicians," said Shorrock himself. "Entries for the 2007 award have surpassed all expectation." He was one of the three judges, alongside Jamie Rigg and Julie Ward.

Michael Paynter, last year's winner of the scholarship, got a development deal with SonyBMG and recently returned from a three month songwriting tour covering Scotland, England and the US working with songwriters and producers like Guy Chambers (Robbie Williams, INXS, World Party), Lindy Robbins and Reed Vertelney (Michael Jackson, Backstreet Boys), Ricky Ross and Gary Clarke (James Blunt, Natalie Imbruglia), Matt Bronleewe (Leeland, Michael W Smith) and Shelley Pieken and Wally Gagel (Muse, Keith Urban).

His debut album is out late this year.

Kate Fuller, the inaugural scholarship winner in 2005, performed at the Montreaux Jazz Festival in Switzerland backed by Al Jarreau and also has an album due out this year.

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New design for Slim Dusty Centre

A new design for the Slim Dusty Centre has received conditional development application (DA) approval from Kempsey (NSW) Shire Council.

Timing of the approval is critical, says the Slim Dusty Foundation, "as we eagerly await a response from NSW Premier Morris Iemma for a request for funding to assist in the completion of this living memorial to a great Australian icon".

The DA approval signals yet another important step forward for the Foundation's plans to commemorate the late Slim Dusty in a way that will contribute to the Kempsey community and all Australians long into the future.

Slim's widow Joy McKean is delighted by the design, saying, "It is visionary, yet practical; I think it is entirely workable while conveying the feeling of country and heritage that is contained in Slim's recordings.

"Slim's songs captured the Australian way of life, the way we think and speak – and the love we all have for our country," Joy said.

"This wonderful new design portrays those feelings through its exciting use of iron, stone and timber – the basics that our pioneers used to build their homes and this nation. They're the same basics we still rely on today.

"I look forward to hearing that our State Government supports and encourages this project aimed at stimulating the Kempsey and the Macleay River District’s economy and welfare."

Joy's enthusiasm is shared by Phil Lahey, the Foundation's Project Manager who is donating his time and expertise towards making the Centre a reality. "I am very happy that after so much work in such a short period of time the Slim Dusty project team has secured development consent for the proposed Slim Dusty Centre," he said.

"When we commenced work back in June 2006, our aim was to produce a design that would give us a landmark building which deserves to represent our icon, Slim Dusty; I believe we have achieved this."

Architects Schreiber Hamilton had also entered fully into the spirit of the Slim Dusty Centre and what it sets out to achieve. "It is a great honour for me to be involved in the design and construction of the Slim Dusty Centre," said Kevin Schreiber. "While Slim is undoubtedly the central figure and inspiration behind this project, it is the subject matter and spirit of so much of his music that I would like to see celebrated in this building.

"The unique Australian way of life embodied in his songs speaks of the connection of its people to the land, their hardships, triumphs and experiences, lived out in a recent but more innocent age. The echo of his songs and deeds strongly resonate with the enduring spirit of this country and the Australian psyche."

Slim Dusty Foundation General Manager Kathryn Yarnold said she was greatly heartened by the many messages of support that continue to come in, along with offers of tangible donations.

"I know this exciting new design will attract involvement and support from a wide cross-section of companies," she said. "Hopefully, many will be able to donate some materials for construction of the buildings.

"What better place for them to showcase their innovative products, brand name or services than this major tourist attraction."

The Slim Dusty Foundation is urging the Premier of NSW to unite with the passionate group of Australians who have already rallied behind the Slim Dusty Centre project and voice his support to the people of NSW by granting a State Government pledge of $1.5 million to the initiative.

Image: an artist's impression of the new design. Click on the picture for a larger version or visit

Wendy wins country gospel award

Wendy Cochrane (pictured) from Queensland has taken out the award for Best Country Gospel Song 2006 at the Australian Gospel Music Awards earlier this month.

Wendy won the award with her song, The Greatest Story Ever Told. Fellow country category finalists were Noela Dillon with The Bush Church, Harmony James with Unfinished Business, Julie McAllan with God Bless The Farmers and Dean Perrett with The Brighter Tomorrow.

Winner of the Best Blues Gospel Song 2006 was Christian Jordan, also from Queensland, with Anything For You.

The late Peter Dodds McCormack, composer of Advance Australia Fair, who died in 1916 and was also known as "the father of Australian church choirs" and responsible for setting them up across the country, and getting the Yamaha Golden Gospel Award for services to the music industry.

Previous winners have been Jimmy Little, Sister Janet Mead and Francine Bell; Peter's is the first to be awarded posthumously.

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New Zealand country music industry identity injured in car accident

Barrie McHaffie, one of the names behind the New Zealand Gold Guitar Awards and Gore Country Music Club, was hospitalised in Dunedin after a car accident last Tuesday (March 13) near Tapanui which left him with serious neck and spinal injuries.

Police said they believe his four wheel drive slid on some grass and crashed into a 30-tonne truck coming the other way. The impact was so great, Barrie catapulted through the back window even though he was wearing a seat belt.

He was flown by rescue helicopter to Dunedin Hospital and was listed in a serious condition in intensive care.

A commercial pilot, Barrie co-owns Aspiring Air in Wanaka.

"He's so lucky he is still alive even though he has suffered life-changing injuries," Police said.

News of the crash has stunned members of the country music community. Gore Country Music Club President Sue Stenning said Barrie had played a huge role in the Gold Guitars over the years.

–, Southland Times



Catherine gains major US tour support and product endorsement

Emerging Australian singer/songwriter Catherine Britt has received a massive career boost with the announcement that she will be touring with country superstars Brooks & Dunn and Alan Jackson during the upcoming Americans summer.

The 25 show major arena tour starts in May and will see Catherine perform in front of more than half a million people during the tour’s duration. The size of the tour can’t be understated, as it is forecast to be one of the top 10 grossing tours of 2007 in the US.

Catherine, who has a major label deal with RCA Records in the US, is currently recording her first American based album with Grammy nominated producer Brett Beavers. The album is expected to be released later this year in that territory and locally through ABC Music, so the timing of the tour, which will introduce her to hundreds and thousands of new fans, couldn’t be better.

Catherine is also now one of the faces of a new Garnier campaign in the US. More than 400,000 buyers of Garnier hair products will be among the first people to hear her new material with a track of hers appearing on a special CD sampler accompanying the products for a limited time.

One lucky Garnier buyer will also have the opportunity to walk the red carpet with Catherine and a group of other emerging stars at America's CMT (Country Music Television) Awards in Nashville next month.

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Shane and Neil tour continues

In more news of "double act" tours, two of Australia's most respected singer/songwriters, Shane Howard (left) and Neil Murray, continue their run of performances together through April and May on the "2 Songmen Tour".

Sub-titled "Solid Rock meets My Island Home – the heart and soul of Australia", the performances feature both stars presenting solo acoustic sets and shared songs and stories, "a unique performance concept which thrilled audiences nationally since the tour debuted last year," according to the pair's publicist. 

Shane (founding member, Goanna) and Neil Murray (founding member, Warumpi Band) are described as weathered songmen who, despite the passing trends and decades, "still stand tall in this country... in unity, they are an undeniable force in the evolution of our musical traditions".

"Individually, they have contributed to the soundscape with defining songs of depth and meaning.  In their songs we glimpse a vision of Australia as an independent, compassionate, free thinking country where its indigenous heritage and environment are protected and respected to form the foundation of a unique national identity," the publicist said.

In 1982, Goanna was thrown into the limelight following the release of the pro land rights song Solid Rock written by Shane. Now an Australian classic, the song remains a landmark rallying call in the history of indigenous protest.

Since Goanna, Shane has released eight albums producing songs such as Razor’s Edge, Common Ground, Walk On Fire, Murri Time, Heart Of My Country, Flesh And Blood, Talk Of The Town, Don’t Say OK, The Rebel Song, The River Knows and Let The Franklin Flow to critical acclaim.

In a solo career spanning two decades, the accolades continue with four star reviews for his current album Songs of Love and Resistance.

1n 1995, Neil was awarded the APRA (Australasian Performing Right Association) Song of the Year for the anthemic song of belonging My Island Home, originally written for the Warumpi Band in 1985 and re-recorded by Christine Anu in the early '90s. The song was a highlight during the closing ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympics and features in APRA’s Top 30 Best Australian Songs of All Time.

Since 1989, Neil’s solo career has produced five albums and spawned such songs as Clever Man, Big Truck, Far Away, Calm And Crystal Clear, Broken Song, Spirit, Bulukbara Man, Menindee, This Bliss, Native Born, Good Light In Broome, Long Grass Band and Myall Creek.

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Those Gals in "Australia's Got Talent" semi on April 1

Country Music Capital based all-girl trio Those Gals will appear as one of eight semi finalists on the new 7 Network television talent quest "Australia's Got Talent" on Saturday, April 1.

After winning through in their heat, the girls – Carolyn Morris (left), Kerry Walsh (centre) and Wendy Wood – flew home from Melbourne on Sunday after recording their semi final.

"We are one of the only acts that come from a regional area," said the Gals' Wendy Wood. "Most of the others come from capital cities. I can't tell you the outcome but what I can tell you is that the judges vote one act through to the final and another act is voted through by the public."

There are only eight finalists in the grand final.


Festival season underway

As the year progresses, country music festival season in Australia is well and truly underway.

We've already brought you news of a number which have run through January, February and early March.

Our stories below highlight more with additional events to be covered later this week and especially as Easter, a prime time for activity, and the May Day long weekend in Queensland draw closer.

South Coast Festival

The annual South Coast Country Music Association (SCCMA) Country Music Festival & Awards is set for this weekend.

All proceeds of the event go to the Illawarra Crippled Children (Cram Foundation) and the Mt Kembla Bushfire Brigade.

It will be staged at a number of venues but mainly the Dapto Leagues Club this Friday to Sunday, March 23 to 25.

The Friday night concert will feature Brian "The Larikin" Larkin and the SCCMA Show Band at The Grange Golf Club, Kembla Grange while linedancing takes place at Dapto RSL Hall.

On Saturday, the talent quest runs from 9am in the Leagues Club main auditorium with the Awards Presentation & Showcase Concert scheduled to run in the evening from 7 o'clock.

In addition to award winners, the Showcase Concert will star Katie Giddings, Tom Maxwell (pictured) and Short Straw, all backed by Ben McCauley's Raiders.

Sunday morning sees a Poet's Breakfast from 8.30 featuring Graham Johnson ("The Rhymer from Ryde") and Chris and the Grey.

Emma Hannah, Belinda Harkness and the Two Mikes both feature in A Gospel Harmony from 11am while the Festival's Gala Concert kicks off at 1pm with Victoria Baillie, Travis Collins, Tracey Killeen, Tom Maxwell, "Double Decker" Dave McCallum, Rod Motbey, Camille Te Nahu & Stuie French and backing again by Ben McCauley's Raiders.

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Murraylands Music Festival

Also this coming weekend (March 23 to 25) is the 2007 Murraylands Music Festival at Tailem Bend.

In addition to the "free Sunday" concert we reported on recently, details of this year's event are...

Held in Tailem Bend, an hour's drive from Adelaide along the South Eastern Freeway – the gateway to the Limestone Coast tourism region – the Murraylands Music Festival is a community-based festival showcasing the local district.

The Festival features a number of leading professional artists as well as a talent quest run in conjunction with the South Australian Council for Country Music with entrants from all around South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Tasmania.

Co-ordinated by the local school, the festival relies heavily on volunteers from the community including school students, parents and staff, the Rotary and Lions clubs, the Country Fire Service, St John Ambulance, local police and the local Coorong District Council.

The three day festival is held in the main street of Tailem Bend and provides music, activities for children, showcases local produce and is fully catered. This years event features artists including Arkive, The Beggars, Brendan Beleski, The Borderers (pictured), Freddy Bowen, Penny Burke, Greg Champion, the Jessie Che Band, Finely Tuned, Heather Frahn, Alison Hams, Mallee Blue, John O'Dea, Dave Prior, The Rustlers, Genevieve Spalding, Vanessa Lee Shirley, 2006 Toyota Star Maker winner Cat Southern, Mark Tempany, Wild Card and Talia Wittmann.

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New Cessnock Festival gains sponsor support

Organisers of the new Cessnock City Country Music Festival in May have announced a number of local businesses have come on board as sponsors.

They are Cessnock City Council, East Cessnock Bowling Club, O’Neills Tyres, Comfort Inn Cumberland, Commonwealth Bank Cessnock, Goanna Print, LJ Hooker Cessnock, Reg Lindsay Rodeo Promotions, SSS BBQ Barns and Sylvesters Bakery.

The Bowling Club is supporting the initiative by providing the venue for the inaugural event. Each year, the Festival Committee will select a charity to support and this year it will be Cystic Fibrosis NSW. It is planned for the festival to grow over the next few years and for other venues in the city to join in the concept and help the festival grow in strength.

Headline acts for the Festival this year will be The McClymonts (appearing on Friday night) and the Wolverines (on Saturday night).

Ticket enquiries can be directed to the Club on 02 4990 1444.

Free daytime entertainment will feature newly announced International Spur Award winner Karen Lynne with Acoustic Shock, Camille Te Nahu and Stuie French and 2006 Golden Saddle Award winner Amber Lawrence.

Local stars Kirsty Lee Akers (2007 Toyota Star Maker winner), Bruce McCumstie, Slim "Redback" Newton, Alby Pool, Lisa White, John Wilson and Rob Wilson will also feature.

The festival has an emphasis on supporting local country music identities, according to one of the organisers Rhonda Astill, "and who more famous than the local and legendary Reg Lindsay.  There will be a special tribute to Reg and his music showcasing songs from the newly released CD The Secrets Of Life, a collection of Reg’s recordings which will be available during the event." 

Festival enquiries can be directed to Rhonda on 02 4990 6861.

Chart Update – Lee is number one for the fifth week!

Lee Kernaghan (pictured) retains his stranglehold on the top of the Country Tracks National Top 30 Singles Chart this week with his latest hit Love Shack.

The McClymonts and Carrie Underwood remain at two and three respectively with Baby's Gone Home and Before He Cheats while Donna Boyd edges up one more place to four with Luckiest Girl Alive.

Camille Te Nahu & Stuie French jump three places to fifth position with Let's Make A Family, as does Melinda Schneider with Men In Trucks to six and Brad Paisley with She's Everything to seven.

Gina Jeffreys' Live It falls to eighth position while Rascal Flatts' What Hurts The Most enters the top 10 at nine and Anne Kirkpatrick's Showman's Daughter slips to number 10.

Bullet performers in the chart this week include Catherine Britt's I'm Gone (14 to 11), Dianna Corcoran with Then There's Me (17 to 14), The Sunny Cowgirls' Still Circling (20 to 16), Ian Quinn's Can't Cut Gidgee (21 to 17), Nicki Gillis' Leaving You For Myself (24 to 20), Lee Forster's Drinkin' Bone (25 to 22), Steve Forde & The Flange with Aussie Philosophy (27 to 24), John Williamson's Wildlife Warriors (28 to 25), Sharon Benjamin with Jack Of Diamonds (29 to 26) and Carter & Carter with Run Away (30 to 27).

New entries to the chart this week are Tom Curtain with Chew Like Hell (in at 29) and Travis Sinclair with Rockin' The Rig (in at 30).

The full chart can be viewed at

CMC Top 50 – The Sunny Cowgirls hold on to number one

The Sunny Cowgirls hold on to the number one spot on the CMC (Country Music Channel) Top 50 playlist this week with their clip of Still Circling as does Dianna Corcoran at number three with Then There's Me.

Matt Scullion rises to four with Giddy Up and James Blundell hits five with Higher Than Heaven.

Bullet performers this week include Luke O'Shea & Medicine Wheel with Ragged Bloody Hero (debuting at 19), Nicki Gillis (pictured) with Leavin' You For Myself (34 to 31), The Harmonators' Wish I Didn't (43 to 33), Donna Boyd with Luckiest Girl Alive (41 to 36) and Victoria Baillie with Something Comin' On (49 to 39).

Other new entries to the playlist this week include Jetty Road with Till The Day I Die (in at 47).

The playlist can be viewed at

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Sony BMG sets Nashville pace

Sony BMG Nashville is being lauded as America's top country record group of 2006 following the recent announcement of eight RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) gold, platinum and multi-platinum awards recognising 13 million in physical and digital music sales.

The certifications cross each of the group's four country labels, Arista Nashville, BNA Records, Columbia Nashville and RCA Nashville.

Achievements included Brad Paisley's double-platinum award with his CMA (Country Music Association, America) and ACM (American Academy of Country Music) award-winning Album of the Year, Time Well Wasted.

BNA Records delivered one of the hottest new female artists in the genre with the launch of American Idol's Kellie Pickler (pictured) whose debut disc Small Town Girl made her the best-selling, new, solo country artist of 2006.

Another January certification, the gold-selling Small Town Girl arrived at number one on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart in its first week of release.  With her second single, I Wonder, now climbing the charts, Kellie recently earned her first ACM nomination as Top New Female Vocalist. Reigning ACM and CMA Entertainer of the Year Kenny Chesney subsequently hit the three-million milestone with his latest BNA Records studio album The Road And The Radio.

With three consecutive number one country singles, Grammy-winning Best New Artist Carrie Underwood’s juggernaut debut album Some Hearts continues to soar, newly certified five times platinum.  Carrie has also scored on the digital front with Jesus, Take The Wheel earning gold status (for 500,000 purchased ringtones) while her smash hit Before He Cheats was just certified a gold digital single recognising a half-million purchased downloads.

Columbia Nashville firebrand Miranda Lambert scored her first million-seller with the March certification of her debut disc Kerosene.  An ACM nominee this year for Top New Female Vocalist as well as Top Female Vocalist, Miranda has emerged as one of the true, breakthrough country artists of the past two years. Her second disc, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, will be released late April.

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Theft charges dropped in Hank notebook case

Theft charges have been dropped against two people who gained possession of a notebook containing lyrics to 17 unrecorded songs written by Hank Williams.

A civil suit, however, is still pending to determine the ultimate ownership of the notebook containing lyrics written in the late 1940s.

The charges were filed against memorabilia collector Stephen M Shutts and janitor Francine Boykin after Boykin said she found the notebook in a box of trash taken from Sony/ATV Music Publishing's office in Nashville.

She and her husband sold the box, which also contained items from Buck Owens, Roy Orbison and Conway Twitty, to Shutts for $1,500 in 2006.

A Nashville judge ruled last Thursday (March 15) that there was inadequate evidence to support the theft charges. The value of the notebook has been estimated to be as much as $250,000.



Reg Lindsay Rodeo & Music Reunion today

The annual Reg Lindsay Wine Country Rodeo and Music Re-union is on this afternoon at the Cessnock (NSW) Showground.

Rodeo action starts at 3pm with the official opening by the Mayor of Cessnock John Clarence and Newcastle radio personality and the Country Music Broadcasters Hall of Fame inductee Carter Edwards.

The bucking bulls of Matt and Rachel Adams will feature together with Terry Marshall 's Queensland buckjumpers. Trophy buckles will be presented to the winners in the Howard Winfield Memorial Open Bull Ride and this year also sees a buckle for the Open Bareback, courtesy of stock contractor Terry.

Music will follow the rodeo action, this year featuring The Whiskey River Band with front man Garry Melross one of Reg's touring lead guitarists. This year the band will feature a medley of Reg's songs.

The rodeo this year is number 13 but Reg never liked that number, according to wife Ros, so it is officially billed as number 12a.

Further information available by telephoning 02 4991 1585.

A new album from Kelly

Kelly Llewellyn will officially launch her new album – Me – in Brisbane next Sunday, March 25.

"The day is set to be a great family day out," Kelly said, "so bring all your family and friends!"

Kelly's friend and award-winning songwriter John Harley Weston will also perform on the day.

Kelly will be performing songs from the new album which will be available in stores from the following day.

The first single from the album, Easy Me, is already getting great airplay and feedback on country music playlists around Australia, Kelly said.

The launch will take place at 1pm on the 25th at the Gem Hotel Rodeo Arena, Alberton, Queensland.

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And a single release from Steve

Steve Passfield has released the first single off his new album, the title track, Goin' It Alone.

The song has been described as "a bright, bluegrass flavoured track that talks of self-belief and self-confidence".

Produced by Rod McCormack, Steve says the album features some of Australia's best musicians.

Steve is known by many as the leader of the successful country band Handpicked.

In her review of the album in "Country Music Capital News", Sue Jarvis said Steve’s folk and bluegrass influences were very much in evidence on a diverse collection of songs, "ranging from Australiana... to touching and tender tales of people".

"Acceptance – the tale of a special little boy – is a real highlight of the album," Sue said, "as is the disturbing Break Free. Songs like the cool swing-inspired Broke, the tongue-in-cheek Trouble and Hillbilly Redneck Town demonstrate the breadth of Steve’s talents, and his tribute to Slim, To Sing With Slim, is a real gem.

"Other standout tracks include the wonderful A Man Will Risk It All and the Kevin Bennett co-write This House which features a guest appearance from Bill Chambers."

The new single has been released to radio on NfS 11.



James' new album launch

Australian country star James Blundell returns to his country-rock roots with his new album, Ring Around The Moon, his first release on Compass Bros Records, to be launched in Sydney later this month.

"Inspired by celestial phenomena, childhood memories, life lessons, homesickness and love, Ring Around The Moon is the latest offering from an artist who changed the landscape of Australian country music when he emerged in the late '80s," said the media release announcing the launch.

James was the first of a new breed of Australian country artists to find a young audience and achieve gold and platinum sales during that time. "He absorbed the tradition of the great storytellers of Australian country music and served it up in a way that resonated with a broad audience… young and old, male and female, in the country and the city… and paved the way for many of our contemporary country artists," the release said.

Produced by Graham Thompson and written mostly by James, with contributions from Don Walker and Johnny Cash, Ring Around The Moon is described as his "very best".

Ring Around The Moon will be available from March 31 on Compass Bros Records.

The album will be officially launched at a function commencing at 7.30pm at The Vanguard Hotel, King Street, Newtown, from 7.30pm on Wednesday, March 28.

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Beccy and Gina together for special shows

Beccy Cole and Gina Jeffreys – two of Australia’s most successful country music artists – are combining their talents for a number of special shows.

Although they have been long-time friends, it’s taken them until now to coincide their schedules for a concert tour that is sure to be a rare treat for fans.

Between them, they have a haul of awards including 15 Golden Guitars and a number of certified gold and platinum albums (based on record sales).

"Audiences can not only expect to hear the hit songs from two of the most stunning individual voices on any stage, any where, but will also be treated to some very special 'duet' performances of songs chosen especially for the tour," said the media release announcing the tour.

It’s now more than a decade since Gina Jeffreys won the Toyota Star Maker Quest, marking the start of a remarkable career that’s taken her to the top of the country music industry. She has earned numerous accolades, performed to sell-out crowds and sold volumes of records.

But the release of her new album, Walks Of Life, heralds a new chapter in the Gina Jeffreys story. "Produced by husband Rod McCormack, the album showcases a new vocal maturity on a collection of songs that are near and dear to Gina’s heart."

There’s no disputing that Beccy Cole is the reigning "poster girl" of Australian country music. "In January, her latest hit single, the heartfelt and honest Poster Girl (Wrong Side Of The World), swept all before it to take out a remarkable three Golden Guitars, the latest in a long string of successes for Beccy whose talents as a singer, songwriter and performer have taken her to the forefront of Australian country music over the past year."

The tour kicks off at the Hallam Hotel, Victoria, on Wednesday, April 11, at a show which is already sold out, followed by Bairnsdale RSL on Thursday April 12, then Kinross, Barooga and Corowa (NSW), just for starters.

Weblinks (including for tour venue details) –,

Alison and Mark to perform at major festivals

Alison Hams and Mark Tempany are about to embark on a journey throughout South Australia and beyond to perform at some of the biggest festivals in Australia.

April 6,7 and 8 sees them at the National Folk Festival at Canberra’s Exhibition Park where hundreds of the world’s best musicians perform daily in a non-stop flow of entertainment across 22 venues.

"It’s the premier event in folk and acoustic music in Australia," Mark said, "and we’re very fortunate to have been invited to perform in Sydney on the way home."

This comes after an appearance at the Murraylands Music Festival in Tailem Bend which is fast becoming one of the must-see events on the South Australian country music calender. Other guest artists in 2007 include Greg Champion.

The duo will be performing at the South Australian Country Music Festival and Awards to be held in the State's Riverland over the June long weekend. "This has been a long-standing favourite of mine," says Alison. "I’ve been going to this festival since about 1992 as a spectator, so it’s a thrill to now be one of the headlining acts."

Being away at Easter doesn’t mean that Mark and Alison miss out on Whyalla’s annual highlight – the Fishy Fringe Festival – all together, though. They will appear at the Fishy Fringe Furnace Party Official Launch on March 30 at the Watersedge Restaurant.

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Australia's biggest convoy

Aussie Helpers is a dedicated group of ute enthusiasts, musicians and a media production group "united to help ease the burden of the drought by holding the biggest convoy in Australia".

"We are having a State of Origin State Against State," said Vanessa Gould speaking on behalf of the organisers. "Which State will have the biggest convoy and which State will raise the most amount of funds for Aussie Helpers to help drought affected areas in Queensland and NSW? Get behind your State and have a ball of a time."

It’s happening on Saturday, November 10, with the NSW convoy travelling from Castle Hill Showgrounds near Sydney to Wagga Wagga via Parkes and the Queensland convoy starting from Brisbane and travelling to Roma.

Promoters of the cause are urging supporters to "start donating online now". The web page to visit is

In conjunction with the convoy, a fund-raising Drought Relief Outreach Festival Concert is planned to be staged in each State with a number of established and rising country stars offering to donate their time for the cause.

Names such as Meggan Carswell, Jayne Denham, Nellie Donovan, Col Finley (pictured), Kylie Hogan, Kelly Hope, Jason Kemp, The Rough Diamonds, Cat Southern (pictured) and KareneAnne Waters have indicated their willingness to be involved.

Vanessa said they were still in need of a major sponsor to cover such costs as the stage, lighting, sound and security involved in staging "such a large event".

"Once we have that sponsor, every cent raised will go to Aussie Helpers to help out drought affected areas in both Queensland and NSW," she said.

Vanessa can be contacted on mobile 0431 242 233 or by email

Karl to support Richard 

Karl Broadie will support Australian pop legend Richard Clapton at three gigs this weekend.

The gigs are at Panthers Port Macquarie tonight (March 15), Sawtell RSL tomorrow night (March 16) and Saturday night (March 17) at Yamba Bowling Club.

Karl will also feature in a songwriters' showcase titled "Who Writes The Songs" at Eastside Arts Centre at Paddington, Sydney, next Saturday (March 24).

And the following Wednesday, March 28, he will join Dianna Corcoran to open for James Blundell at his new album launch at The Vanguard in Newtown, Sydney.

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Jason calls for help

Jason Kemp has emailed with a request for support.

He has made it into the top 25 of the Famecast online video talent search with the clip of the title track to his current album This Dance on the country "stage".

The competition relies on votes from the public and he needs as many votes as he can get before 9pm tonight (Eastern Summer Time) if he is to make it into the top 10.

He is the only Australian who has made it through to this point, at least in the country section.

To vote, visit

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Wally Awards announced 

Lee Kernaghan (left) and Markus Meier have been announced as winners of this year's Wally Awards.

Adelaide based journalist and industry personality Wally Sparrow has for many years now been awarding "Wally Awards" to the acts he enjoyed the most on his annual pilgrimage to the January country music festival in Tamworth.

It all started as an almost "tongue in cheek" award however, over the years they have become very popular.

Three years ago, Wally started making two awards – one for The Best Live Act in Tamworth and another for the Best New Act in Tamworth. The awards are presented on behalf of Wally Sparrow and The South Australian Stock Journal.

Last Years winners were Travis Sinclair and Amber Laurence. Other past winners include Rosemary Rae, Adam Harvey, Troy Cassar-Daley, Beccy Cole, Donna Boyd and Karen Lynne.

Wally didn’t go to Tamworth this year so he called on some industry peers to take on the judging. After much discussion, it was decided that the recipients of the 2007 Wally Awards would be Lee for the Best Live Act award and Markus for Best New Act.

Tracy tour

Tracy Coster has announced dates for a four week tour of southern NSW, Victoria and South Australia.

The tour runs from mid May to early July and takes in centres such as Goulburn and Wagga Wagga in NSW, Jerilderie, Bendigo, Ballarat, Hamilton, Horsham and Millicent in Victoria, Mount Gambier, Bordertown, Wingfield (Adelaide), Hindmarsh, Moonta, Kimba, Whyalla and Smoky Bay in South Australia.

Tracy is fresh out of another successful Tamworth Country Music Festival where she made a number of appearances and was inducted into the Country Music Women's Wall of Fame, together with Patti Morgan.

The Wall of Fame is located at the South Tamworth Bowling Club.

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Songbirds tour

Meanwhile, multi-award winning artists (from left) Beccy Cole, Gina Jeffreys and Sara Storer have announced dates for what is being hailed as the concert tour of 2007 – "Songbirds".

Friends for some time Beccy, Gina and Sara have also guested on each other's live shows and recordings, so they say it seemed a natural step for them put together a concept where they could share the stage along with some of their individual songs.

The girls are three of Australia’s most acclaimed and successful country music singers with 24 Golden Guitars between them, along with a haul of ARIA (Australian Recording Industry Association) Awards, APRA (Australasian Performing Right Association) Awards and certified gold and platinum sales awards.

The tour kicks off on Friday, April 6, at Forster-Tuncurry and will include Port Macquarie, Yamba, Newcastle and Campbelltown.

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And Dean, Peter and Charley hit the road

Traditional country music fans will have the chance to see and hear two of Australia’s leading balladeers – Dean Perrett (left) and Peter Pratt – live in concert during their Queensland/NSW tour which commences next Wednesday (March 22).T

Dean and Peter will be taking their unique brand of country music on the road with backing by legendary guitarist Charley Boyter.

Dean has carved his position as one of the finest bush ballad performers in Australia having released seven albums to date with his eighth album – Return Of The Stockman – due for release the day the tour begins.

His 2006 release – New Traditions – has been a ground breaking album achieving two radio hits on the Country Tracks National Top 30 and gaining him Best Bush Ballad at the 2007 Australian Country Music People's Choice Awards, a finalist spot in this year's Golden Guitar Awards for Bush Ballad of the Year and Heritage Track of the Year at the Australian Independent Country Music Awards in October.

Peter's debut album Ever True garnered four consecutive radio hits, including two in the top 10 and two Golden Guitar finalist nominations as well as a swag of awards and finalist nominations in the TIARAs (Tamworth Independent Artist Recognition Awards), Australian Independent Country Music Awards and People’s Choice Awards.

Charley has been entertaining audiences for more than 40 years with his unique acoustic guitar sound and is best known for his touring with the late Slim Dusty. Charley has recorded on so many of Slim’s albums, Slim once remarked that "Charley has played on more of my albums than any other guitarist".

Last year, Charley released his latest album Play Charley and was recently awarded Instrumental of the Year in the Tasmania & New Zealand Songwriters Awards, Instrumental of the Year at the Gidgee Coal Bush Ballad Awards and an Australian Country Recording Award for 2006.

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Country on the Coast – what a weekend!

Spectacular weather, dynamite performances and a record breaking crowd were the weekend highlights for the 2007 ANZ Central Coast Country Music Festival, according to organisers.

"Throughout the Wyong Shire, a haven of country music heaven was created amongst all participating venues, along with the Sails Stage at the Waterfront and the Main Stage at Memorial Park, The Entrance.

"Crowds flocked to see their favourite stars perform at what has been the biggest and best ANZ Central Coast Country Music Festival so far," they enthused.

"Memorial Park was ablaze on Saturday with the crowds arriving much earlier than expected to pick a prime position to enjoy the outstanding line up of entertainment. The Youth Showcase kicked off with some awesome up and coming talent, which set the mood for the day perfectly."

Bill Chambers was a highlight of Saturday’s line up as he was joined on stage by daughter Kasey. "Proud Dad Bill loves to sing with his little girl and it truly was a special surprise for the crowd and the festival to have two such talents on stage together.

"Saturday in the Park was full of fun for the kids, great music for the grown ups and weather that was better that what could have been asked for. The McClymonts, Jessica Bell and Trev Warner warmed everyone up nicely but Beccy Cole brought the house down with her dynamite finale performance. The energy, passion and smashing sense of humour she brings on stage resulted in entertainment that the crowd was in awe of."

Sunday kicked off with sunny skies and a Poets Breakfast which had the Waterfront Plaza almost full. People again flocked early to Memorial Park ready to enjoy another day of entertainment. Nicki Gillis, Paul Costa, Sara Storer, Felicity Urquhart, Daniel Thompson and Travis Sinclair rounded out the show.

Organisers thanked their sponsors for making the festival possible – ANZ, Tourism NSW, Clive Jones Motor Group, Wyong Shire Council, Hits N Country 94.1, MasterFoods, Macron Music, The Herald, Sun Weekly, 2GO and The Entrance Leagues Club.

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Queensland Urban Country to come

The premier event at the upcoming Urban Country Music Festival is the massive Urban Country Music Concert on Saturday May 5 with a galaxy of contemporary and country music superstars bringing almost 60 Golden Guitars to the Caboolture Showgrounds.

Sponsored by the Caboolture Shire Herald, the fourth Urban Country Music Concert willbe, according to organisers, "an awesome family day out in country with almost nine dazzling hours of non-stop headline entertainment from legends, live wires and larrikins".

With compere Nick Erby from CMR (Country Music Radio), the concert stars Jimmy Barnes, Adam Brand, Troy Cassar-Daley, Beccy Cole, The McClymonts and John Williamson.

Following each performance, concert patrons will be able to meet all the artists in the merchandise tent.

Tickets can be obtained from, Caboolture Shire Administration on 07 5420 0100, Caboolture Sports Club, Caboolture RSL on 07 5495 1699, Kilcoy Newsagency and

German star records Aussie boy's song

Germany's youngest country star, Tommy Roberts Jr, has recorded three songs written by Australian singer/songwriter Kerry Kennedy for his upcoming album.

The pair met at a concert they were both performing at in Switzerland, where Kerry had success with the title track of his second album, Glass Of Wine.

Tommy was drawn to one of Kerry's songs, I Must Have Been Dreaming (off Kerry's third album, Goin Home), and recorded the song in February.

I Must Have Been Dreaming, Goin' Home and Big Rig are the three songs Tommy has recorded for the album which is due for release in Europe later this year.

"It has been such a great start to the year," Kerry said. "(Our own) album passed all our old records sales in Tamworth, our first single off the album – Big Grin Baby – was placed in the top five songs of the ICE (Independent Country Entertainers) Awards, publishers in the States are interested in my songs and we are working on a distribution deal at the moment. All this and the overseas news is just fantastic."

Kerry's band Double Barrel will be touring throughout Queensland and NSW to promote the new album The Moods About To Change in August and September, as well as a short promotional trip to New Caledonia in May.

The band is also in negotiations with promoters in Europe to tour there in March 2008.

The new single – When I Die – will be released in May along with a video clip on CMC (Country Music Channel).

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– David Harden


Those Gals through to "Australia's Got Talent" semi finals

Tamworth based all-girl trio Those Gals are through to the semi finals of the Seven Network program "Australia's Got Talent".

The girls – Carolyn Morris (right), Kerry Walsh (centre) and Wendy Wood – appeared on the program last night and got the judges nod to "come back".

A "cool" quarter of a million dollars awaits the winner of Australia's newest television talent search.

Sovereign call it a day

As one trio moves ahead, another decides to disband... highly awarded Australian band Sovereign have announced plans to go their separate ways.

The decision was a hard one to make, band members say, but all felt the time was right to pursue separate projects.

Lead singer Steve Eales is currently in Melbourne recording his debut solo album, The Battler, which is slated for a mid year release. The first single, Girls On Horses, recently hit radio and TV and is gathering momentum as one of the hits of the year.

Drummer Andy Hartley has recently relocated to NSW and plans to continue working in the country music industry for a number of top-line acts.

Steve "Stiffy" Hartley plans to take a break from music for now.

The legacy of Sovereign and our music will never die," said Steve Eales, "as we’ll continue to work together in the future on various projects and I plan to incorporate some of Sovereign’s signature hits like Tooraweenah Cowgirl and It’s My Town into my new solo show.

"We’d like to thank all our fans and friends in country music for their many years of support – we’ve had the ride of our lives," he said.

Chart Update – Lee still at number one!

Lee Kernaghan is number one on the Country Tracks National Top 30 Singles Chart for the fourth week in a row this week with his latest hit Love Shack.

The McClymonts jump three places to number two with Baby's Gone Home while Carrie Underwood is steady at three with Before He Cheats and Gina Jeffreys is down two places to number four with Live It.

Donna Boyd rises two places to five with Luckiest Girl Alive, Adam Brand drops to six with Cigarettes And Whiskey and Anne Kirkpatrick drops one place to seven with Showman's Daughter.

Camille Te Nahu & Stuie French (pictured) bound into the top 10 at eight with Let's Make A Family, as does Melinda Schneider with Men In Trucks to nine and America's Brad Paisley with She's Everything at 10.

Risers in the chart this week include Catherine Britt's I'm Gone (16 to 14), Dianna Corcoran with Then There's Me (19 to 17), Ian Quinn's Can't Cut Gidgee (23 to 21), Nicki Gillis with Leaving You For Myself (26 to 24) and Lee Forster's Drinkin' Bone (27 to 25).

Only one new entry to the chart this week, Carter & Carter's Run Away (in at 30).

The full chart can be viewed at

CMC Top 50 – The Sunny Cowgirls hit the top

The Sunny Cowgirls (pictured) hit the top of the CMC (Country Music Channel) Top 50 playlist this week with their clip of Still Circling.

Dianna Corcoran slips two places to three with Then There's Me, Matt Scullion is steady at five with Giddy Up, James Blundell enters the top 10 at number eight with Higher Than Heaven while Gina Jeffreys' Live It slips to 10 and Lee Kernaghan is at 11 with Love Shack.

Bullet performers this week include Camille Te Nahu & Stuie French with Let's Make A Family (23 to 18), Rebecca Lee Nye with Gotta Say Goodbye (27 to 24), Nicki Gillis with Leavin' You For Myself (39 to 34), Donna Boyd with Luckiest Girl Alive (new at 41) and Kelly Hope with Heartbreak Road (47 to 44).

The playlist can be viewed at

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Broadcasters honour Kenny

Kenny Rogers accepted Country Radio Broadcasters' Career Achievement Award in February cheered on by Vince Gill, Billy Currington, songwriter Don Schlitz and hundreds of radio executives who were in Nashville for the 38th annual Country Radio Seminar.

Schlitz, who wrote the Grammy-winning The Gambler, acknowledged to the radio crowd that he recorded and released the song in 1978 a few months before Rogers did – and saw it peak at 65 on the country chart.

"I'm in a room full of people who decided to play Kenny Rogers' version of The Gambler," he reflected, "which means that I'm in a room full of people who decided not to play my version. Good choice."

After conceding he couldn't possibly perform the song the way Rogers did, Schlitz offered his own more fluid version of the now familiar lyrics, accompanying himself on guitar. "I owe you my career," he told Rogers, who sat applauding in the audience.

In response, Kenny said: "You said I made your career. Well, I promise you that you made mine. So we owe each other nothing. But I hope we'll continue to work together." He reminded the audience that Schlitz had not only written The Gambler, but also his 1999 charter, The Greatest.


More stars announced for CMA Music Festival

More stars have been announced to appear at the 2007 CMA (COuntry Music Association, America) Music Festival scheduled for Thursday to Sunday, June 7-10 in Nashville.

Now in its 36th year, the Festival (formerly known as Fan Fair), continues to spotlight the unique relationship between country music artists and their fans, according to the CMA, while raising funds to support music education in metropolitan Nashville public schools through the CMA's charity campaign "Keep the Music Playing".

Trace Adkins, Rodney Atkins, Dierks Bentley, Big & Rich, Vince Gill, Alan Jackson, LeAnn Rimes (pictured) and Gretchen Wilson are among the latest additions to the performer lineup. Additional artists added as performers include John Anderson, Jeff Bates, John Berry, Blue County, Lane Brody, Sarah Buxton, Laura Bryna, Donovan Chapman, Earl Thomas Conley, Bucky Covington, Cowboy Crush, Amy Dalley, Dusty Drake, Katrina Elam, Emerson Drive, Jace Everett, Flynnville Train, Todd Fritsch, Josh Gracin, The Grascals, Andy Griggs, Ty Herndon, Little Texas, Ashley Monroe, Megan Mullins, Gary Nichols, Jerrod Niemann, Michael Peterson, Povertyneck Hillbillies, Julie Roberts, Ray Scott, Jeffrey Steele, Aaron Tippin, Trent Tomlinson, Trick Pony, Gene Watson, Bryan White, Jett Williams, Trent Willmon, Mark Wills and Darryl Worley.

"The CMA Music Festival artist performer lineup truly reflects the diversity of our format," said Tammy Genovese, CMA Chief Operating Officer. "We have today's hitmakers, legends and rising stars from the worlds of contemporary and traditional country, bluegrass and more."

Performers already announced include Jason Aldean, Bomshel, Catherine Britt, Luke Bryan, Sonny Burgess, Carolina Rain, Eric Church, Cole Deggs & the Lonesome, 2007 CMA Global Country Artist Award winner Adam Harvey, Heartland, Jypsi, Carolyn Dawn Johnson, Blaine Larsen, Little Big Town, The Lost Trailers, Martina McBride, Neal McCoy, Reba McEntire, The Oak Ridge Boys, Jamie O'Neal, Jake Owen, Danielle Peck, Pirates of the Mississippi, Sugarland, Pam Tillis, Carrie Underwood, The Wreckers and Chris Young. Additional artists will be announced in coming weeks and surprise artist performances are also being planned.

Tickets for CMA Music Festival 2007 can be obtained via

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Those Gals on "Australia's Got Talent" tonight

Tamworth based all-girl trio Those Gals have followed up the release of their second album and a 2005 finalist placing on John Laws' Rising Stars talent search with a spot on the new Seven Network program "Australia's Got Talent".

The girls – Carolyn Morris (right), Kerry Walsh (centre) and Wendy Wood – are scheduled to appear on tonight's program which goes to air at 6.30.

Those Gals released their second album – So Far So Good – in November, a follow-up to their debut self titled 2004 release.

"Australia's Got Talent" – the Australian version of an American program – is a loose mix between the former "Hey, Hey It's Saturday" segment "Red Faces" and a serious talent quest.

Judges are Tom Burlinson, Dannii Minogue and former "Hey Hey" personality and "Red Faces" judge Red Symons. Performers who impress the judges go through to the semi final rounds.

Then, contestants will face "the toughest judge of all – you, the home viewer".

"Ultimately, it's Australia who will decide who walks away with the big prize of $250,000," said a spokesman for the program.

The program has been rating well since starting a few weeks ago, according to Seven.


Karen wins International Spur Award

Karen Lynne was named winner of the Frank Ifield International Spur Award in Sydney on Thursday night.

"Karen Lynne is a breath of cool mountain air with a voice as clear as a bellbird," Frank said. "I admit to being an ardent admirer of her bluegrass music and her new CD Changes is an excellent example of what she does best."

The Award includes a release for international airplay and Frank had prearranged that the track Blue Mountain Rain from Changes be distributed to coincide with Thursday night's presentation. And he was delighted to surprise Karen with the news that the following day the track had entered a UK and European Chart at number three and was number one in the corresponding independent top 10.

The Spur Award was introduced in 1998 when the Rotary Club of Galston, organisers of the successful Galston Country Music Festival, agreed to support the presentation of an annual award by Festival Patron Frank Ifield.

Initially, it was an encouragement award to be presented to whomever the Patron selected as his choice for the best new independent Australian country music performer each year. The criteria for selection was based on the strength of a recording judged by Frank to be of a high standard and indicating further potential as determined by him.

Later, the focus centred on the potential global appeal of the recording, the artist's individual style and professionalism of performance both on and off the stage. This international appeal became critical, as a significant component of the award is the release to international airplay (particularly the United Kingdom and Europe) on Frank's recommendation and the further use of his expertise and experience to assist in promoting Australian talent overseas.

Bob Howe, organiser of Thursday night's event at the Canterbury-Hurlstone Park RSL Club, said it was standing-room only for the annual award winners night.

In addition to the Spur Award, the night featured performances by previous winners Travis Collins (last year), Stacey Morris (2005), Donna Boyd (2003) and last year's Golden Saddle winner Amber Lawrence.

The night also featured a guest appearance by Frank who presented a monologue from his new EP and nine-year-old Shelby Thornett who was announced as winner of the MATS (Music & Arts Junior Talent Search) Patron's Award.

Photos by Bob Howe (top): Frank and Richard Young, Chairman of the Galston Country Music Festival (centre) present the 2007 International Spur Award to Karen. Below: Frank with Shelby and her award.

In other Spur Awards news, Frank has reported that Travis also currently had a song – She Took The Ring – in the same chart that Karen entered this week. "It's wonderful to have two Spur Award winners in the chart at the same time," he said.

Travis will perform in Britain and the UK from July to August this year after a visit to Nashville.

Spirit of the Bush concert sold out

Communities across western Victoria have snapped up all 20,000 free entry wristbands for the Spirit of the Bush Drought Concert on March 17, State Minister for Agriculture Joe Helper announced yesterday.

At the Wimmera Machinery Field Days, the Minister said the free concert would provide a much-needed break for farming communities in the region who continued to face difficult challenges due to prolonged drought.

"This will be the biggest free concert ever staged in the Wimmera," he said. "The Spirit of the Bush is a perfect opportunity for people to get together, take a break and listen to some great music.

"The Department of Primary Industries worked closely with event organisers to find a suitable venue that would allow as many people as possible to attend the concert. The concert is at the Wimmera Machinery Field Days site at Longerenong College. An audience limit of 20,000 people was set to ensure the concert can go ahead safely.

The Minister urged anyone with wristbands that wouldn’t be able to attend the concert to make them available for people who’d missed out. "If you have wristbands and can’t attend you can return them to a wristband collection point so we can help as many people as possible to come to this concert," he said.

Lee Kernaghan (pictured) will lead an impressive line-up of national and international stars including Gina Jeffreys, Neil Murray, Tania Kernaghan, The McClymonts, Leo Sayer, Diesel and Steve Forde & the Flange.

The Spirit of the Bush concert is not a fundraising event. It's being staged out of respect for Victoria's hardworking communities to show that the rest of the State is thinking about them and supporting them.

A range of services were available to help drought-affected communities.

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Troy's master class

Ellaways Music in Brisbane has organised a "master class" with country star Troy Cassar-Daley billed as "an informative night to learn from (the) Golden Guitar Music Master".

The class takes place at Ellaways Underwood store next Tuesday, March 13.

Ellaways have joined with Fender Australia, Takamine and AER Amplification to present this opportunity for participants to learn from one of Australia's leading star guitar players, including "how to create your own unique sound (get tips from the 'tone' master)".

Participants will also learn how songs are created and will have the chance to play with Troy on stage with his band.

With seven albums under his Australian leather belt and the winner of  four Golden Guitars at Tamworth '06, "Troy is bringing his band to Ellaways Music, Underwood, to play some music, talk about getting a great sound from your guitar and gear, talk about guitars and more guitars and play a whole lot of music," said a spokesman for Ellaways.

"Troy is an amazing singer/songwriter and is an accomplished electric and acoustic player. Having played alongside Lee Kernaghan, Gina Jeffreys and Tommy Emmanuel in Nashville (to name a few), Troy has an amazing gift and would like to inspire others through this informative night of guitar playing and music making."

Booking enquiries can be directed to Bob on 07 3290 5656 or by email,

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Tania's national television debut

Australian country star Tania Kernaghan makes her national television debut this Saturday (March 10) when she joins the top rating Nine Network lifestyle program "Discover Downunder".

Hosts Paul Cronin and Dean Allen-Craig will be joined by Tania in what is billed as an informative magazine style show that concentrates on road travel throughout Australia in a car, caravan or motorhome – stopping at the many tourist attractions and holiday parks along the way.

As the sister of Lee and daughter of Ray Kernaghan, Tania has toured "all over the outback" with Slim Dusty and other famous artists and, as she says, she can "hitch up, tow and reverse a caravan with the best of ‘em!". Apart from sharing a few barbecue recipes and revealing some of her favourite holiday sites, Tania adds a musical touch to the show with her campfire sing-along.

Paul, best known for his role as Australia's favourite father figure in The Sullivans", is a passionate advocate for seeing Australia, its history and culture first as a means of "building our national identity". Dean is a television news journalist with "a knack for explaining all things technical in layman's terms and has a great understanding of the bush".

Tania’s television venture by no means indicates a break from her music, her publicist said. Tania’s new single, Life Don’t Get Much Better Than This, hit radio this week, as did the "ground breaking" new video at CMC (Country Music Channel).

The clip was directed by Brett Anderson who is well known in the film industry for his work on feature films such as "The Dish", "The Wog Boy" and "Romper Stomper", television programs including "The Secret Life Of Us", "Good Guys Bad Guys" and "The Sullivans" and music videos for artists such as Kylie Minogue and The Butterfly Effect.

"It was a thrill and an honour to work with Brett," Tania said. "Not only does he have an amazing eye for detail, his creative prowess is second to none."

Tania’s latest album, Higher Ground, also recently re-entered the Country Charts and she continues to tour as part of Lee's "Outback To The Beaches Tour".

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Drought focussed Tailem Bend concert

Organisers of the two major country music festival events at Tailem Bend, SA, are running a Free Sunday Show on March 25 "in recognition of the drought and the issues it brings to families and their communities".

Performers will include Brendan Beleski, The Beggars, the Jessie Che Band, Finely Tuned, Alison Hams & Mark Tempany (pictured), Mallee Blue, Leanne Noll, John O'Dea, Dave Prior, The Rustlers, Vanessa Lee Shirley, Cat Southern, Genevieve Spalding and Wild Card.

The show will run from 10am to 4pm in the Tailem Bend Town Hall.

Fiona Boyes is Port Fairy's Artist of the Year

Australian blues diva Fiona Boyes has been named as this year's Port Fairy Folk Festival Artist of the Year.

Fiona will be presented with her award before her performance on stage at the Festival this weekend. She receives a one-off, personalised Maton guitar.

In her career to date, Fiona has received numerous awards and accolades, such as Female Blues Artist and APRA Song of the Year and Victorian Blues Music Awards for Album of the Year, Song of the Year and Artist of the Year and the International Blues Challenge.

Fiona joins a long list of well-known awardees including Margret RoadKnight, Eric Bogle, Shane Howard and last year's winner Dobe Newton.


Keith makes top 10 best selling artists

Keith Urban has been named in the top 10 best selling artists in America for last year.

That's the top 10 regardless of genre, according to a release issued by the American Country Music Association (CMA).

He also placed in the top 10 country album sales for Be Here (number 10 in the list with shipments of just over a million copies). Rascal Flatts was number one with 3.4 million for Me And My Gang, Carrie Underwood was at two with sales of just over three million for Some Hearts and The Dixie Chicks came in at number three with Taking The Long Way selling 1.8 million.

Keith joined four other country acts in the top 10 selling artists of the year – Rascal Flatts at one, Johnny Cash at two, Carrie Underwood at four and Tim McGraw at six. Keith was at number nine.

As the top selling artist of the year, Rascal Flatts sold more than 4.9 million albums in 2006. The group's fourth album, Me Ad My Gang, placed second only to the High School Musical soundtrack as the top selling album of the year.

Rascal Flatts was also the Top Selling Digital Artist of the year, based on digital track sales.

Meanwhile, Keith has been named as a finalist for Top Male Vocalist at the 2007 Academy of Country Music Awards, the 42nd to be staged, to be announced in America in May.

See International Update below for more.

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Country features in world paragliding championship closing ceremony

Country music features strongly as a part of the street party and official closing celebrations in the NSW north western town of Manilla this Friday night (March 9) of the 10th annual FAI (Federation Aeronautique Internationale) World Paragliding Championships.

Scheduled to run from 5pm, the entertainment will include Charley Boyter (pictured) and his band together with local artists John Brand, Kerry Blinman, Trevor Coombes, Sarah and Emma Roberts and the 2007 Telstra Tamworth Queen of Country Music Leanne Coddington.

Leading aboriginal performer Mark Atkins will also appear along with party band Well Primed.

And, of course, the Championship medal presentations will take place.

The Championships kicked off on February 28 and included a launch party featuring Golden Guitar winner Felicity Urquhart.

As we go to "net" Czech paraglider Petra Slivova was leading the Championship, the first time this distinction has been achieved by a female paraglider.

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New single for Karen

Karen Lynne has released Roses In The Snow, the third single from her highly acclaimed and four times nominated Changes album.

Produced by Rod McCormack and Herm Kovac, Changes is a contemporary bluegrass and acoustic album from which the first two singles have both made top five chart placings.

Karen has now personally received more than 30 high profile award nominations (including five in the Golden Guitar Awards). In addition to this, she has also won 11 major awards including Australian Independent Female Vocalist Of The Year, a Bluegrass & Traditional Country award from Victoria, Contemporary Country Song of the Year at the TSA (Tamworth Songwriters' Association) Songwriter Salute Awards and, most recently, the Michael Cowdroy Songwriting TIARA (Tamworth Independent Artist Recognition Awards).

Written by Ruth Franks, Roses In The Snow is described as a traditional, up tempo bluegrass track that demonstrates Karen's love for the traditional side of bluegrass just as much as the more contemporary.

Currently, Karen is returning to the task of promoting this, her fifth album, following the birth of her first child and is shortly to return to the recording studio to begin work on the newest project, a traditional country album, hopefully, she says, to repeat the success of the award winning Second Wind country album released a couple of years ago.

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Central Coast Festival this weekend

One of two major country music events this weekend is at The Entrance on the NSW Central Coast.

With more than 60 individual concerts and activities on the official program, well over 50 artists will be appearing at 20 venues during the three days of the 2007 ANZ Central Coast Country Music Festival which runs from Friday to Sunday (March 9 to 11).

Acts appearing include 2007 Toyota Star Maker Kirsty Lee Akers, Victoria Baillie, Bill Chambers, multi Golden Guitar winner Beccy Cole (pictured), Darren Coggan, Paul Costa, Sharnee Fenwick, Nicki Gillis, dual 2007 Australian Bush Laureate Award winner Carol Heuchan, 2007 Australian Country Music People's Choice Awards Vocal Group of the Year Jonah's Road, The McClymonts, Bob Pigott, Travis Sinclair, Juzzi Smith, Sara Storer, Felicity Urquhart, Alex Watt and the Wolverines.

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And West Coast Country...

The second major event is the West Coast Country Music Festival at Port Lincoln, SA, which will be staged on Saturday and Sunday.

Stars include Troy Cassar-Daley, Adam Harvey (pictured), Graeme Hugo, Sandra Humphries, Amber Lawrence, Amos Morris, Jake Nickolai, Michael O'Rourke, Dave Prior, Grant Richardson, Cat Southern and Camille Te Nahu & Stuie French.

The Festival runs at the Port Lincoln Racecourse with free camping available from Friday night.

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EMI axes staff

Christie Eliezer reports in his weekly column at that EMI has axed a number of top positions.

Gone are Director of Sales Mark Williams who held that job for 12 years and joined EMI as a sales rep in 1979; Head of Promotions Nicole Richards who was with EMI for 11 years; and Chief Financial Officer Flemming Sorensen who joined the Australian company from EMI Europe two years ago.

Label manager Chris O'Hearn's position was made redundant. He was with the company for eight years.

Gareth Isaac will combine the roles of Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer. Penny Rowlands becomes GM of Capitol Music Group. Commercial Sales Manager Scott Mitchell is now Head of Sales. A few days later, staff from the Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Melbourne offices also got pink-slipped.


Sharnee on SBS

Up and coming country artist Sharnee Fenwick will feature on the return to SBS television of the program "Living Black" this Wednesday night (March 7) at 6pm.

Filming for the program has been going on for a few months now according to Sharnee who speaks with journalist Kris Flanders at her home and in Tamworth.

Australia’s premier indigenous news and current affairs program, the first screening in the new series will also have a story titled "A Dry Town Like Alice" highlighting efforts of the Mayor of Alice Springs to make the town dry, banning drinking in nearly all public places.

Hailing from Newcastle in NSW, 19-year-old singer/songwriter Sharnee won Best New Talent at last year’s Deadly Awards. However, ask about her greatest triumph to date and she’ll tell you gleefully that it was Kasey Chambers complimenting her on her performance at this year’s Tamworth Country Music Festival.

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John, Mark and Dianna win music award

Songwriters, record producers and screen music composers John Kane (pictured at left in the photo below) and Mark Walmsley have teamed with rising star Dianna Corcoran to be named joint winners of Best Song at the 2007 JD Light Music Awards for their song Satellite Of Love.

The other winner sharing the prize of $5,000 was Kelly Rowland with Not There For Me.

The J D Light Music Awards are administered by the Australian Guild of Screen Composers and were presented at Government House, Sydney.

As screen composers, John and Mark have written theme music and underscore for the Simpson le Mesurier and ABC TV serial drama Something in the Air, Dimensions, George Negus Tonight, Australia Wide, The Hopman Cup Tennis, The Australian Womens’ Open Golf and the current ABC 2 Digital TV station ids.

Recently, the pair were invited to compose theme music and underscore for the celebration of 50 years of ABC Television, The ABC Of Our Lives.

As record producers specialising in country, children's and contemporary music, the two have produced a number of CDs for various labels including ABC For Kids.

Dianna is gaining a solid reputation as one of Australia's brightest and most talented new country singer/songwriters. In January, she launched her second album on the Compass Bros label, Then There's Me, a work comprised mainly of her own songs.

More than a thousand entries were received for the JD (Johnny Dennis) Music Awards which were established in perpetuity through the will of Dennis John Mole who bequeathed his entire estate to a suitable trust for the purposes of achieving appropriate recognition for composers of light music.


New album for James

James Blundell's new album – Ring Around The Moon – will be released by Compass Bros/SonyBMG on March 31.

The first single from the album – Higher Than Heaven – was released to radio in early February.

The single has also been added to James' myspace site

And a debut album for Amber

Rising star Amber Lawrence says she has finished recording her as yet un-named debut album which is set to be released in May.

The first single from the new work will be released to radio in April.

The album will be available from Amber's website and also in stores.

Meanwhile, the 2006 Golden Saddle Award winner continues to tour extensively following a very hectic schedule during the Tamworth Country Music Festival.

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Chart Update – Lee still at number one

Lee Kernaghan maintains his stranglehold on the number one position on the Country Tracks National Top 30 Singles Chart this week with Love Shack as does Gina Jeffreys with Live It at numer two.

American Idol and multi country music award winner Carrie Underwood jumps two places with her hit Before He Cheats while Adam Brand is steady at number four with Cigarettes And Whiskey.

The McClymonts jump five places to number eight with Baby's Gone Home while Anne Kirkpatrick and Donna Boyd are steady at, respectively, six and seven with Showman's Daughter and Luckiest Girl Alive.

George Strait's Just Give It Away drops to eight, while Nick Kingswell and Tim McGraw are steady at nine and 10, respectively, with Hope For Me Yet and My Little Girl.

Bullet performers this week include Catherine Britt with I'm Gone (20 to 16), Dianna Corcoran with Then There's Me (23 to 19) and Ian Quinn (pictured) with Can't Cut Gidgee (27 to 23).

New entries to the chart this week include John Williamson's Wildlife Warriors (in at 29) and Sharon Benjamin with Jack Of Diamonds (in at 30).

The full chart can be viewed at

CMC Top 50 – Dianna takes over at the top

Dianna Corcoran (pictured) has taken over the number on position on the CMC (Country Music Channel) Top 50 playlist this week with her clip of Then There's Me.

The Sunny Cowgirls jump another three places to second place with Still Circling.

Matt Scullion drops one place to five with Giddy Up whileGina Jeffreys slips to number seven with Live It and Lee Kernaghan re-enters the top 10 with Love Shack.

Bullet performers this week include James Blundell with Higher Than Heaven (16 to 12), Tom Curtain's Born Out Here (25 to 20), Camille Te Nahu and Stuie French with Let's Make A Family (26 to 23) and Nicki Gillis with Leavin' You For Myself (45 to 39).

Other new entries to the playlist include Kylie Hogan with I Met You,

The playlist can be viewed at

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ACM finalists announced

Finalist nominations have been announced for the 2007 Academy of Country Music Awards to be announced in America in May.

Finalists are...

For Entertainer of the Year – Brooks & Dunn (pictured), Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw, Rascal Flatts and George Strait.

For Top Male Vocalist – Kenny Chesney, Toby Keith, Brad Paisley, George Strait and Keith Urban.

For Top Female Vocalist – Sara Evans, Faith Hill, Miranda Lambert, Martina McBride and Carrie Underwood.

For Top Vocal Group – Diamond Rio, Emerson Drive, Little Big Town, Lonestar and Rascal Flatts.

For Top Vocal Duo – Big & Rich, Brooks & Dunn, Montgomery Gentry, Sugarland and The Wreckers.

For Top New Male Vocalist – Rodney Atkins, Craig Morgan and Chris Young.

For Top New Female Vocalist – Miranda Lambert, Kellie Pickler (pictured) and Taylor Swift.

Top New Duo or Vocal Group – Heartland, Little Big Town and The Wreckers.

For Album of the Year – Hillbilly Deluxe by Brooks & Dunn, It Just Comes Natural by George Strait, Me And My Gang by Rascal Flatts, Some Hearts by Carrie Underwood and These Days by Vince Gill.

For Single Record of the Year – Before He Cheats by Carrie Underwood, Give It Away by George Strait, I Loved Her First by Heartland, What Hurts The Most by Rascal Flatts and Would You Go With Me by Josh Turner.

For Song of the Year – Amarillo Sky by John Rich, Big Kenny, Rodney Clawson and Bart Pursley (recorded by Jason Aldean), Before He Cheats by Chris Tompkins and Josh Kear (recorded by Carrie Underwood), Give It Away by Bill Anderson, Buddy Cannon and Jamey Johnson (recorded by George Strait), If You're Going Through Hell (Before the Devil Even Knows) by Sam and Annie Tate and Dave Berg (recorded by Rodney Atkins) and Would You Go With Me by Shawn Camp, John Scott Sherrill (recorded by Josh Turner).

For Video of the Year – 8th Of November by Big & Rich, Amarillo Sky by Jason Aldean, Before He Cheats by Carrie Underwood, Hillbilly Deluxe by Brooks & Dunn and Seashores Of Old Mexico by George Strait.

For Vocal Event of the Year – Building Bridges by Brooks & Dunn with Vince Gill & Sheryl Crow, I Don't Want To by Ashley Monroe & Ronnie Dunn, Me and God by Josh Turner featuring Dr Ralph Stanley and Marty Roe, Dana Williams and Gene Johnson of Diamond Rio, Politically Uncorrect by Gretchen Wilson featuring Merle Haggard and That's How They Do It In Dixie by Hank Williams Jr with Gretchen Wilson, Big & Rich and Van Zant.

Nominations for industry categories in the Academy of Country Music Awards will be announced later this month.

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Winners of all awards will be announced in Las Vegas on May 15.

Angela Hacker named Nashville Star

Angela Hacker, a 29-year-old single mother from Muscle Shoals, Alabama, is the latest winner of America's Nashville Star talent competition.

The victory came Thursday night (March 1) during the season finale of the USA Network program.

As a result, Angela was awarded a pickup truck and a Warner Bros recording contract.

Her debut album will be released on April 3.

San Francisco station goes country

San Francisco now has a contemporary country FM radio station following the switch of a mixed-format station on Thursday (March 1).

KMAX-FM (95.7) is the only country station in San Francisco which is the American radio industry's third largest market.

The station, owned by Entercom Communications, will be branded as the Wolf.

This follows the switch to country last week of KMZT-FM to KKGO "Go Country 105" in Los Angeles, which now leaves New York City as the only major American market without a country radio station.




Port Fairy Folk Festival

The 2007 Port Fairy Folk Festival will be staged next weekend, Friday March 9 to Monday March 12 (the Monday is a public holiday in Victoria).

It's the 31st Festival to be staged and this year features more than a hundred acts including country/roots/bush poetry artists Cyndi Boste, the Cornhuskers, The Flood, Russell Hannah, Jim Haynes, Anne Kirkpatrick, The Lawnmowers, Lost In Suburbia, Bob Magor, Lisa Miller, the Rich Family and The Yearlings.

Visiting international stars this year will include Eric Bibb & Danny Thompson, Luka Bloom, Dan Crary & Don Ross, Irish band Lunasa, Rory McLeod and Ralph McTell.

Festival hosts will include long time Bushwacker Dobe Newton.

Port Fairy Folk Festival is one of Australia's longest running and most successful music festivals.

As well as the bigger name artists, each year the festival showcases a host of younger folk acts that fill out the music spectrum.

Festival Chairman Bruce Leishman said: "The Festival has become a model community project. It has led to greater community spirit and supported just about every charity in the region. It brings great happiness and pride to our region."

Around 20,000 people a day enjoy four days and three nights of music, dance, workshops, street performances, theatre, busking, craft fairs, a Children's Folk Circus, the Free Festival of the Streets, and the many local tourist charms of the historic coastal fishing village.

Eleven big theme concerts are standout events of the Festival including the opening concert which features 14 indigenous musicians from Victoria.

An international concert will feature songs from many of the 22 international acts and an all-star line up will pay tribute to Bob Dylan.

Other theme concerts include gospel blues, a guitar concert with eight of the best guitarists in the country; and, this year, a tribute concert to peace.

Tickets to the Festival itself are sold out but the streets of Port Fairy become a public festival with 76 free acts and many of the best acts of the festival.

Four free stages run non-stop from 6pm Friday until 2pm Monday and from 10am to midnight on Saturday and Sunday. There are many more free concerts at churches, halls, surf clubs and pubs throughout the weekend. And buskers will be ubiquitous, according to organisers.

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Dan and Don tour Australia

As noted above, two world class virtuosos of flatpicking and fingerstyle acoustic guitar – Dan Crary and Don Ross – are currently playing together in Australia for the first time.

Dan (below) is a musical legend and pioneer of American flatpicking guitar, a musical stylist with an international reputation for taste, innovation and brilliance, according to his publicist. "Dan blends traditional material from a variety of American sources with stunning original compositions, vocals with instrumental showcases. (He) performs folk, blues, bluegrass, Celtic, world and original music, all woven together with stories that intrigue audiences.

"In 2002, Dan toured Australia with Italian flatpicker Beppe Gambetta and audiences everywhere were enthralled by the blend of musical cultures. This time, he’s brought renowned Canadian fingerpicker Don Ross on his first visit to our shores."

Don is recognised as one of today’s true innovators of guitar composition and technique. He’s the only guitarist to twice win the prestigious US National Fingerstyle Guitar Championship (1988 and 1996) and he’s played many of Europe and North America’s major concert stages, including The Montreaux Jazz Festival.

Together with Beppe and Scotland’s Tony McManus, Dan and Don form the unique concert guitar quartet "Men of Steel".

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Mittagong showcase

Mittagong RSL in NSW's Southern Highlands have announced the start of a regular Acoustic Country Showcase to be held on the first Saturday night of each month.

The nights will kick off this Saturday (March 3) with International Songwriting Competition winner and Golden Guitar nominee Karl Broadie (pictured) who has gained a reputation as one of Australia's most talented and hardest working singer/songwriters.

Over coming months, the club will be presenting free showcases featuring Australia’s up and coming country stars with Dianna Corcoran on April 7, Aleyce Simmonds with Aaron Bolton on May 5 and Harley Smith on June 2.

The picturesque Southern Highlands is a major tourist centre located an hour's drive south of Sydney, close to the major cities of Wollongong and Canberra.

Latest Country Update out now

The latest issue of Country Update magazine is out now.

Country Update is Australia's leading quarterly country music fan magazine with news, reviews and interviews with leading country music artists from Australia and overseas.

In the current issue, the magazine is offering six double silver passes to be won to Keith Urban concerts during his upcoming Australian tour in May. A review of Keith's first concert in Chicago since leaving rehab is also included together with a story about where Gina Jeffreys has been over the past four years, her new album and how motherhood has changed her.

Country Update sells for $6.95 from newsagents around Australia. A four-issue subscription can be obtained via the magazine's website


Records break at Boyup Brook 2007

Record breaking crowds attended the 2007 Boyup Brook Country Music Festival in Western Australia in February with the population of 700 residents swelling to more than 14,000.

Highlights of the event included the official opening of the Sound Shell by local Federal Member of Parliament Wilson Tuckey. Construction of the Shell was made possible through Federal and State Government funding and the Boyup Brook Country Music Club.

The festival's headline star John Williamson cut the opening ribbon held by committee members of the Club.

Winners of the Western Australian Country Music Awards were announced during the Festival...

Debbie Beckett of Craigie won the female vocal award and the previously announced songwriter category while Chelsea Basham of Wongan Hills won the junior vocal award and the previously announced junior songwriter title.

Michael Craig of Wilson took out the male vocal award, Super Dextras from Lesmurdie won the band category and Jodie Boni of Bunbury won the gospel vocal award. 

The 2008 Boyup Brook Country Music Festival and Western Australia Country Music Awards will run from February 14 to 17.The

Photo: Boyup Brook Country Music Club President Brad Mead with two of the festival's main star performers, Jim Haynes (left) and John Williamson hamming it up.


© Copyright 2007, ICMB Publishing