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MARCH 2009

MONDAY, MARCH 30, 2009

Vale – Rita Schneider

Rita Schneider – of the famous Schneider Sisters – died on Saturday (March 28).

Rita paired with her sister Mary in the Country Music Roll of Renown elevated internationally acclaimed television, stage and recording duo and built a substantial career in her own right as a comedy recording and performing artist.

After spending the last two weeks in hospital following a six month illness, she finally lost her battle with pneumonia on Saturday morning.

Originally from Rockhampton in Queensland, The Schneider Sisters formed in Brisbane and quickly gained work in theatre, on tours and radio shows throughout Australia.

Rita and Mary joined an Army Entertainment Unit and toured British Armed Forces Overseas Bases in Japan and Korea. On their return, they made Sydney their permanent home, doing various bookings in clubs, theatres, hotels and the television circuits.

The girls performed in the first variety TV show to go to air in Australia – "Seeing Stars" in Melbourne.

After amicably going their separate performing ways in 1971, Rita did some straight acting in various television series, including "Divorce Court", "Dad and Dave in Snake Gully" with Gordon Chater and "A Current Affair" with Mike Willessee.

She recorded an EP with Hadley Records – Country Fun – and in 1974, joined the Channel 7 Network as a talent and copyright supervisor. Apart from auditioning talent for various shows, Rita did bookings for commercials, documentaries, "Jeannie's Little Show", "Julie Anthony's First Special", "Cuckoo in the Nest", "Willessee Re-enactments" and "UFO's Downunder", to name a few.

She was also in charge of music copyright for the Seven Network, selecting music for series and commercials and organising world distribution clearances for "A Country Practice", "Sons and Daughters", "Rafferty's Rules", "Ben Cropp Documentaries" and many more ATN and packaged series.

After 17 years with Channel 7, Rita retired and got back into songwriting and producing music books with accompanying cassettes such as "Songs of Australia" and "I Love Country Music".

After co-writing and co-producing Mary's Yodeling The Classics 1 and 2, Rita returned to her first love, writing and recording comedy albums. Since then, she received 29 songwriting awards for her original songs.

With Mary, she was featured in the ABC series, "Love is in the Air", "Long Way To The Top" and the movie "Dirty Deeds". Rita's six comedy albums, Rita Raves On!, Nutty As A Fruitcake!, Dingbats!, Keep On Larfin!, Birdbrain Ballads! and Big Belly Laughs!, are also played in the UK and USA.

She acted in and scripted many of her own series for radio throughout Australia – "Ask Raving Rita", "Paralytic Predictions", "Orrible Orrorscopes/Astrological Atrocities" and "Down On The Farm with Alfie and Flo also starring Bryan Bateman.

"Down On The Farm" has gone to air on Graeme Gilbert's 2SM Talk Tonight show, 2NBC FM and many other radio stations throughout Australia.

Her comedy spots were also featured on the "Smoky Dawson Show" on 2RDJFM. Rita's track I've Had Everything, written by Geoff Mack, was featured on Ray Hadley's compilation album Real Good Music.

Rita and Mary were recently honoured to receive the "Lifetime Achievement Award" - an ACE Variety Award from the Club Entertainment Industry for 60 years in showbiz.

Rita's funeral will be held at 1pm Thursday, April 2, at Lady of Fatima Catholic Church 389 Port Hacking Road South, Caringbah.

Photo: Rita (right) with niece Melinda and sister Mary at the unveiling of Rita and Mary's Roll of Renown plaque in January 2002.


Chart update – Kenny hangs on to number one

America's Kenny Chesney hangs on to the number one position on this week's national Top 30 Country Tracks chart with his hit Down The Road.

Catherine Britt's I'm Not Your Cinderella jumps two places to be at number two while Graeme Connors' A Beach House In The Blue Mountains is steady at three and Melinda Schneider's duet with Paul Kelly – Still Here – jumps three places to number four.

Rob Black's I'm In Love & It's Getting Worse is steady at five, Felicity Urquhart's former number one – I Fall – is down to six and Luke O'Shea's Pride Of Erin bounds in the top 10 at seven.

Adam Brand's Hell Of A Ride enters the top 10 at eight, Tania Kernaghan's Second Time Around is in at nine and The Bobkatz The Red Top Table is down one 10.

Bullet performers for the week include The McClymonts' Shotgun (19 to 14), Troy Cassar-Daley's Big Big Love (22 to 17), Sandra Humphries' I'm worth It (24 to 21), The Sunny Cowgirls cover of Someday with Adam Brand (26 to 23), James Blundell's Portrait Of A Man (27 to 24) and John Williamson, Amos Morris & Warren H Williams with Australia Is Another Word For Free (28 to 25).

New entries in the chart this week include Jasmine Rae (pictured) with Pink Guitar (in at 30).

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


FRIDAY, MARCH 27, 2009

Whittlesea Comeback Concert

The Whittlesea Country Music Festival is making a comeback after having to cancel part of the three day festival due to the tragic Black Saturday bushfire disaster last month.

The revised concert is being held on Saturday April 4 with profits going directly towards local bushfire recovery efforts.

From midday until 10pm, the Whittlesea Showgrounds will host the much anticipated comeback event with what organisers describe as an outstanding line up of seasoned country performers eager to support the community.

Joining the star-studded line up are country favourites Adam Brand and Catherine Britt (pictured). "The bushfire tragedy in Victoria touched all of our hearts," Catherine said. "I’m so glad I can come back and try to help rebuild the community in any way possible.

"It has been very heart warming watching all of the continued support for the bushfire victims. Australians have really pulled together to raise money and help in any way possible, and that makes me proud to be Australian."

In the wake of the bushfires, many of the artists have been touched as they witness a community band together in the face of adversity. "So many people have and are still doing so much work to help this community," said Adam. "They are the real stars."

The line-up (in alphabetical order) is... The Aaron Daniels Band, Leslie Avril, Adam, Catherine, Mike Brady, Ross Buchanan, Andre Camilleri, Celestino, Paul Costa, The Distance, Sam Hawksley, The Prairie Oysters, Ruckus,Travis Sinclair, Smokin' O'Briens, White Goat and J R Williams. Compere will be Andrew Embling.

All artists involved in the event have generously donated their time, along with the countless volunteers and sponsors that have offered their time, goods and services. "We are just pleased to have been asked to be a part of a fantastic cause," said Damian of The Noll Brothers.

"Whittlesea and surrounding towns have gone through absolute hell," said Steve of White Goat. "If we can make a difference by helping bring back some smiles and fun to these communities, along with fundraising, we are there!"

Tickets for the concert are $40, available online via www.whittleseacountrymusic.com.au.

Limited gate sales will be available on the day.

"Numbers are limited so book online now to avoid disappointment," said a spokesman for the organisers.

"Those who have been directly affected by the bushfires and have a blue coloured DHS form will be admitted free, as will children aged under 15."

Acting Whittlesea Country Music Festival Committee President Tony Holding said he was proud to be able to offer this event to the residents of Whittlesea and it’s surrounds. "A tragedy as huge as Black Saturday touches everyone individually. The Whittlesea Country Music Festival Comeback Concert is a grass roots concert for the community, by the community. We will help our neighbours rebuild."


Troy portrait up for bushfire fundraiser auction

Cairns artist Elizabeth Barden’s portrait of Troy Cassar-Daley will be among works being auctioned in Melbourne on Friday night to raise funds for the Victorian bushfire appeal.

Following the devastation of the fires in Victoria, Elizabeth thought to donate the portrait of the much awarded country music artist. Troy had been scheduled to perform in the area affected by the fires, but was forced to cancel.

Together with Troy and his management, Elizabeth sought an appropriate means by which to auction her donated artwork.

Elizabeth’s painting will be auctioned at "Art For Life" – the brainchild of St Kilda artist Tony Longo who organised a similar event (almost single handedly) in 2005 for the Tsunami appeal. With only about a week's organisation time, Tony raised about $20,000.

The auction will take place in the Melbourne Town Hall from 6.30pm this Friday (March 27).

One hundred percent of funds raised will go going directly to the Red Cross. The event is supported by the Melbourne City Council under the auspices of The Lord Mayor's Charitable Foundation.

"It has taken some time to organise this event and I believe the response has been overwhelming," Elizabeth said. "I wanted to lend my support to the survivors to help re-build their lives."

Troy’s manager Brendan Wood said Elizabeth had "a generous heart".

The portrait was painted from sittings at Troy's home.Troy and Elizabeth said they hoped the portrait would raise a good price at auction. There while be a chance to bid on-line for artwork before the event, through the "Art For Life" website (see below).

Elizabeth is an accomplished artist with a portrait of Christine Anu in the permanent collection of the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra and work in other public and private collections.

She has a history of donating to worthwhile causes, and has been a "Jeans4genes" artist for many years.

Weblinks – www.artforlifeappeal.org, www.elizabethbarden.com.


WA showcase, "Country Girls & Guys"

Ten of Western Australia’s finest country performers are getting together for one show only at the Italian Club, Fremantle, on Sunday April 5 from 1pm.

Connie Kis Andersen, Debbie Beckett, Peter Hacking, Karen Hewitt (pictured), Billy Higginson, James Laval, Vicki Lee, Tracie Redding, Karen Rudge and Allan Spowart, supported by Cruisin’ Deuces, will be performing 48 traditional favourites from artists Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, Slim Dusty, George Jones, Loretta Lynn, Jim Reeves, Tammy Wynette and many more on the day.

The Showcase will be hosted by Brendon T Moylan, presenter, "Born In Boots" on Curtin FM 100.1 Perth.


Nepean benefit raises $70,000

The Nepean bushfire benefit held in Sorrento, Victoria, on March 9 raised $70,00) for the Red Cross.

Stars on the show included Lisa Bade & Tony Byrne, Scott Carne, Johnny Chester (pictured) & The Dalton Gang, Cohen Country, The Distance, Foggy Mountain Leisure Kings, Jimi Hocking, Mark Kennedy, Jay Mclean & The Roustabouts, The Missiles, Russell Morris, Mae Parker, Wendy Stapleton & Paul Norton, President Roots, Bob Valentine, Wallis & Matilda and Wilbur Wilde.


22nd Illabo Country Music Stampede

The 22nd Illabo Country Music Stampede will run next month, from Thursday April 16 to Sunday 19th.

"We have the usual format," said a spokesman for organisers, "commencing with the much loved campfire sing-a-long on the Thursday night. "The only change this year is that there is no breakfast serenade on Saturday morning, which gives everyone a sleep-in with plenty of time to get ready for the talent quest heats and to enjoy our wonderful cooks’ brekkie.

"We have some wonderful guest artists this year with Dianne Lindsay (pictured) and Jay Podger both performing on Sunday during the finals, which is definitely something to look forward to.

"We are trying something different this year in the form of a 'market day' to be held on the Sunday, commencing at 10am."

Potential stall holders can obtain further information from Clyde Belling on (02) 6924 5458.

Entry forms and a copy of this year’s poster are available from the download section of the stampede website – click here.

On a sadder note, "although this will be their last year together, our fantastic backing band Blue Ridge Country will again be joining us this year for their last outing at the Illabo Country Music Stampede.


Research continues for Tamworth Festival future

Tourism Tamworth has established two on-line surveys as a follow-up to the 2009 Tamworth Country Music Festival to seek feedback from visitors and locals about the event.

This is the first time surveys for the Tamworth Festival been conducted online.

The first survey focuses on Tamworth Country Music Festival experiences and will be seeking responses from "those who actively immersed themselves in scheduled events". It is targetted at ticket purchasers and those on databases held by some of the city's leading venues and asks for feedback on some specific issues and possible future inclusions.

The second survey is aimed at gathering feedback from the local Tamworth community "and to gain a better understanding on their thoughts and feelings about the event".

Survey responses are to remain confidential with the information used by major planning stakeholders "to develop a strategic plan for the Festival's growth and evolution".

"Having concrete data from those who have experienced or live with the Festival is extremely important for our planning," said Tourism Tamworth General Manager Rebel Thomson. "We are currently in the process of developing a strategic vision for the event, a plan that will ensure the Festival not only continues to thrive but also attract new markets, opportunities and strengths."

The research is an extension of work completed in January during the Festival when a research team conducted focus groups and one-on-one research with representatives from identified target markets.

Now on-line through two dedicated web addresses, the surveys also offer incentives to visitors who can opt to go in a draw for an $800 Harvey World Travel voucher and locals who can opt to be in the running for a night out in the city to the value of $200 at the restaurant of their choice (conditions apply).

"Recipients are urged to please assist and provide honest and constructive responses and feedback," Tourism Tamworth said.

The visitor survey can be accessed here – www.youtellme.com.au/TCMF...

The local residents questionnaire can be accessed here – www.youtellme.com.au/TCMR.


Redcliffe set for a bit of country

Queensland's Redcliffe Peninsula country music scene is about to "boot scoot into action" with a full season of events at the local country music club’s headquarters at the Redcliffe Showground’s Dalton Hall.

"In keeping with the club’s novel Irish traditions" said the Club's Entertainment Manager Kylie Adams, "an Irish-themed social event is to be held every third Sunday of the month.

"New on the agenda is the first Bush Bash night which is scheduled for this Friday night (March 27) at 7.30pm.

"This will be an exciting night of music, fun and food. Australian bush balladeering Ian Hands and Zeta Burns and bush poet Wally Finch from Bribie Island will be the main attractions at the event.

"In an Australian bush theme, dinkum Aussie bush tucker including damper will be available and visitors will be encouraged to wear Aussie bush outfits."

Another event on Sunday April 19 at 1pm will be a country rock concert with local act Sidecar (Karoline and Darren Gunn, pictured) as the main event.

"Sidecar will be performing numbers with their distinctive country and '70s style rock," Kylie said. "There will be heaps of other acts performing for everyone to enjoy."

Further information can be obtained by ringing 07 3284 7609.


Success for The Heartleys' first single

New Zealand duo The Heartleys – Kayla Mahon & Taylor Cairns – have stormed Australian radio this week, according to a spokesman, with the release of their first single to radio, No Man's Land.

"Radio immediately picked up the single and added it to playlists nationally, including the Kix FM Country Network.

Kayla and Taylor say the single is about" the current world wide crisis". "Not the financial one, but the world shortage of available men.

"Our Kiwi boys get more excited about Rugby than romance and would rather sit in a stadium than in a restaurant," say The Heartleys.

Australia has a long tradition of embracing the musical exports from across the Tasman (as early as the 1930s when Tex Morton became the first Australasian act to record original country music here).

"The Heartleys – unstoppable, young and talented – are set to prove no exception with their stunning self titled debut album."

Kayla and Taylor – winners at the 2008 New Zealand Gold Guitar Awards – grew up together in Gore in New Zealand’s Southland and share "a remarkable friendship and a common link built on a solid foundation of pure musical talent".

And the girls are no strangers to Australia as Kayla is a graduate of the Australian College of Country Music and Taylor is a two-time graduate of the Tamworth Camerata.

The Heartleys recorded their album in the Blue Mountains with Roger Corbett at The Valley Studio and launched the work at the Tamworth Country Music Festival with a dozen performances, strong album sales, industry interest and support performances for The Bushwackers.

The Heartleys are hitting Australian shores again later this year for some festival performances but in the meantime the duo is creating a buzz closer to home with appearances at New Zealand’s Bay Of Islands Country Rocks Festival in May (8, 9 and 10) and on the national New Zealand television program "Good Morning.

Weblink – www.theheartleys.com.


Ronni Rae releases Simply The Best

Ronni Rae Rivers has just released her cover of the Tina Turner classic Simply The Best.

The song, which is known as a National Rugby League (NRL) "anthem", made its debut in the 2009 season at the Sharks Vs Panthers game in round one of this year's competition where Ronni performed it live.

Ronni Rae is singing the song in aid of the Victorian bushfire disaster. All money raised from the sale of her recording, will be going to the Red Cross Victorian Bushfire Appeal.

She recorded her version at the Sydney Opera House with arranger Randall Waller (Shania Twain and Keith Urban band member) while the songs writers, expat Australian Mike Chapman and Holly Knight, have waived their royalty entitlements for the tribute version.

Ronnie Rae’s version of Simply The Best is available on iTunes.

"Hopefully all NRL fans get behind the song and download it. Not only will it evoke memories for them from a glamour period of footy, but of course all the money raised goes to an incredible cause," Ronni Rae said.

Weblink – www.ronniraerivers.com.


CMC Top 50 – Keith takes over the top spot

Keith Urban (pictured) has taken over the number one spot on this week's CMC (Country Music Channel) Top 50 playlist with the clip of his hit Sweet Thing.

The McClymonts' number one from last week – Shotgun – drops back to number two while John Williamson, Warren H Williams and Amos Morris are steady at three with Australia Is Another Word For Free.

Shea Fisher's Don't Chase Me is up another three places to number five, Troy Cassar-Daley's Big Big Love bounds up four places to six and Adam Brand's Hell Of A Ride at seven.

Steve Forde's I Ain't That Guy is at eight, Jasmine Rae's Pink Guitar enters the top 10 at nine, Melinda Schneider's duet with Paul Kelly – Still Here – is up one to 14 while the Brad Paisley/Keith Urban hit Start A Band is at 15.

Bullet performers for the week include Lianna Rose with Jack (25 to 22), James Blundell's Portrait Of A Man (28 to 24), Larry Cann & Markus Meier's Rodeo Rider (30 to 27), The Harmonators' Tomorrow Never Knows (33 to 29), Brad Cole's Come Home (37 to 33), The Distance with Little Cowgirl (42 to 35), The Robertson Brothers' Not Beautiful (41 to 37), The Noll Brothers' Man On A Mission (45 to 42) and Talia Wittmann's Nothin' But The Wheel (new at 43).

Other new entries to the playlist this week include Connie Neilsen's 59 Chevy (new at 48) and Adam Gregory's What It Takes (at 49).

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




Shea's new album

Rising star Shea Fisher's second album – Shea – was released yesterday (March 20).

The self-titled work was recorded in America and produced by the award-winning Richard Landis with the assistance of Steve Forde.

Following the recording of the album, Shea was signed to new US Label Stroudavarious which is headed by hit making US producer James Stroud. Shea is the first female signed to Stroudavarious and she will head to the America mid this year to begin her assault on that market.

As well as being a recording artist, Shea is a champion rodeo rider.

First single from the new album, which is a follow-up to her debut Everyday Girl, is Don’t Chase Me which has been distributed to Australian radio and is described as a "teen focused pop single".

Shea flew to Los Angeles in December to film the music video for the single. It was directed by acclaimed US director Trey Fanjo, who has also recently directed clips for the likes of Keith Urban and Taylor Swift.

"From a young age, I've just naturally worn a lot of different hats," Shea said. "There's the singer, songwriter and performer, the rodeo chick, the beach girl and then the normal teenager who just wants to have a good time with my mates.

"I believe that anything is possible no matter how big or how small your dream is. No matter what anyone says, don't let anyone tell you, you can't live out your dreams.".

Weblink – www.sheafisher.com.


Workshops with Troy

Troy Cassar-Daley will conduct two workshops in conjunction with Allans Music this month.

The workshops will be held at Allans stores in Adelaide and Brisbane.

With a quarter of a million record sales, Troy is one of Australia’s most awarded and recognised singer/songwriter/guitarists.

He has been awarded 14 Golden Guitars, four Gold records and has had numerous hits on the Country Tracks national Top 30 chart.

Troy will appear "live in workshop" for Takamine guitars in Adelaide on Wednesday March 25 and Brisbane on Monday March 30.

Registrations can be made on line.

Weblink – www.allansmusic.com.au.


The Cartwheels set to release new album

The Cartwheels are recording a new album which will feature 10 new originals from award-winning writer Wendy Phypers.

"It's been along time between drinks," the family band says, "as our first CD was recorded in 2001."

The band comprises Wendy (who sings and plays guitar), bass guitarist Dave Patterson and their teenage son, drummer Charley Phypers who has turned 15 "and matured into a fine musician and can't wait to get the tracks down," according to a spokesman for the band.

It is hoped the CD will be out by July.

Wendy and Dave are well known in country music circles having been core members of Golden Guitar winners The Sparnetts which released its debut album in 2001, had a hit with Rollin' Along and won the 2002 Golden Guitar for Vocal Group of the Year.

Weblink – www.myspace.com/cartwheelsband.


ANZAC single from Doug

Doug McIntyre has released an ANZAC themed song – The Man Who Might Have Been.

The Anzac theme is one which is popular leading up to Anzac Day and at any time of the year, Doug said.

The Man Who Might Have Been is described as a highly emotive ANZAC anthem honouring Doug’s great uncle who "traded a plough for a rifle" and died serving in the 4th Light Horse in Palestine in the First World War.

"The song pays tribute to all the diggers and forms an unmistakable link with today’s generation," he said. "We will remember them… Lest We Forget."

The Man Who Might Have Been is included on Doug's debut album Turn The Tide which was produced by Bill Chambers & Roger Corbett.

Doug is a 2009 TSA (Tamworth Songwriters' Association) Award Best New Songwriter nominee and Australian College of Country Music graduate. He says he draws inspiration from his childhood in the NSW Riverina and working as a paramedic in country NSW.

Weblink – www.dougmcintyrecountrymusic.com.au.


Chart update – Kenny at number one

America's Kenny Chesney takes over the number one position on the coming week's national Top 30 Country Tracks chart with his hit Down The Road.

Felicity Urquhart's number one from the last three weeks – I Fall – is down to two while Graeme Connors' A Beach House In The Blue Mountains slips one to three and Catherine Britt's I'm Not Your Cinderella is steady at four.

Rob Black's I'm In Love & It's Getting Worse jumps two to be in fifth position, The Bobkatz The Red Top Table is down one to six and Melinda Schneider's duet with Paul Kelly – Still Here – bounds into the top 10 at seven.

Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson's Wildflower is down to eight, Kirsty Lee Akers' Knocked Up is steady at nine and Taylor Swift's Love Story is at 10.

Bullet performers for the week include Adam Brand's Hell Of A Ride (18 to 14), The McClymonts' Shotgun (23 to 19), Ronni Rae Rivers' Running On Fumes (26 to 21), Troy Cassar-Daley's Big Big Love (28 to 22), Sandra Humphries' I'm worth It (27 to 24), The Sunny Cowgirls cover of Someday with Adam Brand (new at 26) and James Blundell's Portrait Of A Man (30 to 27).

New entries in the chart this week include John Williamson, Amos Morris & Warren H Williams with Australia Is Another Word For Free (in at 27), Clelia Adams' I Love You A Thousand Ways (at 29) and Col Thomson with There's One Too Many Kelpies In The Ute (at 30).

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


FRIDAY, MARCH 20, 2009

Urban Country Festival officially launched

The 2009 QUT Urban Country Music Festival was officially launched in Caboolture last night.

Mayor Allan Sutherland said the Festival –presented by Moreton Bay Regional Council – was expected to attract more than 35,000 day visitors and feature more than 500 country music artists across 11 stages as well as four days filled with free events.

"The Urban Country Music Festival is now in its sixth year and continues to get bigger and better," he said.

:On the May long weekend, the streets of Caboolture will be filled with stacks of free country music concerts and popular events and on Saturday May 2, some of the biggest names in country music like Lee Kernaghan and John Williamson will be back in town for our ticketed main concert."

Deputy Mayor Greg Chippendale announced talented singer songwriter Sinead Burgess of Beachmere, as the ambassador for this year’s event.

"Sinead’s star continues to rise and it’s fantastic to have a local performer of this high calibre play such an important role in promoting our festival," he said.

Eighteen-year-old Sinead will perform at the main concert at Caboolture Showgrounds along with a bevy of stars (see full story below) on Saturday May 2.

A new feature this year will be shows by horse whisperer Guy McLean on the Saturday and Sunday.

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

Standard tickets to the festival’s Main Concert are available through the festival’s website at www.urbancountry.com.au or Ticketek (13 28 49 and www.ticketek.com.au), Council’s customer service centres, Caboolture RSL, Caboolture Sports Club , North Leagues and Services Club Kallangur and Redcliffe RSL Club. Most other festival events are free.

For more information on these and other Moreton Bay Regional Council events phone 1800 810 400 or visit the website at www.urbancountry.com.au.



Nicki wins International Spur Award

One of Australia’s leading country rock performers, Nicki Gillis, has been presented with the Frank Ifield International Spur Award.

"My announcement of this years winner... proved to be a very popular choice indeed," Frank said. "Such is the public acceptance and wide appreciation for the talent of Nicki Gillis."

Announced annually, the Frank Ifield International Spur Award is presented to an individual in recognition of artistic talent with the desire to promote and achieve excellence in the entertainment profession. It also looks at the international appeal of the artist and the artist’s style and professionalism, both on and off stage.

Frank Ifield presented the award to Nicki on Thursday evening as part of the annual awards ceremony held at the Canterbury Hurlstone Park RSL Club.

Frank Ifield was Australia’s first UK chart topper with his track I Remember You. His success continued with numerous other chart singles, including three more that made it to the coveted number one position. Having such an extensive working knowledge of the UK music industry will be of great benefit to Nicki as Frank will be assisting with promotion of her current single in the UK.

The single, Watch The Wildflowers Grow, was released by Frank in the UK as a surprise for Nicki. When she was presented with the award, she was advised the single had reached the number eight position on the UK chart.

The award comes at an opportune time for Nicki as she is about to embark on a major tour of the United Kingdom in July, including a performance at the Norfolk Festival on July 25.

Nicki has had chart success in the UK previously with her single Leavin You For Myself which also made it into the top 10.

"It is such a thrill to have a music icon such as Frank Ifield supporting me," Nicki said. "I am really looking forward to the forthcoming tour throughout the United Kingdom and releasing another single in time for my tour. I will be asking Frank plenty of questions and advice and really make the most of the opportunity that has been presented to me by receiving this award."

"Nicki is a towering talent who has an abundance of charisma both on and off the stage," Frank has said.

"I know that Nicki will be a credit to Australian country music and will once more prove how worthy we are to strut the world stage," he added.

Pictured (from left): Frank Ifield, Nicki Gillis and Richard Young (Rotary Club of Galston). Photo by courtesy of Terry Phillpot.

Weblink – www.nickigillis.com.au.


The Saddles first heat

The Saddles 2009, the junior country music competition for 13 to 18 year old artists, kicks off this weekend in Wentworth NSW.

A large number of aspiring country music artists are expected to compete at The Wentworth Club on Saturday (March 21) from 3pm.

They will all be vying for the chance to reach The Saddles 2009 Finals in Sydney later this year where one talented young performer will win $1,000, a professionally produced demo from Little Red Wagon Studios and perform at the prestigious Golden Saddle Awards.

"The heat is a marvellous way for young artists to gain essential on-stage performance experience as well as the opportunity to gain experience being interviewed on film," said a spokesman for organisers.

"A professional film crew will be present at the heat in Wentworth this Saturday, recording footage for a documentary on The Saddles competition to air next year."

Country music performer Paul Costa will be a special guest judge on the day.

Weblink – www.goldensaddles.com.au.


Urban Country gears up

The sixth annual Urban Country Music Concert has announced "an awesome lineup" of premier acts and more than eight hours of bush ballads, "soaring blues, heartbreakers and high energy country rock" for Saturday, May 2.

"You'll be kickin' back and lettin' loose with legends John Williamson and Lee Kernaghan," said a spokesman for the organisers, "Adam Harvey, Travis Collins, Jonah's Road, 2009 Toyota Star Maker Liam Brew and Sinead Burgess on the Caboolture Showgrounds Arena stage, introduced by CMR Online's Nick Erby."

Sponsored by the "Caboolture Shire Herald", the Urban Country Concert runs from 2 to 11pm on the day and is the main event of the QUT Urban Country Music Festival with each act performing concert length sets with their own bands from 2pm, and patrons can meet the stars direct from the stage in the Merchandise Tent throughout the concert.

Concert tickets are $64.90 for adults, $29.90 for children 8-15 years plus booking fee from Ticketek 132 849 or online at www.ticketek.com and www.urbancountry.com.au.

On the day, tickets are $70 adults and $35 children at Ticketek Gates 7 and 8 at Caboolture Showgrounds.

No parking is available at the Showgrounds.  Satellite parking is provided at Farm Fantastic, Bruce Highway/Toorbul Exit (five kilometres north of the Caboolture turn off) and Morayfield Shopping Centre western car park, Morayfield Road.  Free shuttle buses operate from 8.15am within the Caboolture CBD, train station and satellite parking to key festival sites and the Showgrounds for the Main Concert, returning following the event.

Disabled parking: is available at the event with entry via Showgrounds Gate 2 from 2pm for patrons with pre-paid concert tickets and vehicles displaying permits.

For travel by train, details can be obtained from Queensland Rail (www.qr.com.au) for Brisbane to Nambour line travel times. A free shuttle bus will be operating from the station to the CBD and return from the Showgrounds.

Seating is not allocated at the concert so patrons need to bring their own blankets and chairs.  Wheelchair areas are designated.    

Pets, umbrellas, large eskies, glass, alcohol, soft drinks and hot food are not permitted. Hot and cold food and beverages will be available for purchase at the venue.

Under 18-year-olds must be accompanied by a responsible adult and may not enter the bar service areas.

Weblink – www.urbancountry.com.au.


Wally Awards announced

South Australian industry identity Wally Sparrow, and the South Australian Stock Journal, have for many years now selected two acts in Tamworth to receive the coveted  "Wally Awards".

One award is for "Best Live Act in Tamworth" and the second is for "Best New Act in Tamworth".

Wally selects the acts on their presentation and audience response.

The 2008 winners were Lee Kernaghan and Jetty Road.

The 2009 winners are...

Best Live Act in Tamworth – Laura Downing (left); and Best New Act in Tamworth – Ronni Rae Rivers.

Further information can be obtained from Wally Sparrow on 0419 591 894.


New songs released

This month sees the release to Australian radio of two songs – The Colours Of Her Life and In The Chapel Of The Lord sung by Melbourne recording artist Gary Ellis.

In The Chapel Of The Lord was written by award-winning songwriter Norm Burke (pictured) and has an interesting history prior to this release, Norm said.

The song was originally composed in 1991 and recorded by Paul McCloud for his album I Hear The Words Of A Song. It was also featured by Paul on the 1992 video of The Barry Thornton Show through Selection.

Subsequent to this, Paul’s version of the song found its way on to the American Gospel Chart in 2005, one of only three Australian songs to ever make it on to that chart.

This success prompted the current re-recording and release which is being marketed in tandem with The Colours Of Her Life "which has Norm’s befitting words cobbled to a melody written by Joyce Yates," according to a spokesman for the artist.

"The narrative relates the real life story of Jenny Sanders – an artist who resides in the Blue Mountains who lost her sight in a terrifying car accident some years ago.

"Following seven years of blindness, though, Jenny’s Christian faith eventually brought her back from the darkness to a world where she is now able to see and paint again.

"Jenny is the official GMH Holden artist. Her artwork appears on calendars, place-mats and jigsaw puzzles, and is in homes around the country."

The two-song set of The Colours Of Her Life and In The Chapel Of The Lord has already been released in America, Austria and France, and is garnering accolades and airplay from enthusiastic supporters.


Country music devotee dies in crash

Blenheim (NZ) Country Music Club members are in shock after the loss of a much-loved lifetime member.

Beverley Cross died after her car rolled at Okaramio on Tuesday.

The 66-year-old was driving home from a country music festival in Nelson when the crash happened. She was on her way to a country music awards meeting in Blenheim.

One of her sons, Phil Cross, said she was a "great Mum, always supportive" and she was very much a loving grandmother.

For more than a decade, Beverley was convenor for the Gourmet Paradise Country Music Awards.

Blenheim Country Music Club president Janice Thompsett said she and others were still in shock yesterday and had received condolences from former club members as far afield as Australia.

"She will leave a big void in the country music scene, not just in Blenheim but in Nelson, Timaru... we are like a big family," Janice said.

"She will be sorely missed by young and old."

Janice said Beverley was a people person who did not perform country music, but had a huge passion for it and judged awards throughout the South Island.

"She was very caring, and had a good sense of humour. She took things on board and she got things done."

– The Marlborough Express


Natalie wins in the Unisong contest

Talented Nashville based writer Natalie Howard has been recognised by her peers in the 12th annual Unisong International Songwriting Contest.

The US based contest was created for songwriters by songwriters and has been going strong since 1997. Past judges have included hit writers like Desmond Child and Diane Warren.

Natalie's song – Paint Me Blue – won second place in the Country category. Co-written with James Dean Hicks, the song has already won a third place spot in the Country category of the International Songwriting Contest (ISC) as well as gaining an Honorable Mention for Natalie in the Performance category of the ISC.

First place in the Unisong Country category went to Scott Southworth & Tom Trabucco from Franklin, Tennessee, with Time Flies When you're Having Rum.

The only other Australian finalist in the Country category was Danny Hooper from Clare, SA, with The Legacy although LeAnne King from Dooralong, NSW, gained an honourable mention with her song Put Your Hand In Mine.

The Unisong International Songwriting Contest has a prize package of more than US$60,000 spread over 16 diverse categories, including a one-of-a-kind grand prize

During a two week period, fans will be able to vote for their favourite song out of the top 64 winning entries in their People's Choice Awards (see website below).

Listeners can now hear Natalie as the US correspondent on the new "Heatwave Country" radio show (see more info below).

Weblinks – www.unisong.com, www.nataliehoward.net.


CMC Top 50 – The McClymonts take over number one

The McClymonts' (pictured) clip of their hit Shotgun takes over the number one spot on this week's CMC (Country Music Channel) Top 50 playlist.

Keith Urban's Sweet Thing edges up one to be in second place while John Williamson, Warren H Williams and Amos Morris jump two places to number three with Australia Is Another Word For Free and Steve Forde's I Ain't That Guy is steady at four.

The duet by Brooks & Dunn and Reba McEntire – Cowgirls Don't Cry – last week's number one – is down to five, Adam Brand's Hell Of A Ride is up two to six and America's Joe Nichols is at seven with It Ain't A Crime.

Shea Fisher's Don't Chase Me is up two to eight, the Brad Paisley/Keith Urban duet Start A Band is at nine and Troy Cassar-Daley's Big Big Love enters the top 10 at 10.

Bullet performers for the week include Jasmine Rae's Pink Guitar (16 to 11), Melinda Schneider's duet with Paul Kelly – Still Here (19 to 15), James Blundell's Portrait Of A Man (32 to 28), Gemma Luxton's Party (34 to 29), Larry Cann & Markus Meier's Rodeo Rider (37 to 30), Shane Nicholson's Summer Dress (36 to 32), Brad Cole's Come Home (43 to 37), The Distance with Little Cowgirl (new at 42), Kaylah Anne's Why Me (46 to 43) and The Noll Brothers' Man On A Mission (50 to 45).

Other new entries to the playlist this week include Kris Cummins' Say When (new at 49).

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



"Heatwave Country" launches

"Heatwave Country" is a new radio program which has been launched on the KIX Country network every Friday from 4 to 5pm Queensland time.

Hosted by noted country music broadcaster Daryl Kirkup together with leading artist Tracy Killeen, the show also runs on Sundays at midday and includes an all star team of Peter Denahy, Col Elliott and Tania Kernaghan.

"Heatwave Country" is described as "an all-new hour of fun and entertainment combined with the hottest country music on the planet" It's a syndicated program that is available to "every country station across Australia".

Utilising the latest digital technology with traditional media formats, "Heatwave Country" will not only run as a weekly radio show, but as a fully interactive website, mobile content, live events, magazine, television show and merchandise.

Weblink – www.heatwavecountry.com.


New single for Shari

Shari Williams has released her Q Song Award-winning Dusty Boots as her latest single.

Shari won the APRA sponsored award for Country Song of the Year last year. The song is taken from her debut album, Sunny and is described as an "inspirational song about realising your own strengths and moving on from a bad relationship".

Songs from Sunny have been receiving airplay around Australia, New Zealand and Europe with airplay also on commercial stations Sea FM and 4CA to name a few, Shari said.

Dusty Boots also has a new video clip which is now airing on CMC and NU Country TV. The clip was produced by Steve Byer from Southern Cross Ten Cairns and was filmed on location at the historic timberyards at Stratford, just north of Cairns.

The last few months have been a busy time for the Far North Queensland based singer/songwriter who is in demand as a solo/duo performer, and with her "rocking" band Shari & The Mice playing every weekend at venues and festivals around FNQ.

Shari will also make a visit back to her hometown of Sydney to perform at the 2009 Royal Easter Show (Shari will perform during the show on April 20, 21 and 22 with sponsorship by Kakadu Clothing.

Weblink – www.shariwilliams.com.au.


On-line voting opens for American award

Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley, George Strait, Carrie Underwood and Keith Urban are competing on-line for the American Academy of Country Music's Entertainer of the Year award.

Fans can vote on www.voteACM.com or www.cbs.com/acma for any of the nominees through to and including the last hour of the 44th annual Academy of Country Music Awards on Sunday April 5 at 8pm American Eastern Time.

Nominees are also scheduled to perform during the show.

In addition to the Entertainer award, Keith is up for Top Male Vocalist and Vocal Event of the Year for Start A Band with Brad Paisley.

Weblink – www.acmcountry.com.


Rodney to tour Australia

Nashville singer/songwriters Rodney Crowell will tour Australia in April.

Rodney first came to prominence as a member of Emmylou Harris' band in the 1970s with a number of his tunes becoming early signature tunes for his boss.

Having achieved success in the '80s – solo and with then-wife Rosanne Cash – he has shunned the mainstream in recent times, producing work that is as uncompromising and honest as that of his old compadres Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt and his former father-in-law Johnny Cash, according to a spokesman for the artist.

This is his first tour of Australia and follows the release of his Grammy-nominated new album Sex & Gasoline.

See our On Tour page for details of Rodney's visit.

Weblink – www.rodneycrowell.com.



MONDAY, MARCH 16, 2009

John receives CMA award

Radio 2KA Cool Country's John Bond was presented with the American Country Music Association's International Country Broadcaster Award by superstar Taylor Swift during last weekend's CMC (Country Music Channel) Rocks the Snowys Festival in Thredbo (NSW).

"I am shocked beyond belief," said a stunned Bond. "I love Country Music and enjoy sharing it with my listeners every day. Who would have imagined Taylor Swift giving me an Award? I thank CMA for this honour."

2KA Cool Country is a 24/7 country music radio station, one of only two in Sydney. John has the most popular shift on the station and broadcasts five days a week. In addition, he oversees programming for the station, providing a strong mix of country music to his listeners.

"John Bond is a strong supporter of country music in Australia and highly deserving of this recognition," said CMA Board member, Australia's Rob Potts. "We are thrilled that Taylor could surprise him with this Award while she is in the midst of her Australian tour."

The CMA International Broadcaster Award recognises outstanding achievement by radio broadcasters outside the United States who have made important contributions toward the development of country music in their country. Previous Australian winners have been Gary Beattie, Nick Erby, Ray Hadley, John Laws, John Nutting and Trevor Smith.

Photo: Rob Potts (left) with Taylor and John after last weekend's presentation.


Country Music Capital "charity shave"

Last Thursday, a Tamworth Country Music Capital team took part in the Leukemia Foundation's World's Greatest Shave fundraiser and raised, to date, a total of $6,800, almost $3,000 more than their $4,000 target.

Taking part were Tourism Tamworth General Manager Rebel Thomson (team leader, shaved) and Marketing Manager David Woodward (shaved and coloured), Tamworth Regional Councillor Paul Durant (shaved), country music stars The Sunny Cowgirls (coloured), country music star Col Finley (shaved) and Northern Daily Leader journalist Rebecca Belt (cut and coloured).

Donations are still being accepted and can be done on-line at www.leukaemia.org.au (search for team Country Music Capital) or by cash over the counter at Tourism Tamworth (at the corner of Peel and Murray Streets).

Funds raised will help the Leukaemia Foundation provide practical care and support to patients and families living with leukaemia, lymphomas, myeloma and related blood disorders.

"We had people coming in off the street wanting to participate and receive a shave or colour for a $15 donation and some who just wanted to donate which added to all of the fun," said Rebel.

"I’d like to thank those who have supported and become involved in the Leukaemia Foundation’s World’s Greatest Shave including the local hairdressers from Plush and Illegal Lengths who kindly gave up their time and skills."


FRIDAY, MARCH 13, 2009

Reg Lindsay Rodeo & Music Reunion

The 15th annual Reg Lindsay Wine Country Rodeo & Music Reunion is on at the Cessnock Showground tomorrow (Saturday).

Appearing will be Lee Britton, Donita Dey, Jan Kelly, The Overlanders Super Band (featuring Glen Bain, George Boyer, Gary Brown, Rob Brown, Phil Emmanuel,Gary Melross and Warren Neilsen) and Lucky Starr

The Rodeo gets underway at 3pm, the music starts at 8.30pm... all at the Cessnock Showgrounds.

Billed as "The Ultimate Tribute concert" it will be compered by Col Baigent.

Roughstock, featuring Glen Baigent, will open and close the day’s entertainment around the tribute concert and rodeo action.

The new feature event of the 2009 rodeo is the Howard and Queenie Winfield Memorial open bull ride, to honour both of Ros’s parents. In the past it’s been known as the Howard Winfield Memorial, but sadly, Ros lost her dear mum, Queenie, only a matter of days after she buried Reg.


"Country Crossroads" third series

The third series of the "Country Crossroads" program goes to air on Thursday March 19 at 8pm on Foxtel, Optus and Austar's "Aurora Community Channel 183".

Producers say some of Australia's finest performers will be profiled over the six week series including Golden Guitar winners Steve Passfield and Grand Junction who recently reformed for the 2009 Tamworth festival.

WA songbird Connie Kis Anderson, indigenous artists Samson James from Qld and Benny Woodley from WA will also appear.

Keith Potger of The Seekers fame also appears in a duet with program producer and host Rob Foenander.

"The regular 'Country Crossroads' team, who produce and fund the show, also return with some great new material.

"The program attracted a viewing audiences of up to 34.000 per week in its 2008 series and is a great platform for Independent artists to be seen right around the country."

Weblink – www.countrycrossroads.com.au.


New album from Donella

Donella will launch her new album – The Colours Of Me – in Tamworth next Friday (March 20).

The album, which contains two Donella originals, features musicians Rob Brown, Steve McCauley, Matt Parnell and Phil Weaver.

The launch will take place at Country Music Capital's West Tamworth League Club.


Chart update – Felicity has a hold on number one

Felicity Urquhart (pictured) is at number one for the third week in a row this week on the national Top 30 Country Tracks chart with I Fall.

Graeme Connors' A Beach House In The Blue Mountains edges up one more place to number two while America's Kenny Chesney is at three with Down The Road and Catherine Britt's I'm Not Your Cinderella is at four.

The Bobkatz The Red Top Table is up two to five, Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson's Wildflower is steady at six for the second week and Rob Black's I'm In Love & It's Getting Worse is up three to seven.

Taylor Swift's Love Story is steady at eight, as is Kirsty Lee Akers' Knocked Up at nine and Keith Urban's Sweet Thing is down to 10.

Bullet performers for the week include Melinda Schneider & Paul Kelly with Still Here (15 to 12), Larry Cann & Markus Meier's Rodeo Rider (19 to 14), Tania Kernaghan's Second Time Around (20 to 15), Adam Brand's Hell Of A Ride (23 to 18), Rose Carleo's Some Kind Of Miracle (24 to 21), The McClymonts' Shotgun (27 to 23), Darren Colston's On The Bend By The Willow (28 to 25), Ronni Rae Rivers' Running On Fumes (29 to 26) and Sandra Humphries' I'm worth It (30 to 27).

New entries in the chart this week include Troy Cassar-Daley with Big Big Love (in at 28) and James Blundell's Portrait Of A Man (at 30).

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



Adam and Lee star in bushfire fundraiser

Adam Brand and Lee Kernaghan will star in the Gippsland Emergency Relief Concert to be held in Traralgon in bushfire affected Gippsland on Sunday March 29.

A crowd in the order of 10,000 is expected at what would be the biggest event ever held in regional Victoria.

Also on the bill will be top selling pop trio Evermore, The Noll Brothers and more artists to be announced.

Nearly two months after the devastating fires, regional Victorians will once again come together to honour and support those affected by the fires.

In addition to the main concert, Austar and the Latrobe City Council will provide family entertainment throughout the day, including Nickelodeon’s "Dora The Explorer LIVE" stage show and "Spongebob Squarepants" as well as activities from The Weather Channel and more.

Sky News will also broadcast live from Traralgon, showcasing the event and the strength of the Gippsland Community to the rest of Australia.

All proceeds from ticket sales, donations and food and drink sales from the event will go directly to the Gippsland Emergency Relief Fund (GERF) which was set up specifically to help people in Gippsland who are affected by emergencies and natural disasters.

"This is definitely the worst event that Gippsland has ever experienced," said GERF President John Mitchell. "No-one could have imagined the ferocity of this fire, nor the extent of it’s impact on our community. The funds we generate through the Gippsland Emergency Relief Fund are quickly distributed to those in need.

"The difference between donating to the National Appeal and the Gippsland Emergency Relief Fund is that all money donated to GERF goes directly to the victims of the fires in the Gippsland area."

Organisers will invite up to 1,200 firefighters to march in a special torchlight parade around the Traralgon Showground on Sunday March 29, culminating at dusk in a special tribute to the volunteers.

The concert is a joint effort across a wide spectrum of corporate, community, and government groups. Australia’s Bundaberg Rum is contributing through their Bundy Bushfund charity that raises and contributes funds to support communities in need.

"It’s really about mates helping mates," said John Green, Chairman of Bundaberg Distillery. "We’ve raised millions of dollars since our inception in 2003 and we’ll continue to work with those in need throughout Australia to help build community spirit."

Tickets to the Gippsland Emergency Relief Concert are $10 (children under 12 free) and are available through McDonalds and Magnum Movies throughout Gippsland or by going online at www.gippslandreliefconcert.com.au
Gippsland Emergency Relief Concert

Gates open at 12pm. Stage activities commence from 2pm.


Crowds flock to Central Coast festival

Crowds flocked to The Entrance (NSW) and surrounds over the weekend for the 2009 Central Coast Country Music Festival.

Organisers say perfect weather guaranteed the many visitors from all over enjoyed the beauty of the area. They estimate that more than 45,000 people attended the festival across the 25 venues during the three days.

"Memorial Park was alive with people from Saturday morning as crowds arrived early to get a good spot to view the great line up of entertainment. The day started with the Youth Showcase supporting youth and up-and-coming stars in the country music circuit and finished with an amazing performance by the Central Coast's very own Gina Jeffreys!

"Gina surprised everyone when a special guest artist joined her on stage later on during her performance – the crowd cheered and clapped as Beccy Cole took to the stage to perform a few songs!!"

The Memorial Park Stage also hosted performances from Travis Collins, Tamara Stewart and 2008 Toyota Star Maker Talia Wittmann. "The Sails Stage wasn’t left out though," organisers said, "with some people seated throughout the Waterfront Plaza to watch the great acts on offer (including) Lucky Starr, Angela Hayden, The Harmonators, Bec Willis and the Chicken Train Skifflers keeping the crowds entertained.

"Sunday on the Sails Stage also had a great line up with Daniel Thompson, Victoria Baillie, Tracey Coster, Kelly Hope and Matt Frost just to name a few.

"The Memorial Park was full of fun for the kids with amusement rides, face painting, plaster and sand crafts
and many more, plus great music for the grown ups as well as displays from the fire brigade and vintage farm

"A very popular component of the festival this year was the Lindsay Butler Studios Showcase held at The Entrance Surf Club overlooking the beautiful white sandy beach."

Sunday kicked off with a Poets Breakfast on the Sails Stage which had the Waterfront Plaza almost full.

"People again flocked early to Memorial Park ready to enjoy Steve Passfield, Morgan Evans and the Feral Swing Katz. The Sunday finished off with crowd favorites The Sunny Cowgirls who wowed the crowd with their amazing

"The large busker attendance continued this year with a huge amount of buskers lining the main street and
performing inside shops, carrying on the country theme throughout the town. This year there were also many more
line dancing displays.

"Overall this festival was a huge success, paving the way for an exciting and bigger festival next year which will be the event's 10 year anniversary on Friday 12th, Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th March 2010!"

The event is sponsored by Wyong Shire Council, The Herald, Sun Weekly, 2GO, NBN, Today's Country 94one
& Macron Music.

Weblink – www.theentrance.org.


Felicity weds

Felicity Urquhart was set to marry her fiance Glen Hannah in Vanuatu today.

The couple got engaged in Nashville when they were recording Felicity's new album, Landing Lights, which is due for release any day now.

Landing lights was produced by Bob Evans & Brad Jones and is described as a "very much roots-driven" work.

"I play acoustic guitar on everything. I really wanted it to represent me and all the different expressions I feel," Felicity said.

Soon after today's wedding, Felicity, who also has a presenting job on television's "Sydney Weekender" will embark on a tour to promote the album.


Sharon added to Whichway

Sharon Lane has just been added to the line up for the Whichway Regional Music Development program to be held later this month in Dubbo.

Sharon has been performing the majority of her life, her unique story and vocals earning her attention from the Deadlys and the TIARAs (Tamworth Independent Artist Recognition Awards).

The Whichway Regional Music Development program will be held from March 23 to 27 at the Yarradamarra Centre at the Western Institute of TAFE, Dubbo (NSW) Campus.

Expressions of interest are still being taken for the five-day intensive workshop, and should be forwarded to frank@musicnsw.com or by phone on 02 96 99 97 06 no later than a week before.

Whichway is a project of Music NSW, funded through Arts NSW, to assist in the development of the indigenous music industry. The project is supported by the Australian Government through the Indigenous Culture Support Program of the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA).


SNC ratings

ABC Radio's "Saturday Night Country" is proving a consistent winner with very strong performances in all of the major metropolitan markets in the latest survey.

Melbourne outshone all ther markets with more than 20 percent of the audience in the program's timeslot.

Detailed figures are...

Adelaide .............. 13.5 percent

Brisbane .............. 10.7 percent

Melbourne ........... 20.2 percent

Perth ................... 08.1 percent

Sydney .................10.2 percent


CMC Top 50 – Brooks & Dunn and Reba at number one

The clip of Cowgirls Don't Cry – a duet by Brooks & Dunn and Reba McEntire (pictured) takes over the number one spot on this week's CMC (Country Music Channel) Top 50 playlist.

The McClymonts' Shotgun edges up one to be in second position while Keith's Sweet Thing jumps three places to number three and Steve Forde's number one from the last two weeks – I Ain't That Guy – is at four.

John Williamson, Warren H Williams and Amos Morris are up another two to five with Australia Is Another Word For Free, the Brad Paisley/Keith Urban duet Start A Band is at six and and Adam Brand's Hell Of A Ride iz steady at eight.

Shea Fisher's Don't Chase Me debuts in the top 10 at 10, Troy Cassar-Daley's Big Big Love is up three to 11 and The Sunny Cowgirls' Dancing On The Darling is at 10.

Jasmine Rae's Pink Guitar is up three to 16, Kirsty Lee Akers' Knocked Up is at 18 and Melinda Schneider's duet with Paul Kelly – Still Here – is at 19.

Bullet performers for the week include Lianna Rose with Jack (33 to 27), the title track to James Blundell's latest album Portrait Of A Man (new at 32) and Gemma Luxton's Party (39 to 34).

Other new entries to the playlist this week include The Noll Brothers' Man On A Mission (new at 50).

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



Central Coast Festival this weekend

The 2009 Central Coast (NSW) Country Music Festival gets underway this Friday (today) and runs for three big days up to and including Sunday.

More than 40 artists will feature during the Festival plus street buskers. A highlight of the event will be a number of free concerts, including "all the stars" on the Memorial Park Stage, the Sails Stage and Bayview Mall, as well as many other venues in the Wyong Shire.

"Visitors can well and truly have a boot scootin real good time!" said a spokesman for organisers. "Many of the performers at this year’s festival have received Golden Guitars, including Star Maker 2008 winner Talia Wittmann.

"Headline artist Gina Jeffreys (pictured) will wow the crowd with a performance from 4:30pm on Memorial Park stage on Saturday. It’s now been more than a decade since Gina 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 in Australia where she still reigns supreme.

"To help others make it to the Star Maker standard, a special youth showcase will launch the entertainment on Saturday in Memorial Park. The Showcase will feature many talented performers, all under 18. The purpose of the Youth Showcase is to give young performers experience on a main stage with a professional backing band and production and in front of a large audience."

Also included on the Central Coast Festival bill are Travis Collins (pictured), Morgan Evans, the Feral Swing Katz, Steve Passfield, Lucky Starr, Tamara Stewart, The Sunny Cowgirls and many more.

The final program of entertainment can be obtained from The Entrance Town Centre Management on 1800 335 377 or by visiting www.theentrance.org.


Chic Frontier continues in 2009

After selling out their Tamworth festival show, 2009 looks to be another big year for Dianna Corcoran, Amber Lawrence and Aleyce Simmonds as the touring trio Chic Frontier.

As well as their successful 2008 travelling and performing together, the three individually notched up a number of major awards including Female Artist of the Year for Dianna at last year's Golden Guitar Awards and 2008 Independent Artist of the Year at Mildura for Amber.

This January, Amber took home the Best Female Vocal Award from the 2009 Australian Country Music People's Choice Awards.

Aleyce, meanwhile, a former Telstra Road to Tamworth winner, is currently putting the finishing touches to her debut album.

The Chic Frontier show features individual sets from each artist along with group performances and a couple of surprises. Over the course of the night, audiences hear all the girls’ hits and much more.

"In the true country spirit, this amazing group came together as good friends to deliver a talent packed show on the Australian country music scene," said a spokesman for the artists. "This youthful bundle of talent is packaged with beauty and stage presence that will amaze any audience."

Dates of upcoming shows can be viewed at out On Tour page.


New single for Morgan

Morgan Evans will release his long-awaited second single, Untangle You, on Saturday.

The single will be released as a free download available exclusively on his Myspace web page www.myspace.com/morganevans1.

"We’re just going to put it up and put it out there," he said "It’s the best way I can think of to say a massive THANKS to everyone who has supported us over the last 18 months! It’s been one hell of a ride!

"We didn’t factor in much time for sleep but we’re all young and we’re too excited to sleep anyway!"

Tonight, Morgan will be performing with his band mates at The Tivoli Theatre in Brisbane, opening for the first of Taylor Swift’s four sold-out shows across Australia.

He then travels south to Thredbo in NSW, where he’ll perform twice at the CMC Rocks The Snowys Festival alongside The Audreys, Ash Grunwald, Ian Moss, Pete Murray, Joe Nichols, Taylor Swift and The Waifs.

On Sunday, Morgan will perform at the Central Coast Country Music Festival at the Entrance.

Monday and Tuesday, he will be at Billboard The Venue in Melbourne with Taylor again before heading north again to Sydney for the fourth and final sold-out show of the run at The Factory.


Chart update – Felicity still at number one

Felicity Urquhart retains the number one spot on this week's national Top 30 Country Tracks chart with I Fall.

Catherine Britt's I'm Not Your Cinderella edges up one more place to be in second position while Graeme Connors' A Beach House In The Blue Mountains is also up one to three and America's Kenny Chesney is at four with Down The Road.

Keith Urban's Sweet Thing is down to five, Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson's Wildflower is steady at six and The Bobkatz The Red Top Table is up one to seven.

Taylor Swift's Love Story is up to to eight, Kirsty Lee Akers' Knocked Up bounds into the top 10 at nine and Rob Black's I'm In Love & It's Getting Worse enters the top 10 at 10.

Bullet performers for the week include Sinead Burgess with You Get Me (16 to 12), Luke O'Shea's Pride Of Erin (18 to 14), Melinda Schneider & Paul Kelly with Still Here (20 to 15), Larry Cann & Markus Meier's Rodeo Rider (24 to 19), Tania Kernaghan's Second Time Around (25 to 20), Don Costa's To Here Door (27 to 22), Adam Brand's Hell Of A Ride (29 to 23), Rose Carleo's Some Kind Of Miracle (28 to 24) and The McClymonts' Shotgun (new at 27).

Other new entries in the chart this week include Ronni Rae Rivers (pictured) with Running On Fumes (in at 29) and Sandra Humphries' I'm worth It (at 30).

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



Brent makes ISC finals for the second year running

Queensland based singer/songwriter Brent Lillie is, for the second year running, a finalist in the International Songwriting Competition – and with the same song.

His twist-in-the-tail signature comedy number I've Done It has again been named a finalist in the Comedy/Novelty category and is now in the running for the US$25,000 grand prize.

"To say I'm stunned would be an understatement," Brent said. "Unlike in previous years, there were no lead-up emails sent out by the ISC advising of shortlisted songs or semi-final spots. I'm a bit groggy this morning and there is an element of shock and deja-vu to the news."

Brent is a prolific songwriter with more than 150 songs in his songbook covering several genres including country, comedy, ballads and jazz. He has been a winner in several major songwriting contests including the Tasmania/New Zealand Songwriting Awards, the TSA SEQ National Songwriting Competition and the Northern Territory Songwriting Awards.

Bundy Barramundi, a lighthearted look at a fire that destroyed the Bundaberg Rum Distillery in 1936, achieved a top three placing in the recent Australian Songwriting Contest. Brent is also a three-times finalist in the Australian National Country Songwriting Contest.

He has been touring extensively of late with the Highwaymen Tribute Show and winning praise for his role as Kris Kristofferson. To Be A Highwaymen, co-written with fellow show members Paul Mostyn and Dail Platz, is slated to be recorded later this year. The song is a tribute to The Highwaymen.

"I'm a pretty happy man. I've got to face the fact that I've Done It has got that special something that really grabs people," Brent said. "Maybe this year, eh?"

Other Australian finalists in the current ISC include Drew McAlister and Mark Phillips in the Country category with, respectively, Somewhere Somehow and Not In This Life; Marcela Taylor in Instrumental with Black & White; and Ashley Godfrey in Lyrics Only with My Fathers Son (A Country Man).

Weblinks – www.myspace.com/brentlilliemusic, www.songwritingcompetition.com.


Sandra's new clip

Sandra Humphries new video – I’m Worth It, the title track to her new album – is now at CMC (Country Music Channel.

The clip was created by three-time Golden Guitar winner Ross Wood.

Sandra started her year with the album launch in Mt Gambier then travelled to Tamworth for the annual country music festival.

"I knew last year when all my dreams came true and I made that album in Nashville that this year would be extra special – and it is!"

Sandra says the album has been getting some really great feedback.

Weblink – www.sandra.com.au.


Vale – Ernie Ashworth

Grand Ole Opry member Ernie Ashworth, whose 1963 hit Talk Back Trembling Lips was one of the first country tunes to cross over into pop, has died.

Eighty-year-old Eddie died on Monday at Trousdale Medical Center in Hartsville, Tennessee. Hospital officials did not give the cause of death but the singer/songwriter had recently undergone heart bypass surgery.

Eddie wrote songs in the 1950s for the Acuff-Rose publishing house that were recorded by country singers including Little Jimmy Dickens, Johnny Horton and Carl Smith, and wrote I Wish, which was recorded by pop crooner Paul Anka.


CMC Top 50 – Steve hangs on to number one

Steve Forde hangs on to the number one spot on this week's CMC (Country Music Channel) Top 50 playlist with the clip of I Ain't That Guy.

The McClymonts jump two places to number three with Shotgun while the Brad Paisley/Keith Urban duet Start A Band is down to four and Keith's Sweet Thing is up two to six.

John Williamson, Warren H Williams and Amos Morris are up two to seven with Australia Is Another Word For Free, Adam Brand's Hell Of A Ride bounds into the top 10 at eight and The Sunny Cowgirls' Dancing On The Darling is at 10.

Kirsty Lee Akers' Knocked Up is at 11, Shea Fisher's Don't Chase Me is up two to 13, and Troy Cassar-Daley's Big Big Love debuts at 14.

Bullet performers for the week include Jasmine Rae (pictured) with the clip of her new single Pink Guitar (debuting at 19), Melinda Schneider's latest release – Already Gone (debuting at 21) – and Gemma Luxton's Party (43 to 39).

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



Katrina wins APRA 2009 Country PDA

Katrina Burgoyne was announced last night as winner of the 2009 APRA (Australasian Performing Right Association) Professional Development Award (PDA) in the Country Music category.

Katrina wins $12,000 cash to advance her career through study or travel plus a Gibson guitar, studio time at Trackdown Recording Studio and access to an on-line course provided by the award-winning Berklee College of Music.

She won the award from 23 fellow finalists... 8 Ball Aitken, Benn Allen, Luke Austen, Phil Barton, Megan Bawden, Mishelle Bradford Jones, Tracey Bunn, Sophie Clabburn, Morgan Evans, Joseph Fenech, John Flanagan, Shane Hobbins, Daniel Hooper, Kelly Hope, Kate Jacobsen, Amber Lawrence, Troy Loakes, Roz Pappalardo, Chris Pickering, Jasmine Rae, Mark Vanden Boom, Sally-Anne Whitten and Bradley Wynd.

In her winning citation, APRA described Katrina as a 20-year-old national and international award-winning songwriter who is determined not to be ignored in the Australian music industry.

"It is hard to believe that so many meaningful lyrics can be penned by someone so young", APRA said, "but there is no mistaking her distinctive style in every song."

Photo: Katrina accepts her award at last night's presentation.

Weblink – www.apra.com.au, www.katrinaburgoyne.com.


Golden Saddle Awards launch a new competition

The Golden Saddle Awards, in partnership with Rooty Hill RSL, have announced "a brand new competition" – The Saddles 2009.

"This is the opportunity for young aspiring country music artists aged 13 to 18 years of age, residing in NSW, to win $1,000 and play at the prestigious Golden Saddle Awards to be held in Sydney in September," said a spokesman for the organisers.

Heats will be held throughout NSW from Saturday March 21 in Wentworth.

The Saddles 2009 are looking for entries from Wentworth and the surrounding NSW areas to submit their applications by Wednesday March 18 via the website www.goldensaddles.com.au.

Following Wentworth, heats will be held at Dubbo on April 18, Wagga Wagga on May 16, Casino on June 13, Tamworth on July 11, Bateman's Bay on August 8 and Sydney on September 5.

The grand final will be held on Saturday, September 12 in Sydney.

Further information can be obtained from the website (as shown above).


Troy to star in Guitarama

Multi award-winning country superstar Troy Cassar Daley will be among headliners in Guitarama at The Basement, Sydney, tomorrow night (Wednesday, March 4).

Troy will be joined by star players Mal Eastick (widely considered to be Australia’s finest blues guitarist), Rex Goh (one of the most in-demand players in the country) and young guitar sensation "Smokin'" Joe Robinson together with Steve Fearnley on drums, John Spence (guitar and vocals) and Victor Rounds (bass and vocals).

Guitarama is "a live in-concert celebration of great guitar music featuring Australia’s best guitarists showcasing a number of styles from blues to rock, acoustic, country and more," according to organisers.

"Each guitarist plays four or five songs each, and then join together for an all-in finale or two. There’ll be classic songs, great vocals, dynamic playing and musical magic in a night that celebrates the diverse variety of guitar music and those who express themselves playing it."

Weblink – www.myspace.com/guitarshowlive.


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