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MONDAY, MAY 30, 2011

Voice of Urban Country winner

Jess Holland (pictured) from Mungindi on the Queensland/NSW border took out top prize at this year's Voice of Urban Country talent quest staged as part of the 2011 Urban Country Music Festival in Toowoomba earlier this month.

"Jess, who took out the award as a solo artist, has been performing as the lead singer of the band McGee, but her love of music has been life-long since she taught herself to play piano by ear at the age of three," according to an Urban Country spokesman.

Alice Benfer of Glastonbury near Gympie won the competition's seniors title, while Stephanie Ward-Wrigley was named the junior winner.

Meg Ripps of Balmoral took out the juvenile title for the second year in a row.

Local Residents, a Strathpine-based four-member band, won first place in the busking competition. The band won the seniors category in last year's Voice of Urban Country talent search.

The crowds flocked to see this year's new look Urban Country Music Festival at the Caboolture Historical Village.

Moreton Bay Regional Council Mayor Allan Sutherland said the weekend had included some magnificent musical talent and some superb entertainment and he was sure many would have taken away fond memories this year.

"Those who braved the showers on Friday and Saturday had a great time and Sunday's beautiful weather allowed thousands to really enjoy themselves," he said.

"While our festival heart is still closely connected to country music, we're seeing more and more artists who are bringing other influences into their performances.

"I was particularly proud to see Beachmere's own Sinead Burgess rocking the stage on Sunday night along with the more urban bands."

Mayor Sutherland said tomorrow's stars were given a chance to shine throughout the weekend, through busking, the walk up stage and the Voice of Urban Country talent search.

He said the markets and other festival favourites like bush poetry, clogging demonstrations and line dancing workshops, the Songwriters Cafe and the activities for children at the Dusty's Kids section added to the friendly family atmosphere of the weekend.

"Of course this event owes its success to not only the council staff involved in organising the weekend, but the backing of local businesses, sponsors and our dedicated band of more than 100 volunteers."

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Doug goes bush at Balmain

Previous Australian Independent Country Music Rising Star winner Doug McIntyre is taking country to the heart of Sydney.

The rising country star has a new monthly gig at Balmain's Cat and Fiddle Hotel on Darling Street.

The gig, which will also feature special guests, runs Sunday afternoons from 3pm on June 5, July 10, August 21, September 18, October 23, November  13 and December 4.

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CMC Rocks The Hunter 2012 dates announced

Dates for the 2012 staging of CMC Rocks The Hunter have been announced by CMC (Country Music Channel), Rob Potts' Entertainment Edge and Chugg Entertainment.

The event will be staged at the NSW Hunter Valley's Hope Estate from Friday March 14 to Sunday March 18.

Artist lineup and ticket prices will be announced later this year.

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THURSDAY, MAY 26, 2011

Melody wins the Trans Tasman

Australia's Melody Feder (pictured) has taken out the 2011 Norfolk Air Trans Tasman Entertainer of the Year quest.

Melody, who's most recent success prior to Norfolk Island was at the Capital Country Music Association National Talent Quest in Tamworth, won the title from a strong field of eight, according to organisers.

She also took home the Allen (Puds) Buffett Perpetual Trophy for the Most Original Song.

Norfolk Island Country Music Association President Joe Adams announced the results.

"Eight extremely talented performers gathered backstage in the wings awaiting their turn to amaze the judges and the crowd," they said. "Each performer bringing to the stage their own aspirations and dreams, each with the hope of winning the coveted Trans Tasman Entertainer of the Year title."

Norfolk's Chief Minister David Buffett compered the night, took charge of introducing each performer to the packed crowd and the three judges who had taken on the arduous job of selecting the winner.

Runner up in the competition was Keinan Ngapo of New Zealand.

Winner of the Dead Ringer Band Encouragement Award was Phoebe Ball, also from New Zealand.

Winner of the Kathy LeCren Memorial Trophy for the Most Promising Country Music Artist was Tommy Contour of Australia.

The Norfolk Island Country Music Association Committee congratulated all entrants for taking part and wished them well for their future endeavours.


Bedgerabong Campout

The Bedgerabong Country Music Campout has been set for September, Tuesday 20th to Tuesday 27th at the central west NSW country town of Bedgerebong.

The Campout will be held at the Bedgerabong Showground, Copeland Parade, Bedgerebong.

Featured artists will be John Battle, Sharon Benjamin, Peter Coad & The Coad Sisters, Trent Holder, Peter Horan, Kezz’s Country, Tom Maxwell (pictured), Jono Nicholson, Joe Reeves, Sharon Smith, Judy Stevens and Len Teelow.

A Poet's Breakfast will run daily and there will also be a "sports challenge" and a dance night (with Peter Horan's Music).

Organisers say there will be lots of walk-up opportunities for campers who will only have to pay $60 per person for the whole week of camping and entertainment.

Admission for day visitors with no camping will be $15.

Further information can be obtained from Veva at email or by telephoning 0427 511 770 or Robert on 02 6857 2139.


Chart Update – Kasey hits number one

Kasey Chambers' Beautiful Mess has taken over the number one spot on this week's national Country Tracks Top 30 singles chart.

Doug Bruce's Honky Tonk Shoes is up two to number two, America's Brad Paisley is steady at three with This Is Country Music while The Bobkatz' former number one, In The Coals, is at four.

America's Zac Brown Band with Alan Jackson is at five with As She's Walking Away, Kaylee Bell's Love Was Just A Fairytale edges up one to six and Amber Joy Poulton's Break Even is at seven.

Harmony James' Painted Pony is at eight, The Harmonators' Woohoohoo bounds into the top 10 at nine while America's Reba McEntire is steady at 10 with If I Were A Boy.

Bullet performers for the week include Luke Austen's Two Miles Down (15 to 12), Dianna Corcoran's Keep Breathing (18 to 14), Jasmine Rae's duet with Joe Nichols, I'll Try Anything (20 to 16), Amber Lawrence's Always Kiss Me Goodbye (25 to 21), Dean Perrett's duet with Lee Kernaghan, Channel Country Ground (26 to 23), and Katrina Burgoyne's I Wasn't Gonna Cry (27 to 24).

New entries to the chart this week are Troy Cassar-Daley's Ladies In My Life (in at 28) and Karen Lynne's The Road That Brought Me Here (at 30).



Nicki, Bob and Darren shine at the MOs

Nicki Gillis, Bob Howe and Darren Carr have come up trumps at this year's MO Awards announced in Sydney on Monday.

Nicki took out the Country category from fellow finalists Kel-Anne Brandt, Troy Cassar-Daley, Wayne Horsburgh, The McClymonts and Melinda Schneider.

Bob Howe won Best Instrumental or Vocal Instrumental Performer while Darren Carr was named Best Specialty Act.

Photo: Nicki and Bob with their MO awards.

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Katherine Muster this Saturday

The annual Katherine (NT) Country Music Muster is back for 2011 and organisers have announced a one-day event in place of the previous three-day format.

"We will be holding three major 'one night only' events instead of the one three day event in 2011," said a spokesman for the organisers.

Headline act for this year will be Texas Rose who "wowed" the crowd at last year's Muster.

Gates open at 6pm at the venue, the Tick Market Precinct in Lindsay Street, with local artists Lee Hubble ("The General") and Katie Oliver.

At 7:30pm, finalists and winners in the NT Songwriting Competition will be announced followed by Texas Rose.

The Muster aims to promote Katherine as the Country Music Capital of the Northern Territory by hosting an annual festival, hosting regular community events, promoting Katherine as the Territory's home of country music and supporting and promoting the development of local talent.

The Katherine Country Music Muster Association was established to lift the spirits of those affected by devastating floods in 1998. It is a non profit organisation where all responsibilities and undertakings are carried out by volunteers of the community.

Update: it has been announced that, due to events beyond the control of the Katherine Country Music Muster, the Northern Territory Songwriting Competition, which is normally held in conjunction with the Muster, has been cancelled for this year. All nominations will be returned to the owners and organisers have issued thanks to everyone who nominated.

Further information regarding the NT Songwriting Competition can be obtained by emailing or by telephoning phone 0427 731 088.

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More on Hats Off

Country Music Capital's mid year celebration Hats Off to Country is now just over a month away and organisers have announced more detail on what's happening with the annual event.

Described as "the cool alternative to the annual Tamworth Country Music Festival in January" Hats Off boasts four big days from July 7 to 10 and provides the community, visitors and the industry with non-stop entertainment from some of Australia's leading country music talents and rising stars.

As already announced, celebrated and multi-award winning Australian entertainer John Williamson is returning to perform a special concert at West Tamworth League Club on Friday July 8 as the headline act of Hats Off 2011.

Shopping centres, pubs and clubs around the city of Tamworth will also be humming to country tunes during the festival with something for everyone on offer, according to organisers.

Tamworth locals are particularly on show with a large majority of acts residents within the local community.

Tourism Tamworth is still calling for venues to get involved in the mid year celebrations and to book their entertainment line-up as soon as possible.

General Manager Rebel Thomson said: "It is a great, fun event to get involved in, and it enables Tamworth to heat up over the winter months. We urge venues within the Tamworth community to get involved and start booking your gigs for the 2011 Hats Off to Country Festival."

A major highlight of Hats Off are the Australian College of Country Music graduation concerts... the junior graduates concert on Thursday July 7, seniors on Saturday July 9... both at West Tamworth League Club.

Other shows confirmed at this stage are the Australian Bush Balladeers Showcase at Southgate Inn on Saturday afternoon (see story here) and a Capital Country Music Association fund-raising concert at The Longyard Hotel on Saturday July 9 with stars including Lindsay Butler, Allan Caswell (pictured), Tracy Coster, Shaza Leigh, Aleyce Simmonds and Sally-Anne Whitten.

Artists announced as appearing at other venues through the festival to date include 8 Ball Aitken, Don Costa, Col Finley, Jo Lavelle, Jonah's Road, Tom Maxwell, Luke O'Shea, Alby & Melody Pool, Bruce Accusative, Mitchell Shadlow, Tigertown (formerly Chasing Bailey) and John Williamson, of course.


THURSDAY, MAY 19, 2011

Australia's first country female pioneer to be honoured

Shirley Thoms, Australia's first female pioneer of country music, will be honoured when her bronze bust is unveiled in Tamworth during this year's Hats Off To Country festival.

The bust is in its final stages of completion with plans set for the unveiling in Country Music Capital's Bicentennial Park on Friday July 8.

Country Capital Bronze Bust Committee Chairwoman Lorraine Pfitzner said the Committee was delighted with the interpretation by Mooloolaba sculptor Wayne Strickland who worked only from photographic images of the late "Yodelling Cowgirl".

Shirley will join the collection of bronze busts in the Park – Stan Coster, Tex Morton, Gordon Parsons, Barry Thornton and Buddy Williams.

With the Shirley bust project now complete, the Committee has announced that the fund-raising for the next pioneer to be so honoured – Reg Lindsay – will commence during this year's Hats Off.

The late pioneer's daughter Dianne Lindsay, her husband Peter Simpson, Kalesti Butler, Lynette Guest, Kevin Harris, Peter Pratt, Col Taylor, Rodney Walker and other artists will perform at 4pm on Saturday July 9 at Southgate Inn in conjunction with the Australian Bush Balladeers Association to kick off the campaign.

"And most will include a Reg Lindsay song in their repertoire," Lorraine said. "The line-up will appeal to those with a love of traditional country music."

Anyone wishing to donate to the bronze bust appeal for Reg Lindsay can do so by sending a cheque to Country Capital Bronze Bust Committee at PO Box 1207 Tamworth 2340, or attend a fundraising event.

Another major fundraiser will be staged during the 2012 Tamworth Country Music Festival on Sunday January 22 at the Balladeers' Homestead.


Cessnock Festival

The annual Cessnock Country Music Festival is on next weekend, Friday May 27 to Sunday May 29.

"We are delighted to announce Anne Kirkpatrick and The Travelling Country Band as our Saturday night entertainment with Pete Denahy opening the show," said organiser Rhonda Astill.

Friday night will see our popular locals combining for A Celebration of Country Music featuring Tara Naysmith, Alby Pool, Melody Pool, Lisa White and Rob Wilson.

More than 30 artists will perform during the weekend including The Apprentices, Travis Collins, Karen Lynne & Pat Drummond, Bruce McCumstie, Steve Passfield (pictured), Peter Pratt, Camille Te Nahu & Stuart French and Daniel Thompson.

Wrapping up the festival will be "a huge Sunday of Balladeers with Norma O'Hara Murphy headlining" and artists including Bob Easter, Bec Hance and Rachel Richards plus the legendary Slim Newton.

All events will be held at the East Cessnock Bowling Club in Neath Street.

Photo by courtesy of June Underwood.


Chart Update – four weeks at number one for The Bobkatz

The Bobkatz' In The Coals hangs on to number one for the fourth week on this week's national Country Tracks Top 30 singles chart.

Kasey Chambers' Beautiful Mess is up two to number two, America's Brad Paisley is at three with This Is Country Music while Doug Bruce's Honky Tonk Shoes is at four.

Harmony James' Painted Pony is at five, America's Zac Brown Band with Alan Jackson is at six with As She's Walking Away and Kaylee Bell's Love Was Just A Fairytale is at seven.

America's Billy Currington and Reba McEntire are at eight and 10, respectively, with Let Me Down Easy and If I Were A Boy while Amber Joy Poulton's Break Even bounds into the top 10 at nine.

Bullet performers for the week include Aleyce Simmonds' When I Say Too Much (14 to 11), The Harmonators' Woohoohoo (15 to 12), Luke Austen's Two Miles Down (19 to 15), Dianna Corcoran's Keep Breathing (21 to 18), 8 Ball Aitken's Rogue Pony (24 to 21) and Amber Lawrence's Always Kiss Me Goodbye (30 to 25).

New entries to the chart this week are Tori Darke (pictured) with Somebody Else's Baby (in at 28), Keith Urban's Without You (at 29) and Graeme Connors' Watching Byron Raise The Flag (at 30).



MO Awards finalists

Finalists have been announced for the 35th annual MO Awards which will be staged in Sydney next week.

In the Country category, the finalists are Kel-Anne Brandt, Troy Cassar-Daley, Nicki Gillis, Wayne Horsburgh, The McClymonts and Melinda Schneider (pictured).

Other finalists with a country "connection" include Bob Howe, a finalist for Instrumental or Vocal Instrumental Performer, Darren Carr, a finalist for Best Specialty Act, Comedian of the Year and Australian Performer of the Year and Aubrey & Martin, finalists for Variety Duo or More Performers.

Golden Guitar winner Col Joye is a finalist for this year's Hall of Fame award.

The MO Awards will be announced at the Bankstown Sports Club on Monday night.

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Revitalisation for Tamworth's Capital Country Music Association

Tamworth's iconic Capital Country Music Association is set to be revitalised following the election of a new committee.

The future of the Association was uncertain after the small group of executive members who had been keeping the organisation, and its flagship events – the National Talent Quest and Country Music Jamboree in January – running brought the issue to public attention.

A special meeting was called earlier this month to gauge support for the organisation's continuation which attracted more than 30 representatives from Tamworth's country music industry including musicians, singers, media representatives and previous members.

The meeting overwhelmingly agreed that the Capital Country Music Association was a vital part of the Tamworth country music scene and that it should continue to be a major part of the city's music industry infrastructure.

A new executive and committee were elected to oversee the running of the Association for the next 12 months with a clear aim to revitalise the organisation.

Steve Newton (pictured) was elected President, Steve Charles Senior Vice President and Jon Wolfe Junior Vice President.

Sally-Anne Whitten was elected Secretary, Bob Kirchner Assistant Secretary, Peter Harkins Treasurer and Jodie Crosby Publicity Officer.

Committee members elected were Dot Gilchrist, Peg Gilchrist, Diana Jones, Shaza Leigh and Michelle Simmonds.

At an open meeting of the Association following election of the new committee, a number of issues were raised including the need to ensure that the annual talent quest and Jamboree should continue and that regular showcases, workshops and "jams" should also be held.

Venue options are currently being sourced and it is hoped that the first event will take place on Thursday June 2.

Other matters on the agenda included sponsorship, the structure and format of the National Talent Quest and judging and possible reinstitution of the annual Junior Winter Talent Quest.

A taskforce has also been established to organise a fundraising concert during this year's Hats Off To Country festival in Tamworth in July.

Photo by courtesy of June Underwood.

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THURSDAY, MAY 12, 2011

Kasey wins song comp

Kasey Chambers has won first place in the prestigious US based International Songwriters Competition (ISC) with her song Beautiful Mess.

The Australian country star also took out first place in the "Americana" section with Devil On Your Back and second place in the Performance category for Little Bird.

All three award-winning songs feature on Kasey's latest album Little Bird.

Announcing the wins, ISC organisers said this was yet another accolade for Kasey, one of Australia's most accomplished and successful country singer/songwriters.

Featuring Missy Higgins on backing vocals, the ISC grand prize winning song is the second single from Little Bird. The album was written in two hectic weeks in February last year and released a month later as a complete album.

Kasey wrote the winning song for her children. She says: "I was at home babysitting a friend's one-year-old son along with my two boys. It was one of those chaotic days with kids running around and having lots of fun while this song was coming out.

"And that's what it felt like that day – a beautiful mess. That's what parenting constantly feels like. It's specifically written for Arlo and Talon, who are the most important things in my entire life. I love them, and I have an outlet to show them that through songs."

Australia's Jonah's Road, meanwhile, took out third place in the competition's country category with their song If I Was Him co-written with Matt Scullion.

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First artists announced for Gympie 2011

First artists on the line-up for the 2011 Optus Gympie Music Muster have been announced.

This year marks the event's 30th birthday with a confirmed line-up of national and international talent paying tribute to the history and heritage of the event while also reflecting on the major milestone.

Country acts lead the way with Kirsty Akers, Rob Black, James Blundell, Eric Bogle, Adam Brand, Doug Bruce, Kasey Chambers, Beccy Cole, Travis Collins, Graeme Connors, Jayne Denham, Morgan Evans, Steve Forde, Ash Grunwald, Adam Harvey, Harmony James, Lee Kernaghan (pictured), McAlister Kemp, Peter Mcwhirter, Shane Nicholson, Jasmine Rae, Aleyce Simmonds, The Sunny Cowgirls and The Wilson Pickers.

Overseas acts confirmed include The Backsliders, Jace Everett, Montgomery Gentry, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Eugene Hideaway Bridges and Bryan White from America, Doc Walker from Canada while Australian pop/blues acts include Nick Barker, Ezra Lee, James Reyne and Ross Wilson.

Presented in the Amamoor Creek State Forest from Tuesday August 23 to Sunday August 28, the confirmed line-up to date already has the event anticipating its biggest audience numbers yet.

A major coup for the 2011 Muster is superstar international duo Montgomery Gentry making their Australian debut performance at the event. The Grammy nominees, who also boast American Music Awards and Country Music Awards coupled with Gold and Platinum album sales around the world, will headline the main stage entertainment on Sunday August 28.

The event's main stage will be officially opened on Thursday 25th by Lee Kernaghan, James Reyne, The Sunny Cowgirls and Ross Wilson.

More artists are yet to be announced with organisers still in the process of confirming a number of major acts, rising stars and celebrated songwriters to join in the 30-year celebration.

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Chart Update – The Bobkatz' third week at the top

The Bobkatz' In The Coals hangs on to the number one spot for the third week in a row on this week's national Country Tracks Top 30 singles chart.

Doug Bruce's Honky Tonk Shoes jumps two places to be at number two, Harmony James' Painted Pony slips one to number three and Kasey Chambers' Beautiful Mess is up one more to number four.

America's Brad Paisley and the Zac Brown Band with Alan Jackson hold down the fifth and seventh places, respectively, with This Is Country Music and As She's Walking Away while Kaylee Bell's Love was Just A Fairytale jumps three places to number six.

Markus Maier's My Patch Of Dirt is at seven with America's Joe Nichols and Billy Currington at nine and 10 with The Shape I'm In and Let Me Down Easy.

Bullet performers for the week include Amber Joy Poulton's Break Even (14 to 11), The Harmonators' Woohoohoo (18 to 15) and Dianna Corcoran's Keep Breathing (26 to 21).

The only new entry to the chart this week is Amber Lawrence's Always Kiss Me Goodbye (in at 30).


TUESDAY, MAY 10, 2011

Australasian acts to feature in Nashville showcases

Australasian country acts Kaylee Bell, Dianna Corcoran, Luke Dickens, Tommy Emmanuel, McAlister Kemp, The McClymonts, Mike & Ashley, Craig Morrison, O'Shea and Springfield will feature in this year's annual Global Events showcases to be held June 6 and 7 during CMA (Country Music Association) Music Festival week in Nashville.

The McClymonts (Brooke, Mollie and Samantha) will host the AristoMedia Global Show on Tuesday the 7th at Nashville's downtown honkytonk The Second Fiddle while ex-pat husband and wife team O'Shea (Mark and Jay) will host the CMA Global Artist Party, presented by Chevrolet, the day before at The Stage on Broadway.

Kaylee, Dianna (pictured), Luke, Tommy and McAlister Kemp will feature on the Monday together with Canada's Chad Brownlee, Dean Brody and Marlee Scott and the United Kingdom's Raintown.

Mike & Ashley, Craig and Springfield will feature on the Tuesday with Canada's High Valley, Brett Kissel, Ryan Laird and Six West and France's Steve & Heather

"This is the fifth year for our Global Events showcases," said AristoMedia President and CMA Board member Jeff Walker who organises the two shows each year.

"These shows are a great way to help kick off CMA Music Fest, and it provides a valuable opportunity for some of these fantastic artists to be heard. The talent pool of international country acts is very deep," he said, "and this year's events are a good balance of up-and-comers and established veterans."

Past Global Events performers have included Troy Cassar-Daley and Jasmine Rae as well as The McClymonts.

Nashville-based record producer and ex-pat Aussie Mark Moffatt is handling music co-ordinator duties for both Global Events.

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Vale – Lionel Rose

Aboriginal boxer and country music recording artist Lionel Rose has died. He was 62.

Best known as Australia's first Aboriginal world boxing champion, Lionel recently suffered from a number of heart attacks and a serious stroke.

He was 19 when he won the World Bantamweight Championship by beating Japan's Masahiko "Fighting" Harada in Tokyo in 1968.

The year he won his world championship, Lionel was named Australian of the Year, the first Aborigine to receive the honour, and received an MBE (Order of the British Empire, honours bestowed prior to the introduction of Australia's own Order of Australia honours system).

During his off time from boxing in the 1970s, he embarked on what has been described as a modest singing career in Australia having hits with I Thank You and Please Remember Me in 1970.

Written and produced by Johnny Young and engineered by John Sayers, I Thank You was a nationwide hit and was played as a substitute to the Australian National Anthem during radio broadcasts of rugby league state of origin and other sporting events by comedic sports commentators, Roy Slaven and H G Nelson.

Lionel recorded two albums, the I Thank You titled work released on the Summit label in 1970 and Jackson's Track produced by Laurie Allen and released on the Festival label.


Academy set for 2011

Students in this year's Australian Academy of Country Music have been announced.

The senior intake comprises Kalesti Butler, Michael Cole, Tommy Contor, Kyle Dessent, Pippa Drysdale, Melody Feder, Allison Forbes, Darcy Fox, Matt Henry, Jess Holland, Brodie Holmes, Megan Kelly, Gemma Kirby, Nathan Lamont, Emmy Van Der Linden Brittany Pavlo, Simone Quinn, Cameron Scott, Jason Shelton, Tanya Sims, Kyle Thompson, Craig Wakker and Gretta Ziller.

The junior intake is Jacob Benko, Tami-Jade Butwell, Sami Cooke, Breanna Dunn, Rachael Fahim, Amber King, Jennifer Hannam, Brianna Holm, Judah Kelly, Andy Mahony, Emily Markham, Katelyn O'Donoghue, Shelby O'Keefe, Benny Nelson, Olivia Nolan, Nathaniel O'Brien, Shahnae Pakoti, Taylor Pfeiffer, Melanie Todd and Sammy White.

Organised by the Country Music Association of Australia, the Academy kicks of on Saturday June 25 at Tamworth's Calrossy School. with the seniors while the junior course (for under 18s) gets underway a week later on Friday, July 1.

Of the 43 students for both courses, and parents of the junior course, many come from a great distance, and some for the first time ever.

Sixteen students are from NSW, Victoria boasts 6 while Queensland has 11, South Australia three, Western Australia four, New Zealand two, and even one from Nashville.

The Academy senior course ran for many years as the Australian College of Country Music (or "The College) and is now in its 15th year. The Junior Academy, originally named Camerata, is now in its 10th year.

Combined as "The Academy" it is the leading program for training, mentoring and development in the Australian music industry for the country music genre.

The annual Academy is designed to raise the professionalism and skills of emerging country music artists and musicians by exposing them to an intensive musical environment tailored to meet the needs of  individual students, with a heavy emphasis given to encouraging creativity.

No other program of this nature exists for the music industry in Australia, or in fact worldwide. Courses utilise the skills and resources of leading mentors, songwriters, musicians, producers and music business personnel.

The finale (or graduation) concerts of both courses are a major part of the annual Hats Off to Country festival in Tamworth... the junior concert on Thursday July 7 (as the festival opening concert) and Saturday July 9 for the seniors.

Both concerts are held at Blazes auditorium at the West Tamworth League Club.


FRIDAY, MAY 6, 2011

Launch of Lockyer Valley flood appeal calendar

The spirits of communities in Queensland's Lockyer Valley are set to rise this weekend as they celebrate the launch of a special financial year calendar.

Photographed and designed by Brisbane photographer and mother of five Tanya Love, the calendar is set to be launched at the Armstrong family Roadside Stall, Grantham, under the title of The Constellations Project tomorrow.

The calendar chronicles the lives of the people of Grantham during the weeks since the wall of water hit the town on January 10 and includes the volunteers who have assisted in the recovery process – the end product, a calendar that aimed not only at raising much needed funds for the community, but also providing a boost in morale and a piece of collectible memorabilia to commemorate the event.

In support of the event, rising country star Kate Cook (pictured) will perform her new single, Survive publicly for the first time at the launch.

Calendar artwork is based on the theme of the Persian Proverb of "Only when it is dark enough, can you see the stars" – hence the theme chosen for the launch, with the stars being the flood affected residents of the Lockyer Valley.

"I am so excited to at last be able to launch the project in an official capacity," said project facilitator Tanya Love. "The morning will be one designed to bring smiles to the faces of those attending and to be shared not only by those featured in the calendar but by the entire community."

Kate Cook, who hails from flood affected Lowood, said of the project: "I'm so proud to be a part of The Constellations Project... together we can make a difference to the lives of the people of the Lockyer Valley."

Her performance at the event is expected to be "extremely moving for the community".

"I wrote Survive as a tribute to the heroism and the Australian spirit that shone through in such times of despair," Kate said.

With the first stock of the calendar due to arrive just in time for the launch, they will be available for sale on the day in a bid to reach the fundraising goal of $400,000.

As well as Kate's performance, the launch event will feature a number of fun activities for kids, hot breakfast and presentations to the town of limited edition prints, calendars, and more, "with many local businesses contributing generously to make it a wonderful morning, according to Tanya.

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Norfolk Island Festival

The 2011 Norfolk Island Country Music Festival will run this month, for eight days from Sunday the 15th to Sunday the 22nd.

Now in its 18th year, organisers say the annual event is getting bigger and better every year.

The festival is designed to showcase some of Australia and New Zealand's best talent, "with a Pacific twist". Many consider it the "Bledsloe Cup" of country music where the best amateurs from Australia and New Zealand compete for the crown of Trans-Tasman Entertainer of the Year which gives the winner a solid grounding in country music with prizes of recording time and cash.

This year, the Festival is has Norfolk Air as sponsor of the Trans-Tasman Entertainer of the Year quest.

"Audiences are amazed at the calibre of talent displayed on these shores during Country Music Week," said a spokesman for the organisers, the Norfolk Island Country Music Association (NICMA).

On the star performance bill, Gina Jeffreys (pictured) will headline this year's festival with Kaylee Bell, The Coal Rangers, Ally Cook, last year's Trans-Tasman winner Angela Easson, Gina Keating, Rod McCormack, Mitchell Shadlow, Roger Tibbs and The Smokin' Crawdads.

"There are four main shows and the program is set to allow visitors an opportunity to take in the beauty and serenity of this Pacific gem during the day whilst enjoying lunch time entertainment at various venues around the Island and main shows at night.

"The concerts are the best value for money and the program is designed to appeal to all age groups and vary between traditional country, modern country and country rock."

This year, the Festival has changed the Friday night "Hoedown" to "Party Night", reducing the entrance fee and aiming more at a dance party to country rock songs.

"Our audiences are varied and the NICMA endeavour to provide a happy balance so that there is something for everyone. The NICMA social committee provides late night after show fun at the 'Up Country' venue.

"Originally these 'jams' were held in the club premises, but the festival outgrew the premises and so the NICMA decided to keep the name 'Up Country' and take it to wherever is most suitable."

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Willo set for Wests' Hats Off

Celebrated and award winning Australian entertainer John Williamson will return to Tamworth in July to perform a special concert at the West Tamworth League Club during this year's Hats Off To Country festival.

John will appear as the major artist draw for Hats Off 2011 on Friday July 8.

A familiar face to Country Music Capital during January’s warmer event, John said he is looking forward to performing in the city with the guarantee to keep the audience warmed up in several ways.

"My campfire will glow from the stage and I plan on not only putting together a show that contains songs of mine that are known favourites but also showcasing to Tamworth some of my new songs that haven't been released yet," he said.

No stranger to the city, John returns to record with local engineer Steve Newton at Enrec Studios but rarely has the opportunity to perform outside of the annual Tamworth Country Music Festival.

Having performed alongside major 32 piece orchestras in Sydney at the Sydney Opera House, Brisbane and Melbourne during the past six months, the opportunity for John to perform just to the accompaniment of legendary guitarist Colin Watson was too good to pass up, he said.

On confirming John's inclusion for the city's winter festival, Wests Chief Executive Rod Laing said: "We're excited to have John performing at Wests and expect tickets to sell fast. He is without question one of Australia's most recognised singers and songwriters and never fails to deliver an exceptional show."

John has captured the spirit of Australia in poetry and song for the past four decades and, after 40 years in the industry, he is an Australian icon with three ARIA Awards, 24 Golden Guitars, MO Awards, APRA Awards, Platinum and Gold albums, and more than four million album sales to his credit.

With a catalogue of more than 350 songs, in the past few decades, he has been an inspirational presence at some of the most significant events in Australia... the Sydney 2000 Olympics, Steve Irwin's memorial, the Bledlisloe Cup, Sir Donald Bradman's memorial, the Rugby World Cup and the first Bali Bombing memorial.

More details of this year's Hats Off festival in Tamworth are expected to be announced soon.

Weblink –


Country Music for Cancer

A special concert raising money for cancer research and other community groups will be held at Kapunda, South Australia, this Saturday (May 14).

Kicking off at 11am, the event will star Lee Brocky & Outback Overdrive, David & Helen Croser, Rod & Judith Dawson, Ian List (pictured), Nathaniel O'Brien, Jim Ramos Band, Kamian Country, The Texettes Phoenix, Chooka Williams and more.

Further information can be obtained from Chris on (08) 8566 3140 or 0408 100 209.



Queensland award winners

Winners of the 2011 Queensland Country Music Awards – awards of excellence for Queensland country music recording artists – were announced during this year's Charters Towers Country Music Festival on the May Day weekend.

Markus Meier was announced as Male Vocalist of the Year while Sarah Kay was named top female vocal.

The Duke Wilde Band took out two awards, Group of Duo of the Year and New Talent of the Year.

Col Millington took home the Bush Ballad/Heritage Track of the Year gong while Instrumental Track of the Year went to The Bostocks (pictured).


Chart Update – The Bobkatz hang on to number one

The Bobkatz' In The Coals retains the number one spot on this week's national Country Tracks Top 30 singles chart for the second week.

Harmony James' Painted Pony edges up one to number two, Markus Meier's My Patch Of Dirt is at three and Doug Bruce's Honky Tonk Shoes is up three places to number four.

Kasey Chambers' Beautiful Mess edges up one to fifth place while Americans Joe Nichols and Brad Paisley hold six and seventh places, respectively, with The Shape I'm In and This Is Country Music.

Shane Nicholson's Bad Machines at eight, Kaylee Bell's Love was Just A Fairytale is new in the top 10 at nine while America's Chris Young is at 10 with Voices.

Bullet performers for the week include The Harmonators' Woohoohoo (22 to 18), Jasmine Rae's duet with Joe Nichols, I'll Try Anything, (26 to 23), 8 Ball Aitken's Rogue Pony (27 to 24) and Dianna Corcoran's Keep Breathing (29 to 26).

New entries to the chart this week include Dean Perrett's duet with Lee Kernaghan – Channel Country Ground (in at 29) and Katrina Burgoyne (pictured) with I Wasn't Gonna Cry (at 30).


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