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Mildura underway

The giant Mildura Country Music Festival is underway in the Victorian regional city.

Kicking off last Friday, the Festival comes to a climax this Saturday night with the announcement of winners in the 2010 Australian Independent Country Music Awards.

And the event concludes the following day with numerous wind-down events throughout the area including an official "Last Roundup Gospel Show & Country Roundup" concert at Henderson Park where all artists appearing at the Festival sing one song each in what is described as "the biggest non-stop country music show you've ever seen".

Artists appearing at this year's Festival include

8 Ball Aitken, Connie Kis Andersen, Pixie Anne, Barbara Baillie, Victoria Baillie, David Baldi, Rick Bartlett, Sharon Benjamin, Olive Bice, Owen Blundell, Kimberley Bowden, Doug Bruce & The Tailgaters, the Cahoots Band, Camp Oven Country, Peter Coad & The Coad Sisters, Darren Colston, Courtney Conway, Dianna Corcoran, Don Costa, Tracy Coster, Kristy Cox, Tori Darke, Jayne Denham, Donella, Laura Downing, Rod Dowsett, Ted Egan, Dwayne Elix, Paul Gibbs & Big Sky, Terry Gordon, Bec Hance, Johanna Hemara, Marie Hodson, Dale Hooper, Peter Horan, Sandra Humphries, Glenn Jones, Tracy Killeen, Adam Kilpatrick, Amber Lawrence, The Lees, Michelle Little, Bob Magor, Cameron Mason, Tom Maxwell, Neil McArthur, Graeme McArdle, Ian B MacLeod, Dan Murphy, Slim Newton, John O'Dea, Luke O'Shea, Steve Passfield, Dean Perrett, Reg Poole, Amber Joy Poulton, Dave Prior, Brendan Radford, Anita Ree, Rachel Richards, Graham Rodger, Mitchell Shadlow, Gary Smith, Daly Stephenson, Roland Storm, Shandell Tosoni, Rodney Vincent, Sally-Anne Whitten & Rumour Mill, The Wildcard Band, Chooka Williams and J R Williams.

Dianna Corcoran, Amber Lawrence and industry figure Mike Smith will compere the Awards presentation on Saturday night.

Guest artists appearing will include 8 Ball Aitken, Rick Bartlett, Kimberley Bowden, Darren Colston, Don Costa, Kristy Cox, Jayne Denham, Ted Egan, Marie Hodson, Sandra Humphries, Tracy Killeen, Luke O'Shea, Brendan Radford, Daly Stephenson and Shandell Tosoni.

News of winners will be posted here as soon as they are known.

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Parkes this weekend

Another major event this weekend is the long-running Parkes Country Music Spectacular in NSW.

The festival, which kicks off today, features a big line-up of entertainment scheduled throughout the long weekend.

One of the main events of the weekend is the Australian Country Talent Seekers (ACTS) Quest which runs at the Parkes Services Club Saturday and Sunday.

Headline act this year will be internationally acclaimed Wayne Horsburgh (pictured) who will be performing at the Festival Country Concert on Friday evening and the talent quest on Saturday evening.

Wayne will also participate as a judge for the prestigious competition which offers an attractive prize package including recording time at the Flying Fox Recording Studio in Wagga Wagga.

An addition to the program this year will be a free Walk-up Talent Quest in Cooke Park tomorrow (Friday) from 10am.

Other events include street busking and footpath concerts plus entertainment throughout the weekend downstairs at the Parkes Services Club.

Sunday will round out the weekend with a gospel service at the Parkes Services Club and BBQ, Bards & Balladeers concert in the afternoon at the Parkes Hotel, followed by the Gala Presentation of Awards Concert featuring the ACTS winner and talent quest finalists.


Carol at the Royal Easter

Leading Australian bush poet Carol Heuchan has announced a major involvement in the Sydney Royal Easter Show next year.

Carol undertook a successful tour of the United States earlier this year when she performed at many events including the Arvada Cowboy Poetry Gathering and the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada.

Since returning from the US, she undertook a vigorous schedule of performing, broadcasting, running workshops, appearing on television and judging written and performance poetry all over the country.

Carol has also been promoting her latest book, "Hold Yer Horses!"

The Royal Agricultural Society (RAS) has booked Carol as the Main Arena Commentator for the 2011 Sydney Royal Easter Show following a part time gig last year.

As Main Arena Commentator, Carol, who is a very experienced equine competitor herself, has to keep her wits about her. As well as ad-libbing about the multitude of activities that are happening in the huge arena, she'll be interviewing judges and participants, explaining events and generally communicating the excitement and variety of the gigantic spectacular's central showcase.

"All this and some bush poetry too, both over the loud speakers and on the giant screen." Carol said.

"I am delighted the RAS recognises that bush poetry should be an integral part of such an authentic Australian experience as the Royal Easter Show."

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New song from Billy

Award winning Victorian artist Billy Bridge (pictured) has released a new song titled Deliver The Thrill which, he says, is set to become the new anthem for the racing industry, telling the story behind the story of racing.

"For far to long all we have heard about is the glamour, fashion and parties surrounding racing," Billy said, "but what about the people who work so hard to bring the horses to the track?

"So I sat down one day and had a chat to some racing people and this idea was born. We talked about what it was like to have a horse win a race, but they told me the thrill wasn't always in the win, sometimes just to get the horse to it's first start was enough to 'deliver the thrill'."

After putting pen to paper, Billy recorded a demo and sent it through to Bradley Bergen who recorded the song in his new studio in Sydney. Passing files back and forth over the internet, the pair they were able to record in two cities and produce "a fantastic sound," according to Billy... a truly digital project.

"Technology brings the world together in so many ways," he said, "and to be able to do this track at our homes, and produce what we have produced is truly amazing."

In keeping with the digital theme, the song is available as a download on iTunes, at, and and will be in more digital outlets soon.

The song has already received an overwhelming response from members of the racing industry, including the Victorian Racing Club and has been selected to be launched at the Carbine Club luncheon the day prior to the Victorian Derby.

"It will be played there coupled with some of Channel 7's amazing racing footage," Billy said, "in front of 1200 racing industry identities, television and radio executives."


Chart Update – Dianna takes over number one

Dianna Corcoran (pictured) has taken over the number one spot on the national Country Tracks Top 30 singles chart this week with her latest hit Wrong Girl.

Harmony James' Good Enough, number one for the last three weeks, slips to second place while Adam Harvey's Better Than This edges up one to number three and The McClymonts' Hearts On Fire is at four.

Graeme Connors' All The Money's Gone edges up one to five, as does Jetty Road with I Have Been at six and The Sunny Cowgirls' Naughty Side is seven.

Lianna Rose's Smoking Gun is up two to eight, Kristy Cox is at nine with It's Hard To Stop A Heart and America's Alan Jackson, who just announced a performance tour to Australia this week, enters the top 10 at 10 with Hard Hat And A Hammer.

Bullet performers for the week include The Bobkatz' The Old HR (16 to 11), Kasey Chambers' Little Bird (17 to 12), Adam Brand's It's Gonna Be OK (18 to 13), Kaylee Bell's Ride That River (20 to 17), Tracy Killeen's Metrosexual Craze (22 to 18), Markus Meier's Rope A Cowgirl (24 to 20), Luke Austen's She's So You (26 to 23), Beccy Cole's Here You Come Again (27 to 24) and Graham Rodger's Angels Without Halos (30 to 26).

New entries to the chart this week are Lee Kernaghan with Love In The Time Of Drought (in at 28), Peter McWhirter's I Will Stand By You (at 29) and Darren Colston with Fly Away (at 30).

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ARIA Awards finalists announced

Catherine Britt, Adam Harvey, Lee Kernaghan, The McClymonts and Jason Walker have been named as finalists for the 2010 Best Country Album ARIA Award.

Catherine Britt is nominated for her self-titled album, Adam for his Both Sides Now, Lee for Planet Country, The McClymonts for their Wrapped Up Good and newcomer Jason Walker for his work Ceiling Sun Letters.

Kasey Chambers has been named as a finalist for Best Children's Album together with her dad Bill and their Little Hillbillies band for their self titled album (up against The Wiggles, among others).

In the Artisan Awards categories, Jeff McCormack is a finalist for Engineer of the Year for his work on Adam Harvey's Both Sides Now.

The ARIA (Australian Recording Industry Association) Awards will be staged in Sydney on Sunday November 7.

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JW for ARIA Hall of Fame

John Williamson is among five acts to be inducted into the ARIA (Australian Recording Industry Association) Hall of Fame this year.

He will be inducted together with the church, The Loved Ones, the Models and Johnny Young at the Hall of Fame event in Sydney (for the first time since the event began in 2005) on Wednesday October 27.

Country or country aligned inductees to the Hall of Fame to date are Kev Carmody, Smoky Dawson, The Dingos, Slim Dusty, Frank Ifield, Paul Kelly, Jimmy Little, Olivia Newton-John

John was inducted into Australian country music's highest honour, the Roll of Renown, in 1997.

The ARIA Hall of Fame honours those artists whose musical achievements have had a significant impact in Australia and around the world.

ARIA Chairman, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Sony Music Entertainment Australia & NZ, Denis Handlin said it was very exciting to be again celebrating the extraordinary history of Australian popular music and the many incredible artists who have made it so special.

"We are delighted to induct such a distinguished group of Australian artists... Between them there are many years of unforgettable music history, including the 40th career anniversary of John Williamson and the 30-year anniversary of the church.

"We are proud to honour them all."

The Hall of Fame event will be broadcast via SBS TV's "RocKwiz" program.

On his impending induction, John Williamson said he was delighted about the news.

"In my 40th year in the industry, I feel like I'm probably one of the oldest to be inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame. It's probably because I was a one-hit screamer for 13 years after Old Man Emu! Forty years of songs hasn't been without its disappointments – the first 10 I had no idea where I was going, but the last 30 have been truly rewarding.

"And I'm proud that my songs have struck a chord with everyday Aussies. They were written for them. I love this beautiful big country; it inspires me. And there will always be battlers out there forging a living against the odds. I will continue to write about them for as long as I can."

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Doug in studio for new album

Last year's Australian Independent Country Music Awards Male Rising Star winner Doug McIntyre is currently recording tracks for his second album.

To be titled Australian Son, will work will be a follow-up to Doug's debut, Turn The Tide.

He says the new album is "well underway" at Enrec Studio in Tamworth with producer Steve Newton.

Doug is fast becoming known as a great chronicler of life in the bush with clever lyrics and catchy tunes. His second album is described as being fresh and up-beat with songs that come from the life he's lived, including childhood experiences, characters he knows, bush life and "great stories from our past".

"Australian Son will combine traditional and modern styles to form what can only be described as Doug's own brand of true Australian country," said a spokesman for the artist.

"I'm really having a ball working with Steve and the fine musicians he's mustered," Doug said. Australian Son continues my passion for writing and performing songs about our Great Southern Land.

"Every one of the 12 tracks will make you feel proud to be Australian: Everyone Needs Someone, Country Road, Australian Son, Dragonfly, Proud To Be A Truckie, Jessica, Carrathool Races, Taste Of Paradise, Going Home Some Day, Donald Mackay, Yellow Moon and Adelaide."

Australian Son will be released in November.

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Alan to tour down under

American country music superstar Alan Jackson will be making his first ever visit to Australia next year.

The tour begins on Friday March 4 in Melbourne before heading north to Sydney on Monday March 7 and then Queensland for two performances on Thursday and Friday March 10 and 11.

Alan Jackson is one of the most successful and respected songwriter/performers in music described as having a modern approach to classic country.

A 16-time CMA (American Country Music) Awards and 16-time ACM (Academy of Country Music) Award winner and also a Grammy, Alan's career to date has included sales of more than 50 million albums and 34 number one hit singles, including Drive, Chattahoochee and Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning).

"I've always heard that it's just beautiful down there," Alan said. "Everyone I know that's been has loved it. I know I've got a lot of fans down there and I know they like my kind of music so I think it'll be a fun trip!"

Touring with Alan will be America's Miranda Lambert who made history this year when she received nine CMA Awards nominations, more than any other female artist in the Awards' history.

Rising Australian country star Jasmine Rae will also be part of the tour.

Tickets for all shows go on sale on Friday, October 8 via Ticketek.

See On Tour for dates and venue details.

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Nashville embraces Australian acts

The 2010 Americana Music Festival and Conference welcomed its first-ever lineup of Australian acts to this year's event, garnering positive reviews from fans and industry attendees alike.

This year's conference, held in mid-September, featured a number of events specifically geared towards spotlighting Australian superstars Troy Cassar-Daley, Tommy Emmanuel and Sara Storer, as well as up-and-coming stars and winners of the 2010 Telstra Road to Tamworth contest, Luke Webb and Tenielle Musulin.

"The exchange of talent between Australia and America is an important step in bringing this music to an even more diverse spectrum of listeners," said Americana Music Association Executive Director Jed Hilly. "The Aussies were very well-received at our conference and showcases last week and we're looking forward to a long tradition of exchanging music and ideas with our friends Down Under. This year was a great success."

The week's worth of Aussie activities, sponsored by Sounds Australia, kicked off with an intimate evening of performances at Nashville's legendary Bluebird Cafe. 8 Ball Aitken, Greg Arnold, Troy, Sara, Musulin and Webb (performing as a duo) treated the attentive crowd to more than two hours of stripped-down Australian roots music.

Australia's music scene was the focus of the "What's Up Down Under?" panel, as a host of industry experts discussed the current state of Americana music and its similarities to the country music genre in Australia.

Panelists included artist Corb Lund, Tommy Emmanuel manager Gina Mendello, Grammy-nominated producer Mark Moffatt, Sounds Australia executive and Bushwackers founder Dobe Newton and A&R pro for Australia's Mushroom Music Publishing Bill Page.

AristoMedia's Jeff Walker moderated the session.

Downtown venue and Nashville "honkytonk" landmark The Second Fiddle hosted an Australian luncheon for Americana conference attendees. In addition to Troy, Sara, Tenielle and Luke, Tommy Emmanuel wowed the packed house with his world-class acoustic guitar skills.

Following the Americana Honors & Awards ceremony, Tommy performed a showcase set to another enthusiastic audience at The Rutledge.

"Watching Tommy Emmanuel, you realise that you are watching one of the greatest masters of our time on guitar," said 650AM WSM Program Director Joe Limardi who interviewed the star instrumentalist on the legendary radio station and hosted the showcases at The Rutledge.

"A generation ago, there was Chet Atkins doing amazing things on a guitar; today the world has Tommy Emmanuel entertaining a whole new generation. It was really amazing to see all the people in the audience with their mouths dropped open. The crowd loved it."

Sara's showcase took place on the Friday night at Nashville's revered bluegrass venue The Station Inn and Troy impressed a packed crowd on the Saturday night at The Rutledge, including Country Music Television's Craig Shelburne who listed the performance as one of his 'Ten Favourite Americana Music Festival Moments'.

"One of my Australian friends says that Troy Cassar-Daley may be the top country star (in Australia) right now, and I can see why," Craig wrote. "His 45-minute set sounded like he drew from a 'greatest hits' collection because every song struck me as a potential single in the US. His stories were brief and engaging but his original songs, which are rooted in classic country, stuck with me all night."

Sounds Australia Americana Manager Dobe Newton summed up the success of the Australian artists' debut at this year's Americana Music Festival and Conference...

"Sounds Australia's first 'official' involvement in the AMA conference was everything we'd hoped for," he said. "Our showcase artists got a great reception and made lots of new friends, as did the Telstra Road To Tamworth winners and the other Aussie artists who appeared at our special shows at The Bluebird Cafe and The Second Fiddle. We can't wait to get back next year!"

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Photo: Australian artists gather in front of the legendary Bluebird Cafe prior to their kickoff event for the Americana Music Festival and Conference (from left): Tim Corcoran, Troy Cassar-Daley, Sara Storer, Tenielle Musulin, 8-Ball Aitken, Luke Webb, Sounds Australia executive Dobe Newton and Greg Arnold.



Keith picks up international award

Keith Urban was presented with the a special award at America's ACM (Academy of Country Music) Honors presentation last week in Nashville.

The Honors are staged to recognise, among others, special honourees outside the main Awards presentation.

Keith picked up the Jim Reeves International Award which is presented to an individual for outstanding contributions to the acceptance of country music throughout the world.

Now a six-time ACM winner, New Zealand born, Australian raised Keith has achieved international superstar status since he moved to Nashville in 1992 and continues to be a global music sensation, sharing his passion for country music around the world as one of the hottest touring acts in music.

Recent world tours have taken his show to six countries on three different continents where he has played to packed houses.

Past recipients of the Jim Reeves International Award include Garth Brooks, Dick Clark, Roy Clark, Merv Griffin, Charlie Nagatani, Buck Owens and Dolly Parton.

"This music is global," Keith said, explaining his passion for exporting country. "We speak about the human condition. It's why this music transcends all boundaries."


Sing Like Slim

In the lead up to the 2010 Slim Dusty Country Music Memories Week in Kempsey late next month, musicians are being invited to call into the area's regional ABC radio stations to perform their favourite Slim song.

ABC Mid North Coast and ABC Coffs Coast have launched the tribute project under the banner "Sing Like Slim" to celebrate and honour the songs that cemented Slim Dusty as a legend, the songs he made famous and also the lesser known songs only die-hard Slim fans may have heard.

The project is not asking singers to sound like, as the title suggests, but rather to select a song and give it their own treatment.

Former Macleay Valley boy and Golden Guitar winner Steve Passfield (pictured) joined Cameron Marshall and Kim Honan to launch "Sing Like Slim" with his version of the classic, and Slim's first hit, When The Rain Tumbles Down In July.

Artists like Joanna Leigh, Dean Perrett, Ian Quinn, Rosie Sutherland and Mark Wells have nominated covering songs including Looking Forward Looking Back, The Sunlander, By A Fire Of Gidgee Coal, The Pub With No Beer and Lights On The Hill.

Artists wanting to be involved can contact Kim Honan by email at ABC Mid North Coast or telephone 02 6588 1220.

The Slim Dusty Country Music Memories Week will include a Memories Concert, a walk-up artist area, songwriting workshop, bush poetry, song and gospel concerts.

Artists will include Clelia Adams, the Slim Dusty family, the Slim Dusty Travelling Country Band, Dianne Lindsay, Tom Maxwell, Amos Morris, Norma O'Hara Murphy, Steve Passfield, Ian Quinn and Dean Perrett.

The festival will be held from Monday October 25 to Sunday October 31 at the Kempsey Showground.


Chart Update – Harmony's third week at number one

The latest Harmony James hit Good Enough remains at the top of the national Country Tracks Top 30 singles chart for the third week this week.

Dianna Corcoran's Wrong Girl is steady at number two, as is The McClymonts' Hearts On Fire at three while Adam Harvey's Better Than This jumps two places to number four.

The Sunny Cowgirls' Naughty Side is steady at five, Graeme Connors' All The Money's Gone is up three places to number six and Jetty Road's I Have Been is also up three to seven.

Kristy Cox is steady again at eight with It's Hard To Stop A Heart, Catherine Britt's Can't Change A Thing is at nine and Lianna Rose enters the top 10 at 10 with Smoking Gun.

Bullet performers for the week include The Bobkatz' The Old HR (19 to 16), Kasey Chambers' Little Bird (20 to 17), Adam Brand's It's Gonna Be OK (24 to 18), Tracy Killeen's Metrosexual Craze (27 to 22), Markus Meier's Rope A Cowgirl (29 to 24), Luke Austen's She's So You (30 to 26) and Beccy Cole's Here You Come Again (new at 27).

New entries to the chart this week are Katrina Burgoyne with Ghost (in at 29) and Graham Rodger with Angels Without Halos (at 30).

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Gina's Old Paint

Gina Jeffreys latest album, Old Paint, was released nationally on Friday.

The new work is a collection of 11 tracks and a tribute to the star's early influences, aspirations and childhood memories, "which are sure to ignite the same in all who hear it," according to a spokesman for the artist.

"Gina did what no other female country music artist had; she broke through genres, stereotypes and barriers, paving the way and selling Platinum and Gold albums across Australia."

Produced by producer husband Rod McCormack, Old Paint is described as a work of love. Gina voices every song, Rod plays every instrument heard on recordings.

"It is the ultimate collaboration," the spokesman said.

"Each song was carefully selected by Gina, chosen sub-consciously from her earliest musical experiences. The songs are those that her mother played on piano when she was a young girl or recordings she heard on the radio as she dreamt of sounding just like the singer who voiced them.

"Whilst all covers, this is possibly Gina's most intimate and personal album yet."

"This was the most fun I have had recording ever," Gina said. "To be able to sing the songs I have loved for years that had such a strong influence on me was a labour of love."

With countless Golden Guitars, "MO" and APRA (Australasian Performing Right Association) Awards and more, "Gina's popularity with fans and sales of albums is proof enough that she is a true star."

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Country Pub Song Comp

The Australian Hotels Association (AHA) NSW has launched a competition to find Australia's newest pub song.

Country star Felicity Urquhart officially launched the Great Country Pub Song contest at the Surveyor General Inn in the Southern Highlands village of Berrima this week.

The competition is being run as part of 175 year celebrations for the industry.

"From simple gathering places for bushies and the first settlers in their districts, hotels have evolved to become havens for their communities and travellers in good times and bad, especially in the country," AHA (NSW) Treasurer and event organiser Col Waller said.

"There's no doubt the best known songs in Australia are pub songs... everyone knows them. Whether it's The Pub With No Beer or Duncan, pub songs – and pub music – are an integral part of our culture."

The challenge for entrants is to come up with a new pub song that will capture the essence of the Aussie pub and write and perform it, Col said.

"It can be about your favourite hotel, an experience you have had there or just what you love about pubs in general.

"Maybe they helped your family out during the drought? Backed your footy team? Or you just had a great night out there with friends? Just write about it, we are looking for that quintessential pub song."

The competition winner will be announced at the 2011 Tamworth Country Music Festival where the winner will be invited to perform.

"The contest is open to all, the only criteria being that it is a new song, not one performed before," Col said. "I would urge everyone to take part."

For more details, click here.



Country Music People's Choice Awards voting now open

Voting in the 2011 Australian Country Music People's Choice Awards is now open.

The People's Choice Awards are just that... awards determined by the people... the fans of country music from recorded works, live music performance, radio/television airplay and on-line.

"It's a recognition of popularity in the simplest, and purest, of terms," said Bob Kirchner, spokesman for the organisers.

"The People's Choice Awards gives fans and supporters the chance to determine the winners.

"The only restriction as to who can be voted for is that nominees have to be Australian citizens or permanent residents (including songwriters in awards where writers are specifically recognised).

"And to ensure we maintain currency of the Awards, we ask that only artists with current material, say from the last 12 months or so), be put forward.

"These awards are not designed to specifically recognise longevity or contribution to the industry. Although fans, as individuals, may, of course, consider such things when deciding who to vote for."

Finalists for the Awards will be announced in December. Winners will be announced during the 2011 Tamworth Country Music Festival.

Voting for the Awards is predominantly on-line at

A paper voting form can be downloaded from the website or requested by telephoning 0267 622 993 or by emailing

Postal votes must be post-marked November 30 or earlier.

Pictured, top (photo by John Elliott): Lee Kernaghan accepts the 2010 Peoples Choice Award for Best Album (Planet Country) from the Awards' Bob Kirchner; below: Larry Cann accepts the two 2010 Peoples Choice industry awards for Most Popular Country Music DJ and Most Popular Country Music Radio Station (KIX Country).


Chart Update – Harmony's second week at number one

Harmony James hangs on to the number one position for the second week this week on the national Country Tracks Top 30 singles chart with her hit Good Enough.

Dianna Corcoran's Wrong Girl jumps two more places to number two while The McClymonts' Hearts On Fire is also up two to three and Catherine Britt's Can't Change A Thing is at four.

The Sunny Cowgirls' Naughty Side is up three to five, as is Adam Harvey's Better Than This to six and Troy Cassar-Daley's former number one – Chasin' Rodeo – is at seven.

Kristy Cox is at eight with It's Hard To Stop A Heart, Graeme Connors' All The Money's Gone enters the top 10 at nine as does Jetty Road's I Have Been at 10.

Bullet performers for the week include Lianna Rose's Smoking Gun (18 to 14), Leila Fisher's Desert Of Love (19 to 16), The Lees' Remember To Breathe (20 to 17), The Bobkatz' The Old HR (24 to 19), Kasey Chambers' Little Bird (26 to 20), Kaylee Bell's Ride That River (25 to 22), Adam Brand's It's Gonna Be OK (28 to 24) and Tracy Killeen's Metrosexual Craze (30 to 27). .

New entries to the chart this week include Markus Meier (pictured) with Rope A Cowgirl (in at 29) and 2010 Toyota Star Maker Luke Austen with She's So You (at 30).

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Vale – Gus Williams

Leading Australian indigenous country singer Gus Ntjalka Williams, from Hermannsburg in the Northern Territory, died this morning. He was in his early 70s.

Central Australian industry figure Chris Tangey reported that Gus died at 5:30am with his son Warren H and Warren's wife Heidi by his side.

And the Territory community is pushing for a State Funeral for Gus in Alice Springs.

"I've spoken with Ted Egan and the Mayor," Chris said, "and they're supporting the State Funeral idea."

Gus Williams is an Arrernte man, born in 1938 in the Alice.

In 1983, he was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for services to country music and Aboriginal people.

And in 2000, he was inducted into the Country Music Hands Of Fame in Tamworth (son Warren H was inducted in 2009 and Gus was on hand to witness the historic occasion).

Gus was presented with a Deadly award in 2001 for Outstanding Contribution to Aboriginal Music and in 2004 was presented with a Centenary Medal for service to Australian society through Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander music.

In 2005, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame at Music NT's Indigenous Music Awards.



Roger takes his innovation to a music world market

Roger Corbett, Australian songwriter, producer, long time member of The Bushwackers and owner of The Valley Studio, has developed a breakthrough music application (or app) for iPhone, iPad and iTouch.

After 12 months of development, the app – Gigpal – was released to a global market via its launch into the official iTunes app store last week with much excitement. With people all over the world already buying and using Gigpal, Roger is now working on rolling out stage two of the development.

Roger (pictured) says he dreamed up the idea after years of playing live music, producing and songwriting. "One day I started scratching out a plan for how to make it happen" says Roger. "I called a team in Toronto, Canada and we've been working together ever since."

Gigpal is pitched squarely at musicians, singer/songwriters, performers, music students, music educators and music enthusiasts in all music genres. "During the design process I kept thinking how useful this app could be, in fact the uses for this little app are endless," Roger said.

With none other like it in the iTunes App Store, Gigpal allows users to easily create chord charts for any song they play, make arrangements and listen to the actual guitar chords while they play along in real time.

Roger believes current advances in technology, user accessibility and an unprecedented uptake in this technology by users is a tremendous opportunity for music to push the boundaries, diversify and find new markets.

"Apple leads the market in both sales of devices and apps," he said, "and the official Apple figures suggest they have sold over a billion apps in the app store and estimated to have sold more than 11.3 million iPhones and over three million iPads. In addition Apple has just released the brand new iPod Touch."

With Gigpal designed to be a "very useful" addition to all the games, apps and widgets on the iPhone, it's a "must-have" Australian innovation for all musicians whatever genre of music they play from any part of the world.

Gigpal is fully supported by the iTunes store, a website, YouTube tutorials and social media.


Felicity a finalist in ABC radio awards

After a selection process involving peer assessment teams and industry guests around the country, a national judging panel and more than 300 entries, ABC Radio has announced finalists for the 2010 ABC Local Radio Awards with Golden Guitar winner and "Saturday Night Country" host Felicity Urquhart (pictured) receiving a nomination for Best New Talent.

Director ABC Radio Kate Dundas said the number and quality of this year's entries highlighted the breadth and depth of talent across the network and made for some very tough decisions.

"With the level of talent amongst our content makers, there was very strong competition for the awards this year. The shortlist of finalists represents some of the most creative and innovative talent on Local Radio," she said.

Established in 2001, the Awards aim to recognise and celebrate the talent and dedication of ABC staff "who deliver entertaining radio and engaging cross-media content to local communities around Australia".

Open to content makers from the nine metropolitan and 51 regional ABC radio stations across the country, the categories recognise both individual and station excellence in broadcast and online content.

Felicity's reaction to her finalist nomination was described as pure delight.

"I've tried to keep 'Saturday Night Country' as one of Australia's premier music programs," she said, "and am truly enjoying being able to bring new, old and obscure country music into homes...

"I have to also thank my producers each week for helping me with the show. They are a dedicated bunch who make my life a lot easier," she said.

The Awards were staged in Hobart last night where Alex Chambers of 630 ABC North Queensland was named winner of the Best New Talent Award.

It's been a busy few months for Felicity. In addition to her radio commitments, she has had her regular role on the Seven Network's "Sydney Weekender" and guest spots on ABC TV's "Spicks & Specks" as well as Channel Ten's "Ready Steady Cook" alongside her good friend and fellow country music artist Adam Harvey.

After her visit to Tasmania, Felicity will head to the Southern Highlands of NSW where she has been invited to host the NSW branch of the Australian Hoteliers Association's celebration of 175 years of NSW country pubs, to be held at the Surveyor General Inn, Berrima, the oldest continuously licensed hotel in Australia.

The ABC's "Saturday Night Country" goes to air from 10pm Saturday to 2am Sunday Australian Eastern Standard Time.

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Ted saves the best...

Ted Egan's latest album – Saving The Best, a double CD – is out tomorrow, Friday (September 10).

Saving The Best is described as an important testament to a much loved and iconic Australian's life in song.

Ted Egan is a man who has lived an incredibly diverse range of Australian experiences in his nearly 80 years, "and it's all there in his music," said a spokesman for his record label, "the people, the places, the laughter and the tears. True Australian stories, sung from the heart."

Ted's recording history began in 1969. Now, 28 albums later, Saving The Best is mostly themed around outback life, history and Aboriginal affairs. It's an "album in which (Ted) re-records his greatest hits alongside many new songs".

On the first CD, Queensland Opera features classics such as The Drover's Boy and The Last Of The Packhorse Bagmen.

"On this disc, Ted also wanted to pay tribute to some of his songwriting mates and does a beautiful version of John Williamson's Cootamundra Wattle and ditto with Eric Bogle's It's As If He Knows."

The title track – Queensland Opera (based on the colloquial term for country music in the sunshine state) features a who's who of country music names from the past to the present.

The second CD contains The Laughing Game. Ted recalls some amazing songs from a different era with a collection of children's songs across years and cultures. It features Two Little Boys (an American Civil War song that Ted incidentally taught in 1969 to Rolf Harris).

"In between, there are songs from the Torres Strait and Arnhem Land, 19th century Ireland, and old English songs including a wonderful version of The Muffin Man which is unlike any other."

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2010 Golden Saddle finalists announced

This year's Golden Saddle Awards finalists have been announced.

As judged by a panel of 12 industry people, the finalists are... The Bostocks, Tori Darke, Johanna Hemara, Tracy Killeen and Steve Passfield.

Tori, Johanna and Steve were on hand for the announcement at Rooty Hill RSL which will host the final on Saturday October 9.

The finals night will be hosted by leading comedian/ventriloquist Darren Carr and will also feature special guest performances by last year's Golden Saddle winner Lianna Rose and this year's winner of the Junior Saddles competition (see following story).

Sponsors of the Golden Saddle Awards are Country Music Capital News, Rooty Hill RSL and Southern Cross Television.

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Boys take out final Junior Saddles heat

Cameron Cusack from Tura Beach and Mitchell Murdock from North Balgowlah were announced as the last two finalists for this year's Junior Saddles competition at the recent Sydney heat.

Cameron and Mitchell join Joeli Brennan, Rachael Fahim, Jack Hayden, Margie-May Hockey, Ashley Knight, Nathan Lamont, Max Mustonen and Trudi Summerfield for the competition final on October 9 at Sydney's Rooty Hill RSL.

The winner will receive $1,000 to put towards their music career, recording studio time with Brad Bergen at Little Red Wagon Studios and will also perform at the prestigious Golden Saddles that night.

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Peter set to release debut album

Telstra Road to Tamworth 2010 winner Peter McWhirter will release his debut album on Friday (September 10).

Peter was barely out of his teens when he penned the opening track of this debut album, Lucky As A Seven, and the debut single Humm, which raced straight to the top of the country music video charts.

Now with a string of tunes ready for release, the 20-year-old has his sights set on the world with the new album and is set to take on the music scene with his own unique signature of mainstream country, according to his record label.

Lucky As A Seven is described as "an eclectic mix of songs, steeped in country and blues and infused with threads of indie pop.

"From the uplifting current single, I Will Stand By You, about never giving up, to the more bluesy Ain't as Easy As It Looks, Peter has firmly established his own style."

"It's mixing a whole lot of different ideas in the music spectrum from rock, folk, country, blues and bringing it all together into one," he said.

The musical blend – recorded and produced in Nashville with Grammy nominated Australian producer Mark Moffatt (Keith Urban, Tim Finn, Nick Cave, Jasmine Rae) – comes out of Peter's upbringing on the outskirts of Sydney in Campbelltown where he discovered his musical abilities at age 10 when he clutched his first guitar.

Peter is appearing at CMC Rocks North Queensland on September 25 and is touring with Canadian country star Corb Lund throughout September and October in support of Lucky As A Seven's release.

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More Telstra Road to Tamworth heat winners

Meanwhile, two more finalists have been determined for the upcoming Telstra Road to Tamworth talent search.

Eighteen-year-old Brook Newton from Arno Bay won the Adelaide heat (staged at the Adelaide Show) while 24-year-old Brett Clarke from Tamworth was successful at the heat staged at this year's giant AgQuip field days at Gunnedah (NSW).

Brook and Brett now progress to the next stage of the talent development program, a "boot camp" which includes a performance at one of Australia's biggest sporting activities, the Sydney Telstra 500 V8 Supercar event in December.

Boot Camp is a music development workshop where aspiring musicians will gain valuable experience and insights from a network of music industry professionals including songwriters, publishers, established artists and industry organisations.

Participants will perform in front of thousands of V8 Supercar fans together with The McClymonts and past Telstra Road to Tamworth winners, to the biggest audience of their careers.

Those who are successful at Boot Camp, will receive $1,000 cash and progress through to the Telstra Road to Tamworth finals to be held during the 2011 Tamworth Country Music Festival in January.

The winning performer and songwriter of the competition final will each receive a 12-month mentorship package including a recording session in Nashville, domestic and international gigs, publicity, media training and support from a network of music industry professionals.

Photos (top): Brook Newton (left) with Acting Telstra Area General Manager for Adelaide, Darren Richards, and (below): Telstra Area General Manager for North-West NSW Richard Bourne and Brett Clarke.


Chart Update – Harmony at number one

Harmony James (pictured) has taken over the top spot on the national Country Tracks Top 30 singles chart this week with her hit Good Enough.

Troy Cassar-Daley's number one from last week – Chasin' Rodeo – is at two while Catherine Britt's Can't Change A Thing at steady at three and Dianna Corcoran's Wrong Girl jumps three places to number four.

The McClymonts' Hearts On Fire edges up one to five, Kristy Cox is up two to six with It's Hard To Stop A Heart and Amber Lawrence's Women Like Me (Don't Like Girls Like You) is at seven.

The Sunny Cowgirls' Naughty Side bounds into the top 10 at eight, Adam Harvey's Better Than This is also new in the top 10 at nine while Lee Kernaghan's Australian Boy is at 10.

Bullet performers for the week include Graeme Connors' All The Money's Gone (16 to 11), Jetty Road's I Have Been (15 to 12), Lianna Rose's Smoking Gun (24 to 18), The Bobkatz' The Old HR (28 to 24) and Kasey Chambers' Little Bird (29 to 26).

New entries to the chart this week include Adam Brand with It's Gonna Be OK (in at 28) and Tracy Killeen with Metrosexual Craze (at 30).

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Vale – Tony Brooks

Well known bush ballad writer Tony Brooks dies in Atherton, Qld, late this morning. He was 83.

Tony's songs have been recorded by many artists including Slim Dusty. When The Scrubbers Break, Jimberella Kid and Pushing Time are some of the Tony Brooks songs recorded by Slim.

Tony had battled many types of cancer since the early 1990s and he continued to write until the end of his life.

"Tony Brooks was a composite of all the characters he wrote about in his songs," said country music writer and photographer John Elliott.

"Brooksie was fair dinkum – a real bush character who spoke his mind and fought for what he believed in. He stuck by his mates and was a passionate believer in all things Australian."

Tony is survived by his wife Rita and children Carl, Kim and Noni.

Funeral details are yet to be announced.



Bush Laureate Awards nominations open

Nominations have opened for the next Australian Bush Laureate Awards to be presented in Tamworth in January.

"This will be the 15th staging of what has become an icon of Australian bush poetry and the annual Tamworth Country Music Festival," according to a spokesman for the organisers.

"It has become a tradition for Australian bush poets to gather for the annual awards presentation and concert which is often described as one of the best events of the entire festival."

Awards are presented in six categories... Book of the Year, Bush Poem of the Year, Album of the Year, Single of the Year and Children’s Poem of the Year plus a special award for outstanding achievement in nurturing Australia’s unique heritage of rhymed verse (named after the Awards’ founder Judith Hosier).

Nomination forms can be downloaded from the Awards website – They can also be obtained by telephoning 0267 622 993 or by emailing or by writing to PO Box 73, Tamworth, 2340.

Nominations close on Friday, October 15.

The Australian Bush Laureate Awards will be staged in the famous Tamworth Town Hall on Tuesday, January 18, 2011.

Tickets will go on sale firstly via the Internet on October 1 at



Adam hot at US radio

The hard work is paying off for Adam Brand whose debut US single Ready For Love is the sixth most added song at American country radio this week.

This is according to Country Aircheck, America's leading force in the country radio trade publication industry which provides a weekly ranking of the songs receiving airplay for the first time.

Ready For Love received 17 adds.

Back home, Adam's new album It's Gonna Be OK debuted this week at number one on the ARIA Country Chart and at 11 on the ARIA mainstream Top 50 Albums Chart.

Adam will be home to tour in December and January.

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Duo wins Maton Talent Search

From an article contributed by Sam Burgess

Twenty-year-old twin sisters Katrina and Rebecca Burley (pictured) – performing as Sista Burley – won the votes of the judges at this year's Maton Talent Search at the Optus Muster at the weekend.

The girls were ecstatic with their win which will take them to the 19th Big Valley Jamboree at Camrose, Alberta, Canada to perform on main stage, among other things.

Katrina and Rebecca, from Woodford in Queensland, also won an "in studio interview/recording" at the ABC's Sydney studio, a club gig during the January 2011 Tamworth Country Music Festival and on main stage at next year's Muster.

The girls, who also received an Akubra hat each as part of the prize package, have made Muster history by being the first duo to win the competition.

Sista Burley shared the finalists stage with David Agius and Melissa Partridge from New Zealand.

Melissa was named winner of the Academy of Country Music prize. The Academy runs mid-year in Tamworth, Australia's home of country music.

Competition co-ordinator Liz Rauchle said competitors this year came from as far away
as South Australia and Western Australia as well as New Zealand.

She said she was very thankful to all her assistants and talent search compere Warren Reid.

"Competitors were backed by the wonderful band Killin' Time which was presented with an award from Maton for having been part of the Muster Talent Search for 22 years."

The largest section this year was for the junior section with 27 competitors ranging from 12 to 15 years of age and The Gidgee Bugs (Katelyn and Liam O'Donoghue) taking the title. The whole O'Donoghue family travelled from Charters Towers in Northern Qld for the Muster.

Meg Ripps from Brisbane won the juvenile section.

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