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Tamworth 2017 wraps up with The Last Roundup

Day 10 of the Toyota Country Music Festival Tamworth rounds out with the Last Roundup tonight in Bicentennial Park.

It's like a winner's concert really, with Toyota Star Maker 2017 Raechel Fahim (pictured) heading the bill as well as the winners of male and female vocal People's Choice Awards, the Busking Championship, Battle of the Bands, Battle of the Youngstars, Capital Country Music Association National Talent Quest and more.

The show gets underway at 7.


Travis dominates Golden Guitars

But it was Troy Cassar-Daley's night! Even though he "only" took home Album of the Year, he was totally surprised when industry stalwarts Max Ellis and Joy McKean announced his elevation – to a standing ovation – to the Country Music Roll of Renown.

Travis was the most prolific last night winning three Golden Guitars, for Male Artist of the Year, for Song of the Year (Call me Crazy co-written with Damien Leith) and Single of the Year for Just Another Girl.

Sara Storer was a big winner as well with two gongs... Female Artist of the Year and Bush Ballad of the Year for Amazing Night.

And the new grouping of Kevin Bennett, Lyn Bowtell and Felicity Urquhart (Bennett, Bowtell & Urquhart) also snared two awards... for Group of the Year and Alt Country Album of the Year for their self-titled debut work. See below for the full listing.

Following are the detailed results...

Album of the Year – Troy Cassar-Daley with Things I Carry Around (produced by Troy).

Female Artist of the Year – Sara Storer.

Male Artist of the Year – Travis Collins.

Group of the Year – Bennett, Bowtell & Urquhart.

New Talent of the Year – Fanny Lumsden.

Instrumental of the Year...Song For Manaia by Stuie French.

Song of the Year – Call Me Crazy written by Travis Collins & Damien Leith, recorded by Travis Collins.

Bush Ballad of the Year – Amazing Night written and recorded by Sara Storer.

Heritage Song of the Year – The Old Man's Shed written by Luke O'Shea & John Krsulja, recorded by Luke O'Shea.

Video Clip of the Year – The Truth Walks Slowly (In The Countryside) by O'Shea (directed by Mark O'Shea).

Vocal Collaboration – F U Cancer by Catherine Britt, Kasey Chambers, Beccy Cole, Lyn Bowtell, Josh Pyke, Wes Carr & Wendy Matthews.

Single of the Year – Just Another Girl by Travis Collins.

Alt Country Album of the Year – Bennett, Bowtell & Urquhart by Bennett, Bowtell & Urquhart (produced by Glen Hannah).

Bluegrass Recording of the Year... Another Weary Mile by Kristy Cox.

Musician of the Year – Glen Hannah.

Keith Urban was acknowledged as winner of the Top Selling Album in Australia in 2016 for Ripcord.

The Golden Guitar Awards (Country Music Awards of Australia) are organised by the Country Music Association of Australia, staged by Tamworth Regional Council and sponsored by Toyota Australia.


Tim is Tamworth's busking champion

Tim Scanlan, described as "the one man band from Traralgon (Vic), was judged the winner of this year's Toyota LandCruiser Country Music Busking Champion in front of a huge 5,000 strong crowd in Bicentennial Park last night.

Tim started busking when he was seven and now travels the world busking all over.

Hundreds of buskers tale part in the championship now every year hoping to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Troy Cassar-Daley, Kasey Chambers, Beccy Cole and Keith Urban who all started at Tamworth by busking on Peel Street.

Festival Manager Barry Harley said: "the Busking Chasmpionship is a great launch pad for aspiring musicians, and one of the most vibrant and exciting parts of the Toyota Country Music Festival Tamworth."

Former local and X-Factor contestant Roshani was runner-up in the Championship.

A "popular choice" winner was Goldhiest with Western Australia's Kimberly Gold, performing in Tamworth for first time in Tamworth, were voted second.

As winner of the 2017 Toyota Busking Championship Tim takes home some great prizes, including the opportunity to appear on the 2018 Tamworth Country Music Festival Official Opening Concert.

Other finalists in the Championship were Goldheist, Grand Whistle Dixie, The Mason Boys, Molly Millington, Rory Phillips, Smoke Hazard and Vevyla.



YoungStars winners

Kathryn Luxford, Blake O'Connor and Brooke Thompson are Tamworth Country Music Festival's "official" young stars after winning the Battle of the YoungStars talent quest today.

Staged in the famous Tamworth Town Hall over the last few days, the quest was descibed by organisers as a "spectacular success" drawing "huge crowds daily".

Brooke (pictured far right) who is from Tamworth and says she only started singing last year with local teacher Sally-Anne Whitten, won the junior section (for nine years and under). She said she hopes to pursue music as a career.

Kathryn (left), who is 13 years old and from Glen Innes, won the intermediate section (for 10 to 13 years). Kathryn has been succesful in many talent quests and performed at several festivals around Australia.  Last year, she released her first CD, an EP of original songs influenced by her favourite artist, Taylor Swift.

Port Macquarie based Blake (pictured, centre) won the senior section (for 14 to 17 year olds). He is a singer, songwriter and guitarist and regularly performs on the NSW Mid North Coast, Inverell, the Hawkesbury and Sydney areas. He was accepted into X Factor in 2016 which led him to the Top 50.  More recently he has performed with Brooke McClymont from The McClymonts, Adam Eckersley and Shannon Noll.

"Each day of the YoungStars competition unearthed amazing young talent of singers and musicians from all over Australia,” said organiser Fairfax Rural Events Group Manager Kate Nugent.

In this year’s competition a number of encouragement awards were announced including Kasey Kilsby from Andergrove (Qld), Angie Hutton from Nemingha (NSW) and Noah Overs from Tamworth.

The winners of each section received a $200 cash prize, a $250 Fender voucher, Capital News subscription, a cap and a Capitol Music voucher... in addition to "bragging rights".


Bluegrass winners

One of the Tamworth Country Music Festival’s foundation events, Coca-Cola Country, staged its fifth Battle of the Bluegrass talent quest this week.

The Grand Final was staged today in the famous Tamworth Town Hall where winners were announced before an enthusiastic full house audience.

Seventeen-year-old Taylor Pfeiffer from Walkerville (SA), has been performing since the age of five sharing the stage with her inspirations Troy Cassar-Daley, Kasey Chambers, Adam Harvey and Lee Kernaghan, was annoucned as the junior winner playing banjo.

Montz Matsumoto, from Cygnet (Tas), also playing banjo, was named the senior winner.  Montz joined legendary Japanese folk band The Natashar Seven in 1987 and later toured Japan with Peter Rowan in 1997. He has been attending the Tamworth Festival since 2006 playing for The Pigs, Peter Denahy and Andrew Clermont’s Supper Club.

From a competitive field of finalists in each section, the Battle of the Bluegrass "showcased the power and passion in Australian bluegrass performance," according to organisers.

Winners each received $200 cash, a $250 Fender voucher, Capital News subscription, Capitol Music voucher, a cap and certificate and "bragging rights" as the Best Under 17 and Best Senior Bluegrass Players at the 2017 Tamworth Country Music Festival.

Information about next year’s Battle of the Bluegrass can be obtained by calling Fairfax Rural Events on 02 6768 5800 or by emailing


Tamworth Festival's best band

Thr Dennis Sister's Fake Family Band has taken out the 2017 Coca-Cola Battle of the Bands title at this year’s Tamworth Country Music Festival.

It's the 17th staging of the popular band talent search while Coca-Cola is celebrating 39 years of direct sponsorship involvement with the Festival this year.

The Dennis Sister’s Fake Family Band is from Tewantin (Qld) and comprises 17-year-old Briannah Dennis, 16-year-old Tiana Dennis and 19-year-old Ben Wight. The band is described as "an entertaining alt country/folk band who play a mix of their favourtie covers and originals with two and three-part harmonies, accompanied by a mixture of percussion, bass and acoutistic guitar".

Second place in the grand final of the "Battle" which was staged today in the Tamworth Town Hall was the Rachel Summerell Duo from Kariong (NSW) while third place went to Tru Country Band from Kersbrook (SA).

The winning band received prizes including $1,000 cash, a paid gig at the 2018 Tamworth Festival at one of The Pub Group’s leading hotels and the opportunity to perform at the Tamworth Festival’s Last Roundup in Bicentennial Park tomorrow.

"As the years go by, it has been fascinating to watch the on-going high standard of band entrants that continue to take the full sound of country music to new heights," said Kate Nugent, Group Manager of Fairfax Rural Events, organisers of Coca-Cola Country and the Battle of the Bands.


Cavalcade winners

Fire & Rescue NSW and Chris Watson's Travel Tunes in the Tropics Wavelengths 489 Tamworth are the big winners from today's giant street parade, the Country Music Cavalcade.

They were judged winners, respectvely, of the non-commercoal and commercial sections of the parade.

The University of Newcastle Department of Rural Health won second place in non-commercial with Multicultural Tamworth in third place.

Tamworth City Dance Academy, a perennial winner, was judged second in the commercial section with Mayberry Harvesting third.

The non vehicle/equine section was won by the Carlton Clydesdales.

Winners will be acknowledged at a function to be held within a couple of weeks.



People's Choice winners

Winners in the 17th annual Australian Country Music People’s Choice Awards were announced in Tamworth, Australia’s Country Music Capital, last night.

Perennial winners Brothers3 and Dale Duncan (pictured) featured strongly with two awards each while other favourites were recognised as well as some newcomers.

Brothers3 won Best Group and Song of the Year for C’Mon while Dale took out Best Male Vocal and Best Bush Ballad with the Peter Simpson song My Song Nui Dat.

The people voted Dianne Lindsay as winner of Best Female Vocal while another long-term winner, Graham Rodger, took out B est Album with Territory Man.

Most Promising Future Star went to rising star Jade Holland and Best Video Clip was taken out by newly solo singer, songwriter and recording artist Troy Kemp (formerly of the long-term star duo McAlister Kemp) with his clip of A Little More Country.

The award for Best Vocal or Music Event went to Australian pioneer instrumentalist Lindsay Butler and associate musician Peggy Gilchrist for their recording of Gospel Road.

In the broadcast awards, Jane Kellaway of 2MCR FM Sydney was again voted Most Popular Country Music DJ and the duo Big Stu and MJ, who run the Planet Country program on Alive 90.5 Sydney, won Most Popular Radio Program.

Voting in the 2018 Awards will open soon at



Tamworth Day Seven

The fun continues today in Country Music Capital with hundreds of events and activities on the program, especially as the day is also Australia Day.

Three major concerts or activities today are...

Australia Day celebrations throughout the day but espcially this evening in Bicenttenial Park...

The Lee Kernaghan 25th Anniversary Concert tonight in the Tamworth Regional Entertainment & Conference Centre.

And the 17th Australian Country Music People's Choice Awards in the Northwest Church Auditorium from 7.


Australia Day honours

Several honours of note from this year's Australia Day honours and country music.

Two big ones are Jimmy Barnes and Paul Kelly, though certainly nor country acts as such, both have had a lot to do with the industry over the years, especially Paul.

Both have been awarded AOs, Officer in the Order of Australia, General Division.

Solid volunteer work on a local level has been recognised with OAMs (Order of Australia Medals) to Roger Adams from Wauchope, NSW, for service to the community through a range of fundraising activities, including as a volunteer for the Hastings Valley Country Music Association.

And to Victoria's Susan Marstaeller, for service to local government and to the community of the Mitchell Shire, including a stint as treasuruer for the Wandong Country Music Festival Committee.


Gold Medallion winners

The 2016 Gold Medallion Media Award winners announced yesterday are...

Ashley Cook (pictured) was named National Male Artist of the Year while Shaza Leigh (pictured) took out National Female Artist of the Year.

Runaway Dixie is Group of Duo of the Year, Lindsay Butler & Peggy Gilchrist, Collaboration of the Year and Alice Benfer was named New Talent of the Year.

In the "regional" sections...

Male Vocalists of the Year... Justin Standley (Qld), Allan Caswell (NSW) and John Lecner Siuth/Central/Western [S/C/W]).

Female Vocalists of the Year... Shaza Leigh (Qld), Dianne Lindsay (NSW) and Lynette Guest (S/C.W).

Bush Balladeers of the Year... Ashley Cook (Qld), Greg Bain (NSW), Terry Bennetts (S/C/W). TERRY BENNETTS

Musicians of the Year... Lindsay Waddington (Qld), Lindsay Butler (NSW) and Stuie French (S/C/W).



TSA winners

A gala presentation function saw a raft of excited winners at Tamworth Songwriters' Associaion's Awards night last night.

In the Songwriter Salute Awards, Country Song of the Year went to Golden Days written by Allan Caswell (pictured) & Andrew Wrigglesworth. The song also took out Contemporary Country Ballad of the Year.

Traditional Bush Ballad of the Year (the Bev Daniel Commemorative Award) was won by Beechworth Gold by Justin Standley & Ronald Morgan.

Contemporary Song of the Year was awarded to Back When I Was Older by Allan Caswell & Michael Carpenter.

Comedy/Novelty Song of the Year was won by The Neighbours Turned New Age by Michael Clare.

Anzac Song of the Year was named as Raise Your Glass by Paul Grierson & Chris Rieger.

Gospel Song of the Year went to Walk With Me by Dianne Coombes.

And Alt Country/Blues/Bluegrass Song of the Year was won by I Should Have Told You by Michael Carpenter.

The Association's Tex Morton Award was presented to Johnny Greenwood (pictured) and Tony Brooks was named as the 2017 Songmaker.

The APRA/TSA New Songwriter Award went to Renee Jonas with If Only.

In the National Songwriting Contest...

Graham Rodger won Open Traditional with The Plains Of Nappa Merrie and John Greenwood & Jason Greenwood took out Open Contemporary with This Girl.

Phil Crossie won the Novice section with My Brother, Spike Flynn was named winner of the Alt & Blues & Bluegrass secrtion with Stone To Sand.

Bridie Middleton won the Youth Songwriting section (the John P Toomey Commemorative Award) with This Is Me and Merv Webster took home the prize in the Lyrics Only section with When The Thirty Three Came Home.

TSA and TSA members are appearing in dedicated songwriting events and activities throughout this year's Tamworth Country Music Festival, as usual. Details can be found on the TSA website or in the Official Festival Guide.

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Coster Tribute

A special tribute concert to the late great songwriting legend Stan Coster will be staged tonight at the Manilla Bowling Club at 7.30pm

The show will star Cody Bracken, Tracy Coster, Dean Perrett, Fibber Parker, Chris Pritchard and Trevour Tolten with backing band featuring Steve Newton on lead guitar, Geoff Clapson on bass and Graeme Jackson on drums.

The free concert gets underway at 7:30.


New album from Kalesti

Kalesti Butler will release a new album – Airborne –during this year's Tamworth Country Music Festival.

Born and raised on a cattle station in Queensland’s Gulf of Carpentaria, Kalesti says her most vivid memories are of the downtime when she would listen to and perform country music with her family.

These life-long experiences are where Kalesti draws from to create her brand of country music, reflected in her new album.

While most will know the 2011 Academy Of Country Music graduate for her bush ballads and traditional sound, over recent years Kalesti has wanted to explore the wider musical genre. When asked about her upcoming release, Kalesti says, “I love a challenge and achieving my dreams, I will be stepping out of my comfort zone. I’ll be flying.”

Working with Robert Mackay from Pacific International Music on the album has only reinforced Kalesti’s decision to add to her musical range, she said. "I have Michael Bryers to thank for suggesting recording at the award-winning studio during a discussion at the 2015 Mildura Country Music Festival."

Airborne has 11 tracks. Kalesti wrote the majority with help from her mum Val, Roger Corbett, Kathy Dobson, Anita Ree, Felicity Urquhart and the remainder balanced out by Bob Wilson, Rain Perry, Lola Brinton, Kevin Bennett and Luke O’Shea.

The 2014 Top 10 Toyota Star Maker finalist says she finds lyrical inspiration in almost anything. For example, the album track, Pump was written by Kalesti and mum during lunch at the Mildura Country Musical Festival in 2012. Mum and daughter were discussing song titles, concepts and ideas as they regularly do, when Kalesti spotted an old fuel bowser. The title was born and the ladies created a heroine jillaroo whose job it is to check the water pumps around the property. The song sings about the funny things that play on her mind that she may or may not see. 

Kalesti attended the 2015 DAG Sheep Station Singers Songwriters Retreat where she wrote Ride Cowboy with Felicity Urquhart. This track was inspired by her dad who had cancer and was quite ill at the time. Sadly he passed away while Kalesti was on her way to the 2016 Tamworth Country Music Festival. Speaking on the phone when Kalesti was at a half-way pit stop, she had no idea “have fun in Tamworth” would be some of his final words.

Kalesti has been working on the land and singing about it for as long as she can remember. At just three years of age, she made her stage debut at the Charters Towers Country Music Festival and by nine she was crowned the Queensland Champion of Champions.

Accolades have since presented themselves many times over including the 2011 Australian Bush Balladeer Star Quest in Tamworth, 2011 New Talent trophy at the Gidgee Coal Bush Ballad Awards in Pittsworth, 2012 New Talent at the Stan Coster Memorial Australian Bush Ballad Awards at the Bungendore Country Music Muster and winning the 2013 APRA Tamworth Songwriters Association New Songwriter Award.

Airborne will be launched at the South Tamworth Bowling Club Outback Stage, this Friday (January 27) at 10am – a free show.

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Sky's Paul Murray in town

Sky News personality Paul Murray is in the north today and tomorrow.

Paul will broadcast his live television show from the the Manilla Post Office tonight from 9 before moving to Tamworth on Australia Day.

On Thursday, Paul will anchor his program live from the Australia Day celebrations in Bicentennial Park where he will be joined by Deputy Prime Minister and New England MP Barnaby Joyce and Australian country music star Adam Brand.

His visit follows a successful election broadcast in the Country Music Capital last year.

Registrations are open for audience members for both shows via


Tamworth to get a big Big Mac

The story broke last night that Tamworth was to be the recipent of a "giant" Big Mac.

To complement the big Golden Guitar? pundits ask. reported the big Big Mac would be unveiled on Australia Day. No-one is sure exacty where just yet although Waler Park has been mentioned (wherever that is).

Tamworth's half-tonne 12 metre high big Golden Guitar already attracts visitors from all over the world. It isn't sure at this stage if the big Big Mac will do the same, or even if it's going to stay here.

The good money is betting on it moving around as a promotional gimmick.

And in case you're wondering, the big Big Mac is not an inflatable gimmick. Constructed ib Sydney, it weighs 300 kilograms and has been sculpted from polystyrene, sealed with resin, and painted to look just like a burger.

It will be more than two and a half metres high, mounted on a five-metre tower. To put it in perspective, the sesame seeds on the bun are the size of your palm.

Tamworth Mayor Col Murray said: "Some will warm to it better than others, certainly the younger generation will probably have a higher appreciation for what the Macca’s brand brings."

But on a more serious note: "We produce high-quality beef, and high-quality lettuce, and it recognises the fact Tamworth is a serious part of the McDonald’s supply chain," Col said.

According to the Mayor, Tamworth is "probably the epitome of Australiana".

Picture: an "artist's" impression!



TSA Awards tonight

The major event on today's program for the Tamworth Country Music Festival is the Tamworth Songwriters' Association (TSA) Concert & Awards.

Kicking off at 7 tonight at The Longyard Hotel, the concert will feature performances by Kirsty Lee Akers (pictured), Greg Bain, Billy Bridge, Sophia Chesworth, Imogen Clark, Travis Collins (pictured), Johnny Greenwood, Becci Nethery, Steve Passfield & Handpicked and The Sherrahs.

Angus Gill and Clair Hayes will co-compere.

Finalists in the Songwriter Salute Awards are...

For Gospel Song of the Year... Amen by Terry Bennets, Called Good by Dean Perrett, Waiting For Heaven To Rain by Kylie Adams-Collier, Walk With Me by Dianne Coombes, Yay For Jesus by Sarah Grunewald & Amber Gibbons.

For Comedy/Novelty Song of the Year... Kamikaze Kangaroo by Jeff Brown, Kamikaze Roo by Pete Smith & D Daniel, The Neighbours Turned New Age by Michael Clare, Socks & Jocks by James Westwood and The Stalker by Daniela Matthaus.

For Traditional Bush Ballad of the Year (the Bev Daniel Commemorative Award)... Beechworth Gold by Justin Standley & Ronald Morgan, God Given Rain by Jeff Brown, Dusty Stopes And Drives by Graham Rodger & Andrew Black, She Still Waits by Virginia Coad
and The Wellshot Hotel by Graham Rodger.

For Anzac Song of the Year... 1950 by Laura Byrnes & Chloe Styler, The Lost Soldier by Peter Campbell & Brendon Walmsley, Missing in Action by Graham Rodger, Raise Your Glass by Paul Grierson & Chris Rieger and With Respect by Allan Caswell & Brad Marks.

For Contemporary Ballad of the Year... Golden Days by Allan Caswell & Andrew Wrigglesworth, Hero Just The Same by Allan Caswell & Billy Bridge, Keepers Of The Land by Graham Howle, Ride Away by Ian Burns and We Knew by Billy Bridge & Rebecca Lee Nye.

For Contemporary Song of the Year... Back When I Was Older by Allan Caswell & Michael Carpenter, Cowgirl Rockin' by Alice Benfer & Garth Porter, Don’t You Let Me Down by Megan Dougherty & Nick Wolfe, Don’t Say It If You Don’t Mean It by Renee Jonas and Simple Things by Brad Butcher & Marc Swersky.

For Alt Country, Blues & Bluegrass Song of the Year... Ghost Town by Billy Bridge, I Should Have Told You by Michael Carpenter, Just Can’t Sleep by Steve Sparrow, Sweet Bye And Bye by Allan Caswell & Nia Robertson and William Henry Johnson by Allan Caswell & Kristy Cox.

Song of the Year will be announced from winners in the Songwriter Salute Awards.

Finalists for the New Songwriter of the Year award are Michael Clare with Yellowbelly Bend, Paul Crowder with Little Steps, Renee Jonas with If Only, Mark Lavender & Kathryn Coad with Running From The Rain and Becci Nethery with Your Hand Slips Into Mine.

Finalists for TSA Songmaker recognition are Tony Brooks, Greg Champion, Barry Forester, Iann Quinn and Graham Rodger.

Winners will also be announced in the National Country Songwriting Contest as will the Tex Morton "significant contribution" award.

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Medallion Awards

Winners of Gold Medallion Media Awards will be announced at an industry luncheon this Wednesday in Tamworth.

Awards are presented in three groupings, National, Queensland, NSW and South Central West.

In the National grouping, Male and Female Artists of the Year on Radio will be announced from state and territory winners.

Finalists for New Talent of the Year are Alice Benfer, Fletcher Morley and Ben Ransom.

For Group of the Year... Heartbeat, Runaway Dixie and the Shelly Jones Band.

For Collaboration of the Year... Samantha Bellamy & Ray Pratley, Jeff Brown & Anne Kirkpatrick and Lindsay Butler & Peggy Gilchrist.

In the Queensland grouping, finalists for Male Artist of the Year are Casey Barnes, Graeme Connors and Justin Standley.

For Female Vocalist of the Year... Laura Downing (pictured), Shaza Leigh and Becci Netherey.

For Musician of the Year... Peggy Gilchrist, Alisha Smith and Lindsay Waddington.

For Bush Balladeer of the Year... Jeff Brown, Ashley Cook and Graham Rodger.

In the NSW grouping, finalists for Male Artist of the Year are Roo Arcus (pictured), Arthur Blanch and Allan Caswell.

For Female Vocalist of the Year... Rachel Jillett, Dianne Lindsay and Rachel Summerell.

For Musician of the Year... Lindsay Butler, Taylor Pfeiffer and Peter Simpson.

For Bush Balladeer of the Year... Greg Bain, Tom Maxwell and Pete Smith.

In the South Central West grouping, finalists for Male Artist of the Year are Billy Bridge, John Lecner and John O'Dea.

For Female Artist of the Year... Connie Kis Anderson, Lynette Guest and Marie Hodson.

For Musician of the Year... Ginger Cox, Stui French (pictured, top right) and Hank Koopman.

For Bush Balladeer of the Year... Terry Bennetts, Peter Coad and Reg Poole.

The Gold Medallion Media Awards are an Australian awards system for Professional Australian country music artists judged by Australian radio announcers.

Further information can be obtained from Awards Co-Ordinator Sarah Watson on 0497 622 117.


Golden Fiddle – update!

Meanwhile, the 2017 Golden Fiddle Awards will not be announced on Wednesday morning.

Organisers of the regular event are currently presenting a showcase.

Fiddle legend Pixie Jenkins will compere the event. Leading multi-instrumentalist Andrew Clermont will be Musical Director.



Rachael wins Star Maker

Rachael Fahim has won Toyota Star Maker 2017

Sydney born Rachael was judged the winner last night in Tamworth from a strong field of grand final contenders.

She wins a prize package that includes the use of a new Toyota vehicle and an unlimited fuel card for 12 months plus guaranteed performances at major festivals and events throughout Australia and overseas, the recording of three singles and associated video clips and a Maton guitar (details of the full prize package can be found here).

Rachael has been working steadlly to win her way Into the hearts of audience and industry alike, one gig at a time. Growing up on the outskirts of the NSW capital, Rachael fell In love with country music and began entering talent quests, rapidly gaining the name of "the country glrl from the city" which she didn't mind one llttle blt.

During school, Rachael says, llke many young women, she was bullled and turned to songwriting, "finding an outlet in story songs with catchy riffs, and fun, quirky thoughts".

Rachael has toured Australia's east coast and performed at some of the biggest festivals In the country including Tamworth, the Sydney Country Music Festival and North Queensland Freedom Festival.

At the 2014 "MO" Awards, she won the Johnny O'Keefe Encouragement Award. She was a finalist in Star Maker 2015 and supported Daryl Braithwaite on several shows of his tour in that year. Rachael released her debut single, Say It, which shot to number one on the iTunes charts and was in Country Music Channel's Top 30 for several weeks.

Rachael, the 38th Star Maker, is pictured receiving her winner's plaque from Toyota's Wayne Gabriel.

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Tamworth Day 3

The major event on today's program is Toyota Star Maker which runs in Bicentennial Park (or Toyota Park as it has been dubbed for the Festival).

Ten "rising star" artists will compete for the major prize package which includes a new Toyota vehicle, an unlimited fuel card for 12 months plus guaranteed performances at major festivals and events throughout Australia.

Battling it out on stage are Brook Chivell (from Labrador, Qld), Meg Doherty (Pakenham Vic), Rachael Fahim (Cherrybrook, NSW), Cassidy Rae Gaiter (Flagstaff Hill, SA), Angus Gill (Wauchope, NSW), Jade Holland (Balgal Beach, Qld), Liam Kennedy-Clark (Sippy Downs, Qld), Michelle Plozza (Kingston, Qld), Megan Sidwell (Melbourne, Vic) and Andrew Swift (Berwick, Vic).

The talent search gets underway at 7 and admission is free.

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Talent quests a big part of Tamworth

Star Maker is the most significant talent search of the Tamworth Country Music Festival but there are many more industry aspirants can get involved in.

Next on a list of importance, in some ways more significant, is the Capital Country Music Association (CCMA) National Talent Quest which runs on Thursday and Friday of the main Festival week.

The CCMA will stage its 51st event this year which pundits say is a record in longevity for Australia, possibly the world. It was running before the Tamworth Festival proper was even a gleam in the eye of its creators. Indeed, the CCMA talent quest was part of the catalyst for the Festival which started in January 1973.

It has provided an entry point for hundreds of artists, muicians and songwriters, including the likes of Allan Caswell, Lee Kernaghan, Keith Urban and Felicity Urquhart. Entry for this year's event is still open and can be done via the website

West Tamworth League Club runs two major talent quests, the Aristrocrat Entertainer of the Year (which kicks off today) and Mt Franklin Junior Talent Quest which starts Tuesday. More information, or ring 02 6765 7588.

Country Music Capital News runs three separate talent quests as part of their activity in the Tamworth Town Hall.

The Battle of the Youngstars kicks off today at 10am, Battle of the Bluegrass gets underway at 1:30 this afternoon and Coca Cola Battle of the Bands runs from 2pm. Information can be obtained from personnel at the Town Hall.

A number of bush poetry competitions are held during the festival and there are bound to be others, either planned or ad hoc, at other are a number of other talent quests we don't yet know about.


Hands of Fame

The Australian Country Music Foundation announced four inductees to the Country Music Hands of Fame yesterday.

They are Broome based guitar player Ginger Cox (known as "the Kimberley Guitar Man"), award-winning instrumental duo the Davidson Brothers, Victorian singer and recording artist Gary Ellis and country star Amber Lawrence.

Imprinting of this year's inductees will take place at the Hands of Fame Cornerstone on the corner of Bridge Street and Kable Avenue this coming Saturday morning at 10:30am following the Country Music Cavalcae.


Broadcasters Hall of Fame

West Australia's Brendon T Moylan and Victorian Floreena Forbes are two inductees into the Australian Country Music Broadcasters Hall of Fame.

The announcement was made yesterday by the Australian Country Music Foundation at the Hall of Fame in Tamworth.

Brendon is best known for his long-running program "Born In Boots" on Curtin FM 100.5 while Floreena, who is also a well-known entertainer, features on Phoenix FM in Central Vicoria.

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Artists announced for People's Choice Awards

Attendees at the 2017 Australian Country Music People's Choice Awards in Tamworth on Australia Day will be treated to performances by a big line-up of established and rising stars in country music.

The Awards take place at the Northwest Church Auditorium at the corner of Anne and Kathleen Streets in Tamworth next to the new Coles Southgate Shopping Centre from 7pm Thursday, January 26.

Performers on the night include Ashley Cook, Billy Bridge & Rebecca Lee Nye, Brothers3, Dale Duncan, Dianne Lindsay, Graham Rodger, Ian Burns, Innocent Eve, Jade Holland, Jane Kellaway, Lindsay Butler & Peggy Gilchrist, The Long & Short Of It, Phoebe Jay, Shaza Leigh, Simply Bushed, Troy Kemp and Tyson Lucas, plus comperes Steve Passfield and Kathryn Jones.

Awards will be presented in 11 categories... Best Female and Male Vocal, Best Group or Duo, Best Song, Best Bush Ballad, Best Album, Best Video Clip, Best Musical or Vocal Event and Most Promising Future Star... as well as two broadcaster awards... Most Popular Country Music DJ and Most Popular Country Music Radio Station or Program.

Tickets for the Awards – the 17th annual event – can be bought online via a link on the front page of the Awards website











Tamworth Festival – Day Two

Tamworth Day Two has plenty to offer visitors to Tamworth and locals alike with a mix of the tried and true plus a few new events.

From the Red Cross Hall's Big Breaky Show in Kable Avenue at 7:45am to the Jimmy Craz Band at Peel Street's The Albert Hotel at 11:59pm, the Festival's first Saturday is packed with entertainment.

Following are just a few of the events listed at specific times during the day... there are dozens more!

Line Dancing activity continues at Tamworth High School at 8 with the Australian Championships while bush poetry performances conitnue at venues including The Longyard Hotel with Neil McArthur (pictured), also at 8.

Writers In The Round take over the Services Club in Marius Street from 9, as do buskers in Peel Street (the "Boulevarde of Dreams") and continuing all day.

Coca Cola Country kicks off in the Tamworth Town Hall at 10 and at 11 there is a Friends Of The Dag Showcase at Nundle's The Dag Sheep Station.

An extensive program organised by the Tamworth Songwriters' Association at various venues gets underway at Southgate Inn at 12:30.

Australia's Smallest Country Music Festival (a festival within a festival, if you like) kicks off at Barraba Services & Recreation Club at 4.

A tribute to the late Karl Broadie – "Leave A Light On" – will run at The Pub on the Gunnedah Road at 7.

Major events tonight include the Tamworth Family Support Service Family Concert in Bicentennial Park from 6 with artists including Tori Forsyth, Jeannie, Amber Lawrence, Brendan Nawrocki, Aleyce Simmonds (pictured) and Scotty Thallon.

Our Kinda Country in the Tamworth Town Hall (see story below) gets underway at 7, Brian Letton performs at the Kootingal Bowling Club from 8 and Adam Harvey stars at Wests at 8:30.



The first event of its kind to debut at the Tamworth Country Music Festival in the world class AELEC arena is CowboyUp which promises to entertain, with "an adrenaline charged exhibition of premier rodeo sports, country music, ute shows and western equine sports".

Featuring a one and a half hour benefit concert in aid of the Westpac Rescue Helicopter service, CowboyUp is described as an event "with something for everyone".

Rising American star Eric Lee Beddingfield will be the featured entertainer.

Australia’s elite bull and saddle bronc riders and some of the fastest ladies on the barrel racing circuit will battle it out for top prize money.

Utes will travel from near and far to participate in a "good old Australian ute show" at the same time the National Finals for the new and popular sport of Ranch Sorting will crown its Champions.

CowboyUp will run from 4pm through the night at the Australian Equine, Livestock & Events Centre (AELEC).

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Salute to Aussie Country

"Our Kind Of Country: A Salute to Australian Country Music" will feature some of Australia's "most patriotic artists" at the Tamworth Town Hall tonight.

The show starts at 7 and will include The Crosby Sisters, John Krsulja, Brian Letton, Shelley Minson, Rae Moody, Chad Morgan, The Muirs, Brendan Nawrocki, Luke O’Shea and many more.

Jodie Crosby will host the event. Tickets ($20 each) will be available at the door.



Tamworth Festival – Day One

It's day one for the annual bash in Australia's Country Music Capital, Tamworth.

And as we reported yesterday, the program expands dramatically following a solid seven day festival countdown period that kicked off last Friday.

Last night, the unofficial curtain-raiser to the 10-day festival – the Australian Academy of Country Music Graduation Concert – pulled a good crowd at the city's West Tamworth League Club.

Today's official program lists almost 200 individual events or activities... and there's bound to be a few not listed!

The major event today is the Toyota Opening Concert in Bicentennial Park from 7pm starring Bennett, Bowtell & Urquhart, Catherine Britt, The Bushwackers, Peter Denahy, Hurricane Fall, Mitch King, Amber Lawrence, Karin Page and the Ben Ransom Band with fireworks scheduled for 9 o'clock.

A number of "downtown" stages kick off today, including the Toyota Fanzone stage in Fitzroy Street next to the Post Office from 9am with the first of dozens of Toyota Hat promotion events kicking off at 10am.

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Golden Guitar performers

Artists appearing at this year's Golden Guitar Awards have been announced.

Adam Harvey and Felicity Urquhart (pictured) will host the event which will be staged in Country Music Capital Saturday night January 28.

Among the guest performer list are Bennett, Bowtell & Urquhart, Adam Brand, Jeff Brown, Troy Cassar-Daley, Kasey Chambers, Travis Collins, Kristy Cox, Lee Kernaghan, Anne Kirkpatrick, The McClymonts, Luke O'Shea, Sara Storer and The Wolfe Brothers.

New Talent contenders Fanny Lumsden, Caitlyn Shadbolt, Justin Standley, Michael Waugh and The Weepiong Willows will also appear.

In addition to performers, presenters on the night will include Kirsty Lee Akers, Catherine Britt, Evelyn Bury, Colin Buchanan, Graeme Connors, Ashleigh Dallas, Pete Denahy, Max Ellis, Tania Kernaghan,Christie Lamb, Amber Lawrence, Joy McKean, Chad Morgan, O’Shea, Karin Page, Reg Poole and Aleyce Simmonds.

The Awards, which started in 1973, are the nation’s longest running music awards and play an important role in developing and promoting Australian country music talent.


Jon English songbirds pay homage at TCMF

Former Jon English tour mates Amy Vee, Emma Beau and Deb Leaney are set to reunite to remember one of Australia’s music greats with a special show just for Tamworth Country Music Festival.

The three songbirds were key members of the touring band for the late rock star, who died suddenly last year.

They now plan to pay homage to his legendary musical live spirit with a ticketed show titled “She Was Real”,  in what’s set to be an emotional performance,  taking place at The Family Hotel on Saturday 21 January at 4pm.

Since Jon's untimely passing, many continue to mourn and miss the man and his music. And not least of all feeling the loss are his regular band mates.

He had been planning a national theatre tour throughout 2016, celebrating great Australian rock music, including his own important contributions. Tickets were on sale and the band was in rehearsal. However, the tour was never to be.

Bereft but not defeated, the female element of his touring entourage have banded together over their love of Jon and his music, to bring to the stage this special once-only show.

Named after one of English’s most often requested songs in a live setting, the show aims to celebrate the life and music of Jon English and the many happy memories shared by his musical family and his fans.

Comprised of accomplished singer/songwriter/musicians Vee, Beau and Leaney, the show brings together three friends with a mutual love and respect for their departed musical mentor.

"What I miss the most about Jon was how he nurtured us," said Vee. "He was egoless on stage – never afraid to share the spotlight and so very supportive of his band and their individual talents."

Vee is no stranger to Tamworth, having grown up in the Country Music Capital and returning most years for the festival.

Beau came to English’s attention in 2012 and went on to become another long-standing band member, playing across various incarnations of his touring band. An accomplished fiddle player, she has also toured with the likes of Kasey Chambers, Sara Storer and Shane Nicholson.

"I often used to stay at his house when we were on tour, and he would be there, making us all breakfast,” Beau told the Gympie Times.

"It probably seems a strange thing to say, because he was 66 and I'm 26, but he was one of my best friends. I miss him more than I can say.”

Working extensively with English over many years both behind the scenes as a tour manager and onstage, even sharing a house at one point, Leaney has felt a deep loss at the singer’s passing.

“I still think about him every day. I lived, worked and travelled with Jon a lot over the past eight years. He was like family. But being on stage with him is what I miss the most,” she said.

Leaney has worked as a professional singer for more than 20 years and is also an experienced promoter and event coordinator.

She recently performed as part of the Jon English tribute show “Six Ribbons” aboard the Radiance of the Seas, alongside Australian icons John Paul Young, Brian Mannix, Scott Carne, The Chantoozies and The Eurogliders.

Audiences can expect to hear a few of English’s original tunes, as well as much-loved songs from his recent live shows and a few of the songstress’ own works. There may even be a few surprise guests.

Weblink here. Tickets also available by ringing (02) 6765 3411,


Toyota Fanzone

The Toyota Fanzone experience at Tamworth is a free activity "jam packed full of seriously good talent every single day," according to organises, bringing country music to the heart of the city and offering visitors the opportunity to get up close and personal with their artists.

"This year, Festival-goers will be surprised and delighted with 'pop-up' performances by some of the country’s biggest country music stars including Lee Kernaghan, The McClymonts and Catherine Britt," said Barry Harley, Tamworth Country Music Festival Manager.

"Visitors can enjoy live interviews, artist signings, the opportunity to purchase the latest country music CDs and merchandise… and so much more!  It’s the perfect place for musical discovery because it’s where you’ll find some of the biggest names in country music playing alongside some of the finest emerging talent.

"The return of 'Happy Booth' again this year, offers Festival-goers the opportunity to boast about their time in Tamworth on social media and then take home a momentum so that they can remember the experience for years to come," he said.

Fanzone is located in the Post Office building at the corner of Peel and Fitzroy Streets, and is also the home of Festival FM and "the legendary Toyota Hat promotion" and where visitors can take a break from the hustle of Peel Street in the "excitingly new "chill out area" right in front of the Fanzone stage.



Tamworth – last day of the Countdown

It's the last day of the Countdown to the Tamworth Country Music Festival today with plenty of activity and entertainment throughout the day and night to keep pre-festival-goers happy.

The program includes Gavin Chateleir in Peel Street outside Adairs from 10; Norma O'Hara Murphy in the St Andrews Room at Tamworth City Uniting Church, also from 10 and again at 2; Two Gals at Wests from 11; Fibbers Ave A Go Show at the South Tamworth Bowlo from 1; Jonny Taylor at Wests Diggers from 2; Kiara Rodrigues at Wests, also from 2; Hayley Jensen at Wests Diggers from 5; Seleen McAlister at Wests, also from 5;the "opening night" show at South Tamworth Bowlo from 6 with Darren Carr, Sandra Humphries, Dan Murphy, Alby Pool and Anthony Taylor; Trevor Coombes at The Oasis Hotel from 6; the Australian Line Dance Championships Welcome Social at Tamworth High School from 7; Bolton Crook at The Post Office Hotel from 7; Errol Gray at Austin Tourist Park at 7; Tom Maxwell at The Oasis from 7; Michael Bryers at Tamworth Services Club from 7:30; Mike Vee & Friends at The Longyard at 7:30; Peter Campbell at the Currabubula Pub & Cafe at 7:30; Luke Dickens with Luke Austen at Wests Diggers at 8; Rob Breese at The Oasis at 8; Travis List at Wests at 8; The Long And Short Of It at The Cattleman Steakhouse at 8:30; Tommy Miller at The Tudor Hotel at 8:30 and Graeme Hugo at The Oasis at 9.

The Pop-Up Information Centre opens at Festival HQ (Tamworth Regional Council bulding in Peel Street) at 8:30am and the Australian Country Music Hall of Fame, Tamworth Visitor Information Centre and Big Golden Guitar all open, as usual, at 9.

Two major events on today's program are the Academy of Country Music Graduates Concert at Wests from 7:30 and the Tamworth Country Music Festival Charity Ball in the Tamworth Town Hall at 8.

This will be the last daily program we will feature on this website as things go crazy from tomorrow with dozens of events and activities. All in all, some 700 artists and musicians will play this year's festival in more than 2800 separate "gigs".

The two ways visitors can best find their way around Tamworth 2017 most effectively are the Official Festival Guide, available from numerous locations around town and the Official Festival App (menu page pictured above) which can be downloaded from the App Store.



Tamworth – two days and counting!

The activity starts to gather pace the closer we get to the official start of Tamworth Country Music Festival 2017.

Today's program includes Howdy's Country at 10am, Marie Hodson & Wendy Phypers with The Cartwheels at Wests from 11; Lawrie & Shelley Minson at Wests from 2pm; Travis List at Wests Diggers from 2; The Evan & Perry Show at Paradise Tourist Park from 5; Hayley Jensen (pictured) at Wests at 5; Sally-Anne Whitten & The Rumour Mill at Wests Diggers at 5; Capital Country Music Association Jam at South Tamworth Bowling Club from 6:30 with special guest Tom Maxwell; Bucketts Way To Tamworth hosted by Graham Doubleday at The Oasis Hotel from 7; Shane Teinaki at the Services Club from 7:30; Jonny Taylor at Wests from 8; and Seleen McAlister at Wests Diggers from 8.

The first Pop-Up Information Centre opens at Festival HQ (Tamworth Regional Council bulding in Peel Street) today at 8:30am and the Australian Country Music Hall of Fame, Tamworth Visitor Information Centre and Big Golden Guitar all open, as usual, at 9.

There's even a harness race meeting in the evening with a host of events recognising The Pub Group's contributin to Tamworth and country music, including the inaugural Bevan Douglas Pace, The Pub Pace, The Longyard Hotel Pace, Southgate Inn Pace and The Pub Group Gold Nugget.


WA Awards finalists

Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, finalists have been announced for the 2017 West Australia Country Music Awards.

Winners in the Awards, presented by LiveLighter, will be announced on Friday February 17 during the 32nd Boyup Brook Country Music Festival which runs from Thursday February 16 to Sunday the 19th.

Awards finalists are...

For Music Group of the Year... Emily Dewar & Brendan Gaspari, Jason and the Stirling Rangers and The Tuart Three.

For Male Artist of the Year... Terry Bennetts, Pete Byfield and Jonny Taylor.

For Female Artist of the Year... Jasmine Atkins, Emily Joy and Karin Page.

Pictured (from left): Jasmine, Terry, Emily, Karin, Jonny.

For Independent Single of the Year... Barricade by Emily Joy, Keep On by Karin Page and
Kill Him by Sharmain Kendrick.

For Independent EP of the Year... Emily Joy by Emily Joy, I Believe in You by Jonny Taylor and Wayward Heart by Helen Townsend.

For Independent Album of the Year... The Girl I Am by Kate Linke, Rolling This Old Way by Di Harris and Salt Of The Earth by Terry Bennetts.

For Video Clip of the Year...Barricade by Emily Joy, Keep On by Karin Page and Kill Him by Sharmain Kendrick.

For Open Songwriter of the Year... Jasmine Atkins with What Am I Fighting For, Terry Bennetts with The Old Camp Oven, Jason Norris with I’m Doin’ Fine and Karin Page with Keep On.

For Emerging Artist of the Year... Jasmine Atkins, Emily Joy and Mary Myfanwy.

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Countdown – three days!

The countdown to the Tamworth Country Music Festival continues today with another solid day of entertainment.

The program includes Marie Hodson & Wendy Phypers with The Cartwheels at Wests Diggers from 2; Two Gals at Wests Diggers at 5; Rex Baldwin at the Oasis Hotel at 7; Seleen McAlister at West Leagues from 7; Shane Teinaki (pictured, photo by Ian Fisk) at the Services Club from 7; Jonny Taylor at Wests Diggers from 8; Pete Smith at The Oasis Hotel from 8; and Kevin Harris at The Oasis from 9.

The Australian Country Music Hall of Fame, Tamworth Visitor Information Centre and Big Golden Guitar all open every day of the Festival and Festival Countdown at 9am.


Kasey announces special appearances

Three days out from the release of her highly anticipated album Dragonfly this Friday, Kasey Chambers has announced two special appearances.

To coincide with the release, Kasey will appear on Friday in Brisbane at the Queen Street Mall and in Tamworth on Wednesday January 25.

The country star will perform tracks from the new album and sign copies at the Brisbane store before heading to Tamworth where she will sign copies of the new album at Tamworth Shoppingworld.

Kasey was in Tamworth last week to meet students at the Australian Academy of Country Music.

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The countdown is on!

The countdown to the start of this year's Tamworth Country Music Festival is well and truly on with just four days to go now to the annual event that is reputed to double the region's population of 50,000 for 10 big days of music.

Already, the weekend featured dozens of artists and musicians at local pubs and clubs and the Balladeers Westpac Rescue Service fundraiser at Kootingal.

Today's program includes Allison Forbes at Wests Diggers from 4:30; a Line Dance Social with Chris Watson and Dare to Dance at West Leagues from 6; Lawrie & Shelley Minson at Wests from 7; Marie Hodson & Wendy Phypers with The Cartwheels at Wests Diggers from 7; Shane Teinaki at the Services Club from 7; Trevor Coombes at The Oasis Hotel from 7; Graeme Doubleday and Big Al at The Oasis from 8; and Wild Bill Davey at The Oasis from 9.

The Australian Country Music Hall of Fame, Tamworth Visitor Information Centre and Big Golden Guitar all open at 9am.


Ashleigh debuts at number two

Ashleigh Dallas has debuted this week as the number two top selling Australian country album with her latest release Lighthouse.

The album was launched at a jam packed function in her hometown of Tamworth earlier this month.

It was number four on the official ARIA (Australian Recording Industry Association) all nations Country Album Chart behind Ripcord, Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt & Emmylou Harris' My Dear Companion collaboration album and Garth Brooks' Gunslinger.

Keith Urban retains his strangelhold on the top spot with his latest outing Ripcord while John Williamson's His Favourite Collection is up to number three.

Slim Dusty's perrenial best seller The Very Best Of sits at number four on the Aussie chart which is compiled by The Bulletin from the all nations chart.

Keith Urban holds five and six with his "best of" compilations, respectively, Greatest Hits: 18 Kids and The Story So Far and the comilation album 100% Country 2016 is at number seven.

Troy Cassar-Daley's Things I Carry Around is at number eight while two re-entries this week round out the top 10... Lee Kernaghan's "best of" Ultimate Hits and John Williamson's A Hell Of A Career!

The chart can be viewed here.



New from Bucko

Colin Buchanan has announced the release of a new album, Calvary, set for March.

A single from the album – Outside The Camp – was released to radio today.

Colin, an ARIA, APRA and nine times Golden Guitar winning singer/songwriter, will release the new work on Friday, March 3.

Colin has had a diverse career to date, including as a sought-after hit songwriting collaborator, a presenter on the ABC’s "Playschool".

He is recognised as Australia's leading Christian kids artist and is a regular panelist on ABC Sydney Drive’s "Thank God It’s Friday with Richard Glover.

In 1994, while he was on the road, Colin was invited by Lee Kernaghan to co-write a song with him about a ute. Since then, he has collaborated with Lee on every one of his albums, including last year’s APRA-winning platinum-selling Spirit Of The Anzacs.

"My co-writing with the likes of Lee and Troy Cassar-Daley has been a massive part of my career over the last 20 years,” Colin said. "The funny thing is, as most people probably think I’ve slipped out of country, the fact is I’ve had more hits and sales as a backroom writer than I ever had as an artist! It’s quietly - and immensely - satisfying."

Colin's new work was produced by the multi award-winning Matt Fell.

"I’d written a bunch of songs over the years that reflected my faith but weren’t what I’d call 'in-house' Christian songs," Colin said. "They are little nuggets of reflection, portraits and stories of faith 'in the wild frontiers', as I call it."

Colin will pre-launch the album in Tamworth with a concert on Wednesday January 25 at 7:30pm at St Peter’s Anglican Church during the Tamworth Country Music Festival.

Further dates will be announced as the tour schedule is confirmed for 2017.

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And Hayley

Songwriter Hayley Wilson will release her album Further Than Forever on Friday February 24.

The first single from the album – Somnus – was released to radio today and iTunes.

Further Than Forever was produced by the late Karl Broadie who mentored Hayley right up until his untimely passing in April. Accomplished producer Glen Hannah saw the album through to completion.

"I did not expect Somnus to be on this album," Hayley said. "It was written about three weeks before I was due to record again in Sydney and it ended up replacing another song. It started out as an acoustic track but turned into one of the darkest songs on the whole album and it quickly became one of my favorites. I was able to capture the previous few months of my life in the mood and lyrics of Somnus."

Hayley describes her journey to the release of her debut album as "a long and winding road".

The genesis of the album can be traced back to guitar lessons from her brother at age 11. The Mt Isa native would dedicate the following years to mastering her voice, guitar and piano.

"They say everything happens for a reason and Hayley's decision to deliver Further Than Forever as her opening musical statement has proved the right one," according to a spokesman for the artist.

"These 10 songs, which feature Aleyce Simmonds and Luke O’Shea among their collaborators, are laced with gorgeous arrangements and instrumentation."

"I feel very relieved to be finally releasing my debut album," Hayley said, "it has been about two years in the making and there have been many obstacles along the way so I am proud to have it completed.

"However I also feel quite nervous now because so much has gone into this album, so many great people have been a part of creating it and I just want it to do well."

Of Karl Broadie, Hayley said he was one of her greatest influences.

"He taught me so much more than just songwriting, he always inspired me to do and be more. Karl has taught me to trust in myself, trust in my own unique songwriting process and that quality is better than quantity when it comes to writing songs that open up your heart and make people feel something."

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Tamworth's early festival

It doesn't start officially until Friday January 20, but you could be forgiven for thinking the 2017 Tamworth Country Music Festival was already underway.

Campers and caravanners began arriving before Christmas and the trickle has become a stream this last week as hundreds more arrived to make Country Music Capital their home for the rest of the month.

So many, in fact, Tamworth Regional Council decided to officially open the Riverside camping area today, a full week before usual.

Walking the main drag of the city – Peel Street (or the Boulevarde of Dreams as it will become during the Festival) – it's easy to tell there are many hundreds of visitors in town early for the annual country music bash.

And they are not disappointed as all of the city's regular venues have plenty of entertainment to keep them busy while they settle in for the long haul.

Tonight, for example, Jared Scott plays at The Longyard from 7, Sally-Anne Whitten (pictured) has her regular Muso's Jam scheduled for The Albert Hotel from 9:30.

Tomorrow night things really start to hot up with Academy of Country Music students playing their traditional pre Festival gig at The Pub from 7, Lawrie & Shelley Minson (pictured) at Wests from 8:30 and Allison Forbes at Wests Diggers also 8:30.

Marie Hodson (pictured) plays at Tamworth's Cattleman's Steakhouse on the Sydney Road from 7:30pm with Wendy Phyers & The Cartwheels and Shane Teinaki is at Tamworth Services Club from 8:30.

Saturday night, the entertainment kicks off at The Oasis Hotel on the Armidale Road from 6 while Wests has Marie Hodson and The Cartwheels at 8:30 and Jonny Taylor (pictured) fronts up to Wests Diggers, also from 8:30.

Among some of the very special events that take place in Tamworth every January is the annual Balladeers Fundraiser. It's always held the Sunday before the first official Sunday of the Festival which means this year it's this Sunday, January 15, from 10am.

Stars of the show this year, which raises money for the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service, include Big Al, Tracy Coster, Lynnete Guest, Tom Maxwell and Patti Morgan. Compere is Graham Doubleday.

A courtesy coach to the venue leaves from the Country Music Hall of Fame next to Hungry Jacks at 9am, picking up at the Caltex Service Station on the Armidale Road and Matildas at Nemingha.



Jim calls "time" after 32 years at Tamworth

Two years ago Jim Haynes celebrated a quarter of a century of Morning Shows at the Tamworth Country Music Festival. This January, the veteran entertainer, songwriter and author will call "time please" after his 32nd consecutive time at the event.

"I haven’t missed one Tamworth Festival in 32 years," Jim said. "My very first festival performance was at Wests League Club in 1986 with two other members of Bandy Bill & Co bush band. The festival was only just starting to grow into a week-long event and three of us came to town a few days early. Rod Laing saw us having a drink at Wests and gave us a gig later that afternoon."

Jim became a solo act four years later and organised the festival’s first bush poetry morning shows at The Longyard. Success was immediate. The festival was growing rapidly and thousands of people needed breakfast and entertainment. Soon, morning shows were springing up all around the Festival.

Jim’s show moved to Wests in 1997 and became a "variety concert" with Aussie comedy, songs, mystery guests, special surprises and Russell Dick on piano. "I wanted to make the show different from a poets breakfast, so we created a new formula," Jim said.

The show later moved to Wests Diggers in a theatre-style format. "Since we moved to Diggers, we've always had a female singer hosting the show. Casey Watt, Katie Brooke, Amber Lawrence, Melanie Dyer and Katelyn O’Donoghue have all done that job over the years – and, when Darren Carr became part of the show, things really took off. He’s the funniest man I know and Australia’s best ventriloquist."

Jim says the decision to pull up stumps was a hard one, but the festival has changed over the years and so has he. After 15 years as a board member of the Country Music Association of Australia (CMAA), and many years' association with the Academy of Country Music, the veteran was given CMAA Life Membership in 2015 and honoured with an Order of Australia Medal in 2016 for services to the arts as a performer, author, broadcaster and historian.

"Being an author takes up a lot of my time these days," Jim said. "I'm busy writing my 25th book for publishers Allen & Unwin and working on some exciting new projects - and I've been the 'Australiana guy' on 2UE for 15 years.

"I'll never forget the crowd in Peel Street all singing Since Cheryl Went Feral during the 1996 cavalcade. But the festival has changed with the times and it's time to move on.

"Wests have been fantastic to me and it will be hard to say goodbye on the 28th of January, but the memories of all the fun we had, the stars who appeared unannounced and the instruments and scholarships we gave away to surprised and delighted young performers are magic," Jim said.

"There were often tears on stage and in the audience as well as laughter - and I have wonderful memories and a bunch of fantastic friends who were part of the shows over the years. But change is what happens in life. It's been a wonderful journey and the gold suit will still be worn in my club shows, hopefully at the festival too, but it's the end of the Morning Variety Shows."

Special memories for Jim include The Sunny Cowgirls' first festival, when they drove across the Nullarbor and Jim arranged with Repco to have their utes repaired and serviced for free – "and John Williamson entering through the 'outdoor dunny' stage entrance with his pants half undone and toilet paper trailing!

"For a while we had a genuine old outdoor dunny through which guests entered the stage," Jim remembered. "Some big international artists really didn't get it, but they all went along with the fun of it!"

So, it will all end with two 11am shows, on Friday 27th and Saturday 28th of January at Wests Diggers – with regulars Darren Carr, "Rustling" Russell and Katelyn O'Donoghue, and some special past guests dropping in to surprise the audience.

"Sometimes I'm as surprised as the audience!" Jim said.

Tickets for Jim's final Tamworth Festival Morning Shows can be obtained via or by telephoning 02 6765 7588.

Photos... top: Jim goes into the Hands of Fame with Keith Urban in 1997. Jim with Dianna Corcoran and Amber Lawrence on the Golden Guitars red carpet in 2007.

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Hurricane Fall to headline Caves Beach

After a successful 2016 that saw the band's EP go to number two in Australia, and with another huge Tamworth Country Music Festival  2017 coming up, Hurricane Fall will again headline the Country at Caves Music event in February.

The Caves Beach Surf Club’s annual Country at Caves is now in its fourth year and is descibed as "a great family day event with all proceeds going back to the club to buy and maintain equipment that one day might save lives."

On the with Hurricane Fall this year is popular Star Maker Grand Finalist and Queensland "Queen of Rock Edge Country" Jade Holland (above, centre).

The "Ambassador for Townsville", Jade has performed all over the world, including for our troops overseas, and will appear with her band for the first time.

Amy Vee (above right) will kick the show off with her own style of music. Her latest single, 10 Years Ago, climbed to the Triple J Top 10. Amy is also known for her acting skills, her last show seeing her play Evita in the Newcastle production of the famous show.

Also performing for the first time will be bluegrass band Whistle Dixie, described as a "must see act that creates a lively range of songs that will have you tapping your toes and singing along."

Host of the event is well known entertainer Mike Vee who says: "It’s a super day to bring the family and enjoy top line entertainment in the best location... an event that continues to grow every year."

Gates open at 11 for the event on Sunday February 19 at Caves Beach just south of Newcastle, NSW.

Country at Caves Facebook



Academy update

We take the opportunity to update our story on the 2017 Senior Course in the Australian Academy of Country Music.

The list of students was not up to date and has since been updated as below...

There are 28 altogether including five specialist instrumentalists.

The students are Georgette Berry, from Adelaide (SA); Laura Byrnes Smith, Northern Victoria; Riley Catherall, Canberra (ACT); Nikita Fountain, Nelson (NZ); Craig Francis, Melbourne (Vic); Alice Fraser, Southland (NZ), Angus Gill, Wauchope (NSW), Mikara Grant Freeman, Brisbane (Qld); Michaela Jenke, Barossa Valley (SA); Alison Jensen, Gympie (Qld); Jordanna Jones, Mt Gambier (SA); Dane Kennedy, Wagga Wagga (NSW); Kate Mahood, Rockhampton (Qld); Chris Matthews, Kununurra (WA); Jack McDougall, Koumala (Qld); Heath Milner, Mackay (Qld); Zoey Mills, Mackay (Qld); Juliet Oliver, McLaren Vale (SA); Tyler Paterson, Port Pirier (SA); Stephanie Penrose, Tamworth (NSW); Katie-Jayne Rose, Scone (NSW); Ali Sacipovic, Boulia (Qld); and Chloe Styler, Gold Coast (Qld).

Instrumental specialists are Alicia Bernau, Canberra (ACT); Joshua Blaikie, Timaru (NZ); Liam O’Donoghue, Charters Towers (Qld); Matilda Sommers, Dorrigo (NSW) and Cameron Walsh, Woodend (NZ).

All particpants are included in our updated group photo below...


Full list of top selling Aussie albums

ARIA – the Australian Recording Industry Association – has released a more detailed listing of top selling Australian country albums from last year.

As per our story below, Keith Urban's Ripcord came in at number one. Adam Brand & The Outlaws was in second place, followed by John Williamson's His Favourite Collection at three, Troy Cassar-Daley's Things I Carry Around at four and Graeme Connors' 60 Summers: The Ultimate Collection at five.

The Very Best Of Slim Dusty was at six, Keith Urban's The Story So Far at seven and The Golden Guitars Winners 2016 at eight.

Keith featured again at nine with Greatest Hits: 18 Kids, Lee Kernaghan placed 10th and 11th with, respectively, Spirit Of The Anzacs and Ultimate Hits.

Adam Harvey's Harvey's Bar... The Backyard Sessions was next at number 12 with Brothers3's Brothers Never Part at 13.

The compilation album Hit Country 2016 was at 14 followed by The Wolfe Brothers' This Crazy Life at 15. The Sunny Cowgirls' Here We Go placed at 16 and John Williamson's A Hell Of A Career was at 17.

Another compilation album, 100% Country 2016, was at 18 while Sara Storer's Silos was at 19 and Melinda Schneider & Beccy Cole's Great Women Of Country came in at 20.

Troy Cassar-Daley's Freedom Ride was at 21, Keith Urban featured yet again at 22 with Fuseand Travis Collins' Hard Light was at 23.

Slim Dusty's Prime Movers was at number 24, The Great Country Songbook by Troy Cassar-Daley & Adam Harvey was at 25 with The McClymonts' Here's To You And I at 26.

John Williamson's Anthems: A Celebration Of Australia placed 27th while Lee Kernaghan held down 28 and 29 with Beautiful Noise and Big Ones Greatest Hits and John Williamson came in again to round our the top 30 with Looking For A Story.

Pictured: the top five albums for 2016.



Keith wins top selling Golden Guitar

Keith Urban has been announced as winner of the 2016 Top Selling Album Golden Guitar.

The award recognises Ripcord as the highest selling album in Australia as measured by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA).

Four finalists were named in the announcement, all based on sales, Adam Brand & The Outlaws at number two, John Williamson's His Favourite Collection at three; Troy Cassar-Daley's Things I Carry Around at four and Graeme Connors' 60 Summers: The Ultimate Collection at five.

Keith's award will be presented at the 2017 Golden Guitar Awards which will be held at the Tamworth Regional Entertainment & Conference Centre on Saturday January 28.

Ripcord has been a very successful release for Keith. It has also garnered him three nods at the upcoming Grammy Awards... for Best Country Album and for Best Solo Country Performance and Best Country Song for Blue Ain't Your Color for songwriters Clint Lagerberg, Hillary Lindsey and Steven Lee Olsen.

Weblink –



Wests Festival line-up

As the single most prolific provider of entertainment during the Tamworth Country Music Festival, Wests Entertainment Group has a big line-up of well known stars appearing at its two main clubs, West Tamworth League Club and Wests Diggers.

Wests will host shows by Bennet, Bowtell & Urquhart (with Lachlan Bryan), James Blundell (with Hayley Marsten), Adam Brand, Brothers3, Darren Carr, Kasey Chambers & Bernard Fanning, Beccy Cole (with The Sisters Of Twang), Adam Harvey, Amber Lawrence, Shannon Noll & The Wolfe Brothers, Simply Bushed and Sara Storer (with Fanny Lumsden and Greg Storer).

Pictured from left: Adam Brand, Kasey Chamvers, Beccy Cole, Adam Harvey and Sara Storer... headliners at Wests this January.

Pop stars Lisa Hunt, Dani Im and Mental As Anything will also appear at Wests this January.

The 2017 Maton Showcase will be staged on Thursday January 26 at Wests from 10am with artists including 8 Ball Aitken, Adam Brand, Brewn, Rex Dallas, Adam Eckersley, Travis Collins, Josh Needs, Karin Page, Simply Bushed and The Sunny Cowgirls (with proceeds to the Australian Academy of Country Music).

Pete Denahy's Bluegrass & Comedy Show will run each morning at Wests from Friday January 20 to Sunday January 29 while Darren Carr's Ballads & Belly Laughs will run at Wests Diggers at the same time.

Other shows at Wests and Wests Diggers will include artists like Clelia Adams, Luke Austen, Chelsea Basham, Kaylee Bell, Lance Birrell, Billy Bridge, Catherine Britt, Doug Bruce & The Tailgaters, Mike Carr, Allan Caswell, Rusty Cochrane, Tanya Cornish, Kristy Cox, Ashleigh Dallas, Jayne Denham, Luke Dickens, Jody Direen, Dale Duncan, Angela Easson, Adam Eckersley, Lee Forster, Stuie French, Buddy Goode, Jim Haynes, Johanna Hemara, Marie Hodson, Mason Hope, Sandra Humpries, Jeannie, Liam Kennedy-Clark, Tracy Killeen, Liz Kinnimont, Travis List, Michelle Little, Seleen McAlister, Ross McGregor, Peter McWhirter, Chad Morgan, Dan Murphy, NeillyRich, Rebecca Lee Nye, Katelyn O'Donoghue, Libby O'Donovan, Alby Pool, Amber Joy Poulton, Ray Pratley & Samantha Bellamy, Dave Prior, Kiara Rodrigues, Caitlin Shadbolt, The Sherrahs, Aleyce Simmonds, John Stephan, Anthony Taylor, Jonny Taylor, Daniel Thompson, Gina Timms and Bryen Willems.

Details of all Wests activities and entertainment can be obtained from the website The group also publishes a comprehensive program book which can also be viewed on line with printed copies available free from the venues.



Vale – Auriel Andrew

Pioneer indigenous country singer Auriel Andrew has died. She would have been 70 this year.

Born in Darwin in 1947, Auriel, of the Arrente people of Central Australia, grew up in Alice Springs leaving for Adelaide at age 21 to pursue her music career.

The youngest of seven children, Auriel started singing at the age of four and began her professional career in the late 1960s working with Chad Morgan in the Adelaide and Port Lincoln areas.

She appeared on live television music broadcasts, including shows hosted by Roger Cardwell, Johnny Mack and Ernie Sigley, and then became a regular on Channel Nine’s Heather McKean & Reg Lindsey Show.

In 1973, Auriel moved to Sydney and toured with Jimmy Little, performing at popular venues around NSW.

She performed at the Sydney Opera House for the venue’s grand opening and sang Amazing Grace in Pitjantjitjara for Pope John Paul II during his Australian tour.

At the 2008 Deadlys, Auriel was presented a Lifetime Achievement Award for Contribution to Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Music. Her well known recordings include Truck Drivin' Woman and Bob Randell's Brown Skin Baby.

Recently, Auriel performed at The Adelaide Cabaret Festival, Woodford Dreaming Festival, and regularly performed at various clubs around the Newcastle area. In 2011 she was awarded The Order Of Australia Medal (OAM) for her work as an entertainer and contribution to her communities through charity events.

In 2000, Auriel appeared in the SBS documentary "Buried Country: The Story of Aboriginal Country Music" (from the book by Clinton Walker), singing Truck Drivin' Woman.

Auriel's 2013 album Return To Alice was produced by Gareth Hudson and included new original songs about her life and childhood.

She has taught Aboriginal culture in classrooms for 20 years, passing on her knowledge in schools in Queensland, the Northern Territory and NSW and, last year, joined the cast of the stageshow adaptation of "Buried Country" which made its premiere in her hometown of Newcastle on August 20.

News of Auriel's passing had been circulating for a little while and was confirmed by her daughter Sarina on her facebook page earlier today.



Capital Country Radio launched

Publishers of the Country Music Bulletin today announce the launch of Australia's newest country music radio station – Capital Country Radio – which is now broadcasting 24 hours a day seven days a week on the internet.

The station has been in the planning stages for some time as a permanent full time country music service broadcasting from Australia's Country Music Capital, Tamworth.

"And Capital Country Radio differs from most services in that it's sole purpose is to give exposure to recordings by Australian country music artists," said Station Manager and Bulletin Publisher Bob Kirchner.

"It always amazes me that we have so much wonderful country music produced by local acts but only a smidgen get much exposure.

"Certainly there are many programs, stations and broadcasters that do play Australian country artists but there are many more who play a larger pecentage of foreign music.

"Not that we have any issue with artists or music from overseas, much of it is very good," Bob said. "But the only reason foreign material dominates here is because of the sheer amount and the dominance of overseas based music labels pushing a global catalogue in our small market."

The introduction of Capital Country Radio hopes to address this imbalance in at least some small way, Bob Said.

Capital Country Radio is running a "solid mix" of classic country hits together with new releases. Specialised programming and program features will be developed as the station consolidates.

The station can be accessed via the website or for Apple mobile devices via the app on the Apple App Store here. An app for Android devices is expected to be available within a few days.


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