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Anna Rose
Page 4 -2007
Anna Rose
 
Page 4
 
Anna Rose's Notes March 17th 2007
  
A way to go: Lorin Nicholson, back in 1985, pedalling all the way from Tamworth to Port.
Recreation of ‘impossible ride’: Lorin Nicholson plans to re-enact his historic bike ride from Tamworth to Port Macquarie, taking one day less than he did 22 years ago.
 
THIS world is full of ordinary people who do extraordinary things. I’m very fortunate in that I’ve met many of those people over the years in my writing career. People in Tamworth and district, and now Brisbane and surrounding residents would be familiar with Lorin Nicholson, a guitarist and motivational speaker who has had an enormous impact on many people’s lives. These days Lorin visits schools on a regular basis, combining music and motivation to inspire these kids (and quite a few teachers) to accept and embrace others who are a bit different for one reason or another. For those who came in late, Lorin was born with a condition called retinitis pigmentosa, and he was considered “legally blind” since birth. Over ensuing years, Lorin’s sight has continually diminished and he now has only five per cent vision. But that doesn’t stop this wonderful fellow from doing anything he sets out to do. It never has. In fact, on the Easter weekend in 1985 Lorin and his father, John, set out on a venture most people would have considered “impossible”. He’d always been a keen cyclist, and set himself a goal to ride from Tamworth to Port Macquarie. He achieved this seemingly impossible feat in two and a half days, arriving in Port, and then coming straight back in the car with his dad. There was no fanfare, no publicity, no glory, just a great sense of achievement and the accomplishment of yet another goal. Twenty two years later Lorin has decided he would like to recreate that amazing bike ride, which he completed on an old five-speed mountain cruiser, only this time he’ll have company. On that first ride Lorin rode solo, with his dad driving ahead in a support vehicle, and Lorin would catch up in half an hour. By the end of the second day, he collapsed on the side of the road, and couldn’t even walk – let alone ride. He arrived in Port late morning the next day. This time around Lorin will ride a tandem bike, in the company of his good mate, John Eder (John will travel up front, with Lorin in the rear, as John’s eyes work quite well). John and Lorin have been in training for many months in preparation for the ride and Lorin would like this ride to be something special – so he’s trying to raise funds – and awareness of vision impairment – by recreating that ride from 22 years ago. All proceeds raised will go towards Vision Australia (formerly Royal Blind Society), a fabulous organisation that has helped Lorin over the years, along with countless other people who are blind or vision impaired. “The first time round I did it for myself but this time I’m doing it for thousands of blind kids,” Lorin said. “It’s also for their mums and dads, who worry about what will happen to their kids. I just want them to know there is hope and that we can achieve our dreams, regardless of the challenge.”
Lorin said his riding partner John hadn’t been without his challenges either. “As a keen young cyclist he was knocked off his bike a couple of times and probably shouldn’t even be walking today, let alone still riding, but he’s made of pretty strong stuff.” To celebrate the historic bike ride, Lorin will host a special event in Tamworth on Friday, April 13 at The Pub – the Lorin Nicholson Family and Friends show. This is a charity gig with all proceeds raised going directly to Vision Australia. Admission will be free, but donations will be sought for this great cause. “I hope lots of families will come out and support the show,” Lorin said. “So many business houses have offered their help with it already, so we will have some great prizes to raffle on the night, including a holiday for two at Quality Resort Sails, Port Macquarie.” Cort Guitars will donate a guitar, which Lorin is getting autographed by lots of stars, including Troy Cassar-Daley. Just watch out for Lorin when he hits town in April – he’s a man on a mission and plans to leave Tamworth early on Tuesday, April 10 – arriving in Port Macquarie a day and a half later – where he will be met by the city’s mayor. More details on this event as it comes closer.

 
 
 
 
 
 
Hunter and Suzy Owens’ gig at The Gladstone Hotel – photos by Garry Burton.
 
IF YOU attended Hunter and Suzy Owens’ first gig at the Gladstone Hotel, Sydney, on Saturday, March 10 (and particularly if you didn’t!), have a look at these gorgeous photos taken by Garry Burton. Clicking on http://www.gladstonehotel.com.au/owens/index.html  will take you there and leave a graphic image with you of the atmosphere created by this wonderful Sydney-based band. If you’re a regular visitor to the Tamworth Country Music Festival in January, you will more than likely recognise the odd face or two, some dancers or three, in the images captured so skillfully by Garry, whose pics form an amazing thumbnail gallery of the event on the Gladstone’s website. There are links to Garry’s email address if you need to contact him. Performers wanting to capture a moment in time should consider this option. I’ve rarely seen anything shot so beautifully. Cheers to the artist behind the lens.

Family man: Famed Tamworth publican, Don Smyth (pictured with his granddaughter), died on Wednesday, March 14, leaving behind him a loving family and a countless number of friends left shattered by his passing.
 
 
TAMWORTH lost one of its true gentlemen this week with the passing of Donald Desmond Smyth. “Donnie”, together with his wife June, opened Tamworth’s Longyard Hotel on St Patrick’s Day, 1985. While you’re out toasting St Patrick, make sure you have a beer for our Donnie, who will be sadly missed for his wit, wisdom, and warm, friendly manner with all who crossed his path. Despite fighting one of the fiercest opponents you could ever face for many years, Donnie retained his humour ‘til the end, leaving this world in the early hours of Wednesday morning surrounded by love in the form of his wife June, and sons Angus and Liam and their families. His send-off at St Patrick’s Catholic Church, West Tamworth, this afternoon, was superb. Contrary to Donnie’s wishes of being “placed in a cardboard box and taken off by the Burkes, with a small story in the paper three days later” – there was a full house. That was Donnie, though. A no-fuss kind of bloke. The heartfelt eulogies delivered by Donnie’s two strapping sons would have made their father proud beyond measure. Vale Don Smyth.
 
Anna Rose's Notes March 10th 2007
FOR South Australian singer-songwriter John O’Dea the 2007 Tamworth Country Music Festival was loaded with magical moments – even after a three-day car trek to get here. Johno reckoned being a finalist for the TSA/Capital News New Songwriter of the Year was a total highlight – even though he was pipped at the post by a Sunny Cowgirl for the gong. Meeting one of his all-time songwriting inspirations, Eric Bogle, was another. Before one of Eric’s two concerts at Tamworth Services Club Johno took the opportunity to say g’day and slip Eric a copy of his latest CD, with the only cover on the album, Old Rusty Ute, being Eric’s tribute to the Australian waler, It’s As If He Knows.
“Watching one of our country’s finest songwriters share his wit and music, along with John Munro, who is such a fine artist in his own right, made for a very special two hours,” Johno said. “If they hadn’t chosen to pursue a career in music, they could easily have been comedians. It was thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable.” Also on Johno’s festival highlight list was the John Butler Trio at Wests, which he said was “not country, just a wonderful experience”. “I am always in awe of songwriters who can move an audience and treat them to an experience rather than an evening of music,” Johno said. Other high points on the John O’Dea hit list were: The Huckleberry Swedes, “a great group from Adelaide with wonderful songs”; singer-songwriter Harmony James – “good songs, and a voice with a difference”; and “going to Writers in the Round at the Services club and seeing Allan Caswell, Drew McAlister and Matt Scullion share their songs”. “A festival like Tamworth gives you the opportunity to meet and talk with fellow writers,” Johno said. “I really enjoyed meeting and talking with Allan Caswell, who is one of our best songwriters.” And in between gigs where Johno was on the bill, he took in plenty of shows around town. “Stuie French’s VB Pickers’ Night at The Pub makes you feel like trading in your guitar at times, but it left me in awe of their amazing talent. People like Trev Warner, Stuie French, Rod McCormack, Mick Albeck and many other fine musicians just have rare gifts which come about, I’d imagine, through a lot of hard work. Travis List is someone I really enjoyed watching perform. He’s got a great country voice.”
A personal highlight for this emerging writer was the realisation of a long-cherished dream – being invited to perform at The Family Hotel and The Pub. “These are two venues I’ve wanted to play ever since I first came to Tamworth a few years’ back,” Johno said. “Being invited to perform on the de Gruchy Showcase at The Pub and sharing the same stage with some of Australia’s best artists, like Kasey Chambers, Bill Chambers, Beccy Cole, Trev Warner and Troy Cassar-Daley is something I will always remember, so a huge thankyou to Bryan de Gruchy for the invite. The best experience though, as a singer-songwriter, was to be able to share my songs and stories with audiences at Tamworth and have such a positive response to my music. I love what I do and to be able to live a dream is a choice worth making.”
While in Tamworth Johno enjoyed the hospitality of a local family – Keith and Tracey Bradbery, who have now become firm friends. “Thanks a bunch to Keith and Tracey and their family for letting me into their house and for their care and friendship during my Tamworth experience. Nat is a great chauffeur,” he said. Upon his return to South Oz, Johno was delighted to run into a film crew from Ireland, who were filming for a morning TV show on the Emerald Isle. “I’ve written a song, Parachilna Sunset, that’s on my latest album, and I was rapt to be able to sing the song in the bar of the Prairie Hotel, to a local audience, and thousands of others way over on the other side of the world, through TV3,” Johno said. “Last weekend, I was given the opportunity to perform at the Clipsal 500, where I did a 40-minute spot every hour or so for an ever-changing mass of people. I got some really great feedback and sold quite a few albums. It’s a good feeling to be able to do what you love – and love what you do.”
If you’d like to know more about John O’Dea, visit his website, www.johnodea.com.au

HUNTER Valley country music enthusiast Rhonda Astill is doing more than just supporting artists by attending their gigs – she’s put together her very own festival. To be held at East Cessnock Bowling Club over May 25, 26 and 27, the festival features a heap of great acts, hand-picked by Rhonda – who has great taste in music. I first met Rhonda years ago at the CMAA Country Music Awards of Australia. We started a conversation over who would win the next award – and by the night’s end, I’m sure she got more right than I did! Every year since then during the Tamworth Festival, I’ve either spotted her at the awards or at some other great gig around town. Take the festival’s Friday night program for example. Karl Broadie, supporting The McClymonts, with a ticket price of just $15. Then on Saturday, from 10.30am to 5pm there’s Rob Wilson, Alby Pool plus daughter Melody, Amber Lawrence and finishing up with Karen Lynne and the Bluegrass Band. Saturday night’s big ticket item is sure to be a howling success. You guessed it, The Wolverines, with their show priced at just $20 per person. Sunday’s program resumes at 10.30am with Lisa White (Sharnee Fenwick and Makaylie Foodey are Lisa’s special guests); Bruce McCumstie, Karen Lynne and The Bluegrass Band, finishing up with Camille Te Nahu and Stuie French. Should be a beaut new festival to look forward to on the annual country calendar. See you there.
 
Anna Rose's Notes March 3rd 2007
Back in the saddle – for two nights only: Wayne (Killer) Kellett and Steve Fearnley in a quiet moment offstage, taken at the Unity Hall, Balmain a few years back. Photo: Anna Rose

DURING the Tamworth Country Music Festival, there was a notable absence from the lineup of Golden Guitar-winning band The Flood – and the welcome return of an “old hand”. Deputising for current Flood drummer Scott Hills, was former Floodite Steve Fearnley, who loved the opportunity to sit back on the drum stool again behind that wonderful band for their appearances at The Tamworth Hotel, The Pub and supporting Melinda Schneider in her concerts at TREC and Wests. It was lovely seeing Fearns back on the sticks and skins – if only for a short time. So where was Scotty? At the side of wife, Cath, who was expecting their first child. The little bloke, Alex James Hills, came into the world in the early hours of Sunday, January 28, so hearty congratulations to Scott and Cathy and the newest member of the Hills family.
The new dad is taking this weekend off too, so Fearns will return, along with another former Floodite, Wayne (Killer) Kellett, who in this instance is picking up the bass left temporarily vacant by James Gillard. After this weekend’s shows at The Brass Monkey, Cronulla, and The Vanguard, in Newtown, with their special guest, Felicity Urquhart, The Flood hits the road – and they’re bound for South Australia. After a couple of shows in Melbourne at the East Brunswick Club (Wednesday) and The New Capers, Hawthorn (Thursday), they will take the stage at the Port Fairy Folk Festival. If you want tickets for any of these shows, check with the venue, or visit the band’s website for more info – www.theflood.com.au .

Another album to come soon:
Reg’s album, No Slowin’ Down, was released in 1994, the year before Reg had a cerebral haemorrhage.
The title track was penned by Greg Champion.  It is still available on the website, www.reglindsay.com.au
 
REG Lindsay’s 12a Annual Wine Country Rodeo and Music Reunion will be held at Cessnock Showgrounds on Saturday, March 17, from 3pm. Reg’s wife, Ros, who was born into the rodeo world, daughter of the late Howard Winfield, organises this event each year which effectively combines two of Reg’s consuming passions – rodeo and country music. It’s a significant event in that it was conceived by Reg and Ros in a landmark year in their lives together. Reg and Ros had been in Tamworth at the festival in January 1995, when tragedy stuck. He suffered a cerebral haemorrhage at the conclusion of the festival and was rushed to John Hunter Hospital. His fans were devastated, not to mention his wife of seven years, whom he met through rodeo circles and their mutual love of country music. The rodeo they had planned went ahead as scheduled, at the Cessnock Showgrounds, with a crowd of around 4000 turning out to enjoy the spectacle of cowboys, cowgirls and country music. Sadly, during his rehabilitation, Reg suffered a massive heart attack, requiring triple bypass surgery. Ros cared for him at their Hunter Valley home until 2003, when another twist of fate changed both of their lives yet again. Ros had a bad fall from a horse, suffering chest and internal injuries. Following her surgery she was no longer able to care for Reg at their home and he is now in an aged care facility in the Hunter Valley. He and Ros take their life these days, One Day At A Time, as the old song goes.
The rodeo and music reunion continues each year, stronger than ever, and this one is quite significant. “Reg always hated the number 13,” Ros said. “If it was ever the 13th of the month, Reg would say, ‘come on, we’re out of here’ and we’d shut down the office, and go for a picnic by the river, just to get out of the house so he didn’t have to work on that day. We’ve called this one the 12a reunion although it is actually the 13th, but in respect of his wishes, we won’t call it number 13.” Another special component of this year’s Reg Lindsay Rodeo and Music Reunion is the musical component – the Whiskey River Band, featuring Gary Melross, one of Reg’s longtime touring musicians. Gary and the band have put together a medley of Reg’s biggest hits to feature in the show, which will be staged after the rodeo action is completed. Before the music starts there will be lots of rodeo action, with top contestants from around the country pitting their skills against some of the best bucking stock in the land. Matt and Rachel Adams from Mendooran will supply their top bulls for the Howard Winfield Memorial Open Bull Ride, which offers $1000 prize money and a Ride Tuff trophy buckle. Ros said the Queensland bucking horses would return this year featuring the very slippery Red Door, and Roadstar among the horses brought in by former champion cowboy Terry Marshall. The RM Williams Ringer Buckjump tests the rider’s skill for 10 seconds in the old style Poley saddles, the same the cowboys used back in the 80s, and judged according to the rules of that era. There’s something for all comers, with rookies, kids and ladies, as well as the Rodeo Queen contest. Admission to the event is just $15 for adults, $10 senior citizens and $10 children 14 years ad under. Family passes are priced at $40 and children under three are admitted free. You’ll find full bar and catering facilities on site, along with pony rides, carnival rides, market stalls and the world famous Mad Cow! No BYO alcohol or glass is permitted on the grounds. If you would like to obtain some of Reg’s music, or read about his remarkable life and times, have a look at the website, www.reglindsay.com.au . Ros tells me there’s a new compilation album on the way, which will be released through Rajon. More on that as news comes to hand.
 
Anna Roses's Notes - February 24th
Adam Harvey, Bap Kennedy. Danny George Wilson,
Eric Bogel, Fred Eaglesmith, Dale Watson and more
Fans of Oz: Danny George Wilson, left, sound engineer David Springer, and Irishman Bap Kennedy, gave Tamworth a huge thumbs up on their first day here during the festival. Photo: Wendy Broome.
In tune with each other: Eric Bogle and John Munro. Photo: Anna Rose.
With feeling: Danny George Wilson delivers the goods during his performance at The Family in January. Photo: Wendy Broome.
Global recognition: Adam Harvey has been named the CMA Global Country Artist of the Year by the CMA. Photo: Anna Rose.
Superb concert: Bill Chambers, Bap Kennedy, Chris Haigh and BJ Barker on stage at The Family. Photo: Anna Rose.
Delighful surprise: Maria Forde was the perfect support act for Eric Bogle during Festival ’07 in Tamworth. Photo: Anna Rose.
International appeal: Fred Eaglesmith, left, Jason McCoy, Jim Lauderdale and Audrey Auld, taken at The Pub about five years ago. Photo: Anna Rose.


WE ARE fortunate in the land down under to have such an appealing country – lots of people want to come here to visit – and some want to live here too. Bap Kennedy, a superb Irish singer-songwriter who came to Tamworth for the first time in January, simply loves Australia and wants to move here. What a bonus that would be for Aussies. If anyone missed Bap’s only Tamworth gig at The Family Hotel on Thursday, January 25, it’s sad but true – you missed out big time! Opening the show was the delightful expat Aussie, Danny George Wilson, who’s now living and working in England. Gorgeous voice. Lovely songs. Then it was on to the main attraction – Bap Kennedy, who has one of the most soulful voices in the business – and he was joined on stage by his good mate Bill Chambers, and two of Bill’s trusted sidekicks – BJ Barker and Chris Haigh, to complete the lineup. Pure magic. This gig was one of the highlights of my festival. Bap’s new album, The Big Picture, is recommended listening, as are his previous works – Domestic Blues, Lonely Street and a rare gem, Hillbilly Shakespeare. The latter is Bap’s tribute to the late Hank Williams, and is full of wonderful Hank songs sung with the utmost respect for tradition. If you get the chance, hop on his website, www.bapkennedy.com and read all about this champion of a man, who you could well see back in the land of Oz in the near future. Thanks heaps to Civil Society for bringing Bap and Danny out here.

 
ANOTHER of my festival highlights was a triple treat and it happened at Tamworth Services Club on Wednesday, January 24. I decided early on, if the world stopped turning on Wednesday morning, I didn’t want to know about it. I was getting to the Eric Bogle concert at 10.30am, come hell or high water. When I learnt Eric had a support act I was a little disappointed, thinking it would take away from the enjoyment of the main attraction, but when Maria Forde stepped on stage after being introduced by Eric, and started singing and talking to the audience, I was absolutely enchanted and my fears allayed. She was the perfect entrée to the main course. Her Irish wit and wisdom was a sheer delight – and I just loved the story she told about her grandmother, who when giving Maria her engagement ring, said: “To be sure, me darlin’ … it’s not as if you’ll be getting one of your own now!”. That led into the title track, Rough Diamond, from one of Maria’s collection of albums. Another highly recommended disc. Her website is www.mariaforde.com . Then after a short interval came the main dish – Eric Bogle and his longtime musical mate, John Munro. Sheer bliss. You do it all at an Eric Bogle concert – laugh, cry – and most of all, think, about the stories he tells and the songs he shares. I simply marvelled at the amazing harmonies these two friends capture and present in a warm and often funny way. It’s probably the closest thing you’ll hear to sibling harmonies. This obviously comes from knowing each other’s work so well, over such a long period of time. I couldn’t leave the show without grabbing Eric’s latest album, Other People’s Children. The title track is haunting, chilling and gives you plenty of scope to ponder on the situation in the world today where innocent women and children are caught up in conflicts not of their own doing. The first track on that disc is Eric’s tribute to Slim Dusty – and unlike many others out there, there’s not one direct mention of Slim in the song. Eric said he was sitting on Tambourine Mountain, enjoying the view, when thoughts of Slim’s passing overwhelmed him and the song was born from that. Do yourself a favour and add that one to your collection. Keep up with Bogle’s latest adventures by visiting his website, www.ericbogle.net .

TEXAN honky tonk star Dale Watson is back in the land down under for a “lightning” tour – and this time Dale has brought his band with him. There’s only a handful of dates for you to catch Dale Watson and His Lone Stars – and some shows are already sold out, so you’d best check with the venue first to avoid disappointment. Dale’s website indicates their first gig at Melbourne’s Cherry Bar gig on February 27 is sold out, so those fans south of the border can try to catch him at the Prince of Wales on February 28. The band then moves to Sydney for two appearances at the Bridge Hotel on March 2 and 3; then his final show is at the North Star Hotel, Hamilton (near Newcastle) on March 4. Booking your tickets in advance at the venue is advisable. I met Dale when he came out a few years back and he was a champion of a bloke. He plays what I classify as “real country” – from his stirring truckin’ anthems for the fellas carrying the country, to story-songs about people he’s known and places he’s been. This time around, we have the opportunity to see Dale in full flight, with the band that does the hard yards with him, day after day, gig after gig, tour after tour. Don’t miss out on this – it should be a beauty. Catch them where you can – and in the meantime, visit Dale’s website, www.dalewatson.com  for a preview of what you’ll get on the tour.

THIS column’s almost becoming a league of nations report – as my next subject is Canadian singer-songwriter Fred Eaglesmith. Fredheads down under will be delighted to learn this fabulous performer will be in Australia for the East Coast Blues and Roots Festival on the Easter weekend, and at selected venues in the lead-up to that. There are concerts planned for Melbourne, country Victoria, Sydney and Lizotte’s Restaurant, Kincumber, before Fred takes the Blues Festival by storm. Check out his website for all the dates and venues: www.fredeaglesmith.com. You can also read about Fred and a heap of other great artists by visiting the Reckless Records website, www.recklessrecords.com .

CONGRATULATIONS to Adam Harvey, who was just announced winner of the 2007 CMA Global Country Artist Award. This is awarded annually by the CMA (Country Music Association) in America to an artist who has both furthered country music’s popularity and brought attention to their format in their foreign-based territory. The CMA have obviously taken note of the miles he’s travelled spreading the country “gospel” far and wide in recent times. The big fella has been to China, New Zealand and Ireland, taking his authentic brand of country to a much wider audience than ever before. Adam will accept his trophy on June 9, during the 2007 CMA Music Festival when he performs on the Greased Lightning® Daytime Stages at Riverfront Park. “It is a great honour to win this award and to be recognised for something that I just enjoy,” Adam told the CMA. “I am thrilled and looking forward to being back in Nashville to receive the award in June.”
 
Anna Roses's Notes February 17th - A tribute to the Late Les Scott
A mentor to the young: Les is pictured here with Sarah, left and Emma Roberts, who reached the grand finals of the Bundaberg Rum Jazzer Quest at The Pub in January 2007.
Vale Les Scott: A gifted guitarist, bass player and gentleman gem of a man will be sadly missed by all who knew him and loved to hear him play.
Sweet harmony: Leslie Avril, back to camera, with her beautiful Papuan bassman and gentleman friend, Les, singing a duet at one of their famed SouthGate Inn gigs during the 2006 Tamworth Country Music Festival.

YOU might have heard some people say the country music industry is like one great big family – and when someone’s celebrating a victory, they will always have friends around to cheer along with them. The same can be said for when the industry loses one of its own – a treasured friend who simply cannot be replaced. That was the case last Sunday in Sydney around 2pm with the untimely passing of one of nature’s true gentlemen – Les Scott. Les, a gifted acoustic guitarist and bass player, died of a heart attack. He celebrated his 51st birthday during the festival doing what he loved most – playing bass in Leslie Avril’s band and grooving along with Andy Baylor’s Cajun Combo. Les also enjoyed nurturing along the careers of our stars of the future in the CCMA National Talent Quest and the Bundaberg Rum Jazzer Quest. This news has rocked the Sydney and Tamworth music scenes to the core. Les’s loss will also be felt in north Queensland, where he played in bands during the 1970s, but particularly across the Sydney music scene where he was the “heart and soul” of every lineup he ever graced. This humble, simple man, who lived life to the full and loved music with every fibre of his being, will be mourned far and wide before and long after he is laid to rest on Monday at 10.15am at Macquarie Park Cemetery and Crematorium in Sydney. Les was born in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea and came to Australia as a young man in his late teens. He and his parents were forced to flee their homeland, so you could say Les was a “refugee” from that tender age. But it was in his music that Les took refuge and solace. Music was something that was always a part of his life – literally from the cradle to the grave.
Les had many good friends, one of whom is much respected pedal steel guitarist Gary Brown, from Sydney. Gary and Les had known each other for the past 15 years. Gary spoke fondly of Les’s quite unique “guitar chivalry”, which was more than evident at this year’s festival when Les dropped in to play with his mates, Mary Heard, Maryanne Burton, Gary and the Davidson Brothers’ Bluegrass Brekky Show at Wests. “Les was playing his guitar with a capo on, and he soon realised the bass guitar player didn’t know the song and couldn’t see the chords Les was playing,” Gary said. “Quick as a flash, Les just flicked the capo off so the other bloke could see the chords and follow him. He was a thinking musician, a good guitar player and a really great bass player. You looked to Les. He was the ultimate quiet achiever.” Maryanne Burton, a Sydney musician, said Les answered an ad for a bass player in a band she was in. “Les turned up and we’ve been playing together in bands and duos ever since,” Maryanne said. “We were quite fortunate to do some recording with Les over the past 12 months. We put something together for the Dorrigo Bluegrass Festival last year. To me, Les was a mentor, and I’m just so grateful for all the things he’s taught me, and the people he’s introduced me to. “Les played in The Midwest Obsession with Mary [Heard]. He was a rock for me, when it came to music. I relied on him – sometimes too much. It’s not going to be same without him. He was always there for so many people.”
Mary Heard, lead vocalist with The Midwest Obsession, said Les would be much missed on the Sydney scene, not only by his peers, but by the punters. “All those people who go out to country music every night of the week would see Les play in different bands in Sydney three nights a week,” Mary said. “He was the glue that held it all together. He had that rich, acoustic guitar sound. Music was such a huge part of his life. It was in his blood. He had the most beautiful harmonies and could ring right out his range. “He was an absolutely beautiful pianist too. He had a piano in his house. And when he wasn’t playing music, he loved fishing. Les could catch a fish anywhere.” Melbourne songstress Leslie Avril has been deeply saddened by the passing of her “beautiful Papuan bassman” – a man she described as “one of the loves of my life”. “Les will be sadly missed and has left a huge hole in my life – not to mention that of his fellow musicians and close friends in Sydney,” Leslie said. “We were just about to record a couple of tracks for my fourth CD. Working in Sydney and Tamworth will never be the same. Good fishin’, my gentleman friend.”
Tamworth musician Greg Williams had a friendship that went back more than 30 years to when they first met in Townsville, as young, keen musos. That friendship, although interrupted, was rekindled with joy some 10 years ago, at Tamworth’s Longyard Hotel at a Bill and Audrey Hank Williams gig, where Greg was the drummer and thought it would be appropriate to introduce himself to the other member of the rhythm section on that night, as they were doing the show “cold” – no rehearsal! “I walked across to him and said ‘Hi, I’m the drummer, Greg Williams’, and he answered, ‘Yes I know. We used to play in bands together in North Queensland 20 years ago. I’m Les Scott’. “Well, you could have knocked me over with a feather, I stepped over the monitor wedge on the stage floor and said, ‘Bloody hell, mate, this is amazing, I’d better give you a hug!’ We had a great gig that day with Bill leading the band, and from then on during that festival Les came and sat in and played at my gigs. That chance meeting created the opportunity that whenever I was close enough to his Sydney base for him to travel to play with me, till the end of 2007 Tamfest Les has played most of my guitar (or bass) playing gigs. There have been hundreds of gigs since then.”
Greg described his wonderful friend and fellow musician as “the perfect sideman for any singer – always paying the right notes, supporting all the time, picking great, tasteful solos when required, singing nice harmonies, never getting in the singer’s way. Just superb he was!”
But it wasn’t only the seasoned musicians who admired Les. It was the young performers, making their first tentative appearances on stage and the rising stars, such as Tamworth’s Emma and Sarah Roberts, who will feel the loss, particularly at next year’s festival. “We are very sorry and sad to hear about Les. He was a very kind man,” Emma said earlier this week. “Les always took good care of us at the Jazzer Smith Talent Quest and played his best for everyone without a fuss or negative word spoken. “He always made us feel so comfortable because nothing was ever too much trouble and he had such a gentle manner about him that made us feel so at home on stage.”
If you care to visit
www.tamworthragepage.com  Helen Mitchell is in the process of compiling a magnificent tribute to Les, with contributions from his many friends in the industry. And the photos are precious – almost as dear as the man himself. Vale Les Scott.
 
Country Music Notes Saturday, February 10th, 2007
Can dance, love travelling: Chris Watson is preparing to fly a group of fun-seekers
to the USA for the country music experience of a lifetime.
Anyone for papadams?: Dale Duncan and Col Finley certainly look the part –
and the proof was in the eating – delicious!
Dinner is served: James Maiden delivers Col’s barramundi dish to
Trish and Grant Carr, of Tamworth.
Look who’s cooking: Mike Vee (Col’s agent) and Brian Clarke (Dale’s manager)
check out what’s happening in the Family Hotel kitchen.
42 glorious years: Col toasts Jim and Peg Vernon’s impending wedding anniversary with a glass of merlot.
He and Dale presented the couple with a bottle to enjoy on the day.

TODAY’S column focuses on two young men, both of whom are not only great ambassadors for Tamworth – but also for country music, in two very different ways. One has cooked his way to the top, while the other has achieved lofty heights on two legs.

TAMWORTH line dance guru Chris Watson is hosting a G’day USA Line Dance and Country Music Tour to America from June 4 to 18 and he would love you to join him. Once you depart Sydney on Monday, June 4 you will enjoy an escorted holiday from a young man who has literally “been there and done that”. Chris has been dancing for 13 years, has formed his own Dare 2 Dance troupe in Tamworth, and he’s been widely acknowledged for his talents. He’s won awards for Junior Line Dancer of the Year; Australian Champion and has choreographed many dances. He’s taught line dancing all over the world – in the USA, Canada, Mexico, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, China, New Zealand, Tokyo, the Caribbean, South Pacific and all over Australia, so who better to dance your way around the US with? Day one of your trip you fly in to Los Angeles for your connection to Charlotte, and the following day you can take a half-day city tour. A four-hour journey will then take the party on to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee for the night’s entertainment at the Dixie Stampede, Dollywood. Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede and Dinner Show is a must-see experience. After the show, return to the Ramada Inn to rest up for the next day’s adventures. Then you get to experience Dollywood, this one-of-a-kind theme park, in the light of day, and that night, dinner and entertainment at Nashville’s #1 dining and entertainment destination, the Wild Horse Saloon. This converted warehouse is now a three-level, 66,000 sq ft live music and entertainment venue which features a restaurant, bar, concert site, dance venue and TV studio. Day four of your trip is the start of your “explore Nashville” experience. You have a four-day pass to the 2007 CMA Fan Fair, plus you can visit the Grand Ole Opry, Country Music Hall of Fame, and all the places until now you’ve only heard or dreamed about. After four days in Music City USA, the tour group moves on to Memphis – the birthplace of the blues and rock’n’roll – and Graceland, the spiritual home of Elvis Presley. Day nine hop on a plane bound for Austin, Texas, where you will enjoy the next two days exploring this city. Then catch a flight to Las Vegas for two nights in the gambling capital of America and, if you love the one you’re with, you could even get married – as many people choose to do in that desert city. Leaving Las Vegas you prepare for your flight home, knowing you’ve had an absolute ball discovering America with one of Tamworth’s favourite sons. All of this excitement can be yours if you phone Jetset Travel Tamworth on (02) 6766 8400. The cost of the trip is just $5998 per person twin share. Don’t miss this opportunity of a lifetime. Call Chris today and book your seat.


OUR other young ambassador is James Maiden, who launched his highly successful Taste of Country Cookbook, during the festival in an effort to raise funds for suicide prevention and other mental health issues and for Tamworth’s soon to be established Hope Centre. After a busy campaign promoting the cookbook in a series of concerts and special appearances all over town, James iced his cookbook cake last Monday night with a cook-off featuring two of the book’s stars – Col Finley and Dale Duncan. Assisted by James, the two country artists commandeered The Family Hotel kitchen and entertained two competition winners – Peg and Jim Vernon, from Narrabri; and Trish and Grant Carr from Tamworth, and special guests. Both couples won the right to have Col and Dale cook an intimate dinner via a competition in The Northern Daily Leader. I was fortunate enough to be on hand when the cook-off began, and snapped some pictures during the evening. Col Finley certainly cuts a fine figure in a chef’s outfit – and Dale scrubbed up pretty well, too, although he did get the rough end of the pineapple to begin with, having to wash up the accumulating dishes. Texas Barramundi was the first course, prepared by Col, who said it was the first time he’d used barra in the dish – but it tasted absolutely delicious (I was an honourary guest at the dinner table). Then it was Dale’s turn to turn up the heat and serve out his main dish of Beef Madras curry, served with papadams, and basmati rice. Yum-oh. He can cook even better than he washes up! For dessert, James prepared Stuie French and Camille Te Nahu’s submitted dish, Chocolate Yoghurt Cake, which was out of this world. If you see James’ book at your favourite bookstore, please pick up a copy and hand over your $30. It can be found in Tamworth at the Big Golden Guitar Tourist Complex, Tourism Tamworth, the Country Music Association of Australia (CMAA) and on their website, www.country.com.au , as well as John & Judy’s Newsagency in City Plaza. This cookbook is a beauty and has allowed James to indulge three of his life’s passions – cooking, country music and helping others. He has since returned to Nhulunbuy, where he’s now plying his chef’s trade at the top end of Australia.
 
Country Music Notes Saturday, February 3, 2007
THE last busker has departed our fair city and the riverside camping grounds have been reclaimed by sporting groups since the final caravans and campers headed for home. If you’re anything like me, you might be suffering an annual malady called post-festival depression. One week the city is filled with music, the next week, you’ve got to go chasing it, but hey, wasn’t it just the best festival ever. I probably say that every year, but this time I don’t believe any venue operators would have been short of punters seeking out great country music. Congratulations to all those staff at the pubs and clubs around town who survived on minimal sleep for our 10-day party and still managed to keep that smile planted on their faces to welcome patrons each day. A huge pat on the back to all the cleaning and catering staff at hotels and motels for the wonderful job they do – ensuring our guests are housed in comfortable surroundings during their stay with us. Big hugs to all the cabbies and bus drivers in Tamworth, who worked long shifts ferrying festival revellers from point A to point P – for party. Huge praise to every event organiser for your contribution to this wonderful event. Hearty congratulations to our council’s clean-up staff for the fabulous job they did ensuring Tamworth kept up its tidy image, despite the thousands of extra bodies in town utilising our services.

ON THAT note, can I just say one thing to anyone out there who may have entertained the thought that the festival should have been cancelled, due to the water restrictions and this ongoing drought. Try to stop the wind. It would be so much easier. The festival is an event that doesn’t just happen. It’s a well-planned manoeuvre that takes many months and years of refining and fine-tuning. You can’t just turn around at the last minute and say, sorry, pack up your ball and go home. Or worse still, don’t bother coming at all. There are plenty of other cities around Australia that would kill for what we have in Tamworth and our reputation as the “country music capital”. Had anyone foolishly thought they could stop this event, there would be any number of city fathers rubbing their hands together wanting to take our title away – and the annual injection of millions of dollars our country music-loving visitors bring.
In the genes: The gorgeous Melinda Schneider inherited her love of performing from her amazing mother,
the multi-talented Mary Schneider, one of the pioneers of the Australian country music industry.

Two of the best: Rod McCormack and Mick Albeck - two blokes who obviously love their work.
Golden girl: Hometown favourite Felicity Urquhart didn't leave empty-handed, emerging with the
Golden Guitar for Video Clip of the Year, with the clip for Big Black Cloud created by Glenn Wilson.
Fiddling fettler: Mike Kerin (The Fettler), as he was affectionately named by the late Slim Dusty,
gave a masterful performance behind Anne Kirkpatrick, playing with that awesome Awards band.
Sizzling stuff: Young star Travis Collins didn't go home with a GG, but he certainly gave his all in this performance
of his Instrumental of the Year finalist nomination, Redliner, performing it in public for the very first time on the night.

Tribute to the vets: Graham Rodger's wonderful rendition of The Battle of Long Tan, stirred up a lot of patriotism, with Australian flags waving all over the entertainment centre.
 
MY personal congratulations to the Country Music Association of Australia team – Cheryl Hayes, Leanie Renton and Cath Grippo – and the board of directors, for the coup they pulled off in securing national coverage of the Country Music Awards of Australia, presented by Jayco. Hearty cheers to Jayco for climbing on board this amazing train ride and linking up with one of the best events anywhere in the world. I reckon they might have sold one or two of their gorgeous campers and motorhomes during the festival, so hopefully this partnership will continue for a long time to come. Tune in today and tomorrow to the Ten network and you’ll be able to enjoy the best gig of the festival. Anyone who says it wasn’t needs to take a good hard look at themselves. The band on stage at TREC, led by Rod McCormack, who is arguably one of the finest musicians this country has ever produced, was nothing short of spectacular. The personnel included: Bill Risby (keyboards); Michel Rose, my Mauritian cousin, on pedal steel; Glen Hannah, Brendan Radford and Rod McCormack on guitars; Mick Albeck on fiddle; James Gillard and Ian Lees on bass; Mitch Farmer on drums; and they were joined at various times by some other members of the A team – Tim Wedde (keyboards); Michael Vidale (bass); Mike Kerin (fiddle); the list goes on and on. I sat next to a record company executive (poor bloke, as I get very excited and whistle loudly at times), who said he’d attended the past 15 ARIA Awards and not one of them was a patch on the show put on last Saturday night. “It’s all about the music,” he said. Hello. End of story. When you have a band of players of this calibre, it can’t be anything but exceptional quality. Col Elliott did a fine job warming up the audience, as he does each year, but he couldn’t be popping in and out during the breaks. The people who whinged about the short pauses for set changes (which some people said were ad breaks) were obviously not sitting next to anyone very interesting as the people around me, tended to quietly discuss the previous accolades handed out, or the great performance they’d just witnessed – but the breaks ended as quickly as they began, so there was little time to chat. All I can say to the whingers is – build a bridge – and get over it. And if you don’t come back, we won’t miss you. There are plenty of other people who would have loved to have had your seat. The staging, backdrops, lighting, and presentation was first class. It was the best awards show I’ve ever been to – and I’ve seen a few. So what if it was aimed at TV audiences? Don’t you watch the telly? It was one of the best gigs I attended during the festival – and I took in quite a few of those, as well. If we were to portray ourselves as country hicks with hayseeds in our teeth, do you think that would be a good image to screen on national television? No – they did a fine job and the proof will be in the pudding today and tomorrow when the Awards are screened across the country. All of those other cities that don’t have what we have will be green with envy. I’m a proud Tamworthian – even though I was born in Bingara – and I plan to stick around to watch this wonderful city become even greater in the years to come. Let the music play on …
 
Great mates: Wests’ CEO Rod Laing welcomed his good mate, Smoky Dawson, to Diggers on Thursday for a bite of lunch and a catch up.
Time of their lives: Buttercup Open House’s 30th birthday was a hoot, with Daniel Conway, Aaron Bolton and Rob Brown obviously enjoying opening Wednesday night’s show.
Simply superb: Eric Bogle and John Munro sold out two shows at Tamworth Services Club – I was lucky enough to attend Wednesday’s gig.
Digging Diggers: Tim Rickards, Scotty Dawson, Chris Callaghan, Stewie Hawthorne and Kirk Steel are enjoying the festival immensely with their 11am shows at Diggers.

WOW folks. What a great festival. If you haven’t been enjoying yourself – check your pulse quickly. Really – the only excuse for not having a good time is you’re not breathing in and out. I’ve had a busy time, but a great one. From the onset of the Countdown to the frantic first week and the final three days – it’s all music, music and more music.

ONE of the highlights for Wendy and I was meeting and enjoying the music of Irishman Bap Kennedy. What a surprise package. My goodness. If Bill Chambers hadn’t given us the tip on this bloke, we would have been musically poorer. As it is, I am most certainly a BK convert – although Wendy has been listening to his music for some time now, having been introduced to it by a friend some years ago. Touring with Bap was expat Aussie Danny George Wilson, who bears a rather striking resemblance to Bill Oddie (of TV’s Goodies’ fame). What a gorgeous voice – and he can certainly play that guitar. Working upstairs at The Family on Thursday afternoon was a true pleasure, having Danny’s beautiful voice and guitar come drifting up the stairwell. Then when Bap took the stage, he was joined by Bill Chambers on guitar and lap steel, superb bassman Chris Haigh and sticks and skins champion, BJ Barker, whose tasteful use of the brushes completed this tasty quartet. If you weren’t one of the lucky ones to catch this once only festival gig, slash your wrists now, as Bap and Danny are winging their way back to Ireland and England. We will just have to hope they will come back again. In the meantime, check out their websites www.bapkennedy.com  and www.dannygeorgewilson.com  to get a taste of what you missed out on – or enjoyed to the max – and and join their mailing list to receive updates on news and future tours.

ANOTHER highlight for me was the visit of John Rex Reeves, nephew of the late American country legend, Gentleman Jim Reeves. John Rex was kind enough to close the Thelma & Louise Choice Picks show for Joan and I out at The Pub on the first Saturday night of the festival. Then on Wednesday night John Rex completed his one and only full festival concert in the Scully Room at SouthGate where quite a few who’d been to that previous gig, turned up – with their friends and more. It’s just lovely that these international artists want to come to our festival. But why wouldn’t they? There’s nothing quite like the Tamworth Country Music Festival anywhere in the world!

IN A festival full of magical moments, it didn’t get much better than Thursday when Australia’s favourite country music pioneer, Smoky Dawson, came to town. Smoky and his carer, Chrissie, flew in to Tamworth for the day, not knowing he was about to become the “newest star in the galaxy”. Upon arrival, Smoky came to the Scully Room at SouthGate for the CMAA meeting, where he was effusively greeted by all and sundry. That was the first of that day’s magical moments, when Max Ellis and John (Mr Hoedown) Minson, were presented with life membership of the CMAA. Then it was on to Tamworth Regional Entertainment Centre, where plaques of Joy McKean – the first lady of Australian country music – and Smoky, our 93-year-old legend, were unveiled to the public. All eyes were on the two newest stars in the Galaxy – and their namesakes – which were placed either side of the Galaxy’s very first star – Joy’s late husband, Slim Dusty. Hearty congratulations and salutations to Jodie McKenna of Tamworth Regional Council and Lance Smith of Cockatours, for facilitating Smoky and Chrissie’s flying visit to the Country Music Capital.

THERE’S only two days left to soak up the last of the great gigs and musical highlights. I’d recommend you study the program, plan your day accordingly and try not to miss a thing. Good luck to all finalists in the CMAA Country Music Awards of Australia, presented by Jayco – and may your favourite artist/s win. If you can’t physically attend the Awards, tune in to CMR for the live broadcast, or your favourite community broadcaster for the full show. Viewers across regional Australia tuning in to Southern Cross Ten can see the Awards from 6.30pm to 8.30pm on Saturday, February 3 and repeated at noon on Sunday, February 4, along with Network Ten viewers in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide. For pay TV watchers, you have 18 opportunities to catch the Awards – with the first screening on Friday, February 9 at 7pm.

IF YOU loved the January festival, why don’t you come back again in July for our cuddly winter festival, known as Hats Off to Country. The dates are July 5, 6, 7 and 8. Program details will soon be available. We just have to wait ‘til the dust settles on this festival before organising the next, so keep an eye on your favourite websites,
www.country.com.au , www.tamworthragepage.com , www.tamworthcountrymusic.com.au  and www.thepub.com.au  for news as it comes to hand.

Tamworth’s most prolific busker: Ted Tilbrook – busks year round – apart from the festival.
Give them a Hand: The Hired Hands, circa 1981, at the Mr Juicy Concerts in the Park, from left, Kirk Steel, Russell Adams, MC Bob Lipman, Ted Tilbrook, the late Ken Ramsay and Lawrie Minson.
Ted Tilbrook
 
Saluting Captain Thunderbolt: Graham Rodger will unleash Thunderbolt, his new CD, on
Thursday at the Frog and Toad. Photo: Lu Danieli
Picks well: Pixie – the champion fiddler and funny bloke, got an early start to his
festival this year – at The Pub. Photo: Anna Rose.

Beauty and the Pix: Sydney Morning Herald journo Emily Dunn, a festival virgin, loved her little bit
of Pix-wickedness and caught up with him after the show. Photo: Anna Rose.
 
WELCOME to Tamworth for the biggest and best party this side of the black stump. This is my favourite time of year – as there’s so much to see and do – the poets, the dancers, the singers, the musicians, the stars and the characters that make the annual Tamworth Country Music Festival the unique event that it is. There’s nothing quite like it anywhere else in the world and I feel totally privileged to live in this wonderful city and enjoy country all year round – and particularly over these last two weeks in January.

ONE of Tamworth’s characters, who can be found busking in the street 50 weeks of the year, is Ted Tilbrook, a former member of the Hired Hands. Ted doesn’t normally busk during festival, as his gorgeous acoustic guitar and soulful singing can be drowned out with all the amplificiation, although he may venture down the Rivers-Central Hotel end of Peel St where it’s an acoustic zone. For the first time ever, Ted has secured a venue for the festival and will host a special day of music on Tuesday at the Masonic Hall in Peel St. From 8am through ‘til the wee small hours of Wednesday, there will be music to please all palates. It kicks off at 8am with Swanky Benson (who’s the dad of those super talented Crosby Sisters, in case you’re wondering). Joining Ted throughout the day will be bluegrass diva Karen Lynne, Kelly Crosby, then from 2pm Ted and his mates come together in a Grand Ole Opry type of gathering – with just one big microphone and lots of great acoustic playing from some of the best musos around. Ted’s mates include Brenda-Lee Heathcoate, Tim Rickards, Greg Champion, Gary Carruthers and Tamworth’s own Alwyn Aurisch. You might even catch a glimpse of the gorgeous McClymont Sisters, who Ted has known since they were little dots on the musical horizon. To top off a huge day, there will be a Hired Hands Reunion, as Garry and Kirk Steel are in town, and Russell Adams is coming over from the coast to join locals Randall Wilson, Lawrie Minson and Ted. A bonus of the Hands gig from 8pm is the one and only festival appearance this year of North Coast songbird Clelia Adams, who’s an old Hand from way back.

ACCLAIMED country music singer-songwriter Graham Rodger has written and recorded a ballad straight from the pages of New England history. Thunderbolt is one of two songs Graham has been recognised for, with finalist berths in the TSA National Songwriting contest, with winners announced in Blazes at Wests on January 24. Graham is also thrilled to bits to have been invited to perform on the CMAA Country Music Awards of Australia, presented by Jayco, where he’s a finalist in two categories – Bush Ballad and Heritage for What Country’s All About and his moving tribute to our Vietnam vets, The Battle of Long Tan. Graham is also a finalist in the TIARAs and People’s Choice Awards. Prior to the festival, Graham visited the New England region, where he spent a couple of days soaking up the historical settings and bushranger spirit around Uralla. Thunderbolt was inspired by a meeting with Uralla couple, Morna and Barry Sinclair (a Thunderbolt historian and descendant) of notorious bushranger, Captain Thunderbolt (Fred Ward). Graham will officially launch Thunderbolt, his new CD, at the Frog and Toad Convention Centre on Goonoo Goonoo Rd, at 1.30pm next Thursday.

I’M DELIGHTED to see the Tamworth Independent Artists’ Recognition Awards (TIARAs) celebrate their 10th anniversary. I recall being at that first meeting when Rob Brown, his uncle, the late Geoff Brown, and other concerned local musicians met at the Tamworth Services Sports Club (the former Tamworth Workmen’s Club), where big Pete Schroeder (then CEO), put his considerable weight and enthusiasm behind the concept. Ten years later the TIARAs are an integral part of the festival agenda and the professionalism of their concerts is to be applauded. Last year’s show at Tamworth Regional Entertainment Centre was nothing short of awesome. Please – do yourself a favour and get along to Blazes at Wests on Tuesday at 1pm. This is a great show, with an all star cast including Graeme Connors, Donna Boyd and Australian’s own international artiste Wayne Horsburgh, who has supported the TIARAs since day one. Congratulations also to Blue Dog Jeans, for lending their support and sponsorship to this vital event on the Tamworth Festival calendar.

IF you haven’t already secured your tickets for Pixie’s all-new show at the Sanctuary Inn, get along to Tourism Tamworth today and do so.
Pixwell was in fine form this week, presenting two very special one-hour showcases at The Pub, free for the enjoyment of Pub patrons. By the time he left the stage it was more like 90-minutes, as he just gets carried away with all the adoration from his multitude of fans.
He’s cheeky, wicked and bold – but how can you not warm to the fiddle maestro, who’s been performing for 35 years? Pix will celebrate a half-century of life on earth this year, and thankfully, he took the time to share his talents with us during the week. Thanks for coming, Pix – you naughty boy. And don’t forget to wash your hands after you go to the toilet, or you won’t be playing on the monkey b
 
 
Fowl work afoot: Frank Turton aboard his houseboat, which he named Willitsinkorwontit. He's leaving the boat behind due to Tamworth's water restrictions and the lack of smooth passage between Paringa and Country Music Capital.
 
PEEL Street’s most photographed busker, Frank (The Chookman) Turton was delayed leaving his home in Paringa, SA, earlier this week due to a severe storm. According to my mate, the Flasher (aka Robyn McIntosh), Frank was asked to delay his departure for Tamworth to clean up cedar tree debris before heading out on Wednesday. “I am sure he will still have his feathers on when he arrives in Tamworth though,” Flash said. “It did throw him a little when his well laid plans were disrupted.” So watch out for Frank. He’ll be roosting just outside Toyworld in the “acoustic” end of Peel St, during the daylight hours of the festival. I think he’s also planning some evening concerts at a local hall.

Darren Clarke and Fiona Peters:
from the Darren Clarke Duo
 
TAMWORTH’S Darren Clarke will record a “live” album tomorrow and hopes to have it available for fans during the festival. No mean feat, but anything’s possible when you have the right connections. This will be Darren’s first CD release. He came to Tamworth from Kempsey this time last year and has been making a name for himself on the local circuit, performing as a soloist, in a duo with Fiona Peters, adding the guitar skills of Buddy Knox in his trio format and enlisting percussionist/drummer Randall Wilson for band gigs. Darren really didn’t have much choice of becoming anything other than a country star. His dad was a singer-guitarist who favoured the early country artists of his era, and his mum “used to flog Tammy Wynette night and day at home”, according to Darren. His grandfather was also a singer, and played double bass in a swinging big band. Darren played his first gig on drums as a 13-year-old, with his dad, and played bass for many years. He still plays both, but is quite handy on the guitar as well. Although Darren has always written songs, he’s been writing lots more since arriving in the Country Music Capital, and at his gigs you will hear a cross-section of blues, jazz and country, spiced with Darren’s original repertoire. “I’ve always watched other artists and become inspired to write,” Darren said. “Ultimately though, it comes out of your life experiences. The funny thing is I’ve never actually tried to write a song. They usually just pop out. I tried to write a song once at a Garth Porter songwriting session, but found I couldn’t write to a formula.” Darren classifies his style as “contemporary country crossover – a mixture of Australian songs with an American influence”. What really inspires Darren is having a band play behind him, doing his own material and other people getting excited about his music. “When people request your original songs, it’s a real buzz,” he said. “I haven’t exactly made a buzz in the industry yet, but I’m slowly working my way into it. Local people have started asking for my original songs.” For Darren’s recording project, he has enlisted the services of former Tamworthian, Steve Newton, who operates Enrec Studio from his base in Sydney. Enrec was a pioneer in the early 80s, recording the music of Tamworth’s Roger Knox and his Euraba Band. “Steve has the best ears in the business, so it had to be him,” Darren said. For over a decade Steve travelled with John Williamson as his sound man and musical director. Darren will enlist his regular band for the recording – Randall Wilson (skins and things and harmony vocals); Buddy Knox (lead guitar/harmony vocals); Fiona Peters (bass/accordion) and Darren will play guitar, harmonica, slide guitar and sing. The working title of the album is I Feel Like A Star.

Gotta love the Fargs: Terry Murray, James Gillard and John Spence (Mark Marriott - obscured - like most other drummers, poor darling).  Click here artist Report
 
ONE band I’ll be delighted to see return to the festival this year (after an absence of more than a decade) is The Fargone Beauties. Try saying that quickly, if you dare. The Fargs will be doing the late, late show at Blazes Entertainment Centre at Wests on Thursday, January 25, supported by Harley Smith. They re-formed for an appearance at the 2006 Gympie Muster, where they left behind a trail of exhausted fans old and new, queuing up to buy their new CD, A Load of Old Bullocks – The Best of the Fargone Beauties. The disc features 20 of their best known tracks, including their classic thrashgrass hits Wild Thing, Hey Joe, Stairway To Heaven, Highway To Hell, Play That Country Music, Born To Be Wild and more. The Fargs have also created a new website, www.fargonebeauties.com.au  so if you’re surfing the net, check it out – and turn up your speakers full bore – it’s the only way to hear this lovely bunch of boys do their thang. Terry Murray, John Spence, James Gillard and Mark Marriott formed The Fargone Beauties in 1989 and created “thrashgrass” – performing classic rock songs the way they were truly intended to be – loud, electric and bluegrass style. They released three albums over the next few years, performed on countless TV shows, played all the pubs and clubs, and scared the life out of audiences at every major country music festival in Australia. Don’t miss the Fargs – you’ll love ‘em.

DON’T forget the Salvation Army drought relief/Hope Centre charity gig tonight on Goonoo Goonoo Rd. It’s at the Salvation Army hall, right next door to Lindsay Butler Studios. The Butlers (Lindsay and Shaza) will headline the show, along with Mike McClellan, Merelyn Carter, Jim Haynes, Sharnee Fenwick and a heap of other gorgeous people – all doing their bit to help the Salvos help others. Tickets are just $15 and are available from the Salvation Army shop, on the corner of Peel and O’Connell streets. If you miss getting to the shop before closing time, I’m sure they would sell you a ticket at the door. Showtime is 7.30pm.
 

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