Tamworth Rage Page
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Anna Rose
Page 5 -2007
Anna Rose
Welcome back Helen! We have missed you during your electrifying absence from compiling Ragepage. We have all been in a “news desert” since your computer was struck by lightning on July 8. I am delighted to be able to check in every day and see what’s happening in the world of country music. Love ya work, Helen! Love to Dougie too.
Thank You Anna
Anna Rose Country Notes 3rd August
Backstage at the Crossing Theatre, Narrabri, Jimmy Barnes with Lawrie Minson and his partner, Shelley Watts.
TAMWORTH’S resident Golden Guitar winning musician, Lawrie Minson, believes in the old adage that variety is the spice of life. Lawrie regularly tours with country star Lee Kernaghan, but when Lee isn’t on the road, Loz manages to keep himself occupied with other projects. Last weekend he played in Jimmy Barnes’s band at their sold-out Crossing Theatre performance in Narrabri and this week he’s been rehearsing with Barnsey’s band for a live recording at The Studio (located at the Sydney Opera House) for a Music Max special. “Jimmy’s got a 20-piece orchestra with the string section from the Sydney Symphony Orchestra lined up for this recording,” Lawrie said. “We rehearse all week and do the final rehearsal on Saturday prior to Sunday afternoon’s live recording. It should be a great experience.”
After that, Lawrie returns to Tamworth to begin hosting a three-week harmonica workshop at the Tamworth Community College. But if you’re wanting a spot at the course, bad luck, as it’s already booked out. Flipping through one of his harmonica books, Lawrie came upon some very happy memories in the form of an autographs page – with signatures around the margins of Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, June-Carter Cash and all the musicians in the Highwaymen’s band. “I must have taken that book along to the gig that night,” Lawrie said. “It would have to be several years ago now. I’d almost forgotten they were there until I flipped through the pages in preparation for the harmonica workshop.”
Lawrie hosts a regular songwriters’ night at The Vault in Tamworth on the second Wednesday evening each month. It’s open to all genres of music and many local songwriters, including Matt Scullion, Steve Charles, John Cunliffe, Tracey Bell and Chris Langston find it an ideal venue where they can try out new songs before an appreciative audience. There’s a resident house band composed of Lawrie (playing whatever he fancies at the time); Ted Tilbrook, on guitar; Randall Wilson, drums; and Joe Gatty on bass. Mine hosts of The Vault, Colin Baker and Kate Ware, are extremely hospitable people and love to lend their support to the local music scene. If you’d like to experience some of the Tamworth vibe, get along to The Vault for Lawrie’s songwriters’ night – the next one is Wednesday, August 8.

What an achiever our Chez is. Cheryl Byrnes, pictured at The Pub with Jonahs Road.
CONGRATULATIONS to all finalists in the 2007 CMAA Country Music Achiever Awards. In particular, warm wishes to the Tamworth contingent named in that elite list. Tamworth-based publication, the Independent Country Music Bulletin, is a finalist in Media Achiever of the Year (Organisation) so good luck to Bob and Leanne Kirchner. Country Music Capital News is once again a worthy finalist (and past winner) of Media Achiever of the Year (Organisation) and the delightful Cheryl Byrnes of Cap News is a finalist in Media Achiever (Individual). You go, girl! Country Music Radio’s Nick Erby is also a finalist in Media Achiever (Individual) – another worthy finalist from the Country Music Capital.
Tireless community worker Lorraine Pfitzner is in line for the prestigious Rex Barry award (for the second consecutive year), so well done, Lorraine. Tamworth-born Felicity Urquhart is a finalist in the category she won last year – Independent Entertainer of the Year. Bookends would be a nice addition to her Central Coast home, I’m sure. Tamworth’s own LBS Music, headed by Lindsay Butler and Shaza Leigh, is a finalist in Record Company of the Year (Independent), as it should be!
Four Tamworth organisations, regular finalists in the Achiever Awards, should be commended for their consistent excellence in promoting the Country Music Capital and country music – The Pub and Wests (Entertainment Venue of the Year); The Big Golden Guitar Tourist Centre (Retailer of the Year); and the Capital Country Music Association (Club or Association of the Year). For a full list of finalists, visit www.country.com.au  and click on the Achiever Awards link.
Anna Rose Country Notes Friday 5th July
WELL folks – there’s certainly a festive feeling in the air in the Country Music Capital. I picked up on it yesterday afternoon at the checkout at Woolies supermarket. Young Simon, the checkout bloke, was singing along with Royden Donohue, who was singing his heart out at Tamworth Shoppingworld – and the tune was an old Elvis number – Can’t Help Falling In Love. Simon swore he hated country music, but I do have my doubts. There could be hope for that boy yet. You just know a festival is happening around you when stuff like that pops up out of the blue. Prior to that in Peel St, I spotted three buskers outside Cheapa Music – with the temperature barely reaching double figures, singing a Charley Pride song, vying for street space with a young girl just a few metres away. It must be Tamworth. It must be Hats Off to Country. Gotta love a festival.

Fender's Clay Algie with Camerata graduate Bryan Browne. 
Charley Phypers' proud dad, Dave Patterson, chats with Nick Erby at the
Camerata graduation concert.
Graeme and Michelle Mills, from Century 21 Real Estate, with their sponsored
student, Makaylie Foodey.
Brian Clarke and Merelyn Carter at the Tamworth Camerata graduation concert.
Trevor Day, Peter Harkins and Dougie Gallacher at the Camerata graduation
THURSDAY night’s Tamworth Camerata Graduation Concert in Blazes at Wests was the perfect entrée to the mini-festival where you can feast your senses, enjoying a swag of great country in the chilliest surroundings – so very different to our summer festival that’s known so widely around the world.
Twenty-one sensational young artists took the stage, dong their families, their tutors and their sponsors proud.
You could have heard a mouse fart during Bryan Browne’s guitar solo. His rendition of Somewhere Over The Rainbow just blew the place apart. Magical moments abound at a show like that, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen or heard anyone quite like young Bryan. He’s flying out to America on Sunday, where he will meet up with guitar maestro Tommy Emmanuel – one of his heroes, so we all wish Bryan well on his journey.

William Verri, Claudia Byrnes, Liam Brew, Cheryl Byrnes, Katrina Burgoyne
and Michael Muchow, at the Camerata graduation concert.
The CMAA's Cheryl Hayes and Cath Grippo, enjoying the Camerata graduation
concert with Fender Australia's Clay Algie.
TODAY and tomorrow from 11am til 2pm young star Ryan Sampson plays host to a cast of Camerata graduates on parade in Tamworth Shoppingworld.
If you liked what you heard at the graduation concert, get along and treat yourself to some more.

TONIGHT at The Pub Ryan unleashes his sensational new EP, a four-track self-titled disc recorded right here in the Country Music Capital at John Lee’s Fat Track Studio. It’s a beauty, so if you’d like to hear one of the stars of the future, don’t miss Ryan’s gig tonight at 9 at The Pub, right after The Young Balladeers play their first Hats Off show. Amos Morris, Matt and Dan Manning and Nathan Charlton will be joined this weekend by fabulous balladeer Jeff Brown. Brownie is a champion, so don’t forget to check them out when you can.
NEWS came through late yesterday afternoon that the Golden Guitars Salutes the Songs of John Williamson had completely sold out – that’s 800 seats – and it’s not even January! Marius Els, from Artist Network Australia, together with Cheryl Hayes and her team from the Country Music Association of Australia and the good people from Tourism Tamworth should take a bow.
This is an amazing achievement and it’s set to be one of the most special concerts ever staged in Tamworth. Those lucky people holding tickets should consider themselves very privileged indeed.

Lonnie Lee will present two shows during Hats Off at North Tamworth Bowlo.
IF YOU are looking to spend some of your hard earned dollars on a ticketed show, take a trip down memory lane with the fabulous Lonnie Lee at North Tamworth Bowlo. After more than 50 years entertaining his fans, Lonnie has two new albums to promote and will deliver the goods in style at 3pm and 8pm Saturday.

Stars of the Tamworth Services Club's Hats Off program - the fabulous Luke
O'Shea and Medicine Wheel.
OTHER wonderful events you can enjoy over Hats Off include the sensational Luke O’Shea and Medicine Wheel at Tamworth Services Club. Luke and the wild colonial lads have a two-night stint at the Marius St venue and it’s sure to be a happening place Friday and Saturday. The beautiful and talented Jodie Crosby hosts the TIARA Songwriters Showcase at 12.30pm Saturday featuring Brenda Lee Heathcote, Deniese Morrison, Luke O’Shea, Wendy Wood, Scott Lloyd Shelley, Michael Bryers and more. It’s going to be a super show not to miss. Congratulations to Kristian Brooks for putting together such an awesome program for the Services – one of the best clubs in town.

GARY and Belinda Burgess have a great lineup of acts at their Centrally-located establishment on the corner of Brisbane and Peel. Don’t miss seeing bands like Dan Mureau and the Contractors, Roughstock, Gemma Luxton Band and Rod Dowsett’s hot little combo. The music is always awesome at the Central.

ACROSS Peel St from the Central you’ll find local acts Those Gals and Matt O’Leary at The Tudor Hotel. Those Gals achieved national recognition making their way through the heats to the finals of Australia’s Got Talent last year, so don’t miss this talented trio in action.

JUST down the road from there at the Courthouse Hotel, the Michael Bryers Band plans to get downtown Peel St happening, while just across the road, Matt Scullion and the Lost Moments will be having an absolute ball at The Albert.

DOWN the opposite end of Peel St (the City Plaza end) keep walking and you’ll find Tamworth Regional Art Gallery. Why? Because some of your favourite country acts have art works on display in a special exhibition which opened on Thursday, and runs through to July 15. Country Art 4 Cancer is an initiative of Attunga-based Graham Archer (Attitude Productions) and The Cancer Council’s Tamworth branch, where a host of country artists indulged in artistic endeavours for a great cause. For a gold coin donation drop in and cast your vote in the People’s Choice category. You could win some fabulous prizes. I had a good look at them yesterday morning, and plan to return with my fellow judge, Glenda Gorton (she’s the artist – I’m the bull artist) and make our final selection on the winning entry. The overall winner and the People’s Choice winner will be announced at the conclusion of the exhibition on July 15.

THE Oasis Hotel along Armidale Road is an oasis in the desert for those with a hankering for authentic bush ballads. Des and Joyce have enlisted some great acts for this weekend, so make sure you pay them a visit.
Choosing a hotel is important when travelling. Where you stay can really effect your trip. Remember that in different countries, atmospheres and traditions are different. Even graphically in one country the ambiance of a hotel can change drastically. For example in America, Miami hotels are filled with music and a Latin atmosphere, where San Francisco hotels would give you a completely different experience.  No doubt that finding a comfortable and affordable hotel is possible. You will enjoy your stay and experience at any of the hotels mentioned above. Getting proper rest helps you enjoy your trip and the event as well.

Lindsay Butler, Shaza Leigh and their son Lachlan, will be receiving
visitors to LBS Studio on Sunday morning for morning tea and a concert -
their only Hats Off show.

IN THAT same authentic vein, there’s a great way to start your Sunday at Lindsay Butler Studios on Goonoo Goonoo Road with a morning tea and concert. The Butlers’ hospitality is legendary and their shows are always crowd pleasers. As part of Sunday morning’s proceedings, there will be another induction into Butler’s Hall of Fame. Should be a great turnout.

BILLY-Bob is back in town with the wonderful Bill Chambers Sessions at The Pub 4pm Saturday and Sunday. Always a pleasure to hear country played the way it was intended. Brett Dallas and Dirtwater, on Saturday night’s menu at The Pub, also do country with style, and with an absolute respect for tradition.

SUNDAY afternoon chill out at Wests’ Diggers with one of the hottest bands around – The Baileys – and their city cousin, Tim Bailey, will also be on hand. That meteorologically-minded bloke just can’t stay away from the Country Music Capital. Diggers has a great Hats Off program, with festival favourites, The Pigs, lined up to entertain punters. Over at Diggers’ sister club, Wests, there’s Amber Lawrence, Those Gals and on Sunday morning, it’s Hats Off to Bush Poetry with the fabulous Jim Haynes.

LORRAINE Pfitzner is a tireless worker for the Australian country music industry and in particular, the Country Capital Bronze Bust Association. Lorraine has organised a concert on Saturday afternoon at SouthGate Inn, with all proceeds going towards the erection of a bronze bust in Bicentennial Park in honour of the late, great Barry Thornton. You’ll hear some top acts take the stage from 4pm Saturday, including Tamworth’s own Rodney Walker and Lynette Guest, and ABBA Star Quest winner, Greg Bain. Get along and support a great cause and enjoy the music.

AUSTRALIAN country music pioneer and all round funny fella, Chad Morgan, will be on deck at The Longyard Hotel for two big shows over Hats Off – Saturday at 8pm and Sunday at 2pm. Chad will be joined by Gordon Larkin for these gigs, so it will be terrific entertainment from the one and only Chadwick. He’s an absolute legend.

THE Family Hotel will be alive with the sound of young talent today and tomorrow as the Capital Country Music Association stages its annual Winter Junior Talent Quest. Friday’s heats were booked right from a very early 8.30am start through to late tonight, so it’s going to be a tough job for the judges deciding the winners. Saturday afternoon from 2pm is when you will get to see and hear the winners announced at the presentation concert.

HATS Off is a great little festival. Make sure you get out and enjoy it to the max. I’ll see you round the traps. Oh – and by the way – it’s your shout! Cheers.
Anna Rose Country Notes Friday 29th June
ONE of the custodians of history I have been privileged to know since the early 80s is Tasmanian researcher and broadcaster Hedley Charles. In his modest home on the outskirts of Burnie, Hedley has an amazing collection of records, CDs, and written material covering much of this country’s musical history. Around 20 years ago in Wynyard, Tasmania, Coast FM began making “test” broadcasts so naturally Hedley was a part of it from the outset.
Just recently he received a wonderful letter from Coast FM chairman Chris Morris, saying the board had unanimously voted to confer life membership on him for his outstanding contribution to the station over 20 years. Hedley, with the assistance of his good friend Marion, has presented four hours of country music each week in that time and interviewed countless artists visiting the Apple Isle.
Community FM stations play a major part in getting country music out to the people, as many mainstream stations shun country in favour of the more popular, commercially palatable music of our times. Broadcasters such as Hedley are worth more than “gold” to independent artists, who don’t have the backing of a major record company behind them.
Independent artists can thank broadcasters like Hedley for playing their music and keeping the flame burning for country fans all over Australia. Well done Hedley – take a bow. You and your countless other colleagues in community broadcasting around Australia, are absolute champions.

A BIG country welcome to Tamworth to the Camerata class of 2007 – a group of young performers, aged 18 and under, who are here to learn what they can to further their country music careers. Tutors are sourced from the upper echelons of the industry to ensure what these young people are taking in is the very best advice and instruction possible.
There’s a big focus on songwriting within the Camerata curriculum, as well as stage and personal presentation, musicianship and the history of country music. Next Thursday evening in Blazes showroom of Wests is the Camerata Graduation Concert – the culmination of their six days of tuition in the Country Music Capital.
This concert is the first major event of the annual Hats Off to Country Festival, and tickets are now available from Wests’ reception. If you want a thoroughly entertaining night out, make sure you have your tickets.

YOUR next step is to get out and enjoy the rest of the Hats Off program. Venue operators all over Tamworth have put together a fabulous program with something to please all musical palates. Programs are available from Tamworth Visitor Information Centre, but because the program was compiled some months ago, additional events may not be included.
Check with your favourite venue to find out exactly what’s happening for Hats Off – and take your friends out and about. It’s the coolest festival around – and many events are free. Ticketed shows are always exceptional value, so it’s best to purchase your tickets ahead of time so you don’t miss out.

MY pick of the ticketed events would have to be The Golden Guitars Salute the Songs of John Williamson, in Blazes at Wests. This is a unique concert – and I don’t know that you will ever see one quite like it ever again. To get a guernsey on the gig, artists had to be Golden Guitar winners – and some, like Golden girl Gina Jeffreys, might never have publicly performed a JW song. But there’s a first time for everything, and Gina is dead keen to bring her own interpretation to John’s beautiful words and music. You’d pay the ticket price just to see Beccy Cole alone. This lady oozes entertainment from every pore of her body. I don’t think I’ve ever attended a BC concert without leaving wanting to dance down the road.
Then there’s the delightful Sara Storer, who had a big hit (and won quite a few GGs with John a few years back) with Raining On The Plains Again. Sara could be seen as the female equivalent to JW, with her truly fair dinkum approach to her songs and their subjects. Our resident GG winner, Lindsay Butler, is no slouch when it comes to getting his fingers around the beautiful melodies conceived by John Williamson. Butts should do a beaut job with those tunes on the night. Then factor in superbly talented artists such as Brendon Walmsley, Tracy Coster, Jeff Brown and your host with the most, Jim Haynes, and you have one dynamite package. Tourism Tamworth is where you obtain tickets for this stunning event.

WHAT a week it’s been, losing two key men who played leading roles in the history of Australian country music. Last Friday the Australian country music family lost 81-year-old Shorty Ranger and this week Victorian pedal steel guru George Xanthos departed this life after a long illness. Both were pioneers in their own way. Shorty started out his career with his good mate, Slim Dusty, when they were kids from Nulla Nulla Creek.
For many years Melbourne-based George was part of a group called The Trailblazers, and later became an integral part of the Hawking Brothers sound. While Shorty’s mate Slim went on to lofty heights within the industry, Shorty opted for a quieter family life, and focused his attention on songwriting. In 1980 George was made a life member of Steel Guitar Australia, and just last weekend he was honoured by the Brisbane Steel Guitar Club with elevation to the Australian Steel Guitar Hall of Fame.
Both men achieved greatness in their lives and their gift of music and songs will long be remembered by country music fans across Australia. I reckon there’s one heck of a party happening this week in Hillbilly Heaven – and Winter Winds would be on high rotation. God bless them both.

Anna Rose Country Notes Friday 23rd June
Love ya work:
Lonnie Lee loves singing now, 51 years after his career began,
as he did way back then.
IF you ever danced or sang along to the hits of Lonnie Lee, you’ll be delighted to hear he’s going to be in Tamworth for the Hats Off to Country Festival. Lonnie is presenting two special “up close and personal” concerts, with just him and his guitar, at North Tamworth Bowling Club on Saturday, July 7 at 3pm and 8pm. During the concerts there will be time set aside for the audience to ask Lonnie questions about his life and career, that has spanned a remarkable five decades. To mark that historic achievement, Lonnie released a new rockabilly CD, North West Mail, which covers the years from 1956 to 2006. A prolific songwriter, Lonnie wrote 17 new songs for this album and for a “doo wop” CD, Light of Love. North West Mail is 11 songs which tend to embrace Lonnie’s rockabilly roots, his rock’n’roll background and both have melded into a style that’s totally Lonnie.
I had the pleasure of interviewing him last week for a feature piece in the July edition of Country Music Capital News – and he is certainly a remarkable man, to be entertaining with as much enthusiasm 51 years after he first took the stage. “My major passion is singing – it always has been,” Lonnie said. “When I was a little kid my mum and my dad both played piano, so I was raised in an environment where I was surrounded by music. I wasn’t into sport, so you could say my extracurricular activities all involved music. I was lucky to have a good voice and I’ve looked after it over the years. My destiny was to be a singer. That was my chosen path, even though I didn’t know it at the time. Nothing was contrived – it all just seemed to fall into place.”
For those who might think it a little strange for a “rock’n’roll legend” to feel so at home in Tamworth as part of a country music festival, think again. Lonnie has some amazing ties with the Country Music Capital that I wasn’t aware of until we had our chat. His family came from Rowena, between Walgett and Moree, and although Lonnie’s mother travelled to Sydney for his birth, Rowena is where he spent his formative years, apart from boarding school in Sydney. As Rowena wasn’t exactly a major metropolis, any major purchases or services required a trip to Tamworth. Then when he took his rock’n’roll show on the road, Lonnie chose the Tamworth Town Hall for a venue. He’s good friends with former Hadley Studio proprietor Eric Scott, who he knew from Eric’s radio days at 7LA Launceston, and he wrote songs and produced an Opal Records album for recently acknowledged OAM recipient, Col Hardy, whom Lonnie fondly recalls as a “wonderful man”. Tickets for Lonnie’s North Tamworth Bowlo shows are now available by phoning the club on (02) 6766 1987, or by visiting his website,

Prolific storyteller: Ron Odgers certainly has a way with words, having won
yet another songwriting contest.
AYR, North Queensland singer-songwriter Ron Odgers has won a songwriting competition to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Burdekin Bridge. Ron’s song, Ribbons of Steel, won him a cash prize and a lot of family pride, due to the fact that his uncle George Odgers worked on construction of the bridge more than half a century earlier. Ron had heard stories about the bridge, and some of these came together in the song. “At first I thought, ‘how do you write a song about a flamin’ bridge’, but I did and I won it,” Ron said. The competition drew entries from all over Queensland, and even one from Canada, but the local won out. When he was told of his win, there was a fair bit of subterfuge, as he was lured into the studios of Sweet FM in Home Hill, on the pretext of re-recording the track, due to background noise on his original recording. “Then when I got into the studio, I was the only one there and I thought something was amiss. Then the mayor from Ayr, Mrs McLachlan, came in and hit me with the prize,” he said. Ron had the chance to perform his award-winning song the following weekend (last) at the official celebrations of the bridge’s half-centenary. “My uncle was a diver on the bridge. He used to dive down to the pylons, pulling tree stumps out of the road,” Ron said. “It must have been bloody cold down there, as they used to give them woolly jumpers to wear under their diving gear. They started building the bridge in 1948 and it took 10 years before it was completed.”

Flood alert: Don't miss their gig at The Pub, Tamworth on Friday, June 29 -
live and free from 8pm
Photo: The Northern Daily Leader.
A PRETTY special gig coming up at The Pub, Tamworth, is on Friday, June 29, when the fabulous Flood descends on our fair city for a rare, out of festival appearance. It’s been months since I’ve heard the band live and can’t wait to sit back and enjoy those wonderful songs and the music that just makes you feel good. Might be a good idea to try to reserve a table for dinner, if you’d like to be assured of a seat.
Anna Rose Country Notes Friday 16th June
Stardom cemented: Tamworth-based balladeer Tommy Maxwell was honoured with his induction into Rocky’s Hall of Fame at Barmera last weekend. Photo: Robmac.

Sharing the moment: Tommy Maxwell and wife Lynne at Rocky’s Hall of Fame at Barmera. Photo: Robmac.
MY GOOD mate, Flasher, from South Australia (aka Robyn McIntosh) braved the cold, windy conditions last weekend to get out and about at the South Australian Country Music Festival at Barmera. Flash said the cool winds kept visitors to the Riverland on the lookout for the warmest spot but with most events indoors the weather wasn’t too much of a problem. “I would estimate the crowds and talent quest entrants as being down a bit, but things are tight money wise, fuel prices aren’t helping, and for some areas the farmers who have had rain would have been making the most of it,” Flash reports. “On Saturday five more people were inducted into Rocky’s Hall of Fame at Barmera. This year’s inductees included one of your local lads, Tom Maxwell, along with Alison Hams, Mark Tempany, Doug Bruce and Ardyakka Park’s Howard Michael. Inductees leave their hand print in a cement guitar body with a stainless steel neck inscribed with some info on the recipient and this is placed into the outline of the guitar behind the Hall of Fame at Barmera. Other festival guests included The Davidson Brothers, Laura Downing, Charlie McCracken, Kristy Cox, Billy Bridge & the Vagabond Ramblers, Dave Prior, Rebecca Lee Nye, Olive Bice, and Royden Donohue, (who tells me he will record a duet with the legendary Brian Young this month).
“Riverland-based talent held a Riverland Showcase mid-week at the Barmera-Monash Footy Club and this would have to have been my favourite of the events I attended. Well rehearsed and a credit to all who participated. On the Friday night I attended a non festival event – The Mallee Fowl Restaurant’s 10th birthday celebrations attended by 100 people. Adelaide entertainer Lorraine Wakefield, who officially opened the restaurant, and is recovering from breast cancer surgery, was proud to be a part of this event and really enjoyed the night. Lorraine and her late husband Len were known as The Piccadilly Yodellers.” Thanks Flash, for sharing your Barmera experiences with us. We look forward to seeing back in Tamworth for the 2008 Festival after a way too long absence!

Triumph over adversity: Danny Mack’s determination to put on a great show in adverse conditions
showed the real spirit of the Port Stephens Bluewater Country Music Festival.
ANOTHER festival that happened last weekend under totally adverse conditions was the Port Stephens Bluewater Country Music Festival. This event had been extremely well organised and promoted. The only thing that didn’t factor into the planning was Mother Nature. The Newcastle/Hunter/Central Coast region was victim of an unexpected deluge from above, with widespread flooding, power outages and sadly, loss of life – the most severe storms in 30 years. One performer, Danny Mack, will long remember his trip from Canberra to the Port Stephens Festival for one gig on the Saturday afternoon. After fighting his way through bottleneck traffic, on a road that resembled a parking lot more so than a freeway, Danny finally arrived at his destination – the One Mile Beach Holiday Park, where he was to perform a 2pm show. Two thirds of his band was there – Sean Rudd (bass) and Mal Lancaster (drums), but guitarist Anthony Walmsley was flooded out and couldn’t get to the gig. Danny was told this news five minutes before showtime. While the players tried phoning around for a replacement guitarist, Danny drove back to his cabin, where Rob Luckey and the Lucky Bastards were staying next door. Knocking on Rob’s door, Danny asked if Rob could grab his guitar and help out for the afternoon show, that should have already been underway. “No problem, mate,” was Rob’s response. “Matt Hanley is in the shower right now and we’ll both get over there and help you out.” (No wonder Matt didn’t answer his mobile, which Sean and Mal were trying to raise him on!)
Matt is one of the most talented guitarists in the business, so this was indeed a delightful bonus for Danny, who’d never seen Matt play before. Rob Luckey also came along and sang a few songs, much to the delight of the attentive audience. They got through the whole show and Matt did a sterling job, filling in for the water-logged Anthony. For the final number, Danny was about to play some blues, as a special tribute to his champion supporter, and all round country music promoter, Helen Mitchell, when the power went out. Helen – you’ll have to make sure he plays some blues first up the next time you see him. Danny said despite the weather, most venues were packed with music lovers, eager to have their minds on something other than the raging storms and rising flood waters. If you want to see some great stories and pictures of the festival, check out www.tamworthragepage.com  where Helen Mitchell has done another sterling effort, covering the wettest Bluewater Festival ever.

Highly anticipated album: Amber Lawrence is excited to be launching her debut CD,
The Mile, in Tamworth during Hats Off to Country.
WHEN Amber Lawrence takes the Legends Bar stage at Wests in Tamworth on Saturday, July 7, she will be one very excited young lady. July 7 is the release date of her highly anticipated debut album, The Mile, produced by Rod and Jeff McCormack, and the public will be able to purchase the disc that night for the very first time. The hard-working Sydney-based entertainer has been building her profile steadily since her graduation from the CMAA Australian College of Country Music in 2004. She came to public attention as a Toyota Star Maker grand finalist in 2005 and in 2006 was a finalist in the Rising Star – Female section at the Australian Independent Country Music Awards of Australia at Mildura. Amber then hit paydirt when she was announced winner of the 2006 Cooper’s Golden Saddle Award. Amber was recently signed to MRA Entertainment and is really excited at the prospect of being able to share this labour of love with her fans. “I feel extremely proud to say I’ve had a hand in writing or co-writing all 12 tracks on the disc,” Amber said. Saturday Night Country DJ John Nutting is an Amber convert and is full of praise for the city-based girl with a country heart. “I first met Amber when she appeared and was a grand finalist in the Telstra Road to Tamworth,” John said. “I was a judge and was very impressed with what I heard. This album has been a dream that is at last a reality for Amber, a future star of Australian country music.” Make sure you get along to Amber’s gig in Legends at Wests on the Saturday night of the Hats Off to Country Festival. Showtime is 8.30pm.
Anna Rose Country Notes Friday 9th June
Country capital salute: John Minson, with wife Ann and daughter Kate, in
January 2007, when John was made a life member of the Country Music
Association of Australia (CMAA), along with fellow festival 'father' Max
Ellis. Photo: Anna Rose

Well-deserved recognition: John Minson and Max Ellis with their CMAA life
membership plaques. Photo: Anna Rose
Good friends: John Minson chats with Joy McKean at a CMAA gathering in
January 2007. Photo: Anna Rose.
Proud moment: John's family, from left, son Lawrie, Kate's partner Scott,
daughter Kate, and wife Ann watch with pride as John receives his CMAA life
membership on stage at SouthGate Inn. Photo: Anna Rose.
Slim Dusty
WHEN you read the next item in this week’s column you will notice the late Slim Dusty would have turned 80 on June 13. Someone who is still with us (thank goodness) also turned 80 on Tuesday, the week before Slim – and he’s a very special bloke. His name is John Minson OAM, affectionately known by many as “Mr Hoedown”. A simple google of his name will leave you in no doubt just how many lives John has touched in a long and distinguished career. He’s also written historical pieces, which are highly enlightening, and obviously penned by someone who loves their subject. John E. Minson was born the year Tex Morton (the grandfather of Australasian country music) first ventured into the recording studio. Some may say it was pre-destined that John would make such an amazing contribution to Australian country music, the development of the Country Music Capital, and the Tamworth Festival. John and wife Ann came to Tamworth in 1961 where, at the time, Canadian announcer Ted McEwan had a half-hour weekly program, Modern Sounds of Country and Western Music. When Ted left Radio 2TM, John picked up the reins and began his formal association with country music broadcasting. A local group of artists and fans formed a club aligned to the Queensland-based Modern Country Music Association – and naturally they enlisted John and Ann as members. Through his Radio 2TM program John promoted the club and its first highly successful jamboree in 1967 at Tamworth Town Hall.
Having been born in the city (Waverley, in Sydney) and raised in the country (Rock Valley, Tidbinbilla), John realised that country music should be enjoyed in the country – and Tamworth was ideal, with its open spaces, parks, camping grounds, motels, department stores and restaurants offering much to the traveller. That sentiment hit home in 1972 when Johnny Ashcroft was presented with two gold records on stage at a 2TM-promoted concert. Johnny’s comment at the time was: “This beats having a presentation at the Marble Bar hotel in Sydney, in front of a group of industry people. The fans get you a gold record, and they should be there when you receive it.” John expanded his country program to a new format, Hoedown, presented five nights a week and 2TM’s involvement in promoting concerts also broadened, leading to the creation of the festival we all know and love today. Thanks, Mr Hoedown, for coming to Tamworth. We would not have achieved very much at all without your dedication and without people with the vision of Max Ellis, former manager of Radio 2TM. Happy birthday – and many happy returns.

THERE are some pretty big celebrations happening this long weekend on CMR – broadcast live from Radio 2TM Tamworth through to stations on the Super Radio Network. The announcers – Brian Howard, Bruce O’Hara and new country recruit Kevin Anderson are cheering – possibly because the boss is away for three weeks – but they’re also marking the 80th birthday of the legendary Slim Dusty. Eighty of Slim’s most popular tracks were chosen for an extensive listener poll with more than 1000 registrations received. All 80 tracks received at least two votes with 17 attracting the bulk of the attention. The most popular tracks came from all seven decades Slim recorded in, ranging from his first recording When the Rain Tumbles Down in July (1947), to A Pub With No Beer (1957), By a Fire of Gidgee Coals (1964), Biggest Disappointment (1974), We’ve Done Us Proud (1987) and Looking Forward Looking Back (2000). “This is the most interesting Slim Dusty Poll I’ve been involved in,” CMR’s Nick Erby told me before he buzzed off on three weeks’ holiday earlier this week. “We had 1026 voters – making it the biggest poll – and with people voting for five favourites we expected a broad range of votes. That happened, however the bulk of the votes went to the top five, with the two most popular songs gaining 20 per cent more votes than #3 – and only one point separated the two most popular tracks.” The five most popular songs (in alphabetical order) are: A Pub With No Beer; Leave Him In The Longyard; Lights On The Hill; Looking Forward Looking Back; and When The Rain Tumbles Down In July. The full results of CMR’s Favourite Songs Poll will be showcased this long weekend across the Super Radio Network in NSW and Queensland and the full list (with points) can be viewed at www.tamworthcountrymusic.com .au

IF you have ever fancied yourself as any sort of guitarist, why not have a try at winning one of Australia’s finest specimens – a 1959 vintage Maton. This opportunity comes your way courtesy of Ric's Vintage Guitars and Groove Magazine, Western Australia’s premier music mag, which is just about to turn five years old. Its editor is a good mate of mine, and possibly yours, Paul McCarthy. As well as being a wonderful writer, Paul also happens to manage one seriously hot WA band, Peter Busher and the Lone Rangers. You might have bumped Paul and the boys at the 2006 Tamworth Country Music Festival if you were very fortunate. If you’d like to be in with a shot to win that glorious vintage Maton, visit the mag’s website, www.groovemagazine.com.au  (and click on the competition link) or pick up the current Groove Magazine for only $4.95 at your local newsagent – and if they don’t have it, tell them (politely of course) that they should! The current issue has Bob Evans on the cover and comes with a fantastic free DVD from The Next Big Thing, featuring 10 CDs worth of MP3s of Western Australian artists as well as an excellent documentary featuring artists who got a start in The Next Big Thing.

THERE’S a great little festival happening at picturesque Port Stephens this weekend. It kicked off yesterday (Thursday) and there are shows at a variety of venues right through until Monday. There’s harbour cruises, bush poetry breakfasts, ticketed shows and free gigs galore. With the fabulous lineup of artists on deck, you’re sure to find lots to do and see. Visit www.tamworthragepage.com  for a full rundown of the program, the artists and visitor information.
Anna Rose Country Notes Friday 25th May
IF YOU’RE not at the inaugural Cessnock Country Music Festival this weekend, why don’t you start planning your Hats Off agenda for July. Doesn’t hurt to be prepared ahead of time, does it? It all starts Thursday, July 5 and concludes Sunday, July 8, with a swag of shows, both ticketed and free, to keep you occupied over the four days. There are local artists and acts from all over the countryside coming to entertain us, so if you can’t find something on the program to your liking, you’re just not looking.

THE Oasis Hotel has a beaut lineup for fans of great Australian bush ballad music – with Brian Howard and the Wire Strainers, Christina George, and Graham Doubleday and friends. A special event at the Oasis is Vietnam veteran Francis Edwards’ album launch at 1pm Sunday. Francis will autograph copies of the disc instore on Saturday at Angus & Robertson Bookstore at 1.30pm.

WESTS is starting off Hats Off in a major way with the staging of the 2007 Tamworth Camerata Graduation Concert in Blazes. This is always a wonderful event, as the 21 young stars are bursting with newfound skills and enthusiasm following six days of tuition from some of the best in the business. And the band is guaranteed to sizzle. Tickets are now on sale from Wests’ reception. Saturday night in Blazes is the main event of Hats Off – the Golden Guitars Salute the Songs of John Williamson. This show has never been done before and will feature some of the biggest stars in country – from the show’s namesake through to Golden girls Beccy Cole, Gina Jeffreys, Sara Storer and Tracy Coster – and the Golden blokes – Lindsay Butler, Jeff Brown, Brendon Walmsley and Jim Haynes – your host with the most. How could you go wrong with an all-star lineup like that? For those who like their entertainment live and free, Legends Bar at Wests and Scores Sports Bar at Diggers are hard to beat, with acts like 2007 Toyota Star Maker Kirsty Lee Akers, 2006 Golden Saddle Award winner Amber Lawrence, festival favourites The Pigs and Tamworth’s own Baileys band.

THE Centrally-located hotel on the corner of Peel and Brisbane, operated by Gary and Belinda Burgess – starts Hats Off on Thursday night with the Rod Dowsett Band – one of their most popular acts in January. The country-loving Burgos put a huge effort into Hats Off, importing Roughstock, Gemma Luxton and Kelly Llewellyn and local favourites, Dan Mureau and the Contractors for our cuddly winter festival.

UP the hill at the Imperial the music’s not exactly country – but it’s live and free, from Thursday to Saturday. Tamworth’s own Mike Vee and Armidale four-piece Unit does the business there.

THE entertainment starts bright and early on Friday and Saturday at The Family Hotel, with the CCMA Junior Winter Talent Quest from 8.30am. You can see some of the best up and coming artists of the future at this well established quest. The grand finale and presentation of winners is at the earlier time of 2pm Saturday this year.

THE Pub, renowned for quality country, has engaged The Young Balladeers – Amos Morris, Nathan Charlton and Matt and Dan Manning, with special guest Jeff Brown; Bill Chambers, Brett Dallas and Dirtwater and Aaron Bolton and Nicole Geddes. A CD launch on Friday night of homegrown star, Ryan Sampson should be special. The disc was recorded at Fat Track Studios, Tamworth, under the guidance of studio owner John Lee.

FRIDAY and Saturday night Tamworth Services Club has one seriously hot band, Luke O’Shea and Medicine Wheel. These boys know how to do the business – and are all smiles due to their latest clip, Ragged Bloody Heroes, reaching the #1 spot on the CMC most requested video chart.

RIGHT in the heart of Peel St, the Tudor Hotel turns up the heat for Hats Off with local performers Steve McCauley, Those Gals and Matt O’Leary. You can enjoy a lazy Sunday afternoon being entertained at the Tudor by Doc Kelvin’s Hot Jazz Combo, for something not quite country – but equally enjoyable.

THE Albert, now under the new management of Gavin Myers, will present Tamworth’s own video star, Matt Scullion and his band, The Lost Moments, on Friday and Saturday from 9pm. Matt has had great success with two singles from his soon-to-be-released album, Put It Down To Experience.

THERE’S one special event at SouthGate Inn’s Scully Room during Hats Off – and it’s at 4pm Saturday. Lorraine Pfitzner will host a great concert presented by ABBA (no – not the Swedish pop group – the Australian Bush Balladeers’ Association!), to raise funds for the construction of a bronze bust to honour the late Barry Thornton. Lorraine has put together a super show, with Peter Coad and the multi-talented Coad Sisters. 2007 ABBA Star Quest winner Greg Bain, Lynette Guest and Rodney Walker.

AUSTRALIA’S clown prince of country comedy, Chad Morgan, stars at the Longyard Hotel, in the fine company of Gordon Larkin. Should be two great shows from the old Chadwick – and they’re free. Out on the ‘randah on Sunday arvo, enjoy the music of The Two Steves.

SIXTIES rocker Lonnie Lee will present one concert only during Hats Off at the North Tamworth Bowlo. It’s on the Saturday night and tickets are now available from the club.

BUSH poetry and balladeers make a great combination at the City Bowling Club, particularly when the package is put together by Sam Smyth. Tickets to this concert are now on sale at Tourism Tamworth – with these family shows starting at 9am Saturday and Sunday.

HAVE a great Hats Off, folks. Get your tickets early so you don’t miss out on all the fun. All ticket inquiries can be directed to Tourism Tamworth. If they don’t sell the tickets, they’ll direct you to the right venue. Programs will be available very soon.
Anna Rose Country Notes Friday 18th May - Keith Urban, Keith's Fans plus Gina Timms and more
Ranch hands reunited - Jerry Flowers and Keith Urban.
Keith gave his all and worked up quite a sweat during his two-hour long
Keith with Chris McHugh (drums) and Chris Rodriguez.
Anna Rose and Rebel Thomson outside Acer Arena – just before the start of Keith’s powerhouse set.
Wests’ public relations officer, Brett Koppel, was the very essence of
hospitality on the trip to Sydney and back.
KEITH Urban came within a bee’s whisker of selling out Australia’s largest indoor arena on Tuesday night in Sydney. From my vantage point in the “mosh pit” only the “nosebleed” seats were left unoccupied in the 21,000 seat capacity venue, which was home to several events during the Sydney Olympics and Paralympics. And Keith made excellent use of every inch of that huge Acer Arena stage and the massive catwalk that extended out from the centre, forming a T-shape. From the moment he opened with Once in a Lifetime Love through to Everybody Needs Somebody Sometimes it was high energy entertainment all the way. The lighting, the sound, the audio-visual effects were all world class, which gave the very best lesson to those in the audience who’d come to “learn” as well as enjoy.
I took great delight in recognising so many young performers in the audience, knowing every one of them would have got one of the best lessons in entertainment presentation there is. Those I did spot included Travis Collins, Aleyce Simmonds, Daniel Conway, Aaron Bolton, Matt Fell, Sam Hawksley, Dominica Singleton, Aimee Hannan, Kelly Hope, Rod Motbey, Victoria Baillie and Adam Harvey and his lovely wife, Miss Kathy. I’m sure there were lots more I didn’t see among the masses. I’ve heard that Garth Brooks sits at the very back row of any arena he’s going to play and devises a way to ensure those in the furthest seats have an intimate concert experience. I reckon Keith might have taken a leaf out of Garth’s book on that one. The first time he strode purposely down that catwalk and asked if the audience was ready to sing, the applause was almost deafening, before he launched into Raining on Sunday – a huge crowd favourite with the majority there singing every word with him. At times he stopped singing completely and smiled broadly as the audience sang his words in unison. What a great feeling that must be for a performer. The ultimate tribute, I suspect. And if anyone deserved it, it was “our Keith”.
His band was simply awesome. I think I caught all the names, but if I got any wrong, I apologise in advance. A very recognisable player was bassist Jerry Flowers, one of Keith’s former partners in The Ranch. Ranch drummer Peter Clarke was among the audience, and was acknowledged by Keith. The other band members seemed to play just about any musical instrument you could care to name – from banjo, mandolin, guitar, piano – it didn’t matter. The sound they created was sheer magic and the energy was something to behold. Brian Nutting (not sure about this surname), Chris Rodriguez, Brad Rice and drummer Chris McHugh were simply amazing – and you could tell – they just love their jobs! I read a review in the Sydney Morning Herald this week by some clown who obviously wasn’t a country fan – or it seems, a music fan at all. He just didn’t get it. It’s sad because Keith deserves full credit for the sensational show he and the band put on, along with the camera crew, sound and lighting guys and very busy onstage personnel, who regularly replaced instruments after quick retuning offstage.
The Waifs got some great exposure and made many new fans at the Keith concert.
The Riverwood Drum Corps - what a great spectacle - and they sure did have
Thanks to our Macphersons coach drivers, Peter and Andrew, and our gracious hosts from Wests – Brett Koppel, Fiona Ainsworth, Keith Clark, Carmel Neal and Carolyn Stier, we got there in plenty of time for the show, to see The Waifs perform their set, which was pretty well received. It’s a fine thing Keith did for that Aussie group, exposing them to huge audiences right around the country. He also highlighted some “local” talent, enlisting the Riverwood Drum Corps, part of the Air League, to do a pretty exciting short piece after one of the band’s sets at the far end of the catwalk. Visually this was a dramatically stunning piece of work. It’s funny. Those people up towards the centre of the room and near the back, really had front row seats for a while! Thanks for coming, Keith. Please don’t leave it too long before you come back and see us. There has been some criticism that he hasn’t returned to Tamworth, but maybe TREC, with a capacity of 5000, just isn’t big enough to hold our home grown Aussie superstar. I laughed during the night, thinking that catwalk was a “grown up” version of the table tops in Blazes showroom, where he would jump up and create musical mayhem. But that was then – this is now.    Click here Keith Urban Artist Report page

The Wests’ team of Carmel Neal, Keith Clark, Fiona Ainsworth and Carolyn Stier (together
with the gorgeous Brett Koppel) made sure we were all well catered for on the trip there and back.

Cousins Robyn Northey and Karen Greer have supported Keith for more than 10 years and remember
fondly his early days playing in Tamworth.

Anna Anderson and her good mate, Rebel Thomson – CEO of Tourism Tamworth.
Bus drivers Andrew, left and Peter, with passengers Niki Connor and Katie Poetschka.
Brendan Hudson, Jackie Hudson, Suzy Clegg and Natalie Storch are longtime Keith supporters.
Sandy Field and Fay Jones wouldn’t have let the bus leave without them. They loved the show.
Nigel Robertson and Andrew Thomas took time out from their pubs (SouthGate Inn
and The Family Hotel) to enjoy Keith.

Loving Keith is a family thing for mother and daughter, Sue and Shae McIntosh of Tamworth.
Caroline Wright (who’s only ever been on a bus twice in her life – both times to see Keith!),
with good mates Colleen O’Meagher and Anne Vickers.
Mel Wilkinson, Christina Watt and Kirby McGrory are bigtime Keith fans.
THE next night three members of Keith’s band dropped by Sam Hawksley’s album launch at the Bridge Hotel, giving that large and appreciative audience much more than they bargained for. My ex-boss Joan Douglas was there, along with her charges Daniel Conway and Aaron Bolton, who have been down in Sydney recording tracks for Aaron’s much anticipated debut album. Joan is the ultimate musician worshipper. There’s nothing like a great player to make that lady sit up and take notice, so when I got a very excited email from her at 12.45am Thursday I had to smile.
“I had a wonderful night of surprises tonight,” Joan wrote. “Az, Daniel and I went to Sam Hawksley’s album launch and the music was magic, with Sam, Glenn Wilson, Matt Fell and Bill Risby. After a generous set to a big crowd, Keith’s band was in attendance and they got up and played and sang. What an awesome experience. Chris McHugh on drums, Jerry Flowers and Chris Rodriguez just rocked the house with Bill and Sam still on stage. Both Jerry and Chris are amazing singers as well as players. Just when I thought nothing could get better than this – they sat down and Sam asked Daniel Conway to get on stage and he joined the band. They then pushed him onto the microphone where he sang Talk To Your Daughter as Robben Ford intended it!”
Joan said as they left the venue, Jerry Flowers and Chris Rodriguez chased them down the street to ask Daniel’s name and rave about his guitar playing skills. His feet may not yet have touched ground after those gracious comments from some musical masters. A comment that will probably stay in Daniel’s head for some time came from Jerry Flowers: “Hey dude. You are one bad ass guitar player.” Daniel’s probably still smiling!    Click here Sam Hawksley Artist Report page

Tasmania's Mother of the Year singing a capella at the Barnardos' dinner.
Patrick Kerlin, who works for Barnardos, with Dirk Van Til, brother of
Priscilla Tilcock (Qld MOTY).
Allan, Gaylene, Theresa and Dominique from Encompass Credit Union, great
supporters of Barnardos.
Noni Hazlehurst, Gina Timms, Gina's son Jakeb and Beccy Cole at the
Barnardos' dinner.
Dennis Coard, Gina Timms, Debra Lawrance and Jakeb posed for a happy snap.
NOW – I didn’t get to share with you all the news about Gina Timms’ big night out at Barnardos’ Mother of the Year dinner in Sydney just recently. It was certainly a night to remember, with lots of stars about such as the hostess with the mostest – Noni Hazlehurst AM (the National Awards Ambassador), actor/dancer Paul Mercurio, actors Dennis Coard, Debra Lawrance, Monica Trapaga and TV personalities Lisa Wilkinson and Alyssa-Jane Cook. But it was those fabulous mums who stole the show, with their inspirational stories and amazing achievements, which came at a price, amid much adversity. Prospect (NSW) mum of two adopted daughters, Natasha Crofts, who has fostered more than 50 children over a 10-year period, eventually emerged as Australia’s Mother of the Year and she was warmly congratulated by all her new friends – Gina, Johanna Daby (NT), Kelly Hayduk (ACT), Charmaine Michon (WA), Jillian Pink (SA), Joanne Thorburn (Vic) and Priscilla Tilcock (Qld).
Noni told Gina that at last year’s dinner she was coerced into singing the Play School classic, I’m A Little Teapot, while the hat was passed around and donations were received from the audience.
Knowing Gina was a singer, Noni asked if she would step up to the microphone, and you can imagine our shy, retiring little thing from Tassie’s response. Gina performed a capella – and totally blew the audience away with that fabulous voice of hers, singing Bridge of Love, a song written by Roger Corbett and recorded by Australian Family of Country Music, in 1994. All proceeds of that single went to Barnardos, as it was the Year of the Child. After the applause finally died down, Gina announced that her friend Beccy (Cole) told her if she was going to get up and sing, she may as well hit the audience with Texas – known widely as Gina’s signature tune. She enlisted the audience to clap along, as there was no guitar or other instrument in sight, and they obliged. Several thousands of dollars was collected during Gina’s two-song performance, much to the delight of the Barnardos people. It was a super venue – Doltone House at Jones Bay Wharf, in Sydney’s Pyrmont area. The food was delicious, the wine was extra good (and plentiful) and the company was delightful. 
Country Music Notes, Friday, 10th May, 2007
DUE to my Sydney sojourn with the Tasmanian Mother of the Year, I’ll submit this week’s column a little earlier than usual. By the time you’re reading this, I’ll be on the train bound for the big smoke, all prepared to cheer on Gina Timms at Thursday night’s Barnardos’ Mother of the Year dinner. More news on that next week. Now – let’s get this show on the road.

HUNTER Valley-based singer-songwriter Kellie Cain will climb down off her horse to perform at The Pub, Tamworth next Friday night, May 18. Kellie has just taken part in the Murrurundi King of the Ranges Stockman’s Challenge. During the trek, Kellie and a musical mate took out their guitars around the campfires at night and entertained fellow riders before they hit the hay for the next day’s ride. Things are looking great for Kellie since the release of her album, Girl With A Suitcase, produced by Glen Hannah and featuring her good mate, Bill Chambers, among other illuminary session players. “I’m really looking forward to my east coast tour which is coming up in June,” Kellie said. “A North Coast publican, Tom Mooney, got hold of my CD and as he owns pubs up and down the coast, booked me to do a run of shows. I can’t wait to get out there amongst it.” Up until then, Kellie plans to limber up her vocal cords with a gig next Friday night at The Pub in Tamworth – where she was a featured artist on one of Bill Chambers’ sessions during the January Festival. Kellie has been in training in recent months, riding her horse as often as possible, and gigging every weekend. “It’s all good. I’m about to submit a few of my songs for the ABC awards in Newcastle, so I’m hoping I do okay with that.”
A keen songwriter, Kellie is always on the lookout for inspiration for her songs, and believed she could have returned from the King of the Ranges ride with more than just saddle sores – she hoped to get some ideas for a few more songs along the way. “I’m always looking for songs. I talk to people everywhere I go because you never know who is going to say something that will get you writing a great song.” Kellie loves her life in the Hunter Valley bushland, and has recently purchased 40 acres of land with her partner, Maje, 20 minutes out of Pokolbin. There are plans afoot for a small tourist development, where Kellie and Maje can show city kids how to experience life in the bush. Music will figure strongly in those plans, as it’s something she will “never give up”. “Even if I’m not out gigging every weekend, I’ll find a way to incorporate it into our plans, even if it means sitting around home, or by the campfire, entertaining people at our place,” Kellie said. “I don’t want to be rich and famous. I’m really proud of the CD I’ve created and it’s given me heaps of confidence. I know now that people like my music and I’ve had great feedback from my peers and radio presenters who’ve played it.” If you’d like to enjoy one seriously great night of entertainment, make sure you’re at The Pub next Friday night to hear the Girl With A Suitcase. She’s also pretty handy with a stompbox too!
Some of the Cessnock Festival Artists

Camille and Stuie
Marty Louis and Karin Lynne
IT’S only two weeks until the first annual O’Neill’s Tyres Cessnock City Country Music Festival and organiser Rhonda Astill is one very excited lady. Always an avid country music enthusiast, Rhonda conceived this idea and has managed to secure corporate sponsorship, as well as fantastic support from the Australian country music family. “Local businesses that have eagerly provided the financial support to make this event happen are Cessnock City Council, East Cessnock Bowling Club, O’Neill’s Tyres, Comfort Inn Cumberland, Commonwealth Bank Cessnock, Goanna Print, LJ Hooker Cessnock, Reg Lindsay Rodeo Promotions, SSS BBQ Barns and Sylvesters Bakery,” Rhonda said. The town of wines, mines and friendly people will welcome country music-loving visitors from Friday, May 25 to Sunday, May 27, with all activities at the East Cessnock Bowling Club. The festival committee has selected Cystic Fibrosis NSW as the beneficiary of profits from this year’s festival, and each year a different charity will be supported. “I have great plans for the growth of this festival and I’m sure in future years, other venues in the city will join in the concept, so it can grow to its full potential,” Rhonda said. Golden Guitar winners The McClymonts will be the first big stars to open the show on the Friday night, and the ever-popular Wolverines will be the stars of Saturday night’s big show. Tickets, priced at $15 and $20 respectively, can be purchased at the club by phoning (02) 4990 1444.
Kirsty Lee Akers
Amber Lawrence
French and 2006 Golden Saddle Award winner Amber Lawrence. Hunter Valley artists are a major factor in the program over the three days, with a special tribute to one of the Hunter’s greatest living assets, Reg Lindsay, set to be a highlight. Music showcasing Reg’s songs will be featured over the festival and his newly released CD, Secrets of Life, will be available for purchase. Bellbird resident Slim Newton, famous for his hit song, Redback on the Toilet Seat, and 2007 Toyota Star Maker winner Kirsty Lee Akers will star, alongside other local entertainers including Bruce McCumstie, Alby Pool, Lisa White, John Wilson and Rob Wilson. Rhonda believes the secret to success is “keeping it country” and that’s just what she plans to do with the newest festival on the Australian country calendar. If you’d like to know more about it, phone Rhonda on 4990 6861 or you can book and/or purchase your tickets at the East Cessnock Bowling Club on 4990 1444.

IT was sad to hear of the passing last Sunday of Canberra country music enthusiast and tireless supporter, Neil Beeby. Neil fought the good fight, but his opponent was far more aggressive than the peaceful, gentle soul, who was such an active participant in the Canberra country music scene. I can remember Jazzer speaking fondly of Neil Beeby more than 25 years ago. Jazzer came up from Melbourne to Tamworth at the invitation of Max Eliis and Gary Robertson to turn Capital News into a monthly publication, rather than the annual newspaper it had been, produced each January. Neil would contribute snippets of information about country acts passing through Canberra, and would often travel to festivals right around Australia. He took his country very seriously and was much admired by many. Right up until his death, Neil continued his lengthy association with Capital News – and he never stopped loving country music. Vale Neil
Country Music Notes, Friday, 5th May, 2007
Number one mum: Gina Timms with her gorgeous boys, Jakeb (left) and Samuel.
Photo: Jason Hollister, The Advocate, Burnie.

As a postscript to this week’s column,
I thought I’d share this little gem with you. Gina Timms did a gig at Penguin Market, Tasmania, on Sunday – a regular thing she does once a month. And what a gorgeous surprise was in store for her when she arrived. The stage was decorated and a sign was made up in her honour as Tasmania’s Mother of the Year, wishing her well in the national finals on Thursday night. Of course, Gina cried. Then she attempted to sing with a large lump in her throat! Those Taswegians are certainly very proud of their representative in this national quest. “Winning Barnardos Tasmanian Mother of the Year has certainly brought so much more joy and fun to my life,” Gina said. “Thankyou so much to everyone who’s supporting me in this venture.”
Cheers, Anna

MOST people who come to Tamworth each year for the Country Music Festival would know a lady by the name of Gina Timms. Gina is chief judge and coordinator of the Aristocrat Country Entertainer of the Year quest, staged at Wests. Gina also organises and coordinates the “girls’ show” – aka Ladies of Country, held in Legends Bar at Wests on the first night of each year’s festival – where there’s standing room only. Gina lived in Tamworth for a short period of time in the ‘90s, moving here from her home base of Tasmania. She was a grand finalist in Star Maker and has recorded several albums over a 20-year period.
I remember the year she was in Star Maker. It was held at the old Tamworth Workmen’s Club auditorium and I can clearly recall Gina’s great big voice filling that grand old auditorium and receiving a huge ovation from the capacity crowd. When the winner’s name was announced, most people felt it would be Gina (who was the crowd favourite by a long shot), but Warren Derwent was named Star Maker that year. I could say she was “robbed” – but that’s only because I felt she gave the best performance of the night and after all, she’s a very close friend of mine so I could be a little biased.
Next Thursday I’m going to see my good mate, who’s now based back home at Shearwater in Tassie, but I’m not travelling to the Apple Isle to do that. I’m heading to Sydney for a flash do at a posh venue where Gina is a state finalist in Barnardos’ Mother of the Year quest. Gina has two boys – Jakeb, 12 and Samuel, aged eight. In January Jakeb got on his mum’s computer and submitted an application to Barnardos, telling them how much he loves his mum. Here is an excerpt from that submission: "Everyone should think their mum is great, but our mum is awesome. She has survived cancer, lives her life in pain caused by an accident with a drink driver but mum never whinges and still does everything. She works, is the president of our school's P & F and fundraising coordinator and she also sings. She sings at lots of charity events, helping to raise funds for needy people – even our mates love her. Mum invites friends to stay lots and makes us all laugh. Our dad left a year ago so mum does it all on her own. She gives me and my brother, Samuel so much love and happiness, so she’s already our Mum of the Year. When mum isn't feeling well she says: ‘You boys are the reason my feet hit the floor every day.’ Our mum is kind, gentle and loves everyone, and everyone loves her because she makes everyone smile."
That application straight from Jakeb’s heart saw Gina elevated to the Tasmanian finals of Barnardos’ Mother of the Year – and a few weeks ago, she was named Tasmania’s Mother of the Year. On Thursday she will meet with the other state finalists for the national judging, and I’m delighted and privileged to be one of Gina’s guests at that function. Regardless of whether she’s named Australia’s Mother of the Year, I firmly believe she already is. Gina is not only a fantastic entertainer, but she’s a marvellous friend who’s always there when you need her.
I remember when I was pregnant with my eldest son James, and Gina developed a “tummy bug” that just wouldn’t go away. That tummy bug turned out to be Jakeb. And what a gorgeous little bug he is – possessed with all the qualities his mum has instilled in him over the years. And young Samuel, another blessing, is just as wonderful as his older brother – and both absolutely adore their mum. Gina never planned to have children. In fact she claimed to not have a maternal bone in her body – but it’s funny how little blessings change a person’s attitude to life. Gina is rather like a mother tiger when it comes to her boys. She would do anything to protect them and ensure they were safe from harm. She’s a bit like that with her friends too. Gina has a great sense of humour, even though many times laughter is the last thing she feels like doing. She has an enormous talent that’s still to be fully realised. I wish her all the best and I’m sure anyone who’s ever heard Gina perform her signature song, Texas When I Die, will wish her well also. I’ll keep you posted, folks.

Back to the future: Andrew Clermont and Randall Wilson – preparing for their musical reunion at The Vault, Tamworth, next weekend.
Flashback: Andrew with The Glass Band in Taiwan (2002) with from left, Parris Macleod, Randall Wilson, Kathi Blomer and Donna Reynolds.
ANOTHER musical mate of mine, Andrew Clermont, is having one of those rare times when he’s based close to his Moonbi home. The multi-talented, globe-trotting musician will be in Glen Innes this weekend for the Celtic Festival performing with The Leaping Lizards, a band that features Donna Reynolds. Donna was a regular visitor to the Tamworth Festival for many years, and her absence in recent times has been noted. Andrew tells me the musically gifted Donna, who’s one heck of a five-string banjo player and award-winning songwriter to boot, is now happily ensconced with The Leaping Lizards, singing and playing bass. The Lizards, long-time friends of Andrew’s – and familiar names to many who have patronised the Battle of the Bush Bands in Tamworth over the years, will join Andrew again next weekend for the Wallabadah bush dance. Another musical reunion will take place next weekend when Andrew is joined by esteemed Tamworth percussionist Randall Wilson for a couple of “Boom Crash Opera-type” shows at The Vault – Friday night and Sunday lunch. “It’s been a good five years since Randall and I had a good shake out of our musicality together, so it will be a rare treat for those able to come along,” Andrew said.

Birthday bash: Lindsay Butler, Shaza (the birthday girl) and that cute
little pistol-packing Batman is their son Lachie.
CONGRATULATIONS to LBS recording artist Shaza Leigh on the occasion of her 40th birthday. Butts’ missus and Lachie’s mum will be celebrating with family and friends in the Country Music Capital this weekend, ahead of a busy touring schedule which includes festival appearances at Mulwala and Wagga Wagga in coming weeks. Have a great day and a fabulous party, Shaz!
Country Music Notes, Friday, April 27, 2007

Now that’s rusty: John O’Dea took his Old Rusty Ute along to the Melrose Ute Muster and Rock The Mount concert at Mt Remarkable, SA. Photo: Tim Froling.
Spiderman fan: This little tacker Charlie Froling found a ute at the Melrose Ute Muster with his favourite super hero featured on it – Spiderman. Photo: Tim Froling.
LAST weekend was a pretty amazing one in the life and times of South Australian singer-songwriter John O’Dea – some might even say it was “Remarkable”! In only its second year, the Melrose Ute Muster attracted patrons from far and wide, who began arriving on the Friday afternoon/evening to stake their campsite in the shadow of Mt Remarkable. A good number of happy campers took advantage of the shuttle bus to head in to the North Star Hotel to catch Gleny Rae Virus and Her Tamworth Playboys, while others were happy to sit around their campfires and enjoy the ambience of bush living. Around 80 utes were registered for the Ute Muster the following day at high noon, and during proceedings, several young performers were introduced to the stage by Johno. Johno was pretty chuffed to present these young people to the growing audience, as he acts as mentor to them in their endeavours in the performance field. All were ably backed by Port Augusta band, Fine Form.
Family ties: Tania Kernaghan joins her brother Lee for a duet in Lee’s set at Mt Remarkable.
Photo: Tim Froling.
Having fun: Lee Kernaghan, Lawrie Minson and James Gillard getting amongst it at Mt Remarkable.
Photo: Tim Froling.

Star attraction: Lee Kernaghan loved getting out among the audience and entertaining them last weekend at Mt Remarkable.
Click here Lee Kernaghan Artist Report Page
Photo: Tim Froling.
Harmony x three: Brooke, Mollie and Sam McClymont get the crowd going at Melrose. Photo: Tim Froling.
Rockin’ the mountain: Steve Forde out front of The Flange was back for his second year running at Mt Remarkable.
Photo: Tim Froling.

Then at 6pm, Johno grabbed his guitar for a half-hour set, presenting a handful of his story-songs to the crowd which now numbered close to 4000. At last year’s inaugural event, heavy rain put paid to a large audience and some 700 brave souls attended the washed-out event – so this year’s huge attendance was a huge omen for festival organisers, who have bigger, better things planned for 2008. The beautiful, talented and ever-harmonious McClymont Sisters followed Johno’s set, and Golden Guitar winner Tania Kernaghan was next on the bill. Steve Forde and the Flange cranked the crowd up before the main attraction of the night – Lee Kernaghan and his red hot band, delivered the goods as part of their Outback to the Beaches tour. During Lee’s set he was joined by both his sister Tania and by the gorgeous McClymonts – Mollie, Sam and Brooke.
“I was just thrilled to be part of the whole show,” Johno said. “Getting the opportunity to watch artists like Lee perform is a real honour – and having the chance to talk to him after the show was another bonus. During the lead-up to his part of the show Lee mixed and mingled with the crowd, autographing hats, shirts, bodies – anything people threw at him. They really enjoyed that up close and personal experience – I know I did.”
In case you didn’t hear the latest – Old Rusty Ute is now #12 on the Country Tracks Top 30 … go the Ute! Keep an eye on Johno’s website ( www.johnodea.com.au  ) in coming weeks, as his photographically gifted friend, Tim Froling, plans to post all the photos taken over the weekend, which Tim affectionately calls, “Rock The Mount”.
Talking to Johno on the phone today he mentioned he arrived in Wilpena Pound for a show on Wednesday night only to find he was a day early. The show was scheduled for Thursday night. Needless to say, he’s picked up a new name around those parts – John A’Day Early!
Happy days.

Great debut: Kellie Cain’s CD, Girl With A Suitcase, is a must for your collection.
Check it out at your favourite record store – or visit Kellie’s myspace site.
HERE’S a date to engrave in your diary, folks. Friday, May 18 at The Pub in Tamworth is when you’ll be treated to an evening of music and great songs by The Girl With A Suitcase – Kellie Cain. Kellie, who also plays a very handy stompbox, as well as guitar, was introduced to The Pub by Bill Chambers at his noonday sessions. Bill gave Kellie such a great rap prior to the Festival, I invited her to take part in Thelma and Louise’s Choice Picks – a show Joan Douglas (Thelma) and myself, put together for the January program.
Kell went down a treat – just with her guitar, stompbox and soulful lyrics, so she’s returning to The Pub with some musical friends on Friday, May 18 at 8pm. Based in the Hunter Valley, Kellie has a beaut new album you might be able to grab a copy of on the night. If you’d like to find out a bit more about this great act before you see the show, visit her myspace page, www.myspace.com/kelliecain . You’re gonna love Kellie. She’s the real deal.

What a smile: The gorgeous Camille Te Nahu, out front of The Feral Swing Katz at Moruya last weekend. The man of steel (my cousin) Michel Rose is also pictured.
Go, Katz, go: The Feral Swing Katz in full flight at Moruya.
With feeling: Danny Mack delivers the goods at the Moruya Country Roundup last weekend.
HAD an email from internationally acclaimed singer-songwriter Danny Mack who had a ball last weekend at the Moruya Country Music Roundup, on the magnificent NSW south coast. It was just a short trip for Danny, who’s currently based in Canberra. Danny said it was a beaut little festival, and he just loved sharing the bill with acts such as The Feral Swing Katz, Fiddlers Feast, Victoria Baillie, Jeremy Edwards and more. If you haven’t got yourself a copy of Danny’s latest album, Ride Me Down Easy, you’d better head to your favourite record store. It’s a beauty. One of my favourite tracks is a cover, written by Australia’s John Williamson. I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed hearing A Bushman Can’t Survive more than with Danny’s soulful version. If you want to know more about Danny, visit his website, www.dannymack.com 

And baby makes three: Kate, Barry and baby Sebastian, at three days old.
CONGRATULATIONS to Barry Harley (general manager of Rural Press Events) and Kate Nugent (Harley) on the safe arrival of their handsome baby boy – Sebastian Michael Harley. (Michael is in honour of Kate’s dad). Sebastian came into the world at 2.16pm on April 12, weighing a healthy 3.5kg. The proud daddy said he was 51cm long, has blonde hair, big feet, long fingers and quite a big …. future! Wishing the happy family all the very best.

NEXT Saturday, May 5, there’s a huge family fun day planned for The Pub, with proceeds being directed to Hope Cottage and to the Tamworth Prostate Cancer Support Group. Should be lots of fun for all the family, with raffles, face painting, Rodney the clown, a jumping castle, and all sorts of activities from around noon. It’s being organised by The Pub Fishing Club and Tamworth & District Harness Racing Club in conjunction with The Pub Group. Fishing Club spokesman Tony Grills tells me Alex Watt will be on hand to provide some music, along with some other artists who are donating their time and talents for the cause. Hope Cottage is a wonderful concept – and is something that will have wide-ranging benefits for the entire community. To find out how you can help realise the dream of Hope Cottage, visit the website, www.hopecottage.org.au 

IT’S only 17 more sleeps until Keith Urban’s Sydney concert at the Acer Arena. I’ll be heading down there with a busload of KU fans, thanks to Wests and Macphersons Coaches. Can’t wait.

Harmonious family: Kiaya, Tyler and Amanda, with parents Steve and Chris at rear.
I WAS given the pleasure of interviewing Canadian country music artist Steve Wilkinson in recent weeks – patriarch of award-winning group, The Wilkinsons. If you buy the May edition of Country Music Capital News, you will get the full story of this remarkable man and his very talented family. Since the release of their debut album Nothing But Love, in 1998, they have been nominated for 37 major music awards and managed to take home 21 – not a bad strike rate. With all that success, plus being nominated for two Grammy awards, they’re still a very level-headed family.
“Most people lose sight of the fact that artists are people paying their bills in a different way,” Steve said. “We’ve been shopping at the local Walmart store and people come up and ask what we’re doing there. When I tell them ‘buying dog food’, they look really surprised, like they don’t expect you to do things like normal people. At the end of it all, when careers are over, you’re just a person. Somebody once said to Amanda that once we got some success under our belt, they felt we would change, which she thought was kinda goofy.
“She told them that just because you have a video hit on CMT and a hit song on the radio, the world didn’t need three more idiots, so we’re happy to just do things the way we always have. Like normal people.”
Mind you, their social circles would have widened dramatically in the past decade and when they get together with friends, it’s often catching up with other artists on the road, or at festivals. “When we see them, we have like 15 minutes to catch up, at a festival, or at some awards show,” Steve said. “Some of them I’ve hung out with in a more social setting. I like to go fishing with Brian White and Blake Shelton is a big hunter, so we enjoy that when time permits.”
Things are going great for this family band with discussions underway for the third season of their successful pay TV show, the first season of which is now airing on Australia’s CMC. And the next project for the Wilkinsons will be a compilation of their greatest hits to date. “We’ve had a bunch of number ones, so it’s about time we put a greatest hits package together. Maybe radio will sit up and pay attention then. We’re shooting a video next week and we’ve got a busy tour scheduled. We’ve been talking to a number of folks down under, so we might get down there soon to enjoy some good Australian beer. That’s what bonds Canadians to Australians – we love our beer too.”
How down to earth can you get? Make sure you buy the May edition of Cap News at your local newsagent, or phone (02) 6762 2399 and talk to Cheryl to arrange to have your copy delivered to your home every month. It’s Australia’s favourite country music monthly – and after all these years, it’s still music for the eyes. If you’d like to be in with a chance to receive your first three months’ subscription absolutely FREE, phone Cheryl today on the number above – and tell her I sent you!   Click here Artist Report Page

Rib-tickler release: Big Belly Laughs is Raving Rita Schneider’s latest comedy
release – and it’s a beauty.
Singing sisters: Rita Schneider, right, looking rather glamorous with her very elegant sister Mary,
attending the Country Music Awards at TREC.
THERE’S nothing quite like a good belly laugh to ease the tension and release some healthy endorphins, so if you’re in need of that release, I’ve got the cure. Big Belly Laughs, is Rita Schneider’s latest offering and there are 11 tracks guaranteed to tickle your funny bone on this disc. The only non-comedy track is titled Bauhinia Country and was inspired by happy memories from Rita’s childhood in Rockhampton. Rita is the sister of Australia’s yodelling queen, Mary Schneider, and aunt of the Golden Guitar winner with the biggest smile around, Melinda. Entertainment runs through the Schneider veins and it appears Rita received a healthy dose of the ‘sense of humour’ gene when it was being handed out. Of the 12 tracks on the album, 10 were either written or co-written by the talented Rita, who describes herself as “Australia’s Loony Lady”. Loony she might be, but she sure knows how to entertain and get you chuckling. Track one is an adaptation of Geoff “Tangletongue” Mack’s big hit, I’ve Been Everywhere, only Rita’s version is called I Eat Everything!
If you fancy a good belly laugh, there’s nothing better around than Raving Rita Schneider’s Big Belly Laughs. If you’d like the complete set of Rita’s comedy discs, look out for Birdbrain Ballads, Keep On Larfin’, Dingbats!!, Nutty As A Fruitcake and Rita Raves On. If you can’t find Big Belly Laughs at your favourite record store, send $19.95 plus $2 p&h to Rita Schneider, 16 Small St, Putney NSW 2112, or place your order by phone/fax on (02) 9809 0503.

BILLBOARD Magazine has once again named Ten Ten Music in Nashville as one of the Top 10 Country Music Publishers of the Year for 2006. Ten Ten is one of the few independent companies to make the list, alongside such majors as Sony/ATV, EMI, Warner/Chappell, Universal and BMG/Zomba. Ten Ten has been a part of the Top 10 list every year since 2003. Chart topping hits that have put the company in this group have been singles by artists such as Keith Urban, George Strait, Darryl Worley, Dierks Bentley, Joe Nichols and Blake Shelton. You might wonder why a Nashville-based publishing firm rates a mention in this column. The answer is simple. Australian Jewel Blanch and her New Zealand-born husband Barry Coburn are the founders of this firm, established in 1984. Ten Ten is one of the major sponsors of the Nashville Film Festival, which started April 19 and continues through until April 26. I hope to have a feature in coming weeks on Jewel and how life is treating her in Music City USA. Watch this space.

Country Music Notes – April 13th, 2007
LAST year in May I had the pleasure and privilege of attending the QUT Urban Country Music Festival at Caboolture. It was a great festival and I enjoyed it immensely. It’s definitely a DIY type of event, as the main concert is staged at the showground and you need to go well prepared – blanket, chair, portable shade etc. It is quite a business and for someone who turned up with a camera, notebook and handbag, I found some facilities a little lacking – or was that just because I wasn’t a girl scout in a previous life? Now you’ve got the drum, you won’t make the same mistake I did – so make sure you’re geared up, because once you’re there you won’t want to leave. The entertainment is first class all the way.
This year’s line up features a galaxy of stars including Troy Cassar-Daley, John Williamson, Adam Brand, Beccy Cole, The McClymonts, rock god Jimmy Barnes and country newcomers, The Pigs. This major concert is on Saturday, May 5, from 2pm to 11pm and is proudly supported by the Caboolture Shire Herald. Tickets are available at Caboolture Shire Council Administration Centre, Caboolture RSL, Caboolture Sports Club, Kilcoy Newsagency and Ticketek on 13 28 49 or by visiting www.urbancountry.com.au  or www.ticketek.com . This festival has been going since 2001, and while still in its infancy is proving to be one of the best festivals around. There’s so much more to it than just the main event, as it starts on Friday, May 4 and continues through until Monday, May 7.

THERE’S something for just about everyone on the program – from buskers to talent quest hopefuls, to songwriters and those who love to watch people perform. A new event at this year’s festival should be a major career boost for professional artists wanting to climb the ladder of success. The inaugural Voice of Urban Country, presented by RSL Caboolture, is a major innovation that provides professional artists with an opportunity to secure a first prize that’s guaranteed to have the winner feeling like an established star from the outset. Valued at $13,500, the first prize will be like a dream gig for one talented entrant. Cash, recording time, referral to a major management company, a music store gift voucher, marketing package, advertising campaign and four performance bookings make up the coveted winner’s prize pack. Entry to the Voice of Urban Country closes April 27, so organisers are expecting a huge influx of entrance vying for the big purse. Amateur artists are still a strong part of the festival, with the Urban Country Talent Search comprising junior and senior categories where contestants will be competing for cash and accommodation prizes. Amateur heats at the Caboolture Town Square stage will be held on Saturday, May 5 and the professional section on Sunday, May 6 at the same venue. Both finals will be staged at the RSL Caboolture on the Sunday from 2pm. Entry forms are now available online at www.urbancountry.com.au  and close 4pm Friday, April 27.

GOLDEN Guitar winning stars, Carter and Carter (husband and wife David and Merelyn) will share their impressive portfolio of skills with aspiring songwriters and performers at this year’s QUT Urban Country Music Festival. The Carters will facilitate a workshop, titled Seven Steps to a Powerful Performance, where they will share tips and techniques on moving past fear and putting the WOW factor into a live performance. The workshop will be held at Caboolture’s Memorial Hall on Sunday, May 6 from 1pm to 3pm at a cost of just $20. Numbers are strictly limited, so if you want to secure your spot at this event, get in quickly and phone 1800 810 400.

PEEL ST in Tamworth is known far and wide as “the boulevarde of dreams” but the streets of Caboolture are set to come alive with the sound of buskers during the QUT Urban Country Music Festival. Buskers can take the form of dancers, artists, jugglers, actors, comedians, magicians or musicians. The Busking Championships, proudly supported by the Twisted Arm Tavern, will allow budding artists to test their talent on the public before taking the leap to doing a gig in front of paying customers.
Buskers will perform acoustically throughout the CBD on Saturday and Sunday, May 5 and 6, Judges, with links to the music and media industries, will mingle with onlookers. They will determine the best entertainer by evaluating which buskers draw a crowd and who is the most entertaining to watch. Entry to the competition is free and buskers will be assessed in four categories – junior individual, duet/group, senior individual and traditional (country). Prize money totalling $2400 is up for grabs. The finals will be held at the Twisted Arm Tavern on Sunday, May 6 from 4pm. Entry is free for spectators. The tavern has also organised free entertainment throughout the day. Buskers must register by completing the form available at www.urbancountry.com.au  by 9am Saturday, May 5. The winners of each of the four Busking Championship categories will be given an opportunity to shine before a larger audience when they entertain at the festival’s Farewell Concert in Caboolture’s Town Square on Monday, May 7 from 9.45am to 3pm. The 2007 QUT Urban Country Music Festival in Caboolture will be held from Friday, May 4 to Monday, May 7. For more information phone 1800 810 400, e-mail info@urbancountry.com.au  or visit www.urbancountry.com.au
Country Music Notes – Good Friday, April 6, 2007

Riding for a reason: Lorin Nicholson is raising funds for Vision Australia, through a bike ride,
radio auction and charity concert at The Pub next Friday night.
Starstruck Guitar!    2TM Mal McCall and Station Manager Gavin Flanagan with
the autograph Cort Guitar to be Auction on 2TM
HOW would you like to own a beautifully crafted Cort guitar, bearing the signatures of most every major country music artist in Australia? That opportunity can be yours if you tune in to 1287 2TM on the AM dial next Tuesday through to Friday and listen to Mal McCall’s brekky show. Mal is conducting an on-air auction of the guitar, donated to Lorin Nicholson by Cort Guitars, Melbourne, to raise funds for the vital work conducted by Vision Australia. 2TM’s other gorgeous announcers, Garry Coxhead and Jeordi Norton, will also be calling for bids throughout the day, so stay tuned. Lorin is doing more than his fair share in the fundraising, riding a tandem pushbike from Tamworth to Port Macquarie, leaving Tuesday morning and arriving in Port on Wednesday afternoon. Through contacts in the music industry, this beautiful guitar has been signed by the majority of artists taking part in the CMAA Golden Guitar Winners Concert series at Penrith Panthers in Sydney a couple of weeks ago – plus others. Just imagine if you submitted the winning bid. If you owned a business, the guitar would make a fabulous window display, or cherished trophy. You could come out to The Pub next Friday night and take possession of that guitar on stage at Lorin’s Family and Friends show, which is the culmination of his energetic week in the saddle. He’ll swap his pushbike for a guitar and entertain patrons at The Pub by presenting pieces from his new album, Only You, and will be joined during the evening by some wonderful artists including the delightful Aleyce Simmonds. Aleyce is donating her time and talents for the occasion, so it’s hoped there will be a huge number of people there to enjoy the show, which is aimed at families. Lorin is somewhat of a “pied piper” when it comes to children, as there are few people in this world who can keep a room full of young ones totally enthralled for a full hour. I’ve seen him do this on numerous occasions as he presents his music and motivation sessions at schools. It’s quite extraordinary to witness. This is a free concert, but donations will be sought for Vision Australia – and you could take home some fabulous prizes in a giant raffle. Some fabulous sponsors have come on board to help this dream of Lorin’s come true. Quality Sails Resort, Port Macquarie, have donated a weekend for two with breakfast and dinner included; Soundy’s Retravision, Tamworth, have donated a Ricoh digital camera; The Good Guys, Port Macquarie, have donated a 34cm colour television and other great prizes; Hogs Breath Café, Tamworth and Port Macquarie, have each donated dinner for two. It’s going to be a fabulous family night. Hope to see you all there at The Pub, 99 Gunnedah Road, Tamworth at 8pm, Friday, April 13.
The big fella himself: Ron Odgers – doing his splendour in the grass pose!
ISN’T it a great feeling when an old friend comes back into your life after a lengthy absence? That’s just how it was for me when I opened the post during the week and discovered a re-released copy of wonderful North Queensland singer-songwriter Ron Odgers’ album, Sittin’, Sippin’, Fishin’. Ron was one of the Kookaburra Recordings stable, a fabulous assortment of singer-songwriters brought together around a decade ago by John Williamson’s enterprising manager, Phil Matthews. Ron was never short of a word or two, when it came to spinning a great yarn, and this re-release has a fabulous new bonus track that’s sure to put a smile on people’s faces. Someone Else’s Task (The Grey Water Song) is extremely topical. Recycling waste water, it appears, is on everyone’s lips – it’s just that some people would rather not drink it. Have a look at the first verse, for instance, and you’ll see why Ron is on the edge of his (toilet) seat, awaiting Queensland Premier Peter Beattie’s response to his humorous take on the grey water debate.

Our Queensland is a marvellous place
And the tourists love it too
And the more travellers that come up here
The more so use our loos
But it’s their generous donations that put a smile on Peter Beattie
For our leader plans to beat the drought
Using everybody’s Wee Wee

Something fishy: Ron Odgers’ re-released album is a classic –
essential listening for all fishermen – and those who love to laugh.
Now this new track isn’t the only reason you should race out and try to buy a copy of the disc. There are 13 other great reasons, including the title track – which is a classic, even if you’re not angling-inclined, such as myself. I’m pretty sure Slim Dusty recorded track seven – The Only Time A Fisherman Tells The Truth (is when he calls another a liar); and what about old mate Herrrrrrbbbbbb on track five? Anyone who’s ever felt queasy on the water would relate to this hysterical tale from Ron’s prolific pen. Ron’s views on conservation get a strong and clear airing on Throw The Small Ones Back (track four) and any dad who’s ever been bugged by his kids to go fishing when all dad really wants to do is have a sleep-in, will take to track three, Come On Dad Take Me Fishin’. Now I don’t know if Skidmark Eddie (track nine) is an actual mate of Ron’s, but I’d say a few Aussie blokes would know someone just like him. This album was a beauty when it was first unleashed on an unsuspecting public in 1997. Now, it’s even more so. We can all use a good laugh, and this album delivers that in spades. If you can’t find it at your local music store, head on down to the fishing tackle shop. There’s every chance you’ll find one there. Welcome back, Ron Odgers. Hope to see you sittin’, sippin’, fishin’ in Tamworth again – if we can ever get enough water in our dams to make it worth throwing in a line.

TO ALL Country Music Notes readers – have a happy, healthy and holy Easter. Enjoy every moment you spend with your family and friends.
Country Music Notes – Friday March 30, 2007
Gone country: Alex and Jim from The BordererS have a beautiful new album to share with music lovers.
I’VE been listening to a new album by The BordererS – that gorgeous, energetic duo plus from South Australia, who come to Tamworth each year and kick their heels up in the most artistic manner possible. This wonderful outfit introduced yet another aspect to our ever evolving festival and their albums to date have reflected their own individual style. This time around though The BordererS have gone country – and it’s an awesome outcome. Take a little bluegrass, mix it gently with some Dixieland jazz, a touch of zydeco and you’ve got the essential ingredients of A Time For A Change – The BordererS and The Rough Diamonds. Jim says the album was heavily influenced by Bruce Springsteen’s recording in 2006 of The Seeger Sessions – protest songs Pete Seeger used to sing in the ‘60s. While you won’t find much country on “The Boss’s” disc, you will on A Time For A Change. I love the album. BordererS originals are interspersed with traditional Irish songs and Alex’s take on the Leonard Cohen classic, Hallelujah, is to die for. Track four is superb, and is one for all the mums out there – and those people who love their mums. It’s called My Mother, My Angel of Love, and it certainly puts into perspective a mother’s unconditional love. As you’d expect from any BordererS album, there’s lots of rollicking dance tunes, but there’s a real country edge to this disc that shows the band’s versatility and universal love of music. Go out and buy yourself a copy – and buy one for your mum too! They’re playing at the Glen Innes Celtic Festival the first weekend in May, so if you’re lucky, you could catch them there. In the meantime, visit their website, www.theborderers.com.au 

Tasty treat: Musical chameleon Andrew Clermont (not sure about his friend) will deliver the goods at the North Tamworth Bowling Club on April 11.
CHAMELEON musician Andrew Clermont has a special treat for guests at his April Supper Club at North Tamworth Bowling Club. The highly awarded world music group, Dya Singh, will join Andrew on Wednesday, April 11 to present a spirit night of North Indian song, dance and stunning instrumentation, featuring a host of exotic instruments. The tabla drum, santoor (hammer dulcimer), bouzouki and harmonium will blend tunefully with Andrew’s violin, mandolin, guitar and didgeridoo to take patrons to “another place”. And if that level of musicianship isn’t enough to tempt you out of your home, there’s a delicious Indian meal available from 7pm – all at the North Tamworth Bowling Club on the corner of Bligh and Piper streets. The music starts at 8pm and tickets are just $25/$20, with children admitted free.
On previous visits, Dya Singh have shared their musical gifts with students at schools in Tamworth, Moonbi, Barraba and Armidale. An internationally awarded inter-faith communicator, band leader Dya Singh and his troupe have performed everywhere from the Royal Albert Hall, London, and the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC, through to Kenya, Japan and Germany at concerts, festivals and special events. The group also provided the music soundtrack for a New York documentary called Mistaken Identity, a film about Sikhs in America and follows incidents for the US Sikh community after September 11 in the USA. Mistaken Identity picked up three first place awards at USA film festivals in 2003. Now after nearly 20 CDs in about as many years performing, this fine group of musicians still experience the same joy at each performance – they love what they do – and the joy it brings to their audiences. Andrew says the concert has the potential to transform your life – or it could, at least, for one inspiring evening. For the past decade the Dya Singh group has had a stable lineup, with Dya Singh on harmonium and vocals; Parvyn Singh (Dya’s daughter) on vocals and dance; Dheeraj Shrestha on tablas (Indian drum); Andrew Clermont on fiddle, mandolin, didgeridoo and guitar; musician/manager Keith Preston on Greek bouzouki and Persian santoor plus Josh Bennett on dilruba (Indian violin-sitar) and blues guitar. As always the night will likely attract a few extra guests along the way, Lawrie Minson has his fine Indian slide guitar and the warm vocals of Brooke Scheamer and Cary Bien will take songs with Clermont to further heights. So in a nutshell – an Indian feast awaits you from 7pm, and you can feast your senses from 8pm – and you don’t even have to leave North Tamworth to do it. Now that’s a cheap holiday, if I’ve ever heard of one. If you have never treated yourself before to an Andrew Clermont Supper Club experience, go on – you deserve it! For those expecting to attend Andrew’s Supper Club in July for the Hats Off Festival, don’t get too complacent, as it won’t be on. Our Moonbi-based globetrotting multi-instrumentalist will be in Winnipeg, (somewhere on the other side of the planet) while we’re kicking up our heels at Tamworth’s midyear festival. This could be your last chance to catch them before the spring – so don’t miss out.

TAMWORTH Regional Council held its annual wash-up meeting a couple of weeks ago and this year there were fewer people than the usual suspects in attendance. This meeting is a forum for the public to express any concerns or compliments they may have on the running of Tamworth’s annual Country Music Festival, and with so many people throughout the year having opinions on this and that, I thought more would front up. Just think – if you have something to say of a constructive nature, or a bouquet to hand out to council or others on some aspect of the event, put pen to paper – or finger to keyboard. It’s not too late. Council is now working right now on staging the 2008 Tamworth Country Music Festival. Planning virtually begins from the last round-up at the previous festival, so if you or your business have something to contribute, please phone 6767 5710 or email:
a.newling@tamworth.nsw.gov.au . And if you don’t – you really don’t have a right to criticise the event that brings so much money and life to this wonderful city of ours.

APRA (Australasian Performing Right Association), in conjunction with Southern Cross University and BluesFest, will run a series of seminars over the Easter weekend – in tandem with the East Coast Blues and Roots Festival. On Friday, April 6 from noon to 1.30pm international songwriter and performer, Terrance Simien will preside over a songwriting workshop. Then on Saturday Kevin Bennett (The Flood) and Paul Greene (Hirst and Greene) will share some of their songwriting secrets in that same timeslot. If you’d like to attend either workshop, you must either be an SCU contemporary music student, or an APRA member, so if you’re not already, maybe you could join up quickly! To RSVP for these workshops, email: wendy.broome@scu.edu.au. I’ve saved something really special ‘til last – the Monday session which is probably every musician’s eternal dilemma – How To Get A Gig. This runs from 3pm to 4.30pm and features Australian entertainment guru Michael Chugg, Troy N Trevelyn, Glenn Wright and Peter Noble. This workshop has a focus on issues faced by indigenous performers. To RSVP for this one, email:
awards@apra.com.au . All three sessions will be held at Byron Bay High School, Broken Head Road, Byron Bay.
Three Fredheads + one: Jason McCoy, Fred Eaglesmith, Jim Lauderdale, Audrey Auld Mezera, a shot I took at The Pub, Tamworth, around five years ago.
SUPERB Canadian song scribe Fred Eaglesmith is back in the land of Oz for a brief tour, which concludes at the East Coast Blues and Roots Festival next weekend. I’m heading to Lizottes at Kincumber to catch up with him on Thursday night, April 5, as I can’t get to Byron for the weekend, much to my mate Wendy’s dismay. She will be too busy blues and rootsing and hosting songwriter sessions to notice my absence, I’m sure. While Fred is down under you really do need to go and see this man – he’s the real deal. I first stumbled on to him with Wendy in Tamworth about five years back, when we bought him and his compatriots a tray of lamingtons to welcome them on the first visit to Australia. Those lamos fomed the script for half the show. For a quarter of the show the Canadians were trying to figure out just what they were – and for the next quarter of the show, poked fun at the name! Cheeky buggers, those Canadians. This all happened at Wests in Tamworth and brings a smile to my face every time I think of it. If you’re fortunate enough to be a Victorian, or in the vicinity, you might catch Fred Saturday night at The Palais, at Hepburn Springs, (phone the venue on 03 5348 4849 for bookings); or Sunday (no fooling!) at Ruby’s Lounge, in Belgrave. Sydneysiders with excellent taste in music will no doubt flock to the Vanguard on Wednesday, April 4, ahead of Fred’s Thursday night gig on the Central Coast, before he gets the blues well and truly on the weekend. If in doubt about whether you’ll score a ticket, hop on the website, www.fredeaglesmith.com where you’ll find a link to each venue. Happy Fred-heading, folks. See you in the front row.
Page 5
Country Music Notes, Friday, March 23, 2007
Anna Rose, Catherine Britt and Steve McCauley
Another chapter begins: Anna Rose is leaving The Pub Group to commence
her own solo enterprise, Anna Rose Media Solutions.

THEY reckon a change is as good as a holiday, so I must be on vacation. Today (Friday, March 23) I finish working with The Pub Group Tamworth to begin a new chapter in my life and career. After almost half a century on this earth, I reached a conclusion I possibly should have known years ago – that you should appreciate every day you spend with the people you love and care for – before it's too late. Instead of now just realising that, I plan to live it – every day. After an exciting, eventful and continually challenging 19 months in the world of hospitality – I'm now taking some hospitable time out for myself, my family and my good friends. A contributing factor to my “awakening” was when the walls came crashing down three weeks ago. My beautiful and precious 82-year-old mother had a serious car accident on March 2 and thankfully survived. She came out the other end with a couple of cracked ribs, some broken vertebrae, and more bruises, bumps and bark off her tiny body than a lemon gum tree. I took a week’s carer's leave to be with mum in Bingara, during which time I pondered on the things that matter most in life – and you guessed it – I got it right at last. After I left Bingara, my beautiful daughter, Carly, and grandson Cameron, spent the next week caring for with mum. This past week my gorgeous older sister Carolyn took time out to be by mum’s side. I read somewhere once that when people are about to die, there are few recorded cases of anyone ever wishing they'd spent “more time at work” – not that I'm going anywhere in any great rush (that I know of, anyway). It's just that in five years' time it would be awesome to say: “gee, I'm pleased I've spent more time with the people I love and care about”. I have a wonderful partner, John Burke, who has supported me in everything I’ve ever done and two handsome sons – James, 12, and Jordan, 11. They deserve more from their mum than they’ve been getting up until this point. But you're not getting rid of me. I'll still be around Tamworth – just try to shift me from this great city. I now plan to work from home, the hours I choose, and to spend lots more time on the things that matter most. Over the past 20 years or so I have loved every minute working in the media and in the entertainment world – even though I can't sing a note (tunefully, that is), but I’m a great listener. Though my life will be more family focused, I'll not stray too far from the bands, the gigs and the good times, so I can continue to have lots to write about in my weekly column, which also appears on www.thepub.com.au , www.tamworthragepage.com  and www.tamworthcountrymusic.com.au . I plan to start posting my column on myspace – and if you’re hunting for it, you’ll find it at www.myspace.com/goannarose . While people around me keep doing extraordinary things, producing marvelous albums and kicking all sorts of goals I just can't ignore that, now can I? No doubt, I'll see you around the traps somewhere. In the meantime, here’s some more great news about Aussies kicking goals.

Lots of reasons to be happy: Catherine Britt has secured a huge tour support this (US) summer, with American country superstars Brooks & Dunn and Alan Jackson.   Click here Catherine Britt Artist Report page
EMERGING Australian singer-songwriter Catherine Britt will tour America with US superstars Brooks & Dunn, and Alan Jackson during the American summer months. The 25-show major arena tour begins in May and will ensure young Catherine, a Newcastle girl, is seen by at least half a million people. This is a major coup in the young star’s career, as the tour will be one of the top 10 grossing tours in the US this year. Catherine has a major label deal with RCA Records in the US and is recording her first fully American-based album with Grammy nominated producer Brett Beavers. It’s due to be released over there later this year and in Australia, through ABC Music. Like many other gorgeous young things these days, Catherine has secured another major sponsorship from hair product manufacturer Garnier. She is one of the faces of the new Garnier campaign in the US, and more than 400,000 buyers of their products will be among the first to hear Catherine’s new material, with one of her tracks included on a CD sampler accompanying the products for a limited period. One lucky Garnier buyer will get the opportunity to walk the red carpet with Catherine and a group of other emerging stars at the nationally televised CMT Awards in Nashville on April 16. Catherine is only a youngster and this is a very exciting time for her – and I’m sure her many friends in the land of Oz would wish her well.

AN exciting thing happened during the Tamworth Country Music Festival for a local musician, Steve McCauley. While it may not be on the same grand scale as scoring a Brooks & Dunn tour support, it certainly left the Gunnedah-based guitarist with a big grin and an immense feeling of satisfaction. Late in the festival Steve and a few friends threw a band together to help out young Central Coast based singer Dean Johnson enter Wests’ Battle of the Bands. In a not so shabby effort for a “makeshift” outfit, they came away as runners-up and Steve walked away with the title of “best guitarist on the day” – and a brand new Tomkins Guitar. Good on you, Steve, and cheers to you, Al Tomkins, for getting behind our emerging bands with your wonderful instruments. Steve had an absolute ball this festival, describing it as his “best yet”. Some of Steve’s other January highlights included backing Arthur Blanch and playing for Jewel’s first performance back in Tamworth for many years; getting to play Faded Love with the great pedal steel guitar supremo Kenny Kitching (“this was unreal”, said Steve); and playing heaps of packed gigs with Col Finley. Steve reckons the 2007 Festival was definitely one of the best he’s seen, heard and been a part of in years! Good on you, mate.

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