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FRIDAY, MARCH 24, 2017

CMC winners

Travis Collins dominated this year's CMC (Country Music Channel) Awards announcd on the Queensland Gold Coast last night.

Travis took home the awards for Australian Artist of the Year, Male Australian Artist of the Year and Australian Video of the Year (for Call Me Crazy) as well as sharing in the Highest Selling Australian Artist award as part of Adam Brand & The Outlaws.

Hot on Travis' heels was Keith Urban with wins for International Artist of the Year, International Video of the Year (for Wasted Time) and Highest Selling International Album (for Ripcord).

The McClymonts were named Group of the Year while Western Australian singer/songwriter Chelsea Basham was named Female Australian Artist of the Year and Fanny Lumsden was named New Australian Artist of the Year.

CMC's Hall of Fame award went to Lee Kernaghan.

The CMC Music Awards are a prelude to the three-day CMC Rocks festival, which kicks off today at Willowbank, Ipswich.

The sold-out 10th anniversary event is expected to attract 45,000 attendees.

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THURSDAY, MARCH 23, 2017

Gympie update

The Gympie Muster board says the 2017 Muster is "set to steam ahead despite the recent turmoil" according to reports in the local Gympie Times.

In a statement, Muster chairman Tony Nolan said the unanimous decision to move forward followed discussions over planning for this year's event and recent staff resignations.

"The board acknowledges the necessity to have skilled professional staff to run an event as large as the Muster, and the board agreed to implement recruitment processes as soon as practicable,” the statement said.

"At the time, the board realised that staging a successful Muster requires much more than skilled individuals. It is effectively run by a whole community effort that involves staff, a small group of highly skilled contractors and hundreds of volunteers.

"The board reviewed all those arrangements and made the unanimous decision to proceed, as planned, with the 2017 event.

"The Muster is effectively run by the community for the community, and that is a key part of our three year plan implemented in 2014.

"...it is one of the premier music festivals in regional Australia and requires a very high level of professionalism to attract national artists and patrons.

"Last year the Muster attracted patrons from every Australian state and New Zealand, so it truly is a national event held in Gympie.

"It is a fine balance between running a community event and a nationally recognised music festival, but that is what makes the Muster unique.

"The board is resolved to continue that, as well as put on a spectacular music event in the country. The events of the past week would be challenging for any not-for-profit organisations that generally have very limited resources.

"However, the resolve of the board is to stage the 2017 Muster, as planned, and put on an event that everyone associated with it will be proud of."

The Times reported that local business leaders hoped to see community spirit help keep the "vital" Muster afloat.

Musicians Garage owner Taurean Thompson said the festival was a huge boost for the economy and would survive on the shoulders of community support.

"People who are concerned about the future of the Muster should get behind it and put their concerns to rest,” he said.

Lincoln Phelps shared this belief, saying "people power can create change".

The co-owner of the Royal Hotel urged people who were concerned about the Muster's future to get involved with the event. "It's a vital part of our culture and a hallmark of the region."

Casa Bella owner Tony Goodman said he was initially alarmed when he heard about the resignations, but hoped there remained time for the event to be a success.

"It's such an iconic event... it's vitally important that it continues to go ahead. It helps put Gympie on the map."

The Gympie Regional Council, meanwhile, has distanced itself from the Muster's inner turmoil.

"The Muster has a proud 35 year history," the Council said, (and) "it is up to Apex and the Muster Board with regards to the continuation of the event. It is our understanding that the event will go ahead and that Council are very supportive of this."

In 2014, the council granted a $300,000 interest free loan to keep the event afloat following a number of down years. There is now no outstanding debt to the council.

A spokesman for the Council said organisers had worked hard in recent years to put the event on. "It is a much loved national event so we are very supportive of (it) continuing.

"The Muster brings significant economic benefit to the region each year and it continues to put our region on a national and international stage."

A Gympie icon, the Muster annually brings tens of thousands of visitors to the region and injects millions of dollars into the economy.

In 2015 it was estimated the Muster was worth the equivalent of 64 jobs.

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WEDNESDAY, MARCH 22, 2017

Coster tribute

Well known singer/songwriter Ian Quinn has released a tribute to the late songwriting legend Stan Coster.

Stan Coster was widely recognised as Australia’s leading bush ballad writer. Slim Dusty recorded more than 60 of his songs including the classic Three Rivers Hotel.

March 25 this year marks the 20th anniversary of Stan’s passing and this led two-imes Golden Guitar winner Ian, who travelled with Stan’s show, to write abd record his tribute.

We Still Sing Three Rivers Hotel was released last week and is already gaining airply.

"Stan seemed to be the last link to a life and time that is rapidly disappearing in Australia," Ian said.

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TUESDAY, MARCH 21, 2017

Vale – Tom McIvor

Australian country singer/songwriter and renowned bull rider Tom McIvor has died.

A posting on his facebook page said Tom passed away peacefully in his sleep in the early hours of yesterday morning, March 20, with his loving partner Evie by his side.

"He will be greatly missed by all. As his children say 'Tom is now bucking rank ones in the sky'. The family would now appreciate time to process their thoughts and will advise everyone of the arrangements for the celebration of Tom's life as soon as is possible."

Tom was born in Brisbane on May 1, 1948, the first son of Tom and Joan McIvor. He aquired his love of country music from his father who, Tom said, was a bit of a Tex Morton fanatic.

From the age of 15, Tom was torn between his two great loves, rodeo and rugby league football. In the end the glamour and appeal of becoming a rodeo star won out and Tom spent the next 20 years competing on the rodeo circuit.

In 1976, Tom's career as a country music singer and songwriter began in earnest. He dipped his toe in the water at tallent quests around the country and was fortunate enough to win some of the bigger ones.

This gave him incentive for the future when he was no longer able to rodeo. At that time, his old riding mate Jim Stewart, who happened to be Secretary of the Australian Pro Rodeo Association, called him with the news that Chris Ledoux 1976 World Champion Bareback Rider and famed country music singer was after some original Australian rodeo songs.

Tom rose to the occasion and submitted two songs and with that his songwriting career was off to a flying start. Titled The Only Road You Know and Go Riding Young Cowboy, both were released on subsequent albums and were applauded by critics in the United States and Australia.

Before too long, Tom had his very own album to release titled Rodeo Cowboy which he recorded with Australia's leading country music studio at the time, Hadley in Tamworth. As all of the songs on this album were written while Tom was still actively riding the rodeo circuit, they were highly relatable to other riders and rodeo fans alike.

Tom's name had become well-known by the early 1980s with his song Half A Dozen Stubbies, sponsored by Fourex Castlemaine, getting airplay on the radio.

Some of Tom's achievements included being awarded the 1997 Song Maker Awards, the Australian country music songwriters' hall of fame equivalent in Tamworth, and numerous accolades in successive Gidgee Coal Bish Ballad Awards.

During his country music career, Tom released 11 albums, including a double album in 2015, Pride Of Australia and Gallipoli Sand.

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MONDAY, MARCH 20, 2017

Ructions at Gympie Muster – breaking news

News is surfacing from Queensland that Gympie Muster staff have resigned in an apparent disconnect with the Muster Board.

Few details are known at this stage but we should know more after tomorrow afternoon's meeting of the Muster Board.

View a Channel 7 News Video here.

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Tamworth Council delves deeper into country music

Tamworth's Northern Daily Leader reports today that its parent company Fairfax Media is to sell its country music assets to Tamworth Regional Council.

The sale includes the Tamworth Country Music Festival Official Guide, website and smartphone app, the monthly Country Music Capital News magazine, the special events Festival FM radio licence and activities including Toyota Star Maker and the January Festival Coca-Cola Country promotion, together with their associated trademarks, internet addresses and Facebook pages.

The assets are currently part of the activities of one of Fairfax Rural Events which was previously known as Rural Press Events when it was part of the Rural Press group. Fairfax Rural Events' other main activity is running a number of the most successful field days in Australia including AgQuip at Gunnedah and FarmFest near Toowoomba.

The sale is expected to be completed by July.

Council's General Manager Paul Bennett said the publications, websites, events and trademarks played an integral role in the success of the Tamworth Country Music Festival each year and the promotion of Tamworth as Country Music Capital.

"By bringing these into Council’s events and country music unit we can continue to build on their significance," he said.

"These are important aspects of Tamworth’s world-acclaimed festival and the fact they (will be) community owned means the community will continue to benefit from the many elements which combine to make Tamworth the epicentre of country music (in Australia)."

The Leader reported that Council and Fairfax said they looked forward to working together to inform the community and develop the Tamworth Country Music Festival as it nears its 50th anniversary.

"(Fairfax) will continue to assist Council with the printing of the Official Guide and Country Music Capital News, which will be used to promote the Tamworth Country Music brand."

Most of the subject assets of the sale to Council were originated by Radio 2TM or its marketing arm before being sold to Rural Press after the Broadcast Amalgamated Limited group sold its radio network in the 1990s.

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SUNDAY, MARCH 19, 2017

Dianne's Family Heritage celebration

Details have been announced for Dianne Lindsay's Family Heritage celebration to be staged at the Nabiac Showground Hall (NSW) on Saturday and Sunday April 8 and 9.

Dianne's parents Reg Lindsay and Heather McKean performed their first touring show at the Nabiac Hall so it will be a special celebratory event.

The main concert is on Saturday night with stars including Charley Boyter, Caitlyn Jamieson, Keith Kamieson, Ken Lindsay, Sandra Lindsay, Peter Simpson, Alisha Smith and Dianne herself.

A number of surprose guests are also set to appear.

Sunday morning from 9:30 will be an Open Mic Concert where all singers and musicians are welcome to perform.

Funds raised from the weekend event go to support the Australian Country Music Foundation.

Accommodation (including camping) is located near to the venue.

Enquiries can be directed to 0401 095 306 or by visiting diannelindsay.com.au.

Attendees are inited to "come along and experience again a country music show run in true
traditional style".

Nabiac is on the Pacific Highway between Forster and Taree.

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FRIDAY, MARCH 17, 2017

CMA delegation heads down under

A delegation from America's Country Music Association (CMA) led by Chief Executive Officer Sarah Trahern (pictured) will visit Australia later this month to foster ties between the country music communities of Australia and the United States.

The delegation will include the Association’s Chief Marketing Officer Damon Whiteside, Director of International Media Relations Bobbi Boyce and board member and Spotify Head of Global Country Music John Marks.

The visit schedule calls for the CMA representatives to meet commercial radio’s peak association Commercial Radio Australia, pay TV Foxtel, free to air Nine Network, local executives of Spotify and Google, songwriter administration and royalties group APRA AMCOS (Australasian Performance Right Association and Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society), major label record companies, Tourism & Events Queensland, Tamworth Regional Council and the Country Music Association of Australia (CMAA).

"These meetings will give all parties an opportunity to establish a contact base and identify mutually beneficial opportunities for both Australian country music in the USA and vice-versa," said CMA board member and Australian promoter Rob Potts.

The CMA has visited Australia in an official capacity like this on several occasions. This visit follows the successful establishment of a sister city relationship between Australia and America's country music centres Tamworth and Nashville which between them host the two biggest country music festivals in the world.

During this year’s Tamworth Country Music Festival, four students from Nashville’s Harpeth Hall School interned for three weeks at the Tamworth Regional Council in the run-up to the festival.

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THURSDAY, MARCH 16, 2017

Melinda and Tom do Doris and Frank

Country star Melinda Schneider and actor Tom Burlinson have joined together to create "Young At Heart", a show featuring the music of Doris Day and Frank Sinatra.

Both Melinda and Tom have been performing tribute shows to Doris and Frank for a while but this will be the first time the two have joined forces for a single show.

The show is from the 1955 Doris and Frank classic movie of the same name.

"I've been a fan of Melinda’s for a long time and had very much enjoyed her first album celebrating Doris Day," said Tom. "So I was delighted to be asked to sing the beautiful Young At Heart with her for this second disc.

"The experience was a joy and I had hoped it may lead to further opportunities for us to perform together in the future."

"And it has!" said Melinda. "I can’t describe how excited I am to be performing all these great songs live with a huge talent like Tom… audiences are simply going to love these concerts!"

The show will kick off in June and will include Melbourne on June 16, Sydney on June 18 and Brisbane on June 22.

Weblink here.

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WEDNESDAY, MARCH 15, 2017

APRA Music Awards nominees

Nominees have been announced for the 2017 APRA Music Awards.

Now in their 35th year, the Awards acknowledge and celebrate artistic excellence in contemporary music, honouring songwriters and publishers that have achieved outstanding success in their fields.

For Country Work of the Year, nominees are Burn Baby Burn by Kirsty Lee Akers and Trey Bruce (recordd by Kirsty Lee), Call Me Crazy by Travis Collins and Damien Leith (recorded by Travis), Greatest Companion by Aleyce Simmonds (recorded by Aleyce), The Truth Walks Slowly (In the Countryside) by Rob Hirst, Jay O'Shea and Mark O'Shea (recorded by O'Shea with Rob Hirst) and This Crazy Life by Phil Barton, Brodie Rainbird, Bruce Wallace, Nicholas Wolfe and Thomas Wolfe (recorded by The wolfe Brothers).

Information on the voting and judging criteria for the APRA Music Awards can be found at apraamcos.com.au/awards/2017-awards/2017-apra-music-awards/rules.

A full listing of nominees can be found here... apraamcos.com.au/apramusicawards.

Award winners will be announced at a ceremony to be held at the new International Convention Centre Grand Ballroom in Sydney on Monday April 3.

Pictured above (clockwise from top left): Kirsty Lee, Travis, O'Shea, The Wolfe Brothers and Aleyce.

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SATURDAY, MARCH 11, 2017 (updated March 14)

Vale – John Minson, "Mr Hoedown"

John Edgar Minson, known as "Mr Hoedown", died yesterday in Coffs Harbour. He was 89.

John was one of the key visionaries who turned Tamworth into Country Music Capital in the early 1970s and played a leading role in the establishment and growth of the Australian country music industry through into the 1980s.

He steered his "Hoedown" program on Radio 2TM in Tamworth from a half hour weekly show to almost five hours every weeknight when he retired in 1987.

John arrived in Tamworth with his wife Ann in 1961, first working as a copywriter and announcer at 2TM and at sister station 2MO in Gunnedah.

Though born in Waverley, NSW, and attending Sydney High School, he spent many of his holidays on a family property in the Brindabella Ranges near Canberra, soaking up all aspects of bush life.

On "Hoedown" John gave preference to Australian music, offering exposure to country artists who were battling to be heard. For many of them, that airplay became the key to success. Listeners too liked the fact that John, descibed as a superb communicator, always talked "with" them, not "at" them.

By 1969, it was becoming apparent that country music offered big possibilities for 2TM and Tamworth, according to then Station Manager Max Ellis. In 1969, John was one of the group at 2TM, with Max, Warwick Higginbotham, Kevin Knapp and Eric Scott, who instigated the "Tamworth, Country Music Capital" promotion.

On January 28, 1973, 2TM launched the Australasian Country Music Awards and John played a major role in setting up and staging the event. For many years, he served on the judging panel and, until he left 2TM in 1987, he did all the detailed preparation of the castings and wooden bases for the famous Golden Guitar trophies.

As the Awards was expanded into the Tamworth Festival, John was intimately involved in every aspect of the project, helping develop ideas like the Hands of Fame, the Roll of Renown and many other innovations. While promoting on radio, he also wrote for Capital News, the publication he helped found at 2TM in 1975.

John and wife Ann were heavily involved with the amateur country music scene in Tamworth supporting the early Jamborees organised by what is now the Capital Country Music Association. Both he and Ann are were honoured with life membership of that organisation.

A keen musician, John played his harmonica on many recording sessions including some for Slim Dusty. A number of his songs were recorded, such as the one by Buddy Williams (The Mighty Moonbi Range).

John designed and built his custom JEM pedal steel guitar and was involved in the Steel Guitar Convention in Tamworth.  In 1983, he helped instigate the Harmonica Championships held during the Tamworth Country Music Festival.

In 1978, John was presented with the Country Music Capital Award for services to the industry. In 1988, he was elevated to the Australasian Country Music Roll of Renown.
And in 1998, he received a Medal of the Order of Australia (AM) for services to the music industry.

For more than 30 years, John Minson played a vital role in helping to establish country music as a legitimate and important part of Australia's heritage. John's enormous enthusiasm, his tireless commitment, his encyclopaedic knowledge, his multitude of skills and his genuine interest in, and love of, his fellows, played a vital part in establishing both Tamworth as Country Music Capital and the Australian country music industry.

He was loved and respected by all who knew him. Comfortable with stars and country music fans, John had a wonderful way of reaching out and showing genuine interest and compassion for anyone he came across.

Retiring from 2TM in 1987, he and Ann moved to Coffs Harbour in 2001 where he took up building model aircraft.

Although out of active country music activity for more than 25 years, John Minson is remembered and honoured by all who knew him.

John died last night in Coffs Harbour after a long period of illness.

He is survived by his wife Ann, sons Lawrie (and wife Shelley) and James and daughter Kathleen and her partner Tony and daughters Jess and Nikki.

March 14 : Details announced today for John's farewell... 11am Tuesday March 21 at the Tamworth Baptist Church, corner of Hillvue and Werris Creek Roads, Tamworth. Reception to follow at West Tamworth League Club at 12 midday.

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THURSDAY, MARCH 9 2017

CMC Awards finalists announced

Finalists have been announced for the 2017 CMC (Country Music Channel) Awards.

They are...

For Australian Artist of the Year... Adam Brand, Travis Collins, Lee Kernaghan, Amber Lawrence and O'Shea.

For Australian Male Artist of the Year... Adam Brand, Troy Cassar-Daley, Travis Collins, Troy Kemp and Lee Kernaghan.

For Australian Female Artist of the Year... Chelsea Basham, Kasey Chambers, Amber Lawrence, Jasmine Rae and Caitlyn Shadbolt.

For New Australian Artist of the Year... Fanny Lumsden, Imogen Clark, Missy Lancaster, Jason Owen and The Weeping Willows.

For Group or Duo of the Year... The McClymonts, O’Shea, The Sunny Cowgirls, The Viper Creek Band and The Wolfe Brothers.

For Australian Video of the Year... Call Me Crazy by Travis Collins, House by The McClymonts, One Of These Days by Chelsea Basham, This Crazy Life by The Wolfe Brothers and The Truth Walks Slowly by O'Shea.

For International Video of the Year... Heartbeat by Carrie Underwood, Humble And Kind by Tim McGraw, H.O.L.Y. by Florida Georgia Line, Peter Pan by Kelsea Ballerini and Wasted Time by Keith Urban.

In addition to the voted awards, Lee Kernaghan will be honoured with CMC's Hall of Fame award and recognition will be provided for Adam Brand as "the highest selling Australian artist" for his album Adam Brand and The Outlaws and Keith Urban will be recognised for "the highest selling international album" of the year with Ripcord.

This year's CMC Awards will be staged on Thursday, March 23, the night before kick off of the CMC Rocks Queensland event at Jupiters Hotel & Casino on March 23, a week before the Broadbeach venue rebrands as The Star Gold Coast.

Weblink – www.countrymusicchannel.com.au.

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FRIDAy, MARCH 3, 2017

Grammys honour for Keith

The Recording Academy, presenters of the Grammy Awards, will recognise Keith Urban for contributions to the music community and dedication to music education in Washington next month.

The four-time Grammy winner will receive the Academy's Recording Artists' Coalition Award at the annual Grammys On The Hill Awards in Washington on Wednesday, April 5.

Billed as "uniting the worlds of music and politics, Grammys On The Hill also recognises American legislators who have improved the environment for music by advocating for music creators' rights.

Previously honored legislators include former US Vice President Joe Biden, Senators Hillary Clinton, Orrin Hatch, Ted Kennedy and John McCain and House Leaders Kevin McCarthy and Nancy Pelosi.

The following day, April 6, The Recording Academy will host the music community's largest annual Washington gathering, Grammys On The Hill Advocacy Day, which sees hundreds of music professionals from across America visiting lawmakers to discuss important issues facing today's music creators.

Weblink – www.keithurban.net.

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THURSDAY, MARCH 2, 2017

Tex back on TV

Tex Morton is back on the small screen, as the subject of New Zealand television series, Kiwi Country.

A television crew from New Zealand was in Tamworth during this year's country music festival filming a documentary about Tex.

Born in New Zealand, Tex was Australian country music’s first star.

New Zealand artist Aly Cook travelled to the festival to perform, and brought along the crew for a new television series she is hosting, called Kiwi Country, which will start screening in New Zealand in May.

Aly interviewed some of Australia's more prolific bush balladeers and personalities of country music including Max Ellis and Chad Morgan about Tex’s impact on Australian country music.

She said her personal interest in the man regarded as the father of Australian country music began when one of her songs featured on a Sony Music country music compilation called Godzone Country which also featured Tex's Mandrake.

Aly performed Mandrake as a guest on the 2015 Roll of Renown Concert where Lee and Ray Kernaghan were inducted.

While researching Tex's life, she found parallels with her own life. Both came from her hometown Nelson, where she still lives, near the northern coast of New Zealand’s South Island.

"I would love to see Tex honored in his hometown in the same way Tamworth has honored him,” Aly said. "Including him in this TV series, I hope, will be the beginning to help make that happen."

Tex came to Australia as a teenager in the early 1930s to pursue his dream of a life in show business and in 1936 he recorded his first commercial records at Regal Zonophone’s Homebush studio.

Initially his style was similar to hillbilly music that was being recorded in America, but he was the first artist to perform bush ballads when he introduced uniquely Australian content into his lyrics.

Both Aly and Tex are currently featured in the country section of an exhibition called Volume at Auckland Museum covering the history of New Zealand music.

However, Aly said, there is little acknowledgement in his hometown by comparison.

Aly herself regularly travels back and forth between her home and Australia several times a year performing her current album Horseshoe Rodeo Hotel.

While in town for the Tamworth Country Music Festival, Aly said the Kiwi crew interviewed about 30 Kiwis who regularly travel to Tamworth including artists from Eddie Low to Kaylee Bell, as well as fans, students who attended the Academy of Country Music and the International Round Up at Tamworth Regional Council  that celebrates the sister city relationship between Tamworth and the New Zealand city of Gore.

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MONDAY, FEBRUARY 20, 2017

Kasey on tour

To celebrate the recent number one ARIA chart debut of her 11th studio album Dragonfly, Kasey Chambers has announced the first dates of her 2017 Dragonfly Tour.

Dragonfly, Kasey’s fifth number one album, features guests including Vika and Linda Bull, Harry Hookey, Paul Kelly, Ed Sheeran, Grizzlee Train, Keith Urban and Foy Vance.

The first disc of Dragonfly was produced by ARIA Hall of Famer Paul Kelly (The Sing Sing Sessions) while the second was produced by Kasey’s brother Nash Chambers (The Foggy Mountain Sessions).

The latest single from Dragonfly is Satellite.

The Dragonfly Tour will kick off in April and see Kasey (and her band) take in capital cities and regional towns stretching from Tasmania across to Western Australia and Victoria, with more dates to be announced throughout the year.

Weblink – www.kaseychambers.com for full ticket details.

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FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 2017

Posthumous album launch for Hugh

Saturday, February 25, will see the posthumous launch of Hugh McDonald's last CD release, Bush Shenanigans.

Well known songwriter and musician Hugh died in November of complications from prostate cander.

The album release adds to Hugh’s legacy as a solo performer and to the music of Redgum and a supporter of worthwhile charities.

All profits from this special event go to Peter Mac, the Melbourne cancer centre.

It comprises a collection of classic bush tunes originally recorded for European release in 2007 by Hugh and some of his mates, all of whom are playing at the launch event.

Tickets are $40 and will include a copy of the album.

Artists will include Peter Anderson, the Davidson Brothers, James Clark, Sam Lemann and Kath McDonald.

The venue is Nardoo Farm, 1361 Kilmore Road, Monegeetta (between Riddells Creek & Romsey). Gates open at 6pm, live music 7pm-10pm.

More information and tickets can be obtained from James Clark on 03 5428 7907 or email clarkaudio@gmail.com.

Hugh's many songs include the now country classic Diamantina Drover that has been recorded by more than 40 artists including Lee Kernaghan, Redgum and John Williamson.

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TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 7, 2017

Bungendore winners

Winners in the Stan Coster Memorial Bush Ballad Awards were announced during the Bungendore Country Muster at the weekend.

Jeff Brown (pictured) was the big winner taking home the Male Vocal award with The Drover’s Boy and the Album award ith Wanderin' Man.

Dianne Lindsay took out the Female Vocal award with Touch Of Snow while the Group/Duo award went to The Coad Sisters with She Still Waits. Virginia Coad also won the Songwriter award for the same track.

The Instrumental award was presented to Lindsay Butler for The Namoi Flows In The Moomba Ranges, New Talent went to Emma Jene with The Beat Of A Drum and the Comedy award was presented to John O’Dea with Yesterday.

The Barry Thornton Encouragement Award went to Kate Daniel.

The Awards were first presented in 1998 and attracted 53 nominations. Over the years the number of nominations continues to grow with numbers increasing every year.

Weblink – bungendorecountrymuster.com.au.

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MONDAY, FEBRUARY 6, 2017

Wauchope broadcaster presented with Lions award

Marcia Wells, from Wauchope, NSW, has been presented with the 2017 Peel Valley Lions Club Community Charity Award for her dedication and commitment to many organisations, charities and country music.

The Lions Club has been presenting this award every year since 1994 during the internationally renowned Tamworth Country Music Festival to someone who has made a significant contribution to their community by way of fundraising, helping others and through a connection with Australian country music.

Marcia has been a broadcaster with Community Radio 2WayFM for more than 40 years and through the station has been part of a team that has raised well over $130,000 for charities and other organisations.

Worthy causes that have benefited from Marcia’s dedication include the NSW State Emergebcy Service, Wauchope District Memorial Hospital, Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service, Ronald McDonald House and Soldier On.

Other beneficiaries include the Wauchope Girl Guides, the children’s ward and the oncology department at Port Macquarie Hospital, Blue Gum Lodge at Royal North Shore Hospital and the Bundaleer Gardens Hostel and Bundaleer Nursing Home.

Most recently, Marcia organised a concert to help raise funds for the bust of Chad Morgan to be erected in Tamworth’s Bicentennial Park.

"Like many of the previous award recipients, Marcia is a quiet achiever," said Peel Valleyt Lions Club's Terry Hill, "going about her fundraising and charitable work with a humble attitude that belies the hard work behind it."

Marcia was presented with the traditional Fred Hillier "outdoor dunny" sculpture and a donation of $500 in her name to her local Riding for the Disabled, on Australia Day, live-on-air on Toyota Festival FM 106.1.

Marcia was nominated by the Lions Club of Wauchope.

Previous recipients of the award have been Bruce Moser, Vic (1994), Rocky Page, SA (1995), Olive Bice, Vic (1996), Lorraine Pfitzner, NSW (1997); Carol Lockhart, NSW (1998); Desree Ilona Crawford, Qld (1999), Merle & Graeme Gillis, Vic (2000), Shirley Llewellyn, NSW (2001), Bob Gray, NSW (2002), Peter Sheahan, Vic (2003) Peg & Ivan Spann, Qld (2004), Johnny Doyle, Vic (2005), Noel Smith, SA (2006), Frank Turton, SA (2007), Brian Letton, NSW (2008), Kay Willis & Barry Johnston, NSW (2009), Chris Doyle, Qld (2010) "Bidge" Boyd, Vic (2011), "Cactus" Martens, SA (2012), Murray Mac, SA (2013), Alison Ham & Mark Tempany SA (2014), Paul Ensbey. NSW (2015), Daryl & Robyn Freiberg Qld (2016).

Photo: Terry Hill presents the award to Marcia.

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SUNDAY, JANUARY 29, 2017

Tamworth 2017 wraps up with The Last Roundup

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

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

The show gets underway at 7.

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Travis dominates Golden Guitars

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

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

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

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

Following are the detailed results...

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

Female Artist of the Year – Sara Storer.

Male Artist of the Year – Travis Collins.

Group of the Year – Bennett, Bowtell & Urquhart.

New Talent of the Year – Fanny Lumsden.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Musician of the Year – Glen Hannah.

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

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

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Tim is Tamworth's busking champion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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SATURDAY, JANUARY 28, 2017

YoungStars winners

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Bluegrass winners

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Tamworth Festival's best band

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Cavalcade winners

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

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

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

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

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

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

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FRIDAY, JANUARY 27, 2017

People's Choice winners

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Voting in the 2018 Awards will open soon at www.peopleschoiceawards.com.au.

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THURSDAY, JANUARY 26, 2017

Tamworth Day Seven

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

Three major concerts or activities today are...

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

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

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

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Australia Day honours

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

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

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

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

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

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Gold Medallion winners

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

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

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

In the "regional" sections...

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

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

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

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

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WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 25, 2017

TSA winners

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the National Songwriting Contest...

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

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

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

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

Weblink – www.tsaonline.com.au.

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Coster Tribute

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

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

The free concert gets underway at 7:30.

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New album from Kalesti

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Weblink – www.kalestibutler.com.

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Sky's Paul Murray in town

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

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

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

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

Registrations are open for audience members for both shows via audience@skynews.com.au.

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Tamworth to get a big Big Mac

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

To complement the big Golden Guitar? pundits ask.

News.com reported the big Big Mac would be unveiled on Australia Day. No-one is sure exacty where just yet although Waler Park has been mentioned (wherever that is).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picture: an "artist's" impression!

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TUESDAY, JANUARY 24, 2017

TSA Awards tonight

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

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

Angus Gill and Clair Hayes will co-compere.

Finalists in the Songwriter Salute Awards are...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Weblink – www.tsaonline.com.au.

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Medallion Awards

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Golden Fiddle – update!

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

Organisers of the regular event are currently presenting a showcase.

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

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MONDAY, JANUARY 23, 2017

Rachael wins Star Maker

Rachael Fahim has won Toyota Star Maker 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Weblink – www.starmaker.com.au.

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SUNDAY, JANUARY 22, 2017

Tamworth Day 3

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

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

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

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

Weblink – www.starmaker.com.au.

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Talent quests a big part of Tamworth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hands of Fame

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

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

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

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Broadcasters Hall of Fame

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

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

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

Weblink – www.countrymusichalloffame.com.au.

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Artists announced for People's Choice Awards

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

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

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

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

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

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SATURDAY, JANUARY 21, 2017

Tamworth Festival – Day Two

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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CowboyUp

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

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

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

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

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

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

Weblink – www.facebook.com/cowboyupevents.

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Salute to Aussie Country

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

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

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

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FRIDAY, JANUARY 20, 2017

Tamworth Festival – Day One

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

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

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

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

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

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

Weblink – www.tcmf.com.au.

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Golden Guitar performers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Jon English songbirds pay homage at TCMF

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Toyota Fanzone

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

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

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

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

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

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THURSDAY, JANUARY 19, 2017

Tamworth – last day of the Countdown

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

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

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

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

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

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

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WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 18, 2017

Tamworth – two days and counting!

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

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

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

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

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WA Awards finalists

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

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

Awards finalists are...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Weblink – www.countrymusicwa.com.au.

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TUESDAY, JANUARY 17, 2017

Countdown – three days!

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

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

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

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Kasey announces special appearances

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

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

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

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

Weblink – www.kaseychambers.com.au.

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MONDAY, JANUARY 16, 2017

The countdown is on!

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

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

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

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

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Ashleigh debuts at number two

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The chart can be viewed here.

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FRIDAY, JANUARY 13, 2017

New from Bucko

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Weblink – www.colinbuchanan.com.au.

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And Hayley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Weblink – hayleywilsonmusic.com.

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THURSDAY, JANUARY 12, 2017

Tamworth's early festival

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 11, 2017

Jim calls "time" after 32 years at Tamworth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Weblink – www.jimhaynes.com.au.

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Hurricane Fall to headline Caves Beach

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Country at Caves Facebook

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TUESDAY, JANUARY 10, 2017

Academy update

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

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

There are 28 altogether including five specialist instrumentalists.

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

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

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


MONDAY, JANUARY 9, 2017

Full list of top selling Aussie albums

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pictured: the top five albums for 2016.

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FRIDAY, JANUARY 5, 2017

Keith wins top selling Golden Guitar

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

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

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

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

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

Weblink – www.tcmf.com.au.

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THURSDAY, JANUARY 4, 2017

Wests Festival line-up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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TUESDAY, JANUARY 2, 2017

Vale – Auriel Andrew

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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SUNDAY, JANUARY 1, 2017

Capital Country Radio launched

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 22, 2016

TSA semi-finalists

Semi-finalists in the Tamworth Songwriters' Association (TSA) Songwriter Salute Awards have been announced.

The Anzac Song of the Year category is especially popular this year attracting 80 entries. There are 20 semi finalists – a full listing can be found on the TSA website www.tsaonline.com.au.

Other categories are Alt Blues & Bluegrass Song of the Year, Bev DaNiel Commemorative Award for Bush Ballad of the Year, Gospel Song of the Year, Comedy/Novelty Song of the Year, Contemporary Song of the Year, APRA/AMCOS/TSA New Songwriter of the Year and Contemporary Song of the Year.

In the TSA National Songwriting Contest, semi finalists have been announced in six categories... Novice, Youth, Lyrics Only, Alt Blues & Bluegrass, Traditional and Contemporary.

TSA activity this January in Tamworth will see activities at the Tamworth City Bowling Club in Napier Street, the Post Office Hotel in Fitzroy Street, Cafe 2340 in White Street, Southgate Inn and the Peel Street stage.

The 2017 Awards Show will be held Tuesday January 24 from 7pm at The Longyard Hotel.

Altogether, the TSA has 65 member artists performing during the January festival.

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MONDAY, DECEMBER 19, 2016

Bungendore finalists announced

Finalists for the Stan Coster Awards, held as part of the annual Bungendore Country Muster in February, have been announced.

Organisers say next year's Awards attracted a large number of regular and new balladeers to all the categories. "The high quality of the artists made the judge’s task difficult with only a point separating the top contestants," they said.

The finalists, in alphabetical order, are ...

In Male Vocal... Jeff Brown (pictured, left) with The Drover's Boy, Graham Rodger (pictured) with Trembling Lips and  Justin Standley with Beechworth Gold.

In Female Vocal... Sharon Heaslip with The Drover And The Brumby, Shaza Leigh with Farmhouse By The Sea and Dianne Lindsay (pictured( with Touch Of Snow.

In New Talent... Michael Clare with When Grandpa Was A Boy, Kate Daniel with Harry Bowden Derelict and  Emma Jene with The Beat Of The Drum.

In Group... Sharon Benjamin & Nathan Charlton with Things Are Not The Same On The Land, The Coad Sisters with She Still Waits and Peter Simpson & Dianne Lindsay with Aren’t We Lucky.

In Instrumental... Terry Bennetts with Pardoo Station, Lindsay Butler with The Namoi Flows In the Moonbi Ranges and Lindsay Waddington & Charley Boyter with Didgori Goor.

In Album... Banjo And Henry by Peter Coad & The Coad Sisters, Territory Man by Graham Rodger and Wanderin’ Man by Jeff Brown.

In Songwriter... Jeff Brown with God Given Rain, Virginia Coad with She Still Waits and Tom McIvor with When They Threw The Cork Away.

In Comedy... Jeff Brown with Bush Oyster and Petticoat Rule and John O’Dea with Yesterday.

The Bungendore Muster will run from Friday February 3 to Sunday February 5.

Weblink – www.bungendorecountrymuster.com.au.

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THURSDAY, DECEMBER 15, 2016

People's Choice finalists announced

Finalists in the 2017 Australian Country Music People's Choice Awards have been announced.

They are...

For Best Female Vocal... Laura Downing, Jade Holland (pictured), Christie Lamb, Shaza Leigh and Dianne Lindsay.

For Best Male Vocal... Ian Burns, Dale Duncan, Troy Kemp, Graham Rodger and Justin Standley.

For Best Group or Duo... Brothers3, Innocent Eve, The Long And Short Of It, Simply Bushed and The Wolfe Brothers.

Best Album... Against The Grain by Troy Kemp, Back To The Bush by Dale Duncan (pictured), Brothers Never Part by Brothers3, Homeland by Shaza Leigh and Territory Man by Graham Rodger.

For Best Song... C'Mon recorded by Brothers3, written by Ben Hastings, Michael Fatkin and Brothers3; Good Day recorded by Jade Holland, written by Drew McAlister & Nicky Kurta; Ride Away written and recorded by Ian Burns; Small Town Girl written and recorded by Troy Kemp; and Territory Man recorded by Graham Rodger, written by Graham Rodger & Merv Maltman.

For Best Bush Ballad... 100 Droving Days written and recorded by Justin Standley; Ghosts Of Murranji written and recorded by Graham Rodger; My Dog Nui Dat recorded by Dale Duncan, written by Peter Simpson; Overlander Days recorded by Ashley Cook, written by Shaza Leigh & Billy Wye; and Raise Your Glass recorded by Simply Bushed, written by Paul Grierson & Chris Rieger.

For Best Video Clip... A Little More Country by Troy Kemp & Friends, C'Mon by Brothers3 (pictured), Every Time It Rains by The Jay Seeney Band, Good Day by Jade Holland and Ride Away by Ian Burns.

For Best Vocal or Musical Event... A Little More Country by Troy Kemp & Friends, A Little Town West Of The Great Divide by Graham Rodger & Sara Calderwood, Above The Blue by Various Artists, Gospel Road by Lindsay Butler & Peggy Gilchrist and We Knew by Billy Bridge & Rebecce Lee Nye.

For Most Promising Future Star... Jade Holland, Phoebe Jay (pictured), Tyson Lucas, Hayley Marsten and Jay Seeney.

In the broadcast categories, the voting was very strong again and it was a challenge for organisers to reduce the finalist number to below 10 so once again, that is the number.

For Most Popular DJ... Big Stu & MJ of Alive 90.5 Sydney, Brian Amos of Eastern FM, Nelbourne, Rod Collman of 2MNO Cooma, Rhonda Francis of 2SSR FM Sydney, Alan Gilmour of Today’s Country 94.1, Jane Kellaway of 2MCR FM Sydney, Ray McCoy of 88.9 FM Tamworth (pictured), The Outlaw of Today’s Country 94.1, Dan Rennie of 98.9 FM Brisbane and Jill Thomas of COW FM Casino.

Most Popular Radio Station or Program... 88.9 FM (Tamworth, NSW), 98.9 FM (Brisbane, Qld), Aussie All The Way (on 2MCR FM, Sydney), The Australian Country Songwriters Show (on Today’s Country 94.1, Central Coast, NSW), Eastern FM (Melbourne, Vic), KIX FM, My Kinda Country (on 2SSR FM, Sydney, NSW), Planet Country (on Alive 90.5 FM, Sydney, NSW), Today's Country 94.1 (Central Coast, NSW) and TYGA FM (Hobart, Tas).

The 2017 Australian Country Music People's Choice Awards Gala Presentation Concert will be held at the Northwest Church Auditorium in Tamworth at 7pm Thursday January 26.

Further information and ticketing details can be found at the Awards website www.peopleschoiceawards.com.au.

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TUESDAY, DECEMBER 6, 2016

Keith hints at Tamworth return

Keith Urban has told newswire service AAP that he would like to return to the place where it all started for him, the Tamworth Country Music Festival.

The Australian country star has sold more than 16 million albums worldwide, AAP reported, and has been calling Nashville home for 24 years, yet he harbours a soft spot for the NSW city where his musical fires were stoked.

"I was nine when I first went to Tamworth and I went every year for many, many years camping in tents, caravans, staying in crappy hotels. I've done every combination of it," he told AAP in Sydney.

Keith said he would love to return to the country festival where it all began for him and take his wife, Oscar-winning actress Nicole Kidman, and their two daughters with him.

"I would love to do it. I would particularly like to take Nic because she's never been and the kids. It's such a huge part of my youth," he said.

In 1990, Keith was the recipient of the Star Maker prize which has become an important part of the festival as a way of helping to launch new talent.

He is in Australia to kick off his Ripcord tour in Adelaide tonight before hitting eight concert dates across the country.

The Tamworth Country Music Festival takes place in January (Friday 20th to Sunday 29th), a little more than a month after Keith's tour wraps up on December 7.

The star said he would be spending Christmas in Sydney with Nicole and their two daughters. The actress will also walk the red carpet for the Australian premiere of her upcoming movie "Lion" on December 18.

Photo: Keith on stage in Adelaide.

Weblink – www.keithurban.net.

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MONDAY, DECEMBER 5, 2016

New from Kasey

Kasey Chambers has announced the release of her highly anticipated 11th studio album Dragonfly for Friday January 20 next year.

The album features the already released first single Ain’t No Little Girl and also the new single Satellite which will be available digitally next Monday.

Dragonfly comprises two separate sessions in a special two disc release, the first of which was recorded during The Sing Sing Sessions and produced by Australian music legend Paul Kelly, while the second was recorded at The Foggy Mountain Sessions and produced by Kasey’s brother and longtime producer, Nash Chambers.

"(The album) showcases a truly accomplished and much loved Australian artist at the top of her game," according to a spokesman for the artist, "baring her heart and soul – with more to say than ever before."

Joining forces on the work are a string of musical guests including Vika and Linda Bull, Grizzlee Train, Harry Hookey, Paul Kelly, Ed Sheeran, Keith Urban and Foy Vance.

"Working with Paul Kelly as my producer on one side of the double album was a dream come true,” Kasey says. “Paul brought out a whole new side of me, but then I also got to enjoy the comforts of recording with the person who knows and has shaped my original sound better than anyone, my brother Nash, along with my live touring band who have become a huge part on my sound. This double album shows who I am as much as any piece of work I have ever done."

World famous artist David Bromley has created a portrait of Kasey for the cover art for Dragonfly.

Bromley says: "It’s always an honour to meet with a talented individual that leads to an invitation to get past the gate that many people hold as their protection. When past this gate you sometimes get to see the true person.

"In painting Kasey, I first endeavoured to find her, instead I found many different dimensions and aspects. This portrait combines them all because she is at once uncomplicated and also a mysterious individual – this combination is very alluring."

Just last week, Kasey celebrated four new Golden Guitar award nominations for Video of the Year, Single of the Year, Song of the Year and Vocal Collaboration of the Year. Kasey has 22 Golden Guitar Awards, 11 ARIA Awards and 10 APRA Awards to her name, and holds the record for the highest awarded solo APRA Songwriter in Australia.

Weblink – www.kaseychambers.com.au.

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FRIDAY, DECEMBER 2, 2016

Star Maker 2017

Finalists for Toyota Star Maker 2017 were announced this morning.

Ten finalists will vie for the championship title in Tamworth on Sunday January 22 in Country Music Capital's Bicentennial Park.

For the first time in Star Maker history, the event will be free, with all finalists being judged on the night and one winner announced, rather than through a semi and grand final as has been the format up until now.

Chosen from across the country by talent search organisers Fairfax Rural Events, the finalists are...

Brook Chivell, Labrador, Qld
Meg Doherty, Pakenham Vic
Rachael Fahim, Cherrybrook, NSW
Cassidy Rae Gaiter, Flagstaff Hill, SA
Angus Gill, Wauchope, NSW
Jade Holland, Balgal Beach, Qld
Liam Kennedy-Clark, Sippy Downs, Qld
Michelle Plozza, Kingston, Qld
Megan Sidwell, Melbourne, Vic
Andrew Swift, Berwick, Vic

The winner will receive a prize package which includes a new Toyota vehicle, an unlimited fuel card for 12 months plus guaranteed performances at major festivals and events throughout Australia.

Toyota Star Maker Co-ordinator Cheryl Byrnes said she was delighted with the standard of performers applying for Toyota Star Maker 2017.

"Toyota Star Maker is a fabulous opportunity and it truly is getting harder to judge each year as entrants raise the bar," Cheryl said.

"It's a great platform... giving the finalists and the winner a jumpstart in their careers. For the winner, the title brings exposure to invaluable contacts in the industry and a variety of exciting challenges."

Toyota Australia Sales & Marketing Executive Director Tony Cramb was thrilled with "the exciting changes" to the long-established quest.

"It's a wonderful thing that Star Maker will now be so much more accessible to a worldwide audience, through live-streaming in the park, and an absolutely free event for the public," he said.

"Toyota is very proud of its long association with this prestigious quest and we offer our hearty congratulations to the 2017 finalists."

Weblink – www.starmaker.com.au.

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WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 2016

New from Christie

Christie Lamb is closing out a successful year with news of a new album coming in February next year.

After winning the Most Promising Future Star People's Choice Award in 2013, the CMC (Country Music Channel) New Oz Artist of the Year in 2015 and the New Talent Golden Guitar this year, Christie ends the year signing to the ABC Music family, one of Australia’s leading independent labels.

"I feel the team is a great fit for me and understand where I’m going with my music," Christie said. "They already have a great roster of artists and I am very excited to be on board! I can’t wait for everyone to hear what I’ve been working on.

As a teaser, Christie has released Flamethrower, the first single from the album.

After years of hard work in the local country scene, Christie has been hailed as "the one to watch" by country music industry insiders. Spending time on the road with legend Lee Kernaghan for the Spirit of the Anzacs tour, he concurs...

Christie is an incredible artist; not only an amazing singer, she is also an extremely talented multi-instrumental musician. I reckon Christie Lamb is the one to watch. She is a star of the future."

Christie has spent the last few years touring Australia to promote her previous album All She Wrote which spurned three number onehit singles and two top five singles.

As well as touring with Lee, Christie has previously joined Aussie Rock legend Jon English for "The Rock Revolution" tour, Amber Lawrence and Aleyce Simmonds for "The Girls of Country" tour, plus The Wolfe Brothers for the "This Crazy Life" tour.

Most recently, she performed a duet with Keith Urban at the this year's Deni Ute Muster.

Christie's new album, titled Loaded, will be released on Friday February 24.

‘Flamethrower’ the single, is available this Friday December 2nd with all digital partners.

Weblink – www.christielamb.com.

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TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 29, 2016

2017 Golden Guitar finalists

Finalists in the 2017 Country Music Awards of Australia (Golden Guitars) were announced in Sydney this morning.

Finalists for Album of the Year are Caught Up In The Dreaming by Luke O'Shea, Hard Light by Travis Collins, Silos by Sara Storer, Things I Carry Around by Troy Cassar-Daley and This Crazy Life by The Wolfe Brothers.

For Female Artist of the Year... Kirsty Lee Akers, Kristy Cox, Amber Lawrence, Seleen McAlister and Sara Storer.

For Male Artist of the Year... Doug Bruce, Troy Cassar-Daley, Allan Caswell, Travis Collins and Luke O'Shea.

For Group/Duo of the Year... Bennett, Bowtell & Urquhart, The Sunny Cowgirls, The Weeping Willows, Warren H Williams & Dani Young and The Wolfe Brothers.

For New Talent of the Year... Fanny Lumsden, Caitlyn Shadbolt, Justin Standley, Michael Waugh and The Weeping Willows.

For Instrumental of the Year... Buckle Up by Mickey Pye, Cosmopolitan Blues by Michael Fix, Roundabout by Runaway Dixie, Song For Manaia by Stuie French and Twenty Five by Lindsay Waddinton.

For Song of the Year... 60 Summers by Graeme Connors, Ain't No Little Girl by Kasey Chambers, Call Me Crazy by Travis Collins & Damien Leith (recorded by Travis Collins), Goulburn Valley Woman by Kevin Bennett (recorded by Bennett, Bowtell & Urquhart) and My Diamond by Sara Storer.

Note: this story has been updated to include Sara Storer's My Diamond in Song of the Year in place of Fanny Lumsden's Land Of Gold which had been found after the announcement of finalists to be inelgible as it had been released previously in 2015.

For Bush Ballad of the Year... A Truckie Up In Queensland by Allan Caswell (written by Allan Caswell & Manfred Vijars), Amazing Night by Sara Storer, Ghosts Of The Murranji by Graham Rodger, God Given Rain by Jeff Brown and The Veteran by Dean Perrett (written by Allan Caswell, Drew McAlister & Dean Perrett).

For Heritage Song of the Year... Goulburn Valley Woman by Bennett, Bowtell & Urquhart, Hometown Calling by Travis Collins, Purple Cockie by Sara Storer, Red White & Blue by Roo Arcus and The Old Man's Shed by Luke O'Shea.

For Video Clip of the Year... 60 Summers by Graeme Connors... Ain't No Little Girl by Kasey Chambers, Call Me Crazy by Travis Collins, Raise Your Glass by Simply Bushed and The Truth Walks Slowly In The Countryside by O'Shea.

For Vocal Collaboration... Bartender Blues by Adam Harvey & Lyn Bowtell, Cheers To The Girls by Amber Lawrence, Catherine Britt & Fanny Lumsden, F U Cancer by Catherine Britt, Kasey Chambers, Beccy Cole, Lyn Bowtell, Josh Pyke, Wes Carr & Wendy Matthews, Orchid Street by Anne Kirkpatrick & Jeff Brown and My Diamond by Sara Storer & Greg Storer.

For Single of the Year...60 Summers by Graeme Connors, Ain't No Little Girl by Kasey Chambers, Just Another Girl by Travis Collins, Land Of Gold by Fanny Lumsden and The Truth Walks Slowly In The Countryside by O'Shea.

For Alt Country Album of the Year... Before Darkness Comes A-Callin' by The Weeping Willows, Bennett, Bowtell & Urquhart by Bennett, Bowtell & Urquhart, Part Of Me by Kristy Cox, Victim Or The Heroine by Katie Brianna and You Can't Catch Fish From A Train by The Wilson Pickers.

For Bluegrass Recording of the Year... Another Weary Mile by Kristy Cox, Cumberland Gap by The Hillbilly Goats, I Hear Them All by Bennett, Bowtell & Urquhart... Losing My Blues Tonight by Dean Perrett and River Of Gold by The Weeping Willows.

Photo: part of the gathering at Sydney's Carriageworks venue on hand for the announcement of finalists.

Weblink – www.tcmf.com.au.

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MONDAY, NOVEMBER 28, 2016

Dale and Becci win big in Tasmania

Dale Duncan and Becci Nethery (both pictured) were the big winners in the Tasmanian Independent Country Music Awards announced in Glenorchy on Saturday taking home three awards each.

Dale won Most Popular Male Performer, Most Popular Song with My Dog Nui Dat and Most Popular Country Ballad album with Back To The Bush.

Becci was named winner of the Country Rising Star award and also Songwriter of the Year with Your Hand Slips Into Mine and took home the Country Album of the Year award for Beautiful Life.

Jean Stafford was named Most Popular Female Performer while The Wolfe Brothers took home the Most Popular Country Band gong and The Long And Short Of It won Most Popular Duo.

Stui French was named Best Country Instrumentalist, Carter & Carter took home the Most Popular Gospel Artist award and Adam Price won Most Popular Country Gospel Album with Driftwood.

The Artist Manager award went to Billy Bridge, the Tasmanian Recognition Award was presented to Phoebe Jay and the National Legend Award went to Allan Caswell.

Weblink – www.ticma.com.au.

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FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 25, 2016

New from Buddy

Buddy Goode will release his latest album – More Rubbish – on Friday, December 16.

Known as the "authority of inappropriate" Buddy took out the ARIA Awards for Best Comedy Release in 2012 and 2014.

"Of all the albums I have ever made… this is certainly the most recent," he said.

Described as "a great stocking filler for Christmas" More Rubbish follows up Buddy’s two highly successful themed albums It’s A Buddy Goode Christmas and Songs To Ruin Every Occasion.

"More Rubbish captures the essences that are everyday life and the album sees Buddy return to a formula that made him the man he is today," said a spokesman for his record label, ABC.

"With titles such as Mid Life Crisis, Big Man In The Sky and Camel Toe, More Rubbish reflects life for the average Joe or Joelene, an album that will surely relate to everyone... even the kids."

Buddy will launch the new album at Rooty Hill RSL, Sydney, on Saturday, December 17 and follow up with a string of shows including at Tamworth Country Music Festival 2017.

Weblink – www.facebook.com/BuddyGoode.

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THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 24, 2016

Sara wins Country ARIA

Sara Storer has taken out the 2016 ARIA Award for Best Country Album for her current release, Silos.

Sara won the award from fellow finalists Adam Brand and the Outlaws with Adam Brand And The Outlaws, Bill Chambers with Cold Trail, Fanny Lumsden with Small Town Big Shot and The Wolfe Brothers with This Crazy Life.

This year's win for Sara is he first ARIA Award.

The 2016 ARIA Awards – the 30th to be staged – were announced in Sydney yesterday.

Weblink – www.sarastorer.com.au.

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WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 23, 2016

Gidgee Coal Bush Ballad Awards 2016

Winners of Gidgee Coal Bush Ballad Awards were announced at Pittsworth on the weekend with Jeff Brown the most significant artist recognised.

Jeff won Album of the Year for Wanderin' Man plus Male Vocalist of the Year and shared the Group/Duo/Collaboration gong with Anne Kirkpatrick for Orchid Street.

Michael Clare was the bext biggest winner with two awards, New Talent with Here In Hay and Comedy/Novelty for The Neighbors Turned New Age.

The Female Vocal award went to Sharon Heaslip with The Drover And The Brumby while the Songwriting award went to John O'Dea and Ray Essery for The Patchwork Quilt.

Terry Bennetts' Pardoo Station took out the Instrumental category.

The Encouragement Award went to Mark Lavender & Kathryn Coad while Legend Awards were presented to Zeta Burns, Rex Dallas and Chad Morgan.

A special award was presented to Alan and Marilyn Luscombe for their help with The Gidgee Coal Bush Ballad awards and their great work with walkup artists at many festivals.

The Awards festival ran from Monday the 14th to Sunday the 20th with artists scheduled to appear including Zeta Burns, Kylie Castle, Rex Dallas, Ray Essery, Gary Fogarty, Johnny Greenwood, Kev Groves, Bec Hance, Sharon Heaslip, Caitlyn Jamieson, Keith Jamiesion, Bruce Lavender, Ken Lindsay, Alan Luscombe, Chad Morgan, Alisha Smith and Pete Wilson.

Pictured: Jeff, Michael and Sharon.

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TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 22, 2016

New Single for The Long and Short of It

Southern Star winners The Long and Short of It will be releasing their latest single from their Night Of Our Life album on December 5.

Kangaroo Rodeo is described as a fun, tongue-in-cheek track with the associated video filmed at the Walkabout Creek Hotel, McKinlay, with the locals taking advantage of a few free beers and getting in on the action.

Take a look at the video by clicking on the picture.

Weblink – www.thelongandshortofit.com.au.

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MONDAY, NOVEMBER 21, 2016

Matt & The Rising Suns

Matt J Ward & The Rising Sons is the self-titled debut EP from South Australian artist Matt J Ward and his band.

"With raw emotion, landscaped stories, catchy hooks, Matt sings of heartbreak, road trips and desert country like a veteran country performer," said a band spokesman.

"The new music delivers a unique blend of contemporary Australian alt country and draws comparisons with Neil Murray, Shane Howard, Corb Lund and Sturgill Simpson. The diverse EP delivers snippets of Nashville, the drive of late '70s Australian rock and swaggering tales of west Texan dive bars.

"Sitting comfortably in the Alt-country/Americana wing of country music, Matt divides his time between music and his day job of working in national park and wildlife management. His work and music have taken him across Australia and more recently to the desert regions of West Texas. One such journey inspired much of what you hear on the debut EP."

Terlingua is the focus track on the EP and was inspired by the west Texan ghost town of the same name. Once a town supporting a mercury mine, it has since been abandoned and is now home to a host of musicians looking for inspiration from its landscape and characters.

Matt wrote this track after he visited in 2015 and ended up playing some shows at the famous Starlight Theatre where well-known Texan country musicians such as George Goss and Butch Hancock play regularly.

The EP features five self-penned tracks which will be familiar to those who attend Matt’s regular "Dive Bars and Bar Flies" shows across South Australia – past shows have featured Fanny Lumsden & Aaron Thomas, upcoming shows will feature Nick Payne & Peasant Moon.

"There is a small but strong country scene in South Australia," the spokesman said, "of which Matt is an active member. 'Dive Bars and Bar Flies', the brainchild of Matt and fellow country artist Paul Heggart (The Heggarties), aims to provide an avenue for local and national country artists to play in smaller bars across his home state."

Over the years, Matt has fronted three bands including Where There's Smoke and more recently the two piece Battle of Flowers with Yvette Booth, which is more of a combination of alternative country and indie rock.

Weblink – www.mattjwardmusic.com.

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SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 2016

Vale – Hugh McDonald

Hugh McDonald, musician, prolific songwriter and long-time member of the Redgum band, died yesterday from complications associated with prostate cancer.

hddis Arguably one of the most popular songs released by REDGUM was the The Diamantina Drover. It was written by Hugh and recorded by a variety of artists following its release in 1983 including country music heavy weight Lee Kernaghan and the legendary old ‘true blue’ John Williamson.

From the world music scene came a nod from Ireland’s own folk veteran Christy Moore who happened to borrow Enya’s vocals on his 1985 ARRANGEMENT. The songs legacy lies within the heart of country music Australia and as such remains a staple in sets performed by THE VAGABOND CREW across Australia & beyond.

On the solo tip the ability to play a variety of instruments consistently well has allowed for popular Jazz standards, Irish Ballads and Australian Folk to make up an eclectic and timeless repertoire that consistently pleases any audience fortunate enough to bare witness to a PERFORMANCE. As for time spent writing and recording since the days of Redgum, several releases have come about and are readily available in both physical and digital formats.

The MUSIC page plays host to these unique and splendid recordings.

 


FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 2016

New from Route 33

Following the recent announcement of their appearance on the upcoming Telstra #liveandloud event at the Tamworth Country Music Festival in January, Route 33 have released their single Last First Kiss to radio today.

The Queensland boys also confirm the release date of their debut album The Switch on Friday February 17. The Last First Kiss single is available as an “instant gratitude” track when fans pre-order The Switch on iTunes from today.

The idea for Last First Kiss was of young/first time love that lead vocalist and keyboard player Trent McArdle was working on but found himself struggling with the theme for the song for quite a while.

Trent says: "It wasn’t until we were at a wedding, when the groom said in his speech 'who would have thought that kiss on that night would be my last first kiss'. It was this line that grabbed my attention and helped me create the ‘hook’ that eventually set the theme to the song. The lyrics quickly took shape from there and it didn’t take long at all to throw together this fun upbeat tune."

Last First Kiss is the first video clip either of the boys have been involved with. Filmed in Yandina, a small laid back town behind Coolum Beach on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland.

Guitarist Jock Barnes says: "We knew the location well, as Coolum Beach is where Trent spent most of his childhood growing up. The nighttime filming was shot at Yandina Station, a very popular wedding venue on the Sunshine Coast and a location that we have played at many times in the past."

The clip was produced by Josh Favaloro, a talented cinematographer, who made the duo very comfortable on what was an extremely foreign experience for both, especially Trent, who is not a fan of the limelight.

The debut release The Switch will have seven catchy original tunes and is an example of why these guys are the most popular emerging country band coming out of Queensland right now, according to a spokesman for the duo.

"The album is a celebration of the finer things in life and is sure to soundtrack many a summer to come. Rife with irresistible hooks, their refreshing brew of rock, pop and country doesn’t beat around the bush – these are fun songs about girls, beers and parties."

Trent McArdle and Jock Barnes, lifelong buddies and failed sportsmen, sat side by side in Nashville’s Nissan Stadium for 2015’s Country Music Awards. There they witnessed coveted gongs go to the industry’s biggest superstars, modern luminaries like Garth Brooks, Miranda Lambert, Chris Stapleton and Keith Urban.

The experience sparked their creativity. Invigorated, the pair who returned to their Australian homeland and went about penning original music. Drawing on their eight years together in high-demand cover band Golden Child, an experience that afforded expert insights into what type of songs can bring a crowd to its feet, Route 33 soon had seven “killer” tracks for a debut release.

Weblink – www.route33entertainment.com.

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THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 2016

New from Cuban Heels

Michael Carpenter and his alt country outfit The Cuban Heels have released the second single from their new album Ain’t Nothin’ Left To Say.

The single, Photo, is described as "the perfect alt country antidote to the chart topping country ballad of the album’s debut single I Should Have Told You".

Written with Rob Draper, Michael said of the track: "These days everyone takes photos. We become so blasé about them, that they often catch us in moments that are impossible to stage. This song is a tribute to the beauty of those moments that rise beyond the every day life – for better or worse."

The new single also comes hot on the heels of the surprising success Michael has had with his single with the legendary Allan Caswell. The collaboration track Back When I Was Older has been a chart topper around the country.

Michael Carpenter & The Cuban Heels sprung out of the gates in 2008 with two EPs, an album, a bonus disc and then two albums of covers in 2011.

As long time friends, the band members' on stage communication, in combination with an exhaustive repertoire made their shows compelling, according to a spokesman.

"The records were mostly cut live to tape with minimal overdubbing and usually involving only the band and a close knit group of 'extended members', including a boyfriend, a brother and a stunt drummer."

But 2011 saw two members of the band move interstate indefinitely, essentially drawing the band to an unspoken halt.

Last year, however, saw everyone back in one state and it didn’t take much convincing to get back together and "see what happens". During 2015, they headlined a string of successful shows called "The Wild Wild Inner West Revue" and re-entered the studio to record Ain’t Nothin’ Left To Say.

Next year is looking to be a busy year with festival performances already lined up around the country.

Weblink – www.facebook.com/stagefright.

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WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 16, 2016

Planet Country Awards

The Planet Country radio program is running a fan-voted awards scheme to recognise Australia's favourite country act and Australia's favourite overseas act.

Voting closes on Tuesday December 6 and winners will be announced on Thursday December 8.

Fans have the option of voting for a pre-determined list of finalists.

For the Australian market, finalists are Melanie Dyer, Matt Cornell, Deep Creek Road, Jade Holland, Hurricane Fall, Kristy James, Emily Joy, Kaylens Rain, Troy Kemp, Missy Lancaster, Mick Lindsay, Drew McAlister, Caitlyn Shadbolt, The Viper Creek Band and The Wolfe Brothers.

For overseas artists, finalists are Frankie Ballard, Kelsea Ballerini, The Band Perry, Tucker Beathard, Dierks Bentley, Kane Brown, Luke Bryan, The Cadillac Three, Eric Church, Florida Georgia Line, Jana Kramer, Maren Morris, Old Dominion, Thomas Rhet, The Shires, Carrie Underwood and Keith Urban.

A link to the voting page can be found via the Plant Country website... planetcountryradio.webs.com.

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TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 2016

CCMA National Talent Quest call for entries

Country Music Capital's Capital Country Music Association (CCMA) has issued a call for entries for its 51st National Talent Quest to run in January during the upcoming Tamworth Country Music Festival.

With cash and prizes valued at around $10,000, the CCMA National Talent Quest is not only one of the richest amateur talent quests in Australia, it is also one of the most famous.

At 51, it is believed to be Australia's longest running talent quest and, over the years, has been responsible as providing a launching pad for some of our biggest stars.

"Allan Caswell, Lee Kernaghan, Keith Urban and Felicity Urquhart are just a few names that come to mind," said CCMA President Steve Newton.

The talent quest will be staged on Thursday and Friday January 26 and 27 with the Association's Winner's Concert and Jamboree on the Friday night.

Entry can be made via the website ccma.net.au.

Photo: last year's junior overall talent quest winners Campbell & Alyssa with guest judge Anne Kirkpatrick and CCMA President Steve Newton and Event Co-ordinator Tracy Coster.

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MONDAY, NOVEMBER 14, 2016

New from Adam

Adam Brand is set to release a new solo album early in 2017.

The winner of a dozen Golden Guitars will release Get On Your Feet on Friday, February 10 through ABC Music/Universal.

Recorded between Nashville and Sydney, the new album is described as a collection of songs "certain to make you 'get on your feet'. The title track was released to media today together with a video clip (clip can be viewed here).

"I knew I was ready to make a new record," Adam said. "I was looking for great songs that I wanted to sing. Every song had to be a song that I wanted to press 'repeat' on when I was driving in the car."

The new album is an addition to Adam’s catalogue which has included the first self-titled work, Get Loud, Blame It On Eve, It’s Gonna Be OK and most recently the number one release with his country superstar mates for Adam Brand and the Outlaws.

"After My Side Of The Street (an ARIA Top 5 in 2014, for which he won CMC Artist of the Year) came out, I felt like I needed to do something fun and different," Adam said. "The Outlaws was a nice segue. The idea had been in my head for years. I wanted a break from being 'me'."

Weblink – www.adambrand.com.au.

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El Cosgrove

El Cosgrove is a self-confessed red-headed, boot-wearing, alt country singer/songwriter.

The 2016 Australian Academy Of Country Music graduate has drawn upon her upbringing in rural Queensland and other life experiences for her debut single, The Unfamiliar.

The track is all about El’s love of travelling and experiencing rural life on the road, according to a spokesman for the artist. “Always feeling a sense of calm and belonging whilst driving and experiencing places off the beaten track, El believes this is most likely influenced by her upbringing on a farm near Dalby, in the Queensland Darling Downs.”

El says: “Some of my earliest memories are driving between our farms with my family doing the many necessary jobs including carting machinery or moving and feeding cattle.”

After meeting producer Matt Fell when he was a guest speaker during her time at the Academy earlier this year, El knew she’d found the perfect person to bring her music to life.

During her time at the Academy, El said she was privileged to have co-written songs with both Kasey Chambers and Ashleigh Dallas, share the stage with the likes of Catherine Britt, Lyn Bowtell, Kevin Bennett, Dobe Newton and Roger Corbett (The Bushwackers), Karl Broadie and fellow academy students, as well as having the opportunity to work with Amber Lawrence, Aleyce Simmonds and more.

The debut EP Guitars And Cigars features five original songs and will be released during the 2017 Tamworth Country Music Festival.

Weblink – www.elcosgrove.com.

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Little Big Town heads down under

Two-time Grammy winners Little Big Town have announced a first-time mini tour to Australia.

The band is currently slated to play three gigs plus an appearance at the 2017 CMC Rocks Qld event.

The acclaimed American four-piece will touch down in Sydney for a show at the Enmore Theatre on Tuesday March 21 then Melbourne’s Hamer Hall on Wednesday March 22.

Nashville native and platinum-selling artist Kip Moore, who appeared at this year’s CMC Rocks event will return as support act to Little Big Town as well as to appear at the CMC event.

Weblinks – www.facebook.com/littlebigtown, www.kipmoore.net.

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WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2016

Tamworth bush poetry has a new home

Organisers of the ABPA Golden Damper Awards have announced a new venue for the 2017 Country Music Festival activities.

The Awards will run at the fully air-conditioned Tamworth Rugby Club on Marius Street, near the railway viaduct, an easily accessible walk from the camping areas or by the Festival Shuttle Bus. There is also plenty of parking available.

Meals and bar service will be available.

Dubbed "the most popular bush poetry event at Tamworth" entrants in the Golden Damper Awards vie for the famous Golden Damper trophies and cash prizes.

Performing bush poets wanting to take part can contact contact the Competition Convenor on 0419 415 137 or email TheRhymerfromRyde@bigpond.com

Entry forms are also available on the website of The Australian Bush Poets Association: www.abpa.org.au

There are three days of Heats, Tuesday January 24, Thursday the 26th and Friday 27th with the Finals and Awards presentation on the Saturday 28. Starting time is 10.30am each day. A $5 admission charge applies for the Saturday Finals only.

Photo: Brenda Joy from Charters Towers, the 2016 Golden Damper winner.

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TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 8, 2016

Applications called for 2017 Cavalcade

Applications have been called for the annual Toyota Country Music Cavalcade to run on the main Saturday of the Tamworth Country Music Festival with Festival organisers the 2017 event to be one of the biggest yet.

Last year there was an increase in the number of floats and, despite the rain, thousands still turned out to experience it,” according to Barry Harley, Manager Country Music and Events, Tamworth Regional Council.

“With the number of enquiries already received, we are expecting to see entries increase again this year and we couldn’t be happier about it.

“The theme for the 2017 Cavalcade is ‘It doesn’t get better than this!’, enabling participants to design their float in a way that demonstrates their version of why it doesn’t get any better than the Toyota Country Music Festival, Tamworth.”

The highly anticipated and extremely popular event was a fantastic opportunity for local and regional groups to be a part of one of the biggest events in the Festival program, Barry said, “and with a cash prize of $3,000, it’s a great way to be rewarded for participating.”

Cavalcade entry forms can be downloaded from the official Tamworth Country Music Festival here or by requested by contacting Tamworth Regional Council on 02 6767 5555.

Photo: a "float's eye" view of the famous parade and just a few of the thousands of fans who line Tamworth's Peel Street on the main Saturday of the annual country music festival.

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MONDAY, NOVEMBER 7, 2016

Big Red Bash tickets on sale

Tickets for the 2017 Birdsville Big Red Bash go on sale today.

The outback festival takes place from July 4 – 6 and tickets for the 2016 event sold out well in advance last year.

In its fifth year in 2017, the Big Red Bash boasts an big lineup of some of Australia’s best and most respected country and rock artists.

Leading the charge is Lee Kernaghan who will be using the occasion to celebrate 25 years in the music business. For the third and final day of the festival, Lee has assembled a once-in-a-lifetime cast of his nearest and dearest, banding together as the Legends of Country for an all-day spectacle.

The Legends will include some of the country’s biggest names, like James Blundell, Tania Kernaghan, Christie Lamb, The McClymonts and The Wolfe Brothers.

Pop sensation and Secret Daughter star Jessica Mauboy (who started her career as a country singer) will headline the first night of the event, while the second day will be spearheaded by two of Australia’s greatest, James Reyne and Mark Seymour. They will be joined by Kate Cebrano, Ian Moss, Russell Morris and Ray Ryder.

Queensland Minister for Tourism and Major Events Kate Jones said the Big Red Bash had become one of Australia’s must-do events. “The Birdsville Big Red Bash was named Australia’s favourite event this year,” she said.

“Thousands of visitors travel through our regional towns for the Big Red Bash, spending money and driving the tourism economy in the Outback. 

“The Palaszczuk Government is proud, through Tourism and Events Queensland, to support events which showcase our regions to visitors.”

The most remote music festival in the world, the Big Red Bash not only offers great Australian music, but a completely unique outback experience, a spokesman for event organisers said.

“Unlike almost every other music festival in Australia, not only is camping completely free, but the event is totally BYO.”
   
Weblink – www.bigredbash.com.au.

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FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 4, 2016

Tamworth Festival in the Park

Tamworth Regional Council has announced details for the free shows that will run in the city's Bicentennial Park during the 2017 January Country Music Festival.

There will be activity in the park, dubbed Toyota Park for the duration of the Festival, on every official day of the event Friday, January 20 to Sunday January 29.

"The theme for Toyota Park concerts this year is generally a large variety of 'cameo' performances from a lot of acts rather than long concerts of just one act," said Barry Harley, Manager Country Music & Events, Tamworth Regional Council.

"This gives festival goers the opportunity to experience the many emerging, new and popular artists in one place, showcasing the diversity of country music genres we have here in Australia."

The first day, Friday January 20, will feature the Official Opening Concert.

Hosted by five time Golden Guitar winner Peter Denahy, the concert will feature performances by Australian Academy of Country Music graduates and tutors, Bennett, Bowtell and Urquhart, Catherine Britt (2016 Female Artist of the Year, Golden Guitar winner), The Bushwackers, Mitch King (2016 Toyota Busking Champion), Amber Lawrence, Karin Page (2016 Toyota Star Maker winner) and the Sam Hawksley All Star Band with fireworks to explode at 9pm followed by the Ben Ransom Band and Hurricane Fall playing into the night.

Saturday January 21 will be the Tamworth Family Support Evening In The Park with home-grown artists Tori Forsyth and Aleyce Simmonds plus “a mystery guest” appearance.

Sunday January 22 will be the Toyota Star Maker Grand Final.

Monday January 23 will be Americana In The Park.

Tuesday January 24 will be the Live, Loud & Free concert, a contemporary country music display showcasing emerging talent including Chelsea Basham, Kaylee Bell, Melanie Dyer, Kaylens Rain, Caitlyn Shadbolt, Route 33 and “some very special guest appearances”.

Wednesday January 25 will be “back to the bush” with the Super Bush Ballad Concert featuring Jeff Brown, Lindsay Butler, Keith Jamieson, Brian Letton, Anne Kirkpatrick, Reg Poole and many more.

Thursday January 26 will be the traditional Australia Day celebration concert.

Friday January 27 will be the regular Toyota Concert For Rural Australia raising funds for the Glenn McGrath Foundation.

Saturday January 28 will be the Toyota Busking Championships featuring the top 10 acts selected from Boulevard of Dreams performances during the week.

Sunday January 29 will be a celebration of winners and fan favourites from the Festival including the Aristocrat Entertainer of the Year, Toyota Busking Champions, Toyota Golden Guitar Awards, Toyota Star Maker and other competition winners in The Last Roundup concert, again culminating in massive fireworks display.

“Attending the free concerts in Toyota Park is a great opportunity for musical discovery, meeting new people and really appreciating the talent we have here in Australia,” Barry said.

“We have always supported, nurtured and promoted ‘home grown’ Australian country music talent because we have so much of it and we want everyone to experience it,” he said.

Photo: park concert stars from the top... Peter Denahy compere of the Opening Concert, Aleyce Simmonds in the Family Support Evening, Star Maker Sunday, Caitlyn Shadbolt of Loud, Live & Free and Reg Poole "back to the bush".

Weblink – www.tcmf.com.au.

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THURSDAY, OCTOBER 20, 2016

From Crooked Mountain to Tamworth

The Pigs are on tour this Spring/Summer trekking from the Crooked Mountain Concert in the Warrumbungles to the annual Tamworth Country Music Festival.

Stops on the way (if you can work it out!) include Ballarat, Bathurst, Canberra, the Gold Coast, Katoomba, Melbourne, Narooma, Orange, Shellharbour, St Arnaud and more Queensland dates to be announced.

Billed as "the misunderstood family band that play hillbilly pop and all things good" The Pigs have an impressive history spanning four albums, one EP, Golden Guitar Nominations, world tours and sore feet.

The band is known for its dynamic and entertaining live performances.

T-Bone, Stretch, Cousin Shamus, Cousin Montz and Cousin Bert are performing crowd-favourite tunes from 12 Years on the road on their way to Tamworth with double bass, acoustic guitars, mandolin, stand up drums, banjo and big bluegrass vocal harmonies.

Weblink – thepigs.com.au.

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MONDAY, OCTOBER 17, 2016

Dixie Chicks return to Australia

Superstar country trio the Dixie Chicks will return to Australia in March next year for their first shows in more than 10 years.

The trio is set to play a mini-tour of six concerts in Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney plus a headline performance at the 2017 CMC Rocks Qld event.

The Dixie Chicks have 13 Grammy Awards to their credit, six Billboard Music Awards, four American Music Awards and countless Country Music Association Awards. They are a multi-platinum selling act across Australia, Europe and North America and one of only a handful of acts to have ever achieved “diamond” status in record sales surpassing the 10 million mark.

Since 1990, the trio has released seven studio albums, three live albums and a string of live DVDs.

Weblink – www.dixiechicks.com.

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CMC Rocks line-up

CMC Rocks, meanwhile, have announced the full artist line-up for the 10th anniversary event.

The bill will include local stars Brothers3, Doug Bruce & The Tailgaters, Imogen Clark, Deep Creek Road, Morgan Evans, Col Finley, Adam Harvey, Kaylens Rain, Lee Kernaghan, Christie Lamb, New Zealand’s Kayla Mahon, The McClymonts, Mustered Courage, Jasmine Rae, Caitlyn Shadbolt, the Viper Creek Band and The Wolfe Brothers.

In addition to the headlining Dixie Chicks, overseas acts will include Drew Baldridge, Craig Campbell, Charles Esten, Tyler Farr, Little Big Town, Kip Moore, Eric Paslay, Michael Ray, The Shires, Granger Smith and Ward Thomas.

CMC Rocks Qld 2017 will be staged Friday, Saturday and Sunday, March 24 to 27 at Willowbank, Ipswich.

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WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 12, 2016

New from Seleen

Seleen McAlister, winner of this year's Female Vocal honour at the Southern Stars, has released her second studio album, Follow The Journey.

Produced by Simon Johnson and Drew McAlister, the new work caps off a hectic but successful time for Seleen who just a little over six months ago was involved in a serious car accident while touring far north Queensland and just one month ago was struck down with a life threatening infection that nearly took her leg and almost her life.

Seleen's appearances at the Mildura Country Music Festival were her first and she is looking forward to returning again in coming years.

"Mildura is a wonderful festival," she said, "bringing together the most diverse range of independent country music performers in Australia... it was an honour to perform and to win (the Female Vocal) award."

Seleen has just signed a two year sponsorship vehicle deal with Toyota and an endorsement with Australian guitar manufacturer Cole Clark as well as Australian Jewellery company Locketinn.

With a Golden Guitar kicking off 2016 and now a win at the Southern Stars, Seleen is all ready to Follow The Journey to what lies ahead.

Weblink – www.facebook.com/seleenmcalister.

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MONDAY, OCTOBER 10, 2016

ABC signs Craig

Craig Heath is the newest artist to be signed to the ABC/Universal Music label with his first single, How Do You Do It now released and available on iTunes.

Craig's debut album Let It Ride is set for release early next year.

The single is backed by a video clip directed by Anthony Rose, who has been responsible for videos by Delta Goodrem and Shannon Noll to name a few.

Craig is a Melbourne based singer/songwriter who is a newcomer to the country music scene. Up until now his career has been spent playing in rock bands around Melbourne including recording with his own band Velvet City.

"I just gravitate toward that Nashville style of music," Craig said. "It’s about the lyric telling a story from the get go and creating a musical journey for people to connect to. I love the new era of country music and artists like Keith Urban and Jason Aldean who get out there and deliver great shows.

"I am thrilled to be signed to ABC/Universal," he said, "and I am so excited about taking these songs out and playing live again. I feel like I have finally found my musical home with this album and I am so comfortable writing and performing country music – it is where I belong."

Stephen White Management, known for managing artists like Lee Kernaghan and The Wolfe Brothers has signed Craig with Steve himself saying: "I heard Craig’s songs and I signed him immediately. He has a very commercial sound with great songs and I think he will be an important part of the growth of country music in Australia."

Weblink – www.facebook.com/craigheathofficial.

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FRIDAY, OCTOBER 7, 2016

New album from Jody

Jody Direen is set to release a new album – Shake Up – in early November.

The first single from the album, Gimme The Beat, is out now.

Described as "a new sound for Jody" Shake Up will be "filled with anthems and big beats that have been influenced by '80s and '90s rock, combined with popular club synths, banjo, steel and massive country guitars" according to a spokesman for the artist..

Jody is currently touring with The Wolfe Brothers on their "This Crazy Life" tour alongsidee Caitlyn Shadbolt and Canadian star Australian-born Gord Bamford.

"The new single serves as the perfect entree to set the tone for the album," the spokesman said.

"Gimme The Beat is all about the party," Jody said. "All about stomping your feet. The song is a celebration of music and how it makes people feel."

For the album, Jody worked alongside award winning producer Stuart Stuart, who has previously been a key player in launching the sounds of The Veronicas and Sheppard.

"Stuart and Jody worked to tell a story for Shake Up from experiences with life, love and Jody’s passion for music," the spokesman said. "Influences from many genres can be heard through Jody’s powerful vocals as she stays true to her country roots.

Already the winner of a number of awards, including the 2015 Country Music Association of New Zealand Female Artist of the Year Award, Jody has also seen nominations for CMC Awards and has had top 10 hits in Australia and New Zealand.

Weblink – www.jodydireen.com.

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WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 5, 2016

ARIA finalists

The 2016 ARIA (Australian Recording Industry Association Awards) will be announced in Sydney on Wednesday, November 23.

Finalists for Best Country Album are the "self-titled" Adam Brand & The Outlaws, Cold Trail by Bill Chambers, Silos by Sara Storer, Small Town Big Shot by Fanny Lumsden and This Crazy Life by The Wolfe Brothers.

Keith Urban's The Fighter (featuring Carrie Underwood) is a finalist for the fan-voted Song of the Year award.

Weblink – www.ariaawards.com.au.

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TUESDAY, OCTOBER 4, 2016

Tamworth Festival shows on sale

Tickets have gone on sale for a number of major shows for during the 2017 Tamworth Country Music Festival.

The Bushwackers, Carter & Carter, Tom Maxwell, Aleyce Simmonds, Felicity Urquhart and John Williamson are the latest to announce shows during Tamworth 2017. They join those already announced for Troy Cassar-Daley, Lee Kernaghan and The McClymonts.

Festival Manager Barry Harley said: "The Toyota Country Music Festival is a celebration of Australian talent. Some of Australia’s biggest country music stars launched their careers right here in Tamworth and we are really proud that the Festival continues to nurture the talent we have in this country."

The 2017 Festival will feature over 700 artists in 2,800 events across 120 venues in the city and surrounds and Barry says his plan is to promote as much Australian talent as he can.

"Visitors to the Festival always tell us that their favourite part is seeing Aussie talent and the array of emerging artists busking in Peel Street. That’s why we try to maintain a 'home-grown' approach as much as we can."

He doesn’t write off overseas acts though and says it is likely the Americana concert in Toyota Park will have such a flavour as will other shows planned during the 2017 Festival.

"We love having international artists performing here in Tamworth. It’s a great way to give fans a taste of country music from around the world, and also showcase the Country Music Capital of Australia to the visiting artists," Barry said.

The 2017 Toyota Country Music Festival is expecting more than 50,000 to attend the 10 day-long event in January. The Festival kicks off on Friday January 20.

Weblink – www.tcmf.com.au.

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SUNDAY, OCTOBER 2, 2016

Mildura winners

Allan Caswell is the big winner from this year’s Australian Independent Country Music Awards announced in Mildura last night.

Allan swept the pool of awards taking home five trophies including the prestigious Independent Artist of the Year title.

His swag included Male Vocalist of the Year with Until The Hurtin’ Starts, Single of the Year with Shelley’s Song, Album of the Year for My Version Of The Truth and Heritage Track of the Year with One Last Muster.

Allan was also key to the win by Seleen McAlister of Female Vocalist of the Year as she took the prize with her version of the Caswell-penned On The Inside.

Group/Duo of the Year went to The Long And Short Of It with their song Two Thousand Years From Now.

Rising Star Female went to Hayley Jensen with The One while Ben Ransom was awarded Rising Star Male with Country Sky.

Photo: the 2016 winners (from left): Ben Ransom, Hayley Jensen, Aleyce Simmonds, Seleen McAlister, Allan Caswell and Patsy and Dave, The Long And Short Of It.

Weblink – www.milduracountrymusic.com.au.

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FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2016

The boy from the bush coming back to town

Lee Kernaghan, one of Australia’s most prominent contemporary country music artists, is set to return to Tamworth in January with his “The Boy From the Bush” 25th Anniversary Show.

Tamworth Country Music Festival Manager Barry Harley said: “Lee is one of the all-time greats of Australian country music and there’s no better place than the Toyota Country Music Festival for fans to join Lee at what will be an historic event.”

Presented by Toyota, this special, once in a lifetime show will cover 25 years of smash hits and will feature surprise guest appearances by a “who’s who” of Lee’s musical mates and legends.

Set to be held on Australia Day, Thursday, January 26, at the Tamworth Regional Entertainment & Conference Centre, Lee’s concert marks the 25th anniversary of the launch of his amazing career and the release of his first of many chart-busting hits, Boys From The Bush.

This song, from the iconic album The Outback Club, not only achieved double platinum certification, it redefined contemporary Australian country music.

This will be Lee’s one and only concert performance at the 2017 Toyota Country Music Festival.

Weblink – www.leekernaghan.com.au.

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TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2016

8 Ball returns to Oz

Multi-awarded global troubadour 8 Ball Aitken returns to Australia for an extensive four month Blazing Blues Summer Tour, traversing five state borders and the high seas – South Pacific, Bass Strait and Sydney Harbour – armed with his self-titled compilation album, his ninth release.

8 Ball says: “I’m following my heart with the Blazing Blues Summer Tour.  When I was 15, I took the two-day train journey from Cairns to Brisbane to see B B King play and his concert changed my life, it was a spiritual experience and I was overwhelmingly inspired to be a musician.  Since I’ve relocated to America and toured non-stop, I’ve been exposed even more to the origins of the blues and it feels natural to me to follow that path.”

The tour kicks off in Canberra at the Harmonie German Club on Friday October 14 and more than 50 shows follow from Queensland to Tasmania and beyond, including multiple performances in November at the Airlie Beach Festival of Music (International Patron), Cruisin’ Country 6 on board the Legend of the Seas and the Tamworth Country Music Festival in January.

An accomplished singer/songwriter and slide guitarist, 8 Ball now lives in Austin, Texas, and has a built a solid international reputation performing high energy, 100 percent original “swamp and hurricane blues”, country rock and Americana.  He has also contributed to the soundtracks of high rating television shows on world wide distribution and counts bona-fide industry legends as his creative partners.

His videos, including the latest single Sleepy, She’s Going to Mexico, I’m Going to Jail, Girl In A Million, Seven Bucks An Hour In A Chicken Suit, Shut The Front Door and Yellow Moon can be viewed at www.youtube.com/user/8ballaitken.

Weblink – www.8ballaitken.com.

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FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 23

Registrations open for Tamworth busking

Registrations are officially open for the 2017 Toyota LandCruiser Country Music Busking Championships that will see hundreds of aspiring musicians line the iconic “Boulevard of Dreams” in Country Music Capital’s Peel Street for a shot at stardom.

The Championships are one of the Toyota Country Music Festival Tamworth’s most highly anticipated attractions, with hundreds of buskers set to take part in the always hotly contested competition.

Many of those taking part will hope to follow in the footsteps of Troy Cassar-Daley, Kasey Chambers, Beccy Cole and Keith Urban who all started by busking on Peel Street, to name a few.

“A great launchpad for aspiring musicians, last year’s winner Mitch King went on to be voted the Hottest New Act at the 2016 St Kilda Festival, while last year’s people’s choice award winner Goldheist recently released her single and music video Far Away From Here,” said Tamworth Regional Council Manager Events Barry Harley.

Registrations are currently open online at www.tcmf.com.au/busking, with 10 finalists to be named during the festival from January, 20. Finalists will perform in Toyota Park on Saturday, January 28 and major winners will be announced on the night.

All those taking part also have the chance to share in more than $5,000 in cash prizes plus an opportunity to perform at The Last Roundup on Sunday, January 29 in Toyota Park, and a guest appearance the following year on the Opening Concert in 2018.

 “It’s one of the most vibrant and exciting parts of the Toyota Country Music Festival Tamworth and is an ideal springboard for up-and-coming country musicians or those who just want to perform music at Australia’s biggest music festival,” Barry said.

The event is sponsored by Toyota and supported by The Northern Daily Leader.

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THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2016

Zac Brown Band in Australia

Already announced as a headline act for the 28th annual Bluesfest in 2017, three-time Grammy winners the Zac Brown Band can will take the stage for two special shows in Melbourne and Sydney in April.

Returning to Australia two years on from their ground-breaking debut Antipodean tour, the Zac Brown Band will play the Margaret Court Arena on Wednesday April 19 and the ICC Sydney Theatre on Friday April 21.

“Zac Brown and his band of nimble-fingered shredders never shy away from taking risks and don't back down from broadening an already exceedingly eclectic sonic palette,” said Rolling Stone magazine.

Described as one of the most prolific acts in the world, the Zac Brown Band has earned an historic series of 15 number one hit US radio singles and is only the second act to top both the country and active rock formats.

Their latest platinum-certified album Jekyll + Hyde marks the band’s fourth consecutive number one debut on the Billboard 200 chart. With three platinum-selling albums, Uncaged, You Get What You Give and Jekyll + Hyde plus the five times platinum The Foundation, along with their 2013 project The Grohl Sessions Vol. 1,  the band has sold more than 25 million singles and eight million albums to date.

Weblink – www.zacbrownband.com.

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WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 21, 2016

Keri recognises International Peace Day

Australian country artist Keri McInerney is part of a “global choir in the cloud” who accepted an invitation from Kate Ceberano to record a version of Waltzing Matilda in the name of International Peace.

Released for International Peace Day today, September 21, the recording features 200 artists “in the cloud” as a way to create a wave of positivity for world peace.

“I am very thrilled,” she said. “I was selected to sing some of the backing vocals and harmonies on this track and have to say it was an exciting and wonderful project to be involved in.

“The song was selected to represent this important message at international level and along with my co-singers and Kate, we are just standing so proud and tall today.”

Our recording has gained AirPlay and sales all over the world with funds raised for UNICEF. Participants came from 24 countries to record the project Australia, Brazil, China, Ethiopia, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Phillipines, Portugal, Russia, Scotland, South Africa, the UK, Ukraine, the USA and Uzbekistan.

Click the link below listen and look, support and share…

Video link – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EBlWDLevRiY

The recording can be downloaded from the following sources…

iTunes http://apple.co/2aEveYn
CD Baby http://bit.ly/2cwTJGY
Googleplay http://bit.ly/2cL4DZy

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TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 20, 2016

Nominations open for 2017 Queen of Country Music Quest

Nominations for the 2017 Queen of Country Music Quest have opened with local Tamworth businesses and community groups urged to get involved in the event that’s been supporting local women since 1984.

This year, the Quest has been given an added boost with the announcement it will be run by the Tamworth branch of international female advocacy group Zonta, which empowers women through service and advocacy.

Tamworth Zonta Club President Deb Maes said she was excited about taking the Quest forward.

“The club is committed to expanding the Quest and are joining collaboratively with others in the community so the Quest can be an even more valuable experience for entrants, sponsors, employers and the whole community,” Deb said.

“Now in its 32nd year, the Queen of Country Music Quest empowers young women from the Tamworth region to develop important personal and professional skills like public speaking, networking and community service.”

Nominations close September 30, and are open to women aged 18-35 years who must be nominated and sponsored by their employer, a local business or community organisation to get involved.

All Quest nominees will receive professional development in October and November including workshops on etiquette, grooming, personal presentation, media training, confidence coaching and a six-week public speaking and leadership course from Tamworth Communicators Toastmasters.

In December, 15 Quest finalists will be named, then officially “sashed” at the Tamworth Country Music Festival Opening Concert on Friday January 20. These finalists will act as advocates of the Tamworth Country Music Festival and also of Tamworth as a destination of choice in NSW.

The major honours – Queen and Princess of Country Music – will be announced at a gala dinner at the Tamworth Jockey Club on Friday January 27.

The winner will be awarded the major prize, which this year is a trip to Tamworth’s New Zealand sister city Gore where she will represent Tamworth at the Gore Country Music Festival.

Both the Queen and Princess will be ambassadors for Tamworth and the region throughout 2017, spending the 12 months involved in a range of high-profile civic and community events, guest speaking engagements and corporate and festival functions.

Last year’s Quest Winner Madeline Lang encouraged local women keen on personal and professional development to seek nomination from their employer or community group.

“The Quest is a unique experience and I would absolutely encourage anyone who is interested in personal development to get involved. It’s also a great chance to learn new skills, gain professional and personal confidence and make some good friends along the way,” Madeline said.

Entrants must be available to attend all scheduled events throughout the Tamworth Country Music Festival and later events throughout 2017.

Photo: the reigning Queen of Country Music Maddy Lang, Princess Dominique Judd and Miss Congeniality Adina Hanley.

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MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 2016

Michael and Allan collaborate

Michael Carpenter has released a “surprise” new single and video, a duet with co-writer Allan Caswell, Back When I Was Older.

Sydney based Michael releases the single to radio today and is also in the process of making it available on digital services.

The pairing came about as a result of the regular songwriting sessions Michael and Allan have been undertaking throughout the year, resulting in a stockpile of “great material”, with no immediate outlet.

A recent conversation between the two discussed the idea of starting a project together, but as both have recent releases, it didn't seem viable.

 “We came back from lunch after basically talking ourselves out of doing a project together and wrote Back When I was Older almost straight away as a clear duet,” said Michael.

“At that point it seemed like fate was telling us the time was right."

They started recording their lead vocal parts with multi-instrumentalist Michael handling all of the musical content over the next few hours.

The track is described as “a rocking Australian country track” discussing the invigorating and confusing nature of getting a little older.

“Allan and I both feel like we’re liberated by our experiences as 'men of a certain age',” Michael said. “Everything used to be so serious and had so much 'importance'. Now we both seem to be having a lot more fun with our careers in this crazy music world. It's made us feel young again!”

Michael has had a busy year. Apart from his work as an in-demand record producer at his Love Hz Studios, he released a guitar pop solo album called The Big Radio early in the year, following that up with his alt  country project The Cuban Heels and their new album Ain't Nothing Left To Say.

He's also part of the new country combo The April Family who are in the final stages of recording their debut album with two successful singles under their belt in 2016.

Allan Caswell needs no introduction. With seven Golden Guitar awards to his name, he’s no stranger to the Australian Country Music scene. He’s recently released his new album 50 Years In Oz celebrating his long career as a vocalist and prolific writer.

He recently broke his own record for the number of songs recorded in a single year... Back When I Was Older being number 54 for 2016.

Michael and Allan are now in discussions about the viability of turning this one off single into a full-length album project.

“One step at a time. Let's see how the single goes first!” Michael said.

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FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 9, 2016

Suzannah heads to Nashville

Suzannah Espie, one of Australia’s most recognised songwriters, has been performing a mix of country, soul, blues and pop since she first took to the stage with her alt country pop band GIT in 1997.

And this September she will be heading to Nashville as part of the Sounds Australia contingent of Australian artists to AmericanaFest, appearing at showcases at some of Nashville’s most iconic venues alongside Jordie Lane, Shane Nicholson, The Yearlings and more, from September 20 to 25. 

Suzannah says she is thrilled to return to a place she cites as a spiritual home of the music she loves and heavily influences her writing. As well as performing, she will be involved in co-writing ventures and panels that run for five days as part of the conference, building networks and opportunites to tap into new markets.

Suzannah’s latest album is Mother’s Not Feeling Herself Today which tackles the subject of motherhood.

“It’s a sumptuous and ornate affair that isn’t afraid to venture into the dark, fear-wracked corners of the parental experience,” said a spokesman for the artist.

“The country soul sound of her music perfectly channels the emotion in her songs with great weight and sensitivity from traditional country to fragile folk. The standout of many highlights is the blues gospel feel of I’m Sorry featuring a 13 piece choir that includes some of Melbourne’s finest female singer/songwriters.”

Weblink – suzannahespie.com.au.

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TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 6, 2016

New from Phil

New Zealand Country Music Association of New Zealand Male Artist of the Year Phil Doublet has  released a new single, Keep You Hangin’ ‘Round.

The song is described as a catchy country anthem setting the scene for a summer to remember.

“Phil interprets the euphoria of discovering new love and being hooked in every way,” said a spokesman for the artist. “With catchy guitar work, his new feel-good song will certainly be beside you while driving down the highway of life.”

After the 2013 release of his first album Stone & Wood, which earned him the 2014 Male Artist of the Year title, the Christchurch singer/songwriter is set to release his second full-length recording, Endless Highway.

One of New Zealand and Australia's most respected instrumentalists, Phil is has been known predominantly as a member of Luke O'Shea's Medicine Wheel band having performed for many years with the star, including at the Golden Guitar Awards in 2014 when Luke won with The Drovers Wife.

Phil is also a member of the Ranchsliders a much loved Christchurch band.

“Above all he is also an amazing writer and outstanding artist in his own right and the quality of both his album Stone & Wood and now his sophomore album Endless Highway shows what this greatly talented artist can present in a stunning body of work.”

Weblink – www.phildoublet.com.

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MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 5, 2016

Deni Ute Muster turns 18

The popular Deni Ute Muster is celebrating its 18th year this year with what organisers say will be the biggest Muster yet.

The October long weekend event is described as the ultimate bucket-list destination for music, utes and the AFL Grand Final with more than 100 separate on-site attractions for all the family to enjoy.

Officially kicking off on AFL Grand Final eve, the world record event will be opening the camping grounds from noon Thursday so ticket holders have an extra night on the Plains and wake up on site ready for the day’s entertainment which will include a special breakfast event in the main arena which the organisers will be announcing shortly.

Renowned for its atmosphere and diversity, organisers are thrilled to have international country superstar Keith Urban headlining Friday night’s festivities. Supporting Keith on the main stages will be Catherine Britt, Troy Cassar-Daley, Christie Lamb and John Williamson. The Day Stage keeps the music playing throughout with artists including James Blundell, Billy Bridge, the Iain Archibald Band and Rebecca Lee Nye.

Saturday’s entertainment includes the AFL Grand Final on the big screen and Day Stage performances from Brigginshaw, Missy Lancaster, Mick Lindsay and Hayley Marsten before the Main Stages kick off the evening’s celebration with Adam Brand & The Outlaws, Busby Marou, Deep Creek Road, James Reyne, Shannon Noll and The Sunny Cowgirls.

In addition to the music, a Muster highlight this year will be the Isuzu Ute Iron Summit – the steepest 4WD Ramp in the World.

This year has also seen a rise in entries for ute activities… the GME Circlework (up 48 percent), GME Go to Wo (up 88 percent) and the Milwaukee Barrel Race (up 78 percent).

Kate Pitt, Deni Ute Muster General Manager, said: “There is nothing like the Deni Ute Muster and nothing like what we have planned for our 18th birthday.”

NSW Minister for Trade, Tourism and Major Events Stuart Ayres said the Deni Ute Muster is one of the country’s premier regional events.

“The NSW Government is proud to support this iconic Australian event which promises a stellar line-up of world-class performances,” he said.

“We look forward to showcasing this region to a global audience and welcoming visitors to Deniliquin later this month for a fantastic Regional NSW experience supported by our tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW.”

Weblink – www.deniutemuster.com.au.

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FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 2, 2016

NeillyRich stepping out In Nashville

Rising star duo NeillyRich are to make their Nashville debut at the famous Bluebird Café in September during Americanafest on September 20.

Matthew and Amelia will be traveling with the Sounds Australia contingent and playing showcase events that will also include well known Aussie acts Kirsty Lee Akers, Brad Butcher, Shane Nicholson and the Weeping Willows.

The artists were hand-picked to perform as part of the annual event with many demonstrating great potential for growth in the American market, said a spokesman for Sounds Australia.

"We could not be more thrilled with this opportunity,” Amelia said. “When Dobe (Newton) contacted our manager to tell us that we had made the cut we were over the moon. It has been such a massive year for us and this just makes us excited for where we are headed beyond 2016!"

“If country music ever needed a poster couple for the Tamworth Festival's ability to bring hearts and minds together, then look no further than this dynamic duo,” said a spokesman for the artists.

“As far as worlds colliding in Tamworth , these guys all but own that love story. Caught up in the excitement and energy of the 40th anniversary Festival in 2012, the two discovered their destiny was intertwined when they made sweet music together for the first time at the Australian Academy of Country music. They came to perform and left with a life-long bond.

“Now married, New Zealand born Matthew McNeilly and Kempsey girl Amelia Richards would probably best be described as the 'rough-around-the-edges' rogue and the 'beautiful rose' who tamed him. Together their musical chemistry is simply undeniable.”

"We love making music,” Matthew said, “but it's so tough to get a chance to perform in the USA at an event like this. As artists we are so incredibly grateful that Dobe and the Sounds Australia team present these types of opportunities. We can't wait to get on that plane!"

McNeilly Rich 2016 highlights to date include winning the New Zealand Golden Fern Award for Best Group/Duo, winning the Frank Ifield International Spur Award, achieving a UK Country Chart Number two song, being a nominated finalist for the Mo Awards, as well as supporting Kirsty Lee Akers and Daryl Braithwaite on national tour events.

The duo will be releasing a new EP in early 2017.

Weblink – neillyrich.com.

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THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 1, 2016

New from Sam

Sam Newton has released a new single titled Hold You Down.

A prolific songwriter, Sam has been writing and performing for 10 years, working within time-tested folk and traditional country and blues foundations reminiscent of Paul Kelly, Neil Young and Townes Van Zandt.

Billed as "a staple in the Australian Americana alt country scene," Sam’s expressive melodies and vivid lyrics tell stories of life and death, crime and punishment, love and loss, according to a spokesman for the artist.

Born in suburban Sydney to a music-loving family, Sam knew he was going to be a musician from the very beginning. He pleaded with his parents for guitar lessons at the commencement of high school and wrote his first song three weeks later. Now at age 28, he has toured nationally four times and put out two acclaimed releases.

"Hold You Down is a deeply personal song for Sam Newton," the spokesman said. "Its lyrics come from a place of truth that songwriters often don’t understand until combined with melody and chords. It speaks of emotional turmoil and the heavy burden caused by mental illness."

Weblink – samnewtonmusic.com.

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WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 31, 2016

Sunny Cowgirls' eighth album

Country music favourites the Sunny Cowgirls (sisters Sophie and Celeste Clabburn) are back with their eighth studio album Here We Go, their first on the ABC Music label.

"The Sunny Cowgirls have set about spinning 12 fresh new yarns rooted in the sun-kissed soil of rural and regional Australia," said a spokesman for the duo. "It’s a dedication to the working men and women who keep the wheels turning and Australia fed, overflowing with fired-up summer anthems and hymns to mateship, hard work, and the incomparable Aussie summer."

Cowboy is the first single from the album, described as "a warm slab of country fun and a sly wink to country bachelorettes everywhere".

Produced by Matt Fell, the album also features Pete Drummond on drums, Glen Hannah on guitar, Shane Nicholson on guitar and banjo, Michel Rose on pedal steel and Matt himself playing a multitude of instruments including bass, guitar and banjo.

In true Sunny Cowgirls style, Sophie and Celeste have dozens of live dates lined up Australia-wide to support the album kicking off with the Deni Ute Muster 2016.

The tour runs through NSW, Queensland and Victoria, culminating in two shows at The Longyard Hotel in Tamworth during the January country music festival.

Weblink – www.sunnycowgirls.com.

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TUESDAY, AUGUST 30, 2016

Marie and Lachlan team up

Marie Hodson and Lachlan Bryan have teamed up for a duet release titled Back To Earth.

Dubbed Australia's "Classic Country Queen", Marie has the single on her curreent album, Chances Are. It's the third single from the work.

A Willie Nelson song, Back To Earth tells the tale of an all-consuming love that was lost.

A personal favourite of Marie’s, the song was nominated in this year's Golden Guitar Awards.

Weblink – www.mariehodson.com.

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MONDAY, AUGUST 29, 2016

Natalie releases a new single

Western Australia's Natalie Pearson has released a single off her forthcoming EP.

Titled Chance At Love, the single has an accompanying video clip. Natalie travelled from WA to the NSW Central Coast to film the video.

Natalie has been honing her craft in the music and entertainment scene since her early teens with Chance At Love being her debut entry into the world of music on a commercial level.

"I am so grateful that so many people in this industry have taken to my song," Natalie said. "This song is fun, joyful and full of my personality. I take chances, I love and I care. This song is just that. So i’m thrilled that people who hear so many songs every week have returned those values to me!"

Nataliehas been approached about numerous recording deals since the release of the single and is now working towards completing the full release.

"Being from Western Australia, we kind of feel cut off from a lot of the action on the Eastern seaboard. So in order to continue challenging myself, I decided to film my clips on the other side of the country. It was a great journey to make and we captured some amazing stuff. I am proud of the whole team on these videos."

Weblink – www.natpearsonmusic.com.

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FRIDAY, AUGUST 26, 2016

New original from Ryan

Ryan Morris has released a new original single, Read Your Mind.

Ryan was born to be on the stage. With a drummer dad and singer mum, a love for music and performing was developed very early in his life.

For more than a decade now, Ryan has been performing all over Australia playing gigs and events large and small, building a fan base that eagerly await his first original release.

In 2013, Ryan moved to Australia’s Country Music capital, Tamworth, to focus on his music career with a bag full of song titles and a heart full of hope. Since then, he has co-written with some of the finest songwriters in the industry, including Golden Guitar winner Lawrie Minson, Steve Charles, multi-award winning songwriter Wendy Wood, Erica Sunshine Lee from the USA, Katrina Burgoyne and curren Australian Independent Artist of the year Aleyce Simmonds (among others!).

Ryan’s style of country music has been described as "country music with a kick" and "crowd pleasing country rock" – both of which are welcomed by Ryan as his greatest goal is to entertain the crowd "while making the audience feel real emotion through his music."

Working closely with world-class musicians and producers Kym Beare, Michael Cole and Rusty Crook has led to the creation of Ryan’s very first studio recordings.

The upbeat debut single Let Me Drive, co-written with Katrina Burgoyne, hit radio and media and quickly made its way up charts around Australia.

The new single, Read Your Mind and accompanying video by The Filmery cements Ryan’s status as one of the most promising singer/songwriters in Australian country music.

Weblink – www.facebook.com/Ryan-Morris-Music.

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MONDAY, AUGUST 22, 2016

Second artist announcement for Tamworth 2017

Planning for the 2017 Toyota Country Music Festival Tamworth is ramping up with an amazing line up of country-music stars including Camille & Stui, Graeme Connors, Paul Costa, The McClymonts and Felicity Urquhart staging shows with tickets on sale from September 1.

Hot on the heels of their highly successful "10 Years of Hits" tour, award-winning sister trio The McClymonts will return to Tamworth on Wednesday January 25 playing at the Tamworth Regional Entertainment and Conference Centre.

"We can’t wait to get back to the Toyota Country Music Festival in Tamworth to play everyone our new songs as well as all the favourites," said Mollie McClymont.

"Tamworth is like a second home for us and we’re ready to kick it up at the TRECC on Australia Day eve!”

Tamworth Regional Council Events Manager Barry Harley said the announcements "just keep coming" with so many artists keen to return to Tamworth in January.

This year's Roll of Renown inductee Graeme Connors will return to the Tamworth Town Hall stage on Friday January 27 with a new show "Modern Histories", focusing on his renowned story songs.

"Also going on sale from September 1 will be Felicity Urquhart hosting "The Tamworth Opry", Willie & Roy – The Legends, Paul Costa and Camille & Stuii."

Weblink – www.tcmf.com.au.

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FRIDAY, AUGUST 19, 2016

Ambassadors to shine a light on Tamworth

The Toyota Country Music Festival Tamworth has invited Adam Brand and Amber Lawrence to join Troy Cassar-Daley as ambassadors for the 2017 event.

Tamworth Regional Council Events Manager Barry Harley said the ambassadors would play an important role in advocating everything that is great about Tamworth, not just in January, but all year round.

"Troy is currently the official ambassador and is such a fantastic advocate for everything that Tamworth has to offer. He visits Tamworth often, but his favourite time of year is January where he loves to meet his fans and take in the atmosphere of the Festival," Barry said.

"The Festival is unique in that it caters for all music tastes and all walks of life. Families are spoilt for choice, with dedicated family zones, concerts for the kids and of course, Tamworth’s award-winning playgrounds.

"We have invited Amber Lawrence on board as our Family Ambassador, which is such a great fit. We are planning on the largest ever family zone which is dedicated purely to family fun," Barry said.

"Amber has recently released her Kids Gone Country album which has been a huge success. She will return to Tamworth in January, taking the stage during the Family Support Concert in the Park and performing a headline show on Friday January 27."

Adam Brand will take on the role of Party Ambassador for the Festival, showing the world how to have a great time in Tamworth this January.

"Adam sure knows how to let his hair down in Tamworth, and is famous for his midnight gigs. We are excited to have Adam on board to show people how to party in Tamworth for one, two or ten days this January.

"With over 120 venues in the region, visitors to the Festival will have no trouble finding a place to dance the night away to some great music."

Weblink – www.tcmf.com.au.

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WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 24, 2016

Career milestone for Kirsty Lee

When you've been performing since the age of four, won Star Maker a your first Golden Guitar by 19, you are setting the bar pretty high for the future.

This is the journey Kirsty Lee Akers has taken. But with the release of her third single off the album Burn Baby Burn, she has discovered it is her real world love that has helped her to break exciting new ground.

Burn Baby Burn was released on April 1 and gave Kirsty her first ARIA number one Australian country release. This was a major milestone for the now Nashville-based performer.

The third single, titled I Will hit airwaves last Friday with immediate impact. In the few days since it launched it has already provided some icing on the cake for what has now become Kirsty's most successful album.

Written about Kirsty's childhood sweetheart and now husband, the song has struck a chord with near all who have heard the track or watched the video. In only four days since release, the music video is fast closing on 100,000 views, a feat unmatched by any of her previous releases and rarely seen by an Australian artist.

"This is such a personal song to me, and I hoped that people would get the same feeling when they heard it as I had when I wrote it," she said. "But to see so many thousand comments, shares and likes on the music video has totally blown me away. I love that people can feel what I feel when I think of Jesse."

In standard Kirsty Lee Akers style, her family were a big part of the music video. With singer/songwriter husband Jesse starring in the clip and her real life grandparents playing an older version of the couple.

"It was a real family affair, so you can feel the genuine affection and love that comes across in the video. My family are such an amazing support to me and just like most things, I couldn’t have done this clip without them."

Weblink – www.kirstyleeakers.com.

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TUESDAY, AUGUST 23, 2016

New from Jeanie

Never Meant To Love You is a new single from Melbourne duo Jeanie bringing a new brand of country/pop to the music industry with a hint of folk.

Jeanie is comprised of singer/songwriter Aaron D’Arcy on vocals and guitar and TV Presenter Olivia Phyland. The new single features Australian Independent Artist of the Year, Aleyce Simmonds.

Performing and music have always been the focus of Aaron’s work. He had worked as a music composer, producer and audio engineer for various music and TV productions including many years writing for Lonely Planet.

The leading single – This Cannot Be Love, also featuring Aleyce – charted inside the top 10 on charts around Australia spending two weeks at number one on the 88.9fm chart in Country Music Capital.

Jeanie has joined forces with Aleyce again on 'Never Meant To Love You' - this time with her singing the backing vocals.

The single was written by one of Aaron's favourite songwriters, Corey Chisel and is always a crowd favourite at gigs.

Moonshine for Breakfast is Jeanie's first full album, set for release later this year.

Weblink – www.facebook.com/jeanietheband.

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MONDAY, AUGUST 22, 2016

New from Kayla

New Zealand native Kayla Mahon has a new single, Get You Back.

Since releasing her last single New Tricks, Kayla has been keeping busy. She teamed up with Jenny Mitchell – New Zealand’s Got Talent Grand Finalist – to raise funds for the Cancer Society and then with Kaylee Bell, to benefit a local play centre.

In March, Kayla added another honour to her collection, the Special Achievement Award from the annual Southland Music Entertainment Awards.

On June 1, the one-time member of The Heartleys, was invited to Nashville for the CMA Fest, an invitation that came after winning the Horizon Award at the 2015 New Zealand Country Music Awards.

Kayla performed at the CMA World GlobaLive event along with Troy Cassar-Daley, Toyota Star Maker Karin Page and Caitlyn Shadbolt.

Speaking to Kayla about this opportunity, she says: "Singing at the global live show was truly an experience I will never forget. A dream come true. I am also writing and recording over here and loving every minute."

On her return home, Kayla attended the DAG Songwriter's retreat as part of the Hats Off To Country Festival where she wrote the first of many songs to make up her upcoming debut solo album release.

Weblink – www.facebook.com/kaylamahonmusic.

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FRIDAY, AUGUST 19, 2016

New from Rob & The Family

Rob Imeson is a singer/songwriter from Yamba on the North Coast of NSW. He has been playing music for the last six years solo and more recently with his family band, The Family Tree.

Accompanied by his wife Amy and three young children, Joel, Molly, and Charlie, Rob has released a new album, Mountains Of Memories, full of songs inspired by road trips the family had had around Australia in 2009 and 2015.

The new single from the album, Like Johnny Loved June, is the only duet Rob has written thus far in his career and is a love song inspired by the late Johnny Cash and June Carter.

"I wanted a song to sing with my wife Amy. She has the sweetest voice and I wanted others to hear it besides the people who see us perform regularly. The song came quickly after staring at a poster of Johnny and June singing together on stage in their later years, both looking so happy together.

"I love the slow waltz timing of old country songs – that was another element I wanted to bring to the album. I hope it’s not the only duet we get to sing together!"

Rob has been recognised for his songwriting by being a recipient of John Butler’s Seed Funding in 2009, as well as by other artists covering his songs, like The Bushwackers, who recorded Rob's Easy Money on their latest album.

Weblink – www.facebook.com/robimesonmusic.

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THURSDAY, AUGUST 18, 2016

MO winners

It was a big night for country music at this year’s “MO” Awards announced in Sydney last night.

Col Hardy and Chad Morgan shared the award for Male Country Performer from fellow finalists Troy Cassar Daley, Rex Dallas, Wayne Horsburgh and Snowy Robson.

Jean Stafford was named winner of the Female Country Performer title from fellow finalists Kirsty Lee Akers, Kel Anne Brandt, Beccy Cole, Clair Hayes and Melinda Schneider.

Roadhouse was named Country Band of the Year from fellow finalists The Bushwackers, Lonesome Train, The McClymonts, Neilly Rich and Rough Diamonds

Special Lifetime Achievement recognition was awarded posthumously to Slim Dusty, the honour accepted on the
night by Joy McKean.

This year’s staging of the “MO” Awards at the Canterbury-Hurlstone Park RSL Club was the 40th.

Photo: Chad with hios "MO" Award.

Weblink – www.moawards.com.

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WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 17, 2016

Sami returns from Canadian tour

Sami has returned home after a six-week Canadian Tour which has been re-booked and extended for 2017.

At only 20 of age, Sami has sung in many parts of Australia doing two to three shows every weekend, selling almost a thousand copies of her album Every Passing Minute and touring New Zealand and Canada since entering the music industry as a full time professional at 18.

Just before leaving for Canada, Sami released her latest single I Just Want To Love You which scored chart hits, including the iTunes charts at number five.

"A huge thank to ALL the radio station presenters continuing to play this song," said a spokesman for the artist. "We know there are many out there who have watched Sami grow, she is so grateful for your on-going support of her music career.

Weblink – www.facebook.com/SamiCookeMusic.

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TUESDAY, AUGUST 16, 2016

New from Paul

Progressing to the blind auditions of Channel 9's "The Voice" re-lit Paul Crowder's passion for country music after an extended break to focus on love, life and family.

Now Paul has announced the release of a new EP, From The Heart, produced by well-renowned producer Simon Johnson on the Central Coast – billed as a collection of heartfelt original songs with a strong focus on family.

The first single from the EP is Little Steps, written by Paul about the steps that needed to be taken in order to maintain a healthy and lasting marriage.

"There is also a message for new couples within the storyline that we can't have all that we want 'yesterday'," Paul said. "That the best things in life are worth working hard and fighting for."

Weblink – www.facebook.com/littlesteps.66.

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MONDAY, AUGUST 15, 2016

New from Hayley

A new release for Hayley Marsten is the single If You're Gone, taken from her debut EP Even.

Hayley has been described as a "country music sass goddess" by MusicIsMyMuse.com. The Gladstone born and raised songstress launched her debut EP produced by Bill Chambers in 2015 with two sold-out launch shows.

Her own unique musical and songwriting style of "modern country and western" is inspired by "strong women of country", according to a spokesman for the artist, "taking the lead from the likes of Brandy Clark, Loretta Lynn and Kacey Musgraves, adding her own spin of wit, sass and honesty into her lyrics."

"The song, like all the songs on Even are about getting even," Hayley said. "But the getting even part of If You're Gone is walking away from someone who won't put you first or treat you right."

Weblink – hayleymarsten.com.

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FRIDAY, AUGUST 12, 2016

New from Rachael

Rachael Fahim follows up her number one iTunes hit Say It with Rope, "a song of empowerment, hope and confidence" which Rachael calls "a symbolic song that can mean so many different things to different people, no more walking on egg shells, feeling trapped or helpless."

Rope, produced by Andrew Cochrane, was released on Wednesday on iTunes.

The music video for the new single was shot by director Duncan Toombs on the NSW Central Coast with the main location being Bulbararing Lagoon.

"To me, this video encompasses my growth as an artist," Rachael said. "It’s a little darker and deeper than Say It but still has that authentic message to it. We decided to predominantly shoot the video outdoors in the middle of winter in a lagoon. Safe to say my feet are still recovering, but the results totally worth it."

Rachael has spent the past 12 months writing for her debut EP and says, "songwriting for the EP has been an incredible experience, I have connected with some remarkable artists across not only country but other genres to really develop my sound and tell my stories."

Weblink – www.rachaelfahim.com.

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WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 10, 2016

Missy ebuts at three on ARIA Country Chart

Australian country singer/songwriter Missy Lancaster has released her EP through Sony Music Australia and it rose to number three on the ARIA Country Albums Chart after only its second week in.

Missy travelled to Nashville in October last year to write and record the EP with acclaimed songwriter and producer Lindsay Rimes. The end result was a mix of songs co-written by Missy including Don’t Wanna Say Goodnight (written with Morgan Evans) and songs from some of Nashville’s top songwriters.

The video for first single, That’s What I’m Talking About, is also out now.

Weblink – www.missylancaster.com.au.

 

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O'Shea back in Oz

Multi-award winning Nashville based Australian duo O’Shea return to Australia shortly for a series of promotional appearances and shows.

O’Shea will appear at the southern hemisphere’s biggest rodeo event, the Mount Isa Rodeo from August 12-14 as hosts of the event's global social media telecast. More info at: www.isarodeo.com.au/surprise-international-stars-bound-for-isa-rodeo.

O’Shea then head to the Gympie Muster where they appear as one of the festival’s headline acts, before performing a special show at The Basement in Sydney on Wednesday September 7.

O’Shea’s acclaimed single The Truth Walks Slowly (In The Countryside) with Midnight Oil’s Rob Hirst is gaining chart success.

Weblink – www.therealoshea.com.

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TUESDAY, AUGUST 9, 2016

The April Family

The April Family has followed up its successful debut single 1943 with You’re Someone That I Never Knew.

The debut single reached number two on the iTunes Country Chart and received widespread airplay all around the country and on the Country Music Channel.

A new alt country combo from Sydney, The April Family features acclaimed singer Kylie Whitney, lead guitarist and backing vocalist Casey Atkins and multi-instrumentalist Michael Carpenter.

The band’s sound is described as "Fleetwood Mac meets the Dixie Chicks".

Or, in other words, "organic and authentic country music with a lean towards classic West Coast American sounds."

You’re Someone That I Never Knew is described as a classic sounding country pop track with lots of twangy guitars and Hammond organs and the ensemble’s signature three part harmonies supporting Whitney’s vocal...

"Telling the story of our hero’s realisation that," as writers Carpenter and Whitney explain, "she was better than he ever was to her. In fact, she feels like she never really knew him at all!"

Weblink – www.facebook.com/theaprilfamily.

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FRIDAY, AUGUST 5, 2016

Kasey announces new EP

Kasey Chambers has announced the release of a new EP with a new album – Dragonfly – set for release next year.

The first two tracks on the EP were recorded by Kasey at The Sing Sing Sessions and produced by Australian music songsmith Paul Kelly, while the final two tracks are from The Foggy Mountain Sessions and were produced by Kasey’s brother, Nash.

One of the tracks on the EP is Ain't No Little Girl (the title track) while a second – If We Had A Child – is a duet with Keith Urban.

The double disc will be launched and premiered during Kasey’s performance at The Gympie Muster on the August 26 and is available to pre-order now.

Kasey has 11 ARIA Awards, 22 Golden Guitar Awards and 10 APRA Awards under her belt, holding the record for the highest awarded solo APRA Songwriter in Australia across 10 studio albums.

The forthcoming release is particularly meaningful for Kasey after her recent vocal surgery, particularly the title track. "My voice has a new found strength in it since surgery in May last year but I think even more of the strength has come from a power within myself personally that is then projected through my voice in this song," she said.

"I can honestly say I have not felt a connection as strong as this to a song since writing The Captain. Ain't No Little Girl is now as much a part of who I am as anything in my life.

Since Bittersweet, I’ve been writing and gathering stories for my next album but the moment I wrote and started playing Ain’t No Little Girl live, I knew it was the glue that would hold my next musical journey together."

Not content with announcing the release of her EP, Kaseyhas also announced her next studio album, Dragonfly, will be delivered on January 20. Both the album and EP feature cover artwork designed by iconic Australian artist David Bromley and comes in two parts over two CDs.

Weblink – www.kaseychambers.com.au.

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THURSDAY, AUGUST 4, 2016

Mates Muster support at Gympie

The charity Mates4Mates, which supports wounded current and ex-serving Australian Defence Force "Mates" and their families, will be "boot scootin'" at the Gympie Music Muster this month in a bid to raise awareness about services for Defence personnel and veterans living in regional areas.

Mates4Mates CEO Simon Sauer said the four-day festival would provide a powerful opportunity to ensure country communities are aware of the support available for their service men and women.

"Regardless of where you live, the veteran community spreads right across this country and we want all our Defence personnel to know that Mates4Mates is here to support them," he said.

"Mates4Mates isn’t just about healing physical wounds or PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome), it’s about building a community where you can enjoy the camaraderie of like-minded people and form lifelong friendships.

"Music is a universal language and it brings people together, which is why the Gympie Music Muster is such a perfect opportunity for us to tell the story of our service Mates and what the public can do to support them," he said.

The four-day music festival has chosen Mates4Mates as its official Charity Partner for the 35th anniversary of the iconic Queensland event.

Last year, more than 23,000 revellers attended the festival and, this year, country music legends Troy Cassar-Daley, Kasey Chambers, Beccy Cole and John Williamson are expected to bring in even bigger crowds.

Having toured as a performer for Australian troops on overseas operations a number of times, Beccy Cole, who is this year’s Muster Ambassador, was delighted when Mates4Mates was announced as Charity Partner.

"I’ve always admired our Aussie troops who fight to keep people safe and I’m so stoked to be a part of this partnership with Mates4Mates," Beccy said.

"These people give up so much helping people all around the world, and I want to make sure their story is heard. So if you see Mates4Mates at the Muster this year, pitch in and donate, because that funding goes towards looking after people who’ve sacrificed so much to make sure we have a safe, happy country."

As Australia’s largest charity festival since 1982, the Gympie Music Muster has raised more than $15 million for Australian charities.

The Muster runs from Thursday to Sunday, August 25 to 28 at the Amamoor State Forest Park, two hours north of Brisbane.

Donations can be made to Mates4Mates when buying tickets to the festival online at www.muster.com.au.

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WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 3, 2016

Greg's emu runs!

Run Emu Run is the latest release from Country Music Capital's Greg Williams.

Described as a "dark comedic song in country music styling... a simple fun/tragic story wrapped in a toe-tapping musical arrangement that "begs" the listener to sing the hook "Run Emu Run".

The goes something like this... a few too many drinks for Farmer Brown, hungry for the taste of Emu soup, and a few dogs that he thought should have caught that emu easily, but no, not to be outrun or outfought - our emu.

Sung, produced and engineered by Greg, the song was written by Tamworth accountant and songwriter Ron Buckpitt.

"Please note: No emus were injured in the writing and/or recording of this song," said Greg, "but the same can’t be said for the dogs or Farmer Brown!"

Run Emu Run can be previewed and/or downloaded here.

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TUESDAY, AUGUST 2, 2016

Hurricane Fall release Love Her Right

Country Music Capital originated band Hurricane Fall have released the second single from their debut EP.

Love Her Right is the follow-up to the first single, Levis, which hit number two on the iTunes Country chart.

Tamworth-born-and-raised and now based in the coastal country hot-spot of Newcastle, Hurricane Fall is Lachlan "Dusty" Coffey on skins and percussion, Pepper Deroy on bass, lead guitarist Jimmy Hick and guitarist Jesse Vee.

One of the band’s earliest support slots saw them backing Canadian country luminary Codie Prevost at 2015’s Tamworth Country Music Festival. They’ve since supported local star Troy Kemp and played festivals everywhere from Tamworth to Ariah Park to the Mount Cattleman Festival in Melbourne.

The boys play The Gympie Muster in late August and have just been added to perform with Baby Animals, Status Quo and host of Aussie big names on Rock the Cruise 2017.

"Just as a Landcruiser or Ford pickup needs a pair of working headlights to guide it onward as it thunders down a dark road while the needle nudges 100, Hurricane Fall’s unique sound is piloted by not one but two lead singers: Jesse and Pepper," according to a spokesman for the band.

Hurricane Fall had a huge Tamworth Country Music Festival this year, closing out the festivities as one of the annual country meet’s most talked-about live acts – selling more than 300 CDs in the process.

It’s a towering achievement in the context of a festival featuring hundreds of artists playing across dozens of venues around the clock.

Weblink – www.hurricanefall.com.

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MONDAY, AUGUST 1, 2016

First Tamworth 2017 announcement

It doesn’t get better than Tamworth in January and the 45th annual Toyota Country Music Festival is gearing up to be one of the best Festival’s yet.

In the earliest ever announcement from Tamworth Country Music Festival HQ, a star-studded line up, beginning with country music super star and ambassador to Tamworth Troy Cassar-Daley returning in January, playing his "Celebrating Australia’s great Showmen and Women" show with tickets on sale from today.

Troy stole the show at the 2016 Golden Guitar Awards taking home five Golden Guitars from seven nominations including Male Artist of the Year, Album of the Year, Heritage Song of the Year, Song of the Year for Freedom Ride and Single of the Year with Take a Walk in my Country.

His Tamworth show is always the highlight to start his year and with a surprise guest list, 2017 will continue that spirit as friends join Troy on stage to celebrate our country’s trailblazers.

Troy is already on the countdown telling Festival organisers "if you love country music, you just can’t miss Tamworth in January. When I drive into Tamworth it always feels like I’m coming home, I can’t wait to get back for the Toyota Country Music Festival!"

For 10 days in January, visitors Australia-wide flock to the Country Music Capital to experience one of the world’s top 10 festivals. With a line-up of more than 700 artists, 2,800 events and 80 venues, Tamworth is the pinnacle event on the Australian country music calendar.

Member for Tamworth Kevin Anderson said: "This iconic Australian event delivers significant economic benefits for the region and has cemented Tamworth’s reputation as Australia’s Country Music Capital. We look forward to seeing the entire community come together once again to produce one of the best music festivals in the world which truly is a remarkable experience.

In exciting news straight from the Capitol Theatre Tamworth, for the first time the popular four piece bluegrass band The Pigs will perform at the premier venue in 2017.

Also at the Capitol, Roo Arcus has joined forces with the Pure Country Spectacular and Darren Coggan will perform his new solo show "The Bidgee to the Big Smoke: A Celebration of 20 Years in the Australian music industry".

Craig Power, Manager of The Pub Group which operates various entertainment venues, said: "we are excited to be able to host an eclectic range of performers over the Festival period. We really will have something for everyone."

Tamworth Regional Council Events Manager Barry Harley said the Festival celebrated all things country music and the 2017 Festival will have some "exciting new touches".

"Additional opportunities will be available for young entertainers. It’s important they are given a platform to showcase their skills. The go-to for most young entertainers during the Festival has been busking, but this year we are looking to celebrate young talent and provide a dedicated stage in Peel Street which will add to the Festival atmosphere."

Festival organisers are also excited to let fans know that early bird tickets to the 45th annual Country Music Awards of Australia – the Golden Guitars – are on sale from today.

As the nation’s longest running music awards concert and the most anticipated night on the Australian country music calendar, the Golden Guitar Awards promises audiences a captivating display of the best in Australian country music talent.

Weblink – www.tcmf.com.au.

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FRIDAY, JULY 29, 2016

JW releases his favourites collection

John Williamson is set to release a four CD set of more than 50 tracks in his Favourite Collection on August 19.

John is, without question, an Australian icon. His voice and sound are as recognisable and important to Australia as the Southern Cross is to the flag. He’s performed at some of Australia’s most historic and nation-stopping events, and to battlers across this vast country.

Many fans will be aware of the causes he has supported over his long career. His songs and music are simply for everyone, and now he has released a collection of his favourites.

His Favourite Collection comes with a collage of some of his favourite photos, capturing highlights over the years.

And the set includes the new song Aussie Girls, released as a limited edition for Father’s Day and Christmas 2016. This ollection is available to pre-order now.

Each CD has a theme to support the diversity of John’s music, including Calyspo and Tropical (humorous at times) and singalong songs, which are as much a part of John as his passion for county ballads.

John will be headlining the Gympie Muster on August 26, the Deniliquin Ute Muster on September 30 and Tweed Valley Country Roots Festival on October 2 as well as performing a number of tour dates in regional Australia (check his website for details).

Weblink – www.johnwilliamson.com.au.

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THURSDAY, JULY 28, 2016

ASA Conference 2017

After its triumphant return in 2016, the Australian Songwriters Conference will be held again on the June long weekend in 2017 – and its expanding to five days!

The dates are Thursday to Monday June 8 to 12. Location will be Ettalong Beach Tourist Resort, Ettalong Beach NSW.

Conference content will include Speakers & Mentors (hit songwriters and music industry execs discuss writing, publishing, production and more), seminars, talks and workshops, Publisher Song Pitching –(a unique opportunity for attendees to pitch songs directly to the Publishers - and get instant feedback!
On-Site recording and production.

The event will also provide an opportunity for live Showcases and there will be an exclusive song contest, "with great prizes".

And, of course, there will be plenty of networking going on.

Pre-registrations from 2016 attendees mean that the event is already 20 percent booked. Registrations can be made via the website noted below.

Weblink – www.australiansongwritersconference.com.

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WEDNESDAY, JULY 27, 2016

Benn gets 10,000 views in 48 Hours

"The rockin cowboy" from Kiama – Benn Gunn – is back with a new song that shows off his love of the stunning NSW South Coast.

Benn released his new single Heavensville to radio last Friday. Shot by Klik Productions and partially sponsored by the Kiama Arts Council, the clip stars Benn and the "breathtaking" scenery that the region is famous for.

While he expected a warm reception for the hometown he loves, the singer was shocked when more than 10,000 people logged onto Facebook and YouTube over the weekend to check out the video.

"The response is amazing!" he said. "I love the South Coast. I love getting up in the morning for a surf and I love heading bush, so I was just being myself. The region is so beautiful that it sells itself. I wouldn't live anywhere else, I'm just worried that our little secret of how good it is to live here is out of the bag now with this clip!"

Weblink – www.benngunn.com.

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TUESDAY, JULY 26, 2016

New from Kiara

Kiara Rodrigues has released a new single – Dear Daddy – from her highly acclaimed album He Carries Me.

The song has touched audiences across Australia, particularly resonating with those whose fathers have passed on.

"These well-crafted lyrics allow the listener to be transported back to the many beautiful memories of childhood," said a spokesman for the artist.

"Kiara has thoroughly enjoyed hearing the personal connections that audience members establish with Dear Daddy which peaked at number four on the iTunes chart.

At just 20 years of age, Kiara celebrates 10 years this year performing country music at festivals and venues around Australia.

Kiara was the youngest artist to have ever graduated from the Country Music Association of Australia Academy of Country Music in 2006.

Weblink – www.kiararodriguesmusic.com.

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MONDAY, JULY 25, 2016

Tamworth wins again

The Tamworth Country Music Festival has been awarded Silver at the Inland NSW Regional Tourism Awards event on Saturday night in Echuca-Moama in the Festival and Events category.

The award recognises festivals, events and exhibitions that attract 50,000 visitors, enhance the profile and appeal of the destination in which they are held and create a significant economic impact for the destination.

Barry Harley, Events Manager at Tamworth Regional Council said he was thrilled with the award.

"This is recognition of not only many months of hard work by the events and marketing team, but also of great collaboration with the multiple stakeholders that make our festival a winner," he said.

"The festival injects approximately $51.6 million into the Tamworth region’s local economy and it is that support of various businesses in our community that helps to make it so successful.

"Entering the Inland NSW Tourism Awards is not only a great way to showcase the festival to our peers, but it is also a way we can benchmark our performance so that we can raise our standard and provide a more fulfilling experience for our visitors each year.

"The Toyota Country Music Festival Tamworth celebrates its 45th year in 2017, a major milestone for such an iconic event. It will run officially from January 20 to 29 and will showcase the best in Australian country music talent and also provide an avenue to promote the Tamworth region as a must visit destination year-round.

"We are adding some exciting elements to the Festival next year and we can’t wait to showcase Tamworth!" Barry said.

Tamworth Regional Council will now enter the 2016 Toyota Country Music Festival Tamworth into the NSW Tourism Awards. The winners will be announced at a gala event in November in Sydney.

Weblink – www.tcmf.com.au.

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FRIDAY, JULY 22, 2016

A double act for Brendan and Pete

Brendan Smoother and Pete Denahy have teamed up to record and release the Burrumbuttock Hay Runners as a tribute to the community project founded by Brendan "Bumpa" Farrell who take donated hay to drought affected farmers in Australia.

Brendan does the singing and put together the associated video clip while Pete provides some rollicking musical backing.

After receiving John Williamson’s Mallee Boy album on his 16th birthday, Brendan fell in love with country music, a love that would lead to learning guitar and eventually writing his own well-crafted songs.

In the late '90s, Brendan took the step into the recording industry with a two track single that would score him two North Coast Entertainment Industry Dolphin Awards.

After a break, Brendan is back, saying "I never intended to give music away, It just went on the back burner as I became busy with life; work, children, a mortgage, etc.

"Before I knew it, a decade had passed. In 2012, I decided to make a concerted effort to resume songwriting and the result has been like a wonderful rekindling of an old flame."

The timely new single Burrumbuttock Hay Runners was penned by Brendan to bring light to NSW Farmer Brendan Farrell's initiative in creating the longest truck convoy in history, travelling all the way to the top of Queensland, delivering hay to drought stricken farmers.

Weblink – www.facebook.com/brendan.smoother.

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THURSDAY, JULY 21, 2016

Codie set for Auatralia

Canadian country star Codie Prevost is about to board a plane bound for Australia for his third tour down under.

Codie is scheduled to perform from Thursday August 25 to Sunday September 4. All of his tours have been within an 18 month period and included appearances at the Tamworth Country Music Festival and the 2015 Plantation Music Festival.

This time round he will be appearing at one of Australia’s most prestigious country music festivals, the Gympie Music Muster with stars including Troy Cassar-Daley, Kasey Chambers, Adam Harvey and The McClymonts.

After his Gympie performances, Codie will be partnering with Australian duo Brigginshaw for an Australian East Coast Tour that includes stops in Brisbane, Caloundra, Newcastle, Sydney and Tamworth.

Weblink – codieprevost.com.

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TUESDAY, JULY 19, 2016

The Bakersfield Glee Club

Melbourne’s Bakersfield Glee Club has worn a groove between inner city venues and pubs (and a few far-flung festivals) playing barroom classics and honky tonk for audiences crying out for traditional country sounds and songs.

Now counting more years together than members and releasing their third album, Where My Heart Broke, TBGC has tapped renewed energy for "the golden era of country when the genre was unmistakable".

The band draws together members from country and city, backgrounds ranging from bluegrass to prog-rock and involved in other projects but who all save something special for the simple pleasure of great country music.

Current band members are Simon Edwards, Greg Field, Darren Maxfield, Seamus O'Sullivan and Justin Rudge.

"Their original work, now at the fore, still bears the hallmark Bakersfield’s greats and spans brother-genres of western swing, hillbilly and outlaw tunes – this new release is a worthy addition to that catalogue," according to a spokesman for the band.

Weblink – https://www.facebook.com/thebakersfieldgleeclub.

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MONDAY, JULY 18, 2016

New from The Buswackers

Leave It In The Ground is the new single release by iconic Australian band The Bushwackers.

The song speaks powerfully about the relentless push of the mining companies into coal seam gas, fracking and the coal industry in general, according to a spokesman for the band.

"Communities around the world are protesting about the takeover of the farming and rural landscape to create profits for the mining and energy companies. Surely a great, innovative nation like Australia can do much better than simply 'digging it up and shipping it out' as it says in the lyrics of this song.

"The evidence of climate change is pervasive and enabling other countries to pump out pollution with our coal. This doesn’t seem ethical or smart," the spokesman said.

The Bushwackers have made a living performing around the country and overseas for more than 45 years and will soon release their 24th studio album. The Bushwackers have won three Golden Guitar Awards.

Weblink – thebushwackers.com.au.

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FRIDAY, JULY 15, 2016

Emily releases Nashville collaboration

Western Australia singer/songwriter Emily Joy has released a Nashville collaboration, Barricade (single and video), with an EP set to follow.

From Perth to Boston, Nashville to Tamworth, the last few years have been quite a journey for Emily. Her debut single Barricade is the first track off her upcoming EP, mixed, mastered and engineered in Nashville.

With an impressive half a million views on her YouTube channel covering classic songs, Emily’s first original song is highly anticipated. Earlier this year, her cover of Dolly Parton’s Jolene went viral on Facebook, reaching 1.2 million people and was also featured on Buzzfeed.

"Barricade tells the story of two young lovers heartbreak, a scenario where love simply isn’t enough," according to a spokesman for the artist."Refusing to move on, they both stand at the 'Barricade' that is keeping them apart, desperate with hope their love is on the other side."

Earlier this year, Emily travelled from Perth to the Southern Highlands of NSW to work with the Golden Guitar winning Filmery team to create the Barricade music video. The clip is set in a hedge maze with drones soaring above and the beautiful Harpers mansion in the background.

Emily’s musical studies have taken her around the globe to the Berklee College of Music, Australian Academy of Country Music, West Australian Academy of Performing Arts and have seen her play at the renowned Bluebird Café in Nashville. In 2016, she landed supports for country stars Kirsty Lee Akers and Jonny Taylor.

A prolific songwriter, Emily has crafted an array of songs that will make up her soon to be released self-titled EP.

Weblink – www.facebook.com/EmilyJoyMusic.

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TUESDAY, JULY 12, 2016

Tamworth to join global TV network

Tamworth Regional Council has announced that Tamworth has been selected to join more than 50 cities around the world as BalconyTV's newest location of choice.

Founded in June 2006, BalconyTV is a leading daily online viral music show that features bands, musicians and other variety acts on balconies around the world.

It provides a unique global platform not only for artists but also for the location, with Tamworth now staking a place among the likes of London, Milan and Nashville.

Tamworth Regional Council Country Music Manager Barry Harley is ecstatic that Tamworth has been selected as the newest location, joining only five other Australian locations in the global network.

"Tamworth is well known in Australia as the Country Music Capital and now, slowly but surely, we are making inroads to promote this great region on the world stage.

"Council will produce a fortnightly video showcasing local and touring country-music talent which will be showcased on BalconyTV and streamed worldwide," he said.

Award-winning country star Aleyce Simmonds has been selected to host Tamworth’s channel and is excited for the opportunity.

"This is such a unique initiative, particularly for upcoming artists who are trying to get a foot in the door," Aleyce said. "I’m excited to meet and interview a new artist each fortnight and show the world what Tamworth has to offer."

The Tamworth BalconyTV crew went through a selection process to ensure Tamworth is placed on the map, shooting a pilot video in April.

"It was so much fun filming the pilot and we are over the moon that we’ve been successful in securing a place, joining the likes of urich and Rome in promoting our country music artists," Aleyce said.

The pilot episode is now available to view by visiting www.balconytv.com/tamworth. Artists looking to be included on the channel can contact Tamworth@balconytv.com.

The initiative is supported by Tamworth Country Music Festival, Tamworth Regional Council and Tamworth Country Music Stakeholders Group.

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FRIDAY, JULY 8, 2016

First single from Viper Creek album released

Newcastle’s The Viper Creek Band have announced their new album Just Press Play will be launched at the Gympie Muster while the lead single – Rockstars – has been released to radio.

Fans can pre order the album download on iTunes and receive both the current single and the album title track as "Instant Grat Tracks". The CD is also available to order from music retailers.

The Viper Creek Band have spent the last six months in Brisbane writing and gathering songs for their second album, working with producer Andrew Cochrane.

"We are so excited to get this album out. We have been piecing Just Press Play together for over 12 months. I wanted a lot of songs on the album to reflect our live show. Upbeat and fun," said Damien Baguley.

"I think we have done that. The band and I are excited to work with producer Andrew, we wanted to create a fresh modern sound and Andrew was always top of the list of people to work with. We are massive fans of the work he has done previously and we knew he was the man to bring our vision to life."

Rockstars was written by good friend and collaborator Matt Scullion. Matt had been trying to get the song to the band for a while, before they had even met.

As soon as the band heard it, they knew it had to go on the album. Damien said: "Rockstars is an energetic tune with a rock edge that is all about a couple that go to a karaoke bar and pretend they are Rockstars. Perfect, everyone has been there, right?"

Weblink – www.thevipercreekband.com.au.

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THURSDAY, JULY 7, 2016

Karrie releases debut single

Eighteen-year-old singer/songwriter Karrie Hayward has released her debut single and video, Elijah.

The "summer soaked song" is described as "the perfect introduction of the big things to come from this up and coming songstress", inspired by a guitar riff Karrie had discovered and a line that sparked her attention which captures the true essence of life and how good it is, according to a spokesman for the artist.

Karrie says: "It is basically about celebrating life and all things human whether they are good or bad."

Elijah was recorded and produced by ARIA Award and Golden Guitar winning prodcuer Matt Fell and co-written with Glen and Kaylee Harrison from brother sister duo Kaylens Rain.

"Karrie’s music blends the best parts of country, blues and alt genres, to create her own unique sound," the spokesman said.

"I listen to lots of artists across multiple genres," said Karrie, "I’m drawn to smooth vocals and rich blues inspired guitar riffs and as I’m from the Whitsunday’s Coast I dig coastal mellow vibes."

The video for Elijah was directed and produced by Josh Favaloro of The Filmery.

"We shot the video in two locations, both in Newcastle. The first was this old run down hotel in the centre of town. When you walked in the building, furniture and pigeons were everywhere. Surrounded by broken glass windows and high ceilings, the film crew captured the perfect natural light.

"The second location was at sunset in Catherine Hill Bay. From there, we climbed down a cliff and walked further down the beach to find a beautiful spot among the rocks, looking out onto a wharf. Josh did a great job and the video has come up a treat."

The video can be viewed here.

Karrie is now working full time as a musician, touring around Queensland, writing and preparing for more recording in the near future.

Weblink – www.karriehayward.com.

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WEDNESDAY, JULY 6, 2016

New from William

Ahead of his extensive Australian tour with fellow songwriter Claire Anne Taylor, William Crighton has released 2000 Clicks, the second single from his forthcoming self-titled debut record.

The song illustrates William’s literary approach to lyricism, according to a spokesman for the artist. "The stirring track explores ideas of fate and free will, the ways in which we navigate the everyday chaos of life and either get caught or evade the challenges it throws at us.

"The scene is set with the first line '2000 Clicks from the Queensland border, lying in a ditch out west of Wagga."

It's a story from growing up out in the Riverina, William said. "We humans seem to suffer from the ‘grass is greener’ syndrome. Sometimes it is, sometimes not. Whether it's getting out of your home town headed for Queensland or setting off in a spaceship to Mars, running from the mess we make instead of cleaning it up is an approach that always has an element of appeal."

Accompanying the release of 2000 Clicks is a music video directed by William with his wife Julieanne drummer and collaborator Reuben Alexander. The clip can be viewed here.

William’s journey started in the Riverina and has taken him around the world, with extensive time spent in the USA and China.

Returning to Australia, he settled momentarily on the rugged banks of Burrinjuck Dam, near the South West Slopes region of NSW. While there, he recorded his self-titled debut album.

Weblink – www.facebook.com/williamcrightonmusic

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TUESDAY, JULY 5, 2016

New from Will

Modern country singer/songwriter Will Day has released the title track to his debut EP Seasons.

Will had an exciting start to 2016 opening up for Diesel, Icehouse and The Whitlams at Sandstone Point Hotel in Queensland after returning from a successful trip to Tamworth's Country Music Festival.

In recent months, Will says he has played some exciting shows, opening for Shannon Noll and impressing country fans at the Urban and Broadbeach Country Music Festivals.

Originally from Goondiwindi, Will moved to Brisbane to study music and completed his bachelor's degree in 2011 majoring in contemporary vocals. Since then he has worked as a full time musician playing four to five nights a week.

Will's debut EP is described as an insight into his childhood memories inspired by his hometown upbringing in South East Queensland.

Weblink – www.willdaymusic.com.

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MONDAY, JULY 4, 2016

Karin releases Star Maker single

Toyota Star Maker Karin Page has released her first single – Keep On – as the 2016 winner.

Recorded in Brisbane at Red Engine Recording with producer Andrew Cochrane, Karin said Keep On is a song about persistence and not letting the struggle with your inner self control you.

"After being on the road for almost 12 months, I had become really caught up in what everyone else was doing and achieving rather than focusing on who I was and what I wanted," she said. "Writing this song really helped me get back on track, move past the negative thoughts in my mind and continue following my dreams."

Karin Page is a singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from Perth WA and in January this year, at the Toyota Country Music Festival Tamworth, was crowned the 37th winner of Star Maker – Australia’s most prestigious country music talent search.

"Equal parts heartfelt folk and catchy country pop, her music is refreshingly honest and intelligent, whilst being a whole lot of fun," said a Star Maker spokesman.

The video for Keep On, which was added to Country Music Channel this week, was produced and directed by Josh Favaloro from The Filmery on the NSW Central Coast.

"I had an absolute blast filming the latest video clip for my new single," Karin said. "The location had a bunch of run down buildings and really great bushy surroundings."

This year is shaping up to be an exciting year for Karin who has relocated to Byron Bay to be closer to, and to get involved in, the industry on the east coast.

Karin is being mentored by Lee Kernaghan, a former winner of Star Maker, who three decades on, is one of the biggest acts in Australia.

Weblink – www.karinpage.com.

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FRIDAY, JULY 1, 2016

Prime Movers

A new Slim Dusty release – Prime Movers – is a "best of" collection of the superstar's trucking songs.

During his career, Slim recorded more than 80 original Aussie trucking songs and his six standalone trucking albums have achieved sales well in excess of half a million copies.

It's not surprising then that Slim's various trucking songs have now accumulated more than a million views on Vimeo and YouTube.

For many Australians, the name "Slim Dusty" automatically conjures up classics like A Pub With No Beer or Duncan, but ask an Aussie truckie and their first response would probably be Dieseline Dreams or Lights On The Hill, the latter undeniably Australia’s most celebrated trucking song.

Slim's music, particularly his Aussie truck material, really struck a powerful chord with the trucking community, as described by Keith Thompson of Thompson Transport: "Slim's truckin’ songs were real stories about real Aussie truckies and their rigs," he said.

As far as Slim was concerned, Australian truck drivers were vital to the growth and survival of this vast country. “The nation runs on wheels and it’s the wheels of the trucks that the nation runs on!” he said in 1997.

Being released on July 15 through EMI Music, Prime Movers has 20track album will be available from all good physical and digital music retailers.

Prime Movers is the ideal quick fix for any truckie, or even a quick way for the uninitiated to understand the great Aussie truckie psyche!

Weblink – www.slimdusty.com.au.

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