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THURSDAY, APRIL 17, 2014

Easter's big country weekend

The Easter weekend always features a number of regular country music (and other related) festivals and events, and this year is no exception. Following we highlight just a few. A full listing can be found here.

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Bundy Roundup kicks off tomorrow

The 30th Bundy Easter Roundup kicks off tomorrow and runs through to and including Sunday.

Organised by the Bundaberg Country Music Club and staged at the Bundaberg (Qld) Recreational Precinct, the Roundup features a talent quest with 31 sections open to junior and senior contestants.

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Hartwood...

The Hartwood Campfires & Country Music weekend runs at the property "Hartwood" off the Black Stump Way (between Coolah and Tambar Springs) in NSW.

Stars of this year's event are Charley Boyter, Jamie Davis, Royden Donohue, Laura Downing, Peter Horan, Wayne Horsburgh, Tania Kernaghan, Tom Maxwell, Paul McCloud, Rodney Vincent, Lindsay Waddington and compere Barry Williams.

The event runs tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday.

Weblink here.

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Stone The Crows

A unique event taking place at Wagga Wagga, NSW, is the Stone The Crows Festival aimed to cater to an audience, particularly, of "grey nomads".

Launched last year, the Festival runs before, through and after every Easter weekend, Thursday to Tuesday.

This year's event takes place at the ACTA Grounds in Tasman Street and will feature music, bush poetry, seminars, workshops, markets and the gReyVee Awards.

Entertainers will include Darren Carr, Jim Haynes, Mike and Thom Jackson, Amber Lawrence, Grant Luhrs and Neil Smith plus a raft of bush poets.

Weblink – stonethecrows.com.au.

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MONDAY, APRIL 14, 2014

Roma Easter in the Country

This weekend, the Queensland town of Roma will stage it's 35th annual Easter in the Country festival which this year will feature leading Australian group The Wolfe Brothers as the headline act.

The Brothers will perform in the inaugural country rock concert on Saturday evening (April 19).

The band came to the nation's attention after finishing second in "Australia's Got Talent" in 2012. The band’s debut album, It's On, remained in the ARIA charts for 35 weeks and generated three hit singles.

The Hobart-based band was nominated for four Golden Guitars at this year's Country Music Awards of Australia and will release their second album in June.

Support acts for the concert will be Jamahl Hamilton's El Vaquero, Tamika Taylour and the band Unwritten.

Weblink – www.easterinthecountryroma.com.au.

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Chart Update – Christie at number one

Christie Lamb's All She Wrote has taken over the number one position on this week's national Country Tracks Top 30.

Doug Bruce's number one from last week – Clock Out At Five – slips to second place with Catherine Britt's Who Cares steady at three and Sara Storer's Come On Rain up one to number four.

Jasmine Rae's Just Don't Ask Me How I Am is up two to five while Kaylee Bell's Little Bit Small Town is steady at six and Roo Arcus's Out On The Farm is up one to number seven.

America's Zac Brown Band is at eight with Sweet Annie, McAlister Kemp's Tats edges up one to number nine and Kristy Cox's One Heartbreak Away enters the top 10 at 10.

Bullet performers for the week include the Adam Eckersley Band's Give Her The World (23 to 20), Graham Rodger's Scrub Bull Hunters (27 to 23), Natalie Howard's Paradise (29 to 26) and Luke O'Shea's Three Brothers (The Great War) (30 to 27).

New entries to the chart this week include One Eye For An Eye (at 28).

The full chart can be viewed at www.countrymusicradio.com.au.

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FRIDAY, APRIL 11, 2014

Slim Dusty Foundation and TAFE support youth skill development

The Slim Dusty Foundation and North Coast TAFE will sign an agreement at the Slim Dusty Centre on Tuesday to formalise their collaboration in supporting workplace training for local youth.

Representatives from both organisations will be present, along with special guest Joy McKean and a range of community leaders.

"Slim supported youth and learning," Joy said, "and I believe he would be really pleased to see this Centre contributing to skills development for students in our community.

"The Slim Dusty Foundation is looking forward to working with North Coast TAFE to achieve tangible outcomes that will benefit the Centre, TAFE and its students."

Kathryn Yarnold, Chief Executive Officer for the Foundation, said the partnership was aiming to build regional capacity.

"Together, we will be providing students, including long term unemployed, young people and Aboriginal community members with opportunities for training and work experience."

A series of agreed projects will help the Slim Dusty Centre become a community asset as a regional cultural centre.

Elizabeth McGregor, Institute Director for North Coast TAFE, said the organisations would work co-operatively on those projects by supporting workplace training in a variety of skill areas.

"The areas could include, for example, construction, tiling, carpentry and joinery, shop fitting, landscaping… even media, hospitality and events management."

Photo: from the announcement function.

Weblink – www.slimdustycentre.com.au.

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THURSDAY, APRIL 10, 2014

Doug announces new album

Australian Independent Country Music Awards Rising Star winner Doug McIntyre has announced he will soon be releasing a new album.

"I've have been having so much fun in the studio recording my new album Riding Free with Matt Fell," Doug said.

"The songs are sounding awesome, and that's before mixing and mastering! I have just one more day in the studio myself, laying down the vocals for the song everyone's been keen to see me record – Frank The Fox.

The new album will be available by ordering direct via the singer's website (weblink below).

It will also be available through WJO Distributors, Bigpond, i-Tunes and Sanity Music.

"Ever since I won the award for Male Rising Star... at Mildura, so many of you have been asking when on earth I will actually perform there. Well finally, I am pleased to say that I will be there this year!

"I really look forward to performing songs off the new album. And, of course, it will be great catching up with old friends Don Costa, Johanna Hemara, Dean Perrett and Luke O'Shea.

Doug has also announced a partnership with NG Management who will be performing a booking agent and management role with the artist.

And, he has also launched a facebook page... www.facebook.com/doug.mcintyre.180.

Weblink – www.dougmcintyrecountrymusic.com.au.

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WEDNESDAY, APRIL 8, 2014

New from Jess

Mudgee NSW born "powerhouse" country singer Jess Holland has released her second album, Whole Lot To Say.

After the success of her 2011 debut release Introducing… Jess Holland, the 2011 Voice of Urban Country winner made some big steps in her music career, and it's been a steep learning curve to say the least, according to a spokesman for the artist.

Stepping away from outside employment, Jess pursued her love of music full-time. "and she hasn't looked back since.

"The result is evident in her music, her latest album shows a more mature focus and a sound that perfectly suits the former Country Music College graduate's incredible vocals.

"Whole Lot To Say is tipped to be a career-defining release that will see Jess Holland's music embraced by country and rock fans alike."

The first single from the album – Fine Lines – was released to radio last year and garnered positive reviews.

Jess says she is really comfortable with the way her latest offering sounds.

It features some "rippin' rock tunes" as well as some beautiful ballads. "I have learnt a lot as a songwriter and artist since my first album," she said. "I think my sound has become more definite. The style of the tracks are still brazen and feisty, however, this new material reflects how much I have matured in the past few years.

"I love that rockier-bluesy side of country music and a lot of my music influences reflect that. I tend to naturally steer towards this style rather than purposefully set out to write for a certain genre. As my lyrics are quite sassy, they tend to be suited to the rock-bluesy side of country."

As a proud independent musician, Jess continues to self-fund all her music projects, and Whole Lot To Say was no exception. This time she also took out a crowd-funding campaign with Indiegogo to help raise the collateral to record and release the album.

She says doing this was a great experience and enabled her to interact with her music fans. "It is a great way for people to contribute to the recording process and pre-order a copy of the new album," Jess said.

"A huge thankyou to those who contributed to this album campaign. I definitely could not have started this project without their support, so it means a great deal to me!"

Jess has toured through central, western and northern NSW in support of the likes of Luke Dickens, Diesel and Adam Brand. She has also been a two-time Toyota Star Maker finalist and has been earning acclaim from fans and critics alike.

Whole Lot To Say was launched on Friday, March 28, and Jess followed with three successful launch gigs, one each at Mudgee, Mungindi and Newcastle.

The singer/songwriter has now embarked on a national tour.

Weblink – www.jessholland.com.au.

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MONDAY, APRIL 7, 2014

Keith wins three ACMAs

Australia's Keith Urban has taken out three gongs at this year's Academy of Country Music Awards announced in Las Vegas last night.

Keith's awards were for Music Video of the Year with Tim McGraw and Taylor Swift for Highway Don't Care and Vocal Event of the Year with Miranda Lambert for We Were Us which he co-produced with Nathan Chapman giving him his third gong for the night.

George Strait won the night's top honour, the fan-voted Entertainer of the Year, while Miranda Lambert won her fifth straight Female Vocalist of the Year award.

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WEDNESDAY, APRIL 2, 2014

New Zealand digital sales overtake physical

New Zealand's digital sales exceeded those on physical formats for the first time in 2013, figures by Recorded Music NZ show.

The Music Network reported digital sales increased three percent to 51 percent of sales, amounting to NZ$27.9 million. Streaming revenues tripled to nine percent of total digital gross.

The remaining 49 percent physical sales drove $27.1 million in revenues. Digital's rise, however, failed to balance physical's fall and the market fell by 9.8 percent to $55 million.

Vinyl continued its resurgence, with album sales up 29 percent since 2012, although still a small fraction of the overall picture. "It's encouraging to see the rapid growth and take up of streaming services by New Zealanders," said Recorded Music NZ CEO Damian Vaughan.

It was a strong year for domestic repertoire. Sales for New Zealand acts showed an eight percent rise in digital singles, up 45 percent for digital albums and up 39 percent for physical albums.

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Chart Update – Doug takes over the top spot

Doug Bruce's latest hit – Clock Out At Five – has taken over the number position on this week's national Country Tracks Top 30.

Christie Lamb's All She Wrote edges up one place to number two, as does Catherine Britt's Who Cares to three and 8 Ball Aitken's number one from the last two weeks – I'm Going To Jail – is at four.

Sara Storer's Come On Rain is also up one to five, as is Kaylee Bell's Little Bit Small Town to six while Jasmine Rae's Just Don't Ask Me How I Am is steady at seven.

Roo Arcus's Out On The Farm is up two places to number eight, America's Zac Brown Band is at nine with Sweet Annie and McAlister Kemp's Tats enters the top 10 at 10.

Bullet performers for the week include Kaylens Rains' She's A Wildflower (17 to 14) and Kate Cook's Hit The Highway (29 to 26).

New to the chart this week are Natalie Howard's Paradise (at 29) and Luke O'Shea's Three Brothers (The Great War) (at 30).

The full chart can be viewed at www.countrymusicradio.com.au.

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MONDAY, MARCH 31, 2014

Americana Music Association launches Australian Group

The Americana Music Association (AMA) has announced an Australian advisory group to "provide opportunities to national artists".

The group comprises five members... Dan Biddle (label veteran and founder of management company TCO Artists), Jeremy Dylan (Australian filmmaker and owner of production company Seven Shells Media), Marty Jones (Editor of roots publication Rhythms Magazine), Dobe Newton (President of the Country Music Association of Australia, pictured) and Brian Taranto (Director of long-standing merchandise company Love Police).

Nashville-based producer and current AMA Board President Mark Moffatt says: "As an expat, I have ensured the AMA is fully aware of the incredible depth of talent in Australia and the contribution artists such as Kasey Chambers, Paul Kelly and many others have made to our genre.

"We look forward to strengthening these ties through the newly formed advisory group and to the opportunities this relationship will provide on both sides of the Pacific."

The group has three goals: "to create awareness of the genre in Australia, to foster opportunities for Australian artists in the US and to create connections for US artists in Australia."

"The AMA was formed in 1999 to advocate American roots music globally. In America, the genre is more accessible and segmented by radio format whereas Americana in Australia is captured under alt-country, thus denying the acts the type of full front line promotion afforded to US artists." Mark said.

The Association holds an annual Americana Music Festival & Conference each September. Last year's event saw the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach, Billy Bragg and Adelaide's Paul Kelly perform.

Mark was named AMA President earlier this month.

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FRIDAY, MARCH 28, 2014

Artist interest invited for Boyup Brook's 30th

Organisers of the annual Boyup Brook Country Music Festival are inviting expressions of interest from artists who would like to be involved in next year's 30th event.

The Festival is to run over the third weekend of February 2015.

"All country music bands and performers are invited to apply," a spokesman said. "We will be continuing in the footsteps of the festival's proud history and wish to make sure we keep a focus on all things 'country'.

"Along with national artists, we do also like to showcase a variety of regional and local talent.

An expression of interest form is available on the website www.countrymusicwa.com.au.

Telephone enquiries can be directed to 08 9765 1657.

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THURSDAY, MARCH 27, 2014

"Chookman" premieres"

A feature documentary focusing on one of the most recognisable characters of the annual Tamworth Country Music Festival – Frank "The Chookman" Turton – will have its world premiere next month.

Also recognised as one of South Australia's most colourful characters, Frank will see the premiere in his home state, at Renmark, on Saturday April 5.

French filmmaker Marc Cousin took almost five years to create "The Chookman", a feature-length story about the eccentric entertainer whose fame has spread across Australia and beyond.

Taking viewers on a journey from Northern Territory's iconic Daly Waters Pub, through central Australia and to Frank's hometown of Paringa "The Chookman" showcases some beautiful scenery, while exploring the man behind the local legend.

The film came about when Marc – midway through an round-the-world trip – "discovered" Frank at the Daly Waters Pub. The filmmaker soon learned of Frank's musical ability, his wood-burning ability, how he got his nickname... and his "big dream" of building a houseboat.

Marc and his travelling companion stayed on at the Daly Waters Pub for a week, then travelled to Paringa with Frank.

They saw Frank's dream in its early stage, stayed for a week, departed, then returned months later for the launch of "Wilitsinkorwon'tit".

They stayed until the boat had its maiden voyage, before returning to their respective careers in France. Marc returned to shoot more footage for "The Chookman" and the result is the 111-minute feature documentary.

The world premiere takes place at the Chaffey Theatre in Renmark from 7:30pm on April 5.

Both filmmakers will attend the premiere.

Photo: Filmmaker Marc Cousin with Frank and the infamous "houseboat".

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WEDNESDAY, MARCH 26, 2014

Slim Dusty Memories Week 2014

Organisation of the successful Slim Dusty Country Music Memories Week in Kempsey is to run from this year under the umbrella of the Slim Dusty Foundation, operators of the Slim Dusty Centre.

The Foundation is now planning and organising the 2014 event, "with sincere thanks to the incredible long term efforts of Bruce and Trish Woods and the Rotary Club of Kempsey West for establishing such a wonderful activity," said Foundation Chief Executive Officer Kathryn Yarnold.

"The success of this tremendous festival for our community can only continue with the kind assistance of the committee members that dedicate their time and expertise to the running of the event."

Bruce and Trish, who will remain as key players in Memories Week, said that after 10 years, they had seen it grow from strength to strength but it had been obvious for some time that ownership and organisation of the event in Slim's home town and birthplace should rest with the Slim Dusty Foundation.

"Our involvement with the Slim Dusty Memories Week has been a very rewarding and enjoyable experience, meeting so many people, country music singers/songwriters and music fans from all states of Australia. We will continue to work with the committee in the coming years and would like to wish the Slim Dusty Foundation and its volunteers all the very best with this wonderful event, long into the future."

Preliminary details of the 2014 Slim Dusty Country Music Memories Week have been announced, with Ray Kernaghan, patriarch of the Kernaghan country music dynasty, announced as one of this year's special guests together with daughter Tania.

"Slim and his music have always been a huge part of the Kernaghan family musical heritage," Ray said. "I am truly looking forward to being a part of this year's great event and paying tribute to Australia’s King Of Country."

Tania said: "It is a great honour to be performing alongside the stellar lineup of artists appearing at the Slim Dusty Music Memories Week in October. If you love Australian country music, you will love this terrific family event."

Also appearing will be Luke O'Shea, a major new Australian country star on the rise following his second and third Golden Guitar wins this January with the song paying tribute to Joy McKean as Lady Of The Land.

A full rundown of guest stars at this year’s Slim Dusty Country Music Memories Week will be announced shortly. In the meantime, organisers say, bookings are now open for the week-long event, including for campsites.

Slim Dusty Country Music Memories Week 2014 will run at the Kempsey Showground from Monday October 20 to Sunday October 26.

Pictured: Ray Kernaghan, Tania Kernaghan and Luke O'Shea.

Weblink – www.slimdustycentre.com.au.

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TUESDAY, MARCH 25, 2014

Lachlan signs

ABC Music Publishing has signed Lachlan Bryan, winner of the 2014 Golden Guitar for Best Alternative Country Album for his work Black Coffee.

Lachlan is a Melbourne native "whose heart is steeped in the drama and imagery of country, roots and Americana music," according to the publishing house. "A songwriter with true authenticity, Lachlan's songs are draped with dark characters... and sub plots flavoured with dustbowl balladry, old school country and nu folk undertones."

The singer/songwriter emerged in 2009 as front man and songwriter for The Wildes, a band that quickly established itself as a unique crossover act between the Melbourne alternative and Tamworth based Australian country music scenes.

Lachlan "smashed" his way up the ARIA Country Charts with the release of Black Coffee late last year while winning accolades for his songwriting.

Playing standout performances around Australia, Lachlan has toured with Steve Earle, Paul Thorn and Shawn Colvin and has performed at major festivals including Apollo Bay, Bluesfest, The Gumball, Gympie, Tamworth and extensively across the USA.

Weblink – www.lachlanbryan.com.

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Chart Update – 8 Ball still at number one

8 Ball Aitken's latest hit – I'm Going To Jail – remains at number one on this week's national Country Tracks Top 30.

Doug Bruce's Clock Out At Five edges up one to number two while Christie Lamb's All She Wrote jumps to number three and America's Eli Young Band is steady again at four with Drunk Last Night.

The Bobkatz' former number one – Reelin' One In – is at five, Catherine Britt's Who Cares is steady at six, as is Jasmine Rae's Just Don't Ask Me How I Am at seven.

Sara Storer's Come On Rain edges up one more to eight, Kaylee Bell's Little Bit Small Town enters the top 10 at nine and America's Zac Brown Band is at 10 with Sweet Annie.

New to the chart this week are Kate Cook with Hit The Highway (at 29) and Graham Rodger's Scrub Bull Hunters (at 30).

The full chart can be viewed at www.countrymusicradio.com.au.

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FRIDAY, MARCH 21, 2014

Gympie line-up announced

This year's Gympie Music Muster line-up boasts "every single Australian Golden Guitar winner" from the 2014 Country Music Awards... and then some.

In alphabetical order, the country stars of this year's Muster, to run from Thursday to Sunday August 28 to 31, will include...

Gord Bamford, Doug Bruce, Kaylee Bell, Lyn Bowtell, Jeff Brown, Lachlan Bryan, Adi Burgess, Mike Carr, Kasey Chambers, Beccy Cole, Ashleigh Dallas, Peter Denahy, Jayne Denham, Adam Eckersley Band, Bob Evans, Buddy Goode, Adam Harvey, Harry Hookey, Harmony James, Keith Jamieson, Pixie Jenkins, Lee Kernaghan, Christie Lamb, Luella & The Heelers, Grant Luhrs. McAlister Kemp, The McClymonts, Chad Morgan, O'Shea, Luke O'Shea, Brittany Pavlo, The Pigs, Jarod Porter (2014 Toyota Star Maker), Ben Ransom, Shandell, Aleyce Simmonds, Sara Storer, The Sou'westers, The Sunny Cowgirls, The Viper Creek Band, John Williamson and The Wolfe Brothers.

Tickets for this year's event are also now on sale.

In 2014, The Muster is aiming to surpass $15 million of giving to rural and regional communities.

When asked to comment on what he considers to be one of the more exciting features of the 2014 Muster line-up, Program Manager Jeff Chandler said: "It's an amazing time for music in Australia right now with so many fresh and original artists coming through. While the Muster prides itself on presenting the cream of the established stars, it's the strong showing by new artists that tells us that the future of music is in great hands.

"As well as the stunning array of artist musical performances, the entertainment within six venues and eight bars includes the hilarious Muster Bush Poets hosted by the inimitable Marco Gliori, the informative and highly entertaining Songwriter's Sessions, the return of musical instrument workshops and the ever popular Muster Talent Search."

Photo: part of a Gympie Muster crowd.

Weblink – www.muster.com.au.

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Taylor on TV

Taylor Pfeiffer – "the Banjo Girl" – will be a guest on ABC Television's "Spicks and Specks" next Wednesday evening (26th) as the player on one of the show's most popular segments.

Taylor will be the key to the coming week's "Look what they've done to my song, ma" where she will "disguise" five songs by playing the banjo and yodelling. The teams have to guess what the songs are.

The show, which goes to air at 8:30pm, will be repeated on ABC2 the following day (Thursday), also at 8.30pm.

Taylor will then closes the show with a duet with Ben Mingay, Music Theatre/TV Actor from Wonderland, Packed to the Rafters, Blue Heelers and All Saints who is a show guest on the night.

Ben will join team leader Adam Richard and fellow guest Denise Drysdale while the opposing team, led by Ella Hooper, will feature country, blues and rock singer Dan Sultan and comedian and writer Gen Fricker.

This coming week will be busy for Taylor in other media as she has ab in-studio interview on Monday night with Peter Goers on ABC 891 Radio Evenings (Adelaide) and will also appear on the "Our Time" television show on Channel 44 & Channel 31, Monday at 7.30pm with repeats on Wednesday 26th at 1pm. and Friday 28th at 4.30pm.

Taylor was interviewed by television personality Malcolm Harslett and performed her original song Policeman Yodel from her latest EP You Were The Stranger, co-produced by Bill Chambers and Taylor.

Weblink – www.thebanjogirl.com.au.

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THURSDAY, MARCH 20, 2014

New home and title for Country Jamm for Genes

Jamm for Genes 2014 has a new address at "Sydney's Home Of Country Music" – Rooty Hill RSL – and the event will be held on Saturday May 24 as "Total Country Jamm for Genes" with the RSL Club coming on board as the major sponsor.

The location and name change acknowledges the success of the event and its growth in the last four years. Outgrowing its original residence in the Blue Mountains, the event will be bigger and better at Rooty Hill RSL's 732-seat Tivoli Showroom, according to organisers.

The event will now be fully ticketed and feature an evening concert starting at 7.30. Headline act 2013 Female Artist Of The Year Catherine Britt (pictured) will be joined by ARIA and the APRA award-winning Mike Carr/Buddy Goode, 2013 X-Factor runner-up Jason Owen plus rising country acts The Viper Creek Band and Seleen McAlister.

An all-star band with highly respected musician/producer Simon Johnson (who's production credits include Buddy Goode, Aleyce Simmonds, Tori Darke and many more) at the helm will provide musical backing on the night.

The charity component of the night will include an auction for a pair of jeans painted by award-winning portrait artist Fonda Shae which have been signed by artists who performed at the 2013 CMC Rocks North Queensland. All proceeds including auction and ticket sales will benefit Children's Medical Research Institute.

Jeans for Genes is one of Australia's most loved fundraising campaigns with a 20-year history. Every year two million Aussies wear their jeans and donate funds in support of children’s medical research – more than $60 million since it began.

The Children's Medical Research Institute was founded in 1958 by Australians who were determined to protect their children from disabling and fatal childhood diseases. Their many staggering achievements include: developing microsurgery techniques enabling life-saving operations on babies and small children, identification of the components of telomerase, which will be important for treating 85 percent of all cancers, and discovering and developing a new class of drugs for treating epilepsy.

Weblink – totalcountry.com.au.

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WEDNESDAY, MARCH 19, 2014

Natalie nominated for independent album award

Natalie Howard's album Under (Love's) Umbrella has been nominated for Country Album of the Year in the Independent Music Awards in America.

Natalie said she was proud and elated to hear she had been selected in the final five of submissions received from around the world. The four other nominees are all from the USA.

Several years ago, Natalie won Country Song of the Year with I Don't Want To Live Like That" from her album Yesterday's Makeup in these awards and "to represent Australia and be nominated for this year's Album of the Year is a high honour," she said.

Natalie joins nearly 400 self-released and independent label artists, as well as former major label acts, named by Music Resource Group (MRG) as nominees in the 13th Independent Music Awards, an influential awards program for independent artists, bands and fans. Winners will be announced in May.

Weblink here.

Meanwhile, Natalie's new single Paradise has been released to radio. The album has produced three consecutive Country Tracks Chart Top 10 Hits and won the 2013 Best Production Award (Engineer/Arrangement) in the Canberra Country Music Awards.

Natalie’s earlier single Hit The Hay won Contemporary Country Song in the 2013 Canberra Country Music Awards, was named in the Top 10 in the USA Songwriting Awards and reached the number nine spot in the Top 100 Country Hits of 2013. The video clip, directed by five time Golden Guitar winner Duncan Toombs, took out the Australian Independent Music Video Awards Best Cinematography Music Video 2013.

Weblink – www.nataliehoward.net.

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TUESDAY, MARCH 18, 2014

CMA expands international concert

America's Country Music Association (CMA) has announced a re-branding and expansion of the international concert staged during its annual CMA Music Festival in Nashville in June.

The announcement was made at the CMA's second annual International Marketing Summit in London.

"The Summit was the perfect platform and this was the ideal audience to announce the strategic growth of the international showcase from a club gathering to a main-stage event," she said.

Presented under the "CMA World" global brand, the CMA World GlobaLive concert (previously running since 2004 as the Global Artist Party) will be staged on Monday June 2 from 6pm on a free, outdoor stage on Broadway in downtown Nashville.

The concert will be open to the public and feature performances by country music artists from territories including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Sweden and the UK.

"Moving this incredibly popular event from a club setting to a large stage... will enhance the experience for our visiting artists and create a bigger platform to reach an even broader audience of fans and press from around the world," Sarah Trahern.

"Country music is not limited by its American roots. Closer than a click, through technology we are reaching a broader audience and developing new fans around the world.

"Opportunities for advancement of the format have never been more promising and it is our goal to provide the resources and educational initiatives necessary to help our international constituents build visibility and business opportunities."

The CMA Board of Directors has four international members (Australia, Canada, and two from the UK).

Throughout the year, CMA honours individuals of the international community with awards including the International Country Broadcaster Award, International Artist Achievement Award, Global Country Music Artist Award, the Wesley Rose International Media Achievement Award, and the prestigious Jo Walker-Meador International Award, which is named for the original executive director of CMA.

The 2014 CMA Music Festival will be held Thursday to Sunday, June 5 to 8 in Nashville.

Weblink – CMAfest.com.

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Chart Update – 8 Ball hits the top

8 Ball Aitken's latest hit – I'm Going To Jail – has taken over the number one position on this week's national Country Tracks Top 30.

The Bobkatz' number one for the last two weeks – Reelin' One In – drops to number two while Doug Bruce's Clock Out At Five jumps three places to number three and  America's Eli Young Band is steady at four with Drunk Last Night.

Christie Lamb's All She Wrote is also steady at number five, Catherine Britt's Who Cares edges up one place to six as does Jasmine Rae's Just Don't Ask Me How I Am to seven.

Adam Brand's Freedom Rebels is at eight, Sara Storer's Come On Rain edges up one to nine and the former Keith Urban/Miranda Lambert number one We Were Us is stready at 10.

Bullet performers for the week include The McClymonts' Going Under (Didn't Have To) (21 to 18) and O'Shea's It Never Goes Away (27 to 24).

The full chart can be viewed at www.countrymusicradio.com.au.

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MONDAY, MARCH 17, 2014

Wendy wins Songsalive Songwriter of the Year

Country Music Capital based singer/songwriter Wendy Wood has been named joint Songwriter of the Year at this year's Songsalive Awards.

Wendy won the accolade for taking out two categories at the Awards, Country/Australiana with Do You Want Love With That and Comedy/Novelty/Childrens with Trick Or Treat.

She shared the honour with folk singer/songwriter Daniel Bartulovich who also won two categories... Folk/Singer Songwriter with A Little Chorus To Say and Rock with Let It Out.

Other country writers successful at this year's Songsalive Awards were Christie Lamb, who won the Pop category with her work Love Me Tonight and Abbey Gardner who won the Barebones Song of the Year category with Apple Tree.

Fellow finalists in the Country Category were Cathy Dobson (winner of this year's Capital Country Music Association Songwriter prize in January) with A Man Like You and Go To Hell With You... Stephen Kermode with Joboticaba Moonshine and Brian Ralston with Oldest Roadies On The Eartch.

Weblink – www.songsalive.com.au.

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SATURDAY, MARCH 15, 2014

Morgan wins big at this year's CMC Awards

Rising star singer/songwriter Morgan Evans won three CMC Awards during CMC Rocks The Hunter in the NSW Hunter Valley last night.

Morgan took home Oz Artist of the Year, Australian Video of the Year and Male Oz Artist of the Year.

Female Oz Artist of the Year was awarded to Jasmine Rae off the back of her album If I Want To, while New Oz Artist of the Year went to Tasmanian country rockers The Wolfe Brothers.

CMC's "International" awards went to Taylor Swift (Artist of of the Year) and Tim McGraw, Taylor Swift & Keith Urban (Video of the Year for their clip Highway Don't Care.

CMC – Country Music Channel – will air an Awards show special on Monday night, March 31, at 8.

CMC Rocks The Hunter continues Sunday.

Weblink – www.countrymusicchannel.com.au.

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FRIDAY, MARCH 14, 2014

Adam and Troy sing for drought relief

Country music stars Adam Brand and Troy Cassar-Daley will perform at the inaugural Mount Isa (Queensland) Isa Fest music festival "to boost the spirits of drought-affected graziers".

The festival, due to be held on Saturday May 10, is the brainchild of Mount Isa mayor Tony McGrady who told ABC Radio that people on drought-affected properties will be given free entry to the event, as a way to show them Mount Isa cares about their plight.

"It's about saying to those people, you're going through a very difficult time and you're not on your own," he said. "We who live in the city and we still have our jobs – want to help.

"I think (the graziers) will realise what we're trying to doand if they can't come in at least they know the offer's been made and we're working towards putting on this show for them.

"The comments I've heard is they're very touched by the gesture of the Mount Isa community."

Isa Fest us being funded by the Queensland Government, Mount Isa Mines, the Australian Workers Union and businesses in Mount Isa.

Thirty-six artists and musicians will be flown into Mount Isa for the event.

Councillor McGrady says even though parts of north west Queensland have been "transformed" by recent rain, the drought is far from over.

"It's not over, but at least we've got this rain and you already see the smile and the change of attitude on people's faces," he said.

"We need lots more rain but it just changes the feeling of people in the outback."

People on drought-affected properties who would like to attend the festival should register their interest with Mount Isa City Council.

Weblink – www.mountisa.qld.gov.au.

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Troy and Adam 2

Meanwhile, Troy and the other Adam (Harvey) are set to perform at the Sydney Opera House on the 28th of this month.

Last year, Troy and Adam realised their dream of recording what they've been performing on tour for "a bit of fun".The result, of course, was The Great Country Songbook, an album of classic country songs.

Both have had their sights set on performing their own show at the iconic Sydney Opera House for many years.

"I have always been in awe of the Sydney Opera House since I was a kid fishing with my dad on the Harbour," Troy said. "Now I have the privilege of playing a show there with my good mate Adam Harvey."

"I'm really proud to be part of this concert," Adam said "I have always dreamt of playing at the Opera House, but never thought it would happen! And to perform the classic country songs that Troy and I grew up with in this beautiful iconic venue just makes it even more special."

Weblinks – www.troycassardaley.com.au, www.adamharvey.com.au.

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THURSDAY, MARCH 13, 2014

CMAA changes

A report in Country Music Capital's Northern Daily Leader this week revealed some major changes within the nation's country music industry organisation, the Country Music Association of Australia (CMAA).

According to the report, Chairman Jeff Chandler and Director Graham Thompson have resigned and left the Association Board while Treasurer Marius Els has also resigned but is staying on until a replacement can be found.

President Dobe Newton (pictured) is Acting Chairman, and the report said the CMAA had big plans for 2014, with a focus on Tamworth.

The report quoted Dobe saying the organisation would take time to re-establish full credibility after issues in recent months.

"While these three stalwarts will be sorely missed, it provides us with an opportunity to inject some fresh thoughts and voices," the report quoted Dobe saying. "We are in discussions with a whole list of names and want to replace strength with strength."

"Plans for the year ahead included working closely with Tamworth Regional Council and establishing a secretariat that has executive functions, rather than just the administration functions it has had in Tamworth," the report said.

"We are caught in a catch-22 situation where if you don’t have the resources, you can't have a fully functioning office," The Leader quoted Dobe saying, "but if you don't have the office, you can't create an executive that is fully functional.

"We are utilising the Academy, which is the most wonderful thing we do. At the moment it's completely self-funding, so if we can replace some of that funding, we can have resources to have a functioning executive."

Other priorities included better communication, creating a Tamworth-based integrity committee to oversee the awards eligibility nomination process, exploring possibilities for national and international expansion of the Academy and working with Tamworth Regional Council to maximise the value of the sister city relationship with Nashville.

Weblink – www.country.com.au.

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TUESDAY, MARCH 11, 2014

ABC Music Publishing signs Lachlan

ABC Music Publishing has signed Lachlan Bryan, winner of the 2014 Golden Guitar for Best Alternative Country Album for Black Coffee.

"Lachlan is a Melbourne native whose heart is steeped in the drama and imagery of country, roots and Americana music," according to an ABC Music Publishing spokesman.

"A songwriter with true authenticity, Lachlan's songs are draped with dark characters, back stories, and sub plots flavoured with dustbowl balladry, old school country and nu folk undertones."

Lachlan emerged in 2009 as front man and songwriter for The Wildes, a band that quickly established itself as a unique crossover act between the Melbourne alternative and Tamworth based Australian country music scenes.

"The Golden Guitar winner (pictured with his trophy) smashed his way up the ARIA Country Charts with the release of Black Coffee late last year," the spokesman said, "whilst winning accolades for his songwriting.

Weblink – www.lachlanbryan.com.

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Chart Update – Bobkatz hang on to number one

The Bobkatz' latest hit – Reelin' One In – maintains its hold on the number one position on this week's national Country Tracks Top 30.

8 Ball Aitken's I'm Going To Jail is steady at number two while Adam Brand's Freedom Rebels edges up one place to number three and America's Eli Young Band is at four with Drunk Last Night.

Christie Lamb's All She Wrote is up two to number five, as is Doug Bruce's Clock Out At Five at six and Catherine Britt's Who Cares at seven.

Jasmine Rae's Just Don't Ask Me How I Am enters the top 10 at eight, Sara Storer's Come On Rain debuts in the top 10 at nine while the Keith Urban/Miranda Lambert hit We Were Us is at 10.

New entries to the chart this week are Sandra Humphries with You Drink (in at 29) and Ashleigh Dallas Sail Away at 30.

The full chart can be viewed at www.countrymusicradio.com.au.

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MONDAY, MARCH 10, 2014

Leaping Lizards celebrate 30 years

The Leaping Lizards are celebrating the band's 30th anniversary this year.

"It's hard to believe that 30 years have passed since the band started back in 1984," said a spokesman. "What a very different musical world it has become...

"Perennial bands have great foundations and that's something they do have. The early members set the course, Ron Dimmick being one of them, they fueled the band with perseverance and persistence and the musical trajectory was set.

"In defiance of the usual musical parade of members that come and go in a band with a 30 year history, The Lizards have retained and cultivated the very seeds of their beginnings with fortitude and resilience.

"They have conserved and weaved the very essence the band began with, and maturated it into an influentially edgy, yet round, rootsyness you hear clearly in their music today.

"The Leaping Lizards are an important contributor to the musical fabric of our times."

Marking the occasion of The Lizards' special anniversary is the release of a new double album, "covering selected works resurrected from dusty boxes," according to the spokesman, chronologically representing 1984 to 2014.

"The album identifies a seamless evolution from raw to round, it has captured the syncopated tonal modulations, embedded within the band from its very beginnings... regardless of changing membership over the years.

"It recognises and names the efforts of no less than 13 members and 17 regular others, for their invaluable contribution to recordings, live performances and continued support, during this 30 year journey."

"Producer Michael Fix has woven his wonder once again putting this difficult project together, painstakingly remastering each track, pulling the overall sound together and coaxing some very old recordings into the current century... all in record time!" said The Lizards' Donna Reynolds.

The album will be launched at a special function at Country Paradise Parklands, Nerang (Qld) at 7pm on Saturday, March 29.

All proceeds from the bar and food on the night will support the Nerang Country Paradise Association.

Half the profit from the sales of the new album will be donated to the Beyond Blue charity.

Photo (by Ron Bloxham): Ron Dimmick, Donna Reynolds and Hugh Curtis are The Leaping Lizards today.

Weblink – www.theleapinglizards.com.au.

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FRIDAY, MARCH 7, 2014

Central Coast Festival underway

The 2014 Central Coast Country Music Festival gets underway today at The Entrance, NSW, and runs up to and including Sunday.

Stars of this year's event include Brothers3, Allan Caswell, Gina Jeffreys, Steve Passfield, Lucky Starr and Tamara Stewart.

Other artists on the bill include Ash Mountain, Baylou, Kate Cook, Jackie Dee, the Adam Eckersley Band, Melody Feder, Col Finley, Troy Henderson, Michael Muchow, Gayle O'Neil, Alby Pool, the Round Mountain Girls, Roland Storm, Adam Toms, Tourmaline, the Viper Creek Band and Lauren Wheatley.

This year's Toyota Star Maker winner Jared Porter (pictured) will also appear and two special sessions presented by the Central Coast Country Music Association will feature the About Face Country Duo, Daniel Allars, Caitlin, Jason Carruthers, Margaret Cooper, Wayne Doyle, Alison Dunlop, Ezy Street, Tanya Johnston, Julia & Al, Barry Kennedy, Theresa MacVay, Kay Mathews, Ross McGregor, Adam Price, Lorna Rand, Mia Rose and Julie Sartori.

The festival also features bush poetry, busking, clogging, line and square dancing.

Weblink – www.theentrance.org/events/cmf.html.

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THURSDAY, MARCH 6, 2014

Finalists announced for CMC Awards

After eight weeks of voting, Country Music Channel (CMC) has announced finalists for the CMC Music Awards 2014.

Winners will be announced on Friday March 14 during CMC Rocks The Hunter at the Hope Estate Winery in the NSW Hunter Valley.

Finalists for Oz Artist of the Year are Adam Brand (pictured), Morgan Evans, McAlister Kemp, Amber Lawrence (pictured) and O'Shea.

For Male Oz Artist of the Year... Adam Brand, Troy Cassar-Daley, Travis Collins, Morgan Evans and Lee Kernaghan.

For Female Oz Artist of the Year... Chelsea Basham, Kasey Chambers, Jayne Denham, Amber Lawrence and Jasmine Rae.

For New Oz Artist of the Year... Chelsea Basham, Matt Cornell, the Adam Eckersley Band, Kaylens Rain and The Wolfe Brothers.

For Australian Video of the Year... Carry On by Morgan Evans, Flying With The King by Lee Kernaghan, I Was Here by Adam Brand, If I Want To by Jasmine Rae and Thank You, Angels by O'Shea.

For International Video of the Year... Boys Round Here by Blake Shelton, Every Storm (Runs Out Of Rain) by Gary Allan, Highway Don't Care by Tim McGraw, Taylor Swift & Keith Urban, Hope On The Rocks by Toby Keith and Little Bit Of Everything by Keith Urban.

For International Artist of the Year... Toby Keith, Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban and Chris Young.

The Awards ceremony will be hosted by The McClymonts and will feature special guest appearances by Lee Kernaghan and American broadcaster Storme Warren, as well as performances by American acts Blackjack Billy, Craig Campbell and Love & Theft.

"The CMC Music Awards celebrate country music in Australia," said a CMC spokesman.

The Channel will run a half-hour special on the Awards from Monday March 31 at 8pm.

Weblink – countrymusicchannel.com.au.

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Lizotte's up for sale

Lizotte's, one of Australia's most frequented music establishments, is up for sale.

Brian and Jo Lizotte have decided to put their three NSW restaurant/venues, on the Central Coast, in Newcastle and Sydney, up for sale after 25 years.

"This is something that I am very proud of as the nurturing of up and coming talent is the future for the music industry," Brian said, "and I hope to be able to find a passionate new owner to keep this legacy alive."

The restaurant and venues have featured many well known acts including country stars like Kasey Chambers and Beccy Cole.

"It was one of the hardest decisions that Jo and I have had to make and we've pondered over it for quite some time," Brian said.

Business will continue as usual during the sale period.

Weblink –www.lizottes.com.au.

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WEDNESDAY, MARCH 5, 2014

Aussie Mark named Americana Music Association President

Nashville-based Australian producer Mark Moffatt has been appointed President of the Americana Music Association

He told The Music Network that while the term "Americana" was generally seen as meaning alt-country in Australia, it encompassed a wider spectrum of artists in the United States.

"A lot of Australian artists are a great fit for the genre but often don't realise it and I can help join the dots for them," he said.

"There is an accessible and affordable industry resource base within the Americana community that could be of great benefit to Australians looking to break in the US on a manageable scale."

The Association runs the Americana Music Festival & Conference each September.

Last year, export body Sounds Australia organised performances by 23 Australian acts, with 11 executives attending. As a result, Mustered Courage left with a US booking agency deal while Newcastle's Melody Pool and Breaking Hart Benton from Brisbane attracted label interest.

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CMA Directors

Meanwhile, in news we missed in December, Australia's Rob Potts and ex-pat Jeff Walker were both elected to the board of America's Country Music Association (CMA).

The terms of service are both effective from January 1 this year.

Rob is serving as an International Director while Jeff was elected as a representative of the Advertising Agency/PR/Marketing sector.

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Kristy launches EP via live stream

Kristy James launched her debut EP Nobody's Gonna Make Me via a live internet stream last night.

Undecided on whether to launch in her hometown of Newcastle, head to Sydney or during the just concluded Tamworth Country Music Festival, Kristy realised that an internet-based launch would mean none of her fans would miss out.

The launch took place on the streaming website ustream.tv.

Kristy’s debut EP is five-track production comprising works from the singer/songwriter's own pen plus the EPs title track and first radio single which is a co-write with APRA and ARIA award-winning songwriter Mike Carr.

"The EP is written from real life experiences and Kristy completely strips back and bears all in this intense, emotionally raw filled EP," said a spokesman for the artist.

"Kristy has gathered a who's who of Australian country music to release her original works. In the producer's chair again is Simon Johnson of Hillbilly Hut, engineering by Jeff McCormack, mixed and mastered by Ted Howard at Rancom St Studios with photography and design by Glen Hannah.

"Helping to bring the music to life are musicians Jedd Hughes, Luke Davis, Pete Drummond and Mick Albeck with backing vocals by Mike Carr, Marty Worrall and Chris E Thomas."

The EP debuted at number 12 on the iTunes Top Country Albums chart and peaked at number two, only kept out of the top spot by Taylor Swift.

For the first radio single's associated video clip, Kristy again teamed up with producer Glenn Wilson (who also produced Golden Guitar winning video clip Big Black Cloud for Felicity Urquhart and is also the man behind set designs on TV's "X Factor"). The clip can be viewed here.

Weblink – www.kristyjames.com.

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Chart Update – Bobkatz take the top spot

The Bobkatz' latest hit – Reelin' One In – has taken over the top spot on this week's national Country Tracks Top 30.

8 Ball Aitken's I'm Going To Jail jumps three places to number two while the Keith Urban/Miranda Lambert number one from the last three weeks – We Were Us – is at number three and Adam Brand's Freedom Rebels is up two to number four.

Lee Kernaghan's former number one – It's Only Country – is at five, America's Eli Young Band is at six with Drunk Last Night and Christie Lamb's All She Wrote is up three places to seven.

Doug Bruce's Clock Out At Five bounds into the top at eight, Catherine Britt's Who Cares is in at nine and Amber Joy Poulton rounds out the top 10 with Foolish Things.

Bullet performers for the week include The Wolfe Brothers' Lovin' In The Summertown (25 to 22) and The McClymonts' Going Under (Didn't Have To) (30 to 26).

New entries to the chart this week include O'Shea with It Never Goes Away (in at 29) and Dozzi with Drew McAlister at 30 with I Need You Tonight.

The full chart can be viewed at www.countrymusicradio.com.au.

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WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2014

New from the Adam Eckersley Band

New rising talent the Adam Eckersley Band will release its debut album – The First Album – on Friday March 14.

Since making their official debut at last year's Tamworth Country Music Festival, the band (Adam Eckersley, Scott Greenaway, Benny Elliot and Dan Biederman) have firmly positioned themselves as an act to watch in 2014.

The first single from the new album – Give Her The World – has gained widespread airplay and airplay chart success.

Following a wealth of musical experience from touring in Australia and the US, Adam began recording the album in late 2012. Songs then began to emerge during Australian co-writing sessions with songwriters such as Band bassist and session veteran Scotty Greenaway, Brooke McClymont (Adam's wife) and Lindsay Rimes.

The new album also has some American co-writes from Adam's time spent in Nashville and Atlanta; with the likes of David and Troy Johnson.

Weblink – www.adameckersleyband.com.

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FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 21, 2014

New from Luke

Triple Golden Guitar winner Luke O'Shea released his latest single this week from his highly anticipated new album – Sing You Up – which is due to be launched mid March.

The single – Three Brothers (The Great War) – was written, Luke said, to "punch listeners in the nose – with the hope that the sting and the song's message will then be forever remembered!"

Luke picked up two Golden Guitars in January for back-to back Heritage Song of the Year and the coveted Song Of The Year with the Joy McKean inspired first single from the new album, Lady Of The Land.

Of the second single, Luke said Three Brothers is about July 28, 2014, the centenary of the first world war...

"With all the 'flag waving and cheers' that will resound throughout Australia this Anzac Day, WE MUST remember the terrible scar on humanity that the 'Great War' was.

"As a high school history teacher, my blood boils and my eyes glaze over as together we learn about the mistakes and the senseless waste of our gallant young men," he said.

"As most know, Australian troops defined themselves brilliantly given the circumstances and incompetence of our British Generals. Gallipoli was a disaster as was the massacre in France with 5,533 Australian casualties in Fromelles in one night, 28,000 casualties in the first seven weeks – these were not glorious deaths.

"I wrote this song to shout out to those unaware of the waste and damage of an event that happened 100 years ago and that we as a nation have never recovered from.

"As I tour around Australia I see so many once blossoming young towns frozen in time. Iconic rolls of renown stand pride of place in towns where the 'land has all been bought up and the shops are closing down'. For each young man that didn't return, an invaluable skill was lost – a husband, a father, a captain coach, a teacher or a farmer – there was so much 'future' lost.

"I get highly emotional with this song," Luke said, "and I hope to get people discussing, arguing and feeling the rage over our baptism of hell fire that went on to define us as our OWN race of people – Australians!"

Sing You Up will be launched at CMC Rocks The Hunter 2014 where Luke will perform on the final day, Sunday.

Luke explained the meaning behind the album title: "For 50,000 years indigenous Australians had a complex series of song lines that crisscrossed the country and when a man or woman went 'walkabout' they were on a serious mission to follow these set paths and to 'sing up the country'. If they failed in their responsibility it was believed the land would disappear.

"With white settlement, these traditions and 'song lines' have almost been lost or replaced with highways and red dirt roads – and with the advancement of digital technology and mass globalisation, it appears that if we do not continue this tradition of 'singing up' the land, it's history and it's people... then perhaps it's not just the land that is lost, but also our unique Australian culture.

"Indigenous Australians have always revered country music and country musicians," Luke said, "in particular Slim Dusty, as they traversed the land 'singing it up!' This is a tradition I am wanting to continue as I do see our magnificent Australian culture at risk. So let's not lose ourselves and let's get passionate about what we have and how lucky we are to have it!!"

Weblink – www.lukeoshea.com.

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THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 20, 2014

Wendy wins Nashville award

Australian singer/songwriter Wendy Wood has been voted Songwriter of the Year in the annual Nashville Universe Awards.

Wendy won the award from fellow finalists George Brunner Boettcher, Adrian "Addy" Taylor, Doug Zepp and Paul "Pez" Zukowski.

Nashville Universe is a social media website for musicians, singers and bands, similar to Facebook, and works so that people can "get together and get their music out there". The site has more than 5,500 members.

"Someone recommended I join up to it," Wendy told The Northern Daily Leader's Anna Rose, "so I did a few months ago and have had a pretty good response since then.

"You have to be nominated by somebody for the Awards and I was nominated for Female Vocal, Songwriter of the Year and Song of the Year. They had one round of voting and there were 20 people in the first round, then it had to be cut down to five."

After the public vote, Wendy made it into the finalists of Female Vocal and Songwriter of the Year. Voting closed at the end of January and winners were announced at the Awards night in Nashville on Monday night.

Another Australian finalist was The Viper Creek Band who were up for Video of the Year.

"I was totally shocked when I was told I'd been nominated in the first place," she said, "but I wouldn't be in the final five if it wasn't for the people who voted for me."

Wendy is no stranger to awards and during the recent Tamworth Country Music Festival she was up for a couple of People's Choice and Tamworth Songwriters' Association Awards.

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WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 19, 2014

New from the Cartwheels

The Cartwheels have released a new album titled At Home.

Dave Patterson and Wendy Phypers from the Cartwheels met in the early 1990s. She was in a band called the Sparnetts (soon to be Golden Guitar winners) and he in the ARIA-nominated, Golden Guitar, triple "MO" Award winning band The Happening Thang.

Fast forward a few years and they had a son called Charley whom at a young age was drawn to the drums. In true Carter Family style, Dave, Wendy and Charley started playing at home and local venues eventually recording their debut album when Charley was eight.

Since then, the band has played at major festivals around Australia and most recently recorded their third album produced by Jeff Mercer, who, best known for playing with Slim Dusty's Travelling Country Band for eight years, completes the Cartwheels line-up.

Charley is a 2014 graduate of the Australian Academy of Country Music.

The new album, recorded near the family's hometown of Hepburn Springs (Victoria), is described as "capturing a family playing the music they love" and " unashamedly country, about love and life and playing music with family and friends... where the Cartwheels feel 'at  home'."

At Home has 12 tracks, nine originals by Wendy and three covers.

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TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 18, 2014

Gladstone success

Organisers of this year's Elders Gladstone Country Music Festival report another successful event held earlier this month.

Jack Viljoen (from Bundaberg club) was named senior overall winner of the festival talent quest taking out also the vocal, country rock, gospel and Australian ballad sections.

Chandler Mowles (from the Northern Suburbs club) was named overall junior winner also taking out the juvenile vocal, country rock, gospel and Australian ballad sections.

Dawn Healey was presented with the senior achievement award while Skye Birthisel won the juvenile/junior achievement award.

In addition to the preceding section wins...

Jessikah Bailie (Pioneer Valley club) won junior vocal, as well as junior country rock, and Hayley Marsten took out senior female vocal.

In the Masters section, Greg Baldock was the winner while Bill Healey took out the grand masters section.

The overall adult vocal title was won by Kay Beale.

In adult female Australian Bush Ballad, the winner was Aleisha Sealey, who also won female gospel.

Hayley Marsten (Bundaberg) took out the adult female country rock section while Karina Kelley (also Bundaberg) was successful in junior gospel.

Open duo was won by Nance/Vera with AJH (Hayley Marsten) taking honours in country group.

Guy Cartwright won the Spirit of the Festival award.

Photo: Chandler and Jack with compere and major sponsor Colin Burke.

Weblink here.

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Chart Update – two weeks at number one for Keith and Miranda

The Keith Urban/Miranda Lambert hit We Were Us retains the top spot on this week's national Country Tracks Top 30.

Last week's second, third and fourth positions remain unchanged this week... Lee Kernaghan's former number one – It's Only Country – at two, Amber Joy Poulton's Foolish Things at three and Aleyce Simmonds' Believe at four.

The Bobkatz' Reelin' One In jumps two places to number five, Adam Brand's Freedom Rebels is steady at six and 8 Ball Aitken's I'm Going To Jail is also up two to seven.

Two overseas acts, the Eli Young Band and Chris Young are at eight and nine, respectively, with Drunk Last Night and Aw Naw while Christie Lamb enters the top 10 at 10 with All She Wrote.

Bullet performers for the week include McAlister Kemp's Tats (26 to 23) and Bec Hance's Brand New Daddy (28 to 25).

New entries to the chart this week include The Wolfe Brothers' Lovin' In The Summertown (in at 28) and Kaylens Rain's She's A Wildflower (at 30).

The full chart can be viewed at www.countrymusicradio.com.au.

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MONDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 2014

Courtney and Jonny shine at WA Awards

Courtney Conway and Jonny Taylor (pictured) dominated this year's Go for 2&5 West Australian Country Music Awards during the Boyup Brook Country Music Festival last week.

Courtney was named Female Artist of the Year as well as Best New Talent while Jonny won Male Artist of the Year, Independent Single and Independent Album of the Year.

Group of the Year went to China Doll, Video Clip to Stoney Joe and Songwriter of the Year to Terry Bennetts & Keith Lethbridge with Fitzroy River.

Local girl Keely Morgan won Junior Vocalist of the Year.

Golden Guitar winners McAlister Kemp, Graham Rodger and Sara Storer were headline acts at this year's festival.

Weblink – www.countrymusicwa.com.au.

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THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2014

Robie and Ben team up

Rising Australian country star Ben Ransom will join the legendary Rob E.G. (aka Robie Porter) for Sydney's Canterbury Country tonight.

Following his triumphant return to the stage at last month's Tamworth Country Music Festival, Robie – billed as "Australia's all-time number one hit record producer and former number one Australian selling recording artist" – will be joined by his new charge, Ben Ransom, as the "surprise" guest stars at tonight's concert at the Canterbury Hurlstone Park RSL Club.

As a record producer, Robie has scored 29 number one hits in Australia, the US and around the world including with such iconic Australian artists as Air Supply, Daddy Cool, Tommy Emmanuel, Colleen Hewett, Marcia Hines, Hush and Rick Springfield, as well as his "E.G." star persona.

As Rob E.G., Robie had a major hit with 55 Days At Peking as well as follow-ups including Si Senor and Jezebel.

Ben's new single, Somebody's Baby, produced by Robie for his Wizard Country record label, debuted at number 10 on Amrap's AirIT Great Southern Chart last week.

At tonight's concert, Robie and Ben will perform Somebody's Baby, together with other hit country tunes, closing with a "countrified" version of Australia's all-time number one hit, Eagle Rock, all produced by Robie.

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WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 12, 2014

CMC Awards

Australia's Country Music Channel (CMC) will present a number of awards again in conjunction with the upcoming CMC Rocks The Hunter event at the Hope Estate at Pokolbin in the NSW Hunter Valley.

CMC selects a number of nominees in six categories and invites the public to vote on its website www.countrymusicchannel.com.au.

The finalists are, for Oz Artist of the Year... Chelsea Basham, Baylou, Adam Brand, Catherine Britt, Doug Bruce, Troy Cassar-Daley, Kasey Chambers, Travis Collins, Dianna Corcoran, Matt Cornell, Jayne Denham, Morgan Evans, Adam Harvey, Kaylens Rain, Lee Kernaghan, Amber Lawrence, McAlister Kemp, Shane Nicholson, O'Shea, Jasmine Rae, Tamara Stewart, Sara Storer, The Sunny Cowgirls, John Williamson and The Wolfe Bros.

For New Oz Artist of the Year... Luke Austen, Chelsea Basham, Baylou, Kaylee Bell, Brad Butcher, Matt Cornell, Ashleigh Dallas, Adam Eckersley Band, Kaylens Rain, Mustered Courage and The Wolfe Brothers.

For Male Oz Artist of the Year... Adam Brand, Doug Bruce, Troy Cassar-Daley, Travis Collins, Matt Cornell, Morgan Evans, Adam Harvey, Lee Kernaghan, Shane Nicholson, and John Williamson.

For Female Oz Artist of the Year... Chelsea Basham, Catherine Britt, Kasey Chambers, Dianna Corcoran, Jayne Denham, Amber Lawrence, Jasmine Rae, Tamara Stewart, Sara Storer and Chris E Thomas.

For Australian Video of the Year... Addicted To The Diesel by Jayne Denham, Be With You Tonight by O'Shea, Carry On by Morgan Evans, Don't Even Go There by Kaylens Rain, Flying With The King by Lee Kernaghan, The Girl, The Bottle, The Memories by The Wolfe Brothers, Good Hearted Woman by Troy Cassar-Daley & Adam Harvey, Green & Gold by The Sunny Cowgirls, Harder To Tame by McAlister Kemp, I Learned The Hard Way by Chelsea Basham, I Was Here by Adam Brand, If I Want To by Jasmine Rae, It's On by The Wolfe Brothers, Kids Forever by The Sunny Cowgirls, Lights On The Hill by Troy Cassar-Daley & Adam Harvey, Lovegrass by Sara Storer, Me by Ashleigh Dallas, Novocaine by Baylou, Prairie Hotel Parachina by John Williamson, Shelter by Jayne Denham, Small Town by Travis Collins, Thank You, Angels by O'Shea, Therapy by Dianna Corcoran, Ute Me by Lee Kernaghan and Waiting On A Bus by Kaylens Rain.

For International Video of the Year... Aw Naw by Chris Young, Better Dig Two by The Band Perry, Boys Round Here by Blake Shelton, Done by The Band Perry, Downtown by Lady Antebellum, Every Storm (Runs Out Of Rain) by Gary Allan, Get Your Shine On by Florida Georgia Line, Goodbye In Her Eyes by Zac Brown Band, Goodbye Town by Lady Antebellum, Highway Don't Care by Tim McGraw, Taylor Swift & Keith Urban, Hope On The Rocks by Toby Keith, If You Ever Get Lonely by Love & Theft, Little Bit Of Everything by Keith Urban, Mama's Broken Heart by Miranda Lambert, More Than Miles by Brantley Gilbert, One Of Those Nights by Tim McGraw, Pirate Flag by Kenny Chesney, Running Out Of Air by Love & Theft, See You Again by Carrie Underwood, Southern Comfort Zone by Brad Paisley, Southern Girl by Tim McGraw, Sure Be Cool If You Did by Blake Shelton, Tornado by Little Big Town, Two Black Cadillacs by Carrie Underwood and Whiskey by Jana Kramer.

For International Artist of the Year... Jason Aldean, Gary Allan, The Band Perry, Big & Rich, Dean Brody, Zac Brown Band, Luke Bryan, Kenny Chesney, Eric Church, Sara Evans, Rascal Flatts, Florida Georgia Line, Alan Jackson, Toby Keith, Lady Antebellum, Tim McGraw, Miranda Lambert, Little Big Town, Love & Theft, Brad Paisley, Blake Shelton, Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban and Chris Young.

Voting in the CMC Awards closes on Sunday March 2.

Winners are announced during CMC Rocks The Hunter which runs Friday, Saturday and Sunday March 14.

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TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 11, 2014

Dan launches TCO

Dan Biddle, a label veteran of 15 years working for BMG, Universal Music and most recently Sony Music, has launched TCO Artists.

TCO (for Taking Care Of) Artists will handle management for country sister trio The McClymonts and the Adam Eckersley Band.

"I have always wanted to run my own business and work more directly with a selective roster of artists," Dan said. "The timing for this move just could not be better. I am thrilled to be working with two bands I respect professionally and personally and whose music I love.

"Having survived the steep decline of the record business through the 2000s, I can see that this is an entrepreneur's industry right now, and I believe time will show this to be one of the great eras in music business history. I am very positive about the future."

Setting up TCO as an all-round service provider, Dan's immediate focus is new releases from the two acts. The Adam Eckersley Band, from the NSW Central Coast, release their debut album The First Album through Island/Universal Music on March 14.

The McClymonts will release their fourth album through Universal Music mid this year. In the last seven years, the act has achieved three Gold albums (with two nearing Platinum), two ARIAs, seven Golden Guitars, and an APRA award. Singer songwriters Brooke, Mollie and Sam McClymont have also recorded in – and toured around – the United States.

Christie Eliezer
Music Network

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Deniese is new Champs President

Multi award-winner Deniese Morrison has taken the reins of Queensland’s Country Music Festivals Champion of Champions.

The three time Golden Guitar and "MO" award winner was elected President in a unanimous vote at the organisation's Annual General Meeting.

"I moved to Queensland recently, and I have always been a supporter of the work that the Queensland Champs does." Deniese said, "So, I decided that it was important for me to get involved and assist the organisation into the future."

The Queensland Champion of Champions is highly regarded as one of the most prestigious country music competitions of its kind in Australia. Winners from club competitions from around Queensland are invited to compete in the annual event for a swag of awards and industry opportunities.

Previous winners include multi Golden Guitar winners Lyn Bowtell, Sam McClymont, Kylie Sackley and Brendon Walmsley.

The Champion of Champions is staged each November in Brisbane.

Other committee members elected are Vice President Bill Healey, Secretary Terry Mowles, Treasurer Dawn Healey and Events Co-ordinator Sam Burgess.

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Chart Update – Keith and Miranda take over top spot

The Keith Urban/Miranda Lambert hit We Were Us has taken over the number one position on this week's national Country Tracks Top 30.

Lee Kernaghan's number one from the last three weeks – It's Only Country – slips to second place while Amber Joy Poulton's Foolish Things is up one to three and Aleyce Simmonds' Believe is up another two places to number four.

The Jayne Denham/Shannon Noll duet Beyond These City Lights is at five, Adam Brand's Freedom Rebels is up one to number six and The Bobkatz' Reelin' One In jumps three places to number seven.

Kate Cook's Give The Girl A Spanner is at eight, 8 Ball Aitken's I'm Going To Jail enters the top 10 at nine and America's Eli Young Band is at 10 with Drunk Last Night.

Bullet performers for the week include Jasmine Rae's Just Don't Ask Me How I Am (19 to 15), Sara Storer's Come On Rain (20 to 16), Kaylee Bell's Little Bit Small Town (21 to 17), Dean Perrett's That Glory Bound Train (25 to 22), Kristy Cox's One Heartbreak Away (26 to 23) and Roo Arcus' Out On The Farm (27 to 24).

The full chart can be viewed at www.countrymusicradio.com.au.

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THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 6, 2014

Boyup Brook coming up

The Boyup Brook Country Music Festival, Western Australia's biggest country music event, runs for four days from next Thursday (February 13).

Also recognised as one of the nation's leading festivals, Boyup Brook promotes and recognises aspiring West Australians in their artistic endeavours.

While music is at the heart of the Festival, organisers sat "it's the fascinating combination of welcoming locals, friendly visitors, summer atmosphere and music that gives the place such an across the board charm. And there is always time for meeting new and old friends."

This year marks the festival's 29th year in the community "and offers a rich and vibrant program of activities" including local and national artists, staged entertainment, children's activities, the Go for 2&5 West Australian Country Music Awards, art exhibition and awards, workshops, a huge street carnival with street theatre, buskers and bands, ute and truck muster and what organisers describe as "a huge bush poets breakfast".

The event incorporates ticketed and free events and presents a program designed to appeal to all ages.

Boyup Brook is recognised as the Country Music Capital of Western Australia and is based in the south-west, some 270 kilometres from Perth. Country music fans from around the state and further afield make the annual trek to Boyup Brook.

"The town's normal population of 1,500 swells dramatically with thousands of caravanners and campers finding the best spot to settle for a few days of music, enjoyment and laughter."

Centred around the town's purpose built Music Park, with a permanent sound shell and stage overlooking a natural grassed amphitheatre area with tall trees, visitors are encouraged to bring a fold up chair or a blanket to throw on the ground.

For early campers, a welcome showcase will be held at the caravan park and the opening of the art exhibition on Wednesday evening. Thursday activities will comprise workshops, and special guest appearances including Buddy Goode (comedy) and Rohan Powell on the main stage.

Friday will consist of two showcases with a variety of talent at Harvey Dickson's Country Music Centre. Buskers perform at various locations around town.

Rob Black and the Kelly Gang and "the best of WA country music talent" will compete in the Go for 2&5 West Australian Country Music Awards in the Music Park.

The town centre is closed off on Saturday from 7am to 2pm with dozens of market stalls, art and craft, children's activities, buskers, bands and roving performers lining the streets. "The Ute & Truck parade will make its way through the streets in a bright and dazzling display of colour and noise and then line up at the Music Park for judging."

Saturday night this year will feature McAlister Kemp and Sara Storer.

The full line-up also includes Connie Kis Andersen, Ruby Boots, The Borderers, Mike Carr, China Doll, Codee-Lee, Courtney Conway, Theona Councillor, Eric Erdman, the Farmer Joe Show, The Kelly Gang, Kate Linke, Deb "Spoons" Perry, Graham Rodger, Stoney Joe and Jonny Taylor.

Weblink – www.countrymusicwa.com.au.

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West Australian Awards finalists

Finalists in the Go for 2&5 West Australian Country Music Awards have been announced.

They are...

For Best Male Artist, Ginger Cox (pictured), Bill Shepherd and Jonny Taylor.

For Best Female Artist, Bex Chilcott (aka Ruby Boot, pictured), Courtney Conway and Theona Councillor.

For Best Group, China Doll, Polly Medlen Band and The Seals.

For Independent Single of the Year, 21 Days by Courtney Conway, Brighter Than You Feel and You'll Never Break Me both by Jonny Taylor.

For Independent Album of the Year, Hot Kerky by Stoney Joe, Something To Say by Jonny Taylor and Stay Where You Are by Kate Linke.

For Songwriter of the Year, Terry Bennetts & Keith Lethbridge for Fitzroy River, Courtney Conway for Daddy's Little Girl and Jonny Taylor with Brighter Than You Feel, Suffering In Silence and You'll Never Break Me.

For Video Clip of the Year, Dreamin' Tomorrow by Stoney Joe (produced by Luke Wissell), Kellie Anne by Ruby Boots (produced by Paul Komandina) and On The Inside – Tayla's Song by Katie O'Donnell (produced by Dean Butler).

For Best New Talent, Courtney Conway, Codee-Lee Down and The Seals.

For Junior Vocalist of the Year, Jasmine Atkins, Tori-Rae Davies and Keely Morgan.

Winners will be decided and announced Saturday of the 2014 Boyup Brook Festival.

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Cowra's great music escape

The town of Cowra in southern NSW will stage its Great Escape Music Festival over both days of this weekend, billed as "a red-hot taste of the best Australian music has to offer".

Cowra's Civic Centre will be transformed into "a mecca of musical miscellany" with 16 different genres on offer.

"Bush balladeers, Celtic dancers, Christian rockers, country music legends, crooners, divas and rock and roll dancers – they're all headed to Cowra for two days of jam-packed variety shows," according to organiser Nerallie Cheney.

Entertaining festival goers will be Golden Guitar winners Allan Caswell (top) and Reg Poole bottom), Stephen R Cheney, Tony Martin, Dave Prior, Melissa Robertson, Roland Storm and bush poetry champion Robyn Sykes and Roland Storm.

"There are two different stages during the festival. For those who perhaps want to just see different artists in a more intimate setting. And there is the opportunity to watch a variety of artists upstairs at the Civic Centre.

"Each of the artists will perform upstairs where they can present their own styles in the upstairs area. We are sure that everyone will enjoy the whole weekend with a great mix of various styles."

The Festival runs from tomorrow, Thursday (6th) to Sunday the 9th.

Festival passes are $75 for the weekend, which includes Friday Night, all day and night Saturday and all day Sunday; and $35 for each individual day.

Passes are available at the door and through the Cowra Visitor and Tourist Information Centre.

Weblink here.

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TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 2014

Whittlesea Festival

The Whittlesea Country Music Festival will run this year for one day, this Saturday, February 8, with a big line-up of talent.

In alphabetical order, the line-up is Lee Bradshaw & The Horizon, The Brook Chivell Band, Katrina Burns, Carter & Carter, Greg Champion, Flaxxon, The Fry Brothers, Melissa Rose Holt, Damian Howard & The Ploughboys, Jetty Road, Christie Lamb, Ruckus, Glenn Shorrock, Kaitlyn Thomas and The White Goat Band.

The Festival comprises a "street party" during the day and a twilight concert at Whittlesea's Walker Reserve from 5pm.

Weblink – whittleseacountrymusicfestival.com.au.

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Derwent Valley Muster

Meanwhile, across Bass Strait and further south on "the apple isle", the Derwent Valley Country Music Muster will also run this Saturday.

Headline act is The Wolfe Brothers (pictured) supported by The Dirty Birds and Zak Walsh & The Young Guns.

The event kicks off at Boyer Oval, New Norfolk, at 10am.

Weblink – www.facebook.com/derwentvalleycountrymusicmuster.

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Chart Update – Lee's three weeks at number one

Lee Kernaghan's latest hit It's Only Country is number one for the third consecutive week on this week's national Country Tracks Top 30.

The Jayne Denham/Shannon Noll duet Beyond These City Lights is steady again at two while the Keith Urban/Miranda Lambert duet We Were Us is at three and Amber Joy Poulton's Foolish Things is steady at four.

Kate Cook's Give The Girl A Spanner is at five, Aleyce Simmonds' Believe is up two to number six and as is Adam Brand's Freedom Rebels to number seven.

The Bobkatz' Reelin' One In bounds into the top 10 at number eight while two American acts, Chris Young and the Eli Young Band, are at nine and 10, respectively, with Aw Naw and Drunk Last Night.

Bullet performers for the week include 8 Ball Aitken's I'm Going To Jail (14 to 11), Christie Lamb's All She Wrote (17 to 14), Doug Bruce's Clock Out At Five (18 to 15), Catherine Britt's Who Cares (19 to 16) and Roo Arcus' Out On The Farm (30 to 27).

New entries to the chart this week include McAlister Kemp's Tats (new at 28) and Bec Hance with Brand New Daddy (at 30).

The full chart can be viewed at www.countrymusicradio.com.au.

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MONDAY, FEBRUARY 3, 2014

Bungendore winners

The 2014 Bungendore Country Muster was staged at the weekend with a very hot Saturday, cool and balmy Saturday evening for the Awards concert and announcement of winners in this year's Stan Coster Memorial Bush Ballad Awards.

Jeff Brown (pictured), fresh from his Bush Ballad Golden Guitar win at Tamworth, was named Male Vocal winner with the Keith Jamieson penned award-winning track I Love Australia, and also took out Album of the Year with Hard To Let Go.

Patti Morgan (pictured) won the Female Vocal award with The Old Cattle Dog while the Group/Duo honour went to Bec Hance & Sharon Benjamin with In Queensland.

Pat Brown Jr was named New Talent winner with Those Mountains Of Mine and the Instrumental award went to Peter Simpson & Lindsay Butler for Wind Up Gramophone.

The Songwriter accolade went to Ernie Constance with I Worship The Water, Trevor Day took out the Comedy category with Lady Luck and Western Australia's Kate Hindle was presented with the Barry Thornton Encouragement Award.

After the Awards night, Sunday was again very hot and a lot of the campers found respite during the day in their air conditioned vans.

"Our numbers were down a little on previous years but we still enjoyed a good crowd," said a spokesman for the organisers.

"Next year will be our 30th anniversary and we have started planning for a weekend to remember."

Weblink – www.bungendorecountrymuster.com.au.

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Gladsone this weekend

The new Gladstone (Qld) Entertainment & Conference Centre will come alive with the sounds of country this weekend for the 2014 Elders Gladstone Country Music Festival, a full two days of talent quest.

From 8:30am daily competitors will vie for trophies and talent quest honours

The event is supported by Elders (name sponsor) and Aurizon together with a number of trophy sponsors.

Bob Alloway, Tim Bacon, Frank Collimore, Steve Quinn and Brian Sonter will make up the backing band for all contestants and will support and feature in the invitation concert Saturday night.

Organisers say nominations are up in the senior events and slightly down in the junior events.

"Everyone is welcome to come along and watch the events throughout the weekend," a spokesman said. "Tickets are available at the door for weekend or daily passes.

Seven judges have been employed to judge the 24 events at the Festival and will participate in the Concert Saturday night... Sam Burgess, George Czender, Sharon Heaslip, Alli Hopkins, Tracy & Darryn Robinson and Savannah Sharpe.

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FRIDAY, JANUARY 31, 2014

More Tamworth 2014 winners

Rural Press Events, publishers of Country Music Capital News and organisers of various activities during the annual Tamworth Country Music Festival, have announced the winners from competitions held at the city's Hands of Fame Park.

The three competitions, which are always well supported, are the Coca Cola Battle of the Bands, Yamaha YoungStars and Battle of the Bluegrass.

Bellingen NSW band The Mid North won the Battle of the Bands title with Murphy's Pigs of Nundah, Qld, second and White Walkers from Belmont in Newcastle, NSW, third.

Seven-year-old Sonny French from Jannali in Sydney took out the Junior Section (9 years and under) of the YoungStars competition with 12-year-old Kay-Lea Brown from Piambong, NSW, the Intermediate (10 to 13 years) winner and 16-year-old Liam Kennedy-Clark from Ashburton in New Zealand the Senior winner (14 to 17 years).

Senior winner of the Battle of the Bluegrass was Alan Shirley who hails from Tumut in NSW, playing banjo while Chloe Nott from Tamworth, won the junior section, also playing banjo.

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WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 29, 2014

Cooper best fiddler in Australia... again

Sydney classical violinist, jazzman and occasional "gypsy" Ian Cooper (pictured) has consolidated his position as Australasia's top fiddler by taking out his second Golden Fiddle Award for best soloist.

He becomes the only fiddle player to take the honour twice in the history of the Awards, his first win being in 2006.

Ian had another winning double at this year's awards, presented at the Golden Fiddle Show in the Tamworth Town Hall last week, as his band, the Ian Cooper International Spectacular, was named "best band featuring a fiddler".

In all, Ian Cooper now has five Golden Fiddle Awards taking pride of place alongside his two "MO" awards, two ACE (Australian Club Entertainment) awards and his ARIA (Australian Recording Industry Association) award for his double platinum selling CD of his Olympic Opening Ceremony composition, Tin Symphony.

One of Australia's most prolific writers and players of heritage and original fiddle music, the late Joe Yates, was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award. A natural bushman, Joe died in 1987, but not before he had contributed more than 160 tunes to the Oral History and Folklore collection of the National Library.

Coincidentally, original tunes by Joe Yates, restored and recorded by a Maleny, Queensland, band led by violinist Catherine Ovenden, were judged the "best CD by a band featuring a fiddler" winning her a Golden Fiddle at this year's Awards.

Golden Fiddle Chairman Mark Mitchell is so impressed with the efforts of groups of musicians and clubs around Australia to collect and restore the early tunes, that he announced a new Golden Fiddle Award category for heritage music, beginning in 2015.

"It will honour the Australian fiddle music of yesteryear and reward the players and producers who are dedicated to keeping it alive," Mark told the Tamworth audience.

"In our colourful history of music, a true Australian sound has emerged and this is what the Golden Fiddle show, with help from people like Catherine Ovenden, and last year's Lifetime Achievement Award winner Greg O'Leary, wants to share with our audiences who may never have the opportunity to hear these gems from the past at conventional music festivals."

Other awards for 2014 went to an emerging Celtic fiddler Jeri Foreman, who was named as "best composer of a fiddle tune" with No Bigger Than An Envelope, and the award for "best CD by a fiddler as a soloist" went to Peter Denahy's Wishbone Road.

The youth achievement award went to 17-year-old Georgia Rose who had twice before reached the finals but this year, her impressive performing skills pushed her over the line. Georgia has already released her first CD of tunes, she won a bluegrass competition in Tamworth last year, and she is first violin and soloist of her school's prestigious Sinfonia Orchestra at Gippsland Grammar.

Weblink – www.goldenfiddleawards.org.au.

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TUESDAY, JANUARY 28, 2014

Vale – Patti McKinnon

Australian country singer and recording artist Patti McKinnon – real name Trish Cunningham – died of a heart attack on January 6.

The Goulburn, NSW, based artist was known locally for her community campaigning and work with activities such as the Southern Tablelands Country Music Talent Quest & Campout.

Self-described on Facebook as a graduate of "The University of Life", Patti campaigned for better mental health facilities in Goulburn (including Headspace), marriage equality and animal welfare.

Patti was born in 1947 and spent her childhood on a sheep and wheat station at Trungley Hall near Temora NSW. It was there, working alongside her father and grandfather she developed a love of country music, particularly through the music of Australian country pioneer Reg Lindsay who she described as being "great mates" with her Dad.

After moving to Sydney, Patti began singing in show with people like the Allen Brothers, Lonnie Lee, Laurel Lee and Digby Richards but realised it was country music she loved the most.

She commenced a nursing career training in Forensic, Cardiac & Pathology nursing and, at the same time, started riding in rodeos and met some country singers like the legendary Gordon Parsons and "Cowboy" Bob Purtell, Cazna & the legendary Gordon Parsons.

Patti ultimately formed her own band – Freedom Highway – under the musical directorship of Greg Parsons and they soon became one of the most sought after bands on the country music scene.

Following Greg's death, Patti lost a lot of her inspiration and the band slowly drifted apart. She then decided to pursue her truck driving ambitions and began driving the the interstate runs. But she always had a guitar on board and played at almost all the country pubs and roadhouses she stopped at along the way.

After a few years, Patti resumed her nursing career but she missed her music so continued to play at nursing homes and charitable events and began working with new talent coming through, including the likes of Travis Collins and Jason Lee.

Patti is survived by her mother Dal, husband Tony and two sons.

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Harmonica winner

Jamie Symons from Kingscliff in NSW has won this year's Hohner Harmonica Championship.

Runner up was James Norton of Grose Vale, NSW.

The Encouragement prize winner was Patricia Mifsud, also of Grose Vale, NSW, while the Audience Award went to Des Kennedy from Hallam Vic.

The competition was held during the 2014 Tamworth Country Music Festival.

Judges PJ (left) and Lawrie Minson (right) are pictured with 2014 Champion Jamie.

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Chart Update – Lee's second week at the top

Lee Kernaghan's latest hit It's Only Country maintains its hold on the top spot this week on the national Country Tracks Top 30.

The Jayne Denham/Shannon Noll duet Beyond These City Lights is steady at two while Kate Cook's Give The Girl A Spanner edges up one to number three and Amber Joy Poulton's Foolish Things is up two to number four.

Dianna Corcoran's former number one – Therapy – is at five, the Keith Urban/Miranda Lambert duet We Were Us is six and America's Toby Keith is at seven with Drinks After Work.

Aleyce Simmonds' Believe is steady again at eight, Adam Brand's Freedom Rebels enters the top 10 at nine and Allan Caswell's The Next Time That You Hear is at 10.

Bullet performers for the week include Dean Perrett's That Glory Bound Train (29 to 26).

New entries to the chart this week are Kristy Cox (pictured) with One Heartbreak Away (new at 28) and Roo Arcus' Out On The Farm (at 30).

The full chart can be viewed at www.countrymusicradio.com.au.

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SATURDAY, JANUARY 25, 2014

Golden Guitar winners

Lee Kernaghan and Sara Storer dominated this year's Country Music Awards of Australia (Golden Guitars) presented in Tamworth tonight.

Lee set the pace early by taking out the first award, Single of the Year for Flying With The King, which went on to also win him Male Artist and Video Clip of the Year, directed by Duncan Toombs.

Lee's latest album, Beautiful Noise, was named Top Selling Album of the Year.

Sara won Female Artist and the prestigious Album of the Year for her latest release Lovegrass, produced by Matt Fell, as well as Vocal Collaboration with John Williamson for Pozie.

Luke O'Shea won two Golden Guitars, both for his tribute to Joy McKean – Lady Of The Land: Heritage Song of the Year and Song of the Year, with co-writer Drew McAlister.

Jeff Brown and Keith Jamieson took home Golden Guitars for Bush Ballad of the Year, written by Keith, recorded by Jeff.

Ex-pat Aussie outfit O'Shea was named Duo of the Year with their song Thank You, Angels, while Pete Denahy was awarded Instrumental of the Year for Cotton Eyed Joe.

New Talent of the Year was presented to Ashleigh Dallas for Me and Lachlan Bryan & The Wildes won Alternative Country Album of the Year with Black Coffee, produced by Lachlan, Mat Duniam, Shaun Ryan and Rod McCormack.

Country pioneer Ted Egan was recognised with a Lifetime Achievement Award during the night.

And America's Taylor Swift was recognised for her work Red, the top selling album from overseas in Australia during the Awards year.

In Country Music Achiever Awards also presented last night, Troy Cassar-Daley was named Producer of the Year, Ted Howard Engineer of the Year and Ian Lees, Musician of the Year.

Photos (by John Elliott): Lee and Sara and Keith (left) and Jeff with their Awards.

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Jared is Toyota Star Maker 2014

In the Toyota Star Maker Grand Final at Tamworth last night, age at Toyota's Concert for Rural Australia on Friday night to determine the winner.

Jared beat Damien Agius, Tori Darke and Jonny Taylor to take this year's title.

The Queensland-based singer was born in Californa but moved to Australia at age 15 and, after suffering a serious rock climbing accident, turned to music as a full-time career option.

He first played in a punk and alternative rock band until the honky tonk, blues and Motown music his dad raised him on resurfaced and he realised country was where he should be.

Jared was accepted into the Queensland Conservatorium of Music and, in February last year, he released his first single and video Under The Sun.

Jared wins a prize package which includes a recording deal, a new Toyota RAV4 vehicle with unlimited fuel card for 12 months and mentoring from Lee Kernaghan.

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FRIDAY, JANUARY 24, 2014

Statues unveiled

It was a media scrum with plenty of special guests and hundreds of fans on hand this morning for the unveiling of the Slim Dusty and Joy McKean statues on Country Music Capital's "Boulevarde of Dreams".

The ceremony went off without a hitch with driving force Max Ellis compering the brief proceedings including Tamworth Mayor Col Murray, Statue Appeal Committee Chairman John Sommerlad, NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell and Australian country legend John Williamson.

Even Slim himself had something to sing... Looking Forward Looking Back" as the statues were unveiled.

Our photo shows part of the media throng getting images of Joy with sister Heather McKean, Anne Kirkpatrick and, at back, David Kirkpatrick with his daughter Hannah and Anne's son James.

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Slim and Joy statues unveiling today

The unveiling of statues of Joy McKean and her late husband Slim Dusty will take place in the main street of Tamworth, Australia's Country Music Capital, this morning from 11.

Sculpted by Tanya Bartlett, who also scuplted the Smoky Dawson figure a little bit further along the street and the Light Horse memorial in the city's Bicentennial Park, the statues pay tribute to Slim and Joy, for their contribution to Australia and Australian country music over almost seven decades.

The statues also recognise the big part the couple played in the early days of the Festival and was funded by public donations including substantial contributions from Tamworth Regional Council, state and federal governments.

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Lucinda our new Festival Queen

Lucinda Whitehorn was crowned Queen of Country Music last night during a special function at the Tamworth Racecourse Function Centre.

Susie Coombes was crowned 2014 Princess while Anna Maher was judged by her fellow entrants as 2014 Miss Congeniality.

This year's Quest, run for the first time by Tamworth's Sister City Committee, saw 16 entrants put their hands up to compete.

Entrants in this year's Quest were Gillian Burke, Susie Coombes, Stephanie Davis (sponsored by Tamworth Shoppingworld), Kelly Goff (Memories Newsagency), Gemma Hart (Hazell's Farm & Fertiliser Supplies), Adrienne Johnson (St George Bank), Teagan Jones (sponsored by Tamworth Services Club), Anna Maher (Pat's Kitchen Renovations), Hannah Moxon (Boral Concrete), Taylah Oliver (Tamworth Remedial Massage), Loretta Paten (Ibis Styles Tamworth), Courtney Stevenson, Stevie-Lee Sutherland (Safari Club Bar & Bistro), Lucinda Whitehorn (Tamworth Regional Council), Nicole Whiting (The Northern Daily Leader) Aimee Wright.

All entrants have been busy throughout the Festival so far undertaking numerous duties including helping major event organisers with ushering.

Part of the prize for the new Queen and Princess is a trip to New Zealand Sister City Gore during that city's annual Gold Guitar Country Music Week.

Photo, with thanks to Min McDonald (from left): Lucinda, Susie and Anna.

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Busk for Breast Cancer

Busk for Breast Cancer is back again in 2014 during the Tamworth Country Music Festival, hosted by Golden Guitar winner and National Breast Cancer Ambassador Tamara Stewart.

Tamara launched the fund-raiser at last year's Festival.

Combining "music" with a "great cause" has encouraged the country singer/songwriter to continue her passion by organising the busking event at this year's festival.

It's a free event being staged today (Friday) on the HQ Stage (in the forecourt of the Tamworth Regional Council Chambers in Peel Street) where Tamara will be joined by a few of Australian country music's biggest names to "busk" to help raise money for research into a cure for breast cancer.

"I take my responsibility as Ambassador for the National Breast Cancer Foundation very seriously," Tamara said. "As proud as I am of my role, I am even more thankful for the education and understanding I continue to receive about the disease. I want to do all I can to help raise money and awareness for research into a cure, in line with the NBCF’s goal of 'No deaths by 2030'."

So how does "Busk For Breast Cancer" raise money?

Like last year, on the day of the event, Tamara and the NBCF will have volunteers collecting donations from the crowd during performances. The event will again be supported by the generosity of local Tamworth businesses.

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THURSDAY, JANUARY 23, 2014

Dale and Brothers3 top People's Choice Awards

Dale Duncan and Brothers3 topped the winners list at yesterday's Australian Country Music People's Choice Awards in Tamworth.

Dale won Best Song for his Miracle Girl, which he recorded as a duet with Johanna Hemara, and Best Bush Ballad for his recording of Heart Of Australia, written by Billy Wye, Shaza Leigh and Dale.

Brothers3 again won Best Group, an award they seem to have a stranglehold on at the moment, and also their first Best Album gong with Let It Drift.

Dianne Lindsay won her second Best Female Vocal award while Graham Rodger took home his third Best Male Vocal award.

Relative newcomer Terry Clark won Best Video Clip for his Ross Wood-directed Christmas (I'm Coming Home) and multi award-winning new talent Nathaniel O'Brien was presented with Most Promising Future Star.

Troy Cassar-Daley and Adam Harvey won Best Vocal Event for their duet recording of the Slim Dusty classic Lights On The Hill.

In the two broadcast categories, the Super Radio Network's Carter Edwards won his second Most Popular Country Music DJ award while the Central Coast's todayscountry94one took home their second Most Popular Country Music Radio Station gong.

A good crowd witnessed today's presentations staged for the first time in Tamworth's Capitol Theatre.

Weblink - www.peopleschoiceawards.com.au.

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TSA winners

Tamworth Songwriters' Association (TSA) had a big night Tuesday evening with presentation of its Songwriter Salute Awards, announcement of winners in its National Songwriting Competition and a number of special awards.

In the special presentations, pioneering singer/songwriter Reg Poole (pictured) was announced as 2014 winner of the SongMaker Award, musician, audio engineer and record producer Steve Newton, owner/operator of Enrec Studios, was presented with the Tex Morton Award for service to the industry and Country Music Capital based songwriter Allison Forbes was presented with the 2014 New Songwriter Award for her song What'll Happen To Me Now?.

In the Salute Awards...

Peter Simpson & Dianne Lindsay won the Bev Daniel Commemorative Award for Traditional Bush Ballad of the Year with Old Tobacco Tin and Graham Rodger took out Contemporary Song of the Year for Weeping Annie.

Dean Perrett won Country Ballad of the Year with Hilda's Rest and Alita Fahey & Makirum won Comedy/Novelty Song of the Year with Huntsman In The Harmonica.

Glen Naylor & Chris Wilson took out Children's Song of the Year with Where Does A Wombat Live? and Pam Thomasson was announced as winner of Gospel Song of the Year with Hear Me, Lord.

In the National Country Songwriting Contest...

Kenneth Shaw & Linda Shaw won Novice, Traditional, with Always In Love, Novice, Contemporary, was won by Lisa Scelzi with When The Sun Goes Down and Paul Penton took out the Blues & Roots/Bluegrass section with Life Is Good.

Abbey Gardner won the Junior section with Apple Tree and the Lyrics Only section title went to Kevin Pye with The Saddle In The Shed and

In Open, Traditional, the winner was Graham Rodger with Ghost Of The Yaraka Line while Open, Contemporary, went to James Donnelly with Please Be Mine.

Weblink – www.tsaonline.com.au.

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WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 22, 2014

Khona is CCMA overall champion

New Zealand's Khona Va'aga-Gray was named Overall Winner of the Capital Country Music Association (CCMA) National Talent Quest last night.

Seventeen-year-old Khona (pictured here receiving her overall prizewinner's cheque from CCMA President Steve Newton) was named among the finalists for Best Junior Female Vocal in the Talent Quest then winner of that section, then overall junior winner and finally the Talent Quest's major overall champion prize.

Nathaniel O'Brien was announced as winner of the Senior Overall title following the concert-within-a-concert that featured all Talent Quest section winners.

Section winners were...

Cheryl Anderson in Female Vocal Senior, runner-up Rachel Fahim; Khona Va'aga-Gray in Female Vocal Junior, runner-up Shalani Thomas; and Phoebe Jay Foster-Griffith in Female Vocal Juvenile, runner-up Laura-Jane Veasey.

Nathaniel O'Brien in Male Vocal Senior, runner-up Brad Marks; Liam Kennedy-Clark in Male Vocal Junior, runner-up Jack Gray; and Kasey Kilsby in Male Vocal Juvenile, runner-up Jayden TJ.

Nathaniel & Tanya in Senior Group/Duo, runner-up Ethan & Lane; Playback in Junior Group/Duo, runner-up Tia & Jack.

Cathy Dobson in Songwriting, runner-up Jayden TJ; and Chloe Nott in Instrumental, runner-up Jayden TJ.

In addition to the specific sections, a number of special awards were announced...

Special instrumental award – Chloe Nott; Best Performance of a Bush Ballad – Kasey Kilsby; Jeff Dallas Memorial Award for Best Alt Country Performance – Cheryl Anderson; Best Performance of an Australian Composition – Cathy Dobson.

Jayden TJ was announced as the winner of a special encouragement award.

Weblink – www.ccma.net.au.

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Country music documentary Launch

"Dream Out Loud" – described as "an uplifting and entertaining documentary series on Australian country music" – has been launched.

Available on-line and free to view, the documentary is a seven-episode production and is, according to producers, "a must-see" for all country music fans.

Independently produced by David Weston and Lyndall Lee Arnold from Sydney-based production company MediaCraft, "Dream Out Loud" follows a group of singer/songwriters pursuing their careers through the 2012 Australian Academy of Country Music.

The documentary "showcases the diversification of Australian country music," the producers say, "capturing the determination and drive of these talented individuals as they are tutored and mentored by leading Australian music identities including Academy Director Peter Winkler, Merelyn and David Carter, Tamara Stewart, Felicity Urquhart and Kevin Bennett, culminating in the high energy graduation concert".

"The inspiration for the doco came from Joan Douglas who was heavily involved in the Junior Academy and its predecessor the Tamworth Camerata, "and her enthusiasm for the Academy and the great talent it unearthed," Lyndall Lee Arnold said.

"We wanted to capture the stories of all those involved in the process, in many cases, like a fly on the wall and show what is actually involved in getting ahead in the country music business."

Named after Troy Cassar-Daley’s song, Dream Out Loud, which features prominently throughout the series, the documentary "takes you on the journey with the group and catches up with them for a 'where are they now' session at the 2013 Tamworth Country Music Festival in the final episode".

Some of the main characters, including Dana Hassall, Zoe Louisa, Seleen McAlister, Matt McNeilly, Kelly Menhennett, Jono Nicholson, Ben Ransom, Andrew Redford, Amelia Richards, Loren-Jade Ryan, Bryce Sainty, Trevor Tolton and Megan Williams, are appearing at the 2014 Tamworth Country Music Festival.

The seven part series includes appearances, commentary and video clips by country music artists including Roo Arcus, Catherine Britt, Troy Cassar-Daley, The McClymonts, Lawrie Minson, The Sunny Cowgirls and John Williamson.

"Uplifting, entertaining, great music and it’s all about dreams!" the producers say.

All seven episodes of "Dream Out Loud" can be viewed on YouTube.

Weblink – www.facebook.com/DreamOutLoudDoco.

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TUESDAY, JANUARY 21, 2014

David and Greg dominate Bush Laureates

Poets David Campbell and Greg North took out the majority of Golden Gumleaf honours at the 2014 Australian Bush Laureate Awards staged in Tamworth this afternoon.

David, from Beaumauris in Victoria, and Greg, from the NSW Blue Mountains, won two each of the six judged awards presented today.

David, a nationally recognised poet, won the prestigious Book of the Year with his publication "Riders On The Wind" and Published Poem of the Year for "The White Man's Way".

Greg, famous for his comedy poems, won the much sought after Album of the Year title with his release Frackin' Fricker while the title track from the album also won Single Recorded Performance of the Year.

One of Australia's leading country songwriters and one of the leading country songwriting teams took out the song lyric categories.

Norma O'Hara Murphy, of Bony Mountain, Queensland, won Traditional Song Lyric of the Year with her song Gilbert, O’Meally & Hall. Norma is a multiple Golden Guitar winner and this song is from her latest album The Celtic Connection.

The Contemporary Song Lyric of the Year category was won by the hugely successful songwriting team of Lee Kernaghan, Garth Porter and Colin Buchanan with the song recorded by Lee, Flying With The King. The song, a tribute to the late Slim Dusty, is also a finalist for the Heritage Song of The Year Golden Guitar on Saturday night.

A seventh award, the Judith Hosier Heritage Award (named in honour of the Awards founder) was presented to long time supporter and promoter of Australian bush verse Trisha Anderson from Queensland.

Presented in the Tamworth Town Hall, The Bush Laureate Awards are a highlight of the Tamworth Country Music Festival. They started in 1995 and were established to recognise excellence in Australian rhyming bush verse.

For the past two years they have included two song lyric categories which have attracted a strong entry from leading song writers.

Further information about the Awards can be obtained from the website www.bushlaureate.com.au.

Photo (from left): David Campbell, Norma O'Hara Murphy, Trisha Anderson, Tania Kernaghan (accepting Lee's award) and Greg North.

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Nathaniel and Liam win Entertainer of the Year titles

Nathaniel O'Brien and Liam Kennedy-Clark (pictured) have won this year's Aristocrat Entertainer of the Year titles, senior and junior, respectively.

Nathaniel, from South Australia, and Liam, from Ashburton, New Zealand, have been working the talent quest circuit with great success over the past few years and will count this win among some of their finest.

Another New Zealander, Cheryl Anderson, was named runner-up in the Senior section of the talent quest with Townsville's Michelle Plozza third.

The group To & Fro were named second in the junior section with yet another New Zealand entry, Khona Va'aga-Gray, in third place.

Nathaniel, Liam, Cheryl and Khona also had success in the CCMA National Talent Quest which concluded today (full report in tomorrow's Bulletin).

The Aristrocrat Entertainer of the Year quest is run by Wests Entertainment Group.

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Chart Update – Lee takes over the top spot

Lee Kernaghan takes over the top spot on this week's national Country Tracks Top 30 with his latest hit It's Only Country.

The Jayne Denham/Shannon Noll duet Beyond These City Lights edges up one place to number two while Dianna Corcoran's Therapy, number one for the last five weeks, is at four and Kate Cook's Give The Girl A Spanner is also up one to number four.

Allan Caswell's The Next Time That You Hear is steady at five, Amber Joy Poulton's Foolish Things edges up one to six and America's Toby Keith is at seven with Drinks After Work.

Aleyce Simmonds' Believe is steady at eight, the Keith Urban/Miranda Lambert duet We Were Us is at nine and McAlister Kemp's Harder To Tame rounds out the top 10 at 10.

Bullet performers for the week include Catherine Britt's Who Cares (22 to 19), Doug Bruce's Clock Out At Five (23 to 20), Jasmine Rae's Just Don't Ask Me How I Am (24 to 21), Sara Storer's Come On Rain (25 to 22) and Kaylee Bell's Little Bit Small Town (26 to 23).

The full chart can be viewed at www.countrymusicradio.com.au.

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MONDAY, JANUARY 20, 2014

Damien, Tori, Jared and Jonny are Star Maker grand finalists

Damien Agius, Tori Darke, Jared Porter and Jonny Taylor are this year's Toyota Star Maker grand finalists and will take the stage at Toyota's Concert for Rural Australia on Friday night to determine the winner.

Damien, Tori and Jared all made the grand final by wish of the judges while Jonny was voted in as the audience "wildcard" finalist.

The four grand finalists will be competing to win a prize package which includes a recording deal, brand new Toyota RAV4 vehicle with an unlimited fuel card for 12 months and mentoring from country music legend Lee Kernaghan.

Brad Cramb, Divisional Manager National Marketing for Toyota Australia, said: "This year's Toyota Star Maker grand final will be another festival highlight. This competition continues to unearth more and more talented artists and Jared, Tori, Damien and Jonny are no exception.

"We are proud to continue to support emerging country music talent all the way through from the Toyota LandCruiser Country Music Busking Championships to the Toyota Star Maker. It's our way of giving back to the rural people and communities who have supported our brand in Australia for well over 50 years."

The 2014 Toyota Star Maker Grand Final at the Toyota Concert for Rural Australia takes place this Friday January 24 and is free to attend, although fans will be encouraged to support the McGrath Foundation – Toyota's chosen charity for the Toyota Country Music Festival Tamworth 2014.

Photo (from left): Tori, Jared, Toyota's Brad Cramb, Damien and Jonny.

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SUNDAY, JANUARY 19, 2014

Les and Norm elevated to the Roll

Les Partell and the late Norm Bodkin were yesterday elevated to Australia's highest honour in country music, the Roll of Renown.

The announcements were made at the annual Roll of Renown Concert staged in the Tamworth Town Hall by the Australian Country Music Foundation, operators of Australia's Country Music Hall of Fame.

Les was born in Sydney on July 2 1930. His family moved to Mendooran near Coonabarabran in the NSW Central West and then to the suburb of Clifton Hills in Melbourne.

He received early guitar lessons from Clive Beeton before joining the Victorian Banjo Club and working on the ABC, 3XY, 3UZ and other stations around the state.

In 1947, Les entered "Australia's Amateur Hour" and placed third. After this, he began writing his own songs making dozens of custom recordings on Elrae Records.

With Alan Hawking, Bill Earle and Jack Johnson, Les formed The Trailblazers, believed to be the first fully professional country music show in Australia.

In 1954, he recorded his first single on for the mainstream Regal Zonophone label, Hitting The Hobo and Homeward Bound.

Les moved around a lot doing radio shows, live tours and working with The Trailblazers in Melbourne and Ted Quigg shows in Sydney ultimately also recording on the Spotlight, W&G, Candle and Hadley labels.

He scored a gold record with Song And Dance Man for the Bullet label and toured the country with many artists including Chad Morgan and Rick & Thel. Les appeared on numerous live radio shows like the well known Bonnington Burkhouse Show and Harmony Trail.

In 1979, he was immortalised in Tamworth's Country Music Hands of Fame and was presented with Kempsey Country Music Festival's Living Legend award and in 1994 was inducted into South Australia's Country Music Hall of Fame.

The late Norm Bodkin is renowned as one of Australia's leading pedal steel players, session musicians and record producers.

Norm was born in Marrickville, Sydney, in 1940, and died way too early on September 11, 1999.

From 1971 to 1992, there were very few recordings to come out of Tamworth that didn't have Norm Bodkin associated with them in some way or other – either as pedal steel or dobro player or musical arranger – and often, both.

His professional career started in December 1965 at a dingy Surrey Hills hotel (The Carrington) where he played with Kevin King's band just six months after discovering how to play the steel guitar. It was there that he was first noticed by Reg Lindsay who, at the time, was on the lookout for a new band member. Subsequently, Norm became the featured steel player on Reg's club shows, records and television appearances.

After three years on the club circuit, Norm had had enough of the Sydney "rat race". Pee Wee Clark took his place in Reg's band, and Norm took the opportunity to go into temporary musical retirement.

He moved to Cobar and opened a signwriting business, started the town's first security service and played in the dance band The Tyme Keepers.

In 1971, Norm drove to Tamworth and decided this was the place to be. Over the next few years, he made countless trips to Tamworth for recording sessions, and each time the attraction grew stronger and stronger, until, finally, after a brief stay back in Sydney, with his wife Pam and family, he made the permanent move to Australia's Country Music Capital.

For the next 17 years, Norm became totally immersed in his music. He worked long hours as a studio musician and as a session musical arranger and in addition tended to several business ventures.

From 1978 to 1979, Norm joined Hadley Records as house arranger and musical director, but relinquished the position to give due attention to his signwriting business.

In December 1975. he started the half hour radio program "Steelin' Time" as part of "Hoedown" on 2TM. It was the first Australian radio program to exclusively feature the steel guitar, and it ran weekly until November 1981.

His own first record album took its name – Fender Bender – from an original composition he wrote especially as a theme tune for the program. The recording went on to win the Golden Guitar for Instrumental of the Year at the 1978 Awards.

In December 1975, Norm founded Steel Guitar Australia, an international organisation with members in nine countries and retained leadership of the organisation until January 1980.

Norm had his handprint immortalised in concrete in Country Music Capital's Hands of Fame in January 1979.

At the International Steel Guitar Convention in America in 1987, Norm was awarded a Special International Citation for the support of the Pedal Steel Guitar through his radio show, "Steelin' Time" and his Steel Guitar Association newsletter and his support of Australian steel guitarists.

Norm's honour yesterday was acknowledged by his son Dale.

Les and Norm's plaques will be unveiled on the actual Roll of Renown in front of Tamworth Regional Entertainment & Conference Centre at 10:30 on Wednesday morning.

Photo (top): Les Partell receives his Roll of Renown plaque from last year's inductee Wayne Horsburgh.

Photo (bottom): Dale Bodkin, one of Norm Bodkin's sons, pictured with Wayne Horsburgh after responding to the announcement of his father's elevation to the Roll of Renown.

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Three more for Hands of Fame

Country stars Dianne Lindsay and Graham Rodger and long-time instrumentalist and record producer Bob Howe will press their palm prints into cement this coming Saturday morning at Tamworth's Country Music Hands of Fame cornerstone.

The announcement was made yesterday at the Roll of Renown Concert in Tamworth, Country Music Capital, yesterday.

Dianne was born and bred in country music as the daughter of Australian pioneers of the music Reg Lindsay and Heather McKean and more recently has been become well known as an entertainer and recording artist in her own right.

Among her numerous accolades to date, Dianne has featured as a Golden Guitar finalist and winner last year of the Australian Country Music People's Choice Award for Best Female Vocalist.

Graham, since resigning as a Queensland Ambulance officer and becoming a full time professional entertainer, has made a big impression on the industry, his name becoming synonymous with quality Australian ballads. He performs across the country bringing his show to outback towns in the style of Slim Dusty.

The number of awards Graham has won, particularly at Tamworth, is a tribute to his talents, including his first Golden Guitar for Bush Ballad of the Year in 2013. He has won the most People's Choice Awards of any artist to date (just pipping Troy Cassar-Daley by one following last year's event) and numerous Tamworth Songwriter's Association gongs.

Bob has been part of the music industry since 1975, juggling a career as a musician/performer and musical director/producer for many international stars (including Frank Ifield and Diana Trask) alongside various media roles through to hundreds of radio and television appearances (Reg Lindsay's "Country Homestead" onwards), to achievements including producing Sydney's leading live monthly show Canterbury Country since 2000.

He has received international acclaim for his "Cowboys In Cyberspace" website, was named Australian Country Music People's Choice Awards 2007 Musician of the Year, as an instrumental artist, he has won three "MO" Awards and as a vocalist has had international chart success for duets with Nicki Gillis.

Photo: Graham Rodger (left), Wayne Horsburgh standing in for Bob Howe who could not be present yesterday, and Dianne Lindsay.

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Two new Broadcaster inductees

Ted Hintz and the late Tom Crozier were announced as the latest inductees to the Australian Country Music Broadcasters Hall of Fame, also at the Roll of Renown Concert.

Ted is best known in radio for his stint with Tamworth radio station's famous "Hoedown" program but is also widely known as an announcer at rodeo events which brought him to the attention of 2TM executives when they were looking for an addition to the team back in the 1970s.

Tom, originally a member of the famous "Radio Ranch" cast at Radio 2LM Lismore, had a long career in Australian radio, more latterly with the industry association the Federation of Australian Radio Broadcasters (FARB) and its marketing arm RMB (Radio Marketing Bureau and, after then with Radio for the Print Handicapped (RPH).

Ted and Tom join fellow inductees Brian Amos, Clive Arundel, Mike Bedford, Bill Beerens, Mel Cameron, Hedley Charles, Alan Clement, Gary Coxhead, Dick Cranbourne, Dot Dawson, Smoky Dawson, Carter Edwards, Nick Erby, Gene Fisk, Bob Fricker, Geoff Gregory, Terry Harkins, Brian Howard, Maurie Huxley, Helen Kay, Kevin Knapp, John Laws, Peter Leslie, Reg Lindsay, Doug "The Bandit" May, Don McGuire, Stuie McInnes, The McKean Sisters (Heather and Joy), Barry McMahon, Tim McNamara, Keith Melbourne, John Minson, Barbara Morison, Nev Nicholls, John Nutting, Rocky Page, Neville Pellitt, Lorraine Pfitzner, Dave Prior, Earl Reeve, Eric Scott, Bob Spence, Max Thorburn, Allan Wallett, Barry Williams and Kathy Winkley.

Photo: Ted Hintz responds after receiving his award.

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Kate presented with "Tamworth Award"

Long time country music and Country Music Capital identity Kate Nugent has been recognised for her contribution to the industry with the "Tamworth Award".

The "Tamworth Award" is a special trophy made by local cabinet-maker and wood-worker extraordinaire Noel Smith and presented for services to Tamworth country music.

Kate started her career with Radio 2TM's marketing division BAL Marketing, the group of people responsible for the station's country music and rural field days involvement, in the early 1980s.

She joined Max Ellis Marketing when Max left the radio group in the mid '80s and played a pivotal role in the establishment of the Country Music Association of Australia (CMAA) when it was formed in 1992.

During her years working with the CMAA, Kate was heavily involved in all aspects of the organisation's activities, but especially the Golden Guitar Awards which she ensured ran to a staging and financial success every year until she left in the early 2000s.

For 10 years or more now, Kate has been working as a senior executive with Rural Press Events (RPE) involved in all elements of that company's activities, including Country Music Capital News, Toyota Star Maker and the multitude of activities RPE runs during the annual Tamworth Country Music Festival.

Photo: Brian Howard, long time presenter of the "Tamworth Award" on behalf of Noel, makes this year's presentation to Kate.

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SATURDAY, JANUARY 18, 2014

Big T Jamboree

The first of two live-to-air internet concerts – under the Big T Jamboree banner – takes place this morning from 10 from Country Music Capital's Enrec Studios in Calala.

Featuring all bush balladeers, the one-hour webcast builds on the success of monthly events that have been taking place since mid 2012.

The Big T Jamboree follows the style of the Big T Jubilee which was an important part of the early days of Country Music Capital back in the late '60s early 70s.

This morning's show stars Frank Gray, Bec Hance (pictured), Gus Helm (pictured) and Patti Morgan with compere Tracy Coster, herself steeped in the Australian bush ballad through her father, the late Stan Coster.

The concert is open to members of the public at a door charge of $10 although space is limited so bookings are recommended on 6762 8072.

A second Big T Jamboree is scheduled for the following Sunday, Australia Day, which will be the Enrec Artist Showcase.

Weblink – www.bigtjamboree.com.

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Festival FM... on air

Toyota Festival FM 106.1 is "the voice" of the 42nd Toyota Country Music Festival Tamworth in January 2014.

As the official special events radio station, Toyota Festival FM is broadcasting 24 hours a day on the FM frequency 106.1 and will broadcast a number of live concerts and is featuring a number of celebrity announcers.

The radio station is located in the heart of downtown Country Music Capital on the corner of Fitzroy and Peel Streets at Toyota FanZone and will be on air until 4pm Sunday January 26 playing only Australian country Music.

Announcers Nigel Bainbridge, Tony Collier, Ken Date, Kay Jeffreys, John Kearnes, John Kemp, Gerry Lyons, Ray McCoy, Matt Price, Paul Rowe, Sgt Ron, Ben Sorenson, Paul Wilson and Jon Wolfe will pilot the 2014 Festival FM airwaves.

The live concerts that will go to air on the station are Sunday night's Toyota Star Maker final, Friday night's Toyota Star Maker grand final and next Saturday night's Golden Guitar Awards. All of these special events will be hosted by Chris Stevens.

This year, Toyota Festival FM has again enticed several well-known country music celebrities to get behind the microphone and host programs as well as the huge number of special guests who will be part of station programming.

Live performances from major and independent artists and new talent will also be a feature of the station, together with on-air promotions and giveaways.

To keep up with what's happening in and around Tamworth during the Festival, Festival-goers can get updates from the Official Guide every 10 minutes on Toyota Festival FM 106.1.

A spokesperson for Rural Press Events, operators of Toyota Festival FM, said "We invite all fans to come on down and visit Toyota Festival FM’s studio."

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FRIDAY, JANUARY 17, 2014

People's Choice new venue and artist line-up

One of the most significant accolades any artist can receive is an award decided by fans… as is the case with the Australian Country Music People's Choice Awards, set to be announced this coming Wednesday in a new venue and with a big line-up of finalists performing.

The People’s Choice Awards are in their 15th year this year and move to a new venue for the 2014 presentations, Tamworth’s Capitol Theatre in the Centrepoint complex.

"This year, we had another record number of voters," said Bob Kirchner, Publisher of the Country Music Bulletin, organisers of the Awards, "which shows that people very much want to have a say in who gets recognition in Australian country music.

"Tens of thousands of individual votes were cast for literally hundreds of artists, songs, bush ballads, albums and radio personalities. So many it took an almost superhuman effort to finalise the winners.

"Some received only a handful of votes, many received hundreds and some thousands. But the beauty of our Awards is that it doesn't matter how big a name you are or how small, your fans can still nominate you for recognition," Bob said.

"The 2014 People's Choice Awards have also gained strong support from finalists with many agreeing to perform as a part of the gala presentation concert, to say 'thank you' to the fans for voting them in."

Performing on Wednesday, in alphabetical order, will be Brothers3, Terry Clark, Dozzi, Dale Duncan & Johanna Hemara, Forever Road, The Hillbilly Goats, Adam Kilpatrick, Shaza Leigh & Justin Standley, Dianne Lindsay & Anne Kirkpatrick, The Long & The Short Of It, Nathaniel O’Brien, Ben Ransom, Graham Rodger, SAMI and Wendy Wood & Steve Charles.

Long serving compere Connie Kis Andersen will be joined this year by Australian radio legend Bill Beerens (Good Morning Country).

Tickets for the 2014 Australian Country Music People’s Choice Awards are available on-line here, by phone – 02 6767 5300 – or over the counter from The Capitol, from Festival Headquarters in Peel Street and from Tamworth’s main Visitor Information Centre at the corner of Peel and Murray Streets (the New England Highway coming through town).

The Awards get underway on Wednesday at 10am.

A full list of finalists can be seen here.

Weblink – www.peopleschoiceawards.com.au.

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New from Georgia Fall

Love The Hard Way is the debut album from Sydney based trio Georgia Fall, Mellissa Baker, Paul Bain and James Bernauer.

The album, produced by Golden Guitar nominee Sean Rudd and also featuring songs co-written by Lyn Bowtell, has been two years in the making, a spokesman for the trio said. "The album title is a reference to a song lyric and sums up the overall tone of the album, being that love can be a complex part of life.

"Contrary to popular belief, no one in the band is named Georgia; the trio simply thought it had a great ring to it. Lead vocalist Mellissa, an Academy Of Country Music graduate, grew up in Charters Towers (Qld) and was a regular at the state's country music festivals, while drummer Paul grew up in Brisbane.

"James, one of Sydney's hottest guitarists, has spent his life studying music and is a graduate of the University of New England with a Bachelor of Pop Music and Performance."

The trio was formed in Sydney, where they now all live.

Love The Hard Way is released on iTunes today and will be officially launched on Tuesday (January 21) at 11am at Country Music Capital's SSS BBQ Barn.

Weblink – www.georgiafall.com.

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Yamaha Battle of the YoungStars

Now in its fourth year, the Yamaha Battle of the YoungStars gets underway in Country Music Capital tomorrow.

The talent search is open to all talented young people 17 and under with three sections... Junior (for nine years and under), Intermediate (for 10 to 13 years) and Senior (for 14 to 17 year olds).

First place winner in each section will win a $200 cash prize in addition to "bragging rights" with Yamaha supplementary prizes.

Upon entering "the Battle" entrants will be invited to play two songs each, with the opportunity to be supported by the Alwyn Aurisch Band.

Compere for the competition will be Mal Winckle.

This Yamaha Battle of the YoungStars is a part of activities in the famous Coca-Cola Concerts in the Park program at Hands of Fame Park at the corner of Bridge Street and Kable Avenue.

In 2014, the talent search heats are being held Saturday January 18 to Thursday January 23, daily from 10am to 12 noon, with the Grand Final set for 10am Friday January 24.

"Entry is free – so if you have a talent for entertaining, get in touch with the Yamaha Battle of the YoungStars organisers Rural Press Events on 02 6768 5800 or email luci.bolton@fairfaxmedia.com.au."

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THURSDAY, JANUARY 16, 2014

Song comp finalists announced

Tamworth Songwriters' Association (TSA) has announced finalists in the 2014 National Country Songwriting Competition for unreleased material.

And they are...

In Novice, Traditional... Alan Lucas with Dunaden and Kenneth Shaw & Linda Shaw with Always In Love, I Am 21 and The Joy Of Christmas.

In Novice, Contemporary... Brian Carter with The Railways, Angela Easson with Little Girl Dreams, Jim Fury with Sunshine When It's Raining, Stephen Pike & David Pike with Love Online and Lisa Scelzi with When The Sun Goes Down.

In Blues & Roots & Bluegrass... Alita Fahey with 2nd Hand Man, Stan Lenz with Guitar Man, Magdalena Macdonald with Worse For Wear, Paul Penton with Life Is Good and Gretta Zilla with Unforgiven Sins.

In Junior... Abbey Gardner with Apple Tree and Turn Around, Cassi Hilbers with Footprints, Katie Marie Hearne with Secret Dreams and Kaitlyn Thomas with Daddy.

In Lyrics Only... Terry Bennetts with The Good News And The Bad, Kevin Pye with The Saddle In The Shed, Alex Raymor with Charlie Trevor's Fence and Merv Webster with Let's Say Adieu Instead and The Old JC.

In Open, Traditional... Terry Bennetts & Keith Lethbridge with Fitzroy River, Dale Duncan & Graham Rodger with A Truckie's Last Letter, Fiona Karamanlidis with Field Of Sun Flowers, Graham Rodger with Ghost Of The Yaraka Line and Jayson Watkin with The Life Of A Drover.

In Open Contemporary... James Donnelly with Just Fine and Please Be Mine, Cathy Dobson with Ball And Chain, Carolyne Morris with Sleep With The Angels, Adam Power with Storm With You and John Walsh & Mike Carr with Faith In Me.

The winners for this contest, together with the those for the 2014 Songwriters Salute, will be presented at the TSA Concert & Awards Show this coming Tuesday, January 21 from 7pm at the Longyard Hotel in Tamworth.

Appearing at the presentation concert will be, in alphabetical order, Katrina Burgoyne, Kalesti Butler, Mike Carr, Allan Caswell, Ged & Trudy Hintz, Kaylens Rain, Steve Passfield & Handpicked, Peter Pratt, Justin Standley, Felicity Urqhart and Wendy Wood. Comperes will be Peter Denahy and Clair Hayes.

Two surprise, guest, Golden Guitar winners will also appear and other accolades to be presented on the night will include the Tex Morton Award, Songmaker Award and new Songwriter Award.

Tickets can be obtained from The Longyard Hotel Bottleshop or by telephone... (02) 6701 8400.

Weblink – www.tsaonline.com.au.

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New from McAlister Kemp

McAlister Kemp will release their latest album, Harder To Tame, tomorrow.

It follows the successful Country Proud, including its "anthemic" title track and earned the duo their first ARIA (Australian Recording Industry Association) number one country album, mainstream ARIA chart success, a CMC (Country Music Channel) Music Award plus numerous other nominations.

With the new work, Drew McAlister and Troy Kemp say they wanted to make "the biggest, boldest and bravest album ever made by an Australian country act".

Harder To Tame has 10 track, described as "all tied together with songs that touch on real issues and core blue collar values – the cornerstone of McAlister Kemp's loyal fan connection".

The album's first single and title track was released in August, the second, Tats, is the latest single.

Harder To Tame will be officially launched in the evening of Saturday January 25 at the West Tamworth League Club following the Golden Guitar Awards.

The duo will also make a number of other "signing" appearances during the Tamworth Country Music Festival.

And they will follow the launch with the "Harder To Tame National Tour" with dates to be continually announced throughout 2014.

The new album will be released in three formats... the 10 track single CD and digital album, the "deluxe" CD/DVD edition featuring music videos, live performances and footage from McAlister Kemp's US summer and a special collectors vinyl record.

Weblink – www.mcalisterkemp.com.au.

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WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 15, 2014

Biggest ever Bush Laureate Awards

Organisers of the Australian Bush Laureate Awards have put together the biggest ever line-up of poets and singers for this year's gala presentation concert.

The Awards, in their 19th year in 2014, will be presented in Country Music Capital's famous, historic (and fully air-conditioned!) Tamworth Town Hall at 2pm this coming Tuesday, January 21.

"We just had to have a big showcase of talent this year," said Concert Producer Jim Haynes. "It has been, after all, our biggest year for nominations in the Awards so we had to reflect that in our presentation concert."

The Bush Laureate Awards have been renowned, ever since they began, as the most unique and one of the most entertaining events of any staged during the 10 days of the giant Tamworth Country Music Festival.

This year's show will include performances by Awards finalist poets David Campbell, Jack Drake, Laurie McDonald, Maggie Murphy, Greg North and Robyn Sykes with a special appearance by Geoffrey Graham, including a piece as "Banjo Paterson".

Country writers and artists Allan Caswell, Shaza Leigh, Dianne Lindsay, Grant Luhrs, Norma O'Hara Murphy, Luke O'Shea, Graham Rodger and Justin Standley – all finalists in the Awards lyric categories – will appear, together with country star Amber Lawrence and bright new talents Katelyn & Liam O'Donoghue.

And the whole show will be compered by Jim Haynes who says he is very excited about this year's line-up, especially given some of the discussion that has been taking place about "the Australianism" of our country music.

"This is going to be the best showcase of Australian talent, Australian writing and Australian heritage that we've seen in Tamworth for a long time," he said.

"And the fact that we will be recognising the best of our bush poets, their writings and recordings as well as our own home-grown lyric writers, is very special."

Tickets for the Bush Laureate Awards can be obtained on-line here or by ringing 02 6767 5300 or over the counter at the Tamworth Visitor Information Centre, Tamworth Country Music Festival Headquarters in Peel Street or the Capitol Theatre in Centrepoint.

Photo: special guests Joy McKean and Troy Cassar-Daley present Luke O'Shea with his 2013 Golden Gumleaf trophy for The Drover's Wife as Recorded By the later Australian Song Lyric of the Year.

Weblink – www.bushlaureate.com.au.

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Chart Update – five weeks at number one for Dianna

Dianna Corcoran is setting a tough record for 2014 with her latest hit, Therapy, holding number one for the fifth successive week on the national Country Tracks Top 30 singles chart this week.

Lee Kernaghan's It's Only Country jumps another two places to be in second place with the Jayne Denham/Shannon Noll duet Beyond These City Lights at number three and McAlister Kemp's Harder To Tame at four.

Allan Caswell's The Next Time That You Hear edges up one to number five, as does Kate Cook's Give The Girl A Spanner to six while Amber Joy Poulton's Foolish Things jumps two places to number seven.

Aleyce Simmonds' Believe is also up two to number eight, America's Toby Keith is at nine with Drinks After Work and the Keith Urban/Miranda Lambert duet We Were Us enters the top 10 at 10.

Bullet performers for the week include 8 Ball Aitken's I'm Going To Jail (20 to 17), Christie Lamb's All She Wrote (23 to 20), Catherine Britt's Who Cares (25 to 22), Doug Bruce's Clock Out At Five (26 to 23), Jasmine Rae's Just Don't Ask Me How I Am (27 to 24), Sara Storer's Come On Rain (28 to 25) and Kaylee Bell's Little Bit Small Town (29 to 26).

New entries to the chart this week include Dean Perrett (pictured) with That Glory Bound Train (at 30).

The full chart can be viewed at www.countrymusicradio.com.au.

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TUESDAY, JANUARY 14, 2014

Frank and Keith join forces

For the first time in history, two of Australia's most successful international superstars – Frank Ifield and Keith Potger – are coming together to present a show featuring stories and songs from the era they topped the world music charts.

This year celebrates Frank's 50th year since he had three successive number one hit songs in the United Kingdom as he paved the way for what was to become an influx of Australian artists into that part of the world.

It also celebrates the 50th year since Keith Potger, as a member of The Seekers, first went to the UK to begin the rapid rise to fame and domination of the world music charts.

Under the banner "When Aussies Ruled Britannia" Frank and Keith will sing their songs and tell of their lives leading up to their success in the UK when Britain was the pinnacle of pop music, like the time four scruffy lads from Liverpool, known as The Beatles, were the support act to Frank...

The tour will take in shows at Castlemaine, Geelong, Penrith, Queanbeyan, Shepparton, Tamworth and Wollongong.

Supporting Frank and Keith will be Australian Entertainment Award winners Nicki Gillis, Greg Hooper and Wayne Horsburgh.

Weblink – www.frankifield.com.au.

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Mark and Alison to receive Lions Award

The Lions Club of Tamworth Peel Valley have announced this year's recipients of the Club's Australian Country Music Community Service Award as Mark Tempany and Alison Hams of South Australia.

Mark and Alison, both accomplished artists in their own right, have given many years of volunteer service in co-ordinating and performing at  Whyalla’s Carols in the Park, the largest free concert event in regional South Australia, according to a spokesman from the Lions Club of Whyalla Mt Laura who made the successful nomination.

The Carols support charities such as the St John Ambulance and State Emergency Service and assists charities like Whyalla Cancer Support Services, Relay for Life, the Uniting Church, pensioner and local aged care facilities and the Samaritan College.

Mark and Alison also assist and encourage many young artists with their country music, the spokesman said.

The award was instigated in 1994 as an award to honour people involved in country music who have used their musical talents to give community service in a voluntary capacity.

Nominations are called from Lions Clubs throughout Australia.

This year's award, the 21st, will be presented to Mark and Alison by Peel Valley Lions President Mike Ham during a broadcast on Festival FM (106.1) – the Tamworth Country Music Festival's special event radio station – at 11:30 next Tuesday morning.

They will receive a distinctive mounted Tamworth "Dunny" created by local renowned ceramic artist Fred Hillier and a cheque for $500 which they will donate to the Childrens Medical Research Institute.

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MONDAY, JANUARY 13, 2014

Dolly adds Tamworth to "Down Under" tour

Country superstar Dolly Parton announced today she has added Australia's Country Music Capital to the series of dates for her "Blue Smoke World Tour" starting "down under" next month.

This year's tour follows the singer/songwriter's successful 2011 tour and will promote her latest studio album of all new material Blue Smoke released in December.

Dolly had previously announced dates in Adelaide, Auckland, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, Pokolbin and Sydney and will now play Tamworth on Sunday February 16.

"Australia, here I come again," the superstar said. "We have a lot of new and exciting things for the show and can't wait to share it with you."

Weblink – dollypartonmusic.net.

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SUNDAY, JANUARY 12, 2014

The Winners 2014

No, not the actual award winners, the compilation album showcasing finalists (and ultimate winners) from this year's Golden Guitar Awards – The Winners 2014 – has been released by the Country Music Association of Australia.

Officially out on Friday, The Winners 2014 is a combination CD and DVD featuring established artists like Lee Kernaghan, The McClymonts and Sara Storer alongside new stars and breaking acts like Ashleigh Dallas, The Adam Eckersley Band, Luke O'Shea and Jasmine Rae.

The 42nd Golden Guitar Awards (Country Music Awards of Australia) will be staged at the Tamworth Regional Entertainment and Conference Centre on Saturday January 25.

Weblink – www.country.com.au.

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Hall of Fame offers extensive program

One of the busiest and most significant venues of the annual Tamworth Country Music Festival is the Australian Country Music Hall of Fame.

Open six days a week for most of the year outside of the Festival and Hats Off, the Hall of Fame is Australia's country music archive and organises an extensive program during the January Festival.

The biggest event is the Roll of Renown Concert staged in the Tamworth Town Hall in the afternoon of the first Saturday. Separate coverage of this major activity will be included in the Bulletin later this week.

At the actual Hall of Fame, doors open earlier and close later than usual, from 9am to 5pm every day of the Festival.

Country In The Courtyard (walk-up performance events) runs three times during the Festival Countdown, indeed, the first one was held on Friday with the others scheduled for tomorrow and Tuesday.

Yesterday, the Hall of Fame conducted its annual Festival Sausage Sizzle at Harvey Norman.

One of the most significant activities is the Meet The Pioneers sessions that run each morning of the main Festival week, Monday to Friday, at 10:30am.

This year's sessions will feature this year's Roll of Renown inductee on Monday, Adam & Dale Bodkin (sons of legendary Australian steel guitar player and record producer Norm) on Tuesday, award-winning bush balladeer Graham Rodger on Wednesday, former "Hoedown" radio broadcaster and rodeo announcer Ted Hintz on Thursday and Zeta Burns and Ian Hands on Friday.

At 10am on the Festival Wednesday, the current year's Roll of Renown inductee or inductees plaques will be unveiled at the Roll of Renown on the lawns of the Tamworth Regional Entertainment Centre.

On the main Saturday of the Festival, the Hall of Fame co-ordinates the Hands of Fame Imprinting Ceremony at Hands of Fame Park on corner of Bridge Street and Kable Avenue, also from 10:30am.

A special extra activity this year will take place this Wednesday at 4pm, the unveiling of a new Buddy Williams (pictured above) display.

Weblink – www.countrymusichalloffame.com.au.

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SATURDAY, JANUARY 11, 2014

Lone Pine guitar in Tamworth

A special guitar, made from the timber of a branch from a tree grown from a seedling of a cone from the legendary "Lone Pine" in Turkey will be in Tamworth for the 2014 Country Music Festival.

The "Lone Pine" became famous during the First World War as a hilltop landmark where thousands of Turkish Soldiers battled with the Anzacs. There was a terrible toll with more than 7,000 lives lost, generating stories on both sides of heroism in the heat of battle.

A soldier brought a "Lone Pine" cone back to Australia, and after he passed away some seeds were planted and four survived. They were planted around the State of Victoria, but the most famous and prominent tree was the "Lone Pine" that flourished at Melbourne's Shrine of Remembrance.

By the 21st Century, the tree was afflicted by disease and in 2005 a huge storm broke off a large branch. The tree later died, and was removed. The Shrine of Remembrance commissioned furniture to be made from the "Lone Pine" timber.

Senior luthier (guitar maker) for the Maton guitar company in Box Hill, Melbourne, Andy Allen, asked if he could get access to a "Lone Pine" broken branch. He did and managed to harvest enough timber to build the only instrument of its kind in the world... the "Lone Pine Guitar".

Having built thousands of guitars over a 20 year career at Maton, Andy (pictured here with the guitar) is internationally recognised as a great luthier. But this man, passionately proud of Australia's Anzac heritage, says the "Lone Pine Guitar" became a project into which he put more of his heart and soul than anything he had done before.

The guitar was beautifully inlaid in mother of pearl with Anzac images and the immortal words of the Ode of Remembrance.

Andy seldom lets it out of his sight but this year entrusted it to award-winning poet and singer Jim Brown and internationally renowned singer/songwriter and guitarist Vince Brophy. They teamed up to produce a concert titled "The Anzac on the Wall" in Melbourne where the guitar was heard for the first time.

The public reaction was amazing, so Jim and Vince will be bringing the "Lone Pine Guitar" to Tamworth for their "Anzac on the Wall" performance featuring Ted Egan.

Jim said this may be the guitar's last journey, because Andy has donated it to Melbourne's Shrine of Remembrance where it will be on permanent display in a secure glass cabinet.

"'The Anzac on the Wall' concert uses verse and song to tell the Anzac story," Jim said, "in a uniquely moving way with the 'Lone Pine Guitar' ringing out the songs and tales which helped forge the Anzac legend.

"Just holding the 'Lone Pine Guitar' is an emotional experience, and playing this amazing instrument is a great honour."

According to Vince Brophy: "something hard to explain happens when the 'Lone Pine Guitar' comes alive, and it certainly adds power to our performance."

Jim, Vince and Ted will be performing at 7pm on January 21 and 22 at the Frog & Toad on the Sydney Road during the Tamworth Country Music Festival.

Tickets will be available at the door or from the Tamworth Visitor Information Centre.

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Tamworth Opening Concert line-up

One of the big free concerts held during the Toyota Country Music Festival Tamworth is the very first major event, the Opening Concert and details of artists performing are now available.

Staged in the evening of the Festival's first day – this year Friday, January 17 – the Opening Concert is staged in Country Music Capital's Bicentennial Park – re-named Toyota Parkduring the Festival in recognition of the naming rights sponsor.

This year's star line-up, in alphabetical order, is Audrey Auld, Kaylee Bell (reigning Toyota Star Maker), Lachlan Bryan, Troy Cassar-Daley, Adam Harvey and The Sunny Cowgirls (pictured).

The show gets underway from 7pm.

Weblink – www.tcmf.com.au.

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FRIDAY, JANUARY 10, 2014

Inaugural Clareville Festival

The first Clareville Country Music Festival runs today, tomorrow and Sunday at Wairarapa on New Zealand's North Island.

Led by Carterton Mayor Ron Mark, the festival is being held at the Wairarapa A&P showgrounds about 15 minutes north of Carterton which is a little more than an hour from Wellington.

As well as compere duties, Mayor Ron will don his cowboy boots to play a few tunes alongside names such as Craig Adams, Jenny Blackadder, Marian Burns, Abby Christodoulou, Dan Cosgrove, Hannah Cosgrove, John de Burgh, Brendan Dugan (pictured), Kevin Greaves, Wayne R Heath, Alan Hooper, "New Zealand's Got Talent" finalist Cruize Karaitiana, Clark Reid, Australian-based couple Camille Te Nahu and Stuie French and Tanya Warren.

With partner Chris Tracey, who is managing the event, Ron will be out this weekend trying to launch Clareville as the nation's answer to Australia's annual Tamworth Country Music Festival, according to a report in The Dominion Post.

The event filled a gap in the region's calendar, he said, with the Wairarapa Country Music Club's annual awards event in recess since 2008. Ultimately, the goal was to capitalise on Clareville's rural culture and nearness to Wellington to create a new marquee event.

Weblink – www.clarevillecountrymusic.com.

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Forever Road shoot new clip

Rising star duo Forever Road returned home to their local area recently to shoot their latest film clip at the George the IV Inn in Picton, NSW.

Jake Gilroy and Jay Seeney are Forever Road, and the subject song of the clip is described as "an upbeat, catchy rock/country party anthem" titled Oh Yeah.

Forever Road, who have just been announced as a finalist for the second year running in the Australian Country Music People's Choice Awards, has been busy in the studio recording their upcoming EP Country Gone Wild which is due to be released mid-this year.

The clip of Oh Year was directed by the award-winning Ross Wood who has also directed music videos for the likes of country heavyweights such as Dianna Corcoran, McAlister Kemp and The Wolfe Brothers.

"This song (and clip) is very representative of who we are and what we do as a band," according to Jake. "We we're all about giving the fans an action packed party!"

"This EP is something unlike any other release that has happened in this country," said Jay. "We can't wait to unleash this on the market!"

The EP will contain everything from pedal steel and banjo through to "thundering, distorted guitar tones" but will also showcase some of Forever Road's finest ballads to date.

Photo: Jay (left) and Jake during the video shoot, with Stephanie May.

Weblink – www.foreverroad.com.

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Star tribute for Stan

Details have been announced for a special tribute to the late Stan Coster.

The Tribute will be staged at Manilla, half-an-hour north of Country Music Capital and home to Stan in his latter years, on Wednesday January 22 in the Manilla Bowling Club.

"It's going to be a ripper of a show this year," according to Stan's daughter, Tracy who will host the event.

Performers on the tribute will include Manilla's own Kerry Blinman, broadcaster Brian Howard, fellow Roll of Renowner Rex Dallas, Chris Pritchard, The Rough Diamonds and Len Teelow.

"Plus we have a surprise special guest shhh..."

The show starts at 7pm and is free admission.

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THURSDAY, JANUARY 9, 2014

A new CMAA Board member

The Country Music Association of Australia has a new Board member following its recent AGM.

Well-known bush balladeer Keith Jamieson (pictured) joins sitting members Dobe Newton (President), Jeff Chandler (Chairman), Gayle Madill (Secretary), Marius Els (Treasurer), Allan Caswell, Roger Corbett, Brendan Radford, Tamara Stewart and Graham Thompson.

Three "Board elected" members are Brian Harris, Tom Inglis and Paul O'Gorman.

Weblink – www.country.com.au.

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Tamworth Festival $10 buses

Following two successful years of operation, the Tamworth Country Music Festival's $10 for 10 days public transport option will run again in 2014.

Otherwise known as the "Festival Express" the special bus service will run every official day of the event offering fans the opportunity to travel around the Festival, from venue to venue and from most accommodation houses for a once only cost of $10.

The offer extends to other major centres in the Tamworth region including Manilla and Nundle.

Tickets are available on-line at www.tcmf.com.au or can be bought in person during the Festival from Tamworth Visitor Information Centre, Festival Headquarters in Council's Ray Walsh House in Peel Street, the Kable Avenue Bus Terminal, Tamworth Buslines Depot or on board any bus.

Weblink – www.tcmf.com.au.

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Westpac Rescue Helicopter fundraiser

One of the major events of the unofficial Tamworth Country Music Festival Countdown, which kicks off Friday, is the annual Tamworth Balladeers & Friends Family Fun Day.

Staged at the Kootingal & District Bowling Club, about 15 minutes north of the city, the fund-raiser for the Westpac Rescue Helicopter is on this Sunday, January 12, from 10:30am.

On the bill will be stars including Backtrakkin', Rex Baldwin, Col Behan, Samantha Bellamy (pictured), Graeme Doubleday, Alf & Rhonda Hatch, Brian Howard, Col Taylor and Wanita.

The day will include a "mega raffle", lucky door prize, morning tea and a barbecue.

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WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 8, 2014

SAMI album launch

Rising star SAMI (aka Sami Cooke) will launch her debut album in Canberra on Saturday February 8.

Sami, who has just been announced as a finalist for Most Promising Future Star at the 2014 Australian Country Music People's Choice Awards, turns 18 at midnight on the 8th so it will be a special weekend for the singer/songwriter.

Following the launch, Sami will kick off her Australian "Album Tour" starting February 21, covering NSW and Victoria over eight weeks then to Queensland for an extensive run of dates.

The album launch is being described as "a red carpet affair with all the glam and glitter involved and a barrage of famous photographers and media".

Entertainment on the night will include Canberra locals Mark Brooker, BrothersBee, The Feldons, Johanna Hemara and Martin Oaks.

It will take place at the Harmone German Club on Jerrabomberra Avenue, Narrabundah.

Weblink – www.samicooke.com.au.

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Lee to star again

Aussie country superstar Lee Kernaghan will again star in a giant free concert in Country Music Capital on the main Friday of the 2014 Toyota Country Music Festival Tamworth.

Toyota's Concert for Rural Australia will kick off following the staging of the grand final of Toyota Star Maker.

Lee has earned his place as one of Australia's leading contemporary music artists. He has dominated the charts with 11 successive hit albums spawning 31 number one hit singles.

Following his Star Maker win in 1982, Lee has made a huge impact on country music in Australia. To many people, he represents the spirit and values of contemporary rural Australia.

And it is these values he brings to Toyota's annual Concert for Rural Australia in Tamworth.

Lee released his 10th studio album, Beautiful Noise, last year, an album described as one with "a giant beating country heart and an innovative approach to music production".

Lee said: "The title track is a song about a red dirt dream, a big V8 and the promise of an open road. It's also about having your girl there with you and the beating of her heart as you hold her close – it's a 'beautiful noise!

"We also brought a new approach to the recording process, layering programmed parts with the live musicians. Most songs are written with just a guitar or a piano so to start recording as simply as that felt a lot more organic and helped us capture the spirit of the song," he said.

"There are a number of rules you follow when making a country record and I reckon we broke most of them in making this album. We just let the songs go where they wanted to go.

"Some tracks, like Splash and Flying With The King, were recorded the traditional way and sound pretty much the way they were played in the studio. On others, like Ute Me, Dirt Music and It's Only Country, there are elements of hip-hop, rock, pop, dance all wrapped up into this thing called country."

Toyota's Concert for Rural Australia will feature a number of special guests joining Lee on stage for what will undoubtedly be the biggest single concert of the 2014 Tamworth Country Music Festival.

Weblink – www.leekernaghan.com.au.

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Entries close Friday for Country Music Capital Queen Quest

Entries in the 2014 Tamworth Country Music Festival Queen of Country Music Quest close this Friday.

The Quest, one of the greatest traditions of the Festival, is now being organised by Tamworth's Sister City Committee after the local Chamber of Commerce gave up the activity late last year.

A spokesman for the Committee said yesterday they had 17 entries and were hoping to get to the 20 mark.

"We have a number of corporate sponsors who would like to sponsor an entrant, all we need now are the final number of entrants!

"The Quest provides fantastic personal development opportunities for young women (18 to 35) of the Tamworth region with entrants sponsored by a business or community organisation," the spokesman said.

Organisers can be contact on mobile 0409 960 243 or via the dedicated website www.qcmq.org.

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Chart Update – Dianna's fourth week at number one

Dianna Corcoran's latest hit Therapy is number one for the fourth week in succession on the national Country Tracks Top 30 singles chart this week.

McAlister Kemp's Harder To Tame edges up another place to be in second position as does the Jayne Denham/Shannon Noll duet Beyond These City Lights to number three while Lee Kernaghan's It's Only Country jumps four places to number four.

The Troy Cassar-Daley/Adam Harvey cover of Good Hearted Woman is at five, Allan Caswell's The Next Time That You Hear is at six and Kate Cook's Give The Girl A Spanner is at seven.

America's Toby Keith is at eight with Drinks After Work, Amber Joy Poulton's Foolish Things enters the top 10 at nine as does Aleyce Simmonds' Believe at 10.

Bullet performers for the week include the Keith Urban/Miranda Lambert duet We Were Us (15 to 11), Adam Brand's Freedom Rebels (18 to 14), The Bobkatz' Reelin' One In (21 to 17), 8 Ball Aitken's I'm Going To Jail (24 to 20), Christie Lamb's All She Wrote (26 to 23), Catherine Britt's Who Cares (28 to 25), Doug Bruce's Clock Out At Five (29 to 26) and Jasmine Rae's Just Don't Ask Me How I Am (30 to 27).

New entries to the chart this week are Sara Storer's Come On Rain (new at 28), Kaylee Bell's Little Bit Small Town (at 29) and James Stewart Keene's Bottom Of The Barrell (at 30).

The full chart can be viewed at www.countrymusicradio.com.au.

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TUESDAY, JANUARY 7, 2014

Launch dates announced for Black Coffee

Lachlan Bryan & The Wildes have announced launch dates for their Golden Guitar nominated Alt Country Album of the Year Black Coffee.

They are Friday January 24 at The Family Hotel, Bridge Street, Tamworth; Saturday February 1 at Lefty’s Music Hall, Petrie Terrace, Brisbane; Friday February 14 at Name this Bar, Oxford Street, Sydney; and Friday February 28 at The Velvet Room, Thornbury Theatre, 859 High Street, Thornbury (Melbourne).

Since it's release in September, Black Coffee has notched up a six week unbroken run in the official ARIA (Australian Recording Industry Association) Charts, including a number one debut on the Hitseekers Chart (across all genres).

"The band and I have been thrilled with the response to the album so far," said Lachlan, "but we're really itching to play it live. These songs were recorded live, they were written to be played live, doing it live is what this album, and this kind of music, is all about."

Lachlan released his debut long player Ballad Of A Young Married Man in 2009 and since that time he and The Wildes have built a reputation and fanbase as frontrunners of the alt-country movement. Both the debut and 2012's Shadow Of The Gun received unanimous praise from critics, gaining four and five star reviews across the board.

Since then, Lachlan has been working to perfect his live show, touring extensively with the band, as well as with fellow 2014 Golden Guitar nominees Aleyce Simmonds (Female Artist of the Year) and Luke O'Shea (Song of the Year and Heritage Song of the Year).

He has supported international heavyweights including Steve Earle, John Hiatt, Shawn Colvin and Paul Thorn and appeared on the main stages of festivals from the Gympie Muster to the Bluesfest.

"I'd be on the road every day of the year," he says, "bringing this kind of music to the people face to face is the only way to do it – it's my life's work."

Weblink – lachlanbryan.com.

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"Slim" Cavalcade entry now open

Entry into the Tamworth Country Music Festival's Toyota Country Music Cavalcade, which this year is themed "Songs Of Slim" to mark the 10th anniversary of the passing of Australia's King of Country, is now open.

Co-ordinated by Tamworth Regional Council, the Cavlacade, which has been running since the early 1980s, is one of the Festival's iconic events, and described as "a fantastic opportunity to promote your business, products or services..."

Although many of the floats are by local Tamworth regional businesses and organisations, entry is not restricted to locals. Indeed, many entries are by Festival sponsors, artists and other groups.

"The Cavalcade is designed to be a colourful and exciting event," said a Council spokesman, "which features many country music stars and attracts thousands of festival fans along Tamworth's Peel Street."

The Cavalcade runs from 9am on the main Saturday of the Festival (this year, January 25 January) and) travels north at walking pace to the intersection of Peel and O'Connell Streets where the procession is dispersed.

Thematically, participants are encouraged to plan their float designs around the "Songs Of Slim" theme, including what they believe reflects and symbolises a Slim Dusty song.

"Participants are encouraged to have fun with their designs and ideas," the Council spokesman said. "Inspiration can be found from the list of Slim's albums and songs at www.slimdusty.com.au.

Entry in the Cavalcade is free of charge but all entrants must complete the official entry form which can be found at tcmf.com.au/Cavalcade.

Photo: Lee Kernaghan riding high in last year's Australia Day Cavalcade.

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MONDAY, JANUARY 6, 2014

Editor's Note

The annual Tamworth Country Music Festival is the biggest country music event in the Southern Hemisphere. Indeed, it could be argued, depending on how attendees are counted* it could be the biggest in the world.

It is certainly the most important event on the Australian country music calendar with numerous special events, talent quests and awards presentations taking place during its 10 official days in addition to the entertainment.

This year, "Tamworth" (as the Festival is generally referred to in the country music industry) has taken a bit of a battering in the PR stakes with some serious kerfuffle surrounding the Festival's hitherto most significant event – the Golden Guitar Awards – gaining widespread negative media attention. A kerfuffle that is ultimately sure to be worked out to the benefit of all involved, one way or another, in the months ahead.

This has followed several years of uncertainty caused by a good deal of "soul searching" by many involved in making the Festival happen every year... a situation that appears, to all intents and purposes, to be gradually getting back on track.

That said, very little information has been getting out about the real Tamworth Country Music Festival which kicks off in a little less than two weeks now... indeed, the unofficial seven-day "Festival Countdown" starts THIS Friday.

So in an effort to try and reassure Tamworth Country Music Festival's many thousands of fans, the Bulletin will be running, during the next week or so in particular, an extensive series of "Spotlights" to highlight many of the great things about Australia's most popular country music event – starting today!

– Bob Kirchner

* Nashville's CMA (Country Music Association) Festival in June (which is generally considered the biggest in the world) counts its attendees by aggregate – that is, attendances at each event are added together to give a total "aggregate" attendance figure. If Tamworth did that, not that anyone has ever tried to calculate such a figure, the Tamworth "aggregate" attendance could be in the order of 100,000 or more, and that would certainly make it the biggest in the world.

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Plenty of Tamworth accommodation

One of the perennial "furphies" about the Tamworth Country Music Festival is "there is no accommodation".

Certainly, if anyone wants a four-star hotel room for the three nights of the main weekend, this might prove difficult.

But there are numerous options available to visitors from home hosting and house rentals (check out some possibilities here) to a number of camping areas throughout the district.

More accommodation information, listing and contacts can be found here.

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Huge Wests line-up

Two of Country Music Capital's most popular venues are the West Tamworth League Club and Wests Diggers, both run by the Wests Entertainment Group, and this year, the two clubs again have a huge line-up of artists.

Anyone who's anyone in country music in Australia tends to be a part of the Tamworth Country Music Festival every year, and fans can be assured they will see many of their favourites at Wests.

This year's roster is headlined by the likes of Adam Brand, Busby Marou, Kasey Chambers, Beccy Cole, Adam Harvey, McAlister Kemp and The Sunny Cowgirls with numerous others on the bill, including... Clelia Adams, 8 Ball Aitken, Kirsty Akers, Roo Arcus, Luke Austen, Chelsea Basham, Baylou, Kaylee Bell, Lyn Bowtell, Doug Bruce & The Tailgaters, Darren Carr, Mike Carr, Travis Collins, Aly Cook, Kristy Cox, Ashleigh Dallas, Jayne Denham, Luke Dickens, Dozzi, Adam Eckersley Band, Morgan Evans, Fiddlers Feast, Stuie French & Camile Te Nahu, The Hillbilly Goats, Marie Hodson, Damian Howard & The Ploughboys, Sandra Humphries, Kaylens Rain, Christie Lamb, Amber Lawrence, Travis List, Amos Morris, Russell Morris, Dan Murphy, Nathaniel O'Brien, Jason Owen, Steve Passfield, Amber Joy Poulton, Kylie Price, Jasmine Rae, Simply Bushed, Jonny Taylor, Gina Timms, Bryen Willems and The Wolfe Brothers.

And this is just a sample!

As well as the substantial roster of artists, Wests will also host Jim Haynes' Variety Morning Show at Diggers in Tamworth's Kable Avenue and Pete Denahy's Bluegrass & Comedy Breakfast at West Leagues Club in Phillip Street.

And Wests two popular talent quests will run again... the Aristocrat Entertainer of the Year quest and the Mt Franklin Kids Talent Quest, plus the two major instrument showcases of the Festival, by Fender and Maton.

Details on all shows, special events and club facilities can be found in Wests' Festival Official Program available from either of the two clubs and also as a download from the website www.wtlc.com.au.

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FRIDAY, JANUARY 3, 2014

2014 Australian Country Music People's Choice Awards finalists

A number of previous winners head the list of finalists for the 2014 Australian Country Music People’s Choice Awards to be presented in Tamworth on January 22, together with quite a few new faces.

Country "boy band" Brothers3 top the list with five finalist placings while regular winner Graham Rodger and newcomer Ben Ransom have four each.

Two of last year’s winners – Dozzi and Dale Duncan – feature in three finalist placings each while favourites Dianne Lindsay and Troy Cassar-Daley are in two each with newcomers Terry Clark, Kristy James, The Long & The Short Of It and Wendy Wood.

The full listing is...

For Best Female Vocal... Beccy Cole, Ashleigh Dallas, Christie Lamb, Amber Lawrence and Dianne Lindsay.

For Best Male Vocal... Troy Cassar-Daley, Adam Kilpatrick, Ben Ransom, Adam Toms and Graham Rodger.

Best Group or Duo... Brothers3, Dozzi, Forever Road, The Hillbilly Goats and The Long & The Short Of It.

For Best Album... Beautiful Noise by Lee Kernaghan, Changing Years by Graham Rodger, Enchanted Wood by Wendy Wood, Let It Drift by Brothers3 and Slow Burn by Ben Ransom.

For Best Song... The Chimney & The Rose written & recorded by Graham Rodger; Let It Drift written by Alita Fahey & Colin McKenzie, recorded by Brothers3; Miracle Girl, written by Dale Duncan, recorded by Dale Duncan & Johanna Hemara; This Time, written by Jesse Dozzi, Nina Dozzi & Natalie Howard, recorded by Dozzi; and Truck Stop Honey, written and recorded by Ben Ransom.

For Best Bush Ballad... Akubras In The Snow, written by Peter Simpson, recorded by Dianne Lindsay with Anne Kirkpatrick; The Heart Of Australia, written by Billy Wye, Shaza Leigh & Dale Duncan, recorded by Dale Duncan; Heart Of The Kimberley, written & recorded by Graham Rodger; Memories Of Tent Hill, written by E Jillett & R Jillett, recorded by Rachel Jillett; and What Makes A Balladeer, written by Alita Fahey & Makirum, recorded by Brothers3.

For Best Video Clip... Christmas (I’m Coming Home) by Terry Clark, Overdrive by Kristy James, Robyn by The Long & The Short Of It, This Time by Dozzi and Tiny’s Mandolin by Brothers3.

For Most Promising Future Star... Terry Clark, SAMI, Kristy James, Nathaniel O’Brien and Ben Ransom.

For Best Vocal or Musical Event award... Beyond These City Lights by Jayne Denham & Shannon Noll, Dreamtime Cathedrals by Shaza Leigh & Justin Standley, Lights On The Hill by Troy Cassar-Daley & Adam Harvey, Miracle Girl by Dale Duncan & Johanna Hemara and You Don’t Know What It’s Like by Wendy Wood & Steve Charles.

In the two “radio” awards, finalists are...

For Most Popular DJ... Carter Edwards of the Super Radio Network, Trish Espin of Hot Country Queensland, Jane Kellaway of 2MCR Campbelltown, Sgt Ron Trundle of todayscountry94one and Wally Sparrow of Radio Adelaide.

For Most Popular Radio Station or Program... 989FM (Brisbane, Qld), Good Morning Country (Community Radio Network, national), Kix The Hottest Country, Radio Northern Beaches (Sydney, NSW) and todayscountry94one (Central Coast, NSW).

The 2014 Australian Country Music People’s Choice Awards will be held in Tamworth’s new Capitol Theatre in the Centrepoint complex at 10am on Wednesday, January 22.

A number of Awards finalists and special guests will perform during the evening.

Tickets can be purchased on-line from www.tcmf.com.au or by telephone, or 02 6767 5300

Weblink – www.peopleschoiceawards.com.au.

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THURSDAY, JANUARY 2, 2014

New from Audrey

Ex-pat Australian artist Audrey Auld has released a new DVD titled Tonk: Live in Nashville and is currently in Australia promoting the DVD and her latest album.

The DVD was filmed in Nashville with the Tonk band featuring some of Music City's finest musicians: Paul Martin, Chris Scruggs, Harry Stinson and Kenny Vaughan with special guests Oscar Harris and the Music City Burlesque dancers.

"It's all good fun," Audrey said, "but it's not all suitable for kids."

The DVD includes live versions of all the songs from Audrey's new album Tonk plus country favorites from her back catalogue and "a few classic covers".

Audrey's tour kicks off in Ulverstone, Tasmania, tonight and runs through Sheffield and Rosny on the Apple Isle before moving to NSW and gigs around the Newcastle area, the north coast and Tamworth for the country music festival before concluding with shows in Sydney and Melbourne.

Weblink – www.audreyauld.com.

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Illawarra Folk Festival coming up

The 29th annual Illawarra Folk Festival will run over four days this month from Thursday the 16th until Sunday the 19th.

A charity concert launches the festival on Thursday evening with proceeds going to Union Aid Abroad and the Illawarra-based disability support organisation Greenacres.

Archie Roach will headline the 2014 event with more than 130 acts from around the country and the Illawarra and a dozen or so overseas artists.

The annual festival of folk, world, roots, bluegrass, gypsy and Celtic music, as well as poetry, comedy and dance, is run by the Illawarra Folk Club and a team of volunteers and is the largest folk festival in NSW attracting up to 10,000 people to Bulli over the four days.

Festival Artistic Director David De Santi said the lineup of Australian and local talent was exceptional. The featured instrument this year will be the fiddle.

Other features include a youth folk program, "Green Music Train" bringing festival-goers from Sydney to Bulli to an accompaniment of live music and the annual Folk Music School with 42 workshops over two days.

Weblink – www.illawarrafolkfestival.com.au.

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TUESDAY, DECEMBER 31, 2013

Legacy releases McClymonts song

As the last Australian troops withdrew from Oruzgan Province, Afghanistan, recently, Legacy quietly released a tribute single – Where You Are by The McClymonts.

The track, from The McClymonts most recent album Two Worlds Collide, is considered deeply personal for sisters Brooke, Mollie and Samantha.

The Golden Guitar-winning trio performed for Australian troops in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2006 and 2007. And it was in the dusty Middle East that Sam met her now fiancee Ben Poxon.

While the majority of our defence personnel are heading home, 400 will remain in Afghanistan next year and Ben, an Airforce squadron leader, will redeploy soon.

"The song was inspired by a mixture of everything," Sam said. "All three of us have gone through different situations where we've been away from our partners but my connection is having Ben constantly away in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"You're constantly worried about something happening and that feeling of them being taken away from you. I guess the song's about the feeling of being stuck in a moment when you're waiting for that person to walk through the door, thinking of all of those memories you have with that person, and wondering if you'll ever get that back again.

"It also makes you feel very grateful that you have your partner and you don't take anything for granted. The girls have had their own losses and were thinking of other situations when we wrote it."

Sam says her pilot partner suggested lending the track to Legacy.

Legacy is a charity providing services to Australian families suffering financially and socially after the incapacitation or death of a spouse or parent, during or after their defence force service.

"We'd always wanted to do something for Legacy. Having gone over to Iraq and Afghanistan we always felt a connection to the troops over there and the organisations that help those men and women out," Sam said. "It kind of just took a few years for us to work out how we could contribute.

"When I was chatting to Ben about it, he actually brought that song up and said he felt it really related to the men and woman over there... so it started from there.

"We wanted to draw attention to Legacy because we feel like it's perceived as a charity for older veterans but it's also supporting the young men and women who are coming home and their partners."

Photo: Mollie, Sam and Brooke pictured at the recent 2014 Tamworth Country Music Festival launch in Sydney.

Weblink – www.themcclymonts.net.au.

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Chart Update – Dianna's third week at the top

Dianna Corcoran's latest hit Therapy tightens its grip on the number one position on the national Country Tracks Top 30 singles chart this week for the third week in a row.

The Troy Cassar-Daley/Adam Harvey cover of Good Hearted Woman is steady at two while McAlister Kemp's Harder To Tame edges up one to number three and the Jayne Denham/Shannon Noll duet Beyond These City Lights jumps another two places to number four.

Allan Caswell's The Next Time That You Hear is up two to five, as is Kate Cook's Give The Girl A Spanner to six while the Wolfe Brothers' former number one The Girl, The Bottle, The Memory, is at seven.

Lee Kernaghan's It's Only Country bounds into the top 10 at number eight, America's Toby Keith is at nine with Drinks After Work and Amber Lawrence's Pretty Little Liar is at 10.

Bullet performers for the week include the Keith Urban/Miranda Lambert duet We Were Us (18 to 15), Adam Brand's Freedom Rebels (21 to 18), The Bobkatz' Reelin' One In (26 to 21), 8 Ball Aitken's I'm Going To Jail (28 to 24) and Christie Lamb's All She Wrote (30 to 26).

New entries to the chart this week are Catherine Britt's Who Cares (new at 28), Doug Bruce (pictured) with Clock Out At Five (at 29) and Jasmine Rae's Just Don't Ask Me How I Am (at 30).

The full chart can be viewed at www.countrymusicradio.com.au.

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MONDAY, DECEMBER 30, 2013

Urban Country tickets on sale

Tickets to the 2014 Urban Country Music Festival at Caboolture (Qld) from May 2 to 4 are now on sale at "mates' rates" for existing members and loyal fans, organisers have advised.

"Tamworth... may be the next big country music event on the calendar, but don't forget about us...".

The 2014 Urban Country Music Festival is shaping up to be the biggest and best yet with some of the best known artists in Australia to be named along with an exciting new festival venue, music and accommodation initiatives.

Moreton Bay Regional Council Mayor Allan Sutherland said plans were underway to enhance the 2014 Festival experience. "We're giving the Urban County Music Festival's loyal followers the opportunity to get in early and be rewarded for their support by securing tickets for the 2014 festival at special mates’ rates," he said.

"I'm very excited about the changes in store... with more music, ticketing and accommodation packages to suit a wide range of tastes and budgets. We'll be making an announcement about a fresh line-up of headline acts for the festival in late January and expect tickets will move fairly quickly, so now is the time to act."

For the first time in 2014, the Urban Country Music Festival will introduce "Urban Bring Your Mates Weekend Rates" with tickets from $210 for four adults including free camping close to the festival venue at the Queensland State Equestrian Centre.

"The options are almost endless with the opening night concert featuring a jam-packed night of great entertainment, plus the Main Concert on Saturday night with two stages and eight hours of non-stop music from some of the biggest names in Australian country music," Mayor Sutherland said.

"It's also a big weekend of country thrills and spills with the separately ticketed National Finals Rodeo event held in-conjunction with Urban Country."

Weblink – www.urbancountry.com.au.

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Call for Golden Damper entries

A call has been issued for entries in the 2014 Tamworth Bush Poetry Competition, also known as the Golden Damper Awards.

Entries close on Friday January 10 for performing poets who perform their own compositions or those of traditional or established bush poets.

Running in Tamworth for more than 25 years now, this competition has been the first stepping stone for new performers, many of whom have gone on to be leading bush poetry entertainers in shows all around Australia.

"The Australian Bush Poets Association (ABPA) is always encouraging new poets to 'have a go' but there is always room in this competition for experienced bush poets too," said a spokesman for the Association.

"Poetry must be recited, be 'proper' bush poetry, with rhyme and rhythm and have an Australiana theme, which can be bush or town these days.  Australia's experiences at war are also used as subjects in this genre of poetry."

This Golden Damper Awards (trophy pictured) are renowned as one of the best all round bush poetry concerts in Australia attracting large and enthusiastic audiences. The 2014 event will be held at the West Tamworth League Club on Tuesday January 21, Thursday the 23rd and Friday the 24th with the competition finals on Saturday January 25.

Over the years, the competition has become an integral part of the Tamworth Country Music Festival.

Entry details can be obtained from the ABPA website www.abpa.org.au or enquiries can be sent by mail, with a stamped, self addressed envelope to: 2014 Golden Damper Competition PO Box 701, Morningside Qld 4170.

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FRIDAY, DECEMBER 27, 2013

Woodford on track for growth

The Woodford Folk Festival, underway now at the event's South East Queensland site, was abuzz this morning, according to organisers, as thousands of patrons arrived checking out new venues and installations constructed by hundreds of volunteers over the last few months.

General Manager Amanda Jackes says she is thrilled with the public response so far: "We've seen strong growth figures coming into this festival which have not waned once since the release of our program in October."

Hundreds of vehicles queued at the gates on Christmas Day and Boxing Day to claim their favourite camping spots they will call home for duration of the event. With sunny weather forecast for the remainder of the week, this year the festival is on track to grow by 15 percent, the organisers say.

"We've already got thousands of patrons checked in and set up in our campgrounds. The annual town of 'Woodfordia' has arrived. If the weather stays clear, we can expect thousands of day trippers to attend over the week as well," said Amanda.

Tickets are still on-sale at www.woodfordfolkfestival.com.

Patrons are encouraged to buy online to avoid higher gate prices and longer waiting queues to get their tickets. "Even if you buy online in the morning before you arrive, you will be saving time and money that can be better spent enjoying the festival," Amanda said.

Among the 500 or so acts or special guests appearing at Woodford this time round are a number of country or country-aligned acts including 8 Ball Aitken (pictured), Busby Marou, Andrew Clermont, Beccy Cole (pictured), Penny Davies & Roger Illott and Warren H Williams, plus bush poets Ray Essery, Shirley Friend, Murray Hartin, Denise Scott and Manfred Vijars.

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Woodford streams live to remote communities

Woodford organisers, meanwhile, have announced that this year for the first time, the Festival will stream a live show, MALPA, via its website this Sunday (December 29 from 7:15pm (AEST)).

The MALPA show is a joint production between the Pormpuraaw and Injinoo dance groups from the far north of Cape York who will be presenting a specially commissioned production created for the Woodford Folk Festival.

The live stream site www.woodfordfolkfestival.com/malpa-live will begin streaming just after 7pm (AEST) on Sunday. The performance will run for about 35 minutes, however the live stream content will continue until about 8:15pm.

"MALPA (meaning friend or companion), supported by Arts Queensland, is about bringing the arts from remote communities into the mainstream space as well as taking larger festival experiences like the Woodford Folk Festival to people from remote and regional areas that may otherwise not access these types of arts and cultural exchanges," said Project Producer Kate McDonald.

"Through the use of the internet and live streaming, we can share the MALPA performance in real time to the communities of Pormpuraaw and Injinoo so the people at home can also share in this great experience. We are so excited to make this live connection.

"The performers will be able to deliver special messages back to their communities as well as to people tuning in across the world. We have an excellent film, broadcast, and satellite team on-board who will technically make this all happen in great definition and quality so that the online viewers feel right amongst the spectacle of it all."

The groups arrived on-site today after almost two days of travel to develop the final show together under the project direction of Jeremy Geia (a former NITV reporter, political correspondent and artist).

Director Jeremy Geia said: "Both groups are excited about showcasing their culture at one of the greatest festivals in Australia. This project has given us new ways to communicate our lore and culture to new audiences here and abroad."

Kate McDonald said: "The groups have been talking about the future potential of better using technology to showcase their amazing dance, song and art to audiences across the globe. After watching just a few rehearsals, I know that this show will not only be a must-see feature for our festival patrons, but also a must-see for anyone who can get to their computer on the 29th December and tune in, especially those from remote communities."

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Gulgong Festival

A much smaller but no less important event than Woodford is underway tomorrow and Sunday in the NSW Central West... the 27th Gulgong Folk Festival.

Among the numerous acts appearing this year are a number of country or country-aligned artists including multi Country Music People's Choice winner Brothers3, multi Golden Guitar winner Allan Caswell (pictured), Cletis Carr, Mick Fetch, Caitlin Harnett, Jess Holland and Melanie Horsnell.

Although it isn't planned that way, the Gulgong Festival is a decent curtain-raiser to the Parkes Elvis Festival which is a major curtain-raiser to the giant Tamworth Country Music Festival.

Although the Festival doesn't officially get underway until tomorrow, the "official launch party" will be staged tonight at Gulgong's Prince Of Wales Hotel.

Weblink – gulgongfolkfestival.com.au.

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TUESDAY, DECEMBER 24, 2013

People's Choice flooded with votes

Organisers of the annual Australian Country Music People's Choice Awards have been inundated with votes for the 2014 presentation.

The voting, which closed only a few weeks ago, has been the strongest in the Awards' 14-year history with well over 90,000 individual votes cast for hundreds of different artists, groups, songs, albums, videos, radio presenters, stations and/or programs.

"We've been working on validating, sorting and counting the votes since the voting closed," said Bob Kirchner, spokesman for the Country Music Bulletin, organisers of the scheme that provides a means for members of the public to vote for their favourites.

"Normally we would have announced our finalists by now," Bob said, "but we will need to work through some of the Christmas/New Year break to make sure everything is right."

He said it was expected finalists would now be announced on or near New Year's Day.

"To say we are delighted with this result is an understatement," Bob said. "And what a great reflection this is on the country music industry. For so many people to take the time to reflect on and vote for their favourites tells me the grassroots support for country music in Australia is huge.

"It also speaks volumes for the work artists are putting in on the ground, recording, touring and promoting their music.

"Not to forget Australia's hard-working broadcasting sector, too," Bob said. "Dozens and dozens of individuals and stations are recognised through the People's Choice Awards scheme for what they do in bringing the music to the people and supporting our artists."

The Australian Country Music People's Choice Awards, sponsored by the Trans-Help Foundation, recognises finalists and winners in 11 categories and will be staged in Country Music Capital's Capitol Theatre at 10am on Wednesday, January 22.

Weblink – www.peopleschoiceawards.com.au.

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MONDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2013

Aleyce's Christmas single for charity

Last year, rising country star Aleyce Simmonds recorded the Christmas song When A Child Is Born to raise funds for Camp Autism Australia.

This year, in time for Christmas, Aleyce has decided to re-release the song to radio and iTunes with all proceeds going to the Oncology Information Centre in her home town of Tamworth, which, co-incidentally, is Australia's Country Music Capital.

"I knew that I wanted the funds, however small or large, to go to a cause connected with Tamworth," Aleyce said. "I believe it takes a special kind of human being to work in Oncology.

"Almost every family is forced to deal with Cancer in one way or another, and the support of organisations like the Tamworth Oncology Information Centre is crucial. The centre, in turn, needs our support.

"Personally, and on a much smaller scale," she said, "I too have endured the ups and downs of a health condition. I know how important awareness and understanding of their conditions is for patients and their loved ones. The Centre provides that for Cancer sufferers."

The single can be downloaded now from iTunes or the physical CD is now available direct from Aleyce's website www.aleyce.com.

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And Truckin' Santa does well for Jayne

Meanwhile, Jayne Denham has another hit on her hands, this time with a Christmas special release Truckin' Santa.

It's Jayne's first ever Christmas song on record and to say she's pretty pleased with the reaction would be an understatement.

The song is only available via iTunes download (click here) or GooglePlay (click here).

This month, Jayne has been working with "Big Rigs Magazine" "to do a big promo and give everyone a Christmas pressie – so grab yourself a copy to see what it's all about".

And the success of her duet with Shannon Noll on Beyond These City Lights (set to enter the top 10 on the Country Tracks Top 20 Singles Chart this week) is also making the rising star a very happy camper in the lead-up to this Christmas.

Weblink –jaynedenham.com.

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Chart Update – Dianna hangs on to number one

Dianna Corcoran's latest hit Therapy remains at number one on the national Country Tracks Top 30 singles chart this week for the second week.

The Troy Cassar-Daley/Adam Harvey cover of Good Hearted Woman is up two to number two while the Wolfe Brothers' former number one The Girl, The Bottle, The Memory, is at three and McAlister Kemp's Harder To Tame is also up two to number four.

Amber Lawrence's Pretty Little Liar is up one to five, the Jayne Denham/Shannon Noll duet of Beyond These City Lights jumps four places to number six and Allan Caswell's The Next Time That You Hear is steady at seven.

Kate Cook's Give The Girl A Spanner is up one to eight, Chelsea Basham's By The Light Of The Moon is at nine and America's Toby Keith is at 10 with Drinks After Work.

New entries to the chart this week include 8 Ball Aitken's I'm Going To Jail (new at 28) and Christie Lamb's All She Wrote (at 30).

The full chart can be viewed at www.countrymusicradio.com.au.

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FRIDAY, DECEMBER 20, 2013

Kristy announces Tamworth showcase

After a year based in the United States, Kristy Cox is returning to Australia for a special show at the 2014 Tamworth Country Music Festival to showcase tracks from her forthcoming album Living For The Moment.

The album is due for world-wide release on February 18 through US bluegrass label Pisgah Ridge and is described as "a perfect representation of where this talented singer/songwriter is in her personal and professional life".

First single from the album – One Heartbreak Away – hit the airwaves earlier this month.

Kristy's career has been going from strength to strength since the release of her debut album From My Eyes in 2006. She has had a string of top 10 hits on country radio and country music television and has been recognised as a rising star of Australian country.

In her career so far, she has been a Star Maker finalist and APRA Professional Development Award finalist and her subsequent albums – Breaking New Ground (2010) and Miles And Timezones (2012) have all earned her praise for her songwriting capabilities.

Signing to Pisgah Ridge (an imprint of Mountain Home) in the US was a huge coup for the songstress and saw her move to the States for most of 2013 to work on the new album. She also signed an exclusive songwriting contract with Asheville Forest Music.

Picking One Heartbreak Away as the first single from the new album was an easy decision, Kristy said: "It's a great up-tempo bluegrass track about a relationship that's worth keeping, but that some things need to change. The song is a great reflection of where the album heads musically and how it expands on the bluegrass influences of my previous projects."

The album is a mixture of self-penned and chosen material and is an apt representation of where Kristy is heading musically, according to a spokesman for the artist.

"The last 12-months have been a huge change for me," Kristy said. "This album was recorded with both the Australian country market and the US bluegrass market in mind. The songs on the album feature many different musical influences of mine with everything from a fast-paced bluegrass song to ballads and a country shuffle."

Being based between the US and Australia has been both a great experience and a challenging one for Kristy.

"The time difference means it is hard to get a lot done in work hours back in Australia, however I'm glad we live in the age of the internet as it makes everything feel closer than it is," she said.

"I miss my loved ones and sometimes feel out of the loop with what's going on back home. However I'm writing music every day and for the first time in my life, I'm solely focusing on my career. I will continue to be back and forth – Qantas are going to love me!"

Returning to Australia to showcase the new material from her album at Tamworth is an exciting prospect for Kristy. She says she can't wait to share the new songs – "and all the old favourites" – with Aussie audiences.

"I have had huge support from our great industry back home," she said. "I will be forever thankful for that. Not much could keep me away from it all for too long. I'm excited to bring this new stage of my music to everyone in the land of Oz, and to share some of my new songs and stories with those that know me best. There's just no place like home."

The show at Tamworth will be a world exclusive showcase for Living For The Moment. While the album won't be released until February, fans attending the show will have the chance to buy advance copies.

"We will also have some featured special guests that are going to make an appearance. Overall it's going to be a great fun night. I'm looking forward to it more than anything."

The show is set for Country Music Capital's iconic The Pub at 8pm on Wednesday January 22.

Weblink – www.kristycox.com.

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THURSDAY, DECEMBER 19, 2013

New from Ruckus

Ruckus will launch a new album, Love This Country, next month and has just released the second single from the work, titled Dear John.

Dear John is a song about how tough life on the road can be on relationships and the consequences arising from life away from home.

Ruckus are Michael Abrey (vocals/guitar), Bazza Tiplady (bass/vocals), Craig Nicholls (drums), Roland Kretchmar (guitar) and Penelope Somerville (fiddle/backing vocals).

The new album, which will be officially launched in January, was mixed and mastered by Gavin Parker.

Weblink – www.ruckus.net.au.

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WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 18, 2013

First Tamworth for Jason

The 2014 Tamworth Country Music Festival will be the first for 2012 "X-Factor" runner-up Jason Owen.

Jason is joining country starlet Amber Lawrence as her special guest and will be "a rare chance" for audiences to see two premier young country artists sharing the same stage.

Throughout this year, Jason has been touring Australia beside Amber and they already have "a swag" of tour dates locked in for 2014.

"The show has been a hit," said a spokesman for the pair, "selling out metropolitan centres and regional areas, earning Jason a whole new fan base."

The 19-year-old's debut album Life Is A Highway landed at number five on the ARIA Album Chart and number one on the iTunes Country Chart in its first week out. The album has also been nominated for a Golden Guitar for Top Selling Album of the Year.

"Amber and myself have so much fun together on stage," Jason said. "We both love to perform our hearts out so our audience members can expect fun, great songs and a whole lot of entertainment. The show contains songs from Amber's three albums (to date) and me singing songs from my current album."

"Life Is A Highway is a collection of classic songs given a modern slant with Jason's interpretations. They are renditions of the tracks he performed on "X-Factor", and it’s easy to see why this teenager won fans and critics over.," a spokesman for the artists said.

Jason says he’s really been enjoying touring the country and meeting fans face-to-face with fans. He acknowledges it's been a humbling experience. "What I've enjoyed the most is meeting all the fans that I have made from "X-Factor"..." he says. "Also working with people like Amber and the other musicians is just amazing.

"The tour continues through 2014 – I think what appeals to fans the most is the way we engage with the audience. We try to entertain people no matter where we are or how many people are in the audience."

With the tour continuing indefinitely throughout the next year, Jason’s calendar is jam-packed. With lots of things in the pipeline, including a new album release.

"It has been a massive year for me," Jason said. "All I can hope for is that all the fans and people that Amber and myself meet around the country have enjoyed our shows. Just being given the privilege to work with the people I have in 2013 has been amazing and I want to thank all my fans for making it possible..."

Weblinks – www.amberlawrence.com.au, www.jasonowen.com.au.

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TUESDAY, DECEMBER 17, 2013

Two Aussie country Grammy nominations

Two Australian country acts are up for Grammy Awards in January following the recent announcement of finalists.

Both The Greencards and Keith Urban are up for America's most prestigious music award... Keith for the umpteenth time, The Greencards for the third.

Keith is nominated with Tim McGraw and Taylor Swift in Best Country Duo/Group Performance for Highway Don't Care while The Greencards are actually up for Best Folk Album with Sweetheart Of The Sun.

The Greencards (predominantly comprising founding Australian members Kym Warner and Carol Young) are yet to take home one of the famous gramophone trophies while Keith has four to his name so far, all for Best Male Country Vocal Performance... in 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2010.

The 56th annual Grammy Awards will take place on January 26 in Los Angeles.

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MONDAY, DECEMBER 16, 2013

Lou to launch new album at Tamworth

Lou Bradley is set to launch her new album, The Other Side, with a run of shows during the upcoming Tamworth Country Music Festival.

The album, to be released to iTunes on January 17, is described as "a perfect way" of kicking off her time at the biggest country music festival in the Southern Hemisphere next month.

From her debut release in 2007, through to various festival appearances alongside many artists, Lou has been working hard on what has become her highly-anticipated third studio album. The Other Side was co-produced by Lou with Anthony Lycenko who has also worked for artists like Busby Marou and Pete Murray.

"(It) was kind of like working with myself," Lou said, "but with better ideas just when I needed them. (Anthony) is very skilled at his craft, but also stays quite invisible or transparent, so as not to get in the way of the creative process; just right for me and this project."

Aside from her duet with Bill Chambers on One Of Those Nights, The Other Side features no co-writes between Lou and another, making the album all the more personal and noteworthy. Many of the songs are reflective and hold special stead with the songwriter herself, detailing many different points in her life or notes on observations made over the past year or so.

"Lou Bradley is the real deal," said producer Anthony. "She's one of the most talented songwriters I've ever had the pleasure of working with and she has a voice to match. There's nothing phony about her; she's lived every lyric of every song on this album."

"As a live performer, Lou has continued to hone her craft and has remained a popular touring artist, as well as a consistently touring one. With her sights firmly set on ensuring Tamworth gets the full Lou Bradley treatment, the Byron Bay native is ready to bring more fans into the fold and showcase her latest material to those fans who may have not been able to see her give such songs a run yet," said a spokesman for the artist.

Weblink – www.facebook.com/loubradleymusic.

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Chart Update – Dianna hits the top

Dianna Corcoran has taken over the top spot on the national Country Tracks Top 30 singles chart this week with her latest hit Therapy.

The Wolfe Brothers' number one from last week, The Girl, The Bottle, The Memory, is at two while Chelsea Basham's By The Light Of The Moon is at three and the Troy Cassar-Daley/Adam Harvey cover of Good Hearted Woman is steady at four.

McAlister Kemp's Harder To Tame edges up one place to number five, Amber Lawrence's Pretty Little Liar is at six and Allan Caswell's The Next Time That You Hear jumps two places to number seven.

The Jayne Denham/Shannon Noll duet of Beyond These City Lights bounds into the top 10 at number eight, as does Kate Cook's Give The Girl A Spanner at nine while O'Shea's former number one, Be With You Tonight, rounds out the top 10.

Bullet performers for the week include Lee Kernaghan's It's Only Country (17 to 13), Amber Joy Poulton's Foolish Things (19 to 16), Ashleigh Dallas's Me (26 to 23) and Adam Brand's Freedom Rebels (27 to 24).

New entries to the chart this week include The Bobkatz' Reelin' One In (new at 29).

The full chart can be viewed at www.countrymusicradio.com.au.

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FRIDAY, DECEMBER 13, 2013

New CMAA President calls for calm

New Country Music Association of Australia (CMAA) President Dobe Newton has called for calm in the industry following recent debate after the high profile resignation of long-standing President John Williamson over his concern that the Golden Guitar Awards were becoming "Americanised".

"At a time when I've been honoured to accept the CMAA's invitation to accept the presidency of our peak body, I'm saddened by the very public debate inspired by comments from the past president," Dobe said who was appointed as President of the organisation earlier this week.

"The CMAA usually welcomes any debate which puts country music in the spotlight, however the recent commentary has included statements which directly impact the reputations of two of our most dedicated and decorated country music artists.

"As a consequence, we – as an organisation – have a duty to speak out in support of our members. While Troy Cassar-Daley and Adam Harvey's decision to withdraw their album from the 2014 Golden Guitar Awards may be seen as a drastic move, it is perfectly understandable given the unnecessary media attention that's been generated. How disappointing that a wonderfully received and commercially successful product should be 'tarnished' at a time when it should be celebrated.

"It is important for fans of country music – as well as casual observers – to understand that it is not the organisation's place to dictate what can or cannot be recorded, nor what people like or want to listen to. A nomination and judging process took place strictly in line with the CMAA's published rules.

"If anyone has a comment or a suggestion on that process, we would encourage them to contact us, so that a full and informed debate can take place, rather than the unedifying sound-byte exchanges we're now witnessing. To draw Keith Urban into the 'debate', just makes it all the more unfortunate.

"We regret the hurt that the public airing of these issues has caused Troy and Adam and their families, management, friends and fans. Their joint statement that they will attend the Awards ceremony to support their colleagues is a testament to their professionalism and an example of a generosity of spirit that we hope others will follow.

"I trust that the dust will now be allowed to settle so that our industry can focus on the business of promoting the great talent from our diverse country music community and the businesses and fans that support them."

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20th Australian Bush Laureate Awards finalists announced

Poet David Campbell from Beaumaris, Victoria, leads the finalist list for the 20th Australian Bush Laureate Awards to be staged in Tamworth in January.

The all Australian Awards, also one of the nation's peak bush poetry events, started in 1995 and have become one of the headline events of the annual Tamworth Country Music Festival.

David (pictured at right) is a finalist in four categories… Book and Album of the Year with his works titled "Riders On The Wind" and in Single of the Year for "My Son" and Published Poem of the Year for "The White Man's Way".

He also edited "Award Winning Bush Verse & Stories 2013" which is also a finalist for Book of the Year.

Robyn Sykes (pictured), from Binalong, NSW, is another prominent among finalists with three places… for Album of the Year with "Voices Of The Fire" and Single of the Year with "Old Bill's Regret" and also Published Poem of the Year with "Lovely Lies".

Laurie McDonald (below right) from the ACT and Greg North (below left) from the Blue Mountains, NSW, are among multiple finalists in the 2014 Awards with two each, both in Album and Single of the Year.

Greg is a finalist in both categories for his works titled "Frackin' Fricker" while Laurie is a finalist for Album of the Year with "Laurie McDonald... Live At The Murrumbateman Pub" and Single of the Year with "Cabaret Cafe".

Joining the bush poets are Golden Guitar winners Lee Kernaghan, Colin Buchanan, Allan Caswell, Drew McAlister, Norma O'Hara Murphy, Luke O'Shea, Garth Porter, Graham Rodger and Tamara Stewart – all finalists in the two Australian Song Lyric categories. Lee, Garth and Colin's tribute to Slim Dusty – "Flying With The King" – is a finalist in Contemporary Song Lyric of the Year.

In addition to the judged categories, a special award – the Judith Hosier Heritage Award – will be presented to honour a person or organisation for a significant contribution to Australian bush poetry.

The 2014 Australian Bush Laureate Awards had one of the most competitive fields ever seen for the 20th year with almost a hundred individual nominations from poets and lyric writers from all over Australia.

A gala Awards presentation and concert with many celebrity guests and artists will salute the winners of the prized Golden Gumleaf trophies in the famous Tamworth Town Hall on Tuesday January 21 from 2pm.

Tickets are available via the Tamworth Country Music Festival website www.tcmf.com.au or by telephone 02 6767 5300.

The full listing of finalists is...

For Book of the Year...

Award Winning Bush Verse & Stories 2013
Bronze Swagman Book of Bush Verse 2012
Candlelight Reflections by Will Moody (Bellingen, NSW)
Lawson Country by Kevin Pye (Mudgee, NSW)
Riders On The Wind by David Campbell (Beaumaris, Vic)

Album of the Year

Frackin' Fricker by Greg North (Blue Mountains, NSW)
Listen! by Maggie Murphy (Heathcote, Vic)
Laurie McDonald... Live At The Murrumbateman Pub by Laurie McDonald (Watson, ACT)
Riders On The Wind by David Campbell (Beaumaris, Vic)
Voices Of The Fire by Robyn Sykes (Binalong, NSW)

Single Recorded Performance of the Year

Cabaret Cafe by Laurie McDonald (Watson, ACT)
Frackin' Fricker by Greg North (Sydney, NSW)
My Son by David Campbell (Beaumaris, Vic)
Old Bill's Regret by Robyn Sykes (Binalong, NSW)
The Water Of The Wells by Jack Drake (Stanthorpe, Qld)

Published Poem of the Year

A Snowy Mountain Holiday by Tom McIlveen (Port Macquarie, NSW)
Curio – The Legend Will Survive by Brenda Joy (Coochiemudlo Island, Qld)
Lovely Lies by Robyn Sykes (Binalong, NSW)
The White Man's Way by David Campbell (Beaumaris, Vic)
Your Shout! by Allan Goode (Beechmont, Qld)

Traditional Song Lyric of the Year

A Farming Man by Grant Luhrs (Wagga Wagga, NSW)
The Bushranger & His Lady by Graham Roger (Paterson, Qld)
Celtic Blood by Shaza Leigh (Tamworth, NSW)
Chimney In The Paddock by Diane Lindsay (Newcastle, NSW)
Gilbert, O'Meally & Hall by Norma O'Hara Murphy (Bony Mountain, Qld)

Contemporary Song Lyric of the Year

Dreamtime Cathedrals by Manfred Vijars (Morningside, Qld)
Flying With The King by Lee Kernaghan, Garth Porter, Colin Buchanan (Sydney, NSW)
Lady Of The Land by Luke O'Shea & Drew McAlister (Sydney, NSW)
Survive by Kate Cook (Toowoomba, Qld)
You Can't Get Good Help These Days by Allan Caswell & Tamara Stewart (Sydney, NSW)

Weblink – www.bushlaureate.com.au.

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THURSDAY, DECEMBER 12, 2013

Troy and Adam withdraw album from Golden Guitars

Troy Cassar-Daley and Adam Harvey have requested that all voted nominations for their album Great Country Song Book be withdrawn from the 2014 Golden Guitar Awards.

In a media release issued late today, the pair said their decision had been made after careful consideration.

"There was, and still is, no problem with the album's legitimate qualification in the categories for which it was nominated," the release said, "however, due to recent objection and the ensuing industry debate, both Troy and Adam have decided (with respect) to withdraw their nominations."

"The conversations and debates about the album over the past few days has fragmented an already fragile music community," the pair said. "We are very proud of the achievements of the project however wish to not have the album as part of the Awards. We are just sad for country music that this has all happened. The last thing we wanted to do was cause any controversy. It was just two mates paying tribute to our musical heroes."

"The Great Country Song Book is a lovingly hand-picked bunch of country music classics, recorded entirely in Australia, top-heavy with both Troy and Adam's favourite childhood songs," the release continued. "Songs that evoke memories of families that lived and loved country music; songs that have formed the fabric of their musical careers such as their faithful rendition of Slim Dusty's Lights On The Hill which was released as the first single from the album in direct response to pleas from their fans."

The album went Gold after five weeks following release. It jumped to the top of the ARIA (Australian Recording Industry Association) album charts, debuting at number one on the Country Album chart and number two on the mainstream album chart. It held top 10 on the mainstream album chart for eight weeks and number one on the Country Album chart for 13 consecutive weeks. The album currently sits at number three on the Country Albums chart and has sold more than 60,000 copies to date.

"The Great Country Song Book has been extremely special to both Troy and Adam and they have had a lot of fun touring the country together over the past five months with a talented band of Australian musicians, many of whom recorded the album with them," the release said.

"Troy and Adam have been singing, writing, recording and performing for the best part of 20 years and both hold the Tamworth Country Music Festival very close to their hearts. They wish all the nominees the very best of luck for the 2014 Awards and are looking forward to celebrating those achievements on country music's night of nights."

The album should still remain in contention for Australian Top Selling Album of the Year which is not a judged or voted category.

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WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 11, 2013

Flying Emus back in 2014

One of Australia's best known, most popular and most successful country groups – The Flying Emus – will play a select run of performances in 2014 to celebrate the release the group's "best of" album The Collection: 1984 to 1990.

The Emus will be performing with the original five-piece line-up formed 30 years ago featuring Genni Kane, John Kane, Mike Kerin, Ian Simpson and Michael Vidale.

During the Tamworth Country Music Festival, the group will play a show at The Longyard Hotel on Thursday January 23. This will be followed by three dates so far announced in Sydney at Marrickville, Rooty Hill and Dee Why.

The Flying Emus won six Golden Guitars during their career... Instrumental and Vocal Group of the Year in 1986 (for Look Out Below and Diamond Creek, respectively) Instrumental of the Year in 1987 (for Emu Strut), Instrumental and Vocal Group of the Year in 1988 (for Jackaroo and Auctioneer) and Instrumental of the Year (for Dixie Breakdown) in 1991.

In 1988, the Emus won the ARIA (Australian Recording Industry Association) award for Best Country Album for their work This Town.

The new album is being released through Warner Music.

Weblink – https://www.facebook.com/FlyingEmus.

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TUESDAY, DECEMBER 10, 2013

JW resigns CMAA Presidency

John Williamson has resigned as President of the Country Music Association of Australia (CMAA) after 10 years saying that its annual Golden Guitar Awards have become too American.

In a letter to CMAA Chairman Jeff Chandler, John said: "It's as though the Golden Guitar Awards are the American Country Music Awards of Australia. It seems the industry is hell-bent on producing more Keith Urbans. If we are not respected as a legitimate organisation to promote original Australian country music, I cannot be associated with it any longer."

He pointed out that the problem with the Awards was that "an album with 90 per cent American covers can get in (referring to Troy Cassar-Daley and Adam Harvey's album The Great Country Songbook which is up for Album of the Year). We should be nurturing what Henry Lawson and Banjo Paterson started.

"This is not just over the obvious mistakes this year... the current turmoil was bound to happen," John said in his letter of resignation.

"It's as though the Golden Guitar Awards are the American Country Music Awards of Australia.  It seems the industry is hell-bent on producing more Keith Urbans. If we are not respected as a legitimate organisation to promote original Australian country music, I cannot be associated with it any longer."

John also had a problem that US-based Keith, although raised in Australia, should be in line to win Male Artist of the Year. Although he did congratulate him for "selling coal to Newcastle".

Jeff Chandler thanked the outgoing President for his service to the CMAA: "John was one of the founders of the organisation and we will be forever indebted to him for his vision and commitment to the growth and future development of country music in Australia."

Dobe Newton of the Bushwackers has stepped in as CMAA President.

Image: a scan of John's full letter printed in The Leader today – click on the letter for a larger version.

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Former Mayor moves on Awards

Meanwhile, according to a report in Tamworth's Northern Daily Leader, John Williamson's resignation comes as former Tamworth Mayor James Treloar has expressed "serious concern" about the integrity of the city's country music festival showcase event, following a series of changes to Golden Guitar finalists in recent weeks.

The Leader said Councillor Treloar had lodged an urgent notice of motion for tonight's regular Council meeting, raising the spectre of Council playing a far greater role in the running of the Country Music Awards of Australia (Golden Guitars). The credibility of the awards has been dented in recent weeks after two artists announced as 2014 finalists were discovered to be ineligible.

The Leader reported John saying it was crucial Tamworth played a role in revitalising the awards. "It's got to that stage that we're no longer capable of running the Awards the way it should be run and things are bound to go wrong. I said to (Mayor Col Murray) that Awards like this should always belong to a classic country town like Tamworth. Tamworth owns the Golden Guitars, so it needs to take more responsibility for it."

Just over a month out from the start of the 2014 festival, Councillor Treloar said it was timely for council to "look at its options".

"There have been a couple of errors in the last few years and perhaps we should look at playing a bigger role in the presentation and judging (of the Awards),” he said. "The Awards, for many years, have been a pinnacle event and I don't want to see that diluted."

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Star Maker finalists announced

It's been a big day (so far!) in Country Music Capital, with Rural Press Events (RPE) announcing finalists in the 2014 Toyota Star Maker Quest."Ten of Australia's most exciting emerging country music artists from across the country have today been announced as finalists in the 35th national talent competition," according to RPE.

Star Maker has been a launching pad for the careers of many, including James Blundell, Darren Coggan, Beccy Cole, Gina Jeffreys, Lee Kernaghan and Keith Urban.

The 10 finalists will compete at the Toyota Star Maker final which has been the main event on the first Sunday of the annual Tamworth Country Music Festival for 35 years. Four grand finalists will be selected at this event, to be staged in the Tamworth Town Hall, to compete in the grand final on Friday January 24 in Tamworth's Bicentennial Park as a part of Toyota's Concert For Rural Australia for the title of Toyota Star Maker 2014.

And the finalists, selected by a judging panel of six from more than 50 entries, are...

Damien Agius (from North Eton, Qld), Kalesti Butler (Emerald, Qld), Tommy Contor (Mackay, Qld), Tori Darke (Harrington Park, NSW), Melody Feder (Phegans Bay, NSW), John Flanagan (Thornbury, Vic), Jared Porter (Tinbeerwah, Qld), Bryce Sainty (Woy Woy, NSW), Justin Standley (Kalkie, Qld) and Jonny Taylor (Pinjarra, WA). Three of the finalists have been involved before... Tori Darke, John Flanagan and Jonny Taylor.

Pictured, clockwise from top left, are: Damien, Kalesti, Tommy, Tori, Melody, John, Bryce, Justin and Jonny.

"The finalists represent a broad cross section of country music styles with three from NSW, five from Queensland, one from Western Australia and one from Victoria," said Toyota Star Maker Co-ordinator and Editor of Country Music Capital News Cheryl Byrnes.

"Star Maker sets out to uncover new country talent and we believe we have a good representation. Toyota Star Maker has a great pedigree, as the perennial Golden Guitar nominations show and we are excited that in the 2014 Golden Guitars there is a credible 19 nominations from previous Star Maker winners including Lee Kernaghan, Keith Urban, Samantha McClymont, Luke Austen and Kaylee Bell."

Barry Harley, General Manager of Rural Press Events, explained that the format will still see the Toyota Star Maker Top 10 as the main event of the first weekend with four entrants being carried through the Festival to the Grand Final on the Friday night where Toyota Ambassadors Lee Kernaghan (1982 winner), The McClymonts featuring Samantha McClymont (2005) and Kaylee Bell (2013) will also appear.

"Toyota, celebrating over 20 years supporting country music, and 19 years of supporting Star Maker has a strong bond with Australia's rural and regional community, and through Toyota Star Maker continues to be the premier talent developing event providing independent artists with a highly-coveted, career-launching platform," Barry said.

"One of the exciting results from the Star Maker process is not only the eventual winner but it also provides a huge step up the ladder for all contestants, mixing with the emerging elite, and with many of them using the positive experience and brand to 'open doors' and to ultimately succeed.

"In the 34 years of Star Maker over 600 artists have been through the process and all have gained from that experience." he said.

Brad Cramb, Divisional Manager National Marketing for Toyota Australian said: "We would like to congratulate the 10 very talented finalists who will be competing in Toyota Star Maker this year. Each has deservedly earned a place to challenge for the 2014 crown in a competition which promises to be as enthralling as ever.

"The Toyota Star Maker competition is Australia's oldest and most successful country music talent search. We are very proud of our association with such a prestigious initiative."

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MONDAY, DECEMBER 9, 2013

TSA finalists announced

Tamworth Songwriters' Association (TSA) has announced finalists in its contests and awards announced during the annual January country music festival.

For the APRA/TSA New Songwriter Award, the finalists are Kylie Castle with A Settler's Wife and Ropin' The Wind, Jackie Dee with Doors And Windows and Through These Eyes and Allison Forbes (pictured) with What'll Happen To Me Now?

In the Songwriter Salute Awards, the finalists are...

For the Bev Daniel Commemorative Award for Traditional Bush Ballad of the Year... Heart Of The Kimberley by Graham Rodger (pictured), Ochre Man by Justin Standley, Old Tobacco Tin by Peter Simpson & Dianne Lindsay, The Picture On The Wall by Pete Smith and The Young Jillaroo by Glen Perrett & Jeff Brown.

For Contemporary Song of the Year... Do You Want Love With That? by Wendy Wood, Give That Girl A Spanner by Kate Cook, Allan Caswell & Andrew Cochrane, If There's A Honky Tonk In Hell by Wanita, It's A Country Song by Allan Caswell and Weeping Annie by Graham Rodger.

For Country Ballad of the Year... Akubras In The Snow by Peter Simpson, The Chimney And The Rose by Graham Rodger, Fingerprints by Peter Shurley, Hilda's Rest by Dean Perrett, and You Can't Get Good Help These Days by Allan Caswell & Tamara Stewart.

For Comedy/Novelty Song of the Year... Bits N Pieces by Michelle Walker & Peter Salata, Huntsman In The Harmonica by Alita Fahey & Makirum, If Only You by Bec Hance, Snakes In Suits by Peter Simpson & Dianne Lindsay and Wouldn't It Rip You by Stan Lenz.

For Children's Song of the Year... Aussie Welcome by Ron Millner, Gaylene Jennings & Leanda O’Brien, Canola by Bec Hance, Sunday Calling by Pete Smith, Teeny Tarni Tumbleweed by Alita Fahey and Where Does A Wombat Live? by Glen Naylor & Chris Wilson.

For Gospel Song of the Year... The Buryin' Ground by Jim Hermel & Virginia Hermel, Hear Me Lord by Pam Thomasson, On This Road by Virginia Hermel, The Salvo by Peter Simpson & Dianne Lindsay and When My Time Comes by Peter Christie.

In the TSA's National Songwriting Contest, the finalists are...

In Novice, Traditional... Always In Love by Kenneth Shaw & Linda Shaw, He Moved The Land and The Wombat Song by Lynda Barnes.

In Novice, Contemporary... Little Girl Dreams by Angela Easson, Love Online by Stephen Pike & David Pike, Loving You by Barbara Llewelyn, The Railways by Brian Carter, Sunshine When It's Raining by Jim Fury and When The Sun Goes Down by Lisa Scelzi.

In Blues & Roots & Bluegrass... 2nd Hand Man by Alita Fahey, Guitar Man by Stan Lenz, Life Is Good by Paul Penton, Unforgiven Sins by Gretta Zilla, Wollondilly Blues by Alex Varlow and Worse For Wear by Magdalena Macdonald.

In Junior... Apple Tree by Abbey Gardner, Daddy by Kaitlyn Thomas, Footprints by Cassi Hilbers, Mix Tape by Abbey Gardner, Secret Dreams by Katie Marie Hearne, Turn Around by Abbey Gardner and You Were The Stranger by Taylor Pfeiffer.

In Lyrics Only... Bluey–Bluey–Bluey by Sherry Tarrant, Charlie Trevor's Fence by Alec Raymer, The Good News And The Bad by Terry Bennetts, Let's Say Adieu Instead and The Old JC by Merv Webster, The Saddle In The Shed by Kevin Pye, Songlines by Paul Clairs and The Truth Hurts by John Walsh.

In Open, Traditional... A Truckie's Last Letter by Dale Duncan & Graham Rodger, Branding Fire With Smoke by Graham Rodger & Andrew Black, Field Of Sun Flowers by Fiona Karamanlidis, Fitzroy River by Terry Bennetts & Keith Lethbridge, Ghost Of The Yaraka Line and He's Droving Once Again by Graham Rodger, Lady Of The Land by Luke O'Shea & Drew McAlister, The Life Of A Drover by Jayson Watkins, Rommel by Tony Jewell and Today by Wanita.

In Open, Contemporary... Ball And Chain by Cathy Dotson, Big Wheels Rolling by Graham Rodger, Billy by Jory McMillan, Black Ice by Lola Briton & Trisha Roldan, Crosses At The Gate by Magdalena McDonald, Daddy’s Time To Go by Pam Griffin & Sarah Griffin, Even The Score by Allison Forbes, Faith In Me by John Walsh & Mike Carr, Frangibility Bay by Jayson Watkins, Go To Hell With You by Cathy Dotson, Just Fine by James Donnelly, Please Be Mine by James Donnelly, Sleep With The Angels by Carolyne Morris, Soon As This Song's Over by Stephen Kiley, Standing On Your Feet by Jory McMillan and Storm With You by Adam Power.

The TSA's big Awards night is Tuesday, January 21, at The Long yard Hotel.

We-blink – www.tsaonline.com.au.

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Chart Update – The Wolfe Brothers still at number one

The Wolfe Brothers maintain the top spot on the national Country Tracks Top 30 singles chart this week with their hit song The Girl, The Bottle, The Memory.

Chelsea Basham's By The Light Of The Moon is at two while Dianna Corcoran's Therapy is up five to three and the Troy Cassar-Daley/Adam Harvey cover of Good Hearted Woman is at four.

Amber Lawrence's Pretty Little Liar is up one to five, McAlister Kemp's Harder To Tame jumps three places to number six and O'Shea's former number one, Be With You Tonight, is at seven.

America's George Strait is at eight with I Believe, Allan Caswell's The Next Time That You Hear enters the top 10 at nine and Natalie Howard's The Girlfriend is steady at 10.

Bullet performers for the week include Jayne Denham & Shannon Noll's Beyond These City Lights (15 to 12), Lee Kernaghan's It's Only Country (21 to 17), Amber Joy Poulton's Foolish Things (22 to 19), Keith Urban's duet with America's Miranda Lambert, We Were Us (28 to 24), Asheligh Dallas (pictured) with Me (29 to 26) and Adam Brand's Freedom Rebels (30 to 27).

The full chart can be viewed at www.countrymusicradio.com.au.

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SATURDAY, DECEMBER 7, 2013

2014 National Talent Quest entries roll in

Entries are rolling in for the National Talent Quest to be staged during the January 2014 Tamworth Country Music Festival.

"And we are open to many more," says the Capital Country Music Association (CCMA), organisers of the event which is recognised as one of the most significant events of the annual festival.

"This will be the 48th staging of what is believed to be the longest continuous running country music talent quest in Australia and still known as one of the most important," according to President Steve Newton.

Many of today's stars, like Lee Kernaghan, Keith Urban and Felicity Urquhart to name just three, came through the CCMA National Talent Quest that began six years before the Tamworth Festival, as it is now known, six years before the Golden Guitar Awards... indeed, around the same time the longest-running recognition of country music talent – the CMA Awards in America – were first staged.

The 2014 Talent Quest will run along the same lines as 2013 but there will be a change of timing for the iconic event. From 2014, the talent search will be staged on Monday and Tuesday of the main Tamworth Country Music Festival week rather than the last weekend.

That's Monday and Tuesday January 20 and 21. The Talent Quest will run each day from 9am at St Stephens Church Hall in Mathews Street, Tamworth, culminating in the Country Music Jamboree Spectacular which highlights category finalists and includes performances by category winners – and special guest stars – on Tuesday evening January 21 in the famous Tamworth Town Hall.

Asked why the change in timing, the CCMA said it was mainly because the second weekend had become so busy there were many difficulties, including commitment clashes of category finalists, availability of accommodation and the  lack of availability of guest artists to be involved with the Jamboree Spectacular.

The CCMA also found that audiences were difficult to attract on during the afternoon of the biggest day of the annual celebration of Australian country music.

"And this has been such a shame because the Jamboree, highlighting so much brilliant new talent, deserves to be seen by thousands," according to Steve Newton.

The CCMA surveyed the last two year’s entrants in the January talent quest and the feedback gained showed a change for the talent quest to Monday/Tuesday was preferred with the Jamboree on either Tuesday or Wednesday night.

"We also believe the new timing will be very advantageous to National Talent Quest winners and finalists who will be able to highlight their success in our talent quest at other performances during what will now be the remainder of the Festival," Steve said.

Entry details for the 2014 CCMA National Talent Quest, to run Monday and Tuesday January 20 and 21, are now available for download from the website www.ccma.net.au. Entrants can also enter on-line if they prefer at the website.

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THURSDAY, DECEMBER 5, 2013

Tamworth busking back to normal

Busking during the annual Tamworth Country Music Festival will return to its traditional form next year, it was announced yesterday by Festival co-ordinators Tamworth Regional Council.

Media reports from an event in the city yesterday had Tamworth Mayor Col Murray saying comments from this year's regular "wash-up" meeting and the "extensive (festival) survey" indicated people wanted the busking left as it was.

"They said clearly 'don’t mess with busking'," the Northern Daily Leader reported.

Council's Business & Events Director John Sommerlad said getting the busking right was "a bigger challenge than NASA had getting man on the Moon".

Buskers will now negotiate with businesses to play on Peel Street outside the premises, as they have done in the past.

Special guest at the event Troy Cassar-Daley said busking needed to be "organic".

"I was a busker and it's like life," he said, "nothing can be perfect. It's what makes the Festival. You can walk down the street and hear every walk of life and that's what country music is all about.

Business & Events Manager Gavin Flanagan said Council would take a hard line on noise levels.

As previously reported, the focus of the 2014 Toyota Country Music Festival Tamworth will be on saluting Slim Dusty's contribution to the festival and country music.

Tamworth State Member of Parliament Kevin Anderson said Festival organisation was a continual improvement exercise.

He said the focus needed to be on the artists who made the event. :Without the artists, we don't have a Festival," he said.

Among other announcements made yesterday, 2014 will see more focus on Tamworth regional talent, with "Tamworth Pride" performances on a stage in the city's Bicentennial Park.

There will also be FamilyZone, the Leader reported, changes to FanZone with it running from the Post Office building, the traders will be back in Fitzroy Street and the Telstra "bluey" will set up on the Peel-Brisbane Street corner.

Photo (by James O'Brien): the perennial Tamworth busker, South Australia's "Chook Man" Frank Turton.

Weblink – tcmf.com.au/Busking.

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New from Buddy

The latest offering from Australian country comic Buddy Goode is It's A Buddy Goode Christmas, billed as "an essential component of any Christmas stocking this holiday season".

The ARIA Award winner for Best Comedy Album of 2012 has crafted a 13-track album that "captures the Christmas spirit one could only expect from the man himself," according to a spokesman for the artist's record label, Universal.

"Forget Silent Night and Deck The Halls – get your family singalong happening this Christmas with some sure-fire favourites... It's a Buddy Goode Christmas is the album which Goode is confident will become a mainstay in every household's December 25th shenanigans.

"Many artists have made incredible Christmas albums over the years; Michael Bolton, Wham, Darryl Somers just to name a few. Deep down in my heart, I know this album would take pride of place in their home, as other albums have done mine.”

Songs include Carol's (the first single), Joseph The Chippy, Kevin Bloody Wilson's Bike, Cheeses and Too Big for Santa's Knee.

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TUESDAY, DECEMBER 3, 2013

Academy attendees announced

The Country Music Association of Australia (CMAA) has announced participants in the 2014 Australian Academy of country music.

In the senior course, they will be Alice Benfer (from Glastonbury, Qld), Jenni Boone (Karama, NT), Kylie Bradburn (Eudio, Qld), Bill Gray (Geelong, Vic), Tiah Guillot (Lakes Entrance Vic), Trent Holder (Coffs Harbour, NSW), Judah Kelly (Mackay, Qld), Kim Koole (Noonamah NT), Brendan Lines (West Hindmarsh, SA), Emily Markham (Mount Kembla, NSW), Brad Marks (Balmoral, NSW), Joanne McDonnell (WA), Kobie Midson (Bradbury, NSW), Jemma Nicole (East Brunswick, Vic), Eizabeth Nunn (Kybong, Qld), Nathaniel O'Brien (Burra, SA), Michelle Plozza (Townsville, Qld), Kylie Price (Otago New Zealand) and Levena Stewart (Mackay, Qld).

In the junior course, participants will be Tayla Alcock (Toowoomba Qld), Sarah Grace Buckley (Mullumbimby, NSW), Anais Campbell (Nudgee, Qld), Cassi Hilbers (Beerwah, Qld), Kate Hindle (Collie, WA), Amelia James (Canterbury, NZ), Liam Kennedy-Clark (Canterbury, NZ), James McDonald (Gympie Qld), Ashlyn Nell (Sandiford, Qld), Katelyn O'Donoghue (Charters Towers, Qld), Liam O'Donoghue (Charters Towers, Qld), Bridget O'Shannessy (Bellbowrie, Qld), Juliet Oliver (SA), Taylor Pfeiffer (Walkerville, SA), Mackenzie Pringle (Cessnock, NSW), Carmel Rodrigues (West Pymble, NSW), Maddison Rose (Warialda, NSW), Amy Sherrah (Cherry Gardens, SA), Ebony Wickham (Killarney, Qld) and Kate Wilcox (Mareeba, Qld).

Senior instrumental participants are Dan Kerin (Brisbane, Qld), Jordan Lacey (Kilsyth South, Vic) and Rheanna Leshke (Wanora, Qld).

The senior class will experience two weeks of intensive training and mentoring from Saturday January 4 while the junior class will gain a basic overview of business and musicianship for a one week period.

Although the senior course ran at this time of year since it began in 1997, for the last several years it ran mid-year. The CMAA says January is an "overall better time" as it leads into the Tamworth Country Music Festival period and makes accessing tutors easier.

Tutor-wise, familiar names like Kevin Bennett, Brad Bergen, David Carter, Roger Corbett, Pete Denahy, Jayne Denham, Simon Johnson, Amber Lawrence and Tamara Stewart will help the next generation of country music stars realise their dreams.

The Academy's Roger Corbett said: "The Academy is an incredible opportunity for a young performer.

"The knowledge and expertise they're able to digest in such a short time cuts years off their learning," Roger said. "They mightn't all go on to become great stars but they will all come out with enhanced skills and a great attitude to country music."

Numerous acts have gone on to have successful careers in country music after they emerged from The Academy over the 15 years since it began, including Travis Collins, Drew McAlister, Brooke and Samantha McClymont, Sara Storer and The Sunny Cowgirls.

All students will perform at one of two graduation concerts at the end of each course, both to be held at West Tamworth League Club - the junior graduation on Thursday January 16, the senior on Friday January 17.

Photo: two of Australia's hottest new up and coming talents – Nathaniel O'Brien and Kylie Price – both are winning multiple awards in numerous talent quests across Australia and New Zealand and both are looking at honing their skills and talents during the 2014 Australian Academy of Country Music. They are pictured here receiving acknowledgement for their overall wins at the 2013 Capital Country Music Association National Talent Quest in Tamworth.

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Chart Update – The Wolfe Brothers at number one

The Wolfe Brothers have bumped O'Shea off the top of the national Country Tracks Top 30 singles chart this week with their hit song The Girl, The Bottle, The Memory.

Chelsea Basham's By The Light Of The Moon is up one place to number two, as is the Troy Cassar-Daley/Adam Harvey cover of Good Hearted Woman at three and O'Shea's former number one, Be With You Tonight, is at four.

Dianna Corcoran's Therapy is steady at five, Amber Lawrence's Pretty Little Liar is up two to six and Kaylens Rains' Waiting On A Bus is steady at seven.

America's George Strait is at eight with I Believe, McAlister Kemp's Harder To Tame enters the top 10 at number nine and Natalie Howard's The Girlfriend is also new in the top 10 at 10.

Bullet performers for the week include Allan Caswell's The Next Time That You Hear (14 to 11), Kate Cook's Give The Girl A Spanner (16 to 13), Luke O'Shea's Lady Of The Land (17 to 14), Jayne Denham & Shannon Noll's Beyond These City Lights (18 to 15), Aleyce Simmond's Believe (21 to 18) and Lee Kernaghan's It's Only Country (25 to 21).

New to the chart this week, Adam Brand's Freedom Rebels (new at 30).

The full chart can be viewed at www.countrymusicradio.com.au.

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MONDAY, DECEMBER 2, 2013

Kasey & Shane win the Country ARIA

Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson have taken home the Country ARIA (Australian Recording Industry Association) award for Best Country Album with Wreck & Ruin.

The recording duo were up against Troy Cassar-Daley & Adam Harvey's duets album The Great Country Songbook, Lee Kernaghan's Beautiful Noise, Jasmine Rae's If I Want To and Sara Storer's Lovegrass.

Russell Morris, the controversial finalist in this year's Golden Guitar Awards, took out Best Blues & Roots album with his Sharkmouth, beating the country aligned Archie Roach's Into The Bloodstream.

Award winners were announced in Sydney last night.

Weblink – www.ariaawards.com.au.

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