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Tommy is Queensland Champ

Tommy Contor (pictured) was named 2010 Queensland Champion of Champions at the recent Champion of Champions event held in Brisbane.

Tommy (from Pioneer Valley club) was also named Senior Champion for the year, took home trophies for Senior Male Vocal and Senior Instrumental and won the Australian Academy of Country Music senior school scholarship.

Laurel Flint (Bunya club) was namd Masters Champion while Judah Kelly (also Pioneer Valley) won the Junior Champion title (and the Academy of Country Music junior scholarship) and Liam O'Donoghue (Dalrymple) was successful as 2010 Juvenile Champion

Noelle Wardle was presented with the 2010 Jim Mitchell Outstanding Achievement Award (an award created to recognise an outstanding person in the country music scene, not necessarily a performer, and also to acknowledge the work of Jim Mitchell and others of the Redlands Modern Country Music Club who started Champs).

Other talent quest category winners were Stephanie Ward-Wrigley (Yandina, Juvenile Female Vocal), Katelyn O'Donoghue (Dalrymple, Junior Female Vocal), Leisa Bye (Northern Suburbs, Senior Female Vocal), Rebecca Holdorf (Boonah, Junior/Juvenile Instrumental), Greg Baldock (Capricorn District, Masters 50 to 65 years), Laurel Flint (Bunya, Masters 65 plus), Gidgee Bugs (Dalrymple, Junior/Juvenile Duet), Up & Coming (Dalrymple, Open Group), TJ (Open Duet), Andre Drysdale (Cane Country, Junior/Juvenile Songwriter) and Wayne Kite (Bunya, Senior Songwriter).

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Red Hill 2011

Sunday January 9 is the day set aside for the annual Red Hill Country Music Festival in Victoria, one of the most popular on the country music festival circuit.

Gates open at 8am with activities and entertainment kicking off at 9pm and running through to 6:30pm.

Headlining the 2011 event are The Sunny Cowgirls (pictured), supported by the Bona Fide Travellers, Doug Bruce & The Tailgaters, Tim Farren, the Moonee Valley Drifters, Phoenix, Amber Joy Poulton and the Prairie Oysters.

Melbourne based radio journalist Gary Turner will compere the entertainment program.

The Festival will also include a ute muster and hot rod "Show 'n' Shine" as well as a young talent segment sponsored by the Rye and District Community Bank.

Organised and staged by the Lions Club of Mt Eliza, the Festival is held at the Red Hill Showgrounds Reserve, Arthurs Seat Road, Red Hill on Victoria's Mornington Peninsula.

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"Country Hoedown" comes to Tamworth

Casella Wines' will sponsor a "Country Hoedown" dance promotion named after the company's Yellow Tail brand during the 2011 Tamworth Country Music Festival.

The Seven and Prime network's "Dancing With The Stars" judge Mark Wilson (pictured) will spearhead the promotion by running and judging a linedancing competition at the Festival.

At 10am on Sunday January 23, festival-goers will be invited to meet Mark at the city's Bicentennial Park for a free line-dancing lesson. Once people "get the knack of the routine", he will judge the 2011 Line-Dancer of the Year who will win a year's worth of Yellow Tail wine (a dozen bottles of wine per month for 12 months).

Local musicians will provide music and entertainment for the competition.

Cassella's Senior Brand Manager Travis Fuller says he is excited to introduce a slightly different twist to what is known as Australia's biggest country music festival of the year.

"The 2011 Jayco Tamworth Country Music Festival is known for showcasing some of Australia's finest musical talent. Music makes people want to dance, so we've joined with Mark Wilson to help people learn country dancing and have a great time," he said.

Yellow Tail is the official wine sponsor of the 2011 Festival and the brand's involvement will be highlighted by the company's Yellow Tail kombi named "Bubbles" which will be seen several locations in the city during the event.

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JW's resident Sydney gig

John Williamson is returning to Sydney off the back of his two sell-out Sydney Opera House concerts staged in October to a smaller and more intimate venue for what will be a January residency.

The decision to return to a smaller venue was an idea of John's in wanting the opportunity to share a part of the Australian culture with locals and international visitors.

"It has been a dream of mine for years to establish a resident gig in Sydney," John said. "I would love overseas visitors to Sydney to be able to hear something truly Australian in an intimate way. It will also be a great way to try out new songs before I tour again."

There will be three Friday night performances – January 7, 14 and 28 – at 99 On York, the club formerly known as The Bowlers Club. After recent renovations, including the name change, John is set to bring his songs and stories of Australia’s landscape and characters to the venue.

The shows will also include new material and the official launch of a new live CD and DVD recording of the Opera House concerts.

From major festival stages, awards events and symphony orchestra concerts, 2010 has been a major year for John who is celebrating his 40th year in the entertainment industry.

Tickets are on sale at or by calling 02 9290 1155.

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TSA song contest finalists

The Tamworth Songwriters' Association has announced finalists in its National Country Songwriting Contest in conjunction with the release of Songwriters Salute Awards finalists recently.

In the Professional - Traditional category, finalists are An Affair Of The Heart by Graham Rodger, Crosses At The Gate by Magdalena Macdonald, I Build Roads by Chris Mustica, Livin In Oz by Doug Hendry, The Silent Deep Lagoon by Graham Rodger, Smokey by Maurie Marion & Warren Kearney and Standing In The Rain by Maurie Marion & Warren Kearney.

In Professional - Contemporary... Breathe by Deb Beckett, Country Hospitality by Jan Bentley, Deliver The Thrill by Billy Bridge, Dreamland by Danny Hooper, Flying by Deb Beckett, Imaginary Girl by Grant Morris, Initials In A Gum Tree by Mark Willis, Just Passing Through by Jan Bentley, Liberty Road by Robyn Payne, Loves Highway by Mark Lucas, Messing Around by Mark Fitzsummons, Mexican Ladies by Neil Andrews, Only In Dreams by Ben McCauley, Our Angel by Amelia Richards, Too Many Beers by Bobby Valentine, Until She's Mine by Mark Lucas and When The Rooster Crows by Lola Brinton, Allan Caswell & W Sedunary.

In Amateur - Traditional... The Cattle Sale and The Drover's Dog by Robert Cooper, Hear That Music by Lisa Scelzi, Little Aussie Characters by Jan Keogh and Proud To Be Called An Australian by Ron Robinson.

In Amateur - Contemporary... 18 Wheel Girlfriend by Wayne Higgins, Born To The Land by Lisa Scelzi, In The Middle In The Ute by Ian Hughes, One Of The Lucky Ones by Rachel Summerell, She Wonders by Craig Preston, The Windward Side by Craig Battams and You're My Man by Rachel Summerell.

In the Junior category... Billy's Ride by Margie May Hockey, Good Luck With That! by Romany Elmas, It's Time To Be A Friend by Margie May Hockey and Take 2 by Sonyta Trahar.

In Lyrics Only... A Valid Ballad by James Westwood, The Brick by John Toomey, Dreamtime Fantasy by Ellis Campbell, Hey Banjo! by Merv Webster and Things Worth Knowing by Alec Raymer.

Winners will be announced at the TSA's Awards night at West Diggers in Kable Avenue Tamworth on Wednesday evening, January 19.

Tickets are available from Wests by telephoning 02 6765 7588 or online at

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Chart Update – fifth week at the top for Markus

Markus Meier's hit Rope A Cowgirl appears unassailable at the top of the national Country Tracks Top 30 singles chart registering its fifth consecutive number one this week.

Tracy Killeen's Metrosexual Craze is steady at number two, Jayne Denham's Feral Kev & General Leroy bounds up four places to number three and Luke O'Shea's Midnight Train holds on to number four.

America's Sugarland is at five with Stuck Like Glue, Graham Rodger's Angels Without Halos is steady at six while Luke Austen's She's So You is at seven.

McAlister Kemp's Hell, Yeah bounds into the top 10 at eight, Jason Lee's Up A Creek is at nine and Marie Hodson's Cowboys Love Texas is at 10.

Bullet performers for the week include Keith Urban's Put You In A Song (14 to 11), Troy Cassar-Daley's Yesterday's Bed (19 to 14), Jonah's Road's End Of The World (20 to 17), Allan Caswell's Who Gets The Friends (22 to 19), Catherine Britt's Sweet Emmylou (24 to 20), Kristy Cox & the Davidson Brothers Breakin' New Ground (26 to 21) and Doug Bruce & Amber Joy Poulton's Close Enough (25 to 22).

New entries to the chart this week are Adam Harvey's Good Enough For Me (in at 29) and The McClymonts' A Woman Is A Flame (at 30).

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Finalists announced for the 2011 People's Choice Awards

Finalists have been announced for the 2011 Australian Country Music People’s Choice Awards to be announced in Tamworth next month.

And this year, organisers have extended the number of finalists in each category to 10 rather than the customary five.

"For these Awards, we have had an enormous number of votes," said Awards spokesman Bob Kirchner. "This is a very positive reflection on how fans feel about having a say in giving their favourite artists recognition.

"Once again, most of the votes have been cast on line, an ever increasing proportion which demonstrates the importance of the Internet in such processes.

"And I would say in this process there would be very few of Australia's many country music artists and dedicated country music broadcasters and radio stations who didn’t rate a mention!

"Because there were so many votes for such a wide cross-section, it would have been unfair to restrict the finalist exposure to only five in each category."

And so, the finalists are (in alphabetical order)...

For Best Female Vocal – Catherine Britt, Kasey Chambers, Beccy Cole, Dianna Corcoran, Bec Hance, Tracy Killeen, Amber Lawrence, Jacqui Ryan, Melinda Schneider and Felicity Urquhart.

For Best Male Vocal – Adam Brand, Troy Cassar-Daley, Col Finley, Adam Harvey, Dale Hooper, Lee Kernaghan, Jason Lee, Markus Meier, Graham Rodger and John Williamson.

For  Best Group or Duo – Brothers 3, Carter & Carter, Jetty Road, Jonah’s Road, McAlister Kemp, The McClymonts, The Prairie Oysters, The Robertson Brothers, Simply Bushed and The Sunny Cowgirls.

For  Best Song – A Memory (written by Jason Lee & Lynda Barnes, recorded by Jason Lee), Don't Come Over 'Til I'm Over You (written by Andrew Cochrane & Simon Boyce, recorded by Col Finley), It Don't Buy You Love (written by Drew McAlister & Mike Carr, recorded by McAlister Kemp), It's Gonna Be OK (written and recorded by Adam Brand), Love In The Time Of Drought (written by Lee Kernaghan & Garth Porter, recorded by Lee Kernaghan), Rope A Cowgirl (written by Markus Meier & Garth Porter, recorded by Markus Meier), Surly Shirley (written by Paul Grierson & Chris Rieger, recorded by Simply Bushed), Tuppence Ha'penny (written and recorded by Graham Rodger), Where The Eagles Fly (written by A Fahey & Sharydn, recorded by Brothers 3) and World Keeps Turning (written and recorded by Jetty Road).

For Best Album – A Different Land by Markus Meier, All Kinds Of Tough by McAlister Kemp, Better Late Than Never by Jason Lee, It's Gonna Be OK by Adam Brand, Look At The Time by Simply Bushed, Paradise by Col Finley, Planet Country by Lee Kernaghan, Shadows Across The Moon by Graham Rodger, Stop The World And Let Me Off by Dale Hooper and Where The Eagles Fly by Brothers 3.

For Best Bush Ballad – The Cooper Coming Down (written and recorded by Graham Rodger), Droving Cattle With The Boys (written by Tania Kernaghan & Fiona Kernaghan, recorded by Tania Kernaghan), Hittin' The Murray (written and recorded by David Baldi), I'll See Ya (written by Paul Grierson, recorded by Simply Bushed), Kings Without A Crown (written by Ray Rose, recorded by Tom Maxwell), Leaving Home Now (written by A Fahey, recorded by Brothers 3), Little Piece Of Heaven (written and recorded by Kathy Coleman), Love In The Time Of Drought (written by Lee Kernaghan & Garth Porter, recorded by Lee Kernaghan), Memories Of Tent Hill (written by Rachel Jillett & Evan Jillett, recorded by Rachel Jillett) and The Roaring Days (written and recorded by Markus Meier).

For Most Promising Future Star – Luke Austen, Chelsea Basham, Brothers 3, Katrina Burgoyne, Kristal Collins, Tori Darke, Johanna Hemara, Jason Lee, Markus Meier and Jacqui Ryan.

For Best Video Clip – Don't Come Over Til I'm Over You by Col Finley, Ghost by Katrina Burgoyne, It's Gonna Be OK by Adam Brand, Plenty Of Fish by Gemma Luxton, Rope A Cowgirl by Markus Meier, Surly Shirley by Simply Bushed, Up The Creek by Jason Lee, Waters From The Devil by Graham Rodger, Where The Eagles Fly by Brothers 3 and You Had Me From Hello by Dale Hooper.

The Australian Country Music People's Choice Awards also recognise popularity in country music broadcasting with two awards.

Finalists for Most Popular Country Music DJ are Bill Beerens of the Community Broadcasting Association’s "Good Morning Country", Larry Cann of KIX Country, Carter Edwards of the Super Radio Network, Nick Erby of Country Music Radio Online and the "Country Tracks Countdown", Dusty Fraser of 98.9 FM Brisbane, Dean Mackin of Cool Country 2KA Sydney, George Reid of 2KKR 98.7 FM Kandos-Rylstone in NSW, Wally Sparrow of "Country Brekky" on Radio Adelaide, Cameron Syrett of Cool Country 2KA and Felicity Urquhart of the ABC's "Saturday Night Country".

For Most Popular Country Music Radio Station or Program – 100.1 FM Curtin Radio's "Born In Boots" (Perth, WA), 2CHR 96.5 FM (Cessnock, NSW), 2KRR 98.7 FM (Kandos-Rylstone, NSW), 98.9 FM (Brisbane), ABC "Saturday Night Country", Carter Edwards on the Super Radio Network, Cool Country 2KA (Sydney, NSW), "Good Morning Country", KIX Country and Today's Country 94.1 (Central Coast, NSW).

Winners of 2011 Australian Country Music People's Choice Awards will be announced at a gala presentation function at 7pm Thursday, January 20 at the Coca-Cola concert venue in Hands of Fame Park at the corner of Kable Avenue and Brisbane Streets, Tamworth.

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Country features at Melbourne Carols

Tommy Emmanuel and The McClymonts will carry the Australian country flag at Melbourne's Christmas Carols event tomorrow night (Christmas Eve).

They will join a raft of entertainers and special guests on the night including Humphrey B Bear, actors Rachel Beck & Ian Stenlake, Rhonda Burchmore, Anthony Callea, Kate Ceberano, Michael Cormick, Julie Goodwin, Hi-5, David Hobson, Ricki-Lee, Sylvie Paladino, Doug Parkinson, Marina Prior, Denis Walter and the casts of "Hairspray" and "Mary Poppins".

Nine network personalities Karl Stefanovic and Lisa Wilkinson will compere the night which is scheduled to start at 8pm on the National Nine network and affiliates.

The event will also be broadcast by numerous radio stations.

Photo: The McClymonts at their Carols appearance in 2008.

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Barry & Lin at Tamworth 11

Barry K & Lin Chandler will be hosting a three hour show at Tamworth's Capitol Theatre during the upcoming Tamworth Country Music Festival.

Set for 9:30am on Thursday the 20th, the show will feature guest artists including Bec Hance and TSA Award winners Runaway Dixie (aka Virgina and Lynette Coad and Jim Hermel).

The last hour of the show will be Barry K's one-hour tribute to Johnny Cash

Tickets for the show can be obtained by visiting

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Greg announces national tour

Award-winning ex-pat Australian songwriter Greg Quill, founder of the influential country-rock band Country Radio, has announced details for a tour he will undertake in Australia through January and February with Toronto songwriter Jon Brooks.

Greg and Jon will be doing a song/yarn swap as well as solo sets in venues small and large from Brisbane to Melbourne. Some of the shows are private house concerts, others are ticketed public events (see ontour for more information).

For their Melbourne show at SpensersLive on Saturday February 12, Greg and Jon will be joined by Joe Camilleri, whose affection for Country Radio songs goes back to his early years.

"Joe's a musical trail mate of long standing," Greg says, "and we're proud to be working with him for this special one-off event. Book early for this one … tickets will go fast."

It will be Jon Brooks' first time in Australia, though he's well known to festival audiences across North America and in the UK. "Jon's the real deal, a songwriter of extraordinary depth and great compassion, and he has mastered a performing style that’s impossible to resist," Greg said.

His work on four albums has been honoured with several major awards, but they're scant testimony to his unique gifts, according to Greg.

"Jon writes songs of conscience that are neither cries of protest nor jingoistic hoopla. His songs are a series of dispassionate and unconnected snapshots of the human psyche under pressure and seeking grace."

Tour updates will be posted on Greg's website including the announcement of other special musical guests at key events.



Jasmine unveils new album

Rising star Jasmine Rae has unveiled her new album which will be released in March.

Listen Here is the title of the new work which has already spawned its first single in Hunky Country Boys.

Jasmine has had one of the fastest rising careers of any local artist in recent years. Her ARIA nominated debut album Look It Up yielded two number one singles, with Australian superstar Lee Kernaghan describing the singer as "the hottest new artist to come out of Australia in a long time".

Jasmine Rae has also earned the endorsement of some of the world's biggest country acts having toured with the likes of Brooks & Dunn, Adam Harvey and Tim McGraw as well as Lee Kernaghan most recently throughout this year.

To support the release of Listen Here on the ABC Music label through Universal Music Australia, Jasmine will be the opening act on Alan Jackson's upcoming Australian tour.

"The most notable point to make straight away about the 13-track Listen Here," according to her record company, "is Jasmine obvious development as an incredibly talented songwriter.

"Her unique and refreshing creative touch is stamped all over her collaborations with credentialed songwriters from both the US and Australia. Then there's her incredible vocal range, soulful vocal quality, emotive and relatable songs and engaging musicality which resonates from start to finish."

Listen Here was recorded in Nashville with production by Grammy nominated Australian Mark Moffatt.

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Chart Update – Markus at number one for four weeks

Markus Meier's hit Rope A Cowgirl has a strangle-hold on the top spot of the national Country Tracks Top 30 singles chart this week hitting it's fourth week at number one.

The next three places are unchanged from last week with Tracy Killeen's Metrosexual Craze at two, America's Sugarland at three with Stuck Like Glue and Luke O'Shea's Midnight Train at four.

Luke Austen's She's So You is up two more to fifth place, as is Graham Rodger's Angels Without Halos to six while Jayne Denham's Feral Kev & General Leroy bounds into the top 10 at seven.

Jason Lee's Up A Creek edges up one place to number eight, as does Marie Hodson's Cowboys Love Texas to nine while Beccy Cole's Here You Come Again is at 10.

Bullet performers for the week include McAlister Kemp's Hell, Yeah (16 to 11), Keith Urban's Put You In A Song (18 to 14), Troy Cassar-Daley's Yesterday's Bed (23 to 19), Allan Caswell's Who Gets The Friends (25 to 22) and Breakin' New Ground by Kristy Cox and the Davidson Brothers (29 to 26).

New entries to the chart this week include Rose Carleo (pictured) with That Season Again (in at 28) and Connie Kis Andersen's Steamy Dreams (at 30).

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Bucko & Champs ride again

Colin Buchanan and Greg Champion re-unite for a series of shows at the upcoming Tamworth Country Music Festival for the first time since the late '90s.

With 10 Golden Guitars between them, Bucko & Champs (as they are affectionately known) will perform together to "proudly fly the flag as two of our finest, distinctly Australian singer/songwriters who aren't afraid to have a good chuckle along the way!"

Together, their iconic Aussie Christmas With Bucko & Champs has sold more than 100,000 albums... and counting.

The duo's first show is at 2pm on Wednesday January 19 at Tamworth's new Capitol Theatre where they will be joined by "good mate" Peter Denahy.

Colin and Greg will then combine on Friday (January 21) at 2pm at the Tamworth City Bowling Club for their "must-not-miss" Aussie Christmas Reunion Cavalcade Stampede Jamboree Barbecue Hoedown Gang Show.

Their final show will be at 10:45am on Saturday January 22 at the Tamworth Services Club when they present "Colin Buchanan & Greg Champion with Special Guests: Greg Champion & Colin Buchanan".

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Star Maker top 20 announced

The top 20 finalists in Toyota Star Maker 2011 were announced today.

They are...

David Agius (from Greystanes, Sydney, NSW), Kaylee Bell (Canterbury, New Zealand), Natalie Brandt (St Clair, NSW), Lachlan Bryan (South Melbourne, Vic), Cameron Cusack (Tura Beach, NSW), Holly Denton (Woodvale, WA), Luke Dickens (Bondi Beach, NSW), Rosemaree Dinaro (St Clair, NSW), Angela Easson (Bridgewater, SA), Louise Egan (Lavington, NSW), Fiona Fields (Glenmore Park, NSW), P J Gordon (Rankin Park, NSW), Amanda Halloran (Bongaree, Qld), Jess Holland (Mungindi, NSW), Damian Howard (Thornbury Vic), Aaron Jury (Kaitangata, New Zealand), Emma Kelly (Blackburn South, Vic), Chris Matthews (Kununurra, WA) Elizabeth Papalia (Greenbank, Qld) and Mitchell Steele (Bendoble, Qld).

The 20 have been invited to travel to Tamworth for the Star Maker final on Sunday, January 16 from 12:30pm to decide a top five who will return that evening for the grand final and ultimate winner of Australia's most prestigious country music talent search.

Toyota Star Maker 2011 will win a prize package valued at more than $150,000 including a full album recording contract and "big budget" recording session, use of a Toyota vehicle for 12 months with a fuel card, production of a professional video clip a Maton guitar, media promotion and return air tickets to Nashville for the CMA (Country Music Association) Music Festival in June.

Tickets for the upcoming Toyota Star Maker Final and Grand Final are on sale on-line at, by telephone (02 6767 5300) or over the counter at the Tamworth Visitor Information Centre.

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Cultural Showcase bigger and better at Tamworth 2011

The 2011 Aboriginal Cultural Showcase – a significant part of the annual Tamworth Country Music Festival – is "looking deadlier than ever", according to a spokesman for Showcase organisers.

In January, new venues will be opening up together with lots of opportunities for the sharing of music, knowledge and culture for the 10 days of the main event.

Preparations for each year's Cultural Showcase begin immediately following the conclusion of the previous year's Finale where the most popular artists who've participated throughout the week come together in a glittering concert at the city's prestigious Capitol Theatre.

The 2011 Finale will be staged at 8pm on Saturday January 22, with tickets on sale now at, by phone (02 6767 5300) or over the counter at the Tamworth Visitor Information Centre.

Throughout the year, artists are sourced, stallholders secured, workshop facilitators booked and opportunities explored to make the most of each day of the Festival.

This year, the Cultural Showcase welcomes Sean Choolburra who will act as master of ceremonies throughout the week on various stages. A concert reviewer from the "Adelaide Advertiser" once said of Sean: "as wicked and wise, he will leave you with sore cheeks and hope for the future... his smile is a gift to the nation".

An addition to this year's program is a range of ticketed concerts of an evening at the new Tamworth Community Centre venue and free concerts at Coledale Community Centre. "Quality artists and low ticket prices (ranging from just $5) will ensure these concerts at both venues are well patronised," the spokesman said.

Throughout each day, markets, walk-up shows and cultural workshops will be held from Monday January 17 to Friday January 21, offering free entry (with an optional gold coin donation at the door). These events will primarily be staged at the Tamworth Community Centre, on the corner of Peel and Darling streets, in the Britten and Heritage rooms.

As well as these, there will be a range of master classes for musicians provided free of charge for registered walk-up artists. Organisers say they are also delighted to announce the addition of a dedicated Cultural Showcase busking spot at 320 Peel Street near the busy corner of Peel and Brisbane Streets where visitors will see a wide variety of talent over the 10 days.

Broadening the scope for indigenous artists, stage spots have been secured at various times throughout the Festival in City Plaza and the two outdoor Tamworth Regional Council venues, the Hilux and Landcruiser stages, at both closed off ends of Peel Street.

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Victorian Awards finalists

Finalist nominations for the 2011 Victorian & National COuntry Music Awards have been announced.

In the national section, finalists are...

For Male Vocalist of the Year... Doug Bruce, Jason Lee, Lee Kernaghan and Steve Passfield (pictured).

For Female Vocalist of the Year... Catherine Britt, Kristy Cox (pictured), Tania Kernaghan and Sara Storer.

For the Group award... Crakajak, Leaping Lizards, The Prairie Oysters and Simply Bushed.

For Duet... Doug Bruce & Amber Joy Poulton (pictured), Kristy Cox & the Davidson Bros, McAlister Kemp, Sara Storer & Kev Carmody.

For "Hawking Bros" Best New Talent... Courtney Conway, McAlister Kemp, Kym Pitman and Ron Sellars.

In the Songwriter's Competition... Catherine Britt, Lee Kernaghan, Jason Lee and McAlister Kemp.

For "Smoky Dawson" Best Independent Release... Doug Bruce, Courtney Conway, Dianna Corcoran and Jason Lee.

For the "Trailblazers Heritage Award... Tania Kernaghan, Jason Lee, Simply Bushed and Sara Storer & Kev Carmody.

For the "Merv Lowry Award" for Traditional Country... Doug Bruce, Rene Diaz, The Hannafords and Simply Bushed.

For Instrumental of the year... Louie Clancy, Leaping Lizards, Steve Passfield and Lindsay Waddington.

For the Bluegrass Award... Kristy Cox, Jason Lee, Mark Lucas & the Deadsetters and Steve Passfield.

In the Victorian section, finalists are...

For Album of the year... Doug Bruce, Kristy Cox, The Prairie Oysters and JR Williams.

For Group or Duet... Kristy Cox & the Davidson Bros, Crakajak, The Hannafords and Sandie Himbury-Dodd & Harry Jon Nanos.

For Male Vocalist of the Year... Billy Bridge, Doug Bruce, Rene Diaz and Adam Toms.

For Female Vocalist of the Year... Courtney Conway, Kristy Cox, Leticia Maher and Lauren Lee Williams.

For Entertainer of the Year... Doug Bruce, Courtney Conway, Kristy Cox and JR Williams.

Winners in the 2011 Awards will be announced during the Whittlesea Country Music Festival in Victoria which runs from February 11 to 13.

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Hall of Fame Christmas

The Australian Country Music Hall of Fame in Tamworth will be conducting its annual Christmas Country In The Courtyard this coming Monday night (December 20).

Special performance guests at the function will include well-known local trio Those Gals.

The event is usually one where many of the performers who appear at the monthly get-together return for the special Christmas celebration.

Entry is by gold coin donation.

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Anne announces Tamworth Festival show

Anne Kirkpatrick has announced details of her Tamworth Country Music Festival 2011 show.

The "Annethology Concert" (named after her current album) will be held at The Longyard Hotel on Wednesday January 19 from 3pm. Tickets can be purchased online at or in person at the Longyard Hotel or at the Tamworth Visitor Information Centre.

Lou Bradley, who is also signed to the Nulla Records label, will be Anne's special guest on the show.

This year, Anne celebrates 36 years of solo recording with the release of her Annethology, a definitive "best of" collection featuring 23 of the star's most popular recordings.

The album also features two new studio recordings including Here We Are, a duet with Bill Chambers which has been announced as a finalist for Vocal Collaboration of the Year at the upcoming Golden Guitar Awards.

Anne and Bill say they were surprised and absolutely thrilled with the finalist announcement.

Although the recording is the first time Slim Dusty's daughter and Kasey Chamber's father have ever worked together in a studio, it is not the first time any members of the Dustys and Chambers have collaborated.

Back in 1999, the tables were turned when Anne's dad Slim collaborated with Bill's daughter Kasey. Slim and Kasey recorded Matilda No More for Slim's 100th album, Looking Forward, Looking Back.

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Keith to kick-of next world tour in Australia

Keith Urban will begin his next "world tour" – in support of his latest album, Get Closer" – in Australia in April.

The five date tour will kick off in Adelaide on Friday April 8, concluding in Brisbane on Friday the 15th with shows scheduled also for Melbourne, Sydney and Tamworth, Australia's Country Music Capital where Keith launched his career by winning the Star Maker quest in 1990 (see ontour for details).

American act Lady Antebellum will play support.

It is the first time Australia has been the starting place for a Keith Urban tour since he achieved international stardom and follows the recent release of Get Closer which has already reached gold sales in Australia just a few weeks after release.

To date, Keith has sold more than half a million albums locally. His previous tour in December 2009 saw him play to more than 50,000 fans.

Keith has been in Australia this week for a short promotional visit with wife Nicole Kidman which includes an appearance on one of Oprah Winfrey's Australian filmed television shows. It's their second recent appearance on "Oprah" following his performance of the first single from Get Closer, Put You In A Song on a US filmed episode which aired in Australia two weeks ago.

Tickets for the tour go on sale on Friday January 21 at 9am.

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... and takes to the street

Meanwhile, Keith is to take to Sydney's Pitt Street Mall this evening (Wednesday) for a busking performance, according to a report in "The Australian" newspaper.

The paper reports that Australia's country music superstar would take a break from "all things Oprah" this evening by busking in Sydney's central business district.

The Nashville-based singer will stride into Sydney's Pitt Street Mall to give a solo performance outside Westfield shopping centre at 6pm.

Forty-three-year-old Keith has been pounding the streets rather than arenas recently to promote his Get Closer album. Already he has taken his one-man show to the doors of New York's Penn Station (photo) and Philadelphia's 30th Street Station and performed solo on a train between the two.

He also played to a crowd of thousands in Dallas, Texas, three weeks ago, just hours after his spontaneous performance on a street corner was announced on local radio.

Now he's taking his guitar, his drum machine and a small public address system into the heart of rush-hour Sydney.

"I wanted to do this a while back just to be able to keep playing between tours," he told "The Australian" after that Dallas show. "The idea was that we could set up on any street corner in any city instantly and I could just start playing a bunch of tunes.

"I like the simplicity of that environment. It keeps everything oiled; not just the singing and the playing but the interaction with the crowd."


SA Champions

The South Australian Council for Country Music (SACCM) held its annual Champion of Champions event late in November.

Melody Feder was named Senior Champion as well as winner of the Senior Female category and Nathaniel O'Brien (pictured with Melody) won the Junior Champion title as well as the 17 & Under category.

Ryan Cornish won the Senior Male title while Breanna Lee Kinlough took out the Junior 13 & Under section as well as the Rising Star award.

In the Song of the Year section, Amber Joy Poulton was named winner of the Traditional section while Angela Easson was awarded the Modern section title. Angela was also named overall winner of Country Song of the Year.

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Tamworth Gold Card

The Country Music Association of Australia has announced the introduction of a Tamworth Gold Card benefits scheme for the 2011 Tamworth Country Music Festival.

The pilot scheme was conceived by board member Lawrie Minson and will involve 100 artists and musicians who will be given access to a range of complimentary benefits and discounts during the Festival.

A media release announcing the initiative said it was a positive response from the Tamworth business community to help offset the living costs incurred by musicians and artists during the Festival.

"The Festival pack benefits include a Tamworth Gold Card and lanyard, a coupon voucher for meal deals and discounts, a central business district (CBD) parking permit, a courtesy CBD pick up and drop off service, access to a special lounge and discounted Awards tickets."

"The Tamworth Gold Card Festival pack has been made possible by the generosity of many Tamworth business people," Lawrie said, "and is being promoted by Southern Cross Ten, The Northern Daily Leader, Capital News, Radio 2TM & 92.9FM, AM Printing, The Festival Official Guide, Tourism Tamworth and Tamworth Regional Council"

Each of the Tamworth Gold Card holders will be given a discount coupon booklet containing vouchers for meal deals available during the festival.

"There are many participating food outlets," Lawrie said," and the total value of savings for the 100 people amounts to approximately $30,000. There are also discounts available on clothing and musical products."

Each of the participating business houses will display a sticker in their front window as accreditation for the Tamworth Gold Card scheme.

Tamworth Regional Council have allocated reserved parking in the CBD that will be available to Tamworth Gold Card holders. The two areas are Kable Avenue on the south side of Ray Walsh House and a parking lot between Roderick and Murray Streets on Byrnes Avenue. Golf cart transport will operate from the Byrnes Avenue parking area to the CBD.

Centrepoint have provided a "luxurious lounge" for the Country Music Association during the Festival which will provide Internet access, soft drinks and tea and coffee and will be only available to Tamworth Gold Card holders, Association professional members and their invited guests.

"There has been such an overwhelmingly positive response to the Tamworth Gold Card pilot scheme there is every indication that it can be expanded in the future," Lawrie said. There will be a media launch of the concept at the steps of Tamworth Regional Council on Wednesday January 12 at 9am.

"By supporting the artists and musicians who give so much to the Tamworth Festival we ensure a healthy and prosperous Tamworth Country Music Festival for many years to come," Lawrie said.

Lawrie can be contacted by emailing for further information.



Leighton group supports Slim Centre

The Leighton Holdings group – which includes Leighton Contractors and the John Holland Group – has donated $100,000 to the Slim Dusty Centre which is being built at Kempsey, NSW.

Wal King, retiring chief executive of the group, dropped in on the construction site of the Centre in Kempsey (NSW) with the special gift which was accepted by Slim's widow (and head of the Slim Dusty Foundation), Joy McKean.

The Centre is nearing the lock up stages of construction and the long and detailed process of fitting out the building will begin early next year.

"Leighton Holdings and its operating companies... are thrilled to be able to support the development of the Slim Dusty Centre," Wal said. "Our companies are constructing vital infrastructure in the Kempsey region and we appreciate the significant boost the Centre will provide to the local tourism industry in Kempsey and the surrounding areas.

"Slim was an Australian legend and as one of Australia's leading construction and engineering businesses we are honoured to support his legacy in this way."

"It's just so good to see major companies like Leighton leading the way in community investment," said Joy, "especially in the regional towns in which they operate.

"I am very pleased that Leighton Holdings and Mr King have supported the Slim Dusty Centre project in this way, and it shows that not only do they recognise the importance of Slim's Australian legacy, but it also shows that they appreciate the ongoing affect that the Centre will have providing regional jobs and more visitors for the Mid North Coast."

The Slim Dusty Centre is being built adjacent the Pacific Highway at Kempsey by local builders Lahey Constructions and is touted to become one of the nation's prominent tourist attractions. It is also designed to provide a community facility to host travelling exhibitions, seminars and other events.

Exhibition fit out will include "some spectacular 3D and interactive displays" according to the Foundation's chief executive Kathryn Yarnold.

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Photo: Wal King (left), Joy McKean and Andrew Lahey of Lahey Constructions.


Entries open for 2011 Tamworth Cavalcade

Entries have opened for the 2011 Toyota Country Music Cavalcade which will run on the major Saturday of the Tamworth Country Music Festival in January.

Festival organisers have announced the 2011 Cavalcade theme which will be "Legends of Country Music".

Entrants and spectators alike are being encouraged to get into the spirit of the occasion by dressing up to pay homage to those country music legends whose influence has shaped what country music represents and those who may have been participants Cavalcade in years gone by.

Judges of the event have already given hints on what they will be looking for in 2011... "more country music stars with plenty of music and colour on each float". Judges are asking current stars participating in the float to dress up as who they aspired to be when they started out in the business.

"If you're a star, business, group or just a fan we encourage you to get together and develop a float to represent what and who has inspired you in country music," judges said. "Whether it's a truckload of Duncan's, or a lorry load of busty Dolly's, we want to see it."

Cavalcade category winners will receive prizes with thanks to local sponsors McDonald's Family Restaurants, 2TM and FM 92.9 and Furney's Rural, Tamworth.

The 2011 Toyota Country Music Cavalcade will start at the corner of Peel and Hill Streets at 9am on Saturday January 22 and will finish at O'Connell and Bligh Streets near Viaduct Park.

Cavalcade Official Entry Kits provide tips and tricks on how to enter floats and can be downloaded at the Festival website

Entries close on Monday January 10.

Photo: 2009 Roll of Renown inductee Slim Newton features in the Country Music Cavalcade with his partner Mary Holden and Country Music Hall of Fame representative Denise Clarke.


Leaping Lizards album launch

The Leaping Lizards will launch their new album this Friday night (December 17).

Produced in conjunction with Michael Fix at his studio in Brisbane, Shedding My Skin is billed as containing "a swag of  originals" written by the band.

The Leaping Lizards are described as "cutting fresh edges around present day Australian acoustic revival music... loyal to Australia's own 'heritage roots' music".

This Friday's launch is being held at a location strictly limited in numbers so RSVP is essential.

Intending visitors can email or telephone 02 5533 7174 for details.

The event starts at 5:30pm and has a cover charge which includes a copy of the album.

Special guest at the launch will be Australian national champion bush poet Noel Stallard.

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Troy and Felicity add a twist of country to Christmas

Country music has always been well represented at Woolworths Carols in the Domain and this year will be no different with Troy Cassar-Daley and Felicity Urquhart representing at this year's event.

"I take great pride in bringing country music to Woolworths Carols in the Domain," said Troy. "Country music is often about celebration and community, which fits in perfectly with Christmas."

This year's concert will be the first time for Felicity.*

"It's something I've wanted to do for years," Felicity, who is also a presenter on the Seven Network's "Sydney Weekender", said.

"My family and I always watch it on television and get into the spirit at home, but this year, I'll be on stage and my family will be in the audience at The Domain, which is very special."

This year's line-up will also include Anthony Warlow, the casts of the musicals "Jersey Boys" and "Tap Dogs", soprano and granddaughter of legendary cricketer Sir Donald Bradman, Greta Bradman, "The X Factor" winner Altiyan Childs along with fellow contestants Mahogany, opera singer Mark Vincent, pop stars Cassie Davis and Stan Walker, Dr Zhivago's Lucy Maunder, Hot 30 Countdown host and former member of Hi-5 Charli Robinson and the winners of Australia's Got Talent, dance sensations Justice Crew.

The children's segment will star the youngest person ever to be signed to Sony Music Australia, 13-year-old singer Straalen McCallum. Straalen will be joined by Georgie Parker and Jay Laga'aia, along with the most successful children's entertainers in history, The Wiggles, who will perform at Woolworths Carols in the Domain for the 18th consecutive year.

The event will be hosted by Grant Denyer and Kylie Gillies and the Salvation Army Choir, the Australian Girls Choir and Jubilation will also perform.

The Salvation Army's Oasis Youth Support Network is the official charity of Woolworths Carols in the Domain and will receive all funds from the sale of official candle bags at the event which will be packed with assistance of Woolworths employees and support from other corporate partners.

* Footnote: Felicity let it be known, unofficially during her hosting of "Saturday Night Country" at the weekend, that she and husband Glen Hannah are expecting their first child in the new year.


Chart Update – third week at number one for Markus

Markus Meier's hit Rope A Cowgirl holds the number one position on the national Country Tracks Top 30 singles chart this week for the third week in a row.

Tracy Killeen's Metrosexual Craze remains at number two while America's Sugarland is at three with Stuck Like Glue and Luke O'Shea's Midnight Train is up two more places to number four.

Beccy Cole's Here You Come Again is at five, Lee Kernaghan's Love In The Time Of Drought is at six and Luke Austen's She's So You is up two to seven.

Graham Rodger's Angels Without Halos is also up two to number eight, Jason Lee's Up A Creek enters the top 10 at nine as does Marie Hodson's Cowboys Love Texas at 10.

Bullet performers for the week include Jayne Denham's Feral Kev & General Leroy (15 to 11), Sara Storer's Tears (18 to 15), McAlister Kemp's Hell, Yeah (19 to 16), Keith Urban's Put You In A Song (21 to 18), Troy Cassar-Daley's Yesterday's Bed (26 to 23), Arthur Blanch's Beautiful Life (27 to 24), Allan Caswell's Who Gets The Friends (28 to 25) and Doug Bruce & Amber Joy Poulton's Close Enough (30 to 27).

New entries to the chart this week include Breakin' New Ground by Kristy Cox and the Davidson Brothers (in at 29).

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Bush Laureate finalists announced

Finalists have been announced for the 2011 Australian Bush Laureate Awards to be presented in Tamworth this January.

Judges were highly impressed with nominations for these Awards, one quoted as saying: "Once again I have been blown away by the high standard and quality of entries."

Finalists, in alphabetical order by title of work, are...

For Book of the Year... A Whole Lotta Muz by Murray Hartin, Autumn Collection by Ellis Campbell, For All We Are by Brian Beesley, Hold Yer Horses! by Carol Heuchan and Whimsical Wanderings by Des Bennett.

For Bush Poem of the Year… A Second Glance by Murray Hartin, A Swaggie's Tale by Donald Adams, The Drover's Wife by Helen Harvey, Ernie McBurney's Ride by Ellis Campbell and Gallipoli by Keith "Cobber" Lethbridge.

For Album of the Year... Australian Bush Poetry Classics by Jack Drake, Australian Made by Peter Mace, Dust by Tomas Hamilton, The Naked Truth by Marco Gliori, Murray Hartin & Brad Maclean and Tasha & Other Tales by John Best.

For Single Recorded Performance of the Year... Black Saturday by Jim Brown, The Cricket by John Best, How the Fire Queen Crossed The Swamp by Jack Drake, The Hypnotist by Marco Gliori and The Yoga Incident by Murray Hartin.

For Children's Poem of the Year... I Worry'‘bout The Penguin by Jim Haynes, I'd Like A Brontosaurus by Stephen Whiteside, Magical Magical Moon by Peter Winkler and Petunia by Carol Heuchan.

The 2011 Australian Bush Laureate Awards will be staged in the famous Tamworth Town Hall at 2pm on Tuesday, January 18.

Also to be announced and presented on the day will be the Judith Hosier Heritage Award, for a significant contribution to Australian bush poetry.

A star-studded line-up of bush poets will appear during the gala awards concert together with special guest country artists including Carter & Carter, Dianna Corcoran, Amber Lawrence, a number of Bush Laureate finalists and compere Jim Haynes.

Tickets are now available online here, by telephoning 02 6767 5300 or over the counter at the Tamworth Visitor Information Centre on the corner of Peel and Murray Streets.

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Melinda to stage two shows at Tamworth 2011

Melinda Schneider will stage two shows at the 2011 Tamworth Country Music Festival to celebrate a big year for the country star.

This year saw Melinda moving in new directions, literally, being the first female country artist to be invited to put her dancing skills to the test as one of the contestants on the 10th series the Seven/Prime Network's "Dancing With The Stars".

"I loved every minute of it," she said, "well almost!"

"It was the most physically challenging thing I'd ever done, all the dancers are like athletes.

"Serghei was a great partner and if I were asked to do it all again tomorrow, I'd say yes."

Melinda selected Olivia Newton-John's Cancer and Wellness Centre as her charity. Olivia recorded Melinda's song Courageous with her as a duet for the "Great Walk" album A Celebration In Song – Olivia Newton-John and Friends after Melinda took part in the Great Walk To Beijing in 2008.

In June, during the heavy training schedule for the show, Melinda took 10 days off making a quick detour to Los Angeles, Memphis and Nashville in America to host her annual "Elite Special Event Tours Country Music Fan's Ultimate Tour".

"I really love going on this trip with the group of country music fans, we have so many laughs and make some great friendships along the way," Melinda said.

Next it was back home and back into the recording studio to work with producer Chong Lim on an album idea that Melinda had been wanting to record for several years, Melinda Does Doris – A Tribute To Doris Day.

The new creative direction for her sixth studio album has proven to be a hit, making its debut at number one on the ARIA Jazz/Blues Chart on August 6 and remaining at the top spot nine weeks later.

Melinda knocked Herbie Hancock from the number one position, also bursting Michael Buble's bubble, stealing the spot he'd held for a combined total of 145 weeks.

"I am so thrilled with the way the album has been received," Melinda said. "This record seems to be making people happy, but I really have to thank the delightful Doris Day for the stunning songs and the joy that she has given all of her fans for so many years, including me!"

Melinda was excited to hear that Ms Day's business manager Bob Bashara had hand delivered the tribute album to Doris on his recent trip to her home in Carmel, California.

After a busy year of dancing, recording and a tour to Nashville it's no wonder it was September before Melinda embarked on her first tour dates for 2010, playing shows in Queensland, northern NSW, Sydney, the ACT, Adelaide and Victoria

With a handful of dates remaining and the year coming to a close, Melinda is priming up for a huge Tamworth with the announcement of her two big shows, both at the West Tamworth League Club.

Melinda will be performing a special music preview of the album Melinda Does Doris – A Tribute to Doris Day on Monday January 17 at 8.30pm The show will feature iconic DD songs like Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps, Secret Love, The Black Hills Of Dakota and Que Sera Sera.

Her second show on Friday January 21 at 2pm will showcase Melinda's Golden guitar winning country hits as well as the return, by popular demand, of "Schneider Idol", where the audience gets a chance to sing a duet with Melinda in the second half of the show and compete as a contestant to win a Maton guitar.

To audition for the chance to take part in "Schneider Idol" fans should go to

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Emmylou to perform in Sydney

Country star Emmylou Harris will perform three shows in Sydney this January.

Her first appearance will be on the opening night of the Festival of Sydney on Saturday January 8 in The Domain.

This will be followed by two shows at the city's State Theatre on Sunday and Monday January 9 and 10.

Over her celebrated 30-year career, Emmylou has sold more than 15 million albums world-wide, received 12 Grammy Awards and been a key figure in several of America's most important musical movements, including bluegrass, folk and Americana as well as country.

From her formative collaborations with country-rock visionary Gram Parsons to her early solo work, Emmylou played, with a handful of her contemporaries, a key role in uniting rock audiences with country music traditionalists for the first time.

As a result, country music earned a new generation of fans.

As an interpreter and composer, Emmylou imbues the songs she performs with "raw emotion", skills that have led to collaborations with an array of artists from Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton and Waylon Jennings to Bright Eyes, Ryan Adams and Elvis Costello.

In her first visit to Australia in a decade, she will perform with a four-piece band, the Red Dirt Boys.

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Photography workshops

Acclaimed country music and portrait photographer John Elliott will be running a series of photography workshops during the upcoming Tamworth Country Music Festival.

"The four-hour workshops will be fun, informative and hands on," John said. They are being held during the day on Friday the 14th, Saturday the 15th and Sunday the 16th of January.

They will involve practical information and tips for photographers of all skill levels, followed by the chance for participants to use what they have learned and take their own photographs. "Participants will get to photograph a real country star!

"All you need to bring is your camera and a willingness to learn and have fun," John said. "Light refreshments will be provided."

John will share his knowledge and experience gained over a lifetime of working as a freelance photographer in the music industry. His impressive work record includes 20 Slim Dusty album covers and two definitive books on Australian country music.

Each workshop is limited to 15 participants.

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Telstra Road to Tamworth finalists announced

The 10 finalists competing in the 2011 Telstra Road to Tamworth talent search grand final have been announced.

The announcement took place following the competition's "boot camp" talent development program conducted in conjunction with the Telstra 500 V8 Supercars event at Sydney Olympic Park at the weekend.

The 10 will travel to Tamworth in January to compete for the two major prizes – winning songwriter and winning performer – on Tuesday January 18.

A group of 17 contenders, most chosen from heats conducted around the country over the preceding months, was flown to Sydney to take part in the "boot camp".

They all performed at the competition semi-final as part of Supercars weekend.

Adding to the homegrown talent on display were Telstra Road to Tamworth Ambassadors and ARIA award winning trio The McClymonts, along with two of Australia's best known country music artists, James Blundell and Felicity Urquhart, both of whom took part in the judging process.

"This is the second year the Telstra Road to Tamworth semi-final has been held at the Sydney Telstra 500," said Brooke McClymont. "It's such a fantastic event and an invaluable opportunity for these aspiring artists to gain some experience performing in the spotlight to a big audience.

"The top 10 are one step closer to winning a trip to Nashville and an amazing 12 month mentorship with some of the country's most experienced music industry professionals – I can't wait to see who's announced as our new winners in Tamworth."

The finalists are: Alan Boyle from Balmoral, Qld (Toowoomba heat winner), Gena Rose Bruce, Mitcham, Vic (Geelong winner), Codee-Lee Down, Eaton, WA (Dowerin winner), Amela Duheric, Oxenford, Qld (songwriter category), Kirsty Elwell, Yagoona, NSW (Canberra winner), David Garnham, Darwin, NT (songwriter category), Harry Hookey, Kooyong, Vic (Huon winner), Nikki Jensen, Cairn, Qld (Cairns winner), Craig Sinclair, Albany, WA (songwriter category) and Shandell Tosoni (digital heat winner).

Tickets for the competition final are available from the major Festival ticket gateway

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Photo (by Ted Sealey), from left, back row: Felicity Urquhart, Alan Boyle, David Garnham, Harry Hookey, Shandell Tosoni, Craig Sinclair, James Blundell; front: Kirsty Elwell, Gena Rose Bruce, Amela Duheric, Codee-Lee Down, Nikki Jensen.


Chart Update – Markus holds the top spot

Markus Meier's hit Rope A Cowgirl holds the number one position on the national Country Tracks Top 30 singles chart this week for the second week.

Tracy Killeen's Metrosexual Craze and Lee Kernaghan's Love In The Time Of Drought remain at number two and three, respectively, while Beccy Cole's Here You Come Again edges up one place to be at number four.

America's Sugarland is at five with Stuck Like Glue, Luke O'Shea's Midnight Train bounds up to sixth place and Kasey Chambers' Little Bird is at seven.

The BobKatz are at eight with The Old HR, Luke Austen's She's So You is at nine and Graham Rodger's Angels Without Halos enters the top 10 at 10.

Bullet performers for the week include Jayne Denham's Feral Kev & General Leroy (18 to 15), McAlister Kemp's Hell, Yeah (22 to 19), Keith Urban's Put You In A Song (26 to 21) and Troy Cassar-Daley's Yesterday's Bed (30 to 26).

New entries to the chart this week include Catherine Britt (pictured) with Sweet Emmylou (in at 29) and Doug Bruce & Amber Joy Poulton's Close Enough (at 30).

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TSA Songwriter Salute finalists announced

Finalists have been announced for the Tamworth Songwriters' Association (TSA) Songwriter Salute Awards which will be announced in January.

For Traditional Bush Ballad of the Year, the finalists are An Old Time Drover by Rod Williams, The Battered Billy Tin by Ben Jacobs & Shaza Leigh, The Cooper Coming Down by Graham Rodger, Kidman Jillaroos by Lex K and Mr Jack by Tony McKenna.

For Contemporary Song of the Year... All I Ever Wanted by Damian Howard, Behind Bars by Allan Caswell, Billy Ringer by Tony McKenna, His Wooden Friend by Graham Rodger, Sweet Maree by Brendan Radford and Who Gets The Friends by Allan Caswell & Marian Caswell.

For Country Ballad of the Year... Angels Without Halos by Graham Rodger, Don't Let Them Murder Tamworth by Reg Poole & Keith Jamieson, The Maree Line by Ted Egan, Spirit Of The Land by Tony McKenna & Leanne Hall and Your Fathers Son by Ben Jacobs.

For Comedy/Novelty Song of the Year... Cat Yella by Lana Ross, Grandma Rides A Harley by Debbie Lehmann & Olive Bice, Queensland Opera by Ted Egan, Ripped Off by Lex K and Uncle Bill's Legacy by Graham Rodger & Don Ireland.

For Children's Song of the Year... A Simple Song by Alita Fahey & Makirum, The Fish Song by Jeff Aschmann, I Want To Talk To Santa by Debbie Lehmann & Olive Bice, The Laughing Game by Ted Egan and Tortoise In The Dam by Alita Fahey & Shardyn.

For Gospel Song of the Year... A Beautiful Place by Johnny Greenwood, Calling You Home by Lana Ross, I'm Only Human by Allan Caswell, Al Craig & Matt Scullion, Our Angels by Debbie Lehmann & Olive Bice and Tuppence Ha'Penny by Graham Rodger.

Finalists for the TSA/Capital News/Avis New Songwriter Award are Lynda Barnes & Jason Lee with A Memory, Kaylee Bell & Lance Coassin with The Seed, Kathleen Coleman with The Old Man's Money. Rachel A Jillett & Evan Jillett with Memories Of Tent Hill and Lauren Lee Williams with Happy Birthday To Me.

The TSA Songwriters Salute Awards will be staged at West Diggers in Kable Avenue Tamworth (not West Leagues as previously) on Wednesday evening, January 19.

Winners of the TSA's Tex Morton Award and National Song Contest will also be announced on the night.

Tickets are available from Wests by telephoning 02 6765 7588 or online at

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Wests tickets on sale

Speaking about the West Tamworth League Club, tickets for shows at this organisations two venues, two of the most significant of the annual January country music festival, went on sale on December 1 (last Wednesday).

Wests comprises the main Wests club in Philip Street West Tamworth and Wests Diggers in Kable Avenue in the city.

The two venues generally host many of the leading names in Australian country music throughout the 10 days of the festival and the seven day countdown period.

Headlining this coming January will be Adam Brand, Kasey Chambers, Beccy Cole, Dianna Corcoran, Tommy & Phil Emmanuel, Adam Harvey, Jim Haynes, Jonah's Road, Melinda Schneider, Sara Storer, The McClymonts and The Sunny Cowgirls.

Wests also plays host to the Australian Bluegrass Championships, Australian Bush Balladeers Association Star Quest, Aristocrat Entertainer of the Year Quest and TSA Songwriters Salute Awards (see story above).

Star Canadian country band Doc Walker will also appear as will pop acts Toni Childs, Jon English, Wendy Matthews and The Party Boys.

Both clubs also host bush poetry events each day of the festival.

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Keith in Australia's top 10 richest entertainers list

Keith Urban has come in at number five in the BRW (Business Review Weekly) list of Australia's top 10 richest entertainers with earnings this year of $20 million.

Wife Nicole Kidman is at number 10 with $9.6 million giving the couple combined earnings for the year just shy of $30 million.

Making its debut as the top Australian entertainment earner for the year was the production company Global Creatures, the firm behind "Walking with Dinosaurs" with earnings of $140 million.

Rockers AC/DC were at number two with just over $131 million, The Wiggles were at three with $33.5 million and Hugh Jackman was at four with $21.5 million.

Paul Dainty followed Keith at number six with $15 million, Namoi Watts was seventh with almost $12 million, Cate Blanchett was eighth with almost $11 million and Hi-5 came in at ninth with almost $10 million.


Luke to play Tamworth

Australian Idol 2008 runner-up Luke Dickens is set to play Tamworth 2011 to support the simultaneous release of his new album.

Luke's debut single Believer is gaining good radio airplay across the country while a second single, Underdog, from the album of the same name will now be released to coincide with his first appearance at the Tamworth Country Music Festival.

Luke joined the Australian Forces Entertainment Tour to entertain Australian soldiers on peacekeeping missions overseas early this week (see story below).

The past six months has seen Luke tour all over the country with his own band as well as with Golden Guitar winner Victoria Baillie, New Horizon winner Amber Lawrence and Toyota Star Maker Luke Austen.

Underdog is billed as "delivering the kind of music that makes you want to jump in your car and head up the highway, leaving behind the worries of the everyday".

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Aussie entertainers tour to Egypt

For the first time in recent years, Australia's Forces Entertainment Tour will be travelling to Egypt early this month.

The tour will aim to build morale and Christmas spirit of Australian soldiers currently deployed there on peacekeeping missions.

Included in the line-up for the Egypt tour are Beccy Cole (pictured at right performing to Diggers on a recent Forces tour to Iraq), comedy trio The Axis of Awesome, Luke Dickens and Gretel Killeen as compere.

Beccy has previously toured to the Middle East and feels passionately about the tours that Forces Entertainment organise.

"I'm thrilled to be heading overseas to entertain our troops once again," she said. "As a performer, the stage in front of your own forces is the most gratifying place to play.

"As we head into Christmas, a favourite time for friends and family in Australia, my band and I are looking forward to bringing a little bit of 'home' and a whole lot of cheer to those serving in Egypt."

Embarking on his second Forces Entertainment tour following a trip to the Middle East earlier this year, Luke Dickens will also be heading to Egypt this month. This trip will coincide with the release of Underdog the single, which follows up the release of the album by the same name.

Luke launched the album from Afghanistan so he is thrilled that this next trip has coincided with the single release. "Being able to be a part of Forces Entertainment has been one of the most humble and inspiring things I have ever done," he said. "I am so excited to give the troops a taste of home at Christmas and can't wait for the shows and to meet more of our great Aussie troops."

The entertainers will be performing two shows during their tour, performing for and meeting with the Multinational Forces and Observers at base camp locations in the Sinai desert.



Gidgee Bush Ballad Award winners

Winners have been announced in the 2010 Gidgee Coal Bush Ballad Awards.

Ernie Constance (pictured) won the Male Vocal award with Bogong from fellow finalists Johnny Greenwood, Glenn Jones, Tom McIvor and Pete Smith.

Ernie also took out the Album award with Milestones from Glenn Jones' Jonesy Sings Reg Poole,Dianne Lindsay's Heartbeat Of Australia, Tom McIvor's The Naked Bullrider and Pete Smith's Western Star.

Dianna Lindsay won the Female Vocal award with Cooper After Rain from fellow finalists Trudy Hintz, Rachel Jillet and Lana Ross.

Glenn Jones & Reg Poole combined to take the Vocal Group/Duo/Collaboration award with Goin' Rodeoin from fellow finalists Lex K & Anita Ree, Dianne Lindsay & Anne Kirkpatrick, Dianne Lindsay & Reg Lindsay, Ged Hintz & Trudy Hintz.

Lindsay Hammond won the Instrumental award with The Maple Sugar Sweetheart from fellow finalists Peter Simpson and Lindsay Waddington.

Johnny Kaye & Tom McIvor were named winners of the Songwriter award with Manarichie Rails from Ernie Constance's When The Sun Sinks Away In The West, Johnny Greenwood's When The Brisbane Wattle Blooms Again, Ron King & Nola Williams' The Bridle That Hangs On The Wall and Dianne Lindsay's Kellies Eyes.

Trudy Hintz won the New Talent award with Won't Those Memories Let Me Be from fellow finalists David Baldi, Ged Hintz and Rachel Jillet.

The Comedy/Novelty award went to Tom McIvor with The Man Who Hated Snakes from fellow finalists Col Edmonds, Johnny Greenwood, Lex K and Johnny Kaye & Alec Raymer.

Rod Williams' Old Time Driver won the Single award from David Baldi's Hittin' The Murray.

Reg Poole was presented with the Gidgee Coal Bush Ballad Legend Award and Allan Luscombe was named winner of the Encouragement Award.


Chart Update – Markus at number one

Markus Meier's hit Rope A Cowgirl tops the national Country Tracks Top 30 singles chart this week.

Tracy Killeen's Metrosexual Craze edges up one more to be at number two while Lee Kernaghan's former number – Love In The Time Of Drought – is at three and Kasey Chambers' Little Bird is steady at four.

Beccy Cole, The BobKatz and Luke Austen are all steady in their respective positions of five, six and seven with Here You Come Again, The Old HR and She's So You.

America's Sugarland is at eight with Stuck Like Glue, Luke O'Shea's Midnight Train bounds into the top 10 at nine and Peter McWhirter's I Will Stand By You.

Bullet performers for the week include Jayne Denham's Feral Kev & General Leroy (21 to 18) and Keith Urban's Put You In A Song (30 to 26).

New entries to the chart this week include Allan Caswell's Who Gets The Friends (at 28) and Troy Cassar-Daley's Yesterday's Bed (at 30).

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