Totally Biased Fan Review – Hats Off to Hats Off – A review of the Tamworth mid year festival




Hats Off to Tamworth is the mid-year much cooler Country Music Festival in Tamworth. Above are a few pictures of some of the gigs that I went to. I kicked off on my arrival on Thursday night when I went to see Sandra Humphries (on her farewell tour before retirement), Anthony Taylor, who has been around for a while but is now well and truly hitting his straps with an amazing album this year, and veteran, Alby Pool at South Tamworth Bowlo. A packed crowd listened and watched as the three artists sang mainly traditional country songs with a few originals thrown in. There were a lot of musos in the crowd who appreciate these three very much. I hope that Sandra reconsiders one day, and after a well earned rest comes back and sings us some more songs. We will miss her.  It was a good way to start the festival off.

On Friday, I did one of the first of my live crosses to Gippsland FM and met up with my best friend. Then on to see Don Costa at Shopping World, which is like not only traditional but mandatory when you go to Tamworth at either festival. Don sings country standards and he sings them well. For a sample, I will be reviewing his latest album soon. Don sweetly gave me a mention. In the end, I am just a fan.

Then on to see a few of the Tamworth Songwriters Association mob at Tamworth City Bowlo. I met up with may mate, Melissa Robertson (more later) and Kylie Adams-Collier and caught her set there. I also saw Brendan Smoother for most of his set. I had to leave then, as I amusingly related, I had to go and see Brendan Smoother!  I did beat him to his gig! The Brendans was a definite highlight for me. It was set at Carmen’s, a lovely Italian restaurant. Brendan Smoother and Brendan Nawrocki played some well known songs as well as those known best to us fans. I was honoured by Brendan N when he played the song that he sent for my birthday via video and facebook a few years ago. Brendan S sang me via request, what I call The Chimney Song, off his album. The boys have something special planned with some others soon and I can’t wait.

On Saturday, I headed off to Centrepoint Arcade to hear my mate Melissa Robertson sing a few songs. As always, she was top notch. Melissa will have a new album soon and currently has a top 10 song with Red Head at Heart. I also caught a couple of songs from Bec Nethery (the real red head) before I had to head off to the P.O. Hotel to catch mine host, Wendy Wood. Ah, a sweet voice and a great gal.

Off then to the Kora Naughton album launch at The Family Hotel (Moonshiners). Hosted by David Carter (Carter and Carter), a high energy spectacular by Kora was supported by pocket dynamo, Rory Phillips and a host of Country Music Academy graduates as well as a hot band  – Simon Johnson, Rod Motbey, Vaughan Jones and Ali Foster.  Kora’s album (reviewed here) is amazing, especially for a debut release by a 16 year old This girl will do big things.

Then on to Aleyce Simmonds and Brad Butcher. Sadly, I only saw Brad perform as time restraints made me have to leave to go and see Luke O’Shea at North Tamworth Bowlo. Luckily, I will be seeing Aleyce and Brad soon in Victoria. Sorry guys, did my best. I at least got to hear a couple of faves from Brad!

Then off to Luke O’Shea and he was awesome as always…over 3 hours of entertainment from Luke with dinner and a chat and photos. Luke is one of the most talented and nicest guys in Australian Country Music. It was an awesome night. Just Luke and his guitar and that was more than enough. Sister Mel and I re-created our photo with Luke that we had taken 5 and a half years ago.

Sunday, I started the day at The Hopscotch Cafe with Sally-Anne Whitten and hubby and extraordinary guitarist, Alwyn Aurisch. They were gems as always, singing and trying to keep warm at the Alfresco cafe.

I then did my second cross after arriving at Tamworth Town Hall for an extravaganza which included: Eloise Newell, Finnian Johnson, Jess Holland (oh my gosh, she just gets better), Johanna Hemara, Allison Forbes and Steve McAuley (the birthday bashees), Sal and Al, Sarah Byrnes, Rae Beth and Trev and others. It was a wonderful afternoon of ad lib and fun performances.

There were lots of other things going on on the Saturday and Sunday, but you can’t go to everything. There were a lot of singer/songwriters out at The Dag and a tribute to The Dallas Family, as well as a celebration of Tamworth artists (most of which I got to see at other things.) Adam Harvey, Matt Scullion, Michael Bryers, and others had gigs on too, but they all clashed. I think that they should have more things on during the day on Thursday and Friday and perhaps include the Monday as well.

It is an awesome little festival, though, in my old hometown, and considering that it is still virtually in its infancy compared to the January festival, it goes alright.

So it is Hats Off to Hats Off.

Thank you big time to James Stewart Keene, Melissa Robertson, Luke O’Shea and The Brendans in particular. A very big thank you to Wendy Wood.








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