Tamworth Country Music Festival 2019 – Days 1,2,3.

G’day from the Country Music Cap of Australia. As we enter day 4 of the festival and things start getting even bigger, let us recap on my last (or first) 3 days here.

Friday 18 January

On our second day of travelling here from Victoria, we spent most of the day in the car and arrived (safely) at about 2.00pm. Coming to Tamworth, for me, is more than just the music, it is my hometown, so catching up with longtime friends outside of music and being in a place which still means home to me is just as important.

After settling in to my friend’s place, we started the musical journey. It was always going to be different this year. We have lost a few mates and there are people who are regulars to the festival who cannot come this year – both artists and fans.

Ladies of Country was my first stop at Wests Leagues Club. It is always a great way to start a festival. Gina Timms, a fine songstress herself, hosts this event every year with a mix of female artists, from the rookies to the veterans. Tinged with a little sadness with Sandra Humphries last LOC before she retires and courage with Clelia Adams getting up to sing after some major health issues which she is still dealing with. It was lovely to see Gayle O’Neill for the first time LIVE after we had talked on the phone via interview and on Facebook regularly. A bit of NZ was there too with Aly Cook and a few youngsters to keep the flag waving for a few years to come. An enjoyable night as always and my first hello to lots of old friends.

Saturday 19th January

Early start with Songwriters in the round with one of my favourites, Carter and Carter but also, two new acts to me in Fred Smith and Megan (sorry, I forgot her last name…will fix that later) one from Canberra, the other from NZ originally but now in Melbourne. Both of them were terrific, and it was an adventure with their stories and their songs. A great way to start the day. And of course, a hug from Michael Bryers is always a good thing.

Then I went to see Benny Allen at The Family Hotel for his launch at Moonshiners of his new album and he helped out a few young and rising stars as they supported him. It was a good little gig with Benny being Benny and being energetic and sincere.

Then off to catch Swifty (Andrew Swift) at The Tamworth Hotel after a quick visit to Fanzone to see Kate Hindle, another courageous and talented performer. Swifty was fabulous, though we all nearly melted in the sun. Caught up with some friends and fellow music tragics from Victoria and we enjoyed Swifty, Gretta Ziller and Catherine Britt.

I stayed for the next gig, Sally-Anne Whitten with Alwyn Aurisch and Stix and Trev. The funktry and soultry stylings of this talented lady and her very close band which is almost a family had even blokes getting up to dance.

Then on to the Tamworth Opry at the Cap with Felicity hosting an amazing show with Luke O’Shea, Catherine Britt, Andrew Swift, Gretta Ziller, Allan Caswell, Camille and Stuie and young Sonny, Tori Forsyth and Travis List and Neilly Rich with some other young artists added to the mix. It was a slight change in line up to what was advertised but it was a great show with something for everybody.

That was a big day.

Sunday 20 January – Day 3

Started off very early at Pete Denahy’s Bluegrass Breakfast at West Leagues for an hour or so, then off back into town to catch Brendan Smoother at the Atrium and then on to see Dan Murphy at Wests Diggers. Then I went to catch my Country Music Grandson at Fanzone and had a nice chat with him afterwards. Caught up with a few more old friends along the way. Caught the last bit of Michael Bryers’ gig after some lunch and then Kerry Kennedy for a couple of hours – always a treat. Chatted to Peter Smokie Dawson and caught up with some other friends between songs.

Then off to Luke Dickens’ album launch and it was a cracker. Some much welcome rain in Tamworth. It was a start, but of course not enough to break the drought. It was another big day of great music and catching up.

Thanks to all of the friends and artists who make me feel so special with their music and their support. Get better soon Col Finley.

 

Totally Biased Fan Review: Angela Easson – History

angelaeassonhistory

A few years ago, I met this young lady at Mildura. The gal from South Australia (must be something in the water there) has now moved to Queensland. (We will try and forgive her for that). She is a slow burner. This album is a mix of uptempo songs and gentle ballads. Her vocals are strong and reminiscent of some dominant queens of Australian country music.

This was a nice surprise. A lot of album promotions start from when the first lines are written, but this one just snuck up on us and like a lot of random things in life, it was a great idea. Angela is a winner and so is this album.

For those who continually say that there are no great female vocalists in Australian Country Music, this is yet another example of what blows that stupid theory right out of the water.

Angela’s voice and artistry is a mixture of some of the best female sounds in Australian Country Music. Sometimes, she sounds like Aleyce, Amber, Kirsty Lee Akers and many others, other times, she just sounds like herself. Whatever the label, Angela has stamped her mark with this terrific contribution.

Go get ’em.

 

 

 

Tracks:

Call The Police – This single was released today. Sounds a bit Tori Forsyth inspired. A soulful/bluesy number.

Smack Dab  – It is hard when you don’t have credits (thanks to the limitations of iTunes) but there have been lots of songs called Smack Dab. This one is a bit rockier than most on this album.

No Man’s Land – Angela’s vocals are very strong on this track. Sounding a bit like Amelia from NeillyRich here. Some nice strings on here.

Greatest Unknown – One of my favourites on the album. A very polished, sweet song. Big ticks for this one.

History – Probably the most twangy song on the album. It will go down well in Tamworth. Love it.

Rollercoaster – Angela certainly mixes it up and this is another change in pace. Toe tapping stuff.

No Peace in Quiet – For those who know me and my reviews will not be surprised that this is my favourite on the album and it is an early Kazzie contender. Beautiful words, wonderfully sung and top notch production. Aleyce will be cheering.

I want that guy – Another change in tempo, bound to be a crowd pleaser – Amber Lawrence meets Shania Twain. Sounds great.

 

Totally Biased Top 100 Australian Country Albums of All Time – (well,in rough order)

This was the toughest list that I have had to put together. I have promised it for a while, if nothing else, it may get people curious to try out some of the albums on here. I had to leave out lots of favourite artists and albums and I tried to look at the albums from a few perspectives. I chose albums that were not “Greatest Hits”, that would have added another 4,000 to the list. I had to look at them a bit critically and make sure that they were balanced albums. I chose singer/songwriters generally over people recording other people’s songs, though there are a few covers here. I tried to cover a few styles and I wanted to pick albums where every song was great….not just half the album or where all the songs were just “good”. There are some current albums, like Andrew Swift’s album that I am sure will hit this list one day. A lot of these albums have been played thousands of times and I actually have them on cassette or record, they have been part of my life for that long. I didn’t go through all of my 6,000 cassettes so I am sure I have left off some! A lot of these albums have stood the test of time for me. They are albums that I play over and over and I never get tired of them. It was hard choosing a Troy C-D album…..I like a lot of them, same with Adam Harvey, Luke O’Shea, etc. Some of them naturally popped into my head, I didn’t have to think about them too much. The order is not exact, bar from the first 10, they are just my 100 favourites, I guess. I am sure this will change again.

So here goes.

  1. Family Tree – Melinda Schneider.  I have said this before, so it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise! One of the most balanced albums of all time. It has some very personal, emotional songs and some funny ones and some tongue in cheek ones. Yes, Melinda is one of my favourite people but in all honesty, I have dissected this album many times and I really can’t fault it.
  2. Bottle Tree Lane – Brendon Walmsley. Again, this one is an amazing mix of songs and Brendon’s vocals are never better than they are on here. Probably the album that I have played most over the years.
  3. 3 – Amber Lawrence. This album ironically, is at 3!  I love this album so much. It has some beautiful songs on it and it really is a treasure, like its maker
  4. From The Bottom of A Well – Brad Butcher. This album won a lot of 2017 Kazzies and I have praised it endlessly on Social Media. I think that it is an album which people love no matter what kind of music they follow. I think this album will go down in Australian Music History as one of the finest albums ever written. Brad Butcher’s vocals are awesome.
  5. Michael Carr – Michael Carr – The most unoriginal title of an album, but one of the finest in Australian Country Music.  Without Michael Carr and Allan Caswell, we may not have many singer/songwriters in this country in our genre. The songs that they haven’t written, they have co-written or they have inspired many songwriters to write. It is hard to split this top ten for the same reason – they are pretty all darn near perfect.
  6. Hell Breaks Loose – Shane Nicholson – I love all Shane’s music, but this was the album that made him shine most. I play this so much that my neighbours know the words to every song. Shane Nicholson songs are complex, multi-layered and thoughtful. They are often the hardest to review because to do them justice, you have to study them hard. The study is worth it.
  7. Sweet Rebecca – Beccy Cole. I have all Beccy’s albums and there are a couple on here, and in a perfect world, I would have loved to fit a few more in. She is also the artist that I have seen the most in concert. This album is her most balanced. It has a bit of everything, like her concerts have. She makes you laugh and she makes you cry and she makes you think. Legend.
  8. The Happiness Tree – 2 album set – Darren Colston – This is a double treat. There is an album of Darren’s most loved songs and then there is an album of new songs. Darren is one of our most underrated singer/songwriters. He has one of the most unique and beautiful voices in Australia and he can write a damn fine song. This is a wonderful collection. A good introduction to his music for the L plater.
  9. Frontier – Craig Stewart – After constant nagging from a certain fan, Craig is working on a follow up to this album. It is a very clever album. Each song depicts an event or era in Australia’s History. As it only takes you up to a certain time, it was only fair that another album should be written! It is a beautifully crafted album which I think every Aussie should have in their collection. Craig has a fantastic voice, particularly for songs of this nature. It is a rare treat.
  10. Rules For Love – Allan Caswell. There are a few more well known Caswell albums on this list, but this one gets the number 10 slot chiefly because it holds my favourite Caswell song, Stolen Roses. It has some great duets on here and some of Sir Allan’s more romantic songs. A gem.
  11. What We Know Now – The April Family. I have listened to music my whole life and no album has surprised me as much as this album did. I knew Michael from his association with Karl Broadie and knew his name around the traps. When I was waiting outside the Tamworth Town Hall in 2017, to go into Country Music Cares, this exotic young lady was walking in. We don’t get many women looking like that around Tamworth. It was a face that I was going to remember, but not just for how cool she looked amongst us average looking denim wearing folks. Then I met them inside during the break….Kylie, Casey and Michael. “We have a new album coming out this year. ” Then I bought this album that they had, without hearing anything, not realising that this was the “new album”. The rest, as they say, is history. I have seen them live a few times now, and they know how much I love them. Three very different folks who have produced one of the best albums in Australian Country Music history.
  12. Sideshow – Michael Bryers. If the last album was my biggest surprise, this album was the least surprising for me. I knew that it was going to be great because for about 6 years, I had been hearing every track on the album at gigs. Finally, we were rewarded with this amazing album. It was worth the wait.
  13. Queen of Boomtown – Gretta Ziller This woman could sing the phone book. She has the most amazing voice and she writes songs which are all very different and she covers just about all of the 79 types of country music. I call her the Queen of Melbournetown and she is. She is one of the hardest working, versatile performers in country music and this album is genius.
  14. The Wreckage – Melody Moko The woman of many last names has many talents. This fine album produced by her husband and magnificent muso, Michael Muchow, and another awesome talent, Catherine Britt, is a masterpiece. The songs are incredible and Melody is in fine form. One of the best albums of the last few years and a very underrated one.
  15. Cry Like A Man – Anne Kirkpatrick – The girl who would be Queen, our Queen Anne. How could she miss? From one of Australia’s most famous families, let alone Australian Country Music’s famous families, Anne was either going to sink or swim. Not only did she swim, she swam a marathon, and she still is doing that. She has been a trailblazer for many Australian Country Music female singers and this album is one of the reasons why.
  16. Prodigal Son – Luke O’Shea – It is no secret that Lukie is one of my favourites and it is hard sorting out which album of his comes first, let alone deciding which ones fit into the 100. This one contains my second and third favourite Luke songs, so it was an obvious choice in the end. It probably contains more well known tracks than any of his other albums.
  17. Life and Breath – Wendy Wood – One of Australia’s finest songwriters and a woman with a voice that haunts and heartens, this album is just incredible. I did get a sneak peek to this one and I knew that it would be a beauty. Perhaps one of the surprises on this list to many, but listen to it and you will know why.
  18. Every Minute – Carter and Carter – Together with Allan Caswell, I think that they have just about taken out every award at Mildura, and this album (I own all of theirs) is my favourite. It does have my favourite Carter and Carter song on it, Candlelight and Kisses but it is just a good all ’round album and an incredibly uplifting one.
  19. Before Darkness Comes-A-Callin’ – The Weeping Willows – I had never seen a couple on film that have more chemistry between them than Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward until these two. This album is the album that won lots of Kazzies but more importantly, saw them skyrocket to huge success with Golden Guitar nominations and national and international acclaim. An amazing follow up to Til The North Wind Blows, which flew under the radar a bit but is also on this list.
  20. The Mountain – Lachlan Bryan and The Wildes.  These guys can’t do any wrong in my book. Every album that they produce is amazing. This is a fine work of alt. country fabulousness and a well respected album amongst their peers.
  21. Listen To The Words – Luke O’Shea and the Medicine Wheel – The title track is my favourite Luke O’Shea song. This album is one of Luke’s finest and it was one of the first that I had heard from him. Still a favourite, though I have all of his albums.
  22. Cautionary Tales – Harmony James – One of the most beautifully written and polished albums on this list. The absolutely incredible talent that Harmony James has in producing this album is thankfully going to be released to us again this year for a long awaited new album. In the meantime, listen to this, it is food for the mind and music for the heart.
  23. More than meets the eye – Aleyce Simmonds  I love all of Aleyce’s stuff, but this album as a whole is her best. It has more variety, more style twists and it is a very honest and personal album. Deservedly the album that received so much acclaim.
  24.  There to Here – Drew McAlister – Drew’s first solo album and I still believe that it is his best. This album should have won him the GG for Best Male Vocal that year. At least he was nominated.
  25. A Good Place – Doug Bruce – Doug doesn’t make bad albums – every one of them is terrific. This is the one that I play the most.
  26. This Here Cowboy – Roo Arcus – I could listen to Roo all day. He is so easy on the ears. Roo is the real deal.
  27. Cowboys and Sunsets – Roo Arcus – I put these two together because I found it hard to split them. I usually put them on together on my stereo and they tend to blend together. They are like Siamese twins really…with cowboy hats on.
  28. Then There’s Me – Diana Corcoran Probably, technically, the best country female voice in Australia (when she is not living overseas!). This album is my favourite of hers, though I love them all. The girl from Parkes is doing great things overseas.
  29. Driver’s Seat – Tracy Killeen A wonderful near perfect album. One of the best and most underrated female talents in this country. Brave is one of my favourite songs.
  30. Wild One – Sovereign I came across this band by accident. One of the few country music acts in Australia that other people knew about before me. One of my most often played albums.
  31. Too Far Gone – Catherine Britt – One of our finest and bravest. Forever evolving and now a veteran of Australian Country Music, despite her young age and fresh outlook on life and her music. This is a classic.
  32. Legend – Mike Carr – Title says it all really. Then, I am totally biased. A truly amazing album. Mike has only done two solo albums. He is too busy helping everyone else out.
  33. Stories Through Time – Billy Bridge – One of the albums that started the ‘concept’ idea. The album has launched a thousand singles….well, it seems that way. A ripper of a story album.
  34. Till The North Wind Blows – The Weeping Willows – I go through moods where this is my fave Willows’ album and then other times when the other one is. I think overall, the one up a bit higher is a better album, but this one has a couple of my absolute faves on it.
  35. What’ll Happen To Me Now? Allison Forbes – Some people would argue that this is not really an album….I call it an EEP, and extended, extended play or a mini album. Close enough. Quality over quantity. Two of my favourite Australian Country Music songs on this little gem. Just an awesome little album.
  36. Butterfly – Susan Lily – Some of the best written personal songs on this album. An artist who just keeps getting better and this was an early offering. Amazingly versatile singer.
  37. I’m Stronger – Sandra Humphries – An artist who is retiring early gets both the next two spots. Not much between these two albums though they are very different on several levels. I think one kind of leads into the other.
  38. Walk in Circles – Sandra Humphries  See above!  Truly one of the finest singers in this country and many think that she is the best.
  39. Golden Road – Keith Urban – One of our greatest exports. I do like the early stuff best. This is one that he did half way through his career, probably one of the first big albums overseas. Still has some great songs on it.
  40. Sugar Talk – Adam Harvey I have all of Adam’s albums and this is my favourite. There are some that are nipping at its heels, but this does it for me.
  41. Warnings and Wisdom – Jen Mize – We adopted this gal from Vegas and I am so glad that we did. Such a wonderful album from first til last.
  42. 50 years in Oz – Allan Caswell – This album was co-written with many of Allan’s friends who also feature on this chart. It was a landmark album for Allan, as the title says but also because it was probably his most winningest album.
  43. Sing You Up – Luke O’Shea – The usual feast of fabulous songwriting from one of the leaders of the pack.
  44. Dusty Smiles and Heartbreak Cures – Catherine Britt – An early gem from one of the Queens of Australian country music.
  45. Foolish Things – Amber Joy Poulton – A.J, like Sandra Humphries has the ability of making a classic sound like something new and something new sound like a classic. This is a perfect example of that.
  46. Live at Lizottes – Beccy Cole – The first album that I put on when I am going on a long trip. It is like a little concert that you can take with you. The cd also had a dvd with it, doing just that, so it was a bonus.
  47. Camille and Stuie – Tahi – The finest effort from these two, though all of their stuff is great. Fabulous guitar playing from Stuie and beautiful vocals from Cam.
  48. Colin Buchanan – Edge of The Kimberley – I haven’t played this album for a while but I used to play it a lot. I recently put it back on and it has stood the test of time. Still an awesome album.
  49. December Moon – Tania Kernaghan – Still my favourite Kernaghan, and I can’t wait to see her in Tamworth this year. I just about played the silver colour off this album. Some of my favourite Aussie tracks on this one….it doesn’t get much more Aussie than this.
  50. Hard Light – Travis Collins – I have all of Trav’s albums and this is definitely his best.  Totally deserving of all the accolades that he received.
  51. Ricochet – Kristy Cox. I love all of her albums but this has the most variety. It shows her versatility.
  52. Stronger – Melinda Schneider – Melinda is at her best when she is writing about things that she has lived through. This is a wonderful album which has some strong and tough messages.
  53. Barricades and Brick Walls – Kasey Chambers – I have all of Kasey’s albums and I am very proud of what she has achieved. This is my personal favourite.
  54. Rattlin’ Bones – Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson – Together and alone, these two are hard to beat when it comes to Australian Country Music.
  55. Darren Coggan – The Wide Horizon – He records very few albums but they are all top notch. This won a swag of awards at Mildura and deservedly so. One of the most versatile artists in Australia.
  56. Albany – Jo Caseley – One of those artists whom you know very little about then want to buy everything that they have recorded. A very emotive album. Top shelf.
  57. Lighthouse – Ashleigh Dallas – Another album from country music royalty. One of the most dominant families in Australian Country Music and one of the most talented. Ashleigh is about to deliver a member of the 4th generation! Born with a fiddle in hand, no doubt! An incredible album from an artist who performs beyond her years.
  58. Roovolution – The Bob Corbett Band – We played this album a lot on community radio and with good reason. The Toyota Starmaker Winner produced his best album here.
  59. Rebel With A Cause – 8 Ball Aitken – I love 8’s albums but this remains my favourite, though his current one may give it a push one day.
  60. Out of The Blue – Anne Kirkpatrick – Many prefer this one over the one that I mentioned previously, but they are both great, just different.
  61. What we might be – Michael Waugh – One of the most honest songwriters around. This album made me laugh and made me cry. His latest album is pretty good too.
  62. Mexico – Allan Caswell – In time this one will rise higher. It is a labour of love with some of his mates from “Mexico” – Victoria and a few others. Prepare for a sequel.
  63. In This Life – Paul Costa – I had a Paul Costathon the other day to make sure that I was picking the right one. It just edged out another couple.
  64. Darren Colston – Darren Colston – A fabulous album by one of my favourite guys.
  65. Come By Chance – Darren Colston – I put these two together. We are lucky as a lot of the songs from these two albums are featured on The Happiness Tree album double, but I put these in to cover the songs that aren’t there.
  66. Livin’ The Dream – Dan Murphy – One of my go to albums, especially on a long trip. Countryas.
  67. Let Me In – Rick Hart – One of my more recent favourites, not only on stage and on record but also as a friend. Stay tuned. The best is yet to come.
  68. One of These Days – Mitchell Shadlow – I remember when this album was released, Anne Kirkpatrick thought he was the next big thing. There were a few hitches but he has returned to the fray. This was extra special.
  69. Gina Jeffreys – The Flame – A classic album if there ever was one. And she’s coming back.
  70. Holding My Breath – Adam Toms – Recently back in the saddle, all of Tomsy’s albums are cool. This one is special for me.
  71. Tea for Three – Saunders, Kane and Del – This was the Australian equivalent of Dolly, Emmylou and Linda getting together. An amazing album, beautiful songs and harmonies.
  72. There’s Another Way to Where You’re Goin’ – John Flanagan – Australia’s answer to James Taylor but songs with a distinctive Aussie flavour. Never one to mince words, this is an incredible album.
  73. Victim or the Heroine – Katie Brianna – This one could have gone a bit higher. An amazing singer/songwriter with so much to give. Wonderful album.
  74. Small Town Big Shot – Fanny Lumsden – A woman who has taken the Australian Country Music by storm. Incredible songs and vocals. Her shows are ones out of the box.
  75. Airborne – Kalesti Butler – An album that surprised everybody, a totally different shift in style for Kalesti but it was a winner. Critically acclaimed.
  76. Connie Kis – Connie Kis Andersen – Some wonderful songs and still one of the most played albums on community radio.
  77. Collide – Imogen Clark – Imogen is still very young, but she started younger!  An amazingly talented singer/songwriter from the first, this is her latest and best offering.
  78. True Believers – Troy Cassar-Daley – Hard to pick one, this one has most of my faves on it.
  79. Tales From A Suburban Housewife – Cathy Dobson – This one will go into the Hall of Fame one day. Such an inspirational person and singer/songwriter. A great mentor.
  80. If I Want To – Jasmine Rae – Another hard album to write, I’m sure but a magnificent piece of work and hopefully we will continue to hear from this amazing young lady.
  81. Can’t settle for less – Adam Harvey I could list all of Adam’s albums here, but I would have to kick out others!  Always gives albums that are a mix of fun and love and good times.
  82. I’ll Sing You a Song – Lloyd Clarke – another mini album. Such a wonderful songwriter and singer. I hope that Lloyd, Darren Colston and Craig Stewart get together one day and record something. I can hear it.
  83. Heart of sorrow – Lyn Bowtell – A woman who cracks me up one minute and makes me cry the next. Awesome talent with a big, fabulous voice.
  84. I’m Just A Song – Matt Scullion – Latest release from a veteran songwriter. He’s just one of the best. This is pretty well faultless.
  85. The Collective – Col Finley – A wonderful recording of lots of old and new songs, some done slightly differently. It is a celebration album and one worth celebrating.
  86. Life Gets In the Way – Rose Carleo – She’s more of a rocker these days, but this is what she does best. An exceptional album.
  87. City Bound Trains – Paddy McHugh – Love this album and everything on it. Every song means something and tells a great story.
  88. In the Shadow of the Mountain – Montgomery Church – This is a new favourite, pretty much sweeping most of my awards last year. I think that it will continue to grow in my heart.
  89. The Bad and The Beautiful – Rod Dowsett – Once a Tamworth regular, this fella can entertain everyone. Smile is one of my favourite songs ever, on the strength of that song alone, it makes it into my top 100, but there’s more!
  90. Faster – Liam Brew – This was my favourite album in the Kazzies a few years ago and still a fave. Looking forward to hearing some more music from Liam at Tamworth.
  91. Carpenter Caswell – Carpenter Caswell – Self titled collaboration which was a great hit in 2017. Combining two very talented Aussies to make a very special album.
  92. 1959 – Lee Kernaghan – I loved Lee’s earlier stuff. This remains one of my favourites, especially the title track.
  93. Dusty Sky – Dean Perrett – With bush ballads, heritage tunes and bluegrass really hitting its straps these days, this guy is one of the most consistent in all three. I love this album.
  94. Keep On Drivin’ – Benn Gunn – This album is a lot of fun. Drinking songs, ballads and a bit of cheekiness. A crowd pleaser.
  95. The Truth About Us – Seleen McAlister – She never has a bad record. She has had lots of ups and downs, the stuff that good country songs are made of. There is always honesty in her songs.
  96. This Corner – Travis List – If you want country, this is country. A fabulous album with a great mix of songs.
  97. Some Girls Quite Like Country Music – Lachlan Bryan and The Wildes. This one could be anywhere on this list, as most of these albums could be, in the end, they are just my fave 100. And it was not easy.
  98. Sell My Soul – Sally-Anne Whitten – A great album from a Tamworth Sista.
  99. Believe – Aleyce Simmonds – A wonderful album from Aleyce. She doesn’t release many albums, but when she does, it is always a beauty
  100. Together with my guitar – Brendan Nawrocki – Another new favourite, the more I play it, the more that I like it.

The musical tips for Tamworth 2019

Sadly, there are a few clouds over Tamworth this year. I wish that they were rain clouds, but I think that the tears we will be crying over some of the losses in our Country Music Family will almost be suffice to cause a flood. I guess we should take a note from Tim McGraw and Live like we are dying. Al and Rob were folks who loved their country music and they looked forward to Tamworth every year. They would not want us to be too sad.

My previous post was about some of the tips on how to get around at Tamworth, some tips on food and how to plan your stay a bit. This one is more about the music.

When I was growing up there as a kid, there was one venue, The Tamworth Town Hall, then the park opened up a bit and of course Peel Street. Tamworth Workers Club was a favourite, but it doesn’t exist anymore, though there were rumours of it coming back. Now there are 160 venues, something like 2500 gigs and about 600 artists. Once upon a time the awards went to about the same 5 folks every year, now there are so many wonderful artists that it is very hard to even get a nomination.

Tamworth has evolved. There is more to do and more to see, and that’s not just country music. I firmly believe that when people say that the numbers are down every year, it is because there are more gigs on and the crowds have had to make a choice. It is also because a lot of these people reporting on the gigs are not actually going to them. Rarely do I go to a gig in Tamworth that isn’t packed solid or standing room only.

There are a lot of free gigs on and as I mentioned in my last post, please just thank the artist, cheer them on, buy some merch, because they need petrol money to get home or they need to put food on the table and a roof over their heads.

These gigs are on in pubs, clubs, halls, parks and in the street, chiefly Peel Street as well as the shopping centres.

I have essentials at Tamworth. I go to several of the Songwriters in the round at Tamworth Services. These are on most days of the festival and if you really appreciate people who don’t sing other people’s songs, a.k.a. singer/songwriters, then this is the gig for you. These sessions were the originals. All over Australia and NZ, these sessions are in force now and Tamworth has a few on, but these are still the best ones, free and usually packed out. This sessions generally run from 9.00 to 11.30 am, but get there at about 8.15 and have a cuppa and some toast and/or something else and get a good seat.  I have about 4 of these down for Tamworth, and they are beaut sessions. The staff are awesome.

I also go to Country Cares. Amazing price, wonderful venue, which is a special place for me, being a Tamworth gal and the cause is great. The line up is always speccy. This year’s line up is no exception.

I try to see people that I don’t normally get to see during the year. Artists come from all over Australia and NZ and other parts of the world. I concentrate mainly on Aussies, but there are others there too.

I try to leave a few gaps in my program, in case some random gig happens at the last minute or a gig runs late or starts late.

I always try to see my hero, Mike Carr. This year he is doing an album launch with Matt Cornell, so it will be extra special. They are playing on 25th January…..sounds familiar. I like to mix it up, so will go to a few different breakfast shows, the late night murder ballads, and I will see my Tamworth muso family – Sally-Anne Whitten, Alwyn Aurisch, Allison Forbes, The Crosby Sisters, Wendy Wood and the rest of the gang from the surrounds, like Marie Hodson and Dan Murphy and Jo H. The Legends Long Lunch with Mike, Anthony, Luke and Daniel is always a must for a session.

One of the gigs that I am most looking forward to is Beccy, Lyn, Gina and Tan all together and Brad Butcher and Felicity as well. I am changing things up a bit this year, but I want to check out some different shows. Col, 8, Lukie, Michael Bryers, Kerry Kennedy, will all be on my list of course..

I have booked to go to the first Tamworth Opry and the Bluegrass session and Great Country Love songs. Which leads me to something important. If you are someone who is just going to Tamworth for the first time, or you only have a few days, or only so much money to go around, try and go to a show that has a lot of artists on it. That way, you will get to see quite a few and get a taste of old and new.

Having said that, Catherine Britt started a trend many years ago about having surprise guests on her shows. It was how I got to see Lachlan Bryan and many others for the first time.  Thus, if you go to see the wonderful Beccy Cole, Amber Lawrence, Adam Harvey and Paul Costa, for examples, you will also see others.

It is impossible to see everything. Sometimes at certain gigs, you may only be able to sit in for a set or so, so that you can go and see others. Artists understand. They know how full on Tamworth is and how many other things there are on.  Of course, if you go to the awards, and I am lucky enough to have scored a ticket from a dear friend, then you can see heaps of them.

Mix it up folks – try different venues – my faves are the Cap and The Pub and Moonshiners at The Family Hotel.  I love the Servies and West Leagues has a great cd shop.  I also like North Tamworth Bowlo. If you get a chance to go to one of Andrew’s awesome nights there, go for it. It is a unique experience.

I haven’t quite finished tweaking my schedule yet, but it is getting there. Tamworth is 24/7. Give yourself enough time to get from venue to venue, remember that you have to line up for a few gigs, even if you have tickets.

There are all 79 types of country music represented at Tamworth – there is something for everybody.

I still need to get a couple of tickets to the Girls of Americana and The Bearded Blokes, and I am of course going to Melissa Robertson’s gig featuring some very cool artists.

I will get the festival off to a good start with  The Ladies of Country at West Tamworth Leagues, featuring some fine ladies, including Sandra Humphries in her last Tamworth. There are a lot of gigs that I haven’t mentioned, including the 2RRR gig at South Bowlo and many others like many songwriters’ sessions at Southgate, City Sider and others. A lot of the cafes have country music now and of course there is The Longyard and The wonderful Dag.

Enjoy Tamworth. Soak up as much as you can, See artists young and old and in between and savour the magic of one of the best places on earth…yes, I am totally biased.

 

 

Tamworth Tips for 2019

Dear all,

 

As a Tamworth native and someone who knows a wee bit about the festival (I haven’t missed too many) – I am offering here a few words of advice for first timers and for those who have been but don’t know all the simple pleasures of the festival. I didn’t go last year as I had just moved and I had work commitments, so some things may have changed. This is not a gig guide, that will be separate. If you haven’t got your accommodation by now, you will be struggling, as Tamworth books out from year to year. I am lucky as I have friends in Tamworth, still. You may be lucky with last minute cancellations or somebody may put their house up for rent at the last minute, but it will be tough and/or expensive at this point. If you have a car, a suggestion may be to stay in a town a few hours away, and have day visits to Tamworth, but that can get exhausting.

  1. Tamworth was once a one venue, then two venue festival with 2 or three motels and a caravan park and it was just a long weekend. Now there are about 160 venues, it goes for 10 days, plus pre-Tamworth and there are motels that were specially built for the festival, originally. People get surprised with the size of Tamworth. It is a lot bigger than most people think. It is also spread out, which leads me to the first tip. There is a bus service that is designed specifically for the festival. This year, it is 40 dollars. It has gone up over the years, but 40 bucks for unlimited travel for 10 days is pretty cool. It goes to just about every venue or a stone’s throw away. It is even going out to events at The Dag and other places that are a bit further out, now. For those who don’t drive (like myself), or who are getting there by plane and won’t have a car when they get there, This is ideal. I don’t drink much at the festival – I get high on the music – but for those who do, if you catch the bus instead of getting into a car, it is a good thang. They run pretty late, so you won’t miss out on much. The taxi drivers are cool too. I have never had any troubles with them.  One thing to remember when you are going to the gigs and catching the buses or even if you are driving/walking, give yourself some time to get to each venue. There is a lot happening in the centre of town, but if you need to get from the Cap to The Longyard or The Pub to City Sider, just make sure you give yourself some time and plan your gigs with a bit of time in between. To get out to Nundle to The Dag Events, it takes a while. It is not five minutes down the road.
  2. Apart from accommodation and getting there, Tamworth is quite inexpensive. You can go to a lot of gigs for free. The pubs and clubs and the parks and shopping centres have a lot of the big stars of country music and a lot of great new talent on show. You could really go to gigs for the whole 10 days which don’t cost you anything. Even the big gigs are inexpensive, compared to the prices in the city and you never know who might turn up, as a lot of artists appear on each other’s shows. You can go to the red carpet at the awards without actually going to them for free. Of course, there are the buskers in Peel Street which range in talent and style but I have often discovered some future stars there….blokes like very young Keith Urban and Troy C-D come to mind.  If you fill in the gaps in the gigs with going to the hands of fame, the stars in the footpath in Peel Street, checking out the markets and the other entertainment in the streets and the museums dedicated to Country Music, you will have a good balance.
  3. A lot of places that you stay will have breakfast included, but Tamworth has a lot of eateries, including all of the usual fast food outlets, a great Chinese place and all of the pubs and clubs have good and reasonably priced food. One of the major things that I recommend to do when you get to Tamworth is to get yourselves festival memberships to the clubs. A lot of the gigs are in these clubs and a lot of them are part of a family, where you can use the card to one and it will get you in to the others. They are cheap. After living in Victoria for the last year and seeing that it costs 25 dollars a year to be a social member, a few dollars for a card at the Tamworth clubs are a bargain. You get discounts to food and drink and you don’t have to line up to get into clubs for ages, you can just flash your card and go through. I personally, have breakfast where I am staying. I have a light one of some cereal or toast and some coffee, which I purchase from one of the local supermarkets….yes, they have an ALDI! I usually pack myself lunch of a sandwich and some snacks and fruit and some water. I sometimes eat out for dinner, but really, the heat and the many gigs stops a lot of eating! If you like to eat a bit fancy, Carmen’s is wonderful and you may catch some music there too. Tamworth is quite rich with restaurants and cafes of all styles, so you will not go hungry. I particularly like the food at The Pub.
  4. Tamworth is hot. It tends to be more of a dry heat and I don’t actually notice it as much as I do the humid heat of the coast. Make sure that you drink a lot of water. Most of the clubs and pubs have free water and some of them have water coolers so that you can refill your flasks. Wear a hat, slip, slop, slap and be comfortable with your clothing. Apart from some of the more flashy events, like the ball and stuff, you can just wear your shorts and t-shirts and whatever makes you feel cool. This does not mean that you enter a club in your swimmers or your birthday suit, but you don’t have to dress in your Sunday Best, unless you really want to. They will think that you are a politician if you do. Tamworth is pretty casual. Most venues are air conditioned and very comfortable.
  5. Please, if you just want to socialise and have a drink, don’t go to a place where a gig is playing, or at least have the decency to just talk in the breaks or hang at the back of a gig. Most of us go to the gigs to see our faves and to HEAR them. It is disrespectful to talk loudly about your gall bladder or your neighbour’s affair when someone is singing their heart out for you. There are plenty of other places for you to go.
  6. As a lot of events are free, and some folks play for 2 to 3 hours a session for you, buy something. Buy a cd, join a mailing list, buy a stubby holder or a hat or t-shirt or sticker. They don’t cost much, you get to meet the artist and they sign it for you and it means a lot. Note to artists, bring everything. Sometimes, this is the only chance that the fans will get to meet you, hear you, and be able to grab your music as it is getting harder to buy hard copies etc. Any kind of merch and bring your old cds, some folks may have never heard them and will want them. Posters are good too and easy to pack for the trip home.
  7. Try a bit of everything. There are 79 types of Country Music. I have discovered so many folks by accident – a festival is a great place for finding folks that you have never heard of.  Tamworth is one of the best places for hearing different styles and different levels of artists.
  8. If you haven’t got it already, the official guide is really cool, but you can also buy the The Northern Daily Leader every day, the free Tamworth paper, and the clubs and pubs have programmes as well. There are posters in the streets and the radio stations advertise heavily. The Tamworth internet site tcmf.com.au will help as well.
  9. Some gigs just pop out of nowhere, they are late entries and they are on late, sometimes. Tamworth is 24/7 now, practically, so whether you are a night owl or a morning person, you are covered. I am both! There are a lot of breakfast shows. There are late night/early morning ramblings and there is nonstop music all day. To be honest, the toughest thing is that you will miss out on one gig to see another. That’s Tamworth, you are spoiled for choice. I try to see folks that I don’t get to see during the year, and I try to go to ones that are new to me. Of course, I have my favourites. (see 7)
  10. Pace yourself, you can end up buggered and you won’t be able to go to your planned shows. Or, you can take the attitude that you will have plenty of time to sleep and rest when you get home.
  11. Get up to the lookout and check out the city of light from the best vantage point.
  12. Take the time to shake the hand of the people that bring you all of this wonderful entertainment. They work bloody hard to bring it to you. Even if you can’t afford to buy anything from them, thank them for being them and for giving you such joy.
  13. Be careful with your water usage. Tamworth and surrounds are suffering badly from the drought. It is nice to donate to the cause but make sure that you be careful with how you use their limited water supply and bide by the restrictions. Don’t whinge if it rains.
  14. Above all, enjoy. Support the local businesses, look after yourselves and appreciate being at Tamworth. A lot of people would kill to be in your shoes.