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.