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Country Update - Issue 87 - December 2017 - February 2018

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Dec 2017 - Feb 2018
Editor’s Desk
After a horror quarter of
catastrophes including the hideous
Harvest Festival massacre in LA
and the loss of too many industry
personnel, including promoter Rob
Potts, writer Iain Shedden and the
inimitable Don Williams, to name
a few, I think it best we hope the
worst is over and look forward wholeheartedly to a brighter
and better 2018.
Congratulations to the Golden Guitar finalists listed in
Countryline and best of luck for continued success at the gala
presentation night of winners in Tamworth in January.
Tamworth CM Festival is shaping to be spectacular with so
many events and diverse attractions it would be impossible not
to have a great time if you went for a weekend or a fortnight –
it will not disappoint!
More good news is the advent of three new festivals starting
up, hot on the heels of CMC Rocks Qld selling out in one
hour – that has to be a positive for the industry!
Country Rocks Festival Sydney at Bella Vista Farm, Rockin’
Rocky which includes the national PBR championship finals,
thus reinstating the long term partnership of country music
and Rodeo, and Winton is celebrating the reopening of the
Waltzing Matilda Museum next year with unbeatable outback
hospitality – oddly while the Museum is the only one in the
world dedicated to a song – more accurately an Oz anthem and an Australian icon in poet Banjo Paterson, two American
artists join the lineup?? Go figure!
John Lomax III retires from his Nashville Ramblings column
duties with this issue, and we thank him and wish him all the
best with compiling the books he looks forward to writing and
other endeavours.
Please allow me this opportunity of wishing you all a safe,
relaxing and joyful festive season and happy holidays from
myself and all of the team here at Country Update - and as
always, express my enormous gratitude to everyone who
contributes or reads this magazine.
Oh and think about subscribing yourself or a friend for Xmas
- then Santa comes every quarter!
Merry Christmas & a magnificent New Year!
Cheers, Denise
Denise Torenbeek
In This Issue
4 Luke Bryan A Barn of His Own
8 Chris Stapleton Doubles Down with From a Room Vol II
12 Kristy Cox Bluegrass Babies & Boomerang Pies
16 Billy Ray Cyrus Setting the Record Straight
38 Kelsea Ballerini Unapologetically
42 Thomas Rhett Life Changes
44 Melody Moko The Wreckage
46 Tom Curtain TerritoryTime
48 Michael Waugh The Asphalt & The Oval
52 Lee Ann Womack The Lonely The Lonesome & The Gone
54 Dustin Lynch Mood Swings Sex & Alcohol
56 Joe Nichols Never Gets Old
58Midland On The Rocks
60 Whitney Rose Rule 62
62 Don Williams Gentle Giant
64 Tamworth Country Music Festival Special
Regular Features
74 Festivals Events & Travel
88 Roots ‘n All
90 Country in the Convict Capital
92 Notes from the Deep South
94 Bluegrass Truth
96 Book Reviews
100 Nashville Ramblings
104 Yackandandah Report
Contributors: Gareth Hipwell, Mikaela Bella, Scott Lamond,
Kim Cheshire, John Lomax III, Hamish & Lachlan Davidson,
Peter Denahy, Luke OShea, Andrew Swift, Brad Butcher &
Denise Torenbeek.
Managing Editor: Denise Torenbeek
Advertising: Denise Torenbeek
Graphic Design: Glen Hannah - StudioGoonga
Produced by Country Update ABN 16 213 134 883
Printed by Graphic Impressions
*Recommended price only. Published in December 2017
Cover Photo by Carlos Ruiz
I still get fired up
that they let me in the
room...I get to walk
the red carpet, ride
here in limos, have
people dress me and
do my hair. What
will my Dad think?
et to headline CMC Rocks
Qld next March, Georgiaraised breakaway superstar
Luke Bryan – he of the
impish grin and manicured
stubble – has long been
one of contemporary Nashville’s most
ebullient personalities. There’s no end
in sight to the heaving portable party
that is the singer’s live show, with this
year’s Huntin’, Fishin’ and Lovin’ Every
Day US tour packing out arenas from
coast to coast. Not to mention the
fact that the party anthems featured
on coming-of-age manifestos Spring
Break…Here to Party (2013) and Spring
Break…Checkin’ Out (2015) – think
‘Suntan City’ and ‘Checkin’ Out’ –
seem to have enjoyed regular rotation
on PA systems at every summer festival
since their release.
At the 51st Annual CMA Awards last
week, Luke performed his new single
‘Light It Up’ which is burning up
charts right now ahead of the album
What Makes You Country Dec 8th
Luke pronounced himself as excited as
everyone else about country’s night of
“I still get fired up that they let me in
the room...I get to walk the red carpet,
ride here in limos, have people dress
me and do my hair. What will my Dad
think? My Dad’s like, ‘What have they
done with my boy?’”
Luke was up for Entertainer of the
Year (nabbed for second year in a row
by goliath Garth Brooks) – a title he
won in both 2014 and 2015 - where
he was nominated alongside his pal
Keith Urban, and in his usual role of
class clown, at a rehearsal he seriously
averred that “smelling Keith Urban”
was always a highlight for him on
these big occasions...apparently Keith
“smells fantastic.”
Like fellow Georgia son Zac Brown,
Bryan is one of the country fold’s
foremost purveyors of carefree good
times – a contributing factor, no
doubt, in his selection as a judge on the
forthcoming season of American idol.
Entertaining his fans has always been
Bryan’s raison dêtre, and the driving
force in his autoluminescent career to
date. As The Tennessean newspaper
recently summed it up, “Luke Bryan’s
career philosophy in the past 12
months carried him from stages in
cornfields to the half-time spotlight
at the Super Bowl and now onto the
judging panel on American Idol.”
Or, as Bryan himself put it in speaking
to the publication: “If you fall in line
with the other cows, you’re just going
to end up at the same barn.”
It’s a bent that finds ample expression
across Bryan’s eighth studio album
What Makes You Country. But that’s
just one small part of the picture.
Behind the winning smile, the
encompass both unthinkable tragedy
and unrivalled triumph – and, oddly
enough, repeated brushes with R&B
icon Lionel Richie, with whom Bryan
performed in Las Vegas at the close of
last year. As Bryan’s wife of 11 years,
Caroline, recently told America’s ABC
News, when it comes to Luke Bryan,
“there is no act.”
Speaking candidly with ABC News’
Good Morning America earlier this
year, Bryan spoke of decades spent
grappling with tragedy. Bryan’s brother
Chris was killed in a car accident 20
years ago, while sister Kelly passed
away suddenly in 2007 – tragically,
the night of Bryan’s 2007 Grand Ole
Opry debut was also the last time he
was photographed with his sister.
“Just when we started picking up the
pieces with my brother, then we lose
my sister,” Bryan told reporter Robin
Roberts in the interview, which aired
ahead of a forthcoming special on the
singer. “I’ve watched my family go
through ebbs and flows where we get
mad at God and we get mad at why
this happened. You’ll never get back to
100 percent. You’ll always be working
to get back to 75 percent.”
But another loss would rock Bryan
and his family in 2014, with the death
of Ben Lee Cheshire, Kelly’s widower
husband. In a heartbeat, Bryan and
Caroline welcomed Kelly and Ben’s
children, son Til and daughters
Jordan and Kris, into their home and
lives – expanding their own brood,
which already included 9-year-old
son Thomas and 7-year-old Tatum,
“We never thought twice about it,”
Caroline explained, speaking with
As Bryan told ABC, raising a teenager
has so far been a rewarding – if
challenging – undertaking.
“We’re buddies now, though, kinda,”
Bryan explained of his relationship
with 15-year-old Til. “Until he makes
me … that’s when I get onto him, I’m
like, ‘All right, you’re making me be an
adult; don’t make me be an adult!’”
But shouldering the responsibilities
of adulthood – as a father, farm
holder, and international touring
and recording artist – has
never dulled Bryan’s celebrated
roguish streak. In November,
Bryan delighted concertgoers in
Wheatland, California, inviting
Riley, the 1-year-old son of a fan,
onto the stage at the city’s Toyota
Amphitheatre. As the Sacramento
Bee reports, although Riley bawled
onstage during his unexpected guest
spot, Bryan did his best to smooth over
his stage fright. As the Bee reported,
while handing the young fan back to
his family, Bryan observed, sagely:
“The best part about babies is you can
give ‘em back...I can get y’all a sitter.”
In fact, it seems no one is safe from
an unexpected Luke Bryan cameo in
2017 – even newlyweds in the vicinity
of the American Idol studios – as a
couple in Savannah, Georgia recently
“We just did a day of auditions and we
found out that like, two minutes away,
there’s a real, live wedding happening,”
Bryan explained on camera during a
taping of the show. “We heard that
they’re big fans of mine so we’re going
to go have some fun and crash a real
wedding, real quick.”
Ever the showman, the singer made
his entrance at the reception while one
of his songs played, cracking a bottle
of champagne and dancing with the
shell-shocked bride and groom to
signature hit ‘Country Girl (Shake It
For Me).’
Matrimonial bliss has certainly been
a potent ingredient in Bryan’s life and
success to date, with the singer and
Caroline celebrating their 10-year
wedding anniversary in December
2016. In fact, What Makes You Country
is slated for release on the couple’s
11th wedding
anniversary on
At the end of the day, if I can
rock on the front porch and
think we were crazy to come
up with all this stuff, but we
sure had fun doing it.
8th December.
Fittingly, Bryan himself is far from
immune to finding himself at the buttend of the occasional joke – whether
it’s directed at him by good mate Jason
Aldean, or by a veteran pop superstar.
This year’s CMT Awards ceremony
saw none other than Lionel Richie
directing a gleeful – and admittedly
self-deprecating – jibe at Bryan, joking
that, “Luke Bryan keeps trying to get
me to go hunting and fishing. I told
him the only hunting I do is for a new
jacket at the store.”
Rounding out a phenomenal year as it
does, then, Bryan’s latest studio outing
has plenty to live up to – especially
given the barnstorming success of
2015’s Kill the Lights, which spawned
a staggering six No.1 hits. But at 15
tracks, spanning everything from
earthy country-rock (‘Hooked On It’)
to the urban electronic accoutrements
of tracks like ‘Light It Up’ – treated
drums and synths have featured in
Bryan’s sound since Crash My Party
(2012), which also featured hits ‘Drink
a Beer’ and ‘That’s My Kind of Night’
– What Makes You Country offers up
plenty of grist for the mill.
“At the end of the day, if I can rock
on the front porch and think we were
crazy to come up with all this stuff, but
we sure had fun doing it, that’s what I
want,” Bryan said regarding the sounds
of What Makes You Country. “I hope
I can look back on my whole career
and say, ‘You sure rolled the dice on
some things and it panned out.’”
True to past glories, title track
‘What Makes You Country’ is
a driving country-rock anthem
embossed with banjo rolls:
‘People talking ‘bout what is and
what ain’t country, what gives
them the right to wear a pair of
beat-up boots?’
There’s a shimmering throwback
to 80s heartland rock in the swelling
‘Out of Nowhere’, while earthy
heartsong ‘Most People Are Good’ is a
paean to universal acceptance:
‘I believe you love who you love, ain’t
nothin’ you should ever be ashamed of.’
‘Sunrise Sunburn Sunset’ ranks among
the year’s biggest feel-good summer
anthems (just in time for the North
American winter), while ‘Drinking
Again’ is the album’s standout “poptoppin’ long-neckin’ honkytonk”
singalong, boasting a rowdy barroom
chorale. But whether he’s tormented
by unrequited love (‘Like You Say You
Do’), getting into trouble (‘She’s a Hot
One’), or simply ‘Hungover in a Hotel
Room’, Luke Bryan brings the same
winning smile to the table at every
turn. It seems unlikely he’ll be shifting
down a gear any time soon – whatever
life throws at him along the road.
LUKE BRYAN will play two arena shows, on his
first ever Australian visit in March 2018 - Sydney’s
Qudos Bank Arena on Friday 16th March followed
by Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena on Tuesday 20th
March, adding to his headline slot at the sold-out
CMC Rocks QLD festival.
lat-out like a lizard drinking’
has fast become two-time
Stapleton’s default mode of living.
In what has been a massive year for
the hirsute Kentuckian, the 39-yearold guitar-slinging country-soul
man has added several new feathers
to the signature hat – with its shield
of deer-hide and plumage studded
with a nugget of turquoise – that has
fast become both an emblem of his
soulful, earthy style and a symbol of
songwriting purity.
Making good on an uncommon
promise in the Nashville of 2017,
Stapleton is poised to release his
second studio album this year
with From A Room Vol. 2, tailing
sophomore album and tearaway
No.1 hit record From A Room Vol.
1, released back in May. The latter is
2017 CMA Album of the Year as of
Nov 8th Awards ceremony, and Mr
Stapleton Male Vocalist of the Year.
Two’s a charm beyond stage and
studio, too, with Stapleton and
wife of 10 years Morgane – herself
an accomplished singer-songwriter
whose silver-toned backing vocals
have long featured in Chris’ recorded
output and live show alike –
announcing that they are expecting
twins. The new arrivals will double
the ranks of the Stapleton brood,
joining the Nashville power couple’s
son and daughter. In true Stapleton
style, the pair shared the news with
fans at a recent tour stop in Dallas.
While Morgane jokingly told Rolling
Stone earlier this year that “Chris
is a master, and I say this with all
due respect, at messing things up,”
the 2015 CMA-storming singersongwriter’s inexorable rise since
his breakout performance with
Justin Timberlake at the 2015 CMA
Awards and the subsequent success
of 2x platinum-certified solo debut
Traveller (2015) would suggest
otherwise. For one thing, Stapleton’s
single and album sales now number in
the millions. He’s also been keeping
some mighty fine company in the
two years since Traveller stormed the
Earlier this year, Stapleton joined
George Strait, Lee Ann Womack,
Toby Keith, and Kris Kristofferson in
paying tribute to the inimitable Jerry
Lee Lewis for Skyville Live, while a
recent show at Bridgestone Arena
saw Stapleton serenading Kenny
Rogers with a live rendition of the
latter’s signature tune ‘The Gambler’.
He joined George Strait, Miranda
Lambert, Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl
Keen in San Antonio in September –
looking back on his 2017, Stapleton
said sharing the stage with George
Strait live in San Antonio for the
Hand in Hand hurricane relief
benefit was among his top memories
of the year.
“George Strait called me on the
phone and said ‘Hey come down here
to Texas and play this thing with me’
and I got up and sang some George
Strait songs with George Strait,” he
said. “Who gets to do that? Nobody!
It’s like living in an alternate universe.”
He again performed at Country
Rising, also staged to raise funds
for Hurricane Relief, at Nashville’s
Bridgestone Arena in November,
alongside Reba McEntire, Dierks
Bentley, Garth Brooks, Jason Aldean,
and Lady Antebellum.
His All-American Roadshow Tour
has traversed a seemingly unending
road paved in gold – Stapleton and
band swinging from sold-out venue
to sold-out venue across the United
States. Through it all, he’s been able to
enlist the support of opening
acts including Americana
icon Marty Stuart and rising
star Margo Price. Add to
that Stapleton’s sold-out
three-night run at Nashville’s
hallowed Ryman in 2016 (as
The Tennessean reported,
signing a page for the iconic
venue, Stapleton wrote,
simply, “I’m going to have
to get a new dream”), and it’s easy
to appreciate the scale of Stapleton’s
“It wasn’t that long ago I played the
Basement, and not the Basement
East, the original one…” Stapleton
told The Tennessean earlier this year,
“…and the next thing you know we’re
playing the Ryman, and the next
thing you know we’re playing Ascend
Amphitheater a couple of nights,
and here we are at Bridgestone Arena
playing a couple of nights.”
In what has been an exceptional year
for left-of-centre country singersongwriters – with Jason Isbell
delivering another masterwork in The
Nashville Sound in June – Stapleton
has loomed larger than ever.
It’s a testament to the hard graft that
has allowed Stapleton, across years
spent fronting bluegrass band the
Steeldrivers and roots-rock outfit the
Jompson Brothers, while penning
hit songs for everyone from Kenny
Chesney to Adele, to polish his soulsteeped songwriting and live chops to
a lustrous finish. In the space of just
two-and-a-half years, he’s arrived at a
place in which he is able to sell-out
stadiums and arenas with nothing
more than a three-piece band, a
guitar, and the warm, familiar vocal
support of Morgane – not to mention
the aforementioned chieftainesque
Like fellow Kentucky son Sturgill
Simpson and Americana frontrunner
Isbell, Stapleton has assembled a band
that is able to frame his vision with
palpable sympathy – leaning on the
dependably expressive rhythm section
of J.T. Cure (bass) and drummer
Derek Mixon.
Columbus Alive’s Andy Downing
summed it up with striking cogency
in describing Stapleton’s recent show
in Columbus, Ohio, writing:
“... and I got up and sang some
George Strait songs with George
Strait,” he said. “Who gets to do
that? Nobody! It’s like living in an
alternate universe!”
“Chris Stapleton approached his
Friday concert at a packed Nationwide
Arena as though he were in the midst
of an intimate living room tour. The
Kentucky-born singer, songwriter
and guitarist eschewed pyrotechnics,
catwalks, rotating drum kits and
elaborate costume changes, instead
delivering a workmanlike, twohour set aided by little more than a
trio of musicians, including his wife
and backup vocalist, Morgane, and
a song catalog that already appears
impressively deep though Stapleton
just released his second solo album,
From a Room: Volume 1, earlier this
And if you’re looking for proof of
Stapleton’s cache in the live rock’n’roll
and festival sphere, look no further
than the banner of the recently
announced Innings Festival in
Tempe, Arizona, where Stapleton will
co-headline proceedings alongside
rock colossi Queens of the Stone Age
in March 2018.
The 18-track diptych that is From
A Room Vols. 1 and 2 is named
for the hallowed RCA Studio A
in Nashville – site of recordings
from Elvis and Waylon Jennings
(the ghost of Jennings circa ‘Are
You Sure Hank Done It This Way’
seems to have breathed a little magic
into Stapleton’s ear here on ‘Hard
Livin’’) – now presided over by the
inimitable Dave Cobb, who also lent
his prodigious production talents to
Traveller. Concertgoers may already
be familiar with tracks like ‘Tryin’ to
Untangle My Mind’, ‘Hard Livin’’
and ‘Midnight Train to Memphis’,
which have featured in Stapleton’s
All-American Road Show tour from
time to time (‘Midnight Train’ also
featured in the Steeldrivers’ set-lists).
Of the 9 tracks that make up the
new album, 7 were co-written by
Stapleton. The singer’s smooth-asTennessee-Whisky vocal envelops a
swaying, shimmering take on Kevin
Welch’s beloved ‘Millionaire’, while
the low-slung ‘Hard Livin’’ – a cowrite with established songwriting
partner and fellow writer-turnedsolo-artist Kendell Marvel – deploys
plenty of the blues-rock heft that
peppered Traveller and From A
Room Vol. 1, aligning Stapleton with
the cosmic-outlaw vision of sonic
adventurer Sturgill Simpson.
Biblical portent shivers at the heart of
migrant workingman’s tale ‘Scarecrow
in the Garden’, an earthy, slowburning country-rock paean to the
fraught business of carving out a new
life in a strange land:
‘There’s a bible in my left hand and
a pistol in my right,’ Stapleton signs
off, portentously.
The singer’s peerlessly soulful croon
is on show in ‘Nobody’s Lonely
Tonight’, while the slinky ‘Tryin’ to
Untangle My Mind’ is a similarly
soul-stuffed sway replete with
whiskey, women and wicked ways.
Flexing Stapleton’s southern-rock
and blues muscle, snarling rocker
and prison song ‘Midnight Train to
It wasn’t that
long ago I played
the Basement,
and not the
Basement East,
the original
Memphis’ is a pummelling blues-rock
‘Well, judge looked down, gave me
forty days…Forty days of shotguns and
barbed wire fences.’
‘Drunkard’s Prayer’ is another
tune emphatically in Stapleton’s
wheelhouse, a drinker’s lament
carried by brokedown-and-beat
cowboy chords, which segues into
die-cast soul masterpiece ‘Friendship’,
a smouldering album closer penned
by Homer Banks and Lester Snell and
popularised by soul icon Pops Staples.
Like its predecessors, From A Room
Vol. 2 demonstrates one thing above
all else: Chris Stapleton is a country
artist with a capacious knowledge of,
and preternatural gift for channelling
a manifold of Great American Art
Forms, from the blues to soul music
to southern rock tradition. The purity
of purpose he brings to proceedings
– his unwavering commitment to
songcraft, both in the studio and
onstage – seems certain to guarantee
he will be an indelible presence on
the arena circuit and annuls for many
years to come. That 2017 – like
2015 before it – seems likely to be
emphatically Chris Stapleton’s year is
simply a product of the great cosmic
by and by.
I do miss
home and I’ll
always be an
Australian, I
miss the sarcasm,
the food, decent
coffee...lots of
fter a triumphant 2016 that saw
her touring the US, Europe and
Australia plus being nominated
for both Emerging Artist and Female
Vocalist of the Year with Alison Krauss
and Rhonda Vincent, reaching #8 on
the US Bluegrass Junction album chart
for her last album Part of Me and # 2
position on the US Bluegrass radio
charts with her song ‘Little White
Whiskey Lies’ Kristy Cox is most
certainly on a roll.
Kicking off 2017 winning Bluegrass
Recording of the Year at the Golden
Guitar Awards Kristy shortly afterwards
signed a new record deal with America’s
premier bluegrass label Mountain
Fever Records to record her new album
Ricochet available here for Tamworth
festival, out Jan 19th.
I caught up with the lovely Kristy
via Skype from her home outside of
Nashville to talk all things Ricochet and
her life in Nashville...she was actually in
her car about to drive into the city to
play a rare hometown gig.
Kristy, “It’s the quickest album
(producer) Jerry Salley and I have done,
it was really exciting, my new label
Mountain Fever told me “we want the
finished thing by the first of October”
and this was mid June so it just kinda
I think you are developing a more unified
sound and drifting more fully into the
traditional bluegrass genre.
“I keep getting more traditional by
the album. I think it’s the influence
of playing the Bluegrass festivals over
Unlike what fellow South Australian
Kim Warner and his partner Carol Young
did with The Greencards when they left
Australia for the US, they drifted further
from a traditional bluegrass approach to
I guess what would be considered more
“I kinda did the opposite, I think I was
always a little more contemporary, I
was difficult to categorise, I confused she a country singer or is she a
bluegrass singer? Australia would call me
a bluegrass singer and America would
call me an acoustic country singer. For
my first album here someone called me
a country pop bluegrass singer...I don’t
even know what that means!”
They probably didn’t either!
“I noticed this week with the new single
coming out it simply said Kristy Cox
bluegrasser from Australia... so I guess
I’m there!”
So would that be the influence of producer
Jerry Salley?
“Jerry is probably more country than
I am....when we’re picking songs he’ll
lean more towards the country songs
than me. A lot of his 80’s/90’s hits were
country songs but he can write just
about anything, the guy’s incredible
but we both try to make sure we’ve
got a good mix, not just straight ahead
bluegrass.....I’ll usually pick the soppy
So what’s the soppy ballad for this album?
“That would be ‘A Bed This Cold’...
which is a duet with Brandon Rickman.”
What a great voice!
“Yeah, he’s the lead singer for the
Lonesome River Band, they are a
huge bluegrass band here that’s been
around for twenty years...actually just
last night they got inducted into the
Country Music Hall of Fame with Alan to have him singing on the
album was just fantastic! I was originally
going to be doing it with Darryl Worley,
he actually contacted me to do a duet
but we couldn’t get the timing right and
Brandon Rickman wrote the song with
Jerry. He did a beautiful job particularly
considering it was recorded an octave
lower to suit Darryl.”
So how’s life there in Nashville? You’ve
been there how long now?
“I’ve been here four years now and it’s
great! I miss home...I miss Australia...I’m
always going to be an Aussie!”
What do you miss?
“Chiko rolls!”
As the torrent of laughter subsides I
tell her, that’s definitely going in the’ve dobbed yourself in
She composes herself and explains....
“I obviously miss my parents, I haven’t
been home since January and I’m not
planning to go home until next January
so this is my longest time away - every
other year I’ve been back touring,
playing festivals etc. This year I’ve
been too busy doing that here and my
schedule with the new label etc. but
I do miss home and I’ll always be an
Australian, I miss the sarcasm, the food,
decent coffee...lots of stuff!”
You sound like a busy girl?
“Well apart from music; I have a
friend here and we are starting an
Australian coffee company, so we’ve
got the Espresso machine ready, and
at the moment we’re distributing pies
and sausage rolls, so I do get a taste of
What? This is a commercial enterprise?
“Yeah when I’m not playing music this
is what I do. It’s called Boomerang
Australian Pies.
You’ve got a shop?
“No, we do home delivery.”
What a great idea, so how did you come
up with that?
“Well they don’t have them here.”
But is there a demand?
“Right now we just share it on the
Aussies in Nashville page and we get
a bunch of orders every week, all the
fellow Aussies that want a taste of home,
its great!”
That’s such a cool idea, I love it, very
“We’ve got a food van. A 1963 Airstream
that we’ve decked out, and next year
we’ll be taking it out on the road with
me to all my festivals and selling pies
and coffee when I’m not on stage!”
So are you turning the Americans on to it?
“Yeah we are! When you say ‘pie’ they
automatically think apple pie, or apricot
Yeah, they don’t think meat pie do they you can’t really get a meat pie there can
“Well you can now!!
So the family unit with your husband
Travis and your daughter Adelaide nowthat must help with the homesickness?
“Yes, that definitely helps. I think
if I didn’t have my husband Travis I
probably would have been home by
now. Nashville is a very hard city to live’s dog eat dog I suppose, you never
know who your true friends
never know if people are talking to you
because they want something, you can’t
really faithfully trust anybody. You don’t
see that side of Nashville when you
visit...everybody’s so lovely...and they
are...until they don’t need you anymore.
Because everybody’s chasing the same
So how do you juggle being a Mum,
an enterprising business woman and a
bluegrass does it all work?
“Well, Adelaide is in pre-school four
days a week and she loves it ...they put
them in pre-school here at two. I have
a nanny that comes with me on the
road so I can focus while I’m playing
and having Jessica there, it helps relieve
some of that pressure from me so that
I can concentrate on what I’m doing.
Having no family here makes it hard to
With no grandparents to lean on, stuff like
“Yeah...we just don’t have much of a
social life I guess.
“Adelaide’s great, she’ll come everywhere,
she makes friends with everybody, she
loves music festivals, I’ve never left her
behind, she’s been to every single gig
I’ve done.
The Kasey Chambers approach?
“Well it was James Blundell that said to
me, ‘Kristy you don’t have children to
stop your life you have children to join
in’ and it was really good advice!
So is there any career rivalry
between you and Travis?
“No. Travis is amazing!! He
doesn’t do enough music in my
eyes, I want him to do more.
I think he’s one of the best
male singers we’ve ever had
come out of Australia and I
honestly believe that. He’s very
I agree.
“It was actually his turn to
do an album and he let me
do my album, we try to take
it in turns but he said ‘Kristy
you’re on a path that most people would
dream of and I’m not going to get in
your way’. One of our dreams is to do
a duet album, it hasn’t come to fruition
yet but hopefully in the next year to
eighteen months if we can accomplish
that it would be good!
Now the songs...... you’ve recorded Kasey
Chambers’ ‘I Still Pray’?
“I rang Kasey and said I’d really like
to do ‘I Still Pray’ and I want to do an
acapella version and is that OK with
you? She said ‘Kristy you don’t have to
ask me if you can record my songs’ I
grew up idolising Kasey, I was extremely
nervous going into the studio - I’m so
happy with the final result, it’s actually
the only song I’ve ever recorded that’s
brought me to tears.
So which songs are yours?
“Actually I didn’t write too many on
this album...normally I like to write at
least half of it but there are a couple
of reasons for that, first was the short
time we had to get the album together
and secondly, we had collected so many
great songs and I like to pick the best
songs...they don’t have to be mine.
Who sources the songs?
“I do, with Jerry’s assistance. I’ve still
got songs left over from the last album.
I had about 300 songs - it’s a long
process! So for this one I wrote ‘South
to North Carolina’ ‘Right Where You
Left it’ and ‘Sweet English Rose’ which
I’d been wanting to write for a long
time. I was down in Tasmania and I saw
a plaque down there on the coast and it
said that Tasmania was the first place in
the world to allow women to immigrate
without being married. They needed
women, there were so many men in
Tasmania and Australia in genera,l and
We’ve got a food van. A 1963
Airstream that we’ve decked out,
and next year we’ll be taking it
out on the road with me to all my
festivals and selling pies and coffee
when I’m not on stage!
they needed some girls....before that
you had to be either with your parents
or be married, you couldn’t come as a
single woman to Australia, and I didn’t
know that piece of history.
I didn’t know that either!
“I wrote the song with Alan Caswell
- we weren’t sure how to tackle it so
we wrote it from the point of view
of a young girl leaving London and
travelling to Australia on a boat full of
women and girls having no idea of what
to expect. I’m really happy with it and
it’s probably the first song where you
can hear my Australian accent coming
through, I just couldn’t help it, I’m not
sure if it’s the topic or what!
So with regard to live work in the States,
do you work a you just work you go away for long periods
of time etc?
“The beauty of the bluegrass scene here
is that there are a lot of bluegrass festivals
so I mainly just play the festivals and I
don’t really do anything in venues at the
You’re talking predominantly Summer
“A lot of it kicks off in Spring and goes
through till the end of Fall, it definitely
quietens down in Winter so that
suits me fine because I come home to
Australia during our Summer. It’s been
pretty busy this year and next year is
shaping up to be pretty busy as well.
We’ve got Europe and I’ve scheduled
Aug/Sept for an Australian tour for the
new album. Australia is really important
to me.
So when you say Europe, what countries?
“Germany, France, The Netherlands
and I’m hoping to get to England.......
my Mum’s from Cheshire so I want to
go and play in England.
So you have English background,
that’s interesting, I didn’t know
“Yeah my Mum’s Mum is
a Bishop (not the religious
kind) from Cheshire and her
Dad was a Shaw from East
London...a cockney - so very
much English.
I’d always assumed you were a
few generations in Oz?
“Well my Dad is fifth
generation Australian but my
Mum’s side is all English. I
have been there for holidays but never
to play and I really want to do that.
So tell me about your relationship with
your producer Jerry Salley?
“Well he’s my second Dad
away from home. This is our fifth album
together, which neither of us can really’s just gone too quickly. Our
first album I was twenty years old, a
young kid that really had no idea what
I was doing and he definitely mentored
me and helped shape the artist I am
now. I’ll be in debt to Jerry Salley for a
very long time!
Ricochet is a gorgeous album full
of classy songs, heartfelt renditions
from an inspired ensemble of players
and singers presided over with much
love and attention by producer Jerry
Salley and a triumph for this talented
bluegrasser from South Australia.
“You guys are the best audience in the world
for an artist! Aussies are so passionate, they
love to dance and party at the drop of a hat!
Nowhere else does that like Aussies.” Billy
Ray stated emphatically. “I love the fans there.
They love their music, they love their football
and they love the arts. It’s a great country with
great people and we love coming down there
and playing.”
yrus, will be hitting Australia nearly a quarter of a century
after kicking off his world tour in Australia in March, 1993,
in the glorious global afterglow of ‘Achy Breaky Heart.’
“It’s been 25 years since we kicked off the World Tour in Australia, so
it felt only right to return to where it all started, with the brand new
record ready to roll”, said Billy Ray Cyrus.
It is also18yrs since he was last here and I asked him what his takehome memories of those early tours might be. H was quick to say
the audiences just blew him away, being so friendly and responsive –
but he waxed lyrical on an obviously treasured occasion one evening
on the Gold Coast, where he conversed convivially and at length
with Charlie Pride and Tom Jones – the topic? The pros and cons of
Australian football!
I mentioned I had seen him perform at what was then Fanfest (now
CMA Festival) in Nashville in 1993 at the height of the Achy Breaky
hoopla and the whole place was in a frenzy!
He laughed and said, “It was equally as frantic this last year when we
played there. Fanfest country fans stay with you and are loyal to the
music until death do us part!”
Announcing an Australian tour concurrently with the release of an
album called Set The Record Straight, Billy Ray is also giving fans a
heads up he will have yet another new album to bring with him on
the tour, called Thin Line due in March. And if that isn’t confusing
enough, the track ‘Thin Line’ featuring Shelby Lynn and Glen Hughes
from Deep Purple on guitar, will be reappearing as the title track of
the March album.
For this exercise we will limit ourselves to the first of these.
Billy Ray explained the motivation behind Setting the Record Straight
is that there were a variety of tracks which for a variety of reasons had
never made it on to albums, or had been revamped, that he wanted to
catalogue in one cohesive collection.
“My roots ran so deep in so many kinds of music from Waylon to
ZZtop to Black Sabbath; and I wanted to infuse all those influences
and tip the hat to Willie and Lynard Skynard - Under the Influence was
actually the working title for Set the Record Straight for a long time.
“‘Stand’ is a great song shared with Miley about standing up for
Of all my influences
Ronnie Van Zant is the
greatest, and having Ed
King who wrote ‘Sweet
Home Alabama’ - and
Artimus Pyle also did some
work with us on the song,
the drummer who crawled
away from that fatal plane
crash – its like closing the
circle of my life’s work.
what you believe in and not folding under
pressure and adversity.
“‘Tulsa Time,’ with the loss of Don
Williams recently, becomes that much
more of a tribute - that is Joe Perry from
Aerosmith – such a legendary song and
legendary guitar player it does not get any
better than that. The dance mix has taken
off over here in the dance clubs and it is
having a big revival.”
“I’m so excited to share this collection of
music,” Cyrus said. “These are some of my
favourite songs. Some are new and have
been an intricate part of my show, ‘Still The
King’ story lines.
(Still The King is a hugely popular and
hilarious series on CMT which features
Billy Ray Cyrus as Vernon Brownmule,
aka “Burnin’ Vernon,” a scandal-ridden,
washed-up, one-hit-wonder who was
kicked out of country music, only to
emerge 20 years later as the second
best Elvis impersonator around. After
crashing into an old country church sign
during a drunken bender, he is arrested
and sentenced to return and serve as the
church’s handyman as part of his parole.)
“Others are new mixes and different styles
of songs that allowed me to experiment
with the diversity that is so much a part of
my musical being.
“There are some collaborations with my
musical heroes and a special tribute to
Ronnie Van Zant and the members of
Lynyrd Skynyrd. This being the fortyyear anniversary of that tragic crash that
impacted me and so many other fans
around the world, I recorded ‘The Freebird
“I wrote it a few years ago but when I
started doing Hannah Montana, music
got backhanded into a backseat role simply
by time constraints, and a lot of the stuff
I wrote just didn’t get finished or maybe
didn’t fit with the current project and there
were numerous pieces of work that were
‘sundries’ because of that.
“Of all my influences Ronnie Van Zant is
the greatest, and having Ed King who wrote
‘Sweet Home Alabama’ - and Artimus Pyle
also did some work with us on the song,
the drummer who crawled away from that
fatal plane crash – having them on there is
just such a momentous thing for me: like
closing a circle of a lifetime of loving their
Track number 5, ‘I Want My Mullet Back’
track title begs the question – has it been
reinstated or consigned to history?
Billy Ray laughed and explained, “That is
always a possibility and right now I’m in
singer-songwriter mode and vigilance is
lax regarding hair, so it’s sort of on the way
as Gene, a pool cleaner who had been
back! That song was a worldwide smash
having an affair with the wife of Adam
on the Hannah Montana soundtrack and
Kesher (Justin Theroux). In 2001, Cyrus
is probably as popular as ‘Achy Breaky
played the lead role on the PAX (now ION
Heart’ for that age group – talk about life
Television) comedy-drama Doc, which
imitating art – or art imitating life I should
became the network’s highest-rated show.
In 2005, Cyrus expanded his acting career
‘Country Music Has The Blues’ (feat.
in a stage production of Annie Get Your
George Jones & Loretta Lynn) eerily echoes
Gun in Toronto, appearing in the role of
80s honky tonk heroes in name-checking a
Frank Butler.
roster of greats of that era and the perceived
His television credits include The Nanny,
loss of all they stood for.
Diagnosis Murder, Love Boat, The Next
Set the Record Straight also contains a
Wave, Degrassi and TNN’s 18 Wheels
Muscle Shoals mix of ‘Achy Breaky Heart’
Of Justice. There have also been many
that features Ronnie Milsap playing piano.
television specials that detail his rise to
The career-making song has survived
fame and his career. These include Billy
decades as the quintessential line dancing
Ray Cyrus: Dreams Come True and Billy
soundtrack – the two are inseparable. I
Ray Cyrus: A Year on the Road, I Give My
asked Chris Watson, leading line dance
Heart To You, and The Life and Times of
promoter and instructor for his thoughts.
Billy Ray Cyrus. In late 2005, Cyrus and
“Achy Breaky Heart had a huge impact
his daughter Miley Cyrus began co-starring
on the Australian Line Dance market and
in the Disney Channel original television
audiences, For me, 25 years ago I was a 6
series, Hannah Montana.
year old and had just stepped my feet onto
the dance floor . It was - and still is - a
Billy Ray will headline Crossroads Country
regular request and packs floors. Still to this
In The Vines 24 March, 2018, alongside
day people associate it as the line dancing
fellow country stars: Lee Kernaghan,
I told Billy Ray about Hannah
... a scandal-ridden, washed-up,
(from Hannah and Clint the
who was kicked out
Townsville NQ couple on The
of country music, only to emerge 20
Block reality TV show – not
Hannah Montana) who if
years later as the second best Elvis
something turned out trumps
impersonator around.
or she had a win, broke into
thumbs in belt, heel slappin’ and toe
Kasey Chambers, John Williamson, The
tappin’ while singing ‘Achy Breaky Heart’
McClymonts, Sara Storer, Adam Harvey,
– was that conscious cross-promotion for
Beccy Cole and others. Roche Estate is a
the tour?
two-hour drive from Sydney or one hour
He quickly said his publicist was writing
from Newcastle and has previously hosted
that all down right now and perhaps they’d
world-class concerts with Elton John, Neil
invite her to join him on stage at whatever
Diamond, Lionel Richie, Duran Duran,
show was closest. As he’s obviously a
KD Lang, Rod Stewart and Cat Stevens all
football devotee he’d probably take time
having graced the winery estate stage.
out to have a beer and talk footy with Clint
I informed Billy Ray that he was still
who is a former ?? Cowboy??
following in Neil Diamond’s footsteps as
Some Gave All, the album that homed
he has also performed at Roche Estate and
‘Achy Breaky Heart’ is the only album
I’d read where Billy Ray decided there was
(from any genre) ever to log 17 consecutive
no future for him other than singing after
weeks at number one and is also the topseeing a Neil Diamond show.
ranking debut album by a male country
“That is great! Thank you for telling me
artist. It ranked 43 weeks in the top 10, a
that as I still love Neil Diamond and every
total topped by only one country album in
show is full of spectacular musicianship
history, Ropin’ the Wind by Garth Brooks.
and he has a brilliant band and gives us his
Other hits you may be familiar with are,
heart and soul every time.”
‘Could’ve Been Me,’ ‘Where’m I Gonna
Melbourne and Brisbane fans can also
Live When I Get Home,’ ‘She’s Not Cryin,’
catch very special support guests Kasey
‘Some Gave All,’ ‘Ready, Set, Don’t Go’
Chambers, O’Shea, Caitlyn Shadbolt
Cyrus starred in the 1999 independent film
and Hurricane Fall in Brisbane, and
Radical Jack. He also had a small part in
Travis Collins as opening performer in
David Lynch’s 2001 film Mulholland Drive
Country Line
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Kenny
Rogers’ musical career has touched
many different styles of music
throughout various generations, and
his farewell performance in Nashville,
All In For The Gambler, served as a
reminder of the musical impact that
his career has had – and will continue
to make for years to come. An allstar cast of Rogers’ contemporaries –
and many of today’s hottest musical
artists – turned up October 25 at
the Bridgestone Arena in Music
City to pay tribute to the Country
Music Hall of Fame member, who
is in the midst of his farewell tour,
“The Gambler’s Last Deal.” Perhaps
the most emotional moment of the
night belonged to Dolly Parton, who
teamed with Rogers one last time
on their 1983 hit ‘Islands In The
Stream’ after surprising both Rogers
– and the audience – with a heartfelt
performance of ‘I Will Always Love
You’ to her friend and collaborator.
The two also reminisced about their
lengthy friendship – which dates
back to a Rogers appearance on her
syndicated TV show from the mid
1970’s – almost a decade before they
first teamed up. The two also closed
out their performing career together
with the Grammy-nominated ‘You
Can’t Make Old Friends,’ a single
from 2013.
The evening was a mixture of song
performances that balanced many
of the singer’s iconic hits – as well
as many of the early days of Rogers’
Country Line
career as the lead vocalist of The
First Edition. Jamey Johnson paid
tribute to the singer’s versatility
with a raucous take on Mickey
Newbury’s ‘Just Dropped In (To
See What Condition My Condition
Was In),’ a First Edition hit from
five decades ago. The Flaming Lips
shone the light on ‘Ruby, Don’t
Take Your Love To Town,’ with Reba
McEntire tipping the hat to the
group’s ‘Reuben James.’ Elle King
gave a jaw-dropping performance of
‘Tulsa Turnaround,’ one of the First
Kenny Rogers
Edition’s lesser-known tracks – that
Rogers himself recorded for his 1979
album Kenny.
Kristofferson paid tribute to the
band’s cover of ‘Me and Bobby
McGee,’ which he wrote.
Of course, the main focus of the
evening was on the record-setting
solo career Rogers embarked on
in the mid-1970s, and those hits
were on full display during the
evening. Justin Moore nodded to
the beginning of the singer’s hit
making era with ‘Lucille,’ with
spellbinding performances taking
place from Aaron Lewis (‘Coward Of
The County’, The Oak Ridge Boys
(‘Love Or Something Like It’), Chris
Stapleton (‘The Gambler’), Little Big
Town (‘Through The Years’), and
Lady Antebellum (‘She Believes In
Me’). A special moment took place
with the appearance of Don Henley
– who once lived with Rogers and
his family - to perform the classic
‘Desperado,’ which Rogers cut in
1977 for his Daytime Friends album.
Many of the 80’s and 90’s hits of
the singer were featured during The
Gambler’s Last Deal as well. Billy
Currington delivered a sensual take
on ‘Morning Desire,’ with Lady
Antebellum’s Charles Kelley and
Idina Menzel teaming up for ‘We’ve
Got Tonight,’ a 1983 Rogers hit with
Sheena Easton. Two of the singers’
most frequent collaborators figured
prominently with Lionel Richie
giving a beautiful take on ‘Lady,’ a
number one Pop and Country hit
that he wrote for Kenny’s Greatest
Hits album in 1980, and Alison
Krauss saluted the singer with a
pristine version of his romantic ballad
‘Love The World Away.’ Another
incredible performance came from
Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott
and mother Linda Davis – who has
toured extensively with Rogers over
the years – uniting on stage for the
singer’s 1987 chart-topper ‘Twenty
Years Ago.’
Blackbird Presents’ Keith Wortman,
creator and executive producer of
Nashville’s recent highly acclaimed
“Sing Me Back Home: The Music of
Merle Haggard,” is the creator and
executive producer of “All In For
The Gambler.” GRAMMY® Award
Winner Don Was served as music
director, and presided over a stellar
house band backing the performers.
Country Line
Nashville star Clare Bowen is a
married woman. The 33-year-old and
her fiancé Brandon Robert Young
held their wedding in Nashville last
Australian actress Clare has previously
said that the couple planned to have
two weddings - in both her home
country and America.
On the wedding morning Clare
posted a dazzling sunrise photo to
caption, she vamped that she was in
the process of ‘Being kidnapped.’
Then the following morning ...
‘Wearing the blanket I was wrapped
in when I was born around my
shoulders. Gonna go marry my
soulmate now.
The wedding was previously put on
the back burner so that Clare could
attend to her brother Tim, who had
learned he had stage four lymphoma.
Clare told Entertainment Tonight:
‘We got engaged and then my brother
got sick, so we dropped everything.
Everything stopped and we went to
Australia to help him.’
Graeme Connors: “Having both
spent a large part of our lives in
Mackay Queensland, Brad and I
had often talked about co-writing.
However, for a variety of reasons, the
right opportunity just didn’t occur.
“Then along came the 2017 Flagon
and Dragon fund raising appeal…
for 25 years I have been the ‘musical
ambassador’ for a group of incredibly
generous people from Mackay who
hold riotous luncheons every two
Graeme Connors & Brad Butcher
Instagram, gushing in the caption
that she was ‘Gonna go marry my
soulmate now.’
The previous day, she’d posted an
Instagram photo that captured her
from behind as she headed down a
tree-lined outdoor staircase.
She had slid into an elaborate
sleeveless gold dress, and in her
years raising funds for a variety of
Children’s Hospital needs. To date,
just under $2,000,000 has been
donated to hospitals and other
organisations dedicated to assisting
children in a myriad of ways.
“Brad generously offered to be part
of the afternoon’s mayhem and I
thought, what better way to do
what we do and contribute to the
cause than co-write a song with him,
record it and direct the proceeds to
the Flagon and Dragon Fund Inc.
“‘I’ve Got Your Back’ seemed to
come with its own positive energy
from the outset, and Brad and I spent
the whole time writing with smiles
on our faces. Matt Fell recorded,
played and directed musical traffic
in his inimitable way with various
musicians adding their enthusiasm
- Josh Schuberth, Paul Berton, Brad
and I, had a really memorable day
with Matt and it is captured perfectly
in this track.
Now available for purchase by
download from your favourite
site - all record company and artist
royalties flow in perpetuity to The
Flagon and Dragon Fund Inc to
contribute to the great work this
Country Line
organisation continues to do for
Children in need of assistance. Please
consider purchasing!
Graeme is riding high on the success
of his 60 Summers album – a careerspanning collection ranked in the
Top 5 best-selling Australian country
albums of 2016 and gave GC the
highest ARIA Album chart placing
of his career.
Brad Butcher is having a stellar year
surfing a wave of success From The
Bottom Of A Well his third album.
Cementing him at the forefront
of a new generation of Australian
story tellers, From The Bottom Of A
Well encompasses Butcher’s great
exactly how this works, women who
matter but won’t necessarily be held,
wrong decisions made and paid for,
and moments when all that can be
said is a call for clarity to help get to
the next point in a life’. Bernard Zuel
The ‘Flagon & Dragon’ fundraising
luncheon is a biennial event initiated
in 1992 when a small group of
business leaders met and raised
almost $2000 initially donated to
the Variety Club of Queensland.
25 years on, 13 luncheons later the
Mackay region has benefited to the
tune of just under $2,000,000 due
to the hard work of a few, and the
tremendous support of many. The
Alt-country singer-songwriter, and
guest columnist in this issue of
country update – see Notes from
the Deep South) Andrew Swift
has inked a deal with independent
record label, Social Family Records,
for his forthcoming album, set for
early 2018.
Swift made a big first impression on
the country music world when he was
a sure thing beaten narrowly in the
Toyota Star Maker quest. Teaming
up with respected label mate, singersongwriter, Gretta Ziller, the pair
took off with an intimate show of
Andrew Swift
blending of genres to create a sound
uniquely his own.
‘Butcher’s lyrics have a point to make
rather than a box to tick, so at times
you’ll find people struggling with
mental health rather than the state
of the crops, men who don’t know
2017 Flagon & Dragon luncheon
which featured Graeme and Brad’s
premier performance of ‘I’ve Got
Your Back’, raised over $200,000
to be distributed over the next few
songs and storytelling on tour to
caravan parks along the east Coast of
New South Wales and Victoria and
have continued to perform regularly
together. Swift has also supported
the likes of Shane Nicholson,
Catherine Britt, Amber Lawrence,
Country Line
Adam Eckersley, and Lachlan Bryan,
among others.
With his second album set for release
in March next year, recorded under
the guidance of Matt Fell with a
band that included guitarist Glen
Hannah, drummer Josh Schuberth,
Fell himself on bass, guitars, keys
and percussion, Hammond organist
and Adam Eckersley Band member
Dan Biederman and Sam Hawksley
on lap steel. Guest vocalists include
Britt, Ziller and Katie Brianna.
The first single ‘Reckless Desires’,
previewed the album, Call Out
For The Cavalry, commencing preorder at the same time, with a tour
announce of 22 dates in 22 days
joined by Gretta Ziller.
Known to perform with each other
often and after the success of their
previous caravan park tours, the pair
decided there was no better time to
hook up the teardrop camper, bring
the swag back out and hit the road
together again, to showcase their
latest offerings in a series of intimate
performances for park guests on
The Great Australian Caravan Park
Country Music Showcase Tour. So,
pack your tent or load up the van
and book your spot now at one (or
many) of the prime locations this
summer and enjoy two of the best up
and coming alt-country performers
this wide land has to offer.
Just when you thought you’d seen/
heard everything...
Roy Orbison’s likeness returns to
Australia for the first time since
1972, this time as the continents’
first-ever hologram concert tour.
Roy Orbison, a phenomenal singersongwriter known for his distinctive,
impassioned voice, complex song
structures, and dark emotional
ballads died in Dec 1988. Between
1960 and 1964, “the Big O” saw 22
of his songs placed on the Top 40,
including ‘Only the Lonely’ (1960),
‘Crying’ (1961), ‘In Dreams’ (1963),
and ‘Oh, Pretty Woman’ (1964).
Following a UK run with the Royal
Philharmonic Orchestra in April
2018, the Roy Orbison In Dreams:
The Hologram AUS Tour stages
through RCM Touring at Brisbane
Entertainment Centre (May 4)
ICC Sydney Theatre (May 6),
Melbourne’s Hisense Arena (May 8),
Perth Arena (May 11) and Adelaide
Entertainment Centre (May 13).
John Williamson has always
been passionate about social
and environmental issues within
Australia, from his anti-logging
anthem ‘Rip Rip Woodchip’, to
singing about marriage equality with
Beccy Cole on ‘It’s All About Love’,
these songs have always populated
Williamson’s musical soundscape.
Responsible for creating some of
Australia’s most iconic unofficial
anthems of the country, such as ‘True
Blue’, ‘Mallee Boy’ and ‘Raining On
The Rock’, John is ingrained in the
Australian psyche, continually giving
a voice to the Aussie battler, while
shining a light on issues affecting the
Australian community. In October,
Williamson took up the call to arms
again, releasing a pair of singles
that tackle two very timely social
and environmental issues within
‘Pigs On The River’ is a track that
John was inspired to write after
watching a story on ABC’s Four
Corners about some irrigators
exploiting the Murray-Darling River
System. ‘Love Is The Word’ finds
John railing against the lack of love
in the world.
John had this to say about his two
latest singles: “Any irrigators along
the Murray-Darling River who are
using water that they are not entitled
to should be brought to justice. They
are thieves and should be ashamed
of themselves. I have recorded ‘Pigs
On The River’ in protest. I hope it
encourages true blue Australians
to stand up to these bullies. The
perpetrators give other irrigators a
bad name, and cause people down
the river to suffer.”
“I am also releasing a new song called
‘Love Is The Word’. I feel very sad for
my grandkids while there is a lack of
love for the earth in the world. Hate
and extreme nationalism are on an
alarming increase.”
Willo worried
Country Line
Canadian country music superstar –
and Australian ex-pat Gord Bamford
is returning to his country of birth for
a whirlwind tour in March 2018 to
celebrate the release of a new album.
The first single from the album,
‘Livin’ On Summertime’, hit radio in
Nov and is the perfect introduction
to what audiences can expect when
the former Victorian returns.
Gord has established himself as one
of the premier country music artists
in Canada – with an incredible
24 CCMA Awards and two CMA
awards under his belt, as well as 22
Top 10 singles, including the smash
#1 hit ‘When Your Lips Are So
Close’ from his sixth studio release
Cowboy Junkie. After signing a record
deal in Australia with ABC Music in
2016 Gord headed down for his first
Aussie tour, an east coast run with
country rockers The Wolfe Brothers.
Gord achieved 3 Top 5 singles in
Australia from that Tin Roof album.
Gord says he has been working
towards a return since he left. Gord
grew up in Traralgon until the age
of five when his parents separated.
His mother moved him, and his
sister Twila, to Canada. Despite
two decades away, he has always
felt an affinity with Australia, so it
was no surprise when he had the
opportunity to perform here years
later that he found an instant affinity
with audiences.
“Australian audiences know how to
have a good time. They love their
beer, music and down-home lifestyle
– its everything I am,” he says. “I am
very thankful my music has been
embraced by the Aussie country
music fans”.
Gord’s March tour includes a
run of headline shows, as well as
performances at the sold-out CMC
Rocks QLD Festival.
“I am bringing my own band and
crew with me for the first time for
these shows” he says. “We have all
played together for many years and
the Aussie fans will get to see our full
Singer/songwriter/ banjoist, Taylor
Pfeiffer has just released the new
single, ‘Take Her’, from an EP of the
same name. With a unique blend of
instruments, banjo and brass, ‘Take
Her’ playfully ridicules a relationship
going nowhere. The ‘boppy’ song
written by 18-year old Taylor, and
produced by Simon Johnson, lends
itself to the genre of alternative
country, whilst reminiscing a
vaudeville style.
Taylor Pfeiffer
Country Line
The accompanying music video,
filmed by JLM Studios, was filmed
at the Riverton Train Station, in a
rural town north of Adelaide. Set
in the 1920’s, the video comically
documents the lyrical themes,
featuring actor Taylor Allen, in
addition to Taylor herself doubling
as ‘the other woman’ as the video
Take Her features five songs and
underlines Taylor’s growth as an
artist, with a strong emphasis
on catchy hooks and memorable
arrangements, all written by her with
one co-write from Matt Scullion on
the song ‘Make Today Count’.
With the completion of her schooling
and Year 12, it’s full speed ahead as
Taylor dedicates all herself fulltime
to the art of song writing and
performing. In 2018, Taylor plans to
regularly perform around Australia,
saving up for a trip to Nashville.
Recently Taylor joined Beccy Cole,
Libby O’Donovan, and Kelly
Brouhaha on Beccy’s ‘Aussie Road
Crew’ SA Tour and is excited to be
a part of Beccy’s ‘Sisters of Twang’
concerts at the Tamworth Festival.
BMG has announced it will release
legendary rockabilly and country
music pioneer Wanda Jackson’s
autobiography Every Night Is
Saturday Night: A Country Girl’s
Journey to the Rock & Roll Hall
of Fame on November 14, 2017.
The iconic performer known as the
“Queen of Rockabilly” and the “First
Lady of Rock & Roll” landed more
than thirty singles on the country and
pop charts between 1954 and 1974.
Featuring over eighty photographs
from her personal collection and a
foreword by Elvis Costello,Every
Night is Saturday Night is the rockin’
great-grandmother’s chance to finally
share the story of her fascinating life
Wanda Jackson
and career in her own words.
Jackson’s debut single, ‘You Can’t
Have My Love,’ reached the Top 10
while she was still a sixteen-year-
old high school student. She hit
the road after graduation, playing
package shows with Carl Perkins,
Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and
Elvis Presley, who gave Wanda his
ring and asked her to be “his girl.”
With Presley’s encouragement, the
Oklahoma native began recording
rock music, often releasing singles
with country on one side and rock
on the other during her decade-anda-half tenure on Capitol Records.
Known for her energetic stage shows
and pioneering presence as a female
artist, Wanda stormed the charts
with a series of hit singles, including
“Let’s Have a Party,” “Right or
Wrong,” and “In the Middle of a
Heartache.” With over 40 albums
to her credit, Wanda has proven to
be an enduring and genre-defying
legend of American music.
In Every Night is Saturday Night,
Wanda tells the story of being
discovered by Country Music Hall
of Famer Hank Thompson; why she
refused to return to the Grand Ole
Opry for more than fifty years; the
challenges she and her integrated
band, The Party Timers, faced when
touring in a less racially tolerant
era; personal memories of her
relationship with Elvis; and how she
ultimately found the love of her life.
Along the way, Wanda reveals details
about her first boyfriend, who went
on to become a well-known pioneer
of country music’s Bakersfield
Sound; how she launched the career
of country star Roy Clark; the
challenges she faced as a woman who
introduced sex appeal to country
music and growling femininity to
rock & roll; her recent work with
rock luminaries such as Jack White
and Joan Jett; and how her deep faith
has sustained her over more than
seven decades of rocking, shocking,
and thrilling audiences around the
From The Bottom of A Well Brad Butcher Producer: Matt Fell
Real Class Act Fanny Lumsden Producer: Matt Fell
Queen of Boomtown Gretta Ziller Producer: Paul Ruske
Dragonfly Kasey Chambers Producers: Nash Chambers & Paul Kelly
Love and Blood Shane Nicholson Producer: Matt Fell
Get On Your Feet Adam Brand Producers: Alex Kline & Erin Enderlin
Coming Your Way Drew McAlister Producer: Andy Mak
61-615 O’Shea Producer: Lindsey Jackson
Endless The McClymonts Producer: Andy Mak
Our Backyard Travis Collins & Amber LawrenceProducer: Matt Fell
Lighthouse Ashleigh Dallas Producer: Brett Dallas
The Wide Horizon Darren Coggan Producer: Ben Edgar
All You Need Is Music Davidson Brothers Producers: Mark Thornton &
Larry Marrs
All Australian Girl Tania Kernaghan Producer: Stuart French
The Hungry Mile The Bushwackers Producer: Roger Corbett
Get On Your Feet Adam Brand
From The Bottom of A Well Brad Butcher
The Wide Horizon Darren Coggan
My Soundtrack Matt Cornell
Love and Blood Shane Nicholson
More Than Meets The Eye Aleyce Simmonds
Lighthouse Ashleigh Dallas
Real Class Act Fanny Lumsden
Dragonfly Kasey Chambers
All Australian Girl Tania Kernaghan
Better Day Carter & Carter
All You Need Is Music Davidson Brothers
61-615 O’Shea
The Hungry Mile The Bushwackers
Endless The McClymonts
Hey Kasey Chambers & Paul Kelly
Back in ‘92 Lee Kernaghan & James Blundell
Waltzing Australia The Bushwackers with John Williamson, Sara
Storer & The Bush Choir
When We Say It’s Forever The McClymonts & Ronan Keating
Our Backyard Travis Collins & Amber Lawrence
Just Like Your Dad Dale Duncan Songwriters: Allan Caswell & Manfred
Henbury Blues Dean Perrett Songwriter: Neville Anderson
Uncle Harry Dianne Lindsay Songwriter: Peter Simpson
Plains of Nappa Merrie Graham Rodger Songwriter: Graham Rodger
We Still Sing Three Rivers Hotel Ian Quinn Songwriter: Ian Quinn
Roll On Fanny Lumsden Songwriter: Fanny Lumsden
Outback Club Reunion Lee Kernaghan Songwriters: Garth Porter, Lee
Kernaghan, Colin Buchanan
Dirt Under My Nails The Bushwackers Songwriter: Rich Davies
Never Never Land Tom Curtain feat Luke O’Shea Songwriters: Tom
Curtain & Luke O’Shea
Our Backyard Travis Collins & Amber Lawrence Songwriters: Amber
Lawrence, Travis Sinclair, Matt Scullion
Evelyn’s Kitchen Davidson Brothers
Pick Me! Michael Fix
Porch Pickin’ Mickey Pye
Easy Does It The Bushwackers
Eva Waits Tommy Emmanuel
Too Young, Too Cute, Too Pretty Carpenter Caswell
Back Where I Started Davidson Brothers
Southbound Train Runaway Dixie
Cumberland Plain The Morrisons
Long Way Over Wide Island
Well Dressed Man Brad Butcher
The Way We Ride Casey Barnes
Count On Me Judah Kelly
It’s Only Midnight Matt Cornell
Halfway Up The Hume Small Town Romance
Satellite Kasey Chambers Songwriters: Kasey Chambers & Harry Hookey
Outback Club Reunion Lee Kernaghan Songwriters: Garth Porter, Lee
Kernaghan, Colin Buchanan
Safe Shane Nicholson Songwriter: Shane Nicholson
Don’t Wish It All Away The McClymonts Songwriters: Brooke, Sam, &
Mollie McClymont, Lindsey Jackson
Our Backyard Travis Collins & Amber Lawrence Songwriters: Amber
Lawrence, Travis Sinclair, Matt Scullion
Satellite Kasey Chambers Directors: Duncan Toombs & David Bromley
Damn Good Mates Lee Kernaghan Director: Duncan Toombs
Don’t Wish It All Away The McClymonts Director: Jeremy Dylan
Never Never Land Tom Curtain feat Luke O’Shea Directors: Tom Curtain
& Luke O’Shea
Our Backyard Travis Collins & Amber Lawrence Director: Paul
Satellite Kasey Chambers
Kiss Somebody Morgan Evans
Safe Shane Nicholson
House The McClymonts
Our Backyard Travis Collins & Amber Lawrence
ver flicked through a glossy magazine or scrolled your
way through a blog with the headline “How To Make
The Most of Your 20s”?
Here’s one gal who got the memo.
This year Forbes magazine rated Kelsea Ballerini in its list
of “30 Under 30”.
She’s a game changer, all right, with her musical identity
exploding in the two years since her debut album.
Trailblazers, Taylor Swift and Shania Twain have endorsed
her craft and helped set her own career path alight. At just
24, she’s splashed across magazines, performing duets with
Reba, snagging spots in coveted festival lineups, and all in all
too busy living her dazzling life to get caught up planning
the most anticipated wedding to be had by a country couple
in years.
Kelsea and her home-grown Aus beau, Morgan Evans have
been cramming in long-ass tours (try a 42-show stint with
Lady Antebellum) and short-lived celebrations of love. So,
sounding genuinely happy, she unapologetically proclaims
that she’s hired a wedding planner. “She is amazing. She’s
very organized and she’s very persistent.
I am neither, so she is getting it all
done,” Kelsea explains. “I am excited
about marrying him, so the wedding is
just about that.”
“You know it’s funny, I’m not a wedding
person,” Kelsea confided to US Weekly.
“My mom and my bridesmaids and my
stylist surprised me with a fitting and I
walked in and put something on and
then walked out and I started crying
and so we picked the dress!”
As the dress got ticked off, the
celebrations kicked off with a Vegas
bachelorette party, featuring plenty of
backstage snaps from a Jennifer Lopez
concert. Kelsea’s more intimate bridal
shower followed a month later and
blissful photos of it showed her wearing
a flower crown and relaxing outside
with her pretty pals, surrounded by
pastel balloons.
“Everyone did something different and
made it look like a Pinterest party. It was
beautiful,” Kelsea says. Guests played
the old-favourite ‘Make a Wedding
Dress Out of Toiler Paper’ game and
threw in a new twist. They found this
game, it was so cute, where they had
Morgan record answers via video and
they would ask a question and I would
have to guess what he was gonna say
and then his video would play. It was
really fun. I got one wrong!”
While life for the couple is ridiculously
hectic now, things will break in
December so we await the scintillating
wedding updates! Kelsea has alluded
to a ceremony destination, which her
guests must ‘travel’ to, but it’s not in
the countryside. And no boots (not
her thing, so she doesn’t own any). The
date has been kept under wraps, but my
guess is that they’ll stick to Christmas
Day – the date they were engaged last
It was just three weeks after Kelsea
and Morgan’s first meeting as co-hosts
at the CMC Awards that she wrote a
song about him, which became the
new album’s title track. “I remember
just really in my head being like, ‘Oh
I feel it happening, love is happening,’
but I couldn’t really talk about it yet.
So before you talk about it, you write
about it,” Kelsea told USA Today,
explaining the lyrics, They’re gonna say
I fell too fast / They’re gonna say it’s never
gonna last.
“Aw man, I think if you would’ve asked
me two years ago before I met Morgan
that I would be married at 24, then I
would’ve laughed. Honestly, it’s kind of
so cheesy because everyone says ‘when
you know, you know’ and it’s totally
true. So, I really would’ve married him
a month after knowing him.” The song
has its sunny similarities to debut single
‘Love Me Like You Mean
It’ but brings some insight
to the beginning of their
relationship. A lot of people
doubted its sincerity, and even
Kelsea says her writing the
song felt “aggressively quick,
so I didn’t show it to him until
a couple of months later.”
Kelsea’s first three singles,
including ‘Love Me Like You
Mean It’ all hit Number 1, making
her the first female country artist since
Wynonna Judd to achieve immediate
and consecutive success. ‘I had been
writing so much and trying to figure
out what I wanted to say, and how I
wanted to sound. That was the first time
that I was like, “I love this. I could sing
this over and over again and feel really
good about it.” With a cache of popleaning country-grounded hits already
to her credit, Kelsea has reemerged after
strengthening her songwriting muscles.
Unapologetically is her life narrative,
with the songs representing milestones
from ages 19 to 23 years and placed in
chronological order.
“It starts with a breakup and starts
gnarly and dark and starts angst-y,
and then it goes into kind of like that
moment where you find yourself again,
and through growing up a little bit
and fighting off some insecurities and finding some new ones! And then
it goes into meeting the guy that I’m
now marrying, and it ends really light
and full of love,’ Kelsea says, making
us wait through a total of 12 songs for
the ultimate happy ending. The closer,
‘Legends’ is written in past tense, as if
looking back on the love story her and
Morgan have already begun writing.
Yeah, and they all knew our names all
over town / We had it made in the middle
of the madness.
The track ‘Get Over Yourself ’ provides
variety with singing/speaking verses
and a new, exasperated approach to the
familiar theme of moving on.
I’m over you and everything that we used
to do together / My Saturday nights are
brighter, I’ve never felt better.
One can’t overlook the sexy ‘Music’ –
Then my heart stops, like a beat drop / It’s
a symphony when you sweet-talk.
However, Kelsea has a crack at
writing romance (rather than mere
flirtatiousness) with ‘I Hate Love
I am excited about marrying him,
so the wedding is just about that
- You know it’s funny, I’m not a
wedding person!
Songs’, a Dr Seuss rhyming delight and
a pivotal moment in this songwriter’s
career. “This record and the place that
I’m at in my life now have really opened
the door to that actual emotion. So ‘I
Hate Love Songs’ is the song on the
record that is kind of that transition of
“Uh-oh, you’re about to turn me into
that girl, and here I go,” Kelsea says.
It’s a simple chorus, interspersed
between witty verses - Your eyes can’t
hold stars and you’d die if your heart
really skipped…We were drunk when we
met so we don’t know our anniversary.
The spotlight shines on maternal
relationships and the transition from
child to woman during Kelsea’s album
favourite, ‘In Between’.
Sometimes I’m my mother’s daughter,
sometimes I’m her friend.”
It is my favourite line,” Kelsea says.
“But that is what the whole song
revolved around, and she has been such
a big part of this journey.”
Carla Ballerini moved to Nashville
with a 15-year old Kelsea to chase a
publishing deal.
“I was signed as a songwriter for a
year before I got my record deal, and
I had most of the songs on my first
record written before I had my record
deal, so I didn’t necessarily know that
I was writing for an album,” she says,
explaining that this album’s structure
was much more “intentional”.
“I feel like being in a serious relationship
has made me more bold as an artist. It’s
this new comfort of, “At the end of the
day, whether I write a hit or fall on my
face, I get to end the day with you.” It’s
really cool.
Unapologetically is a new era, and Kelsea
wrote or cowrote over 200 songs for
the album’s ‘shortlist’. She’s the first to
admit that not all of those songs were
good, however some of the final 12
selected were written before her first
album debuted.
“They just fit better on this record.
It’s like a puzzle,” she says. Dare I say
it, moments of the album could be
mistaken for Taylor Swift, who Kelsea
often draws comparison to.
But despite being friends, Kelsea isn’t
trying to be anyone other than Kelsea.
“When I had the opportunity to become
an artist, I decided that I wanted to be
the same person on my albums as I was
on social media as I was out to dinner
with my mom as I was out having a
glass of wine with my friends,” she says.
“I wanted there to be a consistency
between artist and person.”
songs…” She has a passion for chicken
nuggets and her fiancé (they have a rule
where they don’t go more than two
weeks without seeing each other). And
she confesses that when you spend more
time with your band than you do with
said fiancé, as much as you love them,
“There are definitely the days where
we will just give each other a wave and
you’re like, ‘I don’t want to talk to ya’.”
Yes, quirky honesty looks a surefire way
to satisfy a social-media following but
the transparency that helped Kelsea
pull over 1.7 million followers to date
is nothing to scoff at.
Especially when her music has the
power to hold young women to
standards of self and self-respect, as
exampled on ‘Miss Me More’.
Forgot who I was before I ever kissed you
/ Yeah, I thought I’d miss you / But I miss
me more.
Her first performance of an
autobiographical tune was on her high
for the students and encouraging them
to find their own passions.
There’s no discounting Kelsea’s energy
and her ability to stay relatable while
her world is in constant flux. Perhaps
most impressive is that she is selfdeprecating, a trait not always attached
to our American stars. She says her
upcoming marriage will make her “half
Aussie by the time of CMC Rocks
QLD.” And the same for Morgan, who
released his first American single this
year. Her peers are now the musical
influences she grew up cherishing, and
already she’s opened for Rascal Flatts,
Alan Jackson, Tim McGraw, Carrie
Underwood and Keith Urban. But
Kelsea still swears she’s the new kid on
the block. “I think the second album is
really just like, are we going to be able
to keep doing that or is this where it
slows down?” she shares. “Or is this
where it speeds up…I made an album
that I’m proud of and that I would
I decided that I wanted to
be the same person on my
albums as I was on social
media, as I was out to
dinner with my mom, as I
was out having a glass of
wine with my friends
What we see of Kelsea is comical,
emotional and real.
You’ll see it break / You’ll see it fall apart /
Cause I don’t have, I don’t have a machine
heart (‘Machine Heart’).
The ‘About’ on her official Facebook
page is typically low key...
“Hey, I’m Kelsea. I sing & write
school stage in Tennessee. Kelsea has
since returned to her school, the place
she says defined her career and character,
as a recipient of the Women in Music
City Awards’ ‘Artist of the Year’ and a
2017 Grammy nominee. Choking back
tears, Kelsea handed over a $20,000
cheque after providing a free concert
listen to myself, and that’s really all I
can ever do, so I’m excited to see what
people think of it.”
Kelsea can be heard on the gospel
soundtrack for the animated movie, The
Star (The Story of the First Christmas)
and her new album Unapologetically,
both out now.
homas Rhett scored his first No. one
hit in 2013 with ‘It Goes Like This,’
introducing a sound that mixed the
southern swagger of country music with pop
hooks, R&B grooves, soulful strut, and the
anything-goes attitude of rock. During the years
since, he’s become a husband, a father and,
thanks to eight chart-topping singles, a headliner
of massive arenas.
It’s funny how life can change so much in such a
short period of time.
Life Changes captures that whirlwind turnaround.
Recorded while Thomas Rhett and his wife,
Lauren, were in the middle of adopting their
daughter from Africa and awaiting the birth
of their second child, it’s the biggest, boldestsounding record of his career, filled with songs
that stretch his sound to new limits. Kicking off
the album is ‘Craving You,’ a driving, danceable
anthem filled with ‘80s-inspired production and
guest vocals from Maren Morris. From there, Life
Changes carves a path as wild and wide as his own
career. There are coming-of-age country ballads,
heartland rock & roll anthems and R&B slow
jams all interwoven by the songwriting skills and
elastic vocals of a frontman who’s willing to shine
a light on his own milestones and mistakes.
“I named the album Life Changes
because my life has never changed
this much in a short span of time,”
he says. “From seeing the success of
a song like ‘Die a Happy Man’ to
putting out my third album to going
on my first headlining tour to having
two children, both under two years
old… I thought the title of the album
was a good representation of what is
happening in my life right now.”
Much of the album’s material was
written on the road, while Thomas
Rhett toured his way across America
in support of his platinum-selling
second record, Tangled Up. Released
in 2015, that marked a turning point
in his career, spawning four Number
One singles and one Grammynominated smash: ‘Die a Happy
Man.’ A tender, personal song written
about his wife, it topped the charts
for six weeks, earning awards from
the CMA, ACM and Billboard
Music Awards along the way. It
was an eye-opening experience
for Thomas Rhett, who’d
rarely written something so
intimate before. Although
‘Die a Happy Man’ still tapped
into something widespread and
There’s plenty of autobiography on
Life Changes, too. Rhett sings about
his own adolescence in ‘Sixteen,’
a nostalgic song about a teenager’s
desire to grow up…only to miss
his teenage years once adulthood is
finally reached. “No matter if you’re
10 years old or you’re 80 years old, I
think you can always find an identity
within the verses and choruses of
that song,” he says proudly. The
album’s title track tells a wider story,
opening with his days as a struggling
songwriter before moving through the
various life changes - his marriage to
his grade-school crush, the adoption
of the couple’s first daughter, the
achievement of his lifelong musical
dreams - that have unfolded since
then. His stories are so compelling
because they are our stories, too.
And like any great storyteller, he
weaves a wide narrative, delivering
the album from several different
personas. He transforms himself into
a 1950s crooner on ‘Sweetheart,’ a
modernized doo-wop song inspired
by his childhood trips to his
grandparents’ house, where he spent
his afternoons listening to records by
the Drifters and Carole King. ‘Leave
Right Now’ and ‘Marry Me’ are two
mid-tempo ballads underscored by
big, booming beats. On ‘Drink a Little
Beer’ — a song written by his father,
Rhett Akins, who contributes guest
vocals to the track, he time-travels to
the 1970s, back when country songs
featured Telecaster guitars and phaser
pedals. And on the retro ‘Kiss Me like
a Stranger,’ he channels the soft-rock
...whether that means
dancing or playing a Bruno
Mars song in our set, the
more it changed the way I
wrote songs...
sounds of
Gees and Hall & Oates, which he cowrote with Jordan Reynolds and his
high-school idol, Dave Barnes.
Reynolds and Barnes are just two
of Thomas Rhett’s collaborators
on Life Changes. He co-produced
the album himself — a first, with a
hands-on approach to the album’s
layered arrangements — and he
reached out to number of new names
and familiar faces for additional
help. Guitar hero Dann Huff, who
spent the ‘80s performing alongside
Michael Jackson and other legends
before transforming himself into
a hit producer, joined him for the
majority of the album. Jesse Frasure,
co-producer and co-writer on much
of Tangled Up had a hand in multiple
new tracks including the current
single ‘Unforgettable.’ Joe London,
also with co-writer/producer credits
on Thomas Rhett’s sophomore effort
and had a hand in writing its smash
hit ‘Die A Happy Man,’ also returns
as a co-producer and songwriter.
Julian Bunetta, known for his work
with One Direction and other pop
acts, made multiple appearances,
too, including co-writing and coproducting credits on Life Changes’
chart-topping debut single ‘Craving
You.’Thomas Rhett teamed up with
songwriters from across the country,
working with L.A.-based hit makers
one minute and fellow Nashvillians
like Shane McAnally and Ashely
Gorley the next. The goal was simple:
to stretch his limits, widen his circle,
and create the best music possible.
Life Changes owes much of that
variety of Thomas Rhett’s stage
show, which has evolved and
diversified since he first began
“The more I started getting
comfortable being me on stage,
whether that means dancing or
playing a Bruno Mars song in
our set, the more it changed the
way I wrote songs,” he explains.
“I want to continue making our
concerts a fun place for all people,
including people who wanna dance
to love songs and people who wanna
rock to rock songs. I just love having
a mixture.”
Variety. It’s one of the key ingredients
of Life Changes’ powerful sound.
From the EDM-inspired ‘Leave Right
Now’ to the feel-good, countryrocking ‘Renegades,’ Life Changes
shines its light into every corner of
Thomas Rhett’s influences. It’s an
album for Millennials and Baby
Boomers alike. For those who grew
up listening to FM radio, as well as
those who prefer Spotify playlists.
And while several songs find Rhett
proudly singing about his roots, it’s
also an album about moving forward.
About growing, expanding, and
chasing down new songs, creating
the soundtrack for all of life’s changes
along the way.
his is an extraordinarily fine debut from a young
woman who unquestionably knows her way
around writing and delivering a song, but was
prepared to work and wait until she had perfect conditions
to bring her creation to optimum fruitfulness – nothing left
to wither on the vine here! These are songs branded with
cinematic imagery and chalk and cheese angles. Credible,
cannily crafted and thoughtful vignettes of real life scoped
through the lens of ruthless youth, the futility of fight, the
redemption of implacable life-lessons and perception paid
for in blood or copious tears.
Melody and her husband Michael (co-producer with
Catherine Britt of The Wreckage) are well-known for
their various roles in country music circles, with Michael
having been a multi-instrumental sideman for many years,
including with Kasey Chambers’ band. Most recently
they have both been on the road (perennially) with Fanny
Lumsden and have broadened their reach exponentially as
a result!
Country Update caught up with Melody to congratulate
her on a singularly excellent album and go behind the
making and taking of it to the world.
What drove you to be a singer songwriter?
I grew up in a house with music at its core! My dad had over
7000 records! We literally were surrounded by a mountain
of different, amazing music. I gravitated toward artists like
Emmylou and Linda Ronstadt from a very young age. I
wasn’t singing Spice Girls or Britney in my mirror - I’d put
on my Mum’s old cowboy boots and sing country songs.
Why should someone buy your album? Tell us what its’
distinctive appeal is?
I tried to push boundaries with this record and blur genre
lines. I love country music but with a twist,
I wanted the songs to be credible and
serious but I didn’t want to be boring - I
think I created a record that allows you to
think, and to dance.
How autobiographical is your writing?
A lot of this record speaks to the journey
of a relationship and becoming parents and
all the emotions that go with that – getting
to grips with ‘adulting’! The record was
written and produced over a long period of
time, it covers songs that were written from
when I first met my husband and when
our baby was born, and the challenges and
excitement that came with adapting to that.
‘Truth About It’ was written about the
feeling I got being a new mum and wife of
a touring musician, how it felt like a veil of
invisibility, to always be in the background
instead of being given a chance to be a “real
person” sometimes, not just someone’s
mum or someone’s Mrs.
Your favourite, most gratifying track on the
album and why?
That has to be the first single ‘The
Wreckage’. I wrote this song so quickly it
just fell out of my mouth in a tumble, and
when I played it to Catherine and Moko,
they were genuinely so excited, it was
contagious! This was also the song that was
amazing to see come together in the studio.
It’s a huge sound and was the first track we
mixed - it got us all so keyed up about the
record at every level of its creation.
I wrote the ballad of the album, ‘Bury Me
Sane’ with my husband Michael. We had
just gotten married and I came to him with
this song about ‘burning a wedding dress’
and basically dying happy without your
husband. Needless to say, he was a little
worried that I was having second thoughts!!
One song ‘Dont Explain’, the only cover, is
a Paul Kelly song we covered for our little
boy Miller who is a mad PK fan.
How has your attitude to music as a career
choice changed?
I take things a lot more seriously since
I started on the road with Fanny, about
a year and a half ago. She is the worlds’
hardest worker and she is so clever with
everything she does, she has been a huge
and invaluable influence on my work
ethic and time-management skills. I am
quite an airy fairy, arty kind of person and
the business side of things is something I
struggle with -sucking it up and coming to
grips with “doing it yourself ” has been a
giant step up for me in the last couple of
What do you most like in the creation of a
song? Writing, recording or performing?
I used to think that nothing could beat that
euphoria you get working live, on stage in
front of a receptive audience, singing a
song that evolved from a personal, cathartic
diary entry – distilling an emotion and
writing that down has always felt so
cleansing and natural to me. But making
this record, I fell in LOVE with the studio.
Watching producers and musicians work
magic and put their genius into your work,
is fantastic. I was so excited to work with
musicians like Jeff McCormack and to have
Shane Nicholson and Kevin Bennett sing
on my work.
What’s the most interesting opportunity you’ve
gotten through your work?
We toured NZ this year, Fanny and I,
in hired camper vans, we booked it all
ourselves and made a holiday out of it, this
was my highlight so far, because we allowed
it to be business and pleasure and it made
me realise that even though it’s a lot of hard
work, we truly are lucky to do what we do!
Am I right in thinking you and Michael met
at the Academy or did I dream that?
No, we actually met at a McClymonts
A friend offered me a ticket to the show,
which was a 2 hour drive away. I almost
said no but decided to go, and I spotted
Michael doing sound for the support act.
I thought “I’ve seen that guy before” and
I started scrolling through Facebook and
found that we were Friends. I sent him a
message and he told me to come and meet
him after the show… I got scared, courage
failed and I bailed!
Afterwards I went to the only pub in the
small town and sure enough, there he was.
We ended up chatting for hours and as
cheesy as it sounds, we both now say that it
was like love at first sight!
Problem was, he was heading to the US to
tour with Kasey Chambers and gone for
three months.
I decided to “surprise” (Stalker Alert) him
and go to the US, so I sold everything I
owned, quit my job, moved out of my
house and went and lobbed up in Austin.
Nine months later we were in a delivery
ward welcoming a baby, so it was a fairly
impressive surprise.
I actually met Catherine (Britt) on
that same trip to the US, she was
over there playing some shows and
spending time in Austin, we bonded
over geocaching! (that’s a weird,
online geeky treasure hunt) We were
firm friends very quickly! When
she told me she wanted to produce
my record, that was probably my
biggest pickle to date! On one hand,
of course, my husband whom I had
every confidence in was always my first
choice as a producer, but Catherine had
been a musical influence of mine forever!
I tentatively proposed they work together
and luckily, Michael is so chilled out, he
was more than happy to have Cate on
Since making the record, we have become
even closer, we live streets away from each
other, we see each other numerous times
a week, AND we are both having babies
together next year!! I am due in Feb and
she is due in Jan.
“We travel most weekends of the year,
Miller our toddler in tow, caravan hitched
up - starting with the US when he was 6
weeks old, and now we have another on
the way with tours booked throughout this
year and next.
It does feel like we are repeating tradition,
getting back to the roots of country music.
It seems the most natural thing in the world
to live on the road, to travel as a family to
every little whistlestop that will have us - I
forget that it’s not the way everyone lives.
It certainly isn’t glamorous, especially
not when you add a newborn or children
into the scenario, but certainly there are
parts of it that are convenient, having a
little caravan with you everywhere you go,
means you basically have a house/dressing
room/backstage area on wheels. You can
change your baby, put your kids to bed,
and use it as a playroom.
While that is good in theory, we had a
newborn who hated travelling in cars, so
he screamed mercilessly in the car from
birth til he was about one. Many tears were
shed and wiped away for both Miller and
myself - often moments before I had to pull
it together and get on stage!
In saying that, we have had so many
wonderful experiences as a family, seen
so many places and met amazing people
all over the world, and music is what has
allowed us to do this.
We also have a huge network of support
from other musicians doing similar
things which is amazing. On the road
with Fanny Lumsden, Michael plays in
her band and with me while I do support
and Fanny watches our son for us while
we are both on stage. We are also hitting
... to always be in the background
instead of being given a chance to be
a “real person” sometimes, not just
someone’s mum or someone’s Mrs
the road with Catherine Britt next year, in
the same format, but with her newborn,
and our newborn added to the equation!
Catherine’s husband, James, has put his
hand up to be tour babysitter, I don’t think
he knows what he has got himself into!!
t wasn’t that long ago that tour buses
filled with bewildered red faced tourists
would queue up at a remote address
in Alice Springs to witness a solo, beer
carton tapping, laureate storyteller Ted
Egan. His unique ability to capture
and sing up a remarkable part of the
world using the rich characters, wild
stories and distinct vernacular of the
region, magically transported
visitors connecting them
to country and providing
them a memorable bona
fide Australian outback
That desire remains strong
for the millions of Aussie
and international tourists
who venture to our many
and varied remote regions,
however there are only a rare
few individuals who have the
stories, singular skill set - and
postcode – to feed that need.
Enter Katherine-based horse
and dog trainer, singer
songwriter Tom Curtain –
who ‘mark my words’ – like
Ted Egan – will become an
outback Australian icon.
Territory Time is the new album from
Tom that boasts a collection of 10 finely
crafted songs that all have grown out of
the rust, dust, sweat and sunburn of living
and working in the Top End and you can
sincerely feel the truth resonating in every
Sixteen years ago Tom left his home
in Kingaroy QLD to have a crack
at breaking horses and working in
the stock camps mustering cattle for
the numerous cattle stations around
Katherine in the Northern Territory.
It was hard, hot, dangerous and thirsty
work but as Tom says, “you were sitting
on the back of a horse all day, every day,
and you had plenty of time to just think
about things and the assorted hoof beats
of the different horses as they’d trot or
canter would inspire different melodies
in my head. Then an old bloke gave me
a guitar and showed me three chords, so
at night I would sit around the campfire
and try to get the songs out …years later
I still only know two and a half chords but
it went on from there” he laughs.
Tom is not one to sit still and there is
subsequently a pretty epic tale of award
winning albums, touring, moving and
marriages, highs and lows, love and
loss and everything in between - but
let’s save all that for another time.
I first met Tom at the Mildura
Country Music Festival where he and
modern day pirate (singer songwriter)
Adam Kilpatrick tried to kill me with
Rum Lime & Sodas. Surviving to tell
the tale of that I now look to extract
revenge at any opportunity. Tom is
a very affable bloke who everyday
people feel very comfortable around,
so in 2011 when I was passing through
Katherine with my wife and three
daughters I stopped by for a visit.
Here was a bloke with two young kids,
a misplaced wife and a fierce drive to
succeed. Each day he was up working
horses at 3:30am and slogging straight
through the heat and dust all in fierce
temperatures, until he’d collapse
exhausted in the late evening.
It was really putting me off my
beer and he was still recovering
from another horse kick to the
head when I had to sit him down
and state the bleeding obvious.
Tom continues; “Yes, it was very
inspiring to have Luke and his
family drop by a couple of times
now – I guess he didn’t get the
hint the first time that I didn’t
want him back. But we did get
to talking and after a few days and a
few beers on that first visit we started
to hatch a plan about a Katherine
Outback Experience type of show.”
Tom’s property is in the ideal location
for showcasing the multiple peculiar
skills of the singing horse whisperer
- which include playing and singing
songs while standing on a horse; while
rounding up and cutting out cattle;
while whistling and ordering about a
vast number of over-enthusiastic cattle
dogs, while… well you get the idea. It’s
located on twenty acres, five minutes
out of Katherine where any traveller
heading North to Kakadu, Litchfield,
Darwin or across to the Kimberley
has to pass through the town at least
once – and once you experience the
incredible Gorge – there’s not much
else to do there.
So three years later after the seed was
sown, I called through Katherine
once again to witness the very raw
beginnings of the Katherine Outback
Experience - which was fascinating,
funny and highly entertaining - he just
needed some new songs!
Tom adds, “I had plenty of stories and
song ideas built up over the 10 years
between albums but I suppose it started
with ‘Never Never Land,’ a tribute to
the people living and working up here
in the Top End and the amalgamation
- I love that word - of white and black,
wet and dry seasons, all getting on
working together for a brighter future.
It was a really great connection to write
this with Luke here in the Territory as
I know he understands the land and
the uniqueness of the people up here.”
Tom later teamed up with long time
collaborator and producer Garth
Porter and apart from ‘Never Never
Land’ (produced by Matt Fell & Luke old bloke gave me a guitar and
showed me three chords, so at night
I would sit around the campfire
and try to get the songs out - years
later I still only know two and a
half chords but it went from there
O’Shea), they tweaked and polished
up the various songs and co-writes
creating a world class recording of
10 tall tales and true that all emanate
sincerely from the various hoof beats
within Tom.
There are upbeat songs like ‘Full
Give It’, ‘Livin’ in the Bush’, ‘Camp
Drafting’ and the title track and next
single ‘Territory Time’ that capture the
essence and spirit of the hardworking
but ready to party at the drop of a hat
people in the Top End, and highlight
the not entirely orthodox ways they
reward themselves when they get that
chance for a well earned break.
There are heartbreaking songs like ‘All
Gone’ or ‘Horse Tailer,’ which as Tom
reflects “Is a true story about a young
14 year old boy that went missing one
night out the back of Birdsville. The
camp horses spooked and bolted and
he went out to bring them back, but
a massive dust storm hit and he was
sadly never seen again.”
There are the poetic songs like
‘Roper River’ and ‘Where the Pindan
Meets The Ocean’, and the dead-set
ridiculous ‘Billy Don’t Like No Hip
Hop’ of which Tom says, “My son
Charlie said ‘Dad you’ve gotta have a
Rap song !’ and I said ‘I don’t do Rap!’
But it did get me thinking about a
true story of a really tough guy who
was just invincible, who one night
went out to the dunny and started
screaming like a little girl when a frog
jumped into his dacks - and he’s never
lived it down.”
A personal favourite is ‘Where the
Pindan Meets the Ocean’ written with
Janice Bell on her Barnhill Station an
hour south of Broome on the West
Where you and your dreams and the
Pindan meets the ocean
It’s also the place where Tom
proposed to his powerhouse
partner Annabel McLarty who
has added that touch of class –
and common sense - to the whole
Katherine Outback Experience.
“We’ve had over 10,000 people
through the gates this season”
said Tom, “and Annabel has
been instrumental in our
growing success.” So much so,
come mid November they are
embarking upon the Territory Time
Tour heading down the West Coast
of Australia which includes taking 7
horses, 12 working dogs and the show
to regional towns and communities.
Tom adds, “Where each place provides
a wild horse and I have to catch it,
tame, train and ride it all within 45
min. Then we put on a musical show
with support from Ellen Amy from
Brisbane as well as local talent from
each town.”
Territory Time is a cracker-jack of
an album that collectors of original
Australian music will love - and
regardless of awards, radio play, fads
or fashions, it will continue to fill
car stereos, caravans and back-packs
of visitors from all over the world –
reminding them of their time spent
with a very special fella, with some very
special skills, that for one moment in
time, magically connected them to a
very, very, special part of the world.
t’s lunch break at a prestigious
school on the Yarra River in
Melbourne and shortly a group
of senior students will be summoned
back to the classroom for exam
revision. Taking a moment away
from class preparations to talk about
his upcoming new music is Michael
Waugh, a passionate educator. But
that is not take a line from a
song on the album,
I’m a father, I’m a teacher, I’m a
husband, I’m a singer, I’m a writer, I’m
a thinker, I’m a talker, I’m a listener
…. “If I could say what I’m most
proud of, it’s all that is on this list.”
Nominated for Best New Talent at
the 2017 Golden Guitar awards after
the release of the highly acclaimed
debut album What We Might Be,
Michael has been compared to Aussie
folk and country legends Paul Kelly
and John Williamson and formidable
global songwriters like Kristofferson.
Now, oozing honesty and continuing
to capture life’s highs and lows
with ascerbic and unflinching
observations, this master storyteller
has a new collection of emotionally
driven songs on The Asphalt and the
Oval. Listening is an experience that
will make you laugh, gasp, shudder,
cry and reminisce.
“I felt really exposed and at times
terrified writing this album,” Waugh
explains. Then he draws on a quote
from Jason Isbell, ‘I am not fighting
with you down in the ditch, I’ll
meet you up here on the road...’”
It is this kind of guts and sinew
affirmation that gives the new album
a bare-knuckle rawness of theme and
“The title, The Asphalt and the Oval,
is based on how I was brought up.
My primary school was divided up
on gender lines. Girls had to play on
the asphalt, the boys had to play on
the oval. There was no democracy of
choice.” Michael says he felt like a
‘misfit’ and that he was incarcerated
somewhere in the middle.
“I used to be called names and one
of them was ‘queer’ .., I distinctly
remember in that moment, I was
thinking ‘I don’t know what that
word means.’ I just thought I’m
obviously strange.”
Yet despite the scars from his
childhood and in view of current
global events, Michael believes the
world needs a little less judgement
and a lot more tolerance and
forgiveness because ‘hating and hate
doesn’t get us anywhere.’
So, these songs, just like the title
track, are a personal statement.
“When I started writing it I was
absolutely terrified of saying ‘Joe
Grey used to say that I was
queer’ because it just brought
back those feelings of being
ostracised - alienated. But
that’s also why I needed to
write that song.”
Several of the songs that
make up this album were
granddaughter in mind - and
the discomfort and unease
that pondering ‘a world that doesn’t
play fair’ raises for him.
“I didn’t grow up with a little sister
and I only have a son, so before
Kiara came into our world I’d never
been responsible for a little girl. And
as someone who is now responsible
for a little girl I’m scared because of
those things that my mum, my wife
and my friends had to go through.
I don’t want Kiara growing up in
a world where her gender might
prevent her from being anything that
she wants to be, or where she could
be hurt because some man didn’t
grow up past Grade 3.
“When we look at how women are
treated, quite frankly it’s not good
enough. I don’t set out to write
to a theme, but when we started
recording the songs (with about
40 to choose from) those that kept
coming forward had the stories for
men and the stories for women.”
Michael points out he is not sitting
in judgement of anyone. “I just tell
a story observationally.” With true
grit, conviction and authenticity
flowing through this album, songs
like ‘They Don’t Let the Girls in
the Game’ are stand out tracks, as
is ‘Willy’s Chickens’ which is about
the factory that employed Michael’s
mother at one time.
“Those women who worked in that
chicken factory were just incredibly
strong women … You’ve got your
hands in the air like you want to
surrender, one hand holds a chook like
a pub raffle winner the other’s in the
arse of a Sunday Dinner … There was
part of me that knew how horrible
conditions were, but they just
laughed all the time.”
As these true tales extract themselves,
Michael steadfastly refuses to turn
fact into fiction. “Old man Willy
is a real guy who is still alive, that
My primary school was divided
up on gender lines. Girls had to
play on the asphalt, the boys had
to play on the oval. There was no
democracy of choice.
factory actually exists and the family
I talk about that Mum delivered the
chickens to, they are real. Mum said
I needed to change the names in the
But he didn’t.
“I was doing a gig at the Briagolong
Hotel in Victoria and I started
playing ‘Willy’s Chickens’... little
did I know half the patrons had
worked for Willy and the other half
worked for Mrs Mansen (she cops a
bit of flak in the song).”... so, when
Michael got to the kicker lyric of the
chorus the place erupted.
Unapologetic honesty is both
the lighthouse and the beacon in
Michael’s brilliant lyrics and since
being noticed in the streets of
Tamworth by Allan Caswell and
Pat Drummond he continues to
draw accolades from every strata of
the music industry but believes his
comfort zone is in the folkie camp.
Producer Shane Nicholson breathed
colour and life into stories from
the footy fields, family dairy farm
and the hometown of Heyfield on
Michael’s debut album and the same
collaboration has proven a prodigious
winner again in the making of this
new release.
“When I made that first record I
was in awe of Shane, and I become
a bit inarticulate around people who
are famous.” Michael recalls with a
chuckle. But after recording the first
album the two had become firm
friends more than just colleagues. “I
came back this time around with the
confidence to say ‘here’s what I want
to say’ where do you want to take the
songs? Shane pushed me to do things
I couldn’t have done previously.”
I drove home and wrote ‘Baling
Twine’ – I didn’t get the man’s name
but I got his story. I hope that this
song pays tribute to some of those
true heroes of Australia – who are
fighting every day just getting out
before subsiding safely with a smile
on hearing the charming imagery on
closer, ‘Kindergarten Fete’.
It irresistibly transports you to a
typical Australian school’s end of
year Christmas concert …
of bed and putting on a pair of
In contrast, ‘For a Moment’ is a
beautiful contemporary duet with
Aleyce Simmonds that explores a wise
philosophy on life and parenthood.
Then there’s the leading single ‘Little
C Word’ which was a late inclusion.
“We completed all of the sessions,
finished the record and three months
later my brother was diagnosed with
cancer. My manager sent through my
rough recording of it and without
hesitation Shane pushed stuff aside
and made it work and we recorded
it.” In hindsight, Michael concedes
the album wouldn’t be complete
without this moving song. “I want
everyone to know how fiercely I love
my little brother.”
From the moment ‘Little C Word’
challenges you as the opening track,
you will ride an unprecedented, very
unpredictable emotional conveyor
belt through some rough territory
Silent night fell upon us when my
son forgot his lines ….at the little
Christmas concert, who knows what
fate might bring us, life’s not all good
It’s mostly dancing out of time and
singing out of tune, but our children
shine like stars made of foil and paper
plates, fragile as a paper lantern, held
with sticky tape.’
Astonishingly insightful, a sobering
reality check and the perfect
conclusion to round out this
stunning album.
As the school bell sounds, it’s time
to wrap up this conversation with a
humble and extraordinarily talented
man. “I’ve got my students here so I
better get started.”
The Asphalt & the Oval is available
February 16 and launched in
Melbourne on March 23 at The
Spotted Mallard with special guests
The Weeping Willows and Scott
Cook (Canada).
I don’t want Kiara growing
up in a world where her
gender might prevent her
from being anything that
she wants to be, or where
she could be hurt because
some man didn’t grow up
past Grade 3
While family remains a profound
influence on this album there are
some distinct twists and turns. The
‘Footy Trip’ song will have blokes
applauding as it cheekily, but all too
accurately, portrays the story of a
boozy weekend with the boys.
Michael explains, “‘Baling Twine’
on this new record is a true story
– but it’s not mine. At a show out
near Guildford, while I was singing
‘Dairy Farmer’s Son’ and ‘My Dad’s
Shoes’ there was a man in the front
row, crying. He was a big man and he
told me later that he didn’t often cry:
then he told me the story about twin
brothers from the Bega area – and
how the little farms around them had
been bought up by big corporations
and how the ‘making do’ attitude
and ingenuity that I’d grown up with
couldn’t compete against the shape
of the contemporary dairy industry.
Finally, one of the brothers couldn’t
take it anymore.
rtists don’t really make albums like Lee Ann
Womack’s The Lonely, The Lonesome And The
Gone anymore. Albums that seem to exist
separate and apart from any external pressures or
patterned templates. Albums that possess both a
profound sense of history and a clear-eyed futuristic
vision. Albums that transcend genres while embracing
their roots. Albums that evoke a sense of place and of
personality so vivid they make listeners feel more like
participants in the songs than simply admirers of them.
Anybody who has paid attention to Womack for the
past decade or so could see she was headed in this
direction. The Lonely, The Lonesome And The Gone is a
breathtaking hybrid of country, soul, gospel and blues
and comes from Womack’s core.
“I could never shake my centre of who I was,” says the
East Texas native. “I’m drawn to rootsy music. It’s what
moves me.”
Recorded at Houston’s historic SugarHill Recording
Studios and produced by Womack’s husband and fellow
Texan, Frank Liddell - fresh off a 2017 ACM Album
of the Year win for Miranda Lambert’s ‘The Weight of
These Wings’ – this album marks the culmination of a
journey that began with Womack’s 2005 CMA Album
of the Year There’s More Where That Came From, moving
her toward an authentic personal music that celebrates
her roots and grows the canon. It also underscores the
emergence of Womack’s songwriting voice: She has
more writing credits among this album’s 14 tracks than
on all her previous albums combined.
Womack had made the majority of her previous albums
in Nashville, where the studio system is so entrenched
it’s almost impossible to avoid. Seeking to free herself
from that mindset, Womack says, “I wanted to get out
of Nashville and tap into what deep East Texas offers
musically and vibe-wise.”
So Womack and Liddell took a band
to SugarHill, one of the country’s
oldest continually operating studio
spaces. In an earlier incarnation, the
studio had given birth to George
Jones’ earliest hits, as well as Roy
Head’s mid-‘60s smash ‘Treat Her
Right’; Freddy Fender’s ‘70s charttopping crossovers ‘Before the Next
Teardrop Falls’ and ‘Wasted Days and
Wasted Nights’; and recordings from
Lightnin’ Hopkins, the Sir Douglas
Quintet, the 13th Floor Elevators and
Willie Nelson.
Womack found the lure of East Texas
irresistible. “I love local things, and I
missed local music,” she says. “I grew
up in Jacksonville. It was small, so I
spent a lot of time dreaming, and
about getting out.” It required only a
short leap of logic to view Houston,
and specifically SugarHill, as the place
to record.
Womack and Liddell found a perfect
complement of musicians, players who
clicked right away and became a oneheaded band. Bassist Glenn Worf
(Alan Jackson, Bob Seger, Tammy
Wynette, Mark Knopfler and
others), drummer Jerry Roe
(numerous Nashville sessions
and his band Friendship
Ethan Ballinger, Adam Wright
(Alan Jackson, Solomon Burke
and others), and Waylon Payne
(son of singer Sammi Smith and
Willie Nelson’s longtime guitarist
Jody Payne) formed the SugarHill
Engineer and co-producer
Michael McCarthy, known for his
production work with Spoon, brought
vintage gear from his Austin studio
and help capture a sharper sound for
sessions recorded entirely to analog
“The beauty was partly because of the
musicians we chose and partly because
of the way we chose to record it. These
guys are reckless players. That’s what
Frank wanted, and what I wanted:
“Don’t be afraid to make a mistake,
and we might leave it on there, because
that’s what happened in the moment.”
That’s when you’re making music, not
when you’re isolating everything, so
that you can go back and fix things,
go back and perfect and perfect. That’s
obviously not what we were after here
on this record.”
“I got everybody out of their comfort
zone and into a new element,” says
Womack. “And it was funky there.
This place was not in the least bit
slick. Everybody there, all they think
about is making music for the love
of making music. Everyone comes
in with huge smiles and positive
attitudes. It was much different than
what we were used to.”
Womack had brought a handful of
songs to record, including the gospelinspired original ‘All the Trouble’;
wherein, with one of country music’s
finest voices, she makes her entrance
a cappella, sounding deflated beneath
the crushing weight of her burdens.
When the band eases into its looselimbed groove, she remains fatalistic.
I wanted to get out of
Nashville and tap into
what deep East Texas
offers musically and
Her sighed phrasing and subtly
sagging notes signal resignation:
“It’s hard being little; it’s hard being
small / Make it up that mountain, you’re
standing big and tall / Well, the trouble
with a mountain, there’s a million ways
to fall.”
The poignant ‘Mama Lost Her Smile,’
in which a daughter sorts through her
family’s photographic history looking
for clues to a long-secret sorrow;
and the love-triangle conversation
‘Talking Behind Your Back,’ which she
penned with Dale Dodson and Dean
Dillon, the writer of several George
Strait classics. To make the final cut,
Womack and the band had to be able
to get to the heart of the songs and
shine their light from the inside out.
A trio of long-time favourites found
their way onto the album, too. Womack
joined a long list of legendary voices
irresistibly drawn to Harlan Howard’s
‘He Called Me Baby,’ putting a sultry
Southern groove underneath its mix
of sensuality and sorrow. On ‘Long
Black Veil,’ a tale of betrayal and
closely held secrets that became a ‘50s
classic as recorded by Lefty Frizzell,
and then Johnny Cash, she taps into
a ballad tradition that runs centuries
deep. Womack recorded the album’s
final track, a haunting version of
George Jones’ ‘Please Take the Devil
Out of Me,’ standing on the same
gold-star linoleum floor where Jones
cut the 1959 original.
Capturing the reality of East Texas
music isn’t always easy. Being in
Houston and at SugarHill helped
make that happen, inspiring an
approach to the recording process
that everyone embraced from the
first note played. “Music down
there, and I am including
Houston, Beaumont, Port
Arthur and all the way through
Louisiana, Mississippi and
Alabama, is this huge melting
pot,” Womack says. “I love
that, and I wanted that in this
record. I wanted to make sure
it had a lot of soul in it, because
real country music has soul, and I
wanted to remind people of that.”
“When you make albums, and aren’t
just going for singles, you really have
to treat them with respect,” Liddell
adds. “We did that at SugarHill, taking
a bunch of like-minded lunatics and
seeing what happened.”
In Houston, with all its history, its
eccentricity, its diversity and its lack of
pretense, those like-minded lunatics
found a place where they could
“We all felt we weren’t going someplace
just to make a record,” Womack says.
“We were going someplace to make
a great record.” Don’t just take her
word for it, though. Listen. And when
Womack and the music take you
there, you’ll find you want to stay.
ot many interviews turn out to be
as much fun as this phoner with the
new “IT” kid on the Nashville block.
Most phone hookups are plugged through
via a third party conferencing system with
calls ahead of time to set up and introduce
the subject...they are also notoriously early
as the time difference means Tennessee
evening is our it was with some
dismay I accelerated my pyjama-clad, not
aerodynamically designed person in from the
garden at the summons of the phone - to be
greeted with ‘Hi Denise, it’s Dustin Lynch.’
Forty minutes early. Computer not even
turned on and no notes available.
Turns out winging it is a viable option; mostly
because Mr Lynch is a consummately cool guy;
witty, urbane and lightning fast with a laugh, a
snappy pun or punch line.
My background knowledge of this looming
and luminary superstar was sketchy outside of
the singles he’s seen kick to No1 over the last
few years - five in all, beginning with ‘Cowboys
& Angels’ and culminating in ‘Seein’ Red’
and ‘Small Town Boy’ - latter two from
new third album Current Mood that I
had heard enough to know I liked it.
He’s also racked up supports on some
monster tours including with Luke
Bryan, Florida Georgia Line and Brad
A native of Tullahoma, Tennessee,
Lynch performed at the Bluebird
Café in Nashville on an open mic
night at 16 and was so well received
by the audience, he started a band
and moved to Nashville, Tennessee in
2003 where he studied Biology and
Chemistry at Lipscomb University
According to Lynch, he chose Lipscomb
because it is two blocks from the Bluebird
Café – but the under-aged aspiring Bachelor
of Science would shortly learn he wasn’t
permitted in the licensed premises, and Plan
B involved consoling himself doing the rounds
of songwriter shows where they’d let him in the
door! He’s come a long way since then and
obviously learnt a bit about opening doors.
With his acceptance into Medicine it seemed
white-coat-clad Dr Lynch was a done deal. But
wait: is that not a cowboy hat I see?
“Yes, but I got into Med School and I kept
thinking, I cannot go through life asking
myself ‘What If?’ I needed to give music
my best shot and mercifully, ten years to
the very day, I was an overnight success!”
I mention that it’s a solid fall back plan
if necessary, and tell him that I’d read a
Rolling Stone story about him, with the
sub heading - 32-year-old country singer
isn’t shy about carnal desire on sultry new
project and noted he should be eligible to
pass that off as carryover ‘prac work’ with
his qualifications in Biology and medical
He heartily agrees, “Absolutely
right. I maintain an avid academic
interest in the human anatomy and
definitely know what all the parts
are and what they do!” (Does he
then concur with his cohort on
the Body like a Backroad allegory?
That may be more Engineering
than Medical and he couldn’t say
without looking more closely?)
Now that the current mood is
skewed to silly we decide to get
serious, and talk about music.
Lynch masters a classy combination
of traditional influence executed with
diverse feels and edgy intensity. Listen to
groove on opener, ‘I’d Be Jealous Too,’ for
example. I asked him what that feel would
be best described as...and he said he didn’t
know. And he’s a doctor - so how would
I know??
“I wrote that the morning after I filmed
the video for ‘Small Town Boy’ - with a
beautiful Australian actress Claire Holt
from Brisbane (Vampire Diaries and
47 Metres Down) who played my love
interest in the clip, and we filmed all
day on the beach and I was no little bit
impressed with her, she is very impressive.
Anyway, I got on the red eye and flew half
the night in a haze to the next stop and
next morning the idea for that song just
Notwithstanding, Current Mood’s palette
is mostly, as Lynch puts it, “party and
sexy,” it is not standard fare by any means
and homes a few outstanding exceptions.
Namely, ‘Love Me or Leave Me Alone,’
is a gorgeous soulful country ballad that
showcases Lynch’s vocal range and skilful
inflections. He played the track on the tour
bus for Bryan and Little Big Town, and
knew it hit the mark when they wanted to
hear it three or four times in a row, singing
the chorus back to him. Little Big Town’s
Karen Fairchild eventually came into the
studio to lend vocals to the track, which
Dustin said was a really big deal for him.
There is also a “message song,” about
helping someone find their way out of an
unhealthy relationship.
“‘New Girl’ is probably my favourite lyric.
It came from a number of young ladies
that followed me over a few months and
they’d come up at gigs and say how they
loved my music and that it had got them
through bad relationship breakups and
tough times – and that made me feel good
that it could do that and have a positive
“...buddies like Thomas Rhett, are all
married with kids – the children of my
bandmates are the best birth control
there is.” Lynch isn’t singing about
tying the knot or settling down – he’s
making music about lust, and life in
the moment.
If Current Mood is all about raising a glass
or getting down between the sheets, it’s
because that’s where Lynch is in his life
right now. He makes no bones about the
fact he hasn’t really seen the interior of too
many churches lately, and is more inspired
by cruising west coast ocean roads than
just the prairies and fields of down home
As one of the very few single men on the
country music charts Lynch is unapologetic
about his bachelor lifestyle and pursuits.
Most of his peers, like Thomas Rhett, are
all married with kids – he said he thinks
the children of his bandmates are “the best
birth control there is.” Lynch isn’t singing
about tying the knot or settling down –
he’s making music about lust, and life in
the moment.
‘Why Not Tonight’ is a good drinking
song. It’s a song that I live, and all my
band and crew guys live too, and many
of our friends in Nashville - really the
whole music community. Our weekends
are Mondays, so we’re the weirdos out at a
bar going out to drink on Mondays. ‘Why
Not Tonight’ is like Sunday Funday on
steroids -- our drunk frat star anthem.
Standout track for me is ‘Why We Call
Each Other’- it is full of street-smarts,
brilliant imagery and clever constructs.
“That is the oldest song on the album.
I’ve written hundreds since and listened to
thousands - but it still stands up and made
the cut for the album without a second
thought, so I’m happy you picked that as
your favourite.
“The song is the result of a 2am text
message that said, simply and succinctly,
“Are You Up?”
For whatever reason, that person is not
good for your life but it’s good for the
moment and we know it’s not going to
work, but between now and daylight
tomorrow it will.”
The flip side of the quip; know it’s not Mr
Right but Mr Right Now will do.
“I was a little scared of these songs
because I didn’t know how many
people could relate to them,”
Lynch says. “But I played them
for my parents and a friend who
is married and they kind of lit up
whenever certain lines popped up
that I thought might be offensive
to mom and dad. They were like,
‘That’s hot.’”
Dustin will be appearing on the
CMC Rocks Qld bill next March
and what is he expecting of his
visit? Has he been swatting up online given
his academic bent? Seems he doesn’t need
“I only know what I’ve been told from
other artists who have been and done the
festival and they all say it is like nowhere
else; that it’s a huge party and the fans
are off the scale of awesome! Australia is a
number one Bucket List place to visit for
me anyway and number one destination to
explore. I want to check out as much as I
can and I’d love to do it once a year every
I’m so blessed to do this thing that I do
and my favourite other thing to do is travel
when time permits. And I find Australian
women extremely attractive and I’m going
to use every excuse and take every chance
to get to Aust that I can! I am counting
down to it as we’re working non-stop til
then so it’s going to be a vacation and a
break away from everything.
Realizing a secondary creative ambition
of creating a fashion line, Lynch recently
branched out to launch Stay Country.
A range of accessibly-priced men’s and
women’s shirts, hats, and accessories, all
emblazoned with the distinctive Stay
Country logo, can be found online.
I just realised I didn’t ask if he’d considered
advertising with Country Update for
international expansion. Must have been
off my game.
As Joe Nichols began work on a
brand new batch of old-school
country music, he found himself
looking back for inspiration. Back to
his early career, back to true friends
and the simple perfection of pure
country music … back to things that
never get old.
“Full circle is the term I would use,”
the Arkansas native says about his
new project, fittingly titled Never
Gets Old. “The whole theme of the
record is ‘Let’s get back to where it all
began for me. Let’s get back to where
my passion for music began.’”
From 2002’s Man With a Memory
on, Nichols harnessed that passion
as a steady hit maker, racking up six
Number Ones and eight Top 10s,
including chart-topping modern
classics like ‘Brokenheartsville’ and
‘Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall
Off.’ He’s a four-time Grammy
nominee, an ACM, Billboard, CMA,
and CMT Award winner, and his last
album offering, Crickets, kept the
success going, sending both ‘Yeah’
and ‘Sunny and 75’ to Platinumcertified #No1 status.
But then four years went by – the
longest span between releases of
his career – as Nichols dug in
to reconnect with his calling. In
Never Gets Old, that is his mission
and he hopes fans agree that he’s
accomplished it.
“Instead of us making something
that’s built for instant success, the
idea was ‘Let’s make something
we’re gonna be proud of 30 years
from now,’” Nichols explains. “I’m
thinking less about what will work,
and more about what I love.”
What Nichols loves has always been
obvious. Growing up around friends
who were into anything but country,
he was different. Nichols was pulled
in by the realness of singers like
Merle Haggard and Marty Robbins,
Don Williams, Keith Whitley and
George Strait, and that connection
would inform his whole career. Even
now with Never Gets Old, he’s happy
to go against the grain.
“Hopefully the stuff we’re doing
lasts a lot longer than today’s typical
country record,” he says. “But I think
the irony is that retro sounds are
actually what’s fresh and new right
now. All we had to do was what felt
Doing what felt natural has never
been easier, as Nichols returned to
the approach of his early albums.
Working with Crickets producer
Mickey Jack Cones and longtime
collaborator and friend Brent
Rowan– fiddles and steel guitar
tempered tasteful modern sounds
on nearly every mix, while that
understated (but unmistakeable)
baritone felt “better than it’s been in
10 years.”
Saying his goal was to sing with
the most feeling possible and let
whatever came out of his soul land
on the record, Nichols ended up with
twelve tracks that bound between
spirit and sentiment, courage and
cleverness, romance and rowdy fun,
all wrapped in the throwback style
he’s spent a lifetime pursuing.
Lead single and title track ‘Never
Gets Old’ points the way. Written
by Connie Harrington and Steve
Moakler, Nichols says it reminds him
of the mid-’80s country era, a song
that “wasn’t necessarily deep, but it
was meaningful.”
With a swaying frontporch groove, it features
laid-back acoustic guitars
and accordions that waft in
with the breeze, as Nichols
that keep love fresh – like
watching his wife laugh,
holding her hand, and
ending each day in a tender
embrace. Nichols says he knew it
was special when all three of his kids
started singing along the first time
they heard it.
Tracks like ‘This Side of the River,’
‘Billy Graham’s Bible,’ and ‘We All
Carry Something’ are charged with
soul-stirring power, while ‘Diamonds
Make Babies’ and ‘So You’re Saying’
inject the project with the buzz of
heart warming fun.
But it’s a bit of carefree craziness
adapted from his live show which
is sure to leave listeners with the
biggest grin – an honest-to-goodness
country cover of Sir Mix-a-Lot’s hiphop favourite, ‘Baby Got Back.’
What began as a joke between
Nichols and his band years ago went
on to become a cherished moment
onstage, and now it caps off Never
Gets Old, proving that whatever this
veteran song stylist sings, it’s gonna
sound country. Nichols and his team
invited comedian Darren Knight and
his “Southern Momma” character
to revamp the iconic spoken-word
parts, and what came out in the
studio was so much fun it had to be
included on the album.
“Everybody was laughing that day,”
he says. “It was out-of-the-blue and
we never thought we’d put it on a
record. But when it was done I was
like ‘This is nuts, but this actually
kind of feels like it should have been
a country record ... a goofy one, but
When Joe Nichols released his debut
album, he was barely 20 years old
and trying to put his youth behind
him. Looking back now, he laughs at
that thought, but some things never
change. Back then he was scrappy
and defiant about his quest to revive
traditional country, and that drive
Let’s make something we’re gonna
be proud of 30 years from now.
I’m thinking less about what will
work, and more about what I love.
remains. In fact, he says it’s one of
those things that never gets old.
“I feel like I’m exactly where I’m
supposed to be,” he says. “With
my first album, there was this
apprehension of ‘Is country music
ready for a traditional country
record?’ It was a little bit scary, but we
went for it, and with Never Gets Old
I still feel the exact same passion –
it’s like ‘Let’s give it to them anyway.’
Now, I think country music is ready.”
n the big picture, there’s no doubt that Midland is a
country band. Lead singer Mark Wystrach’s phrasing
mimics Southern-sounding Diamond Rio vocalist Marty
Roe; the act wields an electric sound that resembles John
Jorgenson’s brash Desert Rose Band guitars.
Carson, Wystrach and bass player Cameron Duddy weave
tight, Eagles-esque harmonies; and they showed up at the
CMT Music Awards in rhinestone suits that owed more than a
passing debt to Gram Parsons and The Flying Burrito Brothers.
If Midland’s emergence with a nostalgic sound is a surprise to
music fans who wrote off the genre in the bro-country era (first
single ‘Drinkin’ Problem’ rode its old-school sound to No. 4
on Hot Country Songs) it’s also a mild shock to the trio, which
was warned repeatedly when it started working in Nashville
not to expect mainstream success by sticking with their sound.
Nevertheless, it made minimum compromises in finding its
way from Texas roadhouses to terrestrial playlists.
At the end of the first verse in Midland’s new single, ‘Make a
Little,’ the music steps just a hair out of line. There’s a surprise
chord, and the song coolly veers out of place before falling back
in line. It’s a nice lit t le bit of symbolism for an unexpected,
but wholly welcome, development. The band takes just enough
melodic sidesteps and infuses just enough odd rhymes and
bent phrases to keep fans happily unsettled while listening to
its debut album, On the Rocks, released in September.
The surprise sounds are a point of pride for Midland, a trio
from Dripping Springs, Texas, that’s applying a little Merle
swagger to a genre that was, to many ears, getting too big-city
for its’ one-horse-town britches.
“The people that we’ve written with are similar-minded, and
I’d like to think that we’ve developed as songwriters. But it’s
also partly what we listen to — songs like ‘Wichita Lineman,’
which are mainstream country songs that everybody knows.”
says guitarist Jess Carson.
“If you break that song down, it’s complex. It uses chords that
you wouldn’t think are predominantly country.”
“The idea was, ‘Let’s not change who we are,’ ” says Duddy.
“No one that we have worked with in Nashville has tried to
do that. That’s the understanding and the undertaking. Like,
‘Let Midland do Midland, and we’ll see what happens.’ We just
happened to be in the right place at the
right time as far as the pendulum swinging
back toward traditional country music.
It’s kind of just that Malcolm Gladwell
tipping-point situation, you know? It’s
a matter of preparation and hard work
author Gladwell is the man who invented
the 10,000-hour principle in the book
Outliers: The Story of Success)
Whether they reached the 10,000 mark or
not, the guys in Midland certainly invested
the hours in their craft. Each of them lived
in Los Angeles for a time during the last
decade, wood-shedding into the morning
hours with different bands to prep for
whatever gigs they might piece together at
clubs where the audiences might, or, more
likely might not, care.
“They would just show up and kindly
listen to your band, or you would show up
and there would be zero people there, and
the bartender would take a smoke break
when you’re playing, so you’re playing for
nobody,” says Duddy. “It was all part of
the process of getting up your chops.”
Part of Midland’s process was leaving L.A.
The members all moved to other states
and reduced music to a part-time venture
while they worked other jobs that actually
paid the bills.
But when Duddy got married in Jackson
Hole, Wyo., in August 2013, oddly
enough, the same month that New York
Magazine coined the “bro-country” term,
his bandmates arrived a week early to
attend, and they fell into making music
for the pure love of it.
The sound was irresistible, and they
decided to pursue it further. They cut some
sides at Sonic Ranch in El Paso, Texas (the
studio where Frankie Ballard recorded his
El Rio album); committed to the band;
and relocated to Dripping Springs, the
site of Willie Nelson’s first Fourth of July
They performed regularly at Poodie’s
Roadhouse, a club founded by Nelson’s
former stage manager, Randall “Poodie”
Locke, who died in 2009.
“Our band got a residency and really got
our shit together at Poodie’s,” says Duddy.
“The bar is still there, and it’s low ceilings,
shitty sound quality, bar flies and bar rats,
but those are our people, man. Those were
our first fans, and that’s how we grew our
The band took its name from a Dwight
Yoakam album cut, ‘Fair to Midland,’
appropriate since Yoakam - along with such
acts as Randy Travis, Ricky Van Shelton
and The Desert Rose Band - was part of
the New Traditionalist movement in the
1980s. It came along in the aftermath
of the Urban Cowboy-led crossover period
that provoked The New York Times to
write country’s epitaph in 1985.
“Country music was pretty pop-driven
and pop-dominated at the time,” recalls
Wystrach. “Dwight came through with
something that was old and new at the
same time, and it was really honky-tonk
born and driven. It was really similar to
what we’re chasing. The difference is that
we’re a vocal group, and you’ve got to
throw in a lot of The Band and the Eagles
and Alabama, and mix it in with that same
honky-tonk sound.”
Songwriters Shane McAnally and Josh
Osborne co-produced the first incarnation,
allowing McAnally to work on a project
with George Strait overtones.
“I swear if I heard Midland on the radio,
I would be so mad if I wasn’t a part of it,”
says McAnally.
Producer Dann Huff (Keith Urban,
Brantley Gilbert) was brought in later
to help find the right mainstream
flourishes, essentially playing up the
Eagles components without eliminating
the raw Flying Burrito elements. The
band received a surprise standing ovation
from programmers during a showcase at
Country Radio Seminar, the first large
public evidence of the wave that was
about to hit. It was a signal to Music
Row that there are indeed some media
gatekeepers with ears and a desire to
provide a little more traditional country
balance in the genre’s current progressive
mix. Those sorts of champions have
existed in Nashville’s music community
for ages. Midland may be making them
happy, but the band doesn’t plan to cater
to them, either.
“If people are hoping for it and rooting
for us, that’s great,” says Wystrach. “It’s
not going to affect or change what we’re
Midland was different from the start, and
the band plans to hold firm to that Merle
..or you would show up and there would be zero people there,
and the bartender would take a smoke break when you’re
playing, so you’re playing for nobody...
We recorded that song on Inauguration Day and you could
physically feel the divide between the public and the unrest
in the air. I was in the studio that week every day for twelve
hours a day on average, so realized my contribution was
going to have to take place within the walls of Blackbird.
on’t be deceived by the
seemingly innocuous exterior.
appearance is subterfuge for an old soul.
There are many useful creeds to live by,
but for Whitney Rose, there’s one rule
that stands alone as a guiding principle
for life as she knows it: Rule 62. The
origin of the rule is best summed up by
the poignant, pronoun-adjusted excerpt
from Alcoholics Anonymous’ Tradition
Four cited above, a treatise on how to
find harmony between ambition and selfawareness, and how to learn one’s lessons
with humour and humility. This truism,
officially worded as “Don’t Take Yourself
Too Damn Seriously,” is the origin of
both the title and ethos of Whitney
Rose’s forthcoming album, Rule 62 out
last month.
Rewind to January 2017. Rose was
primed to release South Texas Suite, a
countrypolitan valentine to Austin, Texas.
(Rolling Stone noted that it “bristles with
local flavour.”) Days before the EP hit
the streets and Rose kicked off a fourmonth worldwide tour, the burgeoning
songwriting force (and “country hair”
disciple) packed her boots for Nashville,
where she entered BlackBird Studio A
to reconvene with the Mavericks’ Raul
In one short week, Rose, Malo and coproducer Niko Bolas channelled the
tumult, turbulence and tension outside
of the studio into Rose’s sophomore
worldwide release, which includes
nine self-penned songs. Playful yet
uncompromising, Whitney Rose reminds
us of popular music’s rich history of
strong female voices and perspectives,
and on Rule 62, she channels her inner
Nancy Sinatra, Bobbie Gentry and
Françoise Hardy.
The singer-songwriter follows in the steps
of strong willed country female vocalists
like Loretta Lynn on some songs such as
the opening declaration ‘I Don’t Want
Half (I Just Want Out),’ and the one
night stand tale of ‘You Don’t Scare Me,’
where she sings “there’s no damage you can
do that ain’t already done/ just look inside
my eyes and see/ you don’t scare me.”
Malo features Rose’s girlish, coquettish
yet expressive and often emotional voice
prominently in the mix. Even with topnotch side musicians there is no doubt
whose album this is. She pens nine of
the eleven tracks, all of which tap into a
stylized yet never clichéd, ’60s-influenced
era in country whose tendrils trickle
through this album.
While neither of Rose’s albums (Malo also
produced previous outing Heartbreaker of
the Year) copy the Mavericks style, there
is a retro referencing Americana pop/
countrypolitan vibe to her music that’s
enhanced by Malo’s interconnected roots.
Rule 62 finds Rose “breaking up with
patriarchy,” a breakup evidenced by new
songs that show verve, swagger and selfassurance in her innate and instinctive
sense of tone, broadened scope and keen
attention to detail.
Consider ‘Can’t Stop Shakin’ in the
context of the day it was recorded:
January 20, 2017. With Malo on
harmonies and rhythm guitars, Kenny
Vaughn on lead guitar, and saxophones
and organ in the mix, ‘Can’t Stop Shakin’
was originally written as anti-anxiety
therapy in Memphis soul dance party
form. Against an ominous political
backdrop of Inauguration Day, the song
now reverberates with an undercurrent
of uncertainty and anger that reframes
the self-calming shimmy as an athem of
“‘Can’t Stop Shakin’ started out as
something I would sing to calm myself
down.” Rose says. “We recorded that
song on Inauguration day and you could
physically feel the divide between the
public and the unrest in the air. I was in
the studio that week every day for twelve
hours a day on average, so realized my
contribution was going to have to take
place within the walls of Blackbird. So
the song that started as a personal anthem
got a rewrite that day.”
Rule 62’s “breakup” theme can be felt
in songs like ‘Arizona’ and ‘Time to
Cry,’ two fiery, merciless tunes that
show Rose at the end of her rope with
the manipulation and discrimination
of women in the music business and
“For reasons unbeknownst to me at the
time, I started writing all these “breakup”
songs that were mostly angry. I wasn’t
sure where all these feelings were coming
from until one day it hit me like a ton
of bricks that I was penning these songs
to society,” she observes. These sharptongued send-offs come with a good dose
of humour, and the result is a reassuring
sense that Rose isn’t letting anything
grind her down.
Rose’s rising resilience underpins the
message of ‘Better to My Baby,’ a standout
song that puts into practice the spirit and
the letter of the album title. A tuneful
take on moving on, the song is a measured
spin on the traditional volatility of regret
and jealousy that accompanies the end of
a relationship. ‘Better To My Baby’ also
showcases Rose’s adept handling of ’60s
pop conventions in its proud girl squad
nods: tinkling piano, buoyant harmonies
and rueful romanticism.
Rule 62 is Rose’s second release of 2017,
and sees the songwriter’s increased output
matched by increased distinction.
With so much touring now under
the tyres, it’s no surprise that Rose’s
best work yet frequently explores her
journeywoman’s experience. ‘Wake Me
in Wyoming’ and ‘Trucker’s Funeral’ are
emblematic of Rose’s clever study of the
musician-as-trucker analogy. ‘Trucker’s
Funeral,’ a Dolly-calibre yarn with a
stranger-than-fiction twist, is in fact a
true story.
“I had a meeting at Bank of America here
in Austin last year and when the meeting
was over the teller told me about going
to his grandfather’s funeral here in Texas,”
Rose recounts. “He found out he had a
full second family on the West Coast.
His grandfather was a trucker and always
on the road, so neither family had any
idea. As he was telling me this story, I
was jotting down lyrics on my banking
papers because it was just too intriguing
an experience not be a song.”
Rule 62 boasts the first-class musicianship
and studio instincts of collaborator and
producer Raul Malo. The comfort and
familiarity between the two made for a
seamless return to the studio, this time
with the added ear of Niko Bolas as coproducer.
“Niko brought a lot to the table in the
studio (when he wasn’t sitting at his table
at Waffle House). It allowed Raul to step
down from the producer role from time to
time and be a part of the band. That man
can play and sing. One of my favourite
parts of the album is the guitar solo on
‘You Never Cross My Mind’ — that’s all
Raul,” Rose observes appreciatively.
Other musicians in the studio included
Paul Deakin (The Mavericks) on drums,
Jay Weaver (Dolly Parton, Tanya Tucker,
The Mavericks) on bass; Jen Gunderman
(Sheryl Crow) on piano; Chris Scruggs
(Marty Stuart) on steel; Aaron Till
(Asleep at the Wheel) on the fiddle; and
Kenny Vaughn (Marty Stuart, Lucinda
Williams) on lead guitar.
ountry music fans around the
world mourned the loss of one
of its’ most distinctive song
stylists with the passing of Don Williams
in September after a short illness. He
was 78.
Rodney Crowell recently wrote with
his customary eloquence and graceful
was born May 27, 1939. He grew up
in Portland, TX, graduating there in
1958. Music had always been a part of
his upbringing, entering – and winning
- a talent contest when he was just three
years old. For his efforts, Williams
received an alarm clock. He began
playing guitar during his teen-age years,
learning songs that he heard on the radio.
He and his friends played
in local bands around the
area, and he wed wife Joy
“This morning I woke up thinking about
Bucher on April 10, 1960.
Don Williams and how I failed to fully
To support his family
register his passing properly. Upon which I
– which included two
decided that walking in the hills near our
sons, Gary and Timmy
house while listening to his Greatest Hits
– Williams worked at
would be a good way to reconnect with
a number of odd jobs,
my feelings about the man and his music.
including oil field work,
Strangely, his recordings of ‘Some Broken
and also as a bill collector.
Hearts Never Mend,’ ‘Good Ole Boy’s Like
While living in Corpus
Me,’ ‘Tulsa Time,’ and ‘Love Is On a Roll’
Christi in 1964, he formed
put me in mind of Tom Petty. Though
the folk-styled trio The
their music differs in most every way, their
Pozo Seco Singers with
viselike-grip on exactly who they were and
Lofton Cline and Susan
how that knowledge informed every aspect
of their work was undeniably clear. As much
together for seven years,
as talent, integrity was both of their calling
with their biggest hit being
cards. It’s a privilege to mourn them both.”
After the group disbanded
in 1969, Williams soon
I have my own peculiar Don Williams
found his way to Nashville.
story. In 1993 I arrived with a group
By 1971, he had a songwriting contract
of friends in Branson Missouri, the day
with the publishing company owned
that Conway Twitty passed away. We
by Jack Clement. The next year would
had our schedule all mapped out with
see Williams ink a recording deal with
the aid of the Branson program and as
Clement’s JMI Records. He made his
we drove into town, outside Loretta
chart debut with ‘The Shelter of Your
Lynn’s theatre was a sign announcing
Eyes’ in 1973, and was soon hitting the
Don Williams at 1pm. Not knowing the
charts time and again with a much more
circumstances and why this was omitted
laid-back sound than a lot of the music
from all published programs, a few of
coming out of Nashville at the time.
us bought tickets despite the scepticism
1974 would see Williams top the charts
and disbelief of others and returned for
for the first time with ‘I Wouldn’t Want
the show.
To Live If You Didn’t Love Me.’ From
There would have been no more than
that point all the way through 1991,
fifty or sixty people in the theatre and
each Williams single would hit the Topwe were in the front row. Don suggested
40 on Billboard Country charts. His
the band unplug and sit on the front
1970s hits included such chart toppers
of the stage with him and they did the
as ‘Tulsa Time,’ ‘She Never Knew Me,’
show acoustically. It was so special and
and ‘It Must Be Love.’
his voice was exactly as we knew it on
Williams also gained a devoted
records, like pure molten honey, and he
following overseas in such unlikely spots
was absolutely charming and played way
as England, Ireland, and New Zealand,
longer than he should have and stayed as
and even South Africa and Kenya –
long as anyone wanted to chat afterward.
where he reached superstar status. He
An indelible memory, and one of the allwas named the Male Vocalist of the
time best concert experiences for me.
Year by the Country Music Association
A native of Floydada, Texas, Williams
in 1978. Though known for being very
low-key and soft spoken, Williams did
make two movie appearances – 1974’s
W.W. and The Dixie Dancekings, and
1980’s Smokey and the Bandit II.
The 1980s saw no slow down in
Williams’ recorded output, with the
singer notching his biggest hit with
1981’s ‘I Believe In You,’ which not
only topped Country charts, but crossed
over to No. 24 on the Hot 100. By this
time, he had earned the nickname “The
Gentle Giant” for his trademark mellow
sound, and the hits continued to pile up
throughout the rest of the decade – ‘Stay
Young,’ ‘If Hollywood Don’t Need You,’
and ‘One Good Well’ being three of his
biggest of the 1980s. His final top ten
came in 1991, with ‘Lord Have Mercy
On A Country Boy,’ a song that Josh
Turner – a Williams fan – would record
in 2006.
Though the changing of the guard at
radio slowed down Williams’ chart
success, he continued to perform for
sold-out crowds in America and abroad,
playing a final tour in 2006. However,
retirement was not in the cards for the
singer, who returned to the road in 2010
– the same year that he was inducted
into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Williams’ return to the spotlight also
included a pair of albums on Sugar
Hill, 2012’s And So It Goes, and
2014’s Reflections, which included
contributions from Alison Krauss, Vince
Gill, and Keith Urban. It was a sign of
his enduring appeal that both albums
hit the Top-20 on the Billboard Country
Albums charts – his highest rank there in
three decades.
In 2016, Williams decided that the
time was right for his final performance,
calling time on one of the most successful
careers in the history of the Country
Music business.
“It’s time to hang my hat up and
enjoy some quiet time at home. I’m so
thankful for my fans, my friends and
my family for their everlasting love and
support,” the 76-year-old Williams said
in a statement at the time.
Fortunately for us, 2016 also saw the final
release of Williams’ career, a live CD and
DVD recorded in Ireland, and in 2017,
the singer was the subject of a tribute
album, Gentle Giants: The Songs of Don
Williams, that included performances
of his hits by artists including Lady
Antebellum and Garth Brooks.
It doesn’t get better than Tamworth in January and
It is the home of country music in Australia and the
this year the Toyota Country Music Festival will be
birthplace of many country music careers, and if you
celebrating a monumental 46 years with a stellar line-up
haven’t been to a Tamworth Festival before, there’s no
of Australia’s top country music stars.
better time than now,” Mr. Harley said.
2018 headlining acts include a cast of perennial
Eight times Golden Guitar Award winner Adam
favourites and multi-award winners like
Harvey will be LIVE in concert Saturday 20
Troy Cassar-Daley, Lee Kernaghan,
January and Australia Day Friday 26,
The McClymonts, Sara Storer,
January 2018 at West Tamworth
Adam Eckersley Band and John
Leagues Club (Wests). Harvey
has clocked up sales of over
“The list of
Festival Manager Barry Harley
half a million albums, has a
quality shows for the 2018
said, “Across the ten days of
string of gold and platinum
Toyota Country Music Festival
the Festival, the city will
discs to his credit and has
be filled with Australian
made some mighty fine
keeps growing every day and we’ve
country music legends,
records during his career,
had a great response from fans taking
newcomers, award winners,
and his show is invariably
advantage of early ticket sales and
breaking stars and buskers,
a crowd pleaser.
showing the rest of the
performing at Wests
all indications are that we’re in for
world why Tamworth is the
on Australia Day is fan
another big year in Tamworth.”
place to be in January.”
favourite Amber Lawrence.
Buzz bands, Hurricane Fall,
Mu l t i - a w a rd - w i n n i n g
Barry Harley
Festival Manager
The Pigs, The Viper Creek
Lawrence will be bringing her
Band and Cruisin Deuces, will
‘Cheers to Oz’ Australia Day
be returning to Tamworth with shows
Show with home-grown special
at the popular Longyard and Southgate
guests direct to Tamworth in January
Hotels. Fans will be pleased to hear that Shane
off the back of another successful tour.
Nicholson will be back in his regular spot at The Pub
Superstars like Kasey Chambers, Beccy Cole, James
plus newly minted stars Fanny Lumsden and Travis
Blundell, The Wolfe Brothers, Buddy Goode,
Collins are set for huge shows this festival.
Brothers3 and ventriloquist Darren Carr will return
“Tamworth in January truly is the ultimate destination
to Tamworth with huge shows at Wests Entertainment
for country music fans and festival enthusiasts alike.
Group (Wests) venues throughout the Festival.
Other big ticket shows include Paul Costa’s show with
special guests Tori Darke and Ben Ransom.
Darren Coggan is performing The James Taylor
Songbook - Fire and Rain. Vanessa Sanger with her
show Country Cousins; The Pigs; The Davidson
Brothers and brother and sister duo Kaylens Rain who
are set to perform at The Frog & Toad Listening Room
Thursday, 25 January 2018 in a special ‘siblings’ show
In Our Blood along with Alex and Bec Crook and The
Dennis Sisters.
Off the back of a jam packed national tour, Aleyce
Simmonds with her band The Spurs and some special
guests Finnian Johnson and Paul Carey will rock The
Tamworth Hotel on Sunday 21st January at 7 pm.
This show will be the first time Simmonds – the 2017
APRA AMCOS Award winner and 2017 Australian
Independent Artist and Female Vocalist of the Year - and
her band has performed at The Tamworth Hotel, and the
show is set to be a Festival highlight!
On Wednesday, 24 January 2018 young superstars
Caitlyn Shadbolt and Reece Mastin will be at The
Albert Hotel while at The DAG the Songwriters Retreat
Showcase will see Luke O’Shea, Kevin Bennett,
Jeremy Edwards, Jen Mize plus a mystery tutor and
songwriters from the 2017 Retreat on the show. Also at
the DAG fans can catch country music favourites The
Bushwackers, and Tom Maxwell during the week.
Other highly anticipated shows include the third annual
Tamworth Opry at the Capitol Theatre hosted by
Golden Guitar Award-winning-artist Felicity Urquhart
and featuring multi-Golden Guitar Award winners
James Blundell and Kristy Cox.
Stars like Aleyce Simmonds will take the stage during
the showcase along with Dean Perrett, Jeff Brown,
The Weeping Willows, Karin Page, Jen Mize, Brad
Butcher, Amber Joy Poulton, Luke Dickens, and
Daniel Thompson.
Fans are sure to be reminded why Graeme Connors
is one of Australia’s finest and most successful singersongwriters with a long overdue solo performance at the
hallowed Tamworth Town Hall. Inspired by his sold out
African Music Safari in July/August this year Connors
comes back to the core of his career with a collection of
songs spanning his 18 albums with a simple guitar or
piano accompaniment.
Melinda Schneider’s 100% COUNTRY is a brand
new two-hour show tracing Melinda’s life and country
music career through song – from bluegrass to ballads
and back. Fans who love Melinda’s music and the craft
of singer songwriter’s, simply cannot go past this show
The Bluegrass Comes to Tamworth show will be back
for its fourth year in a row bringing some of Australia’s
best bluegrass and acoustic performers together. The
line-up for this popular show includes Pete Denahy
and Kristy Cox, The Weeping Willows and the Karen
Lynne Band, plus exciting newcomers Montgomery
Church and a cast of surprise guests.
This year’s festival will also mark a momentous occasion
for Lost Highway’s latest signing sensation, Tori Forsyth.
Tori will be showcasing her full debut album, in
Tamworth’s new Craft Beer Bar, The Welder’s Dog.
Tori was a hit at the recent Broadbeach Country Music
Festival, and with her band, The Spurs behind her is set
to captivate audiences with her alt country music.
Mr. Harley said it doesn’t matter whether people come to
the festival for the music, the atmosphere or simply the
experience, there is something for everyone!
“The Toyota Country Music Festival is a showcase of great
Australian music talent, and a wonderful place for musical
discovery and this latest line-up is a testament to that. I
urge anyone who hasn’t been to a Festival in Tamworth to
put it on their bucket list.”
It doesn’t get better than the Toyota Country Music Festival,
Tamworth with hundreds of free concerts across the city.
In addition to the outstanding line-up of paid shows on
offer, and the vibrancy of Peel Street lined with buskers
from across the country and even the world - the Toyota
Country Music Festival offers the opportunity to see some
of the nation’s biggest county music stars performing live absolutely free!
From 10 am each day the Toyota Fanzone, and ABC stages
are in full swing bringing country music to the heart of
the city and showcasing different acts every 30 mins. As
the sun goes down, the Festival’s biggest and by far the
most impressive free outdoor venue, Toyota Park starts
to light up, offering a quintessentially ‘Australian summer’
experience with festival goers spilling in with their eskies
and fold out chairs to pick the best vantage point to enjoy
world-class musicians on stage.
On Friday 19 January the Toyota Country Music Festival,
Tamworth kicks off with a huge Opening Concert,
featuring Judah Kelly (The Voice Australia 2017 winner).
Travis Collins (2017 Golden Guitar Award Winner Male
Artist of the Year, Single of the Year and Song of the Year).
Rachael Fahim (2017 Toyota Star Maker), and Aleyce
Simmonds (2017 APRA AMCOS Country Work of the
Year Award Winner, 2017 Independent Country Artist of
the Year and 2017 Independent Country Female Vocalist of
the Year), plus much more.
Families will love The Family Support Concert on Saturday
20 January with Disney favourites Elsa (Frozen) and Belle
(Beauty and the Beast) making an appearance alongside
Amber Lawrence, Homegrown, Finnian Johnson and
Arna Georgia.
On Sunday 21 January, Toyota Star Maker finalists perform
for their chance to be crowned the 2018 Toyota Star Maker
at the grand final concert, and on Monday the Americana
In The Park concert will see popular artists such as Brad
Butcher, Paddy McHugh, Gretta Ziller, Melody Moko
and Andrew Swift take the stage.
The always popular Live And Loud concert on Tuesday
23 January will feature Judah Kelly and Jasmine Rae, and
showcase emerging talent with stars like Kaylens Rain,
Melanie Dyer, Missy Lancaster, Route 33, Alex & Bec
Crook, Emily Joy and Cassidy Rae Gaiter.
We will go Back To The Bush on Wednesday 24 January
with a super bush ballad concert and artists such as Jeff
Brown, Graham Rodger, Dean Perrett, Dianne Lindsay,
Reg Poole, Lindsay Butler and Shaza Leigh.
Adam Brand will be celebrating his 20th anniversary in
Tamworth with a special 20 Years Milestones Party In The
Park on Thursday, 25 January, and Australia Day (Friday,
26 January) will see a star studded lineup take to the stage
for the Toyota Stars Under The Stars concert.
The top ten buskers from Tamworth’s boulevard of dreams
will battle it out to become the Best of the Buskers at the
Toyota Landcruiser’s Best Of The Buskers concert on
Saturday 27 January. On Sunday the Festival will close with
the Last Round Up concert featuring a range of winners
from across the week (Golden Guitar Awards, Buskers,
Battle of the Bands) and will culminate in a massive
fireworks display.
Toyota Country Music Festival Manager, Mr. Barry Harley
says the theme for this year’s Toyota Park concerts is like
2017 with a focus on a large variety of ‘cameo’ performances
from a lot of acts rather than long concerts of just one act.
“Having a focus on more cameo performances ensures
festival goers have the opportunity to experience our
country music stars, but also the many emerging, new and
popular artists in one place, showcasing the diversity of
country music genres we have here in Australia.”
NSW Minister for Tourism and Major Events Adam
Marshall has congratulated festival organisers on the 2018
line-up and said the Tamworth Country Music Festival is
proudly supported by the State’s tourism and major events
agency, Destination NSW.
“As the largest music festival in the Southern Hemisphere
and one of the top 10 in the world, this iconic event has
cemented the Tamworth’s reputation as Australia’s country
music capital,” Mr. Marshall said.
As the nation’s longest running
music awards concert and the
most anticipated night on the
calendar, the 2018 Toyota Golden
Guitar Awards promise audiences
a captivating display of the best in
Australian country music talent.
The Awards which started in 1973
play a vital role in developing and
promoting Australian country
music talent and are arguably the
most coveted performance slots
in country music representing the
pinnacle of the Australian country
music journey.
Presented in Tamworth, the
country music capital of Australia,
as the finale to the 10-day Toyota
Country Music Festival, the
event is much more than just the
presentation of the coveted Golden
Guitar statues. The night is a fastpaced concert featuring the best of
Australian country music talent and
the songs that have left their mark
on fans over the past 12 months.
Set in Tamworth Regional
Entertainment and Conference
Centre’s Lyric Mode, fans will
experience an intimate night of
non-stop entertainment and special
magic moments that they simply
can’t see anywhere else.
Mr. Peter Ross, Executive Producer,
Country Music Awards of Australia
explains: “Performances during the
show will lean heavily on the award
nominations and winners. Like the
Festival generally, the Awards are a
place where up and coming acts get
the chance to share the bill with the
genre’s biggest names, and the result
is unlike anything else.”
The 2018 Toyota Golden Guitar
Awards finalists will be announced
at a star-studded event in Sydney
this November.
For 40 years Coca-Cola Country has given aspiring
musicians the chance to perform on the same stage as
some of the biggest names in Australian country music
during one of the foremost country music festivals in the
world - the Toyota Country Music Festival, Tamworth.
Recognised as one of the most important elements
of the Festival, Coca-Cola Country has built a strong
foundation with its famous Walk-ups and, more
recently, the introduction of the Battles - the Battle of
the YoungStars, the Battle of the Bluegrass and the
very popular Battle of the Bands.
This year, in an exciting move, Coca-Cola Country
will be joining forces with the Capital Country
Music Association’s National Talent Quest (CCMA).
Together Coca-Cola and CCMA will present an eightday schedule of opportunities for artists of all ages and
all stages to perform and compete in the luxury of the
infamous Tamworth Town Hall with a professional
backing band.
Local Coca-Cola Amatil District Sales Manager
John Eggins said, “This is an exciting opportunity
to encourage and support emerging Aussie talent as
we celebrate our 40-year partnership with Toyota
Country Music Festival. We value this partnership with
Tamworth and are proud to keep building it together.”
The CCMA has been providing the opportunity for
artists to compete in categories from juniors through to
“golden oldies” since 1966 and President of the CCMA
Steve Newton said: “It was a natural blend to include
the CCMA’s Junior and Senior talent quest into the
Coca-Cola Battles.”
“With changes in society and technology challenging
traditional talent quests all over Australia, it is exciting
to be able to combine two giant talent quests into a onestop-shop for all aspiring country musicians whether
competing, or those who just want to walk up and have
a go at singing.”
“Combining these two elements of the Festival means
we can reinvigorate the Town Hall schedule, providing
more opportunities for artists and bands to perform and
more opportunities for fans to discover musical talent.”
Barry Harley said.
To commemorate their 40-year relationship, Coca-Cola
and the Toyota Country Music Festival have developed a
hallmark logo for the 2018 event. This logo will appear
throughout the Toyota Country Music Festival, guiding
Festival goers to Coca-Cola Country to experience the
Battle of the Young Stars – Junior: Under 10 | Intermediate: 10 to 13 | Senior: 14 to 17
Battle of the New Stars – 18 and over
Battle of the Bluegrass – All ages
Battle of the Bands - All ages
Plus, the Fam
& Sing oppo ous Walk Up
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Following th
legendary CC e finals of each Battle, th
the Town Hal MA Jamboree will run, al e
so in
week’s activity where all solo winners fr
Jamboree for
the titles of O d to compete at the
verall Junior
and Senior
All Grand Fin Champions.
Cavalcade on s will be held after the T
Saturday, 27
10 am, and w
inners will re ary 2018 from
ceive trophie
and cash prize
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art of the pri ing a
Busking is one of the greatest traditions and most
vibrant and exciting parts of the Toyota Country Music
Festival in Tamworth each year culminating in the
Toyota Busking Championships.
The Championships, which are designed to celebrate
and recognise the aspiring talent in Peel Street during
the festival, see registered buskers judged across the
week with ten finalists chosen to perform at the Best of
the Buskers Concert on the final weekend of the festival
where the winner and runner-up will be announced.
Mr. Harley: “Throughout the Festival, we see up to 400
buskers perform on Tamworth’s ‘Boulevard of Dreams’
in Peel Street for their shot at stardom. It has become
the place where stars are born, and dreams come true
with many of Australia’s finest country music artists first
making their mark on the industry from a busking spot
on Peel Street.”
Stars like Troy Cassar-Daley, Kasey Chambers, Beccy
Cole, Keith Urban and Travis Collins all started out by
busking on Peel Street.
All those taking part in the 2018 Toyota Busking
Championship have a chance to share in over $5,000 in
cash and prizes, plus an opportunity to perform at The
Last Roundup on Sunday, 28 January 2018 in Toyota
Park, as well as a guest appearance during the Opening
Concert in 2019.
Families will find plenty to do when visiting the
Toyota Country Music Festival, Tamworth in 2018.
The dedicated Regional Australia Bank Family Zone is
a place for families of all sizes and kids of all ages. The
Zone boasts a huge range of budget friendly rides and
activities including a 20m Ferris wheel, dodgem cars,
cup n saucer ride, bungy trampoline, jumping castle,
flying tigers mini plane ride and convoy trucks ride to
name just a few.
Adults and children alike will have the opportunity to
mine for gold at the ‘Rocky River Mining’ stand or try
their luck at the numerous attractions along the sideshow alley. The Smoked Barrel BBQ will also be there
offering visitors some delectable American fare.
Open every day the Regional Australia Bank Family
Zone is in Kable Avenue, at the entrance to Toyota
Top tips for families visiting the festival in 2018:
Wander down Peel Street and experience the vibrancy
of the buskers and street performers.
Don’t miss the free concerts in Toyota Park the
dedicated family concert on Saturday 20 January 2018
Stop by the Big Golden Guitar for a family ‘selfie’ and
don’t forget to #TamworthNSW.
Drop into Coca-Cola Country in the infamous
Tamworth Town Hall to witness the talent quests.
Watch the floats bring a flurry of colour and spectacle
to Peel Street in the Toyota Country Music Cavalcade
on Saturday 27 January 2018.
Festivals, Events & Travel
Rockin’ Rocky has been born to reinstate the ‘good
old times’.
We are bringing back a major New Year’s event to
Rockhampton for all of Regional Queensland.
An event for y’all to let your hair down and give the
old year a right royal send-off and kick the new one
into gear as only a country crowd can!
Presenting Lee Kernaghan, The McClymonts, The
Wolfe Brothers, Morgan Evans, Missie Lancaster,
James Johnston and the spectacular PBR finals on
Sunday night, with leading country rock DJ - Dee
Jaye Bux
This New Year’s Eve will again see the PBR return to
where it all started – the Great Western Hotel, New
Year’s Eve, 10 years ago when the first Championships
and first ever Australian PBR Champion was crowned
in this venue. 200 plus PBR events and over 10,000
bull-outs later and we’re back to be a part of this huge
3 day Rockin Rocky party.
As well as an incredible line-up of Entertainment and
the PBR, Rockin Rocky will include a massive Eat
Fest and Carnival on the external street of the Great
Western Hotel that will be a gold coin entry for the
entire community to attend from 4pm each day.
Tickets: or
Festivals, Events & Travel
MAR 3RD 2018
Country Rocks Festival Sydney is a brand new event
taking place at Bella Vista Farm, the home to Australia’s
first Merino sheep farm and foundation of the Aust citrus
industry. Bella Vista Farm’s history as an active pastoral
and farming property during Sydney’s early colonial years
makes it the perfect location for this celebration of the
fusion of city and country culture in song.
Country Rocks Festival Sydney is a full day of thrilling
performances, soaring vocals, wild excitement, wonderful
rhythm and emotive lyrics from some of Australia’s most
well-known and loved musicians alongside an array of
family friendly experiences, including rides, food and
market stalls and demonstrations.
Headlining the inaugural Country Rocks Festival Sydney
is the original ‘Boy from the Bush’, Lee Kernaghan, who
is celebrating his 25th Anniversary in 2017 and has been a
stalwart of Australian Country Music since the 90s. Lineup
announced to date includes Lee Kernaghan, Adam Brand,
James Blundell, Tania Kernaghan, Wolfe Brothers,
Drew McAlister, Christie Lamb, Paul Costa, Brewn,
Ben Ransom, Tori Darke, Matt Cornell, Jonny Taylor,
NeillyRich, Rachael Fahim, Jade Holland, Ingrid Mae
with more to come yet.
Country Rocks Festival Sydney General Manager, Michael
Bond, said “We’re proud to be bringing country music
back to Sydney and showcasing some of the finest artists
we have here in Australia. Besides great country music we’ll
have children’s entertainment and markets which will make
this a fantastic fun filled day for the entire family.”
Lee Kernaghan
Bill Chambers
We told you last issue about a new far-west NSW festival
kicking off February 23-25, 2018 at Silverton outside
Broken Hill – fancy a taste of the real Outback? Well this is
as close to the centre as you can get without literally being
in the desert, 1200ks due west of Sydney and a long way
from everywhere.
The initial bill for Silverton Sunsets was already impressive
with John Williamson, Adam Harvey, Catherine Britt,
the Sunny Cowgirls, Fanny Lumsden, Bill Chambers
and the Bushwackers, Sharna Burcher, Rachael
Whitchurch and the Darling CM Club. That lineup has
now been extended with the Bushwackers hosting a dinkidi Bush Dance on the Friday night and a Songwriters
in the Round on Saturday morning before Main Stage
boots up, plus a Recovery Day at the Silverton Pub on the
Sunday with Rob Imeson and The Family Tree officiating
with first aid for sore heads and the inevitable lameness of
people dragging their feet not wanting to leave and head
back to civilization.
The 25th Country Music Festival on Norfolk Island, is
not only the oldest Festival on the island, but the oldest
country music festival in the Pacific! The Silver Jubilee
year will run a little differently, bringing extra shows,
extra entertainers and extra surprises that promise to
deliver a festival not to be missed.
Hailing from NZ, headliners the Topp Twins are
guaranteed to make you laugh till your face aches. We
also welcome duo En Tranzit - Tracey-Maree and Nick
Houia are no strangers to our shores, and instrumental in
staging the very first Country Music Festival on Norfolk
Island. They will be joined by Farmar and Doublet who
also need no introduction, and Jay Shingleton who is
current NZ Entertainer of the Year. Dennis Marsh also
appeared at the Inaugural Festival and has returned to
Norfolk Island many times.
Looking to our other neighbour, we welcome well
known Australian Travis Collins who will Headline
the Australian concert with his favourite country music
and will be supported by Fanny Lumsden, Johanna
Hemara, and Mason Hope the current titleholder of the
2017 Trans-Tasman Entertainer of the Year.
On the eve of the Big Birthday Bash, the Up Country
Crew will present to you a night of Country Rock,
featuring artists from both countries. Artists appearing
this night will be setting the mood for the Birthday Party
so don’t miss the preliminary party.
Troy Cassar Daley will be hosting a tour group to the
island so take advantage of this ‘one off ’ opportunity now
and book using the link below. Whilst on the island,
Troy will be headlining and opening the Big Birthday
bash with his swag of hits.
To rock the second half of this party NICMA have
invited a man who sure knows how to party, Aussie Idol
Shannon Noll. We suggest you book early, as this will
be one night to remember. A one off appearance for
Shannon who has not been to Norfolk Island previously
so let’s give him a night he will never forget! For details
and Troy’s tour go to www.norfolkislandcountrymusic.
com for all info.
Festivals, Events & Travel
Billy Ray Cyrus
The Hunter Valley’s iconic Roche Estate is set to host
‘Crossroads In the Vines’, a new festival series for 2018
bringing together the biggest names in country and
blues for two massive days of premium music, food and
Crossroads Country in the Vines will take place on March
24, welcoming Billy Ray Cyrus, Lee Kernaghan, Kasey
Chambers, John Williamson, The McClymonts, Sara
Storer, Adam Harvey, Beccy Cole and many more of the
country world’s biggest names, while Crossroads Blues in
the Vines on February 10 will host 7-time Grammy Award
winner Buddy Guy (US), Ian Moss, Diesel, Russell
Morris, Richie Kotzen (US), Larkin Poe (US), Ted
Mulry Gang, Kevin Borich, Mia Dyson and many more.
No stranger to unforgettable events, Roche Estate has
played host to Elton John, Neil Diamond, Lionel
Richie, KD Lang, Rod Stewart, Cat Stevens and more.
Elegantly paired with Roche’s reputation for gourmet food
and premium wines, the ‘Crossroads in the Vines’ events
will bring the very best country and blues music, artisan
markets and food stalls to their brand-new home; under
the stars of Australia’s Hunter Valley wine region.
Multi award winning, critically acclaimed country and
blues artist Billy Ray Cyrus will headline his first Australian
shows in over 18 years, having recently been booked to
headline Australia’s
newest outdoor music festival “Crossroads In The Vines” in
the Hunter Valley in March 2018. Billy Ray Cyrus has now
extended his tour to Brisbane’s Sandstone Point Outdoor
arena and Melbourne’s famous Palms at the Crown Casino.
A full night of country music hits awaits fans, who can
also catch very special guests Kasey Chambers, O’Shea,
Caitlyn Shadbolt and Hurricane Fall supporting in
Brisbane, and the brilliant Travis Collins as Billy Ray’s
special guest performer in Melbourne.
Cyrus will be hitting Australia almost 25 years to the day,
after kicking off his world tour on the back of smash ‘Achy
Breaky Heart’ in Australia in March, 1993.
The 500-acre festival site known as Woodfordia will this
year play host to Australian music royalty John Butler,
The Beautiful Girls, Holy Holy and Husky who join the
vocally gifted Kate Miller-Heidke, Montaigne and Mama
Kin Spender. Canadian trad trio The East Pointers lead an
array of folk favourites including another wonderful Irish
representation in Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill, Breaking
Trad and Eleanor McEvoy; and if your dancing shoes still
have any soles left, party bands Vaudeville Smash and Cheap
Fakes will wear out what’s left of it.
The 2017/18 line-up also includes rising rappers Baker Boy
and Birdz, Apakatjah, Alysha Brilla, Charm of Finches,
Jeff Lang, the Northern Folk, Sampa the Great, pop duo
My Bubba (SWE/ICE), Joanna Wallfisch, Timberwolf,
AMISTAT, The Babe Rainbow, POW! Negro, Lior & Paul
Grabowsky, Tinpan Orange and over 300 other artists and
Long established as a leader in arts programming, this year
the festival welcomes 102-year-old dance sensation Eileen
Kramer to the stage as well as the world’s best bounce juggler
Odette Robbins and comedians Dave Thornton, Randy and
Demi Lardner to name but a very few.
The speakers programme features Dr Karl, UNESCO’s Dr
Fanny Douvere (FRA), Climate Foundation’s Dr Brian Von
Herzen (USA), Noel Pearson, Bob Hawke, Tracey Spicer and
Arne Rubinstein.
Over 2,000 individual performers will play across 35 venues
ranging from the 25,000-seat amphitheatre to smaller, more
intimate venues.
The opportunity to get involved with components of the
programme also continues to be a key feature of the longrunning festival with ticket holders encouraged to participate
in a packed workshop programme, daily yoga practices, the
always Singing Space, lantern making and immersive street
theatre spectacle The Game.
When the 6-day festival opens on December 27, the purposebuilt festival site, one hours drive from both Brisbane and the
Sunshine Coast, becomes Australia’s 67th largest town.
Similar in size to a regional centre like Lismore or Nambour,
the Woodford Folk Festival is home to close to 200 food and
merchandise stalls, a dedicated Children’s Festival, general
store, onsite medical centre and waste water treatment plant.
John Butler
MARCH 2018
In just ten action-packed years the career of Jason
Isbell has transformed from being third-string singersongwriter in legendary Southern rockers Drive-By
Truckers to one of the most revered voices on the
American circuit.
Influenced by the soul music so intrinsically tied to his
homeland of Northern Alabama and the more traditional
country and folk staples, the songwriting of Jason Isbell is
rich and powerful and disarmingly expressive. American
Songwriter Magazine recently espoused, “There’s no
better songwriter on the planet at the moment, no one
operating with the same depth, eloquence or feeling”.
Backed by his road-hardened band The 400 Unit,
Isbell is one of the most potent acts on the road today,
performing some of the finest songs penned in the last
His recent sixth solo album The Nashville Sound topped
the US Country, US Folk and US Rock charts (as did its
2015 predecessor Something More Than Free). Something
More Than Free also scored Isbell twin Grammys for Best
Americana Album and Best American Roots Song plus
scored Album Of The Year at the Americana Awards
Providence, Rhode Island four-piece Deer Tick are
another band who’ve been galvanised by years traversing
the highways and byways of America, honing their
craft for well over a decade to become one of the most
respected acts on the unforgiving American scene.
Having long straddled the divide between country-rock
and straight-out rock’n’roll, Deer Tick’s most recent
pair of releases Vol 1 and Vol 2 (their sixth and seventh
albums respectively, released concurrently earlier this
year) showcase the band’s polished dichotomy, Vol 1
focussing on the band’s softer Americana tendencies
while Vol 2 flexes it muscles to showcase Deer Tick’s
more punk-inspired, garage rock predilections.
Neither of these acts are strangers to Australian shores the impending jaunt being Jason Isbell’s fifth time Down
Under and Deer Tick’s second. Book your memories
now, this is an Americana tour de force not to be missed!
Jason Isbell
Festivals, Events & Travel
Country music stars Troy Cassar-Daley and Sara
Storer joined jazz sensation James Morrison and
DJ KLP for Yarrabah Band Festival 2017 on the
last weekend in October.
Yarrabah Band Festival has become an anticipated
yearly event showcasing visiting musicians and
providing a platform for local artists to welcome
visitors to the community. Since the inaugural
event in 2013, the festival has continued to attract
huge audiences, with over 4,000 attending in
2016. This year the festival moves to the Jilara
Football Oval to accommodate the growing crowd.
Qld Music Festival Artistic Director Katie
Noonan is a passionate advocate of music’s ability
to change lives, particularly in regional and remote
“Yarrabah Band Festival is an incredibly special
James Morrison
event on the QMF calendar, celebrating local
and national talent, connecting communities
and inspiring the next generation of Yarrabah
musicians. We cherish our relationship with this
highly creative community and the opportunity to
engage with and learn from them,” Ms Noonan
Performing at Yarrabah Band Festival for the
first time, Cassar-Daley is one of Australia’s most
beloved musicians. Sara Storer will make her first
visit to Yarrabah this year. Storer is one of the
country’s most treasured singer-songwriters, whose
crisp observations of the Australian landscape
and its people provide the solid foundation for
her music. She has seen all the beauty, joy and
heartbreak this land can bring, living and writing
music all over Australia.
Festivals, Events & Travel
It’s there whenever Australians want to quell their fears,
steel their resolve, express their joy, celebrate their victories
or lament their defeats. As our unofficial national anthem,
‘Waltzing Matilda’ has inspired a nation and next April,
Australia celebrates the re-opening of the iconic Waltzing
Matilda Centre in Winton with an inland music and
culture extravaganza.
The Waltzing Matilda Centre is the first museum in the
world dedicated to a song.
‘Waltzing Matilda’ was written by ‘Banjo’ Paterson whilst
visiting with friends on Dagworth Station outside Winton
in 1895. Legend has it that this song was first performed
in public at the still-standing elegant landmark, North
Gregory Hotel.
Slim Dusty sang ‘Waltzing Matilda’ at the closing ceremony
of the Sydney 2000 Olympics.
Opened in 1998 and becoming an icon of the area, and
a huge boon to the local economy attracting tourists to
augment the rural industry of the area, hand in hand with
the Age of Dinosaurs local attractions, the Centre was
destroyed by fire in 2015.
The brand new $23 million Waltzing Matilda Centre was
designed by award winning Cox Architects and built by A.
Gabrielli Constructions will once again assist the heartbeat
of the outback when it re-opens with Winton’s Way Out
West Fest in April 19th-22nd 2018.
Winton’s Way Out West Fest is a celebration of the
outback, bringing together music from various genres to
suit multiple tastes, in a celebration of culture. This is a
camping festival utilising the Showgrounds and a popup
tent city with Winton’s population expected to swell
from 1000 to 6000 over the four days of the event from
April 19-22. The festival will include Jessica Mauboy,
John Williamson The Living End, Kip Moore (USA),
Lee Brice (USA), Sheppard, Busby Marou, Russell
Morris, The Black Sorrows, Pierce Brothers + more to
be announced.
With a country race meeting, live entertainment in many
venues across the town, markets and more, Winton will
come alive with country hospitality, creating not just an
amazing music festival, but a complete outback experience.
With travel agents providing easy flight, ground transport,
camping and other travel packages and options, Winton’s
Way Out West Fest is the perfect excuse to get out and
explore Australia.
The Latest Boyup Brook Line Up is a Cracker!
Why not make 2018 the year to join in the fun and find
yourself under the enchantment and magic of this fabulous
WA event that meshes music and friendship under summer
skies and star filled nights.
That’s the way it is at the Boyup Brook Country Music
Festival and 2018 will feature The McClymonts, who
have long been Australia’s best-loved and most successful
country group, and seven time Gold Guitar star Luke
O’Shea. Travis Collins is cementing his footprint in the
Australian music scene and is now a triple ‘Golden Guitar’
award winner. Country Music artist Warren H Williams
has teamed up with rising star Dani Young for a very
special performance on the Friday night only.
The Boyup Brook Country Music Festival is known not
only for amazing headline acts, but also for a diverse
line-up that always has something for everyone. 2018
will deliver an array of local, emerging, national and
international talent that country music lovers have come
to expect. Some of these include: Allan Caswell (NSW),
Benn Gunn Band, (NSW), Simply Bushed (NSW),
Scott Douglas (USA) Craig Adams (NZ) Ray Rider
(WA), Donna Lou and the Jay Katz (WA), Sandie Dodd
(VIC), Billy Bridge & Rebecca Nye (QLD), Kate Hindle
(WA), Graham Rodger (QLD), Hussy Hicks (QLD),
The Eastern Line (WA), Jasmine Atkins (WA), Savannah
and the Strays (WA), Keith Jamieson and Alisha Smith
(QLD), Pete Delle Coste (WA), Latehorse (WA), Kathy
Carver & Desert Mist (WA) Codee Lee Band (WA) and
many more.
The McClymonts
The Birdsville Big Red Bash is set to Rock the Simpson
in July 2018 with John Farnham headlining a stellar
three day festival line-up of artists including The
Hoodoo Gurus, The Angels, Daryl Braithwaite,
Jon Stevens, Kate Ceberano, Adam Brand, Busby
Marou, Russell Morris, The Black Sorrows, Travis
Collins, The Wolf Brothers and Amber Lawrence,
performing in the heart of the Australian outback.
John Farnham said he is looking forward to ticking the
Bash off his own bucket list for his first appearance on
stage beneath the 10-storey high Big Red sand dune.
“I’m really looking forward to the Birdsville Big Red
Bash. The Simpson Desert and the remoteness of this
event REALLY appeals. Can’t wait to get out there.”
Farnham said.
Farnham is joined by a host of other legendary
performers including several artists who are returning
to the Bash after crowd favorite previous appearances,
including Kate Ceberano.
“I had the most amazing time on many levels! The space
and the foreignness of being in the middle of nowhere
sharing an experience with thousands of people from
literally ALL over Australia! Very special experience!
The organisers and Birdsville itself are the real-est, most
authentic people you’ll find,” she said.
Volunteers: Volunteering gives you a behind the scenes
look at Australia’s most remote music festival! Not only
is volunteering rewarding, it’s also a more affordable
way of attending the Bash and meeting a range of like
minded people. We have over 20 different volunteer
teams undertaking a variety of roles. For more info
and to apply head to out the volunteers page on our
Tent City: Thinking of flying to Birdsville, or simply
don’t have enough room in the car to haul around your
tent and camping gear? We’ve made it easy by teaming
up with Tent City’s rent a tent. Your tent and any
optional extras will be set up, ready and waiting for
Take the stress out of getting out and back to the Big
Red Bash with our fantastic Rock’n Roll road trip,
hosted by outback specialists Kangaroo Buslines.
This is a great way to sit back, relax and take in the
great outback countryside, meet new people and have
everything taken care of for you out at the Big Red
The bus package includes transport and tent
accommodation for singles and groups.
Festivals, Events & Travel
Following the spectacular success of its’ sold-out 2017
Family Reunion cruise in October with a league of
unforgettable moments, Cruisin’ Country is proud to
announce their next themed concept and a first for them
– Cruisin Country No. 8; Looking Forward – Looking
Back. This is a journey through song of our past, present
and future on the high seas.
Setting sail from Sydney
aboard Royal Caribbean’s
Seas on 9 October
2018, returning 16
Cruisin Country
8 is especially for lovers of country music, and will visit
Noumea and Isle of Pines.
The ship will host an outstanding lineup of artists
including John Williamson with a multi-award-winning
career span of more than forty years; Troy Cassar Daley
– regarded as one of Australia’s finest singer/songwriters,
combined with a total of more than 40 incredible acts
on board this extraordinary floating festival of country
cheer and camaraderie.
It also includes open-mic sessions with full backing by
talented musicians, songwriting, guitar workshops, lineand bush-dancing events and lessons – an opportunity
to break out and show talents you never knew you had.
Subscribe at our website:
or via the form on page 112 of this issue
Festivals, Events & Travel
As I write this article about my recent trip to the 2017
AmericanaFest in Nashville TN, there is a deep pall of
gloom in the wake of Tom Petty’s untimely death. In
my opinion, and I have no doubt hoards will agree,
he was Americana before it had a name. Back then it
would have been described as genre bending, or simply
great music, and millions around the world were
drawn to it because of its’ boundless sounds, and Tom’s
songwriting genius. He inspired those, who today, are
at the forefront of this blossoming genre and his legacy
will live on for generations. RIP Tom Petty.
AmericanaFest 2017, attracted an estimated aggregate
attendance of 51,000 during
its September 12-17 run.
Every aspect of the event
were up from last year, with
evening show ticket sales up
36 percent.
The addition of new
venues and an increase
overall spike, with 500
performances throughout
the week (a jump over
last year’s 300) sprawled
across 57 venues and eight
and Davidson County city
council districts.
Walking the streets of
Nashville for the first
time can be a daunting
you’re a budding musician,
songwriter or simply a fan of
superb music, the grandeur
of this city and the abundance of well documented
history can take your breath away. I’ve been fortunate
enough to be in Nashville during the annual Americana
Music Festival these past four years consecutively.
The festival brings together people searching for music
that is real, music that inspires, that speaks to them
and imbues them with a sense of hope for the future of
music in this evolving industry.
It’s got the best of everything rolled into one - rock
& roll, blues, old time country, bluegrass, soul, you
name it. It’ll make you dance, make you sing, make
By Brad Butcher
you think, smile or even cry. It fills your soul with the
good stuff and sends you home with a new favourite
artist every year, and about fifteen you’d never heard of
before…not to mention a quality hangover.
Americana music is simply another evolution of music
in general. In my opinion, it’s simply a blending
of genres, and with the benefit of a few years of
hindsight, I can see that it was always going to happen.
I’ve spoken at length with other artists and industry
folk who remember a time when Keith Urban and
Lee Kernaghan were too pop for country music, in
Australia. Let’s go back even further, to my parents’
youth. They remember a guy
named Elvis Presley or even
Rodney Crowell
& Emmylou Harris
The Beatles being a far
cry from what was seen as
accepted fare for country or
rock and blues at the time.
It seems to me the leaders
of the pack have always
been those that can create
something unique in their
approach to making music
by combining everything
that has caused them to
stop and pay attention.
Americana was inevitable.
But I digress…walking the
streets of Nashville during
the Americana Festival you
can catch John Prine sharing
the stage with Jason Isbell,
Uncle Tupelo playing their
1992 career defining album
in full, Rodney Crowell and
Emmylou Harris singing
their perfectly written songs
in absolute harmony. You can stumble into a hole in
the wall venue and find underground rising stars such
as John Moreland, Hayes Carll and Margo Price or
stalwarts of the industry like Buddy Miller and our
own Kasey Chambers wowing onlookers, or be whisked
back in time by Vince Gill & the Time Jumpers on a
Monday night at 3rd & Lindsey.
For those of you who’ve been perched on the fence
about change in country music, I urge you to hold
onto the past, as it will define where we’re headed, but
to keep an open mind on the future.
Roots & All
with Kim Cheshire
Following the flurry of excitement
accompanying “The First Annual
Australian Americana Honours
Night” at the Thornbury Theatre
in Melbourne recently it became
apparent to me that I was unaware
that an Australian sub-branch of
the Nashville based Americana
Association had even been set up in
Considering that I author a longrunning column (a decade plus)
covering Roots music in the premier
and only national Australian country
music magazine, I’m a little perplexed
that no-one bothered to contact me
directly or send a press release to me
or the magazine regarding either the
formation of the organisation or the
honours/awards night celebration.
I would have actually welcomed and
enjoyed the opportunity to set up an
interview with Jed Hilly while he was
in Australia.
I have to admit up front that I find
the whole idea of Australia adopting
the Americana moniker somewhat
confounding. I have no issue with
the US using this term to bracket a
host of American Root’s styles under
one banner but I can see how this
could easily be misinterpreted here,
particularly in the field of Australian
country music which is so strongly
aligned with our cultural identity.
I decided I’d start by looking up
“Americana” in the dictionary to
discover it’s true definition, which
informed me that it is “things
associated with America, especially
the United States” a confusing
description in itself and although
I acknowledge that the majority of
Australian alt country/roots style
acts probably take their inspiration
from this loose amalgamation of
American musical styles it still
makes for a pretty incongruous
association, particularly considering
the dictionary description.
Having said that I can offer no
alternative branding suggestions
other than to say that during my time
as a member of (what might now be
called) an alt country band in the
80’s who were virtually considered by
many in the Australian country music
Catherine Britt & Busby Marou
performing at the Australian
Americana Honours Night
establishment to be musical heretics
for embracing our US influences, I
can’t see this new definition endearing
too many established country music
fans to the fledgling genre.
I’m glad to say that despite my
reservations regarding this issue
it seems from all reports that the
honours night, hosted by Triple R’s
Denise Hylands and Americana
Music Association’s head honcho Jed
Hilly, for all things musically rustic
and rootsy was an enormous success
for both audience and performers
The 2017 honourees were Kasey
Chambers who was the recipient
of the Vanguard Award for her role
as an international ambassador for
roots music and promoter Brian
‘BT’ Taranto for his commitment
to promoting Roots music in
Australia. I was informed by one of
my trusted colleagues that musically
it was a spectacular night, with great
performances from locals including
Jordie Lane, Catherine Britt,
Kasey Chambers, Shane Howard
and featuring a particularly spine
tingling impromptu performance by
Aboriginal singer Yirrmal and along
with US guests Kevin Welch, Old
Crow Medicine Show and Valerie
June made for a wonderful show.
Hilly even hung around to participate
with others in the Australian Music
Week Conference November 2 &
3, which also featured performances
from a few more of our up and
coming “Australian Americana” acts.
Apart from perusing the official
Americana Association of Australian
website and reading their mission
statement, which despite my
misgivings is pretty self explanatory
and admirable I still find myself
wondering just what the parameters
are for this genre and who will be the
arbiters of what is or isn’t Australian
Americana. Who gets bona fides
and who gets left out? Who will
be the musical gatekeepers for this
Looking for clarification I figured I’d
call co-promoter Nash Chambers at
his new address in East Nashville to
see if he might shed some light on the
issue, and between the cacophony
of kids playing, dogs barking and
the general anarchy of resettling his
young family in a new home, he was
more than happy to offer his insights.
So being one of the promoters of the
we’ve had these types of acts here for
event (along with Michael Chugg and
quite some time, they never really sat
The AMA) what can you tell me about
anywhere...way back to The Dingoes,
The Flying Emus, Keith Glass, The
“So what do you already know about
Dancehall Racketeers even The Black
Sorrows etc - it’s all Americana and I
Well I know that it’s an organisation
think what the word ‘Americana’ has
that represents a loose
amalgam of roots music
styles and it’s run by a
man called Jed Hilly
and ex patriot Aussie
producer Mark Moffatt is
involved....that’s about it!
“Well then, I guess I
should start by saying
that I think it was
October last year it
outsold all country
music here!
Yes I did read that.
“It’s not a new genre
as such, it’s more an
umbrella for people
like... all of us outcasts
that play this weird
music that for years
we’ve tried to find names
for - alt country/country
rock or whatever it
was, it was depressing.
So basically what’s
happened over here, is
that it’s developed into
this umbrella for an ever
Bernard Fanning & Kasey Chambers
of Roots type acts that
exist outside of the mainstream.
done in the US is, it’s given these acts
I do understand and admire the general
a home.
ideals of the organisation and the desire
“Actually Americana isn’t professing
to have an umbrella to house this
to be anything in particular, it’s just
collection of acts, but do you think this
about the music. The recent honours
banner will help to endear the home
night, which I put together with
grown acts here to a larger Australian
Michael Chugg’s organisation in
conjunction with the US Americana
“The problem for me is that although
Association is not meant to be an
awards night although we do have
two, we want it to be a celebration of
the music while honouring a couple
of the people who are helping to
bring it to a bigger audience.
“The Americana brand has kinda
helped consolidate things. Now
you’ve got the Grammy
Awards adding a few
Billboard actually has an
Americana chart, there’s
also an Americana
Association album chart
here and they are about
to add a singles chart.
“It’s just become a
massive movement over
here because so many
people love this kind
of music whether it’s
alt country, blues, folk,
bluegrass, roots rock
stuff....anything that’s
kinda got some dirt
on it. Well that’s about
the best I can do to
clarify the Americana
phenomenon and how I
think it might help find
a home for us musical
So I guess at this juncture
it seems that the answer
to my question of how this
might help Australian
Roots acts find wider
acceptance is that by using
the Americana banner it will hopefully
allow audiences (who comprehend the
term) to perceive Australian acts as
being under the same umbrella. I’d also
imagine that the people promoting live
shows here will see it as a promotional
tool to help introduce new US Roots
music acts (hopefully supported by our
own acts) to Australian music fans.
Country In The Convict Capital
Sydney-Country with Gareth Hipwell
As another summer draws its jasmineperfumed blanket of humidity and a
cloak of jacaranda blooms down upon
the streets of Sydney, it seems there’s
little for your columnist to do but
to reflect on the year that was. On a
preparatory note, I’m happy to report
that I have yet to lose my footing on a
slick of half-mashed purple petals on
the footpath, which, as many of you
will be all too painfully aware, has long
been Sydney’s own sadistic slant on the
banana-peel gag. Happier still, it goes
without saying that 2017 has been an
exceptional year for new Australian
country music.
Fanny Lumsden’s hotly anticipated
sophomore outing Real Class Act
delivered on every intoxicating
promise, as did album number three
from guitar slinging sophisticates
Raised By Eagles earlier in the year.
Sydney’s own bluegrass trailblazers The
Morrisons delivered their magnificent
self-titled debut, while Melbourne’s
Gretta Ziller also made a stunning
debut with Queen of Boomtown. The
Woodland Hunters shone with Let’s
Fall Apart, while Shane Nicholson’s
profound insights on the human
condition made Hell Breaks Loose
one of the year’s most consistently
rewarding listens, and Sandra
Humphries kept the honkytonk torch
a-flame with her glorious Walk In
Circles. O’Shea charted infectious new
heights in country-soul with 61-615;
captivating storyteller Kalesti Butler’s
second album Airborne soared at the
opening of the year, while countrypop breakout Melanie Dyer recently
premiered irresistible solo debut Fresh.
The Ahern Brothers (Steve Grady
and Josh Rennie-Hynes) launched a
self-titled debut of impeccable poise,
and also debuting with an engrossing
show of songwriting mastery were
Carpenter Caswell, whose self-titled
album will captivate fans of Steve Earle,
Rodney Crowell and beyond. Likewise
on debut, All Our Exes Live In Texas’
delivered their gorgeous When We
Fall LP, setting a new standard for
preternatural vocal harmonies and
compulsive songcraft.
From across the Pacific – and surprising
no one – Margo Price delivered
another instant classic in All American
Made, while David Rawlings’ Poor
David’s Almanack has been on regular
rotation at Country Capital HQ since
September, as has Jason Isbell & The
400 Unit’s towering The Nashville
Sound since June.
The year’s unexpected discoveries have
been many and varied, but few so
memorable as Valerie June’s engrossing
opening set at the Enmore Theatre in
October (June warmed up the crowd
for Old Crow Medicine Show, whose
riotous 50 Years of Blonde on Blonde
show was another live highlight for the
year). For sheer Aquarian wonderment
and penetrating vocal phrasing, June’s
was a mesmeric performance. Released
earlier in the year, her The Order
of Time sets a perfect tone for the
lengthening days and balmy evenings
of the encroaching season.
And not forgetting Country Capital
favourite Tom Dockray, who has a
killer new track out in ‘Here’s To You
(And Me)’ – if you haven’t already, be
sure to give it a spin!
Valerie June
While the usually bustling live scene
is slowing somewhat as Christmas
approaches – not to mention another
colossal Tamworth Festival on the
near horizon – there’s still plenty of
opportunity to catch some killer live
shows this festive season.
The wonderful Katie Brianna and
Jemma Nicole join forces at the
Golden Barley Hotel in Enmore on
7 December, kicking off at 8:00pm.
Leadbelly Newtown hosts another
instalment of the always-excellent
Ramblin’ Nights on 17 January,
featuring Rich Davies & The Low
Road, The Weeping Willows, and
Peta Caswell, while The East Pointers
are at Marrickville’s Factory Theatre on
6 January, and Sweden’s First Aid Kit
take to the Enmore Theatre on 3 April.
First Aid Kit
Rooty Hill RSL hosts a massive night
of country-rock with its Rockin’
Country Christmas Party event on 16
December, featuring Christie Lamb,
Viper Creek Band, and Troy Kemp.
The Bunker at Coogee Diggers has
Angeleno trad-country sensation
Sam Outlaw (USA) on 3 December,
along with rising star Courtney
Marie Andrews (USA). Outlaw and
Andrews also play Marrickville’s
Camelot Lounge on 3 December. Also
at Camelot Lounge are blues duo Joe
Filisko and Eric Noden (USA) on 11
January, while Sister venue Django Bar
hosts old-time and bluegrass ensemble
Molsky’s Mountain Drifters (USA)
on 7 January.
Diesel is at Cronulla’s Brass Monkey
on 8 and 9 December, before the venue
hosts Bad Moon Rising – A Tribute
to Creedence Clearwater Revival on
20 January, Cash Live – The Concert
Experience on 2 February, and The
Eagles Show…Heart of the Matter
on 3 March. Back in the Inner West,
The Lazy Crows are at LazyBones in
Marrickville on 28 January.
Lizotte’s has Lazy Sunday Lunch with
Beccy Cole on 10 December, while
the Canterbury Hurlstone Park RSL
has your post-Tamworth comedown
covered with its annual Tamworth
Recovery Party on 8 February,
featuring Allan Caswell, Neilly Rich
and Sharnee Fenwick, along with
hosts Bob Howe and Nicki Gillis plus
the Hillbilly Heaven Band.
If you haven’t already, be sure to get
along to Redfern’s the Bearded Tit
for Post To Wire’s monthly Red-Eyed
and Blue afternoons, which have
featured a slew of great acts in recent
months, including Jason Walker, The
Ramalamas, Tawny Owl Stringband,
That Red Head, Ben Leece, Tim
Easton, and many more, along with
DJ sets from the one and only Chris
Familton’s Post To Wire Jukebox.
And be sure to keep an eye on the
lineup at Staves Brewery’s Malt Room,
which features an ever-changing
lineup of country-roots acts. The same
Jason Walker
goes for favourite haunts Petersham
Bowling Club, the Union Hotel in
Newtown, Marrickville Bowling Club,
the Gasoline Pony, and the George
Hotel in Waterloo: all safe bets for a
good time and great music.
Until next year: tread carefully
wherever there are jacarandas in bloom
– especially if you’re wearing pluggers.
Many’s the coccyx bruised by a slippery
purple deathtrap lurking on a footpath.
As always, if you have a gig to plug or
an axe to grind, please feel free to get
in touch with the writer at gdhipwell@
Deep Down South
Melbourne-Country with Guest Columnist - Andrew Swift
For those of you that may have been
following my journey so far, you’ll
know that I’m reasonably new to the
country music scene. In fact, despite
having spent my childhood growing
up on a farm in regional Victoria, I
battled being described as even any
sub genre of country music for some
time. During my adolescent years the
ignorance of Melbourne suburban
culture had me believing that country
was not something to aspire to.
Regretfully, I held that mentally for
most of my twenties, resulting in this
red bearded fool feeling musically
homeless. The story as to how I’ve
come to love country music and
embrace that it’s where I belong, is one
for another time.
The point is that my eyes and ears are
finally open and the realisation of just
how many talented singer songwriters
and musicians flying the country flag
in Melbourne has been a swift
pun intended!
I’m not one to get into the politics
of sub-genres but there’s no denying
that Americana aka alt-country is the
biggest pulse of the country music heart
beat in Melbourne at the moment.
So much so that on October 2nd artists
and industry representatives flocked
from all over the country packing the
Thornbury Theatre as it played host to
‘The First Annual Australian Americana
Honours Night’ awarding both Kasey
Chambers & Brian Taranto (aka BT)
from Love Police with Vanguard awards
for their outstanding contributions
and excellence in the americana music
scene. The evening was a showcase to
remember, with solid performances
from Bernard Fanning, Kasey
Chambers, Busby Marou, Catherine
Britt, Henry Wagons, Ruby Boots,
Jordie Lane, Emily Barker, Shane
Howard, Valerie June, Kevin Welch
blend of international, local, female
and male artists can be done and it can
be done very, very well.
In the build up to headline act Justin
Old Crow Medicine Show
and a show stopping performance
by the only band that should still
be playing Wagon Wheel, Old Crow
Medicine Show.
Though it was never in question,
October 14th saw Love Police prove
exactly why BT deserved his Vanguard
award with the delivery if the 4th
annual ‘Out On The Weekend’
festival. There was a heaving sea of
people rocking rhinestones, truckers
hats and denim shirts filling the
Williamstown Seaworks while food
trucks pumped out tacos, burgers and
brisket rolls. The two stages flowed
seamlessly with no overlaps, allowing
a tide of people to roll back and forth
throughout the day and into the
evening making it possible to take in
every song from the stellar line up. This
growing festival shows that an even
Townes Earle we had the pleasure
to receive enjoy performances from
Son Volt, Traveller, All Our Exes
Live In Texas, Fanny Lumsden,
Joshua Hedley, Raised By Eagles,
Freya Josephine Hollick, The
Deslondes, Lillie Mae, Robbie
Fulks, The Davidson Brothers & in
an outstanding first ever Australian
performance, The Sadies.
There’s been several notable releases
come out of Victoria in the past couple
of months including Michael Waugh
and his endearingly bittersweet single
‘The C Word’ produced by Shane
Nicholson, the debut self-titled
album from country rock act The Iain
Archibald Band was released via live
stream on Facebook on September
16th, Dan Parsons continues to make
women swoon all across the country
with his sultry new single ‘Here Goes
Nothing’, ‘Take A Little Time’ is the
latest album from Brooke Russell &
The Mean Reds, Lachlan Bryan &
The Wildes teamed up with Shanley
Del to teach us ‘The Basics of Love’, The
Weeping Willows have a live release
on with all proceeds
going to Mel’s On A Mission (Music
& Memory), that Andrew Swift guy
just released ‘Reckless Desires’ as the first
Lachlan Bryan
single from his forthcoming album
‘Call Out For The Cavalry’ …now
available for pre order… just saying.
Gretta Ziller has been getting welldeserved rave reviews for her debut
album Queen Of Boomtown since it’s
September release and Rick Hart had
a sell out launch for his debut album
‘Let Me In’ at the Skylark Room.
For those of you that haven’t heard of
the Skylark Room in Upwey, it’s worth
noting as a possible stop the next time
you’re headed deep down south. We all
know about the huge live music scene
in Melbourne - in the city and its’
inner suburbs you’d find it difficult to
find a bar without someone in a corner
bearing their soul from behind a guitar
or keyboard.
However it’s rare to find quality venues
in the outer suburbs, thank God for
house concerts. However, 45 mins east
of the CBD stands the Skylark Room,
it’s proving to be a fantastic venue
for intimate shows with an attentive
audience that seem to come for the
food and stay for the music.
I can tell you that Victoria will be
well represented at the Tamworth
CM Festival with what seems set
to be a mass exodus! I know The
Davidson Brothers, Lachlan Bryan
& The Wildes, Michael Waugh,
The Weeping Willows, Small Town
Romance, Iain Archibald Band, Pete
Denahy, Gretta and a host of others
are festival bound, along with newcomers Great Aunt, Gareth Leach,
Rick Hart and many more.
Gretta Ziller & I will be taking the
long way to Tamworth as we embark
once more on ‘The Great Australian
Caravan Park Country Music
Showcase’. We have 22 shows over 22
days in the lead up to the 2018 festival
- delivering our stories and songs to
caravan parks all along the Victorian
& NSW coasts. Last year we tested the
waters, so to speak, across 11 holiday
destinations. Aside from taking in the
views and swimming every day, the
shows were far more fun than we ever
Gretta Ziller
expected. Hopefully this is something
we can build more and bring other
artists with us in the years to come.
Even though I may have been a little
more than fashionably late to the
country music party, I’m glad that I’m
here. The last few years have included
an intense education on country music
and its’ branches. I’m constantly
learning and discovering new artists
and I tend to discover a lot of older
artists when I get called out for not
knowing who they are.
Until next time, you stay classy
Country Update. - Andrew Swift.
Bluegrass Truth
with Hamish & Lachlan Davidson
One of the absolute best things
about the internet is the increased
accessibility to bluegrass music
in Australia. This has been highly
noticeable to us being involved in
the scene for the past twenty years.
When we started back around 1996,
our parents would take us to regular
jam sessions in Melbourne or festivals
to learn, and in between these times,
the musicians we met at such events
would run off cassette tapes and mail
them to us to learn tunes. We’d wear
them out! It was extremely hard to
find bluegrass CDs
(especially outside of
Midnight Skyracer
a city) apart from the
occasional find in a
HMV store.
bluegrass mail order
service operating in
Australia for a time
who would post a
list of recent stock
along with an order
form, these guys
made a few bucks
out of us. Now, fastforward to modern
times, one of our
favourite things to
do is search SPBGMA jam session
videos on YouTube. The Society
for the Preservation of Bluegrass
Music of America (widely known
as SPBGMA) hosts an incredible
event at the Sheraton Music City
Hotel in Nashville at the beginning
of February each year. The event
includes an Awards show, a national
convention with a huge showcase
line-up, a band contest with major
prize money, up to $4,000 USD for
the first-place winner. But to many,
the main attraction of SPBGMA is
the hotel jam sessions that happen
all night long. The jamming culture
in bluegrass is very addictive where
most pickers are willing to get
together, lose all track of time and
make music together. It’s one of the
very reasons we were drawn to it all
those years ago.
If you’ve ever wondered about
bluegrass in other parts of the world
(apart from here or the US) we can
tell you first hand after performing
at the European World of Bluegrass
(EWOB) in 2011 there is a strong
scene in Europe with countless fine
players and bands across countries
such as Sweden, Norway, Ireland,
Germany, the Netherlands and Czech;
being a particular hot spot. Being
much closer geographically to the
US, many first-generation bluegrass
artists toured Europe but never made
it to our shores, including the Stanley
Brothers back in 1966. If you’re in
the Netherlands in May 2018 the
EWOB festival has called it a day
after 20 years, but a new event called
European Bluegrass Voorthuizen
will be held in its place, just a short
distance from Amsterdam.
An exciting new group to emerge out
of Europe is the UK based all-girl
band Midnight Skyracer featuring
the Carrivick Sisters; Charlotte on
Guitar and Laura on fiddle & dobro,
Tabitha Agnew on banjo, Leanne
Thorose on mandolin and Eleanor
Wilkie on Bass. They’re about to
release their debut album.
Speaking of International bluegrass,
our very own Pete Denahy has
released a new album with three
Japanese friends; Hiroki Maeta
(mandolin), Tomoyuki Murata
(guitar) and locally based Montz
Matsumoto (banjo). With the
addition of Aron
Mclean (bass) the
band is called Wide
Island, a translation
of Hiroshima, home
town of Pete’s mum.
band won’t be in
Tamworth, you can
catch Pete, Montz
and Aron at their
daily Bluegrass &
Comedy breakfast
shows held at Wests
during the festival
and pick yourself up
a copy.
Other places to find
bluegrass at the 2018 TCMF include:
The Coca Cola Battle of the
Bluegrass contest; Bluegrass comes
to Tamworth show on the morning
of Fri 26th at the Capital Theatre
featuring Kristy Cox, Karen Lynne,
Pete Denahy, The Weeping Willows
and Montgomery Church; Andrew
Clermont’s Bluegrass Champions
Supper Club at the North Tamworth
Bowling Club on Sat 27th; and we’ll
be hosting our own bluegrass night at
The Pub on Thurs 25th.
announced as the 2017 Australian
Bluegrass Scholarship Winner. Tom
plays guitar and mandolin and grew
up in Essendon, Victoria. He first
surprise to see fine Nashville fiddler
travelling with him, Shad Cobb.
We caught the Mile Twelve tour
whilst they were in Melbourne,
and they certainly presented a fine
example of modern bluegrass with
excellent musical arrangements
and dynamic controlled use of
microphones on stage. Their debut
album Onwards which was released
during their tour, produced by
Stephen Mougin (Sam Bush Band) is
well worth a listen, especially for NZ
native banjo player Catherine (BB)
Bowness exceptional skills on Ace of
The Peter Rowan band will be
visiting us again in March and
will perform at the Cobargo, Port
Fairy and Blue Mountains festivals
as well as various club dates to be
announced. This time the band will
include Patrick Sauber on banjo,
Blaine Sprouse on fiddle and Paul
Knight on bass. Rowan’s career
includes singing lead and playing
rhythm guitar for Bill Monroe and
& bluegrass lead guitar pioneer
Clarence White and two former
bluegrass boys Bill Keith and Richard
Greene. He then joined with Jerry
Garcia (on banjo) and distinctive
bluegrass fiddler Vassar Clements in
a new band called Old and In The
With some exciting young musicians
taking out IBMA Instrumental
awards in 2017, another new record
release we should mention is from
Mike Barnett
Thomas Kendall
cultivated a passion for the music of
the mountains in the suburbs, before
venturing into regional touring with
his band-mates, The Knott Family
Band. Most recently, Tom has spent
time recording with his band and
attending festivals in the United
States to hone his craft. We got to
attend The Knott Family Band debut
(self-titled) CD launch and it was
wonderful to see so much support
from young music fans and local
Recently we’ve had visits from
country singer-songwriter Robbie
Fulks who made his first trip to
Australia in October to play the Out
on the Weekend festival; it was a great
Peter Rowan
the Blue Grass Boys in 1963, teaming
up with David Grisman in the late
60’s before forming the super group
Muleskinner along with country
Mike Barnett titled Portraits in
Fiddles. Mike recently joined Ricky
Skaggs band Kentucky Thunder full
time, replacing long-time member
Andy Leftwich. This album has a
huge list of legendary guest musicians
and is full of energy so check that out
Book Reviews
THE PASSAGE OF LOVE Alex Miller After thirty years and in an opportunity to review and celebrate both his
own life and the life of loved ones, two time Miles Franklin Award winner, Alex Miller draws on reminiscences,
notes, stories, love, and death, to create a moving and raw fictional novel that is the closest to an autobiography
we are likely to read from him.Sitting in a New York park, an old man holds a book and tries to accept that his
contribution to the future is over. Instead, he remembers a youthful yearning for open horizons, for Australia, a
yearning he now knows inspired his life as a writer. Instinctively he picks up his pen and starts at the beginning...
At twenty-one years, Robert Crofts leaves his broken dreams in Far North Queensland, finally stopping in
Melbourne almost destitute. It’s there he begins to understand how books and writing might be the saving of
him. They will be how he leaves his mark on the world. He also begins to understand how many obstacles there
will be to thwart his ambition.
THE BBQ COOKBOOK Just like Dazza, the hero of the movie The BBQ (played by Shane Jacobson), we can all
be cooking up unique and tasty recipes for every occasion with this handy tome, whether it’s a relaxed afternoon
get-together, an evening dinner party or the complete festive-season extravaganza. The book features more than
80 recipes especially created for Aussie barbecue conditions, as well as stunning food photography, movie stills
and behind-the-scenes photos from the film shoot. Much more than a movie tie-in, The BBQ Cookbook has
the lowdown on every tong-and taste-technique you ever wanted to master! The BBQ (in cinemas early 2018),
is the story of Dazza Cook who wields his tongs over what he believes is the original BBQ brought to Australia
by his ancestor Captain James Cook. But one weekend, his regular cookout, propped up by patient wife Diane
(Julia Zemiro), hits a snag when he accidentally poisons the neighbourhood. With the help of tyrannical Scottish
chef The Butcher (Magda Szubanski) and her sidekick Carver, Dazza enters an international BBQ competition
to reclaim his dignity. In the Elite Steak Challenge, Dazza’s humble dishes are pitted against those of the world’s
THE RED COAST Di Morrissey In The Red Coast, Morrissey returns to the red earth of the Kimberley, ancient
setting of her earlier Tears of the Moon, with a passionate telling of resistance and resilience under its’ soaring
big sky canopy. In the upheaval which separated Jacqui Bouchard from her adored son, she has finally rebuilt her
life and settled in Broome, a magical remote town on the northwest Aust coast. But when a proposed mining
development is unveiled, the town begins to tear itself apart. Rifts run deep, as friends, families and lovers are
faced with a battle that could ruin their lives irrevocably. As everyone chooses sides, Jacqui confronts her own
dilemma of staying to fight or leaving? Who to trust?
FROM THE STARS ABOVE Peter Watt The Frontier Series first began back in 2000 with the release of Cry of
the Curlew, beginning the epic tale of two families who are locked in a deadly battle from the moment squatter
Donald Macintosh commits an act of barbarity on his Queensland property. Their paths cross in love, death and
revenge as both families fight to tame the wild frontier of known settlement. For a hundred years (and twelve
books) they have never forgiven, never forgotten. Now, the war between the Duffy and Macintosh dynasties
will be brought to its cataclysmic conclusion. Private Patrick Duffy was forced to flee Malaya as a child, and left
orphaned when his mother died in Changi prison. Michael Macintosh is forging his escape from his mother’s
obsessive control. Sarah Macintosh ruthlessly crushes anyone who gets in her way, and fixated on her own legacy,
she has ignored her family’s inheritance - a century old curse, to be paid in blood...
THE TEA GARDENS Fiona McIntosh Set between the wars and in the dying days of the Raj, The Tea Gardens
will take readers on an unforgettable adventure from UK seaside town of Brighton to India’s slums of Calcutta
and the breath-taking Himalayan Mountains. Dr Isla Fenwick has a life that most modern women of 1933
might envy – her career gives her status, her pedigree adds freedom, and she is to be married to her oldest crush,
the eligible Jovian Mandeville. First, however, Isla is determined to follow in the footsteps of her late mother
and work at the coalface of medicine in India. To head up a midwifery clinic in a local hospital diving into the
gruelling world of the hospital to the point of exhaustion in a culture she doesn’t fully understand, Isla will find
her time in India tests her beliefs, her professionalism and much more.
OUTBACK LEGENDS Evan McHugh These people are very different, but they have much in
common. They’re the salt of the outback, but they’re not from long ago and far away. You can rub
shoulders with them here and now. They’re our outback legends. Enjoy these armchair travels and life
stories as Evan McHugh, author of Outback Heroes catches up with some of the most remarkable and
inspiring characters our country has to offer. From unsung heroes and heroines such as ‘mother of
the Barkly’ Bernadette Burke, member of one of the world’s biggest women’s networks, to nurse June
Andrew who went outback for five years and ended up staying a lifetime. You may not have heard of
some of these people but you’ll be enriched by meeting them now.
DIAMOND SKY Annie Seaton The Kimberley can be a paradise to those who can stand the heat, but
it can also be deadly. The remote Matsu diamond mine is the perfect place for engineer Dru Porter to
hide. Her insignificance in that vast landscape helps her feel safe and shielded from the terror she fled in
Dubai. Security specialist Connor Kirk knows from bitter experience that beautiful women are capable
of treachery. Sent to investigate ongoing diamond theft, he immediately suspects the inscrutable but
capable Porter. Kirk’s investigation soon uncovers more than glitches in the mine’s security, exposing
Dru’s secretive past, and ultimately exposing them all to murderous danger – from both the thieves and
the desert.
TIN MAN Sarah Winman It begins with a painting won in a raffle: fifteen sunflowers, hung on the
wall by a woman who believes that men and boys are capable of beautiful things. And then there are
two boys, Ellis and Michael, who are inseparable. And the boys become men. And then Annie walks
into their lives, and it changes nothing and everything. Simplicity at its’ best, some books take a whole
page to capture an emotion, a moment, an image, a setting – Sarah Winman can do this with just a
single sentence. At 195 pages this is a leave-me-alone gorge - you will adore time spent with Ellis and
Michael and as the pages dwindle you will be left bereft and miss them. You may never see sunflowers
again without them popping into your mind.
BURKE & WILLS Peter Fitzsimons Fitzsimons offers his take on the triumph and tragedy of our
most famous explorers with his stirring story of the quest of Burke and Wills to be the first Europeans
to cross the harsh Australian continent, with the expedition battling the worst of deserts, the boggy
mangrove swamps of the Gulf, searing heat and flooding rains. Peter said: ‘I’ve always wanted to tell
the stories of the colonial pioneers, and it really is a cracker of a story, with more twists and turns along
the way than their final, tragic, erratic path. I was particularly fascinated by their interaction with the
Indigenous people, who did their best to save them . . . until Burke pulled out his pistol . . . But I’m
already ahead of myself. This is a prime piece of Australian history – and I can’t wait to tell you about it.’
RECIPE FOR LIFE Maggie Beer with Ralph Martins To have a healthy old age you must act now,
whether you are 30 or 50. I have two great passions – sharing my love of cooking delicious simple food
and improving the health and nutrition of older people. I hope this cookbook does both but it’s not for
‘old’ people, it’s for you. I have been delighted to work with leading Alzheimer’s researcher Professor
Ralph Martins in recent years and I have learned that if we are to avoid Alzheimer’s and other lifestyle
diseases it is what we eat today that matters. These are recipes for every day, for everybody, full of deep
flavours and beautiful ingredients that will nourish you and your family. Nobody wants to eat worthy
food that tastes like cardboard. For me, food without flavour is unthinkable! And so is the notion of
restricting whole food groups. My recipe for life is to have a healthy attitude to eating – it’s all about
balance, variety and choosing foods that give you the best chance of being in good health now and into
your future. This is not a diet book – it’s a way of life. ~ Maggie Beer
kylie ryan
jenny taylor & lipstick & spurs
Please welcome to the stage...
Jenny Taylor and Lipstick and Spurs is a choir of grown
up boys and girls, with choralography, costumes and
camaraderie. Latest single, ‘Whistlin Dixie’ is a sweet intro
to their work and style and one they say they ‘send out to
the world as a little song of love lost and life found and
the perfect Valentine’s day song for the disenchanted!’
Practicing the rare art of structural silliness and harmonic
haphazardness, they are devoted to tunes and tales of
wheat, tractors, heartbreak, dogs, horses and heroes. Yes,
they are a country music choir; in fact, they are Australia’s
premier Country Music Choir, perhaps Australia’s only
Country Music choir Together they clip clop in harmony
through the classic Americana of Hank Williams, Johnny
Cash, Dolly Parton and glimpse to the beauty of some of
Australia’s divine country songs, such as Sarah Storer, John
Williamson, Don Walker, The Triffids. Sarah Carol and
Trish Anderson. Established in 2005 by Jenny Taylor the
choir has delighted audiences at Festivals such as Tamworth,
Whittlesea, Melbourne Fringe, and Darebin Music Feast.
They are currently impersonating a choir which may travel
to the US to do shows one day, and who knows they may
just become that choir. The choir has collaborated with
artists such as Suzannah Espie, Kutcha Edwards, Trish
Anderson (Git), Sally Dastey (Tiddas). At the time of
Take one part cleverly crafted song lyrics, add a generous
helping of infectious melodies, blend with lavish amounts
of rock, pop and rockabilly influences into her own unique
style and you have Dream Chaser, the debut EP from
emerging country music artist, Kylie Ryan.
Hailing from the northern NSW town of Inverell and living
in Wagga Wagga and Chiang Mai before settling in Sydney,
it’s been quite literally a long, winding road for the songstress
who counts Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert and
Shania Twain as some of her biggest influences. Always a
writer, be it stories, poems or songs, Kylie credits music as
helping her through the tumultuous times in her life.
Becoming a mother quite early put a hold on the singer/
songwriter’s dreams and she believed the possibility of
a future in music had perhaps passed her by. A career
crossroads coupled with the urging of her husband led Kylie
to rethink this decision.
The self-confessed late starter compares the protracted and
nurtured distilling process of Tennessee whiskey to this
delay and the satisfying outcome.
Dream Chaser is a catchy blend of traditional and modern
writing they were excitedly preparing for Melbourne Cup
Day at Coburg RSL which would host the launch of ‘100
to 1’, a great new song telling the story of Michelle Payne’s
2015 Melbourne Cup win.
country. ‘Got Me In’ is a positive, bouncy pop infused
track, ahead of the powerful, rock driven anthem ‘Slow Me
Down’, nominated for a 2017 ASAI song writing award
and ‘That’s Our Love Song’ a rockabilly, blues peppered
love song. Kylie changes pace and offers autobiographical
insight with the deeply moving and emotionally charged
‘In Spite of You’; winding up with ‘Everytime’ a fun, fast
paced party song co written with producer Stewart Peters
of Blue Mountains based Soundshed Music Productions.
Dream Chaser is an exciting, fresh introduction to the
talented singer/songwriter ensuring Kylie Ryan will be an
artist to follow into the future.
vanessa delaine
Gold Guitar Awards and her last album Runaway won
sufficient acclaim to whet her writing and performing
appetite and there is now no stopping this passionate
songstress. Delaine’s first music video ‘Moon Blues’
received no less than nine awards from film festivals
around the world including New York Film Awards and
LA Film Awards.
First single ‘Rainy Day’ hit airwaves followed by ‘Live
For Today’ and people are just loving it – the latter was
written at an unhappy point in her life, but the result
is a positive message of owning the ‘now’ and forging a
new reality.
Where will she take it from here? Delaine is adamant
she will navigate the future on her own terms and given
her obvious excitement and passion and the fact she has
already toured more than half of Australia showcasing
her kind of country to audiences everywhere, means
she won’t likely lack for motivation to embrace the next
challenge or thrill on the road ahead.
Archibald is a masculine name, composed of
the Germanic elements erchan with an original
meaning of “genuine” and bald “bold.”
Without intentionally setting out to live up to
the derivation of their name, Iain Archibald Band
are exactly that - a band of high energy musically
gifted guys that are quintessentially genuine, fun,
and most of all bold by pushing the boundaries
of genre all in the name of great music and a top
night out!
Iain Archibald Band might be considered musically
heavier than many of their contemporaries, and
have created a signature sound blended from
Aussie Rock & Modern US styled Country
attracting one of the broadest audiences! Live, they
show themselves as the true skilled entertainers that they
are, with musicianship, intuition and most of all a solid
cohesion and wit that makes them a pleasure to see with
every show offering something new!
Given this skill, their live show fits well into just about
any festival, BNS, rodeo or event and the band have
featured on the bill at many of Australia’s foremost
For one of the longest, busiest, most competitive festivals
in Australia, Iain Archibald Band are fully booked for
the Tamworth Country Music Festival 2018. With a
busy touring schedule, recent album release and a few
other surprises in store, Iain Archibald Band is the must
have band for your event, festival and venue!
iain archibald band
Delaine taps into a strong vibe to create an
original blend of country blues music and new
album Wild & Free demonstrates catchy songs
fuelled with freedom, devil-may-care derring-do
and plain old fashioned whimsy. Wild & Free was
produced, engineered, mixed and mastered by
Michael Carpenter who also doubled on multiple
instruments on the 12 songs penned by Delaine.
Long time musical partner, Michael Barnard played
guitar, slide guitar and blues harp, backing vocals
by Kylie Whitney, Ella Sunde, Tiahn Barnard
with piano and keys by Jade O’Regan. Overall an
impressive wellspring of talent assembled on an
album that Delaine is ecstatically proud of and the
outstanding result only adds to the cathartic nature
of the project, as she wrote the album after the
breakup of her eighteen year marriage.
“For the first time in years I felt renewed
enthusiasm and verve for my life. I was enjoying
being unshackled and wanted to express this in my
Delaine has previously won songwriting awards, NZ
Nashville Ramblings
with John Lomax III
NASHVILLE – The annual Hall of
Fame induction ceremony is always
a highlight and this year’s ceremony
honouring Alan Jackson, Jerry Reed
and Don Schlitz was no exception.
George Strait, Allison Krauss,
Vince Gill, Trisha Yearwood, Jamey
Johnson, Charlie Worsham, Tommy Emmanuel, Steve Wariner were
among those paying tribute at the induction of Alan Jackson, Jerry Reed
and Don. Loretta Lynn surprised
everyone by coming to induct Jackson, despite still showing effects of
her recent stroke! Schlitz, writer of
50 Top-10 singles, with 24 going to
#1, gave a truly remarkable induction
speech, Alan was, for once, NOT at
a loss for words and Reed’s daughters
gave eloquent testimony for the late
artist, guitarist, movie star.
Congrats to Walt Aldredge, Dewayne Blackwell, the late Vern Gosdin, Jim McBride and Tim Nichols, latest inductees to the Nashville
Songwriter’s Hall of Fame. Ashley
Gorley won Songwriter of the Year,
Luke Bryan earned Songwriter/Artist kudos and ‘Blue Ain’t Your Color’
was picked Song of the Year.
Chris Stapleton promised us two
2017 releases and so here comes From
a Room, Part Two, featuring lead single, ‘Millionaire’, a Kevin Welch
composition. Welch, 61, recently
married his Australian sweetheart,
Sarah and is working on a retrospective album and one featuring all new
Garth Brooks has gone literary, issuing The Anthology, Part One, in
mid-November. The book, detailing
the earliest days of Brooks’ career,
comes complete with five CDs, in-
cluding some previously unissued
Brooks has announced the end of the
three years plus, North American leg
of his World Tour with a final tour
stop in Nashville, where the reigning
CMA Entertainer of the Year has previously said he’d wrap up his historic
Kathy Mattea and cast members of
the Nashville TV series.
Brad Paisley formally inducted
Chris Young into the Grand Ole
Opry family in October. A visibly
moved Young recalled listening to
the the Opry for the first time at age
4 and attending his first show when
he was 8. Young’s latest, Losing Sleep,
was released in late October
Tracy Lawrence has a new album,
Good Ole Days, coming out that features duets with Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, Tim McGraw, Justin
Moore, Craig Morgan, Big & Rich
and others.
Garth Brooks
run. He will perform December 16th
at Music City’s Bridgestone Arena. The Country Hall of Famer has
not performed a full concert in the
Nashville venue since 2010 when he
played 10 shows to help raise money
for a devastating flood that affected
the city.
Garth will also feature in a new documentary about the 35yr history
of Nashville’s famed Bluebird Cafe
where he landed his first deal in
1988. Other stars slated for cameos
or roles are Vince Gill, Kelsea Ballerini, Hunter Hayes, Maren Morris, Old Dominion, Brothers Osborne, Kacey Musgraves, Charlie
Worsham, Steve Earle, Pam Tillis,
Shania Twain’s release, Shania Now,
opened with 134,000 sales but fell to
just over 13,000 in its’ 2nd week, a
90% drop. Is that the biggest opening
week for a country release this year?
No, From a Room, Part One crested 200k. The effort drew extremely
mixed critical notices and tallied a
score of 58 per Metacritic, ironically
the exact score given to Miley Cyrus’
latest, Younger Now. Margo Price
scored an 82 for her All American
Girl release.
Add another landmark accolade to
the growing list of acknowledgements
for Americana stalwart Jason Isbell,
(who is set to tour Down Under next
March including Bluesfest) After just
finishing an incredible 6-night sold
out run at the Ryman Auditorium,
he will be the next Artist-In-Residence at the Country Music Hall of
Delbert McClinton releases his new
biography Delbert McClinton: One
of the Fortunate Few (out Dec. 6),
which chronicles his personal life and
professional career from his birth in
Lubbock, Texas, to revealing how
ery interview - further solidifying his
worthiness for the huge honour on
country’s biggest night.
Although eschewing country for pop
music and moving upstate to New
York two albums ago, Taylor Swift
was still a winner on the night as she
wrote ‘Better Man’ for Little Big
Town to scooped Song of the Year.
Delbert McClinton
hearing a song by blues veteran Big
Joe Turner changed his life and musical trajectory.
The CMA Awards Live telecast on
ABC TV in the USA jumped impressively in total viewers, adding nearly
2 million from 2016, with 14.3 million viewers. It was also up 10 percent in the key demo, averaging a
solid 3.2 rating among adults 18-49.
Just minutes after taking the biggest
award of the night, Mr. Entertainer
of the Year Garth Brooks (for the
sixth time) made his way backstage
to chat with press and fellow artists. After congratulating Little Big
Town for their epic performance
and big wins, Brooks took a picture
with Jimmie Webb. And despite being the king of the evening’s awards,
Brooks didn’t leave the premises until
he stopped for every picture and ev-
Keith Urban debuted a new song
inspired by the Harvey Weinstein
scandal on a politically charged night
at the CMA Awards. The song, called
‘Female’, did not address sexual harassment, but was filled with various
stereotypes some women will likely
resent, such as “baby girl” and “woman child.” The song asks how it feels
to hear such phrases as “hits like a
girl” and whether the biblical story
of Adam and Eve makes women feel
second best.
Urban won the Single of the Year for
‘Blue Ain’t Your Color.’
Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood celebrated their 10-year anniversary as hosts of the CMAs with
jokes about politics, specifically, the
tweeting habits of Donald Trump.
“Maybe next time he’ll think before
he tweets,” they sang to the tune of
Underwood’s massive hit ‘Before He
Carrie then summed up the evening’s
mission statement. “Las Vegas. Charlottesville. New York. Sutherland
Springs. Historic storms in Texas,
Puerto Rico and Florida. The list
goes on and on. This has been a year
marked by tragedy, impacting countless lives, including so many in our
Country Music family. So tonight
we’re going to do what families do
– come together, pray together, cry
together and sing together.”
In a special candlelit highlight, Underwood delivered a show-stopping
performance of ‘Softly and Tenderly,’
remembering industry leaders lost
this past year, including Australian
luminary Rob Potts, and closing by
honouring the victims of the Las Vegas tragedy.
A clearly emotional Jon Pardi took
home New Artist of the Year, one of
three nominations he scored in 2017.
His breakthrough ‘Dirt on My Boots’
from his second album, California
Sunrise, also scored Song of the Year
and Single of the Year nominations.
Pardi’s hands visibly shook as he held
Jon Pardi
his trophy backstage. Colin Street,
expat Aussie and formerly half of Qld
duo Holloway Street is Pardi’s Production manager and FOH Engineer
and a very excited one for Pardi’s win!
Chris Stapleton won his second Album of the Year Award for From A
Nashville Ramblings
Room: Volume 1, an album captured
by producer Dave Cobb at historic
RCA Studio A on Music Row, the
place where so many classic Nashville
records were cut. Stapleton won his
first Album of the Year Award for his
debut Traveller in 2015. And Stapleton took Male Vocalist of the year for
the third straight year.
“Every one of these guys is the reason
I’m up here,” Stapleton said of his
fellow nominees. “Luke (Bryan) took
me out when nobody had even heard
of me. Eric (Church) took me out
when nobody had even heard of me.
Thomas (Rhett) wrote songs with
me. Dierks (Bentley) wrote songs
with me. Every one of these guys deserves this thing.”
Little Big Town won its sixth straight
Vocal Group of the Year Award on a
night that included a moving tribute
to Campbell with their touching version of his ‘Wichita Lineman’ that
featured an appearance by its writer,
the incomparable Jimmy Webb.
cord-extending seventh Female Vocalist of the Year award. She won the
award six straight years before yielding to Underwood in 2016.
Glen Campbell and Willie Nelson
took Musical Event of the Year for
their duet of ‘Funny How Time Slips
Away’ - a win and a song made even
more poignant by Campbell’s death
earlier this year.
“Thank you, God, for just blessing
our family in so many ways and
sustaining us through our journey
through Alzheimer’s disease,” said
Kim Campbell, Glen Campbell’s
widow, who accepted the award with
children Ashley and Shannon.
In the weeks after the horrific attack
at Las Vegas’ Route 91 Harvest fest
that turned Jason Aldean’s set into a
shooting gallery, and left 58 country
music fans killed and more than 500
Rosanne Cash
Lead nominee Miranda Lambert,
who sang a moving version of her
song ‘To Learn Her’ took her re-
Miranda Lambert
wounded, the traditionally close relationship between the National Rifle
Assoc and country stars has come un-
der intense scrutiny.
When contacted by Rolling Stone,
multiple country singers featured
on the organization’s NRA Country
website either refused to comment
about their relationship with the
NRA or clarified that they were not
currently associated with the organization.
Rosanne Cash published an op-ed
in The New York Times encouraging
country artists to distance themselves
from the NRA, averring it “funds domestic terrorism.”
However, few mainstream country
stars – i.e., ones with hits on radio –
have been willing to take any public
stance on gun control at odds with
the NRA.
Tom Roland wrote Billboards’ first
ever op-ed piece taking the Country
music/NRA Country alliance to task,
in which he says. “Its boiler plate
boasts, “Respect. Honor. Freedom”
It hails “love of country,” “respect for
the military” and “local charities.” It
does not mention that the gun manufacturers the NRA represents make
the very weapons that were fired at
country stars and their fans.”
“It’s no secret,” NRA Country director Vanessa Shahidi told The Tennessean in 2015. “If you poll our members, they love country music.”
That makes it likely that some of
the country fans who were fired at
on Oct.1 — perhaps some of the 58
who were killed — are NRA members and/or supporters. Thus, the
organization’s target audience was
turned into a target - with its own
“A genre that espouses three chords
and the truth should be asking itself
some very hard questions about the
truth of the NRA.” Mr Roland concluded.
John Lomax’s Adieu
As this is my final column for Country Update. I want
to thank Gayle Madill, who hired me in 1998 and
Denise Torenbeek, who has vigilantly checked my copy
since 2000.
I thank you for reading this column for the past
nineteen years and reflect on my Oz association.
I first came to Australia in September, 1996, thanks
to Laurie Dunn of Massive Records and the Dead
Ringer Band. That January I became enchanted with
the DRB’s Home Fires album and began working to get
them a Nashville record deal. Early interest came from
Almo Sounds, a new label launched by Herb Alpert
and Jerry Moss, founders of A&M Records.
Garth Fundis, then producing Don Williams and
Trisha Yearwood, led Almo Sounds here. He too
became fascinated with Home Fires, which I had
pitched to him as “a contemporary Carter Family”. We
both felt DRB could be a great counterpoint to the
overblown Nashville productions filled with rock and
pop elements. Laurie bought me a ticket and arranged
a meeting with the group, who were then touring as
Daniel O’Donnell’s opening act.
I had dreamed of coming “Down Under” for
decades, ever since my teenage years. I became even
more charmed the more I listened to the Chambers’
homespun sound and family harmony. When asked for
a snappy description for a marketing “hook” by Paul
Kremen, the California-based boss of Almo Sounds, I
replied, “The Judds times two” as the DRB comprised
daddy Bill, mom Diane, son Nash and daughter Kasey,
then just 19, but already a showbiz veteran with several
hundred performances to her credit. They had won
some minor awards and Bill had scored a Golden
Guitar for writing Slim Dusty’s hit, ‘Things Are Not
the Same on the Land’.
I returned in January, 1997, making my first trip to
Tamworth for the Festival and the CMAA Awards.
I learned and met most of the key players in the
Australian industry and saw a lot of talented musicians
but I still felt the Dead Ringer Band had the best shot
in the U.S. country market.
James Blundell’s deal here with Capitol had ended
without an album release and Keith Urban and his
band, The Ranch, were about to sign a deal.
My mission was to get the DRB a Nashville deal and
manage them to stardom. I would become the “goto” guy to help sign other Australian country acts to
Nashville deals and thus develop a true two-way street
between our respective country industries. It would
be a huge “win-win” for everyone and extend country
music’s global reach.
That dream did not eventuate for numerous reasons
outlined already in my book ‘Red Desert Sky.’(Allen
& Unwin 2001)
I represented Michael Chugg’s Pacific Circle Music
gathering twice, bringing seven Nashvillians down
for the first such event, in 1998. “Chuggie” remains
one of the most vibrant music biz go-getters I’ve ever
met. I have him to thank for one of my life’s musical
highlights – seeing Billy Thorpe and a small combo tear
it up one memorable night at the Basement.
I joined Nashville’s Sister Cities to assist their effort
to pair up with Tamworth, a mission accomplished in
2012 with the assistance of Jeff Walker, Bob Saporiti
and Garry Jackson. Now our country music capitals are
linked and several educational and trade groups have
already participated.
Warren Fahey is due thanks for approving and releasing
Beyond the Bitumen, a compilation CD Richard
Porteous and I created to feature many worthy, lesser
known Australian country artists.
Joan Douglas, Dobe Newton, Cheryl Byrnes at Cap
News and the legendary John Nutting were also of great
assistance in my early days of Australian exploration,
as was Trevor Smith. Anna Rose, was instrumental in
helping the Sister Cities initiative succeed with her
coverage. I could also always count on strong opinions
from country broadcaster Nick Erby and promoter
Rob Potts.
The tragic death of Potts will, I fear, impact ongoing
progress of a true two-way street between our country
music artists and community. He, the late Jeff Walker,
Dobe Newton, Bob Saporiti (retired from Warners),
Stan Moress (now sidelined by illness) and myself all
tried to build this boulevard. It’s sad that this dream
of expanded commerce between the Australian and
American country industries may founder but perhaps
Jeff’s daughter, Christy and son-in-law, Matt Watkins
and Rob’s son, Jeremy, can keep the fires burning.
At 73, I will ride into the sunset to focus on book
projects and trying to export tangible goods to a world
wanting virtual music. It’s been a lovely ride though,
and I will certainly miss these quarterly chances to keep
Country Update readers in the know. Thus, after sixtyodd columns and over 150,000 words, I wish I could
have completed that 2-way street but I gave it my best,
now it’s time to make like a tree . . . and leave.
The Yackandandah Report
Geoff Mack was my mentor for 25 years. I met him at
the City Lights caravan park in 1992 and we hit it off
immediately. To me, Geoff became a brother who was 50
years older than me. It was amazing how we never felt a
generation gap in our attitudes towards music and songs.
In this business of entertainment there are hurdles to
overcome now and again and many of them are from the
performers themselves – namely, pre performance anxiety.
This isn’t something I suffer from too much, thank goodness,
but when I’m doing a corporate comedy set I get a bit edgy
beforehand mainly because I’m often going into untested
waters; playing songs to a bunch of people who don’t know
anything about me and who may just want to talk. It was
at these times I would call Geoff; not for him advise me on
what to do, but just to hear him say that he’d been in that
situation and knew exactly how I was feeling. I really miss
being able to do that.
The things I learnt from Mack were the same things he was
taught years ago touring with Bartons’ Follies after WW2.
An old Irish tenor who was on the bill said to him, “It doesn’t
pay to specialize; do a bit of everything.”
And so Mack became a true show business utility man. He
helped set up the tent, put out chairs, played in the band,
performed solo, was a straight man to other comics and he
loved it all. He was taught the golden rules of the business
which included never turning your back to the audience,
no dead time on stage, making sure every word you sang or
spoke was heard in the last row, etc.
When I turned 21, Mack’s gift to me was a 90 minute tape
he recorded, strumming his old Gibson Super 400 (his
own 21st birthday present; it once belonged to well known
Sydney band leader in the ‘30’s, Harold Bloom) and he
talked and sang as he told me the story of his 22nd year and
beyond. It’s a story I have listened to countless times.
I think about our usual gig times now. My own show is
generally two one hour sets with a break. A pub gig is often
three sets. Mack played in a club in Germany after the war
where they played from eight at night til four in the morning.
They had ten minutes off every hour to arrange music and
half an hour off at midnight to eat. Now that’s a gig!
Amongst all the knowledge Mack passed on, I think the
most important is that “fame is fleeting”. All the big stars
he knew as a kid are mostly forgotten now. Of course, if
you become a legend, things are a little different but on the
whole, names can be quickly forgotten, especially now with
a “star” born every week on TV.
Fame is fleeting. There are a few messages in that and a good
one to remember is that as an entertainer, your main job is
to entertain, not to get famous. But then again, I guess that’s
easy for me to say with my level of fame... well known in the
bottle shop, Foodworks, Yackandandah.
I had a great day with Mack the last time I saw him. I was
coming back from the Music In The Mulga festival out of
Eulo, QLD and took the opportunity to spend a day with
Mack and his gorgeous wife, Tabbi, herself a wonderful
performer in years gone by, and another of my inspirations
in the business. We talked gags, guitars, travel and stars; the
usual fare.
Tabbi told the story of the time she was at a club in London
and Danny Kaye made a visit. He did a song and got the
whole audience singing and waving while he made his exit
out the front door. The crowd was too busy waving and
singing to hassle him as he got into the car waiting out
the front. Mack sang me a few little snippets of songs he
remembered from the old days on the road. Although his
voice was crackling, the enthusiasm and timing were still all
there in his delivery at 94 years of age. I was amazed at how
sharp he stayed right to the end.
I played Dorrigo Folk and Bluegrass Festival recently. It was
my first time there, and I certainly hope it won’t be my last
because it is now on my list of favourite festivals. I sang an
old song from the thirties that Mack taught me. It’s a great
old song that was sung by Hoagy Carmichael called ‘Huggin’
and Chalkin’ and it lay them in the aisles- not because of me,
but because of how it was written. I’ve heard old recordings
of shows Geoff and Tabbi did and the laughter was huge.
It’s one of the best sounds in the world. I hope it never ends.
RIP, my brother, Geoff Mack.
Amber will release her new kids
album for a dinkum Aussie
Christmas to get all the kids singing
and dancing around the barbeque
with these distinctly Australian
“Christmas is “the best day of the
year”, and with the arrival of more
nieces and nephews in my life, it
just gets better every year for me.
So I wanted to celebrate that with
an album of uniquely Australian
Christmas songs. I wanted to make
music that will become a part of
the great Aussie backyard family
Christmas! It was a heap of fun to
write, record and perform these
11 brand new songs!” said Ms
Over the past three years, Amber
has successfully created an alter
ego – in the form of her ‘Kids
Gone Country’ character. With
the viral success of ‘My Big Mack
Truck’, ‘In My Belly’ and ‘My
Grandma’ Amber is back with the
next chapter. ‘My Big Mack Truck’
clocked up over 1.3 million video
views on social media with a big
reach and reaction in the US, UK,
Germany, Norway and Switzerland.
Featuring 11 original songs
specifically detailing an Australian
Christmas, there’s the fun – ‘Aussie
Aussie Christmas’, ‘Swimming
pool’, a bluesy tune, featuring a
kazoo solo ‘I like Christmas’, a
song featuring animals at their
‘Animal Christmas Do’ and the
autobiographical– ‘My Aunty is the
Fun One on Christmas Day’. Make
no mistake, this album is not just
for kids. It’s a feel good Christmas
album, that will make you feel
proud of the unique way we Aussies
celebrate Christmas, make you
laugh and no doubt make ex-pat
Aussies homesick.
Dean Brody has an impressive
list of accolades to his name, 16
Canadian CM Awards and two
Junos and recently at the 2017
CCMA Awards he won Songwriter
of the Year and Top-Selling Single
of the Year with ‘Bush Party’.
Just as the title of the album
indicates, the new record is a
fascinating mashup of Brody’s
range of musical preferences,
best epitomized by the title track,
‘Beautiful Freakshow’. From the
pop-meets-country vibe of ‘Bush to
touching reggae number ‘Beautiful
Girl’ with echoes of traditional
country, to the dynamic duet,
‘Little Blue Volkswagen’ featuring
Sarah Blackwood, to the footstomping, country feel of ‘Soggy
Bottom Summer’ featuring Alan
Doyle, there is truly something
for everyone on this record, and
nothing to alienate any sector
either, as it is all fine fodder for the
ears. Brody’s ability to tell stories
with genuine feeling and flair flows
throughout. This collection will
take it’s place firmly with earlier
four albums: Trail in Life, Dirt,
Crop Circles and Gypsy Road. Brody
will return to Australia to the joy of
many fans already cultivated here,
for CMC Rocks Qld in March.
Brisbane/Gold Coast bluegrass
outfit Owl Valley Bluegrass have
been slowly toiling away for the last
few years building a reputation in
their home state and more recently
venturing further afield via the
festival circuit, a few pub and club
gigs and pretty much wherever
anyone is willing to soak up some
good quality acoustic music. With
a wealth of experience between
them Stewart Porter guitar/vocals/
harmonica, Rob Davis banjo/
accordion/vocals, Dan Kerin fiddle/
guitar mandolin/vocals, Mark
Webber double bass/vocals and
Geoff Wright Dobro/mandolin/
vocals figured it was time to bite the
bullet and commit their fine work to
tape (or to be more precise, digital
code) and offer it up for all to enjoy.
With the help of master musician/
producer Rod McCormack this
talented combo headed down into
enemy territory to record their
debut album at the McCormack’s
studio on the Central Coast of
NSW and other than a few blisters,
lost picks and broken strings
there were no reports of major
casualties. The resulting album is
a real treat, featuring a wealth of
spirited picking and fiddling, and
a mixture of both old and new
tunes; the traditional ‘New River
Train’ and banjo staple ‘Big Sciota’
and instrumentals ‘Fire on the
Mountain’ and ‘Clinch Mountain
Backstep’ sitting comfortably
alongside Bill Munroe’s ‘Uncle
Penn’ and The Dillards ‘Old Home
More recent offerings
include the Mark Knopfler penned
Railroad Worksong
on the Railroad’) and ‘The Ozark
Mountain Daredevils’ ‘Standing
on a Rock’. There’s something
for everyone here, bluegrass fans,
folk freaks and old time country
aficionados. Kim Cheshire
troubadour who cut his teeth
in Sydney’s heaving punk scene,
Brisbane-based Paddy McHugh
is a musical traveller with a gift
for weaving a penetrating yarn.
follow-up to Trials & Cape
Tribulation (2014) is an unflinching
storytelling masterwork enveloped
in the grittier, seamier textures
of Sydney – courtesy of so many
loping country-punk rhythms
and low-slung guitars. Traversing
the human condition, McHugh’s
narrators kick against the pricks of
Australia’s first city: the bitter sting
of poverty amid the hardscrabble
contest for living space (‘City
Bound Trains’); the shameful
systemic disadvantage and neglect
endured by Indigenous Australia
(‘Meanwhile In Wilcannia’), and
hangovers and come-downs of all
kinds (‘Held Back Your Hair’). From
the fatalism of ‘Down to Sydney’ to
the note of proud defiance struck
by roots jaunt ‘Sean McDonough’
– the tale of an Irish convict bolter
finding accommodation with
local Indigenous peoples – it’s an
album of engrossing vitality, raw
immediacy, and rare insight. Gareth
The sixth studio outing from
Adelaide-raised, L.A-based singersongwriter and actor Lo Carmen
reprises the woozy, spell-like quality
of preceding LP Everyone You Ever
Knew (Is Coming Back To Haunt
You). Recorded in Nashville and
featuring a cast of supporting
players whose credits include work
with, variously, Jason Isbell, Lana
Del Rey, and Kacey Musgraves –
along with a guest vocal spot from
folk icon Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy
(‘Sometimes It’s Hard’) – Lovers
is a gorgeous, narcotic dose of
country-soul alchemy. ‘Lovers
Dreamers Fighters’ sways along
like a knot of spellbound couples
haunting a honkytonk dancefloor
at 2:00am, as Carmen exhales
her vaporous incantation into
the ether with accompaniment
from spindly mandolin and sparse
drums. Mantled in alternately
shivering and sighing pedal steel
and fiddle, and recalling a serene
and introspective Nikki Lane
filtered through a benzodiazepine
twilight, Carmen glistens like the
eponymous adornments of the
wonderful ‘Rhinestones in the
Rain’. Gareth Hipwell
Here, Lucinda reimagines her
1992 classic, Sweet Old World in a
re-recording which includes fresh
arrangments, additional lyrics and
bonus tracks.
3rd track on the 1992 version of
Sweet Old World, ‘He Never Got
Enough Love’ is transformed with
additional verses, new sound and
new title, ‘Drivin’ Down A Dead
End Street’, which was the song’s
original title.
The arrangements are tighter and
rawer than the original and feature
Williams’ fantastic touring/studio
band: guitarist Stuart Mathis,
bassist David Sutton, and drummer
Butch Norton. Guitarist Greg Leisz,
who actually participated in the
early sessions for the 1992 album,
adds his masterful playing to the
new recordings. If re-recording an
entire studio album was not already
an unprecedented move, Williams
and company chose to re-record the
four tracks that were not included
on the original release. This Sweet
Old World features new versions
of ‘Factory Blues,’ ‘Dark Side of
Life’, John Anderson’s ‘Wild and
Blue’ and the John Leventhal/Jim
Lauderdale penned ‘What You
Don’t Know’.
Album number two from Sydney’s
premier Mexicali ensemble is a
fatalistic journey into the desolate
dustbowl, Old West, and borderland
frontier – and into certain fearful
corners of the human soul (see
the circling ravens of ‘Along the
Line’). Opener ‘Low Down Jimmy’
bursts onto the mesa-studded scene
with a blast of Mariachi horns and
percussive acoustic strumming,
while ‘Annie Get Your Gun’ is a
standout saddle-sore western plaint,
and the whistling intro of ‘The Tale
of Suzie Lee’ lends an unmistakably
Morricone tenor to proceedings,
giving way to mounting urgency
in the face of so much desolation.
There’s ample ominous, foreboding
atmosphere throughout, all carried
by forlorn pedal steel (‘Still Got
Gold’) and mournful horns.
Couched by sounds ranging from
the sinuous Mexicali strains of
‘Federales Fight’ to the locomotive
rollick through the mesquite of
‘Bordertown Train’, lead singer
Andy Meehan and co-conspirator
Maggie Raven relate their sepiatinted tales with palpable, almost
airless resignation. Gareth Hipwell
Up and coming country singer
and song writer Angus Gill releases
this outstanding debut album
previewed by his current chart hit
‘Roadworks’. At 19 years old Gill
is already making waves as a fan
favourite at Tamworth and other
festivals, and was a grand finalist in
2017 Toyota Star Maker.
The album has been written by
Angus and Australian country
music royalty including Adam
Harvey, Gina Jeffreys, Luke O’Shea
and Kevin Bennett. Angus has also
lovingly shaped and created all
13 tracks at his Hot Plate Studios
in Wauchope, NSW. The album
features Angus teaming up with
Kevin Bennett and Amos Morris
on ‘Staring Out The Back of a Car’
dealing with the tragedy of the
Stolen Generation, and duets with
Adam Harvey on ‘P Plater’, which
combines both Angus and Adam’s
sense of humour. Gill has cultivated
some fine mentors in a short career,
having toured or co-written with
The Black Sorrows, Mental as
Anything, Glenn Shorrock (Little
River Band), Sara Storer, Troy
Cassar-Daley, Rick Price, Karise
Eden, Adam Harvey, Felicity
Urquhart and Gina Jeffreys.
He has also co-written a music
education anthem with Harry
Angus (The Cat Empire) and
John Foreman, which was sung
by over half a million primary
and secondary school students
A gripping and evocative collection
of 12 stories in song from the
masters of the form, Tex, Don and
Charlie. More than a decade has
passed since the trio’s last album,
2005’s All Is Forgiven and their
spectacular 1993 debut Sad But
Bookended by a pair of Don and
Tex duets (the muscular ‘What I
Am’ as the opener, the ridiculously
empathetic and beautiful ‘How
Good Is Life’ to close proceedings)
with the two of them alternating
singing duties on the remaining
Charlie’s masterful guitar work.
The album’s lead track, Tex’s ‘A Man
In Conflict With Nature’, is darkly
hilarious – sketching the kind of
loose, uninhibited character your
grandmother warned you against:
the layabout who, after a winning
tip at the dogs, celebrates with
“three hookers and some sushi”.
The song ‘Here’s As Good As
Anywhere’ is an older, wiser, more
calibrated view of the world that’s
on offer, conceiving the album’s
title: “You don’t know lonely/Till
you’ve looked back down the road/
From one more town/Knowing
she’s no longer there/And here’s as
good as anywhere.”
Lead single, ‘One,’ is a slow love
song that may sound familiar, as
it was previously made famous by
country legends George Jones and
Tammy Wynette. Other standout
songs include the title track, written
by Vincent. When Vincent and
Singletary were first trying to think
of a title, American Grandstand
stood out, which by definition is
“to behave or speak in a way that
is intended to impress people and
to gain public approval.” This
isn’t Vincent’s first venture into
country music, as her previous
Grammy-nominated studio album
Only Me featured a combination
of six traditional country songs
and six bluegrass tracks, inc ‘We
Must Have Been Out of Our
Minds,’ which earns a rerun here.
Add ‘After The Fire Is Gone,’
‘Slowly But Surely’ and if you love
traditional country music, and
remember songs originally sung
by well-known duet partners like
George Jones and Tammy Wynette,
Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn,
and Merle Haggard and Bonnie
Owens, this is a must-have CD.
Wynonna and Naomi Judd made
musical history throughout their
career receiving eight Gold and
eight Platinum records, 20 million
sales and twenty Top 10 hits
between1984-1990. Curb now
brings fans the ultimate collection
of those years together. The Judds
– All-Time Greatest Hits boasts
each of the twenty classic hits that
helped to make them a household
name. Some things just get better
with time - beginning with 1984’s
‘Mama, He’s Crazy,’ ‘Grandpa Tell
Me About The Good Old Days,’
‘One Man Woman’1985 Single of
the Year ‘Why Not Me,’ through
1991’s ‘One Hundred and Two,’
up to ‘You Can’t Go Home Again
(Flies On The Butter),’ from 2011.
The duo dominated like none
before netting nine CMA Awards
and seven straight ACMs at the
height of their career.
Good Day.’
That same positivity infuses the
Bruce Hornsby-evoking ‘Stories to
Tell’ with a sense of how powerful
every single person’s narrative is.
This album celebrates the family
man, dedicated to his two sons,
9-year-old Takoda and 3-year-old
Ryker, and new daughter Trulee
Nanette, born in June, with
wife Sara. Lead single, ‘Boy’ is a
charming tribute and his sons also
appear in its’ video. 15 tracks that
take the listener to church, school,
home and out on a Saturday night.
They brim with wide-open
emotional vocal performances,
built on a bedrock of thick grooves,
squalling guitars, tumbling drums
and sheets of steamy B-3 organ. The
album’s big, bold, yet immediately
accessible sound is sure to please
fans of country gold but it also
boasts a newfound simplicity to
tracks like the real life ‘Songs In The
Kitchen,’ the soul-searching ‘What
Keeps You Up At Night,’ and selfrecognizing ‘I Don’t Smoke,’ which
scrapes Brice’s musical bone and
features guitars by Warren Haynes.
Music seems genetically hard-wired
into ‘that guy in the neighbourhood
everybody knows and loves’. It’s
what gives ‘The Locals’ its’ sense of
enjoying the ones who are happy
right where they were born and
raised – and captures the positive
outlook in the face of adversity that
tempers those facing life’s greatest
challenges on the loping ‘Have a
At only 32 years old, country music
star Chris Young has already had
an enviable and prolific career,
giving fans six studio albums in 11
years. Young knows his game, how
not only can he expertly handle a
ballad, but that he realizes slowburning tunes are his forte, that a
mid-tempo song is his sweet spot.
Melodic and relaxed, Young never
raises a sweat not even when the
amps are cranked, as they are on
the title track and ‘Radio and the
Rain.’ Everything on the album
is an accessory to the song, and
that includes Young’s vocals. He’s
sensitive and shaded, keeping his
eye on the melody, but he leans
into certain phrases so he can
emphasize a number’s emotional
power. It’s a subtle skill that suits
this soft music, an album that
doesn’t make a big deal of its craft
but succeeds precisely because of
the work behind the scenes. Every
element of Losing Sleep unfolds so
easily, it feels inevitable, and it’s so
polished it can seem like nothing
but mood music, but repeated plays
reveal that this endures because
the songs work their way into the
Dire Straits frontman Mark
Knopfler is among the many
respected musicians who will be
featured on Australian acousticguitar whiz Tommy Emmanuel‘s
next studio album which showcases
a variety of duets between
Emmanuel and artists he knows,
or artists who’ve inspired him.
Knopfler plays on a song titled
‘You Don’t Want to Get You One
of Those,’ which he also wrote.
Emmanuel says this duet was
inspired by their mutual love of
country music guitar great Chet
“This song that Mark wrote
captured Chet’s sense of humor so
well and I had the time of my life in
the studio with him conjuring ‘The
Master’ as we laid it down,” Tommy
Among the many other contributors
is ex-Jefferson Airplane guitarist
Jorma Kaukonen, former Allman
Brothers Band member Jack
Pearson and frequent Jerry Garcia
collaborator David Grisman. The
record also includes a unique
reworking of Jimi Hendrix‘s ‘Purple
Haze’ featuring Dobro master Jerry
Emmanuel describes Accomplice One
as “this great journey through so
many of the worlds I’ve inhabited
through the years...playing with old
friends, new friends, heroes, people
I’ve been like an older brother to…
and musically to jump around from
bluegrass to jazz to blues to just pure
songs, it’s like going to the world’s
greatest buffet and picking out all
my favourite meals.”
Delivering on the promise of her
2016 debut ‘Midwest Farmer’s
Daughter,’ – an album that took her
from country underdog to breakout
star - Price raises the stakes offering
12 new, original songs that explore
long nights and hard days, wild
women and cocaine cowboys, politics
and sexism, with plainspoken poetry
and cutting insight.
Real-deal country music may be
the most prominent touchstone
on ‘All American Made,’ with the
genre’s éminence grise Willie Nelson
dueting with Price on the heartstopping ‘Learning to Lose,’ but
touches of classic soul and R&B
inform many of the arrangements
here, fusing two of Tennessee’s
greatest musical exports. The funky
‘Do Right By Me’ grooves with
gospel legends The McCrary Sisters
on backing vocals, and the driving
‘A Little Pain’ features sweeping
orchestration by Memphis legend
Lester Snell (the man responsible for
the string arrangements in ‘Shaft’).
Live in No Shoes Nation is a
29-track album and collects live
highlights from Chesney’s various
tours, stretching back to 2007’s Flip
Flop Summer tour. Among the guests
on the album: Taylor Swift, Dave
Matthews, and Grace Potter.
Among the track list is ‘Big Star’
with Taylor Swift, who opened for
Chesney on that 2007 Flip-Flop
Summer Tour.
You can hear the crowd roaring
in Nashville when Chesney yells
out, “This song is about a girl who
had a dream and followed it and I
know from living in this town for
so many years that there’re a lot of
girls in the audience tonight with a
lot of dreams in their head.” Chesney
launches into ‘Big Star’ by himself
before Swift entrees for the second
verse - what is now a throwback to
her country roots after her decision
to go pop.
Apparently, Chesney first met Swift
at an airport when she was an
unsigned teenager. Years later, Swift
decided to surprise him at a show as a
thank you. “She surprised me on my
birthday and we were able to capture
that moment for this record,” said
The album also features Eric Church,
Mac McAnally and Old Dominion.
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Country Update, journal
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