Country on Keppel keeps the music playing

Country on Keppel will get the party started in November with new dates, a revamped line-up, and a new headline artist.

Award-winning artist and musician Matt Cornell is the newest addition to the line-up to bring country to Great Keppel Island on November 13-15 in a COVID-safe manner.

Due to the uncertainty of COVID-19 border restrictions, festival organisers have had to postpone performances by Jasmine Rae, Johnny Taylor, Danny Phegan and Aaron Jurd as they would all have to travel from interstate.

Singer-songwriter and musician Matt Cornell wears a number of musical hats as a solo artist in his own right, one-half of Cornell and Carr, and as Adam Brand’s musical director and band member.

Country has not been his only musical home, either: for three years he was a member of iconic rock band The Baby Animals, and has been a member of Richard Clapton’s and Shannon Noll’s bands and has opened for artists including Richard Marx.

Matt is a multiple Golden Guitar and CMC Music Awards finalist and won a CMC Music Award for ARIA Award for Highest Selling Australian Artist with Adam Brand and The Outlaws and he’s keen to make his Country on Keppel debut in two months.

“It’s always exciting being involved with a new festival,” Cornell said.

“Country On Keppel is only in its second year and held in such a unique setting – who wouldn’t want to head to an island, drink cocktails, listen to country music and hang out with likeminded people?

“Do you feel like hanging out on Great Keppel Island with James Blundell, Brad Butcher and a bunch of my mates for some live music and some cold beer?”

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Benny Allen spreads bluegrass joy with Lady Luck and Me

In a time when we look to music for joy, Benny Allen’s new single has it in swagfuls, delivered in chart-topping banjo-laden foot-stomping bluegrass banger, Lady Luck and Me.

Benny’s new single debuted at No. 2 on release day, September 4, on the iTunes Country Songs Chart and the iTunes All Genres Songs top 40 Chart.

Anyone who’s come across the Melbourne singer-songwriter will know that Benny exudes positivity and a global pandemic and ensuing lockdown was not going to quash his creativity. He recorded the vocals for his last single, the Battle of Point Nepean, and this new track, remotely with producer and multi-instrumentalist Michael Carpenter in the producer’s chair putting the musical touches to them.

“I really wanted to put something out that was upbeat and positive,” Benny said.

“I generally put out positive songs, although what I tend to write comes out as sad songs and my daughter often asks why are my songs so sad? So, I had this idea of doing Lady Luck and Me as a bluegrass song.”

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Cornell & Carr’s COVID creativity

By Bec Gracie

Cornell & Carr have not let a global pandemic dampen their creativity and there’s new music on the way, following on from their debut album, We Go Way Back.

Before COVID-19 shut down the touring scene, the Golden Guitar finalists were slated to tour with Adam Brand, and had taken on management with Ian “Dicko” Dickson with major plans for the year, but Matt Cornell’s music plans were put on hold when Adam Brand had to take most of the year off for vocal surgery and rest.

“At that point, it was ‘what are we going to do now?’ because Cornell & Carr had the whole year put aside and then the whole world found out about this thing called Corona Virus,” he said.

“No one knew how serious it was going to be and I’d already lost other gigs with my Sydney 80s cruise and various other shows right there and then – they were gone.”

Matt, like other artists, spent time comprehending what this situation meant for his income and career plans in 2020.

“Being an independent artist, I’m always brainstorming with myself about where I could play and booking gigs and when it first hit, I didn’t know how to compute things until I was talking to Natalie Gauci and she said something that resonated with me. She said, ‘you’ve just got to surrender to this and you’ll be okay’ and it was like the weight of the world had been lifted.

“I had to stop living the way I lived, looking for work, promoting, thinking of ideas on how to promote shows and I just accepted it, then I was able to approach it with a completely different mindset.”

Photo: Tania Smith

Duo partner, Mike Carr, reiterated this, as he had Cornell & Carr touring plans, as well as a tour with Adam Harvey locked in and was compering all of CMC Rocks this year, but surrendered to the situation and his ARIA Award winning alter ego Buddy Goode embraced comedy to deal with it to help himself and keep his social media followers smiling in those initial dark days.

“I did my last gig on March 14 and it’s been a long time since I had this much time off, so it was a case of what do you do?” he said.

“For the first couple of weeks I was creating Wuhan Wuhan The Musical.”

Check out Buddy Goode on Facebook if you haven’t yet caught this musical masterpiece.

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BLOG: CMAA Junior Academy of Country Music celebrates

WEDNESDAY may be hump day in the rest of the world, but at the CMAA Junior Academy of Country Music, every day is a party and we’re on the downhill run to our amazing graduation concert at 7pm on Friday night at Calrossy Anglican School.

Everywhere you turn at the academy, there is music. There are small groups going over the songs they will perform that they may have written together, there is the band rehearsing their songs and learning charts and there are full-on rehearsals happening in the hall in preparation for one of the biggest nights of the students’ careers so far.

With rehearsals for the grad concert in full swing, the tension and nerves are almost palpable no matter where you go on campus, but it all makes for an amazing experience. This is all mixed with media interviews and today another four students appeared on radio with Jon Wolfe and Jodie Crosby. Continue reading

BLOG: CMAA Junior Academy of Country getting to pointy end

I’m a day late with this update, sorry. Day 4, Tuesday, was the biggest day at academy thus far. I can’t believe we’re halfway through already!

Tuesday brought with it more co-writing with Allan Caswell and Aleyce Simmonds as well as the group leaders and the students have been writing with their peers. I’m amazed at the calibre of the songs these young people are coming up with. I would find it very difficult to write a news story with someone else, let along pour my emotions or my story out into a song with someone else’s input. I am truly amazed by their talents. Continue reading

BLOG: CMAA Junior Academy of Country Music talent astounds

DAY 3 dawned in below zero temperatures as is the case at this time of the year in Tamworth, but the talent and music coming out of this CMAA Junior Academy of Country Music is hot, hot, hot.

The biggest news on the block was former student Judah Kelly’s win on The Voice. There were massive celebrations here last night in the boarding house, with cups of tea as it’s a dry academy.

Today we had the company of Allison Forbes again, along with fellow Tamworth artist Aleyce Simmonds and Allan Caswell was back in the writer’s hot seat. Joining us to chat about media and country music magazines was Country Music Capital News manager Cheryl Byrnes. Continue reading

BLOG: CMAA Junior Academy of Country Music Welcome

THE students, parents, group leaders and support staff members have moved in and the CMAA Junior Academy of Country Music is up and running. Coming from as far away as Western Australia and Tasmania, the students are in for a treat during their eight-day intensive course.

Excitement was high as they all arrived in Tamworth on Friday night and Saturday moved into their rooms at Calrossy Anglican School on Saturday morning. The students and parents all got to know each other on Saturday afternoon as the students ran through songs for the show on Saturday night at The Pub.

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Country music meets bowls

THE Wednesday of the Tamworth Country Music Festival saw me juggle publicity commitments for artists and defence, do an interview as I returned to being a journalist, write stories and play lawn bowls for the country music team against the Tamworth Regional Council mayor’s team.
It is a different look at the festival for me this year, after more than a decade of writing about it, and I’m loving the new perspective.
I spent time with the talented Adam Brand who has a surprise for his fans with his new album, which comes out in a couple of weeks. It’s upbeat and fun and encompasses everything that Adam is about.img_3234 Continue reading

Peel St – a must-see experience

Troy Cassar-Daley and Keith Urban busking on Peel St for charity... I was there and about 15. Photo: Northern Daily Leader

Troy Cassar-Daley and Keith Urban busking on Peel St for charity… I was there and about 15. Photo: Northern Daily Leader

TODAY, Tuesday, brought me a fairly quiet day in relation to shows and music. I spent most of the day in the CMAA office/ media centre writing and organising interviews, but I love that I can still enjoy the sounds of Peel St, or the Boulevard of Dreams.
Many people may think buskers are on Peel St because they can’t get a gig elsewhere, but that’s not always the case. For many, it is a starting point, but for others it is where they love getting in touch with their fans in the closest possible way – right at their level on the street at the mercy of the crowds. Continue reading

Fly, Doctor, Fly

TONIGHT’S blog post is dedicated to all those artists who take time out of their massive Tamworth Country Music Festival schedules to play at charity events for free. They expect nothing in return except the knowledge they are contributing to a worthy cause.
After a day on Peel Street and writing stories and press releases at the very warm media centre, I spent the evening at the Fly Doctor Fly fundraiser for the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
Tamworth’s own Brendan Nawrocki organised it after he and I both shaved our heads for the cause in October last year. He decided he could do more and he proved that in bucket loads tonight.img_2597 Continue reading