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

Inspirational Sunday

AS MUCH as I love the festival, today it stepped up a notch with a chat with the always lovely Luke O’Shea and the Toyota Star Maker Grand Final in Bicentennial Park.
Earlier today, I sat down to have a chat with Luke about his work with Defence Care as an ambassador with Amber Lawrence, and about his three finalist placings in the CMAA Country Music Awards of Australia. Australian country music is full of so many talented and intelligent singer-songwriters and Luke would have to be up there with the best of them. These artists are not afraid to shy away from the big issues in the world and the things that matter to them, personally, and affect everyone in the nation. They are a major inspiration to this little country journo.luke-cruisin-country-bec Continue reading

Family-friendly festival fun

TODAY was one of the best days at the Tamworth Country Music Festival I have had.
It began with the announcement of the Broadcasters Hall of Fame and Hands of Fame inductees at the Australian Country Music Hall of Fame. Brendon T.Moylan and Floreena Forbes were inducted into the Broadcasters Hall of Fame and Amber Lawrence, The Davidson Brothers, Ginger Cox and Gary Ellis.img_2023 Continue reading

And the rain tumbles down

TAMWORTH is not known for it’s wet climate, but the weather gods made camping, outdoor concerts and street busking as uncomfortable as they could today as storms and rain streamed into town quicker than caravanners.

After working this morning, we braved the downpours and headed to Peel St to check out what the buskers had to offer this afternoon. However, there were only a few who decided to play in all weather conditions. Although there wasn’t a lot of music to be had at times, the city is full of people coming to soak up the country music atmosphere and we have it in droves.


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The festival begins – bring on Tamworth

IT’S my favourite time of the year of the year again, so I’m bringing back the daily blog. I hope that’s okay with everyone.

If we haven’t met before, in person, through my writing or digitally, I am a country music journalist who lives in Tamworth, Australia’s Country Music Capital. For 13 years I worked for the local daily paper and for the past decade I was the country music writer there. This is my first Tamworth Country Music Festival for more than 10 years that I haven’t been reporting on it for the paper, so here we are doing it electronically. The paper is still around, never fear, and a new team is bringing you all the news there.

I’ll be bringing you as much news as I can via The Country Journo website, Country News Snippets weekly newsletter and this daily blog.

For those visiting Tamworth, welcome, and for those who aren’t here in the best city in the world, then I hope I can bring a bit of Tamworth onto your computer screens during the 10 days of the country music festival.


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Country comes to town

THIS is just a quick blog to firstly apologise for being so slack of late. It’s been a long time between drinks for this journo and I haven’t kept up the blog as I’d planned, but we’re baaack.

It’s an exciting time for Australian country music as we gear up for the Tamworth Country Music Festival – it’s less than a fortnight away! Can you believe that? It’s always been my favourite time of the year and I haven’t missed one since 1991.


CMAA Academy of Country Music director Lyn Bowtell. Photo: Rebecca Belt

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All good country things…

THE time that I’ve dreaded for months has finally come – the last day of Cruisin’ Country 6 on board The Legend of the Seas. It has been a whirlwind mini-Tamworth Country Music Festival at sea and I’ve loved every minute of the music on offer.img_9579
Last night Adam Brand rocked the boat with his flavour of country and left the audiences wanting more after both his shows. Although he hadn’t been feeling the best with rough weather making the ship a little more rocky than we would like, Adam put on a show like no other. A few highlights included when he brought Drew McAlister and Travis Collins on and, together with his bass player Matt Cornell, The Outlaws performed a track from their album and the crowd stood as he performed The Anzac, which was a beautiful moment.img_9633
I’m a big boot fan, as anyone who knows me is well aware, and Adam had my favourite pair of boots on last night. The special thing about these boots is that they look white, but under stage lighting they become silver! I know, I get excited about small things, but I love those boots.
Today is bittersweet as we continue our journey back to Brisbane and back to real life. However, real life just means more country music for me these days, so it’s not that bad, is it? My husband has just informed me there is 4060metres of salt water between us and the bottom of the Coral Sea right this moment… that scares me just a little! Anyway, I digress (again).img_9563
So far we’ve enjoyed the sounds of Roo Arcus, Jasmine Rae, Tori Darke, Lyn Bowtell, Innocent Eve, Aleyce Simmonds, Luke O’Shea, Paul Costa and Beccy Cole. img_0507Yes, that’s just today! It’s only 3pm and we still have a plethora of shows to go including the massive finale with all the headliners and a heap of other artists doing a song each and then a huge song at the end of the show.img_9433
This will be my last entry from the ship, but I’ll do a wrap up either Monday or Tuesday when I return to reality in Tamworth, the country music capital. There is so much country music news about to hit that it’s going to be like a cyclone.img_0533
If there are any topics you’d like me to cover, please send me an email: or contact me on social media. Thanks for reading.

Making musical memories

I DON’T want to bring the mood down, but would like to start by acknowledging the death of Hugh McDonald after his courageous battle with cancer. He passed today leaving a great musical legacy.
Another sea day for day seven has stretched before us after a night partying with Beccy Cole and other artists. img_8916
Beccy headlined day six with her show in the That’s Entertainment Theatre where she was joined by the Cruisin’ Country Orchestra or, as she renamed them for the night, Sexual Chocolate, featuring her partner Libby O’Donovan on piano. I haven’t laughed so much on board as I did last night. Beccy just knows how to put on a show. img_8984Her concerts are never just a country music concert; they offer something more and she pushes herself each time and you’re never going to get bored no matter how many times you see her perform. It featured plenty of wonderful country music, a duet with Melinda Schneider, show tunes in a musical face-off with Libby in her amazing boots (if they go missing on the cruise, I know nothing about it), and a healthy serving of humour and jokes. Laughter is the best medicine, after all, so we are all fit and healthy today after that helping of humour.img_9043
Today has been much smoother sailing which has meant I could get out and hear plenty of music. Paul Costa began the day in the Centrum with six decks of fans watching him. There was a massive line-up for the autograph session with all the artists this morning with fans meeting their favourite artists for two hours in the main restaurant. Following that I interviewed 8 Ball Aitken, The Hillbilly Goats, Lyn Bowtell, and Roo Arcus about the cruise and what they’ve got planned for the Tamworth Country Music Festival and beyond for 2017.img_9151
8 Ball then played the Centrum, which was packed and Jasmine Rae performed at the same time on the Pool Deck, which was bathed in sunshine today and the perfect setting for a show at sea.img_9270 A walk-up show uncovered plenty of wannabe artists and poets during the day in the Centrum and Libby O’Donovan took her powerhouse vocals to the Pool Deck for the afternoon.img_9316
Roo Arcus then provided the pre-dinner tunes in the Centrum and Adam Brand is headlining tonight as the end of the cruise draws closer and our thoughts turn to reality and life back on dry land… we are all going to miss our country music family.