Benny Allen continues award-winning run

Victorian singer-songwriter Benny Allen has continued his award-winning run at the Australian Country Music People’s Choice Awards.

Although he couldn’t be at the Tamworth Country Music Festival this year, Benny will have a treasured memento from January, taking out the award for Best Bush Ballad with his single, The Battle of Point Nepean.

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Ian Burns – Tamworth awards haul

Ian Burns has proven his talents and popularity in the Australian country music scene this month, taking home two awards at the Tamworth Country Music Festival.

Kicking off in style, Macarthur singer-songwriter won the Tamworth Songwriters Association Local Heroes Song of the Year for Think Again, co-written with Mary V I Harrison and David Carter. Ian then added to his Tamworth accolades, winning Best Male Vocal in the 2021 Australian People’s Choice Awards.

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The Bushwackers given highest Australasian country music honour

The Bushwackers have plenty to celebrate during their Golden Jubilee year after being inducted into the Australasian Country Music Roll of Renown.

The much-loved lively Australian bush band were recognised for their contribution to Australian country music at the Golden Guitars Awards in Tamworth on Saturday, January 23, with front men Dobe Newton and Roger Corbett overcome with emotion at the announcement.

Dobe Newton OAM and Roger Corbett of The Bushwackers were honoured at the 2021 Golden Guitar Awards, being elevated to the Australasian Roll of Renown. Photo: Tamworth Country Music Festival
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Golden duo for Luke O’Shea

Thirteen is lucky for some, and for Luke O’Shea, it’s brought plenty of gold his way at the 49th Country Music Awards of Australia in Tamworth.

The Sutherland Shire singer-songwriter picked up his 13th Golden Guitar on Saturday night, January 23, after winning Traditional Album of the Year and Heritage Song of the Year.

This marks O’Shea’s seventh win in Heritage Song of the Year and his first Album of the Year category Golden Guitar.

Fellow multi-Golden Guitar winning singer-songwriter Kevin Bennett shared the Heritage Song of the Year win with O’Shea, for their collaboration, Happy Australia Day, while O’Shea’s album, There In The Ochre, won Traditional Album of the Year.

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Entries open for Keppel talent search

Are you an up-and-coming music artist who’d love to perform at a country music festival in front of the cream of singer-songwriters?

The Green Brothers Country on Keppel Talent Search is open for entries for its second year in 2021. The competition kickstarted Country on Keppel 2020 in November this year with award-winning artists James Blundell and Matt Cornell among the judges.

Photo: Jakkii Fenlon

Mackay singer-songwriter Bella Mackenzie won the inaugural competition and encourages others to share in her experience.

“I would really encourage other musos to enter next year’s competition to not only have a goal to work towards but make friends within the music industry and take up the amazing opportunity to play at the beautiful Great Keppel Island,” she said.

“The competition was so great, really well-organised and the people involved were super supportive.

“The competition was really well selected, there was no clear winner and everyone did an amazing job so it was a great show to watch, let alone be a part of. Not to mention to amazing venue and scenery; it was beautiful – the perfect spot!”

Legendary country singer-songwriter James Blundell praised Bella’s performance, and said great music in an idyllic spot was a recipe for success.

“Talent quests are an interesting and potentially complicated program; too many entrants and a judging panel becomes fatigued and desensitised, and poor production, and the entrants are both disadvantaged and frustrated – all in all getting one to run smoothly is quite an art,” he said.

“This year’s Green Brothers Country on Keppel Talent Search bypassed all those pitfalls, and delivered a short list of exceptionally talented artists. Judges Matt Cornell, Bec Gracie, and myself were similarly inclined to comment that each artist was perfectly capable of taking out the quest but Bella McKenzie’s performance was a standout.

“What that means, is in a well organised snapshot of what contemporary Australian country music has to offer. The future is solid, and strong performances, strong songs, and a healthy, courteous attitude to fellow participants made it a joy to be part of.

“A high bar has been set for next year’s event, but as the festival gathers momentum, I’ve absolutely no doubt we’ll be seeing more and more exceptional talent taking to the stage.”

Singer-songwriter and instrumentalist Matt Cornell agreed Bella was a standout in this year’s talent search.

“I think it’s fair to say, country music is looking as healthy as ever, after seeing the talent pool at the recent Green Brothers Country on Keppel Talent Search,” he said.

“Every act was strong, but the eventual winner Bella Mackenzie really stood out! She has the star factor, she looked so confident on stage; this girl has a big future ahead of her.” 

Jeff Green from Green Brothers said the Rockhampton music store always wanted to support new talent coming through.

“It’s the up-and-coming stars that keep the whole music industry going and we would like to see the talent quest and festival grow for the benefits of tourism,” he said.

“It’s great for the Central Queensland area.”

The talent search is open now until April 19 to allow all potential contestants to get their entries in for a chance to perform at Country on Keppel 2021 with the competition running on Friday, July 16 at Great Keppel Island Hideaway.

Prizes include opening the festival on Saturday, July 17, and a Takamine guitar and hard case from Green Brothers.

Enter here: https://greatkeppelislandhideaway.com.au/talent-search-entry/

Follow/Like Country on Keppel on Facebook to keep up with all the festival news.

Country on Keppel bucks COVID cancellation trend – hailed major success

The second annual Country on Keppel, held November 13-15, 2020, was hailed a major success after doubling the 2019 patronage, in a year marred by festival cancellations.

Country music floated on the Capricorn Coast breeze as Country on Keppel kicked off on Friday, November 13 – one of Australia’s first music festivals following the COVID-19 shutdown of the music industry.

Country on Keppel featured an all-Queensland line-up starring James Blundell and Matt Cornell, with Caitlyn Shadbolt, Brad Butcher, SaltbushSIx, Jade Holland, Tony Cook, Anna Farquhar, and Louise James FX.

Great Keppel Island Hideaway hosted the festival in July 2019, but this year’s festival was postponed to November due to COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings. However, Country on Keppel is slated to return to July 16-18 in 2021.

Festival organiser Peter Blundell hailed the 2020 festival a “major success” against all odds.

“Although there was a lot of uncertainty this year due to COVID-19 restrictions and border closures, the 2020 Country on Keppel festival doubled its numbers from last year, with just over 400 music fans joining us at Great Keppel Island Hideaway,” he said.

“There aren’t a lot of other country festivals held on an island and the relaxed atmosphere of the festival means fans have access to the artists and everyone is here to mingle and have a fun weekend.

“Country on Keppel 2020 also demonstrated that festivals can proceed, with COVID-safe regulations in place.”

The artists enjoyed the chilled atmosphere that the island festival served up.

“Country on Keppel was such an amazing experience – one the most laidback and enjoyable festivals I’ve ever done,” Matt Cornell said.

The inaugural Green Brothers Country on Keppel Talent Search opened proceedings on Friday night, with Matthew Munro, Keely Sliwka, Bella Mackenzie, Rae Leigh, and Mitch Rolfe vying for the title.

Mackay singer-songwriter Bella Mackenzie, who is 15 years old, took home a new Takamine guitar and road case and opened Saturday’s festival line-up, as the winner.

The judging panel of award-winning and chart-topping artists James Blundell and Matt Cornell with country music journalist and publicist Bec Gracie, had the tough job of narrowing the strong field down to just one winner.

Bella, who hails from Mackay, said it was exciting performing in front of judges of the calibre of James Blundell and Matt Cornell, and was over the moon to be named the inaugural winner.

“Seeing all the people who just love country music like me, it was really cool to play to them,” she said.

“Country on Keppel is such a chilled vibe. All the artists are really supportive of each other. The festival is the best of both worlds with country and the beach.

“If anyone was thinking of coming to the festival or doing the talent quest, definitely do it – it opens up so many opportunities and it’s lots of fun to get to know the other people in the industry and learn from them as they perform.”

Bella, who released her debut single, Dance In The Rain, this year is recording new music and plans to release more songs next year.

Organisers are now confirming the line-up for July 2021 with another stellar procession of country stars guaranteed, and entries will open in the next few months for the talent search.

For information on tickets for 2021, call (07) 4939 2050 or visit: greatkeppelislandhideaway.com.au/country-on-keppel/

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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Luke O’Shea and Lyn Bowtell vie for golden trifecta

Luke O’Shea could add to his collection of nine Golden Guitars, after snagging three spots at today’s finalist announcement event in Sydney.

O’Shea released Sing Me A Story, a duet with Lyn Bowtell, in late September, his first release in three years and it is a finalist in APRA AMCOS Song of the Year, Heritage Song of the Year and Vocal Collaboration of the Year. He already has five Heritage Song of the Year Golden Guitars to his name.

The multi-Golden Guitar winner said he was grateful Sing Me A Story has connected so strongly with industry personnel and his country music peers.

“Lyn Bowtell and myself are so very grateful and super appreciative of the support our duet, Sing Me A Story, has received from all aspects of the Australian country music industry,” he said.

“It’s been a long time between drinks for me, personally, and the fact the leading single from my upcoming album has been able to connect with peers and audiences to this extent is very humbling and deeply satisfying.”

O’Shea wrote the song with Felicity Urquhart in front of other songwriters at The DAG Songwriter’s Retreat outside of Nundle and the single heralds a new album for the Sutherland Shire artist.

“A special thanks goes out to the wonderful Felicity Urquhart who I wrote this song with, out at the magnificent DAG Sheep Station Songwriters Retreat and also Sean Rudd who has worked tirelessly on it through it’s many ebbs and flows,” he said.

“It certainly inspires me to keep on keeping on with my aim of singing up this incredible country of ours and I cannot wait to share my upcoming album, There In The Ochre, with you all come the 2020 Tamworth Country Music Festival.”

Luke O’Shea at the announcement of the 2020 Golden Guitar finalists. Photo: Lisa Williams

Aaron Jurd and The Banned make Nambucca debut

AARON Jurd and The Banned have new songs to share with music lovers and they’re bringing them to Nambucca Heads on June 1.

This will be the first show on the North Coast for Jurd, who hails from Lake Macquarie and the bowls club audience is in for a treat.

“I’m so excited to play at Nambucca Heads Bowling Club with The Banned,” he said.

“I’ve just released my second single and I can’t wait to play it, my other originals and lots of people’s favourites at the show.”

Jurd’s single, Hard To Breathe, debuted in the top 20 iTunes Country Songs Chart on release day, April 12, and his debut single, Set me On Fire, charted at No. 5 on release in September last year. He will be performing these among his originals and everyone’s favourite country, rock and pop songs with musicians Carmel Smith and Ric Durand of The Banned.

As well as performing regularly in the Central Coast and Hunter Valley area, Jurd completed a short tour of the Riverina area in April, and is working hard to get his songs in front of new audiences. Aaron Jurd and The Banned have performed at the Tamworth Country Music Festival, country races and have just been announced for performances at the Deni Ute Muster, Bluewater Country Music Festival in Port Stephens and Hats off to Country in Tamworth coming up.

It’s not all about music for the singer-songwriter on this trip, as he plans to explore and embrace as much of the local area as he can on this visit.

“I haven’t been to Nambucca Heads before, but I’ve heard a lot about the area and how beautiful it is, so we will try to do some sightseeing while we are there,” Jurd said.

“I’m really looking forward meeting the locals and playing some songs for them.”

With a voice that leaves audiences raving about his performances and songs that make you want to get up and dance, you won’t want to miss this show at Nambucca Heads Bowling Club on Saturday, June 1.

Keep up-to-date with all of Aaron’s news on Facebook.

Tim McGraw headlines Deni’s 21st birthday celebrations

Australia’s iconic Deni Ute Muster turns 21 next year and organisers are thrilled to announce that international country superstar, Tim McGraw, will headline the event to be held on 4 and 5 October 2019. Tim McGraw has sold more than 50 million records and dominated the charts with 43 worldwide #1 singles. He’s won 3 Grammy Awards, 16 Academy of Country Music Awards, 14 Country Music Association Awards, 11 American Music Awards, 3 People’s Choice Awards and numerous other honours. He also starred in and narrated the hit movie “The Shack” as well as roles in “Friday Night Lights” and “The Blind Side.”
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Tim McGraw will headline the 21st Deni Ute Muster
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