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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McClymonts show their Endless talents

By Rebecca Belt

FRIDAY the 13th is a lucky day for country trio, The McClymonts in January 2017, as they release their latest album, Endless. The musical surprises are endless on this offering as they take listeners to an even fresher place in country than they’ve ever gone, while keeping the sound undeniably theirs.

mcclymonts-endless-coverOne-third of the sister trio, Mollie McClymont, spoke to The Country Journo about the making of the album and their upcoming trip to the 2017 Tamworth Country Music Festival. It’s been a massive 12 months for the trio welcoming another member to the family, with the birth of Mollie’s first child, Ned, to husband, Aaron Blackburn, and now the birth of a new album.
“We are so excited about this album,” she said. “It feels like it’s been a long time coming.”

Produced by Andy Mak, his experience with pop albums shines through, while Brooke, Sam and Mollie McClymont retain their country style.
“He plays a lot with his brother, so got the sibling harmony stuff and this was his first country album,” Mollie said. “We were looking for producers and looking for someone new and fresh. We all just clicked and had an instant connection.”

Mollie said, prior to the release, that any nerves she experienced were outweighed by the excitement of the new offering for fans.
“Personally, I think it’s our best album yet,” she said.

The youngest McClymont sibling said she had a few favourite tracks on Endless, but was attached to all of them.
“I really love Unsaveable because it really means something,” she said. “I loved ‘Like We Used To’ the first time I heard it. Brooke wrote it with other people and I played it on repeat because it is so catchy. I love not being a writer and hearing a song and instantly having a connection to it. It was instant love for me with that song.”


With Mollie and Brooke both being mothers now, Mollie said it had changed their outlook on life and influenced their writing.
“We wrote, Don’t Wish It All Away, about our children,” she said. “We were sitting around talking about how, when you have children, you can’t wait until they walk and talk, but this is the time we need to enjoy and just reflect on what’s going at the moment. It’s important to enjoy them and don’t miss anything – the kids were definitely an influence on the whole album because it does affect your outlook on life and your priorities in life. Family is important and makes your music better as well.”

Mollie admitted she was nervous about their Tamworth Country Music Festival show.
“We are going to be playing all these new songs and it’s such a huge show to start the year with,” Mollie said. “I’m excited to show people the new songs, though, and it’s going to be a huge Tamworth. We are so busy, but it’s a good way to start the year.”

Their Tamworth show on Wednesday, January 25 at 7pm with see them performing plenty of the new songs from Endless while not forgetting the favourites.
“It’s going to be high-energy,” Mollie promised.

The McClymonts will also perform at the CMAA Country Music Awards of Australia on Saturday, January 28 to finish off their festival commitments.
“It’s going to be awesome – we’ve got our dresses sorted and the girls will be my date,” Mollie said.

Following Tamworth, the girls will hit the road with shows promoting Endless until June and then, no doubt, they’ll add even more gigs to their calendar.


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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Keith Urban adds to Golden Guitars with Ripcord

INTERNATIONAL country music superstar, Keith Urban, has added to his Golden Guitar tally with the 2017 Sanity Top Selling Australian Album of the Year award.

Platinum-selling album, Ripcord, was the highest selling country selling album of the year based on sales figures complied by ARIA for 2016. This is the first time the award has been based on the ARIA figures and brings Keith’s Golden Guitar tally to 12.

His album finished the year at No. 2 overall with an unbroken run in the top 20 and held the top spot for two weeks on release.

keith-urban-ripcordRounding out the Top 5 top selling Australian country albums on the ARIA end of year Country Album chart are:
#2 Adam Brand & The OutlawsAdam Brand & The Outlaws
#3 John WilliamsonHis Favourite Collection
4 Troy Cassar-DaleyThings I Carry Around
#5 Graeme Connors60 Summers: The Ultimate Collection

The Sanity Top Selling Australian Album of the Year award will be presented at the 2017 CMAA Country Music Awards of Australia on Saturday, January 28 at the Tamworth Regional Entertainment and Conference Centre.

The Golden Guitar Awards are the nation’s longest running music awards and play a vital role in developing and promoting Australian country music talent.  The awards are the pinnacle event of the Tamworth Country Music Festival.keith-urban

Tickets are on sale now and available from, but if you can’t make it to Tamworth, be part of the awards with the Toyota Country Music Festival live stream at


Buddy Goode delights with More Rubbish

By Rebecca Belt
BUDDY Goode is back with another album of trashy music sure to tickle your funny bone. More Rubbish was released on Friday, December 16, and he has dedicated to the fans he has spoken to after shows and who have left comments on his Facebook page.
“Over the years, you tend to read Facebook and get lovely comments after the shows,” he said. “Some of the people think you’re rubbish, so I’ve dedicated this to the people who think I’m rubbish. Here is more rubbish.”more_rubbish_cover Continue reading

Beddingfield brings international flavour to Tamworth Country Music Festival

By Rebecca Belt
THE first weekend of the Tamworth Country Music Festival will have an international flavour with Eric Lee Beddingfield headlining CowboyUp.
The rodeo, ute and musical event is an initiative of the Australian Bushmen’s Campdraft and Rodeo Association (ABCRA) and is new to the festival next year. It will raise vital funds for the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service.cowboys
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Travis Collins helps launch Tamworth festival

By Rebecca Belt
SIX-TIME time Golden Guitar finalist Travis Collins was in Tamworth on Wednesday, December 7, to help launch the festival locally and speak about what it meant to him.
Collins said, to describe the festival as a family reunion was cliché, but there was no better way to explain it.
“It is like Christmas time when we call come home,” he said.
“We break bread and have beers and talk about what we’ve been doing and plan our year. If you took that out every January, then who knows what would happen to the whole country music industry. In business terms, it’s like our AGM.”img_0249

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Changes and new talent for Toyota Star Maker 2017

FANS of new talent will notice a few changes to the 2017 Toyota Star Maker event with the announcement of the ten grand finalists today.


2016 Toyota Star Maker Karin Page

Ten of Australia’s top emerging talent will vie for the honour of becoming the 38th Toyota Star Maker in a winner-takes-all, event in Toyota Park, in the leafy heart of Tamworth in January. The event has traditionally been the main feature of the first festival weekend, but this concert on Sunday, January 22, aims to make it an even more significant occasion.

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BREAKING: Gemma Kirby gets on her feet for dream tour

UPPING her fitness levels is on the agenda for Gemma Kirby as she prepares for the Get On Your Feet tour with Adam Brand.gemma
The semi precious opportunity for the rising country star to tour with Golden Guitar winner Adam came about after they met in Tamworth in January.
“I got the opportunity to co-host Festival FM and we got talking,” Gemma said.
“I’m a bit of a fangirl of Adam’s – he’s the only one in the industry that I get nervous around because I’ve pedestalled him my whole life. We got talking about truck driving and cars because I’m a bit of a rev head, too. Then a couple of months later I released Deceiving Eyes and he saw it. It’s a dream come true for me.”
Adam said she was an artist to watch.
“I met Gemma in Tamworth this year and after chatting to her I thought to myself, I’m gonna keep my eye on this one,” he said.
“There was just something so refreshing about her approach.”
Gemma said she was going to have work more on her muscle tone, though, because of how active Adam was on stage.img_9579
“We watched him at Eumundi Country Music Festival and he just bounces around all the time on stage,” she said.
“I’m going to be playing in a new band so I get to show off my side of music, but also my musical side again, so I’m doing charts again and will be playing alongside Adam.”
Gemma said they were a good match for a tour because they were both authentic artists and people.
“I’m really excited to share my music with people who love Adam,” she said.
“We are both honest and don’t have a very good filter – we say it like it is, and wear our hearts on our sleeves. I don’t have to be anyone other than myself – authentic Gemma and his fans love that.”
Gemma will return to the Tamworth Country Music Festival for her fourth time performing and will perform solo and with Adam on his January 28 show at Wests.gemma-kirby2
The tour announcement tops off a busy year for the rising country artist touring the Northern Territory and touring NSW this month. She will perform the Australian National Anthem at the PBR in Brisbane and Newcastle and will open Bindi Irwins’s school holiday shows at Australia Zoo next month.
Gemma will release a tour edition of her album Semi-Precious including a six-track DVD at the Tamworth Country Music Festival.
She plays The Royal Hotel in Scone on Friday, November 25, PBR Newcastle on Saturday, November 26, Quirindi RSL on Sunday, November 27, and the Grand Hotel in Mount Morgan on December 9.