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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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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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/

CMAA ANNOUNCES FIRST EVER ‘ACADEMY X’

JANUARY 9 & 10, 2021

ONLINE EDUCATIONAL EVENT TO FEATURE SUPERSTARS AND LEADERS OF THE COUNTRY MUSIC INDUSTRY

Registrations open now at www.academycountrymusic.com.au.

The Country Music Association of Australia Inc. is proud to announce the first ever ‘Academy X’ online educational event to take place Saturday, January 9 and 10, 2021. The Academy X program will feature superstars and leaders of the country music industry giving students invaluable information on various aspects of the music industry, including songwriting, record labels, publishing, management, festivals and touring, recording, performance, video production and media strategies. There will be a focus on resilience, innovation and mental health in a post-COVID world.

The two-day course will feature key note presentations by country music superstars Troy Cassar-Daley, Brooke McClymont, Kasey Chambers, Beccy Cole, Shane Nicholson, Amber Lawrence, Fanny Lumsden and Caitlyn Shadbolt along with industry leaders including Matt Fell (award winning producer, Love Hz Studio), Julz Parker (award winning producer), Dan Biddle (artist manager and CMAA chairman), Natalie Waller (ABC Music and Events head and CMAA vice-chair), Duncan Toombs (award winning video director, The Filmery), Geoff Bell (agent and promoter, Laing Entertainment) and Simon Johnson (multi-instrumentalist and producer, Hillbilly Hut), as well as Support Act with a presentation on mental health and resilience in the music industry.

Group leaders and mentors for the students will include award-winning artists Lyn Bowtell, Dobe Newton, Roger Corbett, Catherine Britt, Amber Lawrence, Lachlan Bryan, Ashleigh Dallas, Kevin Bennett, David Carter, Jayne Denham and Mickey Pye and they will provide the intensive hands on experience that has been an integral part of The Academy for so long.

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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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