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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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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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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Lindsay Ell offers healing and inspiration with new album, Heart Theory

A major health scare and opening up about sexual assault as a teenager makes for a moving album for singer-songwriter and guitar shredder Lindsay Ell.

You would be hard-pressed to find a more personal, heart-wrenching, and inspiring album than Heart Theory, released today, August 14.

Working through the seven stages of grief, this is a concept album best consumed from start to finish, rather than in bites.

“I was about halfway through writing this record when I realised I was writing these songs in the order of how I was feeling them,” Lindsay said.

“As human beings on the planet we go through transformation in our lives and I thought how cool would it be to write a record in order of the seven stages of grief.”

The singer-songwriter who knows how to shred a guitar with the best of them, works through grief from shock to denial and all the way down to acceptance, and opens up to her listeners as they travel the journey with her.

“I want to inspire them to go through this with me because I feel like the past three years, and particularly the last year, has been transformative for me,” Lindsay said.

“I had a massive health scare and finally wanting to talk about my story as a little girl, I’ve gotten to know myself – we always think we do, but we get to know ourselves deeper and deeper as we get older and there is such a beautiful quality in that.”

The Canadian artist, who now calls Nashville home, opened up about her rape at 13 years old, while visiting Youth For Tomorrow to launch their music program.

“I sat down with 12 other little girls and I told them my story and I heard them tell their stories,” she said.

“These are stories that are so horrific. This happens far more in our society than we want to realise and by not talking about it, we are allowing that shame and guilt to continue, but we can help each other heal and become strong through talking about it.”

Lindsay Ell at CMC Rocks 2019. Photo: Rebecca Gracie
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Adam Brand releases inspirational album, Speed of Life

If, like many of us, you’ve followed or been part of Adam Brand’s career over the past 20-odd years, you’ll know he’s always true to himself as an artist, and his latest album, Speed of Life, takes this even further.

This down-to-earth approach has won over thousands of supporters and this week Speed of Life sits at No. 1 on the ARIA Country Albums Chart and No. 6 on the ARIA Albums Chart.

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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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Cornell & Carr welcomes 2021 with first No. 1 Country Song

The new year is only hours old, but Cornell & Carr have made their mark already, topping two charts with their new single, What Kind Of World, released in the first seconds of 2021.

What Kind Of World hit No. 1 on the iTunes Country Songs Chart and No. 4 on the iTunes All Genres Songs Chart as the duo give 2020 the middle finger with this single released at the stroke of 12.01am on January 1, 2021.

What Kind of World is somewhat of a protest song from the Golden Guitar finalists Matt Cornell and Mike Carr, as they question what sort of world we have created and are leaving for future generations.

This single is the first release from the duo since July 2019, and they’ve come out of the blocks with a thought-provoking, ‘FU’ to the year that’s been.

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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.

Cornell & Carr welcomes 2021 with statement single

Cornell & Carr are making their mark on the year that was and giving 2020 the middle finger as they unleash their new single into the world at the stroke of midnight on January 1, 2021.

What Kind of World is somewhat of a protest song from the Golden Guitar finalists Matt Cornell and Mike Carr, as they question what sort of world we have created and are leaving for future generations.

This single is the first release from the duo since July 2019, and they’ve come out of the blocks with a thought-provoking, ‘FU’ to the year that’s been.

“It’s not particularly about 2020, but is reflecting on everything that’s been going on,” Mike said.

“It’s a song of reflection and a song of hope; it’s a look at how people adapt.”

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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/

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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