Just when you thought COVID had ruined your chances to have fun in early 2021, Matt Cornel is sailing in with the perfect antidote – a harbour cruise and his famous Mojito Club.
Cornell is known for his top-notch musicianship, connection with his audiences, and his ridiculously fun harbour cruises with the next one locked in for March 20.
Featuring special guests, Baylou, the music will be pumping for four hours (as will the food, included in the ticket price) from 7pm, with the refreshments flowing and there’ll be as much COVID-safe fun to be had, as music lovers can handle.
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.
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?”
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.”
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.
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.