Totally Biased Fan Review: Airborne – Kalesti Butler


There are some people who pop up and surprise you out of the blue. When I first heard Kalesti, a few years ago, I had never heard of her or her music but from the first chords, she struck a chord….I immediately liked her and her music. Sometimes it takes some time to warm to an artist, but most of the time, I know pretty much straight away. It was like that with Kalesti. Now, I can’t sing or play but I have a sixth sense. She is a people’s singer….she sings songs that Aussie folks can relate to. She has a very down home style but at the same time, she is not a regular bush singer.

I have been looking forward to this album. She has a very unique approach to a traditional form of music.

Gees, you think that she could teamed up with some decent songwriters….joking – Luke O’Shea, Anita Ree, Rain Perry, Kevin Bennett, Roger Corbett, Cathy Dobson, Felicity Urquhart, lordy, girl, you can pull a crowd.  She even roped in her mum, Val.

The Songs:

You’re not the one – (Kalesti Butler, Roger Corbett, Cathy Dobson) – A good one to start the album off, a very bluesy, twangy song.

Ride Cowboy – (Kalesti Butler, Felicity Urquhart) – I can see the pale rider on his way through the hills. Yee Haa. Gotta love them thar cowboys.

Airborne – (Rain Perry) – I read up a bit on American folk music writer, Rain. I must check out more of her music. Pretty cool song.

Coat of Arms – (Kalesti Butler/Anita Ree) – My favourite song on the album. Very Australian, but just a wonderful ballad.

Fly High – (Kalesti Butler/Val Butler) – A real singalong song. Beautiful. Kalesti’s vocals are pure and strong on this one. A family song. Obviously heartfelt and it comes on strong. If I am on the radio on Friday, I am playing this one. Love it.

Love me now – (Val Butler) – Okay, tap those feet and  clap those hands. A very catchy little tune.

The secret’s in my eyes – (Kalesti Butler/Val Butler) – A beautiful song. One of those songs that make you sway.

Just down the Hall – (Lola Brinton/Kevin Bennett) – Anything from Kevin Bennett is always going to be good. Lola Brinton is a student of my hero, Mike Carr et al, so how can you go wrong? A rollicking song that is easy to use your air guitar to and listen to the words, folks.

The Way that I loved – (Luke O’Shea) –  Different kind of Lukie song and different kind of Kalesti song. Good to mix it up!

Dead Man’s Shirt – (Bob Wilson) – A song from The Goodwills, a bit of a different turn from them and a different tune for Kalesti too. It did remind me of my op shop purchases and also of a story I once wrote about a woman who wore her dead husband’s shirt for a while – part of the grief process.

Pump – (Kalesti Butler/Val Butler) – The pump, pump, pump reminds me of 8 Ball’s chomp, chomp, chomp, the modern yodelling reminds me of Melinda Schneider. Very cool way to end an album. Very catchy.

A great fusion between the old and the new. Kalesti is always good value, in gigs and on record. Do yourselves a favour.


Vocals: Kalesti Butler

Acoustic Guitar: David Francis

Bass, Baritone and Electric Guitars: Robert Mackay

Drums: Marty Smith

Banjo, Dobro and Pedal Steel: Mark (Doris) Moulynox

Backing Vocals: Garry Koehler and Felicity Urquhart

Extremely, Totally, Totally, Biased Fan Review – More than Meets the Eye – Aleyce Simmonds


Most people who know me – country music wise – know that Aleyce Simmonds is very special to me. I call her little buddy and she is one of my country music daughters. However, despite some extreme, intense non-objective opinions about my fellow Tamworthian, the gal has more talent in her little finger than a hall of fame from Nashville has in their vast hoard of veterans.

A couple of years ago, she cleaned up at Mildura but rarely gets the recognition that she deserves. Why? Hell knows. Heaven probably does too. If this album doesn’t get her a nod somewhere then I will give up this caper.

Life and country music isn’t really about awards though. It is about endurance, hard work and perseverance.  The quality of the music and those who deliver it with emotion, heart, soul and honesty are the ones who will still be around and will still be loved in 50 years time.

I predict that Aleyce will be one of those.

Aleyce has done a lot of the work for me on this one, giving me lots of liner notes for the songs, but some of it is between you and her when you read them, so I will take a leaf out of that book and put my own spin on it.

Aleyce always takes you on a rollercoaster ride with her albums. She writes from the heart, there is a piece of her in every line.


Defeated: (A Simmonds/J Edwards) –‘ This song is about domestic violence, addiction, anything or one that tries to keep us down’ but it should be called We won’t be defeated….as it actually urges people to rise above it and fight. The first single released and quite a powerful one.

Rejected: (A Simmonds/M Cole) – a real yee haa song, which is unusual for Aleyce, but it sounds great. Quite an up tempo song for Aleyce, but it is a beauty.

Stop the World: (A Simmonds/M Carpenter) – A song close to Aleyce’s heart and mine and all the friends and fans of Karl Broadie. Beautiful song written with one of Australian Country Music’s biggest rising stars, Michael Carpenter.

Just Like the First Time: (A Simmonds/Bleu) – This has finally made it to a record. Aleyce wrote this 10 years ago. It was worth the wait. Awesome song.

Learn To Sleep: (A Simmonds/KBeare) – The tale of a muso travelling alone.

Anchor: (A Simmonds): Up to track 6 and I have found my favourite song already. There are a couple of co-writes with Sir Allan coming up, so it may be usurped. Incredible song. Showcases Aleyce’s voice beautifully and I love the melody. The message in this song is important. Live, love, learn.

Only on my terms: (A Simmonds/A Caswell) – Yee Haa! I did some bootscooting in my living room. First time without my walking stick. The no more tears philosophy and the fiddle did the trick. I think that I might have to make this my theme song!

Last Word on My Lips: (A Simmonds/A Caswell) – Might have to change my mind again. What an extraordinary song. For Karlee, when she married Michael. Such a beautiful song. Aleyce, they need to bottle your voice. How amazing.

Some Things Never Change: (A Simmonds) – This album is packed with great songs. This is another one, written when Aleyce was staying in a backpackers in London.

More than meets the eye: (A Simmonds/K Broadie/K Pope) – I will let you read the liner notes for this one, but safe to say that Aleyce was asked to finish off a song that Karl had started to write with Kate Pope at the Academy. What a tough assignment, a truly lovely song and one that Karl would be smiling down on. Great job, kid. I can hear Karl between the lines.

As Above, So Below (A Simmonds/S Nicholson) with Shane Nicholson – I knew that I was going to like this song before I heard it. I loved the title, it features two of my favourite people in Country Music and it is written by two of my favourite songwriters. It is a little dark, but that is Shane….and it is communicated gently.

Whiskey Talking (A Simmonds/M Cole) – This can be applied to any alcoholic beverage but you get the idea. I think that we have all been there. Vocal gymnastics on this one!

You Come Back ( A Simmonds) – What a way to end a splendiferous album. Oh, my word. Wowzers.

As Karl would say, I count my blessings every day that I know this beautiful lady. She is a gifted, incredible performer and songwriter and one of the most generous, caring people that I know and I am not the only one who feels that way. I have all of her albums, I have been to countless concerts, but this is her best work yet. Bravo, Little Buddy.



Acoustic and Electric Guitars, Bass, Dobro – Michael Cole

Acoustic and Electric Guitars, Bass, Piano, Organ, Programming, Percussion – Jared Adlam

Drums and Percussion – Reece Baines

Piano, Organ and Keyboards – Andy Schravemade

Piano on Last Word on My Lips – Jordan Huxley

Acoustic Guitar on Learn to Sleep – Kym Beare

Fiddle, Cello, Mandolin, Banjo, Percussion, Electric Guitar – Tim Crouch

Dobro – Josh Swift

Dobro and vocals on ‘As Above, So Below’ – Shane Nicholson

Double Bass and Pedal Steel – Ben Franz

Backing Vocals – Karlee Simmonds, Aleyce Simmonds


Totally Biased Fan Review – Have A Good Time – Kerry Kennedy


It was so cool that I finally got to see a full Kerry Kennedy gig at Tamworth after years of clashes and only sneak peeks at his gigs on route to another gig. I saw him years ago at Tamworth when he had long hair….but this was a first to just sit down and listen.

He has such a great voice. I love that husky, deep sound and whether he is rockin’ it, bluesing it or just pure country, that voice adapts beautifully.

Kerry (and the boys) are made for LIVE gigs. He is a very personable and funny guy and it comes across very easily.  He has a big heart and he is not backwards in coming forwards on important issues.

Some songs are for dancing, some songs are for toe tapping and others are for deeper thought. There are lots of cool guitar licks.

I am pretty sure that Kerry wrote all of the songs, but the album doesn’t have credits, so I am not 100% sure. Either way, they are great songs and Kerry delivers them with gusto.

Every song is different. There is no sameness to the tunes or the lyrics. It is wonderful to hear such variety on one album…he’s doin’ alright.


Have a good time – Great track to start with.  Sounds like he is channelling one of Elvis’s 60’s tracks! Great bluesy guitar….rockin’ it. Chase that rainbow, live the dream, have a good time now….great philosophy!

Taking time for me – Lots of cool guitar licks and a great sentiment. Sounds like an idyllic life! I love the honesty of Kerry’s lyrics. No bullshit. Toe tappin’ stuff.

That’s not me – One of my favourites on the album. A very hummable real song. I can relate to the lyrics and it is a very cool, easy going tune.  Love it.

Rain Tonight – A rocking bluesy song. Get the air guitar out.

Highway – A very thoughtful and sad song. My favourite kind. An all too familiar story. Awesome song, Kerry.  I know a few guys like this who have been through similar stuff.

Down by the sea – A rollicking feel good song. Dance to it, shift your shoulders to it.  Good singalong song and a song for summer.

Take my hand – Another feel good song.

Doin’ Alright – Not the Adam Harvey song but the same sentiment.  Cool song.

I need you – A gentle protest song and a good one. Covers a lot in a short time. An important song.

Mother’s Day – A thank you song and a nice way to end an album.

Well, it took us a while, Kerry, but we made it. Loved it to bits. Can’t wait to catch up next Tamworth!

Totally Biased Fan Review: Walk in Circles – Sandra Humphries


The wait between Sandra Humphries’ records is often way too long – sheer torture –  but they are always worth the wait. This gem is a mixture between some classics and Sandra Humphries’ (and offspring’s) originals.

With a band that boasts some of Australia’s best and backing vocals by one of the best singers in the world (in my opinion) in Camille, plus maestro Stuie French at the helm, how can you go wrong?

If you ask any true country fan or country musician in Australia to name their top five female singers in Australian Country Music, Sandra would appear every time, often as number one. In fact, I did that survey at Tamworth and Mildura.

She can sell a song like very few others can.  Stuie is the perfect captain for this ship. He knows how to get the best out of traditional style country music and how to put a bit of a twist on it so that it sounds fresh.

If you have never seen Sandra LIVE, then do yourself a favour. She makes you laugh, cry and feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Like Beccy Cole and Amber Lawrence and Marie Hodson, she leaves you wanting even more and she just makes you feel good.

This album is the same. It will be on high rotation. Winner, winner, chicken dinner.



Walk in Circles (Matthew Pratt) – This song is written by Sandra’s son. He goes alright as a guitarist too, saw him around the traps in Tamworth. A “miss you song”. It sounds light and breezy but it has a sad kind of feeling to it too. Sandra often sings songs that operate on two levels.

Bluer than that (Irene Kelly and Mark Irwin) – Absolute classic and Sandra knows how to sing an absolute classic better than anybody else that I know.

I learned that from you (Tony Lane and Jess Brown) – How can you go passed a Sara Evans song.  It has always been one of my favourites and Sandra delivers it perfectly.

Drink things over (Sandra Humphries and Bill Chambers) – Who better to write a drinking song with in Australia (other than Allan Caswell) than Bill Chambers? A new song with an old feel.  I bet Stuie had fun with this one.

Hello Darlin’ (Conway Twitty) – Another classic. I could listen to Sandra sing all day. Well I have listened to this album 5 times already. Michel is at his best on this…..what a legend he is.

Misery and Pain (Sandra Humphries) – Duet with Daniel Thompson – What a great pairing. Dan is best known for his Johnny Cash shows and as part of the four male vocalists at West Tamworth Leagues Legends Long Lunch. Great song sung by two of the best.

Still going strong (Sandra Humphries) – Probably my favourite song on the album. I am glad that it was one that Sandra wrote. Her voice is as sweet as honey on this one and the musicianship on this one is top notch. Beautiful.

Without you (Vince Gill) – A more up tempo Vince Gill song. How can you go wrong with a Vince Gill song? I would love to hear these two sing together… Camille did. How good would that be?

A soft place to fall ( Allison Moorer/Owil Owen) – In my top 10 favourite country music songs of all time. I love Allison’s album that this is off too. I always think of Robert Redford when I hear this song and that sexy scene dancing with Kristin Scott Thomas in The Horse Whisperer…..not such a bad thought…..Sandra nails it.

Somewhere tonight ( Howard Crowell)- I think that this is a Highway 101 song, but never sung quite like this. Lordy, this girl can sing….but we all knew that.

Where my heart used to be (Sandra Humphries) – Tossing up whether this is my second fave or my first. Love it. A heartbreaker song that Sandra does so well.

Two more bottles of wine (Delbert McClinton) – Absolute classic song that a lot of people sing, it is a ripper and a great way to finish an album.



Bass: Ian Lees

Drums and Percussion: Brad Bergen

Pedal Steel Guitar – Michel Rose

Acoustic Guitar, Banjo and Papoose – Rod McCormack

Fiddle, Mandolin and Banjo – Tim Crouch

Piano, Organ and Accordion – Jeff Taylor

Electric and Acoustic Guitar and Dobro – Stuie French

Backing Vocals – Camille Te Nahu and Stuie French

Recorded and Mixed at Swingin’ Doors studio

Produced and Engineered by Stuie French


Totally Biased Fan Review – Melody Moko – EP


This is a teaser/entree. The album is coming soon.  This young lady is going places. I have been following her for a while now and life has had a way of getting in the way….but she is the real thing. As a person and as a performer, Melody has all the boxes ticked.

Having Michael Muchow (hubby) and Catherine Britt in her corner can only enrich her already full garden of talent.

I love the sound of this EP….it has that 50’s early 60’s twanging guitar sounds and that bluesy/rocky sound that Dwayne and The Shadows created.

Her voice is so versatile. I have heard her sing lots of different songs in lots of different styles.

I particularly like Bury me Sane. It has that folky feel that I love so much….I have a strong bias towards that. Melody’s voice is strongest on this one. I absolutely adore it. I am playing this on Friday on the radio.  Absolutely adore it. It is a mix of something that Emmylou Harris would sing, Iris DeMent and Mary-Chapin Carpenter. I can’t give it much more credit than that.

The first three tracks are written by Melody and the last one, Don’t Explain, is written by Paul Kelly, my favourite Australian Songwriter and Melody and Michael’s son Miller’s fave too.

If this is the flavour of things to come, then we are in for a feast.  Melody, you’d better bring on the rest too, or we will all go hungry.

Awesome stuff.

N.B. If you are confused, don’t be. Melody Feder, Melody Muchow and Melody Moko are all the same person….keeping you guessing, that is all.


Going down swinging

Take Me

Bury me sane

Don’t Explain

Totally Biased Fan Review: I’ll Sing you a song – Lloyd Clarke


Sometimes I have a sixth sense. Of all of the 20 odd cds I had in mind to buy at Tamworth, this was amongst the ones that I most looked forward to. Ironic, because though Lloyd and I have been Facebook friends for a while and I have heard good things about him, I had never actually heard his music. I just had a feeling.

I was not disappointed. This is a very Australian album as some of the titles may explain very clearly. Lloyd’s voice reminds me of Bruce Woodley from The Seekers and a bit Mike McClellan too. That is a pretty good compliment, I reckon.  Sometimes when people write songs about Australia, they sound overdone or twee but these songs aren’t. These are more folk songs/celtic country than overcranked bush ballads.

Michael Zammit has done a cool job on the production of this album. They are beautiful songs, written by Lloyd and they have a special charm to them.  From the outback to the Murray to the High Country, to the battlefields, you have to be very proud to be an Aussie when you listen to them.

The very sweet Daisy Chains is a nostalgic trip and the kids singing is a nice touch. This could be a future shower song.

This E.P. is your mini album type that they are recording these days.

This is a very easy to listen to album. I think that some of these songs will be getting lots of play on my stereo. As well as being easy on the ear, they all tell a story about our country without force feeding us.

I don’t know who the musicians are on the album, it doesn’t give credits, though they complement Lloyd’s voice and style very well.

This would be a great one for the car….especially if you are travelling around Australia.


Great and Ancient Land:

High Country Hideaway:

Daisy Chains:

Great Mighty Murray

Threading the eye of the needle

Bonus Tracks:

February Sky

Mud over blood:

All songs by Lloyd M Clarke

The Red Carpet report from the Golden Guitars: er it really is beige and blue at the pointy end!




By Kaz Johnson

I thought that the red carpet at the GGs two years ago was fun….this was 10 times better! I got to have a good yack with Country Music royalty, Joy McKean who has just turned 87 and met Ev Bury who is a fair bit younger but a legend for the first time since I was about 14.

I got a kiss from Dougie and a hug and a pic from Allan Caswell. I took lots of photos of  my faves, including all of the Lukes, got to have a few giggles with Lachlan, Henry, Imogen, Fanny and Ashleigh. They all loved my t-shirt, especially the Weeping Willows, Reg Poole was trying to work out what it read.

I didn’t get to see Amber, but Kasey, Kristy, Kirsty Lee and Katie were in good form. Chad got up close with those teeth and a subdued suit. Catherine was dazzling, BBU were fun, especially that Bowtell gal who was a crack up. Jayne Denham scrubbed up well and she was up for a chat as always.

Warren H and Danielle were looking proud and happy, Queen Anne walked in with duet partner, Jeff Brown. Dean Perrett was happy and accommodating as always. Michael Fix was cheery, Shane Nicholson looked great.

Travis Collins said that he was set for a good night, I told him that I thought that he would have a great night, but he wasn’t so sure…..Kaz knows!

Troy and Laurel walked in, unaware of the big night ahead for them. The Snot jokes will live in the minds of all us forever, Troy!

Christie Lamb was looking lovely in blue, and she is looking forward to her launch of her new album soon.

Adam Brand’s shoes will be forever embedded on our brains. Nick, a Christie Lamb nut, was standing next to me and we had quite a colourful country music conversation. On the other side of me were two sisters who were great fun and loaned me their charger so that I could power up my iphone for pics.

Aleyce and her mum looked beautiful as always and Roo Arcus rocked the check shirt and cowboy hat.

Fresh out of hospital, Seleen looked amazing. Good to see Jason there with her.  Johnny K loved the red carpet and the night. One of the winners that the crowd roared for.

Troy Kemp just fit into my screen. I still only come up to his knees. Kristy Cox, hubby Travis List and bubba Adelaide looked splendid in matching outfits….played well, done fine, my friend.

Justin Standley looked great, and performed amazingly later on stage.

Damien Leith, winning his first GG later on with Travis, was so excited just to be there. Sara Storer was lovely, giving her time for a photo in front of us.

Lee and Tan Kernaghan, stopped for photos and a chat.

The Sunny Cowgirls were the last ones that I saw to come in before the ushers were starting to want to get us all in the auditorium.

I was sorry to miss Amber.

There are a lot of things that I can’t say about what happened on our end of the red carpet, though I think that Glenn McGrath thinks that I am a nutter because I went Ooh Ahh. Poor Henry and Lachlan copped a bit but Henry hammed it up and Lachlan just did that smile of his that says…Kaz, Kaz, Kaz.

Jodie and Ethan were the first to cross the red carpet and then Angus Gill led the young ones in.

Thanks to all of the stars for saying g’day and stopping for a pic, they must have been wanting to get in quickly but we stopped them.

Thanks especially to Allan and Marian Caswell and Joy and Ev.

They were extra special moments.


Apologies to those artists that I couldn’t get to see

A quick apology to the artists that I didn’t get to see at Tamworth. Especially Aleyce, I am sorry that I couldn’t get to your launch. Sorry that I didn’t get to see Katie or Ben but I will see you in Sydney. Lots of clashes, but I tried to get to as many as possible. Sorry Jade Holland, Emma Jene and Kalesti – I’ll catch up!

Hoping to head to Victoria and South Australia soon so hope to catch up with a few.

Thanks guys!

Also: Didn’t get to buy a few cds but I know that they will be available in the shops and or online, so will grab them there. Stuie French, Michael Waugh, Kasey Chambers, The McClymonts.  Have pre-ordered a few too.

Some exciting releases to come later in the year too.


Here’s to the fans!

Before I start waxing lyrical about some fabulous music, I want to pay homage to the fans. Some weird and wacky, some tried and true but all passionate about country music.

Firstly, I have to thank Jen Mize and Lloyd Clarke for supplying us with the two best fans of the festival! Lloyd gave out a fan with every album sold and Jen was very innovative with a fan she made from her gig dates….very impressive.

Many musos are fans themselves, after all, they wouldn’t be in the music biz if they didn’t love music and have idols, would they?

I have been a lot to Tamworth and other gigs and I meet a lot of the same dedicated crowd. Some can only make it for a few days, some stay a month. Some stay the 10 days of the festival. Some just go and see the one artist and check out all of their gigs, some just do the free stuff, some spend up big.

I try not to have favourites, it is like having to pick your favourite child. However, some musicians have been a big part of my life for a long while and I have followed some from their grassroots.

People like Kaylene, the two Marks (one all the way from Canada) and the other a long time buddy who gave me a print of the original pic of the photo that he took of me and God er Mike Carr. Thanks hon. Kate Naylor, Neil, David,  Donna Marie, Greg, Bob, and others who take pics and who are all huge fans. Thanks Lynnie for teaching me how to use my iphone properly for pics. Donna G, it was so nice to see you again after a long absence. Di Jones, Leonie, Therese,  Kyle, Nick, Shirley G and lots of others that I haven’t mentioned or I don’t know your names but I know your faces. Thanks for your support for country music, the artists and your encouragement.Great to finally meet the Deshons too!

Troy came up for a short stint as did others and I know that the artists appreciate it.

The fans rock, country rock, that


Done and Dustyed – Tamworth Country Music Festival, 2017

By Kaz Johnson

Tamworth Country Music Festival and Tamworth have a special place in my heart. I grew up there and I have many memories of the place and the people. If I sound biased in my reporting of it, then it is because it comes from the heart. I will defend both til the day that I die and probably from beyond.

I kick started my Tamworth by a lift from the Big Smoke from a dear country music pal, Kylie Adams Collier. We had a fun trip. We were loaded up with cds but never played any. We talked all the way from Hornsby to Tamworth and Kylie gave me an in car concert. It was a beaut trip.

We arrived in Tamworth and almost did a “Peely” down Peel Street before the road blocks. Spotted Phoebe Jay and Becci Nethery and crash tackled them with photographer legends Bob and Greg. Had some lunch then went up to the Lookout where Kylie yodelled and I pointed out local landmarks.

Booked into accommodation and then the big fun began.

Thursday, 19th January.

My first gig was a beaut way to start off Tamworth. Michael Bryers at the Servies. Ah, what a guy and what a star. I can’t think of a better way to kick off the festival.

I had to cut my time short as you do at Tamworth, a set here, a set there.

Despite the fact that I had been up since 4am, I thought that I would catch a Sal and Al random bit of time at The Albert Jam, pre festival style. My great Tamworth buddy, Sally-Anne Whitten was hosting, so that was enough for me to settle into a stool and put my groove thing on for a while. What a blast, more like a party than gig. Sal and Al and the band with some very cool walk up artists and some extra special guests: Anthony Taylor, Allison Forbes, Rae Beth, Mel, Jess Holland and a whole heap more plus crowd spotting with Sarah Byrnes, Dan Murphy, Tracey Davis, Kelly Crosby and Ethan etc. Hung with Sally-Anne’s friends and had a beaut time. My early night turned into early morning….I left about 1am and the joint was still rockin’.

Friday, 20th January – First Official Day of the Festival.

I had a few things to sort out. I did the walk….think that was the day that I caught up with Jo at her corner, could have been the day before. I bought Dad his cd and he is excited to hear more music from “his girl” and saw Tracey Davis again.  I caught up with Sal and Al again at the Servies with the Rumour Mill. Awesome gig, then headed to Tudor Hotel for a dose of good medicine with Allison Forbes, Tori Forsyth and Dana Hassall. Pretty good way to spend a couple of hours, hey….Three very awesome chicks. I have all of their music. Go buy some, they are fantastic. I wish that I could have stayed longer but onwards…..

On to West Leagues to catch up with standing room only Doug Bruce and the Tailgaters. As always, they were brilliant. Caught up with some mates and made some new ones.

Ladies of Country followed with Gina T hosting and a great line up including: Sandra Humphries, Aleyce Simmonds, Rebecca Lee Nye, Marie Hodson, and the wonderful Melody Moko…so happy to finally catch up with her officially. She is such a delight and a terrific performer. All the girls were great, it is one of those gigs to mark down each year and it is free.

Saturday, 21st January

This was always going to be a big day. Had a bit of a later start but I knew that it would be a later finish. I caught up with my best friend for morning tea and spent a couple of hours with her and her grandkids. We have precious few moments together these days.  I went to buy the rest of my tickets and then saw my God, Mike Carr, with Daniel Thompson, Anthony Taylor and Luke Austen.  I caught up with Lisa and lots of buddies. The boys did a great Legends Lunch and Mike even sang some Mike songs, including the exclusive that we played on 2GLF. Ahh, that man’s music just makes my heart feel good and he is a top bloke.

After that session, Ashleigh Dallas came on and blew us all away. I have loved the Dallas family since I was a kid growing up in Tamworth and each generation brings me happiness. Rex and us Johnnos not only have a Tamworth connection but also a Wang connection.  Ashleigh is funny, talented, and just a beaut kid. I can’t wait to listen to her album and review it for you all.

Anybody who knows me, knows how much that I adore Beccy Cole. As usual, she made us laugh, cry, think and walk away happy. With a great band of girls, she did it again. My 47th gig of Beccy’s was just as great as the first. She never lets me down. With her Mum, son and the delicious Adam Hubba Hubba Harvey, how can you go wrong. Her duo with Libby singing in two different styles was just awesome.

Off then to the Tamworth Opry. No time for the bus, some fellas at the taxi rank said you get the next one, hon, we aren’t in a hurry. (don’t you love those kinds of folks).

I arrived at the Opry at the Cap in good time. What a show. Some incredible folks, the cream of Aussie country music. Glad that I got to see Roo as I had a clash with his other show. Awesome to see so many wonderful acts on one show, including: Kristy Cox, Travis List, Roo Arcus, Dean Perrett, Jeff Brown, The Weeping Willows, Felicity Urquhart, Allan Caswell, Bennett, Bowtell and Urquhart and many others. Just an amazing gig.

Sunday, 22nd January

I got to see Gretta Ziller and Andrew Swift either this day or the day before…life can be confusing at Tamworth. No, it was this day, because I went on to Carter and Carter afterwards. This was a great impromptu gig. I have always loved GZ, and I am fast becoming a fan of Swifty, who I think got a bit ripped off, but that is another story…….then on to some gospel with Carter and Carter, Rebecca and Billy Bridge and the wonderful Brendon Walmsley. So glad to see and hear this incredible man again. The choir was an all star young cast.  Some great feel good music and a chance to pick up the new album from Carter and Carter, as I wasn’t going to be able to go to their launch. Review soon.

I was going to Ben Ransom and 8 Ball but the gig went overtime and I needed something substantial to eat. Note to Tamworth goers, sometimes it is hard to catch a meal between gigs. I got thrown a bread roll or an apple on the run a few times and always had a muesli bar and some water on me. Finally got to see a whole gig by Kerry Kennedy. Yeah!  So excited to finally meet the man, who has the biggest heart and the gig was awesome at the Servies. I will be reviewing the album too. Made some new friends who I turned into fans and they were going to check out some of my recommendations. Had a good chat to Kerry, he is just a great guy.

Monday, 23rd January

I caught a little bit of Allan Caswell and Angus Gill at the Atrium. Angus is a gem. I really like this guy.

Wandered to fanzone and caught a few acts as I drifted around. I got a tip from Sally-Anne that they would be at a cafe with the Crosby Sisters, so I dashed up there. Had a good chat to Jodie and Kelly’s Mum and also caught a bit of Mr and Mrs Minson there too. Sal sang some tunes and a few with the gals but I couldn’t stay for Jodie and Kelly’s set as I had to get up to see the French family at the Bowlo.

Stuie and Camille never disappoint. They were just amazing – playing to a full house with Andrew Clermont on sound and supported by Sonny French. It was a beaut gig. Picked up the new cd. Will review soon. Glad that Stuie picked up a GG.

Then on to the Songwriters, with Imogen Clark, Harry Hookey, Fanny Lumsden and the man, Kevin Bennett, hosted by Michael Bryers. Great gig just an amazing array of gifted songwriters and terrific stories. Met up with some more fans and  my dear young pal from Melbourne, Kate Naylor.

Wonderful to finally meet Imogen officially. I heard her sing a few years ago at the Tudor and she only had to sing two lines and I was hooked. I have since bought her music and reviewed it and I have been to a few gigs, but had never had the pleasure of meeting her. Just an amazing young talent. I think that she will be an international superstar, given the right breaks. She is just off the planet good.

Tuesday, 24th January

Started the day early with the Songwriters in the Round with 8 Ball, Phil and Lana and Mick Lindsay. I went to the session for the first 2, not knowing Mick but I have to say that he held his own with this amazing company. I meant to get an album off him, will have to do it online. He is a beaut young talent. 8 Ball was his amusing best and such a wonderful guitarist. Phil and Lana are always good. Glad that he sang the Spire song and Lana is just getting better and better, she had us all in tears. I got to sit next to 8’s  Mum, Heather and Luke O’Shea’s Mum. It was a festival for the Mums, for sure. Two lovely ladies and I got to meet Lukie’s now infamous Dad, Rick too. I met up with my mate Shirley, truly one of the most devoted fans in country music.

I then went to Southgate and caught Jen Mize, Imogen, Fanny and Megan. Wish that I could have had been able to stay for the full gig, these ladies were fantastic. I thought that just seeing Jen would be the bomb, but it was a lovely bonus having the other three there too.

Then I rocked up at the Diggers for one of the moments that I had been waiting for, Tracy Killeen’s return to Tamworth and Liz’s too for that matter. Caught Kazzie award winning drummer, Ali there too. Great band, girls and they sang some of the best songs from the 9o’s there. Lovely to catch up with Tracy and a bunch of nutters that I call my friends. On that note, good to see Donna G back at Tamworth.

I wanted to see Tracy’s other show but too many clashes.

Then off to see Michael Bryers, Luke O’Shea, Lachlan Bryan and Felicity Urquhart in a songwriters’ session. Oh so great….a night of humour, good music, hugs and swooning…..met up with Mel Robertson, my sister from another mister.  Just a wonderful night. Felicity handled the boys pretty well.

Wednesday 25th January

My day started with my Dad phoning and singing a very unique rendition of Happy Birthday to me. A massive amount of messages from my family and friends and heroes. Thanks very much.

Off to Songwriters in the Round with Col Finley, Sir Allan Caswell and Michael Waugh.  People cottoned on to the fact that it was my birthday after Al Slade made mention of it. I wore my Col Finley shirt and then changed later into Sir Allan’s shirt….to be fair. Michael Waugh was just wonderful. A talent to watch. Sir Allan sang my favourite Caswell song “Stolen Roses” and then Col and Allan started to sing Happy Birthday and realised that they couldn’t sing it at a songwriters’ session because it wasn’t their song.  Funny guys. With my secret out, the day was going to be interesting. It is hard to top one of your favourite people singing your favourite song for you on your birthday, what a gift.

Chatted to Col’s parents, Dee and Austie and to Maid Marian Caswell and Georgia, so it was another family day! The guys were terrific, once I went through a box of tissues with Michael’s songs. Meant to pick up his album too, but had to race off.

I went to see my buddy, Darren Colston at North Bowlo. He didn’t have a big crowd and that was sad, he deserves much better. With so much on, it is hard to get folks in. He was terrific as always and such a good buddy. I have made many friends through country music, he is one of the most special ones, despite the fact that he said that I must have only been there because Luke O’Shea wasn’t doing a gig that day in town!  I love them both.

He sang some of my favourite songs and we still managed a singalong and yes, he did sing Happy Birthday for me. I had some fun in the crowd with Dawn.

Darren is one of the most underrated artists in the industry. Please listen to his music. He has one of the most unique voices in country music and he is one of our best songwriters.

Caught Rebecca Lee Nye and Aly Cook at Fanzone and then off to my favourite gig of the festival. Country Cares is organized mostly by Allan Caswell and always gives the proceeds to a worthy cause. The farmers got the cash this year. It is held in one of my favourite places, Tamworth Town Hall and has an array of stars that the sky couldn’t even hold.

Dean Perrett, Paul Robert Burton, Allan Caswell, Mr and Mrs Bridge, The April Family (finally got to officially meet Michael Carpenter), Lachlan Bryan and the Wildes, Chad Morgan, Marie Hodson, The Bushwackers, Pixie and Ryan, Seleen, Michael Waugh, and the moment……The Weeping Willows, man oh man. In a place that has held so many childhood and adult memories for me, on my birthday, two of my favourite people in the world announce that they are going to sing a song for me (my favourite one of theirs) and for a special lady….wow…gees, I just burst into tears…happy tears. My beautiful friends did this for me. How much better can it get….I went to see them at half time…oh guys. Spoke to Maid Marian and Lachlan’s mum, too. Met the April Family….review soon guys. Michael Carpenter will be huge. I don’t know if he wants to be huge, but he will be.

What a day. Such an amazing birthday with lots of my favourite people….fellow fans and some of my all time fave artists. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Thursday 26th January.

First up was Amber Joy Poulton after a quick peek at Allan at the Atrium. Terrific show, and I won an Australian flag. I was tempted to give it to one of the kids, but it is a nice thing to have. AJ is one of the loveliest people in country music. I am glad that I got to catch one of her shows. It was my only opportunity and I was tossed between that and another show but I am glad that I went. There were some people there who were at the Town Hall the night before……I was reminded.

Then I raced off to Melissa Robertson’s showcase at South Bowlo and there were some beaut acts….the birthday continued with the Willows and Mel singing happy birthday to me…again! Such awesome people. Ian Burns, Lloyd Clarke, Becci Nethery, Whiskey Business, Rachel Summerell and the lady herself. Love the new song, Mel. Everybody was terrific. Great to meet Lloyd finally and yet another Victorian to shine. Review soon.

Off to The Pub to have one of their great meals…got some vegies!  Caught a few songs from the Bush Happy Band who were fun and we had some singalongs and even caught up with someone who knew lots of people that I went to school with. I also a bit of the Germien Sisters….pretty cool….and that Cello….wowzers.

Catherine Britt. Two of the most beautiful words in the World. Just an amazing talent and an incredible woman. Some great guests too. Started off with Tori Forsyth….thank goodness that I got to hear her again. Ditto for Melody Moko, singing with hubby, Michael. Just love these two to bits.  Music was just amazing.

Catherine had some beaut guests when she appeared on stage. Bill Chambers, Fanny Lumsden, the unique and always colourful, Henry Wagons, Melody and Michael just great. Catherine took us acoustically through her career and it was a wonderful journey. It was a late night but a great night.

Friday, 27th January.

Always the busiest day of the festival. It started with Bluegrass with Kristy Cox, Karen Lynne and co, Pete Denahy and The Weeping Willows (love it how they follow me around….) and Dean Perrett….you too, you stalker! Ha. Just a wonderful gig with some very awesome music. Little William just gets better and taller every time that I see him.

I caught a bit of Mike and the boys again while I was waiting to go into Amber’s gig.

Off then to Amber Lawrence, who I didn’t get to talk to at this year’s festival but I was there in the crowd. She always leaves us little gifts on our seats, just so like her. Strange without Lozza, but she was on the big screen. Ambs had one of the best shows of the festival in my opinion. Hosted by my Indie mate, Ian Burns who did a wonderful job. Homegrown were fantastic. I had heard of them but I hadn’t heard them sing. They were brilliant. Amber had some great guests, Catherine Britt, Aleyce Simmonds (my little buddy who I didn’t get to see in a full show, but caught her here and there), Travis Collins, Shane Nicholson, a choir of awesome girl talent…..but mainly just Amber….the woman is a dynamo.

I caught a bit of Dan Murphy in between Amber and Adam and he was beaut as always and sang my fave Dan Murphy song.

Adam Harvey….what can you say about Adam Harvey that I haven’t already said a thousand times before? He is and always will be one of my main reasons for loving country music. He’s a cheeky bugger and poor Andy must have a thick skin but his voice just melts me….even more than the Tamworth heat. He is one of the good guys. He sang with Beccy Cole….of course….and I can’t wait for that tour and album. His daughter sang with him too. A great show as always.

On to Steve Eales at the Cap. I couldn’t get into Aleyce’s gig as it booked out before I could. Many apologies to my little buddy, but I did get to hear a few songs here and there and I spoke to her Mum which was close…..

Steve deserved a bigger crowd, but we had fun. It was a nice trip down memory lane to one of my favourite country bands, Sovereign and James Blundell made a special appearance. The boys played the old songs and some new ones and the bonus was that you got the new cd with the ticket.

Saturday, 28th January.

My sister’s birthday and always the main day at Tamworth. I missed the cavalcade, knowing that I had a big day ahead and also because I had a few things to do. I juggled my options and decided on Kirsty Lee Akers, Neilly Rich and two New Zealand girls whose name escapes me. The gig was wonderful and I have two new relatives….Uncle Slim and Aunty Joy, a long and funny story…I will save that for another time.

The NZ girls were great. I had to rush off to something else, otherwise I would have bought their EP. I am sorry that I forgot their name, but they were great…will have to add later.

Neilly Rich were fantastic as always, great to chat to Amelia afterwards. They played with Kirsty too.

Kirsty took us through her career, 10 years since she won starmaker. She has such a big and beaut voice for a pint sized pocket rocket. So country and fantastic. Glad that I made this choice.

I caught a bit of the Long and Short of it in the Family open area. Glad that I did!

Off to the Longyard, had some Macdonalds and caught the bus to the TRECC for the red carpet. I am going to write up the Golden Guitars and the Red Carpet separately because they deserve a separate story.

Thank you Tamworth and all of my beautiful country music family, from the volunteers and fans to the bus drivers, cabbies and venue staff and right up to the big stars. I follow all types of country music, and I am proud to do so. Had to leave on the 29th because I was kicked out of my room (nicely) and had a train to catch. Missed a few good gigs and wished that I could have caught up with more friends but you can’t do everything.