Totally Biased Fan Review – Luke O’Shea and Damian Howard at The Hotel Lomond, East Brunswick.

Anybody who knows me, knows that this review is going to be totally, totally biased. Yes, Lukie is very high up on my playlist and one of the main people who I admire on and off the stage and record in country music.

So, of course, this review is going to be dripping with superlatives, which could have been the name for Luke and Damian’s back up band but Marty Stuart already pinched that name!

I could have gone to The Noojee Hotel tonight which is sort of closer to me but harder to get to by public transport or I could have gone to Helen’s place on the Thursday night, but I don’t think that they would have accepted Lukeitis as an illness from me on Friday. So, Melbourne it was, and I made it after work by the skin of my teeth, but what a night it was. I knew Lukie was going to be great, he always is, but Damian Howard was fabulous too. I am more familiar with his brother, Shane’s songs, but he sang a couple and I thought…ahhh, of course I know him!

He did a few covers of some pretty awesome songs and some originals. Damian took it in turn to sing songs with Luke. They, of course, harmonised and played on each others songs, like old hands.

Considering that Luke, Damian and the boys hadn’t had any rehearsals, they all played together well. I am getting to know a lot of the musos about Melbourne now, so they were familiar faces.

Luke sang some of his well known songs like Three Brothers, The Drover’s Wife and many others as well as some newer material.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Luke O’Shea show without a few laughs. Damian has a sense of humour too and they fired off each other. With a short break, they played for nearly 3 hours.

They tried to fit all 5 of them on a small stage with all of their equipment. I really don’t know how they did it, but they did.  No room for dancing though.

Luke did an impromptu performance of Rod Stewart’s  Do Ya Think I’m Sexy? Which was almost a dance but the least country thing that he’s ever done and a crack up.

It is impossible to do all of Luke’s songs on one night, particularly when you are sharing the stage with someone else, but he did a good variety, though he forgot some of his own words….sometimes due to laughter and other times he covered well, only a professional Luke O’Shea supporter would have noticed the gaps.

It was a light hearted intimate evening, with us all packed in to the Hotel like sardines. Some diehard fans were in the crowd as well as some new ones.

The good news is that Luke has new songs coming out later in the year. It was a great way to end the week.

Well done, Luke and Damian and thank you to the band.

 

Totally Biased Fan Review – Album Launch – Cathy Dobson Tales From A Suburban Housewife – The Village Green, Mulgrave, Victoria, with Gradual, 20th May, 2018

Firstly, let me make an unpaid political announcement. I have to say right off the top how wonderful John Dobson was yesterday and how he was the star of the day….tongue in cheek, he made me write it….

Seriously, though, we had a wonderful afternoon of entertainment, starting with a very tight and clever band, Gradual, who are having their own gig on Saturday night at Upwey. We all reckoned at our table that the band should be re-named, Musical Chairs. I have never seen a band change positions so much. Either Cathy put Whoopee cushions on their chairs or they just like to play different things. Brian produced Cathy’s album as well, so it was a natural choice, though the music stylings are different. Good music is good music. They also formed Cathy’s band for the day.

Cathy Dobson is a very well respected songwriter amongst her peers, as my friend, Bruce and I were discussing earlier, she is a writer’s writer. Like Michael Waugh, Mike Carr, Wendy Wood, Darren Colston, Craig Stewart, Michael Carpenter, Luke O’Shea and Lachlan Bryan and the like, she gets inside our heads and writes down what we are thinking, feeling and doing. Her songs may be about her life, but they are also touching on our own thought processes and moments.

There were many singer/songwriters in the audience, some older, some younger, and others in between. They all got what Cathy was trying to say and they were there to support her and cheer her on. I had two songwriters to cheer for because they couldn’t be there. I was sitting at a table with Lloyd Clarke and Rick Hart, two of Victoria’s best singer/songwriters. Nia Robertson, Andrew Swift and many others were there too. The place was packed. There was even a cocktail named after Cathy’s album. I would have had one but I probably would not have remembered the gig if I had tried one.

The album (please see the review) is awesome and Cathy performed each song on stage. It takes many turns. Blues, folk, country torch and twang, a little bit funky, a little bit of soul and other twists and turns. She did a cover for the encore, the classic, Midnight Special which made her family get up and dance and most of us sang along to it.

I first saw Cathy at a gig at The Dag a few July Hats Offs ago. I had seen her sing one song somewhere else and I asked Allison Forbes about her and Kalesti Butler and they both told me a few things. The people near me asked about her too and I told them what I had been told. One bloke with his hat still on said to me: “She’s the real thing, hey?” I nodded.

When it came to the release of “Ball and Chain” I had to get a hold of it, having heard some tracks off it. I went to a gig of Cathy’s at Southgate Inn at Tamworth in the January and heard her sing, then as she was about to go to the merch counter, I had to leave to go to another gig. When I got home, I tried to order it twice, and once it got lost in the mail and the other time, my order didn’t go through. Since, I have seen Cathy a couple of times at other people’s gigs, something that she does very well as a fan and a supporter of her fellow artists. I didn’t get a chance to ask her for the album. This time, I gave her a heads up and I now have it in my cd player and nobody is allowed miles within range of it.

I think of all the songwriters in Australia these days, Cathy and Wendy Wood probably get the closest to my life or my way of thinking through their songs. There are a few guys who come close, but for obvious reasons, and the fact that Cathy and Wendy are my vintage, they hit a few chords that others don’t quite manage….that is not a criticism. I love a lot of other music even when it doesn’t paint me a familiar picture. I just find myself in the same photo album as these two.

Cathy is a straight shooter. She is a great supporter of other’s work and she knows how to get an audience thinking.

Kaylene Pittaway was in the front row, Cathy was singing her stories and all was right with the world.

It was mentioned a few times during the breaks that Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs played there a long time ago. I could feel it.

Now where is that recipe to that cocktail…….

Thanks to Darren Clarke for this pic. I think that it tells a story.

 

Totally Biased Fan Review – The Heggarties, The April Family and Matt J Ward at The Retreat Hotel, Brunswick, 5/5/2018

When I saw that my favourite country music band was coming to Melbourne, well, I just had to go, hey?  (Lachlan Bryan and The Wildes probably tie!). I actually have many favourites, but these guys are very special to me. Of course, I am talking about 5 times Kazzie award winning artists, The April Family. The fact that they were supporting one of South Australia’s finest, The Heggarties, did not get lost on me, either and a wonderful surprise packet in Matt J Ward who was absolutely fab.

Matt opened the afternoon and he was terrific. I can’t wait for him to release the new album later in the year.

I had heard the Heggarties on a couple of radio broadcasts and some of their songs. Wren sang a song with Matt, too, which was top shelf stuff. The Heggarties sang some of their older works and some new songs, all of which had that rich country Americana sound and they were in good form.

The April Family played in the middle, and they were the usual class act, with a dedication to our friend, Tom, who passed away this last week, with their new song, Blue, which was absolutely brilliant.

They were a bit nervous playing their new songs in front of me, but that was just silly, I am only a fan and I love whatever they do. The catchy and fun Champagne was fantastic and all of their new songs were great.  Of course, they played quite a lot off their debut album, which was my album of the year, last year. There were a couple of songs that they just had to sing, or Bruce and I would not have let them leave the building.

The Retreat Hotel have been long time supporters of LIVE music, especially our kind of music. To have two South Australian acts and a New South Wales band in a Melbourne venue is a great thing, as well as supporting a lot of local talent. Thank you for all that you do to support our musos.

Thanks to all of the acts for making a rough week end on a high note. You were all wonderful.

 

The Queen of Boomtown, Gretta Ziller at The Union Hotel, Brunswick, 29/4/2018

Last Sunday, I spent a leisurely afternoon in the suburb of Melbourne which is becoming my second home, Brunswick. This time, I was trying a different venue for me, The Union Hotel. Our Queen of Boomtown, Gretta Ziller, was strutting her stuff and some interesting covers with the fab Mitch Power and a very cool band.

Gretta has long been one of my faves. I normally see her just sitting on a stage with a guitar, or listen to her on high rotation on my stereo, but this was a little different. She seemed to be sometimes in awe and completely at home with the band, making jokes and talking easily. Gretta’s beautiful voice and her songs are always the standout, though.

Gretta is unique. I really think that she is one of those artists that stands out in a crowd. She has a very individual sound. Her songs are varied, her voice has a huge range and she just sparkles. One of her smiles alone, tells a story.

She sang from her album and E.P. and also sang some classics, ending with a totally different version of Sweet Home Alabama. Mitch was in good form in his overalls and the banter between him and Gretta was amusing. It was good to see another female drummer on the scene, as well. The band worked well together and it was interesting seeing Gretta in a different light.

The crowd was a mix of diehard fans (like myself) and some new ones. I heard a lot of first timers saying “Wow, she is really good” and the like. I have known that for a few years now. It is always good when you hear new fans wanting to hear more of one of your favourite artists.

The Queen of Boomtown will be the Queen of The Union for a while when she does a residency there, and she is touring for a while as well. A lovely and relaxing afternoon with one of Australia’s very best.

 

Totally Biased Fan Review – Twilight on The Trail – The Concert – Jen Mize and Mark Sholtez

at The Spotted Mallard, Brunswick, Melbourne.

Friday, April 13th.

I knew that this night would be magical before I went to it. Not just because I had already reviewed the album (see review) or because I was excited about seeing and hearing two of my fave country music girls, Jen Mize and Gretta Ziller, but I just had that feeling.

The Spotted Mallard is a great venue for our kind of music. It has a great atmosphere, great staff and good food. I love going there to gigs. This gig would have probably been perfect anywhere, but it was extra perfect there.

Supported by one of our future superstars, Rose Zita Falko (review coming soon of her soon to be released EP) and the awesome Mitch Power, Jen and Mark and their very cool band (including Mitch and Andrew McClean), they took us on a wonderful musical journey. Dressed in appropriate clobber – a lot of denims had to die for their outfits – Jen and Mark took us down that trail, through canyons, across desert plains and into bars with swinging doors. They combined the songs off the album – all traditional country music songs from movies and from the campfire – with a few of their own songs which seemed to neatly fit into the jigsaw puzzle.

Gretta and Rose joined them on stage a couple of times to sing some songs,  with an amazing rendition of Cool Water included. Of course, as I noted in the album review,  I loved My Rifle, My Pony and Me – sung in Rio Bravo by Ricky Nelson, Dean Martin and “played” by Walter Brennan. Andrew played the Walter Brennan part on this occasion.

Jen did a duet with Mitch “Forget Her” which she sings with Duncan Toombs on her last album – one of my favourite duet songs of all time. She also sang Deepwater, which definitely fit into the groove.

Jen’s story about “Black Hills of Dakota” was partly amusing and partly sad. She mentioned how she changed a word in the lyrics to fit her own history and it made perfect sense. Doris does sing it slowly in the movie though, not quite as fast as Jen mimicked though I get what she means….the references to “injuns” and such in the musical made me cringe a bit. I think that I was more caught up in the duck being turned into a swan and then not really caring about that in the end….preferring to be herself, but Jen’s story made me think.

Beautiful renditions of Wand’rin Star, (Mark’s much sweeter version of the Lee Marvin song from Paint Your Wagon) – Red River Valley, Home on The Range and many others made for a wonderful trip of nostalgia. The band was amazing, having only been together for a little while before in the afternoon. The drummer did an incredible solo, as did all of the band members. Mitch did some fine licks and Andrew was in fine form on the harp. It is always nice to hear some Steel guitar and double bass, especially in these kind of songs.

To have the likes of the truly amazing Gretta Ziller on bv’s and the rising star, Rose Zita Falko is a bonus. Jen, when I first heard Gretta sing, I said something similar…..folks, you will have to go a gig to find out!

Despite their different styles, Jen and Mark’s voices fit together well. Jen’s humour and outgoing personality and Mark’s more subtle approach make them a y and y combination. I always know what a great night that I am having when I don’t realise where the time has gone.

If you have a chance to see these two – either in acoustic or full band styles, do yourself a favour. I was much more familiar with Jen’s music before this album than Mark’s, but if you like a voice that sounds a bit like Sting, a bit like Dean Martin then you will love him….I am going to look up more of his music for sure.

A wonderful night which will stay with me for a very long time. Now, I’d better saddle up and head for the hills, we’re losing daylight.

Totally Biased Fan Review – Are you Ready For The Country – Easter Sunday

It was my first time at The Retreat Hotel in Brunswick last Sunday and it won’t be my last. I had the great pleasure of seeing all of these wonderful acts for free!  Imogen Clark was fabulous, singing a mix of her new songs and old songs, Bill Jackson was new to me but I will definitely be seeking out his music. Paddy McHugh was incredible. The Weeping Willows were their usual fabulous selves. Lachlan Bryan and The Wildes were terrific, singing with additional “Wildes” – Imogen, The Weeping Willows – with some old and new stuff. Lachlan hosted having organized this extravaganza. I usually think of Lachlan as a man of few words (other than in his songs), but he demonstrated an offbeat sense of humour. The opening act was Alberta and The Backroads, chiefly a brother and sister act. Lachlan mused later that he loved how many times they managed to sneak the f word into their songs while The Weeping Willows merely implied it in their songs. …I guess that Lachlan can get away with that, since he married Laura and Andy and he has known them for more than a little while. It was good seeing some new acts and hearing their music, it is always good to learn new songs and what else is out there.  Some acts are pretty well known in Victoria but not necessarily outside of that music scene and they were damn good. Sarah Carroll and the two brothers who played with her were good too, it was a real mix of styles. I thought that the drummer had transformed into Nick Cave ….if you closed your eyes, that would be what you would imagine that you were hearing. It was such a great party. The Retreat is an awesome venue for our kind of music. It is rustic, intimate and the staff are very cool. The food is great and the company….particularly at my table was awesome. Chiefly alt. country/Americana, the afternoon mixed it up with some truly wonderful sounds. There were a few stars in the crowd as well. I think that Alt. Country is a mixture of country music blends. I actually think that Alt. Country is the closest to trad. country these days……ironically. A certain Wilde, now sporting glasses and looking highly intelligent played with a few of the acts during the afternoon. Thanks to all of the acts for a wonderful afternoon/night of music. This old cowgirl appreciated it very much.

Totally Biased Fan Review – Vic gigs – 9th March and 10th March, 2018

Americana Express – Starring Lachlan Bryan, The Weeping Willows, Gretta Ziller and Matt Joe Gow and Band.  Toff In Town, Melbourne, Friday 9th March

Arrived with minutes to spare from country Victoria. Interesting venue with multi stories and lots going on….probably too much going on but that takes away from the music and I don’t want to do that. With some of the best of Victoria’s alt. country/Americana acts on stage, you put everything else aside and enjoy a fantastic night of familiar songs and some new ones and classics with your friends.

The fab The Weeping Willows – Laura and Andy- started proceedings with a little help from Lachlan and Matt Joe and that began a habit throughout the night when other acts helped each other out. Fresh from their Honeymoon Tour of the USA, my favourite trees did not bend and the leaves haven’t fallen. Their bark to bark excellent numbers, from both albums pleased the crowd and of course, me.  They will be doing a European tour shortly and that is exciting.

Next, was Lachlan Bryan, who has just released his new album with his Wildes, and he played a few off it and a couple of others. Lachlan will also be embarking on the European tour. A master songwriter and storyteller, he is one of Australia’s best in any genre.

Gretta Ziller, who has had such an awesome year, hit the stage with her Queen of Boomtown stuff. She is such an amazing talent. Her range is magnificent. She is a very unique singer/songwriter. She’s going from strength to strength.

Matt Joe Gow wrapped up the night, which was mainly his baby. I was particularly interested to see and hear Matt as I had only heard a handful of tracks and had not seen him before LIVE.

An interesting number was when Lachlan and Matt Joe did a version of Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash’s Girl From The North Country, off one of my fave albums, Nashville Skyline. I am not sure who was meant to be Bob and who was meant to be Johnny but they did a good job….it was probably a more upbeat version of the slow moving train which was Bob and Johnny’s mode.

It was a wonderful night of song from some fine talents. It ended on a bit of a downer (not the artists fault) but let us just concentrate on the music.

I hope to see another one of these….perhaps at The Spotted Mallard or another place.

Lyn Bowtell and Rick Hart Trio at Skylark Room, Upwey, Saturday, 10th March

Well Lyn, I did do a little bit of the review in purple crayon (above), as promised! This was a great night, with Rick, Vanessa and Tom playing lots of songs off the new album as well as some others. Rick also sang a song with Lyn, a John Prine classic, which was so cool

I was wondering where my favourite song was (my number one for 2017), and he saved it til last, even saying that it was for me, which was so sweet. To the Grave, of course.

Lyn was welcomed to Harvey’s Bar (you had to be there – cheeky Damon) and she sang and talked up a storm. She also sang the duet with Damon which features on her latest EP.  It is such a beautiful song – Far Away.

Time went so fast, Lyn and Rick and Andrew Swift (who was doing a gig with Lyn later), and Vanessa and Tom were great on stage and off. It was certainly a night to remember in a lovely venue with good food and company as well.

I am a very lucky girl to be able to see and hear such wonderful talents in my own backyard….well, just down the road.  Thank you.

Totally Biased Fan Review – The April Family Album Launch with Not Good With Horses – Django Bar, Marrickville, Thursday, 18th May

I had been looking forward to going to this gig for a while. Ever since I bought a copy of the album (pre-release date) in January at Tamworth, I knew that I was on to something good. I already knew Michael Carpenter from his wonderful producing of other people’s work, most people who listen to Alt. Country do know him for that.

As I have said before, I really do think that it is one of the albums of the year. We were all gifted with another copy as we walked in the door. The Django Bar is perfect for Country, Folk, Blues and Jazz music. A big band belongs upstairs in the Camelot Lounge.

The support act, Not Good With Horses were terrific. I had heard of Brielle before but I had not heard her band. They have a great sound. They sang mostly original tracks with a few classics thrown in. Their harmonies were spot on and the musicianship was very tight. I wasn’t sure what to expect but they were pretty awesome. They complemented The April Family’s style very well.

They may not be good with horses but they were certainly good with music.

After a whiskey run from Katie Brianna in the crowd, The April Family were fuelled up and ready to go.

Michael Carpenter, Casey Atkins and lead singer, Kylie Whitney make up the band/trio. Their album that they were showcasing is What We Know Now. (See album review on here from January). Each of the band members stepped up to the plate with little anecdotes and fun banter, with most of the jibes directed towards Casey.

They sang all of the songs off the album with a fun and unexpected rendition of Hopelessly Devoted to You with audience participation – sans Sandy Pants – thrown in at about the half way point.

Additional musos joined them on stage and slightly off stage… I have never seen a keyboard player sneak on to play her bit then sneak off again…this is a new showbiz trick.

If you haven’t got the album yet, please do, every track is a winner.

I am sure that we will hear more from this trio, if any future albums are as good as this first alternative country offering then we are going to have very lucky ears.  I had an advantage going into the night knowing the songs pretty well (about 100 spins on the stereo will do that to you). Next time, these folks will know the songs as well as they know Olivia’s song that Kylie sang.

The April Family are here to stay through many other months of the year and for many years to come.

 

I sincerely urge my Melbourne friends to go and see them on 27th May at The Retreat Hotel with Katie Brianna (singing as well as doing the Whiskey Run – double duties) and the incredible Gretta Ziller….wow, what a show that will be!

Totally Biased Fan Review: Travelling Companions Tour – Caravan Music Club, Oakleigh, Victoria, 6 May, 2017 Lachlan Bryan and The Wildes, The Weeping Willows and Freya Josephine Hollick

A few months ago, I spotted that this tour was happening. Though there were a few of these gigs closer to where I live, this was the one that I wanted to go to. I immediately put in for two days leave, the Friday and the Monday and booked accommodation. Apart from being a mad fan of both Lachlan and his Wildes and my favourite trees, I just love this venue. It has so much atmosphere and it is in one of my favourite cities. I went to a gig there a couple of years ago, the launch of Lachlan’s album The Mountain, which had the likes of Allan Caswell, The Weeping Willows, Gretta Ziller in support. It was without a doubt, one of the best gigs that I have ever been to, and apart from the great music, it had a fantastic vibe.

We go back a few years now and it is pretty safe to say that it is more than just a fan going to a gig when I go and see and hear these folks. It is like a family reunion. A lot has happened since I started following Lachlan and indeed The Weeping Willows. Add to these two talents, a fresh approach to the stage from Freya and you have a pretty cool mix. Lachlan Bryan often reminds us that Andy was a Wilde and still is from time to time and Laura, the other half of the Weeping Willows, guests as well, so it is like old home week (or month) for these guys when they get together.

There have been a lot exciting things happen for these guys in the last few years, with plenty of interest in them nationally and overseas, record deals and award nominations. People all over are starting to realise what us stalkers have known for quite a while…..that we have some absolute gems here with these guys.

The Caravan Club is old school – which is why I like it. It is not too big – which is why I like it. It has character – which is why I love it. It is suited to our kind of music – country, in all of its 79 types. I was lucky to get centre stage at the front at a table with regulars. No matter where you are sitting though, it is a great place to see and hear good music.

Freya started proceedings, with Andy being his versatile self and playing with her. I had no idea about Freya’s music. I had heard her name a couple of times, but I knew nothing about her or her songs. That was about to change. Without speaking, she got stuck into it straight away. I thought that she was one of those American friends that Lachlan or Andy or Laura had run into in the States. No. When she spoke, her voice was as Australian as mine and she is from Ballarat. It is rare to find someone who talks so differently to how they sing. I was actually a little in shock. Freya is very personable. She doesn’t hold back in her songs or when she talks to you in between the songs. It is hard to slot her into one genre and that is a good thing. She sang everything from a Dolly Parton song to a yodelling ditty to her own songs. One to watch.

Laura and Andy – The Weeping Willows took to the stage with their usual charm and rattled off songs from both of their albums. Laura’s recent injury limited the two handed thigh slaps but there was nothing wrong with Andy’s fingers as he picked and strummed and teased those strings. Laura did surprise us with an instrument but I am not going to give it away, you will have to go to a gig and see and hear it. They brought Lachlan on for a personal favourite, which he co-wrote with them, Travellin’ Man. Laura and Andy’s chemistry is special. Sure, they are a couple off the stage as well as on but it is more than that. I’ve been around for a while and I have seen and heard a lot of couples on stage but I haven’t ever seen the power that these two generate together. It is very, very powerful and sweet. Their harmonies are stronger than ever. They blend together so beautifully and their vibe spreads into the crowd like a wave.

Lachlan and his two Wildes came on to the stage, joined by Andy and Laura at times. I love it when Lachlan plays the piano. It is almost the same beautiful partnership that Andy and Laura have on stage. He didn’t sing my two favourite Wildes’ songs, but he did sing many others. He has quite a repertoire to pull from these days. He joked later that he and Shaun were just the singers amongst the multi talented other members on stage but as Damian noted, they also wear their hats well. Lachlan wears many hats these days. Laura and Andy mentioned that he is one of the best songwriters in the country and that is a no brainer. He also is a video clip producer and he is becoming a mentor for many other artists.

As expected, as Travelling Companions, The Weeping Willows and Lachlan did a few songs together, some that weren’t expected, including a few covers. The time went fast and there were just as many well known Victorian songwriters in the audience as there were on stage. This is the respect that these guys have amongst their peers.

It was a cold night outside, but inside that Caravan Club, it was very warm. It was like sitting around a campfire with old friends or singing in the car with family on a road trip. I tried not to sing (for the sake and respect of others) but it is hard not to get caught up in the songs that I know so well – from murder ballads to folk inspired numbers and classic tunes from Gram and Townes. These guys deliver music like one of those chocolate fountains, the music just flows over you.

It is hard to replicate the magic of the Caravan Club. Larger venues may not be able to produce that same ambience, however, the gift that is delivered by these amazing musicians and inspirational songwriters is wrapped up with a big bow and an even bigger hug.

Try and catch these stars. Put them in your pocket and save them for a rainy day. They will keep you warm.

Thanks to Darren Clarke for the photos.

www.dclarkephotography.com.au

 

 

Grant Goldman – Benefit Night, Rooty Hill RSL, Friday, 17th February

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Hosted and organized by Cameron Syrett, who worked at 2WS with Grant many moons ago, this wonderful evening tinged with a little sadness, lots of humour, warm and fuzzy feelings, good mates and some of the best country music that Australia has to offer was damn fine medicine.

The evening opened with Johanna and George singing a song that George wrote for the occasion, for Grant. Jo went on to sing several songs, including a better than Carrie Underwood could do it song that was an absolute knockout.

Amber Lawrence knocked them dead in another one of her infamous playsuits, nearly knocked the equipment over and definitely bowled Pete over. Of course, her music and the fact that she is Amber Lawrence was more than enough to keep us entertained and happy.

Drew McAlister (I think that he might be a bit popular) was terrific with a mixture of country rock and a couple of sweet ballads. One of the best songwriters in the country, he just gets better. He cancelled a gig to be there, which just shows the measure of the man.

Seleen McAlister also cancelled a gig to be there, flew from Brisbane and just received her clothes in the nick of time. She never disappoints, and after a year that was full of close shaves and outstanding success, she delivered a great mix of songs and smiles.

Sir Allan Caswell provided a few laughs and some classic Caswell lines and songs after a multi-record breaking year for the Godfather of Australian Country Music.

Adam Harvey was the last to appear after Grant said a few words and Cameron presented him with the award of appreciation from ICMA.

What can I say about Mr Harvey? He mixes humour with pathos like nobody else and his voice is just amazing. Always a great entertainer and on this night, he just continued that tradition.

With James Stewart Keene manning the merch desk and a few stars in the crowd, as well as the core of Sydney’s country music fans, we had our night rounded off by a great finale, Georgie Fame’s Lean on Me, with Harvey going so deep that we had to get a lift to bring him back on stage.

An awesome band with Pete, Mal and Lord Simon Johnson who backed all of the stars did a great job.

The night honoured Grant and all that he has done to help country music in Australia. There will be tough times ahead, but Grant’s wonderful family, his fans and the Country Music Family will be standing right beside him to help him through.

Thank you to all who attended, who had anything to do with organizing and presenting the concert and hopefully, we have raised a good deal of money and awareness.

Thanks to Neil for the beautiful pictures.

On a personal note, thanks Grant for being you. I even let your Manly boys beat my Roosters yesterday. As a fellow Tamworthian (we even went the same High School – I am a couple of years younger….), we are very proud of what you have achieved, how hard you have worked and all that you have done to fly the flag for Country Music. I first met Grant when I was 19 and I attended the Future School of Radio at North Sydney. I am now 54 and I have finally got myself a guest spot on community radio, but it was more than that. He took the time to share his knowledge and his skills with us and helped a very young, green kid improve her voice and planted the hope that one day, just maybe, her dream would come true.  We had a lot of fun back then too with the class.

All the best, Grant. You are not alone, mate. If Friday night proved anything, it was that.