Two magical gigs to savour

WHO’S counting the sleeps? It’s now just 15 more until the official start of the Tamworth Country Music Festival.

With all the hullabaloo over the past two months, I just hope it doesn’t have a detrimental effect on the numbers this year, but there’s every chance it will.

Let’s just hope the diehards bite the bullet and leave the politics at home and turn up in their thousands, making this the biggest party of the year in the Country Music Capital.

THERE is so much to look forward to.

I’ve been going over the Official Guide and Capital News scouting for some must-see events and I think it’s going to be the same old story. 

I’ll have to clone myself to get around to all the gigs I really want to see and enjoy.

ONE show I’m determined not to miss is Audrey Auld at North Tamworth Bowling Club. 

She has two full concerts. The first is a band show – and Aud has enlisted one mighty hot combo for this one – on Wednesday, January 22 at 2pm.

The second is an acoustic duo gig on Friday, January 24, also in the 2pm timeslot.

It’s been 10 years since Audrey has attended a Tamworth festival and that’s way too long in my books.

We’ve been fortunate to catch brief sightings of her on fleeting visits to her Tasmanian homeland, but having her back for the festival is a real bonus.

As well as the two gigs at the North Bowlo, Aud will also appear at the official festival opening concert, so you can get a small sample of what’s in store at her full shows.

She will reunite with Bill Chambers to recreate the old Bill and Audrey Hillbilly Jams of old in a special show at The Pub on Sunday, January 19.

Aud flew back to the Land of Oz in early December and has spent her time catching up with family and friends, playing some music and selling some of specialised jewellery lines at local markets.

Her big, gorgeous husband Mez joined her on Boxing Day for a month-long stay and will get his first taste of the Tamworth festival this year.

She’s just received a shipment of her new Tonk DVD, the perfect accompaniment to her latest album of the same name. 

I’ve got all of Audrey’s albums but this one is distinctly different and for a very good reason.

“I’ve always wanted to make a real country album in Nashville – an album recorded the way music was made in the old days – live, with great musicians and a really authentic sound,” Audrey said.

She did this in spades, utilising the talents of Kenny Vaughan, described as “one of Nashville’s secret weapons” – and also a member of Marty Stuart’s Fabulous Superlatives band; Paul Martin on upright bass and piano; Harry Stinson on drums and percussion; George Bradfute on violin, viola, cello and slide guitar; Chris Scruggs on steel guitar; Andy Leftwich on violin and mandolin and Gary Carter on pedal steel.

It was recorded, as Audrey wanted, in Jim Reeves’ old home studio in just two days.

Twelve of the 14 songs are from Audrey’s own prolific pen, while the other two come from Willie P Bennett (Fred Eaglesmith Band) and Terry McArthur.

If you haven’t already got yourself a copy, do so, as it’s a real gem. 

The album artwork was designed by my good mate, Denise Fussell of Fussell Graphics in Nashville, with the Tonk sign created by Mez.

I think I might have to get in early though and go see Audrey at her show at Lizotte’s in Kincumber on January 9. 

It’s only a few hours’ drive down the road and I don’t have to work until 2pm the following day. Who wants to come for a drive?

ANOTHER show that’s a must-see on my dance card is the reunion of Flying Emus – siblings John and Genni Kane, Ian Simpson, Michael Vidale and Mike Kerin. 

It’s at the Longyard Hotel on Thursday, January 23 and I’d advise those wanting to get a seat, to book early or be disappointed. This show is sure to sell out. This gig is the start of a tour that coincides with the release of Flying Emus: The Collection 1984-1990.

Old tapes that had been locked away in a Homebush warehouse were unearthed and, as good fortune would have it, they’d been stored securely and were able to be restored to form the soundtrack for the retrospective 

collection.   

There had been talk of a reunion for many years, but their one-off appearance last year at CMC Rocks the Hunter under the guise of The Bluegrass Allstars sealed the deal.

Genni Kane told Susan Jarvis in an interview for Capital News that after the gig, they all realised it was something they simply had to do.

“Our last real gig was back in 1990, but we just naturally came together and it was magic,” Genni said.

John, Genni, Michael and Mike have been gathering for rehearsals for the past few months, with West Australian-based Ian joining in via Skype.

In a six-year period they racked up a swag of Golden Guitars – four for instrumental and two for vocal group and in 1988 they won the Best Country Album ARIA award for This Town. Some of their most memorable hits will be recalled at the show including Auctioneer, Darling Street, Postcards From Paradise, It’s A Sunburnt Country, I Don’t Know About That and many more.

Sit back in the audience and listen as the years melt away while that magical band recreates the sound that set them apart from all others of their era.

ROLL on festival – roll on.

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