IN THIS week’s column I’ll share two tales with you – one of a redhead who’s no stranger to the road; the other a fan who right now would be packed and ready for her annual Tamworth experience.
It shows two sides of the coin – the artist who’s constantly taking his music to the people and the fans who come to our festival to enjoy what’s on offer.
WHILE 8 Ball Aitken is based in Tamworth, that’s only his temporary home. This artist is a road warrior in every sense of the word.
Perhaps nomad might be a more apt description, as 8 Ball is only in Australasia for another six weeks before he heads back to the USA for another great adventure.
He’s building his profile really well on the road, and in the charts, with I’m Going To Jail visiting the #20 spot on its rise up the Australian Country Tracks Top 30.
The accompanying film clip is also getting an airing on CMC.
When we spoke earlier this week he was in Western Australia, staring down the barrel of eight gigs in nine days, but, that’s how he rolls.
It’s sort of like an athlete in training, as 8 Ball is preparing for 20 shows during the Tamworth Country Music Festival.
Everywhere he travels he said he’s been hearing bad press about Tamworth, which is a real concern.
The “Farcebook” frenzy of recent months has had a really negative impact on how people view the overall Tamworth experience.
But 8 Ball keeps on rolling …
He knows the importance of good PR and strategies to get where you’re going and believes Tamworth should continue to nurture the younger generation as they’re who we will be looking to into the future.
He’s come a long way since leaving his North Queensland home to follow his musical dream of bringing honk, stomp and Aussie swamp music to the masses.
From Johno’s Blues Bar in Cairns, where he got his first musical break, 8 Ball has performed
at festivals and clubs throughout the USA, Canada, Australia, and Europe.
He’s toured Japan four times, where he headlined the Rokko Sun Music Festival and has also played extensively in Germany, Poland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway and the UK.
Averaging 200 shows a year (quite often more), he’s been rewarded for his efforts with wins in both the blues and country arenas including a Southern Stars Australian Independent Country Music Award and two Queensland Song Awards (for Outback Booty Call and Yellow Moon).
His singles Rogue Pony, Cyclone Country and Hands On Top Of The Wheel have all been top 10 country chart hits around Australia.
8 Ball has also had Golden Guitar and APRA award nominations for songs he has written. His fourth album, The Tamworth Tapes, went to #2 for a month on the Australian blues and roots national chart.
He’s extremely grateful to all the people who come out to see his shows and buy his albums. His latest offering, Southern Hemisphere, recorded in Nashville with some of the finest players around, has had a huge response.
His first day on deck in Tamworth, Friday, January 17, holds two shows – a 2.30pm gig at the Courthouse Hotel backed up by a 7.30pm slot at Joe Maguire’s Pub. There’s nothing like keeping busy.
Keep up with all of 8 Ball’s adventures on his website, www.8ballaitken.com
A COLLEAGUE at The Leader passed on this poem to me written by a woman who comes to Tamworth every year for the festival.
She had a few poems in her collection, but I thought this one best summed up the fan experience.
Thanks, Janice Ebrington, of Woody Point, Queensland, for allowing me to share your poem. No doubt we will see you very soon.
My Tamworth Trip
I go to Tamworth every year
Always packed in November
Did I take this, did I take that
It’s been a whole year – can’t really remember
Often go down by bus
Or maybe with a friend
In the car
Are we there yet – is it far?
We camp by the wayside
Play cards in our van at night
But sometimes the outside noises
Can really give you a fright!
Often I stay with my friends Kath and Nev
Over the other side of town
Camped in a little unit out back
Easy on the bus to get around
I’m usually in town for a couple of weeks
Or even a month like last time
Love my little holiday in Tamworth
Suits me – just fine
Friends come down from Brisbane
Actually from all over the land
One of my favourites to watch
Is the Salvation Army Country Gospel Band
We all go into town for the bush poets’ breakfast
“Are you ready yet?” they call
Some put their boots and dancing clothes on
They’re off to the bootscooters’ ball
I’ve watched them from the balcony
In the beautiful old town hall
Bet there’d be some stories to tell
From those lovely old walls
Now Tamworth is a nice place, we race around
All the clubs in haste
The music is great; shops as well
And sometimes in these hills
It can rain like hell!
Swamps the town; we all get wet
But that’s half the fun
We’ve never gone home early yet
My darling Pixie Jenkins
Will be there in all his glory
I love him for his music,
His fiddle and his stories
Pixie is a treasure
He gives people so much pleasure
The Devil Went Down To Georgia, he sings
Sure brings the people in
Well, as I said, Tamworth is great
My friend Margaret meets us at the gate
She helps look after everyone
At Nemingha Hall where we stay
She’s on the committee
If I lived there,
I could help her
But I don’t – more’s the pity
Now that’s my trip to Tamworth
And if any of you go there
I hope you all have fun
Enjoy the shows, look at the shops
Go see the Hands of Fame
The rodeo, the Big Guitar
And I’m sure one day
You’ll go back again
So here’s to the best
Country music town
For the grand parade
Please do stay around