8 Ball rolling into Tamworth on cue

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 

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