COUNTRY music doesn’t leave Tamworth at the end of January, with the city scoring a coup and attracting the US queen of country, Dolly Parton, in February.
The legendary Parton announced her Australian tour in October, but since then Tamworth has lobbied to be included on February 16, the night after she plays Hope Estate in the Hunter Valley.
The Blue Smoke World Tour will see the iconic singer, who’s known for her big hair and big voice, among other things, return to Australia for the first time since her successful 2011 tour.
“Australia, here I come again,” she said.
“We have a lot of new and exciting things for the show and can’t wait to share it with you. I love my fans in that part of the world. You’ve been so very good to me for so many years and I know that we’re gonna have a wonderful time.
“It’s a long way from home in your part of the world, but I always feel like I’m right at home. So Australia, I’m coming home. Wait up.”
Parton said she loved everything about Australia.
“I love the country, I love the people, I love the fans, I love the place,” she said.
“It’s the most fascinating place. There are so many weird and unusual things we don’t have here. I’ve never seen bugs so big, animals so strange and people so warm and the countryside is great. It’s a wonderful country and I cannot wait to get back there. I always feel that there is a part of me that must be from there or something, I just relate to the people.”
Tamworth was included in her tour after Tamworth Regional Council’s events department put its case forward to the tour promoters, given the city has hosted successful concerts from Alan Jackson, Keith Urban, Carrie Underwood and Kenny Rogers.
“I love Keith Urban, he feels like a brother to me,” Parton said.
“I kinda feel like everybody in Australia, I feel like I know you and you feel like you know me, too, and you do.”
Tamworth Regional Council business and events director John Sommerlad said once you had country artists like Urban, Jackson and Rogers on your resume, people took notice.
“We’ve consciously been chasing these sorts of performers to come to Tamworth,” he said.
“They don’t come much bigger than Dolly Parton.
“The fact that we’ve been able to attract her to Tamworth is a great accolade.
“We attract people from the coast, Dubbo and beyond, and this is showing there is a very healthy market for that.”
Mr Sommerlad said Tamworth offered a “boutique concert experience” and that some people decided if they were going to see a country artist, the Country Music Capital was the place to go.
“You are up close and personal with the artists and the venue (TRECC) has the capacity for this. Even if you’re in the backblocks of TRECC, you’re still a lot closer than in Sydney or Brisbane,” he said.
He said the performers felt it was a more intimate concert experience in Tamworth as well.
“Alan Jackson’s comments reflected that,” Mr Sommerlad said.
“It’s a notch on the belt that we wanted to get.”
He said this had been a work in progress for about two months.
Mr Sommerlad said Tamworth could not wait to have Parton in town.
My Live Nation members will be among the first to access tickets during the exclusive pre-sale event beginning at noon on Wednesday.
Head to www.livenation.com.au to register. General tickets will go on sale on Friday, the first day of the Tamworth Country Music Festival.