The Chookman revealed

I’M NOT sure if the world is quite ready for this news, but Frank “The Chookman” Turton is about to become a star of the silver screen.

French filmmaker Marc Cousin is on his way to South Australia for the world premiere of his documentary, The Chookman, at Renmark’s Chaffey Theatre on Saturday, April 5.

During the Riverland’s cooler months, Frank heads north in search of the sun and was happily ensconced at the Daly Waters Pub in the Northern Territory (with his chooks) when he met the French documentary maker.

Fascinated by the man from the Riverland, who shared his big dream of building a houseboat so he could have his own floating stage, the Frenchman decided Frank would make an ideal subject for a documentary with a difference. 

Marc and his travelling companion stayed on at the Daly Waters Pub for a week, and then joined Frank as he travelled home to Paringa.

They were there to witness the Chookman’s dream in its early stages, staying on for a week or so, and then headed off again, promising they would return.

True to their word, a few months later they returned to find work on the boat had progressed, so they lent a hand and helped finish the project, staying on until it had made its maiden voyage.

The lure of the Chookman’s quirky story brought Marc back to Paringa again where he joined Frank on the road, travelling the outback, filming as he went.

The result is an inspiring, funny, heartfelt story about a man many think is a little kooky, but the real Frank Turton emerges from behind Marc’s skilful camera work.

Before the festival got too hectic for both of us earlier this year, Frank and I sat down and talked about the film, the scenery and the music.

It’s sure to have broad appeal on a number of fronts – tourism, travel, music, comedy and more.

The film will serve to show people there’s much more to the Chookman than his perch in Peel St during the festival.

There are plans in place for the film to make its Tamworth premiere in January 2015.

My friend, Flash, who’s one of the Chookman’s best mates, has already seen an earlier version of the movie and liked what she saw.

“I was very impressed with Marc’s foresight, filming, and the way he was able to, unknowingly, get so much out of Frank without him realising,” Flash said.

“You will see more of Frank in this film than you have ever seen before.”

Watch this space for further updates. In the meantime, to get a small snippet of the movie, visit the-chookman.com

THE guitar-slinger who calls both Tamworth and Nashville home, 8 Ball Aitken, is a very happy man.

After a 90-gig tour across Australia promoting his latest album release, Southern Hemisphere, he returned to Nashville to do more of the same, with an extensive tour planned of America’s southern states.

He’d hardly had time to unpack his bags from the trip when he learnt his song, I’m Going To Jail, had reached the #1 spot on the Australian Country Tracks Top 30.

A crossover hit, it had also spent a month at #2 on the Australian Blues Radio charts.

Over the next few months, he will perform his new material to enthusiastic audiences in Tennessee, South Carolina, Florida, and Texas.

8 Ball wrote and recorded all of the songs from his home base in Nashville, working with Aussie expat producer Mike Flanders and some of Music City’s hottest session musicians, including past and present members of Little Big Town and Lynyrd Skynyrd, as well as band members from Alison Krauss, Emmylou Harris and Robert Plant’s ensembles.

8 Ball’s mate, Aussie country star Troy Cassar-Daley, also guests on guitar on the album.

The music video for I’m Going To Jail was filmed in Queensland’s notorious Boggo Road Jail.

It tells a sorry tale of a gullible young bloke being led down the garden path by a wicked, red-headed woman who heads to Mexico with the stolen cash while the honest young man does hard time.

“It’s great to be back home in Nashville,” 8 Ball said.

“I started gigging at local venues here in Music City soon after I got off the plane, and now I’m heading off on another big tour throughout the American South.

“I’m writing new songs as I go, but a part of me is always still in Australia, and I’m already organising my next Australian tour.

“We are booking into 2015 at this point. I feel very humbled by the support of my Aussie fans.

“There’s no big record company getting me there; it’s sheer hard work, fan power and playing more than 200 gigs a year that has gotten me to where I am right now.”

8 Ball says he is always eager to communicate with his Australian audience while he is on tour overseas, and loves to chat with them on his 8 Ball Aitken fan page on Facebook.

An exciting new development taking place this year is enhanced fan communications. 8 Ball has recently signed a deal with the London-based digital media marketing wizard, Ben Sword, so cutting-edge new fan initiatives are in development – and the Aussies will be the first in the world to benefit.

In the meantime, his fellow Australians don’t have all that long to wait for another taste of his wild stage antics and sizzling hot guitar licks.

8 Ball will fly back to Australia for a few festival appearances in May, before resuming his American tour.

“I’m enjoying the best of both worlds,” he said.

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