Musical feast in store for BluGuru fans

BLUGURU returns to this neck of the woods on Monday, with a lunchtime concert at Gunnedah Conservatorium and an evening gig at ENREC Studios, Calala – and they won’t be alone.

BluGuru – Andrew Clermont, Parvyn Singh and Josh Bennett – will be joined by acclaimed award-winning multi-instrumentalist, composer and musical director Shenzo Gregorio.

The connecting factor between Clermont’s trio and the world-renowned maestro was Tamworth’s Brookie Schiemer.

“Brookie is getting engaged to Daniel Gillet and part of the whims of this expanding event was mention of a special tune from award-winning group, Four Play, to be played on the day,” Andrew said.

“So we thought we’d ask the writer/player Shenzo Gregorio, if he might in fact physically appear at the engagement as a favour – and this led to him joining BluGuru on our Oz concert tour that week, which is a bonus all round.”

Shenzo plays amazing fiddle, violin, viola, mandolin, guitar and bass, so you can just imagine, with the numerous instruments in Andrew’s repertoire, there will be little room left on the stage for anyone else – but I’m sure they’ll manage.

If you want to get along to the ENREC Studio gig on Monday at 7pm, it will cost just $30 for this musical feast.

Bookings can be made via email to AndrewClermont@gmail.com or by phoning 0407 753 809. ENREC Studio is located at 3 Egret Pl, Calala.

EVERY January I get to spend time with a dear friend, Gina Timms (now Mrs Gina Hills, since her marriage to her soulmate, Wayne Hills).

Gina and I first met in the early 1990s when she entered a talent quest, where I was judging. She didn’t end up winning that night – I think Felicity Urquhart did, if memory serves me right – but we both won bigtime in the friendship stakes. 

In all the years I’ve known her, Gina has carried a burden of pain most people would not have the courage to bear.

In 1989, she was the innocent victim of a drunk-driver, whose car slammed into her stationary vehicle, virtually sentencing her to a lifetime of chronic back pain and countless operations.

She’s always put on a brave face and has never let it stop her from entertaining or being a great friend to many.

Just recently Gina had a glimpse of what life could be like without her constant companion – pain.

She took part in a new medical trial of the Nevro neurostimulator, a device attached to her body, with wires attached internally to her spine.

The result was amazing. While she wasn’t entirely pain-free, for the first time in almost 25 years the pain relief and improved mobility gave her hope of a better life. 

Up until now, she’s been dreading the day her spine deteriorates to the point where she will be confined to a wheelchair.

This expensive operation is partially covered by Gina’s medical fund, but there’s an $11,000 shortfall.

With all the stories of people successfully using crowdfunding to achieve financial goals in the music industry, it prompted me to search online for ways to help Gina achieve her goal.

What I found was People Pledge. Then, with Gina’s blessing, I launched her fundraising campaign on www.peoplepledge.com.au on Good Friday.

Within a few short days close to 70 magnificent people have pledged just over 70 per cent of funds towards our goal of $10,000.

The campaign is only for one month and will close on May 20.

If you would like to help out in any way, visit the website www.peoplepledge.com.au/2014/gina-timms/ and read her story.

Gina has touched many people’s lives over the years through her music and her generosity of spirit.

Not all that long ago, I reported in this column when she was officially recognised as a Country Music Legend for her ongoing support of numerous worthy causes in her home state of Tasmania.

Gina is always the first to put up her hand to help others. Right now, she needs our help. Please do what you can.

WELL, folks. We’re exactly 10 weeks out from our midyear winter festival and things are beginning to take shape, program-wise, but not quite quick enough for my liking.

If you look at the website, www.hatsofftocountry.com you should find a tentative program with some venues’ shows listed, but several others are yet to begin their Hats Off planning, or are still locking in their artists and shows.

As a two-way checking mechanism, artists are being asked to notify organisers, the Tamworth Country Music Stakeholders Group, of their shows, so nobody’s gig is missed out in the program.

This can easily be achieved by shooting off a quick email to info@hatsofftocountry.com stating the date, time, venue and name of the show.

THIS week I spoke to South Tamworth Bowling Club chief executive officer Owen Walker, who’s given his full support to the Toyota Hats Off to Country festival for the past couple of years. 

Even on holidays, Owen was happy to talk shop, which I was grateful for.

He said festival favourite Alby Pool was starting Hats Off at the bowlo on Thursday, July 3 at 7pm, doing a solo show to ease in to the four-day event.

“Alby’s someone who really delivers the goods for those who love their country music,” Owen said.

“He’s very popular here during the January festival and he was happy to be invited back again for Hats Off.

“He’ll do another show for us on the Saturday at 7pm with his band, No City Limits, which we’re all looking forward to.”

Another popular act, Hunter Valley artist Rob Wilson, returns to the bowlo with his band on Friday, July 4 at 7pm, while popular local entertainer Tommy Maxwell holds court from 1pm on Sunday, July 6.

The Tamworth-based Capital Country Music Association present a tribute to the late Buddy Williams at the bowlo at 1pm on Saturday, July 5.

This will be a multi-artist presentation and is sure to satisfy those who fondly remember “the good old days” of country music.

The last hurrah at the bowlo is a Hats Off Hoedown at 4.30pm on Sunday, July 6, when Alby Pool will be joined by a host of artists, including the lovely Marie Hodson and man of steel, Lance Birrell, to farewell the winter festival audiences.

Owen tells me the bowlo’s Chinese restaurant is going great guns six nights a week (except Mondays), with new operators on board.

“It’s going even better than we expected and the all-you-can-eat smorgasbord dinner every Thursday night is really popular,” Owen said.

It’s fantastic to have enthusiastic supporters such as the bowlo getting behind Hats Off – but even more importantly, by offering all this quality entertainment free of charge, they need strong patronage to make it worth their while.

Lend your support to the friendly little Margaret St club.

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