Best of buskers play-off at Toyota Park to find the next country star | Photos

The Haystack Mountain Hermits – a Queensland family band – delighted Toyota Park with a blissful bluegrass throwback on Saturday night to take out the 2018 Tamworth Country Music Festivla busking final.

The Mt Tambourine-based family of six play and travel together. In November, Kerrie Gamberly, Dave Church and children Jackson, 19, Marcus, 17, Lachlan, 16, and Ella, 14 were a runner up in the National Busking Championships in Cooma.

Mr Church told a packed Toyota Park of how the family first started playing together on a trip around Australia in 2011. 

In true bluegrass fashion they played instruments as varied as a mandolin, washboard, double bass and a couple of lids (to mimic a horse’s trot).

Runner up was Zac and George, with their original modern country acoustic songs, and Embers, a trio from Victoria. 

The crowd favourite was 10-year-old Emmengen Rain, who had the crowd on side with renditions of Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colours and Adele’s Rollin' In The Deep.

A diverse range of new and emerging talent played for $5000 in prize money at the Best of the Buskers concert on Saturday night at Toyota Park.

Ten finalists whittled down to a winner from the almost 400 buskers who registered to played in Peel St during the festival..

The winner will also appear at The Last Roundup concert on Sunday night

“This year's finalists are a diverse range of extraordinary talent that includes new, young and emerging artists,” said Hayden Pannell, busking coordinator for the Tamworth Regional Council. 

The finalists are: 

Zac & George (NSW)   –  They met in year seven at school in Sydney. Zac is from Lake Macquarie and George from Gundaroo, between Canberra and Yass. They bounce off each other in their acoustic sets, which have been winning fans at gigs across the state (that have also raised money for charity). 

Simon Gudgeon (NSW)  – Dubbed the Johnny Cash of Peel St due to his deep vocals. 

Charlie Fittler (NSW)  –  The young singer/guitarist has grown up on a property outside Armidale. He has been wowing festival crowds for the past few years. 

Emmagen Rain (NSW) – AKA Little Pixie. A little powerhouse. Listen to her version of Adele’s Rolling in the Deep on Peel St this year

Shania Bonita (NSW)   A solo guitar/vocalist aiming to top the country scene

Horizon (VIC)  – A duo who sing a mix of songs, including light opera. 

Embers (VIC) – A hint of country, a bit of soul and a dash of blues takes this Americana band to new heights. 

Jimmy Davis (QLD) – The songwriter and guitarist from Gympie has competed on X-Factor. Check out his track Headstrong

Andrew Cousins (QLD) – Over the past two years Andy has travelled the world taking his sound to a global audience. He has been a finalist in the busking competition as both as soloist and in bands.

Back on stage: Andrew Cousins will return for his third busking final in as many years.

Back on stage: Andrew Cousins will return for his third busking final in as many years.

Toyota Country Music Festival Manager, Barry Harley said that  busking brings life and colour to the streets of Tamworth during the Festival and is one of the most popular attractions.

“Throughout the Festival, we see up to 400 buskers perform on Tamworth’s Boulevard of Dreams in Peel Street for their shot at stardom,” Mr Harley said. 

“It has become the place where stars are born, and dreams come true with many of Australia’s finest country music artists first making their mark on the industry from a busking spot on Peel Street.

More Tamworth Country Music Festival action

Stars like Troy Cassar-Daley, Kasey Chambers, Beccy Cole, Keith Urban and Travis Collins all started out busking on Peel Stree. 

“Busking in Tamworth is a key part of the country music journey,”  Mr Harley said. 

“It is a perfect launch-pad for aspiring musicians as it helps them to get their music out there to a large audience.  It also helps them build a solid foundation in Tamworth and set themselves up to take on other opportunities such as Toyota Star Maker.”

Busking championship final, Toyota Park from 7pm., Saturday January 27. 

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