Rebecca's Round-up

Check out what's happening at festival central

Day 9:

HAPPY Australia Day. It’s time to pack up and say goodbye for another year. There’s still plenty happening over the next few days, though.

This weekend is the big one, so I hope you’re ready.

After a fantastic night last night at Stars Under the Stars and a new Toyota Star Maker crowned, we can now look forward to the biggest event on the country music calendar: the CMAA Country Music Awards of Australia.

It’s tonight with the red carpet from 5.30pm and awards starting at 7.30pm, all at TRECC.

Before that, the things you must see are the cavalcade at 9am on Peel St where your favourite artists, local businesses and groups parade down the street on foot, horseback, camels and in a variety of  vehicles.

The Hands of Fame inductees will have their fame cemented at 10.30am at Hands of Fame Park and the Great Duck Race is in the Peel River at the same time.

At midday, you need to be at Bicentennial Park for the Australia Day Concert featuring Colin Buchanan and Greg Champion, Jonny Taylor, Tamara Stewart, Kaylens Rain, Morgan Evans and co. and the Coca-Cola Battle of the Bands at Hands of Fame Park at 2pm. 

Add some Irish and Scottish celebrations to your Australia Day with The BordererS Down In The Dungeon at the Services from 3.30pm.

At 5.30pm it’s time to frock up to the red carpet event of the CMAA Country Music Awards with the awards starting at 7.30pm.

The Annual Cultural Showcase Finale is at The Capitol Theatre at 8pm with a tribute to Jimmy Little and The Viper Creek Band sets up at the Southgate Inn at 8.30pm.

Finish off the night with Kaylens Rain at the Imperial Hotel from 10pm and Mike Carr and Springfield from 11.30pm at Wests’ Diggers.

Tomorrow finish off with Pete Denahy’s Comedy and Bluegrass Breakfast at Wests from 8am, The Perch Creek Family Jug Band at the Longyard Hotel at 10.15am then out the back in the Goonoo Goonoo Room for Tex Dubbo at 1.30pm – he looks a whole lot like Troy Cassar-Daley but performs older country songs, not TCD originals.

Stick around to celebrate in style with The Bushwackers and their Chardonnay Show at 4pm, also in the Goonoo Goonoo Room, or Luke O’Shea is on at 3.30pm at The Services Club.

Catch the Hillbilly Goats from 6pm at The Pub and Simply Bushed is at Joe Maguire’s Hotel at 6.30pm.

John Stone is at Wests’ Diggers at 7.30pm – catch him before he heads back to the US – and Doug Bruce rounds out my recommendations. He’s at the Central Hotel at 8.30pm.

To those who have travelled to party with us in Tamworth, thank you and I hope you have a very safe journey back to your homes. For those locals, I hope you’ve enjoyed your hometown coming alive for 10 or so days of country music fun.

Please come back next year, because we’ll be waiting to do it all again – my countdown starts again from tomorrow.

The dates for next year’s festival are January 17-26 so mark it on your calendar and get back here.

Day 8:

YESTERDAY demonstrated what’s so great about country music, and today will just reinforce it.

If it’s not enough to have such talented artists in the same city at the same time, yesterday they gathered to raise money for the bushfire victims.

Today they will do the same, but for three different causes.

It starts at 9am when stars and their fans gather in Bicentennial Park and will then walk down Peel St to raise money for the Leukaemia Foundation.

Then at 5pm we return to Peel St in front of council, this time, at the HQ Stage for Busk for Breast Cancer in aid of the National Breast Cancer Foundation with Golden Guitar finalist Tamara Stewart leading proceedings.

The annual Toyota Concert in the Park starts at 6.30pm with the Toyota Star Maker grand final performances then the concert begins with Lee Kernaghan as headlining act, but plenty of his friends to help him along the way.

This concert has raised more than $120,000 for rural charities, and this year will benefit the Melanoma Institute Australia for research into and awareness of melanoma because it is an illness faced by many farmers who spend a lot of time in the sun.

Start the day with a bit of bluegrass at Wests with Pete Denahy, which will warm you up for Walk of Life at 9am.

Then it’s off to meet with a few stars at the Big Golden Guitar with current Toyota Star Maker Bob Corbett can be found with former Star Maker Lyn Bowtell, Tamara Stewart and Tania 


Our country music reporter Rebecca Belt brings you her take on the festival.

Our country music reporter Rebecca Belt brings you her take on the festival.

At 11.45am try something a little different with Mr Cassidy (featuring Scott Owen from The Living End) at Shoppingworld, then Nia Robertson launches her album at the Tamworth Towers at 1pm.

Adam Brand’s Family Show is at 1pm with Sam Hawksley supporting him from 1.30pm at Wests and Graeme Connors takes his audience from North to Now at the town hall at 3pm.

If you love The Dixie Chicks, Shut Up and Sing is at the Tamworth Golf Club at 7.30pm and at 8pm I have a dilemma, recommending you get to both John Williamson’s show at the town hall and Jim Lauderdale’s concert at The Capitol Theatre (they’re close, you can make both). At midnight, for those wanting a massive party, celebrate Adam Brand’s birthday with him at Wests.

Day 7:

JANUARY is country music month, so if you’re feeling a little tired (exhausted is more the word for it), remember that we only have limited days left in which to soak up this party.

This means that every January we stuff as many activities, artists and concerts into 10 days and when the rest of the country has just returned to work and is returning to school, we’re exhausted by February and need a sleep.

But, that’s February, for now it’s January and today I want you to get out and soak up the weird and wonderful. I don’t mean poke fun at the festival, its fans and the artists who dwell on the fringe, I mean soak it up in all its uniqueness.

I have heard plenty of wonderful stories of unique experiences friends have had this week that wouldn’t happen any other time of the year, and everytime someone tells me these things, they finish with, “Oh, I love the festival”.

So do we, so we want to know about what you’ve spotted or experienced this year.

Send us a note on our Facebook page The Tamworth Northern Daily Leader or tweet us @NDL_TCMF or I’m on @cmjourno.

We also have wonderful photo galleries (from historical, talented to weird and wonderful) at

This is my third last update for this year and we only have four days left of festival, so enjoy it while it lasts. I hope you’ve enjoyed my guided tour of the festival so far.

For the best in young and up-and-coming talent, the CCMA National Talent Quest is the place to be from 9am at the North West Church on Kathleen St. This talent quest names artists including Keith Urban among its winners.

The best in fiddlers will also be on stage at the same time for the Golden Fiddle Show at the Tamworth Town Hall.

If it’s acoustic and bluegrass music you’re after catch Karen Lynn and Martin Louis and friends from 10am at the North Tamworth Bowling Club followed by the Maton Guitar Showcase, where the music heats up from 11am at Wests.

The only place to be from 12.30pm is at TRECC for Country Relief, a concert in aid of the Red Cross Bushfire Appeal 2013 with just about every Australian country artist you can name lending a hand.

And 1.30pm brings Amber Lawrence to the stage at Wests with Bob Corbett.

Ami Williamson hits the stage at Wests’ Diggers from 3pm with a special appearance from her dad, John – you may have heard of him.

The Sunny Cowgirls will be cooking up a storm in aid of the Westpac Rescue Helicopter, also from 3pm, at the Big Golden Guitar, so grab yourself some afternoon tea or a late lunch.

If the Golden Fiddles Show wasn’t enough this morning, the Fiddlers Feast tunes up at The Family Hotel from 3.30pm.

Rocking country then opens at Wests with McAlister Kemp, Baylou and Chelsea Basham on stage from 5pm. Tonight the choices are nearly endless. Harmony James is at Wests’ Diggers, Jetty Road is at The Capitol Theatre, Jonahs Road is at the Court House Hotel and Catherine Britt has her Hillbilly Sessions at The Pub.

Festival favourite Kevin Bennett will also make an appearance at the Tamworth Hotel at 9pm out the back under the stars.

The Pigs oink their way through a set at The Longyard, also from 9pm.

Then have a few hours’ sleep and get back out there.

Day 6: 

PEEL St is starting to come alive around this time, this year. I’ve been down there every day this week and it had been quite quiet, but as of yesterday I felt that old festival atmosphere returning. 

So, get down and appreciate the many and varied talents of the travelling street performers and buskers who bring the festival alive for many.

The top buskers will be rewarded for their musical abilities on Australia Day at 6.30pm with the Best of the Buskers concert in Bicentennial Park, with the chance for listeners 

to vote online at

Accolades are a popular part of the Tamworth Country Music Festival. So far we’ve had the Roll of Renown, Hands of Fame and Broadcasters Hall of Fame inductees all announced, with the Roll of Renown plaque being placed on the granite boulders at TRECC at 10.30am today and the Galaxy of Stars unveiling with the McClymonts and Adam Harvey at 9am also at TRECC.

We still have the People’s Choice Awards and Gold Medallion Awards to come.

The biggest awards are on Saturday night, with stars walking the red carpet of the CMAA Country Music Awards from 5.30pm so get there early for a vantage point.

It’s a big day for concerts today with Steve Passfield kicking us off at 8.30am with the Handpicked Breakfast in 

Diggers’ Courtyard then get your dancing shoes on for The Bushwackers Giant Bushdance at the Tamworth Town Hall from 10am and for the best pickers around, the place to be is the Fender Super Jam at Wests at 10.30am.

At 8pm I’m having a hard time deciding between Col Buchanan at the Town Hall where he is playing a rare Tamworth gig with plenty of his mates dropping in to jump up on stage with him. At the same time, at Bicentenial Park Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson will be 


It’s a big day, stay hydrated.

DAY 5: The Tamworth Country Music Festival, for many, is a place to be seen as much as a place to see others. This is particularly the case when it comes to young and up-and-coming artists. 

In January Tamworth becomes a town where people come to be discovered. We’ve all heard the stories of Keith Urban, Troy Cassar-Daley and Kasey Chambers being discovered on Peel St and then there are the artists who have got their big break through Toyota Star Maker, Telstra Road to Discovery and the CCMA National Talent Quest among the many other competitions including the Coca-Cola competitions.

Sunday night saw four more aspiring country artists begin their Toyota Star Maker journey with the winner crowned on Saturday night and tonight we will see two artists – a songwriter and a performer, begin their Telstra Road to Discovery journeys for the year ahead.

Peel St will also witness plenty of artists with stars in their eyes and maybe some of them will have stories to tell about how just the right people saw them doing their thing on the Boulevard of Dreams.

Tamworth is an exciting place to be in January (all year ’round, but more so at the moment) so take the time to maybe discover some talent of your own so you can say, “I saw them when they were busking on the street.” Everyone has their story to tell.

Country music is about the stories, really more than anything else, and today the best storytellers in song will be rewarded at the Tamworth Songwriters Association Awards and, for the poets and yarn writers, there is the Bush Laureate Awards.

Bush poetry is definitely storytelling and some of the best start competing today at the Essential Energy Bush Poets Competition at Wests in The Outback Bar from 10am or, for the children, Luke O’Shea is running Family Storytime at Tamworth Library at 11am.

At midday, The Good Companions Hotel is the place to be for singer-songwriter Sam Hawksley who is back in Australia on a flying visit from the US.

Also at midday, the Young Stars of Country take to the stage at The Pub and are sure to turn some heads.

The best storytellers are rewarded today firstly at The Bush Laureate Awards at 2pm at the Town Hall and then the Tamworth Songwriters Association Awards are on at 7pm at The Longyard.

If it’s top songwriting and great musicianship you crave, you must get to the Camille and Stuie show at North Tamworth Bowling Club and they also have the Stuie French Pickers Night at The Pub from 9pm.

DAY 4: You might have noticed we’ve been including columns from various people on what they love about Tamworth or what their earliest festival memories are.

The variety of memories and people we have featured so far just shows what an impact this festival has had on people – singers, musicians and industry people.

Those who have been here from the start often comment how much they’ve enjoyed watching the festival grow to what it is now, while others lament ‘the good old days’. 

I haven’t been here from the start, but I’ve been here for more than the last 20 and I think it’s great how so many pioneers of Australian country music enjoy watching younger artists coming through the ranks, no matter what their style of country is.

This is a time for celebration of great music and a mingling of all the different genres that call country home these days.

It’s also a time when we pay tribute to those who forged a strong foundation for our music and recognise those who are coming through with their own take on what country means to them.

Feel free to add to our collection of memories, either by posting on our Facebook page, The Northern Daily Leader, or our dedicated Twitter feed @NDL_TCMF

Today we’re well into the party and there’s plenty on for your listening pleasure.

If you’re into country music history, get out of the heat for a little while and visit the Big Golden Guitar Tourist Centre’s Wax Museum and the Australian Country Music Hall of Fame (ACMF) this morning.

Dancing is heating up in Tamworth, also, with the Line Dance Association of Australia championships at Calrossy from 9am, some of the best writers in the business take to the stage to chat about songwriting also from 9am at the Services Club and at 10.15am current Toyota Star Maker Bob Corbett is on stage with his Roo Grass Band at Shoppingworld.

In the history theme, you can meet Roll of Renown recipient Wayne Horsburgh at the ACMF on Brisbane St at 10.30am and then for some rocking country get to The Viper Creek Band at Tamworth Shoppingworld.

The Aboriginal Cultural Showcase officially opens at midday at Tamworth Community Centre Powerstation Park with Warren H. Williams, the Gomeroi Dance Company and many more special guests.

The Australian Bush Balladeers Association pays tribute to Joy McKean at 1pm at the 

Balladeers Homestead on Goonoo Goonoo Rd or you can catch Brad Butcher at the Post Office Hotel from 3pm.

Top singer-songwriter Luke O’Shea and Medicine Wheel play the lounge of the Tamworth Services Club at 3.30pm and they are an absolute must-see this festival.

Buddy Knox is on from 5pm at the Court House Hotel and Paul Bonner Jones celebrates 30 years with a DVD launch at Enrec Recording Studio, also at 5pm in Calala.

The Sapphires screens tonight in Bicentennial Park as part of Movies in the Park from 7pm and our own Ashleigh Dallas plays The Pub at 8pm. Then stay up late with Christie Lamb and Kimberley Bowden at Wests for the Tomkins Late Night Honky Tonk from 11.30pm.

Click on the image above to see more photos from the weekend

DAYS 2 and 3: IT'S the first weekend and our beloved festival is just starting to warm up, although we hope the weather cools down.

There is a distinctly international flavour to the party for the next two days with Craig Campbell performing at TRECC tonight and Elizabeth Cook playing The Capitol Theatre tomorrow night at 8pm.

Tamworth will also host the only broadcast of Jim Lauderdale's Music City Roots radio show that's been done outside Nashville and Jim, a prolific songwriter, will perform throughout the festival- he's somewhat of a regular visitor to Australia and has played Tamworth previously.

There has sometimes been controversy surrounding international artists performing at the Tamworth festival, but I believe their visits merely add to the fun and definitely add to the variety of the event.

We should be pleased we have US, British, Canadian, Japanese or Indian country artists and musicians wanting to visit us and showcase their music in Tamworth, just as Australian country artists visit their countries to play our music for them. It not only helps spread the word of how wonderful the Tamworth festival is, across the world, but also opens our eyes to new styles of country and what others are doing with the music in other countries.

Nashville's CMA Fest, South by South West and the Americana festivals are among the biggest music festivals in the world and welcome international artists each year, so there's no reason we shouldn't be doing the same.

So, get out and welcome our international visitors to our festival this weekend and mix it with plenty of great Australian country.

Last night officially kicked off the festivities so today and tomorrow is the time to really get into it.

The Hillbilly Goats are on the deck at The Longyard from 10am so get out there and then head into town to the Impy where the Perch Creek Family Jug Band are playing from 11.15am or, if wine is more your flavour, Country In The Vines is at Kitty Crawford Estate on Nundle Rd starting at 11.30am.

Former Tamworthian Allison Forbes is at City Plaza from 1pm and at 1.30pm Adam Harvey is at Wests.

The next Roll of Renown, Broadcasters Hall of Fame and Hands of Fame inductees will be announced during the 2pm concert at the Town Hall and the Aboriginal Cultural Showcase is at the HQ Stage at 3pm.

At 5pm Beccy Cole and Lyn Bowtell move into Wests and then I recommend you head to Craig Campbell at TRECC at 7pm or if you need a laugh, comedy rules Bicentennial Park from 7pm.

The Bushwackers bring the beach to Tamworth at The Longyard at 8pm and we farewell the day until tomorrow.

The markets are on in Bicentennial Park from 8am tomorrow and the Wolverines Poker Run gathers at Bikes and Bits at 9am.

If you want to look around the region, the Dag out past Nundle has music with a distinctly Australian flavour at midday or, if you're staying in town, Carter and Carter present their Capitol Theatre show at 2pm.

This evening the very moving Red Dog is showing in Bicentennial Park at 7pm for some family fun or there is the final of Toyota Star Maker is at TRECC at the same time.

Doug Bruce is rocking Wests' Diggers at 7.30pm land Elizabeth Cook hosts her main show at The Capitol from 8pm.

Roy Orbison fans need to see Damien Leith at Wests where he presents his tribute to Roy and then party animals can wrap up their night at Wests' Diggers at the Coyote Ugly Bar with Jonah's Road.

DAY 1: WELCOME back to my hometown for the biggest celebration of country music in Australia.

Call me biased, but while many other festivals have begun around the country, I believe Tamworth is still the best and certainly the biggest.

This year I am pleased to see more international artists coming to join the party than ever before and the US will hear a snippet of Tamworth through the broadcasting of Music City Roots from our town hall.

There are plenty of other changes for you to witness, too.

There’s a new area in Fitzroy St known as FanZone, where you can hear some of your favourite artists perform acoustically and you might even get the chance to meet a few of them.

The busking competition has changed and it will be interesting to see how the new audition and rostering format of the street performers changes the streetscape of the festival and Tamworth’s Boulevard of Dreams. Organisers believe the boulevard is truly back this year, so get down there and see what talent Peel St has to offer.

Now, to warm you up for this year’s festival, let’s get to the entertainment. Drop by FanZone in Fitzroy St where O’Shea will be at 9am. Then it’s off to Wests for a bit of Peter Denahy’s bluegrass and comedy and some breakfast if you haven’t already fuelled up.

Head back into town about 11am and catch local Blake Saban at The Albert Hotel or maybe head to Kaylens Rain in Shoppingworld.

Baylou hit the stage at Wests at 2pm. Head back to Peel St to see the sashing of the Queen of Country Music Quest entrants at 3pm on the HQ Stage and then head to Bicentennial Park to get a good seat for the big event.

The official Opening Celebration kicks-starts the 41st Toyota Country Music Festival, Tamworth.

Lovers of bush music need to get to Joe Maguire’s Hotel where Simply Bushed are partying on from 8.30pm. Finish off the night Rod Dowsett or The Cold Hard Truth at The Tudor Hotel from 9.30pm.