Monday, 28 January 2019

2019 Tamworth Country Music festival

Toyota Park Stage (Bicentennial Park)

Slim Dusty, me & Joy McKean
As first timers at the Tamworth Country Music Festival it's difficult to get your head around Australia's biggest music festival. At most festivals we have attended, you purchase a festival ticket and then you are free to roam between the venues. Most performances, regardless of the venue, are about forty minutes long and therefore your festival planning is quite simple. At Tamworth there is no festival ticket. Instead there are some fifty venues. Some are free, some you have to pay to see an artist, and some venues are free for some gigs and you have to pay for others. The cost of a gig ranges from a gold coin donation to $50. Artists may be on stage from anywhere between ten minutes and three hours; at Tamworth your festival planning is much more difficult.

8 Ball Aitken

I called Steve and I drifters at this year’s festival. We drifted from one venue to another and discovered some great music along the way. Of course some acts were too loud, some played for too long and others didn't play for long enough. We particularly enjoyed swamp blues guy, 8 Ball Aitken. 8 Ball has great songs and his between song patter is some of the best I have ever heard; it seemed to me that 8 Ball Aitken is on his way to the big time.

Dana Hassall, Hayley Marsten & Roger Corbett
Writers In The Round was on most mornings at the Tamworth Services Club. This was a very enjoyable session where three songwriters sang their original songs and spoke of their inspiration. The songs the teenagers and young adults were writing certainly gave an insight into the personal struggles of this generation.

Me at the Atrium Festival Stage

Timing is everything and I happened to be in conversation with Bob Kirchner, station manager at Capital Country Radio, when String Loaded cancelled their Sunday gig on the Atrium Festival Stage and I scored the gig. After eight weeks travelling on my motorcycle without my guitar, I had a bit of work to do to prepare a few tunes, but all’s well that ends well, and I get to say I sang at Tamworth.

John was promoting his 52nd album, Butcherbird

By day six of the festival we bought tickets to see John Williamson in the Tamworth Town Hall, principally to get away from the number of break-up songs we were listening to. John pleased the audience by playing his old favourites including True Blue. At the end of the two hour gig, John asked the audience to stand and sing Waltzing Matilda; this was a memorable festival moment.

Toni & The Rhythm Cats 

Busking in the street is a big part of the festival but surely buskers should be restricted on the power of their amplification. The allocated busking locations were so close together, and some had the capability to be so loud, at times we had to move on for fear that our brains could not process the combined mashed sound.

Just about to start the cavalcade

On Australia Day, Steve and I were very grateful for the opportunity to join the Tamworth Ulysses Branch in the cavalcade. Riding through the streets of Tamworth in 40 degrees, at walking pace, was a challenge on a heavy bike, but well worth it for the memory bank.

The festival was excellent but it was a tough ten days living in a tent, with very little shade. The relentless extreme heat by day, and sleeping under a wet T shirt by night, nearly sent me troppo and I noticed myself sighing a lot and “for f… sake” was never far from my breath.

It was with a smile that at 7am on the 27th January, with the sun just lifting above the horizon and with the thermometer already reading a warm 29 degrees Celsius, we shot through. It felt good to leave behind the festival of awards and allegedly charting songs. We stayed for the whole ten days because after all, we were in the home town of Australian Country Music and we weren't sure we would ever pass this way again.

Toyota Fan Zone

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