Itâ€™s all about the music â€¦ well, maybe not ALL â€¦ but a large chunk of my life to date has involved country music. You could say I was raised on top of old Smoky …heading North to Alaska while playing a hand or two with The Gambler.
From my childhood being raised in Bingara, north-western NSW, my earliest memories are musical.
Dad was an old pick-and-strum guitar player â€“ the original three-chord wonder â€“ and I was his devoted audience. Often the only one. He was also quite involved in amateur theatrical circles.
I can still see our lounge room in Keera Street, Bingara, filled with men in striped suits, faces painted black with big white lips, rehearsing for Showboat, one of the local productions. Olâ€™ Man River â€¦ he just keeps rollinâ€™ along â€¦
I’m a lapsed Salvo …
In another chapter of my life, I was stirred by the sound of brass in Salvation Army bands. Believe it or not I could play the tambourine with the best of them, and I looked pretty slick in my uniform (several sizes less than what I am these days, but Iâ€™m working on it). Those days are gone, but I still have a soft spot for the Salvos and can never pass someone selling a War Cry without dropping a donation in the box. My beautiful Aunty Madge, whoâ€™s no longer with us, was the epitome of a typical Salvation Army officer.
She served the Lord well before being to “promoted to glory”. The sound of the big bands in Bexley and Earlwood in Sydney were a joy to behold â€“ and if we got to Congress Hall in the City to hear the massed bands, that was always a thrill.
In the past few decades, Iâ€™ve attended most major festivals in Australia, not all, but Iâ€™m working on that, too. The National Folk Festival in Canberra in 2009 was a standout for me â€“ Rodney Crowell, The Hot Club of Cowtown, Damian Howard and the Ploughboys, outrageously funny Merri-May Gill and the divine Ami Williamson were some of my highlights from that yearâ€™s program.
Country Capital life …
Having lived and worked in Tamworth for 30-odd years, Iâ€™ve been lucky enough to have a front-row seat at Australiaâ€™s premier country music event. From late September or early October each year, the preparations would begin.
I have written for The Leader, Capital News and The Official Guide, along with Westsâ€™ Entertainment Groupâ€™s festival publications, so by the time the event rolled around I was almost over it. Once the first notes were played though, I was in the thick of it, dancing in the mosh pit, cheering and whistling from the audience and loving every minute of it, not wanting it to end.
Festivals all over …
Iâ€™ve also attended the mighty Mildura Country Music Festival and the Gympie Muster, and never had a bad time. I donâ€™t ever go anywhere for a less than sensational experience. Iâ€™ve been fortunate to make lots of friends in the Australian and American country music industries. Having written stories about so many of our artists over the years, Iâ€™m privileged to call many of those artists my friends.
Along this two-year journey in Rambling Rose, I plan to share lots of musical moments, festivals and events â€“ from backstage, and out front with the punters. After all, deep down Iâ€™m really just a fan.
Since 2012, Iâ€™ve been to America three times, caught some wonderful music and made some great friends.
Iâ€™d love to get back there soon, but for now, Iâ€™m on a mission â€“ to track down as much good music and as many interesting and inspiring characters as I can in my home country. If you feel so inclined, please click on the images below to read more of my Ramblings. You can become a subscriber to this website, so you donâ€™t miss a thing because thereâ€™s plenty more to come.
Trust me. Iâ€™m a journalist 🙂
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