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The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - Iain Shed­den

TUM­BLE­WEEDS are fly­ing around in all direc­tions down Peel Street in Tam­worth as a wind of change sweeps through the city’s an­nual coun­try mu­sic fes­ti­val. The Jan­uary jam­boree, which cel­e­brated its 40th an­niver­sary this year along with its sis­ter, the Golden Gui­tar Awards, is head­ing in a new di­rec­tion next year — one the new or­gan­iser of the events, Tam­worth Re­gional Coun­cil’s Des­ti­na­tion Tam­worth of­fice, hopes coun­try mu­sic vir­gins from across Aus­tralia and be­yond will fol­low. A shuf­fle of per­son­nel and or­gan­i­sa­tions has left the Coun­try Mu­sic As­so­ci­a­tion of Aus­tralia, for what seems like thou­sands of years the back­bone, the stagecoach and the gun­slinger of all things coun­try in the NSW city, with a re­duced role. Des­ti­na­tion Tam­worth has taken the reins and a few months ago sent a team of rep­re­sen­ta­tives, the DTs, to Nashville to see how things are done in the world’s coun­try mu­sic cap­i­tal. Among the new ini­tia­tives for next year is the em­brac­ing of so­cial me­dia, not some­thing that has been up­per­most in the minds of the av­er­age fes­ti­val-goer in the past. An on­line com­pe­ti­tion, con­ducted through Face­book, will al­low a few lucky pun­ters to spend a day with one of the artists at the fes­ti­val and at­tend the Golden Gui­tar cer­e­mony. Also on­line, ap­pli­ca­tions for the trea­sured busk­ing spots that are an in­te­gral part of the 10-day event will be con­ducted through YouTube au­di­tions. One would hope this will rule out some of the more cheer­fully in­com­pe­tent mu­sos and ne’er-do-wells who choose to make Tam­worth their home in shop door­ways ev­ery Jan­uary. Things don’t look good for the Chook Man, just qui­etly (if you’ve been there you’ll know who he is). The DTs are keen to do a makeover of the fes­ti­val with­out los­ing its core au­di­ence. No mean feat. And they’re not re­strict­ing their mar­ket­ing strat­egy to 10 days in Jan­uary. High on the agenda is bring­ing in­ter­na­tional (read Amer­i­can) acts to Tam­worth all year round. The Ea­gles’ Glenn Frey will be there in March. Not ev­ery­one is happy with the city’s fes­ti­val in­fra­struc­ture, how­ever. Some long-serv­ing Tam­worth artists have been com­plain­ing that the price hikes in­tro­duced by ac­com­mo­da­tion providers dur­ing the fes­ti­val makes it hard for them to make a buck while they’re there. More news from Tam­worth in the com­ing weeks. WHILE we’re on the topic of community fes­ti­vals, if you hap­pen to be down Mur­willum­bah way in NSW to­day, a host of Aussie acts are on the bill for Rock the Gate, part of a cam­paign against coal-seam gas min­ing. Lead­ing the line-up are Pete Mur­ray, Blue King Brown’s Natalie Pa’apa’a and the Round Moun­tain Girls. Broad­caster Alan Jones had been sched­uled to ap­pear at the rally but was told his ser­vices were no longer re­quired, not least be­cause of a threat­ened boy­cott of the event by lo­cals if he turned up. SD has been scan­ning af­fec­tion­ately the just pub­lished edited by English writer Hunter Davies, who was the Bea­tles’ of­fi­cial bi­og­ra­pher. It’s a beau­ti­fully crafted tome, pieced to­gether from al­most 300 pieces Len­non wrote, the first of them when he was 10 years old and the last an au­to­graph he gave to a fan on the day of his death. Len­non was an avid writer out­side of his song­writ­ing and the col­lec­tion con­tains im­ages of the orig­i­nal doc­u­ments — post­cards, bits of pa­per, lengthy, typed di­a­tribes — sent to news­pa­pers, to friends, fam­ily mem­bers and mu­si­cians. There’s even a note to his laun­dry. It’s pub­lished by Ha­chette, $45.

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