Saturday, January 15, 2005

Tamwords: Day 1

First off, I've only got half an hour at this internet cafe, off Peel St with some busker bloke outside singing one of my least favourite songs, Amanda. I just don't need reminding fate didn't make me a gentleman's wife, OK? So I'm not going to mess around with hyperlinks and all that jazz, you can do the googling yourself. Think of it as Interactive Blogging.

For those still ignorant, Tamworth is the "Country Music Capital of Australia [tm], " so it's kinda like Nashville, but, um, not. And in January every year they have the country music festival, a couple of weeks of full on insanity. The great thing about Tamworth especially compared to other festivals is that it is relentlessly egalitarian and ground up. It's not Michael Franti in Tent 6a, Billy Bragg in Tent 2b, James Morrison on the big stage and $6 stubbies at the bar. It's music on every street corner, in every shop, from every tent and 24 hours a day. It's buskers from every corner of the country up and down the street at the rate of one every few metres. Some of them are as dodgy as hell, but that's all part of the Tamworth thing. Since we're out and proud country music fans, we're already resigned to being eternal dags, so it may just be the least pretentious place in Australia too. And most things worth seeing are absolutely free.

Last night I kicked off the pilgrimage with Leslie Avril (see link left) at the Tudor Hotel. I love Leslie and see her everytime she comes to Sydney (from Melbourne.) She has a scorching bluesy voice, ballsy but with a classic country melacholy strain. And she's got one of the sexiest, most entertaining stage personas going around. I often think, why the hell isn't this woman a huge star?

Yes, Australia, I'm looking at you.

She does some great Australian songs and ripper covers, including a ballsy version of Randy Newman's Guilty, which of course I shreiked out requests for (in yer face, Dunlop!) Not to mention she had the incomparable Andy Baylor (google!) on fiddle and guitar. I spent the night packed in between John Nutting (google! -- country radio show host) and Troy Cassar-Daley (google! -- A List mainstream country star.) Troy and Leslie used to play in the Blue Heeler band together up in QLD and they are obviously close. Of the mainstream acts, he's one I've had alot of time for although the only live gig I've seen was at an Invasion Day concert in Coogee a few years back. He got up to do few numbers, wavering with the band between "a George Jones song and a Lefty Frizzell song." This, I thought, is just about Heaven. He did a Frizzell and then his lovely wife got up to harmonise on "A Good Year for the Roses," but instead they went into "I Still Miss Someone."

I amend my definition of heaven to: Expecting a George Jones song and getting a Johnny Cash one.

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