Tom Curtain is a singer-songwriter who recently released his fourth album, We’re Still Here. He’s also an entertainer, horseman, entrepreneur and spokesman for rural health, living and working in outback Northern Territory. The Territory gives the context for a lot of his work but it’s not his home ground. He grew up in Kingaroy, Queensland, on a property with his parents and four brothers, arriving in the Territory twenty years ago to work on a cattle station. The Territory got into his blood, he says, and inspired him to write songs. He’s lived there ever since and is now renowned for the Katherine Outback Experience, a tourist attraction that had a slow genesis.
‘I was training horses in Katherine,’ he says, beginning the story, ‘and initially I was traveling all around the Northern Territory, for 10 years breaking in horses on cattle stations. A lot of contract work every two to three weeks, breaking in horses and moving on to another cattle station. And then I thought to have a family, it would be more stable if I was in one spot. So I bought a place five Ks out of Katherine and set up the horse-training business. I got a lot of cattle stations to send horses in. It wasn’t really the done thing – the horse breakers went to the cattle station – so it was a big thing to get them to send horses in. So I had to make a really good job on the horses.
‘It was going pretty well until 2011, then the live beef export ban hit and overnight all the budgets were cut on the cattle stations. I was doing about 150 horses a year. I had them all banked up and then overnight that was just cut.
‘I was married back then. I had two kids and it put a lot of pressure on my marriage, as [it did with] a lot of other marriages and relationships in the Katherine region. So eventually that busted up and my ex-wife went with the kids down to Perth and I stayed on. I had to give kids horse riding lessons. I sang at the caravan park four nights a week. I did a lot of horseshoeing all around the area just to try to make ends meet. From the caravan parks, these people said, “Look, Tom, can we come to see what you’re doing every day. Because you’re singing about it. We think it’d be really interesting.” So one old couple came and they said, “Mate, you’ve got to get this off the ground because this could be really a big tourist attraction.”‘
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Buy from the Bush is a campaign that started on social media and has become a sensation in very quick time. In an effort to support businesses in drought-affected (and now fire-affected) parts of Australia, #buyfromthebush on Facebook and Instagram gives all Australians the chance to do their Christmas shopping from places that not only need a hand but also have wonderful, beautiful, often unique pieces for sale.
Now country music favourite Greg Storer has written and recorded a song to support the campaign, and the song ‘Buy from the Bush’ features his vocals as well as those of Sydney singer Anna Clark. Each purchase of the song helps Buy from the Bush bring some cheer to country towns. And if you’re yet to buy your Christmas gifts, consider buying from the bush (I have).
Buy the single for $5 here:
See all the great bush businesses on Instagram: www.instagram.com/buyfromthebush
And Facebook: www.facebook.com/buyfromthebush
Find out more at www.buyfromthebush.com.au
Daisy Spratt is a singer-songwriter living in Melbourne who has been making a splash not just in her home town but in Nashville, where she usually visits twice a year, although she’s only made it there once this year. Each visit sounds like it is jam packed.
‘I do a lot of co-writes when I’m there,’ says Daisy. ‘This trip round [in July] I did quite a few co-writes. We wrote and recorded “Think Again Boy” while we were there as well. And a lot of meet-and-greets. Meetings and introducing yourself to lots of different people. They keep me busy while I’m there. And I did a photo shoot while I there as well. So we try to smash out as much as we can in one hit.’
‘Think Again Boy’ is Spratt’s new single, and she wrote it with Brandon Hood on her most recent trip – the same trip when she recorded it.
‘I wrote it during a time when I felt kind of underestimated and people underestimated me, I guess, as a muso,’ she explains, ‘and people are very quick to judge purely by looking at you. So we created this storyline about a girl at a bar and there’s a guy trying to hit on her and buy her a drink, but he doesn’t even know who she is. It’s a “Why would you buy her a drink and you just don’t even know her?” sort of thing. It’s a very female oriented song, trying to be sort of empowering – “you don’t know me, I can do my own thing, I can be here and being who I am without you trying to pretend that you know me”. So that was the idea behind it and then it ended up turning it to this really, really fun song.’
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The Buckleys are a trio of siblings from the northern rivers district of New South Wales. They’ve been going to the Tamworth Country Music Festival for years, first busking on Peel Street in 2011 when Molly was 9, Lachlan was 10 and Sarah Grace was 12. That was, in fact, when the band formed – the Buckley family was on holiday in the country music capital when the younger generation decided to start playing, and found themselves in the top ten of the busking competition without even knowing they’d entered.
Now aged 16, 18 and 19, they are managed by Chris Murphy (who also managed INXS) and signed to Petrol Records/Universal Music, they have been nominated for a Golden Guitar in the Best New Talent category,
Currently recording in Nashville, the band will be returning to Australia at the end of the year – and ahead of that they’re released the new single ‘I’m Comin’ For Ya (Love)’. The Buckleys have an irresistible country pop sound – that early experience on Peel Street seems to have honed their instincts for how to capture a listener’s attention and keep them entertained. Although they were unknowns just months ago, this kind of ‘overnight success’ always takes a lot of work – and the proof is there in the songs. And it’s not just themselves they write for: collectively the trio have written well over 100 songs. Sarah was awarded top 5 in the 2014 American Songwriting Awards teen section and the following year both Sarah and Molly were once again nominated for a prestigious ASA Award. One of Sarah’s songs, ‘Strawberry Footprints’, was recorded by Felicity Urquhart for her album Frozen Rabbit.
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Canadian artist Danielle Todd has found success on Australian airwaves this year with her single ‘Crazy’ – and now with the new release ‘Back Burner’. Her style is eclectic while being identifiably country, and it’s all driven by her powerful voice. Todd is heading for the Tamworth Country Music Festival in January – but it won’t be her first visit to Australia.
‘I don’t remember the year,’ she says, ‘but it was a while ago. I really just wanted to travel so I travelled over there and then I really liked it. I ended up getting like a working visa that allowed me to play gigs. But I was just playing little pubs, little hotels, RSL clubs and stuff like that, mostly around the Sydney area. And then I did travel up to Queensland. I went up the coast. I also visited Hamilton Island and Adelaide – I have some family in Adelaide. So I did as much travelling as I was able to do and then performed whenever I could when I was there. I loved living over there and experiencing it. It was just a different lifestyle altogether than my Canadian life.’
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This month’s Spotify playlist is all new releases – see below for the full list.
Fanny Lumsden – ‘These Days’
Brad Cox – ‘Give Me Tonight’
Emma Dykes – ‘The Drovers’
Copperline – ‘Next Year’
Natalie Henry – ‘Water Over Wine’
Tom Curtain with Lee Kernaghan and Sara Storer – ‘She Gave Us The Song’
Aly Cook – ‘Southern Christmas Stars’
Andy Nelson – ‘Late Night Letter’
Kora Naughton – ‘Speechless’
Katie Bates – ‘Polka Dot Dress’
Leaving Lennox – ‘Weren’t Looking For’
Brittany Elise – ‘Pit Stop’
Aleyce Simmonds – ‘I Could Dance With You’
Renee Jonas – ‘Blame it on the Wine’
Tracy McNeil & The GoodLife – ‘Catch You’
Brook Chivell – ‘Fearless Rider’
Natalie Pearson – ‘Plan B’
Oh Harlow – ‘Give It A Miss’