Category: festivals

Interview: Drew McAlister on Mount Hunter Country Music Stampede

2018 Stampede Logo UPDATED.jpgMount Hunter Country Music Stampede takes place from Friday 12 to Sunday 14 October 2018 in the picturesque Wollondilly area of south-west Sydney. It’s a unique event that features fantastic country music artists at night – including Adam Brand, Adam Harvey, Jasmine Rae and Christie Lamb – with plenty of other activities by day. But I’ll let performer co-organiser Drew McAlister tell us more – we spoke recently about the festival, as well as about the fundraising single ‘Shout the Land a Drink’ and the latest single release from his album, Coming Your Way.

The country music audience has been expanding to accommodate new festivals such as Dashville and the Clarence Valley Country Muster – and, of course, there is now the Mount Hunter Country Music Stampede, which you are co-organising. How did you come to be involved?

A friend of mine, Mick Kearney, is the gentleman who owns this enormous equestrian centre [K Ranch] out in Monks Lane in Wollondilly, which is near Camden [NSW]. We sat down a couple of years ago and he said, ‘I want to put on a festival.’ This equestrian centre puts on everything from cutting to roping to bull rides. He had a boxing match out there recently. It’s two acres undercover with 150 horse stalls. He’s been a horse enthusiast his whole life. He has other businesses but this is his love. He competed in Texas and the venue he competed in was this enormous arena with a Western store down one end and a saloon bar down the other. So he came home and replicated that on his property. Over three years he built the exact same thing. So he said he wanted to put on this festival. We did it last year – we only had twelve weeks to put it on which, in hindsight, wasn’t long enough, but it did run like clockwork. This year we’ve had ten months and we think we’ve dotted our Ts and crossed our Is.

Is there one stage or several?

One stage, which we’re bringing in. It will be a mobile truck stage. We’ll probably only use half the arena, it’s that big. That will still fit a lot of people.

So it’s in Camden, and a lot of people live in that area.

It’s in western Sydney. It’s about seven to ten minutes’ drive from Camden to K Ranch.

Continue reading “Interview: Drew McAlister on Mount Hunter Country Music Stampede”

MountainGrass 2017: 17-19 November

MountainGrass is an annual national bluegrass and old-time music festival held in Harrietville, Victoria from 17 to 19 November 2017. MountainGrass brings American bluegrass and old-time acts to play concerts and run workshops for fans and players of all levels. MountainGrass also showcases a selection of acts from Australia and New Zealand and runs instrument and other workshops for players of all levels. Most of all, MountainGrass offers two and a half days of non-stop picking and jamming and lots of opportunities to improve your chops. So whether you’re a novice or experienced bluegrasser or even just a punter hoping to take in some music, MountainGrass has something for you.

This year’s line-up includes:
Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen (USA)
Wide Island – Australian Pete Denahy and friends from Japan
Mustered Courage (Aust)
Bluestone Junction (Aust)
The Kissin’ Cousins (Aust)

Other Australasian Artists appearing at MountainGrass in 2017 include:
The Beekeepers
Rhodeworks
The 4 Jimmies
The Pipi Pickers
Knott Family Band
The New Macedon Rangers
Nine Mile Creek
Slim Dime
Crooked Road
Kimberley Wheeler
The Stetson Family
The Strzelecki Stringbusters


Tickets and information available mountaingrass.com.au

Gympie Music Muster announces new artists

The Gympie Music Muster will take place from Thursday 24 August to Sunday 27 August, and an announcement of additional artists for the line-up proves that the Muster attracts the very best Australian music talent. Joining headliners Jessica Mauboy, Adam Brand and Busby Marou are Lyn Bowtell, Jody Direen and Kaylens Rain. Already announced artist Amber Lawrence has added her children’s show ‘The Kid’s Gone Country’. Joining them are:

Chelsea Basham – Melanie Dyer – Joe Robinson
Hussy Hicks – Georgia Fall – Judah Kelly – Hurricane Fall
The Killer Queen Experience – Viper Creek Band – Fred Smith
Kaylee Bell – Pete Denahy – Christie Lamb – Matt Cornell – Karin Page
Kyle Lionhart – Blues Arcadia – Linc Phelps – Liam Brew
Tim Wheatley – Darren Middleton – 8 Ball Aitken – Shelley & Lawrie Minson
The Electric 80’s – Simon Kinney Lewis Band
Bob Abbot & The Fabulous Green Machine – PC & The Biffs – Rachael Fahim
The Mercurys – The Faceless Men – Casey Barnes – Mitch King – Luella Widt
Freya Hollick – Route 33 – Emma Beau – Seleen McAlister – Mason Hope

Held in the Amamoor Creek State Forest in the beautiful Sunshine Coast Hinterland, the 2017 Muster will feature more than 100 artists in more than 300 performances across multiple stages. The artists cover a range of genres including country, bluegrass, folk, blues and rockabilly.

Run by the community, for the community, the Muster is a not-for-profit charity event which has raised in excess of $15 million for charities all over Australia since its inception. Proceeds from this year’s Muster will again go to charity partner Mates4Mates to help Australian Defence Force personnel with mental and physical injuries as a result of their service.

The Muster runs from Thursday August 24 to Sunday August 27, 2017.

To book tickets visit www.muster.com.au or phone 1300 GET TIX (1300 438 849).

Sara Storer headlines the Murwillumbah Country Roots Festival 2-5 October

The inaugural Murwillumbah Country Roots Festival takes place this long weekend on the New South Wales north coast. Organised by local country music artist Lou Bradley, the festival is headlined by Kasey Chambers, Sara Storer, The Audreys and Archie Roach, with over 60 all-Australian acts taking part across four stages. Late last week I had the chance to chat to Sara Storer about the festival – which also features her brother Greg. For the full line-up and other details, visit www.MCRFest.com.

When did you sign on to the festival?
Last year I remember [organiser] Lou [Bradley] talking about whether I’d be keen to be a part of it and I said, ‘Absolutely.’ And I said, ‘Why don’t I bring my brother Greg Storer as well?’ We’re sort of like a package, which is great, because Greg’s heading up with his family, I’m heading up with mine, and it’s sort of turned into a family gig with all the kids, and everything’s going to be so much fun.
So when you say ‘all the kids’, are you pressing any of them into service?
Often I head off and say goodbye  and they’ve sort of got no idea – because they’re still so young – what I do. But they’re at a great age now – well, two of them – where they can come and watch and see what Mum does. My brother’s got four kids and I’ve got four. They’ll probably watch for about five seconds and then want to go and play in the dirt [laughs] and I don’t care anyway because I’m not looking after them – my husband has to do that.
Are you still living in the Territory?
No, we’ve moved. We’re down just out of Albury.
That makes a bit more sense, because I thought coming from the Territory would be a big commitment for the festival.
No, we’re not coming from Darwin any more. Too hard. And as much as the lifestyle’s pretty unique, living up there, it’s too far. We love Albury. Great people and it’s so central to both Sydney and Melbourne.
Quite a bit colder, though.
Yes. The blood hasn’t really thickened up yet either. It was freezing. We’re in this little farmhouse – there’s no insulation, the kids all whinging. I said, ‘This is what it was like in the olden days, kids, so just zip it’ [laughs].
Hopefully it will be a bit warmer in the north of New South Wales over the October long weekend. It might be wet though – it can sometimes rain a bit up that way.
Okay, there might be a bit of rain – thanks for that little tip, because I am hopeless at what to pack. We’re going to need a trailer, that’s the worrying thing. To put the kids in the trailer [laughs].
So you’re obviously planning to stay the length of the festival.
We’re going to try. I’m going to try to be there on the Saturday – my brother’s on the main stage that day. Then we’ve got Sunday off and of course we’ll do the festival thing. And then I’m not performing until the Monday night. So it’s really great. Normally you fly in and you fly out and you just don’t have time to see anything. So this has worked kind of as ‘I’m going to a festival’ – it’s a bit of both, so it’ll be great.
Does it mean – I’m just thinking from a technical point of view – that if you’re not singing until the Monday night and you’ve been seeing friends, talking to people at shows, so you’ve been shouting a bit, do you have to really think about how to save your voice?
I don’t have that problem. Because I write my own songs and sing, my voice is never pushed too hard because I sing naturally where my voice takes me. Whereas if I sing a cover, I get off stage and my throat really hurts – it’s a different melody and it probably pushes me a bit. But with my own stuff I’m pretty right – it’s not that hard on my throat. I’m not like a Jimmy Barnes – I’d love to [be], though. It would take a fair bit out of me. I do probably have to watch I don’t have late nights. Catching up with everyone, you have one too many and then you’ve got to do a pretty good job the next day, so you have to be careful of that one. Socialising.
Is there anyone in particular you’re looking forward to seeing perform?
Well, Kasey [Chambers] – I do love her music. We’re friends, but put that aside – I’ve got all her albums. I’m a bit of a fan. So I’m looking forward to Kasey. And I love Mustered Courage. They’re just constantly on in the car, so I’ll be able to sing along. Not where they could see me – because that would be quite embarrassing.
They might be quite pleased, though, if you wanted to join them for a number.
[Laughs] Maybe. Or maybe they might tell me to get off! I have jumped up with [them] at Tamworth. It was after the [Golden Guitar] awards – it was on the Sunday. The last Sunday in Tamworth is the day I go and just have a great time – catch up with people. So I jumped up and sang a couple of songs with them. They’re just awesome.
You’ve also just given a tip for anyone heading to Tamworth, to hang around for the Sunday in case there are any interesting collaborations going on.
Oh, absolutely. And Shane Howard – he’s just an unbelievable songwriter – can’t wait to see him [at Murwillumbah]. Archie Roach is on. It’s going to be terrific.
I noted that the festival is being MC’d by Ben Sorensen but also by Buddy Goode – and I have to say that makes me a little afraid for all of you!
[laughs] You don’t sit down in the front row, maybe.
Yes. But I do think it will be highly entertaining.
Oh, he’s hilarious. For ages I didn’t know who he was and then I worked out how it was and I was kind of embarrassed that I didn’t know.
I still don’t know who he is.
Oh, okay. Well, that’s what happens, I guess, when you’re having a family – you sort of get left behind a bit and you don’t catch up on all this stuff. It’ll be good. It’ll be an awesome festival. Can’t wait.
And the festival is all Australian – how important is that to you?
I guess that is a great thing. Music’s music – it doesn’t  matter where it comes from – but it’s kinda cool in that it showcases our talents here in Australia and I think that’s a great idea. I love that stance – all Aussie. Great. Bring it on.
I should have said this at the top when you mentioned Lou, but Lou is one of these quiet figures who seems to know everyone, so you must have known her for quite a while.
Lou came on the country music scene – I was sort of new as well. She was probably a couple of years after me. And there was talk in the town of this Lou Bradley. And it’s always great – we always need some new talent in country music world. So I went and had a look and she’s just a brilliant songwriter and entertainer, and we became mates. We’ve done many gigs together and last year she rang me and asked if I wanted to be a part of [the festival] and I said, ‘Yes! Make sure I’m counted.’ So I think she’s gone through and picked all the music she likes – it’s pretty much who she’d have in her back yard. And I was just so lucky I was picked – otherwise I’d be ringing her saying, ‘Hey, where’s my name?’
Talking of festivals: what are your Tamworth plans and are you working on a new album?
Well, I am. I’m recording it within the next few months, so it will be completed by the end of the year to release my first single and video clip at Tamworth next year. And I’ve got two shows at Tamworth – one is my own show at Blazes and the second gig is the gig that I absolutely love, where I pair up with my brother, Greg Storer. We call it the Kitchen Sessions and we’re doing that at the pub on the Saturday.

Sunfest Country Music Festival, BC, Canada

Many moons ago I lived in Vancouver, BC for a year and spent my spare time volunteering at CiTR, the radio station of the University of British Columbia. There, I discovered the rich and varied Canadian indie music scene. More generally, I came to appreciate the passion Canadians have for their culture, and the skills that were on display in their storytelling and music.

While the Sunfest Country Music Festival in Cowichan, BC, on Vancouver Island will not feature only Canadian artists, there’s a few worth checking out from 30 July to 2 August.

Cowichan Valley B.C.: British Columbia’s premiere country music festival proudly announces their full lineup for summer 2015. The fifteenth annual Sunfest Country Music Festival, features world class country talent and up-and-coming local artists, and expands to four nights on the Main Stage, July 30 to August 2, 2015, in Cowichan Valley B.C.

The line-up includes: Keith Urban, Lee Brice, Thomas Rhett, Joe Nichols, Sam Hunt, Chasin’ Crazy, Beverley Mahood, Washboard Union, Karen Lee Batten, Madeline Merlo, Jesse Roper, Chris Buck Band, Jack Connolly, Robyn & Ryleigh, Bucko & Road, The Tumblin’ Dice and many more.

Tickets are on sale now at www.sunfestconcerts.com. Wish I could be there!

Redlands Bluegrass Festival: 8 to 10 August

Not too far from Brisbane there’s a place called Redland Bay, and it will soon be the site of the twentieth Redlands Bluegrass Festival with its impressive line-up of Australian artists, some of whom will be familiar to country music aficionados and Tamworth Country Music Festival goers.

This year’s festival will be held on 8 to 10 August and will feature The Pigs, Golden Guitar winners the Davidson Brothers, the Round Mountain Girls and Bluegrass Parkway, who have the distinction of being Australia’s longest-running bluegrass band.

The festival is family friendly and it caters for musicians as well as fans – there are instrument and vocal workshops on the mornings of the 9th and 10th.

Tickets start from $40 to $125 for an all-weekend festival pass, and there are a range of accommodation  options available at the festival site, which is Kindilan Convention Centre, corner Days and German Church Road, Redland Bay.

For more information, go to:
www.redlandsbluegrass.com