Category: tamworth

The Wolfe Brothers hit the road to Tamworth

After another massive year The Wolfe Brothers are taking their Let’s Hit The Road Tour to the Tamworth Country Music Festival, playing one big show at Blazes Auditorium at West Tamworth Leagues Club on Wednesday 24 January at 8.30 p.m. They’ll be supported by NZ sensation Jody Direen.

Towards the end of 2017 I caught guitarist Brodie Rainbird on a rare day off and found out what he and the Wolfes, Nick and Tom, have been up to lately, and what’s ahead this year.

Hello and how are you?
I’m good. The boys and I are enjoying a few days at home – we haven’t had many of those this year.
Does anyone even recognise you any more?
[Laughs] They still hear from us. We don’t let them forget.
How was 2017 – what were the highlights? Were there any lowlights?
It’s been flat out. We’ve been over to Nashville for a month. We’ve written a new album. Then we came home and we started touring with Lee Kernaghan. So we’ve done his tour, which is now over. In between all of those dates we’ve done our own dates. We started our own tour. And then in between all of that we’ve been spending time in Sydney recording the new album.
Is it unusual for you to record in Sydney?
Yes. We’ve recorded one song – it was with Matt Fell at Love Hz Studios. We recorded one of the first songs we ever put out with him, seven years ago. So we’ve done a full circle: we’ve been to Nashville, we’ve come all the way home.

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Interview: women in docs in Tamworth

During this year’s Tamworth Country Music Festival I had the pleasure of interviewing live-in-person some people I’d only ever interviewed by phone. One of these people was Chanel Lucas from women in docs, and as her longtime collaborator Roz Pappalardo was with her, I spoke to the full complement of women in docs.

Although Tamworth is over, its influence is felt throughout the year – as we discuss in this interview. So that’s why I think it’s appropriate to publish this interview now, and the rest will come soon.

So you’re playing with the Bushwhackers at the Longyard Hotel – the Longyard as a venue, talk me through it.
Roz: When we used to come here regularly, that was our regular show. We’d do sets there. It’s an audience that really loves their country music – a specific style of country music. Very attentive, very involved in the show. Certainly a different audience to a lot of other bars and pubs around.
That’s not what I would have thought of the Longyard.
Roz: This is the back in the big space, and that audience is very well trained.
Chanel: And they’re quite into songwriters, which is what we’re all about, so we go quite well there.
Roz: We’ve never played the front bar of the Longyard. Probably not our cup of tea. [But] good for the bands that do it.
Chanel: Great exposure for them. And they have the songwriters awards there, in the back bar, so there’s a —
Roz: Culture.
Chanel: Yeah, there’s a culture of songwriting.
This is one of the fascinating things about Tamworth, that one venue can house quite different spaces and things going on at the same time.
Roz: And it’s good that that venue has developed that, so it’s got the front bar for the drinkers and the partiers and the back is for the music connoisseurs.
So what was your first Tamworth?
Roz: I can’t even remember.
Chanel: I don’t know.
If you can’t remember if must have been a good one.
Roz: Oh, it was hellish [laughs]. I just think the same thing happened – we got invited by a bunch of bands to come and do special guest spots so we thought we’d make a week out of it. It was like us and two other acts, and we were all just dossing in one motel room. And Peel Street back then – this would have been ’04, ’05 – was even busier. There were more acts. I think it’s died down the last ten years.
Chanel: No, I don’t think it’s as big – well, there’s not as many buskers. It was a busker every two metres.
I didn’t go in 2013 and that was the year they apparently used an audition system for buskers and the numbers were down that year. Maybe they’re only just starting to come back up.
Roz: That makes total sense.
Chanel: I didn’t know they did that.
Roz: We were talking about [how] it seems like something like that had happened. Because it’s not as wild and crazy down there on Peel Street now. It’s a bit more tame.
Chanel: And the quality of artists is so good out there.
Last year I noticed that I was not hearing ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ every five metres – you used to hear that.
Roz: No. The song yesterday was ‘Ring of Fire’.
Chanel: I’ve heard ‘Jolene’ and [singing] ‘May the Circle Be Unbroken’. I’ve heard that at least four times.
Roz: We could actually release a top ten hits of the buskers.
It would be a good survey … you two could make a list of the songs and cover them, is that what you mean?
Chanel: Yes. And we’ll record an album with all those songs on it.
Different interpretations.
Chanel: We’ll sell it on Peel Street.
And then you don’t have to busk. You just have to press ‘play’. Some people do use a backing track, after all. Having said that, there are some genuine musicians on Peel Street …
Roz: The quality is quite high this year.
There’s the young people having a go and older people having a go too.
Roz: It’s awesome. That’s what I love about Tamworth – they really foster and nurture that young generation. Young girls, young boys – they’re supportive, give them platforms to present, help them write the bio, helo them get professional publicity photos taken. That doesn’t happen in any other genre. Country kills it in that world and it’s such a great opportunity for these young people to get a great professional start in their music career. Love it.
I think as a genre as well it does respect the songwriter more than any other genre in Australia.
Roz: It does.
And I don’t know if I remarked on this to you, Chanel, in the past but I’ve certainly noticed the even spread of male and female artists throughout the festival.
Chanel: Yes.
Roz: That’s true. It’s just quality, really.
And the nature of this festival is such that the competition’s so stiff – busking’s one thing, but there’s a lot of free gigs here and you want to get people to them to buy your albums and you have to be good. So the quality of music that comes out of all the performers in this festival is extraordinary.
Chanel: It is.
And you guys are part of that, of course. The level of talent under the country music umbrella, which is broad –
Roz: It’s getting broader.
It’s quite amazing.
Chanel: We met a few people today when we were playing down at Fanzone who – it’s their first time. And I said to a couple of people, ‘What are you going to see? What are you going to do?’ And they just said, ‘We don’t know – it’s so overwhelming. We’re just walking around – everything we watch is good. Everything we see is amazing.’ And all they’re doing is just walking around to see what happens.
Roz: You get that big programme and I immediately get a panic attack. I just looked at it the other day – and I think I was really tired because we’d been up since five-thirty driving, we had a 7 a.m. interview – I looked at it and I nearly felt like breaking into tears because I just didn’t want to miss anything. You know what I mean?
I absolutely know what you mean.
I was like, ‘Oh my god, this is just too much.’ [But] fantastic, because there’s something for everyone.                 
So for you as performers, you have quite a schedule. Do you have your fallow times during the day when you can have a little rest?
Roz: We try to.
Chanel: We’ve had one in three days. Four days. How long have we been here? It feels like we’ve been here for, like, a century.                  
And you’re on tonight.
Chanel: Late nights up at the North Tamworth Bowlo there’s like a fringe thing, so tonight’s girls’ night, with all female performers, and tomorrow night will be bluegrass night and so on.
And the Lifeline concert.
Chanel: I think it’s now called ‘Country Music Cares’ or ‘Country Cares’. At the Town Hall. And all the proceeds are going to local farmers.
That’s a good thing to be invited to participate in.
Roz: That invitation and the Bushwhackers invitation actually got us here. We thought, ‘We’ve got this gig and these gigs, let’s make a week of it.’ And then Matt Henry has come in and invited us – we’ve been working with him on –
You’re going to be at the Tudor up late?
Roz: Thursday night. It just takes a couple of invitations to then put together a week.
I know for you two – because you don’t live in the same city – it’s a matter of finding that momentum to pull everything together.                 
Roz: It’s coordination but we’ve been doing it for so long now that it’s a matter of getting on a plane for me – or for you [to Chanel]. Air travel is so easy these days – do it a couple of times, get lots of Velocity points.                 
Chanel: And this is such a big festival, you almost have to do at least a gig or two a day just to reach –
Roz: Unless you’re Kasey Chambers or Troy Cassar-Daley.
Well, yes. And that’s a different kind of music, too. Roz, your name came up recently because I interviewed Leanne Tennant.
Roz: Yeah, she’s from Cairns. She’s great – a really amazing chick and she’s on her way here now.
So in Tamworth, part of the benefit of it seems to be these relationships that get made – whether it’s producers, songwriters, musicians. Has that happened for you in the past?
Roz: At this festival? For sure. The nature of this festival is that you generally collaborate – play with three or four artists on the bill and that’s how the relationships are built. That feeds into other touring, other networks.
Chanel: Other festivals. We’re doing a show with Lou Bradley – she’s going to come and do some songs with us at the Family [Hotel show]. She’s involved with some stuff down in Murwillumbah.
Roz: She started it.
Chanel: She started a new festival down there.
Roz: A country roots festival.
Chanel: She’s invited us to come and play at the end of next year down at the new country roots festival … It’s a small industry.
The impact of this one festival – and I don’t know if there’s anyone to quantify it, actually – but creatively, commercially in terms of the albums that come out of it, is quite enormous.
Roz: It would be a really good study to do that. But how you would do that …                 
[Laughs] Tamworth Council would probably want to do it.
Roz: Well, it would actually be great for them, funding wise.

The latest women in docs album is Carousel. Visit them online at

Tamworth: the picks of the gigs

Make that my picks of the gigs … These are the artists I’m most looking forward to seeing at this year’s Tamworth Country Music Festival. [All dates given are January 2014.]

Jess Holland

21  – Tudor Hotel Front Bar,  5.30 p.m.
23  – Qurindi RSL, 6 p m.

24  – Tudor Hotel Back Bar, 12 p.m. 

Ashleigh Dallas
21 – West Tamworth Leagues Club, 5 p.m.

Tori Darke
21 – West Tamworth Leagues Club, 8 p.m.

21 – Tamworth Services Club, 9.30 p.m.

Brad Butcher
22 – Tamworth Services Club, 9 a.m.
23 – Tudor Hotel, upstairs, 10 p.m.

Katie Brianna

22 – Tamworth Services Club, 9 a.m.
23 – Tudor Hotel, upstairs, 10 p.m.

The McClymonts
22 – TRECC, 2 p.m.

Kristy Cox
22 – The Pub, 8 p.m.

Shane Nicholson
23 – The Family Hotel, 7 p.m.

Catherine Britt
23 – The Pub, 8.30 p.m.

Lachlan Bryan and the Wildes
24 – The Family Hotel, 12 p.m.

Audrey Auld
24 – North Tamworth Bowling Club, 2 p.m.

Karl Broadie and Katie Brianna
24 – Tamworth Tennis Club, 4.30 p.m.

Tamworth report: Up-and-comers

Country music – Australian country music, at least – is unique in the amount of opportunities it affords young people to get a musical education and get some experience playing live. The Starmaker and Telstra Road to Tamworth competitions are loaded with talented under-25s, some of whom I was lucky to see play at this year’s festival. Here’s a short round-up:

Caitlin Harnett: The buzz is big for this Sydneysider, who has attended Camerata, the Country Music School. Although she had a cold the day I saw her and wasn’t feeling her best, her lovely voice and engaging stage manner were still evident. She was playing with …

Olivia Hally: I was impressed with this Victorian’s singing and guitar playing (she’s also a Camerata graduate). She had a nicely different take on some country standards, including ‘Jolene’.

Adam James: This Starmaker finalist launched his CD, Messages & Memories, at the Tamworth Hotel. He’s in the Troy Cassar-Daley songwriting vein, which is good – anyone who emulates Troy is good!

Claye Middleton: A quiet performer with a lovely singing voice – great pitch and timbre. I expect to see him back for many years to come.

Chad Shuttleworth: Caught him busking outside Tamworth Shopping World, and his cheeky charm had attracted quite a crowd. He was definitely in the ‘entertainer’ branch of the country music family (where Beccy Cole and Adam Harvey are ‘entertainers’, and Kasey Chambers and Troy Cassar-Daley are ‘singer-songwriters’ – this is a loose division of my own creation, and subsets do occur). I would have paid money to see him, so I put some in his guitar case.

Tamworth report: Danny Widdicombe

The Tamworth Hotel, 25 January

When he arrived in Tamworth Danny Widdicombe had no idea he was going to play the afternoon slot at the Tamworth Hotel, where he was appearing in Karl Broadie’s band at night. But when the band that had been performing from 2 till 5 had to abandon ship, Widdicombe stepped in and gave everyone present a delightful afternoon of music, all the more special because it had been unexpected.

As rain pelted down on the garden stage, the instruments and equipment were moved into the front bar, allowing everyone to get cosy next to the pool tables. Accompanied by Fiddleboy a.k.a. Luke Moller a.k.a. ‘The Champ’ (for he had won the national bluegrass fiddling championships), Widdicombe plunged into over two hours of songs from his album The Transplant Tapes, as well as Beatles and Neil Young covers; the highlight was a sublime version of ‘Dear Prudence’. Having seen this duo play, and on other occasions seeing Karl Broadie and Johnny Kendall play together without accompaniment, I’ve decided that a guitar-and-fiddle duo is a wondrous thing (of course, you need the right guitarist and the right fiddler, but I’m not ruining a good theory over detail thanksverymuch).

After not even drawing breath for a set break, Widdicombe eventually stepped aside to give The Falls some time at the microphone, then regrouped with The Champ and brought in, separately, Kevin Bennett from The Flood, Michael Roberts from Karl Broadie’s band and the mighty Den Hanrahan – as well as a dude called Dax whose full name I don’t know – for a couple of songs each. It was the best kind of free-form musical love-in and you could tell that the punters felt they’d been treated to something very special. It’s again a mark of the kind of festival Tamworth is, that musicians of this calibre could all be found in one place and with enough time to take up this sort of opportunity and make something unique for everyone in the room. It was like the best kind of Christmas present.

Tamworth report: The McClymonts

West Tamworth League Club, 25 January

The McClymonts’ first ‘big’ Tamworth show (they have busked and played support for other acts in the past) was in itself a big ticket – it sold out several days in advance. So I was feeling pretty smug – despite some ribbing from others – about taking my place in the audience at Wests. I’d even caught the sisters’ Big W in-store earlier in the day to get in the mood.

As noted elsewhere in this blog, I love the McClymonts. I love it all – the fact that they’re sisters, that they glam it up, that they play instruments, that they have great harmonies. I wasn’t disappointed in the show. It was like reading 10 women’s magazines all at once – it was that satisfying in a pop-cultural way. From squealing small children to overexcited grey nomads to even one Guy Sebastian hanging near the back, this show had oomph. Much to my delight, they played my two favourite tracks from their 2006 EP, as well as almost every track from their long-player, Chaos and Bright Lights. There was no revolutionary musicality going on – it was pure entertainment, of the sort that Australian country music stars do so well. And at 20 bucks a ticket, it was a bargain. I would go again, although perhaps not for a while – they don’t have enough material yet to create a diverse string of shows. But they have stage presence and lovely voices and I’m glad they’re around.

Oh yeah, Morgan Evans and Nick Kingswell supported. Both pretty good. But they weren’t wearing dresses and they weren’t sisters, so I wasn’t really paying attention. Sorry, lads.

Tamworth report: Karl Broadie

The Tamworth Hotel, various dates

I first saw the Scotland-born Broadie playing at the festival in 2005, and fell in love with his music almost straightaway. The first song on his first album, Nowhere Now Here, sealed the deal. Since then I’ve seen him play several times and the lustre has never worn off. Broadie is one of Australia’s greatest singer-songwriters and live performers, and his popularity at the festival increases each year for very good reasons: he’s exceptionally good live, whether he’s playing with a band or on his own (as he appeared with the Like Minded Felons, James Blundell and Nik Phillips, at the Southgate Inn) and, as one fellow punter told me in the ladies’ loo, ‘He’s so entertaining’. Broadie’s on-stage ease makes his audience feel relaxed, so we’re more inclined to settle in for a few sets, knowing we’re in good hands. And, as he is now the proud papa of three full-length albums and an EP, he has more than enough material for a few hours on stage.

Most of Broadie’s 2007 Tamworth band – not his usual touring outfit – were back, and the calibre of their playing only increased the value for punters. Danny Widdicombe from Brisbane took on lead guitar duties with aplomb; Victorian Johnny Kendall added his sublime fiddle skills to the mix. Kendall is perhaps Broadie’s greatest live collaborator – an intuitive, versatile musician who reads between the musical lines of the songs and finds all sorts of delightful nuances (he was also much in demand to play with other acts during the festival). Michael Roberts – who produced Nowhere Now Here – took keyboards and about twenty other instruments; every time I looked he was playing something new and it all added to the layering of the songs. Wrangling all these talents together was the very solid rhythm section of Greg Gillett on drums and Stevie JB (full name unknown). I should also mention that everyone except Stevie contributed to backing vocals. At one time I thought that if anything blew up on the stage Australian music – let alone country music – would never recover from the loss of all these talented folks.

Karl Broadie’s gigs are always a highlight of my Tamworth and it was wonderful to see lots more people this year enjoying this divine music. It is too easy to take a performer like Broadie for granted – he doesn’t demand attention in the way of some ego-challenged musicians; he allows his music to speak for him, and it’s also too easy to take this music for granted when it seems to pour out of him so effortlessly. But it’s harder than it looks, and from some of the comments I overheard it seems like lots of people are starting to appreciate the effort he goes to. It couldn’t happen to a more worthy fellow.