The Bushwhackers knew nothing about Tamworth in 1981 to attend a country music festival.
The folk artist was far more comfortable in Melbourne’s pub scene when he won his first Golden Guitar Award that year.
“We were full of ourselves,” songwriter and guitarist Roger Corbett told AAP.
“We’re all from Melbourne, so we put on our black T-shirts and say, ‘Where the hell are we going? It’s miles out of our way.'”
With songs layered with trilling fiddles, weeping accordions and tea chest bass throbs, the band stood before country music royalty and received the gong for Instrumental of the Year.
“Our scruffy lads had to walk past flashy guys like Slim Dusty, all dressed up to the max.
“It was pretty wild and we’ve been hooked ever since.”
The Tamworth Country Music Festival, celebrating its 51st anniversary, opens on Friday and draws tens of thousands of visitors to the New England region of New South Wales.
performers by score
Over 100 artists, including Golden Guitar Award winners Shane Nicholson and Ashley Dallas, will perform in the main arena over 10 days, while other musicians will transform the streets, pubs and clubs into stages.
The Tamworth Pub Group presents 135 shows at five venues. We have been preparing for a year to have hundreds of additional kegs of beer for the thirsty liberals.
Group spokesperson Skye Smith said tickets were selling fast after years marked by COVID-19 and extreme weather.
“We haven’t had a decent festival in years,” Smith said.
“Everyone is coming back in droves and I feel like it’s going to be bigger and better than ever.”
Corbett said the festival remains a source of hope for aspiring musicians.
“If you have a guitar and a dream, you can get in anywhere.
“Everyone from an eight-year-old novice on the street to Troy Cassar-Daley and Lee Kernaghan can take on the challenge.”
Forty years after his first trip to the capital, Corbett runs a country music academy. The academy offers intensive songwriting and performance courses for emerging artists.
“Americans are the firekeepers of country music. We want to compete with them and continue to create people like Keith Urban and Morgan Evans,” Corbett said.
young and old
“One of my great joys is watching people blossom and grow.”
Student Alison Clapson, a singer and guitarist, writes about life’s ups and downs and the mundane.
“Some of my songs are about trying to be perfect in a less-than-perfect world, like past experiences or grief or tripping over high heels,” she said.
Clapson, a 52-year-old accountant from the South Coast of New South Wales, is determined to break the macho mold of the instrument and learn to play the bass guitar.
“This is the coolest instrument. If you can master it, put it on and be a woman. Well, leave it to me.”