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Tamworth's 35th Country Music Festival.

Our Second Tamworth Country Music Festival

A whole year had passed since we were last in Tamworth but it hadn't changed much. During the week leading up to the Festival there was plenty to do and see and once it began we were swamped with choices - there were concerts everywhere, mostly free. Additionally, the town centre was closed to traffic and there were buskers every few metres. Some had loud sound systems but others had not and were drowned out by their noisy neighbours. Many buskers were really excellent and we had no trouble locating the best - they were the ones with the largest crowds surrounding them. The weather was very hot all week so we were glad to retire to the cool of Gloria Jeans for an iced coffee from time to time, and the caravan air conditioner was a life saver.

It's hard to give you an accurate feel for this Festival, dear Reader, because it's all about sound, so instead I'll try and capture the atmosphere in pictures.

By the third day of the Festival most of the people were wearing cowboy hats. We were no exception . . .

Pam and I

The T-shirts were bought last year. Once Pam nearly went out wearing mine by mistake!

So there I was, leaning on a lamp-post waiting for Pam to emerge from a shop, when a gust of wind blew dust into my eyes. I had to rub the dust out and when I re-opened my eyes, blinking, there was an attractive lady standing right in front of me.

"I'm here", she said, smiling brightly.

I blinked some more, feeling I should know her.

"Sorry?" I responded, playing for time.

"I'm here", she said again, still smiling at me.

Well, I could clearly see that she was there, but who the hell was she? My confusion must have shown in my face because she laughed and said, refering to my T-shirt (pictured above).

"You're waiting for the perfect woman. Well, I'm here."

And very nice she was too. We chatted for a while until Pam returned with an 'I might have known' expression on her face.

Our good friends, recently married Greg and Bev from Sydney, came over and met up with us in Tamworth. It was great to see them again.

Greg and Bev

Congratulations to the newly married Mr and Mrs Wetzler.

While wandering the streets we were accosted by a tall young lady who was giving away tickets to an 'erotic dance show' in one of the hotels. She approached us as I was about to photograph Pam and Bev and, being full of fun, she insisted on posing between them.

Tall girl squatting between Pam n Bev

Pam and Bev either side of the tall blond. Tall?

Tall girl

Yes . . . .                                                        . . . . and sexy, too.

Last year we'd developed a soft spot for a young singer called Kirsty Lee Akers. Kirsty was in Tamworth again this year and she seemed to have gained a lot more confidence. She succeeded in winning the prestigious Toyota Starmaker competition which earned her:

  1. A Toyota RAV4 car and fuel card,
  2. A Maton guitar,
  3. A Bose P.A. system,
  4. A recording contract,
  5. A number of major festival and event appearances,
  6. Marketing and publicity support, and
  7. A professionally produced video.

Many big names in country music were given a big leg-up by winning the Starmaker competition, so well done, Kirsty. We went to watch her at the Diggers Club where she was performing all week. The picture below was taken from the back of the audience with a 200 mm lens as she sang on stage.

Kirsty Lee Akers

Kirsty Lee Akers. Look at those brown eyes.

With Kirsty and Michelle

Up close and personal with two stars, Kirsty Lee Akers and Michelle Little.
We considered Michelle to be the best singer we heard in Tamworth, bar none. Sorry Kirsty.

It struck us that there were many more youngsters performing than last year so I'll include them in the pictures. If some were not as good as others, they were certainly all having fun.

Two Young Girls with Micrphones

Airborne: Perhaps more enthusiasm than melody, these two were a joy to watch.

Violinist

This little lady played very well and wasn't at all put off by the watching crowd.

Kids and Parents

Some kids tap-danced for Mum . . .                       . . . others sang with Dad.

Cheeky Kid

This cheeky lad insisted on me taking his photo because
I'd photographed his brother (behind) with his colourful head dress

Didgeridoo and Guitar

A few performers played the didgeridoo, but . . .              . . . predictably, most played guitars.

Chookman

Some played strange instruments, . . .                                       . . . some wore strange hats.

Modes of transport

Some came prepared for anything. . .                                . . . others took a laid-back approach to transport.

Weird Costumes

Some very strange characters were to be found wandering the streets.

The man in the pictures below stood as still as a statue with his wheelbarrow. He didn't speak, even to respond to questions. When somebody dropped a silver or gold coin into his barrow he took one step forward and froze again. His aim was to walk from one end of Peel Street to the other in that manner. Pam dropped a coin down the pipe into his barrow and his arm came slowly up and one finger beckoned to her to come closer. Then he grabbed her and kissed her.

A Kiss for Pam

"Hmm, he looks tasty", thinks Pam, when suddenly . . . .

After Kiss

As you can see, the brazen hussy wasn't too upset.

Australia Day in Tamworth

The Festival was timed to include the Australia Day long weekend and that drew in the crowds like nothing else, with the Australian flag much in evidence. We attended a free concert sponsored by Coca Cola where we finally met Michelle Little, a singer we had thought by far the best in the Young Guns Concert. We had been trying to track her down ever since. We had seen many perform already when Michelle took the stage. She brought the house down with her rendition of We Are Australian. There wasn't a dry eye in the place and one couple went out to the front and waved an Australian flag as she sang.

Michelle Little

Above: Michelle sang to a capacity crowd and got a standing ovation.
Below: A patriotic couple held up their flag in front of the stage.

Flag
The Big Parade

The parade was a great success and I was there on your behalf, my faithful Reader, taking photographs of every float that passed us until my camera glowed red hot. When I down-loaded the photographs, however, it struck my how boring they would be to you, so I decided to spare you. In fact, I'll spare you any further details of the festival with one little exception. At one concert at the Diggers Club we bumped into this lady who will be immediately recognisable to Aussies, though probably not to anyone else:

Pauline Hanson

Ladies and Gents, the one and only Pauline Hanson. From chip shop to
Parliament to prison and then . . . obscurity? Don't write her off just yet.


Footnote: This re-working of Page 37 was completed on 24 April 2013. It conforms to HTML5 and CSS level 3.