2018 in Review
Well folks what a whirlwind 12 months! It started with Aussie Day celebrations for Rockhampton City Council in the CBD of Rocky, I was joined by the Sunshine Coast element of the B.A.R.B (Busted Arse Ringers Band) and local guitar prodigy Jimmy “The Gun” Gordon. What a ball we had, and the 500+ crowd seemed to enjoy it which was great!
Next on the horizon was the famous Julia Creek Dirt & Dust Festival in APRIL. This event is a combination of Triathlon, Bull Riding and Music Festival. I always enjoy heading back to Julia Creek as I went to boarding school there in the early eighties. I was accompanied by good friend Geoff Warner who is a gifted guitarist and on the way out to the Dirt & Dust we stopped in and did a quick show for my old home town of Richmond (I used to be a Jackeroo around these parts and spent time as a child growing up in the family hotel in the township of Maxwelton 50kms west of Richmond) I love this part of the world, great people and good times plus it would have to be the friendliest town in the outback! We then went on and played Friday night main stage at the Dirt & Dust and the following days race meeting VIP Luncheon, catching up with some great mates as well as good friend MP Bob Katter.
After a big few days out at the Creek, Geoff and I backed up and went on to play the new Winton’s Way Out West Fest a week later. Four days of music, flies & good times for the re-opening of the Waltzing Matilda Centre. I was privileged to meet a few heroes of mine, The Governor General of Australia Sir Peter Cosgrove, who I met once before while serving in the middle east on deployment with the RAAF. He was as always, incredibly kind & allowed me to grab a quick picture. The other hero I managed to shake hands with was the one & only John Williamson. I was incredibly taken aback by his demeanour and humbleness, plus watching him perform Waltzing Matilda & True Blue will be a memory I will cherish forever. We also did do a bit of work ourselves at the TATTS Hotel & a few other venues around town but our time was well spent immersing ourselves celebrating, outback culture & meeting new friends & fans, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves & can highly recommend both the Julia Creek Dirt & Dust and Winton’s Way Out West Fest as bucket list events, you won’t be disappointed.
After a little break I backed up & performed at Rockhampton’s Beef Week Australia in MAY. A tri annual event which celebrates the Cattle industry here in Central Queensland & is the biggest event of its kind in Australia. We also performed at Rockhampton Council’s Urban Paddock Street Party the same week. Again, I was joined by the Sunny Coast Boys who travelled long hours just to support me. I can’t thank Brian Newman, his brother Greg, Greg’s son Riley, as well as bass guitarist Glen Poulton for going above & beyond to back me at these events. The professionalism, hard working attitude & no fuss, no ego ethic of these guys really makes me feel honoured to be around such good people, thanks guys for your help this year it was greatly appreciated.
July was Rockhampton River Festival time & I was grateful to perform on main stage on Friday & Sunday. Over 60,000 people attended Rocky River Festival this year & it continues to grow. I was supported by a few local Rockhampton musicians this time, Josh Payne, James Gordon & Aaron Symonds helping me out & I thoroughly enjoyed our performances. Thanks to Josh, Aaron & James for your help it was a pleasure working with you guys & it was a lot of fun.
Having had a busy start to the year, I was fortunate enough to have some down time to finish off the debut album “Laidback Country”. I took the opportunity to fly to Sydney & record the last song of the album with legendary producer Matt Fell. Most people who know me, know that I don’t do planes or cities very well, so this trip was hard work. However, it was a pleasure to meet Matt & see how he does things at Luv Hurtz Studios. He is an incredible musician & has an amazing ear for things. Thank you kindly Matt for your no nonsense approach & help with producing Life’s Lessons it was an honour to work with you.
So with two thirds of the year down I was invited to perform at the Tasmanian Country Music Awards Ceromony in October. I was joined by my wife Nikki & we met some lovely people at these awards. Our publicists Therese McKee & Aly Cook (Aly is also a renowned New Zealand County Music Artist) also attended the awards & we were lucky enough to spend some time with these two lovely ladies the next day venturing around the beautiful state of Tassie. The sights & food are amazing & if you haven’t been to this part of the world yet, be sure to do so, you won’t regret it.
With the cold temperatures of Tassie behind us, we headed north to Townsville two weeks later to defrost, where we performed at what was our biggest event yet, The Townsville Rock Fest Gone Country with Troy Cassar-Daley & The McClymonts headlining. We launched our debut album at this event & again I was very honoured to meet another inspirational musician with Troy who graciously signed my guitar & allowed me to grab a quick photo. I have always admired Troy’s songwriting & musicianship as well as his humble, no ego approach to life. I was incredibly grateful to meet him & was lucky enough to be asked to warm up the crowd for him prior to his set... again another memory that I won’t forget in a long time. I have to thank the organisers & event staff/volunteers who worked so hard to put this event on. It was a huge undertaking & their efforts were nothing short of incredible. They were rewarded with a big turn out & I hope this event continues to grow as it is the only major country music festival in Townsville. A big congratulations to all who helped pull off this mammoth task - you are all champions. Special mention to Margie Ryder for her courage to put something like this on. I mentioned an event like this to her a few years ago & she took a leap of faith & decided to have a go! There are few as brave as Margie & I am in awe of her courage, work ethic & no nonsense approach to life. Margie you inspire others and you a truly a hero of mine. Thank you for your support & believing in the magic of Country Music!
I’d also like to thank my North Queensland element of the B.A.R.B (Busted Arse Ringers Band) for putting in a lot of time & effort rehearsing & practicing for this event to support me. Mitch Batchelor, Dan Neilson & the genius Geoff Warner, thank you again guys for helping me out!
So with October done & dusted we returned to Rockhampton for Remembrance Day preparations & a Drought relief concert to work on, with a new CQ branch of the B.A.R.B & to be honest a real good bunch of down to earth guys who I am very blessed to be working with, John Batley (CMAA Academy musician graduate), Jamie Miller, Josh Payne & Chris Buenen. We got to work straight away rehearsing for many weeks to prepare for a busy November.
On the 9th of November, we headed up to Mackay where we performed for Armistice day celebrations for the Queensland RSL. It was an incredibly moving night with speeches made by a Rat of Tobruk and a WW2 veteran. Their words will remain with me a long time as I was so moved by their experiences & lives. A truly humbling experience & remarkable evening.
We returned back to Rockhampton the next day to prepare for our second last event for the year, the McDonalds Beef Capital Cares, Stomp the Crack, Drought Relief Concert. 12 local acts volunteered to perform for this great cause & we raised over $15,000 for struggling drought effected families in the region. We were blown away by the support & generosity by local businesses & we hope to do another fundraiser next year. Congratulations to Warren Acutt from AP&P for your hard work organising this event & special thanks to the performers, sponsors (4CC, 4RO KIX Country, Great Western Hotel, Spitwater, The Morning Bulletin, The ABC & McDonalds) & to all who came along to support this event.
Our last show was only a few weeks ago at the Rocky Sport Club for their annual Beer Festival. What another big turn out & fun was had by all who attended the festival. I’d like to thank Jack & Russell Hughes for inviting us to perform to a new audience & we hope to return to your wonderful venue in the new year for more great events.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have helped us this last twelve months, our sponsors Dick Smiths foods, Richmond, McKinlay, Livingstone & Flinders Shire Councils, QLD RSL & Matilda Poppy, as well as The Filmery, Simon Johnson from Hillbilly hut who produced our album & the many wonderful country music radio stations who have been playing our music all year. Lastly to you the avid fan I personally can’t thank you enough for supporting my endeavours to promote the bush & the Outback Culture through my music, which I am so passionate about! I hope to get out on the road next year & meet up with you all & play lots more events!
Take care & may you all have a very Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year!
Lots of Love & Best Wishes