This is the most exciting time in Australian Indie Music, particularly all 79 types of Country Music, when our equivalent to the American Country Music awards and Nashville, (Tamworth is a sister city), starts. Technically, it starts this Friday, and goes for 10 days but unofficially, campers, motel and hotel stayers and residents come alive from a week before and go on a week after. Once upon a time it was only a long weekend in January....and one venue. Now there are over 160 venues, and it is 24/7 during the festival. There is a mid year festival in July, and just about every weekend and sometimes mid week, there are country gigs on. Country Music in Australia has gone quite the transformation in the last 10 years or so. It has evolved from trad. country (although it is still quite strong) to a diverse array of kinds of country music. I can only name about 56 (see my article on CountryAs) but apparently, there are more kinds. I mainly concentrate on Country Folk and Alt. Country (Americana) but there are many other kinds. Bluegrass and Country Blues are cool too.
The albums are coming thick and fast and they usually are released in time for the festival or just after. Tamworth is one of Australia's biggest inland cities, and there is a fair distance to the next major towns, so even in normal times, it is quite a hub of activity. Unless you have been to Tamworth, you really don't know what it is like. It is hard to describe. The city itself is also known as The City of Light, as it was the first inland city to get lights in the streets, and I think, only the second city next to Sydney, or pretty close. When I was growing up there, it was a big country town, and in many ways, despite the expansion, it still is.
We had one motel there when I was a kid, now there are over 100 and most of them were purpose built for the festival. It is also the city on the way to others. It is halfway between Sydney and Brisbane. This time of the year, (Summer down under), Tamworth is either in drought or flood....that's the way it is. Most days are generally in the 40 degrees Celsius range, (way over 100 F.)
The music is hotter than the temp. though. There is something to please everybody. From the Bush Ballad and Bluegrass breakfast shows, songwriters in the round, ladies in country night, country cares (charity event), the abundance of award shows, free shows, buskers in Peel Street, late night alternative country music and the big stars of Australian Country Music - Tamworth has it all and it is one of the few festivals that does. It covers all types. The last awards are the Golden Guitars, which are the biggies, run since 1973, but there are others, the ICMA Indie Awards, People's Choice, Tamworth Songwriters' Awards, and many others. The folks that get nominated for the hands of fame, where they put their hands in concrete, and others.
Fans mix with the stars on the streets, at clubs, pubs, shopping centres, and at many obscure venues like vineyards and paddocks.
It has a vibe that no other festival has. The youngest artists haven't hit their teens yet and the oldest are in their eighties and nineties.
Tamworth is attended by artists from all around the world, though it largely concentrates on homegrown Australian talent.
Bring on Tamworth! It is more than just music.
I have about 12 albums on pre-order at the moment.....go for it.