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Tamworth Music Festival

Thursday, October 8, 2009
Dermott Brereton just couldn't wait to take the journey to Tamworth, 320km north of Sydney. He's a real fan of country music, and in January each year it's the venue for one of Australia's biggest festivals. It's not just country music — bluegrass, rock and folk all get a hearing.

Tamworth's population doubles for 11 days when the festival comes to town. There's a concert, gig or show happening almost around the clock in every club, pub and open space. Most of it is free.

You'll know you're there when you see the huge golden guitar standing on the New England Highway. It was unveiled by Australia's King of Country Music, Slim Dusty, in 1988. He won more Golden Guitar awards than any other performer.

Kicking off in Peel Street, the town's main street, Dermott was blown away by the sound. Every couple of yards is a busker hoping to be discovered or at least collect some cash. People of all ages play their guitars, sing their hearts out and get into boot scooting. Families, solo artists, children — you name it.

Tamworth Town Hall is where the talent quest is held. It all began in 1968 and has grown beyond anyone's belief. Past winners include the McClymont Sisters who are veterans at the festival these days. They've won several Golden Guitar awards.

Another huge success at Tamworth is the 2008 Australian of the Year, Lee Kernaghan. He is nationally acclaimed but hasn't forgotten the importance of Tamworth to him and fellow performers. Keith Urban, Tommy Emmanuel, James Blundell, Kasey Chambers, Troy Cassar-Daley, Beccy Cole, Lee's sister Tania Kernaghan, Gina Jeffreys, Melinda Schneider, Adam Harvey, Missy Higgins and John Williamson are all regular performers.

It wouldn't be a country festival without boot scooting! There's always an attempt at a new world record for the longest line dance. It's actually held by China, and with population on their side, it's probably not going to change in Tamworth, but it's loads of fun trying.

The Gallery of Stars Wax Museum is worth a visit. You will see life-sized likenesses of many of your favourite artists.

Location

Tamworth, 400km north of Sydney.

For further information

Tamworth Country Music Festival
Peel Street
Tamworth 2340
Ph: (02) 6766 1839
www.tamworthcountrymusic.com.au

The Big Golden Guitar Tourist Centre
2 Ringers Road
Tamworth 2340
Ph: (02) 6765 2688
www.biggoldenguitar.com.au

User comments
minuszero,I resent your comments.I,ve been going up to Tamworth with friends and we all treat the town and it's people the same way the treat us, with respect.which is more than you've done with the people who visit tamworth.thank God not all peopleare as rude and ignorant as you
I disagree with the other comment. As annoying as it may be, the majority of cash for Tamworth is made in 10 days and is the reason it's one of the thriving regional areas of NSW. Tamworth would be sinking with a lot of other country areas if it didn't have the festival. And it's a lot of fun! Besides, if Queens of the Stone Age and Kings of Leon can count Johnny Cash as a major influence, country music can't be all bad, can it?!?
As a former Tamworth Resident, the festival was just a headache. In the 26 years i lived there i saw the same thing. A council that never changes and doesnt give a stuff about the locals who keep the town going for the other 50 weeks of the year. Dont even think about trying to go about your everyday life, its near impossible. Try to pay the rent or just do your shopping, its not easy. Walk down the main street to go to the bank and you will go deaf. The volume of these so called "singers" is not policed at all. The other 50 weeks of the year...turn the music up and they are all over you. The town gets invaded by hicks from all corners most with a disregard for the laws. I am glad i do not have to suffer the headache of the festival anymore.

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