ON TOUR WITH THE KID: Falling in Love with Tamworth
There is a trip, a pilgrimage really, that the kid and I have made every year since she was born. The annual trek to the Tamworth Country Music Festival. It's billed as Australia's largest music festival. With 700 artists and 2800 events over 10 days. It sounds really overwhelming when you think about it like that, but it is without question, the most family friendly festival in the country. A Kid Zone set up for the little ones in the main part of town and a lot of free and outdoor performances. You can bring the whole family and not break the bank.
For the Kid and I, it's a work trip but the one she most looks forward to every year. For a busy working artist (and those who work with them), the festival can be hectic but in the best possible way. It's a privilege and a huge responsibility to look after an act in Tamworth. It can help set their path for the following twelve months, and you need to bring your A game.
In previous years, the world's smallest publicist and I have looked after McAlister Kemp, but this year we were working with the stunning Lyn Bowtell and Bennett, Bowtell and Urquhart. There is so much talent in that sentence. To work with an artist, you should really love what they do. It was at a sound check in 2003 when Lyn was on stage with her trio, Bella and she began to sing About a Girl that I knew I wanted to work with her. It gave me goosebumps.
With Bennett, Bowtell and Urquhart up for five Golden Guitar nominations and Lyn nominated for an additional two, shows at Blazes and The Albert Hotel, guest spots with other artists, signings, and a packed interview schedule, it was busy from the moment we arrived. As always happens in Tamworth, you spend most of your time running into old friends, some of whom you only see once a year. Either in the street, in the green room at Fanzone, at radio stations or when you are all hiding out in the CMAA office for the occasional break from the heat.
In the middle of this jam-packed week, thanks to a series of comical events, the Kid and I found ourselves stuck in the Tamworth McDonalds car park with a dead phone and sadly a dead car battery in weather which could only be described as scorching. Just as I popped the hood this very chivalrous young guy who happened to be parked in the waiting bay came over, tools in hand and offered to help. I could not have been more grateful.
With the battery out, and us now well on the way to getting home I thought the least I could do was offer this superhero of car repair, tickets to the show that BBU were having that night at West's. My offer, however, was met with an unusual smile. As he raised his sunglasses, I suddenly realised the very helpful "stranger" was in fact, Travis Collins.
This was not only horrifying because the man has five Golden Guitar nominations but because I also know him and I had literally been sitting next to him in a radio studio for fifteen minutes the day before! So sorry Trav - I'm putting it down to heat stroke!
When the Kid was describing the events of the day to her Grandma over the phone, she said, "someone famous fixed our car, I think it was Jimi Hendrix!"
Finally, it was the night of the Golden Guitars Awards. The Kid walked the red carpet with BBU then waited backstage for the winners to be announced. Thankfully there was reason to celebrate, and the Kid jumped up and down on the couch like Tom Cruise when her Aunty Lyn won the first of three awards. Travis also picked up three on the night, which left he and Lyn tied for the most awards won in the events 45th year. The kid was thrilled for Travis too. She flew through the backstage door and screamed: "Mummy Jimi Hendrix won a Golden Guitar!"
Even if you don't consider yourself a country music fan, it would be hard not to enjoy yourself in Tamworth. Pack up the family and head on over next January. There is so much talent and so many good people... it's hard not to fall in love!