Saturday, January 17, 2009

Australia -- Tamworth Time. The World's Biggest Country Music Festival?

What's the world's biggest country music festival? According to Australia's ABC News it's the annual Australian Country Music Festival in Tamworth, New South Wales, which began on Friday. It's a showcase and celebration of a thoroughly local scene, with more than 600 performers and 2,500 events staged during the 11 days of the festival.

The camping sites are filled with tents and motorhomes while the streets are full of buskers hoping to be discovered.

About 50,000 people will come into Tamworth to see everyone from local country music hero Troy Cassar Daly to the Dolly Parton Tribute Show.

This year's festival is the 37th edition of the event, one of Australia's stand-out summer entertainment attractions. According to a history of the festival on the festival web site

Tamworth has been home to country music since 1973 when the city snapped up the label of Country Music Capital, stuck to its advertising guns and staged the first ever Australasian Country Music Awards.

But even before then Tamworth was hosting special country music sessions and concerts. The CCMA or Capital Country Music Association has been spotlighting new talent in country music for 40 years from Tamworth. There's a deep heritage and culture of country here.

It had come on the back of the radio tradition of playing hillbilly in the middle of the night and a radio transmission signal reach all over eastern Australia and even to New Zealand.

It was Max Ellis and John Minson and their marketing mates from radio station 2TM who pushed the new brand.

Reading the web site is like reading a report from a parallel universe: the language is English and the pictures of guitar-strumming dudes and dudettes in cowboy hats could be from the U.S., but the names of the performers are other specific references are totally down under.

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