Country music, in all its varied styles, can be heard all over Tamworth. Large venues include the giant Tamworth Regional Entertainment & Conference Center, the Town Hall, and outdoor stages in parks. Other venues include shops and arcades, pubs, clubs, theaters, halls and churches. Much of the country music is free to listen to and most is pure Australian. Tamworths tree lined main thoroughfare, Peel Street, is home to hundreds of buskers who perform on the footpaths morning, noon and night. Three blocks are closed to traffic over the Festival and down the entire length are buskers. There are individuals, groups and bands, all ages, some shy, some flamboyant, playing all kinds of music. The best of the buskers are invited to play at the Buskers Championship Concert.
The official program lists over 2,500 individual events ranging through concerts, record launches, bush poetry, exhibitions and so on. It even includes rodeos and bull-riding in the fabulous new Equine Centre.
The Festival had its two major events on its last weekend. The annual Peel Street Cavalcade drew its usual big crowd on the Saturday morning, spectators enjoyed seeing their favourite country music stars cruise through the Tamworth CBD on a variety of cars and trucks. The prestigious CMAA Golden Guitar Awards were held on the Saturday night.Various awards covering all facets of country music were presented to Australia’s best. Since it started in 1973 legendary Slim Dusty still holds the record of receiving the most Golden Guitar Awards with 36. Indigenous country artist Jimmy Little joined the ranks of Slim Dusty in winning the Lifetime Achievement Award, his first Golden Guitar after six decades in the business. Admitted to the ARIA Hall of Fame in 1999, Jimmy Little has more than 30 albums and has been a regular at the Tamworth Country Music Festival since its inception 39 years ago.
I attended the Festival on the Thursday and Friday spending my time l;listening to the buskers in Peel Street, the concerts in the shopping centers, and various singers and bands in pubs and clubs. I attended the CD launch of a Balladeer from Queensland who commissioned a photo of a friend of mine for the cover of the CD. A hot, tiring, but wonderful time.
This year crowd numbers were down slightly due to the recent floods in various states of Australia preventing people traveling the the Festival, and the temperatures were up, but the 2011 Tamworth Country Music Festival successfully foot-stomped its way through Tamworth for another year. Cowboy hats, folding chairs, and guitars are memories of the country music at the Tamworth Country Music festival