I sat, I watched, I tapped my toes, I sang along when I knew the words (and, let's be honest, even when I didn't). As I did these things, I judged. I wasn't even aware I was doing it but I guess it was always there in the back of mind.
"Do I enjoy this style of music? Are they singing in tune? Do their original lyrics speak to me? Are they original? Is this cover better than the original? Is there a reason I'm hearing Folsom Prison Blues for the millionth time today?"
As I judged the different voices, skills and styles I came to develop a better sense of what I enjoy in country music and what it takes for a performer to impress me. So, why am I telling you all this? I want you to understand how I picked my Top 3 from the 2015 Tamworth Country Music Festival.
I wanted to highlight artists that have incredible songwriting skills, can confidently play at least one instrument and have that indefinable quality or charisma that allows you to happily sit and watch them for hours on end.
She's the whole reason we even went to Tamworth in the first place. Fanny did NOT disappoint. I've written about her and the Thrillseekers before HERE and basically I've played her EP on repeat ever since I got it and am eagerly awaiting her debut album release this year!
The find of the Festival! We looked these guys up online after seeing them in the guide book and knew straight away we HAD to see them live. We saw them first at Fan Zone and were instantly blown away. I just love their sound! When Tia mentioned that the song she was about to sing was about a farm once owned by her Mum's family in Bombala (a little town really close to my own hometown) I knew we were onto a winner. That song, Lord's Hill, has been stuck in my head ever since (check it out in the video below). I can't wait to see what's to come from these two... I'll definitely be keeping up to date and keeping an ear out on Triple J where they have just started to be played.
We saw Missy at Shoppingworld and thought her covers sounded great. Then, she explained the story behind her latest single and I thought "wow, this sounds like my sister's life exactly". I was excited to hear the song before it even started but once it did I knew straight away that I had to pre-order 'Til I Figure It Out'. Missy was just all around amazing, I'd love to see her perform again and can't wait til her new EP is released.
I had to mention just one more act (though there were plenty more I truly enjoyed). Dozzi sang two of my favourite songs that totally encapsulate my America experience so they earned instant brownie points for covering Cruise and Chicken Fried (check out their Dozzi-fried version below).
These girls are funny, entertaining and ofcourse, SUPER MUSICALLY TALENTED!
Wow. How do I even begin to explain the experience that was my first ever Tamworth Country Music Festival!? I absolutely loved every single, music-drenched, second!
Sidewalk Chalk Art.
My first tip for anyone considering the trip is JUST DO IT!
You don't have to be the biggest country music fan ever, or a farmer from way out west. You don't have to know every Adam Brand lyric or even know who the hell he is! There is something in Tamworth for everyone!
Which brings us to my second tip... Embrace the change in Australian Country Music.
Country Music is growing and evolving with the next generation. It's not all Slim Dusty and songs about the farm anymore (not that there is anything wrong with this branch of country either). There is a whole wave of new talent and it's time we all accepted that there is a place for everyone in Country Music.
Free hat, Free lanyard, Awesome photo op!
Onto the trip planning tips. Let's start with accommodation.
TCMF (Tamworth Country Music Festival) can be a daunting trip to make the first time round as many camp grounds do not take bookings. I, for one, was terrified at the thought of rocking into town and not being able to find anywhere to put the tent up. Instead, I did my research and opted to stay a little further out of town in order to secure a booked camping site. We ended up at Austin Tourist Park and it was perfect.
Our Campsite Setup.
"So, how do I get around Tamworth?"
Sooooo easily! The bus service for the event was super useful. We paid $20 for a wristband that allowed us unlimited bus rides for the duration of the festival. The buses came every hour to our tourist park and were able to quickly and easily take us to every venue we needed to visit.
More Sidewalk Chalk Art.
One of the biggest concerns going in for me was making sure I got to see all my favourites.
An essential purchase is the yearly guide as it provides the perfect starting point to workout the times people are playing and to start exploring some new (to you) acts. I went through and picked out atleast one time for each act I was desperate to see, making sure they didn't clash. Once that was sorted I was free to fill my time with buskers and seeing more of acts i'd discovered at the festival.
Addimi Acoustic Sessions.
You can easily fill your time at TCMF without purchasing a single ticket!
There is sooooo much going on down Peel St. I could spend a whole week just watching the buskers. If there is something you really want to see, by all means buy a ticket, but don't get fooled by the website suggesting that you will need tickets.
Last week I wrote about my new challenge for the year, #52friends. A whole year of connecting, reconnecting and maintaining one friendship a week for 52 weeks. Since the last post went live I have put together a list of friends/extended family members that I want to include and set about getting started with the 'friending'.
The first friend up was my high school bestie who I try to catch up with whenever I am back in my hometown. We headed out for coffee and took her kids to look around the petting zoo there. While I was sitting waiting for her to arrive I thought about how often my default catch up plan is to just grab coffee and as great as that is, I decided to put together this list providing a whole range of activities to help you connect with friends.
- Grab a coffee together
- Send a handwritten letter
- Send a gift
- Go for a walk and talk
- Pizza and a movie night at home
- Friday after work drinks
- Send a card for birthday
- Send a card of congratulations
- Send a card for Christmas
- Weekend getaway/road trip
- Cook them a meal
- Brunch date
- Hit the gym together
- Go SUPing together
- Go rockclimbing together
- Go to a cooking class together
- Go to a wine and paint night together
- Bake them a treat
- Play a game of tennis with them
- Have a spa day
- Make a collage of photos of the two of you
- Give them your favourite book to read and discuss after
- Go to the movies together
- Go to a happy hour to drink and chat
- See a band play
- Join a team sport together
- Send a surprise care package
- Go shopping
- Get drunk and dance on tables together
- Go camping
- Have a "junk" stall at a market
- Attempt a craft project together
- Go ice-skating
- Do a swap of some sort (eg. cookies, clothes, shoes etc.)
- Go grocery shopping together (make a boring task way more enjoyable!)
Tonight I was laying in front of the TV, lazily scanning through the latest on Instagram as I tend to at the end of most days. A series of photos came through from a friend I hadn't seen or spoken to in over a year despite living in the same city. I quickly sent off a "we should catch up" comment and cringed at my lazy friend behaviour. Continuing to scroll I soon came across the following post by the wonderful, Sunrise weather woman Edwina Bartholomew.
I love this idea! Actively setting the intention to put time and effort into 52 different friendships over the year. While I'm sure some would argue that you shouldn't need a challenge like this to put time into your friendships I feel that anything that encourages to reach out to people who you may have drifted away from or rarely get to see is a positive thing.
I for one am jumping straight aboard the #52friends train.
I want to make time to connect with people I met overseas. To make sure old friends are not forgetten. To send snail mail and recognise birthdays and significant events that might otherwise go unacknowledged. To avoid relying on facebook to update me on people's lives. To just make a damn effort!
While, Eddy is planning to document her #52friends on instagram by having each friend answer the same set of questions. I plan to just record catch-ups and reminders in my diary each week to stay up to date. I will most probably also post updates here, ofcourse, as this is obviously my favourite place to record my life.
Feel free to join in too and share your #52friends adventures with me here or over on instagram!