Yesterday, I returned home from the Tamworth Country Music Festival.
This was my second time attending Tamworth, with the last one being in 2011. This year’s festival was filled with its fair share of highs and lows but for the most part, I had an incredible time. I met countless amounts of new people and talented fellow-musicians who I am humbled to now call friends. I saw at least 2 gigs each day that left me both envious and excited for the incredible talent out there in the Australian Country and Alt-Country music scenes. Particular highlights for me were the Late Night Alt Country gigs on the second floor of the Tudor Hotel held over 3 nights from the Wednesday to the Friday. Finally, I was blown away by the generosity and genuine kindness as other performers who are much more organised than me invited – no, encouraged – me to share their stage and my songs. Special mention for this one goes out the Gretta Ziller, Andrew Swift, Ben Bunting, Katrina Burgoyne, and the Cruisin’ Deuces.
This year was also the year where I decided that I would hit Peel St as a busker and play my music no matter how many Karaoke, Pop Princesses with pickups on cheap guitars, John Butler impersonators, or Bolivian Pan Flutes with overpowered backing tracks. I went out into the heat with my trolley of gear in one hand and guitar in the other. I played for blocks of 4-5 hours making as much as $100 or as little as $13.40. Peel St was heartbreaking but now I can say that I’ve done it. I can bitch and moan about the plight of busking in such a cacophony of noise where 80% of the buskers aren’t even performing country music at a country music festival. I have put my money where my mouth is. Unless certain measures are put into place in following years, or if I can convince a band to suffer alongside me, I don’t think I’ll be busking again.
We (attended with my partner in crime, Gilly) also camped this festival. Camping Tamworth is hard. Waking up with a hangover at 7am in 32deg heat is hard. But there is nobody to blame for this one except ourselves. Word of warning – if you decided to camp and can deal with the weather (in particular the humidity), bring expensive ear plugs. There is a strong possibility that you might be camping next door to a championship snorer. Word of warning for the wise.
The 2016 Tamworth Country Music Festival was a fantastic experience. The highs hugely outweighed the lows and I will be there next year with some proper gigs organised and bandmates to help perform my songs. See you there!