Welcome to the Spring edition of Country Update.

Happily, there seems to have been an unusual surge of country-related content on the small screen lately – Graeme Connors on ABC Landline, The Voice and XFactor featuring various country hopefuls with Caitlin Shadbolt and Brothers 3 still contenders as we went to print – even Katrina Burgoyne strumming and strutting her stuff on The Bachelor!

I hope you share my enjoyment of the story about Brook Schubert landing herself a spot on the Light The Fuse tour with Keith Urban, which has to be my favourite feel-good story in a long time.

For some time I have been uncomfortable with the rootsy, more acoustic style of country, be it a new artist or a so-called ‘retro’ one, being labelled Americana. The CMAA elected to award that genre under the sobriquet of Alt Country (Two Golden Guitars to date won by Stui & Camille French and Lachlan Bryan.) While I applaud any attempt to recognise and reward it, I chaff at calling a style of music created here, regardless of the origin of influences that shaped it in some instances – certainly not all – by a nationalistic term such as Americana. Nor do I condone the Alt Country tag as if it is an Alternate to Country surely it isn’t Country?

Doubly irksome is that it is by and large the non-commercial, thought provoking, singer songwriter material of substance, that I have personally loved for decades. Evidence to support that assertion is the amount of Americana Awards still bestowed on Emmylou Harris, and Rodney Crowell and their ilk – the same Crowell and Harris who were my ‘country’ heroes then! It is a complex argument but one worth the debate I think.

Luke OShea thinks he may have a crush on Joy McKean after reading and discussing her new book – read the full interview online as we didn’t have enough pages to accommodate his adulation!

Similarly, Kim Cheshire waxed very lyrical with Jedd Hughes and Joe Henry and those unabridged stories are on website as well.

Every issue I am struck by the co-incidences and common threads that crop up in the course of compiling CU. This time it was the theme of domestic violence connecting the Tanya Self story and Gretchen Peters who wrote Martina McBride’s ‘Independence Day’, plus both Gretchen and Jim Lauderdale credit their big break in the business to George Strait, and on it goes.

Mikaela Bella was thrilled to speak with Jim Lauderdale who was her ‘favourite find’ at CMC Rocks the Hunter this year. Mikaela recently distinguished herself in winning a significant grant for outstanding service to her community and youth. She would like to work for the ABC and Auntie would do well to snap her up when she finishes Uni, as she’s an extraordinary young lady and bound to excel in any chosen field!

Meanwhile back in Nashville…John Lomax III tells us that he’s been in the studio – the famed Studio A at the Sound Emporium – this week on a Garth Brooks recording session! I am sure he’ll tell you more about that next time.


Denise Torenbeek