Keith Urban

The country superstar flew into Tamworth by private jet for an intimate performance on the Tuesday of the city’s annual country music festival.

Urban took time to share stories of Tamworth with his fans and showed on screen old photos of himself as a young boy playing in the very same venue.

“Tamworth and I go back a long way,” he said.

“When I first used to come down here when I was nine years old and they used to have the Capital Country Music Association Awards … I competed in the sub-junior section and won a little trophy.”

“I thought that was pretty awesome and they said ‘you get to come here and play one show and do one song’,” Urban said.

“A couple of things have changed since then, but what I remember about winning that particular thing is, I’d played a bunch of places but nothing like the massive, magnificent grandeur of a place like this.

“When you’re nine this is like a stadium!

“I just remember I loved how I sounded in here and I was so excited.

“I think this is all really where it started for me.”

A teenager from drought-stricken north-west New South Wales got more than her wildest expectations at the concert. 

Among the crowd was 16-year-old Maddie Warden of Walgett who was sought out by Urban and pulled onto the stage where he presented her with his electric guitar.

The teenager travelled to the Tamworth Country Music Festival for some well-earned relief from the family’s sheep station, after spending her school holidays hauling weakened thirsty sheep out of shrinking muddy dams.

Maddie is a budding musician herself and said she was overwhelmed by Urban’s gesture.

Maddie said her family’s sheep station is in desperate need of rain.

“It’s really bad at the moment. All our water’s running really, really, drastically low,” she said.

“Basically my whole school holidays has been pulling out bogged sheep twice a day.

“A lot of them we’ve had to shoot because they just won’t survive or they’ve been mauled by other animals.”

Despite the challenges her family currently face, Maddie has maintained a positive outlook.

“It’s been tough, but you’ve always got to remember you’ll get through. I’ve got my family and everything,” she said.

“It helps me to have a greater appreciation for everything.”

The high school student said she was not meant to go the concert, but as fate would have it, the ticket came her way.

“My sister got the tickets, my dad and mum were meant to go but my dad couldn’t come, so I got the ticket,” she said.

Those tickets were as hot property and sold in a heartbeat after the impromptu concert announcement – incredibly they were just $20. 

…read the rest in Issue 92.