I had heard a lot about Ricki-Lee over the years since she was a contestant on the Voice but had never seen her perform or really listened to her music. When I heard that she was going to perform at the Australia Day celebrations at Bella Vista Farm I took the opportunity to see first hand why her popularity had soared.
I must say that I was glad that I braved the heat of another hot Australia Day to photograph her performance as she is quite the entertainer. Great music, dancers and stage lighting really kept the crowd (and myself) entertained. Ricki-Lee really knows how to engage with the audience and entertain.
Here are a few of the photos that I took of the performance.
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Lara Parker-Kent with Michael Kelly on guitar performed at the Australia Day celebrations at Bella Vista Farm. I first heard Lara sing about 13 years ago at a fundraiser and was amazed at her voice even then. She has since gone on to perform on live television as a contestant on The Voice and is now making a name for herself as a wedding singer. Along with Michael Kelly they are a very talented duo and are available for corporate functions, parties and weddings.
If you would like ti find out more about Lara Parker-Kent and Michael Kelly, or would like to book them for a gig then you can do so on the website.
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As a photographer and lover of music I try to support local artists this is where our future super stars are going to come from in the future. We are blessed with so many talented young artists in Sydney. These photos were taken at the Fishers Ghost Gig at Campbelltown in November, 2016. I had already photographed a few of the artist before and was well aware of their talent.
Here are a few of my shots from the day.
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Father’s day this year was spent with my son Daniel wandering around listening to bands during the King Street Crawl at Newtown. It was my first experience of the King Street Crawl and I enjoyed hearing some new music. I ended up photographing a few bands at the various venues that we visited.
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Camden put on a great concert which displayed the many and varied talented artist in the area. I was granted access to photograph the concert on behalf of Amnplify.
The headline act was Pseudo Echo and they were supported by a lot of local performers throughout the day.
Here are a few photos from the day.
A great afternoon and evening of French Music and cuisine. Well worth attending when they return in 2017.
The music was very entertaining and the artists were Hindi Zahra, Brigitte (Sylvie Hoarau and Aurelie Saada), Lou Doillon and Soviet Suprem (Erwan Seguillon and Toma Feterman). I don’t speak french and even though some of the majority of the songs were sung in french I still enjoyed them, good music is good music in any language.
Thanks to Cartell Music and Amnplify for allowing me to shoot the event.
CMC Rocks the Hunter relocated to Ipswich Queensland this year and I decided to drive up to shoot it. There was a stellar line up of artists both local and international which helped to draw a great crowd to the new venue.
The venue was Willowbank Racetrack located near Ipswich and there was plenty of shade available for the fans.
Personally I would have preferred for the festival to have stayed in the Hunter Valley however for commercial reasons it probably made sense to relocate to a different venue. Each venue has their advantages and disadvantages but the main thing is the quality of the artists performing because that is what a music festival is all about. With 36 different artists everyone there would have found it easy to enjoy the music.
Each of the three nights had international acts headlining with Lady Antebellum on the Friday night who unfortunately would not allow any media access at all on the night, Chris Young on the Saturday night and Big & Rich to close the festival on the Sunday.
It was great see two of my favourite bands, The Viper Creek Band and The Wolfe Brothers performing over the weekend before such huge crowds, particularly the boys from the Viper Creek Band as they performed just Big & Rich.
Kacey Musgrave’s stage resembled the video clip of her latest song “Follow Your Arrow”
If anyone wanted a work-out over the weekend then all they needed to do was watch Laura Bell Bundy perform. That was enough for everyone to work up a sweat! I’m not sure where she gets all her energy from but Laura Bell Bundy had plenty of any really entertained the crowd with he dancing and singing. In fact at once stage she had over 20 people from the audience on stage dancing with her!
One of the highlights of the weekend for me was Jeffrey Steele who not only being a talented artist he is also a prolific write of hit songs that have been performed by a long list of artists. I was amazed at how many hit songs he had penned!
Wylie and the Wild West performed on the Friday afternoon and I was pleased that I was able to make it to their set. They performed a great style of music that would be hard not to like. On top of that Wylie was obviously enjoying himself on stage which rubs off on those watching the show.
If the crowd is anything to go by then the festival was a success.
More to come
One of the highlights for me of the Sydney Country Music Festival on the 8th November, 2014 was the chance to see this Newcastle based band again. Since first seeing the band perform in 2012 I have watched them mature as a band and create a fan base that seems to follow them all around NSW.
The Viper Creek Band are comprised of lead singer Damien Baguley, Jochen Walter on Guitar, Joel Stewart on bass and the ever smiling Adam McCann on the drums. They formed in 2011 and have released 2 EP’s Crazy Tonight and Dance Like No One’s Watching whilst their debut album Kickin’ Up Dust was released in March this year.
Whilst they have created their own distinct style of music they do at times remind me of Keith Urban, McAlister Kemp and Eric Church. Their songs range from country rock to softer ballads. The Viper Creek Band set started with a crowd favourite “Tonight Tonight” from their Kickin’ Up Dust album followed by the title track from the same album. If you want a band to kick start the audience then The Viper Creek Band are the ones that can do it. What I believe sets an artist apart from their peers is the ability to entertain the audience. There are many bands that sound good but not all of them know how to perform live and invigorate the audience like The Viper Creek Band do. This, along with their fresh sound, is what raises them above the pack.
The set list was mainly original songs from their album and also included “Let’s Get Outta Here” from their EP Dance Like No One’s Watching. Back up vocals on the day were provided by Sydney based Victoria Avenue and they also look like they have a future in the industry. Keep an eye out for them as they have a few gigs of their own coming up.
The guys performed a great version of Slim Dusty’s “Lights on the Hill” which most of the audience sung along too and is another one of my favourites. The band also performed a good cover of “Forever and Ever Amen” which was written by Paul Overstreet and Don Schlitz and made famous by Randy Travis. I was glad that “Missin Me”, the second single from Kickin’ Up Dust was included in the set as this is a great song that was written by another Novacastrian, Morgan Evans along with Mark & Jay O’Shea. The crowd really enjoyed and connected with the words of last songs of the set “Thank God For Beer” and “My Hometown”.
There is still a chance to catch one of their gigs before the end of the year as they are performing at the following locations:
Neath Hotel, Neath
19th December, 2014
Federal Hotel, Branxton
20th December, 2014
Club Lemon Tree, Lemon Tree Passage
31st December, 2014
2014 was the 3rd year of the Sydney Country Music Festival which was held at the Bella Vista Farm in Bella Vista just off the M2. The popularity of the festival has grown substantially from when it started in 2012 with 600 attendees to over 6,000 attendees in 2014. The growth is the result of the hard work put in by the organisers and the quality of the acts that they procured for the festival.
Any gig with artists of the calibre of The McClymonts, The Viper Creek Band, McAlister Kemp, Beccy Cole and Luke O’Shea is sure to be a festival that draws the crowds. As well as the big name established artists there were great performances by Chelsea Basham, Ashleigh Dallas and Wagon. At $45 a ticket this represents great value in anyone’s books.
Being a relative new festival and only the second time at the Bella Vista Farm it is expected that there would be a few teething problems. The higher than expected crowd (Over 1,500 tickets were bought at the gate) did cause some problems with toilets which the organisers corrected by having more delivered through the day. The other concern of patrons was the line-up for the bar facilities was too long which was also not helped by the higher than usual temperature on the day and the extra crowds. The organisers have confirmed that these two issues will be fixed for 2015.
There were a lot of good things about the festival including, the artists line up, the variety of food, the location, easy parking, friendly staff, extra activities such as line dancing, ute display, rock climbing and whip cracking for the time in between artists.
I’m looking forward to 2015 as the festival will be held over 2 days, 31st October, 2015 and 1st November, 2015 with camping available for anyone that wants to make a weekend out of it. It has already been announced that Adam Brand and The Wolfe Brothers will performing next year.
A smaller stage near the entrance to the festival was used for the Silver Saddles competition finals. This competition was designed to unearth raw country talent from NSW and over the past few months competitions were held to determine the finalists. This year’s finalists were Ellen Amy, Rachael Fahim, Blake Dantier Band, Goldheist, Gayle O’Neil and Justin Robinson. The judges had a hard decision to make and couldn’t split Gayle O’Neil and Justin Robinson who were named joint winners for 2014.
There is a great early bird special on tickets for the 2015 Sydney Country Music Festival and if you would like to take advantage of it then head over to their website. If this year was anything to go by then I am sure that next year will be a huge not to be missed event on the music calendar.
With the festival drawing to a close the fans were getting excited for the final acts. Glen and Kaylee Harrison were performing next as Kaylens Rain. They are a young and energetic duo and I have been lucky enough to watch their progress and development into a very professional and entertaining act. The debut album “Found” is a tribute to their hard work.
Corb Lund from Canada was another artist who I not taken much notice of before the festival but it was easy to see why he was brought all the way out from Canada for the festival – he seemed to be enjoying his time in Australia too.
I hard heard Harry Hookey‘s name a few times but didn’t know who he was until seeing him at the festival. He was one of the crowd favourites, particularly with the younger females. Audrey’s song was one that I really enjoyed and have listened too many times since seeing him perform.
Next up were The Band Perry and they were one of my favourites acts of the festival. They are another energetic young band from the USA comprised of brothers Neil and Reid and their sister Kimberly. I read somewhere that their father had told them not to have a back-up plan and to concentrate on their music. He felt that if they had a back-up plan they would not put as much into your music. Having see them perform and having listened to their albums numerous times I am convinced that the advice was right.
The next act was Mark Wells and I thought to myself at the time that he had a difficult job performing between The Band Perry and Rascal Flatts but I needn’t have been concerned as he put on an awesome performance. He was also joined on stage by Bob Corbett.
The headline act, Rascal Flatts, were next. The crowd had been building up all day and I am sure that everyone at Hope Estate were now standing in front of the stage. The crowd loved them and seemed to know every song too!
In my opinion the CMC Rocks the Hunter 2013 was a success and the artists chosen to perform over the weekend were fantastic. It was a great opportunity to see and hear some new artists perform live. Looking forward to CMC Rocks the Hunter 2014!!
Keep up to date with future festivals via the CMC Country Music Festival website
The final day of the festival had some great music on offer. First up were the Bluegrass Allstars (formerly known as the Flying Emus) and unfortunately not much of the previous nights crowd were up at 10.30am to see them.
Craig Morrison was next and as usual he did not disappoint. I have seen Craig perform quite a few times and he always puts on a great show.
David Lee Murphy was next up on the main stage and I must admit that I wasn’t very familiar with his music, but that soon changed and I am now a fan. Not only is he a very talented performer but his songwriting skills are very much in demand too.
The talented performers were not limited to those from the USA and Australia as next up was Aaron Jury from New Zealand.
I was blown out of the water by the bold and edgy sound of the next act who I had never heard of before – The Farm from the USA. The three band members, Nick, Krista and Damien bring together a diverse array of musical talents that is just bursting with energy. It was one the first of the CD’s that I purchased at the on-site music store. The fiddle riffs were incredible and created a sound that helps the band stand out from the crowd.
It was great to see another very talented Australian artist up next in the form of Aleyce Simmonds. Aleyce is always popular with the fans and here talents continue to grow after winning the winning the award for ‘Female Rising Star’ at the 2011 Australian Independent Country Music Awards of Australia. Her new album being released in a few months time is being eagerly awaited for by her growing fan base.
Canadian Dean Brody was next on the main stage. He is has been a real success story in Canada and won three 2011 CCMA Awards for Album, Songwriter and Single of the Year. If you haven’t already done so then have listen to his latest album, Dirt.
Final instalment to come soon
Following on from Part 1, the next artist to perform after Travis Collins was Chelsea Basham. Chelsea recently won a Golden Guitar for best new talent.
Chris Young from the USA was a surprise package as I hadn’t taken too much notice of him in the past but when he started singing I realised that there were a lot of his songs that I knew and really liked.
Jackie Bristow from NZ performed a few songs on the small stage whilst the main stage was being set for Jasmine Rae. I am always amazed at how much energy Jasmine brings to the stage.
Morgan Evans had just won New Oz Artist of the Year at the CMC Music Awards the night before and seeing him perform it was easy to see why.
McAlister Kemp are always favourites with the crowd and really know how to rock the stage!
Former Olympian, Paul Greene was next to take the stage. He is one of Australia’s most respected musicians.
Paul Greene’s drummer over the weekend was Eleanore Plummer
The headline act for the Saturday was Big & Rich from the USA. Most people would know their hits “Save a Horse Ride a Cowboy” and “Coming to Your City”. They put on a huge show complete with a working bar on stage, dancing girls and Cowboy Troy.
To be continued
I applied for and was lucky enough to procure a media pass for CMC Rocks the Hunter which was being held at Hope Estate in the Hunter Valley from the 15th March, 2013 until the 17th March, 2013.
Being a big fan of country music I was very excited about being able to hear some of my favourite artists perform and also to photograph them from the media pit area.
There were a lot of artists on the bill which I had either never heard of or not heard play before and the opening act of the Wolfe Brothers was one of those.
I was blown away by the energy produced by the Wolfe Brothers and can’t wait to see them perform live again.
The Wolfe Brothers were followed by Golden Guitar winner Catherine Britt, 8 Ball Aitken, Adam Harvey, Travis List, Cadd & Morris and Amber Lawrence.
The Friday night acts included Jack Ingram
Doug Bruce and the Tailgaters
With Adam Brand as the closing act.
Saturday morning started off with another great act that I had not heard before, Bob Corbett and the Roo Grass Band. Again I was pleased that I had the opportunity to hear them perform as I was very impressed with their distinct sound.
The next act was the Legarde Twins who had turned 82 the night before!! They are credited as the first Australians to take our country music to the USA.
Following on from the Legarde Twins was Tori Darke who I have watched grow and mature into a very professional performer with a big future in store for her.
The cheeky Buddy Goode performed next with his tongue in cheek songs and innuendos and then Baylou. Love and Theft from the USA were to be the next act but due to personal reasons one half of the duo couldn’t make it to Australia. Luckily for the organisers and the crowd, Travis Collins is a local artist and he more than made up for Love and Theft.
Travis got the crowd going by giving them some toys to play with in the form of blow up thongs and balls.
There were a few buck and hens parties being celebrated over the weekend which made for some very interesting photos including one poor guy taped to a chair and left sitting on the hill at the mercy of everyone walking past him. His “mates” also put a sign on him saying free kisses and he did receive a few including a guy gave him a big kiss on the lips!
To be continued
The stunning Carrington Hotel at Katoomba was the venue for the Blue Mountains Country Jamm for Genes. For the second time I attended the event however this time I volunteered by services as one of the official photographers.
Jeans for Genes has been described as one of our finest charity organisations, and it raises research funds for the Children’s Medical Research Institute.
The artists that had kindly donated their time to help raise funds for included:
- McAlister Kemp – Headlining
- Tamara Stewart
- Mike Carr
- Amber Lawrence
- Peter McWhirter
- Tori Darke
- Luke Dickens
- Buddy Goode
- Aleyce Simmonds
- Liam Brew
- Chelsea Basham
- Roo Arcus
- Christie Lamb
- Paul Cowderoy
- Chris E Thomas
- Kelly Hope
- The Viper Creek Band
It was a long day a lot of fun listening to and photographing some great artists.
The day was split into two sections, the first section was the free outdoor concert and the second was the gala evening function in the grand dining room. The patron for the event was the one and only music guru Glenn A Baker.
The evening included auctions of some wonderful prizes donated for the night including painted jeans, signed guitars, CD’s, photos, accommodation and plenty of other items in the silent auction.
Everyone enjoyed the day and McAlister Kemp blew everyone away with their headline performance.
All in all it was a great day and evening and I am looking forward to doing it all again in January, 2014.