23 January, 2015. 19:48
CLANCY OVERELL | Editor | Contact
Country music lovers from all across the world have converged in Tamworth this Australia Day Weekend, with many arriving late Wednesday night to begin preparations for campsites and event schedules.
The Tamworth Country Music Festival boasts themselves as host to “Every Country Music Fan In Australia” over the annual festival weekend – However, by saying that, they are choosing to overlook one particularly important chapter of Australian country music enthusiasts. The Betootans.
“I don’t think too many people from out this way appreciate what they did to us back in ’68” says Betoota Mayor, Councillor Keith Carton.
“They stole from us. It was very bloody disapointing”
It was the Australia Day long weekend of 1968, the Tamworth branch of the Modern Country Music Association ran a talent quest, the predecessor of the Tamworth Country Music Festival, which they claim was the first and only in Australia.
“After they saw the money that that bloody talent show brought into town. Tamworth went and did the unthinkable – they went and claimed that their town was the home of country music,”
“Country music… In Tamworth!? They get bloody seabreezes in Tamworth! We had the idea well before those New England wine-growers came along! Not long after them Gympie popped up and we lost the crown completely,”
The Country Music Association and Tamworth City Council state 1973 as the first year of the Festival when the Country Music Awards were staged by Radio 2TM to support their Country Music Capital promotion, but many people in the Channel Country know this claim to “country music capital” to be nonsense.
92-year old country musician and former truck-driver, Kevie Poolcue says Betoota was and always will be the birthplace of Australian country music.
“Each year I send a couple of my grandkids down there to sabotage the whole thing. It makes me seethe seeing a wussy coastal town like Tamworth claim that they know country music – they’ve even concocted this bloody lie that Slim Dusty was born next door in Kempsey… It’s rubbish!”
“We all know Slim was born in the Betoota Mater. My sister was the midwife!”
While Tamworth expects around 800 performers and 4,000 shows across 120 different venues this weekend, Councillor Carton and the rest of his office ensure that next year they will have some competition.
“We’ve heard there are over 600 buskers in Peel Street alone this year, with over 55,000 visitors… I reckon we can top that. We are bringing Country Music back to Betoota. And that’s true blue”