The announcement of the Finalists for the Golden Guitar Awards is always the start of the big build up to the Tamworth Country Music Festival.
The list of finalists for the 40th Jayco Country Music Awards tells us a fair bit about the year we’ve had in Australian Country Music.
I have some very positive things to say about the music of 2011, but I’d like do a reality check first.
We are still in a very long tight drought. While there are more recording acts than ever before, we are still very short on crowd pulling, exciting new big names in Australian Country Music. The most popular people, the ones that people will spend top dollars to see in concert, have in the most part matured in their career – and that makes it harder to come up with exciting, progressive new music on a regular basis. (it’s happened to every major act in modern times.) So we are now seeing longer gaps between releases from all of our big names – and that’s changed the landscape quite dramatically, especially when it comes to the Golden Guitar Awards. It used to be new albums every two years – now it’s much longer.
Two of the four stand out albums in the nominations – from Adam Harvey (8 nominations) and Beccy Cole (6 noms) are their first new “career” albums after very long breaks. (They’ve both done what they call “side projects” in recent years – but this is their first “main” album for quite a while.)
The other two albums, from Shane Nicholson (7 noms) and Graeme Connors (4) help to make this year’s nominations very interesting.
It’s not Shane’s first album (it’s his fifth album since 2000), but it’s his first targeted at Country, and it’s been a huge success. “Travelling” is Graeme’s second album in two years, but comes after Graeme took a long break from writing and recording to do other things.
Adam, Beccy, Shane and Graeme dominate the nominations right through the categories, and no question about their outstanding work is raised, but the question about the level of competition is valid.
Just about every year, over the past 10, people have been scoring 6-8 final nominations. In each case was that justified by the product, or was it because other product being considered wasn’t as competitive?
That’s worth speculating.
But the other side of the story gets some prominence this year.
There are far more Country acts releasing product than ever before. The recording quality bar has been lifted dramatically over the past dozen or so years. While not all of this flood of product is attractive to radio / TV or the buying public, there are a number of independent people (those who look after their business on their own) who are making lasting impressions – and more of those than usual are represented amongst the Finalists this year, creating some pretty intriguing situations in the Female Artist | Group/Duo | Bush Ballad and Instrumental categories.
Female artist has only one previous winner – Beccy. The rest are emerging names, some with impressive form. This is the first time I can remember so many emerging names have been on the Finalist list.
Seeing people like Shane Nicholson | Katrina Burgoyne | Aleyce Simmonds | Jason Lee | The Bobkatz being recognised is very pleasing, because their track records show they deserve to get final nomination - and having independent acts like Jetty Road | Carter & Carter | The Davidson Brothers | Kirsty Akers (all Golden Guitar winners) back again with very competitive offerings makes this a very competitive mix of Finalists – beyond the expected high quality product from the established names (including the producers and video directors).
The test of the quality of the nominations is in picking the winners – and again that’s no easy thing.
I believe there are no clear favourites in any category. You might say Beccy Cole is for Female Artist – but the form and career development of Jasmine Rae has to put her in contention. You might consider Graham Rodger has got to win Bush ballad this year (after missing out a couple of times) – but it’s a particularly strong field this year.
You probably have a personal favourite in several categories – that’s good. But Awards night always presents some surprises, after the results of the judging and the industry vote come up with the winners.
Speculating about who is going to win – and questioning some of the results are highlights of this wonderful experience we have each year honouring the top recordings | producers | videos and songs at the CMAA Awards.
Love it – and I’m sure the 40th Jayco CMAA Country Music Awards of Australia are going to be a huge success.
Kasey Chambers has picked up her ninth ARIA Award for Best Country Album. (Another album recorded after a long break from writing)
GOLDEN GUITAR FINALISTS
The full list is on the CMAA web site www.country.com.au
GOLDEN GUITAR TICKETS
Tickets for the 40th
Jayco Country Music Awards of Australia, Country’s all-star gala night
Saturday 28 January are available now online at www.tcmf.com.au
Thanks for looking in. Enjoy Australia’s Biggest Country Hits & Country’s All Time Favourites – and tell your friends about CMR Online