Australia's country music capital is to have its very own Commemorative bronze statue of Smoky Dawson in Peel Street, the heart of Tamworth. The commission has been given to Australian Sculptor Tanya Bartlett from Shortland, who was also involved in the Light Horse Memorial in Tamworth and the statue of Don Bradman in Bowral.

Herbert Henry Dawson, affectionately known to country music lovers as “Smoky Dawson” was born in Collingwood, Victoria on March 19, 1913. After spending his early years in an orphanage in Warrnambool, he tried rough riding, cycle racing and practicing music. In 1934, he formed a Western group and toured Australia. His band the South Sea Island Boys ushered him into the world of hillbilly music, yodeling and radio. Dawson served with the Australian army's Entertainment Unit during World War II, using his talent to cheer and comfort the country's servicemen. After the war, he married “Aunty June” (real name Florence “Dot” Cheers) whom he had met at radio station 3KZ where she had a children's program. An elocution teacher, broadcaster, radio actress, producer and drama coach, Dot had founded the Melbourne program “Carols by Candlelight” to raise funds for children who were polio victims. Together, they formed an inseparable duo that supported each other's career all through the years.

Dawson jumped into recording sessions and went on tour, at times with Stan Gill's Rodeo, yodeling, cracking whips, whirling the lasso, trick shooting and throwing knives. He acted in films, wrote songs and sang them and became a star on the stage, radio and television. Smoky and Dot travelled to the USA in 1952 to perform at the Grand Ole Opry, in Nashville, Tennessee at the invitation of their close friends American country music legends Roy Acuff and Wesley Rose. Turning down an opportunity to become a Nashville star, Smoky and Dot returned to Australia. Upon his return, Dawson started his radio show “The Adventures of Smoky Dawson” patterned after that of Roy Rogers in the USA and earning for him the sobriquet of Australia's first singing cowboy. The show ran for ten years over 69 stations in Australia, and Smoky became the hero of countless children throughout the country, thrilling them with his heroics. In the meantime, Dot continued with her children's programs.

In 1978, Dawson was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire for his contributions to country music. In 1983, he was named to the Australian Country Music Roll of Renown. Smoky and Dot became the first Life Members of the Country Music Association of Australia.

In 1988, Smoky, with Trevor Knight, won the Heritage Golden Guitar. The Next year, the pair followed up by winning a second Golden Guitar. Dawson was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2005, the same year in which he released his last album making him the oldest recording artist in the world.

During his life, Dawson was an active Mason and Rotarian. He supported the Children's Hospital Bear Cottage Foundation, the Stockman's Hall of Fame, to which he donated his first electric guitar, and the Australian Country Music Foundation. His home the Smoky Dawson ranch in the Sydney suburb of Ingleside which was sold to the HASG Armenian School now sports a Smoky Dawson ranch-style gate which has become a tourist attraction.

The story of the Country Music Guild of Australasia is the story of Les Keats, his family and his band. In the early 30's a young Les Keats, turned on by the music of Tex Morton, Jimmie Rodgers and Hank Snow, decided he wanted to become a country musician.

Armed with a guitar and a hat, Keats performed before his first audience and embarked on a lifelong career as a country cowboy. He married a young lady, Kathleen Joy Boden, from Scottsdale in Tasmania and she became not just his wife but his country music partner. The two of them co-founded the Country Music Guild of Australasia in 1968.

Having gotten himself a wife, Les Keats proceeded to found his country music dynasty. Their son Garry David was born in July 1947 and the next son Kerran Geoffrey in December the year after. In the 40's and 50's, Les and Joy Keats started to make a name for themselves throughout Australia as hosts of their own radio show on 7LA. In the early 50's they moved to Melbourne where Les became famous for his recording of the Slim Dusty hit “A Pub With No Beer” and following this up with his own composition “A Pub With More Beer”. Les also performed as one of the lead singers of the popular country and western group The Trailblazers.

The Keats formed their own band called The Dakotas which later changed its name to The Country Styles. The band gave Keats a chance to develop his music in the mould of his idol, the Canadian Hall of Fame awardee Hank Snow. The group became the back up band for the live appearances of Lionel Rose, the Australian boxing champion.

A third son, Warren, was born in October 1961. The elder boys, Garry and Kerran, started to join the band. Through the years, Les and Joy Keats appeared either as the Les & Joy Keats band or, when joined by their children as The Keats Family Band. Throughout the 80's and 90's. Les Keats passed away in 2002 and Joy five years later. The Keats music dynasty goes on with the grandchildren getting into the act. Michelle, the daughter of Warren, joined the band in 2002.

The organization co-founded by Les and Joy Keats continues going strong. The Country Music Guild of Australasia features the leading country musicians in regular shows and stages competitions where members of the Guild honor winners with, among other trophies, the annual Les Keats Memorial Award for the most popular band. Les and Joy Keats

The Country Music Guild Of Australasia

Established 1968

The Country Music Guild Of Australasia presents the best in country music every Friday at the Pascoe Vale RSL

40 Cumberland Road Pascoe Vale, Victoria.

(Cnr of Cumberland Rd and O’Hea St)

Country Music Guild of Australia

Hear the artists that play regularly at the Guild on Friday's by tuning into...

'That’s Country'

with Frank McHugh

Sundays 12 noon - 3 pm

98.9 North West FM Glenroy


Growing up in a singing family, Amber started by pretending a hairbrush was a microphone. A niece of Julie Anthony, one of Australia's most decorated entertainers, Amber Joy Poulton grew up singing with her sister for ten years. When she finally made up her mind that she wanted a career as a singer, she did it the way most people do – by answering an ad.

She broke into traditional country music by playing the role of June Carter in the local production “Black – The Lighter Side of Johnny Cash”. This inspired her to co-write a show with Christopher Naylor called “Honky Tonk Angels”. The show is named after the historic 1993 album which teamed up country music superstars Dolly Parton, Tammy Wynette and, most of all, Loretta Lynn whom Poulton has idolized all throughout her career.

In the show, which features the life, times and music of Loretta Lynn, Poulton portrays her and the cast dishes out the greatest hits of these country music legends. The show also highlights their relationships, and their contributions to country music. Honky Tonk Angels has been performed several times at the 2009 and 2010 Tamworth Country Music Festival, the 2010 Mildura Country Music Festival, 2010 Katherine Music Muster, the Gympie Muster in 2010, the Adelaide Fringe in 2010 and 2011, the 2011 Victorian Tour and many other venues.

Poulton was voted a Top 10 Finalist in the 2009 Toyota Starmaker competition. She received the 2009 South Australia APRA Traditional Country Song of the Year award and the South Australian Achiever Award for her music. Her maiden album hit the Top 30 of the Australian Country Music Charts, and in 2010 Poulton got a second SA APRA Traditional Country Song of the Year award.

Married to former Power player Jared Poulton, she takes her role as a wife and mother of two very seriously, building her music career around her family responsibilities. Singing, guitar practice and planning the next gigs are squeezed into her day after she's gotten her primary tasks settled. Nevertheless, there's no stopping Amber Joy Poulton when it comes to her music. When asked what she absolutely needed to be able to put on a performance, Poulton quipped, “Just the mic and a pair of high heels”.

Amber Joy Poulton

2011 AIADAs Winners announced

JETTY ROAD, THE PRAIRIE OYSTERS and KATRINA BURGOYNE have taken home the money and the awards at the 2011 AIADAs over the weekend at Rooty Hill RSL.

JETTY ROAD took out the grand prize of $20,000 cash as winner of the 2011 AIADAs Professional Development Award, beating out other finalists Katrina Burgoyne,

Markus Meier, Pete Denahy, Rose Carleo and Tori Darke. Entries in this category were judged on not only the musical content of the tracks entered, but also on a business/marketing plan supplied by the artists in their applications.

“Each of these Finalists are to be commended for taking big steps towards turning their dreams into a livelihood.''- AIADO CEO, Donna Boyd.

Victorian band THE PRAIRIE OYSTERS continually led the tally board with the most online votes on the Total Country website in the months leading up to the Awards night, utilising the very clever tactic of taking a laptop to gigs and asking fans to vote online if they liked what they heard and saw. THE PRAIRIE OYSTERS took home $10,000 cash and the 2011 AIADAs Peoples Choice Awards.

KATRINA BURGOYNE took home $5,000 cash and the 2011 Music Video of the Year Award for her stunning music video for ‘Ghost’, produced by Duncan Toombs.

The audience was treated to just under 4 hours jam-packed with entertainment that included performances by Rose Carleo, Aleyce Simmonds, Pete Denahy, Jackie Dee, The Prairie Oysters, Tori Darke, Markus Meier, Katrina Burgoyne, Jetty Road and Tracy Killeen, along with spectacular staging and lighting effects, thanks to the crew at Rooty Hill RSL.

AIADA would like to thank Rooty Hill RSL for donating the prize money for the awards, and Britton Morrison for sponsoring the awards trophies.

The AIADAs is the annual fundraising event for the AUSTRALIAN INDEPENDENT ARTISTS DEVELOPMENT ORGANISATION (AIADO) and monies raised from the ticket sales for the night and the sale of the 2011 AIADAs Finalists CD will be used to get the new junior program GENERATION COUNTRY up and running in 2012.

The Ninth annual Clermont Talent Contest is on again and from 29 - 30 October you can enjoy music from many new artists hoping to be the recipient of one of the great prizes awarded. The overall open winner of the festival will receive $1000.00 whilst the Junior & Juvenile winners will receive $250.00 each. Prize money for each section is 1st $100.00 2nd $60.00 3rd $40.00.

As befits the grain and cattle capital of the region, Clermont in Queensland sits on gentle slopes above Sandy Creek and Hoods Lagoon. The town, about 800 km. north of Brisbane, traces its history to the early-1800's, but it was not until 1861 that it shot to prominence when gold was discovered by some shepherds in Hoods Lagoon. Prospectors flocked to Clermont and even more followed when copper was found in the Next year. This led to the establishment of Copperfield, the first copper mine in Queensland. Within three years, there were more than 3,500 people in the area. But the gold and copper were soon exhausted and the economic activity began to wane. However, enough remained so that together with coal, sheep and beef the town survived the downturn. About 3 km. from the town's center, a museum houses relics from the gold rush, coal mining machines from that era and a pioneer's hut made from slab timber. Prospecting, or “fossicking” for gold is still a favorite activity of visitors to Clermont and fossicking kits are sold at the Clermont Caravan Park. Other attractions in the town are the Clermont Club, one of the earliest gentlemen's country clubs in Queensland, and the St. Mary's Roman Catholic church from 1890, a survivor of the devastating floods in Clermont's history.

The following decades were turbulent times for Clermont. In the 1880's, about 4,000 Chinese were working the gold and copper mines triggering race riots which resulted in the Chinese being removed from the fields. Then, several years later, about 400 soldiers had to be brought in to separate striking shearers and non-union labor.

Summer storms, Sandy Creek and Hoods Lagoon all combined to put Clermont under constant threat from floods. Fifteen people died during a major flood in 1870. Five more floods followed until 1916 when the town's worst flood in history swept away houses, sent people clambering up trees to escape the rushing waters and drowned 65 persons. To remind everyone of this catastrophe, a large cement tree was erected on the old Clermont's main street. The tree monument has a white mark on the upper part of the trunk to show the height of the flood waters. After that, the townspeople decided to move the town to a more elevated area where it now stands.

Today, Clermont is the home of the Blair Athol Mine, where modern day mining operations can be observed. The mine is due to be replaced by Rio Tinto with a $750 million facility. When the new mine reaches its full operational capacity in 2013, Clermont will become the country's largest thermal coal producer with more than 12 million tons of coal a year.

Clermont stages a yearly country music talent contest, In 2011, the 9th contest, which is for amateurs only, will be held on October 29 – 30 at the Clermont Civic Center. There will be a walk up night on Friday, October 28 at the Clermont Hotel Motel, nicknamed the Hoey Moey. On Sunday, a Poets' breakfast will be held at the same location.

Admission is $15.00 for a weekend pass or $10.00 daily.

Food and drinks will be available all weekend.

Nominations close on Friday, 21 October 2011, and nomination packs can be obtained from:

Secretary, Vicki Holmes

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