We’ve got some pretty exciting news for you.

The Hallam Hotel and The Prairie Oysters have joined forces to present a showcase of some of Victoria's finest Country Music performers.

The Country Music Round Up will be held at the[SIZE=2][COLOR=black]-[/COLOR][/SIZE]

Hallam Hotel on Good Friday 22nd of April from 2pm.

The impressive line up includes:

Doug Bruce & The Tailgaters, Ruckus, The Blackhill Ramblers, The Aaron Daniels Band, Adam Toms, Phoenix, The Hannafords, Nia Robertson, Jan Dandridge, The Prairie Oysters and Gary Turner (M.C.)

The Hallam Hotel has been a long time supporter of live music and is the HQ for country music in Melbourne.

It's only fitting that an event like this should be held there to showoff what Victoria has to offer.

This is a great opportunity to come along and see this great line up all performing together in the same bill for the very first time.

So tell your friends, come along and show your support to what may become a regular fixture to the country music calendar??

The day starts at 2pm and goes right through to 10.30pm.

The Country Music Round Up is a family day and is open to all ages.

Details on the final program, admission costs will be made available shortly so watch this space...

It's ON!!!!

Looking forward to this.....


The 'Oysters:D:D


When Snow Townsend's Bona Fide Travellers pull into clubs on the Lost Highway they don't need to flash driving licences or CV'S for the guest book, they are genuine horsemen with the notches on their guns, guitars, drums, and holsters.

The Bona Fide Travellers are a riveting roots band whose members were in the vanguard of the progressive country scene of the seventies. The members rode in the same posse as The Dingoes, Greg Quill's Country Radio, Saltbush, Hit & Run, Dead Livers, Bluestone and many more. Cyber chappies and chappettes might have called them alt-country if they emerged in the new millennia. But back then the Station Hotel in Prahran and nearby Reefer Cabaret vied for honours with T F Much Ballroom and other north of the Yarra venues in a hipper country era. Their exploits were chronicled in magazines diverse as Juke and Ram and bi-weekly Truth before the mainstream dailies discovered the sub genre. Snow's Wild Beaver Band featured on Live At The Station Hotel 1976 vinyl album with The Dingoes, Myriad and Saltbush. The album was released on Lamington in 1976 and reissued by Missing Link in 1981 - another of the highlights was Dingoes song Marijuana Hell.

I fondly recall writing about Snowy - front person for One Armed Bandit and Wild Beaver Band, for counter culture bible Digger as J.J. McRoach booked country artists as a soundtrack for his historic 1977 run for the Senate as the honourable candidate for the Australian Marijuana Party. McRoach, maiden name Peter Olszewski, gave exposure to the genre as editor of street magazines such Australasian Seed, Weed, Greed and Need, Flash and Ram before he graduated to Truth, Playboy and People where country was his music of choice. McRoach, David Pepperell (aka Dr Pepper) and Colin Talbot embellished support of the genre with books on subjects ranging from dope, politics, yabbies, Phil Ochs, road trauma, Far East dictatorships and love. Unlike today, where the joys of the Internet ensures freedom of speech is a given, this was an era where Draconian droogs hunted and hated alternative magazines!!!


SNOWY TOWNSEND: Graham "Snowy" Townsend, known as Snowy Cutmore by some such as Station Hotel pint-sized promoter Mark Barnes, has played in a vast galaxy of bands. The Wild Beaver Band and One Armed Bandit reigned from the seventies and new recording act The Operators made their mark in the 1990's. The Operators released an album and The Bona Fide Travellers now have three CD's to their credit, The Long Playing Record, Sunday Morning Showdown, and the new 2011 release, Blue Sky Avenue. Snowy was also the creative font for a seventies Bacchus Marsh country festival where his line-up was truly alternative to the matching shirt mainstream acts of the day. Chad Morgan and Saltbush headlined the December 30 show at Bacchus Marsh Race Course where other acts included One Armed Bandit, Dead Livers, Country Ltd, Hit & Run and Country Grass. Admission was a mere $4 at Bacchus Marsh and The Age broke ground with generous feature story by Alan Attwood - latter day Editor of The Big Issue.

MIKE PARKER (bass), came from across the ditch (New Zealand) with The Slippery Sam Blues Band in the early 80's having previously played in many top line homeland outfits. Mike also graced Melbourne stages with Kenny Joe Blake and Snowy's "The Operators".

SHANE FITCHET: Shane Fitchet swung from the ropes with Detroit garage and Surf influenced indie outfits dating back to the late seventies - they included The Remains, The Fermented Heads, Total Strangers, Buzzwagon, and Timmy Tiptoe and The Toecutters. "The monikers say it all!", says Shane. "I've come out of 15 years of drumming retirement to play with Snowy but my last bands were The Swing Club, an indie pop/rock/surf band fronted by two female guitarist/vocalists that consistently gained singles of the week status in Juke, Ram, Beat, and InPress in the mid to late 80's, and a brief stint in The Badarts (indie pop) both live and recording, then Musicland went bust and The Swing Club's debut album ended up in some tip in N.S.W!

DON FARRELL: guitarist extraordinaire! Just loves all things guitar (particularly Fender and G&L!) does our Don. Don has been a professional musician for over 20 years and has played with Mick and The Aces, Sons Of The Outback, Monique Brumby, Neil Murray (still does), The Dead Livers, and The Silverstring Outlaws, to name just a few. Don is also an in demand guitar teacher.

TONY PERSIC: electric guitar, Gretsch and Bigsby action! Tony was a member of Melbourne's rock-a-billy legends, THE STRAIGHT 8's for 16 years ........ say no more. Tony is our newest member and promises plenty of James Burton and Carl Perkins' style pickin'. Tony adds a new dimension to our sound.

MICHAEL SCHACK: dobro, acoustic guitar, bass. Not content with filling in on bass duties, Michael has thrown his 10 gallon Stetson into the ring as our occasional dobro plucker, (also acoustic guitar, and vocal duties). Michael is a founding member of the seminal and legendary 1970's Melbourne outlaw country rockers, THE DEAD LIVERS, who along with Snow's Wild Beaver Band, and One Armed Bandit ripped up Melbourne stages! They’re still goin' too. Lost in Suburbia, The Rusty Bucks, The Louise Clancy Band, are also concurrent projects for Mick. ........

courtesy of Dave Dawson www.nucountry.com.au ..

The Prairie Oysters’ popularity was recognised when the Country Music Guild of Australasia awarded them the Award for Most Popular Country Music Band in 2007, 2009 and 2010. In 2008, their debut single When The Dust Settles was voted as a top ten finalist for the National Country Music Award and received a Golden Guitar Nomination in the same year. As at December 2010, they are currently finalists for the National Best Group category in the Victoria & National Country Music Awards and Tamworth People’s Choice Awards for 2011.

Muso’s often get together and say things like “love your work man we should get together and do something ”. The Prairie Oysters were no different except for the fact they finally did it. The year was 2005. Rob, Tony and former lead singer Mark Crossley had their own music commitments but wanted to have a bit of fun and do the occasional gig. In February 2006, Lee Slater joined the band on lead guitar. The band continued to perform with that line up until 2010, when Dave Miles joined the band as guitarist to broaden the band’s sound.

From the very beginning, people immediately began to take notice of their vocal harmonies, slick guitar work, rock solid rhythm section and a set list that crosses into Country, Southern Rock, Rockabilly, Blues and Rock’n’Roll.

Since 2006, their shows have attracted large and diverse crowds including many who don’t normally call themselves country music fans. Needless to say they have become more than just a “Sunday Arvo Band”.

The Prairie Oysters’ popularity was recognised when the Country Music Guild of Australasia awarded them the Award for Most Popular Country Music Band in 2007, 2009 and 2010. In 2008, their debut single When The Dust Settles was voted as a top ten finalist for the National Country Music Award and received a Golden Guitar Nomination in the same year. As at December 2010, they are currently finalists for the National Best Group category in the Victoria & National Country Music Awards and Tamworth People’s Choice Awards for 2011.

The secret to their success is all down to one very important factor. FUN! Whilst the band is made up of five very competent musicians, more importantly it’s made up of a bunch of blokes who don’t take life too seriously and love doing what they do.

The Band....

Tony Bonnici -

Tony has been playing in bands since the mid 70s gaining a reputation as a versatile singer and musician. In the 80’s he formed the hard rocking pub outfit, Proprietary Limited and then went on to become the front-man for the Melbourne club band The Most. Tony is also a sound engineer and producer who has worked in many parts of the recording and broadcast industry. He continues to work freelance in between band commitments. Tony grew up listening to Country and Rock’n’Roll and is into “honest music that can kick my butt, make me cry or both”. His bass playing and powerful vocals are crucial to the band’s sound, writing and producing and providing “grunt” to the overall sound of The Prairie Oysters.

Rob Street -

As the seasoned subject of drummer jokes, Rob has earned the right to shrug them off as he has earned himself a reputation as a versatile and sought after musician. He has played professionally since the early 70s and was a founding member of The Vincents. He was also a member of Rough Cut, and The Most. Rob’s talents also include live sound production working with a number of shows around Melbourne and Victoria. As a drummer, Rob is as solid as a rock and combined with Tony’s bass, creates a tight, chest- pounding foundation. Rob voice adds to the band’s vocal mix offering lead and backing vocals. Rob is also a major songwriter in the band and plays guitar but that will never stop the drummer jokes.

Dave Miles -

Dave joined the Oysters in June 2010. He’s no stranger to the band though, and goes back a number of years with Rob as the bass-player in The Vincents during the 80s and 90s. Dave is originally from WA and began his music career at the age of 12, playing the organ and guitar. Throughout the 70s and early 80s, Dave fronted a number of Perth outfits including the hard rock outfit The Jackals. He's since worked and played all over Australia with different bands playing everything from country to punk. Dave has since rediscovered his country music roots listening to the likes of Steve Earle, Dwight Yoakam, Paul Kelly and John Mellencamp. Dave brings his unique “mongrel country” style guitar and complimenting Jamie to give the band a hot front line.

Jamie Argent-Jones -

Jamie is also West Australian who made the trip over to Melbourne in early 2009. He has a keen interest in many styles of music. Whilst in Fremantle, Jamie was simultaneously a member of the sea shanty and Irish drinking song band The Fusiliers and heavy underground psych-rock band The Hindenburgs . Since moving to Melbourne, he’s performed with some of Melbourne’s top musicians as guitarist with R&B/Soul outfit Sol Haus And The Spokesmen. Jamie’s interest in country music was sparked in his teens after purchasing a few couple of country records with a like-minded friend. He became increasingly interested in honky-tonk country, blues, western swing and Zydeco, and these varied influences show in his guitar playing. He joined The Prairie Oysters in late 2010.


Hi Guys,

Just thought to update you on the events of this year's Red Hill Country Music Festival.

The line up of bands and artists was diverse and you couldn't meet a nicer bunch of people backstage.

The Sunny Cowgirls, Amber Joy Poulton, Doug Bruce and the Tailgaters, Phoenix, (Thanks Greg!!), The Moonee Valley Drifters, Tim Farron Band, (Thanks again Brian!!), The Bona Fide Travellers, The Prairie Oysters, and many more.

The local Lions Club did a fantastic job in the organisation and implementation of this event, right down to the backstage sandwiches and coffees for the artists.

Many childrens' rides and "top shelf" food stalls were prevalent and the many utes and hot rods were spectacular to see.

This was a great day for all families and friends, as the weather also showed a good side, with no rain and mild conditions for the day.

Perfect for lounging around the well grassed oval with the esky, blanket, or fold-up chairs, shade gazebos, and above all, great music.

I understand the next year's event dates are already out, as the day was an outstanding success.

The only damper on the day was the sound, as we spoke to many people who were a little disappointed. And Warrick & Sue have this under control for next year.

But this was not going to prevent all from dancing, singing and clapping along to the greatly talented artists displaying their wares, on stage!

Gary Turner MC'd the event, and even got on stage with guitar!!

(I must say Gary, couldn't really pick up on your chord structures mate?)

He did a magnificent job, as usual and we enjoyed every minute.

The bands also had merchandising available, CD's Tee Shirts etc. and again, the Lions Club ladies did a fantastic job in manning the counters for the punters to purchase their valued preferences.

The attendance was terrific, and a huge thank you for all who turned out for this great day of entertainment.

All in all, the day was an outstanding success and a testament to Country Music's constant survival in a tough town like Melbourne, where the music is always treated as a poor cousin to the mainstream commercial radio served up.

The support of the local community radio stations also needs to be recognised, as we musicians, playing Country, Rockabilly, or Rock'n'Roll, receive great assistance and exposure through this media.

Without all this, we would have no scene to go to, so please continue to support all venues, festivals, and shows.

We are all in this together and for the fun and enjoyment of it to continue.

And bring the kids!!! (where feasible)

I know all band members/artists certainly appreciate all of you.


The Prairie Oysters.

This annual celebration brings the cream of Australian country music and all things country to the historic township of Whittlesea. As well as the great musicians and the Truck and Ute Show, there’ll be plenty of family friendly entertainment and delicious local produce to sample.

We have three days of fantastic country music with more than 40 acts performing at many venues, including the Saturday Street Party, the Truck and Ute Show, the Victorian and National Country Music Awards and the Sunday Round Up.

You’ll enjoy performances from Shannon Noll, Beccy Cole, the Sunny Cowgirls, Boom Crash Opera, Steve Forde, Harmony James, Liana Rose, Mick Thomas (of Weddings Parties Anything fame) and many other performers.

I know I’m going to love it and I hope you do too!

Anthony Holding

President, Whittlesea Country Music Festival

Line up of artists for the festival:

  • Shannon Noll
  • Beccy Cole
  • Steve Forde
  • The Sunny Cowgirls
  • Boom Crash Opera
  • Harmony James
  • Pete Denahy
  • McAlister Kemp
  • Steve Eales
  • Tracy Killeen
  • Steve Passfield
  • Chris E Thomas and the Free Range
  • Lianna Rose
  • Doug Bruce & the tailgaters
  • Courtney Conway
  • Bella
  • Sal Kimber and The Rolling Wheel
  • Smokin’ O’Briens
  • Mick Thomas
  • Michael Meeking and the Lost Souls
  • Ruckus
  • Adam Toms and Band
  • Luke Dickens
  • Katie Briana
  • Bob Corbett and The Roo Grass Band
  • Rob Jones & the Melancholic’s Anonymous
  • AJ Steele
  • Bullet
  • Teesha Irwin
  • Chris Watson Band
  • The Aaron Daniels Band
  • The Tim Farren Band
  • Luke O’Shea
  • Jason Lee
  • Gary Boyle
Follow this link for the official festival flyer: