Cowboys in Cyberspace

Cowboys in Cyberspace
Australia’s award-winning Internet Country Music resource (Est. 1997)


February 5th, 2009

Advance ticket sales for the Tamworth Country Music Festival were at an all-time high this year, boosted by the ease of on-line bookings. Fans from all over the world selected their favourite shows well in advance and some (including Jorgen in Denmark and Mark in Canada) were online last year, waiting on the day the bookings opened, ready to click!

If you missed the festival or just want to re-live some of the excitement via the World Wide Web, check out Intune @ Tamworth, the “prime multimedia resource for the festival”. For the second year the Intune team posted daily vodcasts (short for video-podcastsDarren Coggan and Belinda Miller) full of the latest news and exclusive festival footage. Each bite size video is available online and you also can watch for them to be screened on NITV (National Indigenous Television) via cable television. During the Starry Starry Night episode, Intune Interactive host EJ Garrett talks to Sharnee Fenwick and continues to explore the significance of Star Maker contest in launching the careers of some Australia’s biggest Country Music stars. Also featured is Darren Coggan, a few days before his Golden Guitar win, pictured here backstage at the Star Trek anniversary concert talking to Intune host Belinda Miller, recalling how Star Maker helped him along. Also featured in the series are The McClymonts, James Blundell, Kirsty Lee Akers, the buskers and much more.

STEVE PASSFIELD and the HANDPICKED BAND can be seen busking in Tamworth as part of the historical vision on their new 21st ANNIVERSARY DVD. DVD coverSubtitled ‘Inspiration & stories flowing from the Macleay’, the documentary section intertwines film of the band’s reunion celebration with tales of Steve’s family and upbringing in Kempsey. Bush yarns and interviews with family friends sit alongside reminiscences of current and former band members and footage that includes Steve’s 2008 Golden Guitar win. Also included from his solo album are four music videos, each with an introduction from Steve. Amongst the light-hearted themes are some serious issues such as racism in the not too distant past, and also tolerance of those who are different, explored in the lyrics of the moving song Acceptance. The DVD rounds out with a Handpicked History Montage that runs through a series of photos that not only chart the growth of the band but also the length of Steve’s moustache! An excellent chronicle of a fine band and the era that created them.

It seems that DVD releases that feature JOHNNY CASH far outnumber all other country music artists and the good news is that they just keep getting better. After last year’s local release of the brilliant retrospective The Best of the Johnny Cash TV Show 1960-1971, comes a feature-length documentary film entitled JOHNNY CASH’S AMERICA. Acclaimed filmmakers Morgan Neville and Robert Gordon have approached their subject both chronologically and through a series of topics; Land, Freedom, Protest, Justice, Family, Truth, Faith, Patriot, and Redemption. The material used to tell the story is not used for an obvious ‘greatest hits’ re-telling of what is by now a familiar story, but rather as an examination of a magnificent, yet flawed human and the magnificent, yet flawed country that he loved so well. Contradiction is a word much used to describe Cash and America in the narration and by many of the interviewees that range from Merle Haggard, Bob Dylan, Steve Earle and Kris Kristofferson to Al Gore and Snoop Dogg! Several family members are featured, particularly in a scene where Johnny’s sister Joanne leads a road trip to the original family house. CD/DVD coverThere is rare and previously unseen footage plus live and studio performances from all eras of his career and the DVD is packaged with an 18 song CD soundtrack that includes 5 previously unreleased tracks. The dark-side of the music ‘business’ is exposed as Johnny Cash is dropped by Columbia Records in the eighties after decades of hits. Producer Rick Rubin (American Recordings label) is credited with the artistic rejuvenation of Johnny Cash in the nineties, much as June Carter Cash is recognized as saving his personal well-being and spirit so many years before. The film ends with his chilling version of the Trent Reznor song Hurt that sounds as autobiographical as anything Cash had ever written himself. Johnny Cash’s America is an engrossing story told with superb style.

110 minutes – Columbia/Legacy 88697 23401 2 via Sony Music Entertainment Australia.

Bob talked to Barbara Morison on 2SER 107.3 FM about this month’s column and more…

Until next time, happy surfing!

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