See the Music

Black and white photograpg of a large group of people standing in the street facing towards the camera. People of all ages wear cowboy hats and plaid.

In her photographs of Tamworth, Judith Ahern shows us the characters and camaraderie of its famous country music festival with unflinching honesty; capturing everything but the sound of the music itself. Ahern took her camera backstage, into the pubs, and out to the streets during the festivals of the late-1980s, when Tamworth was cementing its […]

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Runaway Success

‘Now I can’t fly but I’m telling you, I can run the pants off a Kangaroo.’ These are the beloved lyrics of John Williamson’s song, Old Man Emu, featured here in an original Australian release of the song’s sheet music. John Williamson AM was born into a wheat farming family in 1945. In 1965 Williamson […]

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A Fitting Outfit

This brilliant jacket certainly fits the story of its former owner the country musician Tex Morton (1916-1983), born in 1916 as Robert William Lane. Robert or ‘Bobby’ began busking at 14 before recording several albums in Wellington, New Zealand. These are believed to be the first country music recordings made outside of America. In the […]

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Black Gold and White Satin

Detail shot of the belt of a country performer's outfit; belt buckle is metal and rectangular with a floral design

Shown below is a 1980s stage outfit worn by Kamilaroi performer Col Hardy (1940-). You could say its style is ‘a little bit country’ and ‘a little rock ’n’ roll’.  Homemade, the plain white satin shirt is embellished with crystal beads, diamantes, and pearl buttons. The matching polyester trousers are belted, and the sparkly decorative […]

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I Got This One Second Hand

When is a guitar more than just a guitar? The guitar pictured here is a Gibson J200VS – a classic acoustic flat top, much loved by musicians all over the world. Its design has barely changed since its release in 1937, making it a true icon.  But this Gibson is more than just an iconic […]

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The Bunkhouse Orchestra

This 3D mixed-media assemblage, made from wood, fabric, paint, resin, paper, and aluminium, was created by identical twins known as The Strutt Sisters in 2012. Depicting a large group of musicians performing on a stage with a city backdrop, the colours, images, and design is reflective of the sisters’ fascination and interest in the aesthetics […]

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Star Powered

You see some of them get up there now and they’ve got holes in their jeans! Argh. —Zeta Burns For this yodelling cowgirl, it’s no secret that looking her best on stage is almost as important as sounding good. Zeta recalls a teacher’s advice to, “Always dress the part, always dress nicely. Even if you get […]

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Dressed to Thrill

By the age of ten Rocky Cameron (1944-2016) was already an experienced performer. He had ‘cut his teeth’ on the greater-Sydney radio circuit – 2UW, 2KY, 2GB & 2KA – but even with those successes he still felt his nerves swell. Following the introduction of television to Australia, Rocky made it to the stage of […]

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Playing for Laughs

A multi-instrumentalist, clown and busker, Rodney Walker is a retired Australian country music artist. His home-made eccentric musical contraptions combine as many as thirteen instruments, secured together with steel brackets. Carried on his head and shoulders, his instrument ensemble allowed Rodney to play guitar, sing, and use his feet to sound the percussion, all at […]

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Gone Fishin’

Celebrated as a superb showman, with a dry wit and infectious smile, Gordon Parsons (1926-1990) toured Australia extensively, recorded 21 singles and seven albums, and won several country music awards. But Parsons was a reluctant performer and loved the quiet life, ‘I’d just as soon poke around the bush … I’d rather be fishing than […]

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