Country Rocks

“We’re proud to be bringing country music back to Sydney and showcasing some of the finest artists we have here in Australia"

14 February 2018


Here's a little bit of background on our lead artists for Country Rocks 2018

Headlining this year’s Country Rocks Festival Sydney is the original ‘boy from the bush’, Lee Kernaghan, who is celebrating his 25th Anniversary in 2017 and has been a stalwart of Australian Country Music since the 90s. Synthesising traditional country themes with his own brand of rural rock and images of an evolving regional culture,

Lee has sold over two million albums in Australia with releases including Outback Club, Three Chain Road, 1959, Hat Town, Rules Of The Road, Electric Rodeo, New Bush, Ultimate Hits, Spirit Of The Bush, Planet Country, Beautiful Noise and 2015’s Spirit Of The Anzacs all achieving platinum or multi-platinum status.

Lee is a four-time ARIA award-winning artist and in 2015 he was presented with the Australian Record Industry Award for Outstanding Achievement. Lee Kernaghan has achieved a staggering 35 #1 chart hit songs over his career and has been awarded 36 Golden Guitars.

There was a revolution happening in the world of Adam Brand in 2017 – a creative revolution that saw Brand redefining boundaries with the most ambitious record of his career, Get on Your Feet. The album pushes the envelope in a way that few country artists of the modern era have ever attempted with Brand bringing a full deck of fine songs to the party that will establish a new high-water mark for him in a career that is already rich with them. Whatever gives Aussie music its heart, Adam Brand breathes plenty of life into its soul. For more than fifteen years, Brand has been one of the country’s best-loved and most successful recording artists and is undeniably a fixture of the Australian music landscape. The versatile star has three Platinum and five Gold albums to his name, along with two Gold DVD certifications and a massive twelve Golden Guitars – including double-ups for Male Artist of the Year and APRA Song of the Year. Not to mention multiple Mo Awards and four ARIA nominations for Best Country Album.

Acknowledged by many as the act that single-handedly shaped modern Australian country music, James Blundell is unashamedly honest and comfortable in his own skin and radiates an enthusiasm for everything that life must offer. It’s this authenticity that makes him one of the most instantly likeable and recognisable artists in Australian music. James was the first Australian country act to sign a major record label deal in Nashville, has penned hits for Lee Kernaghan, Slim Dusty and Jimmy Little and is the recipient of numerous Golden Guitar Awards, double platinum, platinum and gold sales awards as well as being a five-time ARIA Award nominee with one win to his name. 2017 has seen the launch of James’ 14th album, Campfire, and we’re looking forward to him tearing up the Country Rocks Festival Sydney.

With the release of her 7th album, All Australian Girl, earlier this year, Tania Kernaghan can honestly say she has been singing out for family, friends and fans around the nation for almost three decades. As one of the Kernaghan ‘dynasty’ – her parents are Ray and Pam, big brother is Lee and sister Fiona is a sought after and respected songwriter, Tania has fulfilled the great Australian country music dream of making chart topping hits and touring the country with her own shows. Tania was inducted into the Hands of Fame Gallery in 1999 and was the first female artist honoured with a star on the Galaxy of Stars on the forecourt of Tamworth’s Entertainment Centre.

The Wolfe Brothers continue to ride the wave that started for them in mid-2012 when they captured the attention of the nation and were voted into second place in the final of the nationally televised show Australia’s Got Talent.Since the release of their debut album It’s On in January 2013, which spawned 3 Top 10 singles, The Wolfe Brothers have been on the road touring and playing to sell-out crowds across the country. It’s On earned them the recognition of their peers and saw them nominated for four Golden Guitar Awards at the 2014 Australian Country Music. In March of 2014, the band were presented with the trophy for CMC’s New Artist of the Year. Their 2nd album, Nothin’ but Trouble, and their 3rd, This Crazy Life, were both recorded in Nashville with both singles from the latter album hitting #1 on the National Country Radio chart and the CMC video chart. The album was nominated as a finalist in the 2016 ARIA Country Album of the Year category. This was followed with two Gold Guitar nominations for the 2017 Australian Country Music Awards as finalists in Group/Duo of the Year and Album of the Year.

Drew McAlister has long been recognised as one of the nation’s premier songwriters and performers. The former McAlister Kemp mainstay has penned hundreds of tunes, both with and for artists from Graeme Connors to Luke O’Shea to Tamara Stewart, worked with U.S. songwriting royalty including Brett Jones (Jason Aldean) and Brian Maher (Taylor Swift) performed alongside the cream of Aussie country talent. After winning the Gympie Muster’s prestigious Maton Talent Search in 2003, McAlister netted his first Golden Guitar in 2007, taking home the Vocal Collaboration of the Year Award for A Little Bit of Country in Us All with Alan Caswell. He’s since collected Golden Guitars for Song of the Year and Heritage Song of the Year (for Luke O’Shea co-write Lady of the Land), two CMC Music Awards, and garnered scores of APRA, TIARA, and Victorian National Country Music Awards wins and nominations.

Christie Lamb has been described as ‘the full package’, a vibrant, multi-instrumental award-winning singer songwriter. The talented songstress was voted ‘CMC New Oz Artist of the Year 2015’ by Australian Country music fans and has followed on from this success to receive the most prestigious award in Australian Country Music, a Golden Guitar for ‘CMAA New Talent of the Year 2016’. Winning both these awards is an extraordinary achievement, especially as Christie was just 23 years of age and an independent artist at this time. After signing to ABC Music, Christie’s debut album All She Wrote went straight to #2 on the ARIA Australian Artist Country Chart and the subsequent five radio releases spurned three #1 hit singles and two top 5 singles. From her early days to her current status as an award-winning artist, Christie has earned the accolades and success she is currently enjoying. Lee Kernaghan concurs, “Christie is an incredible artist; not only an amazing singer, she is also an extremely talented multi-instrumental musician. I reckon Christie Lamb is the one to watch. She is a star of the future”.

Paul Costa has had an amazing response since the release of his 2014 album Wheels & Steel opened at #2 on the ARIA charts and scoring #1 radio hits with the first two singles Tractors & Bikes and Big End of Town. Paul is a multi-award-winning artist who has performed all over Australia at major events such as the Gympie Muster, the iconic Birdsville Races, Tamworth CM Festival, Deni Ute Muster and more. His career has also taken him internationally to Japan, New Zealand, Thailand and through Europe. Costa’s much anticipated 5th studio album Whisper in the Crowd, was released in April and features co-writes from some of the best in the business including Matt Scullion, Allan Caswell, Pete Denahy and Drew McAlister. A four-time Country Music Association of Australia, Golden Guitar nominee and top five ARIA Album charting artist, ensures Paul Costa remains one of the finest male vocalists in Australian country music today.

Brewn is a dynamic Australian act delivering their own brand of Country Rock fusion – a working-class band, writing about their jobs, their cars, their lovers and their hometown, projecting pride in their identity and in a language all Australians can understand. While the band quickly had a respected following for their work in the bar scene, lead singer Mick Bond had always longed for something more calling on the talent of twin brothers, John Barbara (drums) and Anthony Barbara (guitar), Bob Harvey (guitar) and Zack Whittaker (bass), all of whom came from a funk, rock, metal and jazz backgrounds bringing a new depth of sound to their stand-out style. The band has seen an incredible rise during 2017. Their video for the single, Carolyn, featured international model/actress Imogen Bailey while their latest single, Top Gear, cracked the KIX Country Top 10. They’ve also performed to sell-out crowds with James Blundell at the Royal Easter Show and Deni Ute Muster. With the release of their new album, My Town, Brewn has risen from an accomplished bar band, to a well-rounded and respected country-rock act who’ll have the Country Rocks Festival Sydney crowd on their feet from their first note.

Born and raised in Sydney, Ben Ransom started playing guitar and writing songs since the age of 15. From early days, his constant exposure to a broad range of musical influences, like Irish Folk, traditional country and classic standards, through to Australian ‘Pub Rock’ and modern pop, Ben Ransom reflects all that is great about Australian music, with tracks translating perfectly from recording to live performance and continuously delivering a smoking hot and energetic live show. Ben hit the #1 spot for six consecutive weeks on the Country Tracks Top 40 Chart with his hit, Let’s Go Driving.

Tori Darke is the full package, a Top 5 Finalist in the ‘Female Artist of the Year’ for the 2016 Golden Guitar Awards, nominated for ‘Female Artist of the Year’ & ‘Oz Artist of the Year’ at the 2016 CMC Awards – a singer/songwriter whose passion for country music knows no bounds. With her powerful vocals, heartbreakingly beautiful voice, passionate songwriting and mesmerising on-stage presence, Tori Darke continues to capture the hearts of audiences wherever she plays. With the release of her second album, Silver Lining, debuting at #1 on the Australian ARIA Charts, #3 on the Australian ARIA All Genres Chart, and #9 on the ARIA International Country Charts, Tori Darkewill take you on a journey, appealing not only to country fans but a whole new audience of music lovers as well.

Matt Cornell is a talented singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from Sydney who has worked and toured with the likes of Richard Clapton, Shannon Noll, Jenny Morris, Damien Leith and iconic rock band, The Baby Animals and most recently with Australian Country superstar Adam Brand. Having already established a reputation as an impressively energetic and engaging live performer, who undertakes the rarely seen practice of playing bass while performing lead vocals, Matt has graced the stages of SXSW in Austin Texas, New York’s CBGB’s, London’s The Borderline and Sheppard’s Bush Empire, to The Roxy and The Viper Room in LA and we’re thrilled to have him at Country Rocks Festival Sydney in 2018.

Imagine if Keith Urban and Pearl Jam had a baby…. A 6 foot 2 inch, long haired baby who sings with a deep raw voice that could make you jump and dance with joy or cry your heart out- or sometimes both? Meet Jonny Taylor – an emotionally charged musician who doesn’t set out to sound like anybody in particular who lets his love of grunge and rock music fuse seamlessly with his passion for a meaningful story. Taylor saw mainstream success following a stint on Australia’s Got Talent in 2012 where he touched audiences around the world with his original song, Young Man, written for a friend battling alcoholism. His subsequent touring lifestyle and hours in front of the microphone have earned Taylor a reputation as one of the hardest working and most powerful young singer songwriters in the Australian music scene. He’s tough, edgy and masculine, but there is a vulnerability that hits home and connects with people far beyond the gruff exterior and rocky tones of his music. As the saying goes, never judge a man by his earrings.

In 2012, two paths converged when New Zealand born Matthew McNeilly met Kempsey girl, Amelia Richards in Tamworth. Their musical passions aligned at the CMAA Academy, resulting in the formation of the contemporary country music duo NeillyRich and in 5 short years the pair have emerged from an excited young duo to international award-winning and ARIA charting recording artists (International Spur Award, NZ Golden Fern for Best Duo and #4 ARIA Australian Country Artist Chart Position). Taking inspiration from Lyall Lovett to Keith Urban, NeillyRich form a unique flavour of music grounded in tradition, but embracing a modern, Nashville-style sound, with authenticity and musician-ship the most important facets of their performance. 2017 saw the release of NeillyRich’s first ever studio album, Here Now Forever, which #4 on both the ARIA Australian Country Album Chart as well as the iTunes Country Album Chart.

What happens when a magnetic presence intersects with pure talent? Sydney born country music singer Rachael Fahim has won her way into the hearts of audience and industry alike one performance at a time. The tiny framed, big voiced pocket rocket delivers dynamic performance over and over again showing of her soulful growl, light pop and folky roots. In 2015 Rachael released her debut single, Say It, which shot straight to Number 1 on the iTunes charts and was sitting in the Top 30 on CMC for a number of weeks. Earlier this year, Rachael released her second single, Rope, which sat at Number 3 on the iTunes charts.

Jade Holland has been competing in country music competitions across Australia since the tender age of 11 with her commitment to the genre fully fuelled in 2011 by her success at the 15th Annual World Championships of Performing Arts in Los Angeles. Holland outshone almost 4,000 contestants to bring home a string of awards including second in the photogenic category, third in the Country Rock category, third in the vocal category, and second in the writing category for her own composition Make Up Your Mind. The titular track off her 2016 debut album, Leather & Les Paul, peaked at #12 the recently released fourth single, Good Day, debuted at #40 in the Country Tracks Charts in its first week, sat at #1 on the KIX and remained in the top 10 for 11 weeks, proving Jade Holland’s passionate fan base is continuing to grow.

Soulful vocalist Ingrid Mae makes rock, pop & country-infused music with an irresistible retro vibe. Her sound is captivating yet her message is one of honesty and grit – the foundation for her debut album, Sugarcoated. Ingrid’s an old soul who loves the idea of romance but dig a little deeper and her raw truth can slap you in the face. It is this very juxtaposition of honesty and grit that set the scene for her debut album in the first place. Mae’s vocals have been compared to the likes of Deborah Conway, Sheryl Crow, Melissa Etheridge, Bonnie Raitt, Stevie Nicks and Annie Lennox. One thing that most people will agree on is that she sure does love a good harmony and expect the Country Rocks Festival Sydney audience will be bitten, and sweetly smitten.
Early bird tickets for the 2018 Country Rocks Festival Sydney are sold out and general admission tickets are selling fast. To secure tickets, go to fast to ensure you don’t miss out when country music sets the Hills alight.

Country Rocks Festival Sydney General Manager, Michael Bond, said

“We’re proud to be bringing country music back to Sydney and showcasing some of the finest artists we have here in Australia. Besides great country music we’ll have children’s entertainment and markets which will make this a fantastic fun filled day for the entire family.”