A Little Bit of History

The Capital Country Music Association is a community based group of folk who not only love country music but enjoy the nurturing and promotion of particularly young talent by supporting them with performance workshops and monthly showcases with many special opportunities to perform at shows promoting country music and supporting the community. The CCMA is a non-profit organisation.

Email admin@ccma.net.au

The Capital Country Music Association is a community based group of folk who not only love country music but enjoy the nurturing and promotion of particularly young talent by supporting them with performance workshops and monthly showcases with many special opportunities to perform at shows promoting country music and supporting the community. The CCMA is a non-profit organisation.

Email info@ccma.net.au

The initial formation of the CCMA came from the foundations of the Modern Country Music Association (MCMA) in 1964.  The first idea was spawned at Christmas 1963 and the inaugural meeting was held in Brisbane in February 1964.

On Saturday 15th October the Federal President and Executive member Mick Finn drove to Tamworth from Brisbane to attend the inaugural meeting of the Tamworth Branch of the MCMA.  It was held in the “Hayshed” which was a coffee lounge owned by one of the members.  Mick took over the meeting and the following were elected to office.  President Ross Murphy; Vice President John Minson, Secretary/Treasurer Bette Frey and Committee Members Nev and Nancy Sipple.

The first Jamboree was held in June 1968 in aid of the Tasmanian Bush Fire Appeal with 65 artists and 11 musicians on the bill.  The Tamworth Branch of the MCMA continued operating with a steady routine of social and charitable functions – running two Jamborees each year in January and June.

The second Tamworth Nationwide Jamboree was held on Saturday January 25 1969 and proved another outstanding step forward for the promotion of amateur country music in Australia.  A feature of that night was the presentation of a Gold Record to RCA recording artist, Buddy Williams.  Mr Ron Wills of RCA Records travelled from Sydney to make the presentation before a capacity crowd of 1200.  Professional artists who performed on the programme were Eddie Tapp, Paul Lester, Geoff Brown, Michael Cooke, Frank Johns and the Ranchmen, Lee White & The Comancheros, Michael Lynch, Shorty Ranger, The Kellyfolk, The Emmanuels, Bob Clark, The Williams Family (Kay, Harold and Buddy), Steve Rivers and Buddy Bishop.

Local radio station 2TM was once again on the ball when they featured one hour of the Jamboree, live on 2AD, 2MO & 2TM.  The Talent Quest was held on Saturday afternoon with 55 acts in the first heat, 12 semi-finalists being selected and six finalists going into the final for the night programme.  Competition was very strong in the Quest, with artists coming from Coopernook, Maryborough, Sydney and Brisbane.  Comperes, for the Jamboree were Michael Lynch, Brian Kelly and DJ John Minson.  Margaret Carmichael took out three prizes for Tamworth second placing in the finals, best local amateur (female) and best dressed amateur artist (female).  A special award was awarded to Gary Brown for Best Junior Artist.  The other finalists were Ray and Garry (from Sydney), Joe Johnson (Brisbane), Ken and Tiiu Whittington (Sydney), Desleigh Graham (Brisbane), Jean Ranclaud (Gunnedah) with most entertaining act of the night being Harold Williams.

After such a successful concert, the future looked very bright indeed, but after several more successful concerts and another Jamboree in June of 1969 the Club became very discontented and dissatisfied having to report back to Brisbane all the time and being under complete control of the MCMA Federal Management.  This meant that the club had to turn over all funds raised at these various functions which were being used entirely on Brisbane administration.  A special committee meeting was held and a breakaway group called the Tamworth Country Music Club was formed (not Capital Country Music Association at this stage).  This group continued on with the functions already planned prior to the breakaway which included the 1970 Jamboree a few months away.  This Club was headed by Rodney Walker (best known these days as the One Man Band in the Country Music Cavalcade) who held it together during this difficult period.

In 1970 another successful Jamboree was held with a very dedicated Committee – Don and Marian Smart (President & Secretary/Treasurer), Ross Murphy, Vice-President, and committee members Geoff Brown, Bob and Dawn Clark, John Minson and Betty Frey.  Artists included Dee Donovan (Sydney), Alan Swanson (Rockhampton), and John Riley and Helen King (Brisbane).  Local artists were Buddy Bishop, Geoff Brown and Bob Clark and the Oxley Ramblers.  There were 34 entrants; winners were Bruce Johnson (Narromine) Best Vocal, Roy Burrows (New Zealand) and Robbie Robinson (Brisbane) and John Minson (Tamworth), Best Instrumentalist. 

After yet another success, against all odds the Club survived through the remainder of the year with the encouragement from new arrivals such as Bob and Dawn Clark from Melbourne, The Singing Kettles from Tasmania, Brian Kelly (Mudgee), Slim Newton (Western Australia) and Eric and Hilary Scott from Victoria (ex-Tasmania).  Eric Scott, who came from Victoria in November 1968 to work for the 2TM Network, The “Big T Jubilee” radio programme commenced in 1969 with tapes and records and Eric continued with these programmes from the radio station until August 8 1971 when a direct line was laid from the Hadley Studios at Calala to 2TM. 

Once a month, the one hour Sunday evening programme went direct to air “live” at 7.30, complete with “live” audience.  Guests on the show were Slim Dusty and Joy McKean who just returned from one of their tours.  Local artists were Buddy Bishop, Geoff Brown, Michael Cook, Bob Clark, Margaret Carmichael, Denning Sisters, Gary Gardner, Alan Lisle, Slim Newton, Len Rendalls, Wally White and Colin Wrightson.  These artists were appointed as fulltime members of the Big T Jubilee and performed regular spots on the show which was recorded for later broadcast on 4CA Cairns and 7LA Launceston.

The Club continued taking local artists to various functions in and around Tamworth such as Barraba, Gunnedah, Manilla, Nundle and Quirindi.  They also took them to the various agricultural shows in neighbouring districts where they received a good response for country music.

Radio 2TM was also staging CM concerts at that time.  Some featured Johnny Heap, Jimmy Little, The Kettles, Bob Clark, Gary Brown and Bob Cole.  This all helped to keep up everyone’s morale and enthusiasm.  Some of the local artists were going on short tours into Queensland and Victoria.  Geoff Brown and Margaret Carmichael toured with the Trailblazers (The Emmanuels) from Parkes.  Rick and Thel Carey also used to form their touring shows.  Bob Clark and Lindsay Butler toured several times with the Slim Dusty Show. Tamworth is now regarded as “Home Base” for selecting experienced artists for most of the top touring shows.

In 1969, the club name was changed to Tamworth Music Club and in 1971 the CCMA was adopted as the official name.

Weekly “workshop” nights were commenced in the early part of 1971, quickly becoming very popular and well attended.

The idea behind the workshops was to teach the basic skills of country playing guitar, bass, drums, timing, song arrangements and stage presentation.  New talent “discovered” by these workshops included Nev Parnell, Rodney Walker, Eric Newton, Lawrie Minson, John Grills, Michelle Cone, Sheila Johnson, The Gilchrist Family and many more talented local artists.  Much of the credit for the success of these must go to Hadley Studios proprietors Eric and Hilary Scott.

Life Membership has been awarded to such contributors to the CCMA as Bob Belford, John and Ann Minson, Geoff & Beryl Brown, Hilary Scott, Neville Miller, Pauline Gardiner, Mike Cone, Ross Murphy, Dot & Peg Gilchrist, Marge Chaffey, Margaret Carmichael, Anne Drew and Alan Clement.

Presidents have included Don and Marion Smart, Brian Kelly, Merv Thompson, Mal Gardiner, Reg Dickinson, Geoff Brown, Eric Scott, Harry Ellis and Peg Gilchrist. Current president is Steve Newton with his committee including Jon Wolfe, Bob Kirchner, Sally-Anne Whitten, Peter Harkins, Jodie Crosby, Tracy Coster,Dot Gilchrist, Peg Gilchrist, Diana Jones and Shaza Leigh.

It has always been the sole object of the CCMA to promote Country Music without thought of profit or gain, particularly among young and unknown artists. 

The CCMA continues to promote and nurture young talent and through the years the local “young guns” who have enjoyed such encouragement include Gary Brown, Robbie Brown, Lawrie Minson, the late Eric Newton, Deneise Morrison, Felicity Urquhart, Charlene Bailey, Aleyce Simmonds, Katrina Burgoyne, Ben Hazell and Jared Scott and many more.

You either like them or hate them but it’s the Talent Quest that continues to attract families to Tamworth to have an opportunity to perform and showcase their talents.  Many artists have appreciated that time including winners such as superstar Keith Urban, Tommy and Phil Emmanuel, Lee Kernaghan, Lyn Bowtell, Allan Caswell, Owen Blundell, McCormack Bros and more recently Samantha McClymont and Aleyce Simmonds with current Overall Winners Ben Hazell and Jessica Smith.

Like all Clubs and Associations there are always individuals who do incredible work behind the scenes supporting young ones or simply for the love of country music.  It cannot go without saying the incredible support that has been received from sponsors makes all the difference (visit our sponsor page to see who is getting behind country music in Tamworth).

Such events as the Winter Junior Talent Quest, that were introduced to allow young people to have an opportunity to compete against their own age group, have grown in strength as Tamworth now holds the annual Hats Off To Country Festival on the same weekend and the Tamworth Camerata – Youth School Of Country Music precedes the event.

Another special event during the Tamworth Festival is the Young Guns Concert, now usually held as a curtain-raiser to the main Festival week on the Thursday night prior to day one of the Festival. This concert features a selection of young performers coming up through talent quest (and other) ranks).

The 47th CCMA National Jamboree & Talent Quest will be staged during the 2012 Tamworth Country Music Festival.

Unfortunately in the infancy of many organisations the importance of keeping records and information is not always considered and therefore a lot of the early material is lost and not recorded on paper.

Some of this information has been sourced from "The First Ten Years Of The MCMA 1964-1974" by D Eckert (ACMA). If you have a story or photographs about your experience in the CCMA please send to us at PO Box 209 Tamworth 2340 or email to info@ccma.net.au.

© Copyright, Capital Country Music Association, Tamworth