July/August 2019

Hi Folks

Following on from the very successful 30th Bay of islands Country Rock Festival we took a break for the month of June. As many of you are aware Annette headed off to the USA with the Kevin Greaves Tour Group. I am sure everyone was entertained by the regular Facebook up dates that allowed us all to follow her journey from Lake Tahoe to Gracelands, Bakersfield, the Grand Ole Opry and New Orleans to name just a few of the amazing locations that were visited.

Our first engagement for July was the Whangarei RSA. Always enjoy entertaining these folk and we hope to be back there before the end of the year. The following Sunday we had a great afternoon with the residents of the Hibiscus Coast Retirement Village in Orewa. Lovely to see some familiar faces from the country music scene in the audience and again we would love to come back in the near future. Thank you Elaine and the committee for inviting us to perform for you all.

The main event for July was our trip to Australia and the Barham Stampede held at Club Barham RSL in NSW on the banks of the Murray River. We always enjoy returning to this festival and catching up with old friends and making new ones and they love their dancing as well. It is a pretty full on three days but so rewarding. It was also great to see Dargavillian Janice Lugtighied there with her sister and brother in law enjoying the festival. After an early flight from NZ on the 25th we arrived in Melbourne to be met by our Aussie dad, Dale, who had travelled once again all the way from Adelaide to join us for a couple of weeks on the road. It was so nice to see Dale again only 12 months for me but 2 years for Annette. Hugs and tears all around. Once we had found our way out of Melbourne we headed to Barham with a small detour to Lockington to pick up a P.A. system to use for our Monday Madness gig at the club. Kindly supplied by our good friend Kerran Keats. And a short stop at one of my favourite shops on the way “HV McKay Rural Discovery Ctr” in Elmore. A must see for any traveller. We arrived in Barham late afternoon to be welcome by Motel owner Gary in his usual cherry way. A bit of a tidy up and a little grocery shopping and we were ready for the weekend and the Thursday night show “Kings and Queens of Country” starring Sandie Dodd and Callum Glesson. An entertaining and fun show by two very talented performers to kick off the festival in style. Performing the hits of such legends as Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Dwight Yoakem, Kenny Rogers and Glen Campbell to name just a few.

On Friday we were into the festival proper. We were joined by fellow Kiwi’s Aly Cook and Dennis Marsh along with a host of Aussie performers which included Allan Webster, Danny Stain, Justuss (Wendy and Kerri), Rene Diaz, Sharon Benjamin and the Cartwheels. It was also very nice to see familiar faces on the dance floor enjoying the music and great to catch up with Susanne and Bruce, Don and Muriel and we were pleasantly surprised with a visit from our very good friends Rod and Margaret McCarthy from Kyneton. We met Rod and Margaret on our very first visit to Barham back in 2012. They were caravanning with family at Barham Lakes and have been coming to the festival for many years. On a couple of occasions they were kind enough to pick us up from the airport and shuttle us up to the festival. It was awesome to see them again.

As usual the weekend goes by too quickly but we were privileged to be able to perform a couple of songs with NZ Country Legend, Dennis Marsh, and Australia’s Country Gentleman, Allan Webster. Hope you all get to see the video on Facebook. Thank you both for sharing the stage with us. We must thank the band “Southern Cross” for all their hard work during the weekend. Thanks Bob, Col and Anthony, great job. A pleasure to perform with you all. Thank you to Anthony Tenace on sound and to Linda and the club for having us. Also a big thank you to the fantastic audience that supported not only ourselves but all the artists that performed. We hope to see you all next year. However, the show wasn’t over completely as we still had the Finale to go. Before we left New Zealand Annette asked me what we were going to do for the finale and I said,” Well since you didn’t get to wear your chicken suit last year it will be something to do with chickens”. The finale was one of the best we have been involved in. I hope we can get the videos on to Facebook so everyone can see what we have done, as I don’t think words would do it justice. Will be a hard one to top that is for sure.

With all the farewells said it was on to the Monday Madness at the club. An entertaining afternoon of raffles and music expertly run by Marie and unfortunately a glitch with the P.A. system. However, with the support of Linda from Club Barham and Anthony we were able to set up a smaller system to finish off the afternoon proceedings. Thank you so much Linda and Anthony. No raffles won by our team this year. We also send our love and best wishes to our dear friend Audrey James who usually comes to see us on the Monday but is unwell at present. Take care Audrey we wish you a speedy recovery and hope to see you next year. Maureen and Allan had decided to stay for the Monday Madness and Allan offered the use of his P.A. for our Morning Melodies gig in Kyvalley the following day. Which was a lifesaver. So Monday arvo we all headed to Moama where we had booked accommodation at Moama Discovery Parks. Totally recommend their cabin accommodation, clean , warm and spacious for the weary travellers. We then headed over to Moama RSL with Maureen and Allan for a lovely dinner and a bit of banter.

Tuesday morning up early and on our way to Kyvalley Community Hall for our Morning Melodies gig and to meet up with locals, Bev and Beryl, to set up the P.A. ready for a 10:00am start. We had a great morning with sing a longs and stories and even a bit of a history lesson concerning what may be a connection for Annette and the Dickson family and the Kyvalley area. Ask her about it next time you see her. The morning wasn’t without it’s dramas either. For some spooky reason we had a bit of  a power surge go through the hall which affected the sound desk. Fortunately for us Allan had packed a spare and with little trouble changed over to the new one and we were up and running again. We think he thinks we are jinxed. Thank you so much for all your help Maureen and Allan much appreciated. Also thank you Bev and Beryl and the local community for supporting the morning and for having us entertain. We certainly hope to see you again soon.

At Kyvalley we said our goodbyes to Maureen and Allan and headed off to spend a couple of days on RnR. We decided to head to Tucomwal where there is a great little antique shop and then on to Yarrawonga and Mulwala to show Annette the lake and weir built on the Murray River. A night in Mulwala and dinner at the RSL then next morning a look around both Mulwala and Yarrawonga. One of the highlights being the Pioneer Museum at Mulwala. Those of us born in the 50”s and 60’s will remember our Grandparents using some of the items on display. Hand Mincers, mangles and concrete tubs, cream separators, all manner of horse drawn carts and harvesters, collars and hames, turn of the century aeroplanes and blacksmith display. A must see if you are visiting or just passing through. From there we headed to Shepparton via the painted silo’s at Tungamah, St James, Devenish and Goorambat. We had visited the silos at Rochester on our way up to Barham from the airport. These murals are amazing – see photos of them below. They are breathtaking.

After a night in Shepparton we visited our 2nd favourite shop Shepparton Second Hand and Collectables on Goulburn Valley Hwy. Yes, we both found something here to buy. Such an amazing shop it’s like being on American Pickers. From Shepparton we headed to “Cactus Country” which Annette had spotted not far from Strathmerton a couple of days before when we were driving to Tucomwal. Cactus Country is a garden containing more than 4000 species of cacti and succulents from around the globe and has eight different garden trails. Again hopefully we will get some photos on this site. You can even wear Mexican sombrero’s around the gardens and try a little cactus cake at the café. Yummy. Allow yourself at least half a day to explore.

We then decided to head back to Moama via Barmah and a quick look at Barmah Lake, also on the Murray River, and the surrounding wildlife. A phone call to Moama Discovery Parks and we knew we had warm accommodation to look forward to. Once there we would be able to prepare in comfort for the Lockington Festival. Which we duly did. We must thank Dale for being our tour leader and for being so patient.
Friday 2nd August was the day to head over to Lockington, about a thirty minute drive away, but not before a look around the beautiful town of Echuca. Which included a little wine and fudge tasting along the way. Then lunch at the 3 Galahs café and hello another antique shop and a couple of Elvis records to add to my collection. Don’t worry, Annette did a little retail therapy as well.

Our next stop was to the home of our host for the weekend, Jennie Keele, who had kindly opened her home to us and with whom Dale and I had stayed with last year. Thank you so much for having us Jennie much appreciated it was great catching up again. Once our gear was unloaded and we were settled in we headed to the Lockington Community Hall to catch up with festival organisers Roz and Craig Giles and prepare for our first set. It has been a pleasure to perform at this festival over the last couple of years as we have made so many friendships and it is always so nice to renew them each year. We count among them Roz and Craig, Kerran Keats and Di Jones, Rupe Adams, Kinta Watts, James Moore, The Night Owls band Bob, Col and Fergie wonderful job guys and a big thank you to the talented Grant Luhrs on sound. So very nice to catch up with Allan Carroll again. We first met Allan on our first trip to Barham back in 2012 along with his lovely wife Nancy. So sorry to hear of Nancy’s passing Allan we send our love to you and your family, Nancy will be sadly missed by everyone that knew her. What can we say about the audience, amazing, they love their dancing. No more so then a wonderful couple from the small town of Simpson, Frank and Barbara. To see them dance is just such a joy, awesome. We were also blessed with a surprise visit from our dear friend Jenny Edwards. Didn’t think we were going to see you this year Jenny. Once again before you know it the weekend is coming to an end and we are saying our goodbyes. A special mention must go to the local volunteers from Lockington that kept us all fed and watered during the festival. Fantastic job everyone.

We then made the decision to head for Adelaide and home. So that was 670kms in 7 hours at night. Didn’t see any Roos but Annette reckons she spotted one fox along the way.

We spent a few days catching up with Dales’ family and overcoming a few fears as shown by Lilly the blind Alexandrie Parrot and Rusty the Bearded Lizard. Success. One of the highlights of our trip was being invited to have dinner with the Sherrah and Stewart families. Tracy Stewart and her brother Steve competed on the NZCMA Awards circuit with their mum, Chris, back in the 70’s and 80’s at the same time as Annette and her sisters were competing and are also good friends of the Kanara family. The well-known musical family from Whangarei. So lots of connections there to reminisce about. Tracy and her husband the very talented guitarist, Anthony Stewart, along with Steve and his wife Michelle perform as The Sherrahs and their harmonies are awesome. We enjoyed a lovely family dinner followed by a sing a long that included items from all family members. Thank you so much for your hospitality and for sharing your amazing talents with us. Hopefully we can do it again sometime in the near future.

An early morning flight from Adelaide to Melbourne saw some emotional goodbyes to Dale. So sad to be leaving but we will certainly see him again soon. Melbourne to Auckland and the drive to Whangarei and we were home.

Looking ahead to September and October. We will be in Te Awamutu to perform at the Spring Hoe-Down on Saturday September 14th  at the Sport and Recreation Club on Albert Park Dr. Really looking forward to performing at the festival. Thank you Keith for inviting us down. On Saturday October 12th we will be helping the Whangarei Special Olympics with a fundraising concert at the Kamo Club. We have been lucky enough to have two icons of New Zealand country music agree to support this event, Dennis Marsh and Brendan Dugan will be joining us for the afternoon. Tickets are available now from the Kamo club. See you all at one of these two great events.

On a sadder note. While we were away two of our dearest friends passed away, Viv Bennet and Horrie Ogle. We will miss them both very much as they have been two of our biggest supporters for many many years. We send our love and deepest sympathies to each of their family members and in their memory we will keep on keeping it country. Rest in peace Viv and Horrie.

Best wishes everyone. Annette and Kim