It was a scene of new sounds from both the well-known and up-and-coming in country music at the Hallam Hotel on Wednesday night.
Adam Harvey, a man most Australian country fans recognise by his nice-guy charm as well as his deep crooning Elvis-like voice, headlined the event as the latest stop of his Family Life tour.
He was joined by two great support acts, Sophie and Celeste Clabburn, the bubbly duo known as The Sunny Cowgirls, and Chelsea Basham, a new girl on the scene who recently won the Best New Talent award at this year’s Tamworth Country Music Festival.
Chelsea belted out the hits from her new album, I Make My Own Sunshine, backed by her mandolin playing, and had the crowd cheering and even singing along to the title track, a remembrance ballad to the boyfriend who broke her heart when she first started.
A small-town girl from Wongan Hills in the wheatbelt district in Western Australia, she got her break at sixteen, touring with country superstar Lee Kernaghan. This road led her to Tamworth, the place where many young talents are nourished.
The Sunny Cowgirls were up next, promoting their newest cover album My Old Man, a dedication to dads everywhere, including their own father, who was a big influence on them and their music.
The tracks in this album are classic hits their dad had raised them on, such as Nancy Sinatra’s These Boots are Made for Walkin’. However, they are unique because, in Sophie’s words, they have been “Sunnyfied”.
Aside from this, the girls blew the crowd away with their own classic songs, including Summer and Dancin’ on the Darling.
However, the wild applause was saved for the man of the hour, when he stepped up to the stage, playing one of his oldest songs to roars of excitement.
Adam has been a major figure in the country music scene for over 20 years, partnering with other superstars such as Tania Kernaghan, Troy Cassar-Daley, and Beccy Cole.
Like the majority of country singers in Australia, Adam got his start at Tamworth, although he jokes that he is “still waiting for his big break”.
“I went to the Tamworth festival and busked in the street, and now I’ve been going there for about 26 years,” he said.
The Hallam Hotel has always been a favourite venue of Adam’s.
“I’ve always loved playing at the Hallam, it’s nice and intimate and close. We always get a good bunch of people.”
While he wowed the audience with his old hits, including Beauty’s in the Eye of the Beerholder and The House that Jack Built, the real purpose of the event was to show the love he has for his wife and two children, which was built into every song in Family Life.
The chorus of the title track says it all, “You’re lookin’ at a man who’s proud/Yeah, you’re lookin’ at a man who’s found where he wants to be/Where he’s meant to be/And family life is alright with me”.
Adam even had the parents in the crowd in tears with his heartfelt song My Little Boy, a ballad about how fast kids grow up, written when his son Conway showed nervousness on his first day of high school.
The Family Life tour will continue until July and will conclude in Albany, Western Australia.
For details, visit www.adamharvey.com.au. – Jackson Miller
Top photo by Jackson Miller.