I have it on good authority that Tamworth is nothing like Nashville Tennessee. I’m told that in Nashville there is a country and western singer on every street corner and in every bar. The place is just littered with country music hopefuls playing their hearts out, yearning to be discovered. While Tamworth is far removed from Nashville, it does promote itself as the capital of country music in Australia. So, I was hopeful that a weekend catch up with our American friends Cathy and Chris –who are big music fans—might provide an opportunity to broaden my horizons.
My knowledge of country music is limited to a sprinkling of popular songs by Johny Cash, Kenny Rodgers, and Garth Brooks. I’m never sure which breaks their hearts more, the loss of a sweetheart, the dog, a pick-up truck or a card game. Chris suggested the only way to find out was by going to a bar and listening to it live. I wasn’t about to argue with anyone promoting the pursuit of further education in a bar, so off we went.
However, trying to find a venue that played live music, of any description, was more difficult than we expected. Country may be big in Tamworth, but Friday night footy is bigger.
If anywhere was going to have a live band we thought it would be The Longyard Pub. It is after all, situated right next to the Golden Guitar. But we were wrong. Luckily our waiter at dinner pointed us in the right direction and sent us off to ‘The Pub’. When you’re a sprawling tavern situated in an industrial estate, having a name like The Pub is probably as imaginative as you need to be.
Walking across the car park we could hear the strains of live music coming from inside. This at least was a good sign. Gretta and I were of course way over dressed, and given the look of the place from the outside I half expected to be confronted with a scene reminiscent of the Blues Brother playing to a crowd of red necks from behind a chicken wire screen. But it was worse than that.
A half dozen tables were occupied by octogenarians in a bar that was otherwise empty while two fat blokes dressed in black sang in a dialect that was unintelligible. It was still early so we bought a round of drinks and waited for things to crank up with the arrival of the main act. By the second beer we’d twigged to the fact this was the main act. I looked around in dismay and realized there would be no bar stool throwing, country brawling tonight. The only thing likely to get thrown in downtown Tamworth this night was Nanna’s hip if she tried to line dance.
Our search for an undiscovered rising star belting out some classic country ended in disappointment. Short of going to Nashville (highly unlikely) I’ll just have to remain content with having no appreciation for country.