"The new bush is here, a turn of the page/ there's talk around the town of better days/ you can see it in their eyes, real as the sun/ a quiet revolution's begun in the new bush." - The New Bush - Lee Kernaghan-Garth Porter-Col Buchanan.

Lee Kernaghan
When Australian country king Lee Kernaghan sings loud and proud of the new bush there is an idealistic optimism missing from radio's commercial corporate chains.

But, with more than a million albums sold before the launch of his eighth disc The New Bush (ABC-Warner), the Corryong colt has triumphed despite radio's geriatric gatekeepers.

Kernaghan has been on and off tour for most of his 42 years with dad Ray and three singing siblings.

And it's that those long hard years as a roads scholar from coast to coast and into the great outback that earned him a huge national following that ensured The New Bush debuted at #6 on the ARIA pop charts.

Kernaghan has done the hard yards in the long yards and been rewarded on national ABC TV and radio, community corrals, PAY-TV channel CMC, commercial TV, Nu Country FM and now Nu Country TV.

Lee hosts the premiere episode of Series #6 of Nu Country TV on C 31 in Victoria at
8.30 pm on Saturday July 8 and will appear in interview in three of the 13 episodes.

The singer also hosts the debut episode of the Series that appears on C 31 in Adelaide on Sundays at 6.30.

And he will be featured in our rebirth on the New Zealand Television Media Group on its Family Television Network.

Nu Country TV has become a popular fixture in Waikato and Rotorua.


So how does Lee, father of two sons Jet, 4, and Rock, 3, do it?

"With a lot of touring and plenty of luck," Kernaghan told Nu Country at the West Melbourne HQ of his record company.

"I have good co-writers including Garth Porter, Col Buchanan and James Blundell.

I could never have imagined as a kid growing up in Albury I would be successful."
And after winning the Tamworth Starmaker quest in 1982 his first lunge at national fame was short lived so he took on selling real estate in the twin city cesspool.

But with the encouragement of producer Garth Porter - also enjoying a career rebirth as a producer after pop fame with Sherbet and Sherbs - the singer headed to the high country of his ancestors and wrote songs inspired by his rural roots.

So it was no surprise when Beaconsfield miners Todd Russell and Brant Webb alerted rescuers to their plight by singing Kenny Rogers hits that Lee flew in for the Sunrise concert on the Seven Network.

The duo's dulcet delivery of The Gambler and Coward Of The County - not the Don Bowman parody Coward Of The Alamo - saved their lives.

Their revamped versions on the Nine Network Great Escape special and movie will be healthy earners for songwriters Don Schlitz, Roger Bowling and Billy Ed Wheeler.


Nine missed former convict country star and actor David Allan Coe's Take This Job And Shove It - a hit for recently deceased fellow outlaw Johnny Paycheck - as their exit tune.

They also ignored Kernaghan's fresh autograph on Russell's Akubra that he wore en route to his New York TV debut.

The irony wasn't lost on Lee who was reared on the outlaw music of Coe, Waylon & Willie and Hank Williams Jr.

Russell revealed in a later Nine interview he wanted to meet Georgian superstar Alan Jackson, 47, on his U.S. trip.

At no extra cost to the network we forwarded the request to Alan's original manager Barry Coburn - the expatriate Australasian publisher who has Keith Urban's lucrative catalogue.

Barry managed Emmylou Harris on his 1984 Nashville arrival with the famed Eddie Tickner who died of leukemia at 78 on May 2 in Tucson, Arizona.

Coburn promotes the 1984 tour by Emmylou who said: "I always thought Eddie was going to die of terminal integrity".

Eddie also managed The Byrds, Flying Burrito Brothers, Gram Parsons, Odetta, Etta James, Vern Gosdin, Carlene Carter, Jonathan Richmond & Marty Stuart.

Although Todd was scheduled to meet Alan in the U.S. it's unlikely Jackson, who has sold 44 million plus albums, will tour here without airplay.


"I'm counting the miles as I roll along/ scanning the dial for an old familiar song/ to pass the time/ fuelled up out of Narrabri/ past the harvesters working through the night/ I'm just headlights passing through." - Listen To The Radio - Lee Kernaghan-Garth Porter-Colin Buchanan.

So how has Lee coped without radio since the Beer Can Hill studio of Nu Country burned down on June 26, 2000, before being resurrected at the Paris, Texas, end of Collins St in 2001?

"It's a constant struggle but radio is moving in the right direction - especially on regional radio in the bush," Kernaghan revealed.
"The ABC and community radio have always been very supportive. Just before we did this interview I took a call on my mobile to let me know a pop station in Brisbane is playing On The Beach."

And in the halcyon days of 4KQ as a country station in the early eighties under the reign of Ian Skippen and former Nu Country DJ Rod Stone the station rated healthily with a full-on country format.

The format was equally successful when Stone programmed 3UZ in the late eighties before it became a sporting station.

But there is still a small window at 4KQ in the breakfast show where Laurel Edwards - singing spouse of Troy Cassar-Daley - is co-host.

"Troy should have influence," Lee joked about a city where Koori community station 4AAA impacts way beyond the city limits.


"The dawn is breaking, out on a back track/ the sun is cutting through like a knife/ he knows the morning and the smell of a diesel/ another day in a young man's life/ and he wears the dust, he's one of us." - The New Bush - Kernaghan-Porter-Buchanan

Lee admits his disc is a kindred spirit of Hank Williams Jr's 1977 disc The New South - a reflection of changes in Bocephus's stomping ground.

The singer eulogised singing actor Hank Jr on his 1992 debut disc The Outback Club with his song You're The Reason I Never Saw Hank Jr Play.

Kernaghan has delved into the cyber advances in rural Australia akin to U.S. peers such as septuagenarian George Jones who cut Byron Hill-Zack Turner song Hi-Tech Redneck as the title track of his 1993 disc.

"Yes, George was onto it before me," Lee laughed.

"For the past 30 years there have been huge changes in regional Australia. A lot of little country towns not as isolated and there has been a huge impact on the culture.

Ironically, Lee's album Electric Rodeo appeared in 2003 - three years before another of the same title by the son of one of his idols Waylon Jennings.

Shooter Jennings, who played his deceased dad in the Johnny Cash movie Walk The Line, launched his disc here this year.

"I have always been a huge fan of Waylon," Lee said.

"If you are going to get ripped off by someone then Waylon Jennings son is not a bad thing," Lee joked as he asked Nu Country to deliver an autographed copy of his disc to Shooter at Willie Nelson's July 4 picnic in Fort Worth.

"I bought the album last week and love it - it's good drinking music."


Lee filmed the video for The New Bush in Grenfell - adoptive NSW hometown of peer Steve Forde.

"The council closed the main street from 4-11 p m," Lee said of the clip to be debuted on Nu Country TV on July 8.

"We brought in some big rigs. It was awesome as the people flooded into town. We had a beautiful blonde girl called Hanna play the female lead."

But it was an older man - former Sherbet and Sherbs singer Daryl Braithwaite - who duets with Lee on the title track.

And Oklahoma superstar Garth Brooks' singing spouse Trisha Yearwood joins him on Diamantina Dream.

There was a pregnant pause when Lee tried to find thrice wed Yearwood after Garth proposed to her on stage at the late Buck Owens famed Crystal Palace night club in Bakersfield, California.

"No, I didn't break up their honeymoon," Lee recalled.

"I was trying to get her to sing on the album but couldn't find her anywhere. I got onto her personal assistant. She said 'Trisha is on her honeymoon'. They were just married. I sent her an email with the song - the day after she got back from her honeymoon she turned up the studio with her mum. She did a beautiful job. She also performed with me in the past on Goondiwindi Moon and Save The Land."


"Little man growing up so fast/ little man I wish I could make this moment last." - Little Man - Kernaghan-Porter-Buchanan.

Kernaghan's singing spouse Robyn McKelvie joins Nashville singers Melodie Crittenden, Russell Terrell and Marty Clayton among harmony singers here.

Robyn sings on Little Man - the eulogy to their sons Jet and Rock and shot the CD slick photos and publicity shots in between maternal duties.

"We called our first son Jet, John Travolta also had a son named Jet," Lee revealed.

"Rock had to have a good name to be up there with his brother. We wanted to give them names that would help them get girls. We take me up to my songwriting shack on the NSW-QLD border - it's 2500 feet above sea level. We take the boys there so they can play with their wheelbarrows and spades. It won't last forever so want to capture that moment."

Family has long been a fertile song source for Kernaghan who wrote I'll Remember You about his grandparents who were married for 60 years.

The song also took inspiration from 19TH century poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning and traces life from embryonic school days to courtship, marriage to death.

"My grandfather was married to nan for 60 years," Lee recalled.

"They were soul mates and when Pop was passed on, Nan only lasted a few months after him. We believed that they were together again."


"Have you looked out on a skyline and dreamed of open plains/ have you driven down a freeway and longed for table drains/ been lost in a sea of faces drifting through the world alone/ and dreamed your heart back home." Where I Come From - Kernaghan-Buchanan-Porter

Much of Kernaghan's success is his innate accuracy in reflecting his rural roots in song for bush-bred folks living beyond the city limits.

And, of course, rural refugees living in the big smoke or regional cities where they pay more for petrol, food and other essentials but have never lost their spirit.

New song Where I Come From is a nostalgic celebration of home while Western World daubs a love tale on a kindred tableau.

Kernaghan draws on the vast galaxy of Australians untainted by fickle fashion but who revel in raising hell after work.

Rural dwellers reliance on and celebration of their love on wheels emerges again in Love Shack and When Country Comes.

But the singer spreads his audience beyond the new bush to the old coast in the sea change of On The Beach.

These are the Australians where reality is not perving at prancing ponces on unreality TV to a canned laughter cacophony but the ocean breezes soothing the soul.


Kernaghan was bemused to learn that singing Texan crime novelist Kinky Friedman now has enough signatures to challenge Rick Perry for Texas governor.

"I was at the after show party of the Oscars few years ago with Russell Crowe, Nicole Kidman and other expats," Lee recalled.

"It was the year Crowey missed out - he was ripped off badly. He should have won for Beautiful Mind. I met this bloke from Texas there. I was 'what do you do down there, mate?' He said 'I'm the governor - I love country music.' He was a good old boy."

Loving country music in Texas is the norm - a perfect catalyst for The Kinkster.
So who would Lee vote for if he was eligible?

"I really don't know what Kinky stands for," Lee said.

"I bought his album Sold American and liked it a lot. He's a little bent but he's a cool character. If he gets in that would be good."


Tania Kernaghan

Ironically, it was famed Fort Worth cowboy bar Billy Bob's, replete with 42 bars and a live bull riding ring, that inspired Lee's Rockhampton replica The Great Western.

But alas, with a national tour featuring sister Tania and hotshot trio The McClymonts, the singer has handed over the reigns of the 1853 era pub.

"It's a great hotel, an iconic pub but I just sold it," Lee confessed.

"As owner you are personally responsible for everything. If an adult gives a child a drink you are hit with a fine under occupational health and safety. I handed it over to some locals. We've got the business running right - got the template, the bull riding, the rodeo, the motor cross.

It's all happening. It really doesn't belong to one particular owner - it belongs to the people of central Queensland."

So if bulls escape as they did in the past Lee won't be hunting them.

"A big bull jumped fence and broke barrier and got to the river," Lee recalled.

"A couple of cowboys chased it in Toyota land cruiser tray back - that was the end of the story."

Although Lee didn't join Californian country star Gary Allan on stage at his venue he made time for expatriate superstar Keith Urban's triumphant return.

"We did a couple of duets including Sweet Home Alabama," Lee recalled.

But it's sister Tania, promoting her indie fourth album Higher Ground (KCR), and The McClymonts who join him on his national tour that starts in June.

"The McClymont sisters are from northern NSW," Lee said.

"I saw them at country music awards together for the first time. Brooke has been on the road with me, then Samantha, now young sister Molly. They've got edge.

Let me make a prediction - they're going to be big stars."

The McClymonts are touring to support debut EP featuring Something That My Heart Does on Universal.

We'll have full details soon on our membership page on how you can win an Akubra, autographed copies of The New Bush and concert tickets.

Stay Tuned.

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