DIARY - 6 JUNE 2006 - LEE KERNAGHAN INTERVIEW
KERNAGHAN PLOUGHS NEW BUSH
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
Australian country king Lee Kernaghan sings loud and proud of the
new bush there is an idealistic optimism missing from radio's commercial
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
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
8.30 pm on Saturday July 8 and will appear in interview in three of the
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.
DID IT HIS WAY
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
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
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.
TAKE THIS JOB AND SHOVE IT
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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."
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
But it was an older man - former Sherbet and Sherbs singer Daryl Braithwaite
- who duets with Lee on the title track.
superstar Garth Brooks' singing spouse Trisha Yearwood joins him on Diamantina
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."
man growing up so fast/ little man I wish I could make this moment last."
- Little Man - Kernaghan-Porter-Buchanan.
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
"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."
WORLD TO THE COAST
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
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.
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
TEXAS AND GOVERNORS
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
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."
WESTERN CHANGES HANDS
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,"
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.
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,"
"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
"We did a couple of duets including Sweet Home Alabama," Lee
it's sister Tania, promoting her indie fourth album Higher Ground
(KCR), and The McClymonts who join him on his national tour that starts
"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.
full details soon on our membership page on how you can win an Akubra,
autographed copies of The New Bush and concert tickets.
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