Sara Storer scored gold in Tamworth when she wrote about floods, droughts and other bush dramas.

But now the Sunraysia born singer-songwriter is fixing to add to her booty with a little help from a city bank robber.

Storer has followed in the slipstream of country outlaws David Allan Coe, Steve Earle, Willie Nelson and the late Johnnies - Cash and Paycheck - with a jail song.

Storer plans to enter The Ballad Of Tommy Foster - story of a Sydney prisoner who told his story in letters to her - in the 2005 Australian Country Music Awards.

She included a live version of the song on her ABC Music DVD Stories To Tell, released in April, and will include it on her third album to be recorded in August.

"It was a real challenge, the extreme opposite of my life," Storer, 31, told Nu Country on the eve of a return tour of her home state in late March.

"I grew up on a farm at Wemen near Robinvale, went to Teachers College in Ballarat and taught in the outback for five years. Tommy has been in jail many years. The song is how he thinks and feels about his life, all his regrets. It's his life story. He's in his fifties and in Silverwater jail. He wrote several letters to me. He left his family behind. He has a son, I'm not sure if he has a daughter."


Storer, now living on the NSW Central Coast, hopes her song will have a happier finale than Geelong country singer Gene Bradley Fisk's historic He's On The Run - the tale of Pentridge prisoner and songwriter Garry David Webb.

The prolific writer and self-mutilator died at 39 on June 11, 1993 from peritonitis after 33 years in institutions.

It was 11 years after Fisk, a former 3UZ and 3GL disc jockey, released his song based on Webb's songs and letters sent from his cell at the now defunct Coburg jail.

Fisk, now living at Winchelsea west of Geelong, encouraged Webb's song writing and gave him a David Allan Coe biography to try to dissuade his chronic mutilation of his genitalia and other delicate body parts.

Gene, 66, is also the high noon DJ on Country FM - 89.3 - and the voiceover man on the Nu Country TV promos on the popular community station.

Ironically, Fisk's daughter Donna and recording partner Michael Christian competed with Storer when she won seven Gold Guitars in the 2004 Tamworth awards.
Their new album The Big Picture will also be vying with Storer in the 2005 awards.


"The letters are also therapy for Tommy," says Storer whose Victorian begins on March 25 in Bairnsdale.

"They enable him to reflect on his life and seek a better outcome."

The song might also be therapy for Storer - a twin and second youngest of six children born and bred on a 5,000-acre family wheat farm at Wemen near Robinvale.

Storer's father Lyndsay, 61 and source of award-winning songs, attended the Tamworth festival after being diagnosed with a serious illness.

Storer and three sons work a 16,000 hectare family farm at Gullargambone in western NSW.
"He is only 61 but it's really effecting him," says Storer of the man about whom she wrote These Hands.

"He's such a workaholic, he gets frustrated he can't get up and do what he used to. The doctors say he has to slow down, take it easy. He doesn't have much choice. My wins were was a real tonic. All the family is in the DVD, singing a few songs. My career has been inspirational for them, it brought smiles to their faces when times were tough."


Sadly there was one Storer pal who didn't make it to her gala awards night in the Peel River flood belt.

He was Herbie - a beloved Maltese terrier who was Storer's constant companion on the Central Coast.

"Unfortunately Herbie's no longer with us," says Storer, 'I took him home to the farm and we had a dingo hanging around and it got poor old Herbie. It killed him. He was gorgeous. I'm sure he was clapping his paws up there in heaven when I won."

Storer bemoaned the absence of a good man in ABC documentary Heart Of The Country and is still looking despite perils of touring.

"I had a boyfriend for 18 months, he loved my music and everything I did but the time on the road can make it tough," Storer confessed.

"This time I'm away four months. It's hard on a relationship. If you find someone really supportive there are ways around it if the partner has their own life and not dependent on you being around. You can have a fantastic relationship. You're only a plane flight away. It would be harder if he liked all that other crappy music."


Storer fronts a stripped back organic trio on her Victorian tour.

Former Happening Thang guitarist Jeff Mercer will also play mandolin and fiddler Pete Denahy makes the most of his many musical talents.

The duo played in late bush balladeer Slim Dusty's acclaimed Travelling Country Band.
Denahy, a solo artist, has recorded with many fellow Victorians including former Goanna singer Marcia Howard and her younger brother Damien's Plough Boys.

Marcia launched her second solo CD Burning In The Rain at Port Fairy and returns to the Cornish Arms, Brunswick, on April 3 for a city launch to be filmed by Nu Country TV. Benalla born Denahy opens Storer's show and performs tune from fourth album Petrol Head Fly.
"It's a real cut back acoustic thing," says Storer, "it suits my songs. I like to listen to the stories without drums crashing and bashing in the background. Pete is playing fiddle. It would be nice to have banjo and steel."

Storer performs in Bairnsdale - March 25, Morwell - March 26, Wonthaggi - March 27, Moorooduc - March 28 and Warracknabeal - March 31.

She is promoting her second ABC album Beautiful Circle and DVD Stories To Tell, to be released in April.

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