Melinda Schneider

When Sydney country star Melinda Schneider tours the U.S. next year she won't have a shortage of expatriate musicians to back her.

Schneider discovered an enclave of Australian peers on her September trip to the country music capital.

And it's not just Keith Urban who has topped the U.S. charts for three weeks with Days Gone By - his fifth No 1 hit.

Schneider says her song writing sessions and business meetings to secure American release of her music were boosted by a high Australian profile on U.S. radio and TV.

"Each meeting I went to there was a real buzz about Aussies," Schneider, 32, told Nu Country on the eve of her concert at the Corner Hotel, Richmond, on October 7, with Star Maker Winner Travis Collins and veteran author, comic and singer Jim Haynes.

"When I turned on the radio I heard Keith Urban, Catherine Britt and Jedd Hughes. It's a great feeling. People are really starting to take notice of Aussies. Everywhere I went they would say 'do you know Jedd Hughes, Keith Urban, Catherine Britt?' They're all over there doing it."

Schneider says success of Urban and fellow expatriate Australian chart toppers Jamie O'Neal and Sherrie Austin was under-stated in their homeland where they received no commercial radio airplay.

"Not many people here know what's going on over there," says Schneider, "we're so far away. I went to the CD launch of Jedd Hughes at B B King's bar in downtown Nashville. He's from South Australia but left after he finished high school and did a bluegrass course at a Texas University. His album Transcontinental is on a major American label."

The launch lured a large crowd of expatriate Australians and industry power brokers.
"His singing and playing was great, they're all very excited about him in Nashville," the singer said.

"His drummer Mick McCartin is from Brisbane. He's a great drummer and did fabulous bluegrass harmonies. I told him I wanted him to play with me over there."


But Schneider, like Kasey Chambers, doesn't want to move to the U.S. full time or dilute her music to appease radio.

"I don't want to be blanded out," says Schneider, "so much music on the radio over there is so bland. Everyone told me the playing and production on my albums was traditional and still relevant. People are really excited about the Australians as we're so traditional and so country. It's going to take the right people and label to get what I do and not be scared and try it."

Schneider wrote with prolific West Virginia born tunesmith Elizabeth Cook on this visit but it was a song she penned with chart topper David Lee Murphy on a previous visit that will be featured on Russell Coight's Aussie Outback Adventures on the Ten Network.

"My husband and producer Graham got a call from Russell Coight," Melinda said, "he asked for Small Stuff that I wrote with David Lee Murphy and recorded. It will be interesting to see what scene they're going to use that in. That could be fun."

The music of Schneider, who played singer Stacy Lee Riley at the age of 13 in A Country Practice, has also featured in Something In The Air.

But on October 7 she appears live at The Corner Hotel, Richmond, with Jim Haynes and Travis Collins to showcase her new Compass Brothers album Family Tree - her third for her husband's independent label.

Bookings 94279198 or www.cornerhotel.com


Travis Collins
Melinda's concert is also the Victorian debut of Sydney multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter Travis Collins.

Collins hails from wild-west Sydney suburb Glenfield and won the 2004 Tamworth Star Maker contest.

His single, Bridge That You Won't Burn, co-written with his dad Terry, won exposure on ABC and community radio.

"Many country songs are sad about relationship break-ups," Collins said after winning the quest with his original tune.

"We wanted to make it funny and in the song the break-up was a happy one because it was a relief".

Prolific songwriter Joy McKean, widow of Slim Dusty, presented Travis, then 19, with his award.

Travis won national exposure with a cameo in the video for Kasey Chambers huge hit Not Pretty Enough.

The second youngest boy of six children, he has come a long way since his humble beginnings busking in Queen Street, Campbelltown.

"I once busked for 2 hours and made $140, which I used to buy country music CDS," Collins revealed at the time.

"I think I made so much money because when I was little I was cute. Now I have to work a lot harder".

Travis said his win was part of a five-year plan made on New Years Eve 1999.
"It shows that I am on track", he said.

Collins won Star Maker after a three-week course at the Country Music College.

Many of Travis's idols lectured at the course, including Troy Cassar-Daley and Kasey Chambers.

"It was great to sit around a table and talk to them and have a jam", Travis said. "It was a really casual environment and we were on a first name basis".

Travis has also shared bills with Adam Harvey, Cassar-Daley, Felicity, Beccy Cole, Gina Jeffreys, Adam Brand, Red Rivers, Sara Storer and others.


Singing comic, author and poet Jim Haynes joins his Compass Brothers stable-mate Melinda on the bill with perfect timing.

Haynes wrote the oft-revamped Since Cheryl Went Feral about former party hopping politician Cheryl Kernot.

The singer is touring to promote his latest album, Words of Wisdom, that reached #6 on the ARIA charts on debut.

"I finished writing my latest book, All Aboard - Tales of Australian Railways that will be out in October," Haynes revealed.

"It's collection of funny, nostalgic and informative stories chosen, first and foremost, for their entertainment value. Each story also deals with some element of the history, characters and culture of the Australian railways, from Australia's very first rail journey to the Granville Disaster."

Haynes, equally well known for books as music, released his latest tome to celebrate trains - not politicians.

"This year marks the 150th Anniversary of the rail travel in Australia and the railways were the largest employers in Australia for over one hundred of those years," he says.

"As well as stories written by myself and old mate Russell Hannah, there are stories by Robert Louis Stevenson, D.H. Lawrence, Henry Handel Richardson, Steele Rudd and Henry Lawson, witty observations by Mark Twain, contemporary stories drawn from the lives of workers and railway pioneers like John Whitton and Ben Chifley and larger-than-life, colourful railway characters like Stargazer Jones, Leo the Lover and Henry the Hun."

Further Haynes homilies at http://www.jimhaynes.net/


Yarram Theatre - October 6.
Corner Hotel - October 7
Wonthaggi Arts Centre - October 8
Churchill Saloon - October 9
Bairnsdale RSL - October 10
Warrnambool PAC - October 12
Hamilton PAC - October 13
Horsham Town Hall - October 14
Coomealla Sports Club Dareton - October 15
Bendigo PAC - October 16
Moama Rich River Golf Club - October 17
Temora Ex Services Club - October 19
Wagga Wagga Civic Theatre October 20
Barooga Sports Club - October 21
Commercial Club Albury - October 22
Griffith Leagues Club - October 23

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