The 2004 Whittlesea Country Music Festival was indeed the smash hit the organisers predicted.

This small, friendly festival is now in its 4th year, beginning life in Kyneton but shifting since to the north-east fringes of Melbourne.

Unlike the big festivals of Gympie or Port Fairy, Whittlesea has not yet commercialised itself into oblivion.

Heather Rutherford

While there is nothing wrong with a bit of sponsorship, there is something very endearing about a small, local festival that can still get the big name acts.

At Whittlesea 04, the headliners included Smoky Dawson, 91 on March 19, and 32-year- old Troy Cassar Daly and everyone in between.

Nu Country radio announcer/ producer, Heather Rutherford, ventured out on the day to see what she could find.

Interviewed for the 2nd big series of NU Country TV were Leslie Avril, one of the Pigram Brothers, Laurel Edwards (wife of Troy Cassar-Daley) and of course Troy.

Left off the list, but with tape constraints upon us were the new best country band in the country Sovereign and the newest ringer-lookalike, heart stopper Travis Sinclair.

Heather interviewing Laurel Edwards

The Festival is held at the Whittlesea show grounds.

The stage is on the back of a semi on the oval while the Truck and Ute show sets up around the sidelines. And what a show that was.


"I think we got us a convoy" was a bit of an understatement. If you ever wondered, trucks are huge in Whittlesea, the way it should be (especially given Travis Sinclair's penchant for truck and train songs…)

Our only disappointment was that the big rigs all cleared out before we made the most of our time, post interviewing, to do some inspections and organise a photo shoot. We had our bikinis on and all.

But back to the festival. The music was enthusiastically received, with Troy winning the singalong of the day when he provided a strong lead vocal to Slim's classic hit - The Biggest Disappointment in the Family was Me.

And therein lies important lessons for all the young guns in the crowd. If you wanna be cool, then you'll have to learn the words of Slim's best as there is going to be a lot more Slim singin' as the years go on.

Troy Cassar -Daly with Laurel & Heather

No use sitting there, bagging him as an quaint old timer. Nostalgia will get the better of us yet and Slim is yet to see his salad days. And you heard it here first.


The Pigram Brothers signed a fair few autographs. It seems the boys from Broome were a bit of a hit with the local crowd.

Tour manager Helen Jedwab (ex Shane Howard manager) seemed suitably impressed with the country cross over and concluded the trip south had been worthwhile.

There is no doubt, Whittlesea is a great little festival.

In terms of improvements, well we'd like to see a bit more line dancing and a bit more diversity in the catering department.

The grog supply was excellent and the police were very friendly. The greenroom staff were helpful, especially Merle who made everyone feel at home.

The open bar was a nice touch, no doubt appreciated by performers and their support crews.

We'll be going back next year. Congratulations to the organisers for a great weekend. Whittlesea is a well kept secret, lets hope they continue for many years to come.


Thanks to the artists who shared the secrets of their success with Heather in the heat.

Smoky explained the secrets of longevity, given his wife Dot is 96 and his horse Flash was a sprightly 35.

Leslie Avril gave inside glimpses into life as a 30 something female country singer while bearing her soul on such sensitive issues as men, money and music.

Smoky Dawson with admirers

Laurel Edwards gave us an inside look at what it's like to be the wife of superstar Troy CD and how a gal maintains her independence in the face of hubby's popularity.

The Pigram Brothers talked about genres in music and emerging label of "salt water country" that the Pigrams' are bolding claiming as their own - along with a few other fellas up the tropics way.

And Troy, well he just thought he'd seen Heather somewhere before.

While Heather claims she's never been lucky enough to meet this hunk o spunk before, she was overheard to be telling Troy that he'd featured pretty regularly in her dreams.
Ah that's country.

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