Left: Rod McLennan, Cyril Wickham, Graham Berry and Malcolm Lingard.
Left: Rod McLennan, Cyril Wickham, Graham Berry and Malcolm Lingard.

Country music club celebrates

IT might be three decades since they first took to the stage but the Warwick and District Country Music Club is now bigger than ever.

This month, as the group celebrates 30 years entertaining local audiences, their membership base is close to 150.

For president Ron Farrell, the growth is reflective of the resurgence of country music across the nation.

“Audiences love a song which tells a story,” he said.

“And what is defined as country music is broader than ever.

“So I think in response groups like ours offer a variety of music which appeals to a very wide audience.”

Mr Farrell along with club secretary Ev Eastwell and a tireless committee celebrated the fanfare of their 30th birthday, which a 12-hour concert last weekend.

The Sunday showdown at the club unofficial headquarters, Slade Hall, attracted many founding members as well as a healthy turn out of local music enthusiasts.

“We were thrilled with how it turned out,” Mr Farrell said.

“You couldn’t have written a better script for an event. It went extraordinarily well.”

The get together was designed to celebrate the club’s official formation on June 20, 1980.

And the celebrations drew back some of the staunchest early supporters, country music troubadours like Mal Lingard, Rod McLennan, Cyril Wickham and Graham Berry.

The originals celebrated the club success with other former members like Norma Wenham, Arnie Crowe and Eileen Looker.

For Mrs Eastwell organising the celebratory event was undeniably exhausting.

“But worth every minute of the time we put it because in was so important and special that we celebrate this milestone,” she said.

A seasoned performer herself she believes that the club’s appeal, like country music itself, is as much as socialising as being on stage.

“We have a very strong following in Warwick, because we offer regular social occasions that are very affordable,” Mrs Eastwell said.

“We have 147 members and about 40 of those are performer that rest just appreciate and support the music.

“They also really enjoy the social interaction we offer.

“We keep our performances affordable for that very reason. We want our audiences to be able to afford to come.”

Like Mr Farrell, she agreed country music had come along way from the “pick and strum, hilly billy guitar music” that was once linked to the genre.

“We perform songs that would once never have been considered country,” Mrs Eastwell said.

“Now country music can incorporate folk and rock as well as the traditional country ballads.

“What we do is just tell a story through the music.”

She said the group membership ranged in age from 40 to 82 years and included everyone from seasoned performers to those who had never set foot on a stage.

“You don’t have to sing to be in it,” she said.

The club plays one Sunday a month at Slade Hall and one Sunday a month for charity at the Massie Hall.



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