Martin, Toby (2011) ‘Country Music Capital: The Past in Tamworth’. History Australia, 8 (1). pp. 153-174. ISSN 1449-0854

Contemporary Australian country music is marked by a fascination with the past — both its own and the nation’s. This paper will examine how that fascination grew with the construction of the NSW regional town of Tamworth as ‘Country Music Capital’ from 1973 to 2010. It will argue that the city — and by extension country music culture — began to see itself as the repository of an authentic Australian rural culture. In particular, Tamworth has sought to preserve what it saw as a stylistically pure and distinctive musical form: the bush ballad. It has done this in a variety of theatres: museums, awards for ‘bush ballads’ and ‘heritage’ songs, halls of fame and in the songs of popular performers.

This article will examine how the past has been interpreted by country music in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. It will ask whether country music interrogates or celebrates the past. It will also ask whose and what heritage does country music respect. In doing so, it will consider the role of patriotism in country music and the place of alternative narratives, particularly Aboriginal narratives, within this patriotism.

Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email