COUNTRY music is starting to use technological advances to overturn the traditional dominance of popular music and Lee Kernaghan is leading the charge.
Kernaghan asked his fans on Facebook where he should perform on his Pubs, Clubs and Car Parks tour and locations nominated has surprised him.
“Dargo, in the foothills of the Victorian high country, has a population of 35 and more than 3000 people turned up – it was awesome and that's one of the highlights of the year for me,” he said.
“The whole tour was fan-driven. Where people have said, please come, please come, that's where you've got to go.”
No theatre venues are listed on the Pubs, Clubs and Car Parks tour.
“The main reason to do that is to go to places we normally don't.”
Fans of the Australian country music legend, who has sold almost two million albums, can have their support for their idol recorded for posterity by ordering his next album – Lee Kernaghan's Ultimate Hits – which will be launched on September 30.
“I want to pay tribute to everyone who has supported me over the last 20 years. Anyone who pre-orders before August 14 will get their name recorded on the CD booklet and I will sign every single one before it's delivered to your door.”
Facebook was also used to select songs from Kernaghan's back catalogue of hits for the compilation album.
“I had hundreds of suggestions and I went through every single request, cross-referenced with sales figures and my list, and then kind of blended it into the album to make the best of what I've done to date.”
As the biggest hit maker in Australian country music charts for the past 20 years, it would have been a difficult job to select his best tracks for an album.
Kernaghan won his first Gold Guitar in 1993 and now has 27, plus three ARIA awards, 26 number ones and every one of his 10 albums has reached platinum or better sales.
“Jeez, if I knew what made a hit I'd have a whole stack of them,” he said, modestly. “I reckon about 70% of the time, you know when you've got one.
“If you've struck onto something hot and rocking, I feel goosebumps on my arm or a tear coming. If I can feel it, I know I've got a hit.”
His latest album, Planet Country, was released in late 2009, including tracks such as People Like Us, Love In The Time Of Drought, Dirt and Scars – a duet with US country star Dierks Bentley.
Most of the year to date has been spent writing songs for a new album and he is heavily involved in every phase of production. He will be in the recording studio in February next year, with the album due for release in May .
“My name is on the top of the disk and I want it to be the best I can make, so I spend time making it right.
“This is one reason my albums have continued to sell. It only takes one dud album and you go off the boil and lose the vibe and I don't want to let down my fans.”
For years, popular music dominance of mainstream Australian media has frustrated country musicians and their loyal legion of fans, who look upon the US country music radio networks in envy.
“Popular music's airplay on radio is an advantage. But I have a loyal fan base that loves my music and I write songs for them.”
However, he is close to launching his own country music internet radio station, once he can resolve how fans can tune in without swamping their internet download limits.
“It's called OXX and it's beyond the planning stage. I'm looking forward to getting it up before the end of the year – I've got everything in place.
“I want to do this because I'm passionate about country music and want to do it for the artists.”
His passion is taken to his stage shows, which he declares, are not concerts but rocking shows.
“One of the most important parts of my day is to hit the gym and train hard. The fitter you are, the better you are at being able to let it rip on stage.”
The Boy From The Bush, Lee Kernaghan, will perform his Pubs, Clubs and Car Parks show at:
- Twin Towns Showroom, Tweed Heads on Saturday, August 20. Ticket information online at www.twintowns.com.au.
- 2011 Optus Gympie Music Muster, Gympie on Thursday, August 25. Ticket information online at www.muster.com.au.
- Moura Coal and Country Fstival, Moura on Friday, Augst 26. Ticket information still to be released.
- Royal Hotel Carpark, Leyburn, QLD on Saturday, October 22. Ticket information still to be released.
- Emerald, QLD on Friday, October 28. Venue and ticketing still to be announced.
- Great Western Hotel, Rockhampton on Saturday, October 29. Ticket information still to be released.
- Mud, Bulls and Music, Landcruiser Mountain Park, Jimma, QLD. Ticket information online at www.mudbullsandmusic.com.au.
More information may be available closer to the dates on www.leekernaghan.com.au.