This article originally published in The Northern Daily Leader on 21 January 2012.
It’s funny how easily we can misjudge someone, leaping to conclusions without any reasonable basis. Many years ago my Year 4 teacher told my parents that I had a talent for music and urged them to continue with my musical education. I can only think my teacher was confusing me with someone else, or that he was too fond of the odd drink, as my singing bears an uncanny resemblance to a stretched fan belt and I couldn’t pick a tune even if it was standing next to me holding a neon sign.
Despite my complete lack of musical talent, I do admire those with the musical skills and the courage needed to keep a crowd entertained. Being able to play a musical instrument can also come in handy. During a holiday to India some years ago, a power failure knocked out the lights and music at the restaurant at which my wife and I were eating. The restaurant owner came over with a set of bongo drums and asked me if I could play the drums and would I mind providing some entertainment for the other restaurant patrons? For a moment I felt like telling him that of course I could play, grabbing the drums and setting off on an uncontrolled, utterly clueless bongo drum jam session. I wondered if he would be too polite to come up to me and tell me that I clearly had no idea how to play the drums, or perhaps he would think it was some new Australian-style bongo drum technique of which he had never previously heard?
The importance of music to the local Tamworth community will be highlighted over the coming weeks as the Country Music Festival swings into high gear. While some Tamworthians may grumble about the crowds, noise and inconvenience, it’s worth remembering that the festival brings a reported $40 million into the local economy each year. Based on a population of around 47,000, that amounts to around $850 for every man, woman and child living in Tamworth. Now obviously that money doesn’t end up directly in your pocket, but all of us in the region benefit through the increased revenue for local businesses, the temporary and full-time jobs created by the activities and services associated with the festival, and the investment in the infrastructure required to host the festival. As for me, don’t expect to ever find me busking on Peel Street during the festival – most people rightly think that the sound of two cats fighting does not qualify as music.