The festival culminates in the televised Golden Guitar Awards
Australia - Every January, when the sun is at its hottest, thousands of country music-loving people make the pilgrimage to the country town of Tamworth for the Toyota Country Music Festival which runs over 10 days.
The heat of over 40°C and the flies are no deterrent as the festival, presented by Tamworth Regional Council, is now in its 52nd year and is recognised as the second biggest country music festival in the world, after the CMA Music Festival in Nashville USA. The town comes alive with ticketed and free shows alike, and buskers that line the main streets.
The festival culminates in the televised Golden Guitar Awards which celebrates Australian country music and is fortunately held at the air-conditioned Tamworth Regional Entertainment & Events Centre.
Sydney-based Live Event Services has been providing production for the past 10 Golden Guitar Award ceremonies and the crew is thankful not to have to work outdoors.
“When I arrive in Tamworth before bump-in, the wall of heat smacks me in the face,” comments Colin Baldwin, managing director of Live Event Services. “I think of my colleagues from Eclipse at the park in the city bumping in for day and night shows in this heat and I’m grateful we work in TRECC.”
Most of the Live Event Services crew make the five-hour drive from Sydney. This year, three semi-trailers made the trip: one predominantly lighting, one audio and vision and the other LED screens, as well as a van full of camera gear.
The popularity of the festival post-Covid caused the Live Event Services production team some headaches as accommodation has become so scarce. Usually, the crew stay in houses, however, extra accommodation was required this year so Tamworth Council arranged rooms at Tamworth Airport’s flight school which was originally a military flying base.
The awards show is very live with no pre-recorded music other than click track. The team worked closely with Brendan Radford, the musical director, with the band set up, sound checked and ready to start rehearsals on Friday morning as early as possible as it takes two days to rehearse the awards that go live on Saturday night.
Every year, Colin strives to deliver a unique design for the existing venue stage, designing the rig to be visually interesting to the audience as well as for television and streaming.
“I’ve designed the lighting rig for the past ten years, and rarely do my lighting directors ask for changes to the rig design,” he commented. “Working with LED screens can be tricky, as you must consider LED screen content and iMAG (live to screen). The light show should be dominant during live performances and remain visually exciting without deterring from screen content.”
This year’s design featured one main screen, four separate rectangular screens and a barrier screen to mask the band. Their positioning allowed for a variety of lighting positions between each screen that aided camera angles, particularly for where presenters entered and exited the stage. Claypaky B-Eye K20s and a ladder of ShowPRO R3 LED wash/beam were rigged in these positions.
Overhead trusses held Claypaky Mythos 2s, ACME Pixel Lines and Martin MAC Quantum Washes plus a handful of Fresnels. A front truss included Ayrton Mistrals plus Fresnels and profiles. Audience lighting was by ACME XA400 Pro LED Spots and CM320 LED Washes. Lighting director Alex McCoy programmed an exciting show on an MA Lighting grandMA3 XT console.
Sean Costello from Big Day Media created the screen content in collaboration and under instruction by Peter Ross, the awards producer. Brisbane’s Broadcast Zone supplied a five-camera shoot.
Live Event Services supplied their L-Acoustics Kara PA system with the main hangs comprising nine Kara loudspeakers per side flown with SB18 subwoofers and a centre-hang of three KARA, all powered by two LA-RAK and two LA8 amps. Added to that were eight SB28 subwoofers. Out-fill was two ARC loudspeakers flown per side whilst six 108p self-powered coaxial loudspeakers were used for near-fill.
Foldback included eight L-Acoustics X12 wedges, one SB18 subwoofer, two LA4X amps, one SB15p subwoofer and eight stereo sends of Shure PSM1000 IEMs.
The front-of-house mix is done by Bradley Scott-Kemmis on an Allen & Heath dLive S7000 with Colin remarking that he is very proud of the quality of sound that Bradley produces. In the mixdown room, for the live broadcast, is an Allen & Heath dLive S5000 operated by Andrew Crawford described by Colin as the most helpful and knowledgeable person on the planet!
“This is our tenth consecutive year providing production and management for the awards and concerts held at TRECC,” remarked Colin. “We are very proud of our involvement in bringing the awards to life. Our relationship with the Tamworth Music Festival stems back 16 years supplying production for several venues across the festival.”
Live Event Services would like to thank Big Day Media, JPJ Audio, Chameleon Touring Systems, ELS, Broadcast Zone, Raw Energy and Rolling Rock Touring for their support with special mention to producer Peter Ross, festival director Barry Harley and Robert Elsworthy and his team at TRECC.

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