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Jim Haynes’ NEWS …… January 2017

Media Release: Jan 2017
Jim calls 'time' after 32 Years at Tamworth Festival.

Two years ago Jim Haynes celebrated a quarter of a century of Morning Shows at the Tamworth Festival. In January 2017 the veteran entertainer, songwriter and author will call 'time please'  - after his 32nd consecutive Tamworth Festival!

‘I haven’t missed one Tamworth Festival in 32 years,’ said Jim, ‘my very first festival performance was at Wests League Club in 1986 with two other members of Bandy Bill & Co bush band. The festival was only just starting to grow into a week-long event and three of us came to town a few days early. Rod Laing saw us having a drink at Wests and gave us a gig later that afternoon.’

Jim became a solo act four years later and organized the festival’s first bush poetry morning shows at The Longyard. Success was immediate. The festival was growing rapidly and thousands of people needed breakfast and entertainment. Soon, morning shows were springing up all around the festival.

Jim’s show moved to Wests in 1997 and became a 'variety concert' with Aussie comedy, songs, mystery guests, special surprises and Russell Dick on piano. ‘I wanted to make the show different from a poets breakfast, so we created a new formula.

The show later moved to Wests Diggers in a theatre-style format. 'Since we moved to Diggers we've always had a female singer hosting the show,' said Jim, 'Casey Watt, Katie Brooke, Amber Lawrence, Melanie Dyer and Katelyn O’Donoghue have all done that job over the years - and when Darren Carr became part of the show things really took off. He’s the funniest man I know and Australia’s best ventriloquist.'

Jim says the decision to pull up stumps was a hard one, but the festival has changed over the years and so has he. After 15 years as a CMAA board member and many years' association with the Academy of Country Music, the veteran was given CMAA Life Membership in 2015 and honoured with the Order of Australia Medal in 2016, for services to the arts as a performer, author, broadcaster and historian.

'Being an author takes up a lot of my time these days' Jim said, 'I'm busy writing my 25th book for publishers Allen & Unwin and working on some exciting new projects - and I've been the 'Australiana guy' on 2UE for 15 years.

'I'll never forget the crowd in Peel Street all singing Since Cheryl Went Feral during the 1996 cavalcade', said Jim, 'but the festival has changed with the times and it's time to move on.

'Wests have been fantastic to me and it will be hard to say goodbye on the 28th of January, but the memories of all the fun we had, the stars who appeared unannounced and the instruments and scholarships we gave away to surprised and delighted young performers are magic,' said Jim. 'There were often tears on stage and in the audience as well as laughter - and I have wonderful memories and a bunch of fantastic friends who were part of the shows over the years. But change is what happens in life. It's been a wonderful journey and the gold suit will still be worn in my club shows, hopefully at the festival too, but it's the end of the Morning Variety Shows.'

Special memories for Jim include the Sunny Cowgirls' first festival, when they drove across the Nullarbor and Jim arranged with Repco to have their utes repaired and serviced for free - and John Williamson entering through the 'outdoor dunny' stage entrance with his pants half undone and toilet paper trailing!

'For a while we had a genuine old outdoor dunny through which guests entered the stage,' Jim remembered, 'some big international artists really didn't get it, but they all went along with the fun of it!'

So, it will all end with two 11AM shows, on Friday 27th and Saturday 28th of January at Wests Diggers - with regulars Darren Carr, Rustling Russell and Katelyn O'Donoghue, and some special past guests dropping in to surprise the audience.

'Sometimes I'm as surprised as the audience!' laughed Jim.

Be part of history at the last ever Jim Haynes Morning Variety Shows - Book on 02 6765 7588 or www.wtlc.com.au
Contact Jim at: jim@jimhaynes.com.au

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