The kind of surprise music that’s booming right now

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He says the genre’s increased visibility on streaming and the efforts of big festivals like CMC Rocks and Country 2 Country – which before COVID had regularly toured big names in America like Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Kacey Musgraves and Tim McGraw – have sparked growing appetite for country in Australia.

“I think bringing the traditional big business groups from the US and international markets to a younger audience in Australia has really pushed the genre forward here,” Cox said.

“But it’s also accessibility to things like those streaming radio stations and playlists. It’s just that country music is appearing a lot more in pop spaces, which is leading people to discover more of it.

Lee Kernaghan will be attending CMC Rocks Your Yard this weekend.Credit:ABC Music

The Cox show launches on the same weekend as CMC Rocks Your Yard, a special virtual edition of the massive festival that was canceled due to COVID for its last two iterations. The virtual festival, also broadcast on Apple Music Country, will be hosted by Evans with a series of live performances and interviews with international and local artists.

Country lifer Lee Kernaghan, among the many acts appearing at CMC Rocks Your Yard, recalls that country was such a minor genre in Australia by the time it arrived in the early ’90s that all career ambition was muted.

“At the start of my career, I was just happy to be able to make an album. It seemed like a privilege in itself. To say that twenty years later, I’m still there and I’m making music, well… ”he laughs.

Local country trio The McClymonts.

Local country trio The McClymonts.Credit:Universal music

Kernaghan, who is currently filming a documentary covering his career in the country, performed at one of the first CMC Rocks in the Snowy Mountains in 2010. He says the genre’s growth in Australia is “impressive”.

“We have a saying here in Queensland, ‘Cream rises to the top’. Good music, whatever the genre, it will always find an audience. Events like CMC have been amazing in showing people how [country] maybe, how much fun and engaging, and it just got bigger and bigger.

Mollie McClymont of the chart-topping trio, The McClymonts, says the local country music spotlight is “long overdue.”

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“Growing up, it was like we were the only ones in school playing country music. We now see these friends at country music festivals and we follow and support all artists on social media, ”she says.

“The festivals have become more important and the demographics have increased enormously. The younger ones show up and are so into it. Now when artists say they’re playing country music, people don’t turn away, they’re more intrigued and open to it. It’s fantastic.”

Despite the country’s burgeoning takeover, Cox’s hope for his radio show – which is inspired by Apple Music Happy Hour playlist, party tracks that celebrate the ‘rowdy side of the country’ – it’s easier.

“I just want people to break a box with their friends, treat it like it’s a festival or a concert, and have a good time for an hour. That’s why.

Happy Hour Down Under with Brad Cox launches Friday at 6 p.m. on Apple Music Country. CMC Rocks Your Yard will air Friday through Sunday at 7 p.m. on Apple Music Country.


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