The Groundwater Country Music Festival (formerly Broadbeach Country Music Festival) is keeping the Gold Coast entertainment heat on – and its diverse line-up is sure to attract far more than your average country music lover. Now known as Australia’s fastest growing country music festival, with a 77% increase in attendance last year, the sister festival to Blues on Broadbeach is ready to hold its own.
With the surge in popularity of country music and its sub-genres, the FREE festival is welcoming more fans and more diversity than ever before. Groundwater is the perfect place to see country music’s popularity come alive, with a huge variety of genres and collaborative performances set to blow crowds away.
“Groundwater will showcase a diverse range of era’s and genres from the roots of country music – the heritage of bluegrass and folk – to modern country rock,” said Program Director Mark Duckworth. “All with a heart and a story to tell.”
The opportunity for a winter getaway to experience Australia’s emerging hub of entertainment – the Gold Coast – just got better. The full program has just been announced, and shows how varied the line-up really is. Here’s how to get a taste of everything Groundwater has to offer across its ten stages.
Special performances and collaborations
The festival is to be headlined by a special and exclusive tribute show to an act acknowledged by many as single-handedly shaping modern Australian country music, JAMES BLUNDELL. He is credited with taking the best of rock and country to create a brand new sound that ensured success and found favour across all demographics. 30 YEARS OF PRIDE – A TRIBUTE TO JAMES BLUNDELL will feature James Blundell performing his greatest hits, alongside some of today’s biggest stars, including: BREWN, BEN RANSOM, JONNY TAYLOR, CAMERON DADDO, D.HENRY FENTON, BRIAR BLUNDELL, TANIE KERNAGHAN, DREW MCALISTER, FELICITY URQUHART, and more!
Returning to Broadbeach by popular demand, COUNTRY MUSIC COCKTAILS will be adding a fresh flavour to the festival. With world-class food and drinks, more than 25 artists playing live and a hefty dose of glamour, it has become one of the must-attend events for passionate fans. Normally held in Australia’s country music home, Tamworth, Groundwater is proud to host the event for the second year outside Tamworth, at Sofitel Room 81. This year’s show will include such crowd favourites as KIRSTY LEE AKERS, CASEY BARNES, BUD ROKESKY, ARNA GEORGIA, NEILLY RICH, AARON D’ARCY, HAYLEY JENSEN, JASMINE ATKINS, MICKS, HAYLEY MARSTEN, THE WEEPING WILLOWS, KORA NAUGHTON, AMY NELSON, CHALKIE WHITE, NATALIE PEARSON, KARIN PAGE and many more still to be announced.
ABC’s Saturday Night Country Presenter – Felicity Urquhart
Finally, don’t miss the special event on Saturday morning in the Big Top…For over 20 years, ABC’s Saturday Night Country has been Australia’s home of country music, with singer-songwriter and presenter Felicity Urquhart bringing listeners the best contemporary and classic country music with an Aussie bent. Saturday Night Country will be back on the Gold Coast for this year’s Groundwater Festival for their House Concert, a showcase of the best of the festival, live on stage, recorded live for that night’s radio show, and co-hosted by the ABC’s Scott Lamond. You never know which artists will pop in to chat to their fellow Groundwater performer and radio host Felicity Urquhart.
To have your heartstrings tugged by storytelling folk
Make sure to catch international headliner SUZANNE VEGA (USA), who is widely regarded as one of the most brilliant songwriters of her generation. A 20-year career has made her creative and thoughtful music as distinct as it was when her voice was first heard on the radio in 1985, where it paved the way for iconic female singer-songwriters in years following. Her song, ‘Luka’, which has a firm place as her trademark hit, will make sure there isn’t a dry eye in the Big Top on Sunday night.
Suzanne Vega (USA)
The acoustic, folk-laced, country-tinged duo that is THE WEEPING WILLOWS have harmonies that will give you goosebumps. Those at their performance at Beachside Pavilion on Friday (plus two more appearances across the festival) will see a delightful pair of old souls, steeped in bluegrass tradition and draped in gothic Americana imagery, telling stories of sunshine and romance, mystery and decay.
A taste of country’s new wave
By her teens and beyond, LILLIE MAE (USA) and her brothers and sisters had formed a group in Nashville, acclaimed for their electrifying musicianship and groundbreaking bluegrass/country/pop fusion. Since their signing to a major label and in 2008, releasing their self-titled debut album, and scoring a top 40 country hit in the USA…Lillie has gone out on her own to tour and release music. Don’t miss one of the fresh new faces of country at the Big Top on Saturday and Sunday. Watch the video for her song ‘Wash Me Clean’ here.
HURRICANE FALL, a five-piece from Newcastle in NSW, have burst onto the Australian music scene in just a matter of years, and their energetic, rock ‘n’ roll performances have already found them on the stages of Tamworth and the Gympie Music Muster, to name a few. The boys have built up a huge following due to their constant touring and fantastic live shows. Check out their awesome stage presence here.
To get your fix of traditional country
Hailed by Rolling Stone Magazine as one of the most anticipated touring artists of this year, JOSHUA HEDLEY (USA) is bringing pure old gold to Groundwater this year. His country music is your grandfather’s country music; in Joshua’s words, “Classic never goes out of style.” Transport yourself to the iconic honky-tonk bars of Nashville, Tennessee, with all the steel guitar you could ask for.
Joshua Hedley (USA)
If you’re in the mood to hear a good old yarn, TRAVELLIN’ STILL: THE SONGS OF SLIM DUSTY WITH PETE DENAHY & THE TRAVELLING COUNTRY BAND have got what you need. Their performances on the Big Top and Broadbeach Mall stages will be simply five musicians and long time friends sharing stories, some of their own music, and of course the songs of Slim Dusty – as genuine as you can get, as they are played by his own original band!
BILL CHAMBERS travels with a whole swag of guitars to show off his myriad of musical influences, and he’s got a swag of stories from his many years on the road to match. A long-time favourite of many in the Australian country music scene, and central to the spectacular careers of so many others, Bill is a true blue legend you won’t want to miss.
True country-pop for the fun-loving
If your sensibilities aren’t quite so old school, try born and raised Texan and US chart-topper, GRANGER SMITH. Granger has achieved a US #1 album 2013 with Dirt Road Driveway, along with his latest album soaring to No. 2 on the Billboard chart and generating over 61.5 million streams in the US alone. Granger has also been awarded a prestigious BMI Country Award for writing, producing, publishing and performing his Billboard #1 single “Backroad Song” and was nominated as Best New Country Artist for the 2017 iHeartRadio Awards… Performing everyone’s favourite American country-pop stylings, the youthful humour of Granger’s redneck alter ego Earl Dibbles Jr. will get everyone excited.
Granger Smith (USA)
Gold Coast local and recent Golden Guitar finalist CASEY BARNES is bringing his new album ‘The Good Life’ to Groundwater for it’s first run of live performances, and it will have young and old kicking up their heels. Australia’s answer to Lady Antebellum’s pop/country blend, Casey is perfect for those just dipping their toes into country music. Watch the video for his brand new single, ‘Be Mine’, here.