Droving song tunes up for Tamworth awards

VOICE OF THE OUTBACK: Graham Rodger now lives in Gympie.
VOICE OF THE OUTBACK: Graham Rodger now lives in Gympie. Contributed

BUSH poet Graham Rodger is a finalist in a dozen Tamworth Country Music awards this year.

But with 74 awards already to his name, including some prized Golden Guitars, it's not unusual for the former Nambour man.

Mr Rodger's song Droving Once Again is a finalist in the traditional Australian song category of the Bush Laureate Awards.

Speaking from out the back of Goondiwindi, on the way to Tamworth for his 19th festival, he described the honour as "wonderful".

"The Bush Laureate awards are one of the great, coveted awards, so I feel humbled.

"I love to make people happy through the music and give them some sort of joy. When you see them from the stage with a smile on their face, that's really what it's all about."

Mr Rodger is a former ambulance officer who switched to focus full-time on music in the mid-1990s.

He plucked up the courage to send his best four songs to Slim Dusty, who got in contact almost two years later.

"It surprised the heck out of me and he asked if he could record one of the songs," Mr Rodger said. "The song was You can't Take Australia From Me and Dick Smith actually read some of the words at Slim's funeral.

"It was a real thrill to have Slim, who I had looked up to and idolised, record one of my songs."

Slim and other artists recorded several more before the lure of performing saw Mr Rodger hit the road full-time as an acoustic soloist from 1998.

He has produced 14 albums and four DVDs and now calls Gympie home.

Mr Rodger said the inspiration for the nominated song came from a character he met in Blackall.

"He was one of the last of the old drovers. A real character who would have loved to have gone back to the old droving days ... the freedom of being out there on the track."

Topics:  droving tamworth country music festival

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