Even after a lengthy career, 36 Golden Guitar Awards and an Order of Australia Medal, country musician Lee Kernaghan’s heart still lies with rural Australia.
Born on the foothills of the Snowy Mountains to a father who drove trucks and a mother off a dairy farm, Kernaghan said there was a resonance to playing country songs in country areas.
“A lot of people who come out to those shows, not only do they know the songs, they’ve lived it,” he said.
“It’s where they come from and it’s where I come from.
“When you’re playing regional Australia and in the outback, those songs take on a deeper significance for those people.”
The Boys from The Bush 25th Anniversary Tour is a celebration of Kernaghan’s breakthrough 1992 album The Outback Club which has sold more than 140,000 copies. The tour hits Ballarat next Wednesday.
But this isn’t the first time the boy from the bush has made a stir in our city.
“I’ve had some pretty wild shows in Ballarat,” Kernaghan said. “One particular show we did back in the 90s was packed out, filled with a lot of young kids who had clearly been over at the pub before they arrived.”
“There were stage invasions, clothes coming off while we were playing a song called Skinny Dippin’.
“To cut a long story short, I was banned from Ballarat for several years until a new Mayor came in.
“So it’s good to be back.”
Kernaghan counts working with country music legend Slim Dusty and charting number one with Boys from The Bush as career highlights across an illustrious 25 years.
But more importantly, Kernaghan said his work raising money for returned servicemen and women was what he’s proudest of.
“The Spirit of the Anzacs album project was a once in a lifetime privilege,” he said.
“These people put everything, including their lives, on the line to keep our country safe and to make the world a better place.
“It was really the fundraising tours like Pass The Hat Around Australia where I learnt the most about our country.
“The lesson was whether it’s a drought, a flood, a bushfire or an important community event, when times are tough, country people stick together.
“I’m always on the look out to lend a hand where possible.”
Kernaghan was named Australian of the Year in 2008 for his support of rural and regional Australia.
Calling his fanbase the ‘Outback Club’, he said the audiences for his shows have become multi-generational.
“I’ve seen five-year-old kids getting along to their first concert with their mums, dads and grandparents,” he said. “It’s been an epic tour.”
Kernaghan plays Her Majesty’s Theatre on November 15. Adult ticket $69.90, book at hermaj.com/events/lee-kernaghan-25-years/