Australia News: Australia Day, Fire Fight, Snowboxx & More

Keith Urban
John Shearer / Country Rising / Getty Images
– Keith Urban
Keith Urban performs during the Country Rising Benefit Concert at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville Nov. 12.

Keith Urban, INXS’s Andrew Farriss On Australia Day Honours List

Keith Urban and INXS member Andrew Farriss were among music industry names lauded on the Jan. 26 Australia Day Honours List for contribution to music and charity work.

Urban become an Officer (AO) of the Order of Australia. Farriss was made Member (AM) as were singer songwriter Deborah Conway, pianist and composer Tim Minchin and 90-year old North Queensland singer songwriter and pearl diver “Seaman” Dan.

Other honorees included The Wiggles managing director Paul Field, Arts Centre Melbourne CEO Claire Spencer, Sydney Festival artistic director Wesley Enoch and Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) CEO Katrina Sedgwick.

Michael Bublé, 5 Seconds Of Summer Added To Fire Fight Australia

Michael Bublé and 5 Seconds Of Summer were the latest internationally acclaimed acts for TEG’s Feb. 16 Fire Fight Australia for bushfire relief at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium. 
Bublé’s contribution will be a live cross-performance from his sold-out Melbourne show at Rod Laver Arena on Feb. 16.

The fundraiser shifted 65,000 tix in under the first five hours after tickets went on sale. The lineup includes Queen + Adam Lambert, Icehouse, Hilltop Hoods, Olivia Newton-John, Tina Arena, John Farnham, Alice Cooper, Delta Goodren, Amy Shark and Jessica Mauboy.

Other fundraising initiatives included two charity singles.

“Wildfire”, written by The Superjesus’ Sarah McLeod and Eskimo Joe’s Kav Temperley and “Phoenix,” cut by Brisbane band Sheppard.  

Commercial radio networks teamed up to stop playing songs whose titles and lyrical content could be upsetting to victims. New Zealand troubadour Tami Neilson pulled the video for new single “You Were Mine” because it featured bushfire scenes and auctioned off a workshop on creating her beehive hairdo to raise funds.

– Snowboxx

Positive Response For Snowboxx’s NZ Debut 

The New Zealand debut of French winter festival Snowboxx met with a positive response after the announcement of its September takeover of the Cardrona Alpine Resort on South Island.

6,500 registered for the 2,000 to 3,000 tickets to be on offer. A date has not been announced yet, but packages are starting at NZ$440 for a 7-day stay at the event. 

Snowboxx, which sold out in its eight years in Avoriaz, goes Down Under in a partnership with the Rhythm & Alps festival. 

Snowboxx promoter Rob Tominey said the NZ version would recreate the European format, from the international and local acts on outdoor stages to “a smorgasbord of fun-fuelled activities including a snowball arena, inflatable races, bottomless brunches and slope-side raves.’’

Billie Eilish Makes History On Hottest 100 Countdown

Billie Eilish made history when youth radio network triple j unveiled its Hottest 100 countdown, of 2019 tracks voted for by a record 3.2 million listeners from around the world.  

EiIish’s “bad guy” marked the first time the countdown was won by a female solo performer. At 18, she was also the youngest winner. 

EiIish scored the most songs in the countdown (5), followed by EDM act G Flip and pop  duo Lime Cordiale with 4, and global breakthrough Tones And I, EDM star Flume, First Nation singer songwriter Thelma Plum, psychedelic rock band Tame Impala, New Zealand’s BENEE and singer songwriter Ruel with 3 each.

Sam Smith Joins Sydney’s Mardi Gras

British pop singer and influential LGBTQI voice joins Sydney’s Mardi Gras televised parade (with 12,000 participants and 300,000 spectators) and party with a performance at the Hordern Pavilion Feb. 29. 

The celebrations include the previously announced headliner Dua Lipa, Kesha and Brazillian drag star Pabllo Vittar, “as well as a stacked line-up of eccentric and extraordinary DJs.”

– Drop Festival

Drop Expands To New Zealand

The two-year old Drop Festival, which stages in six Australian locations alongside the World Surf League championships late February to late April will expand to Auckland this year as the Challenger Series returns to NZ after five years. 

“After Drop’s great success in Australia, it made sense to continue the journey,” director Ken O’Brien told Pollstar. 

In its first year, the March 21 Drop crowd will be capped at 2,500 (“it will grow thereafter”) with Australia’s The Presets and singer Graace joining an all-NZ bill.

Morgan Evan Wins Another Golden Guitar

U.S.-based Aussie expatriate Morgan Evans took out best male at the Golden Guitar country music awards in Tamworth, NSW, Jan. 25. 

The night belonged to Felicity Urquhart who had five wins. “Country music is enjoying a new golden era in Australia,” said Dan Biddle, chair of the Country Music Association of Australia.

Last Minute Lineup Changes For Two Festivals

As the six-city Laneway festival prepared to kick off in Auckland Jan. 27 and wind up Feb. 9, it had to replace three acts. 

Aussie EDM band Rüfüs Du Sol, a headliner with 1975 and Charli XCX, bowed out as it needed to be at the Grammys where it is up for two categories. 

Irish band Fontaines DC quit due to “ongoing recording commitments”. 

US rapper JID cancelled with no reason given.

MJR Presents’ reggae and dancehall festival One Love brought in Black Seeds to replace Toots & The Maytals for its New Zealand dates Jan. 25-26 and sold-out debut on the Gold Coast Feb. 1.  Shaggy and Sean Paul headline both territories. The Jamaican act decided to postpone its visit Down Under due to the poor air quality on the Australian east coast from the bushfires.