Lee Kernaghan brings his Backroad Nation tour through Ballarat in mid-November and his eminent presence in the region was more than enough reason to sit down and catch up with one of Australia’s finest singer-songwriters.
Having recently completed his Boys From The Bush 25th anniversary tour, Kernaghan couldn’t wait to get back on the road again and share his brand of country rock with fans. “It’s really uplifting when you see people coming from all over. I get a thousand times more buzz touring now then previously,” he reveals.
Helping to make this current tour so special is the presence of The Wolfe Brothers, who according to Kernaghan is “the hottest band in Australia”.
And if you think this round of shows is much like his past efforts, you would be mistaken: “I wanted it to be a spectacle. We use remote-controlled cameras, screens, video, and great lighting.”
Kernaghan will be welcomed in Ballarat with open arms, although this wasn’t always the case he tells me with a laugh. “(Some time ago) we played there and during a song called ‘Skinny Dippin’ there was a stage invasion and a bit of a scuffle.” Kernaghan was in the bad books just briefly, but all seems forgotten now.
I wondered if Kernaghan had a favourite place or region to play, and while he’s as popular in far north Queensland as he is in the cold of Tasmania, Kernaghan suggests that some parts of NSW and Victoria hold special appeal. “Well Southern NSW and central Victoria were my stomping ground – I used to do duos and trio gigs throughout there all the time. I just love doing what I do.”
Interestingly Kernaghan hasn’t let the state of the nation impact greatly on his great love for Australia, although like most people he would like to see reason and sanity prevail in letting the Tamil family, leading all the news bulletins, to stay in the country.
“I live in a pretty good place, but sometimes things get under your skin,” he admits. “The Tamil Family – maybe the Australian thing to do is let them go back to their home community in Queensland, where they are a valuable part of the community. Be compassionate.”
Talking of gigs, favourite venues and landmarks was next on the agenda, and with a show this week at the soon to possibly be demolished Thebarton Theatre brought some reflection.
“It would be sad to see it go. It’s a real landmark venue so playing there may have been the last time. The Deni Ute Muster is one of my all time favourite places really. There is nothing like it anywhere on earth. Music takes you far and wide.”
In a career that has now spanned over 30 years at the top it’s surprising that Kernaghan still sees himself as incredibly lucky to be doing the one thing in life he really loves; playing music. “I feel blessed. I’ve been able to pursue my love of music and make a career out of it.”
You can see Lee and his incredible merry men in Ballarat on November 16. Tickets via hermaj.com.
Written by Chris Michaels