Lee Kernaghan on continuing his sell-out 25th anniversary tour Boys From The Bush

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Lee Kernaghan on continuing his sell-out 25th anniversary tour Boys From The Bush

“What I’ve always done over the years is I’ve gone out in my ’79 Series Land Cruiser Ute and I’ve travelled. I’ve been through so many towns and met so many people and that is where most of my songs come from, those experiences. For me, that is where the heart and soul of the music comes from.”
It’s not uncommon to hear country songs that feature anecdotes of hittin’ the road in a Ute or ‘Chevy’. But for Lee Kernaghan, it’s more than just a story; instead, it’s being a big part of his life since he was a child.
“It really began as a young teenager when I was touring with my dad. My dad, Ray is an Australian country singer as well and we toured all around Australia back in the late 70’s,” Kernaghan explains.
“I was exposed to a lot of things that most kids wouldn’t normally get the chance to experience and one of them was music. It was day-in-day out, on the road and that’s where my love of country music came from.
“On that particular tour, when I was 13 years old, we toured in caravans and played in town halls,” he laughs. “It’s something that stays with you for life, travelling through the desert. There was a period where we actually took six months out from school; my brother, two sisters and I. It wasn’t school of the year but it was pretty close. The things that we didn’t learn in the classroom, we picked up in life experience.”
Being a touring musician at age 13, it’s no surprise that Kernaghan decided to pursue a career in music. Now having performed solo for 25 years and having sold over two million albums within Australia alone, the journey is yet to slow down for Australia’s most beloved country act, who is currently working on a new album to be released later this year.
“I’m doing a lot of songwriting at the moment,” Kernaghan explains. “All of my songs are about the places I’ve been, the people I’ve met a long the way, and the experiences that I have had. It all began with ‘The Outback Club’ and ‘Boys From The Bush’ a short quarter of a century ago. One of the things I’m really passionate about is writing songs about our country, about our people and way of life. Every single song that I’ve released over the years has been another chapter in my life.”
Speaking about his lyrical influences, Kernaghan elaborated: “It might come from having a yarn to someone after the show and you’ll ask them what they do for a living and they say, ‘Lee, I milk cows’,” he laughs.
“I remember been up in the North West of Victoria during the millennial drought and I met a farming family after the show and this farmer said to me, ‘Lee, if you look over there into the distance you can see the place that I grew up, the place that my dad grew up on and the place that my grandfather grew up on, but, after five years of no rain we couldn’t hang on any longer and we lost our farm. But my wife and my two little girls are depending on me and I will never give up no matter what it takes’,” he continues, “And I shook his hand and I knew that his story was the ‘Spirit of the Bush’, and that was turned into a song, which became a major fundraiser for drought relief.”
Fundraising is something that Kernaghan has done extensively. Having raised millions of dollars for drought, flood and bushfire relief as well as initiatives to fundraise for ambulance, schools and hospitals nationwide, it was well deserved when he was crowned 2008’s ‘Australian Of The Year’, but Kernaghan remains as humble as ever, simply going out there to perform for the love of it.
“So many people out there not only know the songs, they have lived them as well,” he smiles. “That is one of the things which makes me love country music so much; it’s real, it’s about ‘us’. To go out there and sing to people and play songs that do mean so much to them is a great privilege.”
Speaking of touring, Kernaghan will be hitting the road on his 25th anniversary of ‘Boys From The Bush’ and will be stopping into Bendigo Stadium and Geelong’s Costa Hall this June.
“I’ll be coming into Costa hall to play all the hits with a huge production show, and The Wolfe Brothers are coming with me; they have just released their newest album which got number one on the country charts.
“Costa Hall has been one of the landmark concert events over the years as far as my shows go,” he continues. “I think I’ve seen more Ute’s and four-wheel drives in the car park of Costa Hall than at any other show I’ve played at!”
When & Where: One Hot Country Night Festival @ Bendigo Stadium, Bendigo – June 2 & Costa Hall, Geelong – June 7.
Lee will also be performing at Shoppingtown Hotel, Doncaster – June 8, Macs Hotel, Melton – June 9 & Chelsea Heights Hotel, Chelsea Heights – June 10.
Written by Alex Callan