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Mon 22 Jan 2018, 8:30pm–9:30pm

Where: Family Hotel, Bridge Street, Tamworth, New England

Restrictions: All Ages


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Singer-songwriter Dean Ray is about to kick off what will be a massive 2018 for the independent artist, taking his acclaimed sophomore album The Messenger out on the road for the majority of the year, heading to as many places as he can work into the touring schedule. Kicking off a huge 12-months ahead at Tamworth Country Music Festival is the icing on the cake, bringing the journey to create his latest album—of all original material—full circle.

While some music fans may remember Dean from his stand-out performances as runner-up on the 2014 series of The X-Factor, this impressive musician has been earning his stripes in the Australian music scene long before that. Music is in his blood, and he has been steading notching up experience on and off the stage since he could walk. Born into a touring family—his parents performed on the country music scene—Dean was no stranger to travelling Australia, sleeping backstage in guitar cases and soaking up everything special that performing every night had to offer.

At age six he took up the drums, by 13 he was playing guitar and by 16 he knew what path he wanted to take, he left his home in regional Queensland and moved to Melbourne to make it on his own in the music scene. Needless to say, touring—and a bit of country music—is in his blood, so hitting the road in 2018, and returning to the Tamworth Country Music Festival where he spent many a time during his childhood, was always in the cards. “From the age of seven or eight, my family would take me to Tamworth for the festival every year,” says Dean. “They played as backing musicians at the Locomotive Hotel all day, every day during the festival. I can still remember the smell of that place—stale beer, hot chips, cigarettes and donkeys, from memory. The festival has such a warm family feeling. Some people I know, I have only ever known at the festival.”

Dean will be showcasing material from his recently released second long-player The Messenger, his first independent album of all-original material. “I am designing a show at the moment that will be characterized by my love of Western films,” he says. “My passion for freedom, love and truth. I like to take people on an emotional experience at my shows, whether they know the new songs or not. There will be high energy, low energy surprise guests and all that a good show should have. I will be inviting friends of mine up to join me for a song here and there. I am sworn to secrecy like a magician’s journal.”

While Dean has been working on his songwriting since his debut self-titled release—which released Gold status, the debut single Coming Back sitting snuggly at #1 on the iTunes single chart – touring is where his heart is. “There is a connection I feel when I perform live to an audience,” he says. “I feel their energy and see their troubles fade out of sight. I charge myself up with light energy before a gig to make sure I have given all of it to the audience before I walk off stage, sometimes leading to my shows running over time. If I ever walk off stage not feeling dizzy and out of breath and sweating, I feel disappointed in myself.”

As for his return to Tamworth, Dean is looking forward to catching up with familiar faces—an ethos he takes with him wherever he goes on the road. “When you wake up the morning after a show and hit the street of that town for a bite, and someone from the show the night before stops you to say how much they enjoyed the show, and it took them away from every day life and into another place of peace and enjoyment, that’s the thing I personally love the most,” he says. “It’s important for me to tour. When I was a kid growing up in rural QLD, not many acts came through the rural areas. I always like to get to rural towns as much as I can on a tour. I feel that the industry forgets them and expects them to travel for everything—that shouldn’t be the case, take the show to the people.”