“There is no way I’m going to put myself through this again,” I moaned to Long Suffering Wife as we pulled up outside the Entertainment Centre. As I dragged my guitar from the backseat, she smiled and said, “Good Luck!” then sped off, leaving me and The Littlest Princess standing alone on the footpath.
Last year, when I was asked to enter the Gladstone Country Music Festival, I recall glibly replying, “Yeah alright. How bad could it be?” Six months later it suddenly didn’t seem like such a good idea, and now I was toying with beating a hasty retreat to the Grand Hotel.
But The Littlest Princess gave me a shove, so we entered the theatre foyer where I was shocked to see a fairly large crowd. My nerves, which were already jittery, started jangling like a four alarm fire bell.
And the competition was red hot. After watching several singers, it dawned on me that I was seriously out of my depth. This did nothing to quell my nerves. Weeks of practice flew out the window, because thanks to my rising panic, I couldn’t remember any of the chords, or most of the words, to the songs I was allegedly singing. The barstool at the Grand beckoned once again.
Then Big James appeared, “Mate,” he said, “I reckon anyone who gets up on that stage is already a winner.” He was exactly right. Sure, the barstool at the Grand was an anonymous safe haven from the butt-clenching terror of singing in public, but sooner or later you have to face your fears, so I headed backstage and tried tuning my guitar with fingers that felt like soggy cucumbers.
The big moment arrived, and donning my Akubra, I clambered onstage. At this point my father cried out, “Hey! That’s my hat!”
I survived, thanks to the quick thinking backing band, and the fantastic support of my country music loving friends, who didn’t appear the least bit upset at the way I had treated some of their favourite songs. And once my ordeal was over, The Littlest Princess and I spent the rest of the weekend enjoying the festival. We sang, danced, laughed, cheered, foot-stomped and ‘Yee Ha-ed’, as the contestants gave their all onstage. It was such a cracking good time that I’m thinking of entering next year’s festival; well, how bad could it be?!