'Prime spot' at festival

Kaitangata musician Aaron Jury. Photo by Shelley Povey Photography.
Kaitangata musician Aaron Jury. Photo by Shelley Povey Photography.
Kaitangata musician Aaron Jury is taking on the Australian music scene this weekend as one of the opening acts for a popular country festival.

CMC Rocks the Hunter, billed as ''Australia's biggest international country and roots festival'', is held annually in the Hunter Valley north of Sydney.

The festival began yesterday and ends tomorrow. About 11,000 people attend the three-day festival each day.

Mr Jury said he was ''blown away'' to be asked to play at the festival.

''I've been given a prime spot - only hours before the big acts. It's going to be massive.''

He is due to play tomorrow afternoon.

Jury, who is writing songs for his second album, said his debut album Wyre Street was selling well. It was released in November and was recently made available on iTunes.

''Kiwis are doing really well at the moment, particularly some of our young artists like Kylie Price and Kaylee Bell.''

He said Waimate songstress Bell won the 2013 Toyota Star Maker award in Tamworth, Australia, which came with a $150,000 prize.

Jury's home town of Kaitangata has provided him with inspiration, from his band The Crescents, named after the shape of the Clutha River as it winds past the town, to his songwriting.

In 2011, Jury wrote a song called 29 about the 29 miners killed at Pike River Mine on the West Coast. He said coming from a coal-mining town like Kaitangata, he and others in the community felt an affinity with those who had lost loved ones in the disaster. Kaitangata faced its own mining disaster on February 21, 1879 when an underground explosion rocked the mine, killing 34 miners.

He said it was amazing to get a ''moral blessing'' by Greymouth families to record 29, and hoped to go to the West Coast to meet the families soon.

Another of Jury's songs, Wyre Street, is based around the Kaitangata street where he spent his early days - and his debut album bears the same name.

In 2005, he won the MLT Songwriting Award with the song and also won the New Zealand Gold Guitar Awards that year.

- helena.dereus@odt.co.nz

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