COUNTRY COLOUR: The scene at last year's Central Coast Council Country Music Festival, which attracted about 9000 people.
COUNTRY COLOUR: The scene at last year's Central Coast Council Country Music Festival, which attracted about 9000 people. Gary Luke Photographics

Coast music association plays lead in festival history

SHE doesn't play an instrument or sing, but she can boot-scoot with the best of them.

And for new Central Coast Country Music Association (CCCMA) president and life member Cathy Hogan, it's the friendship of like-minded people and the music that has kept her a member since 1980.

She said the group, established in 1976 by 17 country music enthusiasts, currently has about 100 members, and regularly gets 60-80 at its monthly Country Roundup, which includes performances by their own band, Coastal Country, as well as guests.

Now in his 90s, Tex Klein is among the regulars, there playing the traditional country sounds on his mouth organ, but all styles are welcome from rock, to pop, dance to traditional, so long as it's country.

Tex isn't the oldest member - that honour goes to Gene Gordon at 99, with Coastal Country's 18-year-old guitarist Colby Wicks representing the younger talents.

Cathy's fellow life members are founder Clive McKenzie, Kay Matthews, Ted J Kale and Helen and Ray Potter.

Cathy said she has held every position in the group over the years, including having previously been president, and remembers the first Central Coast Country Music Festival at The Entrance in March, billed for 10 years as the Concert by the Sea.

"We've always been there to promote country music and foster new talent, and the festival is really important," she said.

She recalls watching country music legends including Ray, Tania and Lee Kernaghan, John Williamson, Eddie Lowe, Wayne Horsburgh, Anne Kirkpatrick, Chad Morgan, Jimmy Little and Reg Poole in action, many playing in the festival's heyday at Warnervale.

Cathy said CCMA volunteers had cleared the natural bushland amphitheatre to create what became an acclaimed "Country Music Park" (now Federation Park), hosting three major shows every year for 14 years, each attracting about 5000 people from across the state and country, as well as locally.

Sadly, she said, the last event was held there in 1997, as it fell victim to vandalism, politics and insurance hikes.

Council has now run the event for 18 years, and Cathy hopes more people will get out and enjoy this year's festival at the Entrance on Sunday, August 12 and give it their support to make it a stronger and longer event.

In association with the festival, CCCMA is running a showcase at Bateau Bay Bowling Club from 6.30pm on Saturday, August 11, which will feature performances by Coastal Country and Footloose from the Steel City Country Music Club.

To find out more, or to join CCCMA, which meets at 12.30pm on the third Sunday of each month at Toukley Golf Club, call Cathy on 4332 2547.

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