This year will be Dan Hannaford’s second at Broadbeach Country Festival and when I ask him what’s happened for him between the gigs, his answer is pretty straight forward.
“Probably about 200 gigs,” he said.
“Plus I’ve been overseas again – London, Austria, I played in a castle in the middle of a vineyard where they shot the Sound of Music. . That was one of my career highlights.”
Hannaford has been honing his craft as a full-time musician for eight years. He says “if I don’t gig, I don’t eat.”
“I’m not complaining, I feel privileged, but it’s not easy. If it was, everyone would be doing it. And the whole indie thing? It’s a long, hard road. But it’s been very rewarding too.”
“When you sign up for the whole music thing you don’t realise the skills you need to do it now,” Hannaford said, adding that if it were up to him he’d just write the songs, drive the tour bus, set up the PA and do gigs. “You need the right people behind you. Who are passionate about you but also believe in you as an artist and what you’re about.”
If Hannaford had a fan club, Cindy Jensen (Buskers by the Creek) would be the president. But he tells me his fanbase is a bit broader than that.
“I just sold a CD off Bandcamp the other day and posted it to Brazil. How cool is that? Songs that you write in your bedroom or when you’re driving the car to and from gigs – you’ve got these all around the world now.”
“Cindy is a champion,” he added. “I owe her big time. She’s one of those people you want to have on your side and keep on your side. I mean that from a business sense but also as a person. She’s fantastic. She gets the job done. I’m a big fan.”
He’s also a big fan of Cindy’s brainchild, Buskers by the Creek, having its third run on the Gold Coast in October 2016. Hannaford was the first artist Cindy ever booked.
“We’ve kind of got this reciprocated admiration and yeah, it’s just a really grassroots kinda deal. Buskers gives songwriters and street performers an opportunity to do their thing in a concentrated festival type setting and then obviously you know, the work makes the work. You‘ve got to put yourself out there.”
“I still get nervous before some gigs but I know that if I want to connect with an audience or have people connect with my songs, I’ve got to bring it.”
And that’s what Hannaford will do at Broadbeach Country Music Festival this month.
“With a country music festival, you’re given a green light to play your country material,” he said, adding that country music fans are very loyal. “I just like good songs,” he said. “I think that is one of the strengths – obviously of good songs, but particularly of country music songs. From a working man or woman’s background and keeping it simple and recognising the simple things. Which makes it kind of ironic that the festival is in Broadbeach – one of the glitter strips of the Gold Coast.”
“I take my hat off to Broadbeach Alliance for putting on a country music festival at Broadbeach. People are coming to check it out and the lineup keeps getting better.”
So what’s on the lineup that we should add to our must-see list? Hannaford lists Warren Earl Band, “a guitar-picker from down our way – Billinudgel / Ocean Shores,” Mitch King, Round Mountain Girls and Lachlan Byron.
“I think I’ll actually be playing a couple of songs with the Round Mountain Girls, I usually get up and play harmonica with them for a few songs.”
And after Broadbeach Country Music Festival? What does the rest of 2016 hold for Dan Hannaford?
“I’ll be heading back to the States to do another album in mid-July. LA and Nashville. I’ve got great players over there lined up to make another record.”
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Broadbeach Country Music Festival takes place 17 – 19 June and along with Dan Hannaford features Adam Brand and the Outlaws, The Sunny Cowgirls, Casey Barnes, Col Finley, Halfway, Harmony James, Lachlan Bryan and the Wildes, Mitch King, Round Mountain Girls, Warren Earl Band, The Viper Creek Band and a heap more.