SEPTEMBER 22 – 2023


“We're all here to kill the time/ pour a glass of nothing to prove/ so every Friday I'll meet you downtown/ if you had a bad day/ I'll buy the first round/ so bottoms up, and here's to us/ and what we do/ sitting on a bar stool/ sitting on a bar stool/ a side of good music/ it comes with every drink.” - Sitting On A Bar Stool - Michael Charles Paynter- Michael James Delorenzis-Lynn Stanfield Wilbanks-Zac Thomas Roddy-George William Goodfellow.

There was no danger of St Kilda strollers not knowing what was happening on bar stools in the famed Prince of Wales Hotel as the sun went down on the town.

Casey Barnes drummer Wazza Bray bellowed loud and clear the history of opening act Zac & George from the front of the stage as patrons climbed the stairs.

He revealed Zac Roddy and George Goodfellow met at boarding school while their folks ran farms and hotels at Gundaroo in the Yass Valley and Newcastle north of Sydney.

There was a succession of jokes about Bogans, beer and animal husbandry that illustrated their diverse roots.

It was too dark to quote verbatim all that Wazza - also president of Mudgeeraba Spartans junior AFL Club - said about the dynamic duo.

But it propelled Zac & George to live up to their enthusiastic welcome to the Fitzroy Street temple where music has long been the creative church of choice.

Zac and George let their harmonic songs tell their stories from their entrée Sitting On A Bar Stool that segued into Bourbon On The Rocks to their fitting finale Red Wine and Roses.

The duo, whose school meeting created a fertile font for their joyous journey to country music mecca Nashville , proved they were the real deal worthy of Wazza's sermon from his mount.

They recalled their Tamworth appearances this year with fellow farm graduate James Johnston in their Small Town tune, replete with healthy hay bale imagery.

And, of course, their prolific song writing in Nashville with chart topping tunesmiths that produced their 2019 song Sleep On It and One Cold Beer.

The duo proved how to work an enthusiastic audience with their heavenly harmonies that peaked on Some Things Never Change and pina colada fuelled Just Chilling.

They finished their 10-song set with aptly titled Not A Night To Call It A Day and Red Wine & Roses.

Zac & George saluted their touring partner Casey Barnes who was raised in Launceston - also hometown of his manager and record label boss and touring supremo Michael Chugg.

It was also where this vintage reviewer met Chuggie while doing his journalism cadetship on the Launceston Examiner.


“Cause there's nowhere to run to in a small town/ there's nowhere the memory don't follow me around/ There's no keeping secrets in a small town/ there's a real good chance that's all that anyone's talking about/ you're there on every corner every street is us/ there's no bigger way of breaking up than in a small town/ in a small town, living in a small town.” - Small Town - Casey Daniel Barnes- Michael Charles Paynter- Michael James Delorenzi.

Zac and George may have departed the stage but the recorded music emanating from the speakers was louder than the truck traffic in Casey Barnes hometown Launceston.

Barnes, 45, and singing spouse Michelle now live on the Queensland Gold Coast - not Queenstown on the Van Diemen's Land west coast where footballers kick leather balls on hard gravelly ovals.

So it was no surprise the music volume cranked up when the 2022 ARIA Award winner hit the stage as he led his quartet into his seventh album title track Light It Up.

Barnes warned the audience his bassist Ben Crawford had been in bed all day with an undisclosed illness - far from the healthy drummer Wazza Bray and guitarist Bradley Green.

Light It Up was well known for football fans as the theme song for the Seven Network's AFL theme song for the 2022 season.

Barnes' love of football dating back to his on-field teenage years - but not Queenstown - enabled him to joke that he spotted Melbourne captain Max Gawn in his audience.

“Sorry you missed the preliminary final,” Casey crowed to a much smaller gent - not a Greater Western Sydney Giants gaucho - due right of the stage near the bar.

Barnes - a prolific Tamworth Golden Guitarist in recent years - proved why he was a natural guest on The Voice and other memorable TV shows.

Casey also ignited his aptly titled Get To Know Ya that was featured on Farmer Wants A Wife 2022 season launch campaign.

His frequent trips to Nashville including the 2023 CMA festival also enabled him to write with major hit maker including Eric Paslay for Never Give Up On A Good Time.

It was only early spring but another original Summer Nights was a sweaty crowd pleaser and Come Turn Me On - a femme fatale triumph.

Barnes celebrated God Took His Time On You by dedicating it to a couple in the audience who used it as their bridal waltz at their wedding ceremony.

That audience interaction peaked with the return of Zac and George for Boys Like Me.

Casey's crescendo included his proud proclamation that he had been booked as the only Australian artist on the 2024 Stagecoach festival in California with major artists Morgan Wallen, Post Malone , Hardy and Jelly Roll.

It was a rich reward for Barnes and long-time manager Michael Chugg.

The singer also thanked a front of the sound desk spectator and promoter Frank Varasso for helping launch his music a decade ago before his stardom.

That was after performing Kiss Me Like You Mean It before his encore that included Black Betty, Thanks God I'm a Country Boy, The Gambler, I'm Coming Home, That Girl and Gone, Gone, Gone.

Barnes urged fans who enjoyed his concert to join him at his after dark concert the following night at the annual Royal Melbourne Agricultural Show.

The only on stage absence for the singer during his sizzling set was a cameo by drummer Wazza for his Merch Song (to the tune of Another One Bites The Dust.

Wazza boasted that the band accepted all currencies for their merchandise including cash, credit cards and livestock.

It was a real crowd pleaser as a swarm of sweaty senors and senoritas stormed the merch desk as the room concert lights were ignited.

There was no sign of cattle, horses, sheep, goats, goannas, gremlins, geese and gorillas being herded to the desk as the currency of choice.

And no chance of Wazza seeking a rollicking rendition by singing “there'll never be another ewe” that may have found a more apt home the next night at the agricultural show.


Photos by ANDREW FRIEND - Country.Rock.Shotz.

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