Lee Kernaghan and his band rock the Muster Main Stage on Sunday night.
Lee Kernaghan and his band rock the Muster Main Stage on Sunday night. Craig Warhurst

Country legend performs at Muster

GYMPIE was the “centre of the universe” as far as the future of country music was concerned, Australian music legend Lee Kernaghan told Sunday night’s Muster crowd.

The 2008 Australian of the Year said it was great to see so many young people enjoying country music and, in a show of appreciation towards fans, handed over his guitar to young local Sarah Douglas at the end of his Main Stage gig.

“I’ve just touched down in the centre of the country music universe here tonight,” Kernaghan said, and wasn’t alone in his views.

Good mate and fellow country music legend Troy Cassar-Daley flew in from Nashville just to play at the Muster on Saturday, arriving in Australia on Friday and boarding his return flight on Sunday.

“I’ll come from anywhere to play at the Gympie Muster... I love it, it’s a big part of my musical history,” he said. “I’ve played at the Gympie Muster for three years in a row— it feels so indulgent because I enjoy it so much.”

Always a class-act, Cassar-Daley finished his Main Stage performance and headed straight for the Muster Club where he played classic country covers with his hard-working band.

He is currently spending three months in Nashville with his family while writing, singing and soaking up the culture and history of America’s country music capital.

“Gympie, Gympie, Gympie. Well it never disappoints that festival,” Troy Cassar-Daley told his legion of fans via Facebook while sitting at the airport on Sunday waiting to return to Nashville.

At around the same time, Lee Kernaghan was blowing away the Muster crowd and, at the end of his performance, surprised everyone with a random act of kindness towards Gympie girl Sarah Douglas, 13.

Showing his passion for the bush, children, families and the people of rural, remote and regional Australia, Kernaghan spotted Sarah in front with her big hat and handed her his guitar.

Donna Douglas said she suspected Kernaghan spotted her daughter’s Brigalo hat with 30 signatures on it and could tell she was a true country music fan.

“I figured he thought if she took the time to get all those signatures, she was obviously interested in country music,” she said.

“A couple of years ago he did the same thing for a little boy, who had suffered from burns and was in a wheelchair, but that had been pre-arranged. This was completely random.”

Ms Douglas said her daughter went down to bags her spot in front of the Main Stage one-and-a-half hours before Kernaghan started.

“He’s one of her favourites,” she said. “Last year she stood in lines all night to get signatures. This year (Kernaghan) picked her out because of the autographs.”

Ms Douglas said this may be the catalyst that inspires Sarah to get guitar lessons and one day compete in the Muster Talent Search.

“She’s had a strum on our acoustic guitar before – but she will certainly be learning (how to play) now.”

Kernaghan, the 2008 Australian of the Year said it was great to see so many young people enjoying country music.

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