THE promotor of one of Queensland’s fastest growing music festivals has outlined big plans for the festival’s future, saying its proximity to an international airport and globally renowned tourism hotspots could broaden its appeal and help it become a major live music event.

Queensland music industry veteran James Dein has this week been recovering from his huge fourth instalment of Savannah in the Round, a burgeoning country music festival at Mareeba which was this year headlined by one of Australian’s biggest acts, Jimmy Barnes.

Having already ticked off the international headline coup in 2022 with Brad Paisley, Dein said ‘Savannah’ was primed to expand significantly in crowd attendance, geographical footprint, international appeal and lineup star power for years to come.

Dein sat down with the Caller at the event to talk about the its humble beginnings and exciting future prospects.

LISTEN: Country Caller interview with James Dein

The star of James Johnston continued to rise at Savannah in the Round, where the country music soloist performed on the same day that is debut album, Raised Like That, reached number one on the ARIA chart – across all genres.

Johnston has had a meteoric rise through Australian country music over the past three years and become a staple on the lineups for all major country music festivals and regional events across Australia.

Raised Like That has also become the fastest to reach the top of ARIA’s country music album chart.

“It’s pretty wild,” Johnston told the Caller.

“What country music has done in the last 12 months or so has been insane. It’s kind of become mainstream. The biggest artists in the world are Luke Combs and Morgan Wallen – they’re on the top of all charts and billboards – so it’s a really exciting time for country music.

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“Sometimes I sit back and think ‘how has this happened’ because it feels like a lifetime, but it’s has only been a bit over two years and sometimes I pinched myself.

“Savannah in the Round was my very first festivals, so to be coming back and playing one of the late night slots is pretty cool.

“I love it up here, the whole setting, out on the dust. There’s something about Australian country crowds – they’re always ready for a good time.

“I’ve always looked to Nashville for a lot of inspiration and I hope to get there one day, for sure, but there’s nothing on the cards just yet.

“I’m a proud Australian country artist but I’d love to be able to split my time between both, and be able to draw inspiration from over there and bring it back here.”

Country music star James Johnston performing at Savannah in the Round. IMAGE: Country Caller
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