Music City Roots is proud to announce that our annual Aussie Night, coming up on Wednesday, Sept. 23, will be a benefit show dedicated to the memory and legacy of Jeff Walker, one of Nashville’s most beloved entrepreneurs and music promoters, who passed away on Aug. 24 at the age of 65. I’ll chat on stage with Jeff’s daughter Christy and son Jon. And as we enjoy hand-picked Australian talent, we’ll also be spreading the word about a new Jeff Walker Sister Cities Scholarship, which will fund artist exchanges between the U.S. and Australia. MCR will donate 100% of the show’s ticket revenue to the scholarship.
“Jeff was involved in the earliest days of Music City Roots,” says co-executive producer John Walker, no relation. “It was an AristoMedia press release that set off the early buzz before the show ever aired. We sat around a conference table on 16th Ave. more than once passionately hashing out what MCR was…and was not. Jeff taught me the power of Nashville media.”
Walker, a native of Sydney, Australia, got his start in Nashville working for his father, a producer and music director for The Johnny Cash Show. Jeff launched his company AristoMedia in 1980. It became a thriving family business promoting country and Christian music around the world. Walker, a much-respected veteran member of the Country Music Association and Country Radio Seminar, did more than anyone in Nashville to build bridges to international audiences.
Personally, I valued Jeff as a friend and relied on him as a journalistic source. Well before MCR came along, he was always available to answer questions, offer connections and provide context. And his special passion was building a global community for and around country music. He connected me with a country DJ and TV host in China, for one of my favorite radio stories ever. And he paved the way for Music City Roots to venture beyond our borders and put the show on in Tamworth, Australia and Belfast, Northern Ireland.
So this is an early heads up for a show that should have a lot of heart and some surprising sounds from Down Under. As usual, our Aussie Ambassador Dobe Newton will be on hand. The lineup will be Melbourne alt-country band Raised By Eagles, “sparky, truth-soaked troubadour” Ruby Boots, indie-folk band Oh Pep! and songwriter Rick Price. Then just recently we’ve added Australian kingpin producer Mark Moffatt’s funky/rock project called St. James Infirmary. More on the bands to come in the official preview. But be sure that it’ll be a night of reflection and joy and looking forward, but ultimately a night of great global music, just as Jeff would have wanted.