Country lad still singin' us proud

A FORMER Dubbo resident is one half of a 2012 ARIA-nominated band poised for greatness, after a super-stellar career in country music.

Drew McAlister, who completed his HSC in Dubbo more than 20 years ago, was nominated for the prestigious Country Album of the Year at this year's ARIAs, for his band McAlister Kemp, a partnership he has been a part of since 2007 with Troy Kemp.

Although he now lives in the Blue Mountains, Mr McAlister met his bandmate as a solo artist touring with country music sensation Adam Brand, who took him under his wing and introduced him to Kemp.

The rest, as they say, is history and the duo embarked on a journey which not only spanned the country but also Nashville in the United States of America.

Mr McAlister has been in the music industry for 17 years and today plays music his country could be proud of, which is in fact the name of the band's second album - Country Proud.

"The band has a contemporary country rock sound and we've been out on the road playing that sound to the rest of Australia," he said.

"With two albums under our belt, our live shows have been very energetic and as we both have a tall presence on stage, people find us almost comedic which is a good thing to see."

At 193cm and 200cm tall, respectively, McAlister Kemp has a demanding presence on stage, with Mr McAlister on the acoustic and Mr Kemp on electric.

The duo has been touring around the country for a while and after finishing up in Newcastle and Tamworth, is ready to start writing its untitled third album in Nashville next year.

"Our aim is to make it bigger and better. We want to evolve our stage shows and have our next album reflect it.

"At the moment Troy and I live almost three hours apart and I think it'll be good to have two to three weeks in America and write songs. It's the best place to be creative, drink beer and eat chicken wings."

Although he said Nashville was an inspirational city it could be found anywhere. He said he constantly noted the little things and compiled it into concrete ideas that could make a good story within a song.

The band's recent ARIA nomination, which was a first for their carrer to date, cemented them as one of Australia's best country bands.

"Troy and I truly felt that our work was aknowledged. Although we didn't win, it was a real boost for McAlister Kemp," Mr McAlister said.

McAlister Kemp has received a Golden Guitar at the Country Music Awards for Best New Talent and CMA's Best New Oz Artist of the Year in 2011 for the debut album All Kinds of Tough.

The boys will also be playing at the Jack Newton Celebrity Classic on December 17-19 at Cypress Lakes Resort in the Hunter Valley. They will also be performing on December 19.

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