HomeArticlesArts & CultureMusicCovid, Carols, and Christmas at Currumbin with Casey Barnes

Covid, Carols, and Christmas at Currumbin with Casey Barnes

Maggie Gray | December 2020

Australian country rock royalty and local legend Casey Barnes has ridden the wave of 2020 to new career heights.

Having racked up a new chart-topping album, an ARIA Awards nomination, and a State of Origin performance all in-the-midst of a global pandemic, Casey is no stranger to taking risks and embracing the unknown. A headliner of the 2020 Mayor’s Virtual Christmas Carols, Casey attributes this year’s successes to adapting to change to keep communities connected at a time when people need music the most. We sat down with the Gold Coast local to talk all things Covid, Carols and Christmas.

What has 2020 taught you? 

“I think the biggest thing I’ve learnt this year is how to adapt to change and not to be afraid to take risks. A lot of artists have put the cue in the rack and taken the year off, because it’s a risky time to be writing and releasing music. We went the other way. I said let’s push harder than we ever have before – and it paid off. People just got behind the album and it’s ended up being the best year I’ve had career-wise, which is quite ironic given everything that’s happened this year.” 

What has a highlight of 2020 been for you?

“If somebody had said to me this time last year that I would be nominated for an ARIA Award, I would’ve laughed. I think that’s the thing I’m most proud of is how far we have come in 12 months. Winning Artist of the Year at the Gold Coast Music Awards was the icing on the cake, especially being a local artist and a proud Gold Coaster.

Have you got any advice for artists starting out on the Gold Coast?

“I’m really good mates with Amy Shark and we share a similar story in that we started playing in all the same pubs around the Gold Coast. We’ve both gone on to travel the world doing what we love and I think that is a good incentive for any band or artist coming through the Gold Coast ranks. My advice to up-and-comings is – you really can make it in the industry by starting out on the Gold Coast. There’s plenty of opportunities here and the industry is only growing.”

How has the Gold Coast music industry changed over time?

“I mean, we’ve got some of the best festivals in the country now. From a country music point of view alone, Groundwater Country Music Festival is regarded as one of the top three country festivals in Australia. It started from humble beginnings, but it’s a huge credit to all those local stakeholders involved – they’ve really helped put country music on the map. And it’s not just country music, it doesn’t matter what genre you’re talking about – the Gold Coast is a breeding ground for talent. BLANK Magazine, Gold Coast Music Awards, City of Gold Coast have all helped shine a light on the arts sector. There are some amazing live music venues here now like the HOTA outdoor stage – we really are becoming a hub for high quality live music, and a destination artists want to perform at.”

What sets the Gold Coast apart from other places you have visited?

“I don’t think we take the time as Gold Coasters to stop and appreciate how lucky we are to live in one of the most incredible locations in the world and have the lifestyle we have. I mean we have the best beachfront of anywhere! I’ve been to so many countries and performed overseas and there is no better feeling than coming home. Driving into the Gold Coast or touching down at Gold Coast Airport – it’s that feeling of being home. I love everything about living here, and I think I definitely appreciate it more because I’m travelling so often.”

What are your thoughts on virtual events? Yay or Nay? 

“Virtual concerts and live streams have been an amazing way to connect with people in a different way. We did our album launch completely virtual and online, and live streamed the whole thing – and it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done. I continued throughout the year to do weekly live streams and check in with my fans online and it’s been a huge success. I think across the board, virtual concerts have been a huge success – even the show Sheppard did at Gold Coast Airport, that was so different and unique and special, and it really had fans buzzing. The Mayor’s virtual Christmas Carols are a way for the community to reconnect with artists and celebrate Christmas with their loved ones. From what I’ve seen and heard so far, it’s a stellar line-up and the show has been put together really well.”

What does Christmas Day look like for you?

“Hopefully low-key! It’ll be nice to spend some time with the family. I live in Currumbin, so we are going to have a nice family day down at the beach and enjoy some downtime, before 2021 hits!”

What’s next for you?

“I have the Country Music Association of Australia Golden Guitar Awards in January and I’m nominated for four awards, which is a first for me. I’m already starting to work on the next album, so I’ll be busy writing and starting to record that. I’m certainly not slowing down!”

Check out Casey’s latest music news here.

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