Expand your music career

Online | 20 & 21 November 2021

Welcome to


Join professionals at the top of their game in the country music industry, as they share their skills and knowledge over two days online, to help you be the best performer you can be.

Featuring Star Spots from the incredible Tommy Emmanuel (CGP) and Adam Brand, New Zealand’s finest Jenny Mitchell and Tami Neilson, and fresh off ‘The Block’, our own alumni Kirsty Lee Akers, you will get to hear these artists’ journeys, right from the horse’s mouth!

On top of the Star Spots, we will be presenting six interactive workshops ranging in topics from Guitar (beginner, intermediate and advanced)* and Vocal masterclasses**, Making Music Videos on a Budget, Touring Outside the Square, Sounding Great Live (tips to make your PA sound great) and, Song Critiques, where participants*** will have the chance to have a song critiqued by a professional panel and receive constructive feedback.

*Select your guitar level at ticketing.

**To be considered for a performance opportunity, you must pre-submit a video via our website by Saturday 13 Nov.  There will be a limit of three performances chosen (unlimited participants).

***Original music and lyrics must be submitted via our website by Saturday 13 Nov to be considered for a critique; there will be a limit of six songs per session (unlimited participants).

Two full days – Usually $300, now just $150 + GST and booking fees



Choose your level – Beginner, Intermediate or Advanced

Roger Corbett – Beginner Guitar (Death by Strumming)

Date: Saturday 20 November

Time: 9:00am – 10:30am (AEDT)

Roger is the rhythm guitarist in iconic Australian band, ‘The Bushwackers’, and has been teaching guitar at the Senior and Junior Academy for the last 20+ years.  At The Academy we call this session ‘Death By Strumming’ and this workshop is designed to help you become the most confident acoustic rhythm player you can be.  There are different ‘feels’ and strumming patterns that will transform your playing into being your best friend onstage.  Learn to lead your band with your confident and powerful rhythm playing. 

Kevin Bennett and Mickey Pye – Intermediate Guitar

Date: Saturday 20 November

Time: 9:00am – 10:30am (AEDT)

Kevin Bennett is a highly respected singer/songwriter/guitarist with Sydney roots band ‘The Flood’ as well as one third of alt-country trio, ‘Bennett, Bowtell and Urquhart’ and an accomplished solo performer.  Kevin will be joined by Mickey Pye, winner of the 2015 Toyota Star Maker competition, solo performer and touring guitarist for Travis Collins, amongst other big names.  Mickey is also the founder and director of the Bathurst Academy of Music where he mentors young musicians as a passionate musical educator.  Both Kevin and Mickey are ably qualified to run this workshop for intermediate guitarists and will pass on their knowledge and tips to take your playing to the next level.

Stuie French and Sonny French – Advanced Guitar

Date: Saturday 20 November

Time: 9:00am – 10:30am (AEDT)

Get ready for some finger-picking magic with Stuie French and super-talented-teen Sonny French.  For many years Stuie has been the ‘picker’s picker’ headlining the Picker’s Night in Tamworth. Stuie has played countless sessions and thousands of shows both as a sideman in bands and as a front-man for the highly successful duo ‘Stuie and Camille’.  Now living the dream in Nashville, his regular online concerts are an absolute delight to watch and learn from. Stuie, along with Sonny, will be delivering a guitar players workshop for electric guitar players who have the chance to learn from the very best. 


Lyn Bowtell 

Date: Saturday 20 November

Time: 11:00am – 12:30pm (AEDT)

Love your voice!  Learn ways to get those vocal cords back into tip-top shape and gig fit again with Academy Director, Lyn Bowtell.  Not just our Director, Lyn Bowtell is a multi-award winning artist whose stunning, heartfelt vocals and beautifully crafted songs make her a highly sought-after performer and vocal coach. 

Kasey Chambers says of Lyn “she has one of the most amazing voices in this country, I love this beautiful woman and her talent” and we know that you will too. 

Lyn will be giving three attendees the opportunity to perform a verse and chorus for the group and receive invaluable feedback and advice during this workshop. 

To be considered for this opportunity, after registering, you must pre-submit a video of you performing the song you’d like to sing via the button below.

Even if you are not chosen to perform, this session will still be invaluable to caring for your voice and helping it reach its full potential.


Panel:  Jeremy Minett, Max Jackson and Michael Carpenter

Date: Saturday 20 November

Time: 1:15pm – 2:45pm (AEDT)

Jeremy Minett and Max Jackson have a long relationship with country music. Jeremy is a member of ‘The Viper Creek Band’ and director of his own company ‘Eyes + Ears Creative’, a video, photo, audio and digital content venture providing affordable yet high quality products for creatives. 

Max has spent years as a teacher and mentor at the ‘Gina Jeffreys Workshops’ for talented young people, as well as releasing her own material and writing/co-writing songs for herself and others. Max is also a graduate of both our Junior and Senior Academies. 

Joining Jeremy and Max on the panel will be enigmatic Sydney producer, Michael Carpenter, one of our most unique, creative professionals.  With well over 35 years in the music business, there’s almost no role he hasn’t played. Sideman. Label owner. Multi-Instrumentalist. Educator. Photographer. Record producer. Videographer. Author. Songwriter. Solo artist. Band leader. Graphic designer…the list goes on. 

Michael’s varied skill set has positioned him to experience a variety of creative endeavours, from big budget productions to shoestring deals and everything in between, from a record making, performing, visual and artistic point of view.  In every scenario, he is nimble and ready to lean into his experience to find solutions that bring the best out of all the artists he works with.

Creating visual content isn’t just an option these days, it is a necessity.  In a world obsessed with visual content, whether it be a formal film clip or a 30 second Tik Tok video, it is more important than ever to allow your fans to see you ‘doing your thing’.  Jeremy, Max and Michael will talk you through the opportunities and techniques needed to create a strong visual brand package on a shoestring budget.

Roger Corbett

Kevin Bennett

Mickey Pye

Sonny French & Stuie French

Lyn Bowtell

Jeremy Minett

Max Jackson

Michael Carpenter


Tami Neilson and Jenny Mitchell (Moderated by Lyn Bowtell)

Date: Saturday 20 November

Time: 3:00pm – 4:00pm (AEDT)

Our first Star Spot sees us venturing ‘over the ditch’ to New Zealand, where we are joined by two of NZ’s leading ladies of country music, Tami Neilson and Jenny Mitchell.  

Tami grew up performing across North America with the Neilson Family Band, working alongside great acts such as Johnny Cash, Tanya Tucker and Kitty Wells.  But after falling in love with a New Zealander, she moved to the bottom of the world and started a solo career without her family.  Seeing Tami Neilson live is unforgettable.  She can hush a room with an original song that channels the hurting spirit of Patsy Cline or the sensuality of Peggy Lee, or bring the audience to its feet on a rockabilly raver.  She’s an artist with real range; there is her powerful big-ballad voice, her golden-age of country Americana, the heartfelt Gospel, soul-infused R’n’B, Western swing or belting old style Rock ’n’ roll.  She encompasses them all, and is a personality-powered cyclonic force of nature in stylishly retro attire, long lashes and a stacked-high beehive!

Multi award winning, alt-country Aotearoa artist, Jenny Mitchell is a storyteller with songs wrapped in wisdom and wit.  An artist who blends folk, alt-country and Americana into her own captivating style, this young kiwi songwriter, “is dynamite,” (Felicity Urquhart, ABC Australia).

Jenny is comfortable with a country twang or softly spoken ballad and is rapidly capturing fans across the globe.  Described by Jesse Mulligan (RNZ) as “an unapologetically country artist going from strength to strength”, Jenny has graced dozens of festival stages across Australia and NZ and is also a graduate of The Academy, having travelled to Australia to complete the course as a Junior in 2015. 

Jenny recently joined forces with the esteemed Tami Neilson to release the stirring ‘Trouble Finds a Girl’, a powerful and direct response to sexual misconduct within the music industry, and with recent appearances with Tami, Julia Deans and Australia’s Felicity Urquhart, it’s clear this is just the beginning for an artist who knows exactly who she is and feels no need to give way.


Tommy Emmanuel CGP (Moderated by Roger Corbett and Dobe Newton)

Date: Saturday 20 November

Time: 4:15pm – 5:15pm (AEDT)

Tommy Emmanuel is truly in a league of his own.  Considered by those in the know to be among this planet’s greatest guitarists, his playing is simply miraculous, as it would take three musicians, or more, to do what Tommy does solo. 

But there is also another quality to Tommy’s playing which defines his greatness, and that can only be described as “joy”.  Because it’s one thing to play these multi-dimensional arrangements flawlessly on an acoustic guitar. But to do it with that smile of the ages, that evidence of authentic, unbridled delight, is an irresistible invitation to feel his music as deeply as he does.  ​​

“When I was a kid, I wanted to be in show business. Now, I just want to be in the happiness business. I make music, and you get happy. That’s a good job.” 

One of only four other humans to have been welcomed into guitarist knighthood with the coveted title of CGP (Certified Guitar Player), we are thrilled to have Tommy joining us all the way from Nashville, sharing his stories and joy with former Bushwackers bandmates, Roger Corbett and Dobe Newton.

Tommy Emmanuel



Panel 1: Lyn Bowtell, Allan Caswell and Roger Corbett

Panel 2: Kevin Bennett, Melody Moko and Lachlan Bryan

Date: Sunday 21 November

Time: 9:00am – 10:30am (AEDT)

The greatest tool for a songwriter is to have another professional songwriter listen to their song and give an opinion on the lyrics, the musical choices and the overall all-important ‘vibe’ of the song. 

As songwriters, we are often too close to see our glaring errors or wrong directions in our work and it can be transformational to access some educated critique around songwriting. 

This workshop provides 12 songwriters (available in two separate sessions) with that very opportunity.  To have your song critiqued, you must pre-submit your lyrics and an MP3 via the button below to be considered.  Even if your song isn’t chosen for critique or you don’t submit one, this session is a unique chance to hear and understand the critiques delivered by these multi-award winning songwriters and educators.


Andrew Swift and Gretta Ziller

Date: Sunday 21 November

Time: 11:00am – 12:30pm (AEDT)

No strangers to the road, Victorian touring artists Andrew Swift and Gretta Ziller have been carving their own path for many years now.  Andrew has been described as “a soulful troubadour, a heavily tattooed mountain of a man with a penchant for touring in tiny caravans” and it is the ‘Great Australian Caravan Park Tour’ with Gretta Ziller that sees these two artists really thinking “outside the square” when it comes to touring. 

Living a life on the road, the fact that Andrew has been appointed the Official Ambassador for Gundagai’s iconic Dog on the Tuckerbox (off the Hume Highway, roughly halfway between Sydney and Melbourne) is testament to his extraordinary work ethic.  His prolific and well-deserved accolades, including two Golden Guitars, demonstrate his prodigious talent.

Gretta Ziller started her career as an opera singer and bagpipe teacher…if that’s not living “outside the square”, we don’t know what is!  And although performing AC/DC’s ‘Long Way to the Top’ incorporating the bagpipes is a great party trick, don’t be fooled into thinking that Gretta is a one trick pony.  Gretta’s roots span jazz, blues, rock, pop and classical, and that eclecticism is reflected in her songwriting.  Her sound may bear the hallmarks of classic Americana music but its essence is far more diverse. 

In addition to receiving critical acclaim and accolades for her music, Gretta is also an incredibly hard-working touring musician and businesswoman.  When she’s not on the road touring the country in her caravan, she’s working her other “outside the square” hustle…creating merchandise for musos in her joint venture with fellow musician Clint Wilson, ‘Small Time Big Time’.


Mickey Pye and Liam Kennedy-Clark

Date: Sunday 21 November

Time: 1:15pm – 2:45pm (AEDT)

As a full-time musician and the founder and director of the Bathurst Academy of Music, Mickey Pye knows a thing or two about getting the best out of your live sound.  Similarly, Liam Kennedy-Clark makes his living from music, both as a live performer, band member and session musician, and also as a producer at his studio, ‘Neat FreQ Productions’. 

In this workshop, Mickey and Liam will take participants through the all-important basics of what to look for in a vocal PA, small & large PA’s and how to make them sing.

Lyn Bowtell

Allan Caswell

Roger Corbett

Kevin Bennett

Melody Moko

Lachlan Bryan

Andrew Swift

Gretta Ziller

Mickey Pye

Liam Kennedy-Clark


Adam Brand (Moderated by Roger Corbett)

Date: Sunday 21 November

Time: 3:00pm – 4:00pm (AEDT)

For more than 20 years, homegrown country trailblazer Adam Brand has thrilled listeners from all walks of life with soulful songs of life’s most universal experiences, from love to loss and everything in between – along with the occasional high-octane motorsports anthem for good measure. 

Fresh from a seven-month family road trip around Western Australia with partner Nui and baby Pepper, Adam has just released a stirring new single ‘I’m Coming Home’.  Over the course of his sterling career, Adam has taken home 12 Golden Guitars and has been nominated for six ARIA Awards.  Across 15 studio records, the tireless artist has racked up three platinum and five gold albums, and claimed eight CMC Oz Artist of the Year Awards; more than any other artist. 

In the challenging world of 2021, there’s a renewed energy and maturity to Adam’s latest collection of songs, which have been penned and collaborated on over the past 12 months. 

Recently returned to the stage after a 16-month hiatus while he recovered from vocal cord surgery, Adam Brand is ready to captivate new listeners across the country, as well as our Academy X audience, who we’re sure will hang on his every word.

Adam Brand


Kirsty Lee Akers (Moderated by Lyn Bowtell)

Date: Sunday 21 November

Time: 4:15pm – 5:15pm (AEDT)

Fresh off ‘The Block’, Kirsty Lee Akers is now a household name to many Australians, but to those of us in the Australian country music scene, Kirsty is no stranger.  In fact, Kirsty is another successful graduate of The Academy who came to us as a Senior, and has gone on to achieve great success, including winning Toyota Star Maker, the Telstra Road to Discovery and two Golden Guitars, amongst her many other accolades. 

A strong Wonnarua Nation woman, Kirsty is proud of her First Nations heritage and although she spends time overseas touring and songwriting during the year, Australia will always be her spiritual home. 

Born to a family of “Aussie battlers”, Kirsty has worked hard from the ground up to get where she is, and continues to lead the way with her work ethic and unique sound. 

From signing record labels to taking full creative control as an independent artist and record producer, Kirsty is never shy of a challenge and has shown us all that despite her petite frame, she is one powerhouse woman of country music.

Kirsty Lee Akers



Amber Lawrence is a 5x Golden Guitar winning singer-songwriter who captures the nation’s attention and heart with her uplifting songs of self-belief, love, family and ordinary Australians.

Whilst many musicians and artists stagnated through 2020 due to the effects of Covid-19 shutdowns, Amber’s creativity thrived and she launched her ARIA number 2 charting DVD – Amber Lawrence Live, collaborated on three separate releases, including the successful re-imagination of True Blue alongside Aleyce Simmonds, Dianna Corcoran and Kirsty Lee Akers, (winning a Golden Guitar in the 2021 CMAA Golden Guitar Awards) and to finish the year, she released her third children’s album ‘The Kid’s Gone Country 2’, which has just seen her achieve her first ARIA nomination for ‘Best Children’s Album’!

Amber will be joining us between sessions to pass on her top tips for getting gig fit, as most of us slowly get back to live music.

A Sydney-sider herself, Amber has had to cancel most of her touring schedule in the latter half of this year, but as she prepares to head back out on the road, she’ll be sharing what she knows to help you prepare too.

What to expect?

Students can expect the same passion and focus that our lecturers bring to the residential version of The Academy and we look forward to nurturing the next crop of country music stars through Academy X”.

Lyn Bowtell – Director,
The Academy


Who should attend?

“Academy X is available to artists, musicians and songwriters from Australia and the world.  From past Academy students looking to refresh and expand their careers, to first time students gaining insights into the country music industry, they’ll be able to gain inspiration and insight from this amazing line up of keynote speakers and hands-on workshop leaders.”

Roger Corbett – General Manager,
The Academy