He has an engaging personality, a social conscience, bucket loads of musical talent – and a bright future! Meet 14 year old Freddie Bailey-Cook … he’s been busking and playing gigs since he was 12 and achieved some amazing things at the Tamworth Country Musical Festival earlier this year.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and why you came to Tamworth to live?
I’m 14 years old and grew up in Sydney. My stepdad got the job as the Zone Commander for Fire and Rescue NSW in New England, so we moved to Tamworth. I now go to Oxley High School – which is great for me, as the CAPA Staff seem to get me, which is awesome.
You’re currently studying guitar at the Tamworth Conservatorium of Music – but how old were you when you first began playing?
I had my first guitar as a Christmas present when I was nine and started lessons in the New Year, and I have never looked back.
I think that it’s really important to have the right guitar teacher and although I have had lessons since I was nine, I didn’t start to get really good until I began to have lessons with local musician Kym Beare. He is really important to me; I think of him as a mentor more than a teacher. I just know that we will always be friends; we just have a great musical and personal connection.
You’re a bit of an “old hand” at live performances now, as you’ve been busking and playing gigs for two years. What was the feeling like when you first performed live (can you remember?) and does it feel different when you play live these days?
I can remember my first live performance like it was yesterday! I played our friend, “Howdy’s” informal gig – I was so nervous, I could feel my heart beating out of my chest and my hands were shaking. It’s a wonder I could play at all. But something happened that night; despite being nervous, I came off stage having had the thrill of playing to real people rather than just sitting on my bed playing to my dog, Barnaby.
I still have that same thrill now every time I play to an audience; the nerves have gone (unless I’m playing in a big concert) but that thrill is one of the things that drives me.
You have a couple of Country Music Festivals under your belt too! What were some of your standout performances/achievements at this year’s festival?
I was really busy this year and I entered a few competitions, including “Battle of The Bands” at the Town Hall. We knew that we had absolutely no hope of winning or even getting into the final, given that we were a group of 14-year-old school kids up against professional musicians from all over the country, but in terms of having fun, that was probably the best 30 minutes for me out of the whole festival.
I was also immensely privileged to have been asked by David Carter to perform in the “Shine Concert” at the Capitol Theatre. Shine is a concert that showcases the most promising up and coming Country Artists in Australia, so it really was a big deal.
Probably the biggest thrill of my life so far was making it to the Top 10 of the Buskers Championships; this was the one thing I had set my heart on achieving this year, so I well and truly kicked the only goal I had set for myself. I sang to the biggest audience I had ever performed to, and it felt like a dream come true.
Last year you released your first single, When the Rain Comes, to raise funds for drought affected farmers. How long did it take you to write this song … and why did you decide to donate the proceeds from its sales?
I decided to write the song as a fundraiser. I had been following the stories in the news for some time about how tough those people on the land were doing it and just felt that I wanted to help in some way.
It didn’t take long to write; I would say it was all done in less than an hour. I’m pretty proud of the lyrics in particular, as the song was a finalist in this year’s CCMA Songwriter of The Year, Under 17 Category.
What are you currently working on musically … are you writing more songs/preparing to record?
I have written a couple of songs recently; one is a love song and the other one is deeply personal, and I suppose you could say that it has been the beginning of a healing process for me. I would really like to record these later on in the year.
Where are some of your upcoming gigs?
At the moment I haven’t got much pencilled in apart from busking on Peel St in Tamworth on the third Sunday of the month whilst the markets are on. You can also catch me on a Thursday night at the Muso’s Jam at The Albert Hotel in Tamworth.
What are your dreams/goals (musically or otherwise)?
In the short term I am hoping to do Junior Academy again this year and complete the Instrumental Course (I did the Singer Songwriter last year).
I would love to be a successful recording artist and be the headline act one day at Music Festivals. As incredible as it would be to have fans and the world at your feet, I hope that I make my wonderful mum proud and never take for granted all the sacrifices that she made to send me to Junior Academy, to pay for years and years of music lessons and help me buy equipment, guitars and give me amazing opportunities that most kids could only ever dream of.
Where can we purchase your music or find out more about you?
My song When the Rain Comes by Freddie is available to buy online through iTunes, Spotify etc. But if you’d like to find out more about me and get a heads up on where I’m performing and what I’m doing, please go to my Facebook page, Fredbear Music, and give it a like.
Interview: Jo Robinson. Pic: Gareth Gardner.