Regional Song Contest

This year we're taking the song contest to our nation's music capital of TAMWORTH

and winners will perform on stage at the annual Tamworth Country Music Festival!


16yo Molly Millington from Central Coast (NSW) has won the 2016/17 Regional Song Contest.

16yo Molly Millington from Central Coast (NSW) wins the 2016/17 Regional Song Contest

Molly will perform on stage at the Tamworth Country Music Festival on Friday 27th January, in recognition of her win.  She will also receive a Music Mentorship Package from fRETfEST.

16yo Millington recorded her debut EP with country music artist, Shane Nicholson, this year. She and Furbank will be joined on stage by the 2015 Regional Song Contest winner, 17yo Tyler Shoobert from Binnaway and 2015 runner up, 15yo Georgie Taylor from Redland Bay, (Qld).


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The unique, purple Tanglewood acoustic guitar has been won by 14yo, Luke Furbank, from Bathurst.  He is excited and looking forward to performing live on stage at Tamworth in January.

Tanglewood guitar giveaway, 2016/17 runner's up prize (pictured above)



The 2015/16 contest was won by 16yo Tyler Shoobert from Binnaway, NSW.  On winning, Tyler said "I started writing and performing when I was 8 years old and ever since then I've always wanted to become a singer now I'm 16, I want to take it further with fRETfEST."

Tyler won a Cole Clark acoustic guitar from GUITAR BROTHERS valued at over $1,800.00 and a music mentorship with fRETfEST.

Tyler is now working on his music and hopes to be able to release an EP in 2016/17.


Cole Clark Angel FL1E-BM acoustic guitar with 2 way pickup system (in case).


17yo Harry Marshall from Emerald in Central Queensland won the 1st annual Queensland Regional Song Contest.

As part of his prize, Harry recorded a single with UK producer, Kev Browne and through his own efforts, he performed live on stage with MUMFORD & SONS.

Marshall also won a mentorship with Fretfest Pty Ltd, putting him in the same league as a young Pete Murray (from Chinchilla) who played at fRETfEST at the beginning of his career, back in 1999.

fRETfEST helps young singer songwriters start their career. Marshall is hoping he can go on to make a profession of writing and singing his own songs, with this big break.

“If I could live my life on the road playing shows for the rest of my life, I would be a happy man. Music will always be a part of me, music is my life!”, says the talented 17yo.

The song contest attracted entries from as far afield as Julia Creek, 2hrs east of Mt Isa, Roma, Miles, Dayboro, the Scenic Rim and Buderim. It also attracted Frank Swaby from the Gold Coast hinterland who entered the competition hoping to win the Maton SRS60 acoustic guitar, supplied by GUITAR BROTHERS in Brisbane.

18yo Swaby is a Graphic Design student at the Gold Coast Institute of TAFE and he has been announced as the winner of the guitar, much to his delight!  Excitedly, Frank says, “I am looking forward to performing live with fRETfEST and playing the guitar. This is a chance to improve my skills as an artist, songwriter and musician.”  

Fretfest founder and director, Al Buchan says this is a milestone in the music industry.

“With all the energy being absorbed by nationally televised TV music game shows, hundreds of teenagers are being inspired to play songs but there’s not a lot being done to promote song ‘writing’. We see the Regional Song Contest as a voice in the wilderness. Yes, Australia has got talent.  But at fRETfEST, we’re looking for the next great singer songwriters. The next Pete Murray, Kate Miller-Heidke, Tom Busby or Emma Louise.”  


Mentorship 1st Place:            17yo HARRY MARSHALL, a high school student from Emerald, in the Central Highlands Region. Harry is an outstanding young musician, Qld Catholic Music Festival performer, band leader and high academic achiever with plans to travel overseas and bring his music home to Australia where he will study.

Mentorship Runner’s Ups:                 18yo FRANK SWABY, Gold Coast Region, 15yo LAURA LAVELL from Roma (Central South Region), 17yo LAURA FLYNN from Miles/Toowoomba (Southeast Region), 18yo RACHEL FELS from Julia Creek (Central North Queensland), 16yo TATUM PARMLEY from Parkwood (Gold Coast Region).

Highly Commended Awards:              18yo KELSEY BERRINGTON from Dayboro (Brisbane Region), 18yo ANDY CRILLY from Kooralbyn (Scenic Rim Region), 18yo CHLOE MARKS from Cairns (Far North Queensland), 18yo ALEX SULLIVAN from Buderim (Sunshine Coast Region) and 17yo HANSA RUBASINGH from Logan (Brisbane).

Winner of the Maton SRS60 acoustic guitar, 18yo Frank Swaby from Bonogin.


fRETfEST®  launched the Regional Song Contest in July 2014, for musicians aged 13 to 19 years. 1st Prize was a Maton SRS 60 (Solid Road Series) acoustic guitar with an AP5 pickup, worth $1,650.

Entries were received from as far away as Julia Creek and Roma and the central highlands of Queensland.  Entries were also been received from the Gold and Sunshine Coast regions.

The MATON SRS60 features solid Queensland Maple timber and an AP5 pickup!


The purpose of the Regional Song Contest is to showcase the depth of songwriting talent from rurual, remote and regional Australia and to offer musicians the chance to be discovered, recognised and rewarded for their songwriting talent.

Fretfest is an innovative Music Mentorship and Indie Singer Songwriter Showcase that has revealled stellar careers including Pete Murray, Kate Miller-Heidke and Tom Busby. Pete Murray went on to sign with the world’s largest record company after playing fRETfEST gigs and then sold over 1 million albums.  Kate Miller-Heidke won the International Song Contest with her anti-bullying anthem, ‘Caught In The Crowd’ and Tom Busby went on to form everyone’s favourite duo, Busby Marou!

fRETfEST also discovered Bobby Flynn who starred in Australian Idol after excelling at fRETfEST and Dominic Miller who now heads a successful music agency in Brisbane. Also, Mark Lowndes who starred on Australia’s Got Talent after rising through the ranks of the fRETfEST at Queensland’s Performing Arts Centre and Alan Boyle who won the Billy Thorpe Scholarship Award after competing in fRETfEST in 2007.

Talk about great outcomes!

In 2008 fRETfEST took 40 finalists to the Woodford Folk Festival and this inspired even more musicians to join Fretfest. One of whom was Andrew Redford.  He went on to win the Telstra Discovery Award at TAMWORTH and Jac Stone made the finals of The Voice last year on Seal’s team after playing at Fretfest. She recorded her debut Ep with Powderfinger’s Darren Middleton and  now she's touring Australia, as a star on the rise in her own right.

So fRETfEST certainly has the credentials and the track record. We even have a presence in America and the UK as well as links to Europe, too.

One of the latest musicians to sign to fRETfEST is17yo Kodey Brims from Mt Cotton who came through the fRETfEST Music Mentorship Program and was accepted into one of the most prestigious music colleges in the world; the Berklee College Of Music in Boston USA.



Bringing music career opportunities to singer songwriters in Regional Australia.