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James Johnston tunes up for huge tour

James Johnston will perform in some unusual venues during his 50in50 tour, including Gympie’s ten pin bowling alley and in an underground venue at Coober Pedy.
James Johnston will perform in some unusual venues during his 50in50 tour, including Gympie’s ten pin bowling alley and in an underground venue at Coober Pedy. Ashley Roach

JAMES Johnston and The Drift could be on the most ambitious journey in Australian touring history.

The former Australian Idol contestant is testing the mental and physical boundaries of a musician, playing 50 shows in 50 days across five states.

With nothing but a van and a travelling stage, the singer songwriter and his fellow musicians are on a mission that will take James far beyond anywhere he's been before.

He will drive, play, eat and sleep his way across Australia to raise funds and awareness for the Australian Children's Music Foundation.

"We are doing the 50in50 tour to raise money and awareness for ACMF," Johnston told The Gympie Times.

"Music is an escape for kids. Music programs have increased attendance at school and ACMF is finding that especially in regional schools the attendance rate is going from 20% to 90%.

"ACMF works heavily in my local area at Taree. It's a well-known charity doing great things and we wanted a reason for doing this massive thing."

Johnston's musical voyage is a test of endurance that few other touring artists would attempt.

Having toured the country for four years straight with nothing but a guitar for company, James Johnston has driven 250,000km, played close to 1000 gigs, rescued three koalas and has broken down and been towed more times than he cares to remember.

He sets off on the 50in50 tour on May 5 from Brisbane's iconic Caxton Street Festival and will perform in Gympie on Tuesday, May 7, at Gympie's Tenpin Bowling.

Entry is by gold coin donation only, which will go towards ACMF.

"Tuesday night makes it quite unusual I know," Johnston said.

"It's because we are doing a unique thing. Nobody does gigs seven days a week for seven weeks, so that's why we are playing in some unusual places.

"We'll be playing in some well-known venues and other times we will find ourselves in places like a tenpin bowling alley."

A stage will be set up over the two centre alleys with bowling lanes still open for games on either side.

"Hopefully no one bowls as bad as me. If I was playing I would be in danger for sure."

Johnston and band will head north from Brisbane to Charters Towers across to Tenant Creek and down the Northern Territory to South Australia.

They will play underground at Coober Pedy and at The Espy in Melbourne, one of the best known venues in Melbourne for music.

The audience can expect new original work by Johnston described as folk pop with mandolins, acoustic guitars and three part harmonies.

Bookings are essential and lanes are still available at just $100 for up to eight people to play for two hours while Johnston and his band plays. Phone 5482 6688 to book.

Topics:  australian idol james johnston music tour

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