COMING: Jen Mize and performance partner Mark Sholtez.
COMING: Jen Mize and performance partner Mark Sholtez. Contributed

Rope in a good night as twilight settles on trail

SHE grew up on a horse property outside Las Vegas, the daughter of "actual cowboys”, and now Jen Mize is set to perform in Stanthorpe as part of next month's Johnny Cash Country Festival which honours the country music legend's "unique” bond with the town.

Ms Mize - with her singing partner Mark Sholtez - will perform a selection of iconic cowboy songs from the 1920s-1960s at the Twilight on the Trail event on October 11.

The Johnny Cash Festival - which is in its third year - is hoped to attract around 1000 music lovers and country fans from around Queensland and northern NSW as organisers aim to provide a much-needed boost to the local economy on October 11 and 12.

Festival organiser, Sarah Wilmott, said the festival was created because of Stanthorpe's "unique” ties with Johnny Cash and his wife June Carter.

"Johnny and June would visit an old friend here during the 80s and 90s and they would come here for holidays. Johnny played some charity concerts and fundraised for Blue Care,” Ms Wilmott said.

"Everyone in town had a story about meeting Johnny Cash in those days - he was very friendly.

"And most people, even if they don't like country music, they actually like Johnny Cash. Nowhere else in Australia can claim that Johnny Cash came to their area regularly for a holiday.”

Ms Mize, ahead of her Stanthorpe performance, said she was also keen to be part of the state's efforts to attract tourism to Stanthorpe as the area struggled to recover from the drought and recent fires.

"I know it's been really tough for people in Stanthorpe and country music is always known to get behind its local populations and help people out in strife.

"So, we want to play these old cowboy songs and bring people a bit of respite and that good feeling that you get when you listen to music from your youth.”

Inspired by the great cowboy crooners - Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, Dale Evans, Sons of the Pioneers - Ms Mize said she her music is "a mix of classical country and Americana with a deep harkening to classical country roots”.

"I'm very much looking forward to being part of the festival, and as a long-time Johnny Cash fan, anything Johnny Cash is right up my alley.”

Ms Mize - a descendant of the Native American Lumbee people - grew up in the Mojave Desert and began playing a Suzuki Violin around two years of age.

"I've always had a deep respect for First Nations people from all over the world and a deep respect for the land and nature - it's engrained and ever-present really.”

She said her dad was "a total cowboy”.

"He was the real thing. And for my first job I was hired by the local rodeo which was walking distance from my house and I pulled the chutes for the calf roping

"I'd always wanted to be a rodeo queen and I loved country music.”

Ms Mize, who moved to Australia in 2006 after marrying an Australian and now lives in the Glasshouse Mountains, said emigrating also sparked a passion for songwriting.

"In coming to Australia and being a world away from friends and family, I was able to think about who I am and where I come from and what my viewpoint actually is.”

Ms Mize is also a cohost with Paddy McHugh of a weekly community national radio show called Three Cords and the Truth which tackles issues such as mental health, suicide, and refugees and which plays Americana and alternative country tunes.

Festival information

On Friday, October 11, Jen Mize and Mark Sholtez will perform Twilight on the Trail at the Tuscany Room, International Club, Club Rd, Stanthorpe, from 7.30pm-9.30pm.

Doors open 6:45pm for wine and cheese (charges apply), and tickets are available from local outlets for $35 or online

On Saturday, October 12, a host of performances - including Jen Mize and Mark Sholtez - will kick off at the Stanthorpe Showgrounds. Exhibition Centre doors open at 2pm.

Programme of events, Saturday, October 12: 

3pm-3:45pm Too Much Fun

4pm-4:45pm Mark Sholtez

5pm-5:45pm Alan Boyle and Blues Arcadia

6pm-6:45pm Jen Mize

7pm-7:45pm The Songs of Dolly Parton starring Brooke McMullen

8pm-8:45pm Brad Butcher

9pm-9.45pm Leaving Jackson - The Johnny Cash and June Carter Show

10pm-10:45pm Danny Widdicombe and the Honey Sliders

For tickets, bookings and further information check https://tickets.johnnycashcountry.com.au/tickets/ or call 0404 988 249

Tickets for the Friday show are $35 from local outlets, or $41 online. Tickets for the Saturday event are $35 from local outlets or $41 online. A two-day pass is $65 from local outlets or $67 online.