Brad Cox is hosting a happy hour, and the whole world is invited.
The Australian country artist today (19th March) launches his very own show on Apple Music, the aptly-titled “Happy Hour Down Under”.
Hosted by Cox with support from producers and curators in Los Angeles and Nashville, it’s the first Australian country music program on Apple Music Country radio.
“It’s very exciting for an Australian country boy being on a global platform with a radio show,” Cox tells TIO.
“There’s no real hidden meaning behind it,” he says of the show. “It’s just a bloody good time. I’ll talk shit, crack a tin, play good songs and have a happy hour for an hour. I look at it as an hour-long festival on the radio that you can enjoy at home with a few mates.”
Cox has good reason to crack one open.
In late 2019, the Jindabyne-born and raised country singer-songwriter signed his first major label recording deal, with Denis Handlin and Sony Music Australia.
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The first release through that contract was 2020’s My Mind’s Projection, the follow-up to his self-titled debut album from April 2018, the same year he won the Toyota Star Maker competition at the Tamworth Country Music Festival.
My Mind’s Projection gave Cox his first appearance on the ARIA Albums Chart, opening at No. 13 last November.
The rest of the year was a bummer, for Cox and everyone else who makes a living from live performance.
“Happy Hour Down Under” gives Cox a launch pad to the world, without leaving home.
“Last year I planned to get to Nashville on five different occasions. I got one (trip) in real early in the year,” Cox recounts. “I’m definitely missing being over, in America particularly. This is the next best thing to engage with people outside Australia for sure.”
With Cox at the wheel of a weekly radio show, Australia’s impressive crop of country artists should get a regular shout out.
Seventy percent of the songs are picked off the Apple Music playlist that bears its name. “I get to throw in a few songs, have a few yarns from the road,” muses Cox.
In the first episode, Cox celebrates getting a new office, dedicates songs to life on the road and plays a two-song tribute to hardcore country fans in his Farmer’s Delight segment.
Each and every week, he adds, “we get to do an old-school segment, a homage to the traditional country style.”
Country music is in rude health.
Look no further than mulleted U.S. star Morgan Wallen, whose Dangerous: The Double Album made history last month when it logged its seventh week at the summit of the Billboard 200.
No other country album has spent as much time at No. 1 in the 64-year history of the chart.
Dangerous hit No. 2 on the ARIA Albums Chart, while Luke Combs’ What You See Ain’t Always What You Get went one better, hitting the top in late 2019 and chalking up 70 weeks in the Australian Top 50.
There’s no shortage of Aussie country artists making an impact in the U.S. and elsewhere. Think Keith Urban, Morgan Evans, Casey Barnes, The McClymonts, Fanny Lumsden. There’s a lot more where they came from.
“A lot of young Australians are really starting to jump on board with country music,” says Cox, “which only means good things for country music in Australia and for me.”
Speaking to TIO, Apple Music GM Rachel Newman confirms country music is the fastest growing genre in the world. “Australia is a really important country market for us,” she explains. “It’s in the top three markets worldwide.”
Cox’s debut is one-hour prior to the new live-streamed “CMC Rocks Your Yard” special event on Apple Music – kicking off Friday March 19th at 7PM AEDT, hosted by Morgan Evans.
“Happy Hour” triggers a busy period for Cox, who’s gearing up for a return to the stage next month for a mini-tour.
Kicking off in Queensland, “we’ll be playing a bunch of songs from the new record. It feels so strange that we haven’t yet,” he notes. “It feels like we’ve lagged on a bit. This year will be dedicated to that record and then onto the next one.”
That next one won’t be far away. “We’ll start working on it later in the year. Obviously there are no plans set in stone. I’ve been head down, bum up doing heaps of songwriting in the last few months, and I will be the next few months. I’ll be well and truly ready to go with the new project, soon.”
And is Brad feeling a good vibe on a return to normal programming post-COVID? You bet.
“I still haven’t played a show with my homies, my band, since about February last year,” he says. “I’m getting close (to being excited). I’m getting real close. As soon as we get to play a show that will start to feel for me that we’re back on track. Fingers crossed.”
“Happy Hour Down Under with Brad Cox” launches Friday, 19th March at 6pm AEDT on Apple Music Country.