Tony Kennelly is a cattle farmer from the northern tablelands of New South Wales who also had extensive experience playing in bands before he decided to focus on raising his family. With his children now grown he once again had time to create and play music, releasing an album, Hittin’ the Wall, in 2017 and seeing three of his songs place in the top 30 of the Australian Songwriters Competition.
His latest release is the single ‘Leave the Gate Open’, is from his upcoming album; it covers subject matter Kennelly knows well: life on the land and the troubles that so many farmers have experienced in recent years.
‘I had a call from a friend in the far west of NSW – a fourth-generation farmer – who has been in drought for seven years,’ he says. ‘The bank won’t carry his debt, they’re going to give him notice to vacate and it’s happening to people all over the country, so I felt like I had to write a song for them … It’s a powerful story that people will relate to, and even if they’re not from the land they will feel the desperation of the lyrics as this last drought, which still isn’t over for so many, won’t be forgotten for generations to come.’
The song is hard to ignore and harder to forget, with Kennelly so effectively conveying the story and the message. It was produced by Shane Nicholson, who also played a number of instruments on the track, while Michael Carpenter produced the video, which was filmed on Kennelly’s property with some of the locals appearing.