Glenwood hillbillies Zeta Burns and Ian Hands returned from the Tamworth Country Music Festival with awards and certificate for their outstanding achievements in the industry.
Glenwood hillbillies Zeta Burns and Ian Hands returned from the Tamworth Country Music Festival with awards and certificate for their outstanding achievements in the industry. Boni Holmes

Recognised for a passion of country stories

Ian Hands and Zeta Burns have been travelling the country with guitar in hand, playing country ballads for as long as they can remember.

At this year's Tamworth Country Music Festival both performers were honoured for their outstanding achievements.

For the first time ever Ian received his first award, the Eric Watson Award for his continued passion of telling the real story of many country musicians.

Zeta said they had received nomination forms three years running but Ian never submitted them.

"So they rang me up and said they said they were going to put him in anyway and asked me to send through the information," she said.

"That's how he come to get the award

"Ian had no idea."

In the late sixties the MCMA - Modern Country Music Association which was later changed to Australian Country Music Association Ian worked on a monthly newsletter.

"That is what got me started and in 1972 I started the Country Music Roundabout magazine.

"I didn't intend to start it - but I worked on it until it finished in 1981."

One of Ian's greatest achievements was discovering the unmarked grave of legendary country yodeller June Holmes.

June Holmes had been laying in an unmarked grave for 16 years.

So with Zeta's backing they got a plaque made and had the unveiling in 1981.

Ian finds his history on early country music stars by talking to the musicians - out of the mouths of horses - and doesn't use social media.

"The only time I use a computer is to type.

"I just rattle people's brains.

Ian has sent many stories to different magazines and publications over the years - uncovering the truth, the gossip of many old country musos.

Most of Ian's talent can be viewed at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Yandina.

Zeta celebrated her 90th birthday in Tamworth were she was also awarded with a plaque on the Wall of Honour at the Lindsay Butler Studios.

Linday Butler said that Zeta was the first person he ever recorded in 1984. He was the producer for Hadley Recordings.

"When I went down to do the recording, it snowed in Tamworth for the first time, we just got through and the roads closed, did the recording and roads opened - we were the last car in and the first car out," Zeta said.