ALAN Neal has got his finger in lots of pies around Queanbeyan, but it's his role as a local country music singer that is currently on his mind.
Neal, 61, has just released his fourth studio album, I wanna sing to you, featuring sixteen country music classics in Neal's signature style.
"They're kind of lovey songs I suppose," he said of the album which includes covers of Elvis Presley, Merle Haggard and many more.
"It's one of those things- we'll be driving somewhere listening to music on the iPod, and you'll play a song coming out of Cooma or somewhere and think 'hey that's pretty good. Then you put it on repeat and next thing you're at Bombala and it's still playing.
"That's when you think, 'well maybe we better play something else now," he laughed. "They kind of seep into you."
Mr Neal and his wife Margaret pack up the car and travel to various country music festivals around the country whenever they can manage it, and there's always plenty of country music on the stereo to soak up.
The couple first moved to Queanbeyan from Launceston in 1993, and Neal works full-time as a gardener for Queanbeyan City Council.
And in the interim he picked up the guitar to try his hand at some of his favourite country music songs through the Canberra and Monaro Country Music Association.
Somewhere along the way he struck the right chord and people started requesting his CDs, so he went into the recording studio to make them.
Airplay from national country music broadcaster Bill Beerens coupled with plenty of gigs around the region helped to lift his profile, and now the Queanbeyan couple field calls from around Australia asking when his next album is coming out.
"It's very flattering, but it's kind of embarrassing too, because that was never the idea: it was just a hobby," Neal said.
"I mean, I love John Denver and Willy Nelson and all those people, and when people turn around and say, 'oh no, we like to play your music,' I think,'Huh?' I'm not one of those [stars], I'm just little old me out of Tassie," he said.
Neal will launch I wanna sing to you at the Roos Club on Sunday, November 10 from 3pm. Now four albums into his country music career, he said he's glad he decided to pick up the guitar back in the mid nineties and have a go.
"We were planning to go on holidays to Nashville, and we saved up all this money to go, and then the backside fell out of the dollar," Neal recalls.
"So we thought it's crazy to do that now, and Margie said to me, 'well if you're going to do a CD, now's the time.' And each CD has sort of financed the next one."
"But we still haven't been to Nashville," his wife Margaret adds.
"Maybe we should put that on the bucket list," Neal laughs. "I've heard of these bucket lists, but I'm not old enough to have one yet."
Catch Alan Neal at the Queanbeyan Kangaroos Club on Sunday November 10, from 3-5pm. For a copy of I wanna sing to you, phone the Neals on 6299 4628.