FOR Darren Colston, growing up in the Riverina revolved around the family hotel, the jukebox and girls.
Having moved from Melbourne to Narrandera at 15, Colston spent his formative years living at the Royal Mail Hotel.
Among his favourite tunes on the jukebox were Some Days are Diamonds (John Denver), Vienna (Ultravox), Kiss You All Over (Exile) and Who Put The Roo In The Stew (The Webb Brothers).
"During that year I'd gone from living in Melbourne and always having mum or dad looking over my shoulder to a place of much more freedom and trust," he said.
"This was the time where I went from a sheltered life to learning about life, death and love and everything in between.
"This was when I learnt how to be 'me'."
Now the Albury-based singer-songwriter has reflected on his childhood and coming-of-age at Narrandera in his new single Old Town, which was released on Monday.
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The follow-up to Hello Riverina, Old Town delved into the pub, the jukebox and his first love, but there were also tragedies such as the schoolboy who died in a motorbike accident.
Colston got his first chance to sing in public at the hotel.
He said the father of the boy who died in the accident was moved to tears by his version of Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys (Willie Nelson).
"That's when I first understood how music could move people," Colston said.
Having settled in Albury a decade ago, Colston said the Riverina would always be his spiritual home.
Produced by Damian Cafarella, Old Town and Hello Riverina are the first new music to come from Colston in two years, ahead of his upcoming album, Rucker's Hill.
"This is my chance to be the musician I want to be and be out in front of people in a more meaningful way."
With several awards including Tamworth Independent Artists Male Vocalist of the Year to his name, Colston has penned and performed charting singles including the top five hit with Victoria Baillie, Will You Stay, and Golden Guitar-nominated song The Boundary Rider.
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