Laid-back Cam striding through country
There's just something about the Gold Guitars.
For New Zealand's country singers, the awards are almost a homegrown Grammys, a chance to launch careers and egos.
These days, they're a bit more Carrie Underwood than Hank Williams.
Songstresses change their spangled frocks and sparkly shoes between every number, their hair curled, straightened or crimped to perfection.
Even the guys get into the act, alternating between their two best shirts and cowboy hats - after all, a Gold Guitar win has the power to change a musician's life.
Just ask Cam Luxton.
It has been almost a month since the 19-year-old lifted the senior golden guitar award, the most glittering prize of the weekend, but the young performer has yet to return normal life.
Right now, being Cam Luxton sounds more than a little exhausting.
The mid-Canterbury resident has an intense schedule, his to-do list crammed with songwriting, media interviews and study for his upcoming electrical exams.
Between all that, Luxton also manages to squeeze in a fulltime job.
"It's busy at the moment," he admits. He doesn't sound too worried about it, though.
Luxton has been juggling his work and his music for a few years now, and is almost an expert at "trying to intertwine everything".
It's a good thing, too, as the gigs just keep on coming.
Luxton will throw his guitar in the ring and compete at the New Zealand Country Music Awards in August, before hitting the road with the Grand Ole Topp'ry tour in October.
In January, as part of his Gold Guitar prize, he will travel to Australia to take part in the Tamworth Country Music Festival.
And that's just the programme for the next six months.
The performer acknowledges it's his bosses' accommodating attitude that allows him to pursue two careers, one musical and one not.
Having a supportive family is also a bonus, he says.
Luxton's family is pretty hard to beat when it comes to country music. The teenager is the stepson of musician-cum-comedian Lynda Topp, one half of the inimitable Topp Twins.
The pair were on hand to support Luxton when he performed in Gore and are sure to be supporting him as he embarks upon his next project, a solo album.
On top of everything else going on in his life right now, Luxton has decided to record a studio album. It will be his third endeavour, a follow-up to his debut EPs, No More Nights and The Doghouse.
The new effort will include some of Luxton's original works - hence the hectic songwriting - as well as the song that secured him the Gold Guitar win, Radney Foster's Disappointing You.
Luxton has given the album a working title: Laid Back Man.
It's an interesting name, actually a line plucked from one of his original songs, and it seems to sum up his general approach to life.
Luxton reckons the music industry has a reputation for bringing out the worst in people, for wanting to "push push push" all the time.
That's just not him, he says.
"I just want to do it with a more laid-back approach."
The musician plans to record at Nightshift Studios in Christchurch, embracing the power of social media to fund the album's production.
He is hoping to raise $8000 through crowd funding site Pledge Me.
The site has already netted $1000 for the cause, with each donator getting a personal thank you from Luxton's official Facebook page.
However, until the money is raised, Luxton is back to the grind, pushing through his to-do list.
There has been a lot of hype and excitement after his Gold Guitar success but Luxton says his work ethic and family will keep his feet on the ground.
"I've always had a good grounding with my parents and stuff, so I've never let anything get to me."
Cam Luxton's album fundraising site can be found at pledgeme.co.nz/projects/2188.
- The Southland Times