Australia's Helpmann Nominations Unveiled

Three of Australia's biggest festivals will go up against each other at the Helpmann Awards, nominations for which were announced Monday night at events held simultaneously in Sydney and Melbourne.

The awards, held July 28 at Sydney's Lyric Theatre, are organized by trade association Live Performance Australia, which covers dance, opera, theater, musicals and contemporary music in more than 41 categories.

Contemporary music is covered in four categories. The best contemporary music festival category will be contested between the 19th Annual East Coast Blues and Roots Festival (Chugg Entertainment and Peter Noble Presents), Big Day Out Festival 2008 (Vivian Lees and Ken West), St Jeromes Laneway Festival (Chugg Entertainment & Rockin Roll Circus) and Womadelaide (Womadelaide Foundation).

Nominees for best Australian contemporary concert are the multi-act female singer songwriter assembly BROAD (Maiden Australia and QPAC), Crowded House (Frontier Touring Company), soul singer Kate Ceberano's "Nine Lime Avenue" tour (Andrew McManus Presents), and rock band the Whitlams with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra (Sydney Symphony).

Up for the best international contemporary concert gong are "Björk On the Steps Of the Sydney Opera House" (Presented by Sydney Festival), "Bon Jovi - The Lost Highway Tour" (Dainty Consolidated Entertainment), and performances by Justin Timberlake (The Frontier Touring Company) and Rufus Wainwright (Chugg Entertainment and Perth International Arts Festival).

In the best performance in an Australian contemporary concert category are Paris-based diva Tina Arena (Spiritworks Pty Ltd), David Campbell's "The Swing Sessions 2" (The Harbour Agency), Kate Cebrano's "Nine Lime Avenue" tour (Andrew McManus Presents) and "Australian Idol" winner Guy Sebastian's "The Memphis Tour" (The Harbour Agency) in which he toured with Memphis session players.

Co-recipients of the J C Williamson award are Barry Humphries, who created the character of Dame Edna Everage, and Sue Nattrass who has been artistic director of Melbourne Festival and Adelaide Festival of the Arts, and chairs the Confederation of Australian International Arts Festivals.

The J C Williamson award recognizes an outstanding contribution to the Australian live performance industry.