CMF sets up oriental band at Mahawilachchiya school


The not-for-profit Country Music Foundation (CMF) continued into 2018 its donations for children’s causes from the March 2017 “Country Roads” concert, this time providing musical instruments to set up a school oriental band, and helping a drought-stricken village with water.

On March 12, the CMF donated a sum of Rs. 140,000 to the Nildiyawara Prajamula Society (a village society) in Mahawilachchiya in the Anuradhapura district to clean existing tube well and fix motor and panel boards to help the village that hasn’t seen rain for nearly three years.

On February 5, the CMF presented Rs. 160,000 worth of instruments to the Gamini Public School in Mahawilachchiya, Anuradhapura upon a request by parents and children from the area.

At a simple ceremony, the students, teachers and the Principal Pathmasiri Wanninayaka welcomed the d0nation. Mr. Wanninayake said the dance teacher has already begun creating a school band while the school was awaiting a music teacher too to join the staff. Parents said the main reason for the donation was the principal’s dedication and commitment to improve the quality of education in this small school.

The instruments were made up of a Sitar, Esraj, Violins, Tabla, Seraphina, Flutes, Udarata drums, Pahatharata drums, Pantheru, Thalampota, Kombu nala, Hak kombu nala, Symbols, Bass drum, Dawul and Thammettam.

The combined total so far from the 2017 concert proceeds now stands at Rs.1.27 million. These donations were to:


  • April 2017 – Pimbura Primary School, Agalawatte – 136,000 (360 school bags for the 2017 Avuruddu celebrations) with support from Ceylon Biscuits and Nestle,
  • May 14- Horizon Lanka, Mahavillachiya – 130,000 (cost of 5 Dialog winipads)
  • May 12 -PREDO, a community service NGO in Hatton – Rs. 150,000 for a project supporting the children of migrant workers;
  • May 12 – ESCO Batticaloa – 150,000 (children’s project organized by this NGO working to support migrant workers and their families);
  • May/June -Kiula Kiyawana Gunaya Free Classical and Folk Music Class, Hambantota – 205,000 for the purchase of an ESRAJ instrument and provision of scholarships for nine of the brightest students in this music class. They are each receiving Rs. 2000 per month for 12 months ending in May 2018.
  • May 30 –200,000 was presented to Give2Lanka for a Batticaloa water project operated by Berendina Sri Lanka with the National Water Supply and Drainage Board. This project involves providing pipe water connections to low income families, according to CMF officials.


  • February 5 (2018) – The CMF presented 160,000 worth of instruments to the Gamini Public School in Mahawilachchiya, Anuradhapura upon a request by parents and children from the area.
  • March 12 – the CMF donated a sum of 140,000 to the Nildiyawara Prajamula Society (a village society) in Mahawilachchiya to clean existing tube well and fix motor and panel boards to help village that hasn’t seen rain for nearly three years. This support will help several families including children and their mothers.
  • ENDS –

CMF’s song for the children (Sunday Times 02.04.2017)

Ever popular Sunil of Gypsies. Pix by Indika Handuwala

He did not strive to be a star – Matheesha was the star of the show, holding the hearts of each and everyone in his little palm as he shot along the aisle between the audience, up the ramp and onto the stage.

Grabbing the ukelele lying on the floor, expertly donning the strap over his shoulder, pranced around he did on stage in perfect rhythm, in a performance that stole the show from none other than Keith Potger of New Seekers’ fame.

It was one of the highpoints of many poignant moments in a three-day fiesta of Country and Folk Music, all to raise funds for children’s projects across the country, organized by the Country Music Foundation (CMF)  headed by Feizal Samath on March 17 and 18, reaching a crescendo at the ‘Country Roads’ 29th anniversary concert on March 19.

The Friday night of March 17th witnessed very well-known personalities in Colombo at a four-course meal elaborately planned by the Mount Lavinia Hotel in the State Room cozily enveloped by the seductive glances from portraits of stunning mestizo dancer Lovinia Aponsuwa and across from her lover and second Governor of Ceylon, Sir Thomas Maitland. It was their secret alliance that led the Governor to name his mansion ‘Mount Lavinia’, now the hotel with all its old-world charm.

‘Music, fireside chats & dinner’ was the theme on March 17, in an event organized by the CMF in association with tea giant Dilmah, with Keith Potger from Australia, Mavericks Duo from Germany and Astrid Brook from the United Kingdom giving a taste of what would follow in the next two days. Their performances were preceded by a guitar solo by Anish Wijesinghe, not only strumming his guitar but also drumming on it.

Saturday morning (March18), the scene moved from that of being stately the night before to the rambunctious ‘Special Edition’ of Country Roads at the M.J.F. Centre at Moratuwa, as the audience erupted into clapping, singing, dancing and swaying, some even in their wheelchairs when the musicians got on stage once again, enhanced by the performances of none other than Sri Lanka’s own home-bred but immensely popular Sunil of the Gypsies and comedian Ronnie Leitch.

And it was here that little Matheesha got into action, escaping his mother’s embrace to emerge on the stage with Keith Potger.

The MJF Centre for Dignified and Sustainable Empowerment established in 2011, is fulfilling the vision of Dilmah Founder Merrill J. Fernando to make business a matter of human service. Its multifaceted projects, combined with technical expertise to spread love and affection, are aimed at addressing the foremost challenges faced by marginalized communities including women, boys and girls, the differently-abled, youth and elderly.

Once the show was over, everyone was served omelette burger buns, all prepared and temptingly displayed by the trainee chefs of the centre along with delicious iced tea.

The audience comes alive to the music

The grand finale, of course, was Sunday, when as the sun dipped into the Indian Ocean, twos, threes and groups, the young, the middle-aged and the ever-greens who do not grow old, walked into the Mount Lavinia Hotel’s ballroom, up the grand staircase which took the shape of a wagon-caravan, past cacti and other reminders of the wild west.

Filled to capacity, the ballroom was, with the audience humming, tapping their toes and singing out loud the country songs very much a part of their lives sung by the artists from abroad as well as the Cosmic Rays and the Country Revival Band.

As is usual and looked forward to, the curtain came down on the 29th anniversary ‘Country Roads’ — South Asia’s and Sri Lanka’s longest-running children’s charity show — with the well-loved ‘Country Roads take me home’.

Matheesha with Dirk Maverick

– K.H

Sold-out 29th anniversary Country Roads rides into the sunset, with Rave Reviews

The reviews are in! The sold-out 29th anniversary concert delighted its audiences! Checkout these excellent articles by our fabulous, longtime media sponsor Sunday Times, followed by a sensational review of the concert by Daily Mirror and a great pictorial by Ceylon Today.

Sunday Times Plus of March 26, 2017

Sunday Times - 26.03.2017 (Plus)


Daily Mirror Life of March 21, 2017

Daily Mirror - 21.03.2017

Ceylon Today Look of March 25, 2017.


Check out Country Roads headliners at a special preview concert

Country music and folk fans will be presented with a unique opportunity to check out 2017 Country Roads concert headliners as Keith Potger and Astrid Brook perform at a very special preview of the concert on the evening of Saturday, March 18, at the Terrace of the historic Mount Lavinia Hotel.

This year’s Country Roads concert, to be held on Sunday, March 19, at 6 30 the same hotel, will encompass a number of related activities including this preview, a visit to the MJF Charitable Foundation and even a Rs. 10,000-a-plate dinner at the hotel.


Take a sentimental journey with the ‘Wandering Minstrel’

‘Country Roads 2017’ returns on March 19, with new artistes, old favourites and its mission to help children’s charities

By Tarini Pilapitiya

Originating in the southern states of the US, country music is a genre that warms the heart, encompassing the blues and folk with simple yet powerful harmonies. Revelling in these well-loved sounds and rhythms, the Country Music Foundation (CMF) brings to the local stage renowned artistes from across the world when they present ‘Country Roads 2017’ on March 19 from 6.30 p.m. at the Mount Lavinia Hotel.

From left are Dilmah’s Spencer Manuelpillai, Horizon Lanka Foundation’s Nanda Wanninayaka, Cargills (Ceylon) Plc’s Teresa Santos, Mount Lavinia Hotel’s Dishnika Perera, CMF President Feizal Samath, LOLC’s Anne Perera and HNB’s Chammika Weerasinghe

Now in its 29th year, Country Roads is a fixture in the local music scene and this year, the organisers are delighted to present the legendary “Wandering Minstrel” Keith Potger, one of the original members of the hugely successful Australian quartet “The Seekers”. The Seekers had a string of hits including “I’ll Never Find another You” and “A world of our own”, songs which hold great sentimental value for many and Potger’s performance will be the biggest draw of the evening.

The concert has its firm favourites too– artistes who make the journey to Country Roads to sing for the cause. Country Roads 2017 will feature the Maverick duo (Dirk and Wolfgang) from Germany, UK’s very own Astrid Brook, and from Sri Lanka – the Cosmic Rays.

This year the CMF organisers have a special build-up to the concert. On March 17, a special charity dinner at the Mount Lavinia Hotel titled “Music, Fireside chats and Dinner” will give guests a rare opportunity to engage in a one-on-one chat with the talented musicians. On March 18, at the MJF Centre at Moratuwa, the differently abled children who attend the centre will be entertained by these musicians who will also be joined by much-loved Sunil Perera and Ronnie Leitch.

All funds raised by the CMF from the show are donated to children’s charities in Sri Lanka and have been, from its inception.
CMF has chosen to support The Horizon Lanka Foundation (HLF) this year. Led by Nanda Wanninayaka, HLF is an educational anchor for village schoolchildren of Mahawilachchiya who benefit from assistance given to them to study English and IT. In order to help sustain this inspiring foundation, CMF is hoping to provide a lending hand, wherever possible.

President of CMF, Feizal Samath, speaking on the healing elements of country music chuckles that he can go on about the initiative and country music “until the cows come home”, but we believe that the environment of the show is something that must be witnessed by all, no words can describe it.

CMF is supported in their efforts by sponsors, HNB, Dilmah, Cargills, Dialog, BBDO, LOLC, SriLankan Airlines, CPR, Firefly and, of course, venue host Mount Lavinia Hotel, who express their delight in working closely with CMF and for such a noteworthy cause.

Tickets priced at Rs. 3,000, Rs. 2,000 and Rs. 1,000 are available for sale at the Mount Lavinia Hotel and at Cargills Food City outlets at – Kirullapone, Majestic City, Mount Lavinia (close to the courts), Staples Street, Rajagiriya (Parliament Road), Kohuwela and Big City – Katubedda.

For more information please contact 0773823909 or email the organizers at

‘Wandering Minstrel’ Keith Potger at Country Roads

The Country Music Foundation, the organiser of the 2017 Country Roads concert for children, is proud to announce that globally-famous “Wandering Minstrel” Keith Potger, founder of The Seekers band, has been added to the line-up for this year’s 29th anniversary show. The Country Roads concert for children is scheduled for Sunday, March 19 at the Mount Lavinia Hotel. 10x10-press-ad2-reference-01Says Keith on his upcoming performance at 2017’s Country Roads, “I am looking forward to visiting Sri Lanka.”