Greetings, random readers of music news. Daniel here covering a conundrum that often comes up in conversation within the rurally occupying country folk.
I’ve had many conversations lately with band members and managers about breaking into the broader market of the city loop. Being cooped up in places like Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong or anywhere considered “country”, can have many downsides (if not entirely downright dark sides) to it. The rural music scene is not one for the weak-willed; there are trials and tribulations that can break some of the most dedicated artists.
My own criticism of Ballarat is the limit to the original live music scene. Ballarat is home of many sports-orientated jocks, and though they’re not always entirely unpleasant types, the amount of alcohol consumed (along with other things) can somewhat leave them lacking in open-minded appreciation. When an original live musician gets on stage either solo or with a band, the joke often goes: “Play Khe Sanh” or the American equivalent, “play Freebird”. Now, often it’s a friend or family member who’s known to be joking, but in a country town where you may have a footballer pissed as a newt before 8 p.m. on a Friday, the sad reality is this chant may be taken up and encouraged by other friends of the perpetrator. Which most of the time might make for an awkward show, especially if the musician still has his milk teeth.
So a few of us have lately been discussing getting into the live original music scene in Melbourne, and how we may go about getting gigs at the smaller popular live music venues such as The Tote, Northcote Social Club, The Espy, The Old Bar, etc.
There’s not many places to play in Ballarat. We have The Karova Lounge and now The Eastern, both venues that can comfortably house a three- to four-piece band. For smaller bands, or bands without a drum kit, there’s the Babushka Bar and The Main Bar. Other than these there are a few cafés that will have a solo artist in occasionally, but the other large venues are all in favour of cover bands or other forms of entertainment.
Over the next couple of months I’ll be talking, networking and getting an account of how other rural dwellers broke into the big smoke and made a name for themselves without going to the trouble of relocating there permanently. So those of you with musically-minded similar intentions, watch this space over the rest of the year as I will try and keep it updated with accounts of what has happened and hopefully illustrating what to attempt (or avoid) in order to do the same.
I can’t see us walking you through how to get a headline gig at Festival Hall, Sidney Myer Music Bowl or Rod Laver Arena, but I imagine it might give you an idea of how to go from a Sunday arvo gig at your local Red Lion Hotel to something with a little more rapport.
Written by Daniel Lock