The Blues Tram

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The Blues Tram

Not many people would associate a form of public transport as a place for a live gig, though lately these unique performance spaces seem to be increasing every day. Bendigo Blues & Roots Festival Treasurer Julius Porlai was onto the idea and had suggested the stunning Bendigo trams as the perfect setting for a live music venue.
“The idea was born out of our desire to show the best Bendigo has to offer while presenting the incredibly talented artists whose music we get to share through our events,” Colin Thompson Director of the Bendigo Blues & Roots Festival says.
“Riding Bendigo’s beautifully restored vintage trams is a great way to experience our city and the wonderful architecture we all too often speed past in our day-to-day lives. You can’t help but take a breath and enjoy what’s around you when you find yourself on one of our slow moving comfortable trams on a Saturday afternoon.
“The Blues & Roots music we share as part of our events is a perfect accompaniment to that experience. Because of the reasonably confined space of our vintage mobile music venues, every audience member feels like they’re in the front row to a very special concert. It’s so intimate, for audience and artist alike, it really is an unforgettable experience to be part of.”
With any gig there are always problems to overcome, and one on a tram instantly becomes a lot more difficult. Though with all the testing moments, they’ve all paid off thanks to the help of Bendigo Trust and Bendigo Tramways.
“As with any new endeavour there was a bit of trial and error before our little team became proficient at it. Providing a consistent and appropriate power source for the PA and instruments was one of the first hurdles to overcome. We had a couple of early Blues Trams where the battery went flat but the artists didn’t let it stop the show – they just went purely acoustic and turned it into a fun experience for the audience and the crew. That hasn’t happened since however,” Colin says.
“The other challenge for the artists performing is to manage the motions of the tram while playing and singing.  It’s easy to get a microphone in the mouth if you’re not careful and it’s not easy to hit every note on your instrument perfectly when the tram sometimes lurches or sways. Our performers seem to take it all in stride though and it invariably becomes a humorous and endearing part of the show, one way or the other.”
The Blues Tram recently collaborated with the ROCKS on Rosalind for a special dinner and a show event where punters enjoyed a ride of the tram before stopping at the restaurant to then continue the night with more performances from the musicians on the tram. The first event ran in March and sold out quicker than they anticipated, and it’ll certainly be the same situation for their second dinner and show experience on September 25.
While they’re expanding the experiences on the tram, music will always be the heart of it all: “Every ride is first and foremost about the music and the artist’s ability to share it in a way they can’t in any other setting or any other venue,” he says.
“We have the best of younger and older singer/songwriters and blues & roots devoted performers; we keep mixing up the best of our local artists with touring and visiting acts from near and far, male and female artists, playing originals as well as tasteful covers. We cover a lot of musical ground with who we book to play the tram.”
For more information or upcoming shows visit their website:
Where: Central Deborah Goldmine, Bendigo
Upcoming performances: Marisa Quigley & King Maxwell – 2pm, May 30 & Tony J King, Alawishus Jones & The Outright Lies – 2pm, July 11.
Written by Alexander Lightfoot, Photo by Jim Marshall