Tell me a bit about yourself as a musician and what you’re up to at the moment.
I’ve been doing the solo thing for the best part of 15 years around Melbourne, Geelong and the Surf Coast and prior to that, I played in a couple of punk rock bands. Over recent years I’ve been honing my craft on various instruments (guitar, Weissenborn, ukulele, stompbox and tambourine) and experimenting with different sounds and styles to keep things fresh.
How have you been keeping inspired during the reoccurring lockdowns?
During lockdowns I have loved staying connected to people online and although I only did a couple of private livestream gig’s it was amazing to see so many artists both locally and internationally creating opportunities to connect and continue to share their music online. Whether it was through large organised festivals like ‘Isol-Aide’ or more informal and spontaneous gigs like ‘Tuesdays with Trev’ it has been amazing to see the whole music industry come together through these tough times through music. The Sydney-based NZ boys (Duan and Morgs) creating ‘Home Remedy’ in their loungeroom is the epitome of this and definitely helped me stay positive and inspired to play and create during lockdowns.
What advice would you give to other musicians who are struggling with creativity?
These lockdowns have obviously been hard for a lot of musicians both financially and creatively however everyone’s situation is slightly different. I’ve been lucky as I still have a day job which pays the bills and I don’t have any kids to homeschool or anything so my routine was fairly consistent although working from home for long periods of time has its own challenges. I’ve found it has been a great circuit breaker to give me back some time on the weekends when I’d normally be busy out playing gigs. I’ve gained inspiration from connecting with other artists online and discovering lots of new music. I must admit songwriting and stay motivated has definitely been more challenging during these times but I’m lucky to live on the coast and find clarity from getting outdoors and in the ocean to clear the head and reset your mood which has been my saviour to staying motivated. If all else fails you can always just buy a new guitar or more music gear then lock yourself away and see what happens, I am also guilty of that ha-ha!
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What’s been the hardest challenge about being a live musician in this climate?
This climate has been challenging for many reasons but as a live musician having gigs constantly cancelled or rescheduled and seeing your favourite little venues closed down has had a massive impact on the wider community. In particular, I feel for those who were planning to get married and have now had to wait 12 months or longer due to ongoing restrictions and limited venue availability.
How does it feel to finally be back on the mic in front of an audience?
I have managed to play a few small gigs in between lockdowns and it’s been great connecting with people in person again and absorbing that live atmosphere that we’ve all been craving. Although there have been some obvious challenges with limited capacity at venues, wearing a mask whilst bumping in and out or trying to string full sentences together between songs for the first time in a while, it has been so good for the soul to get out and see friends and family and enjoy playing/listening to live music again.
Why do you love performing at The Hop Inn?
The Hop Inn is one of those iconic small venues that have supported local musicians since it began as the ‘Odyssey Tavern & Brewery’ all those years ago. Grant and the team had a vision to create a live music and craft beer haven that provides opportunities for both local up and coming artists as well as established artists to perform in a relaxed and intimate setting. Sometimes you kick back and play a low-key Sunday sesh out in the beer garden and the next week it’s pumping inside on a Friday or Saturday night.
The Hop Inn is a huge supporter of local musicians – what does this mean to you?
As I said, Grant has been a massive supporter of local musicians since day dot and has continued to provide opportunities for people to get out of their house and enjoy live music. Even when re-opening with quite tight restrictions he made sure live music remained a priority by being innovative and moving with the times. The Hop Inn has been one of the first venues to open back up and get those good vibes going again. I have known Grant personally for many years and he is as dedicated and passionate about live music as anyone I know and it’s a credit to him, Leah, Bruce and the rest of the team at The Hop Inn who continue to do what they love even during these tough times in order to support our local community.
Where can we find your music?
I have never had much of a digital presence and have never released anything professionally (maybe one-day ha-ha!) but people can find some scratchy live recordings and see where I’m playing next via my Ben Dew Music page on Instagram or Facebook or make a booking through my website www.bendewmusic.com