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News October 27, 2015

Industrial Strength: Guitar Festival to make China debut; NSW venue operators go under; Senate inquiry on arts funding cuts; New festivals announced; ABC Arts Portal to close

Industrial Strength: Guitar Festival to make China debut; NSW venue operators go under; Senate inquiry on arts funding cuts; New festivals announced; ABC Arts Portal to close

Adelaide International Guitar Festival to make China debut

A pop-up version of the Adelaide International Guitar Festival, set up in 2007 at Adelaide Festival Center, will make its debut in China this year. It will be the festival’s first presence outside Australia. Details are still being worked out, but it will feature Slava and Lenny Grigoryan (pictured).

South Australia has long combined cultural and trade missions, and has a sister province affiliation with Shandong. In 2014, Shandong was the focus of OzAsia Festival, with 140 artists from China (of a total of 250 from Asia) performing and exhibiting in Adelaide. As a result, five arts and music interns from Shandong will study and work in SA’s cultural institutions this year.

Recently, ten SA arts administrators visited China for talks about a cultural showcase in Shandong. The guitar festival will be held alongside Aboriginal art exhibition, SA films and a photography exhibition.

The Adelaide International Guitar Festival drew 10,000 people in its first year and has brought some of the greatest guitarists in the world to perform and do workshops. They have included Derek Trucks, Vernon Reid, Jorma Kaukonen, Tommy Emmanuel, John Schofield and Adrian Belew. Since 2009 it has been a biannual event. The next one is staged in 2016.

Two NSW venue operators go under

Two venue operators in regional NSW, which ran establishments which showcased live music, have gone belly-up.

Tameeka Pty Ltd which ran The Fig in Port Macquarie went insolvent. It owed $1.26 million to 52 creditors with staff losing tens of thousands of dollars in wages and superannuation, Port Macquarie News reported. Staff and customers who turned up at the venue were informed by a handwritten message it was closed for repairs and would open the next day. It remained closed since. Another restaurateur contacted Shaw Gidley Insolvency and Reconstruction about buying it and pay off its debts.

Glentress Investments Pty Ltd, which took over the lease of Tamworth’s Good Companions Hotel last September, went into voluntary administration with debts of $600,000.

Call for Senate inquiry on arts funding cuts

Sixteen arts organisations, supported by six others, called for a Senate inquiry into the actions of Federal Minister for the Arts, Senator George Brandis over funding cuts. Brandis had already antagonised the sector by pulling $104.8 million over four years from the Australia Council. But more so last week when he admitted to a Senate Estimates committee he had not consulted the arts sector or the Council when he devised his new National Programme for Excellence in the Arts (NPEA).

ArtsPeak, representing the associations stated, ‘We are concerned by the lack of consultation with the Australia Council and key arts industry stakeholders in making this radical change to the arts funding process. Senator Brandis has failed to provide anything other than anecdotal evidence to justify his actions, nor has he been able to confirm that the arms’ length principle and genuine peer assessment processes would apply to the NPEA.”

Making videos enters danger zone!

Sydney hardcore band Thy Art Is Murder admit that since the video for Reign Of Darkness, they’ve been obsessed with featuring fire in a video. They’ve done that with the clip for Light Bearer shot with director Yves Otterbach and the Ambitious Films team in a warehouse attached to their rehearsal studio.

Guitarist Andy Marsh told Industrial Strength, “It was pretty crazy to see a truckload of gas being delivered and the whole pyro rig being tested. We were certainly excited at first to see how insane the fire all looked. But once it came time to start shooting we had our hesitations. They were burning inverted crucifixes and flame throwers just off to the side of (guitarist) Sean (Delander) and I and at one point the giant flame wand that CJ (singer Chris McMahon) waves in the clip nearly set me on fire. It took a couple minutes to relax into it that's for sure but the safety team really helped put us at ease. Certainly a fun experience none of us will forget anytime soon.”

The video for Angus and Julia Stone’s From The Stalls was shot with director Kiku Ohe over five days and nights in their fave South Australian coastal spot documenting spectacular sunsets and sunrises in the Southern Hemisphere. Julia says after filming on a tiny boat on the ocean, “It wasn’t until the next day that our mate told us they’d spotted a 15 foot Great White out there a few days earlier!”

The making of Perth band Hailmary’s Kiran Wilson-directed five-minute action thriller video for My Song saw DOP Joel Crane go beyond call of duty to get the perfect shot. He dangled cameras over masses of water, perched himself on the edge of cliffs and rode on the back of racing motorbikes.

Calling of the tribes: three new festivals announced

The inaugural Electro Circus in Sydney is held September 5 at Rosehill Gardens. It will have 25 international and local acts across three stages, with lasers, acrobats and water cannons. Styles cover trance, electro and bounce.

Maroochy Music and Visual Arts, at Horton Park Golf Course, Maroochydore, on Saturday August 22 has a lineup covering EDM, indie and hip hop.

Townsville’s first country music muster is organized after the axing of CMC Rocks North Queensland. Held June 7, it is headlined by Adam Brand.

More festivals: surviving funding cuts, new dates, big crowds

* Organisers of Dream Festival addressed the Dubbo City Council after it cut funding beyond 2015. Next year’s budget is finalised on June 29 but Dream – which received council funding of $140,000 with $40,000 this year – argued extended financial support was “critical” if the event was to continue to grow.

* Fuzzy announced Listen Out returns in spring – in new Melbourne venue of Catani Gardens in St Kilda (September 26), Perth’s Ozone Reserve (27), Sydney’s Centennial Park (October 3) and Brisbane Showgrounds (4).

* West Australia’s celebration of its own at State of the Art last Saturday had 8,000 punters turn up to see 60 acts at Perth Cultural Centre.

* Queensland retro music/cars bash, Cooly Rocks On, is tipped to draw 100,000 to Coolangatta and Tweed Heads through this week. Organisers cite a record amount of car registrations and some areas selling out in 20 minutes.

* Government funding cuts for the cultural component of Northern Territory’s indigenous music, sports and cultural Barunga Festival this weekend could see some of the cultural items being dropped, said Skinnyfish Music’s Mark T. Grose who took over the event’s management three years ago.

* This year’s Newtown Festival’s theme of "Newtopia", denotes the suburb’s strong creative streak. Held on November 8 at Camperdown Memorial Rest Park, the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre fundraiser drew 90,000 last year.

Madman launches premium version of streaming service

Australian niche film distributor Madman Entertainment hard-launched its premium subscription version of its year-old video on demand service AnimeLab for Japanese cartoons. Madman, which claims 90% of the local anime market, knew it could count on the loyalty (read: obsession) of its 160,000 Facebook followers for a healthy take-up. But it didn’t anticipate there’d be such a rush that the site went into meltdown.

Adelaide Festival of Arts contributes $27.3m to SA

Independent research conducted during the 2015 Adelaide Festival of Arts indicated that it contributed $27.3 million to the South Australian economy. This was 14% up on the previous year. The 2015 festival drew an estimated 600,548, the highest in five years, with a 7% rise in ticketed attendances.

Chugg to keynote at Scottish convention

Australian promoter Michael Chugg will make the keynote speech of Scotland’s leading creative industries convention XpoNorth (formerly GoNORTH). Over 2,000 acts applied for 60 showcase slots between June 10 to 11 in Inverness. Chugg will be interviewed by MUSEXPO’s Sat Bisla for the A&R Worldwide International Keynote on his 50-year career. No doubt his involvement with AC/DC, which Scotland lays claim to, will be high on the list.

NZ musician Trevor Daley honoured

Trevor Daley is named a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in this year's Queens Birthday Honours, for services to music. President of the Southland Musicians Club since 1976 and co-founder of the Southland Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he has also served in an executive or advisory capacity in grants committees, music schools and venues.

New beginning for Canberra arts/music hub

Canberra’s Ainslie and Gorman Arts Centres is entering a new era. Under Director of three years Joseph Falsone and a new team, it is encouraging arts and music groups to get involved in its facilities. Its eight buildings were renovated, after the ACT Government pumped in $2.5 million and promised increased funding in the next five years. It includes a new 200-seat music performance space, serviced offices for music organisations, purpose-built tuition pods and teaching and rehearsal spaces at the Ainslie Arts Centre.

Gorman Arts Centre will have more live performances at the renovated 70-seat Ralph Wilson Theatre and Main Hall. It is also offering a working hub for creative start-ups, a café/lounge opportunity, artists’ studios and venue hire.

More acts for Reclink Community Cup

Organisers of Melbourne’s music industry charity football match Reclink Community Cup announced more acts for the Sunday June 21 event. Aside from Adalita and band, also entertaining the 10,000 at Elsternwick Park are the 19-piece Public Opinion Afro Orchestra, swamp-rockers Graveyard Train and, for the kids, Ally Spazzy’s Kiddyrock and the Cool Bananas.

ABC Arts Portal to close in 2016

As part of its budget cuts over five years, the ABC will close its Arts Portal in 2016. Its content will be shifted to a "new dedicated arts space" at the iview service and a "dedicated arts and culture vertical” at ABC News Online. Resultant staff cuts, if any, were not mentioned. ABC Managing Director Mark Scott told a Senate estimates hearing that the move would increase the broadcaster’s arts coverage, particularly the production of arts videos.

Baby I’m a-watchin’ you: Max Merritt heading back to studio

Australian soul and R&B pioneer Max Merritt (Slippin Away, Western Union Man) is about to cut a new album for the first time in 30 years. After living in America since 1977, Merritt enjoyed a live resurgence in Australia and was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2008. But that was curtailed after he was diagnosed with the rare autoimmune disease Goodpastures Syndrome in 2007, which attacked his lungs and kidneys. The bleeding in his lungs is under control but he has been left with no kidney function.

In between thrice weekly dialysis treatments he has been writing songs. Now mates in his long time base of Los Angeles, led by former Mushroom Records producer James Barton got him to put his mountain of tapes, scraps of paper, line books and manuscripts into shape, and the best songs have been chosen. A crowd-funding campaign is to be announced shortly.

Sydney’s Bald Faced Stag re-launching as music venue

One of Sydney’s oldest pubs, Leichhardt’s Bald Faced Stag, is re-launching itself this winter as a live music venue. Under new Entertainment Booker Clayton Ries, it has imported state of the art Nexo PA and lighting, and a main room with more stage room. It has partnered with ticketer Moshtix and has a new website by creative agency LOKE.

“We’ll be making this place come alive again, launching it’s new identity with a series of creative events during the day and night to really make this a go-to venue in the Inner West,’ says Ries, who worked with the Metro and Gaelic Club, and had a hand in starting up Festival of the Sun and One Day Sunday.

More venues update: new entries, delayed hearings, bad gimmicks

* Live music comes to Sydney’s Cockle Bay Wharf with Italian restaurant Baia The Italian showcasing acts every Wednesday and Friday nights. “We think it’s important to support the music scene," said manager Markus Stauder.

* The Victorian Civil And Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) hearing between the Palace Theatre and City of Melbourne will be reheard in spring. The case was halted when Palace developer Jinshan Investment Group claimed a conflict of interest. Justice Helen Gibson – head of VCAT’s planning and environmental list who presided over the case – did not declare membership of the National Trust Victoria, a community groups involved in the case.

* Yet another nightclub copped a social media backlash for a tasteless promo. Akuna Club held a petting zoo with baby animals outside Perth nightclub Llama Bar to promote a free BBQ and cheap $5 drinks. An online petition, disgusted by “small animals at the mercy of nightclub goers many of whom will be intoxicated before they even arrive” called for a revision of laws to stop a repeat. It was immediately signed by 2500. Lime Bar said the zoo was organized without permission and the person disciplined. Akuna apologized.

* The ACT budget for 2015 confirmed $4.1 million over the next three years to upgrade Canberra Theatre Centre. About 200,000 attend events each year. $170,000 was put aside for a feasibility study for a new theatre next door.

* Melbourne’s Prince of Wales Public Bar began free themed live music nights each Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday with indie, rock acts and DJs.

* The Royal Hotel in Temora is closed for 28 days from Monday June 1 for serving alcohol to minors.

* Plans to introduce ID scanners in Tamworth venues are on hold over a legal issue. Staff must get specialist training on gathering and storing personal data of customers. The Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing, which provided training for Kings Cross staff, has not extended it to the Country Music Capital.

* The Our Nightlife Queensland group lashed out that the State Government, which plans to introduce shorter trading hours for licensed venues in September, has still not consulted it “after 100 days”.


John Pinder revolutionised Melbourne’s comedy and cabaret from the ‘70s with venues as the Flying Trapeze and The Last Laugh and the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. But he was instrumental in rock too. In the late 60s, Pinder was one of five behind Let It Be agency which fused live rock with painters, lighting artists, experimental film makers and underground theatre groups, and booked Daddy Cool and Spectrum. His TFMuch Ballroom was the hub of psychedelia music. Pinder, 70, lost a battle with cancer.

Ballarat one-man-band Frank Callahan (he played six instruments at shows) died aged 87 of a heart attack. He made eleven albums, His best known song was a version of the 1927’s Ballaraat. It was so well known that Ballaraat was played on loop outside shopping centres to deter bogans.

And a few other things ….

While You Am I dedicated their song How Much Is Enough to Australia Council funding cuts during their set at Perth’s State of the Art festival last Saturday, more info emerged about the National Programme for Excellence in the Arts. Guidelines won’t be ready until late June or early June, Executive Director of the Ministry of the Arts, Sally Basser, told a Senate Estimates hearing, it will include three sets of grants – for arts foundations, international touring and cultural diplomacy, and for completion of special projects.

The Victorian Minister of Creative Industries Martin Foley will be one of the speakers when Rowland S. Howland Lane is opened in Melbourne’s St. Kilda on Thursday June 4 at 9.30am. When in Opposition, Foley helped organisers keep the campaign going when it got bogged down in red tape.

Justice Crew took off last Sunday for Mexico to continue work on their next album, a day after a rooftop Thanks Telstra performance in Dubbo.

Peter Garrett’s farm in Mittagong in NSW’s Southern Highlands, is for sale after 20 years. The 5.8 hectare estate, Rowe, has a Queen Anne Federation house, a cricket pitch and tennis courts. Bought for $531,000, it is tipped to tip $3.3 million into the singer’s coffers.

Meantime, AC/DC bassist Cliff Williams sold his seven bedroom Gulf Harbour mansion in Fort Myers, Florida, for $6,995,000. He and his wife Georgeanne bought the 2.5 acre property five years ago for $5.12 million.

One of the 8,000 at Queensland’s Pineapple Music Festival went the whole hog, She sported a haircut coloured and shaped like a pineapple and with green strands on top.

“I didn't know where else to go, I needed to feel my pulse again,” said Irish-born Victorian singer songwriter Áine Tyrrell (pronounced Onya). So she bought a 1966 Bedford bus and headed into the outback to record her debut album Queen Of Swords in abandoned mines, and under the stars. An ardent surfer, she began on the wild coasts of Ireland, busked her way around South America, played New York clubs and finally moved to the Victorian coast.

David Buckingham, CEO of Perth internet provider iiNet, said that in the six weeks after the March arrival of Netflix, there was a 25% surge in his traffic – which he expected to come over “six to 12 months". While this has plateaued, he expects the drift of Australians away from piracy sites will continue.

In the meantime, The Australian reported Britain’s Futuresource Consulting’s assertion that Netflix is targeting 1 million Australian subscribers. That would give be double what its local rivals have. The Australian put Stan at second spot with 200,000 subscribers, Presto third and Quickflix fourth. In March, leaked data from Experian Hitwise showed Netflix was getting 800,000 unique visitors a day while Stan and Presto were doing 50,000 each.

At a Thursday, June 4 session at the Byron School of Art from 6.30pm, Grinspoon guitarist Pat Davern interviews legendary US rock tour manager Sam Cutler (Stones, Dead) on his career. The $20 cost goes towards Cutler’s chemo and radiation treatment for lung cancer.

Australian TV stations are renowned for erasing essential music shows. Of the 222 episodes of Melbourne’s Go! Show shot by Channel 10 between 1964 and 1967, only one remains. Episode 117 from November 28, 1966 was screened at the St. Kilda Film Festival. Restored by the National Film & Sound Archive, it featured host Johnny Young, The Strangers, The Mixtures, Normie Rowe, Geelong’s The Deakin, UK singer Crispian St Peters, Denise Drysdale, Tony Barber, Annette Steele and an interview with Go-Set columnist Lily Brett.

During a live broadcast by the brekkie team of Sea FM Gold Coast at Broadwater Parklands – where it was holding a fitness fest to encourage women to love their bodies – presenter Charli Robinson became so enraged while lashing back at nasty comments on social media about women’sself-image that she burst into tears.

A 19-year-old refused entry to Broadbeach’s Envy Hotel for being drunk, tried to creep in through the roof. Alas he fell through a perspex bridge 8m to concrete. He was knocked out for awhile but when cops turned up with handcuffs, he took off like a jackrabbit. They caught him in the park.


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