Hip To Be Country (September 2014)

Here in Victoria, in recent years at least, many efforts have been made to preserve the sanctity of live music. I’m sure we all remember the SLAM rally a few years back, where thousands marched on the streets of Melbourne to protest licensing laws that were seen as detrimental to the live music scene. Those protests led to the formation of Music Victoria – a body whose job is to protect our rights as musicians and music followers. They serve us well, but ultimately it is the venues and promoters that allow live performance to thrive in this very musical state.

I’ve spoken before on these pages about The Melbourne Folk Club, Caravan Music Club, Revolver Bandroom and Baha down in Rye. These are some of my favourite venues, mainly thanks to their great support of the type of music I love (which you should have a pretty good handle on if you’ve either read this column before or taken any notice at all of the title). But I though that this month I might give you a heads up as to the other local (and local-ish) venues that you, my fellow country fan, should be checking out.

Firstly, if we start close to the city, I recommend a visit to The Flying Saucer Club in Elsternwick. In coming months you can see the likes of The Perch Creek Family Jug Band, Tex Don and Charlie and The Black Sorrows. Tickets are available form the club’s website at www.flyingsaucerclub.com.au

Head a little east and you can check in on one of two Gippsland pubs that have been supporting country music recently – The Nar Nar Goon Hotel and the Royal Hotel in Koo Wee Rup. Recently the likes of Aleyce Simmonds, Alby Pool and Sandra Humphries have performed at these establishments, both of which cater to fans of mainstream country music.

Down here on the Peninsula it’s not only Baha waving the flag. Hickinbotham Winery recently hosted country songwriting legend Alan Caswell, whilst T’Gallant regularly host country and folk acts including perennial Pearl favourites The Weeping Willows (who can be seen on at least a couple of weekends per month when they’re not gallivanting overseas).

Of course, if you’re more of an ‘ear to the ground’ music fan, you might like to seek out a house concert. Now I can’t give addresses or phone numbers in this forum, but I strongly suggest you seek out the underground events staged by generous music fans such as Jenny Keck and Nia Robertson. I’ve played at and watched their house concerts – and I’d suggest that they represent the future of gig-going (particularly for those music supporters who are sick of sticky carpets and crowded bars).

Live country music is alive and well on the Peninsula, and in many areas within striking distance. You just have to know where to look. Feel free to email me on the address below if you need more help!

Lachlan Bryan is primarily a singer/songwriter. His third album Black Coffee is out now. He also moonlights as a gifted observer and music journalist, writing monthly for PEARL Magazine on all things folk/country/bluegrass. If you’ve got a new release, upcoming show or you’d like to get in touch with Lachlan, drop him a line at countryfolk@pearlmag.com.au