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I made the break

 I made the break

Honestly, outside of putting up with a bunch of hard drinking , hard living, hook u up to 240 power supply if u passed out at a party, just cause it was funny to watch. As far as my little town was a lovely place to grow up. My total focus was to put as much distance between it and me as possible.

I had no plan? Ive never had a plan .

I had a contact person meeting me on the other side at the airport.

He was a friend of a friend of mine. Who’d done the bolt from an inevitable prison sentence at the time.. Sounds implausible but fact was we didn’t even need passports to enter Australia. Just buy a ticket. The day I left …there was a policeman in the departure lounge. I saw him sort of staring at me , Closer look I realised he was my local town copper for years, when I was growing up, good bloke, well respected.  He issued me with my first firearms licence at 15. No test. He knew my Dad. That was enough. Off you go son , get yourself a firearm . Go shoot some shit. And we did. Anything was fair game. Not peoples pets and stuff, but rodents, rabbits. Possum , then big game, deer. Wild pigs.

Wild pigs btw aren’t like farm reared pigs. They are very angry aggressive powerful animals.

What took them to a whole new level of anger. Is if you only wounded them.

That really pissed them off. They run in a straight line when either fleeing or attacking. You’re in the way. Your pretty fucked.!

Big male boars just to add another dimension to their fearsome nature. Have an extremely well placed set of tusks, primarily for rooting around in the ground, digging up hard terrain looking for food.

They could gouge their way through a half rotten log, and a mans testicles if the animal caught u on the way through. One of the  major reported reoccurring incidents you’d hear about. Made total sense to me, a good size mature pig height was pretty much perfectly aligned with a hunters testicles   

The pig having gained the first punch not always ,but not uncommon seeing you flat on the floor, angry and fighting for survival. Lets face it. Yes its angry animal

He or shes well aware of your intentions Stop , and rip into you like a rag doll.

Never happened to me. But id seen the scars of others.

The man of all men method of hunting boar with a dog or 2 or maybe 3. Involved locating tunnels the pigs used . Very heavy dense thorny nasty bush. Fine for pigs. Shit for humans.

These guys would overall up, maybe crash helmet to protect the face but often only a rag tied round their head, They enter these pig sized tunnels pushing their hunting dogs in front of them. Hoping somewhere in this tunnel they’d corner a nice healthy beast, with the intention the dogs would distract the pig, (while in my eyes ) insane hunter could get close enough to stick a big hunting knife in it for a quick kill. I was young over excited but I knew enough to know. I much  preferred the odds of a heavy gauge firemarm in these matters.

And no fucking way could anyone convince me to go crawling down one these tunnels to corner a pig whos natural instinct is to run directly at you to escape. Didn’t make sense , never did it.

But I did and always will have fond memories of that opportunity to hunt prey and win the battle, Blood thirsty I know. And I love animals. Humans I dont really care for much.

More often than not the animal escaped. I didn’t mind, I enjoyed the adrenalin high. I would never shoot ducks on a pond or farmers sheep. (idiots did) I often thought if I came across some one doing that. Could I pull the trigger on them.? Not a kill shot , just a leg wound . By this point Id been handling firearms for quite some time. targeting shooting since I was 13.

Well before I was a licenced owner. I was a pretty deadly shot.  Hunting rabbits.

I liked a 22 with scope. At night with spotlight on the back of a land rover. I was first kill shot to the rabbit. We killed to cull. They destroyed crops. Farmers paid us. Was brilliant. Our parents knew where we were. Didn’t seem to have any concerns we were driving around huge farm properties , unlicensed for car or gun. With loaded firearms! IRONY! Love it

I had a 360 turning point. We went hunting deer. Id met this guy Wally. He was an Australian living in Christchurch with his wife and 2 sons. We hunted together twice. The first time he made me nervous.

Rule. No live ammo in the breach. We were often walking river beds . big boulders. Hard going with pack and rifle. Fall or slip?. Easy accident to get shot. Wally was fine. Fit bastard. Turned out he been on active mercenary military duty as a private paid soldier in Rhodesia.

I didn’t know much, but I knew that African province was being reported in the media as pretty dangerous place to be anything let alone a paid soldier.

Never really discussed it with him. We hunted together only 1 more time. We bagged a deer after a long days stalking. First shot was an instant kill. Running to view the animal I arrived slightly ahead of wally. The animal was clearly dead but its eye was wide open staring at me. Such a beautiful stunning wild animal. Couldn’t believe we killed it.  I never shot anything but targets ,clay pigeons the odd human by accident after that.

Wally on the other hand some time not long after that , Shot Himself! 

In the middle of separation with is wife, Shed fled to a refuge. I wasn’t aware of any of this till I heard a  radio report, a man had shot himself suicide. Shocking .

That stuff just didn’t  happen in my small city. Within hours I was informed by the mutual friend who introduced me to him. That day . Wally had prepped a 22 rifle in is mates workshop, cut the barell down. Drove to the refuge his wife had fled to. Initiated a discussion , and asked could she just bring his sons out for him to say hi. She agreed. S

She came to the car parked outside the refuge, He was in the car all the doors and windows locked. The moment Christine his wife and her 2 young sons reached the car. He put the gun in his mouth and blew his fucking brains out.

Right in front of them. I was 16  at the time. Considerably the most shocking thing so far id experienced in life.

Deliberating after the usual police investigations coroners report etc. I made arrangements to visit Christine and her sons. Kids seems as ok any could be I guess. But the revelation for the visit was Christines open and total divulgement of Wally , who  he was  and why he was keeping a very low profile in new Zealand. Long and the short of it. Id been on 2 hunting trips with a man that had suffered and obviously still was at the time suffering from what today would be considered very high post traumatic syndrome due largely to his past escapades in Rhodesia. Mercenaries at the time were usually operating illegally, often pursued by their own country of origin. As at the time was wally , Simply put , a walking time bomb. Hence why she fled with her kids to the safety of a refuge  Just didn’t mention any of this  to anyone more fearing his unpredictable change of character and again she hadn’t really told anyone she could confide in that she trusted wouldn’t report back to wally. I still to this day very rarely but the thought does drop in,  What the heck happened to those two boys. How’d there lives pan out? 

            So back to the airport lounge and my local cop. From the period of wallys death, myself effected deeply but not knowing it, I was examining everything. My one overriding passion in life was music. Id played piano since I was 4 , My mum played. You couldn’t get me off it. Further down drums entered , I loved the piano but I loved drums more.

          Groups and Individuals who in some way impacted my journey. Raising the stakes. Increasing the odds, another horse in the race, Another set of rules.

You dont half meet some funny fuckers

When the train of life you choose to follow has no intended destination? You must understand one of two things.  You fight everything you don’t like, or you own it and accept whatever the outcome wherever it goes.  Well so says me. I am an accepter through and through.

Part reason for writing. I met a gent at a social gathering a couple of years back.  I am really not one for social gatherings. Conversation was instigated by him. I am like. Here we go.

 Question and answer time. During this brief conversation. He asked me.? So, if you were to write a story? What would you have to write about? I felt in an almost sneery leery kind of way.  Immediately not having an answer and slightly miffed I shot back. “Shit loads actually!” At which point he pulled out a business card.

Thrust it into my hand. Said. Send me something and walked off.  As things transpired.

That’s been a working title. He was and is a publisher rep.  Hence having to change the BLOG name for those that were wondering. Any way moving on.

Another venue. I can’t really tell the story of this one without a notable example of other people on the train.

When you have no destination. They just appear. They are however especially important.

Id been eyeing off an old theatre in oxford street Sydney. Gorgeous space. Huge. Perfect for a live performance space. Never got to develop it due to complications beyond human control as it was owned by a church. If you want a committee to agree on a rent figure.

May it not ever be a religious commitee headed by a lawyer. A christian group full of human kindness. Care and compassion. support to whoever needs it type committee until it comes to real estate and money.

The real-estate agent I was meeting onsite one day. Mentioned to me. Theres another venue guy looking at the property.  Wonder who that is? Well coincidently or by grand design. We met that very day.  We joined forces.

Via the very same agent moving away from the theatre. We were introduced to yet another  3rd party who was well into a live music venue development on another property in Double bay.  He needed help. A lot of help! So along with my new friend we agreed to pitch in with our resources for the time being. Consult and get this space up and under way. It was really a no brainer.

 So, this venue story becomes more about the man than venue.

 The venue itself. Really contemporary design after we had finished. Seated 120 for a show. Excellent kitchen setup. We could feed that many people at once

Had great sight lines. Stage. Sound & light production. Grand piano on stage. Hammond B3 inhouse. We got from a rubbish dump.  Private bar. Booth seating. Was gorgeous.

And the guy that was setting it up. Had a passion for music. (obviously). Owned another venue way out of Sydney. Lived local eastern suburbs and for all intent and purposes wanted to spare no expense to achieve an end result with this venue.

Totally intrigued by the gent that hired us. With limited information to date. I inquired.

“Whats your story?” The man. Happy to tell it. Looked and with similar mannerisms akin to Woody Allen filled me in. The one thing I knew. He came from the medical profession.

He’d sold his medical business some years back with enough in the bank to do what he wanted.  Didn’t much care for working budgets.

Unlike myself. Id never ever been able to build anything without constantly monitoring expenditure.  He would  spend money on anything he wanted and hold up paying a minuscule invoice because it didn’t have the words TAX INVOICE printed on the top.

I quickly learned not to mention anything we may need until I was satisfied, we really needed it. It would just turn up. Boxes would get delivered.

Like myself and 1000’s of others. He was an immigrant to Australia. Arriving mid 70’s from Russia via Italy with his parents. Whom I believe were in the rag trade. He was given the opportunity for a free university education. Not knowing what he wanted to study. Decided to consult the yellow business pages phone book and look for the most popular business listings?

Which as it was at the time. A doctor.

So he proceeded to begin and complete a medical degree. Leaving uni. Living in the eastern suburbs of Sydney. After doing his compulsory medical practice in hospital. Then set up a medical practice. then another. then bought the properties, then fell into pathology with multiple outlets for gathering blood.  He was literally a small framed Jewish Russian vampire.

All along the way. Not enjoying medicine at all. But building wealth as he went. Selling the whole shebang for a great deal of money early 2000’s I believe.

And somehow or other though our life paths couldn’t possibly be further removed. Here we are. ! While telling me his story. His phone rang.  It was a port or jetty master of some sort.

Phoning to tell him his boat had sunk on its mooring in a recent storm. He simply brushed the guy with a “ill call you back “ I inquired. So, you have a boat?  He explained. Yes, but I’ve never used it. I only bought the boat because I bought the mooring for an investment.

I didn’t even know you could do that. But yes you could. It was a thing.

 And in Rose Bay eastern suburbs of Sydney. Not easy to procure. You had to be in the ballot system to get one. I was quickly learning how the other half lived.

Turned out though. If you bought the mooring, you had to own a boat to tie up to it. Or you lose it. So not to be out done on a good investment. A rubber ball attached to an anchor in the water for $250k . He had bought a boat to secure it.

Whether that said boat was floating or sitting on the ocean floor. Mattered not to our friend here. His obligations to the mooring as far as he was concerned were satisfied.  Any other boat owner on hearing their boat had sunk would be out the door like a Jack Russell after a rabbit . Freaking out!

Some time after this. He eventually dragged the boat off the ocean floor and carted it out to his other venue and stored it in the garage under the venue. 

Which leads us into another the part of the story or the man.

He had set up this other food and music joint in a suburb way south west of the city. It was his first foray into the music live band food business. 

However, he wasn’t satisfied with the design aspects. So he asked me to consult and make some changes to it.  Id never been there. We motored out one day. Had a good look over. I came back with some design ideas. He agreed. Tossed me the keys and said.  “ go for it”.  Second day in of me onsite working. I arrive early in the morning. Open the door and smell smoke.

Bare in mind the venue is still operating at night. Im working inbetween normal operations.

Still? this was not cooking smoke off the grill or as it was the waffle irons. I discovered on entering. The venue had been firebombed, however looked as though it had burned itself out during the night without igniting the fire alarm system.

So  I phoned the owner. He phoned the cops and the insurance company?  All inquiries were made. 

2 weeks passed. And low and behold it happened again. Another fire. This time leveling the place.  Except the boat stored in the garage between 2 concrete floors miraculously survived.!

I was informed later on someone apparently one day.  Driven in. Hooked the boat & trailer up to their  towbar and drove off with it. 

Anyway we carried on with our double bay music venue project.

The insurance company apparently paid out on the fire ravaged 1st one.

He continued to keep us supplied with funny life stories and daily anecdotes regarding whatever decisions wed be making and is actually to this day the oddest, funniest fucker music venue owner I’ve ever come across.

A total dichotomy of a man that looked like Woody Allen. Softly spoken. Appeared honest as the day was long. 


So you want to open a live music venue 3

THE MARQUEE – Camperdown Sydney

No 3 in the hard right hand turn of life and venues off we go!  

“The Marquee Rocks! Was actually the website address.

The club itself pre us. A Latin cabaret club ( now empty) with an unusual liquor licence. 

It had a night club license with a 3am close.

Simply awesome. Rare as hens teeth then.

Previous to that. 

The Marquee. A legendary rock band venue from the 80’s and very early 90s. 

Leaving Bar Broadway behind me to die a miserable death in the hands of its miserable new owners and music killers

I along with a fellow band manager built and operated a rehearsal studio for bands. It was an interesting business exercise. My management business was rocking along .

Had some consultancy work coming in. The studio kept my network hat in the ring and was generally a good place to have an office again.

Sometime in after starting that.

The licensee/ General Manager from Bar Broadway Id mentioned was a driving force?

 He called me out of the blue. 

With a rather an intriguing offer. He had a site we could take on.

 No money down.

 A very informal deal with the owners.

We pay them rent and do our thing.  Run a live band venue. Sell alcohol, Make money.  What could go wrong? I mean really? What could possibly go wrong right?

So, we did the deal.

 Jumped in boots and all.  We didn’t really have any money so everything we did was on a budget.  We called in every favour we had to get the place going.

It was a 400 sqm rock in roll beast of a club that after we rejigged the inside.

Had a stage area . Loud as fuck PA and concert light can system at one end of the room.

A bar down one side. A couple of pool tables and an area to sell merch at the opposite end of the space.

It was burgundy red on the inside with concert cans lighting walls in the downlight position and best of all cages for the dancers.  And a carpark.

When I say we did this on a budget? It was tight. The first performing stage was a temporary loner and the carpet that covered the stage we collected for free from a closing down swingers club in paramatta.

(Incidentally, The closing swingers club?. It had the biggest spa Id ever seen and an open flame barbeque to cook food on while the patrons were swinging I assume.  I shudder to think?)

However, the carpet was perfect for our stage. The bands that chose to perform bare footed on there I never had the heart to tell them where the carpet had been?!

We painted the inside. Re built the bar all in a couple of weeks.

Now? I’d thought myself an on to it business operator. Always perused due diligence pre anything.

However? what I hadn’t done here was put 2 and 2 together.

The hook up for the venue came as mentioned from the GM from Bar Broadway and my new joint venture partner , whom I was totally fine with.

 I mean I knew he was Italian.  He yelled a lot when he talked .

I knew, he knew the venue owners and Id meet them on several occasions.

 I knew they were Italians.  What I didn’t know was they were Sicilians. !

Our deal was loose Yes. But?

Ill come back to how loose later on somewhere along the way.

By this point in the journey we had a lot of musical friends. We had been a positive force in the rise of many local acts via our past venue escapades. But this venue was ours lock stock and barrel and everyones to enjoy.

Opening night was rushing at us. We had mostly everything sorted other than the stage light rig wasn’t competed. Nor did we have a band for the night. 

We needed to open with a bang!  

So I phoned a friend. ?

Maybe 12 months earlier when I was still in Bar Broadway.

A promoter I’d worked with a lot in the punk band scene.

Not the Sex pistols punk band scene where id grown up.

But the new current one. He called me.

Arranged a Sunday night gig for a band he wanted to bring in from Adelaide. A Hip-Hop band none the less.

He called me as he knew I was one of the few venue guys actively promoting Australian Hip Hop in our Venues.

 I mean it was aussie kids emulating american rap with aussie lyrics and beat boy crews. But it was cool!

 I really liked it.  So, we programmed a show with a couple of local crews and the Adelaide guys in the middle slot. 

I stood in the room that night with the guy that brought them to Sydney for their first ever show.

My thoughts Immediately.  I just saw Australian Hip Hop ramp up a lot of gears. These guys were great. Totally fresh.  We hung out that night afterwards. Had a few drinks. Made friends.

Never saw them again until I needed a favour, they’d offered on the first night I met them over drinks.

I called them direct. Asked them if they’d motor up to Sydney and open The Marquee for us?

I knew they had gotten bigger in a short space of time.

Id been watching and listening. I simply hadn’t realized how big.? The cool thing when I asked. No hesitation.

” It was yep! we’ll be there.” And boy were they in full flight?!  And hell! Had they crafted their chops.

And the audience that night. Up for it!  From doors open 7pm . We had a line snaking round the carpark 3 times extending out the drive and down the main drag for 500 metres.

We squeezed the venue tight as a nuns – – – – that night with people.

 I’d say. The venue hadn’t had that many people in it since its original inception as The Marquee when Faith No More played there.

Anyways. It was a massive opening for us We got to meet all our Neighbours – The Local Police – The city police- The Service station owners  over the road realized they needed to stock a lot more ciggies and bags of ice in their cooler now we’d arrived.

The venue up the road instead of viewing us as a good thing. Immediately went on the defensive

The council was up our arse on the Monday following the opening with a huge WTF?

Your supposed to tell us your opening!

 “Are We?’ ooops Sorry.   I never will ever follow the rules if I can help it and I love controled mayhem.

The taggers in the audience that night had hit a few walls on the way home with a couple of lovely Tags and on the sides of a metal back truck.  I did feel a little sorry for that one. They’d literally re coloured the whole truck

The owners of the building thought they’d hit a gold mine with us.

But above all. We’d wreaked havoc in true rock in roll style and everyone knew we were back!

We’d chucked a lot of TVS out the hotel window that night

And The Hill Top Hoods that night took us, the audience we managed to squeeze in , and the whole of Hip Hop Sydney totally by surprise!

And firmly stamped their claim just how good a band they were and would be to this day.

More to come!!!!

So you want to own a live music venue 2

Bar Broadway.

Continuing down the venue route.  I must shine the spotlight on a couple 3 or 4 venues for various reasons.  This little gem located on Broadway & Harris.

Here in this venue many things changed for me personally.

It was a venue Adam and I had in our portfolio.  Adam I really admired for many reasons.

He drove an old 69 Mustang.  I thought that was pretty cool.

But above all. He was truly a good person with no agenda regarding booking the bands. He simply loved music and being part of the show. 

I had the band management as well. Other people we brought into our business all had other side gigs.

Adam as I said. Did what we did to make a difference.  One of the real good guys along the way.

So we had a guy running our end of the business for the venue. For all the venues for that matter.

Each had dedicated person or persons.

 That role meant you were on our behalf ,essentially totally responsible for all contact with the venue. The venue manager.

Coordinating the shows.  Sound and lighting. Sound engineers. Door person cashier. Money handing on our behalf. Essentially insuring all the dots were joined.

I got a call one day from the venue manager.

Yelling at me. He claimed he couldn’t work with the person we had onsite from our end and on further investigation, I found the feeling was mutual from our guy.

The problem and if your going to operate in entertainment and wear multiple hats. You must be able to separate your self from other roles and prioritise the gig you for hired for at the time.  It’s a skill Id learned years before. 

In this case the dispute between the 2 were central to our guy with a band management head (same as me) not backing the venue when required. 

Artists are at best tricky to deal with at any given time. Give an inch they’ll take a mile. When your running a venue. 

Everything must run light tight and structured and this venue manager ran the business possibly a little harder than most.

However, Id got to know him well.

Still do to this day. He was old school. Rock & Roll road warrior. Came up in the early years same as I did.  We played hard. But we worked hard. The show will go on no matter what.

So long  & short of it I had to move our guy on. I think he left us. I can’t honestly remember.

Business is business. Always will be with me.

So, I took this venue under my wing. Made it a priority. I sensed it was to be something special and quite frankly. The owner of the pub and the venue manager stated. “If I didn’t take the role personally “? They’d ditch us.  We didn’t want that.

Very quickly on installing myself in the venue.

My artist representation business got really hectic.

Id signed 2 new bands on.

 And signed them to Festival records.  So, my time was limited on a daily basis. Id just bought a new house. I had 2 small children and I really loved being a Dad. And thankfully. To this very day Ill continually say admire with all my love & respect. I had the most supportive, strong adjusted independent partner in crime by my side. My wife. 

None of this journey could have happened without her. But time was limited?  So, I had a choice. Something had to give.

 I left the multiple venue business I had with Adam.

I kept Bar Broadway for the income at the insistence of the pub owner. He was a creature of habit. He liked and trusted me and wed made plans. Big plans.

I moved my office home. Ran the venue operations as normal from there along with the band rep business.

I was around home more to spend with kids which meant I wasn’t out of the loop family wise and I could help more around the house as my wife also ran her own business ,  but my night work increased.  

So, venue plans. The government in their wisdom decided to gift every hotel in NSW 30 poker machine licences.

Meant all pubs became a gambling den.  Gambling. poker machines etc had been regulated to Casinos or RSL and associated clubs.

Up to that point a hotels revenue was bar driven maybe with a bistro and naturally music in some form or manner

Patrons were largely driven in the door via entertainment.

 Now the option to grab easy some big bucks , there wasn’t a hotel owner out there  who was prepared to ignore this gift cash cow. The guys that owned and distributed poker machines.

Stormed in the door with all manner of unbeatable deals for the venue to take up to utilise their free poker machine licences. Which alone, just for the paper they were printed on became extremely valuable in them selves and became a trading commodity.

Stevie wonder could see this one coming.

Very quickly. Stages and areas dedicated to music were sliced in half, often removed to make way for poker machines.  It happened. It was essentially one of the great knives in the gut of live music. At least in NSW. 

So, I conferred with people in the same role as myself on behalf of other venues.

We couldn’t fight this one. We had to find a hook.

 I did.

The one thing Poker machines required for them to profit.

Were players.  Cash pigs.  I brokered a deal with the hotel owner.

 I’ll bring more people into your venue if you keep live music included. Further to that. Take some poker machine profit and put it back into refitting the second floor we had in the pub to an awesome live room. Now the owner?  I must say. A chronic alcoholic but nevertheless.

 A stickler for detail. He’d be at work every morning at 7am. Finish work at 3pm.

Be propping up the bar until he fell over but paid for every drink he had in his own bar.

He agreed to the deal and stuck to it.

Unlike a lot of hotels waiting on the multitude of customers to simply walk in the door and push cash through their machines. Didn’t happen.

We kept the pressure on driving people in via bands. They in turn fed the machines. The machines delivered. He was good as his word.

The Whitlam’s were singing “ Ban the pokies”   

He reinvested a couple of hundred grand into the top-level bar for a brand-new live room.

 I hated the poker machine process. Those things suck the life out of the community.

But they paid the bills and allowed the venue to prosper as a live music space.

But business was business and mine was the promoting of bands and live music whatever it takes in the face of change you must adapt or die.

We flourished! To the extent. The venue was sold for a record price. 9 million. At the time.  That was  serious money. The downside. The new owners didn’t give shit about music.

In fact, they hated it. Yet they bought a music hotel.

Total fuckwhit bistro hotel owners.  Within months.

The venue licensee whom had been very much a driving force in what we achieved.  Was gone. I was on the way out.

Bands were on the way out.  In that time though. New friends were made.  New talent had been discovered.  Sydney had the Olympics. The twin towers in New York came crashing down. The world in many ways had shifted on its access. Especially the music business.

And I was about to take another directional shift

So? you want to open a live music venue?

Mentioned early in the opening blog. My journey through music.

Venues featured highly in the Vortex. Especially reflecting now in this time. This year 2020. This madness and time of learning.  It’s bizarre. Ha!  But so were live music venues.

Owning them.

Operating them.  I came into venues as I have mostly everything I’ve ever done . By accident. Certainly not by careful planning.

I was happily managing bands after leaving the country comfort inn of corporate record companies. We’ll come back to that.

I met Adam Oreagan.

I think from memory he was at the time managing a pub or something but essentially was the guy who booked the bands for this hotel. (north point tavern) We got talking one night after a show. One of my acts had just played. He mentioned. He loved this band. However, was frustrated as whenever he tried to book a show with us through our agency. He was handed a large door fee guarantee to pay, that literally put us in the high-risk category of the venue not winning off the door proceeds.

In a nutshell. The venue collected the door proceeds. The venue paid the agency. The agency paid us and sliced their fee off the top.

The concept being the door proceeds would out way the guarantee ensuring the bands and the agency expenses were met (Obviously heavily weighted to the agencies benefit.)  with the venue receiving a split of the door and of course all the bar.  

The band. An original act. Had radio play. Were doing ok. People came to the shows. It was ok. But what we didn’t need.?  Were heavy handed agents. Double dipping on commissions. Putting large guarantees on the table that we weren’t aware of.

Inhibiting our option to play live. And venues losing on the door. Having to dip into the bar take to pay the fee.  

Even as the band manager. That didn’t seem fair to me. And we were losing opportunities to play live and sell CDS and merchandise. Highly lucrative for us.

So that night. History changed somewhat. Adam had started a small venue consultancy business to assist venues. venue managers  with booking their bands. Pretty much any venue worth its salt & cool were promoting bands.

Some had a dedicated band booker. A lot didn’t and they were at the mercy of some quite hard arse agency type people. I joined Adam. Kept managing my bands while Adam and I set out to get between the Venue and the agents negotiating the deals for the shows.  

We tried to to keep the process honest and fair.

It was a business very quickly.  We never set out to piss anyone off.

 We just wanted to formulate deals that spread risk and built confidence encouraging more venues to get involved promoting live music. 

We did however annoy a lot of agents that had it all their own way for a long time.  It got very controversial.  Confrontational and down right nasty at times. But truth be. We really all wanted the same thing.? For these Acts to be successful.  

We kept the guarantees in the deal. Just greatly reduced. Upped the door split for the venue and the band.

The venues paid us direct for our services.  Our only fault. We never charged what our true value was. We loved what we did but, really? We should have been better dealers on our own behalf. Then again. We were new. What we did? Was new. It was hard to put a price on it. There was still risk involved. Not every show worked. Far from it.

We brokered deals with audio and lighting companies with the  venue to have inhouse production in the venues we worked with. This was a major win. It meant a band didn’t have to cart a PA around everywhere they went. Everything became easier. Everyone got paid on their work effort.

Before long we had a growing business.

Any given week via the venues we booked in Sydney . Over 7 nights. Upwards of 30 to 40 original bands playing every night. Maybe upwards of 350 bands played our rooms in a week. Week in week out. All genres, styles. Through this period, we literally worked, talked, walked, played and were a part of all the rising bands, all the losing ones and in betweeners.  And? We were part of all of this happening all over Australia.  Not counting the international acts that played our rooms.  

Street power poles were covered in band posters.”On the street” was free music mag packed full on music news every week run by passionate people.

I’m not sure people today? Can get their head around that. It was massive. We were full on all the time.  We never had enough stage time for the all the acts that came to us for shows.

We had to hire another person just to listen to the CDs and tapes we were getting sent daily.  Order the advertising posters for the street poles. Adam and I just didn’t have time to do it.  However, that said. It was my favourite part of the job. But you know?  we had a business to run.

A&R guys from record companies came to us for recommendations. Our CD listener person was hearing it all and passing what they thought we could work onto us to program into the venues.

Again, we can reflect. Festivals like “Home Bake “ happened because of all the grass root venues and talent getting better at what they did.  A big outdoor festival could operate profitably just with local talent.  You couldn’t do that today.

The worst aspect. Right now, when we need to be able to fall back on our local talent to get moving again.

We don’t have it.  We took out the core, the heart of the business.  The growth stages. The small stages.

I mean. It was all inevitable.  Change happens.

But. You know what? We just spent billions reviving a tram transport system in our city 40 years after taking it out in lieu of alternative options.

Perhaps we could think trams are venues?

Heaps more stories to come. !!!