Music At The Railway Is BACK


Last night the Brunswick Blues Shooters played at the Railway Hotel at 800 Nicholson St North Fitzroy (near the old railway line that isn't there anymore).

It has been around 21 months since there has been live music at night at the Railway - it was brought to a horrible stop in Sep 2009 when license conditions saying the pub had to employ security guards when music played were enforced.

This was a peaceful pub with a peaceful crowd who enjoyed listening to blues and roots while having a meal and a chat, and maybe having a dance. Music ran on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

The Brunswick Blues Shooters had a residency on Thursday nights, so have lost around 80 gigs due to the licensing madness.

And now the Railway's licence has been fixed! The supposed 24 hr turnaround licence-fixing process only took several months, but it has happened.

A really nice thing about music at the Railway is that you can stand right next to the musicians if you want to, and watch them playing close-up. The steel guitar, for example, or the double bass - both part of the Brunswick Blues Shooters line-up.

So maybe drop in at the Railway on a Thursday night and have a drink and a meal and listen to some music. The food is traditional family Italian cooking, and it's great.

Cheers - Robin

The Tote LIVES

So it wasn't all in vain (the Tote protest above).

This afternoon at around 2pm it was announced the Tote will re-open in 6 weeks.

The new owners, Andrew Portokallis and Jon Perring, will still be subject to the same draconian licence conditions as the former owner, Bruce Milne, but intend to apply to have these removed when they take over—a luxury only possible after the efforts of numerous music negotiators and of all the people who attended the Tote rally and the SLAM rally.

It should be noted that a few venues have already applied to have these conditions removed, but Liquor Licensing is bogging their applications down in unrelated red tape, and none of them have been successful yet.

Also, that the "guilty until proven innocent" licence conditions are still on licenses at all, with the onus on the licensee to act to remove them, says a lot about the inaction of John Brumby and his Government.

But it's good news! And bands will be back. More soon.

Cheerily yours - Robin

Last St Pat's Fest At Dan O'Connell

Dan oconnell hotel

Tomorrow is St Patrick's Day, and like the past 100 years, there will be celebrations at Carlton's Dan O'Connell Hotel, which is known for its Celtic and folk music. Thousands of people come each year to party in the park next to the pub, and the event has the support of police, residents and the Melbourne City Council.

However this year's may be the last, because Liquor Licensing Director Sue MacLellan will only give the event a 10pm liquor licence rather than the usual 1am licence, which makes it financially unviable. Worse, without income from this annual event the hotel business will not be as healthy as it was, apparently… see the Dan’s pages for more on this.

The Hotel’s manager Toby Kingsley says "Crowd behaviour has been exemplary in the past" and that "the director of liquor licensing has insisted on maintaining a draconian approach to live music venues while many violent inner-city nightclubs continue to trade unabated".

Read about this in Last St Patrick's at Dan O'Connell (The Age 4/3) and on the Dan's website: The last ever St Pat’s Day?

You may wish to join Facebook group Save St Patrick's Day at the Dan O'Connell.

And come along to St Pat's at the Dan! But be early… it finishes at 10 o'clock.

~ Robin

Police Raid And Stories

I found the following story on blues guitarist Martin Cooper's website recently… Death by Centimetres - All-out Attack on Live Music.

It's about a raid by gun-carrying, plainclothes police on a peaceful Brunswick bar at 10.30pm, to stop a band playing.

I've set up a new Stories page on this website, with links to this story and others, where the music has been stopped. They make sad reading, as far as I am concerned… the ability to go out to a small, personal venue and play or listen to music is so important to so many people.

One thing about the Brunswick raid above that I find incredible is that it happened only five days before the SLAM rally. This was only four days before the Live Music Accord was signed and well after the Government began having discussions with music representatives. Guess I have been naive in thinking there might have been some common sense afloat.

John Brumby
I have updated my page about John Brumby, and also my page about a letter he gave MPs to sign and send out about the Tote. They are here: John Brumby page and Brumby letter page.

This website
You may be interested to know that the State Library of Victoria is now archiving this website on a regular basis, along with some other relevant sites, for their collection on this music issue, in their permanent collection of online publications. It's nice to know it's all being recorded for posterity.

Till the next time,

~ Robin

The Tote Closes

The Tote Collingwood
So today the publican at The Tote announces The Tote is closing. He says the liquor license conditions make it impossible to keep going.

Apparently the State Government believes that the MUSIC at The Tote could cause the type of violence found at CBD nightclubs, because the draconian conditions on The Tote’s license only come into effect if there is live music. What a joke.

Here’s the press release from Bruce Milne, publican:

It’s last drinks at the Tote. This weekend.
I know it’s sudden. I didn’t plan it to be like that.
I can’t afford to keep fighting Liquor Licensing. The “high risk” conditions they have placed on the Tote’s license make it impossible to trade profitably. I can’t afford the new “high risk” fees they have imposed. I can’t afford to keep fighting them at VCAT. I can’t renegotiate a lease in this environment.
So, come into the Tote this weekend to say farewell to the sad staff and to feel the sticky carpet for the last time.
I don’t believe the Tote is a “high risk” venue, in the same category as the nightclubs that make the news for all the wrong reasons. Despite being on a rough little corner of Collingwood, the Tote has had very, very few incidents. As a local police officer once said, “The Tote’s the quietest pub in the area.” (!).
It’s not dumb luck that the Tote has escaped serious violence. I believe the business has been run responsibly. People don’t come to the Tote to fight. They come because they have a passion for music and love to be in an historic venue that reeks of that same passion.
The Tote is (sorry, was) an important cornerstone of Melbourne’s rich and diverse music community. It’s too late to save the Tote but not too late to try and save other inner city venues that are feeling the same pressures.
I know the sudden closure affects a lot of people. Most importantly, the hard-working staff that are being forced onto the dole queue. And the bands and artists that have had their gigs pulled from under them.
Anyway, I don’t want to get maudlin (or viciously angry). The era of the Tote is over. If you love the place, come and have a beer with us this weekend.

Bruce Milne

So The Tote is seen as a “high risk” venue. Funny, I felt totally safe at the Tote… I think because it had music. Would I go into one of those yucko pubs on a corner somewhere, those ones with no music? Naah - I wouldn’t feel safe.

~ Robin