Pubs Give ‘Live’ Line to Local Bands

This article by The Reverend Canon John Fowler, Parish of Charlton-Donald, first appeared in March 2010's The Spirit, the Anglican Diocese of Bendigo's newspaper. It is republished here with John's permission.

There has been plenty of media coverage lately of the State Government's changes to liquor licensing. High profile music identities have rubbed shoulders with everyday music fans as demonstrators have marched through Melbourne in an act of solidarity against these changes. And while I might not know too much about the legal ramifications, I do know that pub gigs have been the lifeblood of the local music scene for decades, and if our hotels were no longer able to host live music, it would impact greatly upon our music industry.

Midnight Oil and INXS cut their teeth at The Royal Antler on Sydney's northern beaches, Cold Chisel belted out early manifestations of Khe Sanh at The Pier Hotel in Adelaide and Men At Work refining what would become Who Can It Be Now and Down Under at small pubs in Melbourne has become the stuff of legend.

Closer to home, I have seen some memorable gigs at Bendigo's Golden Vine Hotel, and growing up in Sydney much of my wayward youth was spent at The Family Inn and The Sefton Hotel, where big name bands could be seen for a fraction of the cost of a concert venue.

Many of today's headline acts owe their success to having got their start in small pubs, and those looking to reignite their careers can often be found plying their trade in the relative obscurity of inner suburbia. When Daryl Braithwaite began the long trek back to stardom as a solo performer, he could be found performing at The Lemon Tree Inn in Carlton.

There is no shortage of stories of bands, who from humble beginnings playing to a man and his dog, now find themselves on the world stages commanding huge fees. In short, the Australian music scene would be a poorer place if it wasn't for the local venues giving our musos an opportunity to refine their craft.

- John Fowler