Live & Local’s successful efforts to revalue live music

Tenterfield’s Live & Local grant to promote local talent and an appreciation of live music has almost been exhausted, but a concerted effort over the weekend saw local performances at a number of venues around town.

It all kicked off on Friday evening with Josh Moylan performing at Our Place, followed by Emma Gianoli at Spice and Cream on Saturday with Emma backing up again at the Commercial Boutique Hotel on Sunday along with Jess Lockwood and other walk-up talent.

The local artists can even claim their own ‘groupies’, with familiar faces turning up at multiple events.

Feedback to organiser Peter Harris has been very positive. He said the Commercial for one is planning regular events on a Sunday afternoon, with a walk-up mike between sets for new talent.

“It’s all creating opportunities for new music-making.”

He said the venues were all happy with the outcome and are looking for ways to incorporate live music into their offerings. As grant money runs out it’s now up to the venues and artists to come to a more professional arrangement, which Mr Harris admits is a risk for small places weighing up if the extra business pulled in by a live act will warrant the financial outlay.

“Australians don’t like paying for culture,” Mr Harris said, “but imagine expecting a mechanic to do a job for free because they enjoy the work.”

He said Tenterfield is fortunate to have very good musos, who just happen to live locally.

Mr Harris recently met with counterparts from nearby towns extending down to Uralla to generate some ideas for keeping the Live and Local concept going. One of the ideas was suggesting to venue operators and performers that they share the financial risk, perhaps guaranteeing the performer a lower set fee plus a ‘commission’ for each meal sold.

Mr Harris is already fielding inquiries to supply acts for both public and private events, but he stresses he’s not a talent agent. An alternative is a new website which aims to create a community where people can easily browse and book musicians for an event, function, venue, or backyard barbecue.

While the prospect of booking live entertainment for a private party can be daunting, the website makes it easy by supplying bios, clips, rates and availability of acts willing to perform in a certain area, so enter the Tenterfield postcode and it’s possible to book an act for a couple of hundred dollars.

Mr Harris said it’s also daunting for performers to put themselves out there by joining the website, but the work he and son Jono untertook as part of Live & Local is helping local performers to assemble a professional portfolio.

The venues and performers aside, Mr Harris said the ‘punters’ over the weekend really had a good time, and the project is helping the general public revalue music-making in town. He extended his thanks to the people who came and supported the local artists.

There’s still one more event to come under the Live & Local banner: an indigenous music workshop to be held in Bruxner Park at a date yet to be determined, sharing cultural aspects like language in addition to music.

There are also future prospects of a concert of mixed acts – as a charity fundraiser – to keep local performance skills going.