THE BAW Baw region is not known for its live music scene, but one local venue is determined to change that.
This article was first published in the 15 August 2014 edition of the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen.
BANK Warragul, which opened its doors near the Smith Street taxi rank in June, has started the First Wednesday Blues & Roots Club – a monthly gig which, if attendance at the first performance in August is an indicator, is set to be something big.
Venue owner Declan Flannery is not new to hosting live music. Before opening BANK he ran the Kazbah Lounge in Sale, which also hosted monthly blues and roots performances.
“It was a very successful club with great artists, but we also had local blues acts to help us along too,” Mr Flannery told the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen.
Approximately 110 people attended the first blues performance at BANK and over two thirds of the tickets for September’s show have already sold, prompting Mr Flannery to look at putting the show on in a larger room at the venue.
“If that’s the case it means over 150 people, 200 people will be coming for these blues nights on a Wednesday night,” he said.
The first act to perform for the club was former Screaming Jets guitarist Jimi Hocking, and other big names are planned. But Mr Flannery said he was looking to get local performers on the bill.
“Because I’m new to the area I have to get the contact… so just trying to work out who’s who,” Mr Flannery said.
“We’ve made contact with people but they’re a bit slow getting back to us, but I’m sure over time when they see what we’re trying to achieve here, and if we can help each other out, that will be great.
“All the money on the door goes to the artists and for us we’re just here to promote our venue.”
“The little twist we’re doing is we’re recoding all our music… and we’re going to create a CD, and we want to sell the CD and donate that money to a charity.”
“We want it to be the BANK Upstairs Blues & Roots Club charity. We’ve got a big banner, and we want all our artists to sign it, and then we’ll aucton that off too. So all the money that generates, every year at around Christmas we will give the money to a charity.
“The charity hasn’t been picked yet, but at this stage we’re looking at maybe the hospital, the local CFA, but making sure the money stays in Baw Baw.”
But blues is not the only genre of music the venue has on the cards; expect jazz, rock and even punk.
“When the warmer days are heating up we are really after having live music in our venue Wenesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday,” Mr Flannery said.
“Once a month we want to do the 1920s/1930s swing jazz up on the terrace bar. So you can imagine just a nice feel, about 3pm, warm afternoons, having some nice bubbles, some nice cocktails, listening to some nice jazz swing and easy listening stuff and just getting back to basics and enjoying some good live music.
“When I first came here in ’98 the live music scene in Gippsland was very strong, it was pretty good, and somewhere between now and then it’s gone a little amiss.
“It’s not from a lack of musicians because there’s still plenty out there, and they’re very good too, the calibre’s very very high in the area, so we’re just wanting them guys to come forward and play here.
“On Thursdays we also want to introduce a bit of a bluegrass scene, so people rock up and have a jam.
“It’s a bit like the Irish folk scene. You rock up to a pub in Ireland and over time as the day goes on you might listen to a story, a limerick, and then all of a sudden someone sings, and then someone pulls out an instrument and before the night’s out there’s about 20 people and they’re all playing an instrument. That would be really cool.”
Young punk and heavy rock groups will also get a look in.
“Come September we’re probably going to launch our Euphoria bar, which is going to be aimed at the 18 to 30 age group, because there’s going to be more, bigger live bands and DJ’s, because it’s a bigger space,” he said.
“I think that style, punk and stuff, would be ideal in Euphoria. Even local bands – we were told about the Spitting Swallows, apparently they’re very good. I haven’t heard them yet but I can see those guys fitting in nicely.
“We want to put all local acts and local musicians as best we can. We’re all about supporting live music, and DJ’s as well of course because they do put a lot of hard work and effort into research and what they need to play and play to. To keep that dance floor moving is pretty hard.”
“So we’re new to Warragul and I think it’s slowly kicking off. We’re very happy with the way things are going. It’s going to be very busy come the silly season.”
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