Australian News 5/31

Adelaide International Guitar Festival, Chugg bringing Bob Dylan and Hinder to Oz, Venue news and more.


Reid, Kaukonen At Guitar Festival

Living Colour’s Vernon Reid and Hot Tuna guitarist Jorma Kaukonen are among 130 international musicians performing and holding workshops at the first Adelaide International Guitar Festival.

The 10-day festival runs November 23 to December 2, with 40 events including showcases of Spanish, jazz and Indian music, masterclasses, art exhibitions by guitarists, seminars covering the problems women face, and discussions on where the music is heading in the 21st century. It winds up with a star-studded tribute to Jimi Hendrix.

The event is the brainchild of the Adelaide Festival Centre, whose new CEO Douglas Gautier told Pollstar the festival is part of his strategy to double the attendance at the venue in five years.

The South Australian government has committed funds for it for four years, seeing it as a way to rebrand it as "the festival state."

The festival’s CEO is Christine Schloithe, a longtime employee of the Festival Centre. New York Guitar Festival co-founder David Spelman has been retained as artistic consultant.

Spelman and Reid joined Gautier, Schloithe and minister acting for the arts John Hill onstage when the festival launched May 28 in Adelaide. Reid introduced proceedings with a feedback-driven Hendrixian rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner" followed by a similar rendition of the unofficial Australian anthem "Waltzing Matilda" by Aussie blues virtuoso Jeff Lang.

Lang and Jorma Kaukonen will be artists in residence for the festival.


Chugg Brings Dylan, Hinder Downunder

Chugg Entertainment firmed eight Bob Dylan arena shows in New Zealand and Australia for August 8-23. Ireland’s The Frames will open for all dates.

The promoter also announced Oklahoma’s Hinder, whose album had a lengthy stay at No. 1 on the Australian charts, for five theatre and arena shows October 2-11.


Ministry Of Sound Heads Downunder

London’s Ministry of Sound will be opening downunder in three years as part of a $300 million revamp of the St. Kilda Triangle entertainment strip in Melbourne.

Sydney jazz club The Basement will open a club here, while Honkytonks club will relocate from inner city Melbourne to the area.

Darren Thornburgh, owner of the Boutique nightclub in Prahran, will open a second venue here called Pash.

The Port Phillip Council’s plans to revamp the area were delayed by two years. The strategy included demolishing the 22-year-old Palace nightclub complex and giving the neighbouring Palais Theatre a $20 million revamp with new management.

Both venues took the council to court, alleging they had leases for another 10 years and could not be evicted.

But on May 24, Palace operator Bradto raised the white flag after spending $2.5 million in legal fees. The Palace will close June 12; however, its 1,500-capacity band room will be retained under the new design.


Other Venues Close

The Australian live scene is losing two important live music venues: The Spanish Club in Melbourne and Canberra’s Green Room.

The Spanish Club is closing its doors to bands June 17. Since opening in late 2005, it was fined for noise violations, was entangled in a dispute over its tenancy with the landlord, and locked horns with the local council over plans to expand the band area.

Canberra’s Green Room will close in mid-August to live acts after booker and operator Garry Peadon decided he’d rather do something else. The venue won the city’s best venue award in 2004, 2005 and 2006 at the Jack Awards.


MTV Launches The Music Factory

MTV Networks Australia has introduced a new music channel called The Music Factory.

The channel, which will launch in September, is fully integrated and multi-platform, featuring 24 hours of music video programming and viewer-generated content including images, videos, text-based applications and graphics.

According to MTV, TMF will be the first music channel in Australia to connect all platforms, as well as simulcast to mobile 24 hours a day via the Optus Zoo mobile portal.

It is the first channel to simultaneously broadcast on television and on mobile in Australia.

Other features include an hour segment where viewers can make their own feature from their 3G mobile for broadcast on the channel, the ability to download the station’s content, and an array of themed weekends and countdowns.


Pink Buying In Byron?

Pink and husband Carey Hart are said to have been in the picturesque surf/hippie hamlet Byron Bay looking to buy property.

The area is home to the East Coast Blues & Roots Festival. Pink has just completed a tour for Michael Coppel Presents which set a new record for biggest indoor arena tour by a female in this country.

Jack Johnson bought a place as a second home in the region 12 months ago.

At a party thrown in her honour at Icebergs by SonyBMG, she was given a plaque for seven-times platinum sales of her I’m Not Dead album. Altogether, Pink has sold 1.8 million albums in Australia.


BassInTheGrass Sells Out

Darwin’s BassInTheGrass on May 26 sold out.

About 7,000 people squeezed into the Darwin Gardens Amphitheatre to see Jet, Eskimo Joe, Hilltop Hoods, Little Birdy, Young Divas, Lowrider, and Shannon Noll – just back from a songwriting and recording session with the likes of Richie Sambora and Richard Marx – as well as Darwin bands Enth Degree, the Moxie, and The Weathermen.

The Northern Territory government funded the event to the tune of $300,000.


Short Notes

The West Australian state government appointed local construction company BCG to undertake construction of the indoor sports and concert Perth Arena. The cost has blown up by another $15 million to a total of $335 million. The venue is expected to open 2010.Elton John will return in December to play "unique locations," according to his Web site.Jet canceled the Indonesian leg of their Southeast Asian tour when their promoter went missing.

TPA Entertainment Agency added fast-rising Sneaky Sound System to its roster. The dance act crossed over to the mainstream this year and sold 50,000 units of its debut album.

"They’re a dynamic band full of potential that give the agency a diversity we’ve been looking forward to for a very long time," director Owen Orford said.

The Seven network revealed that its new Sunday 10 a.m. music show "Live’n’Local Close Up" is getting an average audience of 278,000, making it the highest-rated music show in the country, Seven said.

Coca-Cola Australia, which has been running the "Live’n’Local" tours with Frontier Touring for the past few years to a total attendance of 60,000 per year, teamed with Seven Media Group to screen the 25-part series free to air and also on its Web site.The Cat Empire was signed by Universal Music for outside Australia, New Zealand and the U.S.

Adelaide band eType Jazz will play a huge benefit for musicians’ benevolent fund Support Act Ltd. in August as a thank-you for its financial help when group co-founder, pianist Ritsuko, was battling cancer. She died Thursday May 17.

Queensland teen band Operator Please is set to face English audiences again after being accepted to play at the Leeds and Reading festivals in mid-August. The band played there through April and shot a video there with director James Price. Bill Spurr, former CEO of the Australian Tourism Commission, was made a trustee of the Adelaide Festival Centre. He is a board member of the Adelaide Entertainment Centre and chair of Education Adelaide.