Australian News 3/1

Melbourne Clubs Feel The Heat

A push by police to curb the volume of new late-night music venues in the Melbourne city district after a spate of drunken assaults has put the heat on existing nightclubs.

The Melbourne Fire Brigade’s director of safety, Keith Adamson, said at least three-quarters of the nightclubs checked did not conform with fire and health safety guidelines such as exit widths, toilets and ventilation.

"A tragedy waiting to happen," said Adamson. He is worried that in the event of a fire, with fire exits locked "and add to that a lot of young people impaired by alcohol," stampedes and deaths would occur.


Alan Dargin Dies

Alan Dargin, one of Australia’s most recognisable indigenous didgeridoo players, died in a Sydney hospital aged 40 of a cerebral haemorrhage February 24.

He was 5 when his grandfather gave him his signature didgeridoo, a 100-year-old instrument made from an extinct species of eucalyptus known as the Bloodwood tree.

Dargin adapted the traditional instrument and adapted it to modern styles such as jazz, classical and blues, often to the annoyance of purists.

He duetted with a wide array of stylists – including jazz players Don Burrows, James Morrison, and Dale Barlow, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, guitarist Tommy Emmanuel, rock soulster Jimmy Barnes, Wallace Buchanan of British funk band Jamiroquai and Yothu Yindi.

He was also an actor, in such movies as "Fringe Dwellers," and his best-known role as drag-wearing Koori in "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert." He held a degree in science from the University of Toronto.


Aussie Showcases

A few years ago, venue booker Mary Mihelakos, EMI Records promotions executive Glenn Dickie and talent manager and events producer Johanna Greenway decided that Australian acts showcasing at South By Southwest should get more attention.

They dubbed themselves the Australian Music Collective (AMC), put themselves into debt and set up a BBQ at Brush Square Park opposite the Austin Convention Centre, where international executives could have a free feed and drink and catch their acts.

Since then, the Australian government’s export body, Austrade, has taken over much of the funding of the annual BBQ showcase. Last year’s event drew 5,000 people, the AMC says.

The AMC continues to hold its SXSW showcase and has extended the idea to other cities. Acts play clubs before and after they arrive in Austin for sets.

Just a few of the acts playing Los Angeles and Austin this year are Dan Kelly, Yves Klein Blue, Old Man River, Chad Mason, Chris Pickering, Kate Bradley and Ash Grunwald.


Short Notes

The $100,000 bronze statue of AC/DC singer Bon Scott was unveiled at the Aussie Rock Concert at Claremont Showground in Perth on February 24. The show starred The Angels Band, Rose Tattoo, Noiseworks and The Screaming Jets, among others.

The statue will be placed permanently on Fisherman’s Wharf in Fremantle, where Scott grew up. February marks the 28th anniversary of his death.

Sydney booking agent Tom Taafe, who finished up at New World Artists / Trading Post Agency last December to further his career in the U.K., has signed as an agent with International Talent Booking in London. His contacts are +44 (0)20 7637 6979 (tel), +44 (0)20 7637 6978 (fax) and [email protected].

Police closed down an unlicensed dance party held February 23 at the bottom of a 30-metre cliff in Clovelly, Sydney. They said the 300 clubbers could have been swept into the sea or electrocuted as waves crashed onto the makeshift dance floor on the rocks where the lighting and DJ booth were situated. Police may charge the organiser.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority plans to investigate free to air TV network Channel Ten over alleged subliminal advertising during last October’s broadcast of the ARIA Music Awards.

Plans by Elvis Presley impersonator Dean Vegas to run for the mayor of the Gold Coast went off the rails when he failed to get his nomination in on time. Vegas’ platform was that having a Presley tribute act as mayor would attract tourists. Four years ago, the 43-year-old ran for mayor and won 25,000 votes, or 12.5 percent of the count.

Hundreds of arts companies in New South Wales are left in limbo because Minister for the Arts Frank Sartor has been slow in signing off on their funding applications. It should have been done in December, so they could plan their budgets and collect their money in January. As a result, many of the groups have had to delay touring plans and cancel workshops.