Australian News 8/17

Chick Ratten Dies

Chick Ratten, who for 15 years ran Melbourne’s Rainbow Hotel, died August 8 of a pulmonary embolism while on vacation in Germany.

Ratten, 63, had two goals when he set off on the European trip in May: To attend the Tour de France (he was an Olympic cycling coach as a young man) and meet Joe Cocker. He did both.

The Rainbow was such an R&B mecca that Mick Jagger, Eric Burdon and Harry Connick Jr. dropped by for late jams after their own shows.


Wolfmother II

Following the departure of two band members, Wolfmother has announced some changes.

Singer Andrew Stockdale has enlisted a Sydney session player for his new unit. Former bass/keyboard player Chris Ross and drummer/vocalist Myles Heskett are writing together, according to a statement from the band.

The act was initially thought to have split after a lackluster headline set at the August 3 Splendour In The Grass festival. It is believed the act split a month ago but decided to fulfil their Splendour obligations.


Short Notes

The Frontier Touring Company announced visits from Alicia Keys and U.K.’s The Futureheads. Keys is booked for nine shows December 6-20. Three are winery shows as part of Roundhouse Entertainment’s A Day On The Green series.

The Futureheads are booked for four club shows October 1-8.

The Utopia dance party at Sydney’s Homebush drew 5,000 clubbers but also drew the local cops with their drug-sniffing dogs. Police arrested 24 patrons, including a male with 110 ecstasy tablets.

A new free site,, has launched to help New South Wales musos get work. The public can search for musicians (bands, sessions), DJs, teachers and accompanists.

The Queensland government is considering legislation that bans nightclubbers for 24 hours if they cause trouble.

Nightclub bouncer Kasey Holmes of the Cocktails and Dreams in Surfers Paradise became the first scalp in the Queensland government’s get-tough policy with violence in the area.

He was stripped of his security license after closed-circuit TV saw him leave his club for the nearby Shooters club, where there was a brawl between clubbers and bouncers, and punch a man.


New Zealand


Shell Renews WOMAD Sponsorship

Oil company Shell NZ extended its sponsorship of the WOMAD festival by a further two years.

Festival organiser Taranaki Arts Festival Trust’s Lynn Bublitz said Shell had been a corporate partner since its inception.

“It costs around $2 million to put WOMAD on, and half of that cost comes from our sponsorship,” he said.

Of the 150,000 fans who have attended WOMAD, 70 percent come from outside Taranaki, adding NZ$6.5 million (US$4.68 million) to the local economy.


Hot Grits Video Banned

A music video by New Zealand funk band The Hot Grits was banned by broadcaster TVNZ because it shows 30 children “binge drinking” on milk while in adult situations.

The Hot Grits claimed “Headlights” was banned because it pokes fun at anti-alcoholic messages aimed at adults. TVNZ says the video contravened guidelines on exploiting children.


Raggamuffin Returns

The Raggamuffin festival returns for its second year, to Rotorua International Stadium February 7.

The lineup includes Ziggy Marley, Eddy Grant, Stephen Marley, Shaggy, Arrested Development and Inner Circle, who will join Kiwi bands Kora, Unity Pacific and Three Houses Down.


Williams Calms Clubbers

Andy Williams’ music is being used to chill out nightclub patrons in Hamilton, New Zealand.

The city council has played different kinds of music for clubbers who hang around streets after the clubs close and sometimes get violent.

But Williams’ music gets them mellow, it says, clearing the streets in 40 minutes.