Retro rockers heat up Clarence's summer scene
THE Clarence is set for a big summer of entertainment, particularly if you're a fan of music of the retro variety.
That's the politically correct way of referring to those vintage acts many older punters (author included) probably went out to see during their heyday in the 80s and 90s.
The roll call of big name bands and artists who were, and still are to some degree, household names within the Australian musical landscape kick off this weekend with the arrival of the frontmen from two of 80's finest protest bands Redgum and Goanna.
John Shumann and Shane Howard have joined forces with the backing of the Rockin' Red Dirt Band to present a retrospective of music that penetrated the country's psyche at the time, highlighting uncomfortable socio-political issues and sending them into the mainstream.
Later in December it's the kings of 90's Australian punk rock, The Living End one night, swiftly followed by 80s legends Dragon the following, the latter band delivering all their classic hits as well as delving into the UK's huge 80s scene that also saturated the soundwaves here.
January is also a retrofest with Cruel Sea frontman Tex Perkins back on deck and the legendary Joe Camerilli and his band The Black Sorrows bringing their vast repertoire of rocking blues fusion back to the Clarence stage. Later that month is the quinessential Australian pop rock band GANGgajang whose classic Sounds of Then (This is Australia) is one of the country's all-time greatest anthems.
Somewhere in that month you'll can enjoy a laugh with our favourite Irish Australian Jimeoin, whose wry observational comedy is the stuff of legend. He loves passing through the area in January so he can catch a wave so keep your eyes peeled in Yamba.
Wrapping up the retro summer fest thus far is the legend and real thing Russell Morris, who will be in town to help holiday punters ease back into work mode.
While it's great news to have so many acts booked into our neck of the woods venue operators and agents hope people come out and support the shows.
Leading the charge in the number of acts booked at their venue is the Yamba Bowling Club, aka Bowlo Sports and Leisure Yamba.
CEO of the Bowlo Phil Boughton said they went the extra yards to lock in a great summer of entertainment.
"We recognise the additional visitors in town during Christmas so went looking for larger style of entertainment. Big budget stuff can be riskier if you don't get the numbers and you have to wear that expense, but there's a much better chance of breaking even during the summer holiday period so we thought we'd give it a go. We made a conscious decision to talk to agencies and were prepared to spend a bit more to do that.”
Mr Boughton said the bowling club would keep being proactive by trying new things.
"There's lots of positive talk about some of the shows we have coming and tickets are already selling for some like The Living End. That's going to be a cracking one.”
Legendary North Coast agent John Logan, who is bringing some of the acts to the Clarence, said it was rather ironic that when a lot of this acts were in their heyday they struggled to make ends meet financially but now they seem to riding a second wave.
"There's definitely been a resurgence in bands from the 80s and 90s. They can make some income doing it all again, and in some cases make more money than before.”
He said technology has helped this to happen as band's no longer needed huge support crews. "Production has been scaled downed a lot. They used to have to lug around an enormous PA and have 10-20 people on the road. Now it's two men and PAs are smaller and much more efficient.”
He said besides releasing music, bands are finding live gigs are becoming a primary way to make an income, which is helping to bring live music back.
"Audiences are also supporting it. That 80s tribute band is doing enormous business. It's one of the biggest touring acts around. The Dragon show should be huge because they are doing 80s covers as well as their own music. They are being their own support band for the 80s music.
"Everyone wants to get out and see a live band now and the economy for doing that is pretty good. The Clarence Valley is embracing that with venues like the Saraton, GDSC, Maclean Bowlo who are having a go, and the Yamba Bowling Club are regularly doing big shows. Five to 10 years ago there was probably one venue in the Clarence doing this. The more venues operating the better it is for everyone. It creates a buzz.
"People want to go out more so it's a good time for live music and we are always looking for something different. I saw where they held the carols in Grafton on the weekend. Amazing, I've got my eye on that space.”