Entries Tagged as 'Culture'

State of the Local Music Venues Report 2015

Fifteen years of participating in the local music scene has been a frequently dispiriting vocation, with decent venues coming and going with a frequency quite unseemly and bands leaving for greener pastures with depressing regularity. So it is a rare and great pleasure to relate that, in my humble opinion, the local music scene has seldom been in ruder health, at least in terms of number and diversity of venues to play in.

The City

The Phoenix, which has always been my personal favourite, has been having a rough patch what with the fire and all, but has maintained its status as Canberra’s best and most interesting small venue and will soon redouble itself with the promise of expanding their program of entertainment to far more than the current three nights of music, a weekly quiz and monthly poetry slam. Natural tendency: non-judgemental (28) (booking policy)

Transit Bar, after trying and failing to be a decent venue for many years, finally put some effort into a well proportioned stage and ameliorating some of the extraordinary echoes a concrete cavern will commonly produce and now makes the list. Good on them, though I still hear complaints from musos and punters alike about less than perfect, more than ear splitting sorta mixes. Still, some local bands are playing there and having an alright time so long may they continue. Natural tendency: JJJ (22)

Magpies has been a thing about to happen for a long time but now seems to be achieving the regularity of activity and consistency of organisation and promotion required to make the grade. Joel Cabban is doing well at the helm and has a good pair of ears which helps a lot. Magpies may well become that mid-to-large size room Canberra has been lacking for quite a while. Natural tendency: heavy (23)

Smith’s? Well we’ll see. Hopefully it’ll fill an important niche in the boutique cafe/venue/hotbed of revolution space. Natural tendency: Cabaret Voltaire (35)

Hippo Bar is tiny and doesn’t really prioritise live music but is doing regular jazz gigs on Wednesdays these days. Natural tendency: pretentious (25)

The ANU Food Co-op is what a sound guy would kindly call a ‘difficult room’, but the dozens of scruffy cross-legged pastafarian naifs that crowd in monthly for a bowl of vegie soup and an eclectic Acoustic Soup line-up don’t seem to mind. Natural tendency: flour power (19)

ANU Bar has been a good venue in the past and is useful for some large touring gigs, but it’s value to the local scene has been low to zero for many years. Recently introduced, however, is Groovin’ the ANU (actually on tonight), a monthly local music night where the bar (and erstwhile Greenroom proprietor Garry Peadon) waive all fees, entry is free, beers are $3 and four local acts can play for nothing. Better than nuthin’ I guess. Natural tendency: various (?)

The Inner North

With the demise of Tilley’s as a venue, the Front has been the only commercial venue of note in the inner north for a while, and that only by the skin of its tooth, it being tiny, cramped and with barely adequate audio reinforcement. Now supplying real food, it’s got character, lots of comfortable lounges and a nice sunny veranda. Natural tendency: quinoa (29)

For many years a bikie blues bar, the Old Canberra Inn has recently changed hands and the new owners are taking steps to relaunch the joint for a broader demographic. Where will all the bogans go now? I heard a rumour they’re going to soundproof the games room and equip it for bands which makes sense. Another birdy told me they were quite happy to pay reasonable money for bands and production at their relaunch a few weeks ago, which went very well by all accounts. Natural tendency: we shall see (?)

In Turner, through the agency of the CMC, there are the four members of the Westbank Cultural Precinct:

*The newly re-opened Polish Club, about to crank out regular Friday nights for locals and touring acts. Natural tendency: Zywiec! (32)

*The Croatian Club available for acts able to fill a 500+ room. Natural tendency: beer barn

*Le Alliance Francaise, which is almost always overlooked but is quite a nice room for a small show: Natural tendency: BCBG

*The Turner Bowls is still open to gigs if bands want to use it. A good 150 room with a noisy kitchen behind the stage but soon to be remodelled. Natural tendency: rugger bugger

The inner north is also blessed by our house which hosts regular Backanalias, Bang! Bang! Bangs! and house concerts throughout the year. Natural tendency: boozy (33)

And in the near future, inner northians will be able to see what a couple of million in renovations has produced at the recently dubbed Music Hub at the Ainslie Arts Centre. With renovations of the Ralph Wilson and Bogong Theatres also nearly complete, AGAC, as it’s becoming affectionately known, could, just maybe, become a useful venue for local music. Natural tendency: hopefully not snooty


Belco now has two venues, with a possible third on the horizon. The Basement, long the natural habitat of the heavy/metal/punk end of Canberra’s music jungle, has had a fairly recent change of management and may be attempting a transition of clientele, a la the OCI. I do hear they’ve put thought and energy into making it a better venue with appropriate p.a. equipment and a second more intimate band room. Natural tendency: in transition (29)

And self-described ‘cocktail bar’ La De Da seems to have successfully staked a claim on Emu Bank, putting on fairly regular nights with a few bands/dj’s and attracting a presumably local crowd of young things. Natural tendency: aspirational (22)

The recent acquisition of the Pot Belly Bar by a quartet of youngish Canberran professionals lends itself to Belconnen having an almost unprecedented (at least in this century) three music venues at the one time. Personally I think they should give the place a good once over, lighten it up, reduce the size of the bar and forty or so other things I thought of while considering whether to buy the Pot. Natural tendency: TBA

Northside also has The Abbey, of which I have written recently, and whose hopes of being a useful part of the local venue scene lie chiefly with the chance of the tramline going right past, in which case, whole new ballgame. Natural tendency: wedding bells


Beyond Q is an odd but loveable little venue in a 2nd hand bookshop in a basement under the Curtin Shops. Approximately 12 people can squeeze into its ornate little music room. They seem to have something on most Saturdays and Sundays at various times of the day and night and have a cafe, often with liquor permit. Natural tendency: intimate

The Harmonie German Club in Narrabundah might be the Southside’s Polish Club (capacity 300/65). Home to the Blues Society’s monthly jam, they have regular Friday gigs, with a strong tendency towards country and blues, and a smattering of other events, Oktobfest of course, a choir and market day (not unlike the Polo’s Polish Sausage Sale).

A Bite to Eat is largely just a suburban eatery but they used to regularly run a Sunday afternoon (5-7) gig every week for quite a few years (a bit intermittent at present) and it seemed to draw a reasonable crowd. I believe bands had to bring and operate their own p.a. Natural tendency: family outing

Ojo’s Cafe at the Hyperdome seems to do music occasionally. I have no real data.

PJ’s Tuggeranong finally got rid of the bikies but has yet to live up to the occasional promise of it becoming a venue of any note. The main infrastructure, excluding a ready audience, is in place however.

So in total we are talking 20+ venues throughout town, each with their own character, each sprinkling their particular ordure into Canberra’s collective musical cesspit. We may have overlooked some places. Apologies if so. Please let us know if there’s a venue for original contemporary music we’re unaware of.

Super Best Friends at McGregor Hall

Pics by qedqed

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Traces of a photographer

There’s a crush of people crowding around the complimentary wine and cheese while next to me a flash gun fires. Its early but already the small gallery space at the Front is crowded to get a glimpse of Beth Jenning’s first solo exhibition.

My attention is drawn to a stop sign that imposes itself on a brilliant blue sky. It’s a little crazy and very impulsive. Why take that picture? Next to it is a forlorn collection of wicker chairs on a Baltic beach bereft of their human cargo but still showing the unmistakeable signs of summers past. On another wall, isolated from the rest are a pair of well worn blue armchairs that haunt an empty room.

The work is deliberately ambiguous and although the brief explanations offer some relief they do little to inform the viewer. There are glimpses of other places yet they resonate easily in the Lyneham gallery, images that transcend the barriers of place and culture.

And it almost didn’t happen. Beth relates a story of how her plans to shoot stock photographs unravelled while travelling in Italy. Amid the visual splendor Beth stopped taking photos and took some time to ask herself what would she really like to capture. The journey that traces the impressions places and people make on each other began.

Beth’s technical proficiency is grounded in old school film techniques nurtured in the Lake Ginninderra College program and given room to grow during a crazy world tour across four continents to shoot twenty different families. Her images aren’t just a snapshot of some time and some place, they are moments in the eye of the artist.

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leaving traces – A photography exhibition by Beth Jennings
14 to 27 April 2010 @ the Front Gallery

World Naked Bike Ride Canberra 2010 – Pics

click ‘Read more’ below for more pics.

On Sunday past, around a hundred brave individuals, yours truly included, took part in Canberra’s World Naked Bike Ride. Beginning with a mass body-painting session in a marquee down by the paddle-boat hire place, the ride meandered over Commonwealth Bridge, up to Parliament House, through the vintage car show near OPH, past some wedding photos at Commonwealth Place, over Kings Ave Bridge and thence through Commonwealth Park back to the starting point.

It was two hours of gentle cycling for most. Personally, my choice of vehicle and passenger was a tad ambitious and having to ride the damn Johnny Loco home to Downer straight after for another engagement was torture indeed. Halfway home, however, the Johnny Loco partially redeemed itself when I, having totally exhausted the last stringy muscle fibres in my spindly legs, could pause in the shade for a little nap in the caboose.

The police, also on bicycles, accompanied us the whole way, partly to ensure we obeyed the pre-arranged rules regarding exposure of genitals etc. and partly to escort us through intersections. In general they were a benign if not helpful presence. Despite fielding a number of complaints from members of the public, they did no more than hurry us away from the offendees.

There’s a video posted by Nic Welbourn on Facebook if you’re interested, and a gallery of photos below, some taken by me, some by my passenger. [Read more →]

Tweed Ride, Sat 6th June, 2009

Hello Loadedog,

We’re wondering if you can announce the Canberra Tweed Ride for us in Cuturazi. It’s being held on Saturday, 6 June, starting from the coffee van at Gorman House Markets at 11.30 for noon. The ride is about 15km with numerous stops for cafes, bars and foolishness. Wear vintage clothes – no lycra permitted – and ride any old bike-like thing you can get your hands on. Details are on the card attached to this mail.

Thanks heaps!

Bike Naked Ride World

I rode my bicycle, completely naked, over Kings Avenue Bridge today. I wonder how many people have had that pleasure? Halfway across, the AFP, who had been casting an inhibiting shadow over us since we convened in Glebe Park, cruised past and turned into Wendourie Drive near the Carillon in an apparent attempt to intercept me. I thought it apt to put my boxers back on at that point and, approaching, decided it was equally apt to proceed directly towards the copper heading from the car in my general direction.

‘Just keep those on’ he said. I thanked him for being very reasonable, especially considering he failed to mention my absent helmet. And despite maintaining a vigilant watch on such activities as were readily accessible via car (what, no bike patrol – perhaps they were reticent to appear part of the parade?), and despite making it clear that this naked bike ride wasn’t going to have any actual nudity involved, the cops were fairly amiable and even seemed to quite enjoy themselves at times.

There was a bit of nudity nevertheless. Besides my own miniscule effort, another fellow removed the last remaining piece of his clothing, a ragged scrap of muslin, for a naked mile in front of our august lakeside institutions, and a number of the ladies appeared seemingly miraculously (out the bushes) in Glebe Park clad only in bottom undergarments (and helmets) but daubed with colourful non-toxic paint on their bosoms which is apparently where the ‘law’ draws the line at ‘nudity’.

Thus the first ever Canberra edition of the World Naked Bike Ride came and went, without quite reaching critical mass, without altering the status quo or ending our reliance of petrochemicals. Nor were many feathers ruffled. One lady, sitting on the edge of the castle in Commonwealth Park, remarked loudly that we all looked disgusting. She wasn’t much of a looker even with her saggy bits covered, and she was also in the minority. Most were at worst bemused and at best delighted.

Naked Bike Ride

World Naked Bike Ride, Canberra

The World Naked Bike Ride comes to Canberra for the first time on Sun 15th March, 2009. Culturazi will be there and so should you. Check the details on the Facebook page.

World Naked Bike Ride

Chipping Away

Back in nineteen-ninety-something I fell in love with Kettle Chilli Chips. New on the market, it was the first potato chip to dabble beyond the flavoural mores of the times. Prior to the Chilli Chip, the most exciting innovation in chippery had been the Ruffle, a sort of mini-orb of the corrugated chip (itself an innovation), that promised much in terms of texture, but was still limited to the essential flavours, being plain, salt and vinegar, chicken and barbecue. Besides rampant flavourings, the Kettle Chip range, which grew with time, exuded a sort of class and originality that set it apart from its competitiors. It was a superior chip worth the premium pricing.

The first few years were wonderful. I ate a large packet of Chilli Chips almost every afternoon. They sustained me for those last few, flex-buffering hours in the quietening office. They quelled my growing anxiety that I was wasting my life away.

Following the advent there amassed a plethora of competitors, the Red Rock Deli’s as well as the lame attempts of the traditional brands. Almost every visit to the supermarket evinced a new flavour or brand but, despite occasional flirtations, the Chilli Chip remained, for me, supreme. Until the awful news that the Kettle Chip company had sold out to Arnotts who had themselves, not much earlier, sold out to the Campbell Soup Company, to wider dismay (apparently the Kettle Chip brand was offloaded by Campbells to the Real McCoy snack food business in May last year).

Ultimately the loving of the Chilli Chip has been akin to an affair with a smack addict. It has resembled falling for a cult late night tv show on channel nine, only to be shunted and rescheduled and eventually descheduled. It has followed the trajectory of George Bush’s presidency. It has gone, in fewer words, to shit. Little by little the things that set Chilli Chips apart were whittled away. The last pack of Chilli Chips I ate might well have been a mislabeled packet of ‘100% Flavour Free Chips’ for all the sensory gratification they offered. And where was the arse-burn?

I suppose the moral of this story is that things are often the victim of their own success. Enterprises that are inspired by a passion for quality and originality frequently fall victim to the blandness of corporate machinations. And as a consumer, all one can do is savour the good things while they last – and keep them to yourself. C’est la vie.

My New Hero

Click the pic to see the Naked Guy. Perhaps when you’re not at work.

The Naked Guy

Jesus Would be Pleased

‘Well, we all get up at 5:30am and shower thoroughly, shave all crevices, brush our teeth, and apply perfume and/or sweet smelling lotions. We then sneak back into bed smelling all fresh, where we proceed to wake up our husbands up with oral sex.  After morning sex, we go make a three-course breakfast for our families and send everyone off to school/work. We attend aerobics/pilates/kickboxing classes weekly to keep up the cardio, and we eat protein bars to help sustain us. We masturbate five times daily to keep our drives up, and then we have a gourmet dinner ready when our husbands come home from a long day’s work. We then give our husbands a foot rub while they watch the game on TV. During half time we have sex again and then we wash up and retire for the night. Isn’t that how it works at your house?’

I think it’s pretty safe to say it doesn’t happen like that in our house…

The above comes from a web site called Christian Nymphos – Marital Sex: Spicy the way God intended it to be. Therein we learn that Christians, far from their stereotypical image of prudish frigidity, are getting freaky in the bedroom and even, shock horror, other rooms and in positions other than the missionary. The CN girls give advice on sexual technique, as well as theological advice such as, since anal sex isn’t mentioned in the Bible, it’s ok to do it with your hubby.

Sluttiness is next to Godliness – got that all you Christians. Rimming isn’t sinning. Speaking in tongues? Such cunning linguistics.

As with all things Christian, the fun has to stop somewhere. Generally this involves involving anyone else in the fun, which from my perspective takes a lot of the fun out of it. Nevertheless, it’s nice to think that our Christian brothers and sisters are enjoying a little more than lying back and thinking of John Howard.

PS. I’m pretty sure the quoted paragraph is ironic, in case the feminists amongst you were outraged by the stepford tone. It seems Christians can have a sense of humour as well.

Olympics Sexfest? My Arse

Did you notice the Olympics? Aussie Aussie Aussie! Yawn yawn yawn!

Sport Make you Health via

An anachronism? A farce? How many of this year’s heroes will be next year’s drug cheats? How many Beijingers had their houses demolished? Can we quantify the dividend in world peace and understanding? Would we be better off diverting sports funding to public health like Canada? Was it the protests over Tibet? The sickeningly jingoistic television coverage? Whatever the reason(s) I just didn’t get the Olympics this time around, as if it had become an irrelevancy in a world with far more pressing concerns than who is the fastest/strongest/most agile man/woman this year. And I missed SBS.

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The Sheik and Dave

Tonight’s edition of Cutting Edge (SBS, 8.30pm), Embedded with Sheik Hilaly, made for interesting watching. The defining nature of Aussie attitudes to Islam is profound ignorance and Dave Zwolenski, the unassuming Aussie bloke sharing the Sheik’s house for two weeks, makes a reasonable fist of remaining open-minded in his quest to understand the workings of Islamic society in Australia.

I was surprised and pleased to learn that Muslim men, at least the Lakemba mob, sit down to do a pee, a practice I have long advocated. They also wash their bums with water as well as wiping after a poo, which strikes one as much more hygienic and aesthetic than the Aussie norm of smearing with paper alone. Then again, they also apparently shave their armpits and pubes, a practice I have long railed against for both man and woman, if for no other reason than who has the time? Wiping with the left hand is a dictum shared by many cultures, and makes sense if proper hand washing is difficult to obtain. I would have liked to ask the Sheik which hand Muslim men use to pleasure their wives (I’ve always wanted to know) but that’s probably why Dave was in the show and not I.

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Horror Movie: It’s the 6.30 Fishing Show

Imagine this. A TV show called ‘Birding Australia’. A crew of Aussie blokes head out into the wilderness with traps, lures, radar and baits, and pluck birds from the skies, drowning them in aquariums so we can have a nice long wet look at them, simultaneously ripping a barbed hook out of their beak before giving them a tongue kiss and throwing them into the air. Unless they decide to cook them. Mmmm. Wedge-tailed eagle must, if anything, taste like chicken.

Apart from certain cultures’ sacred exclusions (and the western world’s pathetic embrace of the latest cute and cuddly victim of mankind’s rapaciousness) it is generally open slather on any creature of the earth as far as hunting, killing and eating goes. But in all this world of hunnin’ and killin’, of all the creatures subject to the indignity of slaughter at the hands of human beings, there is but one class of animal that must have salt rubbed into their wounds by starring in their own horror show, frequently of the snuff variety.

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Work: What is it good for?

I know. It’s a silly question. What work is good for is shutting up people who ask ‘and what do you do?’ Because here in Australia, not having a readily accessible answer to that question is tantamount to admitting you’re a good-for-nothing, dole-bludging drug dealer with low self-esteem, BPD, irregular sleeping habits and poor personal hygiene. ‘What do you do?’ people ask, and everyone with a job answers not ‘I slop sludge’ but rather ‘I’m an [insert job title].’ Their very identity is bound with their job. They aren’t a human being who sludges out slop for a crust, they are a Culinary Services Operator.

I made it to work early this morning. Since then I’ve answered a slew of personal emails, smoked five cigarettes, bought and eaten a vegemite roll and coffee, done a lengthy crap, handled negotiations for a wedding we’re playing on Saturday and, the only work related task so far, worked out how to login to the telephone. And it’s only 11.30am. Time for another ciggie.

Unemployment is thus identity death. One can be a husband, father, son, friend, mentor, lover, train enthusiast, but without a ‘job’ we are invalid, a non-person, a drain on the country’s resources, a waste of space, a loser baby so why don’t we kill them.

It’s ten years since I last held a ‘proper’ job, that being Customer Service Operator at the DSS/Centrelink, a job offering such immense and fathomless psychological pain and emptiness that, had they run out of large rocks and mountains, it would have made a suitable alternative punishment for poor Sisyphus. Let it roll, baby, let it roll!

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The Rat’Lympics