The NSW Government has been called on to save and celebrate Sydney's music history as part of the "cultural fabric of the city".
In a speech last week, Shadow Minister for Music and the Night Time Economy, John Graham, said Sydney acts should be recognised for the role they've played on the national and global stage, as well as iconic live music venues.
"If we are in the statue-building business we should build some right now to the artists who are fighting for the grassroots music scene in New South Wales,” Graham said.
“I am thinking of artists such as Dave Faulkner from the Hoodoo Gurus, Jack River, Urthboy, Set Mo, Mahalia Barnes, KLP, Josh Pyke, Jonathon Schwartz, Izzi Manfredi and The Preatures, Fanny Lumsden and many, many other artists.
“My view is: Build those artists a statue.”
Read Graham's speech in full below.
Graham's speech comes over a year after thousands turned out for the Don’t Kill Live Music rally in Sydney, with appearances from a star-studded list of local artists and speakers.
The Hyde Park event - which included appearances from Ocean Alley, The Rubens, Ocean Alley, The Rubens, Olympia and speakers Michael Chugg of Chugg Entertainment, Dave Faulkner and more - was in opposition to the NSW Government’s “war on music and culture”, with the state’s festival scene suffering due to new policies.
Sydney should celebrate its music history. Melbourne's AC/DC Lane is a wildly popular selfie destination for rock fans. I think of it as a great Melbourne laneway celebrating a Sydney band. Michael Dwyer has traced the path of AC/DC's Young brothers: arriving in Villawood, growing up in Burwood, going to school in Ashfield, rehearsing in Newtown and playing at Chequers Nightclub, which was their first gig, the Hampton Court Hotel, Kings Cross—their first known recording—the Rockdale Masonic Hall, the Hordern Pavilion and the Cronulla Theatre. I do not want to pick on Melbournians—our thoughts are with them right now, and especially with the hard-hit beautiful Melbourne music scene—but they should stop stealing our music history.
Good on them though, because in Sydney we have not done enough to celebrate it. Jeff Apter wrote a great article entitled Oz rock's sacred sites fade to black, detailing once-great music venues in Sydney that are now often car parks. It was a roll call from Alberts music studio—also known as "The House of Hits"—to The Basement, which is now no longer a jazz venue but is fighting on, with Jake, Kenny and the irrepressible Mary's team fighting to keep music alive. Jeff mentions Sydney's suburban pubs and clubs, including Bexley North, the Sylvania Hotel, the Revesby Workers Club and the Sundowner Hotel. They are all key music venues that have fallen silent.
Then electronic music was creating Sydney's sound. In 2016 Keep Sydney Open erected plaques around the city as the lockout laws took their toll. They commemorated artists who got their start at the now-closed venues. They included Flume, Flight Facilities, RÜFÜS, Alison Wonderland, Peking Duk, Art vs. Science, The Presets, Nina Las Vegas, The Preatures, You Am I and Sneaky Sound System. Those lost venues should be permanently remembered. Last year the Museum of Brisbane played homage to that city's music scene through the High Rotation exhibition curated by Leanne DeSouza. It was fantastic. We should do the same here for Sydney's live music.
Finally, if we are in the statue-building business we should build some right now to the artists who are fighting for the grassroots music scene in New South Wales. I am thinking of artists such as Dave Faulkner from the Hoodoo Gurus, Jack River, Urthboy, Set Mo, Mahalia Barnes, KLP, Josh Pyke, Jonathon Schwartz, Izzi Manfredi and The Preatures, Fanny Lumsden and many, many other artists. My view is: Build those artists a statue. Sydney and New South Wales should celebrate their music history. The industry needs to do more; there is too much focus on being legends, not building legends. The State Government should do more to save our music history.