THE LOADED DOG and TRADEWINDS FOLK EVENTS.
A tale of two folk clubs 1990 -2015
Two weeks ago, while cleaning up after the painters had finished, I came across a faded copy of a sequence of events sheet. Sandra Nixon, current ‘Minder’ of the Loaded Dog Folk Club in Sydney had nailed me down and made me recall the events and guests I had organised (along with the Loaded Dog itself) all those years ago. It is down as having opened its doors Saturday 27th September 1990.
Here I am, twenty-five years later, having just put the final (??) details together for the opening of TRADEWINDS FOLK EVENTS next month on 30th January 2015 coming up. I am just as nervous obviously, but I am also intrigued to ponder the differences between then and now. Why not the same model again?
I had arrived in Sydney, from the North of England, still in the grip of Thatcher’s reign of Terror, in 1985. I returned for a year to sell up, then came, in a state of gratitude and bliss, to settle in 1987. Largely unwelcome in the Sydney folk scene I decided to take the passive way round the problems, and found a British-style folk club. On a morris trip to Melbourne, playing concertina for the Sydney Morrismen, I came across the pub known as The Loaded Dog. I became much amused by the tale of the two men, the stick of explosive, and Nemesis in the shape of a playful dog. So I pinched the name.
Among the principles I worked with were:
No More Pubs! - there are not the back rooms there used to be. Landlords are voracious and will double book you without blinking. Sound bleed is an awful problem, and number 97 is always needed in the snack bar, and more.
Nice halls are hard to come by, and cost rent, so reluctantly I was going to have to go commercial.
Music will always go to where music is –look around. Avoid the seedier places however cheap, ‘cos people won’t go. Forget the places with too strong a religious or political connection as it will spoil the atmosphere. Not too posh either, as the carpets and curtains will muffle your music. Parking space is important too.
Atmosphere is not a dirty word! It doesn’t take much to make a difference. For TRADEWINDS I have some lovely candle goblets, and we can soften the atmosphere in other ways.
In spite of Sara Lee having made a takeover of the world’s taste buds, people appreciate a bit of home baking, and we did! Three of us baked cakes and made savouries every Dog night. This nearly paid the rent. In other places they charge membership fees, which covers a lot of financial ground, but I have never been a fan of that.
Alcohol has never been a problem. Most folkies are not in the first flush of youth and can largely be left to self-regulate. Let them drink wine! And those awful dip things if you wish. We will have café-style seating for your convenience. Just take away your empties chaps!.
Most people know I have been Bookings Officer for Newcastle Hunter Valley Folk Club for a few years. Although I have made a few changes, I reluctantly came to the conclusion that I was pushing in a way that they felt contrary to their identity. So about Easter last year I assessed all factors and decided I had one more big push in me. By this time I could see a ‘hole in the market’ and knew some wonderful people that would help me fill it. Time will tell, but:
The nice hall I needed was THE DUNGEON at Adamstown Arts. The Uniting Church Minister, Dr. Rod Pattenden, has given us a wonderful and supportive welcome there. Providing patrons behave themselves (you will! won’t you?) you may bring your own drinks and nibbles. Take away your empties please.
We will still be a non-profit making venture, although quite a lot of money has been needed to start it all. I am about to broach the third thousand dollars of my own money in set-up costs. Please don’t object if I ask commercial rates for things like coffee and cake.
We are, however, rich in talent. Peter Allsop and Nicola Ross have hearts like lions, as well as making superb music together. Peter will be front-of-house man, as well as taking over organisation of sound. Nicola is doing website, photography and other things. Adrian Hill has done website, and may be persuaded to sing.
My musical sidekick, Michael Fine, will not be able to come every month, but will generally look after money and administration details. Michael is highly valued by me for his lovely guitar work and the fact that he uses his great voice in harmony, as easily as lead vocal. I love singing and will still be trying to warble as they nail down the lid on my box. Until then I will do Bookings and look after the kitchen side. We need more help, but experience has taught me that the right person will come forward in their own time.
We can do nothing without the artists. In sympathy I noted Kavisha Mazzella saying, that at the end of every night you are unemployed. The least we can do is provide an appreciative atmosphere, and the best financial deal we can manage.
So that’s what we promise folks!! We will try the best we can to make this venture a vibrant part of the Newcastle music scene, at a very affordable price. After Bob Fox in March, we will settle down to the 2nd Friday of the month. There are already, some interesting plans for April - all on the website folks. www.tradeswindfolk.com
Check in regularly to see what’s coming.