The Brunswick Blues Shooters are a Melbourne blues/country/American roots band who have been playing around the roots scene since early 2003 performing regularly at the Lomond Hotel, Barzooka Bar on Sydney Rd and their famed four-year Thursday night residency at the Italian-owned family pub The Railway Hotel – known for its great homestyle traditional pub food and authentic roots music acts. Of course this has all changed since the implementation of reformed legislation regarding liquor licensing laws (under the jurisdiction of Director Sue MacLellan) and The Blues Shooters (as well as fellow Railway acts Headbelly Buzzard and The Goodtime Medicine Band) were, as far as I know, the first in Melbourne to lose their gigs. In the process, what the government have overlooked is not only the impact on the musicians themselves – on their livelihoods and ability to find new work and reach new audiences - but the terrible impact on the communities that already support these gigs. I’m talking about the locals; the sociable old bachelor out for yarn; the young families with bright, creative kids who are already picking up instruments and joining in the local old-timey sessions; the 50s rock’n’rollers decked out in quiffs and hoop skirts who light up the dance-floor; the clusters of people looking to escape the mundane with great music and strong community. These are the people that were out at the S.L.A.M. rally to protest against the ill-conceived and irresponsible linking of violence to live music. These are the people who are still fully aware that there is much to do in the way of reversing the damage that has been – and is still being - caused. Thank goodness there are strong efforts by those affected – publicans, musos, audience members - to keep these communities alive.
In the coming weeks I hope to publish short interviews with roots musicians who have been affected by the liquor licensing laws and perhaps members of the music-going community who want their voices heard. In the meantime, here is some footage from Saturday's Brunswick Blues Shooters gig of the song ‘You Don’t Love Me Baby’ (Junior Wells) (video below). Let's see for ourselves - are these communities violent? There's Aubrey Maher in his short-brimmed 40s hat hunched over the microphone, Rick Dempster trilling out wild harp-lines in a red button up shirt and black slacks, and Melb’s renowned rhythm section: Paul Pile on double bass and Harold Frith in an ‘Honorary Cajun’ t-shirt, face crinkling into the embarrassed grin of a 10 yr old boy as his drum solo receives thunderous applause. And there is my daughter, making patterns on the table with red lemonade that has spilt from the glass with a curious two-year-old flick of the straw. And there is the famous railway blackboard and fish-tank gleaming in the pallid afternoon light. Fish don’t remember much, apparently, and perhaps they don’t know all the lyrics to ‘San Antone’ – but we do; we remember what it is to be human.
The Brunswick Blues Shooters will be playing at The Lomond Hotel on Saturday 10th April at 9pm. For more information visit http://www.myspace.com/thebrunswickbluesshooters