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NEWY: Australia’s live music capital in waiting

Now, we all know that Newcastle has a reputation for being an exciting, vibrant city for live music. Once it was said that Newcastle has more musicians per capita than any other city in the world. With the lockouts now thankfully gone, there is hope for the future.

These days, Melbourne likes to think of itself as Australia’s music capital as Tamworth does the country music capital. But, with what is the pipeline for the Hunter, we may have a chance of claiming (or reclaiming) the crown for Australia’s LIVE music capital.

We already have a host of amazing homegrown festivals and events like Dashville, West Best Bloc Fest and This That. The locally born juggernaut that is Groovin’ The Moo can also be claimed as stemming from here. Then we also have the wineries like Bimbadgen for Day On The Green, Hope Estate and, more recently, McDonald Jones Stadium which has hosted Elton John and Paul McCartney so far with more to come.

But there’s even more in the crystal ball for Newcastle.

The massive new shell stage at the Cedar Mill development in Morisset is going to be a game-changer that has the potential to bring even more of the world’s biggest stars to our region. Then there are plans to demolish the old shed we call the Newcastle Entertainment Centre and build a new state-of-the-art venue as part of a revolutionary new development in Broadmeadow.

And we have the rebirth of Australia’s oldest theatre The Victoria to look forward to. The Vic is being lovingly restored by the folks that look after The Enmore, The Metro and other fantastic music venues in Sydney so we know it is in good hands.

Add to all of that the smaller local venues that host and nurture up-and-coming acts every weekend – The Lass, King Street, The Hamilton Station Hotel and Mayfield’s Stag and Hunter Hotel are just a few examples.

Sadly, our biggest venue conglomerate Wests, who own concert rooms at New Lambton, Nelson Bay and in Newcastle City itself, seem to have lost their way a bit when it comes to presenting entertainment. With assets like NEX (city) and the Starlight Room (New Lambton), Wests has served the city well in previous years by bringing some of the nation’s and even the world’s biggest stars to their stages but pickings are slim these days. The group seems to have lost touch with contemporary entertainment practices and no longer seems interested in serving the community with high-profile touring acts bringing their talents to this region. It’s a shame that we hope is rectified soon.

In the meantime, others are filling the void and it seems to be going from strength to strength.

We salute those who continue to build performance spaces for live music and seriously consider that Newcastle has a very real chance of one day being Australia’s Live Music Capital, a crown we will wear with pride.

Do you think we can do it?