Having been an Adelaide Hills resident for the past 28 years, thought it might be a good time to give a brief history/overview of “live“ music in this region.
I remember when first moving up from “the flat-lands” in the late 80’s. “What a long way from the city”- what the hell am I doing up here?” This was way before the Heysen Tunnels were even thought of... (Constructed in 1998- opened May 2000.) There was a thriving scene however, partly thanks to one Mr. Greg Baker who at the time was living in Harrogate. First time I saw Greg perform was at the Mt. Barker Hotel, doing a solo gig in the front bar on a Sunday afternoon. Greg was also one of the driving forces behind the annual Blues Festival held at the Hahndorf Oval in the early/mid 1990’s. Several now prominent Adelaide Blues musicians “cut their teeth” in Greg’s different band incarnations – Jesse Dean-Freeman, “Sweet Baby” James Meston, instantly spring to mind. (I’m sure there are more!) Although not necessarily always blues music, most of the Hills towns had at least one pub which had live music most week-ends.
The first “blues/rock” band I started performing in back in the early 1990’s was called “Bluestone.” Formed by bass player Rossco Phelps and harmonica player Keith Ormerod, myself on Guitar/Vox and a drummer whose name I can’t quite recall! (We had various drummers over the years.) Our first gig was at the Clarendon Hotel and we played at pubs from Willunga in the South to Gawler/Sandy Creek in the North for a number of years. The southern region of the Hills in particular was a thriving scene around that time. For instance all three pubs in Willunga ran live music over any given weekend. (One pub would do a Friday, another on Saturday or Sunday arvo etc.) I remember seeing the great Jeff Lang doing solo sessions at the “bottom pub” at Willunga, then seeing him perform with Chris Finnen the next evening at the Aussie Inn for instance. Certainly a very inspiring time to be a local musician!
The advent of the “pokies” in the latter part of the 1990’s really put a halt to the live music scene not only in the hills but the city too as we all know...
These days though I think there has been a “resurgence” with live music in the hills. Personally I have been fortunate enough to have worked regularly (mainly as a solo artist, some as a duo) over the past ten or so years. Gigs for me have been at: (no particular order) Great Eastern at Littlehampton, The Bridgewater Inn, Callington Hotel, Millers Arms at Nairne (both now closed unfortunately.) The Bedford at Woodside, Lobethal, Charleston, German Arms @ Hahndorf, The District Hotel @ Nairne, Mt. Torrens, Meadows, Echunga, Oakbank Hotels, a recent addition (though I have yet to get over there) is the Three Brothers Arms at Macclesfield. with live blues and roots bands every Friday.
Since the formation of ARBA in 2013 there has now become a cool little “Sunday Afternoon Circuit” that I am happy to have helped organise/be a part of... I started out just by giving local publicans names, numbers and recommendations of some fellow musicians... Don Morrison, Evan & Erica from Lazy Eye, “Malt Whiskey”, Keith Hall etc. What has evolved over the past twelve months is an “early” show at the Lobethal Hotel (usually a solo/duo) from 3 till 6 pm. Then its over to the Bedford Hotel at Woodside for a 5 – 9 pm set ( a mixture of duo/ band acts). This has “snowballed” with the likes of bands like Papa Legba, Lazy Eye duo, now performing regularly there. It’s great to see more “city” musicians coming up to the hills to perform to what I think are truly appreciative hills blues punters!
Cheers! Mick Kidd.-”Mick’s Musings”
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