Ahead of Saturday night's show at Shoal Bay Country Club, Rai Thistlethwayte had a chat with AHA Newcastle Hunter's Nikki Taylor about why playing at local pubs is still important...
Even when you're in Thirsty Merc!
On Saturday, 3 March Australian band Thirsty Merc will hit the stage at Shoal Bay Country Club as part of their current Take Me Back tour.
For the band, the tour marks a 15-year milestone and playing their way around the country is one way of saying thank you to the fans who've helped them achieve such incredible success.
But while we cannot wait to catch the band at Shoal Bay Country Club, the title of the tour also stirred up a few thoughts and we couldn't help but wonder...
What do iconic bands like Thirsty Merc and artists like Rai Thistlethwayte, think about the current state of live music in pubs and local venues?
We couldn't help but wonder... What do iconic bands like Thirsty Merc and artists like Rai Thistlethwayte, think about the current state of live music in pubs and local venues?
The answer was something that certainly provides hope for the future of live music in pubs.
"Live music is 'the' way to see and hear musical performance," Rai said.
" Although the biz has changed hugely, it comes in waves and is 'swings and roundabouts' as one may say, nothing has changed people's love for all styles of music, and these sorts of gigs at venues like Shoal Bay Country Club are testament to the fact that the live music scene in Australia is still a force to be reckoned with."
And while some may argue that in-home entertainment has taken its toll on attendance at live music events, especially local gigs, according to Rai, there is an enormous up-side to technology and the way it influences us as an audience.
"New technologies are obviously leading the way in contributing to thoughts of obsolescence of old ways, old activities like going out and hearing a live band play in a pub," he said.
"But that said, I don't believe it because in other ways this technology still enhances more people knowing about what's going on and where. We've seen the direct affect of this in terms of getting the word out online for shows. And, people show up!
"To think of Australian music, means we think of the old school pub scene, and I think old habits dying hard in this instance is only a good thing - long live the classic Aussie music experience. I know I'm not the only one who has fond feelings for this classic Australian pastime - so I can't see it being a thing of the past quite yet!"
"To think of Australian music, means we think of the old school pub scene, and I think old habits dying hard in this instance is only a good thing - long live the classic Aussie music experience..." Rai Thistlethwayte
On the upcoming show at Port Stephens, Rai said playing pub shows is still important, regardless of your success as a band because it provides an opportunity to really engage with an audience.
"It's sometimes the smaller shows which have much more of a lasting effect and memory for us," he said.
"I think also as a fan, I've had some of my favourite experiences listening to music in front of small audiences.
"It's sometimes the smaller shows which have much more of a lasting effect and memory for us..."
"To drop one name, I was lucky enough to see Prince play at a small club show in Los Angeles in front of only 300 people - it wasn't even a scheduled gig.
"We knew someone who knew someone and they somehow last minute shimmied us into the nightclub. And there we were: Prince not even playing necessarily his own songs but hosting almost a Jam Session with various musicians from the community on stage. I'll never forget that night, it was quite incredible to be there.
"I also remember seeing Tim Rogers and 'The Temperance Union,' one of his solo gigs with his own band at the Annandale Hotel in Sydney and it was so cool.
"You were so up close with someone with all that charisma, that's what it's all about. I reckon the more intimate the musical performance, in ways, the better."
And on the topic of smaller venues, we couldn't help but ask...
Does Rai have a local of his own that he likes to frequent?
"I'd say either Bar Cleveland (Surry Hills) or 505 in Sydney. One is a great pub on a very busy road, close to home and the other is a great Jazz club just down cleveland st in Surry Hills, run by a good friend of mine, Cameron Undy," he said.
"When I'm in Melbourne, I always end up at the Lucky Coq in Prahran, or even the Windsor Castle. What a cool place - you've gotta love the pink elephants on the roof. Good fun all round."
And if you are lucky enough to be heading to the show this Saturday night, it seems you have a lot to look forward to.
"This is gonna be a great one.We're playing two sold-out gigs the nights before this one so we'll be rocking by then with still a lot of fuel in the tank," Rai said.
"This tour is different in the way that we're pulling out some tunes we haven't played for a while, so fans can expect some newbies as well."
And if that wasn't good enough, Shoal Bay Country Club has recently received a $6 million renovation making it one of the best live music venues in the area.
See you there!
Tickets are $33 and available HERE.