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By Madeleine Gray on October 2, 2017 in News

Hiaground’s charismatic frontman, Jimmy Heathwood. Picture: Nick Fraser

In case you haven’t been paying attention, there appears to be a burgeoning renaissance in the live music scene in Sydney’s East – particularly in Coogee.

Three live music venues, in particular, have garnered our attention in recent times as they have metamorphosed venues and businesses that are not necessarily traditionally geared towards live gigs into extremely supportive creative spaces for young, local musicians and their fans.

Old Dave’s Soul is a restaurant as well as a gig space, Coogee Pavilion is a gargantuan Merivale bar establishment, and Coogee Diggers is first and foremost an RSL. And yet each of these venues is doing their bit to give the local
music industry a go.

Dave Treacy, the Managing Director at Old Dave’s Soul, explains, “Our aim is to provide friendly, relaxed service, showcase great local artists, offer amazing food and beverages, while building a sense of community. We finish tunes at 10pm on weeknights, 11pm Friday and Saturday, and have music pretty much all day Sunday.”

Dave says the most memorable performances “would have to be Abby May’s debut gig (what a cool young woman) and BALKO’s EP launch (keep an eye out for these young legends). However, my favourite act would have to be ‘Old Dave’s Bandits’ – our house band, who are amazing and part of the family now.”

Over at Coogee Diggers, Phil Vannan opened The Bunker in late 2011, which has gradually been gaining a real reputation. “It was a tired old space that had snooker tables and worn out carpet, which lent itself perfectly to be the Juke joint/ dive bar space it is now,” he says.

When asked if local venues have a responsibility to foster local talent, Phil replies, “You only get big acts that everybody knows if they get to play somewhere enough times to get good. We will keep trying to fight that good fight! We have also maintained a song-writer’s night every Tuesday now for over four years, started by the late Karl Brodie. That’s something everyone is very proud of.

“Plus, we just have amazing gigs, including Ian Moss, Diesel, Ed Kuepper, Thirsty Merc, Tex Perkins, Justin Townes Earle, Steve Poltz, and Sydney boys, Little Bastard.”

Over at Coogee Pavilion, electronic music is the thing, with DJs playing throughout the week, and even more acts for the Sunday Sundown Series on the rooftop during summer. Yolanda Be Cool, PNAU, The Preatures and Safia have all played, and venue coordinator Sara Jones confirms that while “gigs certainly do make peo- ple thirsty, we really want to give something back to our regulars.”

It’s clear that each of these folks is passionate, not just business-minded, about providing a musical platform.

Explains Dave, “Music is a creative expression. Old Dave’s Soul allows artists to express themselves in a productive and creative man- ner. Plus, it’s a fun night out. We aren’t pretentious wankers. We feature different genres such as blues, soul, rock, and indie, so no matter what your demographic we’ve got something for you.

Talking about charging for gigs, Phil discussed pros and cons, and ended up just saying this: “Honestly, I’d prefer to just get the tunes out there.”

So there you have it folks, the tunes are there. You just have to go listen.