Wednesday, August 15, 2012


I was lucky enough to chat with Chris Pugmire and Melissa Lock from outstanding Melbourne outfit New War a couple of weeks back and they left me with a feeling not dissimilar to smugness. Not in a self-satisfied conceited sense was I feeling smug, no – the feeling I was experiencing was more a warm inner glow and it was brought on by a topic of discussion very dear to us all at our particular cafe table in a particular inner-northern Melbourne suburb: the state of local music. The general crux of this discussion was that the state of live music here is very good – great even – so good, in fact, that we hope somebody is documenting what’s happening right now because we’re experiencing something special.

Silence, Naysayers! Pugmire and Lock have the unique perspective of recently returning from years living in Seattle, USA, a town that is synonymous with live music (and also experienced an ‘important’ period in recent history). Their consensus is that what we have here – several dozen live venues of varying capacity and suitability, hundreds of local artists and bands gigging on a regular basis and fabulous community radio – outshines anything they experienced in the USA. What is most exciting is that what we have here is not restricted to a certain strain of music at all. There is enough around that those of us with broad musical tastes can get a fix of several different flavours in one weekend, even, often, in one bill.

The venues in this city have been copping their fair share of media these days, and rightly so, as the SLAM movement continues to gain momentum and Music Victoria gains traction at the tables of power. The perpetual struggle of the bands and artists to gain recognition for their work as more than a hobby continues, though it must be noted the access to equipment, recording facilities and promotional mechanisms becomes exponentially less strenuous with each passing year. The one, often under-recognised, cog in the gears of our thriving music community is the only non-profit-making outlet for the stuff and the beating-heart of the organism: community radio.

It’s around this time every year that Triple R ask for their own little piece of recognition in the form of money from your pocket to keep the station alive for another year. As much as half of the station’s annual operating costs come from subscriber funds and this enables Triple R to retain a truly independent voice, non-reliant on advertising or governmental dollars (and inevitable influence), and the ability to play what they want to play and for their broadcasters to – within the community broadcasting codes of practice – say what they want to say.

Every day, Triple R, and others within the community broadcasting realm, stimulate discussion, introduce ideas and new music to the listening public. These outlets are the first stop for local artists and provide the one thing that every creator, regardless of discipline, seeks out: exposure. As listeners, we are exposed to the cutting edge of what is being created here and around the world. We are presented with this stuff by passionate volunteer broadcasters who serve to inform their listeners through their own depth of research and knowledge of their chosen speciality (be it specialist music programming, wider arts, politics, community information or pure entertainment).

The winners here are the listening public, the artists, community organisations and society in a wider sense. The losers, as far as I see it, are the people who would have it that every act has a dollar value attached. Community radio rages against the dumbening corporatisation of our society and allows us the freedom to choose how we receive our daily dosages of information. If you give a shit about the health of your community, answer the call and reach into your pocket during Triple R’s Radiothon. It runs from this Friday through to Sunday 26 August. CALL +61 3 93881027 TO SUBSCRIBE