A Punter’s Perspective #36 — The Paperback Sessions

Paperback Sessions at Smiths Alternative Bookshop, Canberra City
Paperback Sessions at Smiths Alternative Bookshop, Canberra City

A Punter’s Perspective

Random observations on the wide, weird world of folk from the side of the stage

#36 The Paperback Sessions
First published in Trad and Now magazine, August 2012

Regular readers of this column, apart from probably needing a little light therapy, can probably discern a few recurring themes.

Not the least of these is the little bubbles of childish joy the author gets when a new venue or opportunity for live, original music makes its way onto the scene.

I’ve spent most of my adult life railing against two eminently and easily explodable myths: 1. Canberra’s boring, and 2. There’s nothing to do in Canberra.

Both are, of course, big steaming piles of dynamic lifter.

Friday nights particularly are troublesome with the multiplicities of options if you haven’t been able to replicate yourself into about six or seven independent entities.

Without having to refer to a gig guide, I can tell you that you need to divide yourself between the Phoenix bar, Bucky’s Lone Wolf gigs at the Harmonie German Club, the always wonderful Front Café, the newly-launched Canberra Musicians Club gigs at the Polish White Eagle Club, folk gigs at the Merry Muse, the Transit Bar conveniently located under the youth hostel, the odd very fine line-ups at Alliance Francaise and the occasional gig at old stagers, Tilley Devine’s.

Not bad for a metropolis of only about 360 000. And that’s just the gigs riffed off the top of the head. I’m sure there are many others. (See www.culturazi.com for any missing bits and pieces.)

Still, it’s a thing of joy and beauty to welcome a new player onto the scene. Because if you want to get away from three-chord covers bashers, replete with drum machines, in the clubs, Canberra really does offer a feast of the good stuff. And we’re big and ugly enough to offer a smorgasbord and share the audiences and audients about.

Which is not to say the occasional gig doesn’t kick off with the sound rattling around in poorly-attended venues. That will happen. Some days are diamonds, some days are when you struggle to clear the venue costs and pay the sound guy.

So. One such venue made its way into Canberra’s mix recently with just the right amount of fanfare, immediate support and a growing profile.

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