Midnight Oil singer and now federal minister Peter Garrett has declared a state of emergency for Sydney’s live music venues saying that it’s time that music lovers regardless of age give a helping hand to struggling venues such as The Annandale.

The Rule brothers who own the Annandale have been working feverishly to keep their heads above the water after they made the grissly discovery of debts of over $2.5 million after buying into the local music icon over a decade ago.

Using a novel approach, the pub started up a buy-a-brick scheme launched a few months back in a last ditch attempt to save iconic Sydney venue, and the ‘For Sale’ sign put up some months ago has now been pulled down. But the venue and others like it aren’t out of the woodworks yet.

“I really believe that this is a venue that’s been one of the spiritual homes to Australian artists – in all genres and at all levels,” Garrett said to the Sydney Morning Herald when hearing of the scheme at The Annandale.

“It’s a place where we [Midnight Oil] played, where [Jimmy] Barnes played, I mean just everybody basically has been on that stage. That sweaty carpet can tell a lot of great stories.”

“Nowadays it’s much harder for bands because there’s only a few venues that they can get a start in, and there’s only a few places where they can try out their songs and their performance,” he continued.

“Sydney’s produced some really amazing acts over the years and it still is producing them, but we need a place for Sydneysiders to go and celebrate them – to see them grow and get in on the excitement when you see someone who’s just starting out and you think, ‘Wow, where’s this going to end?’ and ‘I was there at the beginning.'”

Live music venues across the country have been struggling recently and a number of icons have been forced to close their doors. In Melbourne the East Brunswick Club called last drinks for the final time and The Prince Bandroom seems to be holding on only by a thread after a restaurant group bought the Prince complex.

Also in the last two years Brisbane has lost The Troubadour, Sydney has lost Low Bar, Tone Bar, and The Hopetoun, and in Melbourne they lost The Arthouse, and The Public Bar.

But unlike most politicians Garrett is prepared to put his money where his mouth is, pledging to buy a brick at The Annandale and urging others to do likewise. “I’m urging and calling on people of my generation and younger, who grew up and had the great experience of listening to Australian music and supported it, who can afford a brick,” Garret said.

“I’m going to buy a brick and I really hope that lots of other people will too, including [older] people … whose younger days were completely shaped by the music they listened to and they loved. Here’s an opportunity for them to give something back”

“I think that just as we love going out and watching our footy, it’s a part of our culture to go out and watch our bands. But it’s fallen away to some extent over the last decade or so … the venues themselves have struggled to survive and there’s been real pressures on them.”

“We need to really lift our effort in Sydney to make sure, whether someone’s playing beats and doing stuff that is brand new and all-digital or whether they’re playing rhythm and blues, that they’ve got a place to do their thing and people can see them up close.”

Anyone interested in buying a brick should contact The Annandale team with your interest
Matt Rule [email protected]
Dan Rule [email protected]
Kristie Jane Hogan [email protected]

SLAM (Save Live Australian Music) recently celebrated the two year anniversary of the rally in Melbourne which saw 20,000 people march through Melbourne to the tune of AC/DC’s definitive ‘Long Way to the Top’, by holding gigs around the country in local live music venues for National SLAM Day.

We caught up with some of Australia’s leading musicians and asked them what live music in small venues means to them. Check out their responses below.

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