Buskers hit a high a note as live music scene returns to city streets

Brendan Rees

For drummer Simon Wood, the opportunity to perform live music again with his bandmate in the city streets is a feeling of elation.

He is among hundreds of local talents who will perform in the CBD’s streets and laneways during a four-week period as part of a new program to support the music industry, which has been hard -it by the pandemic.

Mr Wood, whose first live music gig was in Southbank in February, said it was a “really good feeling” to perform alongside guitarist Matt Katsis, who together form a two-piece band called Timbakat.

“Obviously through a lot of lockdowns, we weren’t actually able to get together to play either to rehearse or to do gigs, particularly when we had tight restrictions,” he said.

 

We had a lot of fun … a bit rusty at the start, but as we got through the songs, they all kind of came back and we fell back into the groove.

 

The $9 million “On The Road Again” program, a state government initiative in partnership with the City of Melbourne, will see close to 700 busking performances along with pop-up shows.

The initiative, which kicked off on February 17, supports live music coming back across Victoria as the industry recovers from the pandemic.

It comes as the state government announced it would provide $1.7 million in grants to supports artists and businesses across the state.

Delivered through the state “Music Works” funding program, the grants will support 77 music projects involving close to 7000 professionals, allowing artists to record new albums, and make music videos.

Mr Wood, 30, said doing paid gigs was a welcome boost.

“It’s a great little kick-starter to get things going again,” he said. “I’ve definitely missed it … not being able to get out there and put on a show. It’s a good feeling. It’s like the good old days.”

Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the busking program would showcase “our city’s spectacular live music scene with surprise gigs by some of our best and brightest performers.”

“Music is central to Melbourne’s identity, and we’ll continue to work with the industry to support and promote performers, producers and venues as they bounce back,” she said •

For more information: vmdo.com.au/ontheroadagain

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