Not just pubs and bars but lounges, shacks and all kinds of small music venues across NSW are preparing to restart the music scene from November 5 as part of a Destination NSW initiative to kick start tourism through the music industry.
Before you roll your eyes and search for the dreaded word "virtual", Great Southern Nights will be real, live, in-person events and tickets are selling fast. Also known as the Land of 1000 Gigs, this statewide music festival will see well-known and up-and-coming musicians with cult followings playing small venues from the city to the coast to the bush.
The burst of tourism dollars to almost 400 small venues will be one of the few glimmers of positivity to come from the pandemic. It provides the chance for small country towns to showcase their concert venues and put on a show with star power.
Great Southern Nights is yet another reason to head off on a regional road trip and enjoy a gig or two off the beaten track, all while supporting local businesses.
Great Southern Nights offers an interactive map to help you plan the perfect road trip across nine regions in NSW. The Blue Mountains, the Central Coast, Country NSW, the Hunter Valley, the North Coast, the Outback, the Snowy Mountains, the South Coast and Sydney are all viable options for a quick trip away with a show on the way.
So, pack your best band T-shirts and get ready to hit those high notes beyond your tiled shower walls, singing along to favourites such as Jessica Mauboy, The Veronicas and Missy Higgins at the places they were intended to be enjoyed.
Diesel playing the Baroque Room at Katoomba is the perfect excuse for an escape to the Blue Mountains. The performance is on Saturday November 28, leaving the rest of the weekend free to explore and support the bushfire-ravaged community on its road to recovery. Don't leave without popping into Josophan's Fine Chocolates.
If Tim Freedman is more your thing, you can throw a dart at a map of NSW and be almost certain there will be a venue he's playing close to wherever it lands. Take your pick from: Albury, Lismore, Kingscliff, Maclean, Wollongong, Cronulla or the Sydney CBD.
Spend a night immersing yourself deep in the artsy Sydney rock'n'roll scene at Oxford Art Factory, an institution in its own right, situated along bustling Oxford Street, Darlinghurst. The Superjesus and Thirsty Merc will feature here on November 20 and 23 respectively along with a few lesser-known artists.
Other honourable mentions include: Richard Clapton at Norths Cammeray; Kasey Chambers and Troy Cassar-Daley at Tamworth Town Hall; Birds of Tokyo at the University of Wollongong Uni Hall; Hoodoo Gurus at Max Watt's in Moore Park; and many more.
Although you won't be so lucky as to catch them all at the same place, pick your favourite bands and follow a DIY festival trail. Perhaps head to the North Coast for the weekend from November 20 and lock in tickets to see Matt Corby at Brunswick Picture House and then catch The Angels at the Toronto Hotel.
With less day drinking than at a pre-COVID festival, and tickets to only the acts you're invested in seeing, there will be plenty of time to take in the sights of the local communities.
Don't be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone and take a trip somewhere new, but act fast. These concerts are selling like hotcakes, as is accommodation in many areas. Ticket prices vary, starting from about $20 and heading upwards to $200.
- View the full program and links to bookings at greatsouthernnights.com.au.
Not sure where to start your music festival recovery trip? These are five of the top gigs not to be missed.
- Australian icon Shannon Noll will be playing at nine venues across NSW. Albury and Wagga Wagga in Country NSW will see his first performances, before a tour of the North Coast, Snowy Mountains and Sydney, concluding in Deniliquin. Even if there's a Shannon Noll concert close to you, perhaps consider venturing further afield to truly experience authentic Nollsy. Bonus points if you can road trip through his hometown of Condobolin. Tickets are about $50. Highlight: Singing along to "What About Me" is almost like a chat with a therapist but at a quarter of the price.
- Jimmy Barnes, Playing the Sydney Coliseum Theatre at Rooty Hill in western Sydney, Jimmy Barnes is the heart and soul of Australian rock'n'roll and will make your Thursday night feel like a Saturday. Tickets start from $109 and are for November 12 only. Highlight: Barnesy knows how to connect with live audiences and this is a rare opportunity to catch him at a small venue.
- Jack River, South Coast. Bring your picnic rug but leave the basket behind and enjoy local food and drink at this performance at The Barn on The Ridge in Morton on the South Coast. With bus transfers from seaside Mollymook and small-town Ulladulla, make it a weekend and visit the bushfire-affected communities during your stay. Jack River usually runs her own festivals in her hometown of Forster and knows how to put on a show. Tickets start from $58 and are only available for November 21. Highlight: This is a spring picnic concert, need I say any more.
- Pete Murray, North Coast. The Byron Bay local will be bringing his chilled-out, stripped-back music to the Twin Towns Services Club at Tweed Heads for two nights on November 13 and 14, with tickets from $66. Highlight: When you thought you couldn't be any more relaxed on the North Coast, Pete will show you, you can.
- Performing just half an hour from her hometown of Canowindra, Gordi will be playing an unexpected venue, the Cowra Civic Centre. The tiny venue will allow you into her world as she pushes the boundaries of the folktronica genre and shares the love and loss she has experienced. Experience her world, her way in Country NSW. Highlight: Her voice will blow you away.
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