A Day By The Green
A couple of years ago Cold Harbour applied to perform at the annual St Kilda Festival. With three of the four members long-term residents in Port Phillip Council, the band was hopeful of finally securing a spot on the popular festival's bill. When the application was rejected - and with suitable rock'n'roll venues south of the Yarra increasingly rare - the members of Cold Harbour decided to take matters into their own hands.
"We got a little bit frustrated trying to get gigs in our own town," says bass player Colin Holst. "So we decided to take a punt and do it DIY. We selected the bowling club, got some local bands to play. We got about 300 people for the first one, and just carried on from there."
The first Day By The Green was held in May 2010 at the St Kilda Bowling Club, opposite the corner of Fitzroy Street and Grey Street. "It's one of St Kilda's best kept secrets," comments Nick Haines, Cold Harbour's manager and one of the logistical protagonists behind Day By The Green. "And it's opposite the old Seaview Ballroom, which is beautiful, because it's a bit of a homage to the old St Kilda punk scene."
St Kilda Bowling Club was more than a convenient geographical location. Its manager ran The Petersham Inn in Sydney in the 1980s during the halcyon days of the Sydney independent music scene. "Duncan has been a huge supporter of what we do," Haines says. "We chose that venue because it's the last real St Kilda venue, now that The Greyhound has changed its format - we'll try and make something to replace it," Holst says. "The Bowling Club is an under utilised venue," says Cold Harbour guitarist Rusty Teluk.
The first proved to be a resounding success. "We thought if we got 100 it'd be good, but we more than doubled that," Holst says. "So there was obviously a demand from local people to see local music." The initial event included some important democratic - almost socialist - elements. "Each of the bands was told they'd be paid according to how many people turn up, and each of the bands was paid exactly the same amount," Holst says. "It didn't matter if you'd been playing for 30 years or three weeks," Teluk says.
Audience reaction was overwhelmingly positive. "There was a lady there who said to me 'I won't go to the Espy or the Prince of Wales, but I'll come to every one of these' and that says it all," Haines says. "Someone else said it was like being at the Prince in 1987 - a lot of faces they wouldn't normally see," Holst says. "It's a catch-up, too," observes Teluk. "People come down from the country - we've even had people flying in from interstate to see music and catch up with people."
This week marks the fifth Day By The Green, and the first anniversary of the mini-festival. Headlined by Cold Harbour, Day By The Green will play host to another sterling line-up, including Ron Peno And The Superstitions Trio and The Ears. So far, each of the bands featured at Day By The Green has had a tangible link with the south side of the Yarra. Ultimately Day By The Green is about reminding the world - and Melbourne in particular - that there is a vibrant rock'n'roll scene south of the Yarra. "We wanted to remind people that there is life in the St Kilda rock'n'roll scene, and there is - yet everyone else would whinge and say they couldn't get a gig in St Kilda," Holst says. "But they only had to do what we tried. I think Day By The Green represents the true St Kilda scene."
A Day By The Green is on again at the iconic St. Kilda Bowling Club 66 Fitzroy Street St. Kilda. $15. Gates at 2.00pm.