“People still need culture”: Couched Film Festival is bringing the cinema experience to you

“People still need culture”: Couched Film Festival is bringing the cinema experience to you

We spoke to Jack Sargeant, the Program Director behind Revelation Film Festival and Couched, about the hidden joys of an online film festival.

With the film community taking a big hit this year, those in the industry are exploring dynamic ways to ensure film remains accessible throughout this transitional period.

Part of the fun of attending a film festival is the opportunity to see a plethora of films and then discuss them with like-minded film buffs. Revelation Film Festival’s Jack Sargeant is spearheading an exciting new online film festival that allows for all the perks of a traditional film festival, with the added benefit of being available at the click of a button. Aptly titled Couched, the festival will feature live panels, talks, presentations, and short films.

“I’ve been programming at Revelation for thirteen years,” says Sargeant. “We were originally putting together a program to run a traditional film festival, all was going ahead as normal until COVID started. It destroyed everything for everyone. Everyone was working out what to do.

Revelation was in a really advantageous position in the sense that we already have a streaming platform called REVonDEMAND. So we decided that the best thing to do was to stream Revelation and call it Couched, because you’re all at home on your couches watching.

“It’s interesting because, obviously, we’re a film festival, and we’re about community and getting people together to watch films and talk about films. So, on the one hand, it’s terribly sad that we can’t have a physical festival. But then, on the other hand, you have to make the best of the situation and I think we’ve been able to do that with our experience.”

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A somber day for Team Rev. Tonight was supposed to be our 2020 Opening Night, and what a great thing we had planned for you all. More food, more drinks, and a great film on the screen + something else. BUT, we aren't giving up just yet! You might see us later in the year – yes in our full festival, in-cinema form! For now, enjoy COUCHED, your personal mini-REV at home ❤️

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“Normally, of course, we screen films in Perth but because we’re streaming it means that the films we’re screening are available all around the country. So even though it’s a disadvantage to not be in a cinema, it’s allowed us to showcase people’s work to a potentially wider audience. To me, that’s a really important thing.”

It could be argued that the effect of the pandemic on the arts has meant that we need cultural events more than ever. Even at home, these festivals bring forth a sense of togetherness. When asked why festivals such as Couched are important, Sargeant replies with conviction.

“The impact of this crisis has been huge. It’s across galleries, it’s across gigs, theatre, and it’s across cinemas. So it’s had a large effect on that level. It’s just about trying to turn a disadvantage into an advantage because people still need culture, they still need what we do.

“It’s trying to find a way that you can give them that. It’s about finding a way for people to see work, to get filmmaker’s work out there. You can have online discussions happening, It’s giving that sense of community in any way we can.”

Couched will run across ten days, featuring films such as 1000 Kings, The Florist, and Frances Ferguson. The festival will also include a real-time production streamed live from actors in lockdown called IN THE SHADOW IT WAITS. The event is performed live and edited in real-time. With 61 scenes, a 58 camera setup, and actors performing live from their homes in different states across Australia, the film is made as you watch it.

“The actors are all performing from lockdown, which will be fascinating. The film tells the story of four 20-something co-workers bored with their day jobs and sick of being locked up in isolation, who play an online game and unwittingly prove the truth of an urban legend. The whole piece will be time-based and the actors will perform live for a tuned-in audience.

“There’s something like 30 feature films and 40 short films, so it’s a full-on festival. It’s what we would do in the cinema but streaming. It’s got that range and depth, we’re really proud of it.”

Couched Film Festival will take place from Thursday July 9 – Sunday July 19. For more information visit the Revelation Film Festival website

Melbourne’s first drive-in concert series has been cancelled

The Drive-In series was due to kick off next Friday.

Untitled Group’s new series of live drive-in concerts have been cancelled due to the current COVID-19 outbreaks in Victoria. Titled The Drive-In, the series was due to feature three concerts each week on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from Friday July 10 until Sunday July 26.

Set to take place at Flemington Racecourse, the close proximity to hotspot suburbs and Victoria’s rising numbers of new coronavirus cases left the organisers with no choice but to cancel all upcoming events. The Drive-In lineup included the likes of Client Liaison, Alice Skye, Boo Seeka, Mwanje, Running Touch, Lime Cordiale, Ball Park Music, Northeast Party House, Baker Boy and more.

“The safety of our patrons, staff and artists is our top priority and after consulting with various experts and officials this tough, but necessary decision was made.  Further to immediate health concerns, the possibility of artists being able to travel interstate is becoming increasingly uncertain and in some cases is now impossible,” said Untitled Group in a statement.

“We want to particularly thank everyone who bought a ticket and supported our endeavour to keep the music industry alive during these testing times. The Drive-in was set to create over 250 jobs per event and inject over $2 million dollars into a much suffering sector of our economy and we are devastated with this outcome.

“We are keeping our heads held high, and will redirect our focus towards summer festivals with optimism.”

All ticketholders will receive an email from Oztix on Monday July 6 with details on the refund process.

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Deemed an “essential service”, barbers were suddenly shoved onto the frontline

We check in with barbershops, Pickings and Parry and The Melbourne Barber Shop, to see how they’re faring.

In March, as lockdown restrictions forced the closure of pubs, beauty salons and tattoo studios, hairdressing salons and barbershops were made exempt, placing them as somewhat incongruous additions to the handful of “essential services” allowed to continue during a global pandemic.

For Chris Pickings, founder and owner of Fitzroy barbershop Pickings and Parry, the government’s decision was “ridiculous”.

“We had our last day on March 23, by then everyone was really nervous about coming in. It was pretty crazy the business wasn’t deemed necessary to close, given the amount of personal contact it requires,” he says.

“I still can’t believe we didn’t get locked down, people can live without their haircuts, you know? It’s hardly an essential service.”

Pickings and Parry, run by husband and wife team Chris and Carlan Pickings, has operated on Gertrude Street for seven years, moving from the top of the iconic street just over two years ago to a larger space further down the road to accommodate for their growing business.

The business has bloomed over the years and now employs nine staff. On a usual day pre-COVID, three barbers on duty would see around 36 customers.

Pickings and Parry dually operates a retail business in-store, selling streetwear, accessories and grooming products.

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Our selection of @bleudechauffe Teklight Bags has finally made its way online, folks… Produced using a very lightweight coated cotton ripstop with all of the usual artisanal craftsmanship we’ve come to expect from the French bag makers, the colour palette is beautiful, too👌🏻

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Despite being officially in the clear to operate, Pickings decided to close the store for six weeks. In the “hairy” period before JobKeeper was implemented, they were thankfully able to keep all nine of their staff on board, casuals and full-timers included.

“We had a really hairy three weeks when we didn’t think we were able to make it financially,” Pickings said. “It was pretty scary, but luckily we had our website, and deliveries for the store still coming through, so we put our staff on to ramp up those areas of business.”

Pickings’ casual staff and barbers’ talents were redirected towards social media management and the running of the retail business through the online store, working from home in the process.

“It was pretty fun for the first two weeks, but then it all got a bit boring,” Pickings said. “For the barbers, one of them would come in every couple of weeks or so and do one of our staff’s hair, just to keep them handy and occupied. The week before we reopened the barbers all came in and did a few haircuts, to warm them up, get them ready.”

For a large store like Pickings and Parry, the decision to close came naturally, but to pull it off as successfully as they did required a creative reimagining of what a barbershop could be.

For smaller operations, like The Melbourne Barber Shop in the CBD, which usually runs with only two barbers at the helm, closing shop was equally complicated. George Nichas, owner of The Melbourne Barber Shop, closed his business for five weeks amidst the pandemic, a difficult decision he felt obligated to make.

“Because of my own social conscience, and my fear, I closed, to the detriment of my business,” he said. “Although we were regarded as an essential service, in not being able to provide social distancing in my store, it was important for us to do it.”

The Melbourne Barber Shop is now operating as a “one-barber show” for Nichas, who is content to operate at a limited capacity, especially amidst Melbourne’s current second wave of infections.

“I don’t want to rush back to pre-COVID work life, I’m enjoying going home at dinner time and eating with my wife for a change,” he said. “We all still need to be careful until a vaccination comes. For now, I feel safer knowing my clients.”

For Pickings, one stream of government support came through and their period of closure was “refreshing”, in a way.

“The pressure came off because, at that time, any revenue at all was a bonus for us. We just wanted to keep handy, keep busy, keep doing stuff. It was refreshing,” Pickings said. “After four or so weeks though, we started to feel restless, like, ‘Can we go back already?’.”

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Bring a smile to your Thursday. Get a haircut with P&P. It’s been crazy busy of late, but today we still have some available spots from now until 4pm… Book online or call the shop!

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On May 4, Pickings and Parry reopened, to raucous demand.

“We were completely booked out for the first two weeks of reopening. We were restricting cuts to 30 minutes each, with a 30-minute break in between each customer.”

Bookings are slowing down at the moment, a phenomena Pickings thinks could have something to do with the recent spike of COVID-19 infections hitting Victoria.

“We have strict hygiene measures in place, including gloves, masks and sanitizer on offer, and after each customer, we complete a cleaning checklist, but I think people are maybe stepping off a bit,” he said.

“If people are being more cautious again, it’s a good thing.”

Pickings and Parry and The Melbourne Barber Shop are still operating. Book in for a trim via their respective websites.

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Kieran J Hennessy’s debut EP ‘Iso Therapy’ is a slice of reflective, thoughtful electronica

The EP embodies every thought you’ve had in isolation.

Hailing from Diamond Beach in regional New South Wales, Kieran J Hennessy is a purveyor of thoughtful electronica. So, it makes sense that he has channelled his reflections from isolation into an EP.

Out today, Iso Therapy was created during the pandemic as a means of escaping and processing the disruption of isolation. Comprising three tracks, it’s a short and sweet slice of KJH that will leave you hungry for more.

Weaving between slow, bouncing house and dark dance cuts, Iso Therapy is moody and affecting while still serving up enough groove to get your body moving.

Thematically, it journeys through the range of emotions we’ve all encountered in isolation, from feeling out of control and lost to searching for the light at the end of the tunnel.

Interweaving romance with COVID-19 references, and even offering up a little Spanish in the mix, Hennessy delivers a fresh and fun sound that will have you coming back again and again.

Check out Iso Therapy below.

Iso Therapy EP is out today. For more from Kieran J Hennessy, visit his website

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Apparently 6,500 JobKeeper applicants have been either fraudulent or ineligible

The ATO has been rejecting a hell of a lot of JobKeeper applications.

Since the JobKeeper program commenced in late March, more than 6,500 applications have been rejected by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) either due to ineligibility or fraud.

Thousands of Australians could see their payments deducted as a result of the findings. According to the ABC, 3,000 ATO staff will be doing reviews of JobKeeper applications as part of an overarching federal government review of the $70 million scheme.

There are currently 3.3 million Australians accessing the $1500 fortnightly payment – up until June 4, the ATO had serviced 872,482 businesses delivering $13 billion in JobKeeper payments.

Depending on the seriousness of the JobKeeper infringements, jail time could be on the cards for the most severe violations. Outside of that, fines and deductions may be issued.

According to an ATO spokeswoman, the 6,500 rejected applications stemmed from a range of reasons from basic human errors to fraudulent behaviour. There has also been letters sent to 8,000 businesses warning them of their ineligibility or erroneous paperwork.

The federal government are set to announce their findings from the JobKeeper review when Treasurer Josh Frydenberg gives an economic update on July 23.

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Nick Cave to stream solo piano concert ‘Idiot Prayer’ this month

The concert will only be available for viewing during the global streaming event.

Nick Cave has announced a global streaming event which will bring his recently recorded solo performance at London’s Alexandra Palace to screens around the world. Titled Idiot Prayer: Nick Cave Alone at Alexandra Palace, the concert will see Cave perform a range of tunes from his extensive catalogue.

From his early work with the Bad Seeds and Grinderman, right through to his most recent album Ghosteen, the concert encompasses Cave’s breadth of work as a songwriter and musician. The performance will also feature a selection of rare tracks that most fans will be hearing for the first time.

Filmed by award-winning Cinematographer Robbie Ryan (The Marriage StoryThe Favourite) and edited by Nick Emerson (Emma, Greta), it’s likely to be the most arresting streamed music event you’ve seen in lockdown.

Despite having been shot in June, the concert will be treated as a live performance in that it will only appear online for the streamed event and will not be available to view online afterwards.

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IDIOT PRAYER: Nick Cave Alone at Alexandra Palace – Nick Cave performs solo at the piano in a film shot this June at the iconic London venue. Join the global live streaming event on 23 July 2020 – available to stream in three different time zones. Tickets on sale now: LINK IN BIO. #CaveAtHome

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The concert will be streamed as a live experience at 8pm AEST on Thursday July 23. Find tickets and more information here

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Beat’s guide to staying well-fed in and out of isolation

At the risk of sounding like every email you’ve received in the past few months, these are strange times we’re living in. Some suburbs are in lockdown while others are slowly reopening and venues are all navigating the restrictions in their own way.

With panic buying picking back up and weeks of takeaway and your rotation of the same home-cooked meals bound to have grown boring by now, we thought we’d help you jazz things up by highlighting what some of our favourite eateries, food delivery services and cooking schools are doing to keep Melburnians well-fed in and out of isolation.

So, whether you want to stay in and cook, have something ready-made delivered to your door, or you’re dying for an excuse to dine out, we’ve got you sorted.

‘Scrubs’ creator addresses his decision to pull episodes containing blackface from streaming

Zach Braff and Sarah Chalke have apologised for appearing in blackface on the show.

Scrubs has joined the growing list of TV shows to remove episodes containing blackface from streaming services, along with 30 RockIt’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, The Office, Community and more.

Bill Lawrence, who created the series, and Sarah Chalke who played Dr Elliot Reid joined Zach Braff (J.D) and Donald Faison (Turk) on their Scrubs re-watch podcast, Fake Doctors, Real Friends for a special episode addressing the use of blackface in past episodes.

Three episodes have been removed from streaming services, My Friend The Doctor (season three, episode eight) in which Braff appears dressed as Faison’s character, Turk; My Jiggly Ball (season five, episode four) which portrays Chalke as half-Elliot, half-Turk; and My Chopped Liver (season five, episode 17) which depicts Braff and Faison dressed as each other for a frat party.

Lawrence explained that his decision to remove the episodes was unprompted and apologised for his ignorance, explaining that, at the time, he felt like Scrubs almost had a “free pass … because we were so fucking proud of ourselves for doing a very diverse show, in front of and behind the camera.”

He also pointed out the ignorance that still exists around blackface, detailing the backlash he has faced from fans since pulling the episodes. Lawrence said several people have taken to social media to ask why instances in which Faison’s character appeared in light makeup to portray a white man haven’t been removed.

“As a white guy, that is not based in any systemic racism, for me, or history or any negativity,” he said. “I find that kind of argument to be so counterproductive and ridiculous.”

“I think that it’s important to differentiate that there was not this horrible history of people who were persecuted and mocked and made fun of [with ‘whiteface’]. It’s a completely different thing,” added Braff.

Lawrence said the episodes will likely be edited to remove the offensive scenes and re-added to streaming platforms at a later date.

“It’s a pandemic, I don’t really have an editing facility up right now,” he said. “But the first thing I wanted to do was get them off TV because it bummed me out personally.”

“It’s my show, I’m really proud of it and those moments – nobody pressured me – and those moments make me feel like shit and make me feel stupid,” said Lawrence

Braff and Chalke also apologised for appearing in blackface on the series.

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Today on a special episode of “Fake Doctors, Real Friends” @vdoozer and @_sarahchalke join @donald_aison and me for a roundtable discussion about the three episodes of the series Bill recently had removed from streaming. Link in my bio.

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Listen to the full podcast episode here

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Premiere: Zac Henderson channels relatable Paul Kelly-like storytelling on new track, ‘Stonewash’

The emerging Tasmanian songwriter has a new track.

Zac Henderson is a Tasmanian talent on the rise. He toured Europe off the back of his debut EP in 2016, supporting the likes of Neil Finn, Thirsty Merc and Dan Sultan. With a new album on the way, Henderson has just lifted the lid on a new single and accompanying film clip.

‘Stonewash’ comes off the back of ‘I Haven’t Seen You in a Week’, the forthcoming LP’s lead single released in April. The track is strewn with catchy folk guitar hooks, joyous piano and magnetic harmonica bridges. But the real charm of the track is Henderson’s voice – lyrically, he’s a natural storyteller but his wit and approachability comes across in his conversational falsetto.

With its rural charm, ‘Stonewash’ celebrates Henderson’s storytelling knack with a tale of lost friendship. Like a pair of stonewashed jeans, relationships can fade and it’s not worth holding on for too long.

Stonewash better days/garden lazing, laughing, talking/walking to the corner shop/seeing what you can both scrape together with your pocket change,” Henderson sings whimsically. I think we can all remember the days of milk bar adventures, cheekily buying lolly bags and flavoured milk on the way home from school.

Henderson’s forthcoming album, Lay The Stones, was recorded in 2019 with producer Greg J Walker (The Whitlams, C.W. Stoneking, Paul Kelly) alongside a group of Tasmanian musicians. Bearing ten tracks, the record carries all the wittiness and humour Henderson is becoming known for – it’s fantastic to see another talented troubadour coming through the ranks.

Check out the film clip for ‘Stonewash’ below:

Zac Henderson’s new single ‘Stonewash’ and accompanying film clip are out tomorrow. For more on Henderson, head to his Facebook page or check out his Bandcamp

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Soulara’s ready-made meals are your answer to zero-effort, healthy meal prep

You won’t find any flavourless, frozen meals here.

Delivered straight to your door, plant-based ready-made meal service Soulara had no troubles adapting to the lockdown period. In fact, their nutritious, breakfast, lunch and dinner options have been perfect while we’ve all been stuck at home.

Unlike the majority of ready-made meal delivery services, Soulara packs everything fresh, never frozen. Their menu is constantly changing, too, with new options added weekly so that you don’t find yourself rotating between the same few meals. They also cater to a huge range of dietary requirements, with gluten-free, soy-free and nut-free options available, along with all meals being dairy-free and plant-based.

You can select how many meals you want to receive per week as well as choosing which meals you want from Soulara’s extensive menu. Breakfasts include a chia seed pudding for those who like to start the day on a sweet note or a tofu scramble for a hearty first meal, while lunch and dinner options range from coconut dahl to a protein-packed pesto pasta.

The menu also includes handy notes for each meal to help you hit your nutrition goals. Whether you’re looking for something high protein, low calorie or good for gut health, they’ve got you covered.

If you struggle to find healthy snacks, Soulara’s range of bliss balls and healthy truffles are sure to satisfy those between-meal hunger pangs. Plus, you can even add on cold press juices and kombucha to keep your fridge fully stocked.

You’ll never have to step foot in a grocery store again.

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🥔 Have you tried: Breakfast Baked Potato Perfect for a filling savoury breakfast or hearty lunch, our Plentiful Baked Potato features baked potatoes with kale and garlicky button mushrooms on a calming paprika and tomato-based sauce. Rich in healthy carbs and protein, this meal keeps you feeling fuller for longer!

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Find the full menu, plans and more information at Soulara’s website

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‘Beavis and Butt-Head’ is making a return with two new seasons

You ripper!

The iconic Beavis and Butt-Head was a pop culture phenomenon in the ’90s, solidifying itself as a trailblazer in satirical comedy. From 1993 to 1997, the show enjoyed seven seasons and while it drew widespread acclaim it also garnered criticism for its lewd humour and controversial commentary of society. The show returned in 2011 for one more season.

Now, the sitcom is making another return with Comedy Central announcing two new seasons alongside spin-offs and specials. For the new run of shows, Beavis and Butt-Head will be back to their old tricks as they navigate a 21st-century world. While the plot is said to honour longtime fans of the show, it is also said to be relatable to those not necessarily familiar with the sitcom.

With Mike Judge returning as the writer, producer and voice actor for the series, it has been reported that Beavis and Butt-Head are now Gen X parents to Gen Y teenagers. Comedy Central have been pretty tight-lipped about what else is in store, so you’ll have to be patient for when the new series’ drop.

“We are thrilled to be working with Mike Judge and the great team at 3 Arts [Entertainment] again as we double down on adult animation at Comedy Central,” Chris McCarthy, Comedy Central President of Entertainment and Youth Group, said in a statement. “Beavis and Butt-Head were a defining voice of a generation, and we can’t wait to watch as they navigate the treacherous waters of a world light-years from their own.”

“It seemed like the time was right to get stupid again,” Judge added.

The release date for the reboot has yet to be announced.

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Terror Twilight’s customisable menu means you can design your own brunch

The Collingwood eatery is like a ‘choose your own adventure’ cafe.

Opening its doors in 2017 on the Collingwood end of Johnston Street, just off Smith Street, the vision for Terror Twilight has always been to provide healthy options for all walks of life.

In addition to its fixed menu featuring breakfast and brunch classics like avocado toast and an acai bowl – albeit with their own unique twist – there are also build your own bowls or broths.

The base, sides and protein are all customisable for the ‘build your own’ options, so you can really satisfy your appetite with whatever it is you’re craving. The options are endless, too.

Proteins range from crispy Szechuan tofu to house-smoked salmon which can come in a miso and shitake mushroom broth with soba noodles and veggies if you so please, or you can team it with your choice of rice and sides like red and green cabbage slaw with jalapenos or salt-baked beetroot and cumin-spiced yogurt.

Their dedication to offering nutritional options, whether you’re eating in or on the go, doesn’t stop at the food either. The drinks menu includes mushroom and nootropic coffee for a sustainable energy boost, cold press juices and a range of vegan smoothies to help you refuel.

The ethos at Terror Twilight is, “Nice people, great coffee, food & cocktails”, a mantra which you’ll find signposted outside their shopfront, and the welcoming, laidback feel is evident from the moment you walk through the door. Soaked in natural light and soundtracked by an ever-changing rotation of vinyl to reflect the day’s vibe, it feels more like visiting a friend’s place than a bustling cafe.

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We live for those slow-mo moments, when broth is poured over noodles! 😍 🤩⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ 11-13 Johnston St, Collingwood VIC 3056 ⠀⁠⠀ #terrortwilightcollingwood

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Find Terror Twilight at 11-13 Johnston Street, Collingwood or visit their website for more information. 

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The huge success of The Boite’s ‘Adapt, Not Cancel’ series is proof that versatility pays dividends

When the crisis hit, The Boite made a swift adjustment, now they’re reaping the rewards.

The Boite hasn’t earned its reputation as Victoria’s most celebrated multicultural music organisation for nothing. For over 40 years, the organisation has moved with the times – shifting and adjusting to a constantly active creative landscape.

Then in March The Boite took another step into the abyss, introducing their ‘Adapt, Not Cancel’ series which converted many of their upcoming gigs online into a live stream format as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. As gigs were being cancelled worldwide, The Boite quickly brainstormed ways in which they could adjust and remain malleable to what was happening around them.

It’s been 15 weeks since The Boite announced ‘Adapt, Not Cancel’ and it’s been a revelation to say the least. Presenting 18 shows online, 11 of which were ticketed, The Boite has also hosted 30 online choir rehearsals and produced video content for primary school teachers.

The series has garnered 35,000 views online and has supported 65 artists and 15 audio and video techs giving them paid work when opportunities were lost elsewhere.

Renowned violinist and industry chameleon, Xani Kolac, spoke of the series’ importance before she performed as part of The Boite’s Song Appetit series. While other prominent voices have sung its praises, resonating with ‘Adapt, Not Cancel’, a progressive title that gives artists confidence that they can continue creating when all hope seemed lost.

For everyone within The Boite’s inner sanctum and to the artists and industry professionals who have been welcomed inside, it’s been a learning curve that’s for sure but one that has provided the organisation tools they never thought they needed.

Now, it’s onwards and upwards.

Find out more about The Boite’s ‘Adapt, Not Cancel’ series here and see what events they have coming up here.

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Injury Reserve’s Stepa J. Groggs has died, aged 32

The rapper is remembered as a “loving father, life partner and friend”.

One-third of Arizona hip hop trio Injury Reserve, Jordan Groggs aka Stepa J. Groggs, has died at the age of 32. The news was announced on Twitter by his fellow Injury Reserve members today. No cause of death has been revealed.

The group also shared a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for Groggs’ partner and four children. “Groggs’s heart has touched everyone he has came across. He will live on through his family, supporters, and the communities he was apart of,” reads the statement attached to the campaign.

Injury Reserve, comprising Jordan “Stepa J. Groggs”, Ritchie With a T and Parker Corey, became a formal trio in 2013 before releasing their first mixtape Live from the Dentist Office in 2015. A year later, they unveiled a second mixtape titled Floss before dropping their self-titled debut album last year.

The trio were due to perform at this year’s Golden Plains festival in March, but were unable to make it due to family reasons.

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These revered Australian musicians are coming together to unite a divided country

The likes of Tim Rogers, Kylie Auldist, Mark Atkins and more, will come together to record Keep The Circle Unbroken, an album intended to unite and pacify.

The year 1972 produced one of the most influential albums in the history of music. Across 38 songs, this particular release reconnected divided generations in the US at odds due to the perpetuating Vietnam War, hippie counter-culture and a troubling Richard Nixon presidential term.

The record flourished with country sensibilities but captured the imagination of rock music lovers, penetrating the mainstream whilst staying true to its raw, unadulterated aesthetic.

This is the story of Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s seventh album, Will the Circle be Unbroken, a record which featured collaborations with country legends such as Roy Acuff, Doc Watson and Mother Maybelle Carter, and was pioneered by celebrated banjoist Earl Scruggs.

48 years later and the album is more pertinent than ever – it’s togetherness and unity holding strong in a society that remains largely divided. Now, some of Australia’s most prominent musicians are coming together to take part in an exercise that channels Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s warts and all recording approach on Will the Circle be Unbroken.

The likes of Tim Rogers, Mark Atkins, Kylie Auldist, Emma Donovan, Grim Fawkner and Bobby Valentine will team up with Row Jerry Crow, a supergroup consisting of members from The Screaming Jets, The Badloves, Vika and Linda, Delsinki and more, to record Keep The Circle Unbroken, an album of both original tracks and covers that draws inspiration from the 1972 LP in question. They will then perform the album live from MEMO Music Hall.

For Craig Johnston, the man behind genre-defying project Delsinki, the idea came about after Row Jerry Crow produced a collaborative video via Zoom in April.

“We [Row Jerry Crow] … did an iso video when COVID happened and at the end of it we were just like, ‘Oh, it would be fun to do a gig’, and the fiddle player [John Kendall] was like, ‘With what’s going on in the world, it would be fun to do something that brings everybody together’,” Delsinki says.

After communicating with MEMO’s co-manager, Simon Myers, and a handful of interested artists, the concept then slowly grew.

“It was never meant to be a live stream, it was always just going to be an album,” Delsinki continues. “I spoke to Tim Rogers and he was like, ‘I love Will the Circle be Unbroken‘ … so he was in from the get-go and I thought MEMO Music Hall would be a ripper place to do it over two days in the hall to record.

“Then most of the artists were like, ‘This is cool, let’s just do it and we’ll work the money out later’, which is a really great attitude and then Simon said, ‘Well, if you do a live stream … then you can put some dollars in people’s pockets’.”

Keep The Circle Unbroken will be recorded over two days, on Friday July 17 and Saturday July 18, live from MEMO, before then being performed via live stream on that Saturday night.

Alongside the names of Rogers, Atkins, Auldist, Donovan, among others, who will be vocalists on the album, there will also be a host of guest players along for the ride including known instrumentalists from bands such as Hunters & Collectors, Taxiride, Architecture in Helsinki, The Twoks and The Davidson Brothers.

While it is important that the artists, crewmembers and others concerned are paid for their involvement, it was also important for Delsinki that the project looked beyond that.

“We’ve got enough money at the moment that we can pay everybody a small fee for just doing it, then we’re going to auction off some posters, I’m going to get some A0 posters signed and we’ll auction those off to charity,” Delsinki says.

“Then with the album, we’re going to preorder vinyl … I think if you do a run of about 100 vinyl, you’ve only got to sell about 40 of them presale and that pays for the run. So if we do that, and we are able to get a few pressed, then every dollar after the mixing and mastering costs have been taken out, every dollar will go to charity.”

Keep The Circle Unbroken is both a fantastic cause in ingenuity and benevolence. Hopefully, listeners can resonate with its raw approach and take something away from an album set to stand as a truly unique timestamp of 2020 – a year that has offered us challenges from all angles.

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Can’t give away too much about this new show we have put together but it’s gonna be real special and I’ve really enjoyed the process 👌🏼 If you’re interested click the link in our bio and read the description 🤠 #rowjerrycrowpresents #nittygrittydirtband #memomusichall #stkilda

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So what tracks can we expect from the record?

“So there’s a whole mix of stuff,” Delsinki says. “There’s some old traditional covers which are unlicensed – people refer to them as trad songs – there’s a couple of songs from the original recording, Will the Circle be Unbroken, there are a couple of original pieces – when I say that, Paul Woseen who is the singer in Row Jerry Crow, he’s the songwriter for The Screaming Jets, so we’re going to do his song, ‘Helping Hand’. Then there’ll be some more contemporary Aussie songs – we’re going to do a version of Midnight Oil’s ‘Beds Are Burning’.

“We just went through and got some songs that we thought were relevant now and also too, a little bit post-COVID, like people being locked up and feeling isolated and whatever. Originally that was the thought behind it.”

With Jack Howard on board, the revered St Kilda trumpeter who’s a member of Hunters & Collectors and has toured with Midnight Oil, it will be intriguing to see ‘Beds Are Burning’ reimagined.

The album Keep The Circle Unbroken will be performed as part of MEMO Music Hall’s Live Streams on Saturday July 18. Grab tickets for the show here. Head to MEMO’s website to check out all the other live streamed gigs they have coming up.

MEMO Music Hall’s live streamed gigs are a collaboration between the venue and Renegade Films. Find out more about the professionally-made shows here.  

Celebrate Christmas in July with 14 Days of Cheese

Enjoy Australian and French cheeses delivered to your door.

When the COVID-19 restrictions hit, Maria Crews and Nick Burgess were forced to pivot their business after ten years of creating and running some of the biggest food and wine events in Australia. Within just 48 hours of being told they would need to stop operating indefinitely, 14 Days of Cheese was born.

The pair have been delivering cheese packs all over Melbourne ever since and they couldn’t be happier to spread the joy in a time when we could all use a pick-me-up. This month, 14 Days of Cheese is getting extra festive with a special Christmas in July collection bringing together cheeses from France and Australia with a sprinkle of festive fun.

The limited edition Christmas in July collection features three delicious varieties of cheese including a triple cream cows milk cheese from France selected by international cheese specialist Will Studd, a creamy, soft goats cheese from Yarra Valley Dairy and an intensely-flavoured, washed rind cheese by Woombye Cheese Company.

To really bring the Christmas spirit, the decadent pack also includes choc dipped oranges, handmade mini mince pies, roasted almonds covered in chocolate and gold, Italian chocolate-coated panforte, crispbread and artisan duck and cherry pâté.

We’ll take cheese and chocolate over partridges and pear trees any day.

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On Sunday’s we share time together around a board heaving with tasty morsels. We love to create a board using whatever we have in the fridge or pantry. A few roasted tomatoes, a couple of cheeses, pickles and crackers. The prefect board is about foods you enjoy and a variety of textures and flavours. #family #14daysofcheese #cheesecheeseboard #cheese #sundayfunday #sundayvibes #chillax #instafood #foodstagram

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Order online and check out their other offerings at the 14 Days of Cheese website

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The Music Victoria Awards to return this year, new categories announced

Submissions for the 2020 Music Victoria Awards are now open.

The annual Music Victoria Awards, formerly The Age Music Victoria Awards, will return for its 16th year during Melbourne Music Week 2020. Despite the COVID-19 crisis bringing live music to a standstill, the Victorian music community will still come together to recognise and celebrate the incredible achievements within the industry.

This year’s iteration of the awards also sees Music Victoria introducing three new and updated categories. The Outstanding Woman in Music award looks to highlight the achievements of women on stage and behind the scenes, with industry, management and crew all eligible for the new category, as voted by the Music Victoria Board.

The 2020 Music Victoria awards will also feature a new industry-voted category for Best Producer, as well as merging the Best Male and Best Female Musician categories to become the public-voted award for Best Musician.

The timeline for eligible Best Album, Song and individual genre categories has also been altered to align with the past financial year, meaning that all nominated music must have been released between September 1 2019 and June 30 2020. Any music released past July 1 will be considered for the 2021 awards.

Submissions are only open to Music Victoria members, who are able to nominate themselves or their favourite artists, venues and festivals. This year’s nominees will be announced in October.

“It’s been an incredibly tough year for the industry, but also a year where community spirit, ingenuity, and resilience have really come to the fore. The Victorian music community has so much to be proud of, and I encourage everyone to get involved with the Awards through submissions, voting and the event itself,” said Music Victoria Awards Event Producer, Laura Imbruglia.

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Submissions are now open for the Music Victoria Awards 2020. Good news- submissions are FREE but only open to Music Victoria members. Members may nominate themselves (or those they love) in the artist, venue, festival and brand new producer category until 5pm Monday 20 July. More info at musicvictoria.com.au (link in bio) — Art by @steve_gavan #musicvictoria #mvawards #mvawards2020

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Submissions are open until 5pm Monday July 20. For more information, visit the Music Victoria website

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The crisis came and Simon Moro adapted, now the music producer is more motivated than ever

A window into how a producer pervades this uncertain time.

It’s become clear that the current pandemic has created a harsh ripple effect through the creative industry, hindering not only artists but live music venues, band bookers, agents, community radio stations, publishers and PA hire companies, among others.

Then there’s the music producers and engineers who make the music possible. Many recording studios usually filled with artists cutting their new album or laying down their next single are now largely empty due to the current social distancing restrictions.

For Melbourne’s Simon Moro, the revered music producer who’s worked with everyone from Allday to Russell Coight and Sammy J, it’s been an interesting period and one that has asked a lot of him creatively.

“In the early days before restrictions were so extreme, I did a couple of sessions – me engineering on my own without my assistant, one musician at a time in a studio that you’d fit an orchestra in so we had probably 200 square metres for two people,” Moro says.

But it was difficult for Moro to continue safely like this as restrictions tightened and since then he’s been largely resigned to remote works such as Arts Centre Melbourne’s weekly ‘Big Night In’ series and the odd intimate artist session here and there.

Many of Moro’s future recording projects have been stalled too with the music release schedule currently disrupted. Even when Moro looks to get off the start line, there’s an additional challenge he has to overcome.

“Everyone’s moved onto Zoom and other video chats and I think that can be fine for intellectual-type conversations. So anything that’s like, ‘These are the tasks, we’ve got to get them done, boom, boom, boom, touch base’, I think video works fine for that,” Moro says.

“Where video becomes problematic for me is anything that requires emotional intelligence and being in a room with somebody and being able to connect like that, it just disappears when you’re doing it online – you don’t get the body language read, you don’t get any of that so I think it’s really difficult to have any emotion-based meetings remotely.”

The importance for Moro to be physically present with an artist is not only crucial from a relationship-building standpoint but also from a creative and expressive standpoint.

“I was recently rehearsing with a band for a record that we’re recording shortly and before Sunday, we’d only ever spoken on email and attempted a Zoom meeting. But as soon as we’re all in the room … it’s a good energy, it’s a good vibe,” Moro says.

“It’s much harder to tell online, especially with complete strangers.”

Moro sees the current downturn as a time for writing rather than recording – a period for artists to formulate the blueprint for their larger creations. But with the world stagnated and imaginations dulled, whether artists have enough creative fodder to latch onto is another question altogether.

“I have got the sense through some industry people I’ve been speaking with and artists that I know, that at the beginning of lockdown there was this feel of, ‘Alright, let’s get to business – let’s write, let’s prepare our marketing strategies, our launch strategies, let’s do networking’, and all of this wonderful stuff,” Moro says.

“But what I got the sense from various channels is that many artists are just really enjoying Netflix and getting a bit lazy.

“If there’s nothing inspiring them in the world when life is so COVID-centric, it could make sense that it might be less about discipline and work ethic and more about ‘there’s nothing to sing about’.”

Yet when an artist or band has ambition there’s nothing stopping them from reaching their goal. For Moro, the greatest fulfilment is the conversion of success and success comes from smarts and strategy.

“I’ve had some artists that were launching stuff recently and they’ve just been working their butts off,” Moro continues. “It’s been amazing to see their marketing efforts because for me as a producer, I’m only as good as the marketing effort an artist puts in and there’s this beautiful synergy with artist and producer – this built-in, enlightened self-interest – because the best thing for me is that they’re successful.

“It’s heartbreaking when an artist releases something and does not market it because I think, ‘Well great, no one’s going to hear it’ … That’s just what’s going to happen if you throw a product into a saturated market with no effort to promote it – no one’s going to listen.”

Moro says artists should now be working harder than ever to set themselves apart from the crowd.

“Some artists have actually been really spending this time shooting videos, networking with journalists and that’s been really good to see. I think that’s actually the best thing to be doing now if I were looking to be promoting things as an artist, I would just be networking online, connecting with everyone so that I had a really good book of contacts to reach out to when we start coming out from under our rocks.”

Teaming up with a producer as renowned as Moro not only gives artists the opportunity to technically enhance their sound but also opens them up to Moro’s long list of contacts within the industry. Then there’s Moro’s ability to provide an objective viewpoint and a musician suddenly has the perfect springboard to get themselves out there.

“If someone comes to me or goes to Google and looks for a producer or asks mates who’s good to work with, it’s usually an indication that they’ve got to a point in recognising that they can’t do it on their own,” Moro says.

“I’ve been doing this for 20 years and I have a network of other experts that I surround myself with. So if an artist has a problem, I’m going to have a solution, either personally or through my network – if it’s, ‘We’re making this record and it’s just not vibing like our live shows, I don’t know why’, I can listen to the recordings and go, ‘Well clearly, it’s because of x, y, z’.

“I’ve invested my time in learning about the nuance of production and performance … getting energy, getting a vibe, understanding the technology,” Moro continues. “So I guess the benefit is if you’ve hit a roadblock or you’re listening to your work – whether it’s been done DIY or at a project studio – and it’s just not connecting with you as an artist, then it could be helpful to come to me and discuss that problem because it’s very likely that I’ll have a solution to that.”

To find out more about Simon Moro or to get in touch with him about his services, head to his website. Moro is best contacted via the contact form on his website or over the phone at (03) 8373 9303.

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