Thursday, December 17, 2015

Steel City Sleepin'

Steel City Sound is dormant. Not dead - 'cos who knows what lies around the corner. 

What started out as a way to explore my local musical history 5 years ago, became bigger than anything I could have imagined and culminated in a 3 month exhibition at Wollongong Art Gallery. I cannot thank the Gallery enough for allowing me to put 'curator' on my CV. And to everyone who supported and attended the exhibition - thank you.

It's become clear though, that this here blog ain't doing much. Any local music history still gets promoted and discussed over at our Facebook page, and I encourage you to come and join the community.

My current focus however is on Helter Smelter - an arts/music/community guide - also over at Facebook, and booking Jane's - a neat little bar in Nth Gong. Come and say 'hi', have a drink, and hit me up if your band wants a gig.

Rock on, Wollongong.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

STEEL CITY SOUND: 50 Years of Rock n' Roll In Wollongong

Hey Gong Rockers! It's been a long time between posts, but rest assured I have not been slacking off. If you've kept up to date with our Facebook page you'll know that I've been busy ferreting away at curating a kick-arse exhibition at the Wollongong Art Gallery. This exhibition opens on Friday 21 November 2014 at 6pm, and will run over the summer period. We also have a number of great events during the life of the exhibition, a few of which are listed here. Hopefully you'll be able to take advantage of.

Come the new year, when all this is said and done, I'll be looking at ways to continue this work. I believe in the free dissemination of information and am keen to explore how we as a community may be able to develop and maintain an online archive of our musical heritage. Please feel free to get in touch if you want to help that happen.

Hope to see you at the launch. Otherwise, keep rockin' the Gong!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Folk Den (1964)

The Folk Den was a short-lived venue situated on the corner of Crown & Keira Sts operated by Kelly Sinclair-Wood and Rita Harland. The venue opened on 17 July 1964 and sought to capitalise on the burgeoning folk scene. Sadly the doors only  remained open for 3 months.

Opening night saw Kiama artist Caleb Carter perform as well as Bobbie Gledhill from Sydney.

The South Coast Times reported on the opening in a front-page article, noting that "customers sit on hessian on the floor, bathed in an eerie ultraviolet overhead light", with the performers playing "a great many sad songs."

Former Marksmen guitarist Neil Porter remembers attending one night along with bandmate Lyle McLean, only for the pair to be embarrassed by the ultraviolet light showing the fluff they had on their jackets. "It looked really bad," recalls Porter. "I told Lyle we needed to exit and brush ourselves down. When we got outside in the normal street lights we could;t see anything! We didn't go back in, partially because it was too dark to see what the girls looked like."

Reporting on it's closing, the operators told the South Coast Times that crowds had been small due the novelty wearing off and audiences traveling to similar venues in Sydney.

Unfortunately, our attempts to track down the operators have been unsuccessful. If anyone has any links to Kelly or Rita, please contact us via email.

'The Folk Den', South Coast Times, 20/07/64
'Folk Den Dies', South Coast Times, 08/10/64

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Wollongong City Gallery Exhibition (Dec 2014-Feb 2015)

Last week I started at the Wollongong City Gallery where I have been invited to curate an exhibition over the summer of 2014/15 celebrating the art, culture and history of the local music scene over the past 50 years. This is an exciting project and one which I hope to expand beyond the gallery walls, with events happening throughout the city in various venues. The SCS team have been given the entire bottom floor of the gallery to fill, and we have a number of ideas as to how we're going to do that. Most importantly though, this will be YOUR exhibition. This is your chance to display your memorabilia, and tell us about your memories via audio and video recordings, photographs, flyers, set-lists, newspaper clippings, posters, t-shirts, stickers, etc... Keep an eye on our facebook page, as that's where most of the stuff is happening at the moment, with this place reserved for larger, more detailed posts. I'll soon be putting the call-out for "submissions" by way of the above items. Please have a think about what might be stored in your attics, cellars, back of the cupboards, under the beds, that you'd be willing to share and contribute to our history. This is gonna be BIG! - Waz.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

An Update

As it's been over seven months since any action took place here, I figured it only fair to provide everyone with an update. Truth is, 2012 was a difficult year for me personally. As was 2011 for that matter. Couple this with some uneccesarily political and, quite frankly, divisive actions by a select few people within the scene, the task of maintaining Steel City Sound became paralysing and the project unfortunately slipped into an unplanned hiatus. Throughout this time I have continued to receive words of encouragement and support from people from all over the world who have a connection to our city and the music it creates. The feedback I have recieved from events such as the Unscene Festival last year, which we worked on in partnership with Helter Smelter, and more recently the Nineties World gig featuring a mix of old and new Gong-based talent, reminds me of why Steel City Sound is so important. Documenting and archiving the sound of our city provides more than just a novel nostalgic trip for those that have since "grown up" and moved on. It paints the story of Wollongong and our surrounds. It celebrates the creative spirit that the region cultivates and aims to ensure that the product of that spirit is preserved for future generations.

During the unexpected time off I  discovered that I am surrounded by an amazingly creative and supportive bunch of people. I now know that, whilst I may be the founder of this project, I am not in it alone. The negative comments and destructive behaviour of the minority do not reflect the broader publics appreciation of Steel City Sound. And as such I am ready to move forward.

I have some big ideas for the project over the next little while, and hopefully you'll start to see some changes soon. If you're on Facebook, be sure to 'Like' us as I intend on using that page as an extension for what's going on here. 

Finally, we are currently in negotiations for a major event to occur a little further down the line. I am not at liberty to announce anything as yet, but rest assured, this is going to be big. And we're going to need you to help. After all, Steel City Sound is nothing without the collective memories of the many good people who visit this site regularly. 

Hope to see you a local gig soon.

- Waz

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Harvest (2007-2008)

In 2007 a loose collective of creative types operating from 5 Crown Lane came together to produce a free 'street press' highlighting creative ativities around the region, with a strong focus on the local music scene. Jeb Taylor, Simon Dalla Pozza, Alby Fares, Nat Sullivan and Josh Smith launched issue #1 in July 2007, featuring the indominatable Stew Cunningham on the cover with his new-look Leadfinger

Print runs remained minimal (500) as the entire process - from editorial, design, printing, collating and distribution - relied on the voluntary efforts of the collective and other random souls. As people at the space came and went, continuation of the zine became unsustainable. The last issue was released in February 2008. 

Thanks to Jeb Taylor, Simon Dalla Pozza and Stew Cunningham, here are the full eight issues in colourful pdf. format for your downloading pleasure. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Harry Butler (1939 - 2012)

Wollongong lost another musical legend this week when former Wanderers drummer Harry Butler passed away succumbing to cancer. 

Having already played with The Ghostriders and The City Five, Harry joined The Wanderers in 1964 and remained with the band for five years. After a period of non-activity, Harry picked up his joined up again with fellow Wanderer Wally Buczma and formed the Good Old Boys

In a time when local musicians could earn a living from their trade, Harry applied himself, playing four to fives times a week at venues such as Crown Hotel, Illawarra Leagues Club, Shellharbour Workers Club, Cabbage Tree Hotel, as well as picking up the occasional gig in Sydney. 

In later years Harry played in Whiplash where they took out the inaugural Gong Award in 1986. 

I had the honour of meeting Harry only recently, and I will cherish the hour we spent sitting in his loungeroom as he recalled his heyday with a cheeky grin and a glint in his eye. 

Harry passed away quietly on Wednesday 22 August surrounded by family.

Funeral details: Hansen & Cole, Kembla Grange, Wednesday 29 August 2pm.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Signed Proton Energy Pills shirt: auction/fundraiser

In June 2012 Steel City Sound curated an exhibition of Wollongong's musical history, in conjunction with Helter Smelter  as part of the inaugural Unscene festival. One of the items on display was this t-shirt, kindly donated by former Proton Energy Pills guitarist Stew 'Leadfinger' Cunningham.

To help cover our costs of the exhibition Stew has allowed us to auction the shirt off.

This is an orginal, medium-sized t-shirt, designed by second guitarist Lenny Curley. I am told that until June this year, the shirt has sat at the bottom of Stew's cupboard for 20-odd years. It has only recently been signed by all Proton members (Stew, Lenny, Jay, Richie & Dave) and has the original 'Waterfront' label still attached. There is slight discolouration in some spots.

Members of the Protons went on to form a number of bands, including Tumbleweed, Leadfinger, Richie & The Creeps, The Pink Fits, Asteroid B612, Brother Brick, etc....

All money raised will be distributed evenly amonsgt the Steel City Sound & Helter Smelter teams.

Head over to ebay and place a bid to own a piece of Wollongong history.
Bidding ends @1pm, 28 August 2012.