Music for good. How Aussies are raising funds for flood relief efforts in QLD and NSW

It’s only March and this year is already looking like “thank you, next”.

Given the current situation in the world*, it doesn’t feel right to ignore some topics that have been dominating the news. The devastating floods in Australia are definitely on my mind.

But it’s inspiring to see that quite a few people from the music industry in Australia have stepped up to help the disaster victims. This week I’m dedicating this space to their initiatives.

PART 96 OF “AM I EVER GONNA SEE YOUR FACE AGAIN?” A RANDOM COLLECTION OF UNKNOWINGLY OBVIOUS FACTS ABOUT THE AUSTRALIAN MUSIC SCENE

I’m fairly sure I’m not the only one who feels like it’s “twenty, twenty, too” all over again. Australia just can’t seem to get a break. Although it seems like forever ago, one of the worst ever bushfires ravaged the country at the beginning of 2020. The pandemic has had a field day in the last 24+ months as well. And now, another nail in the coffin.

The horrifying floods in parts of QLD and NSW have just been declared a national emergency. Despite that, more and more voices are heard from all sides criticising the Australian government for not doing enough. Over 20 people have died and many have, unfortunately, become homeless. Apparently, some victims needed to wait for 15+ hrs to get rescued from the flooded regions.

In all that chaos, the music business Down Under has endured a pretty difficult two years as well. The Industry Observer has shed some light on how the current rains have affected several venues in Queensland. Considering that many artists have lost everything, including their gear in some cases, making a living off their music will become even more difficult.

Yet, the music world is often the first one to answer the call for help. The massive Fire Fight Australia concert organised in February 2020 proved just how big of a role charity gigs play in comforting people and raising funds to ensure their wellbeing. This time is no different. But Aussies have come up with even more ways to help.

I’ve compiled a list of grassroots initiatives led by Aussie music industry people aiming to contribute to the flood relief efforts. Maybe you will be able to chip into some of them as well.

TURNING UP TO CLEAN UP

Let’s start with the hands-on approach, though. Many musos, especially the ones from the affected Aussie states, are spontaneously participating in the clean-up. I can imagine their immediate families and/or mates might be directly affected. It’s admirable, nevertheless.

For instance, Jake Taylor from In Hearts Wake rolled up his sleeves to help in Lismore that was heavily hit by the floods. And apart from documenting the sheer level of devastation in the area, he’s also shared a moving story on his IG. Read it below.

GIGS

I’m not going to reinvent the wheel when I say that one of the best ways to raise money for any cause is live music. The Aussie music biz knows that, too.

To my knowledge, “FLOAT ON” was probably the first flood fundraiser. Although it already happened last Friday at The Zoo in Brisbane, the venue still encourages donations to the GIVIT website that it redirected all the funds to. The Dreggs headlined the acoustic music night.

It’s worth noticing that it’s not only the artists who lend a hand for free in these cases. In the case of The Zoo, the venue waived the venue hire fee for the night as well. Plus, some local favourites have generously provided items for a raffle. Amongst all the prizes, the limited edition vinyl from Ball Park Music and The Jungle Giants, plus merch from Hope D or Bugs were probably the most alluring ones. Additionally, a portion of food and beverage sales were also donated to GIVIT. As a result, $6878.40 was raised for the cause.

A similar event went down on 8 March at Miami Marketta in Miami, Queensland. A bunch of Gold Coast creatives, led by Boo Seeka, put on Flood Raiser. Since the event was on last night, the organisers must be still counting the donations. But they announced that all proceeds will be split evenly between three different charities: GIVIT, SES QLD (for the volunteers) and WILDCARE AUSTRALIA (for the injured wildlife).

Melbourne hasn’t been affected by the severe floods, but the city’s music scene is contributing its bit anyway. Last Friday (5 March), The Stroppies performed at the Northcote Social Club for the Floody Hell! gig. (A side note: the Aussie sense of humour when calling these charitable events is unmistakable.)

As far as I know, at least a few other smaller events were staged last weekend already. You can find their list here.

The good news is that if you’re still keen on hearing some live music and supporting the relief efforts at the same time, there are more charitable gigs happening in the coming days.

Lismore Flood Appeal is planned for this coming Friday (11 March) in Brisbane and includes acts like Regurgitator and Phil Jamieson (of Grinspoon). There will even be two stages: one inside and one in the car park. The venue, suitably called The Brightside, already collected nearly $19k last weekend when Hope D and Spacey Jane made appearances on stage.

Georgia Maq (of Camp Cope) is headlining a Flood Relief Fundraiser show at Mama Chen’s, “Footscray’s newest live music venue”, this Saturday (12 March). What would attract me to attend that event is the moving description on the event’s website, justifying the reason to help, “Sunday 27th of February, community members in Northern NSW were preparing for flooding, something the community was used to and ready for. The community prepared for severe floods as predicted, however, this was not a severe flood, this was a disaster.”

A bit further away in time is the Southport Flood Benefit in QLD organised by Vinnies Dive Bar. Their 3-stages gig is happening on Sunday, 27 March. In the meantime, however, the venue’s bartender is coordinating a drop-off point for urgently needed items that can help the clean-up efforts. It’s great to see people thinking on their feet. After all, medical supplies and tools are what is surely missing in the affected regions.

One of the places that suffered damages is the beloved Aussie surfer town, Byron Bay. After skipping two pandemic years, Bluesfest is scheduled to take place over there on the Easter weekend. Peter Noble, the festival’s director, offered an interesting perspective on why the festival is still going ahead, “Just by coming to our region and showing support through buying food from businesses both at the festival, and locally in the area, staying in accommodation, and taking part in all the other things our region has to offer, you will be helping so many people get through this time.”

MERCH SALES DONATIONS

Brisbanites Dune Rats are doing a slightly different but equally generous thing.

A few days ago, they dropped the news about a partnership with a sports shoes company, Volley. It must have been a few months in the making, and I’m pretty sure this is not how they envisioned the announcement. But the punk rockers decided helping the flood relief was far more important.

So they’re donating $5 from each pair of shoes sold to the Red Cross Flood Appeal. “The music industry over the last two years has been decimated, but pales in comparison to loss these great communities are going through”, they stated on their socials.

But that’s not it. Volley are matching those donations dollar for dollar. So if you fancy yourself a new pair of sneakers, head to this page.

ONLINE FUNDRAISERS

Aussie musos also take care of their own. So at least three online campaigns have been launched to help people from the industry who have lost everything.

Dan Field is a producer who has worked with The Amity Affliction or Thy Art Is Murder, amongst others. As described on GoFundMe, “within a 20-minute timeframe the building had been flooded by 5 feet of deluge and sewage water and only a fraction of the assets stored there were able to be recovered.” He has lost his studio, and thus, his means to earn a living. You can help him here.

There’s nothing worse than finding out about your life’s legacy being flooded when working in a different state. But that’s exactly what happened to Áine Tyrrell, her house and tour bus in Mullambimby, NSW when she was tour managing for Emily Wurramara in Sydney. Thankfully, her good friends Jen Cloher, Emily and Vyvienne Abla of Vyva Entertainment didn’t leave her hanging. Their fundraiser can be found here.

Chris Emerson, aka What So Not, is fundraising for another producer. Jono Ma from Jagwar Ma, who has also collaborated with Flight Facilities or Genesis Owusu, has lost his vintage gear, record collections and equipment, along his home and studio. Sadly, not everything can be replaced or covered by insurance, so he urgently needs help as well. Here‘s the campaign to support him.

ONLINE RAFFLE

Another way of fundraising is auctioning off the gear. And that’s exactly what Skegss have in mind. They are Byron Bay natives, so it was no surprise (to me, at least) that they would want to support their community in this difficult time.

Toby’s bass and one of Benny’s guitars are up for grabs. Tickets are $20 and there’s no limit on the amount you want to purchase. This sounds like a great opportunity to do some good and score a precious Skegss souvenir at the same time. The raffle is up on the band’s merch website.

MUSIC COMPILATION

Bandcamp is the perfect platform for putting together an ad hoc record: no distributors, no middlemen involved. You can get the music out in no time. That counts especially when that album is meant to generate charity donations.

Half a Cow Records came up with the idea of a music compilation called Flood Zone. They announced it on the Bandcamp Friday, 4 March. Strangely, the album is not currently available on Bandcamp. So I’m hoping it’s only a glitch in the system and this awesome initiative will be brought back online soon.

These are just some ways Aussie music are helping their communities after the devastating floods. I’m sure there are even more initiatives out there, but they’re not widely advertised.

So if you are in the position to contribute to any of them, please kindly do so.

Cover image: Dune Rats FB

*I’m aware there is a war happening in Ukraine after Putin had invaded this sovereign country for no reason whatsoever. And I’ve dedicated space on my social media to share resources that can help innocent people fleeing that senseless conflict.


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