Great Southern Nights returns to NSW ‘bigger and better’


If good things really come to those who wait, the people of New South Wales deserve what’s to come.

Great Southern Nights, which returns in mid-March after skipping a year due to a particularly difficult time in the pandemic, is a mass celebration of music and community.

After a period of two years like we have never known, finally, a week of coming out, one knee in the air after too long locked up.

And it promises to deliver a much-needed boost to the state’s live music ecosystem, which has been leveled by the health crisis.

This year’s live party includes concerts from Jimmy Barnes, Amy Shark, Jessica Mauboy, The Veronicas, Baker Boy, Peking Duk, Courtney Barnett, Daryl Braithwaite, Archie Roach, James Reyne, Missy Higgins, Kasey Chambers and more. others, with lighting shows deep in the regions and, of course, Sydney.

This year’s program is “bigger and better”, said Annabelle Herd, CEO of ARIA, which led the initiative in partnership with the state government, and implemented through Destination NSW , its agency for the tourism and major events sectors.

Jessica Mauboy

With Great Southern Nights, “we wanted to find a way to both inject financial resources into the industry, work and help the live industry get back on its feet,” she explains.

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“That’s why the program was launched in 2020. None of us expected to be here in 2022; we thought we’d be way further down the track in terms of getting the music back.

In total, hundreds of COVID-safe concerts are incorporated into this year’s schedule, which runs statewide from March 18 through April 10.

“It’s turned out that Great Southern Nights is really going to be one of the great launch pads for reclaiming live music and bringing people back to live music,” enthused Herd.

After two years locked in a freezer, live music is in desperate need of a revival. Consumer confidence has been shaken, thanks to the stop-start nature of lockdowns and ever-changing rules from above.

“There’s a trust issue right now,” admits Herd. “The only way to overcome that is to do great shows, to show people that they can come back to live music. And that it’s worth doing.

Above all, for artists and all professionals in the food chain, no one will work for free at this event. Although the charges are not made public, “everyone involved gets paid,” confirms Herd. “That was our big intention. We wanted to inject funds into the industry that desperately needs it.

The project could not come at a more urgent time. Concert halls are stuck in a perfect shitstorm.

When news broke last month that the Lansdowne Hotel was about to call the last drinks, it was the latest blow to a sector hit by lockdowns, low confidence and endless appetite from developers for apartment buildings.

“Sites are so important to the ecosystem,” Herd says. “They struggled a lot. They are such an important part of that.

Annabelle’s herd

The data confirms this. The Australia Live Music Business Council (ALMBC) released a sobering report at the end of 2020 which revealed that 70% of music businesses will not last longer than 6 months. Some 30% would not last more than 3 months.

Things have improved, although business is far from pre-COVID highs. Based on member data captured by APRA AMCOS, live music activity in the month of December 2021 – usually a peak hour – was only 6% of the pre-COVID period, the CEO of the company said. company, Dean Ormston.

Its revival debut, though the organizers of Great Southern Nights and the separate Victoria-wide Always Live series want to see those sad stories left in the past.

“Anything that brings people to a show is a great, positive thing,” notes Herd.

Currently, all energies are focused on producing the best possible action for the 2022 edition in an environment that remains difficult.

Then, over time, talks will intensify over the return of Great Southern Nights as an annual event.

“We hope so,” Herd says, at the suggestion of a series regular. “We achieved great things when this happened in 2020, and the government is certainly happy with what it achieved in 2020. We really hope the government (continues to support). They said very positive things about its continuity as a permanent brand.

Several of the upcoming dates are sold out, including ARIA and APRA award winner Amy Shark’s March 19 appearance at Wagga Wagga’s Civic Theater, and tickets for others are flying.

The herd has the last word. “Grab some friends, get in the car, go see great bands at great shows. Support music, support live music.

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