Original music gets boost from Geraldton artists
Fitzroy Xpress bassist Daron Keogh has an ambitious plan to reinvigorate Geraldton’s original music scene.
A stalwart of the WA music industry, Keogh is running a series of free songwriting workshops to inspire budding performers to ditch the cover tunes.
Keogh said the reluctance of many licensed venues to support original bands was stunting emerging artists, particularly in Geraldton.
“These days, unfortunately, a lot of venues stipulate that they want the acts to play cover songs,” he said.
“And then they choose acts that are either soloists or duos, and that discounts acts that have a drummer.
“As a result, we truncate a pathway for music creativity and music as a career, because those who are up-and-coming don’t see musicians performing their own original songs.”
Keogh said the trend was also evident in Perth, where up-and- coming bands were facing limited opportunities to perform live.
“Back in the day, there were a lot of venues that did support live (original) music,” he said.
“But the music scene went down that road where a lot of the live venues transformed themselves into the cosmopolitan-type venues that we see today.”
Keogh’s songwriting workshops comprise the first of five stages of the Midwest Music Development Program.
Participants are first taught lyric writing, followed by instrumentation, collaboration, live performance, stagecraft, recording, and artist management.
At every step, they are supported by experienced mentors from a cross-section of society.
Among those lending a hand are Geraldton-based folk/country/blues musicians Darcy Hay and Fraser Mack.
Hay, a prolific songwriter, said the demand for live original music in Geraldton was strong.
“Nine times out of 10, if you ask the audience whether they want to hear an original song, they’ll say ‘yeah, give it a crack’,” he said.
So far, the Midwest Music Development Program has received State Government funding, but Keogh hopes to secure Federal backing, too.
And while he is happy with the PCYC as a venue for now, in the future he hopes to find a more “neutral” headquarters.
One possibility is the old vacant ABC radio studio above the Headspace building on Marine Terrace.
“Pollinators have the lease, and the condition of the lease is that it gets used for art purposes, so we’ve eyeballed that,” Keogh said.
Pollinators space and collaboration lead Angie West said she welcomed the proposal.
“Any combination of youth and arts in that building is a positive outcome for our community,” Ms West said.
“To activate the space we need to solve the problem of making it safe, which is power and plumbing, basically.”
Mr Keogh said he hoped to roll the program out across regional WA if it proved successful in Geraldton.
Songwriting workshops will be held at Geraldton PCYC every Tuesday at 4pm until September 24. No musical experience is required.
Call Keogh on 0427 779 393 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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