WHEN BANDS CALLED THE SHOTS

COAST EN­TER­TAIN­MENT VENUES DREW THE BEST OF THE ROCK ERA IN THE SEVEN­TIES AND EIGHT­IES BUT AT TIMES THERE WERE ‘COW­BOYS’ ON AND OFF THE STAGE

Life & Style Weekend - - MAGAZINE | TUGBOAT TALES - WORDS: ASH­LEY ROBIN­SON

I wrote this col­umn about nine years ago which was a fol­low-on from about nine years be­fore. am re­peat­ing it again as I see old en­ter­tain­ment venues and bands around the Coast have been fea­tured promi­nently on Face­book re­cently.

This col­umn has two dis­tinct themes: over40s discos, and live en­ter­tain­ment and live tour­ing bands.

I will ad­dress the for­mer first. I was re­minded by a reader of the old Ste­warts Ho­tel (where Seaforth is now) at Alexan­dra Head­land, where one of the favourite haunts of the over-40s was the Pi­o­neer Grill.

The Pi­o­neer Grill had plenty of vel­vet drapes, booths and the won­der­ful voice of Max Man­dell.

Those were the days. I can re­mem­ber go­ing there think­ing how up-mar­ket it was (ob­vi­ously out of my class).

If only it ex­isted to­day. It prob­a­bly would still be a bit above me but at least I have ma­tured a bit.

At the risk of re­peat­ing my­self, I wrote a col­umn many years ago about tour­ing bands and I thought I would re­live some of it, start­ing at the mid-’70s.

Ste­warts at Alex had a bar strangely called the Wind­jam­mer Room, and the very first band I went to see was Clap­ton.

I thought it was Eric but it turned out to be Richard — but he was and still is a leg­end.

That pub used to get the good acts but the room wasn’t that big.

So Stan El­son, who had bought Sur­fair, turned it from a 4.5-star ho­tel to a band venue and re­tail bot­tle shop money-mak­ing ma­chine.

In any given week, it would have Mid­night Oil, Cold Chisel, INXS or Split Enz, for ex­am­ple. Stan was very good at get­ting the big acts but then Mooloolaba Ho­tel got in the act with bands in­clud­ing the An­gels.

Then Ste­warts built the mas­sive Galaxy Room which ba­si­cally got all the big acts be­cause of its ca­pac­ity.

Ef­fec­tively, at one stage in the cen­tral part of the Coast, there were three ma­jor band venues plus night­clubs scat­tered from one end of the re­gion to the other.

A blog­ger who once ac­cused me of be­ing an old fuddy duddy did re­mind me about a cou­ple of noise is­sues I was in­volved in as I worked at Sur­fair and Mooloolaba at dif­fer­ent times (not at Ste­warts, though, as I was ac­tu­ally barred from there at one stage).

The first noise is­sue was at Sur­fair where the boss tried to get Split Enz to turn the vol­ume down, as he had a guest in a room com­plain­ing.

Iron­i­cally, it was dur­ing the band’s fa­mous song I See Red.

They wouldn’t do it, of course, so he turned the power off. That nearly started a riot.

Even­tu­ally, no com­pro­mise could be reached so he turned it back on.

The guest de­manded his money back and said he was check­ing out in the morn­ing.

The boss obliged but helped him check out then and there.

The other in­ci­dent im­printed in my mem­ory was The An­gels at Mooloolaba.

When the band mem­bers were asked to turn it down, they re­fused and it even­tu­ally ended up in a melee be­tween staff and the road­ies.

The end re­sult was the lead singer Doc Nee­son nearly knock­ing him­self out on a low-ly­ing sup­port beam on stage when he jumped in the air dur­ing his per­for­mance. He vowed never to return.

My most vivid mem­ory, though, is some punter af­ter a band com­plain­ing to the po­lice as he thought his mate was in the back of the paddy wagon and wanted to go with him.

The old sergeant told him po­litely three times he wasn’t but the guy per­sisted so old mate put him in the back.

It was the dog van.

Sounds a bit like the

Wild West, doesn’t it?

‘WHEN THE BAND MEM­BERS WERE ASKED TO TURN IT DOWN, THEY RE­FUSED AND IT EVEN­TU­ALLY ENDED UP IN A MELEE BE­TWEEN STAFF AND THE ROAD­IES.’

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