Rich talent and education at the heart of our musical city

Adelaide is home to an experienced pool of individuals working on major world-class arts and music festivals, according to the state’s music industry body.

Music SA’s general manager Lisa Bishop says the live music industry also offers many opportunities with boutique music festivals and club nights contributing to a “thriving sector”.

“Our thriving venue-based live music sector offers jobs ranging from, but not limited to, promoters, bookers, merchandisers, sound engineers, tour managers and publicists,” she says.

South Australia is home to a number of major annual music events and festivals including the upcoming Adelaide Fringe (February 15–March 17), WOMADelaide (February 8–11), Superloop Adelaide 500 concerts (February 28–March 3), as well as smaller boutique events such as St Jerome’s Laneway Festival, Handpicked Festival, Stonecutters Festival and Umbrella Festival.

But SA’s music industry not only holds opportunities in industry-based roles – but also jobs in the spotlight. Maggie Collins is the brains behind Brisbane’s BIGSOUND, one of the biggest events on the Aussie music calendar. She says Adelaide is brimming with musical talent.

St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival. Photo: SATC.

“The talent per capita is one of the stand-out elements that comes to mind of the SA music industry,” she says. “It’s inspiring to watch from afar that SA has great quality workers and artist representatives who are lovely to work with on any project.”

Adelaide was designated as Australia’s first and only City of Music in 2015, becoming a member of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN). The network was created in 2004 and currently promotes 116 cities that have identified creativity as a strategic factor for sustainable urban development.

Director of the UNSECO Adelaide office, Rebecca Pearce, says Adelaide was recognised as a City of Music because creativity, the arts and music are woven into the city’s fabric and are central to the state’s development.

“It not only looks at our extensive history, but also how far we can grow our urban culture,” she says.

Adelaide has birthed a number of hugely successful talents, including international pop sensation Sia, hip hop trio Hilltop Hoods, pop singer Guy Sebastian, opera’s Greta Bradman, rock legends Cold Chisel, ’90s rock group The Superjesus, and rap queen Tkay Maidza, all of which have established international fan bases.

Adelaide rap queen Tkay Maidza has gone on to achieve massive success.

SA is also known as the festival state, hosting internationally renowned four-day world music festival WOMADelaide, which attracts attendances beyond 86,000, almost half of which travel from outside the state.

The Adelaide Cabaret Festival is the biggest cabaret festival in the world, while the Adelaide Guitar Festival is the most significant of its kind in the southern hemisphere. Adelaide Fringe, Adelaide Festival of Arts and OzAsia all include strong music programs, while our city is also home to the oldest tertiary school in Australia, the Elder Conservatorium founded in 1883.

Music also plays a part in our youth’s future learning, with the State Government throwing its support behind the Music Education Strategy. According to the strategy, music education helps build confidence, promote creativity and assist students to develop emotional and behavioural awareness. Musically trained children perform better and use language more effectively and earlier, it says.

Music SA’s Lisa Bishop says a number of education institutions exist in Adelaide, including the Sia Fuller Institute, SAE Institute, Fresh 92.7 radio station and Music SA itself. Each run a variety of music courses, with Musica Viva – Australia’s oldest independent performing arts organisation – and the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra also running workshops.

“There are networking opportunities at free public workshops run by Music SA, Northern Sound System and local councils,” she says. “The Music Development Office also runs a grant program to help people collaborate with other songwriters, as well as set up their own mini music festival or event.”

Triple J breakfast radio presenter Liam Stapleton begun his radio career as a teenager at Fresh 92.7 in Adelaide. He says the city’s community radio sector was a launching pad for him to hone his skills and build on-air experience.

“Without volunteering in community radio, I don’t think I’d be working in radio,” Liam says. “It gave me experience and stacks of time on-air to hone my craft, my craft of talking. It’s harder than it looks.”

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Adelaide will always be home for The Superjesus’ Sarah McLeod

Adelaide-born The Superjesus front woman and rock goddess Sarah McLeod rose to the heights of the Aussie rock and roll scene in the ’90s, helping to pave the way for young aspiring female artists to follow.

An inductee in the South Australia Music Hall of Fame, the four-piece was formed in Adelaide and in 1998 released whopper album Sumo which was released worldwide, went double platinum and won best rock album at the ARIA Awards that same year.

Twenty years on and lead singer Sarah tells Brand SA News she will always have a soft spot for the city that started it all.

“I love flying home to Adelaide to see Mum and my school friends,” she says. “My first pit stop is Asian Gourmet in the Adelaide Central Market for a laksa – it’s actually the best.”

“I adore the Adelaide hills. My mate Susie and her husband Andrew own Bird in Hand Winery, I love to go up there and roam around the vineyards with a glass of their Nest Egg Chardonnay”.

Sarah reflects on her crazy career journey and where it all began.

Superjesus frontwoman Sarah McLeod and Stuart Rudd.

“Mum worked so hard to send my sister and I to St Peter’s Girls’ School, and all I wanted to do was work at the stock exchange,” says Sarah, who initially envisioned herself as a stockbroker, in Michael J Fox The Secret of My Success kind of style.

Finishing school and attending Flinders University she welcomed the need for some reckless behaviour. So she booked a trip to Bali with the girls.

After a few drinks and some Dutch courage, Sarah jumped on stage – her first time ever performing in front of an audience. Wearing baggy shorts, a Stussy t-shirt and green bumbag (standard Bali attire) she grabbed the guitar and belted out a tune with an Indonesian cover band. The place went bananas and people were buying her drinks all night.

Following the unexpected audition, the band had her playing every night. They even invited her to play in Jakarta in front of 200,000 Indonesians. Tempting as this was, Sarah declined, flew home, quit university and started a band.

“I’m a huge believer in swinging on the first pitch, perfection is boring and making mistakes was the fastest way to learn,” she says.

Fast forward a couple of years, which included developing nodules – a throat condition affecting her ability to sing – Sarah began working in a surf shop while her voice healed. She practiced guitar riffs when trade was quiet, and it was here that the first band Hell’s Kitchen was born.

“Our first gig was at the Crown & Anchor, then we managed to get a gig at The Synagogue (now Mary’s Poppin). We rode on our push bikes and stuck posters up all around town,” Sarah says.

“From there we did The Austral and The Exeter. I’ve always loved those two pubs. Since then we’ve done Fowlers, The Gov, the Adelaide Entertainment Centre and the Thebby.”

At the 1994 Adelaide Fringe Festival, two guys wearing black sunnies (who were big in the music business) loved what they heard and signed the rock group on the spot. The band had a solid sound, new management and bookings were rolling in.

Three of the four The Superjesus members Jason Slack, left, Sarah McLeod and Stuart Rudd.

Just before their first performance at the 1996 Big Day Out, they had a last-minute epiphany and changed their name to The Superjesus. Warner Music jumped at the chance to have them on board alongside fellow ’90s rock legends Regurgitator.

Armed with a level of filthy determination, The Superjesus toured the USA in a 12-seater Ram, which they later left trashed and dripping oil in the Warner Music car park before they flew home.

They released full-length studio album SUMO, a huge success which hit gold before it reached the stores. But after playing in London at a food and wine festival, the group lost its spark, returning home and going their separate ways.

Sarah went on to live in Sydney with then boyfriend, Chris Joannou of Aussie rock royalty band Silverchair, but recognised a total shift in focus was needed. She then moved to Melbourne and changed her tempo.

“I wanted to live simply and fight for every dollar, I wanted to live and die by my sword,” she says.

Sarah also moved to New York and remembers riding a motorbike daily along the Brooklyn Bridge to an underground recording studio to play guitar riffs over every rap album the studio pushed out. She then returned to London, this time collaborating with dance music producers.

Now Sarah reflects on Adelaide’s music scene and says it’s gone from strength to strength, helped by booming small bars staying open later.

“There are so many amazing bands coming out of Adelaide,” she says. “I love Southpaw, they’re a rad blues rock band. I feel like we put in 110% to compete with east coast bands.

“I think Adelaide supersedes Melbourne with its music community. I’m thrilled UNESCO designated Adelaide ‘A City of Music’.”

Musicians making it in Adelaide, a UNESCO City of Music

From the trademark growls of Cold Chisel to catchy tracks from Hilltop Hoods, Adelaide has birthed a collection of musicians who have gone on to satisfy the eardrums of millions worldwide.

From world-class festivals like WOMADelaide, to the largest cabaret festival, most significant guitar festival and oldest tertiary music school, Adelaide holds a number of biggest and firsts when it comes to music.

Our reputation is also built on being the festival state of Australia, with Adelaide being the country’s first and only UNESCO City of Music, in recognition of its vibrant music culture and rich and diverse musical heritage.

There are now 31 other music cities internationally as part of the UNESCO Creative City network, all which are connected to Adelaide, and are aware of our music prominence,” says Rebecca Pearce, Adelaide UNESCO City of Music office director.

Rock music legend and former Cold Chisel frontman Jimmy Barnes performs at A Day on the Green.

“As such there is an ever growing appreciation and recognition of Adelaide as a music making city, both within Australia, and certainly internationally.”

But when the festivals wind down and wrap up, is it possible to stay in SA and pursue a career in music?

According to local musician and industry professional Dan Crannitch, the belief that musicians must move to the eastern states to experience serious success is fading.

“Once upon a time if an artist was going to sign with you, they’d want to you be based in Sydney or Melbourne, but I think that’s changing,” says Dan, an A & R executive for Wonderlick Entertainment, and one half of Adelaide band The San Sebastian.

“Because of the internet we’re so interconnected now, most stuff can be done in Adelaide.”

Growing up in the Adelaide Hills with brother Joel – the other half of The San Sebastian – Dan first led band Leader Cheetah while pulling beers at renowned live music pub The Exeter.

Leader Cheetah struck the right chord, signing with a Sydney-based record label and enjoying the heights of success until 2016 when the group disbanded.

But at the height of their hype around 2009, there was a problem when returning home, says Dan.

“We did notice that when we came back here we lost momentum,” he says.

“When you were based in Sydney or Melbourne you’d have industry people at shows and you were a bit more a part of the national music scene.”

Brothers Joel, left, and Dan Crannitch form The San Sebastian. Photo: Facebook.

In a bid to strengthen SA’s music industry and create real, long-lasting opportunities, Dan collaborated with Martin Elbourne, a booker for the Glastonbury Festival in the UK and WOMADelaide here in SA.

Martin was undertaking a residency at the SA-based Don Dunstan Foundation and was tasked with exploring how to build upon Adelaide’s brand as a vibrant music capital.

“It was a pretty epic task, how do we make the SA music industry better? Instead of having a scattergun approach to grants and funding, how can we be more strategic and tailored, and help people have a crack at pretty much the hardest industry in the world?” Dan says.

Then came the Robert Stigwood Fellowship, run through the state’s Music Development Office and giving local musicians and industry entrepreneurs a chance to develop their ideas and make global connections from SA.

Successful SA musicians Tkay Maidza, Bad Dreems, West Thebarton and Timberwolf are just a few of the program’s successes.

The fellowship was named after Port Pirie-born Robert Stigwood, one of the most influential figures in the music scene in the ’60s and ’70s, managing big names like Cream and The Bee Gees.

Adelaide rap queen Tkay Maidza was a 2014 Stigwood Artist Fellow and went on to achieve massive success.

Stigwood fellows are mentored annually by both Dan Crannitch and Stuart MacQueen, who owns Australian music company Wonderlick Entertainment.

As an A & R executive for Wonderlick, it’s Dan’s job to find and develop artists and help hone their work.

Wonderlick’s offices are in Sydney and New York, as the company is a joint venture with Sony Music, but both Stuart and Dan work from Adelaide.

“I think Adelaide is a great home base, it’s a good place to work, and lots of A & R involves listening to music and making notes and looking for new music … it helps to be by yourself because you have to get quite deep into it,” Dan says.

Many of Adelaide’s music successes have shared their first tracks on the stages of the city’s live music venues such as The Exeter and The Gov.

The Grace Emily Hotel is one of Adelaide’s popular live music venues, showing gigs most nights of the week.

Dan, who co-owns the booking agency side of Adelaide company 5/4 Entertainment, says Adelaide’s live music scene “punches above its weight”.

The owner of the Grace Emily Hotel, George Swallow, agrees. He’s been showing live music at the CBD live music hotspot for 20 years.

“Our main focus is on SA live and original music, and the people who are just getting out of the garage and want to perform on stage for the first time,” George says.

“Here in Adelaide we support and help each other out, that’s what sets us apart. And we’re so diverse in music culture from jazz to the ASO (Adelaide Symphony Orchestra) to garage rock.

“I’m so proud to be working in this industry and community for so long and seeing it grow and grow.”

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Scouted 2018 to discover SA’s best emerging musical talents

Adelaide’s unsigned and emerging musical talents could secure their ‘big break’ when music industry leaders descend upon the city’s west end later this month.

In its second iteration, Scouted is returning in 2018 and will feature 16 emerging local artists performing across four renowned live music venues in Adelaide on Friday, July 27.

The multi-venue event will run in conjunction with Umbrella Winter City Sounds, an open access festival from July 13–29 offering a smorgasbord of live music projects and performances across Adelaide.

Check out the Umbrella program here.

The Scouted performances will unfold at Jive, Rocket Bar, West Oak Hotel and Nexus Arts and coincide with Adelaide playing host to the second annual AIR Awards, which brings music industry leaders and independent artists from across Australia into town.

Following the 2017 Scouted, several artists were signed and many secured national media coverage and sought-after festival slots.

This year’s Scouted line-up includes WOMADelaide alumni Hana & Jessie-Lee’s Bad Habits, local rock favourites Donnarumma, who recently opened for Cold Chisel at the Adelaide 500, and the newly formed duo Dhungala Baarka.

Other artists include multi-instrumentalist Bree Tranter, electro dance act Strict Face, shoegaze outfit Blush Response, soaring indie folk band The Winter Gypsy, Argus & The Liar, Fair Maiden, Hartway, Naomi Keyte, Neon Tetra, Ollie English, Runaway Weekend, Siamese, and Wing Defence.

New wave group Neon Tetra will perform at Scouted. Photo by @fenj_.

Music SA general manager Lisa Bishop says Scouted is a key opportunity for home grown talent to showcase themselves to some of the biggest names in the music industry.

“After the success of last year’s event, we are looking forward to impressing key identities from the Australian music industry in town for the AIR awards again,” she says.

“SA has an incredibly rich and vibrant music scene and we always welcome the opportunity to turn a national spotlight on it.”

The Scouted artists will all play at one of the four stages at Jive, the West Oak Hotel, Rocket Bar and Nexus Arts.

Umbrella Winter City Sounds festival will kick off on July 13 with a free, all-ages opening night party from 5–10pm along Bank Street.

Six local artists and DJs will perform live, with local street vendors, beer, wine and art on offer.

Scouted is on Friday July 27, from 5–10pm. Visit for more information.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Adelaide’s live music scene on show for Jam LIVE

From street art splashed across Hindley Street’s Jive to the Bert Newton shrine in Waymouth Street’s Grace Emily, Adelaide is home to quirky live music institutions that have stood the test of time.

This weekend, venues which have helped shaped the city’s live music scene will feature in a new local music TV show that gives viewers a front-row experience of live performances from across Adelaide.

Channel Nine Adelaide’s Jam LIVE will introduce new artists and showcase old favourites in a celebration of live music in Adelaide, a UNESCO City of Music.

Jive might be quiet and colourful during the day, but at night its walls vibrate with the boom as live gigs unfold before scores of music lovers. Photo: Jive Facebook.

Jam LIVE features venues such as The Gov, Grace Emily, Wheatsheaf Hotel and Jive, all of which are renowned for hosting live gigs, supporting established and upcoming musicians and adding culture to the city’s nightlife.

Radio personality Shanelle Franklin will host the show, which will air live performances by SA seven-piece rock outfit West Thebarton, as well as interstate favourites San Cisco, Dean Lewis, Josh Cashman and Boo Seeka.

“It (Jam LIVE) is designed to get people excited about live music and back into supporting local artists, touring artists, and the venues and festivals who put these artists on,” Shanelle says.

Jam LIVE host Shanelle Franklin.

“There are some great music programs which show video clips, but we are here to bring you the live performance, which is something completely different to what is currently on TV.

“We aim to showcase live music, be a fly on the wall, and capture magic for the viewer.”

Jam LIVE hits screens this Saturday (June 23) at 4.30pm on Channel Nine Adelaide and 9Now.

Visit I Choose SA to find out how you can support our state by choosing South Australian businesses, products and services.

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So you think you can be a serious muso?

Almost two years ago Adelaide electro artist Luke Million uploaded a Facebook video of him covering the ’80s synth inspired theme song to popular Netflix series Stranger Things.

The one-minute clip has since been viewed a whopping 4.5 million times and received 1.7 million plays on Spotify.

Head over to Adelaide’s rap circles and it’s been Tkay Maidza doing South Australia proud since she released track Brontosaurus in 2013 and worked her way up to two ARIA Award nominations last year.

More recently it’s been folk artist Tom West rocketing up the Spotify charts, attracting more than 115,000 monthly listeners.

Although their music may differ in sound and style, the kickstart in their careers is similar.

Million, Maidza and West join more than 30 past recipients of the Robert Stigwood Fellowship Program, an initiative which is helping to boost the success of some of SA’s top bands, musicians and industry professionals.

Luke Million took the internet by storm when he uploaded a Facebook video featuring him covering the Stranger Things theme song.

The program is now in its fifth year and is on the hunt for the next lot of talent.

Fellowship recipients receive funding and opportunities to connect with global music networks.

They also receive hands-on mentoring from Adelaide-based industry professionals Stu MacQueen and Dan Crannitch of Wonderlick Entertainment.

Wonderlick manages the promotion of top Aussie artists including Grinspoon, Josh Pyke, Montaigne and Amy Shark.

Dan, who plays in Adelaide brother band The San Sebastian, says the fellowship helps establish more “connective tissue” between SA and the wider national and international music industry.

“We both feel very proud of the service this program has provided to the local music community, with a raft of Stigwood alumni kicking huge goals both here and internationally, all well on their way to long and fruitful careers in the music industry,” he says.

Tom West is renowned for his whimsical folk tunes and moody soundscapes.

Tom West, who has gigs scheduled for Port MacDonnell, Adelaide CBD, and Willunga this May and June, says the Stigwood program was a much-needed boost for his business as a singer-songwriter.

“The program facilitated the completion of a new record in a much bigger and better way that I could have initially hoped for,” he says.

“It also enabled me to invest in exploring opportunities in overseas markets, which is a necessary step in working towards building a sustainable career in the industry.”

The Stigwood Fellowship is an initiative of the SA Government’s Music Development Office and is named after the late Robert Stigwood, a renowned music impresario and entrepreneur.

Born in Port Pirie in 1934, Robert went on to become one of the most powerful and successful entertainment tycoons in the 1960s and ‘70s.

He managed musicians including Eric Clapton, Cream and The Bee Gees, produced hit West End and Broadway musicals Hair and Jesus Christ Superstar, and blockbuster films Saturday Night Fever and Grease.

The fellowship offers two streams, one for musicians and bands, and the other for emerging entrepreneurs working in music management.

Past entrepreneurial recipients include Five Four Entertainment, who managed Tkay Maidza, and Sharni Honor, who is behind travelling music series Porch Sessions.

Applications close June 1. Head here for details and to apply.

Check out Luke Million’s Stranger Things theme song cover below.

Stringing success with Adelaide’s guitar man

By Melissa Keogh

For 30 years Adelaide craftsman Jim Redgate has strummed the right chord with some of the world’s most accomplished classical musicians.

From his southern suburbs home studio in Port Noarlunga the plumber turned Elder Conservatorium of Music graduate designs and handcrafts classical guitars, loved by the industry’s best.

When one of the world’s most talented young classical guitarists, Ana Vidović, was handed one of Jim’s guitars before a performance she was so impressed she played it for the entire concert.

Despite his rise to fame in the classical guitar making world, Jim says he has never felt the need to move his business away from South Australia.

Jim Redgate in his Port Noarlunga workshop. PHOTO: John Laurie.

Jim Redgate in his Port Noarlunga workshop. PHOTO: John Laurie.

“I’m from here, my family is here and I think it’s a fantastic place to live,” he says.

“There’s not really any reason for me to go interstate.”

Jim didn’t grow up in a musical family and didn’t discover the guitar until the age of 15, the same time he left school to become a plumber.

After completing a four-year plumbing apprenticeship, he decided to switch it up by studying a degree in classical guitar performance at Adelaide’s Elder Conservatorium of Music.

Before long his craftsmanship skills crept into his musical interests and he became curious about the makings of a guitar.

“My trade background was always still there and the guitar looked like it would be something interesting to make,” Jim says.

“My father was a tinkerer so I had an upbringing where I was always making things in the shed.”

Jim crafted his first guitar on his kitchen table in 1985.

Drawing inspiration from fellow SA craftsmen, namely the late Bryan de Gruchy, and harpmaker Tim Guster, Jim settled into life as a luthier.

Jim Redgate's South Australian made guitars are highly sought after by musicians around the world.

Jim Redgate’s South Australian made guitars are highly sought after by musicians around the world. Image credit:

“The guitars that I was building had a bit of an Australian feel about them in terms of materials and colours,” he says.

The modern-style classical guitars are made from internationally sourced materials, in addition to Australian blackwood from SA’s South East and Tasmania.

Jim is renowned for making double top guitars, the sound boards of which are made from two thin sheets of timber separated by a man-made, honeycomb-like material called Nomex.

Retailing between $11,000-$15,000, the double tops are lightweight but powerful in sound clarity, are tailored to the customer and take months to create.

“I’ve never had to advertise, it’s all through word of mouth,” Jim says.

“I tend to make between 12 and 15 guitars a year.

“The finish with the shellac takes more time than building the guitar, but it’s about 100-160 hours all up.”

Jim is also involved in the Adelaide Guitar Festival, a four-day biennial event that is fitting for Australia’s first and only UNESCO City of Music.

The event is curated by renowned Australian guitarist Slava Grigoryan, a proud user of Jim’s guitars.

Apart from influencing the development of the classical guitar with his modern methods, Jim also makes his mark on Adelaide’s live music scene as a member of surf band GT Stringer.

He’s a fan of local trusty gig pubs The Wheatsheaf and the Grace Emily hotels and says they play an important role in supporting homegrown music.

“Many world class musicians are from Adelaide and we definitely punch above our weight in terms of talent,” Jim says.