A tribute to independent venues | WOMAD is a go | Under the Southern Stars will have International headliners

A tribute to independent venues

This year’s 63rd Grammy Awards looked a bit different than usual, but that’s really not unfamiliar to us these days. The live performances by Megan Thee Stallion, Billie Eilish and Taylor Swift (just to name a few) were nothing short of amazing, but they weren’t the only stars of the show when the curtain was raised on Sunday night.

the apollo theater in NYC

It’s no secret that venues have taken a huge hit over the past year, so the Academy gave their usual celebrity presenters the night off and shared the spotlight with the people who’ve been affected the most. It was the night manager of the Troubadour and a bartender at The Hotel Café in LA, the tour director of New York City’s Apollo Theater and the owner of the The Station Inn in Nashville that “handed out” the miniature gramophones.

The National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) has been trying for months to garner some much needed attention to the industry and the plight of the individuals who’ve been out of work for over a year; what better opportunity than on “Music’s Biggest Night”. NIVA board member, Audrey Fix Schaefer, originally pitched the idea of using shuttered venues across the country as the stages, but the approach by the Recording Academy’s government affairs department stepped it up a notch. It was another great accomplishment for the independent venue world, following the announcement of President Biden’s new COVID relief package, The American Rescue Plan, that will hopefully save countless venues from shutting down for good.

WOMAD is a go

Ticket sales opened on March 16 for the annual WOMAD festival set to unfold over the July 22-25 weekend. With travel restrictions still in place, local talent will make up the majority of the setlist this year, which will be announced in mid-April. Depending on the status of the lockdown exit plan, it’s possible international acts will be added to the line-up and announced a month later in mid-May.  

Organizers are planning meticulously to ensure the event will be safe for all those involved. They are considering expanding the space by 20 - 30%  in the arena as well as the camping area to accommodate social distancing. Staff and attendees may be required to test before and after the show but that seems a small price to pay (to us anyway). While the festival typically draws in over 40,000 people, audience capacity is still under discussion and we don’t yet know how many lucky fans will be allowed to attend. Keep your eyes peeled and ears open for their further announcements.

Under the Southern Stars will have International headliners

Australia is opening its borders for international touring. The Under the Southern Stars touring festival is set to begin on April 30th and run through May 16th. Aussie acts Electric Mary and Rose Tattoo will accompany the Stone Temple Pilots, Cheap Trick and Bush while they rock out at 11 different shows from Brisbane to Adelaide. The Americans and Brits have been granted an exemption from the Commission of Border Control to travel to (and around) Australia. They will be required to quarantine for 14 days as is the current requirement for international arrivals and the reason Australia has been able to escape the worst of the pandemic.

cheap trick on stage

Andrew McManus, CEO of One World Entertainment, is fully aware of the magnitude of the festival and how live events in the rest of the world are hinging on its success. He said: “Being the first live on stage International tour, we are aware the eyes of the world will be on us championing the re-opening of live International touring not only in Australia but globally.”