The hardworking folks at Sydney boutique PR agency and management firm Rare Finds are celebrating their Sydney club night’s second birthday next month.

Hey Geronimo and Major Leagues will head up the bill which also features Bad Pony, Mookhi, Nocturnal Tapes and heaps more.

Rare Finds is passionate about giving outstanding local talent a strong local platform, so it’s a business worth getting behind. You can show your support at the 2nd birthday show on April 29 at the Oxford Art Factory in Darlinghurst. Get your tickets for just $20 from Moshtix.

I have well and truly got the travel bug. I had barely set foot on dry land after my last cruising holiday before I was suffering withdrawals. We were booked on another one within a week. If you love travelling too, then why not combine your wanderlust with your love of music and take up one of the tour packages provided by new Aussie company Sweat Tours?

Sweat Tours make it easy to see some of the hottest festivals on the planet with their all-inclusive tour packages. Think the the New York’s Governors Ball in May or the Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas in June. When I say all-inclusive I mean all-inclusive too. Your accommodation, private transfers, meals, drinks, sightseeing, and even VIP experiences are all taken care of, so all you have to do is soak it up.

“Sweat Tours was created because I have an intense passion for live music and travel – however, the majority of tour companies in the market today place a heavy emphasis on sightseeing, which means most of the time spent on the tour is in transit.  They have never particularly interested me!” explained Sweat Tours founder Eli Akerlund, who is really doing something different with his company.

If you have the urge to see the world and some amazing bands at the same time, check out Sweat Tours.

Image used with permission from On the Map PR

I’ve had such a busy day, but I couldn’t leave it before congratulating Busby Marou on claiming the number one spot with Postcards from the Shell House. I love this album, as I do everything Busby Marou has released, so I’m thrilled to see the Queensland duo claiming their first number one. It’s a good thing they were representing the Aussies too, because they’re the only local act in the top 10 albums charts.

Ed Sheeran’s dominance doesn’t leave a lot of space for too many other acts, but we do have a few Aussies on the singles charts. Pnau leads the charge with “Chameleon” at number eight, just a couple of spots ahead of “Adore” by Amy Shark.

Top 10 Albums
1. Postcards from the Shell House – Busby Marou
2. Fifty Shades Darker – Soundtrack
3. Prisoner – Ryan Adams
4. 25 – Adele
5. Trolls – Soundtrack
6. X – Ed Sheeran
7. Human – Rag’n'Bone Man
8. Greatest Hits – Guns N’Roses
9. MoanaSoundtrack
10. 24K Magic – Bruno Mars

Top 10 Singles
1. “Shape of You” – Ed Sheeran
2. “How Would You Feel (Paean) – Ed Sheeran
3. “Castle on the Hill” – Ed Sheeran
4. “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever” – Zayn and Taylor Swift
5. “Issues” – Julia Michaels
6. “Chained to the Rhythm” – Katy Perry feat. Skip Marley
7. “Paris” – The Chainsmokers
8. “Chameleon” – Pnau
9. “It’s Ain’t Me” – Kygo & Selena Gomez
10. “Adore” – Amy Shark

I can’t say I’ve ever wished to be 40 before, but I find myself longing for the big 4-0 after hearing about a new dance party for Baby Boomers. The Voice alum Steve Clisby and globally recognised DJ Stephen Ferris are behind the event, dubbed 40up, which is exclusively for those over 40.

There’ll be live music, DJ sets, and vintage music videos from the 70s, 80s, and 90s. Think Barry White, Earth Wind & Fire, Kool and the Gang, and the incomparable Prince.

“This is how you exercise your right to be over 40 and still party, without worrying about the millennials getting in the way,” laughed Clisby, the all-time favorite artist from reality show, The Voice Australia. “We’ve taken the dinner, dance show concept and turned it on its head. People are always telling me that the thing they love most about my gigs is the chance to get up and dance like they used to – to the music they love. Now there’s a show especially for them.”

It all happens at the Basement in Sydney on March 3. 40up tickets are on sale now.

Image used with permission from SGC Media

I think there’s something so special about parents and their children coming together to appreciate live music. So I want to make sure you all know about Wyndham City’s Friday LIVE Series which all kicks off on February 10.

Each night is themed and designed to celebrate some of Australia’s big name acts and introduce music lovers to some up and comers they’re bound to enjoy. It all kicks off with the ‘80s Family Fun show headlined by Pseudo Echo on the 10th. The Songwriters Showcase is on the next week, with Go Americana the following week closing the festival.

It all happens at Station Place, Werribee, from 5 pm to 10 pm on the nights below. There’ll be food and beverage vendors, so round up the entire family and check it out!

10 February 2017 – ‘80s Family Fun: Pseudo Echo, Happy Enchilada, Trent Hamilton, Jessica Paige, Troy Barrett, and Niall Dunsmore.
17 February 2017 – Songwriters Showcase: Charles Jenkins, Shaun Kirk, Little Georgia, Lisa Mary Drake, Jack Gramski, and Van Walker.
24 February 2017 – Go Americana: Dan Parsons Trio, Stetson Family, Gretta Ziller, The Weeping Willows, and Nigel Wearne.

Image used with permission from Remedy PR

I’m thrilled to see Kasey Chambers’ excellent new album Dragonfly sitting at the top of the ARIA charts this week. Dragonfly is the first Aussie album to score the coveted number one possie and Kasey’s fifth number one album, after Barricades & Brickwalls (#1 in February ’02), Wayward Angel (#1 June ’04), Carnival (#1 June ’04) and her collaboration with Shane Nicholson, Rattlin’ Bones (#1 April ’08).

The influence of the Tamworth Country Music Festival has no doubt influenced this week’s charts, with Kasey keeping company in the top 10 with some other notable Aussie country acts. The McClymonts are at number six with Endless, while the perennially popular Ripcord by Keith Urban is at number 10.

Our dance acts are dominating over on the singles charts. “Chameleon” by Pnau sits at number 7 while Starley rounds out the top 10 with “Call On Me – Ryan Riback Remix.”

Top 10 Albums
1. Dragonfly – Kasey Chambers
2. Trolls – Soundtrack
3. Sing – Soundtrack
4. Moana – Soundtrack
5. 25 – Adele
6. Endless – The McClymonts
7. I See You – The XX
8. La La Land – Soundtrack
9. Blue and Lonesome – The Rolling Stones
10. Ripcord – Keith Urban

Top 10 Singles
1. “Shape of You” – Ed Sheeran
2. “Castle on the Hill” – Ed Sheeran
3. “Rockabye” – Clean Bandit feat. Sean Paul and Anne-Marie
4. “Paris” – The Chainsmokers
5. “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever” – Zayn and Taylor Swift
6. “Fresh Eyes” – Andy Grammer
7. “Chameleon” – Pnau
8. “I Feel It Coming” – The Weeknd feat. Daft Punk
9. “Starboy” – The Weeknd feat. Daft Punk
10. “Call On Me – Ryan Riback Remix” – Starley

Like so many people, I’m going to be glad to see the back of 2016. It was a terrible year, marred with the loss of some of my favourite performers and people a little close to home, as well as devastating acts of terror. I can’t wait until the next one starts. But before it does, I’m taking a moment to remember that good things did happen in 2016. Trust me! Good things like the following. Take a moment to read back and remember them!

Top 10 Aussie Albums/EPs

1. One for Sorrow, Two for Joy – Brightly
2. The Blues Arcadia – The Blues Arcadia
3. Signal Lights – Sam Brittain
4. Backbone – Anthony Callea
5. Seven Years – Matt Joe Gow
6. Thieves – Tracy McNeil and The GoodLife
7. Eyes Still Fixed – Amarillo
8. Love is a Dog – Tinpan Orange
9. Synthia – The Jezabels
10. City West – Davey Craddock

Top 10 Aussie Tours

1. Prince
2. Rob Thomas @ State Theatre
3. Glen Hansard
4. Rob Thomas @ Opera House Steps
5. Jimmy Barnes
6. Conchita
7. Megan Hilty
8. Andrew de Silva’s Purple Revolution
9. Totally 80s
10. Ian Moss

Image source: jdmoar @ Flickr

Last week my dad contacted me, wanting me to buy a Michael McDonald CD for Mum for Christmas. “Amazon has it,” he told me. I quickly told him that Amazon is based in America, and it would never arrive before the big day. I hit up the usual suspects, JB Hi Fi, Sanity, nothing.

My Googling took me to The Muses, a local online business that I’d never heard of but I wanted to tell you all about. I placed the order and crossed my fingers. I then realised we’d missed the Christmas cut-off date by a significant margin. Panicked, cursing my Dad for his disorganisation, I put in a call to The Muses. I was assured by Tori, one of the Muses co-founders, that they would do their best, but as they were a small company without the manpower of some of those big chains they couldn’t give us any guarantees.

More crossing fingers. However, this morning, the CD arrived. A Christmas miracle.

It might seem strange for a blog with an ad for Sanity on the side to post about giving another online music store a go, but the truth is, if your tastes are a little left of centre you’re going to struggle with the big music chains. The Muses prides itself on carrying a broad, unique collection of music. If you want an album you can’t get elsewhere, you might find it here. If you want vinyl or limited edition stuff, this is the place. And I like that it’s small. I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather support a couple running a music business for the love of it than a faceless corporation.

I know many of us approach online shopping with a healthy sense of trepidation. We’re nervous about handing over our credit card details to companies we don’t know, so we tend to stick with the tried and true. But after my experience with The Muses I’d love you to branch out a little and check out what they’re doing. You won’t be disappointed.

Unlike most music lovers in Australia, I wasn’t watching the ARIAs last night. I was playing trivia, expecting to catch up on all the action this morning. I managed to avoid learning of the winners until I watched the broadcast, but last night I did learn that a lot of people were fed up with the awards. Perhaps it’s just a symptom of getting older, but my Facebook feed was full of people bemoaning the new acts and insisting things were better in their day.

Watching the broadcast, I think it’s very easy for nostalgia to creep in. We were celebrating 30 years of music awards, and watching the montages of artists that came before I too felt that sense of longing for some of my favourite performers of the past.

But the thing is, that shouldn’t take away from embracing what’s great about the music industry today. I got really excited about Illy’s album this week. I was thrilled about Montaigne’s win because she’s created some of my favourite songs this year. What Flume does isn’t quite to my taste, but he’s clearly dominating right now. Diversity is what the industry has always been about. Hats off to him and his five pointy trophies.

I think the organisers of this year’s ARIAs did a wonderful job of celebrating the past and the present. Watching Jimmy Barnes sing with Jess Mauboy, seeing current acts like Bernard Fanning and Missy Higgins sing Crowded House songs before the act themselves performed, grinning ear to ear as The Veronicas bowed down to John Farnham, these are moments that symbolise not just the great music we’ve made as a country but that we continue to make.

It’s very easy to stay in our bubble and just listen to the music we’ve always loved. But the arts will only thrive if we take chances on something new.

Here’s an early heads up for Beatles fans because I have a feeling this is one of those events that’s going to sell out quickly. In February, a music panel event called The Masters of Sgt Pepper will hit Melbourne to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Bank.

The panel features Sgt Pepper’s engineers Geoff Emerick and Richard Lush chatting with former Herald Sun editor Alan Howe, an acoustic performance from Davey Lane, and an audience Q&A session moderated by Leo Sayer. Attendees will get an incredible insight into what went into the recording of this ground-breaking album and the legacy of the Beatles.

The Masters of Sgt Pepper will hit Planetshakers in Southbank on February 23 and 24. Places are limited, so make sure you buy your tickets soon from Showbiz Tickets.