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.

Jazz lovers are in for a real treat with Bird’s Basement set to open its doors in Melbourne.

The club has already assembled an impressive line-up for its opening month, with American jazz legends Ravi Coltrane and Lee Ritenour scheduled to play on the first night, and Wendy Matthews, Joe Camilleri and the Black Sorrows, Albare, Joe Chindamo, Mike Nock, The Young ‘uns, and even Brian Mannix shows within the first month.

Bird’s Basement is a purpose-built club in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD. It will offer two shows nightly – one at 6 pm and the next at 9:30 pm, accompanied by an Italian a la carte menu. Now this is how I want to see music. Melbourne, I’m officially jealous.

Bird’s Basement will welcome music lovers from March 1. You’ll find it at 11 Singer’s Lane.

Image used with permission from Cavanagh PR

I think most music lovers would be lying if they said they’d never visited a hotel in the hope of meeting their favourite musician. I’m only slightly embarrassed to look back on the moments I spent loitering around a Melbourne hotel bar trying to spot Human Nature, or that time I stayed in the same hotel as John Mayer in Sydney. So I figured I’d put together this guide of the best hotels for star-spotting in Melbourne.

4. The Olsen: Trendy Boutique Accommodation

Superior service and a quiet neighbourhood have helped make the Olsen a celebrity favourite. This boutique Art Series hotel isn’t as flashy as many star magnets, but that’s actually part of its appeal. Until the word gets out, paparazzi don’t expect the big stars will stay here, so they can go about their stay without being pestered. A few years back a handful of Justin Bieber fans were lucky enough to get autographs from the Canadian singer when he emerged from the Olsen; most of his followers were sure he’d be at the Langham. Dead Daisies singer Jon Stevens also says the Olsen is the only place he’ll stay in Melbourne.

3. The Langham: Kanye West’s Favourite Hotel

Image via Flickr by Traveloscopy

When Kanye West and his wife Kim Kardashian visited Melbourne as part of 2014’s Yeezus tour, there was just one place they wanted to stay: the opulent Langham. The Kardashian-Wests rented the hotel’s presidential suite and the entire 23rd floor for the duration of their stay for the princely sum of $10,000 a night. If you visit, make sure you remember Australia’s musical past with a meal at Melba Restaurant, named after Melbourne-born opera great Dame Nellie Melba.

2. Park Hyatt Melbourne: Parkside Luxury Hotel

Some of the world’s most famous female singers love the Park Hyatt Melbourne. Both Pink and Lady Gaga have stayed at this five-star hotel just a block back from Fitzroy Gardens. No doubt they loved its quiet location on the outskirts of the CBD, and its three entrances which made it easier for them to evade the paparazzi.

1. Crown Towers: Five-Star Celebrity Magnet

Image via Flickr by a.meins

It costs big bucks to stay here, but if you can swing the room tariff you’re almost guaranteed to run into a musician at the Crown Towers. After all, this is the place where Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown were shown the door after trashing their suite. Its Palladium Ballroom is the home of the Logies, so those international acts that we always fly in always stay here. In recent years, Crown Towers has also hosted Ed Sheeran, One Direction, Kings of Leon, Andrea Bocelli, and our own Kylie Minogue.

If you do happen to bump into a musical superstar while you’re around one of these Melbourne hotels, just remember to be respectful. They might be supremely talented, but they’re also human beings entitled to space during their downtime. Treat them as you’d hope to be treated, and you might just have a special moment with one of your favourite stars.

This post was written as part of the #HipmunkCityLove project. Have you ever had a hotel encounter with a musician you love? Let me know in the comments!

St Kilda holds a special place in Australian musical mythology. Paul Kelly sang about it in “From St Kilda to Kings Cross,” Masters Apprentices brought us “Melodies of St Kilda,” and in “The Crowd,” The Cat Empire sang about wanting to “sleep on the St Kilda sands.” So if you’re a travelling music lover, it makes sense to get out of the CBD and base yourself in this Melbourne suburb instead. Make sure you put the following on your itinerary.

See Some Live Music

Image by Melissah Crumpton via Trover.com

Of course as a music lover, you’re going to want to catch a band or two during your stay. Unfortunately, it seems most locals would rather be clubbing than watching live music, so the number of venues booking bands is dwindling. However, there are still a couple of great options available.

The Prince of Wales is probably the best known pub supporting the live music scene. It attracts big name acts, too; over the next few months, head there to see Regurgitator and Salmonella Dub. Republica and Captain Baxter have live music on the weekends and amazing food. And don’t forget the Palais, a beautiful art deco theatre that will welcome Olly Murs, Mondo Rock, and Xavier Rudd over the coming months.

Catch a RocKwiz Taping at the Espy

St Kilda is home to The Esplanade Hotel, or “The Espy” as the locals call it. Even if you’ve never been to Melbourne, you’ll recognise this pub as the home of RocKwiz. Whether you have dreams of being on the stage with Julia and Brian or cheering the teams along from the crowd, no visitor to St Kilda should miss a RocKwiz taping. The Espy is currently undergoing renovations, but sign up for the Kwizlist newsletter to learn when taping begins again and score your tickets.

Go Shopping

St Kilda has plenty of great places for travellers wanting souvenirs of their holidays. Jazz lovers could spend hours browsing the pre-loved LPs and EPs at Mainly Jazz Records and Books. Get some cool instruments at African Drumming, or drool over the goodies at The Bose Store.

Where to Stay

St Kilda has plenty of great accommodation options that are much more affordable than the hotels in inner-city Melbourne. Habitat HQ doesn’t have frills, but this hostel has a guitar library and open mic nights every Tuesday. If you want a little more luxury, look to Sixty Two on Grey, a renovated Georgian house built in the 1860s, or Tolarno Hotel, once owned by celebrated artist Mirka Mora. Her works still adorn the walls, along with pieces from up-and-coming local talents.

How to Get There

The number 96 tram, which travels from East Brunswick to St Kilda Beach, is the quickest way to get from Melbourne to St Kilda. You could also catch a train on the Sandringham line or rent a bike and take the scenic Bayside Trail, which connects Melbourne’s southeastern suburbs with St Kilda.

This post was written as part of the #HipmunkCityLove project. What do you love about St Kilda?

If you love guitars (and who doesn’t?) get yourself to this year’s Melbourne Guitar Show.

It’s set to be the country’s largest pop-up guitar shop with all the biggest brands on sale, collector’s items, workshops, and performances from local guitar gods like Jeff Lang, Lloyd Spiegel, Davidson Brothers, James Ryan, and heaps more. Along with acoustic and electric guitars, you’ll also find ukuleles, amps, traditional stringed instruments, and heaps more.

“We are excited to showcase our industry’s products and the wealth of local talent that Melbourne and Australia has to offer,” said Australian Music Association CEO Rob Walker. “We seek to grow our guitar community, educate and entertain.”

Thousands are expected to attend the show at Melbourne’s Caulfield Racecourse on August 8 and 9. Will you be one of them? Adult tickets are $20 at the gate or $17 if you pre-order.

Image used with permission from On the Map PR

Much more than a soapie, Neighbours is a national institution, as important to music fans as it is to TV addicts. What music lover could resist seeing the place where talents like Kylie Minogue, Delta Goodrem, and Natalie Imbruglia got their start? If thoughts of Erinsborough have you dreaming of a Melbourne holiday, here’s how to make the most of your stay.

Book a Neighbours Tour

A Neighbours tour is the best way for you to really discover what Neighbours is all about. Bunyip Tours operates the original official Neighbours tour. It will take you to Global Television film studio in Nunawading. There you’ll see the Lassiter’s Complex, Fitzgerald Motors, Harold’s Store, and of course Charlie’s Bar where so many great acts like Ben Lee and The Wombats have played over the years. You’ll also get a Neighbours postcard to take home as a souvenir.

Visit Ramsay Street

Image via Flickr by snoozeuk

The exterior shots of Ramsay Street aren’t created in a studio though. All the houses you’re familiar with are actually in a place called Pin Oak Court in the Melbourne suburb of Vermont South. Remember that these are real residences, so you should be respectful of the people who own these homes. They’re used to tourists though, so they won’t mind you snapping a photo or three.

Head to Erinsborough High

There have actually been a couple of Erinsborough High Schools over the years. Blackburn English Language School and Coburg Senior High School have both been used for exterior shots. Since they’re real schools you won’t be allowed on the grounds, but you can admire them from the street.

Put Your Neighbours Trivia Knowledge to the Test

Image via Flickr by timparkinson

Discover whether you’re a true Neighbours buff at the Neighbours trivia nights held most Mondays from 7 at St Kilda’s Elephant & Wheelbarrow. Neighbours stars mingle with fans during the trivia questions, so it’s a great opportunity to get a photo with your favourite actor. Don’t get too distracted by the stars though; there are big prizes on offer like trips to The Whitsundays and New Zealand, so it pays to have your wits about you.

After three rounds of trivia, Alan Fletcher (Dr Karl Kennedy) entertains the masses with his band The Waiting Room. Stefan Dennis (Paul Robinson) often jams with the band too. Tickets for the Neighbours trivia nights are available at the Elephant & Wheelbarrow door on the night for $40.

Stay in the City

You might think you need to head to the suburbs to get closer to fictional Erinsborough, but it’s actually smarter to stay in the centre of Melbourne. Bunyip Tours’ Neighbours tours leave from Flinders Street, so you can walk to the meeting point if you stay at Holiday Inn Melbourne on Flinders or the Great Southern Hotel. The trivia night also runs a courtesy bus which will pick you up from inner-city accommodation. These hotels aren’t just well located, they’re also very affordable unlike so many Melbourne accommodation options!

This post was written as part of the #HipmunkCityLove project. What Neighbours musical moment did you love most?

The gigs at Etihad Stadium and Rod Laver Arena might cost a small fortune, but Melbourne also offers some fabulous free shows. Treat yourself to some fabulous tunes on a budget at these free Melbourne concert series.

Fed Square Live: Free Tunes at Federation Square

Photo by Gagascat via Trover.com

Enjoy some of Melbourne’s best up-and-coming acts unplugged at Federation Square as part of Fed Square Live. This free concert series runs from early November to late March every year, with the current season wrapping up on March 26. Shows run from 5:30 to 7:30pm every Thursday, which makes them perfect for an after-work pick-me-up. Tourists will also find the events ideally located near many Melbourne hotels, including The Westin Melbourne and Citigate Melbourne.

Sunset Series: Free Alternative Music at Sundown

If your tastes veer towards the alternative, then the annual Sunset Series is for you. The free cultural event takes over Fitzroy Garden’s Stage Lawn in the second and third weekend of January. The 2015 line-up was awesome, with acclaimed local quartet APES, South American Roots band Madre Monte, and genre-bending five-piece The Tiger and Me all taking the stage. Bring a picnic or grab a bite to eat from the growing fleet of food trucks during the 2016 season.

Sidney Myer Free Concerts: Free Nights with MSO

The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra brings culture to the masses with its Sidney Myer Free Concerts in the Myer Music Bowl. Presented in conjunction with the University of Melbourne, these themed events feature timeless music performed by one of the most celebrated symphonies in Australia. There are typically three shows in February every year. They usually kick off at 7pm, but are so popular that it’s worth being there when gates open at 4.

Winter Music in the Valley: Essendon Symphony Orchestra’s Winter Warmers

The Essendon Symphony Orchestra believes that free concert series shouldn’t be restricted to the warmer weather. Its Winter Music in the Valley concert series brings classical music to a range of historic suburban Melbourne venues during the cooler months. This year’s series will be held every Sunday from June 15 to July 6. It kicks off at St Martin de Porres in Avondale Heights before travelling to St George’s in Travancore, followed by St John’s Uniting Church in Essendon. The ESO will play the final Winter Music in the Valley concert at Moonee Ponds’ Clocktower Centre.

Fairfield Amphitheatre Summer Concert Series: Free Entertainment Outside the CDB

If you feel like getting out of the hustle and bustle of innercity Melbourne, head to suburban Fairfield for the Fairfield Amphitheatre Summer Concert Series. Shows run from 5pm to 7:30 pm every Sunday in February, so they’re ideally suited to families. Each gig features a range of world music acts who will take you on an aural journey from Eastern Africa to the American South. The Fairfield Ampitheatre is an easy five-minute walk from Fairfield Station. The train trip from Melbourne to Fairfield takes just 16 minutes.

This post was written as part of the #HipmunkCityLove project. Which free shows do you love in Melbourne?

Melbourne might be known as Australia’s culture capital, but it’s also the place where plenty of musicians behave badly. These are just some of the musical stars whose behaviour we’d all rather forget.

Solange Knowles: Diva Behaviour on Derby Day

Photo by kileeTRAVELS via Trover.com

She has her own musical career but Solange Knowles surely knows she’ll always be more famous as Beyonce’s little sister. Given her station in life, you’d think she’d know better than to act like a total diva. But that’s just what she did when she visited Derby Day, part of the Melbourne Cup Carnival, last November.

Rachel Finch was set to interview Solange at 1pm when PR informed her Solange was still in her accommodation and the interview would have to be pushed back. Solange reportedly arrived at 2:30 and word quickly spread she wasn’t in one of the hotels in Melbourne at all, but its shops.

But the problems didn’t stop there. She also insisted she wasn’t asked about Beyonce or her family issues (the two things anyone really cares about), and refused to pose with a Lavazza cup in the Lavazza marquee.

She’d originally agreed to play an hour-long DJ set in the marquee, but after arriving more than two hours late punters enjoyed just 20 minutes of music.

Marilyn Manson: Delivers Drunken Soundwave Set

I’m not a wowser by any means. I don’t mind a musician having a drink or two or even more before or during their set, so long as they can still deliver on stage. When things get messy and the audience doesn’t get the show they paid for, I take serious issue with the behaviour. Plenty of musicians have been drunk and disorderly on Melbourne stages, but Marilyn Manson’s Soundwave 2012 performance was one of the worst.

His set’s late start time in Melbourne was an indication of what would follow. He stumbled over lyrics and ended up mumbling most of them. The audience tried to fill in the blanks, but it was a trainwreck. Between songs Marilyn insisted he wasn’t drunk, adding he’d been sober for 15 whole minutes. He also expressed his respect for Aussie drug laws as he pulled out a white packet which he proceeded to throw to the crowd.

Marilyn’s always been a controversial figure, but “At Soundwave,” according to Vulture Magazine, “he was an offence to himself and also to those who had expected so much more from him.”

Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston: Kicked Out of Crown Towers

Is there anything more rock and roll than trashing a hotel room? It might be a music scene staple, but Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston’s antics at the Crown Towers won them no favours. During their time as soul music’s most controversial couple the pair trashed their Melbourne suite, including covering its carpets with merlot. Needless to say, hotel management didn’t care much for their star status and quickly sent them packing.

We might hate the way these celebs behave but we have plenty of #HipmunkCityLove for Melbourne. Can you remember any other bad star behaviour in the city I’ve forgotten?

Valentine’s Day might be a Hallmark holiday, but it’s easy to get swept up in the romance of the occasion. My wonderful husband is earning serious brownie points by spending the day with me at Taronga Zoo, then catching Anthony Callea playing the songs of George Michael as part of the Twilight at Taronga series. You might think all that is a super-romantic gesture, but I think he’s just happy I made the suggestion so he didn’t have to plan something.

That got me thinking, maybe I could plan a great Valentine’s Day for Victorian music lovers as part of the #HipmunkCityLove project. If you’re running low on inspiration, there’s still time to put these romantic musical ideas into practice!

Book a Hotel

Hotels in Melbourne might get a little expensive over Valentine’s Day, but it’s totally worth it for the romance it adds to an evening. Rooms are filling fast though, so I wouldn’t delay if you’re planning to book. There are still vacancies at many of the city’s top hotels including Bayview on the Park, The Hotel Charsfield, and the ultra-ritzy Grand Hyatt Melbourne.

See Boys in the Band at the Zoo

Photo by Wyld Family Travel via Trover.com

Melbourne Zoo has its own twilight concert on Valentine’s Day: Boys in the Band. This nostalgia fest features the songs of classic boy bands like Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, The Bee Gees, the Beatles, and Jackson 5. You can enjoy a picnic while you watch and feel good knowing that you’re helping the zoo save the eastern barred bandicoot from extinction.

Enjoy Modern Boy Bands

If your partner likes their boy bands a bit younger then it’s not too late to snap up some tickets to One Direction at Etihad Stadium. Ticketmaster only has nosebleed seats left, so point your browser to TiqIQ instead. This site has some decent tickets for sale, including a few in the front row and some that are 26 percent cheaper than their retail value.

See Symphony for Free

The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra are one of the best in the country, and you can see them for free this Valentine’s Day. The MSO will play a romantic show dubbed A Musical Valentine in the Sidney Myer Music Bowl featuring music from Romeo and Juliet, Porgy and Bess, to name a few. Gates open at 4pm for the 7pm show. This free gig will get packed, so make sure you arrive early to secure your possie.

Get Jazzy at the Paris Cat Jazz Club

The Paris Cat Jazz Club is also getting into the Valentine’s Day spirit with its romantic evening of entertainment. You can catch Love Songs in the Key of Dean in the Basement from 7:30 or the John Montesante Quintet and Yvette Johansson teaming up for love songs from jazz greats like Billie Holliday, Ella Fitzgerald, Anita Baker, and Doris Day from 8:30pm in the Parisian Loft. The club no longer takes phone or email bookings, so visit the Paris Cat website to secure your tickets.

Do you go all out for Valentine’s Day or prefer to ignore the event? Let me know in the comments below.

Melbourne’s laneways date back to the Victorian era, but their historical and cultural significance has only been celebrated in recent years. They take pedestrians off the well-worn roads and house a treasure trove of cool sights. Many travel companies run laneways tours, but if you’d prefer exploring them at your leisure consider this article your virtual guide.

Where to Stay?

There are plenty of hotels in Melbourne located close to Melbourne’s laneways. The Crossley Hotel Melbourne is on Little Collins Street, but just metres from the wine bars and theatres of Punch Lane. If you’d prefer to a laneways stay, book a room at Causeway Inn on the Mall or Ibis Styles Melbourne, The Victoria Hotel. While it’s got a Little Collins Street address, the Victoria’s actually on the corner of this street and Athenaeum Place.

Once you’ve got your accommodation sorted, it’s time to start exploring!

AC/DC Lane

AC/DC Lane deserves to feature on any music lover’s Melbourne itinerary. Once called Corporation Lane, it was rechristened in October 2004 in tribute to the classic Aussie rock act. The trademark lightning bolt was left off as it contravened the Office of the Registrar of Geographic Names’ policy, but 10 years after the lane got its name this decision was reversed.

While its name is a big drawcard, AC/DC Lane also attracts music lovers keen to check out shows at Cherry Bar. It claims it’s “pretty much the best rock n’ roll bar in the world,” although its soul nights also cater for people who prefer their music a little smoother.

Block Place

It’s worth wading through the alfresco cafes on Block Place to stop by Basement Discs. This store celebrates music of all types, with an extensive catalogue of new and classic rock, pop, jazz, blues, country, folk, and world music CDs and records. It’s also a great place to pick up a lovingly refurbished vintage stereo or catch a free old-school in-store appearance. Leading acts like Stephen Cummings, Jimmy Webb, Andy White, Mick Thomas, and John Scofield have all played here over the years.

Goldie Place

With news of the imminent closure of the iconic Bennett Lane Jazz Club, jazz lovers will be looking for another place to get their fix. The Paris Cat Jazz Club on Goldie Place might just fit the bill. This intimate club’s nurtured the careers of many up-and-coming Aussie jazz artists and hosted big name international acts like Robbie Williams.

Coming Soon … Amphlett Lane

While it doesn’t have its sign yet, the City of Melbourne gave approval last year for Laneway CL1639 to be renamed Amphlett Lane. The stretch between Harwood Place and Spring Street will pay tribute to the late Divinyls frontwoman, Chrissy Amphlett.

It’s a fitting spot as it’s just behind the Princess Theatre, where Chrissy played many times with the Divinyls and also appeared in The Boy from Oz. Chrissy and her husband Charlie Drayton also signed their marriage licence in the theatre.

Expect plenty of fans to take happy snaps posing with the street sign when Amphlett Lane is officially unveiled.

This article is part of the #‎HipmunkCityLove‬ project. Which Melbourne laneway do you love?

Photo by Jerrah Biggerstaff via Trover.com