In a sad but historic act that some refer to as ‘the day the music died’, Katoomba hotel The Gearin ceased their live music scene in March 2019 after 139 years of service since 1880. Operating through three name changes, several resales, and multiple additions and renovations, including the launch of its inner venue the Roxy Room
in 2018, the heritage building still offers accommodation and maintains its art deco style as introduced by previous owner Emily Gearin in 1910.
However, despite hosting a plethora of past performing talent including Todd Rundgren, Mental As Anything, Steve Kilbey (The Church), and Angry Anderson
(Rose Tattoo), a legal dispute caused The Gearin’s diverse music and pub scene to grind to a halt two years ago.
Great news for local music lovers has now arisen. Previously hailing from rural Queensland to become the owner of On The Soul Side, a charming cafe occupying The Gearin’s old main barroom since March
2020, coffee guru Dave Griffiths is helping to reintroduce live music events at his cafe this month. “I always wanted music to be part of it”, he says,
“I just wasn’t sure how [to do it]”.
Through some hard manual labour, patience, and the help of a few creative experts, Dave is now able to announce that On The Soul Side will be hosting it’s
debut gig at noon on March 21st, 2021. The acoustic act chosen to christen the airy, wooden space are fresh folk duo Misty Mountain Accord, whose sound
is described by Retro Rehash mastermind Willem
Hendriksen as “Joni Mitchell meets Slim Dusty”.
Entry to the all-ages event is free, as well as being free of drugs and alcohol. Pets are allowed on leashes outside. If you wish to attend the gig, please
consider buying one of Dave’s great coffees or leaving a tip. Through hoping to host a live gig every Sunday, Dave reveals that more local performers
are wishing to play in the cafe. “Even bands that play heavier stuff might be tempted to come and do a small, short, acoustic set”, he explains. Musicians
wanting to secure future performances are encouraged to introduce themselves in person.
Hype for the campaign has been assisted by Mark Alston of Design Heroes,
Blue Mountains T-Shirts, and The
HAZE, who will be creating custom merchandise and graphics for gig posters, (such as the one pictured in this article). His work is complimented by
the audiovisual content efforts of Craig Leighton, a former ABC broadcast producer who now runs My Shout Out, a promotional production business.
These new Sunday gig sessions complete a morning of community merriment at the cafe. Along with an 11AM carpark cricket match, Sundays at the Soul Side
will also include a trivia quiz at 10AM, run by the proprietor of Trains, Planes & Automobiles,
a vintage toy shop currently occupying the old Roxy Room venue site next to the cafe.
One long-term dream for the Soul Side team is presenting a rooftop gig by local funk group Safire Palms on the front verandah, which has already received
support from council engineers of the BMCC.
“We can create a hub around it”, Dave claims.
Words by Corin Shearston
Photos by David Griffiths, (including those of Misty Mountain Accord)