Happening Entertainment Magazine 1990
First East Coast Bluesfest Edition
The year was 1990 and I was producing Happening Entertainment Guide for Northern NSW. Working with friends Jenny and Brett Stephenson at the Instant Sign Co in Ballina, the guide was designed on a little 1Mb Apple Mac box and the photographs were later bromided and laid onto the printer’s boards with artist wax. Happening was a free street press mag based around a comprehensive gig guide that listed all entertainment from Yamba in the south, Brunswick Heads in the North and west to Casino. We also had a mailing list established from Gold Coast enquiries. Happening had been started by Bourbon Street’s Colin Germano who had produced a similar publication back in Orange County in the USA. As the band’s success grew Col needed someone to take on Happening and approached me. He continued to contribute stories and conduct interviews with International acts. Other regular contributors included Marie Collins, a music journalist from Mullumbimby and Clide Cue who owned Sound Waves in Byron Bay.
The first East Coast Blues Festival (Bluesfest Byron Bay) featured 14 classic blues acts and was held at The Piggery-Byron Arts Factory. International acts included; Canned Heat, Big Jay McNeely, ‘Smoky’ Wilson, the dynamic Paladins and Charlie Musselwhite who was interviewed by Keven Oxford for that Happening Blues Fest Edition. Local bands that played the first festival included; Hip Pocket, The Dynaflows, Johnny Gray’s Rockinitis, Feeling the Pinch, and The Backsliders. The Happening Blues Edition carried some excellent cartoons by an artist named Brett Ralph. By luck he wandered into the shop at the time we were publishing. He had not long arrived in town and was looking for some work.
The local music industry was huge at the beginning of the 1990s and as well as Bourbon Street, local artists performing in the area included; Rockola, Under Rapz, Something Fishy, Two Men & A Piano, Angry Penguins, The Funkwits, PASH, Bloody Mary, Black Sally, Al & the Gators, Hot Pursuit, Big Generator, Painted Moon, Hip, Slap Bang, Slip of the Tongue, Streetwise, Barry Ferrier’s Ghost Train, Gavin Hamilton’s 3-Way Radio, Tony Llewellyn’s Lifeboat, Nimbin’s Secret Society, Bellingen’s Kotaba, and young band just starting out ENRGY.
The University was called UNENR, the Custom Bike Show was held annually at The Channon, country hall dances were a weekly event and music night jams were popping up all over the town. Legend footballers Ken McCaffery owned the Lismore Tatts Hotel, Steve Rogers ran the Lennox Anglers Arms and Tom Mooney had The Rails at Byron Bay. The year 1990 also saw a Homegrown Concert featuring local music acts put together by Byron Music’s Pip Lee and Marius Els from Encore Entertainment, Lismore.
There was a continual stream of touring National Australian acts in 1990 including; Celibate Rifles, Johnny Diesel and the Injectors, The Sunnyboys, Lime Spiders, The Angels, The Oils, The Radiators, Hoodoo Gurus, Mental as Anything, Noiseworks, The Choirboys, The Cockroaches, The Church, The Divinyls, Concrete Blonde, Hunters & Collectors, Painters & Dockers, The Screaming Tribesmen, Spy V Spy and all the ex-members of Cold Chisel. The Arts Factory team gifted us many International acts and touring during early 1990 were; Lonnie Brooks, Buddy Guy, Lucinda Williams, Bruce Cockburn, The Pogues, Georgie Fame, Spencer Davis, Marianne Faithful & Suzi Quatro.
After Happening Magazine’s Blues Edition only a few more editions were produced. Constant competition for advertising dollars from media monopolies and consequent ill health made it impossible to continue. Publishing Happening Magazine had required me getting involved in every part of the production, from selling the adverting, designing, writing, editing, photography, research and accounting, right through to carrying big bags of mags on my back as I trudged around every town distributing them into pubs, cafes and shops.? Happening Magazine will always be remembered as the time I went out to watch great bands six nights a week-and called it work!