Parramatta Live and Local showcases an awakening in the Western Sydney music scene

With close to 100 acts submitting their interests in performing for the event, last Saturday saw a select group of 40 artists chosen to play 18 venues across Parramatta that ranged from bridal shops to cafes to restaurants and hotels as Parramatta City Council adopted an initiative not too unlike King St. Crawl in Newtown to open its doors, and highlight stunning talent.

As MP for Parramatta Julie Owens noted in her opening address, Parramatta has seen a severe decline in live music venues, acts and events over recent decades. Now, she hopes, that is all set to change. Owens continued that Parramatta and Western Sydney did not need outside interference and help, instead all necessary aid already exists in these suburbs. Live and Local Parramatta was the first step in not so much a simple patch-repair of the Western Sydney culture scene, but a regeneration of its existing and current foundations where future growth is possible.

Church Street comes alive. Photo by Johnny Au.

Following Julie Owens and a welcome to country ceremony, Darren Percival took to his home-town stage with some help from local volunteer workers who backed him as a choir. With the crowd growing in size, Percival engaged with crowd interaction as a canon of aural community spirit closed the first set of the day.

Inside Vision In White bridal shop, Carla Wehbe was accompanied by an acoustic guitarist sat on a stool and soothed R’n’B chill as shoppers and staff walked around flipping through racks of bridal dresses. Nearby on the steps of the University of New England, Drum Fill – made up of children and teenagers – boomed synchronised and impressive percussive rhythms for all of Church Street to hear. A quick stop in Jamie’s Italian for a locally brewed Riverside Pale Ale (light, floral with a crisp finish) came as the energetic and rocking covers of “Lady Madonna” by The Beatles and Stevie Wright’s “Evie” by Simon Meli were raucously, yet casually delivered whilst we drank.

Willowy on Church Street. Photo by Johnny Au.

Willowy brought bright and dreamy harmonics with smooth, calm effortlessness as they sang on the footpath outside the Coffee Emporium and collected numerous passer-by’s. The Park Royal Hotel delivered a comfortable setting with John Romeo delivering warm and organised covers as drinks and flowed to the tables nearby. Once Romeo was done, Tony Williams could be seen and heard across the street at the Emporium as he sat behind a keyboard to the delight of full tables in a courtyard. The perfect combination of local hospitality and live music was the successful and vivid energetic momentum behind the day.

Photo by Johnny Au.

One of the largest crowds of the day descended upon the Crown Hotel to experience rock three-piece, Wolfdog. Their original tracks rumbled with hints of The Clash and The Strokes, with Crown Hotel staff having to close the street-side windows to insulate the boisterous group. Across the road at El Phoenician, a belly dancer dazzled along the footpath to the thumping of an accompanying drummer. Cars stopped in the street to take in the sight and those who had gathered clapped, smiled and beamed with amusement.

Wolfdog at the Crown Hotel. Photo by Johnny Au.

“For the local band with no material, get really close to us,” the lead singer of three-piece Floral Sheets encouraged as a crowd gathered in the iconic Parramatta institution that is Beatdisc Records. Their thirty-minute set grew with speed, volume and confidence and could be likened to glimpses of Kurt Vile with Children Collide.

Cruising through and taking in the atmosphere. Photo by Johnny Au.

It was near impossible to get a full-grasp on all the talent available to experience last Saturday, but therein lies the beauty behind such an event – there is an exhausting plethora of local talent to display. Live and Local Parramatta saw locals, their businesses and their art-forms be the deserved heroes for a day. It highlighted what not only the City of Parramatta needs, but what they can so easily craft and nurture.

Photo by Johnny Au.

To learn more about what you missed, head to the event’s Facebook Page.