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This tiny live music venue in a former butcher’s shop has perfected virtual gigs

Butcher’s Brew is serving up a stacked line-up of live music direct to your lounge room

Written by
Alannah Maher

Prior to lockdown, Butcher’s Brew was presenting eight or more gigs a week, across seven nights and a weekly Saturday afternoon blues session. When they were forced to close the doors of their pint-sized bar and live music venue in a former Dulwich Hill butcher shop in March, they also had no choice but to cancel a nightly lineup of gigs that had been booked through to the end of June. After the investment of a lot of time, labour, resources and capital from the venue, Butcher’s Brew’s livestreamed gig series is keeping musicians and audiences connected. 

“Musicians are just so happy to be playing again,” said owner Caroline Buckingham, who runs Butcher’s Brew with her son Frankie. “Practising by yourself and maintaining your chops at home is one thing, but re-establishing that connection and interplay with other musicians is really what it's all about.” 

“We present a diverse range of music across multiple genres. I book bands that I like and I have very wide tastes,” said Buckingham. “I love jazz, blues, funk, reggae as well as good quality indie, R'n'B, rock and pop. Good music is good music. We've had quite a few big-name jazz heavy-hitters from the US and UK play here, as well as emerging local artists in the early stages of their careers.”

Every week you can check out a diverse line-up of virtual gigs, streamed live from the stage, with a recommended price of $9.99 per ticket (you can choose to donate more). You’ll be emailed a one-click streaming link about an hour before the show. You also have the option to purchase an annual membership (from $3-$110) that will help support the venue. 

“Livestreaming has presented the opportunity for us to adapt our model, rebuild an exciting music program, keep some dollars percolating through the industry, and has enabled musicians, who were quite literally despairing, to stay connected and productive, as well as maintaining music-lovers' engagement with live gigs, while still keeping it safe for the community.”

As far as the technical aspects, Buckingham tells us that they’ve managed to overcome barriers with the help of the production team from gig streaming service ZENN and Q&A features create a rather seamless experience, allowing those watching at home to send applause and comments, put questions to the band and interact with each other. “We've had people tuning in from up the road and from around the world, it's been enormous fun. The Fourth Wall has not just been torn down, it's been pulverised!” she said. 

When it comes to getting the most out of one of these gigs, Caroline has some sage advice: “The beauty of livestreaming is that you can enjoy it however you want. Clear a dance floor and have a boogie, or curl up on the sofa with a glass of your favourite wine. Dress up or dress down, get comfy in a onesie and slippers or your daggiest tracky daks – or strip off completely, no one's judging! You don't have to answer to anyone, there's no door bitch rating your shoes.”

When Butcher’s Brew and live venues can yet again open to the public, Buckingham encourages people to support live music by buying tickets to gigs and showing up to support them. Follow Butcher’s Brew on Facebook for gig updates.

How have other Dulwich Hill businesses adjusted to lockdown? We chatted to the ‘Sausage Queen’ about it, and her newly-tinned craft beers.

What does Carriageworks' administration mean to its tenants? Here's what they told us 

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