The Blues Train still in the fight

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Hugo T Armstrong is urging people to get behind local businesses. (Joe Mastroianni)

Tara Murray

The Blues Train’s Hugo T Armstrong wants people to get behind local businesses struggling through COVID-19-induced shutdowns.

The live music venue is one of several tourist venues in the Geelong region that hasn’t been able to operate since March.

Mr Armstrong said it was unlikely that the business would be able to have live concerts again this year.

The Blues Train, which is a combined 
music and steam train travel experience, was inspired by stories of the old blues masters jamming on freight trains around America’s deep south.

“We’re trying, but we’re still a long way to go,” he said.

“We’re a social gathering that puts people on a train, it’s not something that can be take-away coffee and pizzas.

“We still can’t access the train to see what we can do. The music industry has a long way to go.”

Mr Armstrong set up a GoFundMe page to help raise funds to keep the business afloat, which has raised more than $40,000.

He himself has poured $20,000 of his
own superannuation into the business to keep it afloat, with the bills still piling in
each month.

He said that they had been overwhelmed by the positive support they’ve had.

“There’s been so many people reaching out and wanting to help the business.”

They’re set to host a couple of live stream concerts in the coming weeks, to give some of their audience a taste of what they’ve been missing out on.”

Mr Armstrong is hopeful that when they are allowed to open up the tourists will return and enjoy the show that has run for 26 years and been watched by more than 150,000.

“We’re going to have big Christmas hampers available soon and there’s merchandise available for sale.

“The next few weeks we’ll have gift vouchers on sale. What’s better than buying someone
an experience that they have plenty of time
to use.

“We’re also hoping people can join our email list and make a donation. If you’re on the list, you’ll know when you can come back.”

Details: www.gofundme.com/f/thebluestrain2020

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