Lifeline for Bellarine music icons

Hugo T Armstrong. (Supplied) 244795_01

By Luke Voogt

A new $65,683 lifeline for two Bellarine music institutions could prove vital for local emerging artists, according to Blues Train founder Hugo T Armstrong.

Mr Armstrong recently secured $38,183 in federal funding to help the Blues Train put on a series of shows for the next generation of blues and roots musicians in January.

“You’ve got to have the next generation coming through all the time,” he said.

“Having young blues musicians is nothing new for us but it’s rite of passage for them.”

COVID-19 devastated the Blues Train, which has previously featured big names like The Teskey Brothers and the John Butler Trio in its carriages.

“The Blues Train was one of the first music venues to close during the pandemic in March, 2020, and will be one of the last to return due to its unique nature,” Mr Armstrong said.

“We’ve had to pivot our business to develop grant-writing skills and apply for support to hibernate and then revive this unique music venue.

“We were unsuccessful in a lot of grants for very similar things.”

Mr Armstrong said the funding would be critical in the Blues Train’s quest to “develop new artists and audiences”.

He said he planned in October to announce the line-up for the Next Generation concert series.

Queenscliff Music Festival received another $27,500 for a series of monthly concerts later this year.

“We’re very excited to work on this new project which will breathe life into the beautiful and historic Queenscliff Town Hall,” festival director Andrew Orvis said.

The funding would go toward a PA system, lighting and other equipment to transform the hall into a “fantastic community arts space” for live music, theatre and more, Mr Orvis said.

Federal senator for Victoria Sarah Henderson announced the grants on Wednesday as part of round two of federal government’s Live Music Australia Program.

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