An iconic shire venue has been given a new lease of life, with a focus on live music and bringing some big acts to the shire.
The Music and Booze Company have taken over the band room at Miranda Hotel's Carmens Nightclub and want to use the opportunity to attract fresh talent to Sydney's south while supporting up and coming local bands.
Kim Churchill and Hands Like Houses have already headlined the Bad Fridays Festival as part of the band room's relaunch with Boo Seeka to play Carmens in the next installment next Friday night.
Tim Baker from the Music and Booze Company, known for running a number of successful events across Sydney including the Beer, Footy and Food Festival, told the Leader the venue had plenty of potential.
"We run a bunch of events in Sydney as well as booking a bunch of pubs throughout the inner west. We found about a quarter of our ticket sales were coming from down in the shire and this opportunity popped up," he said.
"Hopefully we can get live music kicking off again in the room. It's always been there but for a while I think the nightclub was a bit more of the focus. We want to breathe some life back into the live music there and obviously set it up as a place touring bands can play.
"We don't want bands just playing Sydney and then Wollongong. We want them to stop in the shire which will lead to more opportunities for young, local bands.
"Carmens is like a right of passage. It's one of those great rooms purpose built for live music. It's got a stage, we've just put in a new PA. Also the location is just far enough out of the city and just far enough away from [Wollongong]. It's next to a train station. You walk into the room and it just feels like a world class venue. It doesn't feel like you're in the side room of a pub."
There are some big plans for summer, which Baker was keeping under wraps for now. But he reiterated how important it was for local venues to help aspiring local musicians.
"We'd love for people to get in touch with us, younger bands especially, all styles of music. It's important to provide a stepping stone. With our network in Sydney we can help get other shows as well and ideally we'd love to bring Sydney bands down to the shire as well and help create relationships between bands that are mutually beneficial," he said.
"We still want to keep some of the nightclub elements. We also don't want to take away from the usual Carmens party. We want to incorporate live music along with the nightclub. Carmens already has that notoriety for itself, we don't want to take away from that. We don't want to harm the old girl.
"Basically what we're finding coming into the area, not being entirely familiar with it, is that you've got a bunch of great bands playing with each other. After a while you can't keep tapping into the same 30 bands. With a few more rooms, it's like a rising tide lifts all boats. As long as more bigger bands are playing then you're giving a platform to smaller bands coming through who can grow up to become these bigger bands. It's one of those things where you can open the floodgates. It's not competition, the more live music venues in an area the better."