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RIP Rock ‘N’ Roll: All Hope(toun) Lost

Live music fans are in mourning across Sydney. The Hopetoun Hotel, the original live music venue in Sydney, has closed its Surry Hills doors indefinitely.

Conflicting reports have emerged surrounding the closure. The venue’s owners have cited a build up of fines from police and stringent instruction from the council to comply with public safety requirements. City of Sydney CEO Monica Barone posted a detailed explanation of the City’s side of the story on the “Save the Hopetoun” Facebook page.

“The City has been working cooperatively with the licensee of the Hopetoun for the past few months to allow them to keep trading while maintaining public safety, and will continue to work with the licensee to resolve safety issues concerning CCTV security and structural deficiencies.”

But the Hopetoun has closed its doors for the foreseeable future.

Many up and coming bands used the Hopetoun to gain a foothold in Sydney. The list of bands, both local and international, that have played the Hoey is a who’s who of rock and roll. Bluejuice, Darren Hanlon, You Am I and Paul Kelly have all performed there.

Fans of the hotel have turned to social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and BlogSpot to brainstorm ideas in an attempt to find a way to reopen the Hopetoun’s doors.

Many pundits are describing the closure as the beginning of the end for what was a thriving scene in Sydney, the Hopetoun seen as the lynch pin for live music across the city. Now another rock hotel is under threat.

The Annandale Hotel, a Sydney institution in rock ‘n’ roll, is said to be fighting Leichhardt Council to keep its doors open. But Leichhardt Mayor Jamie Parker said he had been in contact with the owners of the Annandale and discussions regarding a revamp of the grungy hotel space were going well. In spite of some legal issues in the past, Councillor Parker said he believed things were now “pretty positive”.

“Most of the issues [with the Annandale’s management] have been resolved,” Mayor Parker said. “We want to work with the Annandale. We want to support local businesses and I believe it is important to support live music.”

As for the fate of live music in Sydney, the mayor said audiences need to take more action. “Everyone says they love live music, but they don’t go. I would like to see people move away from poker machines and back to live music,” he said.

– By Liam Kinkead

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