Melting Pot

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Melting Pot


In an age of shameless popularity contests and vapid self-promotion, it is refreshing to know there are still regular events at grass level within the music industry that are arranged and promoted for and by local musicians.

In an age of shameless popularity contests and vapid self-promotion, it is refreshing to know there are still regular events at grass level within the music industry that are arranged and promoted for and by local musicians. In truth there are not many, so Melting Pot represents a success in its survival to date, let alone the ambition to move onto larger scale projects.

The fledgling music collective celebrates its third birthday this Sunday amid a period of huge development and the launch of a new website, but the outfit was borne of humble beginnings, and a simple desire to better represent local performers.

As a solo player, co-founder Liam Dixon some years ago witnessed firsthand the struggles of artists trying to make their way in the murk of the scene, and, disillusioned by a lack of support at local level, started organising a series of band nights in Richmond. He started off by mobilising contacts and friends in an effort to provide a workable deal for musos in more accommodating venues.

Dixon explains that common frustrations and shared experiences between musicians highlighted a collective need for change, and for that change to be centred on a communal way of thinking; of utilising each individual’s skill to achieve a common goal.

"We realised that rather than everyone getting screwed on their own all the time," he muses, "together they can put on some good nights and some good music. I think that’s where it started."

With the hub of the operation now based in Fitzroy, Dixon presides over the running of the ever-increasing Collective alongside fellow co-founders Aaron Dobos and Sagi (Ziggy) Shreibman and a host of others on short or long term bases.

In a music scene providing scant protection for players – be it solo singer songwriters, or just people trying to figure out how make their music viable and have it heard – in the face of potential mistreatment or exploitation by venues and promoters, Melting Pot takes a unique approach, adopting musicians’ interests as its core sentiment, and there is no shortage of players eager to get involved.

Friday’s ‘Songwriters In The Round’ nights at Collingwood’s Vibe on Smith (apparently perhaps going under a name change in the near future – watch this space), has featured over three hundred local and international artists, and enjoys a steady following due to its impromptu approach and the opportunity for an audience to hear three separate acts simultaneously in an innovative format.

"You might be there to see one of the artists," Dixon explains of the format, and how it works in such a fluid environment, "or might be friends with one of them… but you get to see two others at the same time"

As a live experience, the nights flourish through the sheer spontaneity of each round, the idea that every week can present a surprise or ad hoc collaboration. It is this, as well as the quality of the performers, that elevates the night above your average local gig.

"Sometimes they’re like comedians on stage, having banter with the crowd. Other times the players jam along with one another’s songs," Dixon points out, explaining just how collaborative and interactive the nights are. "The only thing that’s the same about the rounds is that they’re always different"

Having also held countless band nights in major venues across the city, the Melting Pot operation will no doubt look to continue expanding both in personnel and the scale of future shows it supports, and having the link to mass communication a website provides will be vital in this regard. The group are also putting the finishing touches to a new regular open mic night in a venue to be confirmed, making it is a busy time for those involved.

With increased activity comes the thorny issue of funding, and self-supporting promoters have limited means with which to raise funds, especially as almost all money received at any Melting Pot event goes straight back to the artists. The Melting Pot website, barely days old at this stage, would mean an opportunity to some to sell off advertising space to relevant businesses or venues and create revenue.

However, even apart from the potential conflict of interests this could create, there is moreover an urge on Liam Dixon’s part to maintain the principles that accompanied the original communal notion.

"The integrity of what we are doing is very important," he nods, "so obviously we need to be careful to make sure it’s in line with our values – supporting the artists and the scene, and making sure we are not moving away from that".

Check out the good work for yourself at the MELTING POT BIRTHDAY BASH with The John Lingard Band, support from Better Than The Wizards, The Kindling and Lauren Victoria at The Evelyn Hotel from 7pm, Sunday February 13. And you can always check out their only and only Songwriters In The Round session each Friday evening at the Vibe On Smith St. Also make sure you visit the brand spanking new website