Not many people can turn a lifelong passion into a job, but for former Cloncurry native Tim Pellegrino, that’s exactly what he managed to achieve.
On Australia Day 2010, Tim travelled to Townsville to work a trial shift with Townsville’s then home to live music, The Venue. That trial turned into a two-year management role which cemented his place in the local and national music scene.
From his very first live music event, it seemed fate was already calling. “My first live music experience was Pearl Jam at the Myer Music Bowl in 1994. They were supported by the group ‘The Meanies’, who I ended up working with on their final show 20-plus years later,” he said.
Tim’s love of music began as a child, with his weekly pocket money being spent on one ‘cassingle’ at a time. “By the time I was in grade four I had my own music collection and had already amassed a solid knowledge of the classics from my parents’ vinyl” he said. “Then came Metallica, and a few years later Nirvana, I was hooked for life.”
Tim has been regularly involved with bringing countless bands to Townsville including international headliners Simple Plan (CAN), Ace Frehley (USA), Donovan Frankenreiter (USA) and Fear Factory (USA), as well as Australian acts such as Dead Letter Circus, 360, Boy and Bear and The Butterfly Effect to name a few. “There could have been a lot more on that list if we had some more stakeholders in our city, but that’s another story,” he said.
In addition to bringing great live entertainment to our fair city, Tim has also managed several national artists over the last few years, including Clint Boge, frontman from The Butterfly Effect, Like Thieves and more recently has joined the management team behind Jeff Martin (The Tea Party).
“I’m proud to be able to do this work from Townsville, proving you don’t need to be in a big capital city like Sydney or Melbourne to be an integral part of the music industry.”
With The Venue now closed and a need for more viable locations to host live music events, Tim is now part of the team behind the format change at the Kirwan Tavern, with ambition to turn it into another live music destination for Townsville.
“One of the challenges we face is providing a live music venue that supports the local and mid-level touring acts,” he said. “My aim for the Kirwan Tavern is to fill this need.
“Townsville will always be on the national touring circuit, we will always get the ‘big’ national tours from Aussie artists and bands, but what we miss out on are the one-off special events that just blow people away, like the bigger international acts that we all fly down to capital cities to enjoy and the mid-level acts that surprise you the first time you see them.
“We also don’t really support local original artists the way we should. There’s seldom a platform for these ‘up-and-comers’ and venues tend to not take a risk on originals, choosing to stick to pub cover bands instead”
According to a 2014 study by the University of Tasmania, the net benefit of live music in Queensland is $1.9 Billion annually.
Tim says we need to explore opportunities to enhance Townsville’s share of this market. “I would propose Townsville City Council and Townsville Enterprise look more closely at the opportunities to further develop our region into a more integral part of the national touring circuit and align with our neighbours such as Cairns and Airlie Beach to form a trifecta of amazing destinations to play, and therefore attract more acts and events to North Queensland as whole.”
The local live music industry is certainly not all doom and gloom with Tim has noting that some amazing shows and festivals are taking place in Townsville, including events such as the recent ‘Neck of the Woods’ festival and annual crowd pleasers like Groovin’ the Moo. “There are a small group of local promoters that are keeping the local scene afloat, many of them the unsung heroes who don’t get to share the spotlight very often, choosing mostly to stay behind the curtains.
“This handful of locals do everything they can for live music – they put up the posters for the show, man the door, take care of merchandising, drop the artist off at the airport the next day, all usually just for the love of it.”
In addition to his dedication to music, Tim is now also venturing into a new nostalgic venture, Empire Alternacade and Events – a licensed bar focused on retro and vintage gaming, including classic pinball, arcade machines, retro consoles, table top games and pool tables. Now open seven days a week on Flinders Street, Empire also has an events arm that Tim is very excited about, “We are setting up to provide large scale events in Townsville. There’s some amazing artists being lined up already and I can’t wait to be able to announce some of these massive shows, Townsville is gonna flip out!”