Brad Spurgeon's Blog

A world of music, auto racing, travel, literature, chess, wining, dining and other crazy thoughts….

Well Armed at the Cornish Arms

March 19, 2013

It was the first time I had been in the heart of this Brunswick area of Melbourne, and when I took the tram from near my hotel on Spencer Street downtown out to Brunswick Road, I thought I had arrived at the edge of the earth. The houses in this area look like they are sitting on the Bayou in the deep south of the U.S., and the store and pub facades look like cowboy movie set facades. But I was assured when I entered the large, cavernous and cool Cornish Arms pub that I had arrived in the hip and cool hot part of town in Melbourne.

OK, OK, I know my observations of the way things look could get me grilled somewhere, perhaps fed to the alligators. But I would say the same thing of certain parts of of my home town of Toronto – or similar reflections on places like Jerhico in Oxford…. But anyway….

The Cornish Arms was another of these very cool Australian pubs with a fabulously cool stage with lighting and a good sound system and practically a proscenium arch. I would love to know the history of why so many of these neighborhood pubs have such cool stages built into them. Perhaps it’s from when the prisoners were required to make their own entertainment before the days of television and radio….

The place was great too for its wide open space, terrace, vast bar and decent meals available on the menu. So I ate dinner, signed up right at 7:30, got a slot for 10:15 – although I think I was probably within the first three or four to arrive, and it’s a rush for the sign-up – and did my songs. It’s a 15-minutes slot, which comes to three songs.
(more videos to come shortly, as they upload…)
My only criticism of this open mic, really, though, was that like that of the Great Britain pub last Wednesday, it was another of those situations where people came, sang and left. I did not really get a sense of a scene, a happening, or support of fellow musicians the way I do in so many of the best open mics, and in so many in my “home” town of Paris.

But I know those have existed in Australia – like with Emily Brown’s open mic in the past at the All Nations U-Bar, or a little at the Arthouse, and definitely at the Empress Hotel – and apparently it exists at the Artcafé, but I missed that one.

From that point of view, my evening was once again saved by the amazing singer Aarti, who did this great a cappella song that I videoed, and with whom I spoke much of the evening. I had met her at the Great Britain last week, remember. But this time you can see the image of the video much better, thanks to the great lighting. And the sound is better too – so check it out….


  1. Brad,
    just read your most interesting blog re the Cornish (have been a regular there for years and saw your set even though I think I played first that night with the hushed PA), you feature in there one of the SAGO’s (Sing And GO’s,) This particular one had the ill will to come and tell me I am the one who plays covers, he has not seen me play in his six plays there and I have not played a cover version in my time there!!!

    The problem you mention is becoming worse and worse and at the moment and as a case in p[oint the Brunswick hotel is even opening up the bar in the beer garden and has taped music for these “supporters”, they come into to play with their mates and leave directly after aaaaaaghhhhhh.

    I have also played to the tables and chairs many times at the cornish and twice on my brief forays to the Empress, it is seemingly becoming endemic here.

    On behalf of the good people of this town who do sit and support and do not walk out mid set or play their computer games on the phone while others are playing, sorry,



    • Thanks for that nice expressive comment… Well, the only extra bit of hope I can give you is to realize that some of the same failings exist in open mics all over the world, at least occasionally…

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