Rock ‘n’ roll has never been far from its roots in Newcastle.
In a sign that adage has not changed, the co-founder of the Screaming Jets, Grant Walmsley, has joined the non-profit WEA Hunter as a senior teacher for its new Diploma of Music Industry program.
The Diploma Music Industry will offer five specialist areas – sound production, performance, music business, composition and music theatre.
Walmsley is kicking off the program with a bang, offering nine free Music Masterclass sessions that are open to the entire community.
Walmsley, famously known for writing the Screaming Jets’ hit song Better, among others, is also a member of the Newcastle Local Live Music Taskforce, which is seeking to preserve and protect the city’s live music industry.
While he is still a regularly performing professional musician, with a strong taste for all classic rock, he has also been involved in music education for several years, including in the TAFE system.
“For years I have been focused on individuals developing a path,” Walmsley says. “Let’s be pragmatic. I’ve had massive success.”
WEA Hunter has obtained the premises at 145 Beaumont Street in Hamilton to use for the music industry classes. Called The Creative Arts Space, it has a 150-seat theatre as well as a studio. It is also the host location for voice, dance and acting classes run by the WEA.
Walmsley proudly says he is a great grandson of former state member for Newcastle David Murray, a nod to his own political activism.
“At last [taskforce] meeting I was at, they identified the need for more training for people who want [music] careers,” he says. “And the large gap for people, particularly Under-18 venues. Literally a few days later I got a call from WEA. It was wonderful, great timing.”
The free music masterclass sessions are running for three hours each on Tuesday mornings and afternoons, and Wednesday mornings and afternoons through early July.
The workshops are designed to offer musicians and those interested in Music Business, Live Sound Production and Composition the opportunity to experience first-hand what WEA has to offer as part of its accredited courses and career-focused training.
Walmsley says his close ties to the local music industry as well as his commitment to his own touring show means the courses will be practical and career-oriented.
He points out that he is not allied with the education industry, which he considers more driven by profit incentives than ever.
“I am not aligned to big business education,” Walmsley says. “WEA is community-based education, without the inherent bureaucracy that comes with larger organisations. The bureaucracy isn’t doing the student and the community any favours, in my opinion.
“The big institutions, they are like trying to turn a coal ship around in the harbour. WEA is like a speed boat, it can do a bunch of stuff. I think that’s a great thing. For the sake of innovation in these modern times, you’ve got to think quick and move quickly.”
Walmsley, born in 1969, describes the original Screaming Jets (he is no longer in the band) as “the youngest members of the last era of classic Aussie rock.”
They were at the tail end of a generation that featured the likes of Rose Tattoo, AC/DC, Cold Chisel and The Angels.
He points to the V8 Interceptors in the original Mad Max movie, and compares the Screaming Jets to those models, the last of their kind.
“The last of the V8 Interceptors ... I sort of feel like that sometimes,” he says.
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