An experiment aimed at raising the profile of Newcastle as a music city kicks off on Tuesday with the first livestream via Facebook.
Organised by Newcastle media producer Matt Field, Music People features four music acts - William Crighton, Megan Core, The Illume Girls (Gambirra and her two daughters from The Gambirra Mob), and Animal Ventura.
The live show, coming from Sawtooth Studios in Tighes Hill, will start at 8pm and run for an hour, featuring live music performances and short interviews.
Field will emcee the show, and likely perform as well (he is also a drummer).
The program will be livestreamed from 8pm Tuesday on the Facebook pages of the City of Newcastle (which is funding the 12-episode series with $30,000 from its COVID Industry Response Grants program), Civic Theatre, the Newcastle Herald, and other sites.
"I believe we are faced in the world with so much noise - we are fed so much noise through social media, through all the different things we are exposed to, so much noise - what becomes more and more important, what cuts through, is anything that has a voice with an intention," Field says.
"For us, it goes for music as well. There is a lot of fantastic music out there as well. But for us, right now, we don't necessarily need just more of the same music. What we really need now, because our world is hurting, our world is going through some serious living challenges, we need music that has an intention."
To select the 48 musicians for 12 episodes, starting September 15 and finishing on February 23, 2021, Field chose four music directors - Continuous Music boss Ben Steer, an industry professional who has called Newcastle home for five years; Ben Campbell from the Newcastle Music Collective; Karen Eivers, who runs the Facebook page Daily Dose Of Musical Medicine; and Indigenous musician Emily Wurramara.
While a far share of the music acts will be from Newcastle and the greater Hunter Valley, some will come from outside the area. Field says the concept still plays into the idea that Newcastle is a music city.
Ben Steer, who holds a lifetime of experience in the big-time rock'n'roll industry, sees Newcastle the same way.
"This is what the region is looking for, what it needs," Steer says as we stand outside Sawtooth Studios before the first dress rehearsal for Field's livestream show.
"We have only been here five years," he says. "I love it.
"This music culture here is extraordinary. It's bubbling away, it's ready to go off.
"I've always had this vision, this feeling. I worked for Sony, Warner, travelled the world, working with Men at Work ... I always felt Newcastle could be an Austin, or Memphis, or New Orleans, or Manchester. It doesn't have to be Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne."
Performer Megan Core called Newcastle home for six years before moving to the NSW North Coast early in 2020. She's released her first three singles - Twenty Something, Lost in Mayfield, Caffeine Fix - in the last three months.
She made the eight-hour drive from Byron Bay to Newcastle for the rehearsal last week.
"It's a great opportunity at the moment to be doing a livestream gig," she says, "reaching a new audience, being able to collaborate with other musicians, meet other creatives. It's a really good time for this show to pop up."
Matt Field, who has been involved in livestreaming music for some time, is passionate about this project. He is pushing his $30,000 grant as far as he can, trying to breathe air into the concept of a live music show that may catch the attention of a sponsor or network (even Netflix is possible).
But even if he only gets 12 episodes in the can, it's been worthwhile.
"I'll know a team of true believers put together a TV show to help artists," he says. "If that goes on to bigger and better things, that's the dream. I really hope it does. I'm going to work really hard to make it happen. It would be amazing.
"But at the very least, it's an achievement to get through the first 12 episodes. We made a real difference as artists are emerging from what has been a really bloody tough time in the industry."