ON SONG: Blues musician Cath Butler, pictured with Addie Cafe of the Royal Mail Hotel, plays on the piano donated after the floods; (below) the Hard Rain album cover.
ON SONG: Blues musician Cath Butler, pictured with Addie Cafe of the Royal Mail Hotel, plays on the piano donated after the floods; (below) the Hard Rain album cover.

Pub rises after a Hard Rain

BLUES FAN: Andrew Cafe, owner of the Royal Mail Hotel.
BLUES FAN: Andrew Cafe, owner of the Royal Mail Hotel.

BLUES music beat the floods in the end.

Hard rain pelted down on the Royal Mail Hotel in Goodna during the 2011 deluge.

But it was the album, Hard Rain, that poured from the hearts of blues musicians which helped keep the pub afloat in the aftermath.

The Royal Mail and its music-loving publican, Andrew Cafe, have supported blues music for 25 years. So when the musicians, who have nearly all played at the Royal Mail, saw the devastating effects of the flood on the hotel they were only too happy to donate tracks to the album. Sales from the album, in the thousands of dollars, went towards the pub's restoration.

Addie Cafe, the publican's daughter, made a video of the hotel and surrounds during the flood and it was put on YouTube and the pub's Facebook page.

Blues musicians throughout the land saw the video and were inspired to act.

A "When the Levee Breaks" blues fundraiser was also held in Melbourne that helped replace valuable musical equipment that had been lost.

Beachy Wild, a senior sound engineer at the QPAC concert hall who used to play at the Royal Mail himself, went half and half with the Blues Association of South East Queensland (BASEQ) to produce and fund the album, Hard Rain, which includes acts such as Mojo Webb, Jeff Lang, The Dillion James Band and Blind Lemon.

Beachy and his sister also designed the cover of the album which pictures the Royal Mail in flood with a Fender Stratocaster floating down the river.

"I used to live at Ipswich, and although I wasn't a regular at the pub, I have played there on several occasions over the years with bands," Beachy says.

"As a musician and producer of albums myself, I saw what happened at the Royal Mail and I wanted to contribute something back because they had to survive. The first person I rang was Jeff Lang, who I have done lots of work with over the years."

Beachy has some spectacular live recordings of Lang's work so he mixed a track called Lubbock Texas for the album. Lang was quick to give the green light to the project.

David Nielsen

"Once I got Jeff on board then everyone else fell on board as well.

"A number of those artists' recordings and mixes are ones I have done for them."

Redbank's award-winning blues musician, Cath Butler, has the opening track, Another Stormy Night in Queensland, featured on the CD.

She says the artists who contributed tracks all have a love for the Royal Mail that is deeply ingrained.

"Most of the artists have appeared here at some time and they appreciate the support the pub has given to blues musicians over the past 25 years," she says.

"Naturally they wanted to see the place up and running again as quickly as possible.

"I am a local so I have been coming here for more than 20 years to watch blues music, and when I established my own blues career they supported me and gave me gigs.

"Blind Lemon say this is one of their favourite pubs in Australia to perform at ... they all say that.

"It is because of the love and general interest of the punters that come here in blues music.

"I just did my dream blues trip to the US in September ... and this is the closest thing that we have got in Australia to what they call a real juke joint ... which is the sort of place where blues music started in the Delta.

"I just did my dream blues trip to the US in September ... and this is the closest thing that we have got in Australia to what they call a real juke joint ... which is the sort of place where blues music started in the Delta.

"I think that is appreciated by those who come here as well, because it is that environment that gave birth to the whole genre.

"Another interesting thing is that if you look at the tracks on Hard Rain, nearly all of them have got something to do with the weather."

Summerstorms by Lil Fi and Jane Michele's Bad Weather Mood are evidence of that. The Drinkers Lament by Blind Lemon is a perfect pub song too.

The Royal Mail does not charge the public to see these outstanding blues acts. It is all free. Cath says that for some other establishments the music is just background noise, but that is not the case at the Royal Mail.

"I think that is testament to Andrew," she says.

"He has a real love of the genre and the musicians.

"The artists are all knowledgeable about that and that is why they didn't hesitate to contribute tracks.

"A piano was also donated by some blues artists down south to replace the one that was lost and the gig in Melbourne paid for the piano to be transported and for the replacement for the PA system.

"It was a result of people seeing Addie's video that a lot of the major blues acts down south held that gig for the pub."

Addie had just returned from an overseas trip to Ireland, where it was the coldest winter in history, to be greeted by her family pub in flood.

"I had just finished school and I wanted to study film, so as the flood was happening I got the footage from people around here and put the piece together," she says.

"I filmed some of it, but most of it was filmed upstairs in the pub by Jack, who lived across the road. I put the video up mainly so my family could all see what was going on."

Addie put the film together with a poignant song by Youth Group called Start Today Tomorrow.

"The lyrics really matched it," she says.

Addie recalls with a fondness her dad's passion for his hotel as the waters rose, although the family was a little concerned. Like the captain of a ship, he was prepared to go down with his pub if necessary.

Blues musician Cath Butler (left) and Addie Cafe of the Royal Mail Hotel are proud of the Hard Rain blues album created to help raise money for flood and disaster relief. Photo: David Nielsen / The Queensland Times
Blues musician Cath Butler (left) and Addie Cafe of the Royal Mail Hotel are proud of the Hard Rain blues album created to help raise money for flood and disaster relief. Photo: David Nielsen / The Queensland Times David Nielsen

"We were at home trying to get in contact with dad to get him out of pub, but he refused to. He was still selling takeaways as the water was rising," Addie grins.

"We tried to call him, but the power was cut off ... and he has no mobile phone because he doesn't believe in them.

He was going to get out on a little dinghy, but they said on the news not to do that because there could be sharks in the river.

"He was going to get out on a little dinghy that he has, but they said on the news not to do that because there could be sharks in the river.

"We told the SES a few times that he was still here upstairs, but they didn't believe us. They said they had evacuated everyone."

Admiral Andrew had indeed stayed upstairs batting away debris with an oar.

But the family was reunited in the morning and the pub lived on to host many more blues gigs.

Addie gets to see first-hand how much the musicians love the pub.

"When they come here for the first time they are blown away. The first thing they ask when they finish is, 'Can we book another gig?'

"A lot of them say how they have always wanted to play at the pub because they have heard so much about it.

"I've grown up with this and we are all fans. But without dad, it wouldn't still be going."



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