'The life of the city has been left to rot'
A PASSIONATE musician who runs an underground music venue in the Ipswich CBD says more must be done to get people back into the heart of the city.
Christian Sargeant operates his not-for-profit organisation Solidarity Kulture Club out of Goleby's Basement, where he works with bands and promoters to bring local, national and international artists to perform in Ipswich.
Mr Sargeant works tirelessly to lock in acts but said unless the Top of Town Precinct is fixed quickly, fewer people will support locals who are desperately trying to keep the regional music scene alive.
"The problem with Ipswich is that there has been no consistency with the night-time and cultural economies," he said.
"Even when the nightclub was in town, sometimes it was open, sometimes it wasn't.
"People have no idea what is going on in town.
"The overall impression is there's not much in town, and when you don't get the foot traffic, the cafes and local businesses struggle. The life of the city has been left to rot.
"That's when you know you have lost the heart of the city.
"The creative community that does exist in Ipswich and particularly in the CBD, we have been banging on about this for so long it's like a broken record; we just persevere under all sorts of circumstances."
Mr Sargeant said his goal has always been to create a nightly entertainment precinct to attract singers and bands the community might not otherwise get the opportunity to see.
"The overriding importance for me to do this is because, one, I can. I have my own sound systems and I've been in the music industry for such a long time," he said.
"Secondly, I also saw the potential. It's actually not that hard to start bringing people together."
He has secured big-name artists; Goleby's Basement is quickly becoming a well known venue on the music scene.
"Artists and promoters are now coming to me because they have heard they can bring a band and play at Goleby's," he said.
"We have had groups that play in Brisbane, the Gold Coast or Toowoomba, and they come and stop in Ipswich and play a show.
"We have had some groups do that, and others who have only played in Ipswich.
"Some of the bands we have had play here include the '80s cult band Primitive Calculators from Melbourne, Hank Wood and The Hammerheads from New York, David Nance from Omaha, Vanilla Poppers from Ohio and a number of other international artists."
The Living End frontman Chris Cheney also performed in Ipswich earlier this year at Goleby's to a soldout crowd.
"Chris Cheney was a gig that wasn't run through Solidarity Kulture Club, but I helped set it up so he could come and play here," Mr Sargeant said.
"I was playing in a young group and our bass player is part of The Living End fan club. She asked if she could use Goleby's as the host venue. I ran the show.
"It was Chris Cheney's first-ever solo performance in his entire life, and he did it right here in Ipswich. It was incredible."
A number of acts including Jeff Lang, who is known as one of Australia's best roots musicians, as well as Ipswich band Northern Lights, Cairns-based band Big Foot Mafia, and the Italian/German group Maiorano, will perform at Goleby's later this year.
To find out more about upcoming gigs, search Solidarity Kulture Club on Facebook.
Goleby's Basement is located at 203 Brisbane St, Ipswich.