By Simon Haslam
It was certainly auspicious that the very first event at Byron’s new live music 1500-person venue, The Green Room, on Saturday night was sold out. The crowd came to see Xavier Rudd but it was support act Bobby Alu who had the honour of being the first to play. Peter Noble welcomed the crowd to the new venue during the break, paying tribute to the vision of Danny Doepel, who purchased the Byron Arts Factory building in 1984 to create a music venue that attracted local, national and international acts to Byron, the precursor to the East Coast Blues & Roots Festival, which later became Bluesfest.
Rudd’s concert was powerful and compelling and showcased his skilful, wide-ranging use of instruments and his talent to create luscious musical moods.
The venue is on the Byron Events Farm site (the northern car park end of the Bluesfest site) and it looks suitable for all kinds of events, like weddings, conferences etc – they have conditional approval for up to 100 events per year. It’s in a lovely natural setting on the edge of the lake, fringed by trees. On the opening night, a few food trucks flanked the courtyard at one end of The Green Room and punters lazed on the grass or sat on benches or at tables.
The venue itself is more like a giant marquee built on a solid slab, so there’s a concrete apron around the whole room before the grass starts, and solid floor-to-ceiling walls. The interior was draped with silk. I must say, it’s hugely convenient to attend an event where there is a massive amount of free parking right outside. It seems like the recent floods are being factored into planning for the venue, as according to Peter Noble, since last year they have ‘invested over $500k upgrading and waterproofing the Bluesfest site. Both myself and my team are currently looking at every single aspect of the Bluesfest experience to ensure it’s of the highest quality possible.’ Apparently, there are also plans for a permanent, larger venue.