Benn Allsop ready to turn win into debut album

MASS APPEAL: Benn Allsop accepting his popular vote award at Tip Jar from host Gavin Morris. Picture: Jesse Rowbottom
MASS APPEAL: Benn Allsop accepting his popular vote award at Tip Jar from host Gavin Morris. Picture: Jesse Rowbottom

TIP Jar’s popular vote winner Benn Allsop plans to use his victory as a launch pad towards releasing a debut album.

On Sunday at the Cambridge Hotel Allsop’s track Here To Tell You was announced as the inaugural winner of Tip Jar, a competition created to find the next great Hunter songwriter.

Here To Tell You received the lion’s share of more than 2000 votes to beat 150 songwriters. Paris Grace, 15, won the judges category for her song Longer This Time.

Benn Allsop - Here To Tell You

Allsop comes from a musical theatre background and only began songwriting seriously two years ago after receiving a warm response for a track he wrote and performed for his wife Abbie on their wedding day.

Allsop has since written material for an album and he plans to use Tip Jar’s prize of 10 hours recording time and media promotion to realise that dream.

“I was on the path, but these past few days have made me think that I’m doing something right,” Allsop said.

RISING STAR: Paris Grace, 15, won the judges vote at Tip Jar for her song Longer This Time. Picture: Jesse Rowbottom

RISING STAR: Paris Grace, 15, won the judges vote at Tip Jar for her song Longer This Time. Picture: Jesse Rowbottom

Grace is also a star on the rise after she wowed judges with her maturity.

“Her song had a really unique sound and had a powerful impact on the judges, who were impressed with its lyrics and composition,” Tip Jar manager Kian West said. “When we found out at the awards night that she was only 15 we were blown away.”

CAMBO GONG

MOST music-loving Novocastrians have been aware for years how important the Cambridge Hotel is to this city’s entertainment scene.

Finally NSW has caught on. On Tuesday night the Newcastle West pub was crowned Best Live Music Venue for the first time in the state final of the Australian Hotels Association Awards held at Sydney’s Star City.

The Cambridge beat a host of iconic pubs, including the Coogee Bay Hotel and last year’s winner Manly’s Hotel Steyne.

It’s been a massive 12 months for the Cambridge, after they unveiled their renovation of the Glasshouse band room, which boosted capacity to 800 and installed a state-of-the-art PA system. This has attracted a host of major acts including Bernard Fanning, Everclear, Meg Mac, Illy, The Living End and Grinspoon.

The smaller Warehouse bar was also renovated and has since become the home of Newcastle’s underground scene.

Cambridge licensee Dru Russell said the AHA award was a clear indication that the renovations had re-invigorated the hotel. 

“It’s kind of a nod to the live music scene in Newcastle,” Russell said. “It’s kind of getting back to where it was.”

The Cambridge will compete against the best live venues from other states at the Australian AHA awards next year.

THE WAIFS

TRUE TO FORM: The Waifs return to the Civic Theatre on Sunday to provide some respite from motor racing.

TRUE TO FORM: The Waifs return to the Civic Theatre on Sunday to provide some respite from motor racing.

THE music industry is littered with tales of bands that crack apart due to the strain of longevity. But that hasn’t happened to The Waifs.

Instead, vocalist, guitarist and harmonica player Vikki Thorn believes the three-piece’s latest album, the sprawling 25-track opus Ironbark, is their truest. 

“The only intention behind recording it was to get together and play music in the kitchen out in the bush,” Thorn said. “We had fun and I hear that. I hear musicians that have been playing together for a long time.”

The Waifs broke through in a whirl of melodic folk in 2002 with release of the homesick ballad London Still. Since then they have maintained their fan base through consistent records and engaging live shows.

Novocastrians have their turn when The Waifs perform on Sunday at the Civic Theatre at the end of the Supercars weekend.

Most people wouldn’t associate The Waifs with V8 engines and motor racing fans, but Thorn said you’d be surprised.

“We are rev heads too and only play folk music for show,” she joked. “When we are jamming we play road rock and hot engine blues.” 

ON VACATIONS

RISING Newcastle indie lads Vacations are growing up and moving out on the road in December to promote their aptly-named new single. The track Moving Out was released on Tuesday and sees vocalist Campbell Burns crooning about leaving home and “becoming the man of the house” over a typical Vacations swirl of reverb-heavy guitar.

It’s been a massive fortnight for the No-Fi Collective four-piece, after they secured a slot on next year’s South By South-West festival line-up in Austin, Texas.

It’ll be Vacations’ first overseas tour, but the band enjoy a healthy international fan base due to the success of their song Home, which has had more than 500,000 streams on Spotify. 

ROAR AND SNORE

EMERGING band Tired Lion dropped one of the hottest indie albums this year when they released Dumb Days in September. Newcastle fans can judge the hype for themselves when the Perth four-piece, fronted by the charismatic Sophie Hopes, play the Cambridge Hotel on March 2.

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