A new weekly showcase at Queenies in Kingston is supporting more female artists and performers in the Canberra music scene.
The dedicated three-hour weekly live music events – Queen Bee Sessions – are funded by the ACT Government’s Amp It Up program and focus on showcasing women in music, inviting two local female artists and one interstate female artist to come along and perform 45-minute to one-hour sets every Sunday.
After performing regular gigs at Queenies over the past six months, Irish singer-songwriter Inez Hargaden said she was so excited when she first heard about the Sunday sessions and was asked to be involved.
“They are a really cool way of showcasing women involved in the music scene in the ACT,” Inez said.
“Any kind of opportunity we get to showcase and highlight women’s talents and what women are kind of putting out into the industry is really cool.
“The Sessions also give women and people who identify as women a chance to connect and interact with other artists and celebrate new music and their creativity.”
The 30-year-old musician said when she first moved to Australia, she was struck by how much support there was in the music industry.
“I’ve lived in a couple of other countries, but I was very impressed with Australia, in particular, and its promotion of women in music,” Inez said.
“The Canberra entertainment scene in itself is pretty cool, too. Obviously, it’s small, but I mean, that can be both a good thing and a bad thing.
“I think it’s best described as quite wholesome; I’ve only ever felt supported and encouraged by other musicians I’ve interacted with here.”
Living in Canberra for the past three years, and having already performed at three Queen Bee Sessions, Inez said she is looking forward to her next gig in November.
“The atmosphere at Queenies is just beautiful, especially in the afternoons on a Sunday when it’s not too busy and you can have a chill time,” she said.
“It’s just such a comfortable space to perform at.
“I feel like even if I messed up, it’s a safe place to do that. So I’ve had a really great experience so far.”
Inez said another highlight of performing at Queenies is being surrounded by a supportive crowd.
“I’ve played in a lot of pubs and venues where you just know that people aren’t listening, and that’s okay, but I think at Queenies, there’s always a receptive crowd,” she said.
“The people like to listen to music there and are always so engaged and interested.”
The singer-songwriter said she hopes the Queen Bee Sessions continue to be held in future.
Queenies’ general manager Rich Cockram said the idea behind the Queen Bee sessions came about when a grant came through from the ACT Government.
“We kicked off on 11 September and will be running until the new year effectively,” Rich said.
“They basically allowed us to do this for 20 weeks, but obviously, that also depends on the availability of musicians too.”
As Kingston used to be deserted on a Sunday, Rich said he thought the live music sessions would be a great way to re-active the area.
“We’re just trying to change the culture a little bit and make people realise that they can come out for a nice drink and enjoy some really good music,” he said.
“We’ve tried to encourage local female artists to come along and perform, and that, in return, has built that sense of a community and a good support network.”
Though the focus of the grant is on supporting female artists, Queenies is trying to emphasise that it’s an all-inclusive venue.
“I really want people to realise that we want to be part of the community and we want people to come in, have a beer, have a glass of wine, have a cocktail, whatever it may be, and just feel comfortable in our space,” Rich said.
“We are really community-focused, and we want people to see us as a local place that you can just walk into and have a great time.”
Queen Bee Sessions take place every Sunday from 2 pm to 5 pm. To find out more, visit Queenies.