Matt on the closure of the world-famous Rainbow Hotel


Fitzroy on a cold night. It’s midweek. Where are you going to go? Ask any roots music fan and pretty soon they’ll say, ‘How about the Rainbow?’.

For some punters it was a local … some an accident on a long night of drinking … to others it was a ritual. Some musicians racked up record-long residencies and others were just passing through. For me it was the place where I would see Andy Baylor and his Cajun Combo. I was younger and was living in the city. Finding my way around. On those nights I felt I knew something that no one else did. Sure there were some people there on those chilly Tuesday nights, but from my barstool I would be captivated by the band ... I think more than most. Garry Young on drums … Sam Leman on guitar, Andy swapping from his jazz master to play some Cajun fiddle. It was so cool to me.


So, inevitably, I began to play gigs there myself. Solo gigs. Duo gigs with Ashley Davies on drums. And gigs with our band, Mighty Servant. I often felt our music didn’t quite fit into the mould…I thought the Rainbow stable of artists was maybe a bit more traditional than what we were doing, but Chick was a real fan and always wanted us back…even though he would have to tell us to turn down all night. Recently when I played a farewell show there with Ash, Jeff and Grant, I requested that Chick tell us to turn down once more … just for old time’s sake. Which he did! Even though he doesn’t have to keep those neighbours of his happy anymore.


So, the Rainbow has called it a day. And well, … it’s sad.


I recorded my first CD there one night. It was Chick’s idea. I never knew why he chose me, but he made it happen. As I got older I got more organized but in those early days I tended to need a little help to get things done. So, as much as it is a credit to the musicians who played on it with me, it would never have happened if it wasn’t for Chick. It remains a true moment in time, complete with bar noise. A band that only played together that one night … oh, and then once again to launch the album - Ashley Davies, Gerry Hale and the late Andrew Entsch.


So it’s hard for me to comprehend that the place is closing … and most likely will not continue as a place that is going to offer anything for a music fan. And in hindsight of course, I wish I had found myself in Fitzroy at night with nothing to do just a little more often these last few years.


Bon Voyage Rainbow. Thanks for the memories.

Matt Walker




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