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Art Community Leader > Ted Gardner, Prodigal Son Returns


When one hears the words “rock and roll lifestyle”, the NSW Mid North Coast is not necessarily the first location that comes to mind. But for industry powerhouse, Ted Gardner, that’s music to his ears. Regional Arts NSW spoke to Ted on his part in this fantastic initiative and to see if he’s enjoying ‘the serenity’.  Interview by Estelle Pigot


An incredibly successful Australian entrepreneur and band manager has spent three decades in the business, most of which in the US, where he worked with bands including Frank Zappa, Jane’s Addiction, Tool, The Sugar Cubes, The Verve, Queens of the Stone Age and The Brian Jonestown Massacre along with cofounding American music festival Lollapalooza. In 2007 he returned to Australia with his wife and youngest daughter looking for tranquility, and soon founded Cross Section Management and Records here, with business partner Scott Mesiti (founded Festival of the Sun in Port Macquarie).

Kell Stoner, a musician herself and the project officer behind Genwire Artspace, the youth music organization contacted Cross Section to invite them to contribute to the PUSH IT! programs supported by Arts Mid North Coast that they are running to develop skills in young musicians.

“We are trying to take young people who have already discovered their passion for music out of their bedrooms and into the industry,” Kell explains. “We were looking at involving Festival of the Sun, and that was when Scott Mesiti suggested that Ted would be an asset to the program with his years of experience in the industry at a very high level.

When you moved back to Australia, you based yourself and your business outside the capital cities here; what was the reason for that decision and has it helped or hindered you in this business? TG: I lived in Los Angeles for 25 years, so living in another city was not what we wanted to do. It was important to get some tranquillity and we need to swap the overhead presence of helicopters and the sound of gun shots for magpies and the evening sight of kangaroos eating the lawn. Not having the pretentious elements of a big city bought us back to the smells of the bush, the sound of the ocean, the beauty of the country which I believe we do at times ignore.

What are you most looking forward to with these workshops? TG: Meeting young people and talking about their ideas, dreams and hopes.

Why do you think will be the most valuable thing these young, regional musicians will take away from the experience? TG: The stories, the lies, the funny side of the US music business and, most of all, how to be passionate about what you do.

What challenges or advantages do you think regional musicians have when starting out? TG: The biggest challenge is the distances but the greatest advantage is the friendships, which you don’t get in cities.

What are your thoughts on emerging artists in the Australian music scene at the moment? TG: Awesome! There are always going to be young musicians looking to create an outlet for their talents, today we can do this better than ever before – No record labels dictating your sound. Everyone should get out there and play at BBQ’ pubs. Make your sound; record your songs; feed them to any and all digital outlets (like Bandcamp.)



For more information on the PUSH IT! workshops go to the Genwire website .