Big news if you're a band or a live music punter in Melbourne arrived via email this afternoon. Richie Ramone, co-owner and manager of The Tote Hotel - the live music hub of Australia's live music Mecca, Melbourne - has bailed out. Here its is, as it arrived:
The old cricketer retires his innings.
With a pleasurable sense of fulfillment achieved, it is time for this Ramone to pack up his drum kit and find a new home in which to set it up in.
It was mid-December, having just seen Swedish psych rock act The Soundtrack of Our Lives play their second show at the Tote – a mind-altering 3½ hour long extravaganza and the single greatest show I have seen this decade - when I realised I had achieved everything I wanted to at the Tote in my six years as co-owner and manager of the much-loved Melbourne institution. Had you asked me back in July 2001 “if you could have any one band in the world play at the Tote, who would you choose?” I would’ve replied “The Soundtrack of Our Lives” without hesitation.
Over the past six years I have been fond of stating “there’s not too many blokes that get to own their favourite pub” and so it is with a hint of sadness that I move on, but I am confident the Tote will only continue to grow in stature amongst the music-loving and noise-making population of Melbourne. Us music lovers can only hope the councils and residents that seem determined to turn Melbourne’s flourishing live music scene into a sedate, obedient, lack-lustre minnow, will eventually pull their heads in and allow musicians and fans to continue to enjoy themselves in the manner they love. It is only with continued support of our live music scene that together we can hold back the rising tide of gentrification.
It has truly been an honour to be custodian of such an iconic part of Melbourne culture as the Tote. I have been incredibly fortunate to make many new friends and see countless amazing performances, and I look forward to continuing my long-standing love affair with the Tote, but as the punter I started off as 23 years ago. The stories that have been retold - of best friends meeting at the Tote, chance meetings resulting in marriage (myself included!), wedding receptions held in the band room and countless birthday gatherings - have given me immense joy at the passion in their delivery.
I eagerly await the “story” that is currently unfolding as Natalie Van Den Dungen nears completion of the Tote documentary she began working on a few years ago. Having seen snippets of the film recently, I am very excited to report that this film will be an incredible documentation of such a vital part of Melbourne music history. Also look out for the interviews with prominent musicians in Craig Kamber’s film on the Melbourne punk/rock scene 1976-1982, the majority of which were conducted within the Tote.
The Brothers Milne will now take over the running of the Tote and as we remain old friends I wish them all the very best and as already suggested, I hope the punters continue to strongly support live music, for without their support we will only be left with pokie joints and new apartments. The Booking Office remains the same, as do the bar managers and staff.
What am I going to do? I can’t quite decide between Forensic Investigation and becoming a Poodle Groomer, but in the meantime I will continue to bamboozle bogans everywhere I can with an eclectic mix of tunes under the guise of DJ Snaps Truly – “kicking goals for rock’n’roll” – and can be contacted via DJsnapstruly@gmail.com in regards to this line of work. I will also continue to use this Dodo address. Another long term passion, spanning 23 seasons, will see me focus on my cricket club the Abbotsford Anglers, as I strive for that elusive maiden century.
All Tote enquiries and business should now be directed towards Bruce Milne on firstname.lastname@example.org
Viva La Tote!
Richie's "Arm of Rock" is a well-inked limb with tatts of his top bands thereon, The Soundtrack Of Our Lives being especially prominent. Sad news but I'll bet Richie won't be absent from the Melbourne music scene. The pub's in good hands with the Milne brothers (Bruce being the Godfather of Underground Music, down south.)