Many Aussie hearts have Splendour in the Grass-sized holes right now. And sadly, we don’t know exactly when we can expect to see music festivals – or even gigs – in their old format.

Bars and pubs across NSW are currently waking up from a government-enforced Covid-19 coma. But the live-music scene has been pummelled by the lockdowns – and so have the venues that champion local acts and depend on them for income.

“Easing restrictions was just the first step,” said Shadow Minister for Music and the Night Time Economy John Graham in a media release. “We now need bold action to support struggling venues.”

Great Southern Nights (GSN), the state government’s new initiative to jumpstart our live music scene, is a solid start.

Kicking off in November, Destination NSW and the government have committed to hosting 1000 concerts with emerging and established Australian artists from around the country. Headliners who have signed on so far include Tones and I, Jimmy Barnes, Paul Kelly, The Veronicas, The Jungle Giants and Tash Sultana.

If you’re a musician or you’re in a band and you’d like to perform as part of the GSN program, register your interest here. Aria is curating the line-up.

“We’re inviting venues across NSW, from the bush to the city, to be involved in this exciting new event,” said Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres. “Great Southern Nights will be a big step forward for our state’s live music and hospitality community that has been hit hard.”

The concerts will be held in accordance with the latest health recommendations. As for what that will look like in November, we’ll have to wait and see. But so far GSN has been warmly received by the industry.

“It’s the shot in the arm the pub live-music scene needed,” said John Whelan, CEO of NSW’s Australian Hotels Association, in a media release.

“The local pub is where many of Australia’s great [musicians] got their start. Let’s hope many more emerge from this fantastic new concept … it’s a return to the glory days.”