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Homegrown and unplugged, just the way Rox likes it


The music industry can be an “extremely tough gig”, in itself, but one well-known local performer and announcer is on a mission to change that for Novocastrians.

Paul Rothapfel, who’s better known as Rox, hosts NEWFM’s Homegrown Unplugged show every weekend, giving Hunter-based artists an aural stage to showcase their talents.

So far, he’s teamed up with the likes of Max Jackson, Piper Butcher, Nikisha Priest, Ben Smith, Imogen Hall and Matt McLaren, to name half a dozen, as well as a plethora of gifted up-and-comers.

Newcastle country singer Max Jackson. Photo: Peter Stoop

And, if there’s anyone in the region with an impressive resume to help them, it’s Rox.

The father-of-four has been fortunate enough to travel the world for the past three decades, residing in Spain, Chile, Puerto Rico, USA and the South Pacific performing in theatres, cruise ships, pubs and bars across Australia, New Zealand, USA, South America, Mexico, Italy, France, Spain, Britain, Scandinavia, Germany, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore and Russia.

Along the way, he’s also supported esteemed acts including Diesel, Daryl Braithwaite, Thirsty Merc, Gang Gajang, The Radiators, Ross Wilson, Lisa Hunt and Leo Sayer.

“I’d say I’m one of Newcastle’s most-travelled musicians as far as international work goes,” Rox said.

“The other would have to be Vince Martinelli.

“I had a piano bar at the Kent Hotel, too, that went for 10 years… I think most people would know me as Rox or Roxy the Piano Man.

“So, Homegrown Unplugged is close to my heart.

“I’ve always been there to assist young musicians and give everyone a go.

“I have done that at other radio stations as well; and with NEWFM for the past year.

“It’s important to promote new talent because no one else does it.

“You must give them some way of being heard as it gives them inspiration to keep going.

“Seriously, it’s a pretty barren sector for musos these days.

“Back in the 1990s and 2000s, Newcastle boasted The Morning Show, which I performed on quite a few times.

“But, there’s absolutely nowhere to springboard yourself [today] or show yourself publicly.”

Hence the conception of Homegrown Unplugged, which goes to air from 9pm each Sunday on 105.3FM.

Every week, Rox is joined in the studio by a local artist.

“We’ve done 30-plus shows now and it’s going really well,” he told the Newcastle Weekly.

“The response has been terrific, too.

“At the end of the day, we just want to give musos a fair go.

“And, since we’re a commercial radio station that does everything local, why not offer local musicians an opportunity to appear on air?

“One artist got signed up by GenR8 Entertainment as a regular act after appearing on the show.

“Others have gone on to win StarMaker or perform in Tamworth.

’ve always been there to assist young musicians and give everyone a go.

Paul “Rox’ Rothapfel

“Some are relatively unknown while we’ve hosted people who’ve worked on the Newcastle gig circuit for two decades.

“We’re here for everyone… I believe it’s a great platform.

“We don’t play their recorded music, they perform ‘live’, which is great.

“Over the course of two hours, we talk about them, their careers and their aspirations, and ask them about their social media accounts etc.

“They also take part in an acoustic set, with an original soft composition and a cover song.

“It’s a nice easy-listening show.

“To be honest, it is a very warm and fuzzy type of program.

“It’s not cutting edge and we don’t ask any really personal questions.

“However, it is a chance to get them to share it on their social media… and receive a bit of airplay and exposure because there’s just not enough of it around.

“One thing I’ve certainly noticed over the past 30 or so weeks is the increased amount of country content.

“There are a lot of artists coming through that genre now.

“Two decades ago, you wouldn’t have seen it – it would have been more mainstream.

“But, 80% of our guests at the moment have got country roots or influences.

“They’re always heading up to Tamworth every year as well.

“That’s terrific because it’s a great circuit there.

“But, it just surprised me how many of the artists, who come in the studio, are country-related.”

For further details, visit his website at

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