Taking a breather on Market St

By Rhonda Dredge

There was a moment there, when his career was taking off and he was playing his guitar in a room full of amazing musicians that Joe Karakatsanis felt like an imposter.

Then he thought to himself that he must have been in the room for some reason. 

“I thought, ‘you’re here because you have worth’,” he said.

Joe is encouraging other young musicians to keep plugging away during lockdown, planning their next moves. 

If you can’t perform, haven’t been near a gig nor another musician for months on end, it could do strange things to you. 

But Joe is not complaining. He’s renting a small flat in the CBD and making big plans for returning to Los Angeles.

He has online teaching work and is living off his savings plus a musician’s grant from Support Act. 

That’s not too bad for a guy who has taught himself to live out of a suitcase.

The 29-year-old session guitarist has been on tour in the United States and China, backing some big acts, such as the Latin singer Noel Schrajis.

When the pandemic hit, he returned to Melbourne before flights were stopped, did two weeks isolation and ended up on Market St. 

“The rent’s cheap. When I got home the rent had plummeted. The prices are really cheap,” he said.

“Many people in Australia couldn’t get used to being in a small apartment. I don’t need a car. I can live out of a suitcase. I’ve trained myself.”

Joe was travelling the world, performing in stadiums, doing TV in China and his life before COVID hit was crazy. 

“I’m just a wild horse. I was travelling so much. It’s okay now to settle and plan forward.”

Joe grew up in Frankston where there was plenty of time and space to work on his guitar.

He said that the enforced break had allowed him to work at music production in a more structured way and to do some body-building. 

“I’ve had time to dig into a skill set,” he said with a laugh. 

A session musician doesn’t get royalties and he’s been working on getting credits by creating music. 

He says that Melbourne has a more grass roots music scene and that he’ll be back in LA by the end of the year “going full guns blazing.” •

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