‘I love music. I can’t play so I feel like I need to organise musicians instead! I do all the logistics in booking bands for festivals and gigs. I make sure the bands show up and know what time they’re playing.

‘It’s good to see local festivals and events pop up – the local scene gets encouraged and they look for local bands. It’s really great. The international bands have cornered the market a little bit and people need to see that there are still great bands in Australia and that they need to get out there.’

 

‘I play the Oud. It’s a Middle Eastern lute. There’s a new album out on ABC called “Permission to Evaporate” which is a recent one I did in New York with two great jazz players. One is Mike Stern who was in Miles Davis’ band and Christian McBride – the biggest double bass player at the moment on the jazz scene in the world actually. So I was very lucky to get the chance to record with them.’

If you could describe the Oud as a human, how would you describe it?

‘It’s pretty much like me – short necked, half pear shaped. It’s perfect. I’m exactly like the instrument!

‘I’m playing next Thursday (26th) at Camelot Lounge Marrickville in a repertoire called Angel. We only play that repertoire twice a year to commemorate my parents’ passing. It’s nice to commemorate them through music. This one is to commemorate my mother’s passing two years ago.

‘She was quite sick towards the end. I think there were quite beautiful moments within the short space of time you spend with them in the end. It doesn’t get easy not having your parents around. I think it really gives you fuel for your music. It helps you as a human being and helps you grow. We’re constantly healing and that’s the beautiful thing about music. I guess you’ve just got to take these things as a lesson and grow from them.’

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rhp-IpRPxIs

‘I grew up in an era in the 1980s where you’d leave the Sutherland Shire and come in to the city and see half a dozen bands on the way. Poker machines came in the 1990s and destroyed the music industry in Sydney. We’re here to revitalise it.

‘We’re protectors of our heritage so to speak. I personally think that it’s my obligation as an owner of the building to see it live on for the next generation and generations to come.

‘We’re in the process of looking at about four Australian companies that are interested in leasing it.’

Is there anything in particular that whoever gets the contract, you would like to see the do?

‘As long as they’re Australian and they keep it live entertainment here whether it’s theatre, Vaudeville or whatever.

‘Three stipulating points – the back outside wall will belong to the artist (who just completed his artwork today) for as long as he can paint and the other artists that have used that wall – they’re Australian. They have to use the painter that I’ve commissioned to paint the building and my electrician because he knows it inside out.

‘The huge ceiling lights took us about two months each to restore. In 1999 a hailstorm went through this place and did close to $700,000 worth of damage to everything. It was a swimming pool down here. We never really restored the lights properly – we just sort of temporarily restored them. We’ve spent so much money here now doing the restoration, we decided to spend some time on the lights. We got geniuses in plaster work and basically remoulded them, fixed them up and rewired them. They’re all LED now. That’s the only thing that’s changed in here simply because the first three on each side used to come down to the ground so you could change the globes and then they would be winched back up. We didn’t want them touched any more. If there’s loud music in here we don’t want them rattling and falling down. They’re an important part of the architecture in here.

‘The architect that built this place is responsible for around 2,000 buildings in Sydney. He built the Grace Bros Broadway building. The Hub falls in to the P&O style where the patron would come to the cinema and get ‘taken away’ on a boat. Hence the round circles at the top and the front. They’d come in here and they’d feel like they were going away on a cruise. People needed escapism so theatre was killing it back then.

‘I’m enjoying the work here. It’s our building so it’s a labour of love. I’ve been working on it for two years now. Why wouldn’t you do it up? It’s such a beautiful building.’