‘I’ve been a homeless alcoholic on the streets. I’ve been an addict walking the streets when I was 16 years old up at the Cross and there were no real outlets to get help then. I think one of the strong contributing factors of depression is when you isolate yourself. You can’t isolate when you feel bad. Just pick up the phone; it’s not a backbreaking thing to do. We have the technology now – mobile phones; the internet. There are support programs anywhere and everywhere. There are phone numbers advertised on TV. You know, Beyond Blue and all that.

‘When I was younger, there was nothing you know. I just got barely through by the skin of my teeth; I really did. It was really hard dealing with depression then. There are better support avenues out there now. You need to talk to someone. Even if you’ve got one friend, one is better than none – there is always someone around.

‘Busking is like my best anti-depressant. It fills that void. It’s a guarantee that every single time I go busking, I go home feeling on top of the world. It’s always 100% guaranteed.’

Supporting Mental Health Week 5-12 October.

Seek help at Beyond Blue.

‘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