Sydney Venue Qirkz Re-Opening in Hunter Valley
Some of Australia’s best known left-of-centre music identities are championing the current crowd-funding venture of Yaron Hallis, of multi-ARIA award-winning Eastern Europe gypsy fusion band Monsieur Camembert.
They include Tim Freedman of the Whitlams, Deborah Conway, Jeff Duff, Lior, Lloyd Spiegel, George Washingmachine, Abby Dobson, Johnny G & The E Types, Emma Pask, Victor Valdez and Mick Conway.
Hallis ran the underground Qirkz and Camelot Lounge in Sydney’s Marrickville.
He started Qirkz sixteen years ago, opening his house to the public to check out his collection of Indonesian paintings, sculptures, mid-century ceramics and eccentric collectibles while listening to live music.
Being totally illegal, Qirkz could only draw crowds via word of mouth.
When it was inevitably closed down by the local council, Hallis found a run-down Greek club down the road, did it up and gave it a camel theme with the apt name of Camelot Lounge.
In a spirit of laid-back spontaneity and surrounded by his artwork and life-sized Elvis, Blues Brothers and Marilyn Monroe, people came to hear gypsy, world, jazz, cabaret, blues, comedy and the names mentioned above.
Now Hallis has set up Qirkz in NSW’s Hunter Valley vineyard region.
“The Hunter Valley is a place that Sydneysiders flock to every weekend for fabulous food, fabulous wines and fabulous vibes,” he relates.
“I could not believe that in the entire Hunter Valley there was not a single dedicated live music venue. That blew my mind!”
He looked around for a suitable venue for Qirkz In The Hunter and found it in Hotel Denman in Abermain, a 110-year-old pub near the wineries, halfway between Cessnock and Kurri Kurri.
What he liked was that it was run-down, “the perfect blank canvas to bring in all the crazy Qirkz paraphernalia, art and collections to create something truly unique in the area.”
The crowd-funding campaign has a $60,000 target to restore it to past glory, build a stage and dressing rooms, meet fire and safety compliance, upgrade toilets and replace windows and flooring.
The carpet came from a childcare centre and gives the music venue “a retro RSL vibe which I love for the wrong reasons!”
Qirkz In The Hunter opens on Friday December 2 with Jeff Duff’s Bowie Unzipped tribute, with the next night a Mexican party night with the Victor Valdes Mariachi Band.