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by Nick La Rosa
posted 20/07/2011

World music oasis: from sweat shop to sweet music

Written by Emma Brown

A music lover and a camel walk into a bar, where headline acts perform for under $30, you can bring grandpa and the kids and hear live world music. Is this a joke? No it’s the Camelot Lounge.

Surrounded with camels, the un-pretentious, multi-generational, two-stage live music/arts venue in Marrickville is an oasis in the Sydney music scene. Yaron Hallis, presenter, The Gypsy Hot Club at Eastside (Mondays 6.30 – 8pm) is the founder of Camelot Lounge and underground venue QIRKZ.

The underground space, was closed down by Marrickville Council, due to licensing issues. Hallis is currently in negotiations to re-open QIRKZ and hopes it won’t be too long before the eclectic, capacity for 350 people, performance space is reborn. He transformed the former sweat shop, sewing factory, into a five gigs-a-week, happening live music scene out of frustration due to the lack of live music space in Sydney.

Artists are taking matters into their own hands setting up underground and legitimate opportunities for musicians and audiences that were starved of performance spaces,” said Hallis.

A few doors down, he has launched the fully legal, intimate performance space – Camelot Lounge, he gave it a huge facelift complete with his prolific collection of camels.

I had a Xanadu fantasy to turn an ugly place beautiful,” said Hallis. He transformed the neglected, closed Greek Club into an arts space. “The feel is like welcoming guests into my lounge room where I can share my art, collectibles and music.”

The licensed venue has become the cultural home for Gypsy and World Music in Sydney. African, Latin and classical Indian musicians call Camelot Lounge home, along with jazz, cabaret, comedy and burlesque performers.

It’s not about the booze, it’s a place for entertainment and quality music with a friendly arts focus.” The venue is an intimate space where performers can connect with a smaller audience.

Tonight Katie Noonan with Elixir, a trio of intimate folk and jazz inspired musicians are performing.  James Cruickshank from The Cruel Sea, is playing on Friday and Abby Dobson of Leonardo’s Bride is performing an intimate solo show on Saturday. Django 101 – the life and music of legendary jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt will be celebrated on Sunday with a narrator and cast of leading virtuoso musicians including guitarist Paul Bulanyi and Eddie Bronson.

Music from across the globe you can enjoy at Camelot Lounge include Mexican and African themed nights with a menu that matches the county’s origins as well as Russian and Balkan Gypsy nights.

Move over Australian Idol, The Chalkboard Sessions on Tuesday is a good old fashioned variety show that’s open to all talents, from playing the spoons to hula hoops. It’s a great opportunity for musicians and performers to get a few minutes in front of an appreciative audience with the house band The Sluggs. “If you want to perform but haven’t cut your teeth yet, you can strut your stuff at the Sessions.”

Camelot Lounge is a business supporter of Eastside Radio 89.7FM. Hallis the vocalist and guitarist of renowned Gypsy Jazz outfit Monsieur Camembert, has presented at Eastside for over 12 years. “Soul Support is a good opportunity to say thank you to Eastside for their support of the venue by playing more obscure, fringe artists outside of the mainstream and the opportunity to promote their shows.”

The venue shares the values of Eastside Radio to provide a space for artists to try out new songs and take a creative risk in a nurturing environment.

My priority is not just to make money to sell booze I’m coming from a different place.”

Prices vary on acts from $15 to $28

Check out the what’s on at www.camelotlounge.com

Thank you to Eastside Radio’s Soul Support Business Supporter – Camelot Lounge!

CLICK HERE to become a Business Supporter today – these good people have!

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