After the sudden closure of iconic jazz venue The Basement in Sydney last March, the music industry let out a collective sigh at what it might signify after servicing fans with 45 years of live music.

But following protests outside NSW parliament and the announcement that that Melbourne based musician and entrepreneur Albert Dadon has acquired the business and its assets, The Basement space is set to reopen in May.

While Dadon now owns the name The Basement, the venue space has been re-named Mary’s Underground under the management of Mary’s Group.

Mary’s co-founders Jake Smyth and Kenny Graham have won the rights to take over The Basement by building owners AMP Capital.

Jake Smyth and Kenny Graham run Mary’s locations in Newtown and the CBD, and co-own and operate The Unicorn hotel in Paddington and Chippendale’s The Lansdowne.

Now, under new title Mary’s Underground, Jake and Kenny will operate an eatery and bar at street level, a more intimate restaurant downstairs, and seven nights of entertainment curated by Mary’s Group Music and Entertainment Director Joe Muller.

Check out our short Q&A with The Basement’s new owners Kenny Graham and Jake Smyth below:

Curating a 7-day-a-week live line up is no easy feat. Who will you have on hand to handle bookings?

We have the inimitable Joe Muller working with us as Mary’s Group Music and Entertainment Director- which is a massive coup for our group.

Joe has worked across so many incredible venues, and has such a passion for music and its community, which informs his work immensely. To curate seven nights of entertainment does take talent and time, but it also requires that we be a broad musical church.

Joe will be working across many genres and expressions of music, with a focus on entertainment rather than showcasing an individual or act. The focus will be on FREE live music for our punter- with a mix of original artists and producers and bands, along with people throwing down some crazy-ass jazz, electro, Hip-hop party tunes.

We are gonna throw a party every night- and are fucking excited about it!

Kenny Graham and Jake Smyth
Kenny Graham and Jake Smyth

How will you make sure the acts differ from The Lansdowne to give Mary’s Underground its own signature feel?

The whole brief is fundamentally different. Whereas the Lansdowne has a key focus on ticketed shows, Mary’s Underground will be focussed on building the most innovative and fun free live music programming in the city.

There will be a mix of genre nights, some nights will be specifically built around young and emerging artists, but the main brief to them all is party party party!!

Would you say Sydney City Council has been supportive throughout the launch process, or has there been a bit of red tape?

COS has not had anything to do with this process thus far- though our relationship with them throughout the building and operation of the Lansdowne has been one of support and goodwill.

There are some issues around the way that the Live Music grants are designed, but the fact that they now exist is evidence of the growing support for our artistic communities. we always need more, but its not a story of pure misery by any stretch.