The Dusty Attic, Lismore’s Music Lounge

Meet Kate Stroud From The Dusty Attic - Lismore's Music Lounge

We recently caught up with Kate Stroud, Director and ‘Vibe Marshal’, at The Dusty Attic in Lismore. This popular music lounge, creating opportunities for performers as well as cultural community engagement, has really got the town (and beyond) talking and is one to watch in the growing arts and culture scene in the Northern Rivers. The unique space, filled with inviting vintage couches and enticing smells of locally sourced food, holds major potential to expand into a larger creative hub opening its doors to greater audiences and possibilities. The Dusty Attic is a recipient in the Music Now: Contemporary Live Music Funding Program.


The Dusty Attic will have opened its doors one year ago this September, congratulations! What have been some of your highlights over the past year?

It has been a bloody wild ride. Moments of ohhhhh ship, how am I going to pay rent this week to WHOA PINCH ME! Did that really happen? Highlights have been when artists I have ‘grown up on’ approach me to host gigs for them. When I watch mates or community members showcase their craft and witness moments of growth and joy from them following their truths. Watching them be celebrated by an appreciative room full of humans who just ‘get it’ and are participating in the fundamental life blood of being a happy healthy human, social connectivity. A room full of happy humans, laughing, sharing food and experiences.


You have the community backing your venue expansion, can you tell us more about your vision for the space?

The rear of Dusty is a big old warehouse which has had many lives, from being a workshop to a white goods up-cycle centre, originating from being a coach line depot and service centre for the rural bus service. It is a long mix levelled mezzanine space which drops jaws whenever people first see it. It is a really inspiring space and the reason that we chose this building. It just feels like a music venue and a space that wants people to collect within its walls. It will be an extension of the Dusty that people already know now, but will be able to hold a lot more humans, host bigger different events such as art exhibitions, private parties, weddings, long table dinners, theatre, you name it… imagination is the limit really.


From live music to poetry and comedy, you feature an incredible range of performers – what exciting shows do you have coming up? 

I am really stoked with the range of entertainment we are hosting thus far. From budding musicians and performers to the super pro that fill huge venues we seem to attract them all. Coming up we have Jeff Lang, who I grew up watching at pub and festivals in Fremantle when I was discovering the power and importance of live music. We also have Claire Anne Taylor who I have hosted at numerous places over the years and have watched her become a bloody powerhouse of a performer. But it is the wild cards that come through, those touring that can be the most mind blowing. I have only had one doozy out of all of them, which in a year is pretty great.


What advice do you have for other regional entrepreneurs thinking of opening a creative performance space?

Ahhhhhhh it’s f***ing hard. There are no short cuts and you are just going to have to put in the work. Having said that though, this work is really important as humans need community especially in regional capitals, the more the merrier and collaboration is key. I would also highlight that you DON’T have to do it all yourself. Outsource the things you don’t like doing so you can focus on the things that you do love and do them well rather than being spread thin, I am still learning that one, perhaps if I say it out loud it will become. Collaborate, you can’t have all the ideas nor answers, let people shine in the aspects that make them happy and involve them if possible. The first year is really hard, but then it kind of becomes its own entity and you can step away a little. If you believe in it, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise and do what you feel is right. When you do something bold there is backlash, don’t pay that any mind, focus on the ones who are stoked on what you are doing and stop to celebrate the small wins, it can be hard to be in the moment when you are constantly reaching beyond it. JUST START IT… “Done is as good as perfect”


We can’t miss the FOOD when talking all things Dusty Attic, what is your favourite Dusty Attic menu item?

OH yeah Sam Wise is a flavour master! This woman is seriously talented… She makes the simplest of foods taste like the BEST thing on earth. I often ask “What did you do to that (cauliflower for example)” to which she would reply, cooked it with salt and pepper… she is a magic woman. I am sure she has powers she is holding out on sharing with us. I am in love with the Whipped Tahini. Sam has to hide it from me. The thing I love the most is that Sam cares so much, you taste that shit in her food and for a person like me who has some allergies it can be hard to eat out, but Sam takes care of people and doesn’t make them feel like they are a burden (which is the case with most chefs, in my experience) she is the Italian Nonna we all wish we had. I am really proud of our food, its local enough that we can name the human that all the produce came from and there is only goodness on that plate. That makes me happy to know that we are only putting goodness into people bodies.