Many in the local music scene would know Stewy Fairhust. The voice behind 94.1FM’s Local Gig every Tuesday night, he’s wildly passionate about local music. Having picked up a guitar at five and playing drums in a school band, he decided at a young age that he wanted to ROCK, and with his first band Southern Axent he did just that, supporting artists like Daryl Braithwaite, Screaming Jets, Suzi Quatro, Mondo Rock and Mental As Anything. He’s done sound for artists like Brian Cadd and The Living End, performed in covers band Rushmore and still does the odd solo show and private party. He moved to the Gold Coast in 1992, chasing more opportunities for the band.
“We had already created a following in Ipswich for fun live rock and some of them supported us still on the Goldy,” he said.
Stewy’s wife Tamara has an interesting backstory herself – but none of it involves playing musical instruments – “I didn’t practice the piano and guitar often enough to learn the basics”. Born at the Gold Coast Hospital, her parents actually met at Spotlight Theatre and went on to be life members. Her mother started the Spotlight Costume Hire business from their garage at Isle of Capri.
These days though, you can find Stewy and Tamara behind the counter at Gold Coast Music – the city’s newest, and arguably best music store – located right in the heart of Southport.
Running Gold Coast Music isn’t the first time Stewy’s worked in a retail music store. He started at The Musicians Pro Shop in Mermaid in 2007 and became store manager three years later. In 2012 the owner of the Pro Shop reopened Allan’s Billy Hyde and rebranded the stores. Stewy and his staff then moved to the Southport store when the Mermaid Pro Shop closed.
“In 2018, it all went south, the whole business collapsed and it was gone,” Stewy said.
“We saw the writing on the wall, we could sense things were coming to an end. Tam and I were concerned that this could be the end of the Southport music store. So we decided to take a huge gamble. We put everything into it, because this store is iconic – it had to remain a music store, we couldn’t let it go! It was just something we had to do.”
It’s lucky Tamara and Stewy share a passion for music or perhaps Gold Coast Music would never have happened. They met in 2008 and Tam says she was on board from day one.
“The deal was I would look after the back end and he would look after the front end – customers, ordering, sales. It was a very well calculated decision between Stewy and I, and it’s working fantastically well so far.”
It’s the ideal role for Tamara who has a background in hospitality, retail, construction, transport and logistics. And more.
“The things you do to get by and pay the bills,” she said about her varied professional past. “My strengths are the finance and the accounting side of organising a business. Stewy and I work really well together, he focuses on his strengths and I focus on keeping everything running smoothly and keeping everyone happy.”
If you haven’t been into Gold Coast Music yet, you might be surprised at the diversity (and quantity) of stock onsite. There’s jaw harps and kazoos, flageolets and liquid calluses. They stock Fenech Guitars, provide guitar repairs, help with tuition for guitar, mandolin, vocal, piano, bass and flute and have second hand instruments as well. And that’s without mentioning the huuuuuuge range of traditional instruments.
Of course it’s not easy owning a bricks and mortar store in this digital age, so I ask Stewy what the secret is to running a successful retail business?
“We’ll tell you when we find out,” Stewy laughed, but he’s adamant there’s a niche market for Gold Coast Music.
“To have a music scene – you need a music store!”
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Gold Coast Music is at 53 Nerang Street Southport.