5 Mar 2024

Dutchie has some bad news

by Julius Grafton

Nine-year-old Robert ‘Dutchie’ Vanderent hopped off the DC8 on Valentine’s Day 1969 and was knocked over by the summer heat. From winter in Holland, the family flew to Frankfurt, then Athens-Karachi-Bangkok-Singapore before Sydney. Not speaking Australian, they ended up in the Western suburbs of Sydney.

He joined band ‘The Schlem Men’ as a lighting guy after school. It was 1975, and a real job beckoned as a grader driver for the council not long after. One night the old bakelite phone at home rang and a mate suggested he come drive a truck. For a band. Then 20 years followed, Dutchie most often on lights.

The best times were when he worked at Sound and Stage, and he would pack 10 tonnes of gear into a jumbo and do shows in Pacific nations. A stint at Grafton’s Lighting and Sound followed. Strangely, I keep running into people who worked there after I, the writer, sold it.


Next came Almost Anything Audio. “A chap in Gladesville, Walter Gearin, started it and then years later he passed away. My mate Jeff Stewart bought the business and then later on he had serious medical issues so I bought the business. He’s over in NZ now. It has a great client base, I run it from home. We are an internet sales business, selling portable little PAs. We do school and church installations, and 100v line systems into shopping centres.”

“Just last week I made $1,000 on one sale. The growth opportunity is enormous. It just needs someone with some drive.”

“Last 10 years on the side I was mixing bands at West HQ, formerly known as Rooty Hill RSL. I stayed on the old side looking after small bands, DJ’s and Trios in ‘Eat Street Bar’. It is only five minutes down the road.”


Which brings us to the bad news. Dutchie is in palliative care with stage four liver cancer and doesn’t have much time left.

“End of the line, no more they can do. A lot of us roadies who toured late 70s and 80s ended up with a dose of Hep C. I lived with that a long time. The alcohol didn’t help. I loved drinking!”

“My goal is to sell off Almost Anything Audio as soon as possible, to avoid stuff ending up in a dumpster.”

How do you re-evaluate your life when you know it is going to end, I ask?

“I’ve never had a fear of dying. The best thing I can do is tidy things up as best I can so my missus can have a fresh start without all my shit in the way”.

As to the industry: “It’s destroyed me to see how lights are being used. It should be about mood, theatrics, accents. But there is too much flashing! I don’t want to know what your light is doing! I don’t give a fuck about your light. They’re blinding the audience half the time. Light the money!”

As for audio, “One different page of glory, one missed button, and it all shuts down.”

“I have two daughters, one just had twins! Tamara has twins, Mia and Ava. Other daughter Kayla is having a child in June. Mum, dad and two sisters are in Queensland – I just got back from my last visit. It got a bit emotional. Piggy Peel took me out for lunch, that was nice.”

Dutchie is supported by his wife Corrina and is at home in Sydney’s west.

Let’s help Dutchie find a Buyer

If you (or anyone you know) are interested in owning a neat little audio business with decades of customer loyalty, please contact Julius Grafton on 0408 498 180 or email

Main Photo: David Quinn, Dutchie, Peter Quinn


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