The Gig is Up! Rose Bar’s Kung Fu Master Nur Khan Whips Out His Rock Star Rolodex

Nightlife impresario Nur Khan was bummed that rock singer Chris Cornell had pulled the plug on him.

“Am I upset that we’re not doing the gig tonight? Yeah, it would’ve been really cool,” Mr. Khan told the Daily Transom. “But we’re going to shoot for something in May.”

The charismatic 42-year-old operator of the artsy Rose Bar at Ian Schrager’s posh Gramercy Park Hotel had been planning one of his “stealth gigs” on Monday, April 6, an impromptu concert featuring the former Soundgarden frontman Mr. Cornell and the British musician–turned–Calvin Klein model Jamie Burke.

But Mr. Cornell was already booked for back-to-back nights at Webster Hall and his handlers were worried about further straining his voice.

Plan B? “The Dandy Warhols are coming in tonight,” said Mr. Khan, “so maybe we’ll do a spontaneous gig with them.”

Since opening his seminal Soho bar Wax in 1995, Mr. Khan has long catered to the city’s “musically literate crowd” and has the rolodex to prove it.

“The type of music that I’ve played in my bars has attracted a lot of musicians,” said Mr. Khan, who described himself as a rock ’n’ roll fanatic.

He dresses like a rock star, sporting multiple shiny rings, a Lazaro Diaz–designed bracelet encrusted with black diamonds and his trademark black snakeskin jacket, which he proudly created himself in collaboration with the designer Michael H. (“It’s nine pythons,” he noted.)

And he rolls like one, too. Former Wax partner John Jacobson once described the guy as “an imposing figure with a reputation for getting into fights.”

“I’ve calmed down in my old days,” said Mr. Khan, also a noted martial arts enthusiast who once took kung fu lessons from Shaolin monks in China. He chalked up his past dust-ups to an overall grittier downtown vibe in the mid-to-late 1990s.

From time to time, he likes to call on his rocker buddies for favors. “I’ve developed a lot of relationships where I can make a call and have someone come in here and do a special gig without having to have a big corporate name behind me,” Mr. Khan explained. “They can come jam and then sit around the table for the rest of the night and have a good time. They know I’m going to put a good crowd around them. If someone’s got a record coming out, I can create a little buzz. The record industry’s in shambles right now. Anything we can do to help the artists and keep this place poppin’—all parties benefit.”

The gigs can be tricky. Rose Bar lacks the proper sound system for a show, so he rents one, pushes a few tables aside and sticks a small stage in front of the fireplace. “We try not to burn the drummer,” he joked.

Since opening Rose Bar in 2006, Mr. Khan has hosted such illustrious acts as Velvet Revolver, the Kooks and Perry Farrell and Dave Navarro of Jane’s Addiction fame.

On March 15, former Lemonheads frontman Evan Dando joined Gibby Haynes of the Butthole Surfers onstage for a brief but sweet four-song set.

“You cocky-ass motherfuckers can suck my fucking dick,” Mr. Haynes told the crowd of pretty men in velvet jackets and handsome ladies in slinky black dresses, who seemed largely disinterested in the music that night. “Pay attention to Evan Dando!”

The Daily Transom spotted the filmmaker Jim Jarmusch and actor Clive Owen in the audience. “Jim is actually friends with Evan and Gibby,” Mr. Khan later noted. “Clive just happened to come in—he’s a regular.”

Eventually, Mr. Khan would like to take his Rose Bar sessions on the road, possibly doing private shows at Coachella and other music festivals in the future.

For now, he’s got a list of local shows he’s dying to do. “Wait till you see what other ones I have up my sleeve,” he said.

The Gig is Up! Rose Bar’s Kung Fu Master Nur Khan Whips Out His Rock Star Rolodex