In was the summer of 2013 when I visited Dublin for a job interview and couldn’t get over the amount of homeless people laying about the streets of Dublin. I was under no illusion that some of them had addiction problem but Its was very apparent that a large number were simply down on their luck and had found themselves homeless .When i got home I did a bit of research and found the problem to be at a critical stage with very little being done about it. Being an Irishman makes me very proud and having such a homeless problem made me sick to my stomach. What has happened in this country before and after the crash can only be described as criminal. The sickening thing about this debacle is our Government are doing very little for the Homeless and the Irish people. Our children have left our shores and those who are left , have a very difficult future. So many people in need in every aspect of Irish life and more pressures being put on us each and every year. With all of these pressures it is becoming more difficult to help those who need it. No only are we be subject to undue hardship but our identity is being eroded away with some much be expected from us. Our generosity is renowned all around the world and this generosity has being abused to a point where we just cant give anymore.
With all that in mind I attempted to try and come up with ways of helping the homeless. I had being working with the the Irish Artist since 2005 and trying to come up with ways to create opportunities for them. The Irish Music Industry has long being a huge problem with Talented Artists having very little opportunity to have their music heard. This is not a new phenomena in Ireland but one that is effecting the entire world. New music is simply not getting through. There are several reasons for this but its mainly down to Major labels having complete control over the entire Music Industry . Along with that, The whole structure of music promotion has completely changed. Some would argue that this is a direct result of the Main Music Labels influencing these changes. We are living in a new age and social media is an important way to do business today. While the Elites in the business have used this process to is optimum effect , the new artist are being left behind .
Recently there has being a new movement within the Independent artist community and the new artist are beginning to realize that to get in the game they must adapt and learn the process. I can see a whole new Music revolution happening very soon as more and more educate themselves in the processes of the new Music Business. The possibility of succeeding independently will be a reality.
So what did i come up with you may ask? I created a very simply platform that involved new Artists playing at a charity gig for the homeless. ” The Simon Gigs ” was created in 2013 and had its first showcase in the quays Galway in 2014. The Idea behind this was raising Money for the Simon Communities Ireland. I also wanted to showcase new and upcoming talent from all around Ireland . I wanted to encourage, market, promote and create a network so this new way forward could be realized. I was under no illusion that this would be a long Journey but the Journey needed to be taken. I wanted to point the Irish Artist in the right direction so they could create their own opportunities and at the same time be inspired by helping others who needed it. It was an ambitious idea and one that I believed in with all my heart.
The first year was a struggle and most people thought i was mad but I had to do it. I was unemployed at the time and every penny I had was put into the project. The response i received from Artists was amazing with dozens wanting to perform and help out . I was hoping that their efforts would be fruitful and that opportunities would be created . I was hoping that the people of Galway would support this just cause and come out and support. For whatever reason it just didn’t happen . I dont regret it and I was proud that I had organised such and event ( unemployed ) and without any help what so ever. We got to listen to Singer, songwriters , comedians and some of the best Bands around. I made friends and am still in contact with many of the acts that performed. I realized that Rome wasn’t built in a day and that I would not give up .
I ended up in Sligo in 2015 and took a pub on the outskirts of the town. A lovely pub I have to say and I imagined myself there for the remain part of my working life.. I filled it with everything necessary to assist the independent artist. A full PA and sound engineer when requested and a room if needed. Everything that could have being possibly done was done to create a venue dedicated to the unsigned Artist. All that was needed was the support of the local artists. Again for what ever reason this did not happen. I cant tell you how disappointed i was but i carried on regardless. I had “The Simon Gigs ” in 2015 and again the support from artists from all over Ireland was humbling. The gigs were of outstanding quality , Singers , songwriters and bands from all over Ireland graced that stage. It was definitely a more successful campaign from the year previous and I was happy enough with the attendance .
It was the middle of last year that i decided the Venue wasn’t working . I dreaded waking up every day and had exhausted my health and finances. I set a date for leaving and decided to have another Gig for the homeless before I left . I decided that I would leave with my head held high and knowing that I had done everything possible to make my venue a success. The crash was definitely the cause of this business not being able to sustain itself . The money is simply not there and people are struggling to live in the west and northwest of Ireland. Dispute all this I was supported by the artists once again and they came down for the 2016 ” Simon Gigs “..
I left the Venue in Sligo somewhat disappointing but thats life. I managed to continue with the simon gigs for another 2 years and raised over 3,500 euros. That wouldn’t have happened without the gigs. I made some good friends and many of the Artists connected with one another to work together on other projects.. Sometimes i wonder why I bother to do this but its in my nature to help . It dosnt matter if I am struggling myself . As long as I am able I will continue to do this. Its the Irish in me and no crash or government will prevent me from helping my fellow man.. I haven’t decided where this year’s Simon Gigs will be but it will happen somewhere. I am hoping to get the same support that I got in the last 3 years. Those who have supported me and helped raise funds for the homeless , I send you a massive thanks.
Lets make 2017 the best year so far..