Life isn’t always fun and games and it certainly is much tougher for some people over others. I can only speak about my own life up until this as a point of reference: and from what I’ve experienced – it’s safe to say that it’s not bloody easy keeping the head between the ditches and the show going. I can only imagine the plight some people are afflicted with. Today was my twenty-eighth birthday and as another mini milestone happens in my life, it’s as good a time as any to introduce a collaboration project I’ve gotten involved in over the last few months called Community Sessions.
During my very early twenties (and in smaller patches prior to that and since) I had to endure some bumps that set me way off course in my personal development, growth and de-railed my day-to-day. These were shadow-filled periods where getting out of bed becomes a chore, doing menial tasks becomes impossible and self-care is no longer a thing. I’ve observed many people go through periods like this themselves too. They were no ordinary ‘ah sure, just get on with it‘ kind of times in life and perseverance, patience coupled with support was required to elevate out of that internal mire. Some people simply do not have these luxuries.
I was suffering, yes. Lost at times, yes – but I had support and time. Luckily, there always seemed to be an outlet available, somewhere to re-build, re-charge, keep busy and all the while there was shelter above my head. I moved to London in 2015 where I was able to start over – build back up – settle myself – after some of my own darkest days. I’m eternally grateful to those who helped me get up and running again and sit thinking about those who don’t have the resources I had during my dips.
In my days and nights wandering around London, I pass dozens of homeless people each time: sitting on the street or walking around desolate. I see people who are a little bit lost, like I was myself – but never know how to help or feel that giving loose shrapnel change can seriously help anything. It’s realistic to think that the only difference between my lifestory and theirs is that they weren’t afforded the same opportunity’s to have support, care and shelter. Nobody deserves to be on the streets and nobody should be. However, within the switch of a few variables, it could happen to anyone without a support bubble around them to keep them warm.
I wanted to start this initiative to give back to the city that took me in and gave me this life I’ve managed to carve out today. Instead of walking by people in need everyday: setting up something solid to raise vital funds is a good way to start. If donations raised within Community Sessions assist the life of even one person, it would be ‘mission accomplished’. We all deserve shelter, opportunity and personal space.
Below are details of the events themselves.
Where did the idea for running a showcase gig specifically come from?
In my hometown of Dublin, there is a very successful gig night called ‘The Ruby Sessions‘ which was set up in 1999 by Conor Donovan and Niall Muckian. The event (covid restrictions aside) takes place every Tuesday and always encourages an attentive audience and over the span of its existence has attracted some big names to its tiny curtained stage (Ed Sheehan, James Vincent McMorrow, Hozier). I went to see a friend perform there in 2014 and fell in love with the concept they’ve created.
There was a portion of ticket sales donated to Dublin’s Simon Community that night and I felt it was a great touch combining acoustic live music and fundraising and held onto the idea of starting my own night in the back of my mind. As soon as I set up The Sound Sniffer in 2018 I knew that if I kept at it, anything was possible.
So what exactly is Community Sessions then?
In short, Community Sessions is free entry showcase music event that raises money for the homeless in North London.
Who is involved?
The team consists of myself (Kevin, aka The Sound Sniffer) doing the ‘boring’ admin and organising and contributing there is a team of five extremely talented London-based musicians helping curate the showcases. We’ve got folk musicians Alex Bayly, Niamh Downes (Neev) – both of whom are perched on the highest shelf in my estimations within their genre. Elegant and meticulously ambient trip-hop artist Noé Solange is also involved alongside two of London’s most knowledgable electronic producers Leo Appleyard and Simeon Rodgers.
Having continuity of styles and tastes within the group of contributers ensures all showcases have a little bit of everything for attendees on each gig night. Varied line-ups are refreshing and that’s what we are striving for. Careful thought and planning goes into each event.
Where does ‘Community Sessions’ take place?
Currently Community Sessions takes place the third Sunday of every month at The Finsbury, North London. The venue is a hidden gem in London, kitted out with all the essentials, intimacy and superb acoustics. It will act as the home/HQ for this series of events running into 2022.
How does ‘Community Sessions’ raise money for the homeless?
The events at The Finsbury are free entry with donations collected on the night by an official charity representative. All funds will always be collected by the invited organisation directly.
Where does the money go?
Community Sessions donations are solely in aid of ‘All People All Places‘, a Haringey based charity who provide comfortable emergency accommodation for those in need. The organisation operate a five bed women’s shelter called ‘The Annex’ nearby. In addition to this, they provide information, essential services and case workers to assist people who’ve found themselves without a home or shelter. The main reason for keeping donations flowing in the direction of a small local charity is that the funds may directly make more of a difference than if donated to a larger org.
What are the plans for the future?
Time will tell, although building up a strong crowd of regular attendees at The Finsbury is the short-term goal before looking to expand. There may be some big exciting shows booked into the 2022 calendar, whether they will be one off occurrences or regular things is unknown as of yet. The main plan for the future is to have fun and raise money for people who desperately need it along the way.
Who has played the event already?
We’ve have some kind supporters on the artist side since we began in September. We’ve had each of the below perform at early editions of Community Sessions :
Our next ‘Free Entry’ gig will be held on December 19th at The Finsbury – Doors 7pm
Simeon Rodgers – Finnegan Tui – Yescene
Reserve a space by getting a free ticket on Eventbrite – HERE or on the side bar within The Sound Sniffer’s Website —>
Upcoming ‘Community Sessions’ Gig Posters
– About ‘The Sound Sniffer’ –
The Sound Sniffer is a music blog that’s still only a baby – Founded in early 2019 by Kevin Coakley, a music writer and ghostwriter. ‘The Sound Sniffer’ also runs gigs and showcases in London since Oct 2019. The showcases are picked from artists found in the blog’s submission inbox.
Check out my Interviews HERE