Simon’s Pub Music Festival has now become a staple event for music-goers, with the festival being held for the nineteenth consecutive year. This year the festival will be held between Friday 28th and Sunday 30th April.
Like in previous years, all proceeds will be donated to The Inspire Foundation, a non-governmental organisation that promotes equality and inclusion and helps people with disability.
This year the lineup is as great as ever. Popular bands such as Red Electrick and The Busker will be taking the stage, joined by Purple Haze, Mirage, Shades of Green, Lyndsay Pace, Colourblind, Stoned, Sigo, Wall Dogs, Infinite Sessions, Julian Casha, Noogie’s Crew, BNBees, Deflecto, Sigo and Family 3.
Throughout the years, the festival offered an ideal platform for both well-known and upcoming artists such as Ira Losco and Winter Moods. It also hosts foreign bands, who come to Malta specifically to participate. Guitarists who have played alongside Eric Clapton have also made their way to the stage.
According to Simon, the owner of Simon’s Pub and the event organizer, one band recommends another and it goes on. The demand for bands to play is always huge, and unfortunately up to 20 bands are refused by the event every year. “We have several popular bands, but we always make space for new ones – we like to give a chance to everyone. The atmosphere is fun, yet intimate and bands do give their all. You can tell that they put their heart into it,” Simon continues.
The pub was opened back in 1982, when Simon was only 21 years old. Simon explains that it wasn’t something he planned. “I completed a Management Course in Catering in the United Kingdom, but when I came back to Malta, finding work proved futile – I was told I was too young. I then came across this property in Sliema and decided to rent and convert it into a pub with an Irish setting, including old-fashioned tables and a games room. From then, it sort of kicked off.” Since then, Simon’s Pub remained active, always bustling with activity and also having its own football team. Along the years, Simon’s Pub has been one of the main players in the local music scene and the festival has placed itself in the local music calendar for a good number of years.
Soon after it was established in 1982, the pub became the hangout place for musicians from then-popular bands such as Limestone Kick, and it was then that Simon got the idea to host a one-off charity gig in aid of Eden Foundation.
The one-off gig eventually became a two-day event, however the popularity demanded another day to be added to become what is today the ‘Simon’s Pub Music Festival’ held over three-day during Spring. The music marathon, hosts over 20 bands and raises between 3 to 5 thousand Euros in aid of The Inspire Foundation every year. Over the last 18 years, in excess of one hundred thousand euros have been collected.
Thanks to its popularity, the pub’s wall now hosts memorabilia of customers from all over the world, who have at some point visited the pub and shared interesting conversations with Simon – the pub’s host, or as some regulars like to refer to as the pub’s ‘rock star’. “I’ve had customers from all walks of life, of all nationality. I can tell you what came from who in seconds,” he says, referring to the memorabilia.
As fun as it is, the marathon involves lengthy planning and organising with a crew of about 20 people working throughout the weekend. “As tiring as it is, I always find myself preparing for it this time of year, I don’t even think about it,” Simon says with a smile.
Simon is a music-lover himself who also plays the guitar in his free time. I ask him whether he’ll be taking the stage anytime soon, but he laughs it off. “Perhaps once all the people are gone,” he sniggers.
This year, the bands will kick-off the festival on Friday the 28th of April at 7pm with Saturday 29th April following the same schedule. On Sunday 30th April, the traditional 9-hour music marathon will start at 2pm.
The Inspire Foundation was set up in January 2009, taking over all the work previously undertaken by 2 separate organisations: Eden Foundation and Razzett Tal-Hbiberija. Today the organisation serves over 1,000 clients of all ages and their families in Malta and Gozo. The Inspire Foundation offers educational programmes for children with autism and learning difficulties, occupational therapy for individuals with physical difficulties, horse riding therapy, speech language therapy and physiotherapy.