What started as an idea to host a one-off gig to raise money for the homeless charity Crisis has now developed into a huge series of concerts, one of which is happening at The Forum, Tunbridge Wells, on Thursday. Emma Rule, who masterminded the Musicians Against Homelessness project, tells the Times how it snowballed, and how she got the music guru who made Oasis famous, Alan McGee, on board
“I volunteer for Crisis at Christmas every year with my husband. The charity has numerous shelters that open in various areas of the UK over the festive period – as well as their all-year-round Skylight centres.
I decided to raise a bit of money for them and put up a post on social media asking if anybody would like to play ‘a’ gig to help.
I had a lot of response with people sharing it, and within a few days I had around 100 bands volunteering to play.
I realised there was great potential to put on a local gig in many towns, and know from experience as a music PR that it can be difficult for unsigned bands to find somewhere to play and to publicise themselves.
It became clear that if I could help bands get a gig and promote the events then a lot of money could be made for Crisis.
I met Alan McGee, the founder of Creation Records and the man who gave Oasis their first record deal, through a band called Alias Kid, who I was doing the PR for. I went on to help him promote a couple of his other artists’ tours, and when I told him about the incredible response I’d had to my idea for Crisis Alan told me he had been homeless briefly before signing Oasis, and that he understood the problems faced by homeless people.
Amazingly, he said that if I thought I could make this project a reality he would like to support it 100 per cent – and he has!
I’m now working flat out to promote all of our Musicians Against Homelessness (MAH) events, and with something like 115 festivals and gigs featuring over 600 bands it’s quite a big job, but I do have a lot of regional support from volunteer managers.
We have social media to thank for the project succeeding – everything is done through Facebook and Twitter, it’s our office and means of communicating.
Our official launch happened last Thursday at Alan’s Chapel in Talgarth, Wales, with some of the members of the band Cast headlining.
Other artists playing over the five weeks include Glen Matlock (Sex Pistols), Steve Diggle (Buzzcocks), Rowetta (Happy Mondays) and Goldie Lookin’ Chain.
All of our events are independently hosted and promoted by local people and venues.
At The Forum, Melanie Crouch has organised the MAH gig, which sees David Ford, The Van Susans and Robert Nottingham all performing next Thursday night.
Gigs will be running for the next five weeks or so due to the high demand, and we hope that MAH will be an ongoing project as it has all the elements to make it a huge success for Crisis.”