Singing For Syria

Syrian Flyer

Patrick Quigley is known locally for a number of bands, including Analecta and Dad Jokes, and for booking music in the South Bend area, particularly at The Well. He and I have spoken in the past about his efforts in create live shows in the area and his focus on giving teenagers and other youths a place to display their music and connect with other musicians. Our conversations have often revolved around community, both specific to the local region and in the concept of connecting with one’s neighbors. That subject was again important as we discussed the upcoming Singing For Syria Festival taking place in South Bend this weekend.

“We were having a lot of conversations about Christian reaction, public reaction to current events,” Quigley said, describing talks with Megan Chandler, who helped create the festival and attends church with Patrick in River Park. “We were talking about what that should be and shouldn’t be.”

He described the many people, often lost among the louder voices in the news and social media, who wanted to help those affected by conflicts in Syria and other countries. I pointed to my own past detachment from political participation due to those frustrations. Patrick shared similar experiences, telling me about witnessing energy lost in arguments that lacked progress outside of making an enemy of “the other side”.

“At some point, I lost heart for it,” he said. “I was seeing a lot of back and forth without a lot of real progress.”

His solution came in the form of a more local, community approach.

“I focus less politically now and focus more on where I think I can have a bigger impact,” he said, indicating the value in efforts that are based in the local community on a day to day scale.

That new direction, in part, led to the idea of the Singing For Syria Festival. In his conversations with Megan, they discussed that while there were many strong opinions being shared, those who cared often were unsure what to do. In a scenario common when acknowledging large problems in the world, those who wanted to do something had no direction. The idea came to create a way for everyone to take their small resources and “amplify that through our sense of community.”

“We want to give a place for people to actually do something about it, ” Quigley said. “We want to give an opportunity to the community to make a larger impact”

The Singing For Syria Festival will be an all-day event starting at 10 a.m. On Saturday, Feb. 17. The event is free, with donations requested throughout that will go to the UNICEF Syrian Refugee Fund. It was important for festival organizers that the event allow visitors to experience the music without charge.

“If you still want to be there, if you don’t have any money and you still want to be there to show your support and to enjoy the music, we won’t turn you away,” Quigley said.

Contributors to the cause will find some benefits in doing so, with Oaken Bucket and Bruno’s Pizza offering lunch and dinner discounts for those who donate. There are also after parties at South Bend Brew Werks and Kelly’s Pub. The establishments will be contributing a percentage of their sales that day to the fundraiser.

The day will begin with family-friendly music activities, including entertainers and activities designed for children. Among the attractions will be sing-alongs, karaoke, and a rock and roll themed photo booth that will allow children to don costumes and washable marker tattoos for their pictures. Local art, crafts, baked goods, and other features will be available for those who “aren’t complete music nerds, but still want to come out and support the cause.”

Live music begins after midday a lunch break. Musicians in high school and college will be featured in a “Young Band Showcase,” giving them a chance to “represent the next generation of musicians in the area.” Megan Chandler will host a karaoke contest that will raise additional money for the fund, as well as award a cash prize to the winner. At 7 p.m., three stages will support a variety of local music in rotating sets, with jazz and singer-songwriter music in The Well coffeeshop, punk rock in The Well Basement venue, and a hip-hop showcase in the warehouse space next to the venue.

The event as a collaboration between various South Bend promoters and musicians. They spread out the work to encompass a variety of styles of musicians, creating a showcase of the greater South Bend music scene. He points to the generosity of Megan Chandler, Jenni Miller, Bill Finn, Doug Harsch, and many others for helping to organize the event and bring in the music.

“Having a chance to work with other bands in the area,” Patrick said. “It’s been really great.”

You can find information on the Singing For Syria Festival on Facebook.

These piece created in part for Justin’s weekly column in Off The Water.