World Refugee Day Concert

By Padraig O’Connor


On Saturday, June 18th, Madrid Artist & Songwriter Showcase (MASS) teamed up with Madrid for Refugees (MFR) to put on a night of music featuring local acts to raise money for several MFR projects, in collaboration with MFR’s partner organisations Lighthouse Relief and Dirty Girls of Lesvos Island.

I had the pleasure of playing in the event, both with my own material, and later with Kester Jones’ and Tommy Goodall’s bands. The night was jokingly billed as Bruno & Friends, because the ‘cajonista’ (box drummer), Bruno, played percussion with almost every act.

MFR Stand

The MFR events team and Daniele Nicole manned the floor, selling raffle tickets throughout the night and explaining the fundraising projects to attendees. A raffle took place in between acts, with prizes generously donated by local bars, restaurants, and other businesses: J&J Books and Coffee, TukTuk, Slow Mex, Roll Madrid, Kilómetros de Pizza, Ojalá, MASS events, Vaughan Academy, and GB (a Gambian refugee who donated boxing classes).

The night opened with the talented Helena Medina playing an acoustic set of cover versions, charming the crowd with her beautiful vocals. Afterwards, her friend Martha Ramos took our breath away with a solo song on the piano.

The always entertaining Pablo Vega Gutierrez was up next and he didn’t disappoint. He invited Elena Expósito up to play a cover of the Nico version of These Days (originally by Jackson Browne), and I joined them on keyboard. Bruno, of course, played percussion.

Padraig and Kester

Kester Jones stepped up afterwards for a blistering set of his own material, joined by yours truly on piano and the ubiquitous Bruno Ragone on the cajón. Next up, I played some of my own songs joined again by Kester and Bruno on electric guitar and cajón respectively. I can’t comment how it went down other than that the crowd seemed to be entertained, and we had a blast up on stage!

Tommy Goodall was next to take up the mantle, and after less than five minutes of coaching, Kester Jones was able to play along on bass, despite never having rehearsed with the group. Tommy’s own song, I Love You Sometimes, was the highlight of his set.

Richard Harris followed with a Jam meets The Clash set, rocking out on his Rickenbacker in a smart suit, showing up the rest of us for style, although he forwent the clamour to wear a hat, as opposed to almost every other male musician on the night.


Last up was the impressive Guillermo Valverde with his bluesy vocals, and the night turned into something of a jam, with Kester Jones stepping in on acoustic bass, Bruno Ragone as always on cajón, Ivo Martin on saxophone and electric guitar, and then halfway into the set I jumped up to play some keyboard.

Following the musical acts, the venue transformed into a dance floor with Richard Harris spinning Northern Soul, as more and more people poured in late. Eoghan Lyng, Pablo and Richard together won the prize for best shapes thrown, some of which were captured by Yasmin Alnajjar, the MASS house photographer.


After all the dancing, and a considerable amount of beer drunk, the musicians headed back to the instruments for a very quiet (as quiet as drunk musicians can be) unplugged acoustic jam and singalong. Special thanks to the owner and host with the most, Melf-Leve Palm, for his endless patience and generosity.

Hopefully the first of many such events, the night was a lot of fun, but more importantly raised much needed money for refugees, and with any luck it’s only the beginning of a partnership that can blossom and raise even more money for such a worthwhile cause. What with all the bad news that turns up on our news feeds every day, it’s wonderful to see some good things happening which, fingers crossed, will inspire more people to help out.

Late Night Group

If you feel like donating a couple of euros to MFR, check out this link:

[Photography: Yasmin Alnajjar]

About the author:
Originally from Kill Co. Kildare, Ireland, Padraig O’Connor moved to Madrid in 2009. He forms an integral part of the Malasaña musical scene, and his current musical projects can be found at

. He also writes his own music blog

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  1. Pingback: Una mirada retrospectiva al primer año de Madrid For Refugees - MadridForRefugees

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