The past half a decade is only the foundations for Finbar Hoban Presents

Man in the middle: Finbar Hoban with Delorentos before one of his Finbar Hoban Presents shows.

Man in the middle: Finbar Hoban with Delorentos before one of his Finbar Hoban Presents shows.

Five years ago, frustrated with the lack of live music and the lack of opportunity for original acts to get gigs, Finbar Hoban decided rather than just grumble and complain about the situation in Castlebar, to take on the issue and go and do something about it. Starting off with just a germ of an idea and then putting on his first small show, five-years and a one week ago, he’s seen his Finbar Hoban Presents venture grow and bloom, to where he is now, an independent promoter brings some of the best names on the Irish music scene to Castlebar throughout the year. “It’s been an interesting five years, from when we did our first show with local acts, it all started very small with local bands. At the time, I just wanted to really do a night to see how it went and try and give musicians in the town somewhere to play. Because at the time, there was literally nowhere really for them to go and play.”

But from the start, it wasn’t just about putting on bands who played covers to get punters in the door, he wanted it to be a little different from the norm in the town.

“I always wanted it to be different, I knew what I wanted to do and I still know to this day, I know exactly what I want from the shows and who I want to be playing at the shows.” Being able to play live and bring an energy and enthusiasm to a show that will have people wanting more, has always been key to his philosophy over the past five years. “It’s very important that they can put on a very good live show. I always think it’s very, very important that a band does a better live show than what they sound like recorded. Just to impress the crowd and get them to come back, the next night and the night after again. There are a lot of acts around the country that are a better live act than they are on record. To me running live shows, the most important thing to me is their live performance. I wouldn’t put on an act I haven’t seen live.”

After starting off very local at the birth of this adventure, it was time to move around the country and try and get acts who wouldn’t normally stop off in Castlebar on their tours to give him a chance to find them an audience in the county town. “It can be tough rooting around and trying to see the acts live, but I always try to head off to Dublin or Galway or wherever once or twice a month to see these bands and whose playing in the smaller venues and making waves. There was an awful lot of back and forth over the first few months and years.” But once you get to see who you want that’s when the real hard work really starts. “It’s all about networking, that’s what the game is about, it’s about meeting new people and the people who are looking after the bands, that’s how you make your name too. Then getting them to trust you, that’s the main thing. It’s moved on to where I’m now able to bring Therapy? to Castlebar, it didn’t register to me back when we started I’d be able to do that.”

Growing up and moving on

The first act who were making big waves in the Irish scene that Finbar brought to Castlebar was Director and at that stage he knew he needed to up his game and that this could really go somewhere for him. “Director was the first big show, that was a major step up for me. It let people here and in the business see I was taking a big step up. After that night, I knew I had to up the game on this and keep it going and growing.” By deciding to try and bring in bigger named acts, it was time for the number of shows to be scaled back according to Finbar. “That then led to running shows on a less regular basis, but upping the quality. Not that the quality before that wasn’t 100 per cent, but it needed to be spaced out. For such mundane things as financial reasons too. It’s not easy running shows once a month and all that goes with it, from promoting to tickets and feeding bands, even doing up posters, that’s all money. It’s very hard to keep on top of that all the time, every month.”

Over the past five years, And So I Watch You From Afar, Kerbdog and Whipping Boy have all stopped off in Castlebar for a Finbar Hoban Presents gig and this October Therapy? are the next to check in at Castlebar venue under his promotion banner. But there is no one genre of music for Finbar. “As long as they’re good, they could be mainstream rock, pop, Americana there are no hard a fast rules as long as they can put on a good show and they are enticing and I’m looking at it and saying, ‘yah that’s someone I’d like to see’ and I think people would too.” The past half a decade has seen the gigs pass through a few venues from the former Bar Ritz for the first few years and now onto the Ruby Room in the TF Royal. “We’ve moved up in sizes of venues, we’re up in the Ruby Room in the TF, it’s nice to move up to that level of size and venue, we’d some great shows in Bar Ritz and then the Clubhouse. But it’s good to have moved up to this size room.”

Time to move to the next level

While some may be happy with reaching the level he has, Finbar has eyes on a few bigger prizes and is looking forward to the next five years of Finbar Hoban Presents. “The way I see it after this, I believe in my own mind it’s to go international and try and bring in a few UK acts next year. Obviously I want to keep the Irish roots there and give new and original bands and stage to perform on, but for growing Finbar Hoban Presents, I’ll hope to take it up to the next level. It’s another challenge, a whole lot of new networking and contacts to make. I’ve only laying the concrete in the foundations for the past five years, there’s a lot more to come, the walls and windows have to come yet, it’s a long time before we’ll be done with this yet.”

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