Things are starting to take off for Bermuda’s musical trio The Simons Brothers, who have just released their first album.
Breakthrough, the culmination of years of hard work and dedication by Jonathan, 18, Solomon, 16 and Leonardo, 12, was completed as the siblings made a name for themselves as entertainers across Bermuda.
The release follows their first overseas performance, in Panama in January, leading them to proudly announce to The Royal Gazette: “We are now international artists!”
Originally from Somerset, they have been playing instruments ever since they can remember. Encouraged by their musical parents Ondra and Winnelle Simons, they’ve performed everywhere, from nursing homes to the main stage at the 35th America’s Cup, with Jonathan on lead guitar, Solomon on keyboards and “Leo” on drums.
Breakthrough, their album of ten instrumental songs, four of which are original tracks, has been in the making since last summer. Jonathan explained: “We knew we needed an album because every time we performed people were asking if we had a CD. Once we started making our own music we thought, this is the time to do it. It’s a great milestone but it is a stepping stone for greater things to come. The only way is up from here.”
Solomon added: “One of our best original songs was called Breakthrough, which is why we named the album after it but also because this is our first album — it is a breakthrough for us musically.”
It’s hard to pin their music down to a single genre. Their influences are as diverse as Steve Vai and Stevie Wonder and they tend to fuse reggae, soca, rock, pop and Latino styles. The original songs on the album are Skip, Breakthrough, I Cry and Day Dream while the covers include songs from the likes of The Gypsy Kings, Earth, Wind & Fire and the Jackson 5.
Jonathan described it as “music that sparkles”.
“It’s fusion, so if you are not into reggae, you may like what we do with it; if you are not into soca, you might like a little bit of this and a little bit of that.”
Solomon added: “It’s instrumental but the songs still have meaning — they have feeling and energy. Everyone can enjoy it.”
After years of rehearsing in their family home in Somerset and more recently Devonshire, The Simons Brothers began performing at Chewstick’s open mic sessions; in 2012, they won the Best Band under 13 Award at the Bermuda’s Youth Got Talent competition.
They plugged away, performing for free at rest homes and charitable functions before landing a gig with the Bermuda Festival for the Performing Arts’ Doowop Project in 2016.
New Year’s Eve shows at the Fairmont Southampton and the Christmas party of Michael Dunkley when he was Premier followed. In 2017, they shared the stage with the “Queen of Soca” Allison Hinds and Third World, as they performed on the main stage of the America’s Cup.
Their performances in Central America set them on a new course. They’d hoped to take the stage at the Panama Jazz Festival but were too late signing up; organisers helped them land gigs elsewhere in the capital city.
Jonathan said: “It was great just knowing that people outside of Bermuda really like our music. We want to travel the world performing our music and inspiring people — that is the goal.”
They agree that being in a band with siblings has its pros and cons, with squabbling inevitable. Said Leo: “There’s no way to get out of it. [But] being brothers is [also] an advantage because we get to practice more and the vibe is easier. You know when you make a mistake you can back each other up because there’s that connection we have.”
Solomon added: “It’s almost like we can read each other’s minds, everyone can sense what we’re going to do.”
Asked what he loved most about being a musician, he said: “To be able to control a crowd’s mood and seeing how what you created affects them. That is a great feeling.”
•Breakthrough is available on Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music, Pandora, Amazon and Deezer. It is also available, for $20, from www.thesimonsbrothersband.com >