Archive for October, 2007

Oxjam takes off in New Zealand

October 29, 2007

If we asked you what the most far-flung location for an Oxjam show you could think of would be, you might come up with the Scottish Highlands, or a beach down in Cornwall, but Oxjam’s been taking off on the other side of the world too! Oxfam New Zealand have been getting involved and putting on shows. Even better, they’ve put together a fantastic short film featuring loads of Kiwi pop stars shouting out about Oxjam, which you can watch right here:

To find out more about Oxjam in New Zealand, take a trip to the other end of this link.

It’s even been going on in Papua New Guinea – check out this excellent little jam session for evidence. Oxjam really has become a global phenomenon this year!

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‘A Night to Remember’ in Bristol

October 25, 2007

If you’d said to me a week ago that one of my Oxjam highlights would be watching a teapot sing ‘Cry Me A River’ and a rendition of ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’ on the saw, interspersed with breakdancing, poetry and African dance I probably would have let out an incredulous little giggle.

However, that’s just what happened on Friday night. In the Polish club in Bristol, Oxjam event organisers extraordinaires Trish Caverly and Amie Faal put on an evening of 12 (yes – 12!) acts that ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous – and were all fantastic.

Edson kicked off the evening with plenty of laughs with his Jamaican storytelling, and a bit of taking off his shirt for good measure. The youthful Ruby showed off her great voice and The Richmond 45s set toes tapping. The audience really went wild, however, when the Physical Jerks took to the stage with some sweet breakdancing.

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As if there wasn’t enough variety already, some stand-up comedy was thrown in for good measure from Aussie Midwife. Next into the mix was Bertel Martin who read his own moving poetry, inspired by his childhood in Bristol, black British identity and the trials of love.

The Suitcase Circus were… well, just bizarre! Although it started off with mostly the kids in hysterics, by the end of Madame Teapot singing ‘Cry Me A River’, I was thoroughly sold. Helen Sadler came on stage with a sampler loaded with bird noises and beats and looped her own voice to create two wonderfully refreshing and original experimental songs.

Pete Burns (no, not that Pete Burns) showed us what the saw as a musical instrument rather than a DIY aid sounds like. If you’re wondering, it’s fabulous. Also fabulous was Aminta, whose sensitive music was a real fusion of Senegalese and Western folk sounds.

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Sudanza Doris brought some beguiling rhythms vividly to life with African drumming and dance. And finally, the evening ended in true style with the tables being pushed aside and every man, woman, boy and girl boogieing on down to The Mandibles‘ infectious swinging gypsy jazz.

For me the whole event was the perfect example of Oxjam’s ethos – diverse talent, diverse audience, brilliant performances and loads of fun!

The crowd in Revolution

October 25, 2007

 

So after five months of planning it came down to one night… and what a night! Oxjam Revolution took place on Friday 12 October in Wolverhampton and successfully brought music and fundraising together.

The night before the gig saw my radio debut. As I waited for BBC WM Introducing to call me, I felt my heart pounding at an unhealthy rate, and I was seriously beginning to regret texting near enough every single person in my phone book asking them to listen in.

Even though I was a nervous wreck, the interview went well, I got my point across and sold the event as best I could. All I could do now was wait and hope that people would want to come along and show their support for Oxjam.

 

Going to bed that night I felt like a kid waiting for Christmas – I was too excited to sleep. As the day finally dawned I spent most of it running round, ticking things off my to-do list and checking, then double-checking that I had everything I needed.

Armed with banners, flyers and numerous collection tins that I would thrust upon my friends who had unknowingly volunteered themselves to collect donations, we set off.

Revolution

We arrived at Revolution at 6.00pm where the bands were ready and waiting to do their sound check when disaster struck! No sooner had I stepped foot in the door when Paul, who I had hired to help set up the sound equipment, informed me that there was no way of plugging the equipment in and that without a power source from somewhere, we would have no PA system.

 

Panic ran through me, I began to imagine the worst: what would I do if I didn’t have a sound system? All the people who had bought tickets would have to be given their money back and all the bands who had prepared sets would not be able to perform the songs they had rehearsed. My heart sank as my months of hard work had, in a matter of seconds, become undone.

So, in a last ditch attempt to save the event I ran to the nearest shop to buy as many extension leads I could get my hands on. I even had one of the soloists drive to a DIY store and by the longest cable he could find (thanks again Stefan!). Thankfully and gratefully, the last minute rush paid off and the sound system was soon up and running.

Thankfully, after everything, we were still on schedule.

 

Oxjam underway

I was so delighted to see that by 9.00pm, the place was very nearly full. So when Chris Matthews went on stage to open the event, he was playing to a hearty crowd of at least 150 people.

From that point onwards, the event went from strength to strength. More and more people were pouring through the doors until at one point the staff at Revolution informed me that we were at near enough full capacity. Chris Matthews, Beaton Track, Long Day Gone, Decision for the Masses, Mezzotonic and The Fake Tracies all played amazing sets.

Supporters were singing and dancing along, and the best thing about it, was that all of these people were here because of their love for live music and because they wanted to support the same cause – Oxjam.

The event was a major success with more than 200 people passing through the doors of Revolution and donating in their droves to raise an astonishing £1404.04 for Oxjam – an amount that totally surpassed and exceeded my aim of raising £500.

 

Rewarding experience

Oxjam Revolution has probably been one of the most exciting, stressful but rewarding experiences of my life. It has given me the knowledge, scope and experience to put my organisational skills to use and do something worthwhile.

I have made new friends and contacts – in particular I look forward to hearing The Fake Tracies in their live session on BBC WM Introducing. It has also built my confidence and it has got me one step closer to my dream of being able to do this for a living.

I only hope that someone out there is willing to give me the chance and the opportunity to do something like this again. There is a possibility of even doing another Oxjam gig in Revolution in Walsall.

And who knows, maybe one day I will be organising the line up for V or advertising the acts for Glastonbury… until then, Oxjam has been a blast!

Stevenage Oxjam Talent Show – We did it!

October 24, 2007

It’s finally all over, and now I feel slightly lost. There is a massive hole in my life where Oxjam was, and it’s all over for the year.

At 6.55pm on Friday 19th October, I was running around like a headless chicken, cutting banquet roll up while my mum stuck it to the table; Steve (my wonderful bf) and Dan (his best mate) were the hosts of the show and they were polishing off their script; my uncle was setting up the bar; my aunt was getting her head around the ticket prices; and the audience was queuing up outside the door.

We started letting people into the hall at 7.00pm and within five minutes we were putting extra chairs out. The tables were already full! I had only sold 75 tickets before the event – by the start of the show I had run out of voting slips and we had more than 210 people in the audience. Suffice to say the kids backstage were pretty nervous, as was I.

The show went brilliantly. Twelve acts, from singing, Irish dancing and ballet, to a rock band, pianist and modern dance troupes performed. There was something for everyone in the audience to enjoy. By the time the winner was announced, Steve and Dan had brilliantly introduced each act, gave a small but moving speech about Oxfam and Oxjam and what we do and the audience were eating out of their hands. So much so that when Steve told the audience we had raised £726 before we had announced the winner and we wanted any loose change that could be spared to reach my £750 target we ended up with a total of £768.50p. I couldn’t believe it.

And Jodie couldn’t believe that she won either. With a strong lead over the act in second place, Jodie was definitely a deserving winner, although I wasn’t too pleased that I had to play the piano again (I was accompanying her singing)!

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We were all tidied up and on our way home by ten, and we all went home tired but satisfied that we’d done a good job.

Unfortunately I’m going to have to take off my expenses, but Barnwell and Heathcote Schools in Stevenage were brilliant and helped raise an awful lot of money. I’m not sure I could run this event singlehandedly next year, as I should be in full-time work rather than a full-time student, but Barnwell School are keen to do it again, so maybe I’ll be their Oxjam co-ordinator and they can put the event on themselves next year? Watch this space.

Oxjam Nottingham Presents… 12 October 07 @ Junktion 7

October 22, 2007

Bison playing Oxjam Nottingham 2007

 

All playing as part of the month-long, city-wide Oxjam Nottingham music festival, tonight’s gig see’s Bison, Yunioshi, This Machine and One Eye, with Mr Jones introducing the bands and Percussion spinning the tunes, creating what can only be described as the biggest love-in Junktion 7 has ever seen.

 

One Eye get the crowd warmed up tonight with their infectious mix of uplifting jazz and blues. They’re soldiering on without their singer tonight as a instrumental four-piece, but that doesn’t seem to matter as the band set about transforming Junktion 7 in to an orgy of hip-moving and head-shaking with each and every tune. The perfect taster for what is about to come…

 

Mr Jones at Oxjam Nottingham 2007

 

Mr Jones, a poet, hip-hop wordsmith and all round top bloke, is the MC for tonight, introducing the acts whilst also doing his own thing. Firing off his rhymes that deal with the complexities and mundanity of everyday life, he’s a writer of great talent who is able to combine both wit and wisdom without ever being preachy. His rapid, yet down to earth delivery see’s the Junktion 7 crowd smiling and laughing along with him, hanging on very word Mr Jones has to say.

 

This Machine are the second band of the night to play. Relatively new to playing live, having only formed earlier in the year, their influences seem to come from all over the place. Starting their set with a jagged, edgy rock song, over the course of the set they dip and weave through reggae, funk, and dub all tinged with a ragged punk-folk edge.

 

This Machine at Oxjam Nottingham 2007

 

Yunioshi keep the feel-good atmosphere going. Yunioshi are a jewel in the crown of Nottingham bands; a three-piece of bass, guitar and keyboards: it’s hard to nail down their sound. ‘Eclectic’ is an often over-used word, so I will try not to use it here, as it doesn’t do them justice. Think Beck getting down and dirty with the Flaming Lips and Fonda 500 and you are close. Mixing folk, electronica, and random bleeps and blips with dashings of funk. Tonight at Junktion 7 they bounce and groove along with the vibrancy of a band who look like they are having so much fun and just want to get the crowd enjoying themselves. This gig marks their first  birthday and to celebrate they pass around homemade cakes to the audience. Simply wonderful.

 

Nottingham seems to be a home from home for Sheffield band Bison, who have played here on numerous occasions over the past three years. Tonight, their numerous members squeeze on to the Junktion 7 stage and fill the venue up with their addictive brand of upbeat ska. The energy that the band gives off quickly enraptures the audience and soon every soul in the room is dancing, skanking, prancing and romancing. The horns explode, the drums crash, the bass bounces. Tonight, Bison show that they are the ultimate party band, guaranteed to get everyone up dancing and having a good time. By the end of Bison’s set, the crowd, the bands, and even the walls of Junktion 7 are soaked to the bone with love, sweat and a little bit of sexiness… Tonight’s show was most definitely the musical equivalent of Viagra (without the fear of heart attack and baldness!).

Oxjam Cardiff Chill: Tonight!

October 22, 2007

Oxjam Cardiff Chill finally steps into the limelight for the first of its two gigs this year forming part of the Oxjam music festival. OCC took place for the first time last year and hopes to see even more success this month as it has developed greatly over the past twelve months.

The festival has become more interactive and there was great hope placed on a trial scheme: Oxjam Cardiff Swap. This started out with a small Oxjam badge back in June and following a number of successful swaps we ended up with a bamboo chair and table set. This is reaching the end of its spell on eBay and the culmination of the story will be announced at this evening’s event.

A CD has been compiled of all the artists that are playing at the festival this year including the special Oxjam Cardiff Chill song, ‘Comes Around’, which is also new for this year.

Last year we were able to raise almost £400, but this time round we hope that even more money will be able to go to Oxfam. A full write-up of tonight’s event will be posted here soon!

Hackney hatters jam for Oxfam

October 22, 2007

Last night, Oxjam tipped its hat to the monthly ‘Unsigned’ gig night at Bar Music Hall in Curtain Road, Shoreditch. This was a very different Oxjam gig to the one I had been to the night before, in a sweaty, intimate Oxford pub – showing the diversity of this festival. Murals on the wall, cocktails along the bar, smartly-dressed ‘after office hours’ drinkers filled the couches… and not a single beer I recognised! Oxjam had rolled up at an entirely different venue, even to that very unusual bookshop/gig venue just down the road in Dalston, which had famously hosted the likes of Jamelia, Killa Kella, Fatboy Slim and Hot Chip for the launch gigs just two weeks before.

On the bill last night were aDORE, The Colours, DJ Joe Disco and DJ Ralph. First up, though, was Jack Fowler; one man and a guitar gently building the atmosphere as flat, bobble, straw, woolly, beanie, baseball, bowler, trilby, beret, explorer and an array of other hats came in from the cold London streets (with people beneath them).

Next, aDORE burst onto the stage, full of energy, big hair and a few more hats. They got the crowd clapping, singing, and tapping their feet during their energetic set. Playing through a broken guitar string and leading the crowd in congratulating the ‘unsigned’ organisers for creating ‘Hatjam’ as part of the Oxjam music festival, they were a perfect second act for the night.

Baskets of new and used hats circulated the room so that anyone with a cold head could be suitably warmed up in time for The Colours – their drummer adorned with the kind of wide-brimmed hat usually seen at weddings and graduations. Somehow, when cymbals were being crashed, it didn’t look out of place at all. The Colours rounded off a very well organised Oxjam event with a well-rehearsed set, which suggests bigger venues than the Bar Music Hall could follow. Or perhaps smaller – maybe they could even play in that Dalston Oxfam shop one day…?

Oxjam is attracting a vast array of talent, ideas, styles and genres (and hats!) to thousands of venues around the country. It all started just down the road from here. The festival has now passed its halfway mark. The gigs that I have been to have proved that there is something for everyone. I’m sure the fundraising, music making and hat wearing are far from over.

Ox-Rave! (Newcastle)

October 22, 2007

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Standing on the quiet street outside The World Head Quarters, it would never be apparent that just a few steps away were more than 200 people raving as one. After donating to Oxfam on the door, guests were welcomed into the club by an array of free glow paint and glowsticks, with friendly volunteers on hand to design any body art desired. Once sufficiently crusty with paint, the crowds moved through some double doors and on into the rave.

 

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The room was so dark that all that could be seen were the fluorescent glows emanating from various areas of dancing bodies. Raised on a level above the crowd stood the DJ booth, housing one of three DJs, all of whom could easily be spotted by their luminous yellow tabards. The atmosphere was one of a crowd of friends, almost like being at a house party. Not one person sat on the sofas, every single guest was dancing to the electronica and drum ‘n’ bass resonating around the room.

The night proved so popular with the guests that the DJ was asked to continue for a further thirty minutes from the finish time, and even when the turntables stopped, the crowd were calling over and over for one more tune. Leaving slightly deafened, the mood was as high as ever, with further donations being left upon exit and the name of Oxjam firmly imprinted on people’s brains.

Gerry Dallas (Oxjam Newcastle event organiser)

Charity shop gigs – check this out!

October 18, 2007

Here’s a video diary of the Oxjam launch gigs in Dalston. Check this out for footage of all the big-name stars doing their thing to kick off the month of music.

Feel free to grab the video from YouTube and stick it on your own Oxjam site to spread the word…

A postcard from Oxjam Oxford

October 17, 2007

Last night was the first of two Oxjam shows I’m putting on here in Oxford, in a tiny (some would say dingy, others intimate) venue called the Port Mahon. Can’t get enough of Oxjam in our day jobs, Alicia and I, so we headed down to fit the PA, slap up the banners, man the doors and wait for the punters to pour in.

Having put on shows in Oxford for quite a few years now, the logistics pretty much sort themselves out these days, but given a few punctual bands, a backline drumkit and bass amp sorted out in advance and a soundman who knows his impedance from his foldbacks, we were on course for a good night. And thankfully some bands I’m close to also happen to be some of the best bands in town, so there was a great atmosphere of camaraderie as well as some top tunes to be had. One man band Theo kicked things off, weaving together guitars looped up on top of each other with delay pedals with driving drum work to pull off his own solo post-rock band action. The Winchell Riots were up next with an acoustic set, showcasing the voice and the songs that will make them Oxford’s ‘band most likely to’ in 2008. Eduard Sounding Block, by contrast, are a twelve-legged rock behemoth, blending Beefheart/Fantomas twists and turns with massive, massive riffs. And The Half Rabbits rounded things off with some fabulously twisted dark pop songs. Check out the links above for some great music from round our way.

So, 85 people in a room that fits (*ahem*, health and safety officers look away now) 60, £350 raised for Oxjam, and we’re off to do exactly the same again tonight. More of which tomorrow, no doubt.