OxJam2014

Saturday 4th October 2014

Oxjam Leicester Festival 2014

Oxjam is a national music festival that takes place in the autumn of each year, in towns and cities right across the UK. Leicester has held Oxjam events for several years. Today’s event was a highlight in Leicester’s live music calendar.

In this review we have ordered the acts by the venue at which they played. Even with three reporters we struggled to cover everything that was going on throughout what was a long day of music.  Some venues we didn’t even manage to get to. So, here is our selection of some of the many bands and artists that made this year’s Oxjam such a great event.

To find a particular band or act use the search on your computer. (Control F on Windows machines.)
Our reporters were Kevin Gaughan (KG), Keith Jobey (KJ) and Trevor Locke (TL) who also took the photos.

Orton Square stage

Alex Van Roose on the Orton Square Stage Oxjam 2014

Alex Van Roose on the Orton Square Stage
Oxjam 2014

Grabbing a bite to eat from one of the many food stands in Orton Square meant I could catch some of Alex Van Roose on the main stage there. With the imminent album release from his band Midnight Wire, this was a chance for Alex to play a few tracks from it. KJ. Singer Kristyna Myles gave people a very good set of songs. The singer and song-writer came all the way from Manchester to perform for us.

Echo Marley on the Orton Square Stage Oxjam 2014

Echo Marley on the Orton Square Stage
Oxjam 2014

A very impressive performance it was too. It was very enjoyable to see Echo Marley and the Musical Warriors on the stage. Their set of reggae songs brightened up the day no end. Music to chase away the chill. Heart-warming, foot-tapping rhythms from the seven musicians of this band (which I have seen before.) Good to see Alex Van Roose again today. Alex is the lead singer with Leicester band Midnight Wire. Their album launch is coming up at the Y Theatre on 19th December. A night not be missed. If you can’t wait that long, Alex will also be performing solo at Jonezy’s album launch on 15th November at The Shed. TL.

The Simpletones on the Orton Square Stage Oxjam 2014

The Simpletones on the Orton Square Stage
Oxjam 2014

One very popular attractive in Orton Square was the performance by Leicester’s famous a-capella singing group The Simpletones. TL.

Kingsize on the Orton Stage Square Oxjam 2014

Kingsize on the Orton Stage Square
Oxjam 2014

Dave The Rock Band. Popular songs and  lashings of musical entertainment were in good supply from this band of talented musicians.

Dave The Rock Band Oxjam 2014

Dave The Rock Band
Oxjam 2014

Kingsize is a local band that has played at Oxjam before and their vibrant set of ska songs is always a great attraction.

The crowd enjoying Kingsize in Orton Square Oxjam 2014

The crowd enjoying Kingsize in Orton Square
Oxjam 2014

The Ale Wagon

Jake Manning at The Ale Wagon Oxjam 2014

Jake Manning at The Ale Wagon
Oxjam 2014

Here is Kevin Gaughan’s video of Jake Manning at The Ale Wagon

Jake’s band Careen supported By The Rivers earlier this year. when Jake played at The Shed on January 26, we wrote: ‘Jake Manning opened his set with the jaunty and evocative song The Mutineer, accompanying himself on his hallmark 12-string guitar, being joined on stage by Becca O’Hara for Don’t let the devil steal your blues.’ [Music in Leicester]

Kenneth J Nash at the Ale Wagon Oxjam 2014

Kenneth J Nash at the Ale Wagon
Oxjam 2014

Kenneth J Nash is an established artist who has played in Leicester many times.

Grace Jenkinson at The Ale Wagon Oxjam 2014

Grace Jenkinson at The Ale Wagon
Oxjam 2014

Grace Jenkinson is a well-known singer from Leicester. She performed in January at the obsUnplugged show at The Musician. TL.

Basement

The after party. After Oxjam all I could do was to eat and sleep. TL

Bossa

Goodnight From Him, Open Mic, Ayolah Hanley, Samuel Pollen, Christopher James Smith, Specta (DJ). From the Facebook events page.

The Criterion

Live Comedy brought to you from The Same Faces from 7pm.

Duffy’s Bar

Open Mic with Stu Whiston and Andrea Kenny.

The Exchange

Ash Mammal. Ash Mammal are a quality act so I opted to bring my Oxjam day to a close at the Exchange watching them. It was busy in there and Ash Mammal delivered. One of Leicester’s more distinctive and original bands I’m looking forward to see what the future holds in store for them. KJ.

Fourteen Down play at The Exchange Oxjam 2014

Fourteen Down play at The Exchange
Oxjam 2014

Fourteen Down were playing in the morning. The Leicester rock band put on a lively and vibrant performance, despite the lack of audience at that time. TL.

The Firebug

The advertised line-up for the Firebug was: Hip Hop Karaoke from 10pm. So more of an after-party then.

Havana

Today’s show at Havana was organised by City Link-Up. I was there to see Jonezy, one of our most well-known and successful rap artists.

Jonezy at the City-Link UP show Oxjam 2014

Jonezy at the City-Link UP show
Oxjam 2014

Jonezy sang his new song Fightback, which has a political message before launching into the rocket-fuelled metal infused Mental. A prolific writer of songs, he also performed another of his new pieces Break Sweat which will feature on this new album to be launched on 15th November. One thing you always note about a Jonezy performance is his split-second timing – he never misses a beat. His energy comes from splitting the atom, his performances always being of nuclear levels. Today he was as fired-up and driven as always.

Rappers performing at Havana Oxjam 2014

Rappers performing at Havana
Oxjam 2014

Dibbz, Sly, Ali Flex and Lacky C were some of the rappers performing on stage today. Leicester is not all about rock; our hip-hop scene is equally as vibrant and this particular group of artists have done much over the years to fly the flag for rap. So too has City Link-Up organiser Cyrlene Braithwaite, whose extensive knowledge of the urban genres has brought so many fabulous artists to our local stages.

Jonezy and singer Carol Leeming at Havana Oxjam 2014

Jonezy and singer Carol Leeming at Havana
Oxjam 2014

If you have not been to Havana before, it is a big nightclub, it’s main room having a large DJ box and a bit of a raised stage, a little similar to Streetlife but with the night club ambience of light shows and glitter balls. TL

LCB Depot

The rain had stopped as I moved on to the LCB Depot (from The Turkey Cafe) to catch Nuneaton based singer/songwriter Ian Bourne. An entertaining set from a likeable character. I caught Meri Everitt singing her last song. Fortunately I was able to catch Meri later with Flying Kangaroo Alliance. The absence of Nancy Dawkins from the Leicester music scene since she moved away to university has been noticeable. So it was good to see her back to play at Oxjam. Hearing that pure voice with the minimalistic guitar playing again was a treat. KJ.

Elana Montgomery at The Depot Oxjam 2014

Elana Montgomery at The Depot
Oxjam 2014

Elana Montgomery opened the day’s programme at The Depot. Her well-chosen and attractive set of songs were beautifully sung. A fine singer, her set was a very pleasing start to the long day of music. TL.

Manhattan 34

Siobhan Mazzei managed to fill the small basement of Manhattan. I’ve always thought Siobhan was great, but today in front of a mesmerized crowd who would have listened to her for hours, it was clear to me that she could easily move to a much higher level. Scribble Victory are an acoustic two-piece from Derby featuring a guitarist and a stand up drummer. School friends who are due to release their new album, they played a lively folk-pop style with plenty harmonising. KJ. I have to agree with Keith, Siobhan Mazzei’s performance was stunning. I have always rated her as one of the foremost female singers and song-writers of Leicester. Today she delivered a set that was consummate bliss from beginning to end. It seems like ages since I last saw Siobhan and so I was particularly pleased to see her again at Manhattan. In my opinion, this was one of the highlights of the festival. With her powerful voice and passionate songs, she is one of the most distinguished artists on the local acoustic scene. The audience’s enthusiasm that greeted her songs was amazing and richly justified. TL Kevin Hewick is always great entertainment but sadly I didn’t have time to catch his full set at Manhattan. What I did catch though was excellent; top quality delivery of his songs interspersed with lots of engaging banter in a nice venue. KJ.

Matt Zara is a young musician who has played at many events, bringing his impressive instrumental skills and lively delivery.

Matt Zara at Manhattan Oxjam 2014

Matt Zara at Manhattan
Oxjam 2014

Ramada Encore

I’ve been looking forward to seeing Courtney Askey for some time. Sporting a Jesus and Mary Chain t-shirt and playing a lovely sparkly Fender Super-Sonic won her bonus points from me. I can imagine a band fitting nicely around her, but at the same time her songs are solid enough to be performed like they were today, just her and her gorgeous electric guitar. KJ.

Initial Thought at the Ramada Encore Oxjam 2014

Initial Thought at the Ramada Encore
Oxjam 2014

The Shed

Time to head to the Shed and see The Bowbridge Band. The Leicester three-piece played a tight alt-rock set. With shared vocal duties and good song writing there was a good variety in their sounds. Back to the Shed, later in the day, to see South Leicestershire band Bleech Box, a four-piece pop/alt/punk band. Their influences can be clearly heard in their music, and they’re writing good songs. A likeable band as far as I’m concerned. Part Of The Problem from Leicester opening with a self titled number were quick to grab your attention. A mixture of styles drawing on reggae, hip hop and rap as well as a lot of other genres. Oxjam always seems to help me stumble upon something great that I had not picked out. This year for me it was Numbers On The Board playing downstairs at the Shed. Mixing electronic beats with live drumming and occasional live guitar they delivered 30 minutes of excellent music to a crowd that gradually grew from two when I joined them. KJ.

Empire 35 at The Soundhouse Oxjam 2014

Empire 35 at The Soundhouse
Oxjam 2014

Part Of The Problem Next at the Shed, Leicester band Part Of The Problem opening with a self titled number were quick to grab my attention with a mixture of styles drawing on reggae, hip hop and rap as well as a lot of other genres. Interesting and different, equals good. KJ. Here is Kevin Gaughan’s video of one of their songs at the Soundhouse.

Mr. Wolf playing at The Shed Oxjam 2014

Mr. Wolf playing at The Shed
Oxjam 2014

When I got to The Shed there was a band playing. They were all wearing shorts, so I thought , they must be good. Mr. Wolf gave us some good stuff. It bounced around the room, bubbling with infectious rhythms and ear-licking music. Pretty soon the whole room was dancing to their infectious cocktail of funk and ska. The chump rockers from Derby ramped up the night no end. Good music and nice shorts.

Smokin' The Profit playing at Oxjam 2014

Smokin’ The Profit playing at Oxjam 2014

At length the band I went there to see emerged on to the stage. Long have I been a fan of Smokin’ The Profit.; great is their music. After long and dinner-less day my batteries were running low. Nothing could revive the waning spirits more than a delicious dose of Leicester’s fathers of funk. I have never tired to seeing them even after all these years. TL.

Smokin' The Profit at The Shed Oxjam 2014

Smokin’ The Profit at The Shed
Oxjam 2014

As they themselves say ‘Punk rock with a big ol’dollop of ska, a dash of blues and a lot of heart!‘ Too true. Read my article on their album launch from April.  As I said in that one:’ If you don’t know Smokin’ The Profit yet, all I can say is “where have you been for the last eight years.” One of Leicester’s longest-serving bands.’ TL.

Smokin' The Profit at The Shed Oxjam 2014

Smokin’ The Profit at The Shed
Oxjam 2014

The Soundhouse

The sun was shining by the time I arrived at The Soundhouse. I was in time to catch the tail end of The World Can Wait, a band I’ve heard plenty about but never seen live.

The World Can Wait at The Soundhouse Oxjam 2014

The World Can Wait at The Soundhouse
Oxjam 2014

They sounded good and looked the part, but I didn’t hear enough of them. One for another time. At Western Park Festival back in July Flying Kangaroo Alliance had an uncertain future. The future is never certain but they were certainly back today along with new drummer Styx and two new songs. What’s more they were in a buoyant mood, delivering a powerful set and looking fantastic in the excellent Soundhouse lights. New song Be Myself fitting into the set particularly well. KJ.

Idle Empire at The Soundhouse Oxjam 2014

Idle Empire at The Soundhouse
Oxjam 2014

Idle Empire, a trio from Leicester and Nottingham, had some good songs. Alex Oxley was one of the singers.

Sulley Archer with The World Can Wait Oxjam 2014

Sulley Archer with The World Can Wait
Oxjam 2014

I made sure I was there to see The World Can Wait because this is one of the Leicester bands that has made waves on the local scene. They put on a great set; as a band they have always been good but today’s set proved that now they are even better. The many flying hours of live shows they have had this year confirms that they are a formidably good band with lashings of passion and presence to add to their engaging and enjoyable songs.

Oliver Kidd-Martin with 8 Miles High Band Oxjam 2014

Oliver Kidd-Martin with 8 Miles High Band
Oxjam 2014

Another of the young bands that defines the current music scene around here is 8 Miles High. It was not surprising that rather a lot of people had turned out to see them today. Their set sparkled with presence and power.

Oliver Kidd-Martin with 8 Miles High Band at the Soundhouse

Oliver Kidd-Martin with 8 Miles High Band at the Soundhouse

The vocals and performance delivery was lead singer Oliver Kidd-Martin was splendid. Over the past year, the band has shown that they are given to exploring new musical ideas and they could easily rest on their laurels but are vigorously looking for new material. It was an impressively good performance.

The Bench That Rocked at The Soundhouse Oxjam 2014

The Bench That Rocked at The Soundhouse
Oxjam 2014

The Bench That Rocked also fall into that category of young bands that play marvellously well. Their highly-powered rock songs are party classics. Whether doing covers or their own songs, this is a band that never fails to please. Beneath The Lights kept the momentum going, keeping the room full of fans and giving them a belting set of rock tunes. Their compelling music, lively performance and engaging playing gave us a seriously good selection of songs. I could have stayed much longer – there was plenty on offer at the Soundhouse but I could not miss one of the great bands of Leicester, so it was off to The Shed for me for some Smokin’. TL.

Beneath The Lights

Beneath The Lights at The Soundhouse Oxjam 2014

Beneath The Lights at The Soundhouse
Oxjam 2014

The Bench That Rocked Band and Jonezy Oxjam 2014

The Bench That Rocked Band and Jonezy
Oxjam 2014

Empire 35 (signed to AML records) played at the Soundhouse: here is a video of one of their songs by Kevin Gaughan  and here is another one to watch.

The Flying Kangaroo Alliance Oxjam 2014

The Flying Kangaroo Alliance
Oxjam 2014

Watch Flying Kangaroo Alliance performing their song Be Myself at The Soundhouse.

Spark Karaoke Bar

Not many people know where Spark is. It is easy to find, being opposite Curve and just across the road from The Athena. According to the festival they provided ‘good old fashioned Karaoke all day and night!’ but none of us ventured in to check it out. Sorry.

The Turkey Cafe

Our man at The Turkey writes: It wasn’t the best way for the festival to begin, heading through the streets under a grey sky dispensing constant rain. So once my wrist band was acquired I opted for the Turkey Café on Granby Street. Michael Webster was close to finishing his set as I got there. I caught his last two songs, both of which were good. Leicester based Hannah Haley continued where Michael Webster left off with some more decent songs. Her song ‘November’ seeming to echo how it felt outside. Joe Doyle under the pseudonym Homeless Shakespeare took to the mic. next. His short set of bluesy songs got extended with a cover of House of The Rising Sun when it became clear that the next act wasn’t there. I’d intended to catch Les Hayden and then move on but Les didn’t make it due to illness. After a bit of discussion it was decided that Matt Humphries may as well start early so I thought I ought to catch some of his set before moving on. This turned out to be a good call. The 17 year old from Loughborough was impressive, despite only playing to an audience consisting of myself, his family and the other performers. Filling his sound out with a loop pedal he showed a lot of promise. Attracted by the name as much as anything, it was back to a much livelier Turkey Café to see Acid Haystack and the Shattered Villain. They are an alternative folk/bluegrass duo featuring guitar and fiddle/banjo and a fairly recent addition to the local scene. Next the Turkey Café resonated to the powerful voice of Celia Allsop backed by the guitar of Lon Fisher as Elysian took the stage. KJ.

15 Free Lane

We didn’t even know where this venue was but its advertised line-up was: Hannah McNally, George Gordon, Speakeasy, Lambone Splinter, Kevlar And Discojelly (DJs).

It was a good day; Oxjam is an ideal opportunity for people to sample a wide cross section of what our local music scene has to offer. An as event is celebrates all styles of music and is unusual, if not unique, in setting out a showcase of do much of our local music talent.

The full programme for the festival

The full programme from the brochure by Oxjam 2014

The full programme from the brochure
by Oxjam 2014

See also:

See our article on Oxjams past.

Our overview of Oxjam 2014

Our slide-show of photos from the festival

Hear John Sinclair and Kevin Gaughan’s Podcast – where they interview some of the artists who took part.

Visit the website about Things to do Leicester.