12th October 2014
Oxjam Leicester Festival 2014
Oxjam is a national music festival that take place in the autumn of each year, in towns and cities right across the UK. Leicester has held Oxjam events for several years. The Oxjam music festivals raise money for the charity Oxfam. With over 1.2 million people attending Oxjam across the UK, it provides an opening to local live music like no other. Oxjam Leicester took place on Saturday 4th October 2014.
By Trevor Locke
This year’s Oxjam Festival included more venues than last year (see links below) and, as in previous years, included a very wide cross-section of musical styles, bands and artists. These were grouped together to some extent, so that, for example, all the hip-hop/r and b artists played at the City Link-up show at Havana. Not all venues did this; some had a mixed line-up offering a cross section of music.
Last year and the year before, the venues were limited to those in the Cultural Quarter. This year they were spread out, so that the distance between seeing someone play at The Criterion and then having to get down to the Soundhouse to see a band was considerable. Someone suggested to me that buses could run between the venues, like the ones they had for the Fringe Festival Thursday. Great idea I guess although it is all a question of cost.
The event is an enormous undertaking and, being a charity fund-raiser, it relies solely on the dedication of volunteers to both organise it, book all the acts and run it on the day. As with previous years, admission to the venues was through a wristband, sold though one central point. The 16 stages were open to those with a wristband costing £10.
All large-scale events are prone to the weather and, apart from some light showers in the morning, most of the day was dry. Oxjam takes place in the autumn and most of the events around the Country are held in October. On the plus side, this avoids the big music festivals that take place in the summer season. On the negative side, well it can be a bit colder and perhaps it’s more likely to rain.
We asked Elisabeth Barker-Carley – the Manager for Leicester Oxjam – if it had been a success. She told us:
“This year the venue attendance wasn’t as high as last year, however all the venues were busy throughout the day and the evening. The rain put people off slightly but when it was time for Kingsize to take to the main stage in Orton Square, the universe was kind to us and the entire square was absolutely rammed full of merry folk dancing.”
With 16 stages to fill, the number of artists and acts is going to be enormous. The task of running all those stages through the day and evening demands huge amounts of organisation. Elisabeth said:
“Roughly, 210 artists took part as we had some drop outs – but where this happened other acts were happy to take their place. Such as Part Of The Problem filling in last minute for Omaha and the wonderful Ian Bourne playing whenever he was needed.”
Oxjam is a popular option for people who make music; even though it is a charity event, many musicos are happy to donate their services and get the chance to play to people who might not have seen them before. Our Oxjam here in Leicester is one of the biggest in the UK, if not the biggest. Elisabeth told us:
“We were the first Oxjam to kick it all off, and the Leicester team are helping out at a few others. But we’ve had messages from the other teams nationwide congratulating us on our mad conquest of 16 stages!”
With so many volunteers keeping the ship afloat and the goodwill of such a large number of musicians, the thanks need to flow. Last word from Elisabeth:
“I’d also like to say a huge thank you to all the volunteers, the venues and the bands. And especially Dave The Rock Band for helping us out when we lost not only our main support but also our head-liner at The Exchange and doing an incredible two hour set!”
I was there all day; it was hard work just running round from one venue to the next but I enjoyed it and it was all in a good cause. I must also thank my colleagues for the work they put in: Keith Jobey and Kevin Gaughan.