Feature: Oxjam Bournemouth 2011

(Photos: Tim Churchill)

When shaping people’s behaviour or even their way of life, music can be extraordinarily effective. Whether you prefer acoustic, electro or metal, music has always been a phenomenally influential medium, with the potential to bring out the best in people. So pair the act of gig-going with the knowledge that every penny spent will contribute to saving lives across the world and you’re set to triumph. The launch night for Oxjam Bournemouth 2011 is just around the corner and it’s the perfect opportunity to embrace your local music scene and aid communities who desperately need Oxfam’s help.

The Oxjam music festivals are entirely the work of volunteers and encompass hundreds of events across the UK in separate regions. These have helped raise more than £1.5 million for Oxfam, since the first festival in 2006. Oxfam priorities in providing aid to those affected by emergencies, funding long-term projects to combat poverty and campaigning around the world for change from leaders.

Last year Bournemouth saw its first ever Oxjam event which brought together a variety of local musicians, multiple venues and of course the paying customers, whose attendance resulted in thousands being raised – the fifth highest amount of every regional team in the country. Not bad! Of course the time and energy of the local Oxjam volunteers made this achievement possible.

Trail blazer for Bournemouth town is Oxjam regional manager Tony Foster. When Oxfam approached him at the start of 2010 with the proposition of organising an Oxjam festival he gladly accepted, describing the decision as a “no brainer”. Hard at work, Tony is an example of an individual who’s every ounce of time and energy is manifested in to something they’re passionate about and for the benefit of others.  As a dedicated music promoter in the Bournemouth area and editor of local music website – bhone.co.uk, he is well familiarised with the local scene and particularly experienced in organising fundraising gigs. “It’s just a simple way of raising several hundred pounds and, for a bigger event, several thousand pounds!” he explains. You could say that he was the perfect candidate to take the reins of an enormous project like Oxjam. “I really enjoy doing it and I don’t see any negatives. Oxjam is obviously a bigger thing entirely than just putting on a gig and just raising money for charity. But yeah I’ve always really enjoyed it. Like I say, it makes music promotion worthwhile really.

“What we want to try to encourage this year is for people to walk from venue to venue checking out the bands. It’s supposed to be a bit like The Camden Crawl, where you buy a wristband and go from venue to venue. So if one venue, say, is playing jazz, one venue is playing metal, one venue is playing hip-hop, it’s quite rare that you’re gonna get people enjoying, you know… [All genres]. So what we want to try to do is make each venue appealing to everyone.” Careful planning is in order then to ensure everybody will check out a mixture of venues over The Takeover Weekend, as well as stick around certain venues and perhaps witness performances from bands they wouldn’t normally have tried. 

The Neon Tigers

One thing is certain and it’s that Oxjam Bournemouth 2010 received a positive response from local bands following the events. Jon Kearley, guitarist for alternative rock outfit The Neon Tigers, says: “Oxjam was fantastic and we thoroughly enjoyed playing it last year! Everyone present seemed to be having a great time and there was a nice sense of community amongst the bands playing. We were lucky enough to play two events for it, a Thursday fundraiser at O’Neill’s and the Sunday of the Takeover Weekend at the Old Firestation. Both were really enjoyable gigs and the crowds at both were really vocal and supportive.

“We’d definitely be up for playing it again this year so hopefully they will ask us back. Anything that helps bring the local music scene together and does it for a great cause has to be good!”

It’s not just musicians who will be performing either. Other entertainment is lined up for Oxjam 2011 including burlesque shows, poetry, a selection of DJs and who knows what else Tony and his team will throw in to the mix? “It will be primarily live music, but we could have done some comedy last year” Tony said, “I’d like to include some comedy this year.” With this amount of enthusiasm from the volunteers and artists alike, this year’s Oxjam is already set to be very enjoyable, highly rewarding and memorable experience for everyone involved.

The launch night is scheduled for Saturday 7 May, from 3pm until midnight at Chaplins/Cellar Bar in Boscombe and will involve live bands and DJs. By attending the upcoming fundraisers and gigs over the Takeover Weekend in October, you’ll not only be supporting local talent, but contributing to the saviour of international communities that are desperate for aid. Since dozens of other regional teams taking part, don’t let Bournemouth be put to shame. Come together and experience the diversity and talent that this town has to offer.

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