Oxjam 2014 | Interview

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This October great local music will sweep the nation with the return of Oxjam, we caught up with Bristol organiser Owen Dowsett to chat about what will be going on in our area.

So fill us in on what will be happening for this years Oxjam Bristol?

So much! As with previous years the Takeover will be based around Stokes Croft because that’s where all the best stuff happens in Bristol. We’ve got nine venues in the area that will all be staging live music of one sort or another, starting at 3pm and going on until the early hours. In total, we’ll have over fifty local acts performing ranging from singer-songwriters at our wristband exchange at the Canteen to a mix of high-energy sets at the Attic Bar. We’re also lucky enough to have the support of BIMM and Access to Music who will be co-hosting stages at No. 51 and Crofters Rights. There will be mostly funk and soul at LeftBank and a mix of afrobeat and samba reggae at Plantation, while Lavish and the People’s Republic of Stokes Croft (on Jamaica Street) will offer something a little different. So, yes, there will be plenty going on!

What’s the ethos behind the event and why is it important?

The Oxjam Takeovers are part of a nationwide fesitval of music that takes place every October to showcase local music and raise money for Oxfam in it’s fight against global poverty. The events are entirely organised by volunteers who feel passionately about the need to confront injustice and recognise the potential of music to do something about it. One statistic that I always remember and has kept me focused over the past few months is that the world’s eighty richest people own the same wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion. That’s half the world’s population! So if we can offer musicians the platform to do what they love, whilst also supporting the effort to make the world a better place, that can only be a good thing.

It’s obviously a really positive event, what would you say to people wanting to get involved?

I’d say just do it! It’s probably a little late to join the takeover as a volunteer this year but I’d encourage as many people as possible to buy a ticket and join us for the music on the 18th. And if they decide they’d like to be more actively involved in putting it on next year, then keep an eye out for volunteer adverts from April onwards. There are always aspects of the takeover that can be improved and we’re always keen to hear from people with new ideas and a ‘can do’ attitude. It’s very much a case of the more the merrier in planning something like this.

There’s plenty of fantastic acts playing at the Bristol Takeover, who are you most excited to have on-board?

Tricky question! For my own tastes, I’m delighted that we’ve got Mankala performing at Plantation this year. These guys are great and always put on a show – it’s impossible not to start moving! It’s the same with other high-energy bands like Crinkle Cuts (Attic Bar), The Inexplicables (LeftBank) and Phoenix Club (Crofters Rights). But I’m also excited about some of the up and coming acts we’ve got involved. With Access to Music and BIMM involved, I’m confident that for some performers this will be a stepping stone to stardom!

Lastly it seems to grow year upon year, any particular targets for the 2014 event?

Well there are always fundraising targets and in that regard we’re just hopeful of surpassing last year’s total which reached £3900. But, more than anything, I want to make sure that everyone has a good time and we stage a show that can be built on next year. That means keeping the ticket-buyers happy, but it also means treating the musicians well, working effectively with the venues, and making sure that all our volunteers are inspired to help out again. If I can’t get into venues because they’ve reached they’re capacity I’ll be delighted!

Well there we have it, get on down to Stokes Croft on the 18th.

Check out Liberto Wolf who’ll be playing at the event: