Live Review: Oxjam

Oxjam rolled into Glasgow on Saturday the 14th of October – and when I saw the red and pink Oxjam banners illuminating the bars and buildings of Sauchiehall Street I knew this would be an extraordinary night out in Glasgow.

Oxjam is a music and arts festival that brings together local talent to perform in venues across the city to raise money for Oxfam’s life-saving work.  The event started in 2006 and this year there were 38 Oxjam festivals across the UK.

After 12 years Oxjam is the biggest grassroots music festival in the UK.

Glasgow’s festival took place over 8 much-loved venues in the city centre and each offered something unique.

The basement of iCafe on Sauchiehall Street was an acoustic sanctuary of guitars with hand-crafted lyrics, as well as poetry and spoken word and some comedy too.  A selection Glasgow’s up and coming singers performed their music drawing on contemporary and retro influences, often in a busking style that is so famous in this city.  The spoken word poets brought a blend of the serious and the stupid, and always the Scottish slant for the home crowd.

I caught up with one singing duo, Mandulu and Hephzibah, made up of Sabrina Mandulu and Erin Hephzibah (both 19 and from Pollock).  The girls have known each other since school and have always been involved in arts and performing, in 2016 they became a duo with their own material and set lists that have taken them to places like New York.  They reflected on their performance: “We both enjoyed our performance, and hopefully our audience did too. We got great responses and support from them and the staff so it was a very relaxed and enjoyable day. We both would like the opportunity to work with Oxfam and other charities in the future”.

Mandulu & Hephzibah
Mandulu & Hephzibah

The band have an exciting few months ahead: “On the 20th of October we will be supporting Paolo Nutini at the Paisley Abbey as part of the Spree Festival in Paisley, something we are overjoyed about.”

Speaking to the bands and listening to the spoken word artists inspired from Glasgow’s art scene, you realise Oxjam’s very unique offer: bands and artists get a platform in Glasgow and the punters get a memorable and diverse Saturday night out; all the while, as the music dies down and the revellers sing-on home, Oxfam is a little closer to ending world poverty for good – local music, global impact.

With Oxjam being all about showcasing Glasgow’s musical and artistic talent, the Art School was a fitting venue for the main stage in the evening.  One band playing were The Ronains who describe themselves as a “filthy mix of classic rock, glam and grunge” – and they wowed the Art School crowd with this indie mix.  They were followed by bands Static Union, The Belafonte, and Ocevns jamming well into the night and gave performances worthy of the biggest venues in Glasgow.

The Ronains
The Ronains

I could only just scratch the surface of Oxjam’s Glasgow Takeover because there was so much going on – and with the Oxjam wristband party-goers had access to all of it and every venue. Manager Lindsey McGhie spoke to me afterwards about the night which raised just under £3,500: “Oxjam Glasgow was a huge success again due to hard work of the volunteers, musicians, venues, sound & light companies and local businesses.  And, yet again, the people of Glasgow turned out to support our cause in their hundreds.  Thank you!”

Check out Oxjam’s Glasgow Takeover Facebook page for more info, photos and videos:

By Chris Park