While everyone's happy to help charities such as Oxfam to raise money, it can't hurt to have a bit of fun in the process. That was the thought behind the 2006 launch of Oxjam, where music lovers come together to rock out across various venues over three weekends this month (dates below) — and all in the name of charity.
With 10 Oxjams taking place across London, there's a huge variety of choice, so we've picked out a few highlights of each below. Advance tickets are available via the links in each section below, generally costing around a tenner or less, plus booking fees — although 50 per cent of the fees will be donated to Oxfam. Booking fees can be sidestepped if you pay at the venues on the day, although it's best to check in advance if that's allowed for your chosen Oxjam as a few venues appear not to be offering this option (the Ritzy in Brixton, for example).
Seven Chiswick venues, mostly along the High Road, are participating in the Chiswick leg of the event, and with an average of 10 acts per venue it amounts to 'bloody loads' of stuff to see. There's a huge focus on London acts as well, with singer Olivia McShane and inspirational band 2 Tone Red particular highlights, and the alternative folk sextet, Ringlefinch, a mandatory watch. Check out the brilliant video for their track Drink Alone below.
Seven venues and more than 40 artists are on the menu in Clapham. London's Splintered Man are likely to go down pretty well among indie folk fans, and you won't go far wrong with our old friend Mark Mathews. But we'll plump for a something a little different — a cabaret act by the name of Dott Cotton, who we predict will go down rather well at the Clapham Library. Here she is performing...oh just watch it and see.
Two days for the price of, well, two days, but Dalston's double-page spread includes the buzzy beats of Strong Asian Mothers, the very, very Dalston sounds of Alphabets Heaven, and the rather less confusing and clearly miles better Landshapes. Our top tip for this Oxjam is Throwing Shade, though be warned, this video involves people having what we hope is liquid chocolate poured on them.
Five Brixton venues will be involved in this Oxjam, though the line-up seems curiously absent from the website. A little digging unearths acts such as the ho-ho-ho named Edna Average, the pleasing racket of east London's Dressmaker, and these fine gents, Bengal Lancers.
The Islington leg boasts one of the rockier line-ups of all the Oxjams. Highlights include the exciting Brightlight City, and a band called Stickman Cartel who we can't decide if we like or not and who might therefore be amazing; and another with a bit of Editors about them, King With No Throne. London's Forestry Commission could be a surprise hit, so here's their track Wait:
Kingston's Oxjam takes place in four venues, including the Fighting Cocks and the Cricketers, and it's one of the more varied of the line-ups by the looks of it. Serious doom metal from Morass Of Molasses can be enjoyed alongside the contemplative vocal fluency of Vivienne Youel. And sometimes you just have to accept that straight-out punk can be bloody great from time to time, and for that we have The Burnt Tapes.
Oxjam New Cross
It took ages for us to find out the line-up for the New Cross event, so we give a hearty thanks to the Amersham Arms, the only venue of the five here to have put the full listing for Oxjam on their website. Recommended acts include Danny and the Moonlighters, the edgy fun of Beat Diplomacy, and our favourite name of all the bands on all the Oxjam listings, Elephants & Castles, who thankfully make a most agreeable sound which you can hear yourself below.
Special as ever, Shoreditch has oddly chosen to hold their one-day Oxjam on the Sunday not the Saturday. Potential highlights include the singer of a song named Hipster Jesus, Kieran Leonard, the grimy dance of Affie Yusuf and the more uplifting beats of Chris Coco. For some reason there's not much hip hop around the Oxjams, but fans of the genre might want to check out Tinyman, who sounds like this.
The Balham leg takes place across six venues, plus the local Oxfam shop, and the event's website shows a lot of love for the acts on their bill. This Oxjam mainly involves a selection of London-based solo artists, among them Zoe Kypri, Raheem Bakare and the marvellous Anoushka Lucas, whose track Lock'n'key you can hear below.
Obviously, there couldn't not be something going on in Camden. Six of the area's venues will be involved, and acts vary wildly from the measured rock of Dumbjaw to almost the exact opposite in Cosmo House. Our final recommendation is one Nick Edward Harris, a singer from London, who you can see performing his song Chimera in the Spiritual Bar, aptly enough one of the venues involved in the Camden Oxjam.