For the sixth year running we are proud to have delivered a successful Oxjam Music Festival in Beeston. This year, a new Team benefitted from the experience of previous ‘teams’, especially Heather and Mike. Thanks to them all. Our ‘grand total’ this year is still awaiting confirmation but we do know that in six years Oxjam Beeston has raised £60,000, half of it in the last two years. Please check the Oxjam Beeston website at http://www.oxjambeeston.org for our official final total.

Of course, we mustn’t forget that the Festival covered six events, spread over six months. The ‘Oxjam Ceilidh’ and ‘Classical Oxjam’ were the most successful but all the others raised respectable amounts to add you our grand total. Building on a firm foundation from previous years the 2016 Team thinks we also added a little flavour of our own!

Coming from a ‘folk club’ background, I was pleased to be able to have just a little more folk and acoustic music, not only on the Takeover day, but also in a separate ‘Oxjam Unplugged’ event in July. I was also pleased that we had a slightly more diverse offering. Taking the Festival as a whole, apart from the ‘Unplugged’, we also had a mini choir festival on Takeover day, trad folk on Takeover afternoon (and through the inimitable Paul Carbuncle at ‘Unplugged’), some Hungarian folk fusion (‘Foreign Accent’), punk, post-punk, indie, blues. Americana and lots more styles at ‘Takeover’ – and some Indian classical music in our ‘Classical’ programme.

We were also able to involve more voluntary, charitable and public sector groups. These included a prominent role for the University of Nottingham (students and former students on the organising Team, and as performers and volunteers as well as financial support), several local schools provided performers or support for publicity (Alderman White, Chilwell Comp, Wilsthorpe Community School in Long Eaton, Round Hill and John Clifford Primary Schools) and three local churches were venues (Beeston Methodist Church, Chilwell Road: choirs, Christ Church: ceilidh and Parish Church: ‘classical’) plus the Beeston Youth and Community Centre (venue for ‘Oxjam Introducing’); two other new venues were provided by Middle Street Resource Centre (‘Unplugged’ and Takeover afternoon) and Royal British Legion (Takeover evening). Comments coming back to the Team have been universally positive about our organisation (too kind!) and the quality of music at all our events.

We were happy to continue the successful ‘Introducing’ night for under-19 performers which drew an enthusiastic crowd of mainly youngsters: thanks Anya and George, two of those youngsters who helped organise and promote it. The Music Quiz was almost TOO well attended: thanks Matt for being our quizmaster before retiring from the Team!

The ceilidh was a right old knees-up, with Penny and Steve Benford taking prominent roles in organising and promoting the event, as well as playing the ‘toons’ with the Beeston Ceilidh Collective. ‘Classical Oxjam’, our last event, again provided a stage for young performers – with the Nottingham Youth Band providing our youngest and biggest group – but literally spanned Bach to the Beach Boys as well as introducing most of the audience to the sarod, a fascinating Indian instrument: a kind of cross between the sitar and a steel guitar.

We inevitably made mistakes as a Team but audiences were extremely generous in their understanding – as well as in their contributions. I learned through the course of organising and promoting the Festival that people have a very warm feeling towards Oxjam in Beeston.

So thanks to them, thanks to the multitude of performers who sang, strummed, plucked, rattled keys, thrashed drum kits or did whatever else they needed to do to provide a wealth of diverse music right here in Beeston. Thanks to the venues, to our major sponsors NET and the Breeze Magazine, along with Nottingham University and thanks to our ticket outlets, Oxfam Books and Music and The Guitar Spot.

Finally, thanks to the superb Oxjam Team 2016 for their knowledge, skill, reliability and above all their energy: (in no particular order) Darren, Heather F, Penny, Steve, Raphael, Isobel, Val, Janos and Lulu. And, as of now, ALL positions on the Team for 2017 are vacant, so feel free to step forward and volunteer!

Colin Tucker (Oxjam Takeover Manager 2016)