This year’s Oxjam last Saturday proved more intimate than the last, with over 20 acts squeezed into a trio of venues: Dusk, 1331 and The Attic. Still, less time travelling between venues meant more time enjoying the music during this wonderful evening of fundraising for Oxfam.
By Graeme Smith
Photos by Ruth Hunter
Onto 1331 where The Bramble Napskins got the party started. An unusual line up of bass, accordion, ukulele, saxophone and flute, the combination of instruments suggested influences from as far and wide as the South Pacific and Continental Europe. They truly could be classed as World Music. With foot stomps as percussion, the sax invoking 80s movie soundtracks, and many songs about dancing and having a good time, they really were a highlight of the night.
In The Attic, Isaac Lister and Rob Hughes were bringing blues and rock to proceedings. Better known as the front man of We Could Be Astronauts, Rob was performing a rare acoustic set – starting with Foo Fighter’s-esqueCatastrophist. Proving to have a way with words, his set was full of stand-out, nihilistic lyrics such as “I will destroy tomorrow so I can enjoy today” and “We’ve all got devils stood beside our beds”. Rob also decided to cover local legend Dave Ward Maclean’s Virginie for no other reason than “Dave’s not here to stop me.” A true entertainer and talent.
It was back to a packed-out 1331 to see out the rest of the evening, starting with The Beggar’s Bunce. The four-piece of bass, guitar, violin and percussion played a set of smooth, slightly melancholic Americana-folk. Every song had a story behind it, each more bizarre than the last. Particularly note-worthy was Remembering The Sugar Cane, a tale of being threatened with a piece of sugar cane in Richmond. After a cover of Guns ‘n’ Roses Sweet Child of Mine, complete with violin intro, they closed the set with I Am Raw, a cautionary tale of drink-driving.
Then it was Elliot Sawyer. Normally the front man of Broken Skulls, Elliot brought along his older brother on drums to create a two piece line-up for some of the set. With Elliot’s voice eerily reminiscent of Caleb Followill, Broken Skulls were a bit like listening to Kings of Leon play Led Zeppelin at points, but they were difficult to pigeon hole. Porcelain Moon, for example, had mellow math rock overtones. On his own, Elliot covered Amy Winehouse and Erasure before the two piece closed things on Devil In Disguise.
Headlining the venue was Zak Ford, the man who opened last year’s festival at Sotano. It’s been quite a year for Zak, launching his album Young, Eager and Starry-Eyed to a rammed out Fibbers, with many of the album tracks played during his set. There were some older pieces and covers as well, all performed with Zak’s heart-rending vocals and dark depth. He closed his set with the same song that closes his album, My Body. The delicate tune swelled to a powerful finish and with that a fantastic evening of York music reached its climax.
Oxjam York Takeover took place at Dusk, 1331 and The Attic on Saturday 17 October 2015