Oxfordshire Music Scene party to rock Oxford's Port Mahon pub

When musician Stewart Garden replied to a post on social media about getting involved with a local music magazine, he could have had no idea that almost 10 years later, he’d be editing its 40th issue. But the editor of esteemed music mag Oxfordshire Music Scene (OMS) is doing just that. The Scottish band enthusiast had been working for music gathering Truck festival, in Steventon, when he decided to branch out – while still staying close to the music scene he loved.

“I had just left Truck Festival and was wondering what to do with myself, and this seemed the perfect thing to get my teeth into,” he says. “I was also doing gig promotion with local bands like Stornoway and The Epstein so it all fitted in well.” Stewart took over from the magazine’s founder Darren Brinham, who left to live in Devon.

“I took it over from Issue 10,” says Stewart. “I had been working with Darren, getting articles in, helping to distribute it, but didn’t really have a clue about magazine publishing. “The first thing I did was change the size of it to A5, as it was such hard work lugging big boxes of A4 magazines around the town centre.

“They don’t take up so much space in a studio or on a counter and they’re easier to stuff in your bag. I still do all the distribution myself though – it keeps me fit!”

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He is celebrating the milestone with a party tonight and tomorrow at the recently-re-opened Port Mahon pub in St Clement’s, Oxford. The pub, scene of many significant moments in the history of Oxford’s live music scene, has undergone a major refurbishment which has seen it returned to a music venue.

The party features sets from local favourites Mother, who headline both nights, with support from Knobblehead tomorrow and Psychedelic alt rockers TMA on Saturday. There will also be DJ sets from OMS and Crosstown.

Stewart, a former bass player with signed indie-rock band The Wishing Stones, said the most important people in the story of the magazine were those who contributed to it. “It’s brilliant that they go out to gigs regularly and like to listen to and support local music,” he says. “I’ve got people doing music or journalism courses who are doing it for experience.

Many of them are musicians themselves, though they write anonymously, as they mostly know the people they’re writing about.” Oxfordshire Music Scene party to rock Oxford's Port Mahon pub He adds: “There’s also our photographer Jason Warner (GlassHrtzPhoto – who took the pictures above) who was just starting out when he got involved with us.

He’s a force of nature who is at gigs most nights of the week and has gone on to do shoots for bands and just opened his own studio, so I think it puts a bit back in terms of helping people get ahead.”

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And of the local scene itself, Stewart says: “There’s so much going on. Consider that most weekends in Oxford, every venue is bursting with gigs. “It’s down to the promoters, the venues and mostly the punters who get out and buy the tickets, they have so much choice now, even though losing the Cellar was a big blow to everyone.

“We’ve had Richard Hawley, Divine Comedy, Kraftwerk, Belle & Sebastian, Primal Scream, Sleaford Mods, Ritual Union – and that’s before you touch the up and coming or more niche stuff we get or the festivals. “We’re never stuck for stuff to cover.” The Port Mahon continues a packed schedule of live music this month with an event to commemorate Irish novelist James Joyce on Sunday and a Scandinavian folk session on Monday.

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Next Friday, June 21, there is a Latin open-mic night, while next Saturday, June 22, there’s a Summer in the City event to mark the previous day’s summer solstice – which sees the return of Oxford club nights Vacuous Pop and Trashy.

Then there’s Galician folk on June 26 and Hipbone Slim on Friday, June 28.

  • Tickets for the OMS 40th party from seetickets.com

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