Celebrate return of Oxford Music Scene tonight with night of new music

SUCH is the rich musical culture of Oxford, the city has retained a small but lively music press – something unheard of in any other place of its size. Of course the enforced closure of venues due to Covid, had a devastating effect on the music scene, and those involved – including those documenting it. But things are gradually returning to normal.

Nightshift, the familiar A4 printed mag produced by Ronan Munro, is an Oxford gig-goers bible and has bounced back from a difficult pandemic with help from a crowdfunder backed by fans. Now, the pocket-sized Oxfordshire Music Magazine (OMS), edited by Stewart Garden, is also returning, and celebrates in seasonal style with a Christmas party. The event, at the Port Mahon in St Clement’s tonight (Saturday), marks the release of the 45th edition of the mag.

It features sets by a clutch of new acts, headlined by Max Blansjaar and his band and featuring The Bobo, Shock Horror and Self Help. Self Help

Stewart said: “OMS is returning with an elbow-bumping evening of live music kicking off the party season in style, and celebrating the forthcoming 45th issue publication. “Watch new and emerging young bands from Oxfordshire and Bristol performing live on stage, including Self Help, low-fi pop maestro Max Blansjaar and band, Oxford 80s-synth songstress The Bobo, and DIY art-punk act Shock Horror. “Join in the (almost) post-pandemic fun-fuelled fugazi upstairs at the legendary Port Mahon, St Clements – Oxford’s home-from-home for music lovers – on Saturday.”

Of particular interest is young Oxford artist Max Blansjaar. A virtuoso classical pianist he has made a name for himself through engaging, witty, sample-rich lo-fi pop music. He released his first EP on cassette (yes) on the city’s Beanie Tapes label when still 15.

The limited edition run of 50 cassettes sold out in a day. Since then, Max has gained a reputation for his energetic live shows, playing stages at Truck Festival and the city’s all-day Ritual Union festival with his multi-instrumentalist four-piece band and pocket-sized drum machine. Expect tunes from that first EP and 2019’s synth-soaked follow up Fantasy Living’ and new music.

Looking forward to the show, Stewart admits it has been a hard couple of years. “Like everyone, the team at OMS took an enforced break during lockdowns which hit the music and events industry hard since March 2020, with live events and new releases mainly on hold for the last 18 months or so,” he said. “With our ‘before-times’ gatherings and going-out being pretty much banned, resulting in the biggest crisis the music industry has ever seen, not even the C-word could put a stop to creativity. Aside from taking up other essential jobs and/or enforced time-out in pyjamas making sourdough and banana bread, while drinking copious amounts of wine, creativity, new music writing and recording has of course flourished, albeit in bedrooms, garden sheds or over zoom.

Life finds a way.” Celebrate return of Oxford Music Scene tonight with night of new music Max playing Robin and Joe Bennett’s Wood Festival when just 15

“As life returns to the ‘new-normal’, artists and musicians are venturing out to reclaim – and rock – stage, street and field. We’re looking forward to showcasing our bands and new material to get people connecting, and even dancing again. “As OMS Magazine readies for a relaunch, bringing music and culture news, releases and reviews from Oxfordshire and beyond to the fore, the legendary upstairs venue at the Port Mahon is the perfect place to host our celebration gig and enjoy a pre-Christmas knees-up.

“Tickets are strictly limited, so don’t miss out. We’ve seen enough of our living rooms, so support your local music scene and don your best outfit, get down to the show and raise a glass and cheer.” He laughed: “Don’t be good, be gigging this Christmas…

Santa’s watching.” The 45th printed edition of OMS features national and local releases and reviews, an interview with Premium Leisure’s Chris Barker and a look at the record collection of Zahra Tehrani – the driving force behind Oxford’s Young Women’s Music Project. There is also news of Zahra’s new single They Say, which is out now.

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