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The friendly people who make up the Northwest’s Oxjam division have been tirelessly organising and running acoustic events for several weeks. Being the charitable and giving person that I am I decided to offer up my services to add to their bevy of six-string strumming enthusiasts. This meant that on the 25th of January I found myself heading down to the local Oxfam bookshop, tatty guitar in hand, to assist in enticing people into the merry and generous world that is Oxjam. Dreams of becoming an exulted guitar virtuoso being left behind in my teen years, I have still always felt the desire to show case my dubious talents in a public setting. To this end I tactically enlisted the help of an old friend who had the useful skill of singing and the ability to let me know when I was screwing up. Together we were prepared to rock the Oxfam shop like it had never been rocked before.
On arriving we were allowed to take full advantage of the tea and coffee facilities and met our like-minded acoustic entertainers. First to take the stage, or the front of the shop where we were placed to draw in interested by-passers, was Kish, whose dextrous playing in the style of Nick Drake started making me and my friend nervous. If they were all this good, our plan to rock out would be seriously compromised. Next up was Joe Gillot, again an impressive talent, whose melodic voice sounded like a pleasant mix of Kate Nash and Jack Johnson. Up next was The Low Countries; this was a local three-piece band that combined the elements of guitar, banjo, and a toddler with a xylophone, all to good effect.
A cold sweat broke out on my brow once the happy charm of The Low Countries had subsided, as this meant that it was our turn. The previous singers had got everyone in the store into a very good mood with their cheerful songs, a mood we took in a slightly different direction with our set of ‘Good Riddance’ (a song which got the remark ‘vintage’), ‘Mr Brightside’, ‘Four Winds’ and ‘House of the Rising Sun’. After encouraging as many people as possible to join in with our final song, and playing it with slightly more gusto than perhaps was warranted, we relinquished the floor to rapturous applause and universal approval (more or less). A lady of a blues-orientated nature was drawn into the event to fill our place, who in turn was succeeded by John Newsham, who ended the event in light-hearted style.
The organiser of the event, Christina Donovan, was very pleased with the success of her series of Acoustic Sunday events, which she sums up as ‘busking in a shop’ advocating it as ‘better than live radio any-day’. The events were designed to raise awareness of Oxjam and to inspire other people in the local community to organise their own events. To this end three more organisers were recruited, so look out for more events over February and March, including the chance for bands to compete to open the main stage at the Wickerman Festival this year.