post by Feng Zhou (2017 cohort)
Oxjam is an annual music festival, organised by people who know and love their local music scene. Oxjam raises donations for Oxfarm, which was formed in 1995 to maximize efficiency and achieve greater impact to reduce global poverty and injustice.
Oxjam 2022 was located at Beeston on Saturday 15th October. It was 12 hours of live music across 17 venues with over 100 artists! It raised￡21,144 for Oxfarm eventually, the best ever.
I voluntarily worked as a “sound wrangler” – helping musicians with sound equipment on the venues e.g. helping to connect their instruments with the speaker, adjusting sound volume and tunes and monitoring equipment issues on site. Before the event, all of us – “sound wranglers” were trained by Steve Benford on the sound equipment. We were trained on how to connect instruments with the speaker, the way to adjust sound volume and tune, as well as tips to avoid echo. There are multiple sound equipments with various types for fitting different venues (some of them are small and can only take 20-30 participants, while others are much bigger and may take more than 100 persons). It was challenging to memorise all details about how to use various types of sound equipment. So I made a video record of the training process, which was quite helpful to get familiar with the sound equipment.
On the day, I worked at Totally Tapped, 23 Chilwell Rd, Beeston, Nottingham, NG9 1EH – a small bar for 15 to 20 participants from 16.00 to 21.00 with the musicians: Richard Kelsey, “Rambling Rosh”, Robby Singh, Lowri-Ffion, John Hardy, “Unreliable Steve”, and “Paul Carbuncle”. There was certainly a wide range of musical styles. All of them were fascinating. The musician supervising me most was “Paul Carbuncle”. I was normally not keen on Rock and Roll but Paul’s music was irresistible and changed my stereotype. Paul was the last musician at the venue. Every guest in the bar was moved by the ebullient music and sang together.
As an international student, I had a quite different cultural background and have often had difficulty fully understanding local ideology, which often hinders my research in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). Getting involved in local activities and learning local culture is quite essential to achieve a deep comprehension of local ideology. This event enabled me to go through a local artistic event and experience the social culture, which could potentially support my future research significantly. More than that, this experience made me an impression of social harmony.