The first ever Virtual Oxjam Music Festival – Voxjam – goes live on Saturday 8 August.

A 10-hour musical extravaganza raising money for Oxfam

Each year, teams of music-loving volunteers organise their mini music festivals for Oxjam Music Festival.

While we can’t gather together in person, we can still do it virtually.

Over 10 glorious hours, virtual Oxjam – ‘Voxjam’ – will feature more than 40 performers from as far away as Hong Kong, Mexico and Chesterfield!

With…

  • Live performances
  • Specially pre-recorded performances
  • Interviews and live chats with artists and audience

Host your own garden party

Not only will Voxjam be hosting live and specially pre-recorded performances – if you’d like, we can join you where you are via video link!

They’ll be a pack of festival activities for hosting a garden party (socially distanced of course) and even a chance to experience the virtual reality ‘Secret Garden’ stage!

Voxjam is the result of a lot of creative thinking, head scratching and ground-breaking technical wizardry from the volunteers at the OxjamBeeston Team.

It’s all streamed online – allowing ‘Oxjammers’ to come together virtually wherever they may be.

Let’s raise much needed funds for Oxfam to support our work with people worldwide. Let’s help beat poverty now and for good.

The magic behind the virtual festival

So just what does it take to put on a summer music festival during a pandemic?

We caught up with Oxjam Beeston volunteer, Steve Benford, to find out more.

Image: A Touch of Frost Photography

Despite the added complexity social distancing brings, Steve tells us it’s all gone surprisingly well so far.

“People have become very skilled very quickly at online meetings, all sorts of collaboration tools and video production too.

It’s amazing how good people have become at coordinating online. I might even dare to say it’s been easier than the usual way of meeting when we meet down the pub!”

A collective effort

No strangers to live performance, the Beeston Oxjam team are a collective of musicians and music fans. They have used their own lockdown experiences of online open mic nights and weekly shows, organised by their local folk club, as inspiration to take their summer music event global.

“I really like the idea of connecting up local gardens to create a new kind of outdoors festival”

“It was a team idea really,” Steve tells us, “our technical partner the Mixed Reality Lab has a long history of supporting digital performance. So, it seemed like the natural thing to do.”

Image: Steve Benford

Connecting up local gardens

But this event goes beyond one-way live streaming with gig goers able to share back broadcasts from their own gardens.

“I really like the idea of connecting up local gardens to create a new kind of outdoors festival site” says Steve.

“So, as well as broadcasting live sets from our Garden Stage, we’ll be linking up to other people’s gardens as they watch it to see what they’re up too.”

And how are the nerves holding up?

“Right now,” Steve says “I’m nervous about everything. Will anyone come? Will too many people come? Can we prepare all of the material? Will the technology work? Will I be struck by lightning and my hair catch fire? You know the usual stuff.”

And indeed, this is no mean feat.This event is the result of a team of 20 volunteers covering audience experience, artist liaison, not to mention all the technology involved in producing the event and communicating with each other!

Steve tells us how impressed he’s been by the response of the those taking part.

“We’ve had more than 50 artists commit to performing live, producing videos or being filmed in 360 and there’s still more coming in.

I love the way in which the ones I’ve seen so far have really responded to the ‘garden vibe’. It really breaks away from that ‘lockdown’ look of peeping into someone’s bedroom if you know what I mean.”

A more chilled Oxjam

But what can regulars of Oxjam expect from a virtual festival?

“The yearly (Oxjam) Takeover is always hectic, the venues are rammed and it gets really intense. I expect this will feel more chilled – it is August after all – but I hope I still get a sense of the audience being out there and that they feel connected to something bigger too” says Steve.

“We’re very excited to now be able to talk to Oxfam festival volunteers across the world.”

One of the things Steve is hoping will help audiences feel more connected to the performers is 360 video, where a view in every direction is recorded at the same time.

“I’m looking forward to seeing how some of the more experimental stuff works, such as our use of 360 video and even ‘Cardboard VR’ headsets at home (we’ve got 25 to give away to willing volunteers!).

With Oxjam it’s always been about the bands and the fans that they bring to the party, but we’re very excited to now be able to talk to Oxfam festival volunteers across the world.”

A huge thank you to Steve, the Beeston Oxjam team and everyone involved in putting together this amazing event at such a challenging time. Our work would not be possible without people like you.

How can you help?

This exciting and innovative response to the challenges of lockdown and social distancing, will be raising much needed funds for Oxfam to support our work with partners around the world.

So, please…

See you there!

 

 

 

 

 

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