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Oxjam Music Festival 2012 @ York

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by Victoria Granville (subscribe)
I'm a student studying Russian at Leeds University. After having spent a year in Moscow keeping a blog I have grown to love travel journalism. Feel free to read my Moscow blog
Published October 23rd 2012
When going to York one expects beauty but still I was not ready for what I saw. Every where I looked something new would attract my eye. I would happily get lost in the labyrinth that forms the city centre. When walking among them you feel as if you've been transported back to the Elizabethan times, so much so that you feel you have to watch out for what might fall on your head from above. The street names add to this feel too as most end in 'gate', the Viking word for road.

I went up to York to enjoy the Oxjam Music Festival. Oxjam is an event organised by the charity Oxfam, where they ask local musicians to perform in different bars and pubs around the city. It only costs a fiver and goes from 2pm - 2am.

Last years effort (image from Wikimedia Commons)

The first venue we went to was The Vudu Lounge. This venue didn't have the right atmosphere for an afternoon gig. It's usually a club, so in the day one notices the smell of stale alcohol, the sticky floors and sombre decor that usually comes with a club. I heard from a local though that it is a good place to go for a night out. Playing at this venue were Irie Vibes, a collective who take turns to DJ reggae and ska music. The music was good but the atmosphere was really not the right vibe for their stuff and so felt very out of place.

Next we went to Victor J's. Known by locals as VJ's, this restaurant/bar situated in a quaint little alleyway, that would be quite hard to find not knowing your way around the city, is extremely cosy. The atmosphere was perfect for an afternoon gig, and I'm sure that having lunch or dinner there is equally pleasant.

They have a smaller upstairs area, where the gig was happening, with beautiful windows looking out onto the pretty streets of York. Unfortunately the gig itself was quite boring. On entering we caught the ending of a singer/songwriter called Holly Taymar who sounded very promising but were left wondering as Dan Webster took the stage. His songs were all very samey soft rock stuff, staying on the G major chord and sometimes changing to a C major or A minor. All his songs were either about love, heartbreak or loss. The way to best describe his music is 'nice'.

The last venue we managed to go to before I had to catch my train was The Attic on Colliergate. Again this place is quite easy to pass by if you're not really focusing on where you're going. This place is not very well decorated at all; it's a shame because it has great potential. The stairs look like stairs in a school building and though, the venue being a coffee shop, they tried to make the rooms feel cosy, they failed due to the strange art on the walls and lack of comfortable furniture. As I said it's a great shame because they have a lovely view of the square where magic or balancing acts are performed (a bit like in Convent Garden in London). The man who played there was called Pete Wise, he was very funny and didn't pretend to be professional in the least, which was just as well.

Walking to the station I spotted a shop called York Hogroast on Goodramgate and just had to get a bite to eat. Their pork roast with apple sauce and crackling is absolutely delicious but not as good as their roast potatoes which in turn weren't as good as their amazingly delicious gravy. It was a very cheap place, all of this only amounted to about a fiver.

All in all a fantastic day out. I only wished I had stayed longer to see all the other wonderful places in York that are just waiting to be discovered.
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When: October
Where: Good music, good cause
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