Oxjam is the name for the nationwide music festival in aid of the charity Oxfam. It's been running since 2006 and involves musicians and singers the length and breadth of the country (www.oxfam.org.uk/oxjam). The first Oxjam event in Leighton Buzzard was a ceilidh featuring the band Stömp, plus four local bands in support. Held at the Raven Theatre, Cedars Upper School in October 2007 it raised over £850.
The success of this evening prompted the organisers to put together the Leighton Buzzard Oxjam music festival in March 2009. A total of £3,348 was raised from 20 different events ranging from a mobile folk session visiting the town’s pubs, to a rock bands’ night. There were open rehearsals of brass bands and concert bands, jazz , rock and classical concerts, a variety of music performed in the open air at the town’s Market Cross, and much, much more.
Since then we have held an annual festival during March, and often including late February and early April, each year. In 2010 the total raised was £4,595.82. In 2011 the third festival included 31 events and raised £5,501.18, due in part to sales of a CD featuring 19 tracks by local musicians and groups that was specially recorded for sale during the festival. Huge thanks to RedDot Music for recording and mastering the album and Stefan Muzsnyai for sponsorship. By the end of the 2012 festival we had enjoyed 37 events, including new events, such as evenings of Rogers and Hammerstein and Poetry and Ballads, and an Oxjam Jazz Club featuring internationally renowned Latin jazz musicians, put together specially by Arnie Somogyi and held at Cedars Upper School. The festival total was £5168. In 2013 the festival was another great success and raised £6,010.28 for Oxfam.
The 2014 festival took place over 6 weeks, and saw the release of a second festival CD featuring local musicians and groups. Sales of this helped boost the festival total to £6575.56. Both CDs (2011 and 2014) are still available – see Oxjam CD. There were 38 events during the 2015 festival and £4957 was sent to Oxfam when it was all over! The 2015 and 2016 festivals were both highly successful and the 2016 one ran through March and into April 2016, was our most successful yet in terms of money raised for Oxfam: a fantastic £6717! This year's festival raised another £6000 which meant that the total amount sent to Oxfam over the years was over £49,000!
The 2018 festival will be the tenth annual musical bonanza in aid of Oxfam! So please get in touch if you’d like to be involved.