THEY are among the highlights of the musical year – a raucous series of mini-festival of bands dubbed the Day of the Deadbeats.
Hosted by Oxford’s freewheeling, hard-living – and even harder playing – country rock and soul act The Deadbeat Apostles, the shows see the band sharing the stage with handpicked acolytes, talented guests and assorted ne’er-do-wells, all for free.
Tomorrow’s instalment – their 10th – takes place away from their old stomping ground in the pastoral setting of the Isis Farmhouse in Iffley, and in the grittier surroundings of Tap Social Movement in Botley.
It will see them teaming up with voodoo blues outfit The Ragged Charms and cult Oxford rockabilly band The Long Insiders.
The Deadbeats say they are “incredibly proud” of the past two years, which has seen them showcasing Oxford’s huge depth of musical talent and provide free live music for all.
“It’s a release from the usual stresses and strains of everyday life where like-minded people can come together for the greater good of their own sanity, the local community and beyond,” says the band’s charismatic singer and eloquent spokeswoman, Michelle Mayes, who stars alongside frontman Mike Ginger, guitarist Garry Richardson, bassist Hugh Garrety and drummer Mr Alex Ogg.
(all pics: Jeff Slade)
“It all started as a wish of creating a night that would be our own Last Waltz crossed with the Stones’ Rock and Roll Circus,” says Mike.
“It’s ambitious, perhaps, but hey, ya gotta aim big.”
Based in Iffley, it seemed natural that the nights should start off at the village’s home of grassroots live music, the Isis Farmhouse.
“We needed a home,” says Michelle. “Somewhere we could grow own own new music in an environment that was creative, supportive and inspiring – and where we could collaborate with other artists and, most of all, have some fun.”
They became instant friends with the pub’s then-new proprietors Noreen and Adrian, who themselves were musicians.
Instant friendships were formed and the path was set.
“We found ourselves surrounded by people who shared our vision that music holds a hugely important cultural place in society and were more than willing to join forces in creating a night that would become synonymous with the band and provide an inclusive atmosphere that could benefit the Oxford community.
“We have always felt that we wanted the night to be free and that took a huge amount of trust and cooperation from The Isis in the beginning as we had no idea if the night would be at all popular. So we owe them a huge amount for taking a chance on us and for all their support.”
Michelle goes on: “With venues closing at alarming rates and others under huge amounts of pressure from local councils and residents who do not share the vision, we feel it is really important to the stability and wellbeing of any local community to support local live music venues.
“Places like this are needed to help produce the next generation of Oxford musical talent, we just hope that they are given the opportunity and longevity to become hosts to such evenings and talent.”
The first Day of the Deadbeats kicked off in July 2017 with just one other band, The Ragged Charms.
Photographer and local music supporter Jeff Slade was there to capture the event, which proved a huge success. Since then the night has featured three acts for each event with the likes of The Epstein, The Great Western Tears, Francis Pugh & the Whiskey Singers, and Ags Connolly treading the boards
And what have been the highlights? “It’s hard to say,” says Michelle. “But it would probably have to be a duet I did of The Velvet Underground’s Femme Fatale with Karraleigh from The August List – probably my favourite Oxford band. It was such a privilege and such good fun.
“Then there was the energy and genius of Stuart Macbeth’s solo act in our eight show. That was truly amazing.”
She adds: “The band try to make the nights a little different from their usual gigs, and more like sessions where the acts share stage time and mix in with each other through collaborations, guesting on each other’s songs or covers, and generally trying to create an atmosphere that is exciting, not only for the audience, but also for the bands.
She cites, as an example, their seventh instalment which was dedicated to the then-recently deceased Aretha Franklin, in which Michelle sang back-up for Oxford’s Beard of Destiny on their take of Chain of Fools.
“The punters are from all walks of life and all ages,” says Mike
“They seem to really enjoy the atmosphere that we and the folks at The Isis Farmhouse seem to have been able to create. The Deadbeats are now out on the road for the big 10 and where better than Tap Social Brewery – a perfect showcase for the evening.
“It’ll be a perfect 10. Bring out your Deadbeats!”
Day of the Deadbeats, instalment 10, takes place at the Tap Social Movement, Curtis Industrial Estate, 27 North Hinksey Lane, tomorrow (Friday).
It stars The Deadbeat Apostles, The Ragged Charms and The Long Insiders
Entry is free.
Required listening: Debut album The Day of the Deadbeats. Go to thedeadbeatapostles.co.uk/music