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What's On, Culture, Music

The Party on the River Returns 

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After a hugely successful first outing, Bott & Burns festival is coming back to the Isis Farmhouse for a second year on 15 June. The festival is named after two local legends, Paddy Burns and Joe Bott, and organisers Maxwell Martini and Robbie Cooper have put together a true celebration of their memory. Bott & Burns is fiercely local – eschewing big-name headliners in favour of a stacked bill of Oxford’s best DJs. The result is a truly Oxonian, home-grown party that displays the best that our underground music scene has to offer. Here’s Maxwell Martini in his own words.

Origins…

We launched in 2016 when we booked Zed Bias at the Bully. Then, after a couple of years trying, we finally got a Saturday at the Isis which was last year. Ever since we started, the idea of the festival was always about trying to group together local heads and promoters that are doing well, and try and celebrate the music in Oxford. It’s not a memorial, it’s purely a celebration of music whether you knew [Paddy and Joe] or not. Each of the lads was really popular among different groups of friends. We all shared a lot of rave times together; we went to parties, London, festivals, abroad – all that. They both liked to party so it just felt right to celebrate in that way. Bigger and better…

We’ve got two stages this year. You might remember from last year that the back field was overgrown – that’s now empty and, off the back of our pitch to build another stage in the back field, they increased their licensed area. Without giving too much away, this stage is essentially an indoor arena as it has to be soundproofed but this will form our second stage. It enables us to split up the genres, with that stage showcasing mostly house and techno. We’ve got the likes of Eclectivity, Made 2 Move and Dancefloor Mechanics. Made 2 Move were a Cellar night and Dancefloor Mechanics are actually based in Liverpool but it’s run by Max Carton who’s been at the heart and soul of residencies in Oxford for a long time. We’ve also got Samantha Loveridge, who again is an Oxford-born producer but she’s now in Manchester. She makes lovely percussive Tribal/Latin techno – hopefully she’ll be able to show off her sound.

The other stage is similar to how it was last time – it's changed a little bit in terms of how big the area is now, but we've got the likes of Deep Cover, who smashed it last year, and some new crews including Subculture, Cave Sounds and K-Funkz Studios. There’s also Ben Holt and Diamond who are doing really well in the scene, being booked for what are arguably Oxford’s two most successful nights – Simple and Musical Medicine respectively – we’re looking forward to having George and the MM boys play too of course! The Barn will be closing the festival with a big jungle and drum n bass takeover – almost three or four hours of it. One of those is Shireboy Recordings who used to put on nights at Carbon back in the day and that Joe Bott was a part of. He was one third of them, the other two will be playing and closing that stage.

Opening set…

We're also running a competition for Oxford’s students to win the opening set. It's completely dependent on how much interest we get but we’re hosting a mix competition through Brookes Radio and Oxford University Electronic Music Society. Anyone that wants to play can send us a mix, and we’ll handpick the set that we think will fit the vibe. We thought it would be a good way to get a bit more reach but also offer a really good opportunity at the same time. 

On losing small venues…

It's a massive shame because it's happening everywhere. Straight away, the loss of the Cellar has taken away maybe four or five promoters' residencies and that's a creative outlet just gone for young people, as well as people that enjoy music, whether it’s locals or students. So we certainly look to provide that outlet and as soon as we ask people, they're all on board without fail. I think just having that ethos, everyone really appreciates it. We certainly don't want to lose that, and the reason we didn't book any artists was because it worked so well last year and we're doing a great thing – why change it? Ultimately if we were to book big artists, those people that are coming through miss out. There are so many good DJs that don't necessarily get paid a lot of money or play massive gigs, but are just as good. So it's great for us, and it makes a great community vibe on the day. 

Onwards and upwards…

We're just trying to make it bigger each time. It all depends on the venue and obviously finances. This year's a big year because there's obviously so much more competition, especially at that venue and also it's a lot more money to do what we want to do. So it all depends on how it goes on the day – on that we base decisions for the next year. But ultimately we want to grow. We don't know how that'll work because we also like small festivals, so we don't necessarily see it being a massive thing like Common People for example, but we do see it growing in small doses and hopefully keeping together the same kind of people. Certainly if each year goes well then we’ll keep doing it and hopefully it’ll grow each time.

For tickets, competition details and the full line-up, search 'B&B Festival 2019: Party On The River II' on Facebook.

All photos © Harry Martini Photography

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