Bastille's Charlie Barnes talks ahead of Oxjam Festival Lichfield
He’s used to playing some of Europe’s biggest festivals and concert arenas.
But Lichfield singer/songwriter Charlie Barnes swapped his day job with Bastille to support a hometown charity that wants to promote the best of local music.
Barnes, who is Bastille’s touring guitarist, is helping to promote the upcoming charity music festival, Oxjam Festival Lichfield.
The event has received support from other luminaries, including KT Tunstall, who filmed a piece playing a song from her latest album – and calling on people to come to the festival on 12 October 12. Lichfield-based production company, Lumina, kindly donated their time to do the filming and editing.
The festival, taking place on Saturday 12 October, will showcase local grassroots musicians in a number of pubs and venues in Lichfield. The festival is all volunteer led – no one is paid for their time. The proceeds from ticket sales go to Oxfam to help fight poverty here and abroad.
So far, almost 20 acts are signed up to play in the likes of George IV, The King’s Head, and Spirit Works and more. And organisers want to make the festival as local and inclusive as possible with more people taking part.
Charlie said he was happy to lend his support and said it made a big difference to his normal work playing with one of Britain’s biggest indie rock bands.
He said: “Oxjam is great. Yes, it’s very different to being the touring guitarist with Bastille. But in many ways it’s perfectly natural for me to support it because in addition to playing with Bastille I’ve always done my own stuff.
“I spent a lot of time on the road, in Europe or America, but it’s great to get back to Lichfield because that’s where I’m from.”
Charlie said the Oxjam event reminded him of his earliest years as a musician.
“I grew up there. I was in bands there when I was a teenager. Then I went off to university in West Yorkshire and ended up staying in Leeds for quite a few years after that. Eventually, I decided to move back home with my partner, who is also from Lichfield, so that we could be closer to family and friends. For me, Lichfield is the centre of the universe and it’s great to see lots of interesting and independent businesses thriving there.”
Charlie added that he hoped plenty of people would support Oxjam.
He said: “The Oxjam event is part of getting people into great local pubs and venues to hear music. It gives bands the chance to get an audience and it helps local business, as well as generating money for charity.
“I was playing locally in these venues as a kid. I played the Netherstow School Youth Centre, the Garrick Studio and loads of places. I played the Horse and Jockey when it was the LA Rock.
“I also played the local festivals – all of these places are really important for up-and-coming bands because they give them somewhere to play. Nowadays I’m on the road for the majority of the time in big, expensive arena shows with Bastille – but it’s about remembering where I’m from.”
Charlie added that he still played locally when he had time and would headline St Mary’s, in Lichfield, on August 17.
“These gigs are great because things are quite raw. It all gets really up-close-and-personal. You have to work hard to get the audience on side, which is challenging and exciting. The grass roots music scene around the UK is so important because Britain is still the centre of the world for music.”