(If you're wondering what this is all about, click here.)
#14 - Nightshift
First of all, in the interests of full disclosure, I should make clear that I write for Nightshift, and have done for some years, so you'll have to excuse me if I'm somewhat biased about its merits.
A free and independent monthly publication now 226 issues old, Nightshift is unlike anything I've come across in any other city I've lived in, in being both a music listings magazine (and thus a very useful reference guide) and a vocal champion of new local music. For a relatively small city not far from the capital, Oxford has a surprisingly serious pedigree and a lot going on when it comes to bands, so there's always plenty to write about. Its roving correspondents were there reporting when all of the big hitters - Radiohead, Ride, Supergrass, Foals, Young Knives - were taking their first tentative steps towards popular acclaim, and quite rightly the magazine merits a mention in Jon Spira's documentary Anyone Can Play Guitar.
The black-and-white bible is partisan, sure, but never prejudiced, and only on very rare occasions does local pride cloud judgement. Indeed, the most entertaining section is regularly the Demo Dumper, which more often than not finds editor Ronan gleefully savaging the stack of CDs or download tracks he's been sent by eager outfits who think they should have their mugs on the front cover.
What sets Nightshift apart from broadly similar publications elsewhere, however, is the fact that it effectively puts its money where its mouth is. Not satisfied with merely promoting local bands within the magazine's pages, Ronan established the Punt, a one-night multi-venue festival in May as a showcase of the most exciting acts the city has to offer. Each year he handpicks the bill - the only stipulations being that the bands have to hail from Oxfordshire and can't have played the Punt before in their current guise - and each year he helps to introduce fresh faces to new audiences.
This year's Punt takes place tonight - a voyage of discovery awaits...