• LOVERS of rock, punk and indie will be packing their tents, studded belts and Aspirin in readiness for the start of the planet’s biggest celebration of rock – Reading. The festival, which takes place just over the county border beside the Thames at Little John’s Farm, features more than 300 bands including Oxford’s very own Foals, Illinois punk-idols Alkaline Trio, Scottish rockers Biffy Clyro, dance duo Chase and Status, see left, and ‘Slim Shady’ himself, Eminem.

Also heading down to the boisterous Berkshire bash are Green Day, System of A Down, Fall Out Boy, Skrillex, Deftones, Nine Inch Nails, Phoenix, Azealia Banks, Knife Party, Funeral For A Friend, Spector, Angel Haze, Pulled Apart By Horses and Shikari Sound System. The fun starts tomorrow and continues until late on Sunday night. Tickets have sold out.

  • AN impressive line-up of folk-flavoured artists is an offer at this weekend’s other big festival.

Towersey, which takes place in the village of the same name, near Thame, is a lovely laid-back gathering which, nonetheless, packs a punch with some big-hitting names. They include Show of Hands, Martin and Eliza Carthy, The Unthanks, Martin Simpson, Mama Rosin, Nidi d'Arac and Spiers and Boden – featuring, of course, Wootton melodeon player John Spiers. The local contingent are also represented by two of our favourite bands: Turkabilly stars Brickwork Lizards and truckstop country-rock renegades Swindlestock.

Other names to watch out for include ska-calypso-Klezmer-funk band Orkestra del Sol, bearded Australian singers The Spooky Men's Chorale, American roots artist Stompin’ Dave Allen, acclaimed banjo player Dan Walsh, 24 year-old singer-songwriter Lisbee Stainton; the English Ceilidh band, Balkan-stompers Manière des Bohémiens, and tonight, the late Ian Dury’s old band, The Blockheads.

The festival runs from today until Monday. Weekend tickets are £125 for adults. Camping is extra. Day, youth and child tickets are also available. Call 023 8071 1818 or go to towerseyfestival.com

  • Local rock veterans Black Hats will raise the roof at Joe’s Bar and Grill in Summertown this evening from 8pm, with an abundance of raucous original tracks and covers of fun, recognisable pop anthems. Booking a table is recommended for those looking for a mouthwatering bite from Joe’s classic grilled food menu – call 01865 554484. Otherwise, prop yourself up next to the bar and enjoy the show!


  • One of Oxfordshire’s most unusual live acts will make a long-overdue local appearance at The Wheatsheaf tomorrow night. After a rather lengthy gigging hiatus, progressive rock/jazz band Unknown Flow are back in business, with the promise of manifold effects pedals and the unfalteringly tight, professional performance that they’ve come to be known for. As if their musical mastery wasn’t enough, they’ve also brought along fellow fuzzy noisemakers Not Too Shabby and Abingdon funk rock three-piece Alias. Tickets cost £5 on the door.


  • Wednesday evening will witness the ninth instalment of All Tamara’s Parties, a monthly acoustic night at The Library in Cowley Road. For the bargain entry fee of £3, enjoy the soothing unplugged sounds of local dream-folk collective Ragdoll, the country twangs of Ags Connolly, the wily words of poet George Chopping and a quirky performance from Tamara Parsons-Baker.