WITH its wide and eclectic range of bands and artists in great little venues, The Oxford City Festival is one of the highlights of the year.

The feast of locally-sourced sound, organised by city musician and promoter Mark 'Osprey' O'Brien is also the unofficial start of the festive season, bringing a blast of alternative and new music at what can, let's face it, be that most cheesiest time of the year.

Not one to let a pandemic get in the way of his festival, Osprey had planned a mix of real life and virtual gigs and performances, but the second lockdown put paid to that. Still, the amiable 'Smoggy' (that's a native of Middlesbrough, to the uninitiated), soldiered on and has been staging shows online.

This is the final weekend, but also promises to be the best.

Osprey tells us what's in store... and why he keeps on doing it...

Who are you?

I'm Osprey - a musician, promoter, presenter and I run the annual Oxford City Festival.

What is it all about?

It's a yearly get together of all bands, solo acts, duos and groups to celebrate our music here in the city and shire.

How long has the festival been running and what have been its highlights?

Nine years I believe ...highlights are to many to mention ... it's always a blast and an exciting time of year.

Any funny stories?

Too many to mention once again, but what is funny is we've had acts pretending to be from Oxford just to get on the bill ... that makes me laugh but you can't knock 'em for trying, can you! Although we do have special guests fom other cities.

What were your plans for this year?

Well, apart from being in the studio cutting a double album I've been thinking and working on next year's tour across the UK ... all being well ... so fingers crossed! (We live in hope!)

How has Covid affected that?

Covid has completely destroyed any form of income for me especialy. But I've a good wife who has been endlessly supportive and a fantastic district nurse and teacher so I'm blessed for that. But there have been tears and dispair and wondering if I'm in the right job, so to speak. But it's in the blood, music, and I cant afford a transfusion right now can I?!

Oxford Mail:

Osprey at a previous Oxford City Festival with Leon Stiles and members of The Aureate Act

What are you doing instead? I did a few online fests over the summer but this year OCF has also been online because they chose November, of all months, for the lockdown. But the show must go on as Freddie Mercury said!

How has your year been as a music industry pro?

Like everyone else in my biz, it has been a very depressing year indeed but we must rise above the unfortunate situation and carry that thing most of us have and overcome. You can't stop the music!

Are things tough?

How can people help musicians and the scene recover?

Watch them online from your homes from their studios ... send 'em love and respect and send them money if you can.

It's helping you in the long run because we'll be here to enetrtain you no matter what. And a world without music would be a world without air!

What can we see this weekend?

Tonight features Emma Hunter, Daniel Ma'ani and Franklins Tower 

Tomorrow sees The Pink Diamond Revue, Means Of Production, Captain Kuppa T & The Zeppelin Crew and Enjoable Listens

What are your top tips?

Emma Hunter and Pink Diamond Revue 

How do we watch? 

We are live streaming, so click on on facebook and like Oxford City Festival. We'll be streaming along with Windrush Radio too. Pay what you want in donations to keep the music alive ... but do tune in and enjoy!