Brighton has its Great Escape, Camden has its Crawl... but only Oxford has its own urban festival dedicated to home-grown music, writes TIM HUGHES.

The Oxford Punt, which took place last Wednesday, is a one-off, and is all down to the drive and enthusiasm of one man: Ronan Munro, editor of local monthly music mag Nightshift.

Every year is different – with no one band allowed to play more than once — but there’s something comfortingly traditional about the gathering in that it’s one of the few nights when anyone involved in, or who cares, about the Oxford music scene is out, and joining the choreographed amble between venues, in the hope of catching the year’s hottest-tipped acts.

It’s a difficult evening to plan. Clashes abound, timings slip, and novice Punters can find themselves tramping around the city centre catching a succession of change-overs and sound checks. Get it right, though, and the rewards are huge — catching a good chunk of the 20 acts performing in five venues.

I was happy with my 10, though had to drag myself away from a few sets half-way through.

Consensus had it that Maiians were the star act, with a bubbling set of rock and electronica – dance music played on proper instruments - including a trumpet - by an enigmatic outfit who barely looked up from their instruments.

By contrast, Little Brother Eli, who preceded them, were pure rock & roll – thrutching guitars and long hair blown by an electric fan mounted stage right. The music was bluesy and soulful played with drive and passion.

Also cooking up a storm were Indica Blues, with a grungy set in the gloom of the Purple Turtle. The hardest act of the night, their loud, druggy doom-rock was tinged with psychedelic shimmer and virtuoso guitar flourishes.

A complete contrast came in the shape of Balkan Wanderers, whose Eastern European/Gypsy/ Klezmer folk mash-up was the musical equivalent of a fiery shot of absinthe to get the whole thing going.

Croatian frontwoman Antica is a charismatic performer, all waving arms and wide eyes — the rest of the band keeping pace on guitar, driving drums and a lovely evocative clarinet, while she serves up exotic Eastern vocals.

It’s the kind of music that keeps Romany weddings going on for days.

The night closed with the punk-fuelled pop of Rainbow Reservoir. Angela Space’s lilting voice contrasts strangely with the tougher, rockier guitars, but works well, and is the perfect sweet, yet punchy end to a vintage Punt.

The Oxford Times:

Diverse: Maians above, and Balkan Wanderers, below

The Oxford Times: