Oxford?s blues asdream turns sour

By MEGAN KINNINMENT

KEVEN Oxford always thought he'd run the Byron Bay Blues Festival until his hearing gave out or he was too doddery to pick a good band from a bad one.

That dream ended last week with the shock announcement he had sold his share in the festival to some of the biggest names in the music industry: Michael Chugg and Glenn Wheatley.

While former partner, Peter Noble, continues to run the festival, Mr Oxford plans on a return to his roots: Unearthing raw musical talent and 'making it happen for them'.

Yesterday, in between puffs on a Dunhill Blue, he spoke of the sadness around his decision to let his 'baby' go.

"Partnerships are hard to maintain, they're like a marriage," he said.

"Some don't work out but you stay together for the children.

"The bigger it became, the more intense it was. I thought it would get easier, but it gets harder.

"You create a monster. The financial risks were also hard. It was always feast or famine. As it gets bigger you are forced to compromise."

Like any break-up, there has been pain.

"They say never go into businesses with a friend," he said. "There's a huge amount of emotional baggage attached to all of this and there are regrets on both sides."

Oxford's mood brightens, however, when he talks of the 'sense of freedom' provided by being 'cashed up' and released.

Next is a trip to the United States to see if he can uncover more raw talent, which is exactly what he did with Ben Harper.

"One of the highlights was discovering Ben Harper and booking him when nobody knew him. Now he's a chart topper," he said.



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