By Neil Kerr
I came across 32 Year old DJ Donald Makin accidentally when I replied to a plea on twitter for someone to take photographs at an Oxjam gig in Dunfermline, of which Donald was the organizer. Now, even though Donald had sourced a local photographer to cover the gig for him, he quickly replied to an eager e-mail from me asking if I could go along anyway and do a wee review of what was to be a launch event for the Oxjam gig he was organizing, saying I was welcome to come along and do just that and I could take some pics too……..A nice result.
After a further couple of messages to and fro I established that the Launch event that Dunfermline born and bred Donald had set up, was an acoustic session with some of the acts involved in his Oxjam gig and others who he couldn’t fit in to his already full Friday night bill at Dunfermline’s PJ Malloys, which for me was an irresistible invitation as well as an intriguing opportunity to find out more about the local music scene in Dunfermline which local radio DJ Donald, who has a Saturday evening show with Radio West Fife, seemed to me to be completely immersed in and, I am always interested to find out more about the involvement of charities in the local music scene.
On arriving at The Green Room in Dunfermline, proud Fifer Donald introduced himself and made me feel very welcome, he told me then that his Oxjam idea had started small and become more than the available time slot for the main gig at PJ Malloys allowed, so he had arranged for the extra acts to come and do this acoustic launch gig as well as some of the acts from the bill for the main event. This in itself intrigued me leaving me wanting to find out more about Donald, his involvement with local new bands and musicians and his determination to include as many of them as he possibly could. The launch gig, well that’s another matter and info on that you will find under the heading “Dunfermline Rocks for Oxjam” in the archive of this site to the right of this text. All I will say here is that it was a real treat and, just to further my intrigue the multi talented Donald broadcast the gig live from the Green Room on radio west fife demonstrating rather good technical skills. I left there smiling from ear to ear and pondering the fact that if that was what Donald described as his “wee launch event” then what was I to expect of the Pending main event?
Now at My Voice Of Scotland as you may know we often use social media to help find the best new bands and musicians Scotland has to offer, the week after Donald’s launch event was no different and, as the following weekend was a blank in our diary, we asked our followers for info on any gigs that weekend. It was our Dunfermline DJ to the rescue telling us of the superb Dunfermline live event, which is a weekend long music festival held at various venues across Dunfermline. He suggested a few bands to go and see and I took his advice and went along to an evening which included a performance by The Holy Ghosts in the very intimate Old Inn in Donald’s Hometown, Dunfermline sure is proving to be a hub for local musicians and DJ Makin or D as his listeners know him was proving my theory that he definitely has his finger on its pulse, eagerly following every beat.
Once again the goods were delivered at this small Fife venue as on arriving early I was first treated to the headline act, The Holy Ghosts, doing the sound check Which was a treat, once again Donald ,even though he himself wasn’t organizing the event, came along and made me feel welcome and joined me for a drink. It was here that Donald confirmed he is a lover of new musicians and actively promotes them on his radio show by getting them in to the studio to play a few songs live on air and also by any other means at his disposal, and, he does most of this promoting and organizing in his own time for no charge! It was also the first of a few times that Donald heaped praise on the excellent support offered to him by charity Oxfam Saying that they were right behind him with his Oxjam gig supporting him in every way they could he also told me that the support from the local community had been helpful too by displaying poster adverts for him at no cost, which was good to hear, as without a little charity this type of event would be dead in the water.
Leaving this gig Happy and pondering once again Donald’s Oxjam gig, which by now I wasn’t missing regardless, and wanting to know more about Donald who, by now, in my mind was a local version of the great John Peel, a tireless promoter of new musicians. If only what Donald has could be taught, then every musician in every county in Scotland could have a far better chance of being heard by a wider audience. I wanted to know more. So I asked for a sneaky interview with D during his D Rocks for Oxjam gig, knowing he would be busy and that my request could be seen as a wee bit cheeky. But there was no problem, he agreed straight away saying to just grab him anytime during the evening at PJ Malloys and even offered us access to interview the bands in the dressing room. He really does look out for the musicians, we want to talk about him and the modest DJ, as if by default, puts the acts straight in the frame. As I said if only that could be taught!
On the night at PJ Malloys, who had given the venue to Donald free of charge, Donald Spotted us arriving and again succeeded in making us feel welcome, confirming the prior arrangements for interviews etc, I should point out that we decided to review the acts at this gig and are now actively seeking interviews with several of them to feature their work in our upcoming magazine as a direct result of Donalds promotional efforts.
Now You must understand that trying to choose the right time to grab a few minutes with Donald was the impossible task for a couple of reasons, firstly, as I suspected when I sent my cheeky request for an interview with him, he was a busy guy, organizing bands, goody bags for the band members which is a nice wee touch, his mothers home baking was on offer in the dressing room for the bands too showing again the personal dedication Donald puts into everything he does. He also was arranging a raffle for which he had procured signed merchandise from across the music industry, as well as keeping his keen eye on the busy schedule of the evening. The other reason being the acts Donald had put together for us on the night were outstanding, I was blown away from the first act to the last. D had put together a blinding array of acts from many genres, his keen ear for talent is clearly an asset to him as not one of his chosen acts let him down they were all great.
We managed to grab Donald a little over halfway through the night when we saw him standing for a moment, and again DJ Makin was happy to oblige ushering myself and co founder and editor of our new magazine Ashley Sky Watt into the dressing room. Donald was relaxed as we chatted to him among the various instrument cases in the Small room, I asked him how he had came to be involved in Oxjam and he told us how PJ Malloys had asked on facebook if anyone was interested in doing a gig, he replied saying he would like to do and oxjam gig and it went from there. D went on to tell us how he wanted the gig to reflect the diversity of the local music industry by inviting bands from many genres to perform and by applying the same format as his radio shows, “If I like it and I think it sounds good, then its on” he says, and from what I can see if D likes it and it sounds good to him then its well worth a listen. The canny DJ who has always been involved with charity events when he can Says setting up the Oxjam gig was straight forward enough due to the charity offering a lot of support and the help offered by others. He told us that he had the full backing of the 60 year old radio station Radio West Fife where he has a show. “Hard work but worth it” he told us as he paused for a moment to listen to the current act on the stage, Dave McNeil, not missing a moment even when being interviewed, I have to admit to being distracted by Dave’s set myself, he was real good.
Donald believes anyone who is interested should get involved in Oxjam and says the key is to find willing participants who are happy to roll their sleeves up and get involved he told us how the drum kit on the stage had been borrowed from a local recording studio and on its arrival at the venue he didn’t know how to set it up and one of his bands for the night, Animal Attic, stepped up and mucked in setting up the drum kit for him. This is what the oxjam initiative is based on, the willingness of people to help one another to achieve a common goal which in this case was Donald’s Oxjam gig. It works too, bringing together people who may never have ended up in the same room as one another, opening doors for new musicians that otherwise would have remained firmly shut and creating a superb night of music for all us lovers of the live.
We finished our interview with Donald by asking him if he were to get in a musical time machine what musical era he would travel to and his answers reflect everything he had told us and highlight his genuine passion for music from all genres , He told us he would like to share some time with Mozart, or Catch up with Public enemy in the early 90s and I wasn’t surprised when he told us he would love to see John Peel in the early days particularly his sessions with David Bowie. My opinion is that we need many more Donald Makins in Scotland, more people who selflessly give up their time to promote and help new talent to be seen.
The good news is that our association with Donald doesn’t end here, as he has kindly accepted our invitation to write articles for our magazine which we look forward to. Meantime you can catch his hidden gem of a radio show on Radio West Fife every Saturday from 7 till 9 PM this show often includes live sets performed in the studio by some really good new artists so give it a listen.
I take my hat off to this modest guy and every thing he stands for, and I’ll wager that any musicians he has came into contact with along the way will heap the same well deserved praise on the man. Keep up the good work Donald……………….Respect!