Oxford folk pop quartet Stornoway to play first ever gig in a nature reserve

PUBLISHED: 18:39 19 May 2015 | UPDATED: 18:39 19 May 2015

Stornoway, from left, Oli Steadman, Brian Briggs, Rob Steadman and Jon Ouin, with a bonxie, the bird which their album is named after.

Stornoway, from left, Oli Steadman, Brian Briggs, Rob Steadman and Jon Ouin, with a bonxie, the bird which their album is named after.


There have been many strange gig locations since The Beatles played on the roof of Apple Records in 1969.

Stornoway perform at the Isle of Wight Festival. Stornoway perform at the Isle of Wight Festival.

Bands have played on the tube, in picket lines and even 300 metres below the North Sea on an oil rig, however Oxford quartet Stornoway are going to be the first band ever to perform in a bird reserve.

At least that’s what they’re telling everyone.

“I have never heard of another one,” says keyboardist Jon Ouin. “That’s what we have been saying so hopefully it’s not a lie.”

The folk-pop band are playing an acoustic set in association with the RSPB at Rainham Marshes on Sunday May 31.

This gig certainly fits with Stornoway’s latest album called Bonxie after a large seabird, the great skua.

The concept stemmed from lead singer Brian Briggs, who has a PhD in ornithology, the study of birds, from the University of Oxford.

Jon explained: “The whole theme of the record from the artwork to the music is about birds and Brian’s wanted to do a gig like this for a while.

Altogether 20 different species of birds make an appearance on the album.

Jon continued: “The idea came when we were on tour a couple of years ago.

“We were talking about bird sounds as something we could put on in between acts to make the audience feel as if they were outside.”

The theme then grew organically into the lyrics.

The band crowd funded the album through the website PledgeMusic.

If you pledged money Brian would take you bird watching or the band would take you zorbing.

Jon said: “The bird watching was something Brian really knows his onions on, so I went along so I could ask a few tough questions to keep him on his toes.”

Jon and Brian started Stornoway in 2006 when they met in freshers week at the University of Oxford.

Jon was studying postgraduate russian and Brian doing his PhD in ornithology and they hit it off straight away.

They advertised for a bassist and recruited Oli Steadman and his younger brother Rob joined on drums.

Although Jon explained it all could have been very different at that first rehearsal.

“Oli brought a screw driver with him in his bag the first time we met in case we were murderers.

“He only told us a few years later, I think if he’d told us at the time we would’ve thought he was a murderer and kicked him out.”

The band’s name has caused confusion in the past, given the quartet are from Oxford yet named after a Scottish town on the Hebridean Isle of Lewis.

Jon explained: “We chose the most wild and far away place we could think of, when in fact we lived in Oxford which is far far away from the sea.”

He added: “The wilderness is mainly Brian’s thing.” What is your thing then? Jon replied deadpan: “I just like being shut in the dark.”

The band visited Stornoway for the first time to sign their first record deal.

“It was a bit strange,” Jon explained, “if you lived in a place and some guys showed up who had just appropriated your name you might be a bit pissed off.”

How did you go down? “Well most of them had never heard of us anyway,” Jon said, “and we bribed them with whiskey.”

Stornoway are playing at Rainham Marshes RSPB Nature Reserve, in New Tank Hill Road, Purfleet, on Sunday May 31 at 7pm.

Tickets are £15 with £2 going to the RSPB and there are only 9 left. Visit

Related articles


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Romford Recorder visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Romford Recorder staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Romford Recorder account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest Romford Entertainment Stories

Thu, 10:00

Passion and class clash in a modern adaptation of a classic French play.

Wed, 10:00

While watching three generations of women on stage tell their story, I couldn’t help but think how timely the opening of Queen’s Theatre’s production of Kindertransport is for International Womens’ Day and Mother’s Day.

Mon, 15:00

A big band hope to swing their audiences back to the 1940s with a special matinee show full of vintage swing hits.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

An impressionist will be performing three episodes from a classic British sitcom in Romford next month.

Monday, March 5, 2018

A number one selling opera trio are bringing their new show to Hornchurch.

Friday, March 2, 2018

A musical show about remembering the very best of the 1940s presents a special treat for grandmothers this Mother’s Day.

Monday, February 26, 2018

A moving play about a woman’s struggle to come to terms with her past is coming to Hornchurch’s Queen’s Theatre next month.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Growing up in a house where it is tradition to watch a horror film almost every Saturday night, I naturally have a love for all things dark and twisted.


Many drivers will be heading to the showrooms in March looking to pick up a car bearing the shiny new 18 registration plate.

Window and conservatory specialist Ken Rhodes talks about the possibilities for brightening up your home for the new year, and with their home improvement finance deals it’s possible for everyone to make some changes

Lisa and Jennie are cousins who grew up in the borough. Their grandmother, ‘Nanny Fish’ was a huge part of their lives, and while she had dementia and increasing needs, she really benefited from having care in her nephew’s loving home. This experience was the inspiration for Lisa and Jennie to set-up their own home care service.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read entertainment

Show Job Lists

News from your area


Having a brand new kitchen is something that lots of people want but can only dream of. Sadly keeping up to date and making our living spaces as nice as they can be is a costly and incredibly stressful business. Even a fresh coat of paint makes all the difference but isn’t easy or quick.

Who wouldn’t love the chance to go on a shopping spree. Imagine being able to walk into a shop and choose whatever your heart desires without having to worry about how much it costs.

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Romford Recorder
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now