Soul Survivors and The New Wave - Farmer Carl Dene Returns at Newhampton

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Northern Soul DJ 'Farmer' Carl Dene will be back behind the decks rejoining the wave of enthusiasm for sounds which first hit the North and Midlands in the 1960s.
He will be guest DJ at the booming Newhampton Soul Club (a sampler of what has been offer at the club can be found here at the Newhampton Arts Centre, Dunkley Street, Whitmore Reans, Wolverhampton, on Friday May 11, 2012.

Carl (aka Carl Woodroffe - here being interviewed in 1999 by Bill Brewster - http://www.djhistory...armer-carl-dene) - DJ'd at the The Catacombs, Temple Street, Wolverhampton, (represented here in a computer-generated walk through by the city's Central Youth Theatre), from the 1960s.
He had collected rare soul records since 1964 and helped to promote music charts success for Tami Lynn's I'm Gonna Run Away From You that reached No4 in the charts.
His championing of The Tams Hey Girl Don't Bother Me helped see it to No.1.

Tickets to see Carl's return at the regular monthly Northern Soul club with the club's regular DJ Colin Tolley are £5 and cost £5. Advanced booking is recommended with the arts centre on 01902 572090.

Farmer Carl down the pub (The Shakespeare, Lower Temple Street, Birmingham) with fellow veteran DJ Neil Rushton) February 2012.

Its always good to talk to people with a real passion for what they do and these veteran DJs are the business - and the best of mates despite Carl being an Aston Villa fan and Neil totally Birmingham City.

Carl, non-DJ name Carl Woodroffe, who now lives in Aldridge, Walsall, started out at Le Metro Club in his native Birmingham from early 1965 to 1968.
His route to soul was via clubbing at the The Twisted Wheel, then in Brazenose Street, Manchester, before its move to Whitworth Street, at the Whiskey-A-Go-Go in Birmingham, then the Mojo in Sheffield.

He also spun sounds at Chateau Impney, Droitwich, Worcestershire, from mid 1968 until closure of the 4-7 club (Sunday afternoons) at the end of 1969; Dudley Jazz Club (at The Gladstone Liberal Club) 1969-1970; The Queen Mary Ballroom, Dudley Zoo, from October 1970 to mid 1971 and 1973; The Catacombs, December 1968 to April 1969 and January-June 1973; The George Hotel, Walsall, 1969-1971; The 76 Club, Burton upon Trent 1972-1974.
He wasn't wearing the hat which earned him the first part of his DJ 'tag' - the Dene bit he thought was more pop star - but was still "Looking forward to looking back."
Neil, also originally from Birmingham but now living in Burntwood, Staffordshire, move to Walsall with his family when he was 10 and it was in Walsall, Dudley and Wolverhampton that he got his exposure to soul music.

Carl also introduced The Sharpees' Tired of Being Lonely, Gene Chandler and Barbara Acklin's From The Teacher to The Preacher and Doris Troy's I'll Do Anything.
In the book Last Night a DJ Saved My Life by Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton, DJ Ian Levine is quoted as saying"Farmer Carl was the one they all thought of as a God."
Talking records Carl said: "From 1967 people would pay £5 - a lot of money then - for a record but then it went to £100.
"That was Baby Reconsider by Leon Haywood and that was 'broken' by me."

Other records 'broken' - it means introduced, not smashed up - by Carl included Darkest Days by Jackie Lee, Hey Girl Don't Bother Me by The Tams (a UK No1 in 1971) and I'm Gonna Run Away From You by Tami Lynn (UK No 4 in 1971).

Was it all reverence for records? Carl said: "Actually when you were working as a DJ you were getting through all these rare and wonderful records then simply flinging them in the record box, not in their sleeves, as you moved on to the next one, and they would rub together causing damage.
"As well as not putting them in their sleeves other damage was caused as they would be marked by the stylus. They got rough treatment. They were just your property and you didn't think that in 30 or 40 years time they would be worth 500 or 2,500 times more than you paid for them.

Neil, who also specialised in searching for and importing records from the US, said: "You can't find records just lying around out there any more."

Carl: "They are certainly selling for big money on specialist websites but the real collectors can also look after them and keep them properly."

Neil: "We came after you and records were real objects of desire then."

Although the soul scene was welcoming competition between DJs could be fierce.

Carl: "If you had a rare record or had found a new one no-one else was playing you would cover-up. You would cut out the centre of an unused record and stick it over the label of the record you were actually playing. That was if anyone looked at the record it would have a different title and different artist on its label to what you were playing.
"There was also bootlegging and other kinds of rip-offs going on."

Carl, talking of the Northern Soul revival, said: "People are getting back to their roots. They are getting towards retirement and they are keeping the sound alive. There are also a fair number of younger people who see it as something different to what is on the radio or TV."

Neil: "There are a few young DJs and people doing R and B, rarities - a broad church really."

Carl: "It keeping traditions going. Colin Tolley (resident DJ at the Newhampton Soul Club, at the Newhampton Arts Centre, Dunkley Street, Whitmore Reans, Wolverhampton) says lots of Mods are also getting involved in the scene.
"There always was a mod scene that tended to keep seperate but perhaps they are coming back together."

Looking back Neil says: "I don't understand why it was so attractive to white kids here. I was astonished that tens of thousands would be besotted.
"A lot this music in America was being blanked by the radio stations and mainstream. However, small groups of people could get together, make a record and release it there - sometimes in only 500 units. That wasn't happening over here."

Carl: "In the 60s rhythm and soul music appealed - and they weren't big stars. I like them for not being big names. It was also very different.
"I put it down to being something special and something to really enjoy. However, I got married in 1971. You get to an age where you settle down but in this case it lasted three months.
"I got back at the Lafayette Club in Wolverhampton but didn't view all that much of a future in the clubs and got back to the scene in 72-76 but then started doing discos and lost close touch with what was going on. I was also getting into a career (as an insurance broker).
"At Chateau Impney you got paid £3 but spent £10 on records."

Neil: "Back then I would have 8,000 records stacked in my bedroom in this Walsall council house and I would DJ in Walsall and stand in for Carl."

Carl: "Northern Soul was never tribal. It was very welcoming and still is.
"After the 70s it was weddings and parties until I became aware of the revival in the late 90s." He pinpointed Blackburn, Lancashire, in 1999 as the moment when the boxed BHS set The Strange World of Northern Soul was launched there and he also met DJs Brian Phillips and Rob Bellars from the Twisted Wheel, and Ian Levine and Neil Rushton for the first time in decades.

That was after 24 years of doing bookings which included some soul and pop soul sessions at The Strathallen Hotel on the Hagley Road in Birmingham.
Now he will be back in Wolverhampton - home of The Catacombs - and back behind the decks on Friday May 11.
Information below is taken from the excellent Hinckley Soul Club website

The Catacombs Club
Location: Temple Street, Wolverhampton
Date: 1967 - 1974

The Catacombs was an upstairs venue, based in an old lead smelting works. It was a long, narrow venue, based around a long, bare-brick walled corridor, with arched alcoves where the furnaces used to be and a bar on the right, and the dance floor at the far end. It had a capacity of 500-600 and ran initially from 8-12, allnighters being introduced in the early seventies.


The significance of the Catacombs in the history of Northern Soul cannot be understated. It was the policy of the Catacombs to discover and popularise unknown soul rarities, and if it were not for the hours that it opened, it could have easily have surpassed the Twisted Wheel as the premier venue of the early 70s. As it was, the Catacombs discovered the sounds and the Wheel and the Torch exposed them to the masses. And as if to have the final say, the Catacombs outlasted both the Wheel and the Torch, finally closing in July 1974.

The venue started playing rare soul in 1967, and the DJ at the time was Alan S (Smith) who was relatively new to the scene. He was joined by "Farmer" Carl Dene (Carl Woodroffe). Farmer Carl had been a collector of rare soul since 1964, regularly visiting the soul haven of the time, The Diskery, on a regular basis; he was also credited as one of the first people to cover-up records. Farmer Carl was responsible for breaking many famous classics, one of note being "That Beating Rhythm" by Richard Temple. Nobody believed the record existed, assuming it to be a cover-up, due to the "Temple" link with the Temple Street venue. As well as "I'll Do Anything" by Doris Troy, perhaps Farmer Carl's biggest claim to fame is his ability to promote chart sucess. His exposure of "I'm Gonna Run Away From You" by Tami Lynn caused the record to be re-released, and it reached No.4 in the UK in May, 1971. And it didn't stop there... "Hey Girl Don't Bother Me", by the Tams was another record championed by Farmer Carl, which was picked up on by Peter Powell, the Radio One DJ, who brought it onto the radio. It eventually reached Number 1.


When Farmer Carl left the Catacombs, Alan S was joined by "Major" Robert Crocker, and together they formulated a very sucessful partnership, travelling far and wide to locate new sounds. Together they opened a record shop, and one day, on the way to Leicester to purchase new stock, the pair were involved in a car accident, and Bob Crocker was sadly killed. Alan S was confined to hospital for 3 months.


While Alan recuperated, Mick "Froggy" Taylor took over, as was soon joined by "Blue" Max Millward and Graham Warr. The club prospered, closing briefly in 1972 for refurbishment, but continuing on it's mission to discover bigger and better sounds. Consider the following list of records that are credited by various sources as having been launched at the Catacombs:


Swoop Down On You - Lorenzo Manley
Darkest Days - Jackie Lee
Blowing My Mind To Pieces - Bob Relf
Unsatisfied - Lou Johnson
Picture Me Gone - Evie Sands
Temptation Walk - Jackie Lee
Ski-ing In The Snow - The Invitations
Walk Like A Man - Johnny Moore
Gonna Be A Big Thing - The Yum Yums
It Ain't Necessary - Mamie Galore
I Got Something Good - Sam and Kitty
I'm Comun' Home In The Mornun' - Lou Pride
Panic - Reparata and the Delrons

It's always best to have a venue described by someone who was there. Here are some great memories from Graham "Mif" Smith from Wolverhampton:


I still have my last Pink membership card 1973-1974. It's dated July 1973 and I was member number 89. What a place this was, the bare walls of the corridors would become wet with the condensation as everyone packed in to enjoy Blue Max and Pep's latest 'finds'. I remember placing my new cassette tape recorder in the dance floor area to tape all the sounds. Still got those tapes too, you can hear the atmosphere. I would visit the Torch too, a much bigger venue, so for me it never held the same 'feelings' as the Cats. What I remember most was the rush for the floor when one of the 'tunes' of the day were played; "Ski-ing In The Snow". "Blowing My Mind To Pieces". Such brilliant tunes. Well, I have just had birthday number 50, but get that Northern Soul on the decks and I will dance yer pants off (much to the embarrassment of my kids). Wifey and I still visit NS clubs in our area but nothing, nothing can come anywhere near those Cats days.


In 1973, Alan S left the Catacombs, to be replaced by Ian "Pep" Pereira, and Alan Day joined the team briefly. Once the Torch closed, the Catacombs reigned supreme, until the impact of Wigan Casino was felt. In 1974, the Catacombs closed due to the redevelopment of the premises, going out with a bang with the hottest allnighter on record, with an attendance of over twice the legal fire limit!


The Catacombs was an upstairs venue, based in an old lead smelting works. It was a long, narrow venue, based around a long, bare-brick walled corridor, with arched alcoves where the furnaces used to be and a bar on the right, and the dance floor at the far end. It had a capacity of 500-600 and ran initially from 8-12, allnighters being introduced in the early seventies.
The significance of the Catacombs in the history of Northern Soul cannot be understated. It was the policy of the Catacombs to discover and popularise unknown soul rarities, and if it were not for the hours that it opened, it could have easily have surpassed the Twisted Wheel as the premier venue of the early 70s. As it was, the Catacombs discovered the sounds and the Wheel and the Torch exposed them to the masses. And as if to have the final say, the Catacombs outlasted both the Wheel and the Torch, finally closing in July 1974.

The venue started playing rare soul in 1967, and the DJ at the time was Alan S (Smith) who was relatively new to the scene. He was joined by "Farmer" Carl Dene (Carl Woodroffe). Farmer Carl had been a collector of rare soul since 1964, regularly visiting the soul haven of the time, The Diskery, on a regular basis; he was also credited as one of the first people to cover-up records. Farmer Carl was responsible for breaking many famous classics, one of note being "That Beating Rhythm" by Richard Temple. Nobody believed the record existed, assuming it to be a cover-up, due to the "Temple" link with the Temple Street venue. As well as "I'll Do Anything" by Doris Troy, perhaps Farmer Carl's biggest claim to fame is his ability to promote chart sucess. His exposure of "I'm Gonna Run Away From You" by Tami Lynn caused the record to be re-released, and it reached No.4 in the UK in May, 1971. And it didn't stop there... "Hey Girl Don't Bother Me", by the Tams was another record championed by Farmer Carl, which was picked up on by Peter Powell, the Radio One DJ, who brought it onto the radio. It eventually reached Number 1.

When Farmer Carl left the Catacombs, Alan S was joined by "Major" Robert Crocker, and together they formulated a very sucessful partnership, travelling far and wide to locate new sounds. Together they opened a record shop, and one day, on the way to Leicester to purchase new stock, the pair were involved in a car accident, and Bob Crocker was sadly killed. Alan S was confined to hospital for 3 months.


http://www.soul-sour...dene-catacombs/


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