The travelling soulies of The Hitsville Soul Club hit Pittsburgh for the "NeverSouledOut" Allnighter on Sat 12 May...here's what we got up to..
Mark Holmes and I touched down at Pittsburgh International around 5pm and after a nightmare traffic journey arrived at the hotel a couple of hours later. Quick shower and visit to Red Lobster later and we were en-route to The Gallery - the venue for the Friday night party laid on by Justin (The Promoter) and The Vintage Scooter Club. Des Parker, Johnny Beggs and Karl Heard (Over from UK), were already nestled next to the bar and the music was being provided by our host and local guys from the Scooter Club. Lots of boogaloo, instrumentals and latin influenced stuff came from the turntables as we settled in. By 10pm Russ Vickers, up from Virginia and Jason Thornton (Up from Florida), arrived and we were treated to Jason spinning some great classic Northern for the last hour before we left at midnight when they closed up. Highlight of the evening was when Dave Brown (Philly Archives), came in with Mr Bobby Fulton. (Soulville and Jay Walking Records). Had a great half hour with the Reverend Fulton and we all managed to get him to sign copies of the double album vinyl set that was produced in 2001. Have to say that the package of this two album set is really outstanding. Liner notes, pictures, good quality vinyl...it's all there and every collector should have one filed away. The UK guys set off for Ohio, (Record Show), whilst the rest of us retired to the hotel where the Numark was set up and records were played, beer drunk until around 6am. We'd made a good start to the weekend!
All freshened up by 9am, breakfast finished less than an hour later and it was off to our first stop of the day. Attic Records. Attic is owned by Fred Bohn, a well respected (on both sides of the pond), "record guy". Fred's a major collector himself and provides many scans of the earlier 45s that support the features we present in There's That Beat! Fred's store is a pleasure to visit. He's used to the Brits coming in browsing and makes you feel at home. No rush here, just lots of vinyl and a welcoming host. A search of his shelves saw him relieve me of some cash in exchange for mint Jackie Wilson - "You Brought About A Change In Me b/w For Once In My Life" - Brunswick 55392 Demo which allowed me to upgrade my "battered copy" and a Shirelles - "Too Much Of A Good Thing b/w Bright Shiny Colors" - Scepter 12192 Demo in the same condition, which advances my cause to complete their catalogue on Demos. We all bought 45s, took a few pictures of some of the artists pictures Fred has, and reflected on a morning well spent as we headed off to lunch. For anyone on a vinyl hunting trip, a stop at Fred Bohn's Attic Records is a must . Tell him we sentya!
Not too far from Fred's place is "The Strip", an area of shops, restaurants and general hustle and bustle. Lots of old style shops, vendors trying to entice you and restaurant owners looking to snare customers. We settled on an Italian Bistro with outside seating and an owner who guaranteed us he had "everything". Unfortunately, my request for the only thing I miss about the "old country" except the mighty Burnley Football Club, meat pie, chips, mushy peas and gravy drew nothing but a blank stare and a scratch of his head! We settled for some Italian nosh and watched the world go by for a while before saying our "Ciaos" to the proprietor and his missus who were good eggs and setting off for the afternoon session.
Jerry's Record Store is another of Pittsburgh's old school vinyl stops. No gimmicks or anything here either, it's cash/cheque only and once again, the staff here are friendly, knowledgeable and as vinyl crazy as any of their customers. The layout of the store is such that all the soul 45s are filed together in well kept boxes at the bottom end of the shop right next to the turntable. So basically, you can pull 'em straight off the shelf and straight onto the deck. Perfect!
Jerry has three types of pricing, boxes of $3.00, boxes of $5.00 records and then he has boxes of individually priced 45s that are not on the display shelves, so if you wanna see the best stuff, you'll need to ask. But hey...soul 45s at 3 bucks apiece! The four of us set about sifting the boxes of little black jewels and it took us about 4 hours to get through the lot. I had a great time at Jerry's. I always pine for the days when pallets of 45s were available to just sit around flicking through but where I live, most of the real deal 45 stores are long gone, replaced by the usual HMV/Virgin stores full of overpriced T Shirts and sanitized CD shelves, so sitting around sorting through 1000s of 45s with a group of like minded mates is a real treat for me nowadays. Russ was even merrily puffing away on his cigarette while digging through the boxes. Now that's a real blast from the past!
Once again everyone found something to separate them from their cash: Russ took a punt on a rather nice looking Jimmy Burns Tip Top Demo of You're Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone, Jas picked up Kenny Hamber 9Can't remember the title - Modern/Crossover thingy) , Mark has recently started collecting again and picked up quite a few that replaced stuff he sold before leaving UK over 20 years ago and I managed to find some bits and bobs as you can see from the pics on these pages.(TTB! - ISSUE #4). Couple of vinyl highlights for me were: Keanya Collins - "It Ain't No Secret b/w I'll Get Over It" - Blue Rock 4072. I have to admit, I'd never heard the flip to this 45 before. "I'll Get Over It" would seem ripe for today's UK dance-floors, a real quality melody with vibraphone induced backing and Keanya doing what she does best. This may have been played before Im not sure, if it was I must have been at the bar, but some enterprising D J needs to dig it out and give it an airing. The other one of note for me was The Controllers - "Feeling A Feeling b/w Somebody's Gotta Win" - Juana 3414. I have to admit, 70s records have trouble finding their way back to my boxes unless they're a bit special. This one pushed all the right aural buttons to end up in my boxes marked J. From 1972, it's another record I hadn't heard before this weekend, but will be listening to from now on and for a total of 3 bucks... dontcha just love it when that happens!
As Jerry's was closing we made our way back to the hotel, dived in the shower (not together I hasten to add), grabbed a bite to eat at a local hostelry and proceeded to the main event of the weekend. The NeverSouldOut Allnighter.
The event was held in what can only be described as a derelict old stone former church. It was dark, dank, dusty and had a large open space where decks had been set up and a large space to dance in...PERFECT! As we arrived the speakers were blaring out favorites of the local mods and scooter guys, lots of Boogaloo, Instrumentals and a hint of Latin stuff. Much the same as the previous night. We set up the There's That Beat mags, T shirts and started in on the beer that was provided in the cost of the $10.00 admission! Yeeehaw!
The DJ rosta was sliced into 30 minute sets and it wasn't long before the Northern started to get played. Karl Heard over from UK played an uptempo set, followed by Dave Brown who's set consisted of many Latin fused records and then Jason played his first of two sets before the resident locals hit the decks again. The crowd seemed up for it and people were on the floor throughout the night. For our UK readers, it's a totally different experience at a soul venue here in the States. The crowds are primarily out for a good social night similar to a regular nightclub in UK. Dancing with your chick /wife and drinking on dancefloors etc is the norm here and the young mods of Pittsburgh were determined to have a good night of it! The local DJs did their thing and the crowd responded accordingly. More Boogaloo, Latin, Instrumentals followed and everyone had a great time. Next up came the sets from the purely Northern DJs. Karl, Jason, Des all played great sets of classic Northern soul. Mainly uptempo stuff as that's what the crowd seemed to want and a highlight for me was seeing young US fans throwing themselves around to Robby Lawson - Burning Sensation - Kyser.
We decided around 3am to call it a night. We'd had hardly any sleep for two nights, and had journeys back the next morning. Was good to see the floor still busy as we left, along with a couple of Pittsburgh's finest keeping an eye on the proceedings with a smile on their face.
Big Thanks to Justin and The Vintage Scooter Club for their hospitality, we had a great weekend. If any of them come down to The Hitsville Rare Soul Weekender in September we'll certainly return the favour.
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