A Modern Lookback At 2008 By Mark Randle
What I thought was great in 2008 by Mark Randle
Gang, I was asked prior to Christmas 2008 to submit a written piece for a propsed publication to be released around Christmas 2008. This I did, but for various reasons the publication never got released.
I put quite a bit of effort into this at a time of year when spare time is at a premium, and am therefore reluctant to let it got to waste. I'm posting it here in the hope that it may be an interesting read for some of you, so here goes:
"What I thought was great in 2008"
Regarding life in general, 2008 comes to an end in a degree of turmoil, so all the more reason for us to ensure that we indulge in our passion for the music we all love as we head into 2009. I was asked to provide some ramblings for this publication, and due to the timing of the piece, decided to take a look back at some events that I enjoyed through 2008, so that's where we begin. I'll then go on to talk briefly about what's in store for my own gig, Soul Purpose, in the future.
The year started on a bit of a low musically, with no Without Boundaries to look forward to in 2008 after it closed its doors at Christmas 2007. The brand was not to be completely lost though, as the theme returned for the Prestatyn Legends Weekender in October, but more of that later.
February saw our first Soul Purpose session of 2008 take place, with guest DJ Adam at the wheels of steel. This was a good start to our 2008 schedule, after our bumper Christmas 2007 party, which incidentally saw 180 souls in attendance. Later that month saw the first of two excellent events over at Prestatyn Pontins. The 7th Midnight Hour Weekender was a fantastic event all round, with three live acts which really did justify use of the word "modern" in its truest sense. Wade O'Brown, Pete Simpson and Afro Elements turned in great performances, and it's difficult to know how the organisers keep up the standards year on year. With both Marcell & The Truth and Incognito booked for 2009, it's clear that they rise to the challenge.
Our next Soul Purpose in April saw the debut of guest DJ Cliff Steele at the venue. Cliff is one of only a handful of truly across the board jocks. Another fine night under our belts, with most of our regulars in attendance, but the gig always seems to attract new faces, so we must be doing something right. Not sure what we'll do if they all turn up on the same night mind!
May saw the start of what might be seen as traditional weekender season, as the granddaddy of them all gets its first airing of the year in early May. Yes Southport was upon us, and for the musically open-minded it never fails to deliver. Amongst the highlights were sets from DJ's Jihad Muhammad, Rahaan and Mr Scruff, with the Sunburst Band providing a great live show as the weekend drew to a close.
Staying with weekenders, and into June, Cleethorpes is a much smaller affair than Southport, and as most will know, is completely different musically, being a Northern and Modern soul weekender. Organiser and all round good-guy Ady Croasdell, having listened to the wishes of the modern soul crowd, made some changes to the modern soul room, which made a big difference to the event. An improved sound system, which contemporary music so relies on, and some tweaks to the dÃÆ’©cor, transformed the room. Ady should be credited for the common sense to listen and act on people's wishes, and it paid dividends for him. Hopefully some of the old regulars who had become indifferent to the weekender will return over the next few years. Roll on 2009's event.
After a cock-up with dates by yours truly, Soul Purpose unfortunately took a brief hiatus through the summer, with our next event scheduled for October. All was not lost though, as we hired a narrow boat on the Ashby Canal in Leicestershire, for an impromptu session, taking to the water on Friday 18th July. Around 50 seafaring souls joined the cruise with the usual cross-section of tunes spanning four decades spun by the Soul Purpose regulars. This served as a fitting replacement for the regular summer gig, and may well become an annual event such was the success and vibe aboard. Keep an eye out for news of that in 2009.
July also saw me venture down to Neil Self's excellent Soul Fusion night at the Dowty Sports & Social Club, just off junction 11 of the M5. This was my second visit to the gig, but this time around I was on DJ duties. I can't recommend Neil's three roomed event in Gloucestershire enough. A great up for it bunch of people with a great attitude to a night out, with music across the decades ensuring something for every taste. Check it out in 2009.
In amongst my summer holidays, the big event in August was the Essential Modern Soul (EMS - check it out at www.essentialmodernsoul.co.nr) internet forum Summer Party charity event at Qube nightclub in Sheffield. Members of the EMS forum have often talked of holding a party, so that we could put faces to the names of some of our cyber-space friends. It finally came to be in August 2008, with all proceeds from the event going to Macmillan Cancer Support. Two rooms of music were in operation, with 70's and 80's soul catered for upstairs, and the newer stuff covered on the lower floor. With attendees from the UK and overseas, everyone paid entrance fee, and all DJ's gave their time for free. Including donations from those who couldn't attend, around £4,000 was raised for the charity, which was a top effort. As with the Soul Purpose boat doo, I think the EMS Summer Party may well become an annual event, so keep 'em peeled.
September saw me make the trip over to Cambridge for Mick O'Donnell's Soul Discovery show on 209 Community Radio. Mick holds occasional round-table events, where characters from the UK soul scene are invited along to play a few tunes and chew the fat about the music and the scene. This particular show saw Mark Merry, Steve Dolan and myself in the studio for three hours of lively discussion. "It's good to talk" as a leading telecommunications company once famously proclaimed, and we waxed lyrical about the state of the current modern scene, including the musical diversity, and therefore acceptance or otherwise of various forms of black music in 2008. Away from the music there's the ever-present politics, and there was healthy discussion about just where the new blood is going to emerge from to keep the music alive. Did we come up with any answers? Well, some ideas were tabled, but above all, hopefully it was a catalyst to get these things out in the open, and I'm sure Mick will have further guest shows in 2009 to continue the debate.
I did say that we would return to the Prestatyn Legends Weekender, and October saw the inclusion of a purpose built "Without Boundaries" modern soul arena, with the feel of the marquee events originally held at the Bass Museum as part of Fish's seven year Without Boundaries tenure. With the aesthetics of the room sorted, and a superb sound system, it was down to the jocks to deliver the goods, and they sure did. Lots of good things said about the room, and it provides a great basis to build on in 2009 and beyond. Afro Elements made their second appearance of the year, and were more suited to the time slot and venue afforded them at the October event. Big news though was the appearance of the Spinners on UK soil for the first time in around 20 years. Whilst I happened to be DJ'ing during their appearance, I did manage to slink away for a little of the show, and they seemed to be delivering the goods from where I stood.
A week later and we were back on track with our regular Soul Purpose gig with Cambridgeshire main man Andy Davies joining us. Excluding our Christmas 2007 event, this was our busiest night ever, and with our Christmas 2008 night the next event on our calendar, the future looks bright.
November saw another Southport come and go, not the best one I've attended for a variety of reasons. Friday didn't quite happen musically for me, and as the music seemed to pick up on Saturday night, I fell ill. Oh well, next time.
The year ended on a downer for contemporary music with the loss of Soul Underground, one of the Midlands, and indeed the countries, most progressive new music nights. Not sure where Lin Taylor and the guys go from here, but I would be surprised and disappointed if that was the last we heard of them. News not quite so bad for another of the UK's flag bearing nights, Soul Intent, who having lost their most recent venue during 2008, bounce back in a new home at the Aston Hotel, Catcliffe, Sheffield. Their first night takes place on Saturday 20th December, and thereafter it runs bi-monthly. The Saturday slot and bi-monthly scheduling will, I'm sure, help prolong the life of one of the top events during this tough time for gigs playing new music. That brings us nicely up to date for 2008, so what's around the corner for Soul Purpose?
Firstly, we have our Christmas All Day Special on Tuesday 30th December, with DJ's Colin Curtis, Soul Sam and guests joining Sam Evans, Mark Goddard and myself at the decks. The event starts at 2pm in the afternoon, and for the early session through until 7pm, we welcome DJ's Rob Kay & Denmac, The Soul Intent crew and surprise guests to get us in the mood to party through the evening session until 2am on New Years Eve. This has the prospect of being a bumper session, with all hotel rooms now taken! It's only £5 on the door too, and with 12 hours of music, and guest DJ's of that quality, its great value for money.
If you can't make the Christmas event, then our dates for 2009 are Friday 3rd April with guest Fish, Friday 5th June where we are joined by Pete Haigh, and then Friday 2nd October, with guest DJ TBC. We then have our All Day Christmas event on Wednesday 30th December, but do I really have to think about that yet? That's the only downside of promoting a gig; it's like wishing your life away! Anyway, come and join us at one of the gigs if you can, we promise a variety of soulful black music from the 70's to the latest new and advance releases, and above all, no politics!! Yes, I know, that's a refreshing change I hear you say. There's also the bonus of concessionary rates on hotel rooms if you are attending the event, with the tariff for 2009 being £25 per person on a bed and breakfast basis.
The venue is Sketchley Grange, Hinckley, Leicestershire, LE10 3HU, just off J1 of the M69, one mile along the B4109. Door tax for the events is £5 and more info can be had on 07710 283281, or at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.soul-purpose.net. See www.sketchley-grange.co.uk for more hotel details. Beyond these gigs, and as already mentioned, I think we will be revisiting the boat do next year, and it's just a shame that numbers are so limited at such an event. On top of this we have lots of ideas of different directions in which to take events at Sketchley Grange, and anyone who has been there will tell you that the venue is full of potential. So, keep your eyes open for some exciting developments in the future.
Finally, for those that may not know, I can be found spinning lots of new release soul and soulful/deep/jazzy house on Starpoint Radio, every last Monday of the month between the hours of 7 and 9pm GMT. Full station schedules can be found at www.starpointradio.com, as can play lists for all shows.
Right, as a convenient way of looking back at some music from 2008, I'm going to list a few of my favourite plays from my Starpoint shows during the year, reflecting the musical diversity outlined above:
Fanatix feat. Lady Alma - Higher (Main Mix) - (US Dopewax MP3)
Willie Clayton - Gotta Love (US Malaco CD)
Ashanti Munir feat. Leon Beal Jr. - Follow Your Heart (US Grooveallegiance CD)
Kimara Lovelace - Merry Go Round (UK Newlite Muzik 12")
Maurice (Jackson) - It's Been Revealed (US Glomar Music CD)
Gary Wyatt with The Jackson Sistas - You Are My Everything (US Gold Glove Records CD)
Brent Jones & The T.P. Mobb - Heaven In The Room (US Tyscot Records CD)
L. J. Reynolds - You Can Make It (US Crystal Rose Inc. CD)
Sterling Ensemble feat. Mario Inchausti - Truth (I Know You Are Beautiful) (Man-X + Reel Soul's Sunset Nights Mix) (US Deep Haven MP3)
Ayro - Bounce (Spinna Remix) (US Groovia Sound Project MP3)
Pirahnahead - Music (US Whasdat 12")
Lebrado - Beautiful (US MakeCent$ Records CD)
Studio Apartment feat. Monique Bingham - Found Him (Kerri Chandler Bigga Vocal Mix) (US King Street MP3)
Tortured Soul - Special Lady (US Tortured Soul CDS)
Lalah Hathaway - Let Go (US Stax CD)
Clarence Dobbins - I'll Go Crazy (US CDS Records CD)
Incognito - Step Aside (JAP Handcuts Records CD)
Adrian Brown & Friends - Free (US Nikab Prods. CD)
Ian Friday feat. Byron Moore - Springtime In Paris (Tea Party Vocal Mix) (UK Asante 12")
Phil Perry - Shine On Me (US Shanachie CD)
Hajime Yoshizawa feat. Navasha Daya - Celebration (JAP Village Again CD)
Heston - Radio (US Worldsoul Music CD)
Althea Rene feat. Tamara Jones - Come My Way (US Red Cat Music Group CD)
Common Knowledge feat. Darrell Wainwright - Just Friends (US Common Knowledge CD)
Eric Benet - You're The Only One (US Reprise CD)
Wayne Brady - F.W.B. (US Peak CD)
Raphael Saadiq - Never Give You Up (US Columbia/Sony BMG CD)
Joe Thomas - Why Just Be Friends (US Kedar CD)
Bennson - Let The Love (EU Raw Fusion CD)
DJ Spinna & Ovasoul7 - You Should Be Loving Me (Original Organic Vocal) (US Wonderwax 12")
Lenny Fontana feat. Joi Cardwell - Make It Alright (Richard Earnshaw 2008 Classic Main Mix) (EU Stalwart 12")
Jazzanova feat. Paul Randolph - Let Me Show Ya (EU Verve/Universal 12")
The Bamboos feat. Kylie Auldist - Make It Real (UK Tru Thoughts CD)
Kloud 9 - Love's Just Better With You (The Realm Vocal Remix) (UK Expansion CD)
Yukihiro Fukutomi feat. Lady Alma - Time For Change (JAP Avex Entertainment CD)
Deborah Cox - You Know Where My Heart Is (US Deco Recording Group CD)
Mark Randle 2008