Soul Blog entries posted by Steve G originally via the Soul Blog feature during the period September 2007 - July 2010
Barcelona Beckons Posted by Steve G, 21 July 2010
"Movin On" in Barcelona is a club that's become well established in the last couple of years. And so I was delighted to be offered a booking here. A quick hop over on Easyjet from Stanstead (well who actually wants to travel using R-Air ), and I found myself in Barca on a Friday night, armed with my 100 count record box. I replace all the cardboard covers with paper sleeves meaning I can squeeze about 120 discs in! :ph34r: Got a cab to my hotel (price E.30) and got on the "Dog & Bone" to Edu one of the organisers of "Movin On" to tell him to lock away your women, I've arrived in Barcelona! Within no time I was in another cab, being whisked down to the old town, where I met Edu, Marcos, and Argentina's only soul fan (we think!), who was over for the summer. Interesting conversation about Argentinian soul. Plenty of good records came out there, but today......there is a small reggae scene and believe it or not an outpost of the 'Deep funk' scene, but no northern or soul scene at all to speak of. Good steaks though as anyone who has visited the "Goucho Grill" can testify.
We headed off to a club where Edu & Marcos do the warm up, playing soul from midnight to 3 a.m. (yes Barcelona really is a late town!). By 3 a.m. the place was buzzing and the main club DJ took over. At this point we left, there was a sizeable queue outside and, being well past by bedtime I went back to my hotel.
Saturday morning came and went, mostly went, and I went back downtown, this time on the subway (I always like using public transport in foreign countries) to meet Edu, Marcos and Polly, Edu's girlfriend. Having looked around the antique market, we went for a lovely meal at down by the harbour at Con Manel. This is a very nice restaurant, which Marcos' family have been coming to since he was a "nipper"; in fact it had been open since 1870! After the meal we took a stroll to admire the beach "scenery" (well I was ), and then went onto Bar Las Guindas. This was a warm up session, where some of the arriving Spanish soul fans meet up. It was a 5-9 p.m session in a long thin bar with a friendly lady manageress and I did an hour there later on (7 pm-8 pm) before going back to my hotel to change, freshen up etc.
Bar las Guindas - my spins
Norma & Heartaches "Nice N Slow"
Wendy Lynn "I can remember"
Arthur Foy "Love dreams"
X Ta C "Squeeze"
Executive Force "Midnight Lovin"
The Reason Why "Step inside my world"
Toll Darkness "Just what I've been looking for"
Jones Brothers "Stop your calling" (unissued)
Peoples Choice "All I want is you"(unissued)
Carol Anderson "Holding on"
Gorgeous George "Strange book"
Albert Jones "Monkey boogaloo"
Black Rock Educators "Isn't it nice"
Flashlight "Take me away"
Johnny Scott "Let me be a winner"
Pleasure Seekers "Come inside"
Merv Murphy "it's growing"
Frankie Kar'hl "Don't fan the flame"
Richard Marks "Did you ever lose something"
Douglas & Loreno "This time"
Natural Impulse "She went away"
Halo "Let me do it to you"
Chuck Cockerham "Have I got a right"
Cristina came and picked me up at 11.30 p.m for the main event "Movin On" held at the Jazz Room in a bit of an out of the way part of Barca, sort of north of the downtown area. It was a smallish / medium sized club, with modern dÃÆ’©cor and a quite low ceiling. Not low enough for Peter Crouch to bump his head on while pogo-ing to the Pistols, but fairly low......Anyway I must mention Cristina's car parking skills, which were exceptional, parking her car in a space I'd struggle to fit a motor bike into. We went for some tapas in the upstairs bar and a quick beer, before Cristina played her opening set in the club. Great sound system, something that is sometimes missing in the UK - and it makes all the difference. By 1.15 there were about 35 soul fans in the place and I was starting to get a tad worried. No need - by 2.15 there were 170 in, and the place was rocking. Edu worked his magic with things like The Exits, followed by another guest - Josep A. from Valencia who played a highly credible northern and crossover set, Jimmie Ellis being a highlight for me. I had three sets, which was great as it allowed me a chance to mix in some different stuff with the floor fillers. At 5 a.m. when we played the last tune ("Love stormy weather"), it was still very busy. Fabulous.
On Sunday Cristina again picked me up at my hotel and we went down to Edu's flat for the barbeque party on the terrace. It was raining (I'd bought some English weather over with me) but that didn't spoil things. Had some great food here and I also managed to squeeze in another hour of records....I left about 6 p.m. and then went and did a bit of sightseeing - well why wouldn't you? Barcelona is a lovely city.
Monday morning saw me take the train out to the Airport for the pricely sum of E. 3 (Boris Johnson take note!) - a thirty minute journey for less than £2, and less than it costs to go one stop on the Central Line in London.
What a great weekend this was! Top people, such a friendly crowd and as always, that'll dance to good music, whether they've heard it before or not.
Movin On Saturday (3 sets) and BBQ Sunday
Spencer Wiggins "I'm at the breaking point" (Kent)
Buddy Connor "When you're alone"
.....a little out and out funky.....
Groove Merchants "There's got to be someone for me"
James Brown "Money won't change you"
King George "Baby I've got it"
....a clutch of cover ups.......
Veda "How long" (cover up)
Guitar Ray "I wouldn't change a thing" (cover up)
Hands of Time (cover up)
Black Nasty "Make believe girl" (cover up)
Kashif "Won't you be my lady" (cover up)
Vee Gees "Talkin"
Double O Demingos "Color one tear black"
Hard Drivers "Since I was a little girl"
Wally Coco "Message to society"
Ramsey & Co "Love call"
Jesse James "(I can feel your love) Changin" (Soul Junction)
Sex "It's you, baby it's you"
Doc Peabody "Here without you"
Bojack Thomas "Hear me now baby"
Veda Brown "I had a fight with love"
Anderson Bros "I can see him loving you"
Tolbert "I got it"
Fourth Day "You turn me on"
Volumes "Ain't gonna give you up"
Chico Lamarr "What do you think I am"
Appointments "I saw you there"
Nurons "All my life"
Detroit Sounds of Friction "I'm leaving you"
Rhonda Davis "Can you remember"
Ralph Soul Jackson "Set me free"
Barbara Hall "Tell me tell me tell me"
Dennis Lee & Notables "Sunday afternoon"
Willie Feaster "Voices"
Bob Relf "Girl you're my kind of wonderful"
Sugar Bears "Nothing I can do"
Charles Mintz "Running back"
Willie Tee "Funky funky twist"
Hill SIsters "Gonna get even"
Eddie Holloway "Poor boy"
Sisters Love "Give me your love"
Pinch of Perfection "All that's left is memories"
Pretenders "Just be yourself"
Party Set 4.15 - 5.a.m at Jazz Bar
Bobby Patterson "I'm in love with you"
Bill Harris "Am I cold am I hot"
Gil Scott Heron "The bottle" (ha ha!)
Edwin Starr "Running back and forth"
Differences "Five Minutes"
Tony Drake "Suddenly"
Barrett Strong "Is it true"
A J Brown "Making love together"
J Jocko "I'm getting over"
Mark IV "If you can't tell me something good about my baby"
Flowers "For real"
Timeless Legend "I was born to love you"
2nd Ressurection "Don't let the daylight catch you"
C Coulter "Can't fight the feeling"
Melvin Brown / James Matthews "Loves stormy weather"
London In May
Posted by Steve G, 21 July 2010 ·
Next up on the blogosphere, two events in old London town. Firstly let me start by saying that the soul scene in London is fragmented into what seems like 100 pieces. There are all sorts of sub genres with groups of DJ's, many built off of the old jazz funk scene, others from the boogie scene, and I think there are still five people left that like two step! Then there is the new release crowd, or those with a bent towards soulful house. Then you have the northern genres, and some others that like crossover. What's left of the deep funk scene has largely, well gone into deep hibernation at the moment. Oh and finally there is an army of people who buy CD's but don't actually go to any events. And so with that variety, a number of venues in London do suffer attendance wise. Fragmented is the right word for describing the London soul scene.
My first date in London is Majestic Soul at 3 Blind Mice, in trendy old Shoreditch. I like this gig it's on a Thursday night and has an early start - in short I can go straight from work. The 3 Blind Mice (formerly Smersh Bar) is a dive bar that has hosted soul events for many years, Mark Houghton's "New Chapter" and the "George Jackson" nights being two examples. I've DJ'ed at both in the past and loved it every time I have been there (except the time I droped and cracked my copy of "Halo"). You see the bar is small enough that if you get 40 people in there it's packed. And at 25 ironically it is still "busy". The space behind the decks is compact, no problem for a fit guy like me, but some of the more rotund DJ's may 'squeeze' to fit in there. Good to see the likes of Binsy, Mark, Geoff, Maria, Brian Baker of course who co-runs the nights here (so it would be 'odd' if he didn't turn up ), Charlie, Rob etc all pitching up for this one. Plus two travellers from the north who were down in the Smoke. I wonder what they made of it?
I did two sets here, the first one early doors was mainly deep and sweet, so a rare chance to air things like Sam Dees "I found love in my own back yard", John Edwards "Loneliest House on the street" from the unissued Aware album - but missed by Kent at the time, Skeeter "All this love that I'm giving" - all the aforementioned being unissued in fact, Ed Robinson's Atco side "Ivory" which is without doubt the best thing he ever did in a recording studio, Betty Lavette on Atco, and the B side of Hard Drivers etc. My second set was more crossover and dancers, a chance to spin Spencer Wiggins "Turning point", Candi Staton's "One more fool" (both courtesy of Tony more Rounce to the ounce), and also the 'at the time' unissued Jesse James original of "Changing" which Mr Welding had kindly given me a promo of, amongst more familiar "precious things" like C Coulter, Natural Impulse, Arthur Foy, Hill Sisters & Fay Hill and the like. This club plays some great soul each month on a Thursday night.
Then a few days later it was hot footing it over to Islington for the Filthy Alldayer in the Hobgoblin at The Angel (Islington). These alldayers have built up an excellent reputation, and arriving at a fashionably late 6 p.m the place was already buzzing. I was mugged in the nicest possible way upon my arrival "Where have you been?" by the South London massive, Theresa and Julie, and later Mole, who it turns out originates from the same part of "Sarf London" as me! A host of DJs for the event, Flanny, Taffy, Andy, and Dave Fleming had all set the bar high ahead of me. But I espied some Caister bods in the corner quietly munching on the local brew wondering is anyone was ever going to play "Never too much" or Lonnie Liston Smith, so I started my set with the alternative version of McFadden & Whitehead, the "Philly Phillies" version. Cheesy yes, but I still get people saying "what's this?" every time it makes an outing out of the record box. But Phil from Hemel was shaking her head in disbelief at this selection! Too cheesy for her....From then on, because I was on quite late, it was dancefloor material all the way from me. The purpose being to stop people drifting off. I follow the old mantra of Dearwood Dearglove - a famous old northern DJ from Victorian times "Eee eck as like - educate em early doors son, but make sure you send em home whistling at t'end of night". Certainly that's what happened as Wayne (who I maintain does not get enough bookings - and I am not talking about in his cab either ) closed proceedings with some choice cuts. Another rip roaring success and I feel this Alldayer has now firmly established itself on the calendar with a loyal following; all the DJ's 'turn it on' here.
Groovesville & Usos
Posted by Steve G, 13 July 2010
Two 60s based gigs next. Firstly Groovesville in Bedford run by Toby and Andy 1-2-3-Kempster. Martin (R&BMan) was the trusted navigator on this one, but as it's quite local to me (45 mins) no navigation was really neccesary. But the company was good as ever.
Groovesville moved from The Angel to The Gallery, following some unsavoury goings on at The Angel, involving knives, blood and ultimately the police. Say no more Guv. Not really the type of club us refined soulfans want to be in anyway.....Anyway The Gallery I think is a better club, even though it's up about 15 flights of stairs. I was on from about 9.45 pm. Unfortunately the DJ decks space was a bit small and the two herberts on before me, well one of them managed to 'edge past' and knock all my records onto the floor just as I was about to go on. So an excellent start to proceedings I think you'll agree As a DJ nothing worse can happen. Well I suppose some angry oldies fan might throw your records out of the window I guess but that has never happened to me.....
About 80 in, and an absence of locals disappointingly, although a few like Chrissie and Ian and Anne turned up later. I spun things like Wally Coco, Doc Peabody, my Peoples Choice cover up, Richard Marks, and Short Kuts etc etc. Quite a few of the Burnley "Creatures of the night" in attendance which meant an emphasis on banging 60s music. Other DJs included Ted Massey, Karl Heard, Dr Pickles and Cliff Steele who played a blinder in my humble opinion.
I think the balance needs to shift a bit on this to appeal to a wider audience, as it has all the makings of an excellent night. But it needs to be inclusive - a lot of faces were missing and I am not sure why.
At about 2 a.m I noticed Martin had slumped in his chair by the bar and so it was time to run him back to Welwyn.
USOS was on mid May and Chrissie O was my travelling companion on this night. The USOS guys have the right attitude and they deserve support. We got to Walsall quite early, and said Hi to Kev and his Missus and Bearsy and his Missus.
Harpo's missus was DJing. Then Bearsy. Then one of my favourite northerners Jumping Joan. Then Ted Massey, myself and Dave Welding, an under-rated DJ with an excellent box of tunes. Dave Rivers was on for the last hour, but Chrissie's mascara was running by now so she wanted to get off back home . Attendance was down a bit and a number of regulars had trekked over to Boomerang to hear Butch do a marathon Euro set - fair do's. But there were enough in to make USOS "kick".
Dave Welding kindly gave me an advance promo of Jesse James on Soul Junction and this went down a treat, alongside the Spencer Wiggins (Kent), Candi Staton (Kent), Nurons, Walter Wilson and some northern that I can barely remember now. The dancefloor was a bit up and down, but generally reacted well. Lots of records for sale, the QOF was even tempted to get her purse out on more than one occasion.
USOS and Groovesville should both be in your calender.
Preston Soul People
Posted by Steve G, 23 June 2010 ·
Well now I have a couple of weeks off, I should probably get this blog going again.......have I told you about Barcelona and the soul scene there yet? nope Or what a fabulous city it is? nope
Or Soul People and my jaunt up to Preston and back for the evening?
Well hold on to yer britches and fasten your seatbelts
Also fun and frolics in London at various venues, trips to the West Midlands, Cleethorpes of course and Nantwich.
Well let's start back in April at Preston. I was a "stand in" for Uncle Soul Sambarnfather who was apparantly double booked. Of course living in Herts a trip up to Preston and back in one night is quite a challenge no trouble at all in my now ageing batmobile. Talking about Trouble, the previous week was the time when said Mr James Trouble was in "sell sell sell" mode; I had met said Mr T at a cafe on the A12 in Chelmsford , to buy a record off of him. Of course record deals go down in the most unusual places - I bought King Moses at the M6 Toll services, The Nurons at Potters Bar services etc, so next time you pull in for a disgusting burger or to do your weekly M&S / Waitrose shops at one of these places, check around you to make sure there's no familiar faces parked up next to you with record boxes or brown envelopes stuffed with filthy lucre.
Anyway I digress, Preston. Soul People. What a top night. I took Geoff from Enfield up with me, setting off about 5 pm ish,he was a bit worried it might be all Y2K10 head banging modern, but was pleasantly surprised to hear some crossover, Differences, Guitar Ray, even Eddie Billups on Peachtree etc. type stuff. The venue was at the Swallow Hotel which is a famous venue cos Richard Searling used to do alldayers there back in the 90s. I checked with Jumpingjoan on here before setting off just to make sure I knew where I was going (if I stay on the M6 I will "hit" Preston right?).......Inside the venue when you entered, there was a bar room, with several record dealers including Mr Plumb and Fish who had hot tailed it over from Skegness, no mean feat. And beyond that a main circular type room with tables arranged around the dancefloor.
We got there at about 8 30, already over 100 in, only to find we'd already missed Messrs Maleady and Plumby, a real shame cos they're both top DJs. Steve Jeffries was on, followed by Gary Dennis, Kenny MacLeod and mygoodself. After me was TJ the DJ who took the roof off the place as you'd expect for the last hour.
Caught up with loads of friends here, and met a few "faces" to me like DaveTay. The place was packed, over 200 through the doors in the end, and it's great to see there is still a vibrant scene up in Preston, and boy do they like their modern. Not arf Fluff! Keep it going!
As the Djs on before me played some x-over and 70s I veered towards the Y2k type of sound, don't cha know ha ha. Great dancefloor reaction, and a crowd that certainly know their onions. I was on home territory here with a room full of people that just wanted to dance. So thumbsup to y'awll. I was happy with my set, although i cannot remmeber what it was - mainly 12s and of course things like Cool Million, Adriana Evans, Incognito which were as new as this years peas at the time. Was really surprised how fresh Chantay Savage (Silks remix) sounded and how many people didn't remember it, as it has been something of an "anthem" a few years earlier.
Kenny had brought a crowd of marauding Scots down from north of the border which was great, except that they kept offloading funny money over the bar. Not a real problem in itself except that "the bar" was desperately trying to get rid of this funny money as fast as they received it. £20 over the bar and three drinks still meant I got a "Bank of Scotland" tenner in me change. I know it's legal tender but that still doesn't stop the funny looks and rolling eyes when you hand it over in your local Sainsburys.
Back to the music and each DJ had an hour and it worked perfectly. I felt that all of my colleagues did really well.
The journey back took less than 3 hours and Geoff still can't believe he was chucked out at his front door by 5 am, having set off from Preston at 2.10 a.m. And with a "toilet stop" at Corley services (I'm getting to that age!!!)....and the Highways Agencies best attempts at "traffic calming" with endless 50 mph speed limits/ average speed check cameras on the M6 too.
A top night - miss the next one at your peril.
Posted by Steve G, 09 May 2008
"Wow" - that's probably the most descriptive expletive to describe this weekender. Great people, great music, culture, and beer.
With a DJ line up that comprised the following you just knew it would be good:
Dave Thorley & Malayka, Lars from Hamburg (who also plays in a punk rock band he let slip), Marc Forrest, Ralf Mehnet & The Jan,
From Belgium - Thierry Boulanger
From the UK Butch, Soul Sam, Arthur & Maria, Adey Pountain and yours truly.
Friday morning the party of Brits fly out from Stanstead. First people I meet are Toby and Mandy at the queue for the X Ray machines.....and guess what my bag with records is held back for closer inspection. I hear the lady at the X Ray machine say to one of her colleagues "They're records, but there's something else in there". I knew I shouldn't have packed any acetates!!! .....anyway this guy runs a stick type instrument over the box, and checks it for something (presumably explosives), and I am given the all clear. All I can say is it's a good job I don't work in a quarry then! On the "far side" or "air side" as it is known in the industry we meet up with the East Anglian crew from Ipswich, Yarmouth and Norwich enjoying an early morning pint or two (it's 7 am), then Claire and Jenny, Karen and Pete, Mr & Mrs Fenn and Sam, and finally Mr and Mrs Pountain.
On arrival in Nuremburg Malayka and Suzanne have arranged VW transporters to ship us Brits to downtown Bamburg - we also met Thierry from Belgium who I haven't seen for a long time. We drop people off at their hotels, and end up at a house in the old part of town which is the Soulshakers HQ for the weekend. This house will be home to Dave and Malayka, Sam, Thierry, myself, Mr & Mrs Forrest, and Lars and girlfriend. We relax over a few drinks, and then Sam and I head off into town for some lunch. Bamburg has a lot of history and the old town looks to be largely unchanged since medieval times. There's a wealth of history here, and even the Mayor's house was built a long long time ago in the middle of a river bridge so as not to offend the local Lutheran and Catholic communities who lived either side of the river. Friday evening we all met up at a Tapas bar - it's a lovely warm evening and there ends up being about 30 of us there out in the evening sun, and plenty boozo and Tapas are consumed.
Keen as we are, we get to the soul weekender venue early before the 9.30 official opening. The venue was a three room event in an old building up two flights of steps - a smaller modern room, a long bar in the middle, and a large dancehall for the northern / 60s. There was also a large patio area for chilling and smoking (rauchen).
Music wise the 60s room was pretty much well...60s northern. The modern room was largely 70s and 80s with some boogie and the odd more recent tune thrown in for good measure. Historically the modern room had been quiet but for the first time this was to change this weekend. On Friday there were close to 400 through the door, and the dancefloor in the main room took a while to get going, but once it did, everyone was up for dancing all night, and this created a great atmosphere. The modern room was a bit more up and down numbers wise, sometimes it was nearly full, other times it had fewer than 20 in. There was no logic to this fluctuation other than the free movement of people back and forth between the rooms. Friday night was a very good night musically, and whilst some oldies did get played they largely weren't the Top 500 variety. It would be unfair to single out any DJs for special praise as everyone did very good sets. There were no fillers or turkeys on this line up.
Here is what I played Friday
Friday Night Modern
Side Show "Sexy lady"
2nd Re$surection "You done let the daylight catch you"
Freedom "High on you"
"Will I get over losing you"
Robert Montgomery "I need you girl"
Guitar Ray "Don't change your love" (cover up)
Dwight Franklin "Foxy Lila"
Morris Lewis "I love you"
Phillip Wright "Keep her happy"
Veda Brown "I had a fight with love"
New Designers "We don't know unless we try"
Thompson Brothers "You bought love into my life"
Ex Ta C "Squeeze"
Trace of Smoke "Treasure mind"
Double O's "Cry one tear black" (Pt 2)
Friday Night Northern
Jimmy Burns "I really love you"
Kenny Gamble "The jokes on you"
Eddie Rey "I got something of value"
Appreciations "I can't hide it"
Thelma Lindsay "Prepared to love you"
Al Williams "I am nothing"
Eddie Daye & Four Bars "Guess who loves you"
4 Pros "Just another girl"
Willie Kendricks "Change your ways"
Nat T Jones "Moving forward"
Ivories "Please stay"
Joe King "I don't want to share you"
Roy Roberts "So much in love"
Richard Marks "Did you ever lose something"
Valentinos "Sweeter than the day before"
King Moses "I got this feeling"
Rozetta Johnson "Mine was real"
Sandra Phillips "I wish I had known"
Saturday morning we sat on the veranda of the house drinking coffee and basking in the sunshine and Dave T was keeping us entertained with tales of his record exploits in the southern States - fascinating stuff. We had a look around the street market - but the local record store delivered us no finds - though Sam is mulling over a European Led Zep Picture sleeve 45 . Then we headed over to the cafÃÆ’© bar for lunch - with music provided courtesy of several DJs. Again this was a very friendly, relaxed session and Sam and I agreed good tunes were being played once more by the DJs.
After a walk, lie down, and dinner (Italian), it was time for the Saturday night session.
If Friday was good, Saturday was even better with an unbelievably good 570 through the doors - more than I had expected. Again musically you couldn't fault it, and one of the highlights for me of Saturday was Butch in the modern room. This certainly got the crowd in through the doors, and it served to remind me how many good records I still need to get. Mellow Madness was dedicated to me as the "best disco record ever" , and it was clear that the Europeans like their modern fast and uptempo. Meanwhile the northern room had filled nicely and the atmosphere was buzzing. I was on in the northern room after Marc Forrest and Marc had kept the atmosphere on the boil nicely. After me it was the turn of Arthur who kicked off with Mel Britt - I did chastise him though for back cueing the record - styrene - sorry Arthur.
Here's what I played Saturday
Saturday Night Northern
Trends "Thanks for a little loving"
Chico Lamarr "What do you think I am"
Sammy Lee "What goes around"
Willie Hutch "Can't fight the power"
Dee Dee Barnes "Do what you wanna do"
Gene Toones "What more do you want"
Royal Robbins "There's something about you"
Jimmy Andrews "Big city playboy"
Appointments "I saw you there"
Ty Karim "Lighten up baby"
Willie Williams "HAve you ever been played for a fool"
Doc Peabody "Here I am without you"
Mixed Feelings "Sha la la"
Lee Fields "Take me back"
Nurons "All my life"
Al Scott "What happened to yesterday"
Saturday night modern
Ron Hall "The way you love me"
Rivage "Strung out on your love"
Africano "Satisfactorise your mind"
Reachers "I just wanna do my own thing"
Barbara Stant "You got to try it again"
Life "Tell me why"
Willie Dee "It looks like rain"
Danny Williams "All those lies"
Sex "It's you"
Willie Feaster "Voices"
Psycho Frankie "Putting you out of my life"
The Mist "Life walked out"
Natural Impulse "She went away"
Sunday we had brunch at another hostelry, music courtesy of Dave and Malayka and Sam who played things like Ronnie Barnes and some nice slower stuff. Then it was of to the airport for our flights home, with Ady Pountain and his wife.
BUT the weekend is not over at this point as I am due to DJ in Bamburg's twin town Bedford (how about that for a co-incidence) at the Welli Arms on Sunday night. I have calculated that my flight is due to arrive at Stanstead at 8.05 pm. Allowing an hour to clear customs, get the bag and get to the car pack, and an hour to drive to Bedford I should in theory be there by about 10.15 p.m in time to do my set. However...the plane is 15 minutes late taking off (no pressure then!), and as we are climbing to our cruising altitude a kafuffle breaks out near the front as some old man is taken ill. When the call goes up for a Doctor or "anyone with medical training" to come forward I start to quietly panic. I have visions of our flight turning around back to Nuremburg, or an emergency descent into Frankfurt or something, and start to see my DJ set in Bedford fading away in front of my eyes - with every passing two minutes that's one less record to play. Fortunately after several large bags of unpleasant stuff are carried away from the old man, and he has been doused in water, he seems to be OK, and we keep climbing - but it was a close run thing I can tell you.
I did get to Bedford - albeit driving like a bat out of hell - and did my set there too. The Wellington Arms is in Da Hood, and serves a fine line up of real ales to savour the palates of the thirsty who have been flying and doing the bit for twin town relations - ha ha. Plenty of familiar faces in there too. When I take over DJing I apologise for being late, pointing out that I was doing my bit for cultural relations abroad DJing in the twin town of Bamburg, when Terry starts 'booing' . I thought this twin town stuff was supposed to be for the advancement of our differing cultures? When Martin A starts dancing energetically in front of the decks, I have to put out a reminder that although dancing is welcome, please refrain from po-go-ing in front of the decks as it makes the records jump.
Soon after 11 it was all over - a somewhat crazy end to the weekend, but well worth it.
Anyway Bamburg 2009 is a must, so get booked in now.
April Oot And A Boot
Posted by Steve G, 30 April 2008 ·
Praise the Lord, or not as the case may be....
So here we are in mid April 18th, and the second Spirally Spirella ballroom event is upon us. Neil Opalguard's evangelical call to arms on Soul Source served as a reminder of this prolific event, with all his "Praise the Lord, Hallelujah, come to Letchworth" stuff blatantly designed to curry some flavour with the religious Soul Sourcers sect. I know Neil lists being a lay preacher amongst his many nocturnal pursuits, alongside such eclectic pastimes as bear-bating, flower arranging and dressing up in rubber, but maybe this 'call to arms' was taking things a bit too far for some.
No playmates or traveling companions for me this time either - they are all otherwise engaged - either too ill, in the pub, or washing their hair - so I head off 'solo' for an uneventful 30 minute cross country drive, armed with my 100 box. It's a lovely spring evening too, the sun is certainly shining on the righteous. On arrival my 100 box is efficiently searched for talc, and I enter the lift with the good Doctor Pickles, and we are swept up to the 4th floor and the ballroom.
Change makes you wanna hustle......
The good Lord often works in mysterious ways and as it transpires on the day fewer people turned out than anyone had hoped for, and certainly fewer than the 220 or so that ventured to the first one in this beautiful venue - In all there were about 65 in (including the jocks - do they count? ) - but was the lower attendance going to spoil our fun - no! There were a number of other nights on that must have had an effect- SHS already mentioned as well as Filthy Soul down in the smoke, and there was also a night on in Bedford - which Anne told me had about 100 in. Even with 65 in, though the Spirally Spirella didn't look too empty and there was no tumbleweed blowing across the hall, and plenty of seats for tired dancers to rest their weary buts on. James Trouble arrives, makes small talk with Soul Sam, and I think gets Sam to listen to a track on his MP3 ( Lord have mercy the man doesn't use a CD player yet) and later, when he has had enough, heads off to Bedford, handing out leaflets for his Revolutionary event in May as he goes. Neil had also drawn the curtains this time, so it was a bit darker - this was in response to some shrinking violets at the first one, who were a bit worried that their dancing moves might have been seen. This time round Neil had also wisely hired in Pete Tebbutt's excellent mash sound system in (from Luton TOTS), and so the sound problems that dogged the first event were overcome, and we had near perfect sound all night.
On the night....
This is a fairly large venue with a slippery shiny dance floor, and although the attendance was down the atmosphere was there - especially when a few dancers got going through their line dancing routines.
Like most people I missed Neil's first hour set (this wasn't deliberate - more a case of a good episode of Coronation Street to watch, followed by washing my hair - ho ho), but I got there in time for Taffy who is playing Bingo (US Silver Blue / UK Polydor) alongside things like Ujima - as Karen once said "Taffy never fails to deliver the goods (in the record department)". Next up the dapper man from the Valleys Sean Chapman with a set that went right across the board from Bobby Pruitt on the one hand to The Parisiens, Salvadors, Del-Larks on the other - plenty of rare 'big ones' there and Sean certainly isn't wanting for a tune these days - top set that got the dancefloor going. Dave Fleming was doing the 11-12 hour set, and he kept the dancefloor going with a heady mix of mainly northern with some midtempos too - I remember him spinning things like The Soul Communicators, and Lee Fields. Dave has a unique colour coding for his record sleeves - red for "hot tunes", and yellow for "maybe's". Dunno about Dave but I always get my covers mixed up anyway! Another grand set from an underbooked guy. Then it was my turn mixing up things like Royal Robins, Doc Peabody, TNJ's ("Two girls"), the new Rotations 45 (kindly thrust into my hands at Soul Essence by young Malayka) and Ken Scott "Deep in my soul". I finished with Gene Toones, so that Sam could start with some 60s - which he did - Ward Burton - a recent acquisition apparantly courtesy of the "JM auction process" (sic) - or John Manship to you and I.
Soul Sam did the last hour 1-2 and although by now the numbers were dwindling a bit, the dancers kept the atmosphere going - especially Neil and Boots with their strategic Wigan style "hand clapping" and "whooping", right through until I left, dropping Taffy off at his gaff on the way.
The next one is in June so hopefully there will be a higher attendance then and it'll be Mid-summer Nortons and nice and warm. However I am able to confirm that there is no truth in the rumour that Neil will be conducting sermons outside for the religious, or bating bears, or wearing rubber - at least not where it's visible to the naked eye . All joking aside this is a gorgeous venue with a very strong DJ line up and a wide variety of sounds - it just needs a few more people to come back.
Walls of Heartache
26th April. It's a bad day. Firstly I am 'clicked' on the A303 doing precisely 60 mph, in a 60 mph zone - what's that all about? ......anyway I will contest that one if a ticket comes through. Secondly on the radio the Palace give up playing football and sit back and watch as Hull City set seige to their goal. This is very stressful when you're listening to a GLR Radio London commentary "Another free kick to Hull....just on the edge of the Palace penalty area............oooh -ahhh - cleared by Hudson but only as far as Folen, another shot....aaawww... away by the Palace for a corner...." you get the picture - and I guess lads we've all been there eh? Unless of course your team is Man Utd or Chelsea in which case having your goal under siege is presumably quite an unusual event. And then it happens....just as I am nearing home, content with a 1-1 draw - Hull score another goal late on, that's it! So I find a nice bit of steak for tea to try and cheer me up a bit, and eat it raw.
Lifeline is on up in Wolverhampton, but as part of the "Blue Skies" team I am booked to gig in Walthamstow, world famous home of the world's longest street market (I am not sure if this is still true), and of course the dog track. Back in da day Charlie Chan's was the place to be seen for the NE London / Essex "faces" on a glam night out but now I understand the Warehouse is the place to be seen for the younger set and snapped by the "Pepperazzi" - or should that be Pepperoni?.
Meanwhile back in our world the place to be in Walthamstow this night is The Cavern Bar on Forest Road. This you'll be somewhat surprised to know isn't a cavern at all, rather a series of shops knocked into a "walk in off the street" night club / bar. And it's just round the corner from one of the best record haunts of the late 70's.....an old shop that was full of 10p 45s including some imports. My erstwhile Kentish soul brother Kev Griffin actually discovered it, and one Saturday morning we went on a smash and grab raid there. He found a UK demo of John Drevas Expression, I got a Muskateer Gripweed UK demo (sods law I know but John Lennon is collectible but not as much as John Drevas it might surprise you to learn) and we both came away with piles of records including copies of Living Color and Bobby Hutton on ABC. We then popped round to Jim Wilson's old soul shop in Leytonstone (before Jim denounced soul music as the devils work and got into Beatles memorabilia). "Oh that shop, yeah there's nothing in there lads, I've cleaned it out" he told us smugly. "Oh well we found these in there" we replied, showing him our erstwhile purchases as his little face sunk. "Hmmm they must have just gone in there - he's not supposed to sell any soul without telling me" Jim retorts gruffly. Those were the days, I mean a soul shop in Leytonstone - 10p singles in Walthamstow, ahem - but I digress back to The Cavern and Saturday night.
Martin picks me up at 8.15 in his Toyota 4 x 4 which is a bit dated in it's dÃÆ’©cor (I'll be walking next time at this rate!) but certainly functional and comfortable, then it's off down to North London to pick up King of the Sandwiches - Geoff. As we enter the outer limits of London we drive past one of Ken Livingstone's "Low emission zone" signs, which he has put up everywhere (no doubt at huge cost). I am convinced Martin is sticking a finger up to Ken by driving his 4 x 4 into Ken's territory! It's twilight and as I look east I see a procession of jet lights from planes all lining up for their final descent into Heathrow, and it is at this point that this low emission malarkey is placed firmly in perspective. On the one hand we put signs up and 'tut' our disapproval at 4 x 4 man, on the other we're expanding Heathrow to take another zillion passengers. Green dyslexia if ever I've seen it.
Anyway we pick up Geoff and then drive off to Muswell Hill, carefully avoiding Southgate (excellent navigation skills from Geoff), to pick up Bernadette. Despite all this running around we're at the club within the hour, and ordering our first drinks. With both Stella Tortoise and Becks Vier on tap I am spoiled for choice - and choose Becks as it's better. Anyway back to the plot.
Dave who is one of the promoters is on and after that it's half hour shifts from Dave, ChrissieO, Martin and myself. ChrissieO does her Mamsy Pamsy set of girly sounds including "Geni", and Martin does a Motown and R&B set. By the time of my first set there are some civilians in and also some guys with records too. So I try out things like Nurons, Royal Robins, Eddie Daye & 4 Bars, and the new Rotations 45 - but those tunes, good as they are, don't get 'em up and dancing as I might have hoped, and so I slip in a couple for Geoff and Bernadette who have requested some 70s - Lee Fields and Doc Peabody. Geoff asks me for Kenny Gamble "The yolks on you" which unfortunately I left at home. Meanwhile one of the younger civilians asks me to play "Dirty dancing" , which unfortunately I also left at home - unless she was referring to a party game - in which case to my eternal embarrassment - I don't know it.
Anyway the night builds and it becomes clearer that the crowd like their Motown and soul classics so for my second set I raid the English part of my record box and play things like Mary Love "Lay this baggage down", Incredibles, O Jays "I dig your mack" and two by the Spinners "I'll always love you" and "It's a shame". ChrissieO meanwhile stuns us all with Rozetta Johnson's "Mine was real" a cheapo cheapo that's been lingering in the shadows for donkey's (y)ears, that sounded quite excellent over a system - so much so, that I have already been down to the lock up to find my copy and retrieve it - it certainly was cheap - one of my copies has a $1.00 sticker on it. But what a tune, just goes to prove the age old maxim that it doesn't have to be rare to be good. For the last hour we all rotate 3 records each and at 2.15 am I bring proceedings to a close with J J Barnes "Our love is in the socket" and Timi Yuro "It'll never be the oven for me". As far as I can tell everyone leaves happy, and so it was a good night - in fact a couple of folks told me it was the best one they'd had there. Good to see some of the locals getting into it too. Martin kindly drives us all home safely, and by 3.30 that's that.
Soul Essence 26
Posted by Steve G, 14 April 2008
East Anglian Soul - a personal perspective on Soul Essence.
I leave at 12 on Friday and set off for Great Yarmouth, purposely early to try and beat the rush for the hills that occurs every Friday afternoon. This was a smart move as just behind us as well as a ton of traffic, and the Chelsea set in their 4 x 4's heading for Norfolk is the mother of all storms - one of those you see in Texas, and as I look in my rear view mirror I can see black sky behind me following me up the A14 / A11. Then the radio man talks of severe hailstones on the M11 and the road has apparently flooded in about 5 minutes and everything has come to a complete stop as it does in this country - cars are strewn all over the place apparently, and the area should be avoided. A narrow escape, and if I'd stopped for that extra cuppa before heading off, I would have got trapped in the carnage.
Arriving at Yarmouth about 2.30 the sun is still shining and so I check in to the Marine Lodge and head over to The Raynescourt for Soul Essence 26.
There is already a healthy crowd in, and over in one corner Ian Clark has set up his stall and is selling records. Chats and catches up, as I enjoy a "first pint of the day" somewhat before the sun passing over the yardarm, but what the heck? Gouch meanwhile is in control of the console and playing some nice turns to get us in the mood. I completely miss Kirsty until she comes bouncing up with the words "Are you ignoring me then?" partly because she's gone blonde again and was wearing her designer glasses......anyway chats over, I head back to the Hotel, just as that mother of storms is catching up and hitting Gt Yarmouth full on.
Hailstorms and high winds abound, and once again my expensive lightweight glasses are blown off and go, I believe trundling across the hotel car park. This is an exact re-run of what happened to me at Prestatyn - are these glasses jinxed or what? Or is it me? Perhaps I should settle on some of those Joe 90 type specs that seem to be coming back into vogue? As I am grubbing around in flower beds in the hail and wind, looking for the glasses (before they surely get blown into the road and get run over by a passing motorist), several people look out of the hotel and the sheer look of horror in their eyes says it all "What's he doing out there in this hailstorm? - He's gone completely mad!"
The glasses are eventually retrieved stuck in a rose bush, which is good news, then after listening to a few records it's off for a quick bite to eat at the Italian in the town with Garry Cape, Adey Pierce and John Anderson. Being the only non record dealer on the table was a bit weird, but I listen to some of their escapades state side. Did you know for instance that the first ever copy of "Country girl" was found in a hill billy town? Maybe not surprising after all, but seems like Vicky Baines might have been a bit of a hit with the banjo-boys! Maybe she was an extra in the film "Deliverence" after all!
I am back at Soul Essence for my 9 pm early evening set, taking over from Gavin who hasn't been too well these last few weeks. This is a great opportunity to play some lesser knowns, and some recent acquisitions as the dancefloor hasn't got going yet. So I drop in a few funky bits, but mainly crossover - and it seems to go well. Yes it may not be 100 mph pumping all nighter music or whatever it was I was accused of not playing by someone at an early doors set some time ago, but I think it's good stuff nontheless. For the last 15 mins I ramp it up a bit to get the place going with things like The Mist on Twinight, 2nd Res$urection, Doc Peabody etc. Set over I can now relax, and I spend the rest of the evening listening and talking, and being cheeky to as many girls as I can. Once again I end up in the Orangerie (Conservatory) where Fraser Dunn Dave Halsall etc are holding court. Here Sean Evans berates me for playing a cover up, and so it gets a bit heated for about five minutes. I also ended up talking to the sound engineer who is on hand for the weekend to put the system right whenever Sam twiddles with the knobs - sorry something breaks down....think I lasted out in the end til about 4 and the music was pretty good throughout.
Saturday and Country
Saturday Morning I meet Sam at 10.15 and we go off to Sainsburys for breakfast. We talk records over some bacon baps, cereal, and Sam's "meat free option". Sam tells me he's leaving at 6 to go to St Ives to DJ there and we talk logistics, of what time he needs to set off etc, and what time he needs to head back, so that he doesn't miss his set at Soul Essence. I tell him that the next DJ on after him on Saturday is a bastad , and if Sam is late, he won't give up any of his set. Sam looks a bit puzzled and then asks "It's you on after me isn't it?"....to which I reply "It sure is" with a wicked smile on my face - we laugh. Seriously though the guy is so dedicated, driving 100 miles across the fens to attend another venue, and then come back again - takes some serious enthusiasm to do that.
After a leisurely breakfast in which I make a single Cappucino last nearly two hours, it's a quick walk around the bracing seafront and then back to the Raynescourt where I look through a few records in tghe record room - cruelly dubbed 'anorak alley' (dealers here are Soul Bowl, Adey Pierce, Steve Plumb, Fish, Andy Dyson, Ian Clark, Des T, Nick the Record so something for everyone), and listen to some of the DJ's like Jock O'Connell, resplendent in his "beany" hat, and the Orwell boys. Malayka kindly gives me a copy of the new Rotations 45, and it's bloomin' good.
At 4 it's time for my Afternoon set, so another opportunity to play lesser knowns and new things. Just to mix it up a bit I start of with a few more recent things like The Bamboos, Black Gold etc just to be a bit different. I am never quite sure about this set and whether I should just break ranks and play an out and out dance set, but I don't - 4 pm Saturday is more for chilling out than for getting the blood pumping, so it's more Veda Brown "Fight with love" and Rozetta Johnson "How can you lose" mixed in with some old Yarmouth classics like the Young Ladies. I also drop in Sam Dees "I found love in my own backyard" - my own little tribute to Jim Wray but also because Laura from Sussex asked to hear it. But she's not here, instead she's outside puffing away on a ciggie - maybe next year then!
The suave and sophisticated Brylcream advert Sean Evans takes over from me at 5.30 and does a dance set, and gets the girls dancing to Millie Jackson "A house for sale". Meanwhile I am off to change into my penguin suit then off to dinner this time at the local Thai. We found the Thai at about Soul Essence 2 back in the dark mid 90s and have been back every year since. Over the years more and more from Soul Essence are attending, and frankly I should have negotiated a commission with the management for every new person we introduced. This year there is no Sam and Arthur (my normal dinner mates at this venue), so once again I team up with the record dealers. Bev also comes along with us.
Anyway it's at dinner that Adey reveals that he's changing the name of his record business from Cotswold Records to Silver Fox Records. This is apparently because at cricket he's known as The Silver Fox. We are reminded that the original Silver Fox was the singer Charlie Rich, so all break out into impromptu singing of "When we get behind closed doors". This singing goes on sporadically until eventually Adey is having second thoughts about the name change! Service in the Thai is poor this year, as we sit there with empty glasses, and other people are ushered in ahead of us, and about four waitresses endlessly serve the Dave Thorley table, we start to wonder whether we've upset the owners. Certainly Adey calling the waitress "Darling" and making jokes about "Ladyboys" probably didn't help our cause. Our lack of service however bad as it was wasn't as bad as the table from Northampton - Cliff, Val etc, who had to wait 35 minutes for a drink! I think I'd have gone and poured one for myself, or better still walked out!
Eventually we go back to the Marine Lodge for a quick drink or two. The place is buzzing, loads in there and it's quite noisy. Actually the owners have put a lot of money into doing the place up and it's now got 4 AA stars for B&B. This year the whole front entrance has been done up, with flashing lights built into the concrete and a balcony terrace with chairs and unbrellas.
Andy Davies arrives in a black shirt with embroidered roses on it - I guess it's his "pulling shirt" we think he got this from the Sandringham Craft Fair - and he looks very dapper, much like Johnny Cash in his heyday. As the drink from the day and evening starts to take hold Garry's love of Country music comes into focus - "twangy guitar sh*t" the rest of us all agree. It is at this point that we come up with a brilliant idea. The Downbeat Lounge may have come to the end of the road and so we think of replacing it with "Country Essence". This involves taking the chairs and sofas out of the Downbeat lounge, to enable group line dancing to take place. Garry will headline playing country CD's all weekend. The Orangerie (conservatory) can be used for practicing "Yee-Haws" and we could even have a "Best matching Stetson and Boots" competition. We could also give a concession to Andy to sell embroidered Johnny Cash style shirts too . John says that Norfolk is the home of C&W in the UK and the more we talk the more the idea makes perfect sense, and I am tasked with suggesting it to Bob and Gav. Drinks over, I head for a couple of hours shut eye (it's called pacing yourself), and get back into the Raynescourt to hear Bob Cosby's set - when did he get that Robert Montgomery then? Top tune! At about 1.45 Sam arrives back from St Ives, and then goes straight on to do his hour mixing it up with things like Tolbert and a new Muscle Shoals thing - a superior version of Tamiko Jones on Metromedia which is very good - a bit like Paul Thompson.
The last 2 hours on Saturday really are for singalongs and party, and that's what I cram my set with, but I notice the Y2k and 90s material is going a bit better than the 60s. I do play things like Al Scott, Nurons and Nat T Jones, but also mix in things like Jaheim (remix of "Never") notched down to -4 on the putch control to disguise it's house like tendancies, and some old "up and down" favourites like Ali and Maxwell. Starvue "Body fusion" the ultimate in 2-step cheese also makes an appearance and keeps the floor full. It all goes well, and we finish at 5 AM with Archie Drell & The Bells , and Johnnie Mae Matthews. Cries of "one more" force me to show off and dig out Natural Impulse, even though Sam had played it a couple of hours earlier.....Then after that I have a well deserved beer and head off to bed for another three hours kip.
Sunday Sore heads and knees
At 10 I am back in Sainsbury's having another breakfast with Sam. By now "Country Essence" seems as daft as it sounds, so the Downbeaters can rest in the comfort that they'll be back again next year and I certainly won't be suggesting it to Bob & Gav. St Ives went well for Sam, but he has hurt his knee. Meanwhile my head hurts - I have a vague recollecting of a wall of Fosters super chilled - but that's it. Then it's back to the Raynescourt, time to say a few goodbyes and we're on the road at 11.30.
Oops! -at Acle we pass a 4 x 4 that has broken down, with the RAC in attendance - 4 x 4 drivers eh? One of those Chelsea tractors on their way back from a weekend in Norfolk? As I am about to hurl abuse out of the car window at the occupants, I notice it's actually those Kings of Crossover - The Etheridge's from Brum . If the Hills have eyes, so do the Broads and I am just glad that the RAC got to their rescue before the "Country boys" found them . Moral to the story guys - never leave Great Yarmouth without enough petrol in your tank to get you to Norwich!
Another super weekend, and as I said before, top music, top people, top atmosphere throughout. Don't believe there were any duff sets all weekend. This one stays top drawer all the way, and to cap it, it is the longest running soul weekender that I know of.....so that cannot be bad can it?
Posted by Steve G, 03 April 2008 ·
OK so I am back from Prestatyn and it's March. Still bloomin' cold too - I think the circulation in my feet is starting to deteriorate - is this another sign of impending middle age?.
My March venues included a return visit to Bedford Ath on the 7th and the kind request of Hammy. Gawd it's so long ago now I cannot even remember what I played, but I do seem to recall
- the numbers were down a bit - which I put down to post Prestatyn blues - probably about 75 -80 in through the doors
- a lengthy debate with Dave Halsall about whether his copy of A J Brown was an original or not. This goes back to Yarmouth some years ago when I was double decking with Mr Barnfather. I went to put on what I thought was my original copy and Sam says "you can't play that it's a reissue". Shocked and horrified I immediately removed it from the decks, thereby avoiding detection from any of the dancing soul police who might have been in the vicinity. Then Sam continues "I'll play it cos I got the original in my box" and proceeds to put it on his deck. Well strike me down with a feather if old Mr Halsall isn't selling a copy of the exact same style that Sam told me was original - as a 2nd Issue! "I am sure that's an original Sam told me" I protest. Then he plants a new theory on me - "Perhaps Sam didn't want you to play it, that's why he told you your original was a reissue".....Darn hadn't thought of that!
- The Silks crowd were out in force and enjoying themselves
- The Rugby Soul mafia - Ganche, Rugbysoulgirl etc were out in force and enjoying themselves
- The music was good.
But I was tired and so left fairly early (having completed my set) in true 70s mega name DJ style - I really don't like going before the end, but it had been a long week and I was genuinely dog tired. Music wise got requests for things like Parisiens and Appointments, and also a lady asked me to play "Foxy Lila" which really made my night - this is now catching on at long last. I also dropped in things like Richard Marks on Tuska and a few other goodies, some well known stuff like Lee Fields on Angle 3 and the 4 Pros to a full floor.
The next Friday and it's on to Letchworth Irish Centre for another night of fun and festivities. This time Geoff the sandwich man - so called because of the culinary delights on offer at soul nights - is volunteering to drive me up. This is great because it means I can relax and enjoy a pint of the Amber nectar and don't have to spend a night drinking chemically enhanced non alcoholic beer. Martin also texts me from a public house in the Welwyn area, and is after a lift - I tell him that I am going with Geoff, and have to clear it with the driver. Anyway after all the texting back and forth Geoff picks up Bernadette, then me, and finally in Welwyn young Martin who he has graciously agreed to take as well - once we have prised him out of the pub. So now with a car full in Geoff's old jalopy it's a bit like "The Famous 5 go out to a Soul night" the old (and very rare) Enid Blyton classic except there's only four of us in the car as Geoff drives us carefully up the A1(M) towards Letchworth Garden City.
On arrival at the Irish I notice a Red MAzda RX8 and mistakenly think that James Trouble has graced us with an appearance, but no it ain't his one. We completely missed Paul Murphy's set 8-9 which was a shame , but then it's Tobymeister, Taffy, Pete H, myself and finally Shane Cox- Mister Chicago as he likes to be called these days. Again I cannot remember what I played exactly, or come to think of it, what any of the others played either as it's so long ago now. Unfortunately Toby had a few problems with the decks early on, and we found the problem was that Big O had stuck some haberdashery needles (the type you use for sewing buttons on coats etc) onto the turntable arms and this was causing hideous distortion (in Toby's voice when he found out what it was doing to his records!). So Taff sorted that little glitch out and the rest of Toby's set went off without incident. The system held up, as did the dancefloor, and it was another good night at The Irish, again numbers seemed a bit down and there were a few missing local faces. Playwise Ron Hall made it out of the box as did a few other bits and pieces like Al Gardner, Frankie Beverley, and Detroit Sounds of Friction - still a lot of people that don't know this one after all this time - which is surprising. All too soon it was all over and time to get back into the Geoff-mobile for the ride home. The Irish is always a good one and I hope the numbers are back up for the next one.
Posted by Steve G, 04 March 2008 ·
February starts where we left off in January - initially recovering from the Lifeline weekender. Yes Saturday night was great and I enjoyed it thoroughly. A top weekend to start the month of February off.
More Blue Skies
Friday 8th Feb sees Dim Wit Promotions Blue Skies event - temporarily re-housed to the Leathermarket - a Bermondsey pub, near...ahem....the Leathermarket while it's spiritual home is under going what they term in the trade "a refit". Of course there is no such thing as a Leathermarket anymore and the days where you could go down there and buy a new pair of patent shoes or a trench coat, or anything else leather (behave Big O!), if those days ever existed.....are long gone. The Leathermarket is one of those old complexes that is now done up into small business units. It has fond memories for me as it was the first home of the missed Internet Radio station Soul 24-7, and I spent many a happy hour in a dark and damp basement there spinning platters and interviewing the likes of Gene Chandler, Emmanuel Laskey etc. Anyway more on that later, as I digress from the plot.
The room for Blue Skies is upstairs, and the only let down is the lack of a bar (something quite fundamental in a pub I think you'd agree!) - well there is a bar, but it's downstairs! This means up and downstairs we go refilling our jugs. Musically I cannot remember too much of the night except it was 60s soul, and a small but enthusiastic crowd. I was following Mischief, who thrust a freebie CD into my hands- very nice of him. Of course Crystal Palace are away at Charlton tonight so the streets are quite quiet. Ho ho - someone tells me Palace are beating Charlton 2-0, so no surprises, the evening is getting even better . Then someone gets a text from Dave Greenhill saying Charlton are winning 2-0 and to "tell me" . Suddenly the evening is going downhill and I shoot the person that told me that Palace were winning (no I didn't really). Anyway on balance a good night again. Afterwards had a quick beer with Martin (RBMan) and then kipped over at Pete Bennett's penthouse suite, and left early the following morning to get down to Somerset on the first train out of Waterloo to see my builder. Anyway we await the next installment of Blue Skies with eager anticipation, remembering of course that an all-dayer is planned for Hatfield in May.
Advance one week then to Feb 15th and The Spirella Ballroom. Neil had been hyping this one up and he wasn't wrong it is an extremely impressive venue, with a dancefloor to die for - well to dance on. A largish venue, it took the 240 attendees in quite comfortably. Being a Grade 1 preserved building of course there is no talc allowed and I was asked to open my record box on arrival to check that I wasn't trying to smuggle any of the stuff in. That's fine, and I shut the box, picked it up only to see the lid go flying and records cascade all across the floor. Now I have seen record boxes fly open before and the contents fly out all over the place. Notably Soul Sam at The Scala at Kings Cross a few years ago, when he tripped over on the stairs and his box went flying...ouch....and then old Cuddly Mr Levine at Victoria Record Fair. Having filled the box with acquisitions that morning his assistant picked it up, and yes you guessed it the records fell out everywhere to guffaws of laughter! Anyway it's not a pleasant experience seeing your pride and joys all scatter across the floor. Having scooped up the records I went upstairs.....and the rest as they say is history. DJ's here included Taffy, Dave Hassle, Sean Chapman, Sam (who had done his back in and was having to sit down) and meself. Musically it was fairly across the board. I was on at 11 and felt the place needed a booster so played quite a few oldies, but also managed to drop in a few things like Ron Hall. An excellent first night on balance.
Saturday I hot foot it down to Southend, Rayleigh at the Mill, and pop in there for a couple of hours as a "paying punter", just to check the vibe ahead of my appearance in May. Rob Messer is on and there's a good crowd in. Rob's got 'em dancing. Catch up with the Cambridge mafia, the Rugby gals, Bearsy and loads of others. This night has really taken off I am pleased to say and venue wise it reminds me somewhat of the old Plinston. Only stay to 11 cos I am very tired. I am tucked up in bed before the witching hour.
Sunday 23rd and I am guesting on Mick O'Donnell's 209 Radio show in Cambridge. I jaunt up there armed with my trusty multimap printout and know exactly where I am going, until I encounter the handywork of some over zeleous town planners...That's the trouble with these towns that have "no overall control" on their Councils - the town planners get it all their way and muck the whole place up! I know where I want to go but it seems that all the through routes have been blocked off for everything except cyclists, and I am reminded of being in Nicosia or something, and trying to get form one side of town to the other - impossible! I find myself driving around and around in traffic, meeting dead ends and looking for a way through to the studio, and getting nowehere. Eventually I give up looking for a UN checkpoint, and deciding to walk, parking up about a mile away from the studio; but by now I am late for the show . Very unprofessional of me I know . Anyway we spend the best part of two hours playing some lesser known things, some slower things and some good soul music - well I think so anyway. Old Mick is such a smoothie on the microphone, and it's a great show he has going there.
Here's what got played:
L.R. Superstars "Come to me" (Taps)
Samson & Delilah "Don't listen to your friends" (Pittsburgh)
George Bussey Experience "I need your fire" (Foxy)
Zeal "Don't you know" (Potential)
High Fidelity "Strangers in love" (Atlanta)
Galaxy "Superstar" (Future Stars)
Chuck Proffitt "Love love love" (Lar Rom)
Gerald Wayne "Now I can see" (Stage)
Jetton & Prinz "Judge & Jury (Pilot Master)
Beaux Beatty "Back up man" (Playboy)
Floyd Beck "Fly by night" (Timeless)
X-Ta-C "Squeeze" (OK&T)
2nd Re$serection "You done let the daylight catch you girl" (Stanson)
Harvey Scales ""Trying to survive" (Magic Touch)
Sir Henry Ivy "He left you stand there" (Innovation)
Lee Fields "Take me back" (Angle 3)
Pleasure Seekers "Come inside" (Koala)
Michael Smith "Heavenly Inspired" (Pharoah)
Ira "Breaking Away (Sooza)
Tommy Tate "What's the matter" (ABC)
Sam Dees "I found love in my backyard" (Chess unissued)
Kim Tolliver "Standing room only" (Pacesetter)
Herman Kelly "Still a little love left" (RCA)
Lorraine Johnson "If you want me to be more of a woman you got to be more of a man" (Atlantic)
Richard Marks "Innocent Bystander" (Free Spirit)
Reggie Garner "Spellbound" (OLA)
John Donvan "Looking for your love" (Paradigm)
Willie Feaster & Concrete Wall "Voices (Red Coach)
Otis Jackson "Beggin for a broken heart" (Mega)
Holidaying in Wales
29th Feb sees me off to Wales for me Holidays.....well not exactly- legging it up to Prestatyn for a few hours for my Friday night jaunt. I do this every year, and every year I wonder why? It's sheer madness trying to get up the M1 / M6 on a Friday afternoon, and by St Albans I am already reminded of why I always vow never to do it again....Despite it only being 2 pm, the M25 is gridlocked. I sneak off and round the back roads, joining the M1 at Hemel, and probably making up an hour timewise. Then by J 15 Northampton we've stopped again - there's been an accident. Stop start for a few miles, tick tock tick tock. Then J2,J3 and J4 of the M6 are all stop start and slow - no reason why. Those overhead signs warn of congestion "M6 J4a-8" - G-Reat! But they also say "M6 Toll clear" - well there's only one thing for it then! Back on the M6 we're slow through J12,J13 - where we stop for 10 minutes for no reason, J14, and I finally escape off of this monster of roads at J15. Thence it's cross country to Chester, and then onto Prestatyn.
My journey takes five hours and once inside I am greeted by James Trouble attired a bit like Toad of Toad Hall in Vintage driving gear (hat, gloves etc) who informs me that he 'sailed up in no time'. On arrival at Preststyn the wind is so strong it knocks my glasses clean off me head and they go careering up the road and almost under a car. It's like a scene from Damien The Omen, where some hapless good intentioned person is sent to their death by dark forces. Glasses retrieved (just) (and hence the avoidance of a journey home Mr Magoo like at 20 mph ), I warm up in Toby's chalet with the gathered masses. It's nice and warm here and reasonably clean - apart from the jokes .
Inside the event it seems quieter and takes a while to get going and the record stalls don't seem to have quite as much on them as previous. I buy everyone in the Queen Vic a round of drinks and say hello to everyone I know and wave, nod to anyone else I recognize. Be thankful my glasses hadn't been run over because I'd have ignored everyone and been crashing into people I am sure.
Sam arrives through a side door with Arthur and Maria and then promptly goes into detail about his illness - too much info Sam- I get the picture! Anyway have a nice little chat to Sam even if he is under the weather, and unable to keep any food inside him for more than 5 minutes (there I go with too much information- sorry Martin you're secrets not safe with me!).
Over by the Mike Ritson stand I notice a Cockney type chap in a Union Jack blazer. Is this a Pontins "gimmick" advertising holidays in Britain for Foreign tourists or something I wonder? But on closer look, it's me old mucker Steve "El Swinger" Bennett, up from the Smoke, and watching proceedings, and I assume the "Totty". Of course Steve was one of the lynchpins that started Soul 24-7 - linking to the comments on the Leathermarket above then! Nice to catch up with Steve, but that Jacket - ooh err No Siree!
In the Gents I see three Yorkshiremen who've just run from their chalets they look like they've fallen in the pool - absolutely drenched! Outside the rain is coming across in waves- horizontal and once again my glasses are blown away up the road. Later I set off back. It took me 5 hours to get there, I spent 4 hours there, and then 3 hours traveling back - mad or what?
Posted by Steve G, 07 February 2008
I always reckon January is a month for going out as little as possible. It's invariably cold, dark, and often wet.
DJ wise the month starts off for me with the second Blue Skies event at The Horseshoes near London Bridge. This one is starting to build up a head of steam with nothing but positive feedback.
In a smallish backroom of a pub, this event goes from strength to strength, and January sees Geoff Green as a guest, on early doors along with Paul McKay later. You know what to expect from both these guys, and they didn't disappoint. The Princess of Mamsy Pamsy - Chrissie O also did a very good set, and it would be wrong to dismiss Chrissie as a Holly St James kind of gal - her playbox contains far more interesting delights - oo er missus! Seriously nice one QOF. Then there's Toby, as reliable as ever, dropping things on us like The Volumes, which I haven't heard for Eons. After I left to catch the train home I understand that Martin stuck on some rockin R&B. It's a good night, far too much drink is consumed by those attending, but once again I missed all that. After I left looking at the pictures there was a right hoot, and I am reliably informed by someone who is normally able to tell the time accurately that proceedings went onto 3.30 am. I think this night doubled up as a warm up birthday celeb for Martin Ainscough - even though he was also celebrating the following week - well when you get to Martin's age, I guess you've got to celebrate as much as you can . The playlist here for me as one of the residents has been a kind of back to the roots type of thing, with plenty of old 60s classics vying for airtime alongside some of the newer thing-ys. I am also keeping this pretty much 60's with a couple of notable exceptions for things like the Nurons and Sha La La.Therefore the sort of thing you'll here then from me is more J J Barnes, Contours, Spinners, Rose Batiste, Jackey Beavers, and that's just the Detroit contingent - mixed in with things like Ivories, Gentlemen 4 Walter Wilson and Maxine Brown - and that's just the Wand Records contingent. Also dropped in a couple of old beat ballads like Big Dee Iriwn and Pollard's "Drifter" for good measure, which I know Geoff likes.
3 x Birthdays
The following Friday 18th is the now famous Triple Birthday Bash, designed to celebrate the birthdays of Toby, Martin A and Taffy. Again what can I add to what's already been written, well it was raining and wet, and therefore no place for me to break in my brand new leather soled slip ons. Mamma used to tell me if you wanna ruin new leather soled shoes wear them in the rain ! Seriously a blinding night with well over 100 in, and a full dancefloor. Nice to see Uncle Bob Cosby out to play, and the other half of the Soul Essence crew Gavin was also there with a box of sales. Gingha Tony started proceedings off well, followed by young Bearsy, who has come on leaps and bounds in the last 12 months, and was clearly enjoying his selections - nice to see. Then there was Preston's Jumping Joan, received to high acclaim and deservedly so, kicking off as she meant to go on with Cliff Nobles. Then Taffy with an eclectic mix of 70's to dance floor acclaim, then Pete Hullett with an eclectic mix of 60's - Yvonne Vernee, Chico Lamarr etc. Finally last hour was left to me to wrap things up or down.....depending on how you look at it. Can't really remember a full playlist, though it did include some old and popular classics like Buddy Miles, and Eloise Laws, as well as the perennials like The Nurons, King Moses, Walter Wilson, Jimmy Burns and The Appointments. I finished with Johnnie Mae Matthews, then when we were allowed to play "just one more" laid the inevitable piece of Timi Yuro vinyl down. What a night, I was still sober but I don't reckon too many others were!
The next day was supposed to be up at Maria O's 30th Birthday party, but a slight domestic issue with a house saw me hot foot it down to Somerset at breakneck speed to undergo some detailed negotiation with my builder, and to see what all the fuss was about.
That's January then.....moving swiftly onto February and the Lifeline weekender. All I can say is that is absolutely tops, a very nice hotel, and upfront 60's / 70's music. I did a full days work and drove up, leaving home about 7.30, hopefully thinking that the worst of the rush hour would be ahead of me. Snow was also on the cards, and in response I saw some banter on Soul Source about Mick H packing a box of boots - well I thought they were talking about Wellington boots, to dig the cars out! It was an uneventful journey up, 2 hours in the van. I checked into my room which was very nice. Although I was two floors up I could still hear a feint thud of the music, and was able to make out some distinctive tunes (by their baseline) such as Minits "Still a part of me". Friday night was a bit quiet, maybe 120 in, and a good crowd over from Spain (the Spanish Armada), so it was nice to catch up with my Spanish amigos. I spent Friday night on Carlsberg Export and probably drank a wee bit too much. Certainly my attempts at dancing later in the night were pretty off beat, and on Saturday my head felt a wee bit heavy. DJ wise I did the 1-2 am slot Friday so pretty prime time, and was pleased with the overall reaction. Thing is even at an upfront venue you got to mix in some known stuff with the lesser known stuff, so I dug out a few underplayed oldies to compliment ones that not everyone would be familiar with. The other thing is none of the DJs want to duplicate what has already been played and purposely try and avoid it - obviously this gets harder the later you are on....I know this from Soul Essence, where I go on last Saturday night - having sat (and danced) through numerous preceding sets and ticking things off the playlist that those preceding DJ's have played. It's perhaps ironic but I could see Sam who was on very late at Lifeline on Friday doing the same. Anyway it's good that the DJ's think like that as it forces them to dig deeper into the box and not play the obvious several times over. That was Friday, and I stayed up til about 5.30 am.
Saturday started with a ham sandwich and I incorrectly gambled on a hair of the dog for breakfast - well it was really lunchtime and I had forced myself up to listen to Dave Fleming's set. This turned into several hairs of the dog, so at teatime I went and had a lie down for a couple of hours - we're none of us getting any younger and the afternoon nap makes for young Steve being as bright as a button come nightfall. Sat night I was on really quite early 9-10 pm, which was good as it enabled me to play some different things without dance floor pressure. I also dropped in repeat spins for a couple of things that had gone down well from the night before (and people had asked me about) like The Groove Merchants, Joe King, and E Morris. I finished on a couple of better known sides, ready for Mick H who continued with some lesser played sides, which was nice to hear. Thereafter it was a party all the way and the place filled up and the dancefloor really got going. Anyway I was determined not to drink Export again, so switched to ordinary Carlsberg, that was until the Hotel ran out, forcing me back onto Export again.....oh dear!
The line up at Lifeline included Andy Dyson, Chalky, Butch, Sam, Arthur, Kitch, Dean, Andy Whitmore, Cliffe Steele, Mick H, with a roster of guests on Saturday afternoon, and Sunday lunchtime. I only heard one complaint all weekend (that was not enough 60's / too much funky - Hi Dave!). I guess it depends on where you draw the line, as I'd call things like Al Gardner and Richard Marks 60's, others might call them funky (the B side of Richard Marks certainly is what I'd call funky). There is definitely an appetite for these sounds, even if they don't have a stomping on the fours beat. I thought musically it was about 75-80 percent 60's, though there was more 70s in the Saturday afternoon sets.
Here's my playlists from Lifeline....prime time Friday, early doors Saturday.
Friday 1-2 am
More for the feet
Al Scott "What happened to yesterday" (Genuine)
Al Gardner "Sweet baby" (Sepia)
Walter Wilson "Love keeps me crying" (Wand)
Appointments "I saw you there" (Delite)
Tokays "Baby baby baby" (Brute)
Luther Ingram "I need you now" (Hurdy Gurdy)
Benny Sigler "I can give you love" (Phil La of Soul)
Nurons "All of my life" (Nuron)
Mixed Feelings "Sha la LA" (united)
Second Re$$urection "You done let the daylight catch you" (Stanson)
Harvey Scales & Seven Seas "Trying to survive" (Magic Touch)
Groove Merchants "There's got to be someone for me" (Suemi)
Morris Lewis "I Love you (Me and you and a bottle of wine)
Vicky Styles "I didn't know" (Virtue)
Joe King "I don't want to share you" (Please give me a home Records)
Mixed Emotions "Gold of my life" (Rock-Way)
King Moses "I got this feeling" (Pet)
Eddie Billups "Ask my heart" (Peachtree)
Willie Feaster & Concrete Wall "Voices" (Red Coach)
Purple Mundi "Stop hurting me baby" (Cat)
Trends "Thanks for a little loving" (ABC)
Gypsy "Cuz it's you girl" (F&E) (earlier version)
Saturday 9 pm 10 pm
More for the ears
Diane Lewis "Without your love" (Wand) Played at +8
Jimmy Andrews "Big City playboy" (Blue Jay)
Jimmy Hudson "He don't love you" (Act IV)
Big Tim & Empires "Cheaters never get anywhere" (Mercury)
Fay Hill & The Hill Sisters "Gonna get even" (Blue Dolphin)
New Designers "We don't know unless we try" (Dynamo)
Billy Byrd "Lost in a crowd" (Scream)
King Arthur "Hey baby" (Soundscape)
Guitar Ray "Don't change your love" (cover up)
James Phelps "I'm just a fool" (cover up)
Little Dooley "You better be ready" (KoKo)
Janice Joyce "He's tough enough" (Buddah)
Tornadoes "Won't you forgive" (Magic Touch)
Roy Roberts "So much in love" (Sugar)
Eldridge Holmes "Let's go steady" (Kasnsu)
Tommy Tate "What's the matter" (ABC Paramount)
2 respins from Friday
Joe King "I don't want to share you" (Please give me a home records)
Morris Lewis "I Love you (Me and you and a bottle of wine)
.....and a couple of oldies to end up
Tearra "Just loving you (Midtown)
Bobby Cutchins "I did it again" (Lasso)
Chico Lamarr "What do you think I am" (Fuller)
10 pm, and over to Mick H.......
By now we are into February - more then later.
Xmas And 2 Venues
Posted by Steve G, 02 January 2008
Christmas for me was really around 2 events. I had planned on doing a lot more, but was "infected" with a virile dose of Flu / cough by some unkindly Maid Marion-esque female from Nottingham Forest way ....you know who you are you wicked woman!
First up was Luton, and TOTS on Saturday the 22nd December. Having had my afternoon's entertainment down at the Palace (Crystal, not Buckingham - and winning again under Warnock as predicted by yours truly) interrupted when I received a text from young D'Arcy asking if there was "room at the inn" - or rather "room in the car" for a quiet self effacing individual like himself on the trip to Luton. Yes there was room in the car and since St Albans is vaguely in the line of travel, and since I was travelling to Luton as "Billy No Mates" this time, I could give him a lift. But the car was a tad dirty and I certainly wouldn't want young D'Arcy putting it about on the "scene" that my car needed a wash, so I decided that I'd have to fit in a quick car wash between football, tea and going out. Still at least this would be a chance to listen to the Angie Stone CD that had been sitting in my car unplayed now for several months. Then later comes another text - D'Arcy has now got the flu and so won't be able to make it after all!
It was one of those swirly misty nights, where really unless you are point blank insane, you should be locked behind your front door, with a good stack of DVD's to watch, duvet and a nice glass of something warm. But, unlike some 120 other near-looney's I ventured out to Luton, alone. The thing is it's not on that often and so when it is on, you really don't want to miss it.
On arrival I "shake and howdy" Little Reg with a big slap on the back. Reg is auto signing copies of his book, and finally I acquire my copy - which will form part of my Christmas reading. Boots meanwhile shoves some leaflets for the forthcoming "Spirella" Letchworth night into my mits with the special Christmas message from Neil "Give these out wherever you go sukka". But just before I do, I suddenly notice that I cannot read the small print properly......something about management reserving the right to leg it with all the door money and not to pay DJ's I think, but it's too dark, and the font size is set cunningly to a microscopic 0.4.......note to myself to seek clarification from BigO.
Meanwhile back at Luton it's "Hello's" to Taffy, Toby and Mandy, Sean, Pete and Lynn, Paul and Trish, Don Cluck, Sue, Sharon and Eamsy, Tina and Big Dave Hassle who is celebrating his 50th Birthday. Dave treats us to a set of his vinyls as a bonus, though he refuses to play the rather apt "Hawaii 5-0" by the Ventures, despite repeated demands from myself that he play it. By now I am ensconced at the bar in discussion with Anne, so I miss the next DJ's set, but he's a moddy (note moddy not moody!) type chap in a polo neck sweater. But my attention is drawn when Pete Lyster comes on and drops the Poets "Wrapped around your waistline" on the unsuspecting pre Xmas dancefloor chic crowd. Pete does a very good set, a lot of 60's, but good stuff, and I am sure I will be hearing more of the man whenever I am down in Somerset. In conclusion this was a good night and with a very good atmosphere, but I was cream crackered, and so left rather hurriedly before the end, and before I started boring everyone. I even left without saying goodnight properly to some people.
The second venue was to be Without Boundaries, and the final Chapter there after a 7 year run. But first in the afternoon of the 27th it's off to South Mimms services at Potters Bar to do a record deal - you see we do these deals in the strangest of places, you'd never guess would you? The King Moses deal was done on the M6 Toll Services one Friday morning I'll have you know. Top Northern DJ sitting in the car park clicking his fingers, waiting for little old me to turn up to do the deal. No names, no faces, no titles, no cash. Well there was some cash actually and a title - it would have been pointless meeting if there wasn't wouldn't it? It's gridlocked on the M25 so I am forced through the surface streets of Potters Bar and so, becoming bored as easily as I do, I switch on the radio only to learn the breaking news that Benezir Bhutto has been "injured". Record deal successfully done, I am back in the car, by which time Bhutto is confirmed dead and all of the BBC political / terrorism "talking heads" are being wheeled out to give their opinion on what this means for Pakistan and world cricket as a whole . Time for tea, and then out to p-a-r-t-y.
I decide to give the Batmobile a rest, well at least until Petrol becomes more reasonably priced again, and take the VW Caddy Turbo charged diesel van for a spin.....White van man takes to the M1! Lock up your daughters..... Even the VW has a bit of poke, and I can quite easily "cruise" at over 90 mph, if the speed limit were to allow for it of course. Now the VW doesn't have the same pulling power as the RX-8 - when I say pulling power I of course mean from a standing start, not from a "pulling the girls" perspective.
On the way up to Burton suddenly it happens. I start to feel very cold, and by the time I get to Burton, I am not only shamefully late (a bye product of not having the discipline of having to pick someone up at a fixed time), but also shivery, tired and feeling generally miserable. So the five people that asked for a lift up - just be grateful that I couldn't take you, as I would have been no company at all - and you'd have just have been passing me Strepsils and brewing up Lem Sips all the way up! Yes, it's the onset of the second dose (this winter) of flu. On arrival I immediately protest to Suzanne that I am going down with the lurgy, and that if she has any sense, she'll steer me a wide berth - "Oh don't worry" she says "I've had that and I bet I gave it to you at Luton!".
Anyway let me say I had that feeling that I just wanted to be tucked up in a warm bed with a hot water bottle, and yet here I was there to play some sounds. Must admit I didn't feel particularly like DJing, I took over from Mark Houghton, and promptly dropped a pile of very serious records on the floor. At this point I have a flashback to the time when DJing at Mark's old do at Smersh when I dropped (and cracked) my copy of Halo . So here I am rapidly checking all the records I dropped for cracks and breaks and using an "F" word so much that I think Mark feels decidedly uneasy, and leaves the stage quickly - preferring obviously not to endure my bad language. Miraculously my records are all seemingly "in tactum" with no breakages, so I do my hour before passing the baton onto Soul Sam who was his usual bubbly self.
In my set I decided, after spinning a couple of recent year WB anthems, to spin the next 35 mins of more obscurer stuff, finishing off with a few better known thingies to warm up the dancefloor for Uncle Samuel. I also drop in a couple of his old plays in a mischievous moment - more to force him to dig deeper into his box - ha ha. Time marches on in the words of the old Lainie Hill number, I see Sam eagerly looking at his watch - you don't want to be a minute over with Sam coming on, so I cut short Natural Impulse, and follow it up with the original version of Gypsy before the smoothies at RCA's "string and vibes production department" got their hands on it. The smallish floor has been busy for a while, and so I unceremoniously clear it for Sam by finishing on Millie Jackson.
I leave Sam to spin things like Herby Brown, Ellipses, Angela Davis, Tad Walton, Sy Hightower, Phyllis Hyman, Detroit Spinners, Nurons, Joseph Webster, Ice, and so on. Back in the main room it's buzzing and Curtis is on doing his thing as only Colin can to a full floor. I have always had a tremendous amount of time for Colin's DJ-ing. Being one of the few remaining souls in the Western world that is seemingly unable to "download" music from the net, I still buy records. So I "Fish" out some tunes from young Coddington's sales boxes, just as his missus hands me my DJ wages. Funnily enough the sum total of the vinyl purchases equals the amount of my fee, save for a pint of beer (or more appropriately for tonight some Sudafed tablets perhaps). So I collect my fee from Sandy in one hand, and pay it out to Mark for records in the other- t'was ever that way with records I guess.
Simon M meanwhile has been drinking pints and by now is talking in "tongues" and I cannot understand a blind word he's saying. Thank goodness he's not driving back!
The last Without Boundaries was a packer with a great atmosphere, and all the great and the good were out in force. Such a shame then, that it has not been able to maintain this level of support overt the last 12 months. I find it very disheartening that a venue that plays such a brilliant selection of new release soul (not to mention the 70s / 80s room which isn't exactly shabby either) has not managed to be standing room only each time it's been on. It speaks volumes about the apathy that exists on the soul scene today. What was worse for me was that I was feeling so bad, that I left long before the end, and so cut short on the good vibes. Apologies if you were one of those I spoke to (and I hope I didn't give YOU the flu!), but I wasn't feeling myself, and when you got one of these things, you just want to get home and don't really want to do anything else. Suffice to summarise by saying that both rooms were very busy and there was a great atmosphere.
Anyway that's 2007, I was still under the cosh as N.Y.E came and went, so decided to end my 2007 on the high that was "Without Boundaries", rather than venturing out into the cold and finding myself with bronchitis or something. Well at our age, I keep being told, we do have to pace ourselves a little.....
Playlist Without Boundaries 27/12/07
Freedom "High on you"
Trace of Smoke "Treasure Mind"
Robert Montgomery "I need you girl"
Donald Thomas "Calling me home"
Fred Williams Captain Boo & Funky Space Cadets "Ever good loving"
Veda "How long" (cover up)
Procedures "Give me one more chance"
Guitar Ray "Don't change your love" (cover up)
Arvin Tollivers Pleasure Seekers "Come inside my love"
Lee McDonald & Lonely Ones "Please don't go" (cover up)
Beaux Beatty "Back up man"
Wee "Try me"
Chuck Proffett "Love love love"
Tolbert "I've got it"
Sex "It's you, baby it's you"
Purple Mundi "Stop hurting me baby"
Mixed Feelings "Sha la la"
Natural Impulse "She went away"
Gypsy "Cuz it's you girl" (original version - none of that RCA pickle for me)
Millie Jackson "Ask me what you want" (floor clearer)
Skeggy - Upfront At The Seaside
Posted by Steve G, 03 December 2007
I'd been looking forward to Upfront at the Seaside at sunny Skeggy for sometime, and took the Friday afternoon off so as I could get there by about 8.30 p.m. Geographically it's about 140 miles for me, but going up on a Friday night - I allowed, and needed, the best part of 3 hours. I am not saying the Lincolnshire roads are bad, but once you get past Peterborough it is slow; lorries, tractors, large pieces of mobile farm equipment, nervous drivers who really don't want to be out in the dark, people driving over cautiously because they've had too much to drink - you name it the A15 has them in abundance - it's a bit like a computer game -as soon as you get past one challenge there's another one which pops up. As it was I hadn't been up the A15 much in recent years. In fact the last time was last August when I took Karen up to ITS at the Sugar Beet Club, which I am pleased to see is still going strong under the stewardship of Kev Laws and Steve Jay.
I dutifully poodled along in procession past towns like Market Deeping, Deeping St Nicholas, and Spalding, overtaking on the straight bits, all the way to Boston.....On the approach to Boston I noticed a rather strange smell for a couple of hundred metres, quite stale......odd I thought - but more on that later. Anyway after the delightful market town of Boston, it's the A52, the only main road to Skeggy for the last 20 or so miles. Again this is a road that twists and turns with 40 mph restrictions, slow drivers and speed cameras.
Got to Skeggy at about 8.30, and parked up over the road from the Grosvenor - which is opposite the Pier on the seafront. It was one of those wet and very windy November nights where all the illuminations blow around in the wind, and the old bell designed to ward off ships from straying onto the mudflats is "dinging". Upfront is a two room event with Northern downstairs and Modern in the larger upstairs ballroom. On arrival the first person I saw apart from Dave and Donna was Kev Thomas who was sitting behind the doormen by the entrance, winding them up I think .
Spent Friday night both downstairs in the northern room (where I was DJing) and upstairs in the Modern room - mostly downstairs as I wanted to hear what the DJ's ahead of me were playing - not wanting to repeat anything they'd played earlier. Upstairs was the busier of the rooms and on the occasions when I went up to the top of the stairs people were dancing to things like - ironically enough - "Top of the stairs" Luther and and King Tutt.
Purveyors of fine vinyl (who were downstairs) included Roger Banks, Steve Jeffries, Andy Dyson, Andy Whitmore, Fish etc. (Fish moved upstairs for Saturday), plus a number of smaller stands. The Grosvenor is a nice venue and there was a food stall / kitchen off to the side as well which made me feel hungry! Anyways I settled in to listen to Chalky's set which was good. He was followed by young James Trouble who started off with Skull Snaps "I'm your pimp", and followed it with a set made up largely of his 60's exclusives. James is rather impartial to using the "F" word over the mike, and he doesn't need to - we're old enough and ugly enough to work it out for ourselves mate . One of his that stood out for me was Hesitations track (just how many of their unissued tracks are still in the can then Ady? ).
Then at 11 p m it was my turn - and a bit of a mixed bag really......
Walter Wilson "Love keeps me crying"
Honey & Bees "Dynamite exploded"
Willie Hutch "Can't fight the power"
4 Pros "Just another girl"
Chico Lamarr "What do you think I am"
Eldridge Holmes "Let's go steady"
Eddie Carr "Your love is indescribably delicious" (superior version of Willis Wooten)
Honey & The Bees "I didn't know"
Charles Mintz "Running back"
Al Gardner "Sweet baby"
Richard Marks "Did you ever lose something"
Eddie Smith "I didn't realize"
Tommy Tate "What's the matter"
Sharon Jones "Tell me" - sounds just like a 60s recording, and I was determined to give this an airing
Jimmy Hudson "He don't love you"
Tokays "Baby baby baby"
21st Century "Can I take you home"
Appointments "I saw you there"
Frankie Saunders "Carry on" (cover up)
2nd Resurrection "You done let the daylight catch you"
Veda "How long" (cover up)
Tommy Tate "Ordinarily"
After me Arthur was on starting off with another mix of Minnie Jones "Shadow of a memory" - which is much better than the issued version. It is fair to say that the downstairs northern room never really got going on the Friday and although there were about 30-40 people in the room most of them were listening for most of the time. Towards the end of the evening I spent a bit of time upstairs listening to Mick H spin some of his 70's, and having a dance on the excellent dancefloor, before leaving and heading back home again.
Yes you read it right - I did indeed head home Friday night, and everyone thought I was completely bonkers! The reality was I had to pick up a van in Hertford on Saturday.
Anyway the van collected, Saturday evening came and back up to Skeggy went I, this time picking up Anne from Bedford on the way. Once again just outside Boston there was that smell - Anne noticed it too, and we concluded it was mothballs. So there is either a big factory that makes mothballs there, a giant moth that is hiding somewhere beside the A15, or a crematorium - we were not sure which! But at least I wasn't imagining it. Maybe one of the locals can shed light on what it is?
Saturday at the Grosvenor was busier, and several people told me about some great tunes played in the afternoon sets. Tonight I was on upstairs, and so I decided to spend most of my time up here- again listening to what the DJs ahead of me were playing. Tats and Ivor blended some nice 70s and crossover.
Then at 9 Jonathan played a set of classic 12s from the 80's. Simon Murray took over at 10 and played some good obscure / unknown records. The room by now had well over 100 in. I was on at 11, and up until this point no one had really been dancing much. Simon had tempted a few onto the floor with Luther "Don't wanna be a fool" and Garland Green "Don't let love", and a few brave hearts stuck it out for Free the Youth. But when the unknowns were on, everyone was listening but no one was really dancing much.
This got me thinking - it's 11 pm - three hours to go on a Saturday night, shall I play my unknown and rarities, or shall I get everyone dancing? I spoke to Simon M, and a few others who'se opinions I trust and rapidly came to the conclusion that I wanted to get everyone dancing, and ratchet the atmosphere up. So Plan B then - one of my party sets!
It only took a bit of Marvin Gaye and Mel Williams and the place really seemed to come to life. My set was nowhere near as upfront as I'd have liked, and I did compromise there, but I felt - rightly or wrongly - that at the time I was on, this was the right thing to do. So apologies if you wanted to hear the Guitar Ray and Black Nasty cover ups, King Moses, Natural Impulse etc. (I know Maria will be delighted NOT to have heard King Moses ).
So then a few dancefloor winners to get everyone dancing.....
Marvin Gaye "Come get to this"
Mel Williams "Sweet girl of mine"
Flame N king "Ho happy day"
Stevens & Foster "I wanna be love"
Timeless Legend "I was born to love you"
Next a change of direction - moving forward in time with an old Fleet / St Ives classic
Bobby Thurston "Very last drop" (for the Spalding crowd)
Curtis Hairston "I want you all tonight"
Then into the 90's and another revival.....
A Way of Life "Tripping on your love"
All of a sudden Sam has appeared on stage to tell me the sound on this one is a bit quieter and is twiddling the knobs and re-adjusting the graphic equalizer. No sooner than he's said "That's better" and left the stage, the soundman comes up. "What have you done with the sound?" he says. Not wanting to "grass up" Mr Barnfather , I sheepishly say "I tried to turn the volume up a bit". "Well you've actually turned it down" he replies, before readjusting it again!
Wahoo! "Don't take it personal"
The dancefloor holds up well to these selections, but I change direction again and turn to a few real oldies - East Coast oldies
Bottom & Co "Gonna find a true love"
Eloise Laws "Love Factory"
James Fountain "Seven day lover"
Eula Cooper "Let our love grow higher"
Connie Laverne "Can't live without you"
By now Steve Woomble tells me he has renamed me Steve "Cleethorpes" G
Time for a couple of things that have been popular in the last few years
Lil Major Williams "Girl you're so sweet"
Mixed Feelings "Sha la la"
Finally two stone cold classics designed to leave young Arthur with a full dancefloor.
Ann Sexton "You've been gone too long"
Harold Melvin & BlueNotes "The love I lost"
Not surprisingly I did leave Arthur with a full floor, and he carried on the Philly tradition with Anthony White, and then played things like Wee, Herby Brown, and the Hamilton Movement. Sam rounded off the last hour with a mix of 70s and newer things - like Hamilton Movement (again), Joseph Webster, Elipsis, Bloodstone in the former genre, and UBP "We are one", Joi Caldwell, Ron Hall etc in the latter.
The dancefloor stayed busy until the end, and all the sounds played were good-apart from two little pet hates of mine. The two I couldn't get my head round were Mr Clean's version of "What's going on"- I mean you just cannot top Marvin! and DJ Genisis destruction of Betty Wright's classic, a long time pet hate as everyone knows.
All the people there seemed to be enjoying themselves and the event closed at 2 to a round of applause to the organizer Dave Raistrick.
Then it was just my fourth run back along the A52 and A15 in two days keeping me from my pillow and some shut eye. This time the journey was quicker though, as although there were a lot of lorries trundling along across the fens, I was able to overtake them and demonstrate the dexterity and acceleration power of the RX-8 to Anne! Also having good company in the car helped loads, as did a Sam Dees CD. But boy was I tired when I got in! I wouldn't recommend driving 600 odd miles or so in the dark and wet over a 36 hour period! Next time I am staying in Skegness.
This was the first of what will hopefully be many events, and full credit for Dave for putting it on . Numbers wise Saturday was busiest, and once it got going the upstairs room was kicking. I must say that some of the "faces" that harp on here about upfront soul and how we need to build our lives around being out every Friday and Saturday going to certain venues that play upfront stuff were actually missing, which was a bit disappointing - where were you amigos? With more support for the next one, this event should be firmly established on everyone's calendar. A top addition to the weekend calendar!
Blue Skies In November And Monumental
Posted by Steve G, 24 November 2007 ·
Well after a short absence behind the decks, I am back - so lock away your daughters as they say.
Of course I have been "active" 'behind the scenes' in the last couple of weeks....as a punter......I mean I haven't told you about the last Bedford Ath which is one of the top Friday nights in the Country, with a regular 100+ open minded crowd. The last one had Mick H and Johnny M DJing as the "guests" and was a top night as always. Me? I took Martin from Welyn Garbage City with me, but was mostly dancing, and as D'Arcy said I was "making shapes" on the dancefloor.....Lot's of stomping and shuffling too, I think Anne and myself nearly wore a hole in the Rugby Club dancefloor. When they come back from their short break they'll be saying "What's happened to our floor?".
Then Saturday it was darn sarf, over the Thames with other members of the S Herts and N London Crazy Gang to Chris and Moldie's birthday night. Though working out who was driving who where proved a little bit of a challenge and we all ended up on Plan "E" I think - probably all my fault.....anyway be glad we're not organising your local Pantomine, as I'd probably forget to book the Hall. This was also a very enjoyable occasion. Loads of DJ's who all excelled themselves and I enjoyed Tim Brown's set. Though I had agreed with Carolyn G that if Tim played COD's "She's fire" we'd start a conga up around the hall. Word must have got back to Tim, and fortunately he had the good sense (and taste) not to play it. Also nice to see so many good eggs there too - and not just Scotch eggs either - especially Maxine, a Soul Essence season ticket holder with excellent taste. Mentioning the Scotch eggs, just worth noting that there was plenty of food on hand for Geoff!
Fast forward then to Friday and the rebirth Phoenix like of Blue Skies, the Martin A / Pete Bennett club which hosted a number of succesful nights in Hatfield.
This venue has relocated to a South London boozer, The Horseshoes nestling between London Bridge and Tower Bridge. I was conscious that there was book launch on in Hemel, but I didn't get an invite to that, and the lure of those decks, plus the promise of attractive bar staff, and apparantly a load of nurses from St Thomas's coming in later was all I needed to hear. (Please don't go all "PC" on me!)
Anyway Martin was right about the bar staff, but alas I think the nurses must have heard that I was on the bill, as they were nowhere to be seen. DJ's were ChrissieO with her "Mamsy pamsy" stuff as she calls it - all excellent except for a "special request" for me "Holly St James" I bollocked Winstanley when he played it at Wigan (and "accidentally spilt my drink into Ginger's box when he played it!!!) but the years have mellowed me somewhat, so I just went outside and talked to the "smokeheads" while "That's not love" droned out of the speakers. Then there was Dave from Walls of Heartache, Toby from Letchworth, Martin A and yours truly. Chrissie, Martin, Dave and Toby all played excellent sets, really top stuff.
We'd all agreed that if the nurses were coming, and as there were "locals" (picture of Vinnie Jones in "Lock Stock and 2 Smoking barrels" comes to mind "Look mate I said play something we know - all right?") - we'd all decided to pack our little boxes with loads of Motown and classics. Great thought I as it would be a rare opportunity to play some of my UK collection out for a change. As it happens the great and the good of the London 60s scene were the mainstay of the audience - Martin T, Dave "Bananas" Greenhill, Paul McKay, some of the Southend - sorry Rayleigh lads, and some from Southend (Helen etc) plus others. Good to see Bearsy and Jo out. Not being tied to the Mazda enabled me to partake of some Amber Nectar mixed with Stella - my version of "Snakebite". By about 9 o'clock any coherence from me was rapidly disappearing. Some girls kept asking for some Motown and Martin graciously took them through his record box. Try as we might though we couldn't get them onto the carpet - steady! I mean there was no dancefloor - that's what I mean - it wasn't a Steve Bennett type of do
So, we played a lot of classics, and each did two sets apart from Chrissie, who I think I might have been quite rude to at one point.
I had to leave at about 11.15 to catch my last train, and as I started my 30 minute route march up to Liverpool St, I saw two things. Firstly a long queue of what looked like nurses, queueing up to get into a local nightclub. Should have packed some House music then! Secondly, that rarest of beasts when you actually want one - a black cab with his orange light on. So I treated myself to the luxury of a cab ride to the station. Don't get me wrong I have nothing against these Cabbies, but Livingstone has made them so expensive. As the meter went round like one of those old petrol pumps, and clunked up to a shocking £9 (not bad for one and a half miles ) I seriously wonder whether he has pushed them beyond the reach of many people.
Oh and as a postscript - one of life's little mysteries. Whenever I repack my record box there are always spare covers, and yet I haven't left any records behind and no one has nicked any, so how does this happen then? It always happens by the way. It's a real mystery.....
Anyway a top night, Blue Skies is re-born and so look out for the next one.....here is what I played.
The Hesitations "Go away"
B side of the latest Kent anniversary single - simply too good not to play
Sammy Lee "What goes around" - one of Winstanley's great records - you cannot knock him for this.
Al Scott "What happened to yesterday"
Chico Lamarr "What do you think I am" - along with the Parliaments, just about my favourite 60s thingy of the last few months / years
Gene Toones "What more do you want"
The Ivories "Please stay" (Wand!!!) - got one at last
Kiki Dee "Why don't I run away from you". This was my "Mamsy pamsy" selection, which I think is better than Tammi Lynn - but no one agrees with me
Next some of those classics.....
Temptations "Why you wanna make me blue"
Temptations "Beauty is only skin deep"
The Impressions "You've been cheating"
Maxine Brown "Let me give you my loving"
Eddie Floyd "Bring it on home to me"
Johnny Maestro "Stepping out of the picture"
Eddie Billups "Ask my heart"
The Appointments "I saw you there"
Sandy Wynns "A touch of venus"
Jackie Wilson "Whispers"
Set 2 "Complete party tart set"
Barbara Lewis "Hello stranger" - still love this, and I think the locals knew it too - did the Beatles cover it or something?
Deon Jackson "Ooh baby"
The O'Jays "I dig your act"
Chuck Jackson "Chains of love"
Bob Kuban "The cheater"
J J Barnes "Please let me in"
The Spinners "I'll always love you"
The Contours "Just a little miss understanding"
4 Tops "Baby I need your loving"
Tedward Hamilton "Baby don't you creep"
The Appreciations "I can't hide it"
The Steinways "You've been leading me on"
The Incredibles "There's nothing else to say"
The Vibrations "Cause you're mine"
The Precisions "If this is love I'd rather be lonely" (Track)
Dee Dee Sharp "What kind of lady"
Darrell Banks "I'm the one who loves you"
Bobby Hebb "You want to change me"
Ike & Tina Turner "Dust my broom"
The Olympics "Baby do the Philly dog"
4 Tops "Ask the lonely"
Temptations "Get ready"
Jock Mitchell "Not a chance in a squillion"
Hoagy Lands "The next in line"
....and finally the enders....
Timi Yuro "It'll never be over for moi"
Spinners "It's a shame"
By now I had probably been on too long, so I handed over to Martin to finish the night off.
So, that was Friday a really good night, and for Saturday I have taken a conscious decision to be car-less again, as I try and reduce my carbon footprint, and increase my "green" credentials a bit. Round and round he goes, where he ends up.....nobody knows - including me at this point .
Determined not to drive anywhere I have a somewhat limited choice - three possibilities. I thought some of me playmates told me they're Tos'sers - ha ha. It's my hearing that was at fault - they're top people and what they really said was they were going to Tos'sers - (These Old Shoes) no disrespect to Jo and the gang, but I was more inclined to hear some 70's that night after my 60s fest on Friday night. Others were staying in with a mug of cocoa and an old movie to watch. Others were not well, and so Hemel was out of the question, unless I cycled and it was a bit cold for that, and porobably a bit too far. So that left me playing the role of "Billy no mates" and venue wise it just left a return visit to Mental in London. This is an easy journey for me on the train - or so I thought!
Arriving at the station a slow train comes in but it's going on the slow line stopping at about 50 stations, and I see there is a fast train behind it. Everyone gets on the slow train, like mugs. I stand there alone on the platform smug in the knowledge that being on a fast train on the fast track I'll get to London faster. Oh no, next trundling through out of the Lea Valley mist at about 15 mph is a freight train, and then the fast train behind that. It's at this point that I realise that "due to engineering works" all trains are going down the slow line. So my "fast train" is stuck behind a stopping service and a freight train. Now in over 40 years of using public transport I have never been able to work out the mindset or logic of the railway signalman. To me it's simple - fast train first, then slow train, then freight train. Not in the world of railways, where it's slow train, freight and then fast train. I am sure someone that knows about railways will be able to explain this "weird logic" to me! Anyway we crawl down to London stopping and starting, and I have plenty of time to regret my principled "I am not driving" statement! I am cursing myself for my outbreak on environmentalism and wish I'd just fired up the Mazda.
Eventually I get to Mental, and Mole is just finishing, followed by Girth Devon. Some nice jazzy bits, including Wasabee which gets the dancefloor going.
Tonight we have some of S Yorkshires finest in attendance with Tats and Bully DJing. Also down in the smoke is Kev Briscoe and Sean Hampsey.
There's about 65 in, including Guy Hennigan - who it's always good to catch up with, Ivor Jones (ditto), Mark Houghton (back from training good to see you buddy), Sharon and Alan from Bisley, Col "Soul" Smith, Hammersoul, the south coast folks, Lorraine, Annette and Phil, Pat B, Niki and TSU, D'Arcy and a car load from St Albans, a car load from Letch - Paul, Trish and Taffy + loads of others. Absent friends include Bernadette, and the Crawley girls who were last heard of at the Blackpool weekender. Several people tell me that they enjoyed the Little Reg book launch / signing etc. the night before.
Bully pulls off a blinder with things like Goody Colbert, Mel & Tim "Forever",Brenda Jones, Barbara Mason "You better stop it", Ron Keith, and his piece de resistance Robert Parker "I caught you in a lie" - which everyone loved. Hearing it again after so long, he sounds so similar to WIllie Tee (Robert Parker not Bully), that simple New Orleans sound - great.
Tats is on next, things like Alex Brown, Ty Karim (Lighten up), Chuck Cockerham and some obligatory Bobby Womack. Unfortunately as he's playing Phillip James, the amp blows. This must be every promotors nightmare, and I felt sorry for old Mole as he was behind it trying to get it started, and shouting out "F***......F***". Anyway it gets going again, and we all resume the party. Niki rounds off the last 45 mins with classics. Didn't do much dancing the whole flavour of the night was more crossover and steppers rather than uptempo. Good quality stuff, also heard things like Sy Hightower, and Vivien Reed. In fact it was very Yarmouth -esque, so Kirsty would have been in her element.
D'Arcy was out on the dancefloor quite a bit waving arms and legs around and spinning like a top, and even trod on my toes a couple of times - ha.
Thanks to the St Albans lads for the offer of the lift home, and double thanks to Paul and Trish for the actual lift home. Paul was very naughty at the garage. Pre paying for £20 of petrol, he actually put in £20.08 - shocks......still they didn't come after us for the 8p! The secret is safe with us!
Good night again here, Niki tells me they're only doing 4 next year, so make sure you get along.
Here is Bully's playlist:
I Got To Get Rid Of You - J.J. Barnes
I'm So Very Glad - Sam Dees (The Atlantic copy, not the clintone 7, which is Not Sam singing )
You Better Stop It - Barbara Mason
Give It To Me - Mike James Kirkland ( especially for Taffy)
Whatcha Done For Me, I'm Gonna Do For You - We The People
I Caught You In A Lie - Robert Parker (especially for Binsy)
Big Mistake - Brenda Jones
I'm Moaning - Rose Brooks
Forever In A Day - Mel & Tim
Lost Someone - James Brown
Can't Stop Looking For My Baby - The Fantastic Four
Live & Learn 12" - Ace Spectrum (dedicated To Ivor Jones - Thanks Ivor)
Gotta Go By What You Tell Me - Ron Keith (especially for Jason Sharp)
I Wanna Thank You - Godoy Colbert
You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet - Will Hatcher
Feel Good - Michelle Wiley (Requested by Steve Crowley)
If Only I Could Prove To You - The Three Pieces
Morning, Noon & Night Time - Carl Carlton
On Your Way Home - C & The Shells (Thanks to Sean Hampsey for putting me on to that)
Canal Tavern Thorne
Posted by Steve G, 13 November 2007 ·
The Canal Tavern Thorne is an old soul venue that has been hired out many times over the last 20 or so years. It's always had a reputation for playing soul of the highest calibre. Revered soul scene "faces" and luminaries like Rod Dearglove, Tim Brown, Fish etc have all had a go here, and when Maria, Karen and Arthur took it on to run their Boomerang nights, I just knew straight away that the fine tradition associated with this venue would continue.
Such was the demand for this night from down this way that at one point there were six of us wanting to go. Now I am not being funny, but six of us in my little Mazda would have been a squeeze for a trip down the local shops, let along a two hour punt up the A1. So at one point I was contemplating hiring a People Carrier for the day, but was concerned at what this might do to my image. My views on Camper Vans and the people that use them are legendary, and a People Carrier whilst not being as bad, isn't exactly 'chic' either. As it happens the two girls got a better offer on Friday, and so it ended up with four of us - Geoff, D'Arcy and Jason and yours truly in the drivers seat. Again not being funny (or rude) but three largish guys (and Geoff) would certainly put the RX8 through it's paces I thought. I wondered whether I would get "challenged" to a standing start by some knob in that most unstylish and underpowered of cars - the Lotus Elan again. This had happened the other week, and whilst I normally try and avoid these frivolities, I did rise to the bait......let's just say the result was Mazda 1 Lotus 0. Anyway what sort of guy drives a Lotus Elan anyway? - my theory is one who isn't too well blessed in the trouser department. As I sped off from the lights, I cruelly wiggled my little finger in my rear view mirror - ha ha. But with four guys on board though, the result might have been a little different. Anyway no Lotus Elan's this week and no racing either.
Chronologically for those that are interested in such things, I left home 5.30, picked up Geoff at 6, and D'Arcy and Jason at 6.35. Then it was just over a two hour bang up the A1 - the second time in a month, this time avoiding emergency stops for speed cameras, and my passengers didn't have any bananas either - unlike on the Lifeline visit (see below)! Some hilarity in the car - you know "four blokes go north" type of stuff, but D'Arcy is short of jokes for once, so a number of other subjects are covered - bloke topics (women, records, women, records and women). We also talked a bit about politics.
The Canal Tavern is a back room in a pub, and a little bit old and worn, which is ideal for a soul night. I mean you don't need the ballroom at the Palais for a good night now do you? I remember Richard Searling once telling me that he'd love to do a back room in a pub playing great soul music, rather than some mega hall - well here it is - back room in a pub! Some of the best ever soul nights are in faded clubs - I am thinking W Hampstead for example!
I park the batmobile on some broken glass under a bridge, and lead the lads in. There I am talking to Hull Karen and Malyka who are manning the pay desk, when I feel this presence behind me. Turning round, about 3" from me is 6' (in heels) of red headed loveliness - and with hands on hips in true attention seeking style - Kirsty. Now you might not know this, but after a series of e-mails suggesting I part with some of my better vinyl, in exchange for unmentionable pleasures, I had come to a conclusion. Thinking that Kirsty couldn't do such things, that conclusion was that the real Kirsty's identity had been stolen as I was in fact being "groomed" and e-mailed by some bearded IT geek who was trying to trick me out of my records. Meanwhile Kirsty was being detained in some dark and dank basement while this was going on. Perhaps I have seen too many films at this point, but it was a pleasure to see Kirsty was alive and well after all, and looking resplendent in black -the boots though dear - don't make dancing easy do they?.
Got the new Sharon Jones LP off of Fish and trawled through the boxes. There was a BJB for sale - one you don't see too often, and if I didn't already have it I might have shelled out for one. Musically the night was spot on, though a few more 60s than I was expecting. Maria was on when we arrived, followed by Andy Dyson, Dave Fleming (who had come up from St Neots with Funky Si), Arthur, and Andy again. Liked Arthur's new Priceless 45 (I think that's what it was) - other than that you can see the playlists on the events lookback thread and for the anoraks amongst you - they are at the end of this review,......but a few that stood out were Richard Marks, 4 Dynamics, and the other Lynn bVernando which you rarely hear out from Andy, Guy Allen and Ladellics (Dave), Earthchild (Maria), Monclairs, Herby Brown, Karmella Brooks, Young Ladies, etc etc. A few were played twice, but that wasn't a problem.
There were about 100 in - which ain't bad since Karen (W's) party was on down the road. The dancefloor was busy then quiet then busy again, but that's not a reflection on the music, which was top notch as we'd expect. When we weren't dancing we were listening or gassing. The sound system was alright on the dancefloor, but came across as a bit muffled back at the bar. Had loads of little chats with a very friendly crowd (apologies to those I forget to mention) - Hull Karen, Dave T and Malyka, Rob Thomas, The Wombles, Blake (but no Mrs Blake), Adam and the Smog Monsters , Gary The Caped Crusader making a rare appearance, Arthur & Maria, Simon, Dave the Dentist, Claire and Jenny, Fish, Andy, Chalky, Skegsoul, and of course Kirsty - who was reminiscing about her Insurance days - our paths crossed back then we were both surprised to learn! That was in between her raising poor Geoff's blood pressure with some priceless wind-ups!
The music went on 'til about 1.15, and it was time to go. Once we'd said our goodbyes, everyone had been to the toilet (twice!), said goodbye again, finished pints etc. we set off back 'darn sarf. Geoff was tucking into his sarnies, and we all agreed that he should open a franchise selling food at the end of soulnights - he'd make a fortune. Various nicknames were concocted, but we decided on Geoff "The Sandwich" in the end . Two hours later and after a stop in St Albans to drop off D'Arcy and Jason, then back to Winchmore Hill to drop off Geoff, I got in about 4.05 a.m.
As expected this was a top night, and one not to be missed.
Right here's the sounds as supplied by the Dee Jays themselves:
ARTHUR FENN - early spot 8pm
Troy Johnson - I Want You (Soul Beat)
Carmelita - Rosebud (Carmen)
Infinity - Put Everything In Place (Whitehorse)
The Servicemen - I'll Stop Loving You (Grapevine)
The Hesitations - Go Away (Kent)
The Stunners - Nobody But Me (Renfro)
The Pearls - Shooting High (Lamp)
Towana & The Total Destruction - Wear Your Natural, Baby (Romark)
Archie Hodge - I Really Want To See You Girl (Narco)
Eddie Billups - Shake Of That Dream (Helpp)
Gene Chandler - Without You Here (Curtom)
Theola Kilgore - I Can't Stand It (Mercury)
MARIA O - from 8:30pm
Ella Woods - I Need Your Love (Merging)
Connie Austin - Ball Of Fire (King)
Maxine Brown - Don't Leave Me Baby (Epic - LP)
The Dynamics - Whenever I'm Without You (Top Ten)
Richard "Dimples" Fields - And Then...Along Came Belinda (Dat Richfield Kat - LP)
Vee Gees - Talkin (Jump Off)
O.C. Smith - Color Him Father (CBS - LP)
Willie & The Mighty Magnificents - "Check It Baby" (All Platinum)
Norma and the Heartaches - "Nice and Slow" (Vocal) (Joy Ride)
Mark V Unlimited - Gone! (Sagport)
J. Jocko - I'm Getting' Over (Kuma Sutra)
Earth Child - It's Our Day (Marjon)
The Side Show - "Lonely Girl" (Trey)
Richard Caiton - I Like To Get Near You (Up Tight)
Shiela Ferguson - "And In Return" (Swan)
Karmello Brooks - Tell Me, Baby (Milestone)
Brown Bombers & Soul Partners - Wait For Me (Amazing)
LINDA BALLENTINE-I'M GLAD-BANDIT
RISING SUN-GOOD LOVING -KINGSTON
MIXED SUGAR-IT'S A BAD FEELING-F.G.S
JOSEPH WEBSTER- CROW
KINGS OF SOUL-IS YOUR LOVE FOR ME-D.T.E
RICHARD MARKS-DID YOU EVER LOSE-TUSKA
LYN VERNANDO-SECOND HAND LOVE-YUMMIE
EDDIE CAMPBELL-CONTAGIOUS LOVE-ARTCO
JERRY WILLIAMS-ORDINARY GIRL- C/UP
JESSE JAMES-FALLING IN LOVE -BUDDAH
4 DYNAMICS- THINGS THAT A LADY-PEACHTREE
EDDIE PARKER-I NEED TRUE LOVE-MIKO
CHICO LAMAR-WHAT DO YOU THINK-FULLER
ERIC TIG-DON'T YOU HEAR THEM LAUGHING- TUSKA
EMULATIONS-MOVE A LITTLE CLOSER-EMULATE
JOHNNY PRAYE-TOO MUCH LOVE-SIDEWALK
CLYDE MILTON I'"d rather leave"
MILTON PARKER "Women like it harder"
SENSATIONS-DEMANDING MAN-WAY OUT
ELSIE STRONG-ASK THE LONELY-SOUNDS INT
DELORES HOWARD-MY GUY AND I-MASTER
TNJ`s-SHE`S NOT READY-NEWARK
ROYAL ROBINS-ROLLAR COASTER-TRU-GLO-TOWN
WILLIE TEE-FIRST TASTE OF HURT-GATUR
THREE PROPHETS-I THINK I REALLY LOVE YOU-TOGETHER
J,P, ROBINSON-OUR DAY IS HERE-BLUE CANDLE
BOBBY WILBURN-I`M A DREAMER-GAMBLE
ALEX BROWN-I`M NOT RESPONSIBLE-SUNDI
LA`DELLICS-I`LL NEVER CHANGE MY LOVE FOR YOU-MO-JO
GUY ALLEN-CHANGES-ALLEN BROS
PATTERSON TWINS-I NEED YOUR LOVE-MALACO
ERNEST BAKER-ALONE AGAIN-BLUE SOUL
BRENDA JONES-BIG MISTAKE-MERCURY
RHYTHM MACHINE-PUT A SMILE ON TIME-LULU
TRACE OF SMOKE-TREASURE MIND-BJ
DAYBREAK-I NEED LOVE-PAP
AUTHENTIKS UNLTD-HEAVEN ONLY KNOWS-COSMOS ENT INC
FLOWERS-FOR REAL-LA XPRESSIO
ARTHUR FENN - later spot from 11:15
Herby Brown (with Randy Mather - Sax) - One More Broken Heart (Blue Ash)
Ice - "Reality" (Ice)
The Saints - I'll Let You Slide (Wigwam)
Bobby Rich - There's A Girl Somewhere (Sambea)
Young Ladies - "I'm Tired Of Running Around" (Stang)
Ruby - Feminine Ingenguity (Gold Token)
Marjorie Singleton - Never Let Go (Unissued C/U)
Herman Lewis - Who's Kissing You Tonight (Mercury)
The Celebrities - "I Choose You Baby" (Boss)
Esther Grant - Here I Am (Unissued C/U)
Jessie James - Are You Gonna Leave Me (Shirley)
Detroit Sounds Of Friction - "I'm Leaving You" (Heavy Sound)
Stormie Wynters - Life Saver (Mercury)
The Montclairs - "Hey You! Don't Fight It!" (Arch)
Angela Davis & The Mighty Chevelles - My Love (Is So Strong) (Flaming Arrow)
The Natural Four - I Thought You Were Mine (Boola Boola)
Mel Britt - She'll Come Running Back (Fip)
Priceless - Love In Your Life (Decimal)
Anthony White - Hey Baby (Philadelpihia International)
Al Williams - Try Them (Grapevine)
Lynn Varnado - Wash and Wear Love (Gator)
Posted by Steve G, 29 October 2007 ·
At long last the Lifeline All Nighter comes round in the Calender, like the Kent 25th last week, an event that had been eagerly awaited for some time. As it 'appens, the week before I'd been over in Ireland and had overdone it somewhat in the rather nice hotel gym on the treadmill, and had as a result, pulled some of my leg muscles. The Irish soccer team use this gym apparantly, and so it would have been rude not to have used it to it's full capacity.......As the last day wore on my legs stiffened up, so much so that the journey up the steps of the Ryanair plane at Dublin on Friday afternoon was a major challenge for me. Come Saturday I was walking around the house like Douglas Bader! I should really know better at my age.....but obviously don't . So the result of all this was that possibly my attempts at dancing would be restricted somewhat.
Martin (R&BMan), Dave Greenhill and myself agree to make the not too long trek north and we set off from The Cork in WGC at about 8.45 pm. I have made a CD of 60s records for the journey up - really to scotch the myth (emanating from certain ladies in Bedfordshire (hi Chrissie) that I am a "Disco Dan" - so, a rather vain attempt to prove to Martin and Dave at least my 60s credentials.
An uneventful journey up....well almost! Near Newark there's a 50 mph speed restriction, and at the last minute I see hidden by some bushes, one of those speed cameras that point at you (rather than pointing at your rear / boot), so I test the brake lining with an emergency slow down. This is all fine except in the back seat where poor old Dave has just started munching his way through a banana. Let's just say girls, I think Dave now understands the full implication of 'deep throat'! As Dave tries to extract the banana from his tonsils, I muse that it could have been so much worse.....5 minutes previously Dave was sipping away at a Thermos flask of Vegetable soup, and I'd have been none too impressed if that had gone all over my crushed leather upholstery. Actually I made the last bit up, but the banana bit is true.
We arrive at Ye Olde Bell Inn at about 10.25 pm, and the car park is virtually full already! Dave changes from his T shirt into what he calls his "pulling" shirt - which is a sort of Primark job, leaving his sweaty old T shirt on my dashboard - more on this later. There's a big silver Bentley in the Car Park, but I didn't think Toby was driving?
Martin kindly pays for me to get in and we hit the bar.
As those of you who have been before know, Ye Olde Bell Inn is a lovely old 16th Century hotel (renovated of course), with a main hall with a dancefloor in the middle and a room with bar coming off to the side. There's over 130 in already, and over the next hour or two the numbers swell to closer to 200. Chalky is on, then the running order is Andy Dyson, then Butch, then the two Scottish guests Colin and Jock, and then Sam. Dunno who was on after Sam. Record wise I pick up a Willie Feaster from young Dave Rivers, a record I have been after for quite some time and it was just sitting in his box unloved and unwanted; it's also Lew Kirton's first record I believe. Overall there aren't too many records on sale, Butch has a box, as does Dave Raistrick, and there are some "girls handbag" 50 count boxes doing the rounds. Have a nice chat to Dave R about the forthcoming Skeggy weekender which I am looking forward to. Catch up with Butch, Toby, Chunky, Chalky, Claire, Andy D, Rob Thomas, Gilly, the Scottish lads, and Fish and Colin Brown, Sanquine (Karen), another Karen, Bearsy, Simon M, Maria O, Helena from Sweden, Dave from Bourne and anyone else who'll listen.
The car park meanwhile is the new 'in' place to buy records these days (as opposed to the record bar), and as Fish is leaving I buy a few jazzy things off of him which we sort out over on his car roof. As I do so, Dave Thorley and Malayka arrive, followed in cold pursuit by Sam; both of whom have come up from the Silks gig in Wellingborough, Dave having left an hour after Sam apparantly.
At the same time James Trouble arrives in an old Vauxhall Corsa I think - his RX8 is off the road yet again! It's all happening out here, and by now the car park is full.
Back inside I have a little dance to a few things that Butch is playing, and the legs are holding up.
Then it's back to the car to listen to a tune that Andy Dyson has. Sitting in the car Andy says "Do you want to wipe your windscreen down with that cloth?" pointing to the rag on my dashboard.. "That's Dave's T shirt" I tell him......well I couldn't possibly use it to clean the windscreen now could I?
Musically the night was spot on, and whilst I did hear a few oldies they weren't the Top 500 fare. I am not going to go through the records played as I am sure some of the DJs will post their sets on the events lookback thread. The dancefloor was busy all night, in fact crowded, which meant that Flying handstands and forward rolls were out of the question, as was my trademark Philly Freeze leaping about dance. In fact I cannot praise the music highly enough, as I don't think I heard a duffer all night. I know Martin didn't like "Teacherman" - the old moonlighting Spyro Gyra (as Barbara St Clair) 45 but it filled the floor and is certainly popular. Musically I'd say 75% woz 60s / 25% woz 70s. At about 5 am Rob Smith arrives with boxes for sale. I remark to Butch, and Andy Dyson that he's late arriving....Butch comments that it's pretty early for Rob! In the toilets some geezer says to me "Did we wake you up? We're having an allnighter next door" obviously mistaking me for a hotel "patron".
Towards the end of the night I decide to risk torn muscles and have another dance - this time to some of Uncle Sam's set, but by now Sanquine was avoiding me, I don't think she could afford the inevitable damage to her shins and toes doing a jive dance routine with me . At 6 am I rounded up the lads to leave (us southerners rarely stay 'til the bitter end) then Sam drops New World on us, so time for a little stomp, before the journey home. We were I have to say amongst the first to leave......but I had to get to my sister's children's birthday party the next day......Anyway we fly back down south just as the sun is rising, and all are agreed this was a truly fabulous night. Great company in the car as well, we had a right old hoot. All jokes aside nice to see old Dave G again after so long.
Roll on the weekender in February.
Kent 25th Anniversary
Posted by Steve G, 22 October 2007 ·
Like many I had been eagerly awaiting this line up ever since first hearing it. My last visit to the Forum was in the bad old days when it was known as the Town & Country Club in the early 90s - so called because back then it was on the outskirts of London, with pastures and green fields to the north where Tufnell Park now is...I think ? Back then it was the Memphis Soul review - a night of luminaries headlined by Poppa Willie Mitchell, with Ann Peebles and various others. Back then I was with a soul-less girlfriend who thought it was a load of old pony and just wanted to go home from the moment we arrived, spitting her dummy out and criticizing every live act that came on .
Anyway so much has been written about the Kent 25th event already, I'll attempt to put a different slant on it. Arriving at about 9 p.m the first person I see is my old mate from Kent, Kim Styles who is looking for the smoking room, followed by Back Door Ken who thrusts a commemorative "Kent 25" CD into my mits with the words "You need one of these Steve". Entering the club Mary Love was on stage going through her repertoire, and looking very sassy. My first point of call was to the bar, and to buy Champagne for everyone I knew - no not really......just a beer and a drink for the girls....or perhaps they bought me a drink. The first thing you notice about the Forum is the sheer scale of the place - massive with some lovely old Roman mural type things painted out in plaster - but not tacky Caligula / Studio 54 stuff. Large scale posters for the event were beemed up on the walls.
Events had conspired as they sometimes do with the complex lives we all lead, meaning that I had missed Winfield, but Chalky, Andy Dyson, Claire and Dave F who were all perched in the wings told me he was excellent. The Flirtations were also very good, running through their favorites and telling us that they normally only get a reception like this "Up north". But I was too busy talking to people and getting the beers in at this point. Said hello to numerous people, Arthur & Maria, Bearsy, QOF smoothie Chrissie, R&B man, Bernadette, Angelo, Russ Vickers, Trish and Paul, Toby and Mandy, Taffy, MrDarcy and wife, Simsy and Smudge. Also thought I caught a flash of the Silver Fox - Terry Davis (the Record Corner one) rushing by in a frenzy to get to the stage when the Flirtations came on. Was then whisked upstairs to the VIP area and treated to a beer by Dave Welding and Louise - to return the compliment I later gave Louise a quick lesson in the "Cha cha" - and probably mashed her shins in the process . Also saw Dave Cole, erstwhile editor of In The Basement magazine, and the Batman & Robin of the West Midlands soul scene Dave Rimmer and John Weston , as well as Terry and Paul Cozens. Oh and I had a few words with James Trouble about the roadholding on our Mazda RX8 cars - mine holds the road, his doesn't.
By now Tommy Hunt was on, and someone said he is 75 - strewth, if that's true, he is looking extremely good on it, and I'll have some of whatever he is drinking please. Liked his ballads, and of course "Loving on the losing side". Yes it's commercial, but people forget that this as a new release was one that enticed people such as myself to explore the northern soul phenomenon.
Finally Queen Maxine. What can you say? At Cleethorpes a few years back I thought she was a bit off form, and I actually thought Dean Parrish edged it - but a friend has given me a clue as to why that might have been. At the time I thought "Oh no she's starting to lose her edge". Well this night scotched that as she put on a top drawer show for us all. She was sublime in her cream dress as she ran through her northern hits. Dedicating "One in a million" to Randy - her biggest fan - was a high point. It is worth remembering that when Maxine wasn't so fashionable in the late 70s / early 80s, Randy went over to NY to meet her and saw her perform in some dusty old bar. Such was his enthusiasm he wrote and told me about it at the time!
In fairness all of the live acts excelled themselves, and it would be unfair to single anyone out - the whole logistical side of things ran as smoothly as you could have dreamt. After Maxine left to a rapturous reception, two unlikely looking characters - resembling Laurel & Hardy started playing records. It was only when I put my glasses on that I realized it was my old colleagues Tony Rounce and Eddie Pillar - anyway my eye sight ain't that good as Tony tells me Eddie was only up there briefly to say he'd moved his car...... Eddie is looking more like Ronny Wood of the Rolling Stones everyday, even down to the trademark scarf. Anyway Rouncey kept the dance floor full with 60s dance soul, until the Smashy & Nicey of the northern scene - Roger Stewart and Ady took over - Ady for the last bit. Back upstairs I had a quick chat with Tony Smith, Butch and Gareth - but by now I probably couldn't string a sentence together, and was I am fairly sure talking in tongues - gibberish. Also caught up briefly with a few DJ types - Max Rees, Adam, and Ivor and nodded at various soul luminaries I recognised, including Ady who swept past at one point.
The only low point of the night was when Dave F took a picture looking down on me, which showed up the full extent of my receding hairline ....at this rate I'll be a slaphead - sorry Shinehead by 50! This has troubled me in the past, and I have looked at the options. An Elton John style transplant is out of the question. Then there's some black paste stuff (used to "big up" Afro's) that someone I knew in St Albans used to spray on to cover his bald patch. He looked totally naff, not only did the girls all giggle about it, but the stuff used to come off over the course of a night. He ruined my then new Audi by scraping his head on the top of the interior cloth when I drove fast over a speed hump on the way to a gig - a mark that I could never remove, and which probably knocked a couple of hundred quid off of the resale price. His other solution, once he realised how daft the spray stuff was, was to "invest" in a wig - which he financed out of selling the few good records he actually had - to me! When I first saw him with his wig on (Geddit!) I just burst out laughing uncontrollably a bit like Norman Wisdom. He was clearly embarrassed, and I just couldn't stop laughing - I couldn't speak in fact it was so funny. Oddly enough I never saw him after that incident......so all this considered I shall grow old gracefully with a thinning pate.
Anyway....back to The Forum.....I had a bit of a boogie whilst the DJ's were "doing their thang", but 2 am came too quickly and Ady rounded events off with "Kiss my love goodbye" and "The Stars" (I think). The place was still pretty full, as we were ushered outside by the staff. The alcohol dependents were talking of finding a late bar, but I don't think much came of that, and they were left sucking their T-shirts? The "full" sign was on anyway for me, and at my age I have had enough experiences with drink, so I do know my limits. Nice to meet you Wendy, and thanks for the lift Karen - you saved me a long meandering walk home in the cold. Or even worse the perils of the "Night Bus".
This was a night we'll all remember with great fondness for months and years to come, emotional yes, but a fantastic night with great acts, great people....and I just wonder will we ever see anything like it again in London?
Henry & The 3 Greyhounds
Posted by Steve G, 14 October 2007
Well I certainly seem to get about these days. Friday evening curiously saw me in the wilds of south Essex, so it would have been rude not to have popped into "Henry's Bar" at Aveley where me old mucker Gavin was guesting. This is a very nice country pub and restaurant, with a duck pond (which I nearly ran the car into ), and a regular Friday night patronage of local soul heads. Miraculously I arrived at the same time as Gavin and Gill, and Gingha Tony - the Solar Radio one - was DJing. This is a lovely old pub, tudor beams, nice fire burning, in fact just what you need for an autuminal Friday. Of course there are different guests every week, and I guess when I was there early doors, there were about 30 people in. Had a nice chat with Gavin's Gill and DHT (Dark Haired Tony - to avoid conusion with Ghinga Tony). Musically Jazzy funky vibes, and some nice steppers courtesy of Gavin which had the local girls dancing on the carpet. As I was crackered I didn't stay too long, but I am sure I'll be back.
So then to Saturday and my trip up to the 3 Greyhounds in Cheshire - the long running crossover night - again at a nice country pub in the middle of nowehere. I took Geoff up with me from Winchmore Hill, and we both agreed it was a good night. With so many venues on, and Prestatyn, and the little matter of a rugby game, it wasn't surprising that numbers would be thin, but again about 30 or so made it. As it's a smallish venue this was enough to get a good atmosphere going.
The trip up was uneventful, aside from two car loads of nasty looking people kicking off at some traffic lights en route to Geoff's....as I turned the corner fists were starting to fly.....and all because someone forgot to indicate or something Oh that and the M6 Toll road - since when did it go up to £4 to avoid Birmingham?
Unfortunately a few had to cry off at the last moment - either the absence of a lift to get them there, or in Kirsty's case a child who went ill - these things happen.
On arrival I dived into the "snug" and did manage to catch the last 10 mins of the rugby, and celebrated victory with a few of the pub locals, but decided to make my excuses when the Morris dancers appeared - no sh*t Sherlock. This was my cue to enter the soul night. Pete Best was on playing "The man in the street" - a superb tune to hear on entering any club I might say - and some other nice crossover tuneage. In no turn I was ushered to the decks and invited to "open the box"
For my first set I thought I'd start off with a few slower thingama-jigs - here's the first set:
Bernard Drake - I've been untrue
Tony Owens - I need, I need your love (I actually prefer this grinding version to the Philarmonics)
John Washington - Burn the calender
LaDellics - Never gonna change
Donald Thomas "Calling me home"
Toll Darkness "Just what I've been looking for"
Multiple Choice "I wouldn'tg be crying"
Guitar Ray "Don't change a thing" cover up
Allison "Who'se No 1 who'se No 2"
Frankie Kah'rl "Don't fan the flame"
Procedures "Give me one more chance don't walk out on me now girl" - choooooooooon
Floyd Beck "You're just a flight risk"
Shirley & Shirelles "Never gonna give you up" - cheap and cheerful
Eula Cooper "Try"
Internationals "Beautiful philosophy"
Willie Tee "I peeped your hole card"
Next up was Chris Anderton, who played an interesting and varied selection including things like Mojoba, The Tams, Mary Mundy etc. I was busy talking to anyone who'd listen to me , so didn't hear everything that Chris played, but what I did hear certainly sounded good.
My second set was a bit more shall we say"dancey"
Minits "Still a part of me"
3 Prophets "I think I really love you"
Little Reuben "in the name of loneliness"
Trippellettes "That man of mine"
Bill Coday "A man can't be a man"
Millie Jackson "Ask me what you want"
tonny Tate "If you got to love somebody"
J P robinson "Our day is here"
Chuck Cockerham "Have I got a right"
Eddie Billups "Ask my Tart"
2nd Resurrection "You done let the daylight catch you"
Honey & Bees "I didn't know"
Veda Brown "I had a fight with love"
Richard Carl Watson "Are you going to be there" - played the instrumental side by mish-take
Richard Paradise "I wanna stay"
Natural Impulse "She went away"
Otis Jackson "Begging for a broken heart"
With that I rounded proceedings off to Chris who kept everyone happy for the final 45 minutes with things like Anderson Brothers, Stevens & Foster, King Tutt, Milton Parker, and finishing with Almeta Lattimore These memories".
In summary this is a good little night with a very friendly crowd, who are up for creating a good atmosphere.
We all enjoyed ourselves, and the journey back to "darn sarf" seemingly took no time at all (CD's courtesy of Geoff) probably as we were having a good old chin wag (and probably cos I was speeding a bit ).
My next excursion up norf will be to Lifeline in 2 weeks, and I am even toying with the idea of going to Thorne in November ....You have been warned!
Monumental And Then Denham
Posted by Steve G, 08 October 2007
My first ever visit to Monumental - you maybe surprised to hear , and I have good reason. As I work about a quarter of a mile from the place, five days a week, occasionally six, I have no desire to visit this part of the City on a Saturday night! Anyway Martin the R&B meister from Welwyn is offering a lift and it's too good an offer to refuse; so I decide to go and give it a well overdue "try". As we drive through the deserted Herts streets we umm and arr about whether to pop into Walthamstow "Walls of Heartache" soul night for a swift half en route - or even Hemel (which we dismiss as it finishes at 12, but don't worry boys I'm hoping to make it to your anniversary). Both would be a slight detour on our route and I am up for some 60's with my Budweiser but Martin rather unusually for R&Bman is not.
Travelling through Tottenham is a nightmare -gridlocked, with roads cordoned off. We find ourselves being "diverted" by HM's finest - someone has been stabbed, shot etc......normal fare for this part of the world which is getting more like an episode of "The Bill" everyday - A case of life imitating Art? Except that I wouldn't exactly call "The Bill" art. Anyway as we eventually breeze into the City I notice how crowded the streets are, observing that "in times gone by" if you were walking round the City on a Saturday night, it would be so unusual that you'd be probably be stopped by plod and asked what you were doing?
We park up in Eastcheap (Geoff this is really close to the venue and a single yellow line)....Talking of single yellow lines it reminds me of the time I DJed at Smersh for the George Jackson Appreciation Society annual outing, and parked on a single yellow in Hoxton at about 9 pm. On returning to the car I had been "ticketed" by some zealot, and on closer inspection of the small print on the sign near my car, I noticed there was restricted parking until 10.45 pm - and I had thought the street was deserted because I was DJing!
We park up and walk a short distance to this City drinking establishment at The Britannia where I am pleased to say they have Stella on tap, and there's space enough to prop up the bar and dance.
On arrival no one is more surprised to see me than Niki, who nearly falls off her chair when I walk in. Anyway I spend the evening chatting to the likes of Mole, Gareth, Jordi, Niki, Laura and Annie from Crawley, Bernadette, Geoff, Martin, Ifor Jones from out West, Ady Croasdell, Holyman down from Brum with Jordi.....oh and embark on some dancing as well. Tonight I am mainly doing "The Philly Freeze" a strange dance which means you stop in full movement, freeze for a second or two, then leap round and resume dancing. I have seen this on old Soul Train re-runs, and it looks pretty cool. Certainly I am entertaining the Crawley girls who think that my interpretation of "The Freeze" is highly amusing. Maybe it'll catch on, maybe I'll do it again, who knows. Musically this is essentially a 70's night with a few crossover 60's thrown in such as the Jive Five on Decca - great to see this getting recognition. Also nice to hear things like Sundray Tucker (once Cindy Scott) played out. Ady's up and dancing too when the Sons of Robin Stone "Got to get you back" is aired. Meanwhile Jordi plays his "Gangster Boy" tune which was made famous by him and his brother Dave The Dentist, as well as R.I.P, an obscure 90's outing that I have never heard from the dancefloor side of things. Hey it sounded really good, and Geoff asked me about it too.
Anyway an enjoyable night, and whilst the attendance was not what it should have been, it was well worth attending. Niki says she'll knock it on the head if it doesn't pick up, so you've all been warned.
Fast forward to Thursday and the much talked about (by Geoff and Karen) Denham soul night in err...Denham. The Fat Cow pub to be precise - I've been to the Fat Duck in Bray once for dinner, with it's 8 Michelin stars or whatever it's now got. Now that was a weird place, Celery Ice Cream, Potatoes with Strawberry Jam, Tortoise Burgers etc. and it cost a fortune, and I still left after 15 courses of this fare feeling hungry. Anyway back to Thursday night, and I dunno what to expect, but two friends with good taste in music tell me it's a good little night.
For the second time in a week I find myself in the luxurious position of not having to drive (I could get quite used to this!), and this time I am going with Geoff and Karen. The idea is Geoff picks me up, we drive round to Karen's and then she drives to Denham. So when Geoff calls to say he's up the end of my lane, I charge out but then have to go back to check the TV is off - something I frequently forget to check, although I have always turned it off. Then at Karen's, she can't find her jacket which is in front of her, and Geoff can't find his mobile phone. Having searched his car he asks me to ring it, and oh Lordy, it's in his shirt pocket! Tales of locking ourselves out etc. circulate and by now I am starting to think that maybe we're all getting a bit dysfunctional . This thinking is compounded when we arrive at Denham and Karen nearly locks the car before Geoff has had a chance to get out. It's at this point that my big new film plot is hatched - about three friends who go to a soul night and everything that can go wrong, does go wrong. I start to think of other situations to build into the plot, like the time Geoff's shoe broke at Hitchin, or the time I was DJing and forgot to take my records. If I can get the financing sorted watch out for "Carry On Soul Night" it will be quite funny and without the innuendo that dogged the other "Carry On's".
First and foremost the Fat Cow is a smallish pub in a leafy stockbroker village, with two bars and a 25' by 15' dancefloor. They serve "Wifebeater" (as it is affectionately known) as well, so for the second time in a week I find myself drinking Stella on tap. The music sounds good and we are treated to a mix of Philly, Motown, Northern and Jazz Funk classics from several DJ's, although one of the regulars Brian Winstanley Clarke has not turned up. Some talc is thrown vaguely in my direction and I have a try out of the dancefloor with a glide around to some Philly classics. Anyway time rushes by, and I switch to Budweisers for the rest of the evening. I understand that a number of the regulars were "M.I.A" for this one, but despite that this is a nice little venue with a small and friendly crowd where you can have a drink or two (unless you are driving) and relax on a Thursday night. If you are looking for hardcore newies, or want to hear soul spun on original first issue vinyl, then this is probably not for you, otherwise if you just want a relaxed night out give it a try. In the words of Arnie I am sure "I'll be back".
Posted by Steve G, 28 September 2007 ·
When the fuel runs out
After a three year absence it looks as if I'll be returning to a regular radio show, something I am unsurprisingly delighted about. The 3 years enforced break following the demise of Soul 24-7 "when the fuel ran out" - or rather the money - might was well have been 30 years; it simply seems like an age since I've done radio. Of course it's different now, back in the day (as they say) on the Internet there was Solar under Lord Tony Monson's stewardship and Soul 24-7, Richard's show on Sundays and the odd occasional broadcast on local radio. Nowadays not only are there periodic shows on that bastion of middle aged respectableness - Radio 2 - in the world where everyone is a DJ, it seems like there is an endless supply of soul internet radio out there. It sometimes feels like everyone with a computer, a PC World Microphone, and a sound board is able to be a radio DJ. And of course let's not forget Soul 24-7 wasn't all good either, some of the shows were shall we say a bit "iffy". Manys the day I went in there to pre record a show and on hearing the live DJ thought to myself - "God that's terrible".
Dance what you wanna
For me the best way of performing on air is live, because you get e-mails from listeners all over the place. I learned very early on was that the UK scene is largely based on dance soul; in the USA they tend to prefer their slowies and ballads....so dropping in a Whispers or Tyrone Davis slowie would get you a line of e-mails from the USA. Playing a popular dance sound would be met with radio, or rather e-mail silence from the USA and instead e-mails from Europe. The good news is with radio you can mix it all up, and play everything. I made a lot of friends via listeners e-mailing in, and the whole thing have a good feel about it.
They're playing our song on the radio
Another buzz for me was getting e-mails from people that actually made the music - "Hey you - you're playing my record"! As a result of this at 24-7 I ended up interviewing people like Gene Chandler, and Lou Pride before they came over to the UK - or in Gene's case returned to these shores as he had been here previously. Gene Chandler came over to Fleetwood off of the back of the radio interview and a hastily arranged phonecall from King of the Swingers Steve Bennett to Richard Searling. Emmanuel Lasky was something else - living in poverty with his mother in Detroit, he was deeply skeptical about being ripped off. He rarely if ever got paid when he made the records, and people had taken what records he had off of him, and he'd heard how they had now become valuable. Thus I had to sign an agreement with his lawyers (not quite so poor then perhaps!) - to the effect that I'd make him three copies and wouldn't publish the interview anywhere else. We did a great interview with Emmanual, starting off with "Welfare cheese" and ending up with "I'd rather leave on my feet", and I know he enjoyed the experience; I've also stayed good to my word and never published the interview.
Then there was the lead of TSU Toronadoes, Cal Thomas, now sadly deceased, who told us about how, when touring with Jackie Wilson in the 60's they had to get him out of jail, because he picked up white girls, something that was still illegal in parts of the redneck south. By the way a Toronado was a type of car popular in the mid 60's. Then there was the lead singer of the Imperial Wonders who was involved in a wealth of Cleveland releases and enabled us to join some previously unjoined "dots", sourced via Prestatyn's John Smith, and of course Sidney Barnes who was over doing The Dome. Claire from Milton Keynes will remember that night when we had Sidney singing along to Funkadelic's "One nation under a groove" in the studio - a song he sang on originally, unbeknown to nearly everyone who knew him for things like "I hurt on the other side". Then there were the artists who'd e-mail in having seen their name in playlists from the show - Rare Gems Oddysey, Phsycadelic Frankie, Derwin Daniels (of Derwin's Theory - Barbara Lynn's one time guitarist), Tony Drake, Curtis Blandon and even someone who went to school with Dan Folger of "The way of the crowd" fame.
Do what you feel
I loved doing radio (and still do) because you can literally play what you like - as the Rimshots once sang "Do what you feel". There's no dancefloor to keep an eye on (though clearing a dancefloor with something new is always something I like doing), and you can play a much wider variety of music than you could in a club. Ballads, deep soul, 2-step, funk, artist showcases, labels, the list is endless. In fact while I am on a roll I'll state that I don't think too much traditional northern fare or 60's sounds come across that good on radio - the production is often too thin and too rudimentary. Listening to something like The Hytones "Bigger and better" sounds great echoeing around a club, but on radio? I am afraid not. Of course the lush fuller (stereo) productions of the 70's, along with better produced 60's records do sound clearer and therefore better, so I am biased. But I do think 60s is more music for clubs. That being said I'll always feature some 60's on the radio, it's just that it'll never be the majority.
Starting all over again
Last week I laid down (industry parlance - get with the words honey! ) two two hour shows. As well as featuring some of the popular 70s club sides such as 2nd Resurrection, Pinch of Perfection, Mojoba, Natural Impulse (the rare ones with suitable talk overs to deter any would be recording villains ), I was able to programme in some lesser played 60's like Jimmy Delphs "Almost", Charles Mintz version of "Running back" so much more powerful than the lack luster and weedy Delegates of Soul version and things like Ed Crook "It's alright". On top of that was some deep, sweet and downtempo soul, a music that I've always loved ever since getting a tape from Randy Cozens in 1979 crammed full of the stuff. So I blew the dust off of tunes like Kim Tolliver's "Standing room only" - surely the most powerful example of a woman scorned with lyrics that just blow me out of the chair every time I hear it - even after 1,000 plays - "You must think my bed is a bus stop, the way you come and go; Haven't seen you with the lights on, for two nights in a row" AND "Home is where the heart is, and your's is in the street; Every night I read a good book, turn the lights out and go to sleep"- I mean this is as good as lyrics get in soul music, and a refreshing change from "I want you / I love you / I need you baby" fare that dominates so much of our music. As well as Kimmy's old effort there was an outing for Harvey Scales gorgeous 1974 Groovesville side "I'll run to your side" (Cadet) and Lew Kirton's "New York City" - another timeless 'turn on' from those tapes from Randy.
Make it funky
Funk wise, I am not known on this scene apart from Keb and James Trouble (who do know me), and am simply not seen as a funk devotee, but the sheer powerhouse of Bobby Byrd's "If you don't work, you can't eat", or Herman Hitson's testifying screaming on "Ain't no other way" are sounds that deserve to be heard, and appreciated by a wider audience. So they got played as well along side the Groove Merchants (Lou Pride), The Dapps instrumental version of JB's "There was a time" and Billy Byrd's "Lost". This latter side I've been championing ever since Tim Brown reviewed the wrong side in Manifesto once. It was a minor crime perhaps as the side reviewed is pleasant enough, but nowhere near as good as the funky side.
So what's the new station called - or rather what will it called as it's not actually broadcasting yet? www.Homemusicradio.com, part of the homemusictv.com network managed by David Lawrence. I was introduced to David by Terry Cozens; Randy had known David when David's dad ran clubs in the East end of London. David is a 20 year music veteran, based in the company's LA base, and supported by Lynn Taylor a former Motown exec. who is now based in London. David wanted to create something where some of us in the UK take back to the USA the soul music we love, and the experiences that go with it. As such the station will be primarily broadcasting from the USA, but with a handful of shows each week from the UK.
After four hours pre-recording two shows straight in the studio I was back in my stride, and it looked and felt like I'd never been away.
Hitchin And Luton
Posted by Steve G, 23 September 2007 ·
...So my temporary lack of DJ bookings means that I am travelling round some of our best clubs as a "punter". Round this area we have top quality nights at Letchworth, Bedford, Hitchin and Luton. There's probably a few more, but that'll do for now. These nights tend to mix the best in northern and 70's, old and new; on original vinyl; the promotors don't clash and there is very little politics....all in all then a very good and healthy scene.
This last weekend saw two of these nights, with both the 3rd Anniversary of Hitchin FC on friday, run by Graham and Andy, as well as TOTS run by Pete Tebbutt and Sean "Grimsby FC" Chapman on the following night.
Friday first, and Hitchin is a cool 30 minute drive for me. As I have to be up early in the morning - and thus leave early - I decide to go it alone, declining a kind offer of a lift from Geoff Green. Geoff's one of the friendliest bloke's on the scene, and very enthusaistic - but as I say I need to be away early and don't want to be tugging on his coat tails for an early exit.
Anyway there's about 90-100 in, and I mix and match with local luminaries such as Taffy, Toby, Paul & Trish, D'Arcy, Martin R&B man who has been on a golf tournament, and has had "the odd beer or three" . Travellers from afar include Pete Widd, who is out and about all over the place these days. Have a nice chat with Chalky and also talk with Sean Chapman. Meanwhile out in the smoking area - something that resembles the Blue Peter Garden once the Ground Force team have "had a go at it" D'Arcy is reeling off jokes from his mobile phone, and everyone is in stiches. Of course most of the jokes are either too tasteless or vulgar to repeat on a public forum - but they are funny nonetheless....
After warm ups by the residents Andy Kempster, Graham Driver and Bill Macnamara it's time for the guests.
Chalky is one of the guests tonight, and he delivers an interesting set of mainly 60's sounds. One has me running up to the decks to find out what it is....only to find out it's a Carl Carlton record on Backbeat - one that I have on my shelves gathering dust. Chalky also plays Posse "Evil" one that I haven't heard out for years....but to be honest I was so busy talking I didn't hear a whole lot of any of the sets. Amongst the 70's Chalky drops in Luther "Don't wanna be a fool" and The Chymes, which sounded good out.
Here is Chalky's set:
Contours - Jealousy
Gerri Diamond - Only You (Can Feel The Loss)
JJ Daniels - Mr Lonesome
Luther - Don't Wanna Be Your Fool
Chymes - Beginning Of My Life
Act I - Goodbye Love (We're Through)
Mary Love - Lay This Burden Down
Grover Mitchell - Take Your Time And Love Me
James Carr - Losing Game
Ollie Jackson - Just A Little While
Ernest Sparks - I'll Be Glad
Temptations - Loneliness Made Me Realise (It's You That I Need)
Jean Wells - With My Love And What You've Got
Chris Morgan - Who Am I
Posse - Evil
Kell Osborne -You Can't Outsmart A Woman
James Bounty - Action Speaks Louder Than Words
Carl Carlton - i Can Feel It
Deon Jackson - Thats What You Do To Me
CL Blast - What can I Do
Dealers - You got It
Fred Hughes - I Keep Trying
Billy Hambric - I Found True Love
Benny Latimore - Girl I Got News For You
Meanwhile up at the bar Big Vic has noticed that the bar prices for a pint are more expensive than they are in the club room next door, and is grilling the bar staff about this discrepancy .
Nick Hackett also does a good 60's set including things like Ty Karim "You really made it good to me", 4 Voices, Ree Flores etc.
Meanwhile I catch up with my friend Bernadette - a soul Geordie exiled in London - and Geoff and Martin.
However an early start the next morning means that Cinderella like I leave on the chime of 12 o'clock just before the RX8 turns into a pumpkin.
The next day I do a couple of hours work, then off to Footie - turbalent times, but we manage to "turn over" the equally hapless Sheff Utd. After that it's home, time to russle up some tea, a quick change into my "Black Squirrel" outfit, and then off to Luton, picking up Karen B on the way. This is another half hour journey for me, but it seems like about 5 minutes as we catch up on gossip and chat in the car.
Tonight's guests at Luton are the irrepresible Flanny - a long time all round "good egg", who I've known for years mainly from Soul Essence, and Cleethorpes Steve Woomble - another good egg. Steve does a nice warm up set getting the floor going with things like The Differences "Five minutes" - how anyone can say this is a boring record is beyond me - I never tire of it! and Curtis "you are you are" and Yates Brothers & Sisters version of C Coulter. After that it's Mr Chapman for a bit followed by Pete Tebbutt with an hour of northern and R&B.
Here is The Womble's early playlist:
Willie Tee - Walking Up A One Way Street
Chuck Jackson - What's With This Loneliness
The Exits - Another Sundown In Watts - Kapp
Marie Franklin - Being In Love Ain't Easy - Castle
Lynn Varnardo - Wash & Wear Love - Sunshine Sound Acetate
Paul Thompson - Special Kind Of Woman - Volt
Differences - Five Minutes - Mon'ca
Brothers Two - Check Out Your Sign - Virtue Acetate
Ernest Baker - Alone Again - Blue Soul
Guitar Ray - You're Gonna Wreck My Life - Shagg
? - Don't Be Sorry Be Careful - Monarch test press
Meanwhile I am circulating and talking to people. The Leighton posse are out in force, Dave, Tina, Sean, Sue and when they team up with Sharon and Eamsy - it's starting to look like the snug at "Soul Essence". Chrissie meanwhile is being offered copies of her top want, Friday Brown, but at inflated prices.....There's some blatant attempts at profiteering going on here I tell her, as copies start to emerge from the woodwork at something over "book price".
Karen (Sanquine) is in top form, and I also have a chat to Anne about the evils of Robert Mugabe. Meanwhile Martin R&B man pops in as does another "good egg" Baz, both en route (seperately to the 100 Club). Jon and Sue Buck are here too, as is Pete Widd, and Tracey. Little Reg meanwhile is taking advance orders on his forthcoming book - about his travels around the soul scene - Wigan to Caister, and I order a copy......I also talk to Flanny about the joys of watching Andy Johnson play football, and also catch up with BigO who I haven't seen out for a while. BigO once made the mistake of trying to criticise my dancing - and I find myself next to him on the dancefloor dancing and shuffling away like Bileo. Fortunately the girl next to us is laying down talc like she's applying "Shake N Vac" to her carpet, and that makes the dancing easier on the foot, especially on those fast 70s sounds.
Anyway by now Steve W is on for his second set, and he spins things like Timeless Legend, Solid Solution, Al Mason and the instrumental version of the Flaming Emeralds. Not sure if that was intentional, and it reminds me of the careless moment when I played the instrumental version of Connie Clark by mistake. Now the Flaming Emeralds were a warm up act for the Detroit Emeralds and fronted by a white guy who couldn't do the vocals on "Have some everybody"...so James Mitchell of the Detroit Emeralds did the vocals instead...it's one of those records I know I shouldn't like (and the purists turn their noses up whenever I say it), but I do like it and it's an excellent dancer.
Flanny plays a 60's set, including forgotten (by me at least) sounds like The Trends on ABC, Jackey Beavers "A love that never grows cold", and some new things including Rufus Lumly "Minneapolis Minnesota" as well as some x-over like Purple Mundi, Vanguards "Good X Bad X" and Archie Hodge.
Finally Sean Chapman does the last 45 minutes with anthems like Spinners "I'll be around", Corey Glover, Corey Blake, Jimmy Bo Horne "I just can't sleep" keeping the floor busy until the end. Dear Chrissie is dancing to some of this 70's fare as well, and admits that it is "easy to dance to" something she doesn't want made public. Ooops!!!
I also heard things like The Salvadors, Wil Collins and Willpower, "Trick bag" and "Haaaa-aaaaay Yoooooooo" (Monclairs).
All in all it was a very good night, well attended right through to 2 am, and I'll certainly be back for the Xmas one.