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Articles: The Post Wigan Years - Northern Soul

Posted
11 hours ago, paul-s said:

Thanks. Outstanding piece of work and one of the only people narrating the history of the post-Casino years of the underground Northern Soul scene. A period that contributed so much and is too often overlooked by lazy media researchers or deliberately forgotten by those who are economical with the historical truth about the scene in interviews and memoirs. Mind you, its often the case that they just weren't there, they had abandoned ship, so had and have no idea still. Still, no excuse for trying to wipe it from history and pretend that the scene died when the Casino closed its doors, only to re-emerge this century. Important work mate and well done.

Many thanks Paul for the kind words, same for everyone else, really is appreciated.

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Posted

Alex Lowes 80's weekenders at Berwick/ Cala Gran maybe ?

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Posted

Can you do me any 300 dpi scan of the up north weekenders?  I have no flyers for them.  Much appreciated if you can.

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Posted

Great article Chalky "it's like a roadmap of mischief" lol , well researched and getting the dates right etc is no mean feat ! Bishop Auckland Rugby Club would be wort a mention mate. It's good to see a lot of that commitment put down in print ! Outstanding mate. 

 

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Posted

Well,its took me a year to find and read this article !!! well worth it..:thumbsup:..........especially for someone like me who left the scene in the early 70s as a  relative youngster, only to return in the late 90s..............plenty of insight into the scene and the many people mentioned in the article from all over the country whose dedication and involvement kept things going so i could enjoy myself when i got back into it.:D..i know or have met many  of those mentioned in the article and  had no real  idea of the sustained commitment of many of them to the music and the scene...cheers guys and gals ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,the article is almost  a roll of honour to the soul scene  hats of to chalky :hatsoff2:..atb..ez

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Posted

:hatsoff2:Hi ALL.. Chalky Just read your excellent article again, and can't help notice the lack of write up support that was given to the West Midlands Soul Scene, as I am not from  Midlands, but from North Herts, living a mile from my mentor Mick Smith,  In the early 7ts we travelled North (I actually attended the Twisted Wheel in the late 6ts), But it was through Mick and others that got me away from DJing hit & pop Soul into the rare soul scene,

As your article is a excellent potted write up "POST WIGAN" you seem to have forgotten the City of Wolverhampton which like Stoke has always kept the Faith Top Djs came to play at the Vic, where the Stafford ethos was played by Harpo & others, Also the BLACK HORSE PUB, a  venue I'm proud to say I found & DJ at with long time DJ & Promoter PEP, we had packed nights with Soul Bros & Sisters attending from the North East, Scotland & London, those who attended the Black Horse & the Vic did so because of it's fraternal atmosphere, there of course many other venues that PEP promoted over the years, however your mention of the Stables was more about Lifeline moving to Stoke, to this day I don't understand the reason that move as the STABLE could of become the MIDLNDS 100 Club,

Any way the lack of acknowledgement to the Hart & Soul of the scene is a oversight to your excellent essay on POST WIGAN...... KTF DAVE K :yes:

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Posted
5 hours ago, dthedrug said:

:hatsoff2:Hi ALL.. Chalky Just read your excellent article again, and can't help notice the lack of write up support that was given to the West Midlands Soul Scene, as I am not from  Midlands, but from North Herts, living a mile from my mentor Mick Smith,  In the early 7ts we travelled North (I actually attended the Twisted Wheel in the late 6ts), But it was through Mick and others that got me away from DJing hit & pop Soul into the rare soul scene,

As your article is a excellent potted write up "POST WIGAN" you seem to have forgotten the City of Wolverhampton which like Stoke has always kept the Faith Top Djs came to play at the Vic, where the Stafford ethos was played by Harpo & others, Also the BLACK HORSE PUB, a  venue I'm proud to say I found & DJ at with long time DJ & Promoter PEP, we had packed nights with Soul Bros & Sisters attending from the North East, Scotland & London, those who attended the Black Horse & the Vic did so because of it's fraternal atmosphere, there of course many other venues that PEP promoted over the years, however your mention of the Stables was more about Lifeline moving to Stoke, to this day I don't understand the reason that move as the STABLE could of become the MIDLNDS 100 Club,

Any way the lack of acknowledgement to the Hart & Soul of the scene is a oversight to your excellent essay on POST WIGAN...... KTF DAVE K :yes:

Dave, it was no oversight.  The article was in the main about all-nighters, the bedrock of the scene. There are plenty of soul nights I didn't mention and all-nighters too.  I had a limit on the amount of words so it was just not possible to mention every venue.  It will get the acknowledgement in time. As for Stables, they didn't want all-nighters there and made life very difficult, they wouldn't even answer their phone. 

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Posted

Very in depth but only touching the surface of what was happening throughout the UK during that period (you would actually need to write a book to cover the venues comprehensively) .

I can think of lots of venues from Surrey, Bedfordfordshire, Herfordshire, Essex and East Anglia, just to name a few areas close to London 

Then of course in London you had the Water Rats,the Norfolk Village and Village Soul, Ian Clark and Simon Dunmore's ventures , Ivor Jones's do's as well as the the nights/events that myself and Colin Brown promoted (mostly together but lots with other promoters) which easily ran into 3 figures.  

This just emphasizes the original point that post Wigan the scene was far from dead and they were not "dark years"

Mark Houghton

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Posted

There is a lot that needs to be covered and I am attempting to write that book.  Whether i get it done or not wotking 60+!hours per week, away from home we will have to see but I am having a go. 

Just to clarify, the article which was thevsleeve notes for the Odyssey Northern Soul Box set, i had around a 1000 word limit which I over ran. It was in the main about the Northern side of the scene and the main nighters post Wigan, there simply wasn't space to mention everything including soul nights and the modern scene. 

I will hopefully put all that straight given time. 

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Posted
15 minutes ago, chalky said:

There is a lot that needs to be covered

Understatement LOL The scene has scenes within scenes and every area has its own unique clubs, customs, ideals and sounds, all under the umbrella of the national scene. I do not envy you Chalky but do admire your drive and can only hope we all can support you whatever way we can. I am going through the boxes in the loft and have come across old flyers from clubs long forgotten and one-off nights etc as well as the legendary, and quite funny if I do say so myself, Trading Cards from the days of the Plinston in the early 00's. B interesting to see what other promo tools and posters with wit are out there (100 Club ones with themes I recall, Socialist Soul with Red Mick etc or similar)

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, TheBigO said:

Understatement LOL The scene has scenes within scenes and every area has its own unique clubs, customs, ideals and sounds, all under the umbrella of the national scene. I do not envy you Chalky but do admire your drive and can only hope we all can support you whatever way we can. I am going through the boxes in the loft and have come across old flyers from clubs long forgotten and one-off nights etc as well as the legendary, and quite funny if I do say so myself, Trading Cards from the days of the Plinston in the early 00's. B interesting to see what other promo tools and posters with wit are out there (100 Club ones with themes I recall, Socialist Soul with Red Mick etc or similar)

Wouldn't mind some scans of those flyers etc BigO? Or I can scan and return if you wanna loan them. Had some cracking nights at Plinston. 

Edited by chalky

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Posted
On 09/08/2017 at 20:26, chalky said:

Wouldn't mind some scans of those flyers etc BigO? Or I can scan and return if you wanna loan them. Had some cracking nights at Plinston. 

Leave with me Chalky, will scan and arrange to get to you via t'ut net lol 

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Posted

I'm surprised the first real soul weekenders didn't get more than a single mention of Southport. Stuart Cosgrave described them as northern soul although they were never that, beyond Mr Searling doing an hour in the jazz room on a saturday afternoon. How times have changed. These weekenders were critical as a stepping stone from Caister, Bognor and the original Prestatyn Weekenders and were responsible for launching all the weekenders that followed.

I'm assured many still claim Fleetwood in particular was the greatest soul room ever, and Sam Dees' performace, even for a PA. was utterly extraordinary. 

Myself, Searling and others gradually drifted away and Mr Lowes eventually got the weekender he always wanted, but for a time it seemed that anything was possible. 

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Posted
2 hours ago, stevesilktulip said:

I'm surprised the first real soul weekenders didn't get more than a single mention of Southport. Stuart Cosgrave described them as northern soul although they were never that, beyond Mr Searling doing an hour in the jazz room on a saturday afternoon. How times have changed. These weekenders were critical as a stepping stone from Caister, Bognor and the original Prestatyn Weekenders and were responsible for launching all the weekenders that followed.

I'm assured many still claim Fleetwood in particular was the greatest soul room ever, and Sam Dees' performace, even for a PA. was utterly extraordinary. 

Myself, Searling and others gradually drifted away and Mr Lowes eventually got the weekender he always wanted, but for a time it seemed that anything was possible. 

I had a restriction with regards the number of words for the sleeve notes. As you say the weekenders you mention were not northern really, Berwick might just have qualified but the first proper northern ones were Yarmouth, that is the start really of the weekender popularity. There was others before I know but they weren’t the annual or twice yearly piss up that Yarmouth and then Cleethorpes became. 

Yarmouth and Cleethorpes before Fleetwood and any of the Northern Weekenders we have now, Prestatyn was a long time after really. 

Soul Essence also deserves a mention as many of us frequented the venue and still do.  

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Posted

At Berwick, the soul rm wasn't open long and I doubt there was any northern played; I cerainly never heard any. The funk mob had Prestatyn years before Searling et al.  I think it would be 88 when I went. The rm which became the northern rm played house (or whatever tag it had in 88). Chris Hill raised a banner in another rm saying Acid Free Zone and played one of the best sets I've ever heard. He looked thoroughly p!$$ed off. 

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Posted
4 hours ago, stevesilktulip said:

At Berwick, the soul rm wasn't open long and I doubt there was any northern played; I cerainly never heard any. The funk mob had Prestatyn years before Searling et al.  I think it would be 88 when I went. The rm which became the northern rm played house (or whatever tag it had in 88). Chris Hill raised a banner in another rm saying Acid Free Zone and played one of the best sets I've ever heard. He looked thoroughly p!$$ed off. 

Like I said not really relevant to the Northern Scene.  I know quite a few of the forward thinking lot did Berwick and later Southport etc. All interesting stuff though nd hope to mention it in time. 

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Posted

Hi, I'd like to ask please about any progress with the book? I shudder at the thought of such a huge task, one I think if done could grow into various volumes so as to include more than just "regular / popular" nighters as you've mentioned it will (if done), since for example certain 8 'til lates helped enourmously to keep things moving forwards and were an integral part of this era, at least for me (besides also going to the nighter likes of TOTW, Hinkley, Parr Hall, Queens Hall etc). It's a huge task as I've said, and one that deserves all the help from those of us that continued on from the Casino through the 8T's & 9T's etc, with contributions of experiences, perspectives, unsung heroes etc. The sheer amount of categories that this could grow to include is mind-boggling, but for an accurate representation of the history of the oldest and continuing underground music scene in the world (which is still one of the most amazing best kept secrets lol), purely for historical purposes within the history of world music, should be undertaken.

IF you are, then I for one would feel incredibly & enourmously privileged to help in such an endeavour.

Please feel free to PM me with any info or updates. And thank you for what you've been able to do up to now :)

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Posted (edited)
On 11/05/2019 at 19:44, puw said:

Hi, I'd like to ask please about any progress with the book? I shudder at the thought of such a huge task, one I think if done could grow into various volumes so as to include more than just "regular / popular" nighters as you've mentioned it will (if done), since for example certain 8 'til lates helped enourmously to keep things moving forwards and were an integral part of this era, at least for me (besides also going to the nighter likes of TOTW, Hinkley, Parr Hall, Queens Hall etc). It's a huge task as I've said, and one that deserves all the help from those of us that continued on from the Casino through the 8T's & 9T's etc, with contributions of experiences, perspectives, unsung heroes etc. The sheer amount of categories that this could grow to include is mind-boggling, but for an accurate representation of the history of the oldest and continuing underground music scene in the world (which is still one of the most amazing best kept secrets lol), purely for historical purposes within the history of world music, should be undertaken.

IF you are, then I for one would feel incredibly & enourmously privileged to help in such an endeavour.

Please feel free to PM me with any info or updates. And thank you for what you've been able to do up to now :)

Sorry for the late reply.  The book has kinda stalled at the minute.  I do intend to crack on with it but the research is painstaking.  I am currently doing a time line of the major nighters and some soul nights of interest from echoes.  It is very time consuming.  I have also gathered a large amount of flyers, both genuine and digital which all needed or still need scanning, naming and dating, again extremely time consuming.

Given that I also work 60 to 70 hours every week, I am also away with work all week, as you can imagine it doesn't leave a lot of spare time.  I have a bit of sorting out to do the next few weeks and I then intend to get on with things.

I have also done a few interviews with leading lights of the time which need transcribing....again extremely time consuming.

Thanks for the interest.

Edited by Chalky
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Posted

Wasn't the Mike Ritson book meant to morph into a second volume covering the post Wigan period?

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Posted
54 minutes ago, Soulfusion said:

Wasn't the Mike Ritson book meant to morph into a second volume covering the post Wigan period?

There was talk of it

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Posted
13 hours ago, Chalky said:

Sorry for the late reply.  The book has kinda stalled at the minute.  I do intend to crack on with it but the research is painstaking.  I am currently doing a time line of the major nighters and some soul nights of interest from echoes.  It is very time consuming.  I have also gathered a large amount of flyers, both genuine and digital which all needed or still need scanning, naming and dating, again extremely time consuming.

Given that I also work 60 to 70 hours every week, I am also away with work all week, as you can imagine it doesn't leave a lot of spare time.  I have a bit of sorting out to do the next few weeks and I then intend to get on with things.

I have also done a few interviews with leading lights of the time which need transcribing....again extremely time consuming.

Thanks for the interest.

I totally understand, it's a hugely insane size of a project (as I've said), one that you need help with in lots of ways and also one that you're simply going to feel overwhelmed by. And as you say, you've got a very busy schedule + a life + family etc. You could probably do with a North Pole vacation for a year, away from everyone & everything lol. Because of everything, please don't try and put a date on having it finished, that would only lead I feel to things being missed out etc trying to keep to a deadline.

You mention interveiws to be transcribed - that's something I can maybe help you out with for example. Please PM me to discuss further if you like.

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Posted

Hi chalky mate if you need any help with the time line of venues feel free to contact me. As we both went to same venues. I still have 7 photo albums full of photos from Stafford 100 club parr Hall etc and loads of flyers  all which for some reason I've dated on the back. Mind boggles lol 

Anyway any help you need just pm me 

 

Atb Steve 

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Posted

Re the Ritson book, there are claims that Snowboy's book on the acid jazz/ funk/ dance scene was a kind of sequel, but that's only half the story, and not the side you're concentrating on, though there's definite overlaps. 

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Posted

Having read more of the blog, I get that the objection to covering the early Upnorth Weekenders was because they barely featured northern soul at all. However, I realised almost in hindsight that many thought they were about modern soul as an offshoot of northern, and based on the Mecca and the seventies records played at nighters in the eighties; a view I didn't and don't share. It was more about people, often with a background in northern soul, jazz-funk or club music - and I'd done all three - but had been listening to 'real soul' at home for years.

I disentangled myself from them in 91 which is the year Kev Roberts reckons kick-started the northern revival and I would argue they led directly to Cleethorpes, Prestatyn and weekenders throughout the land which have become the new temples of northern soul.

We'd had to move from Fleetwood because the soul room was far too small, and I recall thinking we should have swapped the two rooms, though I don't remember if I ever suggested it to Alex. He would have never gone for it because he always wanted it to be like Caister, Bognor and the original Prestatyn's, but with a small soul room stuck on, not least because he wanted them to be all about him and knew the soul room was more about me, in the same way the jazz room was more about Simon Mansell.

The Upnorth Weekenders did not lead to the northern soul revival - indeed they should have prevented it - and the northern weekenders would have happened anyway, but at a different time and in different ways.

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Posted
30 minutes ago, Stevesilktulip said:

Having read more of the blog, I get that the objection to covering the early Upnorth Weekenders was because they barely featured northern soul at all. However, I realised almost in hindsight that many thought they were about modern soul as an offshoot of northern, and based on the Mecca and the seventies records played at nighters in the eighties; a view I didn't and don't share. It was more about people, often with a background in northern soul, jazz-funk or club music - and I'd done all three - but had been listening to 'real soul' at home for years.

I disentangled myself from them in 91 which is the year Kev Roberts reckons kick-started the northern revival and I would argue they led directly to Cleethorpes, Prestatyn and weekenders throughout the land which have become the new temples of northern soul.

We'd had to move from Fleetwood because the soul room was far too small, and I recall thinking we should have swapped the two rooms, though I don't remember if I ever suggested it to Alex. He would have never gone for it because he always wanted it to be like Caister, Bognor and the original Prestatyn's, but with a small soul room stuck on, not least because he wanted them to be all about him and knew the soul room was more about me, in the same way the jazz room was more about Simon Mansell.

The Upnorth Weekenders did not lead to the northern soul revival - indeed they should have prevented it - and the northern weekenders would have happened anyway, but at a different time and in different ways.

The revival was a few more years later than 91 in my opinion, there was still a healthy crowd of us and the early Cleethorpes were still pretty much hardcore.  Kings Hall etc wasn't till a few years later.  As I said what I am covering or what I covered was the Northern Scene and the up north Weekenders weren't although some was featured and many off the Northern Scene dod attend but they were by and large moving that way any way and it wouldn't nee long before many would leave the Northern behind.  

It wasn't an objection and there was nothing sinister for not covering upnorth.  Like I said I only had so many words and I exceeded my limit as it was, I couldn't cover everything within the limitations I had.  Hopefully if I ever get round to expanding on it or even the book then it will get covered to some degree.

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Posted (edited)

I attended a lot of the Upnorth weekenders from around 87 onwards.I was a regular at The Wag Club in London after moving down from Middlesborough at the fag end of 86.Simon Mansell used to get me the pass and accomodation for the weekender.I got the best of both worlds from the soul room and the jazz room and remember Richards northern  soul sessions which was really the start of the oldies revival as there were only about 40 or people in there.Colin Curtis did Mecca revivals on the afternoons too but I cant remember those being packed.There were quite a few from the northern scene who went to those weekenders and I still have letters between me and Terry Seline about record swapping. I was supplying him seventies and modern and I was getting the sixties stuff off him.Ian Clark was the main man for current northern though at those weekenders.I Thought You Were Mine/Nurons and Pyramid along with Jan Jones etc.Still got a lot of programmes and flyers

Edited by wiggyflat

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Posted
On 08/12/2019 at 10:48, Chalky said:

The revival was a few more years later than 91 in my opinion, there was still a healthy crowd of us and the early Cleethorpes were still pretty much hardcore.  Kings Hall etc wasn't till a few years later.  As I said what I am covering or what I covered was the Northern Scene and the up north Weekenders weren't although some was featured and many off the Northern Scene dod attend but they were by and large moving that way any way and it wouldn't nee long before many would leave the Northern behind.  

It wasn't an objection and there was nothing sinister for not covering upnorth.  Like I said I only had so many words and I exceeded my limit as it was, I couldn't cover everything within the limitations I had.  Hopefully if I ever get round to expanding on it or even the book then it will get covered to some degree.

Interesting the word ‘revival’ crops up in a few of these posts. The 100 Club was in full swing in 1990, the year I started going. The London scene was buzzing with a hard core of Wigan, and especially Stafford, devotees. The 100 Club thrived throughout the 90’s, losing some familiar faces of long distance travellers, but picking up plenty of younger followers. The popularity of the 100 Club certainly encouraged Ady to promote Cleethorpes, tapping into a Northern market that saw decent minor venues come and go. As to the revival per se; was it Keele or perhaps the Kings Hall that were at the root of the upsurge in small, but widespread venues catering to new and old faces preferring oldies in the main? If we are talking about the current revival, it surely must have been the mid to late 90’s and not 1991 as Kev Roberts suggested. Indeed Cleethorpes may have been the catalyst, and the TV programmes that followed, the signal for people to join in the nationwide revival.

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Posted

Who ever started the revival wants shooting theyve totally split the scene, and the scene as we knew it will never be the same. Gone are the great days of the 80's early 90s hundreds of new records being played and yes we wanted to dance and hear new stuff. Great times and proud to have been a part of it. 

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