Friday, 23 April 2010

DJs

Pete Haigh
Q & A with Pete Haigh
1. Back to the beginning Pete, how long have you been djing? and where was your first gig?
I got into soul at school and despite brief dalliances with certain acts it was always soul and early disco/funk really...finally getting in the holy grail that was Blackpool Mecca in April 73 at 17 years old was the eye opener!....Levine and Curtis....blimey!!!!....I started locally around Blackpool in 1974,...and finally got some local "big" gigs from 1979 onwards...my first was the great local disco "The Gallopers" at the Showboat building in Cleveleys and I finally got on the "all-dayer/guest spot" circuit in 79-80 at the infamous Blackpool Mecca, Clouds Preston, Wigan Pier etc...I was very proud also of the nights locally at The Scarthwaite Hotel, Lancaster and Man Fridays Blackpool, I ran/djed at.
Andy, Steve and myself all became thick as thieves (as people say!)from 74 onwards enjoying many soul, funk and dance shenanigans to this present day with Soulful Dance @....
Steve and I have djed together many times over the years and it’s now great to have Andy on board for the last 5 years or so!!!!!!!


2.What has been your most memorable achievment so far and have you got any ambitions still to fulfil?

I am very proud of what we have achieved with SD@ locally, and besides that, appearing several times at the Southport Weekender, Blackpool Hilton/Tower Weekenders, and also many national specialist black music sessions. Working with other national dj,s is always memorable.
I would love to dj with Danny Krivit etc!!!.../locally, internationally and also have a 12" tune out!!!!......I also worked as a reporter, for Blues and Soul Magazine for 23 years, and have also just notched up 25 years, and still going, at On The Wire/Funkology Show with Andy Holmes/Steve Barker, on BBC Radio Lancashire. I also write for Manifesto soul magazine.

3. You have a very broad musical taste and knowledge in Soul music, but which area do you feel the most comfortable with, both on a night out as a paying guest and as a dj?

It will always be soul music and then soulful dance/house and jazz and funk/disco close behind!....however I have done many types of music djing over the years....the Southport Weekender has had a massive impact on me over the years....all those international/national dj,s!.....but dj,s I admire/have an influence over the years... include the usual suspects like Curtis,Levine,Hilly,Norman Jay,Searling,Masters at Work,etc....
I prefer well run small-ish events with fresh open music/or quality classics/rareties.Learning to "mix" via Steve and Danny P. from NYC was a blessing. I remain a bit of a vinyl worshipper!!!!

10 random records I love always...

GIL SCOTT HERON-THE BOTTLE
VOICES OF EAST HARLEM-CASHING IN
SHAUN ESCOFFERY-DAYS LIKE THIS
STEVIE WONDER-AS
MARVIN GAYE-WHATS GOING ON
BOBBY WOMACK-ACROSS 110TH STREET
MASTERS AT WORK/INDIA-TO BE IN LOVE
YVONNE BAKER-YOU DIDNT SAY A WORD
NITELITERS-K-JEE
SAM DEES-THE SHOW MUST GO ON

4. Pete, you have quite a reputation as being a dancing dj. If you're not behind the decks your on the dancefloor. Bearing in mind we're not getting any younger, do you have the secret to eternal youth?

Blimey!.....I do love a dance!...it de-stresses me and I feel more in touch with the night and crowd. you understand the emotions that make people dance and respond to music we all love.

As for eternal youth-I positively ache after a boogie nowadays!....but not getting drunk anymore does help next day!....I must also add that the music and friendships/relationships over the years are also what it is all about and keeps us coming back for more.

5. You have been involved in the running of quite a few gigs on the Fylde coast over the years. Apart from Soulful Dance, which was the most longest running one?

Well me and Steve,along with Jim Hargreaves as well, were very proud of our nearly 4 years as Make It Funky, in Blackpool town centre from 95-99,.....it was a totally all over the place black dance music session...and we even had Sir Norman Jay as guest!.....I also djed the Christmas Ball at the Tower/Winter Gardens for 15 years....about 3,000 in at most of the Balls, plus live acts like Jocelyn Brown, Taka Boom,Desmond Dekker,Georgie Fame etc....others I have mentioned above!


Hope this was informative and not boring for all website visitors and SD@ etc.. supporters

Pete



Steve Naylor

Q & A with Steve Naylor

1. Your mixing talents are really appreciated in the Soulful Dance group, when did your interest first arise? And who were your influences?

Post Mecca saw a different world on the soul scene with many DJ's going in different musical directions. Ian Levine had already told us about the New York style of mixing records together and this concept appealed to me. Ian ran a great Sunday night session at Angels in Burnley; however it was the Warehouse in Leeds that opened up a new musical chapter. Mike Wiand opened the club and Greg James installed a fabulous sound and light system, he also DJ'd there on a regular basis.


We had already heard Greg spin at the up market Embassy club in London; however the Warehouse was a different type of club with a more mixed "party" clientele. This club opened my ears to the fact that the sound system was crucial in getting the most out of the music and so the technical side of DJ'ing grabbed my attention alongside the record collecting.


It was here I met legendary New York DJ Danny Pucciarelli who blew us all away with his mixes and live remixing too. I can’t listen to "Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough" without remembering his live edits of the record! I have heard many DJ's mix since then but can honestly say none have the impact that Danny had.
He was kind enough to invite us over to stay with him in Brooklyn - too good an opportunity to miss. Danny was the number 1 DJ in Brooklyn at that time, he had 2 gold discs for his work in promoting new disco hits, and was working in the Nite Gallery on 86th street. It was amazing to hear him spin on his home turf, his mixes raising cheers and applause from the crowd. People even came over from Manhattan to hear him spin, which was unheard of!

Danny was a member of "For The Record", the record pool created by Judy Weinstein. I was introduced to her and other industry figures including Ray Caviano. Danny’s membership of the pool guaranteed admission to Paradise Garage and so I was able to witness Larry Levan play in that amazing place. We also visited the Loft and heard David Mancuso play over the stunning sound system there.

2. You are the man behind a lot of the Soulful Dance anthems, which ones are your favorites?

In true 'Funky Steve' fashion I have to say Secret Stealth - Stealth 3, you know, the "Keep On Truckin’" version. We don't seem to be able to stop playing that one and, for me, it's a great memory of the Football Academy, although I actually played it first at Jimmy Hargreaves Marine Hall gig!

Yolanda Adams is also one record I am proud to have introduced, a clear example of how dance music is just as soulful now as in the Northern days.

S Tone Inc - Dreamer however is an example of how we work at SD@ - never got round to playing it straight away, but by listening to it at SD@HQ with Andy and Pete we all realised what a tune it was and quickly changed the situation.


We are constantly reviewing records and in all honesty would rather be late with a great tune than be upfront with something average.


Timo Lassy's African Rumble is an example of encouragement from one of our regulars, Steve Anning who can spot a good jazz tune when he hears one, I remember him requesting it in his usual understated manner and realising then what a monster this could be.


Look out for Mutant Disco - Chicago's Back at our upcoming gigs. It's that cut up of Miroslav Vitous that I played in December I think it will join our list of anthems as well!!

3. You are a regular at Southport Weekender; in fact I think you have been to every one. Is there times when you think you will ever bow out, or has that become the unthinkable?

I missed the first few Upnorth weekenders because of my work patterns however I have been to each Southport and the answers are No and Yes!

4. You must have seen many changes at SW over the years .Could you share some of your favourite moments with us and do you still get the same out of it as you did in the beginning?

There have been changes, at first it was more parochial but of course this has changed over the years to the truly international event it is now. Each one has its own character but it retains the same feel and atmosphere that we remember from the days of the Ritz and the Blackpool Mecca Soul Festivals. The main thing I like is that it hasn't stagnated into an "old boys (persons!!)" event – there is new blood joining us at each weekender.
Having said that, Pete and I have witnessed younger generations of soul and dance regulars obtaining the grey streaks of distinction as they too have continued to attend over the years.
It's a place to keep up to date with what’s going on with "our" music and certainly the best chance to witness performances by some of the legendary and the up and coming figures on the scene, whether performing artists or DJ's. There are many memories; Blaze’s fantastic finale performance - Norman Jays’ superb rare groove selections and at the last one, Nicky Siano's superb set in the Powerhouse, a real musical journey there. On the more humorous side; Richard Searling taking over from Goldie who had just done a full on Drum and Bass set - priceless, but where else would you get such a contrast?


The Weekender was summed up for me when chatting to Byron Stingily's manager who was in awe "You just would not get this happening back home in the States" he said.

5. Taking you back again now to the early 80’s. You took a trip of a life time to New York, spending time with DJ Danny Pucciarelli. This involved you leaving your insurance career but later gave you an opportunity to be the resident at a State of the art club in the far North of England. Was that trip a turning point for you for wanting to achieve something similar over here, and did it influence your musical taste?

 I did get the opportunity to visit New York (thank you Terry Lett and Freddie Laker!!) to stay with NYC legend and Hall of Fame DJ Danny Pucciarelli (who is still spinning to this day). Organising a tour for him in this country did result in an opportunity that I had to take in the mid eighties - I was offered a residency at a brand new club in Cumbria called the Old Hall, with the chance to DJ and learn the business side of club management.
It was very much a city style club, lasers and everything, with a custom built JBL sound system installed by Formula Sound.
Not being a lover of 'talking' Dj's I introduced a New York mixing style to the venue. The music I played involved commercial hits as well as fitting in as much proper music as I could. I used to live remix pop hits like 'Relax' , 'Don’t You want Me Baby' 'Sweet Dreams are Made of This' and even ZZ Top “Gimme All Your Lovin”.
Strangely Hi NRG became very popular there, which was interesting to say the least. There where many contractors working on the Sellafield plant that used to come to the club and I did wonder if they understood where records like 'So Many Men So Little Time' and 'I Am What I Am' had originated!!
I had a record allowance so was able to pop down to Spin Inn to ensure our music was represented as well, so my personal taste didn't really change. I would say though that I never thought this period was the most creative time for Black Music. It wasn't until later in the decade when artists like Blaze, Ten City and Marshall Jefferson came along that things got more exciting again.
The thing I did learn however was how to DJ to a mixed crowd of people, this gave me different perspective to the job, realising that we are also there to entertain as well as show off our record collections. This attitude I'm proud to stay is reflected by all of us at SD@ and why it is such a pleasure to work with my oldest and best friends.


We are all looking forward 2010 and bringing some great new music to the party!

Steve




Andy Lett

Q & A with Andy Lett
1. You, Pete Haigh and Steve go back a long way. How and where did you meet? and can you remember the first topic of conversation? and how did your friendship with Pete Mason begin?

I went to the same primary school as Pete & Steve. They are 2 years older than me & I didn't really know them then. Pete was in the same class as my older sister so I knew of his existence from an early age.I got into the "rare soul" (it was youth club music then) scene around 1972 & started going to local clubs such as Disco 72, then Schoey's etc. Around 1973/4 I started going to a club called Gallopers which was basically a pop disco but played a lot of Philly, Motown & Northern. A fresh faced youth called Pete Haigh used to do the odd guest spot there & that was where I really got to know him - asking him questions about tunes etc. I remember being invited round to his house to listen to some records - even then he had a swaps box & I had a copy of an old stomper by Earl Harrison which Pete wanted - a swap took place - he got "Humphrey Stomp" & I got 2 soul pack records - hmmmmmm - think Mr Haigh got the better deal there !! I started going to The Mecca in the summer of '74 - it was hit & miss whether I would get in as I was only 16 at the time & got knocked back many a time for being too young. Got to know Steve better early '75. We all lived within about half a mile of each other so we started to get a taxi home together from The Highland Room - we would always get out at the "mid point" - Pete's house was the nearest to this place - hmmmmmm - think Mr Haigh got the better deal there !! I can remember waxing lyrical to Steve about a certain record by Rock Candy which was & still is a great tune. Years on Steve told me at that point he began to warm to me & a great friendship was born.

Got to know Pete Mason a few months later. The Blackpool crew & the Preston crew used to sit at opposite corners of The Highland Room & we were all on "nodding" terms with each other. One of the Preston crew was a skinny guy (says me who was 9 stone wet through back then !!) who always seemed to dance to the same tunes that I did. One night whilst answering the call of nature the said guy from Preston was stood in the next trap - mid flow he turns to me & says "That "I Don't Know" by Bobby Womack is a bloody good tune !!". We had just both been dancing to it. We washed & shook hands, introduced ourselves & have been close friends ever since. I think Pete more than anybody I know has a similar taste in music to me & it has been our bond for over 30 years.

2. Andy, you have quite a reputation for digging out a good tune, sticking with it and making it widely known. When and how did all this interest start for you? and how much time a week/day to you spend searching for that exclusive tune?

When I first got into Soul music I was still at school so therefore I never had huge amounts of money to feed my interest. I have always enjoyed searching & mooching in shops, record boxes etc. & by getting to know names of writers, producers it became fairly easy to spot tunes with at least some potential & without breaking the bank to do so. I still hold with that philosophy now - however the shops & boxes are now mainly the internet. Most of my digging is done by searching the various sites & mixes that are available on the www. For example a 4 track "Deep House" 12 inch might have a wonderful piece of Jazzy or Soulful House tucked away on the "B" side - the fun I have is finding them - but be prepared to wade through some tosh to get there !! Sometimes that "Jazz Lounge" album contains a brilliant uptempo gem on it. All tunes initially get the "60 second treatment" from me - first 20 seconds, followed by the middle 20, then the last 20. I have to hear something in there I like, to put it on my "wishlist". Years ago we all looked to America for our tunes - now Scandinavia, Italy & Japan (amongst others) are producing some fantastic music. I can honestly say I spend nearly every day searching for tunes. Obsessive ? No !! I just love it.

3. It's a natural thing for you to spread the word of a new tune. In what ways do you go about this?

Generally by "banging on" about a tune to my mates - or recommending them to people via EMS etc. However the most pleasure I get is when I play a tune at one of our nights & one person comes up to me to ask what it is. It makes everything worthwhile & gives me the confidence to keep playing & recommending the music I love. When I am DJing I keep a pen & pad by the decks in case people want to write titles down - it also helps out when they are wondering what that male deep voiced house track I played about 11.40 the night before was !!

4.You were once given the nick name as "Housewives Choice" within the Soulful Dance fratenity. How and why did this come about?

I have always loved the the joyous, uplifting sound of soul music. I am a total sucker for a catchy melody with a wonderful chorus which grabs you. I love to see the dancefloor reacting to people like Stephanie Cooke, Mario Biondi, Terisa Griffin etc. whose music will put a smile on anyones face. Sometimes think it is hard to balance what is catchy & what is poppy - it can be a thin line. I would like to think that giving people something to smile & singalong to on the dancefloor creates a warm & happy atmosphere. Soulful dance music certainly puts a smile on my face.

5. Where is your head musically at the moment?and what direction do you see as being the most popular for the dancefloor in 2010?


Think the quality soul & jazz music is still out there - sometimes you may have to look hard for it but, believe me, it is there. I seem to be enjoying the music coming out of Europe as much as anything at the moment but always trying to find the "good stuff" from the USA.

There is still lots of wonderful Soul, House & Jazz out there - just enjoy it !!



Andy