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.
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!!
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!
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.
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.
Q & A with Steve Naylor
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.
1. Your mixing talents are really appreciated in the Soulful Dance group, when did your interest first arise? And who were your influences?
2. You are the man behind a lot of the Soulful Dance anthems, which ones are your favorites?
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?
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?
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?
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