Browsing Tag Dr Robert

Masters – Kenney Jones (Small Faces)

This entry is part 20 of 20 in the series Masters

I managed to catch up with Kenney ahead of his performance at Modstock to talk about his life behind the drumkit with some of the biggest bands in the history of British rock and find out more about the new Small Faces boxset and greatest hits releases.

01. What got you interested in music and who were your early influences?

I was blown away after seeing Lonnie Donegan on TV playing ‘Rock on the line’. He was playing banjo. I just fell in love with the banjo! I remembered seeing a banjo in a pawn shop next to Bethnal Green Station. The next day I went to buy it but unfortunately the guy had sold it. A friend had half a drum kit with one and half drum sticks and that got my buds going. I was hooked. I bought my very first drum kit in a shop in East Ham on Green Lane call the J 60’s. It was a white Olympic old Jazz kit. My early influences were The Shadows; Jimmy McGriff and Booker T and the MG’s.

02. When and how did you first meet Steve and Ronnie?

I met Ronnie Lane in my local pub called The British Prince where Ronnie’s brother worked as a barman. Ronnie and I first met Steve Marriott in the same shop that I bought my drum kit where he worked on Saturday mornings.

03 What were the early shows like at Leicester square and the Marquee, and did you have a particular favourite venue?

The shows at Leicester Square and the Cavern were amazing. My favourite clubs at the time were ‘The Marquee’ and ‘The Flamingo’.

04. What was the original mod scene like and did you frequent any of the famous clubs like the Scene or Flamingo for example and do you have any fond memories you can share with us?

Well apart from my comments above it was a great place to meet up in a time when music and fashion were as one.

05. What other bands did you rate back in the sixties and are there any current bands you enjoy?

I liked ‘The Action’ in the 60’s and of course ‘The Shadows’ in the 60’s. I quite enjoy The Strypes and recently my 16 year old daughter Erin has got me into Plain White T’s.  She is great at playing me the most recent stuff and tries to keep me up to date! Some I like and other stuff makes me cringe! And of course I love the Red Hot Chilli Peppers – great drummer!

06. I have seen the Belgium TV footage from the early days at the marquee and also beat, beat, beat or maybe it was beat club in Germany which are both incredible, and did you prefer playing live or working in the studio?

I must say I like both. Live shows give you that buzz but studio work lets you be more creative and try new things.

07. Many fans claim the immediate era was the best small faces period would you agree with that?

It was probably the most creative and Andrew Oldham gave us more freedom to experiment. But I still think the Decca stuff is also great.

08. The manifesto of Immediate Records was a great idea trying to immolate the Stax and Motown hit factory in the UK, the Small Faces were and an integral part of that. What persuaded you to join Andrew Loog Oldham in the new venture and what was the atmosphere like at Immediate?

Immediate was like a family. We all looked out for each other and Andrew was boundless back then; his enthusiasm infectious. Most of us were. It was also the first independent label.

09. The infamous tour of Australia with the Who is stuff of legend, what were your memories on the crazy antics and any other humorous tales you can share with us on life with the Small Faces?

When the captain of the plane diverted the flight to Melbourne and had us arrested when we walked off the plane with our hands up. That was us, The Who and Paul Jones. My fondest memory of touring with the Small Faces and the Who was when Keith offered me a lift to the next gig in his white Rolls Royce and we ended up going down Edinburgh High Street.  Keith had a PA system fitted behind the front grille with a mike connected to this. As we drove down the high street he shouted “Rape, rape and dangled a set of blow up legs out the back window. A bus driver stopped his bus to come to the rescue. When we got to the other side of town a policeman arrested us. He was a mad man!

10. I have heard Macs account about Steve wanting Peter Frampton to join the band to create a heavier sound and eventually leaving as a result to form Humble Pie, however it seems to me The Small Faces were already heading in that direction?

That is a difficult question to answer. Our music was already taking a different turn from our earlier stuff but Steve was pushing for change too quickly. When he left and Rod and Woody joined our music took a different direction anyway.

11. The three Small Faces went on to form The Faces together with Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood, did you know them both from the mid sixties London scene and did you ever perform with the Birds, Steam Packet or Shotgun Express?

Our paths had crossed from time to time Well Rod was on the Immediate label so we crossed paths then. We never got a chance to play on same bill as the Birds. There were times when the Small Faces were rehearsing when Rod used to sit on the amps watching us. When Steve left I asked him to join the band.

12. You also played alongside Pete, Roger and John in The Who after Keith died, how did the Who job come about?

I had just started a new band and was just about to sign a record deal when I got a call from Bill Curbishley the Who’s manager. He told me that they had had a meeting and they wanted me to join the band as the new drummer and they wouldn’t consider anyone else. I initially said no I can’t as I had just signed a new band and we are about to sign a record deal, but I would think about it. Later that day I went to get a haircut and when I left the salon I was stopped by a gypsy lady selling heather. I tried to avoid her but she was persistent. When I looked into her eyes I saw Moony’s eyes staring back at me. She was saying take it, I threw her a pile of change and ran away. It was so freaky. I called Bill up and said I would join.

13. The Small Faces catalogue has finally been done justice by Rob Caiger with the simply stunning boxset, when did the project start and how long has it taken to produce?

We have been gathering all the lost tapes for over 3 years and Rob has been working tirelessly to produce.

14. There are some fascinating moments of you working in the studio on the boxset how did it feel to listen to those moments again?

I got very emotional and lots of memories came flooding back. I could also smell the studio and feel every moment we spent in there. To hear Steve and Ronnie at their best was quite poignant.

15. As a big fan having collected all the original albums and singles listening to this boxset you really get to appreciate just how prolific the Small Faces were in such a short period of time, was that down to living together at Westmorland Terrace, the live shows or the recording sessions?

Most of the above but we had a magical telepathy between us. You can hear some of that on the studio outtakes on the box set.

16. How do you feel about the bands incredible popularity still almost fifty years after you first began?

I am completely blown away. The older, original fans seem to have passed down their passion and legacy on to their children. Lots of the Brit pop in the 90’s was influenced by the Small Faces and it has just been a slow steady growth of followers.

17. Considering you have played with three of the biggest British rock groups which band is your favourite and why?

Obviously the Small Faces as it was the most creative and the most fun. It was all new and we were breaking new ground. I loved my time with the Who as it was the most exciting by the sheer nature of their songs. The Faces were just one big riotous party!

18. What is your favourite Small Faces song and album and why?

My favourite song is Afterglow. My favourite album is Ogdens as it is so diverse and we were doing something that had never been done before.

19. We are honoured to have you perform at Modstock for our British legends show. What surprises have you got up your sleeve for the fans and who will be joining you on stage?

You will have to wait and see. My friend Jim Stapley is joining me on vocals along with Mollie Marriott who has an amazing set of pipes.


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drrobert

I run The New Untouchables organization and events like the Brighton Mod Weekender, Le Beat Bespoké Festival (and compilation series of the same name) and I co-organize Euro Ye Ye with the Trouble & Tea crew. I have run many clubs over the last 20 years in London, where I live and current nights include Timebox, Zoo Zoo, Crossfire, 100 Club and Mousetrap allnighter which has just celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2011. I have been lucky to DJ all over the globe including Japan, Canada, USA and Europe and met some great people on my journey. I run RnB Records to offset my vinyl addiction: newuntouchables.com/rnbrecords for rare vintage vinyl.

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March 27, 2014 By : Category : Bands Events Front Page Interviews Music News Tags:, , , , , , , ,
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The History of Northern Soul by Ady Croasdell

The Crossfire oldies allnighter in London on Easter bank holiday Sunday (20th of April 2014) promises to be something else with a stellar DJ line-up taking you on a musical journey through iconic Northern Soul venues like the Twisted Wheel, The Torch, Wigan Casino, Stafford and The 100 Club.

On our recent DJ adventure to the Mojo Workin’ weekend in Spain I managed to grab a chat with Kent Records and 6TS promoter and DJ Ady Croasdell for his personal account on ‘The History of Northern Soul’.

I first went to a rare soul all nighter in early 1969. It was in a solitary disused railway station about half a mile from the hamlet of Kelmarsh in north Northamptonshire, 5 miles from my home town of Market Harborough. I knew the big soul acts of the day whose records had made it to the UK – Otis, Wilson Picket, Carla Thomas, Temps, 4 Tops, Supremes, Fontella Bass, Brenton Wood Etta James – but the records I was hearing at the nighter were by the Esquires, Tony Clarke, Homer Banks and the American Poets who I had never heard of. The small function room soon filled up with 100 skinheads most of whom were dancing in groups or solo, so being on my own I felt comfortable to get up and move to the music. The crowd seemed intense but friendly despite my hair being longer than all the other blokes combined.

I told my mod/skin mates in Harboro about it and soon there was a crew of us going over, getting the pills down our necks while dancing to this alternate type of soul which we referred to as Old Soul. Who knew Tamla singer Kim Weston had recorded an uptempo soul mastepiece in ‘Helpless’ or the Velvelettes had cut one called ‘These Things Will Keep Me Loving You’? We made friends and recognised some of the other attendees as characters from Kettering, Corby and Wellingborough whom we’d normally avoid but here in this secret meeting place it was all cool and we had a shared love of the music and the speed.

It turned out there were outcrops of similarly minded youths around the country in Leeds, Wakefield, Manchester and Derby. Even handier for an impoverished student like me a bloke called Dave Godin wrote about it in the Blues & Soul magazine; complete with playlists and tips and recommendations of places to go to hear these secretive sounds. Eventually Dave would dub the scene Northern Soul in his Blues & Soul column and the name would stick.

The clubs were keenly watched by the dedicated drugs squads of the local police. Northants was supposedly one of the most serious in the country and they were getting pissed off at the number of chemists that were getting broken into around the county.

The raids they conducted eventually closed Kelmarsh and I mentioned it to Harboro’s local dance promoters who ran the Frollickin´ Kneecap nightclub. They started to then run all nighters at our town centre venue, renaming it the Lantern for those dances and making it a dedicated members club to get around the restrictive licensing laws. The scene was so small yet dedicated that there would usually be only one or two nighters on in the country at any time and when the Twisted Wheel in Manchester was finally raided early one Saturday night, the blocked up youths made the 100 mile drive down to Harboro to dance their blues away; in all senses of the word. The Wheel had been the total brand leader and the epitome of cool, style and sounds and its demise was a major blow to young go-getters across the country. Like the Lantern, a handful of other nighters would then spring up and be closed down as the drug taking soared and the squads simply clamped down.

The next venue to become the undisputed Mecca for the nighter goers was the Torch in Tunstall, Stoke On Trent. It was bigger than the traditional 100-300 clubs that had previously been host to the scene but the 6-800 capacity old music-hall, complete with balconies and theatre boxes, was ideal for the rapidly expanding clientele. Also it was dark as hell, dripping with atmosphere and sweat and the DJs were moving away from the classic mid to up tempo Chicago and Tamla beat to seriously stomping sounds that could keep pace with the drinamyl-induced pumping hearts of the mainly teenage audience. DJs, collectors and record sellers were finding more and more ways of getting their hands on the vast number of mid 60s soul releases that had not reached our shores before. Johnny Sayles, The Younghearts, Mamie Galore, The Fuller Brothers and the Cooperettes seemed to be even more glamorous soul names, none of which had ever got close to an English release.

The Torch lasted for little over a year but had accelerated the scene’s growth and demand so that when the next big all nighter started in 1973 it was more than big, it was massive.

Wigan Casino was a similar ancient music hall / dance emporium but about four times the size and more of a complex than a venue; you could house a small town in its many rooms. Early attendances were adequate but the place was far from full and in fact seemed a bit too big for purpose when I went to one of the early nighters. A few months later on my next visit it was rammed to the rafters, using the Torch´s blueprint of non-stop stompers its reputation had spread across the country and youths across the whole breadth of Britain, disaffected with both the teeny bopper and pompous undergound of the UK’s pop scene had become die-hard soul fans overnight. It was admittedly a certain style of soul starting at 85 mph and going up to 140 in extreme cases, sometimes the soul quotient was forgotten about. What the hell, there were thousands of stunning sounds out there in good ole black America just waiting for jaw-grinding scruffy UK youths to hop on an aeroplane and rescue them for their own personal kudos and wealth and for the edification of 2,000 kids moving as one, hand-clapping in just the right places. The scene was so big it could accommodate other big all nighters at places like Cleethorpes and Yate near Bristol as well as the big and influential evening events at the Blackpool Mecca and elsewhere. The Northern Soul weekend experience was so intense it would incorporate big Sunday all dayers so that reprobates need never see their parents between Friday morning and Monday tea.

It continued as a big noise throughout most of the 70s but the alternate punk, jazz funk and disco scenes creamed off many attendees and offered alternatives for potential new recruits: the scene was becoming jaded. In London in 1979 the mod revival was underway and a small club called the 6TS Rhythm ‘n’ Blues Society was showing those style converts what the original mod soul music was about.

After 18 months of moving around the capital, the 6TS ended up at the 100 Club slap bang in the middle of Oxford Street where it still runs in that distinguished basement club today. In a way it was back to the roots as a venue as well as musically and the classic dingy, smoke-filled, basement club was ideal for the nutters and fanatics who have slunk down those famous stairs over the last four decades. Musically though it started out as classic club soul with a dash of R&B, it reverted to the more standard Northern Soul formula once the all nighters were established around 1981. There was even a period when the rare 70s soul scene made an equal contribution to the musical playlist but that was reduced drastically when the club took up the gauntlet handed down by the 60s Mafia DJs of Stafford’s Top Of The World All nighters around the mid 1980s.

DJs Keb Darge and Guy Hennigan in particular were fed up with the staleness of constantly played oldies and reckoned there were still a lot of records, hardly known by the public let alone collectors, that could turn the scene on its head. Keb had a devoted band of followers who he would give cassettes of his new finds to so they would know his playlist when it was debuted at Stafford. They would rush to the floor to dance to records that otherwise would only have had interested looks. Guy was similar and mixed up the tempos a bit more than stompy Keb. He was the prime mover in big beat ballad scheduling and records like Tommy Navarro’s ‘I Cried My Life Away’ and Romance Watson ‘Where Does That Leave Me’ became massive. Keb also DJed at the 100 Club and Leicester nighters and soon the word was spreading. I was converted by the Latin sound of Bobby Valentine and spun a few down the 100 Club as well as big beat ballads like Johnny Maestro, Kurt Harris and the Trends ‘Not Too Old To Cry’. However what really put the 100 Club on the map, and helped the newies revolution, was finding some magnificent previously unreleased 60s soul tracks from the record company vaults. Melba Moore ‘Magic Touch’, Maxine Brown ‘Torture’, Chuck Jackson ‘What’s With This Loneliness’ started it and the Pied Piper RCA finds of Kenny Carter ‘What’s That On Your finger’, Willie Kendrick ‘She’ll Be Leaving You’, Lorraine Chandler ‘You Only Live Twice’ and Sharon Scott ‘(Putting My Heart Under) Lock & Key’ took it to a new level.

With the newies scene now established the super-rare scene started driven by one of Keb and Guy’s gurus the Stoke DJ Butch who had the best rare soul collection in the world and possessed records and later acetates so rare nobody could come close to him for 20 years (ongoing). It’s the territory of “how many of these are known in the world?”; the answer is usually less than five.

Stafford closed but the 100 Club kept on and new venues like Lifeline, Rugby, Burnley, Prestwich, The Dome, and others had their deserved moments in the spotlight. The 90s saw many returnees to the scene but a lot of those were happy to dance to the tunes of their youth and the rare scene has struggled in recent years. However the 2010s has seen an influx of new young faces and they are as keen on the new as the old, so there are signs of a revival in all areas and attendances are on the up again. A great new film on Northern Soul has been made by a Bury lass who has been a 100 Club regular for twenty years and the impact of that is eagerly anticipated.

Get down early and grab a space on the huge wooden dancefloor in the main ballroom and dance all night to 8 hours of the finest Northern Soul CROSSFIRE style. Tickets here: www.229thevenue.co.uk/modstock


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drrobert

I run The New Untouchables organization and events like the Brighton Mod Weekender, Le Beat Bespoké Festival (and compilation series of the same name) and I co-organize Euro Ye Ye with the Trouble & Tea crew. I have run many clubs over the last 20 years in London, where I live and current nights include Timebox, Zoo Zoo, Crossfire, 100 Club and Mousetrap allnighter which has just celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2011. I have been lucky to DJ all over the globe including Japan, Canada, USA and Europe and met some great people on my journey. I run RnB Records to offset my vinyl addiction: newuntouchables.com/rnbrecords for rare vintage vinyl.

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April 4, 2014 By : Category : Clubs DJs Events Front Page Music News Tags:, , , , , , , , ,
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Les Cappuccino (NewBreed)

This entry is part 27 of 28 in the series NewBreed

Les Cappuccino was formed late 1995 by Tommy (guitar) and Marie (organ) in Kobe, inspired by Jimmy Smith, Booker T, Manfred Mann and J.T.Q. A year later they got a bass player Chiggy joined. Till now various drummers had been joined. They reproduce perfectly the tone of British & French pop of the 60′s. And their looks are just like slip away from Courréges catwalk, this group brings perfect “Mods” balance to the Pop scene. Considered as the most interesting group of the Mod Sixties scene in Japan. The band has been playing at lots of Japanese mod/sixties events, Mods Mayday in Osaka, Kyoto, Nagoya, and Fukuoka and March of The Mods in Tokyo since they was formed.

Band Members:
Guitar – Tommy
Organ – Marie
Bass – Chiggy
Drum – Watashiban (Support)
Percussion – SE Groove Unchant

Discography: 2002 – Album ‘Ultra Kitsch’ French FGL Production, 2005 – 7” Vinyl ‘My Generation’ UK Detour, 2009 – Compilation Album ‘Hammond Street4 ‘ Acid Jazz Label

01. How long have you been active for and how did you get together?

In the early 90s, I (Tommy) was a guitarist for a garage, surf-instrumental band, but when I first came across a record by Booker T, Jimmy Smith and J.T.Q I decided that organ-based bands were cooler. In 1995, started Les Cappuccino with organ player Marie. The bass player Chiggy joined when she saw a flyer.

02. What influences do the band members have in common?

60s films, fashion, music.

03. Are there any other bands you’d recommend from your area? Why?

The Hammond connection and The Absolute. The Absolute play soulful songs as well as Revolver sounding original songs.
The Hammond connection, their main feature is the stylish and pop sounding girl’s vocal.

04. What’s the 60’s/underground scene like where you’re from?

In the 1980s only Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya had a Mod scene, in the 1990s the rest of the main cities started to have Mod scenes. Nude Restaurant in Kobe which is famous for Northern Soul started at that time.

05. How would you describe the style you play?

Early J.T.Q mixed with France Gall, Twiggy and Pete Townshend.

06. What are your live shows like?

Hot and the coolest!

07. What are your main influences in music? Who do/would you play covers by? And who do you despise?

I’m really into 60s beat, The Beatles, The Small Faces, Manfred Mann etc. We would like to play club music with the instruments these bands used.

08. What are your main influences outside of music?

Well, for me every influence comes from 60s musicians. Manfred Mann’s beard and the glasses. John Lennon’s hat, glasses, everything.

09. Who writes your songs and what subjects do you deal with?

I (Tommy) write all songs, except when I write lyrics I ask some help from best friend Phil Hopper (former 5:30 drummer)

10. What’s your favorite song in your repertoire currently? What’s your favourite song by another artist?

We like to play “ Blow up” “Move Move Move” at gigs because they are so excited to play. From our original songs I gonna choose the songs we play “Blue Bird” “This Girl” “I Touch the Sun” “Madison Agent 005”

11. How would you describe the current underground scene? Do you participate?

In Kansai area, Nude Restaurant and Mods Mayday are famous, and in Tokyo area, there are many events from big one to small one, we often go to Tokyo to play.

12. What has been the biggest challenge to date?

After Tokyo’s (almost every month) gig we drove 600km back to home straight away. We try to be economic.

13. How often do you Rehearse? Play Live? Record? Anything interesting coming up?

Now Chiggy and our current drummer live in Tokyo and Yokohama, it is difficult to rehearse often. Instead of rehearsing, we do play at gig every month. A Japanese Mod band’s compilation album we joined will be release by Acid Jazz Label in this June or July. A tribute album of Japanese Freak Beat Band called The Private will be released on 25 Apr. Now we have got lots of original vocal songs we really want to make a record in this year.

14. What do you think of the music coverage in the media?

60s club music are not major. People love 60s music, they come to see us to experience real 60’s performance.

15. Do you rate any current mainstream or underground bands?

Hmm… The Mayflowers! I recommend our friend band “The Mayflowers” which is the quite well-known Japanese Power Pop band.

16. Who/Where would you most like to record with and why?

Acid Jazz, Detour… anyone who understands our music.

17. What should we expect from you in the future? What are your plans and ambitions? What interesting gig dates have you got coming up?

We want to play our original songs as well as Hammond cover music. Our next big gig is of course Modstock3 @ Easter (April 2014) in London! After we come back to Japan, our annual regular event, Mods Mayday in Osaka and Nagoya. More interesting gigs are coming up. Please check our Website.

Weblinks:

lescappuccino.com
facebook.com/lescappuccino
twitter.com/LesCappuccino


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drrobert

I run The New Untouchables organization and events like the Brighton Mod Weekender, Le Beat Bespoké Festival (and compilation series of the same name) and I co-organize Euro Ye Ye with the Trouble & Tea crew. I have run many clubs over the last 20 years in London, where I live and current nights include Timebox, Zoo Zoo, Crossfire, 100 Club and Mousetrap allnighter which has just celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2011. I have been lucky to DJ all over the globe including Japan, Canada, USA and Europe and met some great people on my journey. I run RnB Records to offset my vinyl addiction: newuntouchables.com/rnbrecords for rare vintage vinyl.

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April 4, 2014 By : Category : Bands Front Page Interviews Music Tags:, , ,
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The Turning (NewBreed)

This entry is part 26 of 28 in the series NewBreed

The Turning are a 4-Piece Mod/Indie based in London. Formed in March 2013, by April 4th they produce and record Magazine Street and did their first sold out gig on the 13th April in the old John Bull in Chiswick. Their first city Centre full house was at the Blastbeat UK Finals event in the 229 Club on July 7th when Josh from The Strypes joined them on stage for the last song. The Turning are heavily influenced by bands from all decades such as The Beatles,The Kinks,The Doors, The Jam, The Who, Oasis and many more. The Turning have an EP on iTunes including Debut Single “Magazine Street” and new single “Stand Clear of My Mind” and will be gigging around the UK throughout the beginning of 2014!

Band Members:
Luke McLaughlin (Vocals and Guitar)
David Bardon (Lead Guitar)
Louis Gilbert (Bass)
Ruben Kenton-Harris (Drums)

01. How long have you been active for and how did you get together?

The band has been going for about a year now… Ruben, Louis and myself (David) have been playing for about 4 years all together but we met Luke at a gig that our manager had put on and asked him to join and he was up for it so that was the start really…

02. What influences do the band members have in common?

Influences range from a lot of stuff from early blues music to modern indie style music. We’re all into 60’s R’n’B and the garage stuff but are also like T.Rex, The Jam, Arctic Monkeys, Oasis, Kasabian.

03. Are there any other bands you’d recommend from your area? Why?

Not really unfortunately!

04. What’s the 60’s/underground scene like where you’re from?

There’s not an awful lot really in West London, which is a shame as so much of the early R’n’B stuff in the 60s was going on round the corner but there’s a few people our age who are into the Beatles, Stones, Kinks etc but it’d be hard to call it a scene unfortunately!

05. How would you describe the style you play?

I’d say it’s quite like a punk band doing R’n’B and Rock ‘n’ Roll tunes!

06. What are your live shows like?

It’s normally about half half of our tunes and old Rock ‘n’ Roll/ R’n’B tunes! We like to mix the new with the old!

07. What are your main influences in music? Who do/would you play covers by? And who do you despise?

Our main influences are 60’s bands like The Beatles, The Stones, The Who etc but we like to track those bands back to their influences, so we get quite a bit of Chuck in there and lots of 50’s Rock ‘n’ Roll tunes.

It’s easy to slag off bands like One Direction and the modern pop music scene but at the end of the day, that stuff has and will always be there, what we do is a completely different thing and we don’t despise anything particularly because music is not about despising what other people do. It’s about doing your own thing and making other people enjoy that!

08. What are your main influences outside of music?

We’re all big footy fans which manages to keep conversation flowing on tour a lot of the time, generally we’re also into politics (so un-Rock ‘n’ Roll perhaps?) and stuff like that which we all find quite intriguing!

09. Who writes your songs and what subjects do you deal with?

David writes most of the tunes but Luke also chips in with riffs/ideas and works on the vocal melodies as he is the singer. I (David) don’t really focus on trying to have any particular theme to my writing but write about things/people I see and meet and try to write in a way other people can relate to, but generally there’s no underlying theme to what I try and write about.

10. What’s your favorite song in your repertoire currently? What’s your favourite song by another artist?

Well we’ve just started doing What I’d Say by Ray Charles, which is sounding really cool but maybe that’s because it’s a new one! We also do a tune of ours called ‘How to Play the Game’ which is pretty cool and really fun to play live!

11. How would you describe the current underground scene?  Do you participate?

We are all massive fans of what The New Untouchables are doing and could all say its opened our eyes (ears) to a lot of great 60’s bands and songs that we never knew existed! We’ve been to Mousetrap a few times and it’s just blown our mind, the vibe is cool and it’s great knowing there is somewhere in London that guarantees good music and great people that are all on the same wavelength!

12. What has been the biggest challenge to date?

I think the biggest challenge is the whole thing really…becoming a great live band is a really hard skill to craft but we’re just trying to do it the old school way but just writing, rehearsing and gigging and trying to create a buzz! It’s a hard job being in a band but I think we all believe if we feel we are good enough it will happen and we aint gonna stop until we are good enough!

13. How often do you Rehearse? Play Live? Record? Anything interesting coming up?

We generally try and rehearse every day for about 2 hours and just go over songs and try and make them better than they were at the last gig! We play live, on average, about twice a month but we are always flat out on the rehearsals. We hope to be recording just before our Modstock gig. We would of just done a 5 day stint in a bar in Lanzorote playing 1hr and a half a night so we should be really tight and at our best by then so hope to record the tune we mentioned above, ‘How to Play the Game’ which hopefully should be our next single!

14. What do you think of the music coverage in the media?

Well probably the wrong music gets the most coverage but I think that can change if we get a scene buzzing and we feel it is happening with bands like ‘The Strypes’ and Jake Bugg who seem to dragging people back to listening to proper music but of course it takes a few bands to make this scene work, but when it does, the media will be all over it!

15. Do you rate any current mainstream or underground bands?

The Strypes are probably the best live band in the country at the moment! I (David) saw them first at Le Beat Bespoke last year and they just blew my fucking mind, musically and as people they are just lovely lads! Temples are also great, great songwriting and a really cool neo-psych sound! Underground-wise Sisterray and Hypnotic eye are really cool, the main thing is all the good bands getting the attention they deserve.

16. Who/Where would you most like to record with and why?

Abbey Road studio 2 has gotta be the one (excuse the cliché). That room must have some crazy drug in there that no one knows about!

17. What should we expect from you in the future?  What are your plans and ambitions? What interesting gig dates have you got coming up?

Gigging is really the priority at the moment and just perfecting the live set nailed! We’re planning quite a few shows around the country in July so we should be getting to some places we haven’t been yet. I guess all our ambitions is to just make a career playing music and not have to get a proper job!

Weblinks:

theturningofficial.com
facebook.com/TheTurningOfficial
twitter.com/TurningOfficial 


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drrobert

I run The New Untouchables organization and events like the Brighton Mod Weekender, Le Beat Bespoké Festival (and compilation series of the same name) and I co-organize Euro Ye Ye with the Trouble & Tea crew. I have run many clubs over the last 20 years in London, where I live and current nights include Timebox, Zoo Zoo, Crossfire, 100 Club and Mousetrap allnighter which has just celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2011. I have been lucky to DJ all over the globe including Japan, Canada, USA and Europe and met some great people on my journey. I run RnB Records to offset my vinyl addiction: newuntouchables.com/rnbrecords for rare vintage vinyl.

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April 4, 2014 By : Category : Bands Front Page Interviews Music Tags:, , ,
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Alex Butler and the Opals (NewBreed)

This entry is part 27 of 28 in the series NewBreed

Alex Butler has always stood out from the crowd. Standing six foot six in his Cuban heels, he’s classically tall, dark and handsome. There’s his taste for sharp Sixties suits and oversized retro specs. And then there’s the unicycle. Growing up in Newcastle, Alex was torn between two careers. He could have run away to join the circus, like his acrobat grandma who taught him how to walk the tightrope. Or he could concentrate on his music. It is the circus people’s loss and our good fortune that the 20 year-old singer-songwriter chose music.

Band Members:
Alex Butler – vox and guitar
Adam Hope- vox and guitar
Alex Blamire – vox and bass
Giovanni Velez – drums

Discography: ‘Turn’ EP available on iTunes

01. How long have you been active for and how did you get together?

I was picked as Nick Grimshaw’s up and coming artist about 6 months back. I formed the Opals a short while after this. I started to get a lot of press attention, I knew I had to put together a band with a massive live energy. Our drummers Italian and the rest of us are Geordies, I think that’s a magic combination.

02. What influences do the band members have in common?

We are all massively influenced by 1960’s music, I think that’s the common thread. The addictive melodies of Motown and Stax have had a massive effect on my writing. I’ve always believed that a song has to have an irresistibly catchy chorus at the heart of it.

03. Are there any other bands you’d recommend from your area? Why?

We’ve bumped into the lads from the heartbreaks a couple of times since we moved to London, I really like what they are doing at the moment. I love the way they have a sound that’s firmly rooted in the past with a modern twist.

04. What’s the 60’s/underground scene like where you’re from?

There is a small but passionate mod crowd in Newcastle. Everyone into 60’s and rock and roll tunes hangs about at the Dog and Parrot. It’s the my favorite pub in the world it’s a place you can escape from the monotony of shit house music and chart tunes…

05. How would you describe the style you play?

Melodically driven New Wave.

06. What are your live shows like?

We believe you have to absorb yourself in the song when you are performing. If you come to see us you can expect a passionate performance.

07. What are your main influences in music? Who do/would you play covers by? And who do you despise?

Phil Spector’s ‘wall of sound’ production is the definitive 60’s sound for me… The feeling captured in his recordings has been a huge source of inspirational to me. The tunes released on Stax, Motown, Chess and Trojan have also been massively influential. We don’t generally play covers but, if we’re sitting round the house with acoustic guitars we sing a lot of Everly Brothers numbers. The majority of pop is pretty horrendous at the moment… I despise this whole house music movement. Josh Homme from ‘Queens of the Stoneage’ is a pretty tragic character as well. He wears sweat bands… enough said.

08. What are your main influences outside of music?

Outlandish 3 button suits, Cuban heel Chelsea boots and 1.5 litre bottles of Lambrini.

09. Who writes your songs and what subjects do you deal with?

I write the majority of the material, recently we have started writing together and it sounds brilliant! Having been influenced by the likes of the Kinks and the Beatles melodically, growing up in Newcastle the subject matter is somewhat different. The kinks casually observed the Waterloo sunset, I had drunken orange girls in enormous heels to inspire me.

10. What’s your favorite song in your repertoire currently? What’s your favourite song by another artist?

Our next single is a song called ‘Bye bye love’ we close our new set with it and it sounds spot on! My favourite song of all time is ‘Be my baby’ by The Ronettes, it’s just perfect in every way…

11. How would you describe the current underground scene?  Do you participate?

I feel like there has been a massive lack of exciting guitar bands in the last few years. In the last few months I’ve seen and heard a load of exciting new sounds and signs of a fresh talent emerging. I love the new wave of psychedelic bands, that’s something which has caught my attention.

12. What has been the biggest challenge to date?

We have faced a few challenging situations as a band… None quite as challenging as trying to fit all our amplifiers and guitars into the back of a Ford Galaxy Taxi one night after a heavy night on the lash.

13. How often do you Rehearse? Play Live? Record? Anything interesting coming up?

We rehearse and write a good few times a week… We have a ton of fantastic live dates coming up. We are very much looking forward to playing the Modstock event, its brilliant that the lineup includes legendary Soul artists and some of the best up and coming mod acts about…

14. What do you think of the music coverage in the media?

Having had a lull in guitar music over the past few years I think some of the music press have struggled to report anything particularly ground breaking. There seems to be a constant stream of magazines with The Smiths on every cover. NME released their top 500 songs of all time a few weeks back… When John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ is around 400 and Eminem’s ‘Stan’ is in the top 100, there has to be some questions asked!

15. Do you rate any current mainstream or underground bands?

I think Temples are absolutely brilliant…Their image and songwriting are an inspiration to all the up and coming bands influenced by 1960’s music. We’ve all grown up listening to the Arctic Monkeys so Alex Turner is always going to be a favorite of ours.

16. Who/Where would you most like to record with and why?

We’d love to record with Phil Spector but the logistics of setting up a studio in his prison cell would probably be a little bit of a nightmare.

17. What should we expect from you in the future?  What are your plans and ambitions? What interesting gig dates have you got coming up?

You can rely on us for a steady flow of irresistibly catchy tunes. We have a whole host of brilliant dates coming up across the UK, you can check them out on our website.

We are so excited about playing at Modstock3 in April 2014 (Easter), in London. We play on the Saturday afternoon (12-5pm) the 19th of April. As part of the NUTsMAG showcase in Venue 2.

Like any other young musician my ambition is to headline Glastonbury and get a few Brits for the mantelpiece. When I get a bit older I’d hope to live in a large house full of beautiful long legged models a bit like Hugh Heffner. I’ve already got the smoking jacket, I suppose that’s a start.

Weblinks:

alexbutlermusic.com
facebook.com/pages/Alex-Butler
twitter.com/butlerchat


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drrobert

I run The New Untouchables organization and events like the Brighton Mod Weekender, Le Beat Bespoké Festival (and compilation series of the same name) and I co-organize Euro Ye Ye with the Trouble & Tea crew. I have run many clubs over the last 20 years in London, where I live and current nights include Timebox, Zoo Zoo, Crossfire, 100 Club and Mousetrap allnighter which has just celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2011. I have been lucky to DJ all over the globe including Japan, Canada, USA and Europe and met some great people on my journey. I run RnB Records to offset my vinyl addiction: newuntouchables.com/rnbrecords for rare vintage vinyl.

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March 18, 2014 By : Category : Bands Front Page Interviews Music Tags:, , ,
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Rob Bailey Modstock Album Interview

I managed to catch up with Rob Bailey DJ and compiler of the ‘Le Beat Bespoke’ series about his new project Modstock-21st Century Club Classics album.

01. Can you tell us a little bit about the history of the Modstock Event to get us started?

The first Modstock was in 1994 and held in Saarbrucken, a small town on the German border. Mods from all over Europe came for 3 days of non-stop fun. The second Modstock was held in London in 2004 and was a very ambitious project that included all aspects of Mod Culture including fashion, art, music and transport. We will be showing for the first time ever footage from Modstock2 and also 1994 in our bespoke film tailored especially for this event.

02. What were the driving factors to get the LP and CD in place for the event in 2014?

I wanted the Modstock album to different from my ‘Le Beat Bespoke’ series.

At the start I wanted to do create an underground version of ‘20 Mod Club Classics’ but quickly realised all those songs had been compiled many times before and already in most people’s collections. As I started to go through my own collection I realised just how many great songs given the right exposure could be ‘21st Century Mod Club Classics’.

03. How is the CD different from the Vinyl LP?

At the start I wanted to include one recording from all the artists performing at Modstock-50 on both the vinyl and CD. Sixteen tracks (eight each side) is just about the maximum you can include without losing too much quality on the pressing. I also wanted the album to sequence like a DJ set with only small gaps so it could be played at your house party as well as your car. With the wide variety of Mod inspired music spanning over six decades this was near on impossible, especially when you factor in the time restraints. So I opted to add tracks from the band playing at ‘Modstock 50’ onto the CD with the exception of Brenda. There are some exclusive studio tracks from a couple of the bands on the CD version.

04. Where did you produce the Project?

I found a great studio called Art Space close to home in Brixton Hill where I live. We recorded some tracks directly from vinyl and others from the masters with great results. I’m very pleased with the sound and also the bespoke artwork by BazDen at Pip! Pip! It’s a great package and one that I’m proud off.

05. You are working with Dizzy and the Team at Detour Records on this one? How comes?

The first Modstock album was released on Detour Records in 1994/95 and featured two live tracks from each band recorded at the original event. For the 50th anniversary I wanted to create a different project this time focusing more on DJ selections as well as studio recordings from the live bands for the CD version.

06. Run us through some of your fave picks from The CD and the Vinyl?

It’s great to be able select from the more authentic Mod club sound spectrum as well. It also meant I had to revisit my entire collection where I found some gems that have been in my collection over twenty years that I had completely forgotten about like The Gass, Quartet Tres Bein and The St James Group. The new sounds I am very impressed with The Stone Foundation version of the Bobby Bland classic which is an exclusive for the project.

07. Are there any really rare tracks included of note?

There are some really rare tracks some things I have never seen again like UK releases from The Ranglers and The Gass. There are some tracks from masters as well as super rare records like the Undertakers.

08. Have some of the tracks been well received from the Dancefloors of various NUTs events?

I’m very happy to see tracks like ‘Love’s A Workin’ make this collection as I had been playing it in my DJ set for quite a while and it was always well received. The album is a mix that includes a couple of classics like Teddy Mack and Gentlemen June Gardner as well as current sounds and new discoveries.

09. Where can folks grab a copy and will there be any more in the series in the future?

The album will be on sale during Modstock; advance orders are available now from the Nutstore and will be posted out shortly after Modstock.


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admin

Pip! Pip! Are the Creative Business Engine behind various music based organisations of the cool underground variety. Providing angst, confusion, bewilderment and annoyance in equal amounts. We design/host/manage great sites like this one! Why not hire us one day soon?

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March 7, 2014 By : Category : Front Page Interviews Tags:, ,
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NUTsCast – Modstock 3 Special

Welcome to the NUTsCAST Episode 10 and our Modstock special with NUTsMag Review’s Editor Graham Lentz.

Over the next hour Graham will talk you through our Modstock program, playing tracks from all the artists appearing alongside some selections from our international DJ line-up. To listen to the Podcast, click the play button in the left hand corner of the Podcast Player above! Et Voila!

 Music Running Order For NUTsCast

01. The Apemen – Love Train
02. Jack Hammer – Down In the Subway
03. Secret Affair – Black Cat
04. Eyes – You’re Too Much
05. The Velvelettes – Lonely, Lonely Girl Am I
06. Brenda Holloway – When I’m Gone
07. Eddie Jefferson – Psychedelic Sally
08. Otis Lee – Hard Row To Hoe
09. The Turning – Stand Clear Of My Mind
10. The Caretakers – East Side Story
11. Tommy McCook - Goldfinger
12. Stone Foundation – To Find The Spirit
13. Impressions – You’ve Been Cheatin’
14. Les Cappuccino – Madison Agent
15. The Mergers – All I Can Do
16. Eddie Parker – I’m Gone


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Graham Lentz

Like many of his generation, The Jam started Graham's love affair with all things mod back in 1977. He is the author of 'The Influential Factor - A History Of Mod' which was originally published in 2002. An extract from the book was re-printed in Paolo Hewitt's 'The Sharper Word - revised edition' in 2011. Being a self-confessed 'broad-church' mod, Graham's interests range from Modern Jazz to today's up-coming new bands and everything in between. Although he has a passion for mod history, he also has a passion for the new. Whether it's music, clubs, media of every kind, clothing, scooters or art and photography, Graham supports, promotes and encourages as much as he can, because that's how we keep going. 'Give it a chance' is his motto. If it's not for you, that's cool, at least you tried it.

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March 7, 2014 By : Category : Front Page Music Podcasts Tags:, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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The Mergers (NewBreed)

This entry is part 21 of 28 in the series NewBreed

“Beat with a capital B”

This 4-piece band – Jerry Coma being the charismatic frontman – combines elaborate songwriting and harmonies with the energy of a deafening jumbo jet. With the equipment and the looks of the early 60’s they are brewing a highly authentic sound set on fire by its straight realisation. The Mergers perform their cleverly arranged and simply incredible songs with a frenzied power that will knock your socks off.

NutsMag met the band to find out about what makes them tick, here is what they had to say…

HQ: Nuremberg, Germany

Band Members:

Jerry Coma: Vocals & Guitar
Henry Florence Jr.:
Vocals & Bass guitar
Jay Le Saux: Vocals & Guitar
Winston McCloud: Drums

Discography: 2013 LP –  ‘Monkey See, Monkey Do’,

Tour Dates: facebook.com/themergers.band

01. How long have you been active for and how did you get together?

The band has been together for about 2 years now. We all kind of played together in other bands before so we’ve known each other for quite a while.

02. What influences do the band members have in common?

We’ve all got an interest in retro/roots music. Basically we’re big fans of the way most of the people played back then and the sound of their instruments.

03. Are there any other bands you’d recommend from your area? Why?

We can definitely recommend Smokestack Lightnin’ and The Rockin’ Lafayettes. Good friends and probably the best of very few bands in our area that play music as we like it.

04. What’s the 60’s/underground scene like where you’re from?

Well, we’re from Nuremberg, Germany. You can’t say that there is an existing 60’s scene at all. There are some people that are into northern soul and a few garage music but that’s pretty much it.

05. How would you describe the style you play?

It’s a mixture of mainly 60’s beat and Rock’n’Roll with little pinch of garage and power pop.

06. What are your live shows like?

Energetic, raw and untamed.

07. What are your main influences in music? Who do/would you play covers by? And who do you despise?

British beat music of the early/mid 60’s. Currently we play a cover by The Kaisers. Nowadays there are too many bands that deserve to be despised. It’s hard to pick out the worst.

08. What are your main influences outside of music?

As we’re all from Franconia we have to say beer.

09. Who writes your songs and what subjects do you deal with?

Jerry Coma writes most of the songs. Jay Le Saux also started writing a few. The subjects are various but mostly the plot revolves about women.

10. What’s your favorite song in your repertoire currently? What’s your favourite song by another artist?

This has to be the fastest one, so our choice is ‘All I Can Do’ – fast and furious and yet beautifully melodic. How about The Jam’s ‘Monday’? Someone dreaming about monday, that’s wicked!

11. How would you describe the current underground scene? Do you participate?

It is a pretty small scene compared to other underground scenes. But the parties, the music and the styles are just great. Participating is not always easy due to our schedule, except it’s us playing on one of those great parties.

12. What has been the biggest challenge to date?

Getting our drummer Winston (McCloud) to sleep after the after-show parties.

13. How often do you Rehearse? Play Live? Record? Anything interesting coming up?

Rehearsals are less frequent but probably much more intense compared to other bands as Jay Le Saux is currently living in Berlin. Whenever we get together we spend whole days working on new material, preparing for our shows, making photos & plans.

14. What do you think of the music coverage in the media?

Nowadays there’s almost nothing that doesn’t have any coverage. But most of the 60s stuff e.g. is not that easy to find if you’re not into it. That’s kind of a pity because there would be probably a lot more people who would be into it if they only knew about it.

15. Do you rate any current mainstream or underground bands?

The mainstream acts that we like the most are probably bands like ‘The Hives’ or ‘The Greenhornes’. Recently we played a show with ‘The New Piccadillys’. They were pretty great!

16. Who/Where would you most like to record with and why?

We’d love to record with any producer that is totally into our stuff and would be able to take our future record to another level. Unfortunately we haven’t found him yet.

17. What should we expect from you in the future? What are your plans and ambitions? What interesting gig dates have you got coming up?

Most important we continue making music for people who are interested in good songwriting and a terrific live performance. We want to spread it as much and as far as possible, England and Spain to begin with. We are so excited about playing at Modstock3 in April 2014 (Easter), in London. We play on the Sunday night the 20th of April. Modstock3 is the celebration is 50 years of Mod and we are very proud to be part of that.

Web Links:

themergers.net
facebook.com/themergers.band

Photo by: Pilar Schacher


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drrobert

I run The New Untouchables organization and events like the Brighton Mod Weekender, Le Beat Bespoké Festival (and compilation series of the same name) and I co-organize Euro Ye Ye with the Trouble & Tea crew. I have run many clubs over the last 20 years in London, where I live and current nights include Timebox, Zoo Zoo, Crossfire, 100 Club and Mousetrap allnighter which has just celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2011. I have been lucky to DJ all over the globe including Japan, Canada, USA and Europe and met some great people on my journey. I run RnB Records to offset my vinyl addiction: newuntouchables.com/rnbrecords for rare vintage vinyl.

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March 7, 2014 By : Category : Bands Beat Europe Front Page Interviews Music Tags:, , , ,
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Carlo Sesto – Hey! Mr DJ

This entry is part 20 of 20 in the series Hey! Mr DJ

Carlo Sesto is based in London, UK but originally from Pisa, Italy and describes himself as a collector and dealer at Casbah Candy Records, founder of The Impossibles Italian Mod List. He took some time out recently to talk to Dr. Robert @ Nutsmag.

1. How and when did you get into music and what were you listening to then?

I don’t recall a time when I haven’t bought records. Since a small kid I’ve been purchasing singles (mainly cartoon soundtracks), then during my teenage years I was very keen to explore and experiment any music genre (at the time we swapped tapes at school). Through listening ska revival and Quadrophenia and the Who I started getting to the whole mod thing, with northern soul (a total new and obscure thing to me) and 60s beat.

2. Where was your first DJ slot?

Can’t really remember but probably a one off 60s party in my home town. By 1996 I was running my first monthly club in Pisa called “Treacle Toffee World”, named after the Fire tune.

3. What was your most memorable DJ spot?

Of course djing at Modstock and Le Beat Bespoke is a huge thing to me coz I have been in the same ticket with many artists I love. But clubs in Venice, Up Club in Germany, the wild and crazy Ye Ye in Gijon and the legendary Mod Chicago are all great memories too.

4. What so far, has been your worst DJ experience?

Probably first Volcano night in London when speakers blown, but the real worse is when I have been asked a couple of times to dj at weddings… man… never again!

5. Your favourite scene DJ’s and why?

I love Speed and Rob Bailey, but surprisingly to some I actually like a lot Catford Chris and Lee Miller.

6. What has shaped your DJ sound and why?

I play mainly UK psychedelia and freakbeat. And I’m quite orthodox with that. Was in love dancing to it in my twenties at the time when Mousetrap was on two floors. My favourite club ever.

7. What was your best ever find/discovery?

In those ancient times pre ebay I was lucky to obtain some bargains through the Record Collector ads, specifically I remember a £15 Rebel Rousers “As I Look”. Sometimes u get lucky to buy some records before they become massive. In 2004 it was great to go through the BBC stock that Reckless had acquired with my big friend Irish Paul, who worked there, and discover a bunch of fantastic new tunes “Pretty Blue Bird”, Steve Ryder “Remember me”, Spirit of progress “Om pa pa”, Promise “Nine to five”… to mention a few….

8. Who was your biggest influence musically and your favourite artist(s)?

My favourite bands are all mod/underground british acts of mid to late 60′s. Smoke, Creation, the Eyes, the Birds, the Attack, Fleur de Lys, Rupert’s People etc

9. Do you collect specific labels/artists/genres?

I collect exclusively British pressings but various genres, mainly as said psychedelia, freakbeat and blue eyed soul, but got a nice collection of soul, Rnb and 60′s ska.

10. Where can folks currently catch your DJ set?

Next spot will be at Modstock 2014 which I’m very looking forward to…

11. What is the record you would most like to own?

Southern Sound – Just the same as you on UK Columbia

12. Please give us a top 10 all time favourites and a current top 5 spins?

Top 10 Tracks of All Time:

01. Birds Birds – Say Those Magic Words
02. Richard Kent Style – All good things
03. Creation – Tom Tom
04. Action – I’ll keep on holding on
05. Open Mind – Magic potion
06. Tintern Abbey – Vacuum Cleaner
07. Calum Bryce – Love-maker
08. Aquarian Age – 10.000 words in a cardboard box
09. Turnstyle –Riding a wave
10. Pretty Things – Midnight to six

Current Top 5 Tracks:

01. Barrier – Dawn breaks through
02. Wimple Winch – Save my soul
03. Smoke – Dreams of dream
04. Toby Twirl – Romeo and Juliet 1968
05. Enough’s Enough – Please remember

Web Links:

casbahcandy.com (under construction)
facebook.com/casbahcandy

Next Club Spots:

Modstock April 2014, London


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drrobert

I run The New Untouchables organization and events like the Brighton Mod Weekender, Le Beat Bespoké Festival (and compilation series of the same name) and I co-organize Euro Ye Ye with the Trouble & Tea crew. I have run many clubs over the last 20 years in London, where I live and current nights include Timebox, Zoo Zoo, Crossfire, 100 Club and Mousetrap allnighter which has just celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2011. I have been lucky to DJ all over the globe including Japan, Canada, USA and Europe and met some great people on my journey. I run RnB Records to offset my vinyl addiction: newuntouchables.com/rnbrecords for rare vintage vinyl.

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March 7, 2014 By : Category : DJs Europe Front Page Interviews Music Psych Scene Tags:, , ,
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Motown Spotlights – The Velvelettes

The Velvelettes were co-founded in 1963 by Bertha Barbee-McNeal and Mildred Gill Arbor, at Western Michigan University, where they were both students. Norma Barbee-Fairhurst (Bertha’s cousin), Caldin Gill Street (aka Carol), Mildred’s younger sister, and Betty Kelley (Cal’s best friend), were asked to join the group. The Velvelettes formed at WMU and performed regularly around WMU’s campus at various dances. After much preparation and rehearsing at Maybee Hall, they entered the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity talent show on campus, and they won first prize!

Berry Gordy’s nephew, Robert Bullock, was also a student at WMU at the time of their performance and first place win in the talent show. Upon seeing the show, he immediately saw merit and he encouraged them to audition for his Uncle’s company, Motown Records, in Detroit. Shortly thereafter, and after some serious persuasion, Millie’s and Cal’s parents, Rev. and Mrs. Gill, agreed the group should go to Detroit to audition for Motown Records. Rev. Gill, along with Cal and Millie’s brother, Charles, drove the group to Detroit in a snow storm. A normal 2 hour drive took almost 5 hours in the middle of winter. They successfully auditioned at Motown Records, and were eventually signed to the infamous record label, thus beginning their professional singing career. Motown’s Mrs. Esther Gordy-Edwards had very often referred to the Velvelettes as Motown’s “college girls.”

The Velvelettes recorded numerous hits at Motown’s Hitsville USA, Studio A, located at 2648 W. Grand Boulevard in Detroit, MI. That’s “where it all began!” Their recording career with Motown Records spanned almost a decade (1963-1971). The group’s most notable hits of the early 60s, ‘Needle In A Haystack’, and ‘He Was Really Sayin’ Something’, went to the Top 40 in Cash Box and Billboard international record magazines. These two songs also went on to be Number 1 in several cities and towns across America. The Velvelettes were featured on Motown tours, they worked the “chitlin circuit” (theaters mainly on the east coast) they were also featured on two Dick Clark Caravan of Stars tours in the mid 60s.

After about a year with the Velvelettes, Betty Kelley left the group to join Martha & The Vandellas, at the request of Berry Gordy and Martha Reeves. Betty was asked to fill a vacancy for one of the original Vandellas. Her first gig with the Vandellas was a European Motown Revue tour. The remaining Velvelettes kept performing, and started traveling out of the Detroit area after Cal finished high school. They performed throughout the U.S. and Canada in the mid 60s and early 70s. In the late 60s they took a well deserved break and left the business to marry and start their families.

In 1985 the original members reunited to do a show for an organization Bertha was involved with, the Concerned Black Women’s Roundtable Conference of Southwest Michigan. Since their performance for this event they have been performing together ever since! The Velvelettes have managed to juggle corporate jobs and their professional singing careers for many years, and they continue to answer to the many calls to perform throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe. In February 2009, a Velvelettes exhibit was created at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum, located in downtown Kalamazoo. The exhibit showcases the group’s career and takes you on a nostalgic journey with pictures, uniforms, music and various awards. A must see, indeed!

The Velvelettes are revered in Europe, particularly England, where they still maintain a cult like following to this day! The late Amy Winehouse amongst other luminaries was a huge fan and Bananarama had a top 5 hit in the UK with a cover of ‘Really Saying Something’ The group’s hits, ranked them among other notable “60s girl groups” that were honored at the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, OH in 2000! Today, these legendary ladies of Motown still reside in Michigan. The year, 2009, marked Motown’s 50th Anniversary! In November ‘09, the Velvelettes, along with other Motown artists, came together in Detroit to celebrate the magical, timeless sound of Motown.

This group is a true sisterhood and they are often told by fans that they are still “really sayin’ something!”

The Velvelettes next performance is at the Tamla Motown Revue at MODSTOCK (50 years of Mod) on Friday 18 April 2014 @ www.229thevenue.co.uk


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drrobert

I run The New Untouchables organization and events like the Brighton Mod Weekender, Le Beat Bespoké Festival (and compilation series of the same name) and I co-organize Euro Ye Ye with the Trouble & Tea crew. I have run many clubs over the last 20 years in London, where I live and current nights include Timebox, Zoo Zoo, Crossfire, 100 Club and Mousetrap allnighter which has just celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2011. I have been lucky to DJ all over the globe including Japan, Canada, USA and Europe and met some great people on my journey. I run RnB Records to offset my vinyl addiction: newuntouchables.com/rnbrecords for rare vintage vinyl.

More Posts - Website - Twitter - Facebook

November 25, 2013 By : Category : Articles Bands Front Page Music USA Tags:, , , , ,
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