Well that was a great weekend at the opening party of the new Belfast Underground Radio Station. I got to spin some tunes for around 25 minutes to showcase my new “Soul Party” show which will probably be starting on Friday 16 October. The show will run every 2 weeks from 6 – 8pm (U.K. Time) so it would be great if you could check in with me and if you have any comments about the show, feel free to contact us. The website is now live and will allow you to listen to previous shows – you can check it out by visiting http://www.belfastundergroundradio.tv
This update also contains information about the next dj slot for my upcoming U.S. tour and as you can see above, this one is in NYC with the legend (and all-round good guy) Mr Fine Wine at his weekly party in Manhattan that he has been hosting since 1996! I’ve dj’d with Matt before (4 years ago) at the Botanica and so I’m really looking forward to catching up with him and laying down some funky pieces of platter. Matt has also been a long-term presenter on WFMU Radio with his show “Downtown Soulville” being one of the most listened to and respected shows of it’s kind anywhere.
All this leads me nicely on to today’s update and the song I have chosen is a track by Chuck Edwards – “Downtown Soulville”. Yep, this is the title theme for Matt’s show and a great little piece of funky soul. I’m sure you’ll dig it! This will be my last update before I jet off to the U.S. and it’s probably unlikely that I will get the chance to update while I’m away, however if you’re missing my posts you can check out some of my mixes (if you haven’t already) at http://www.mixcloud.com/gazfunk and if Twitter is your thing, you can keep up to date with any goings on by following us at @GazfunkMusic where you’ll also be able to contact me when the radio show goes live.
So I’m back from Manchester and what an excellent weekend I had! Catching up with the guys from Black Bee Soul Club on Friday night after the Martha Reeves concert was good fun, with some great sounds on display by the boys – top stuff! Saturday saw my guest slot at Different Strokes in the “other room”. If you’ve never been to the club I suggest you make it a priority to visit a.s.a.p. Great music and a super-friendly crowd make this one of the best soul/funk nights in the country. I hope to make it back there some time in the not too distant future..
In case you missed it last week – I’ll be dj’ing this Saturday at the opening party for Belfast’s newest radio station – Belfast Underground Radio. Things kick off at 10am U.K. time and will be broadcast live across the internet for 12 hours (or more!) so please tune in. I’m not sure what time I’ll be on at but you’ll be able to check our twitter page for confirmation @GazfunkMusic. After the launch, my show will air every 2 weeks for 2 hours – again an exact date and time has to be agreed but I’ll update you when I know.
Finally, as you can see above, I have another guest dj slot on the horizon as part of my upcoming US Tour. I’ll be performing at the opening party for the Ponderosa Stomp Festival in New Orleans. The event is called “Hip Drop” (presumably named after the song by New Orleans legends “The Explosions”). I’m truly honoured to be invited along to play records at the launch of such a legendary music festival, in arguably the most important city in the world for black music. The Stomp this year plays host to a variety of legends including Mable John, Brenda Holloway, Betty Harris, Irma Thomas & Barbara Lynn (plus plenty of others!!). To find out more info about the festival visit http://www.ponderosastomp.com/
Well, I’ve just got a little time to bring you today’s update and since I’m playing New Orleans, it’s only right that I bring you a song from one of NOLA’s funkiest soul brothers – Danny White. Best known in U.K. circles for his monster Northern Soul tune “Cracked Up Over You”, the song I feature for you today is his 1968 release entitled “Natural Soul Brother” 2mins 20sec of White at his funkiest!
Things will be pretty busy for me over the next few weeks. First up this weekend is my little trip to Manchester as a guest of my buddy Fatshoolaces’ jamboree at Different Strokes. Following that I’ll be dj’ing at the launch party for a new radio station due to start broadcasting from Belfast on 12 September. I’ll be hosting a regular 2 hour show on Belfast Undergound Radio which will be the only online radio station in the WORLD, that will broadcast live daily… from inside a record store in a multi camera video fashion. For more info, please visit https://www.facebook.com/belfastunderground?fref=ts
As if that wasn’t enough, the following week (19 September) I’ll be embarking upon my latest tour – this time to the U.S. I’ll be kicking things off in San Francisco on Tuesday 22 September as a guest at the “Slow Jams” night held in the Make Out Room in the Mission District. I have more dates to bring you over the coming weeks but for now I’ll just focus on today’s record.
As I’ll be kicking off the tour in the Bay Area, I thought I’d bring you one of my favourite songs from that part of the world – “Foxy Girls In Oakland” by Rodger Collins.Born in Texas in 1940, Collin’s re-location to Oakland saw his musical career take off with the release of “She’s Looking Good” in 1967, a record which was to prove extremely popular on the Northern Soul scene in the U.K. (alongside “Sexy Sugar Plum”). Today’s selection is Collins in altogether more funky mode – probably unsurprising as this track was cut in 1970 at the height of funk’s popularity in the Bay Area. Enjoy!
The Gazfunk train will pulling into Manchester station for a very special guest dj slot at Different Strokes on Saturday 5 September. I’ll be there to support my buddy Fatshoolaces as part of his birthday celebrations (he says it’s his 45th but I’m not so sure….). This will be a 2 room special at the Old Nag’s Head right in the city centre – admission is 6 measly pounds and for that you get 7 hours of music from 15 of the U.K. and Ireland’s best soul & funk djs. This certainly promises to be one of THE events of the year for funk & soul aficionados so if you’re in the area or indeed nearby, please drop by & get your funk on – it’s gonna be a special one indeed. Check out the groovy flyer below and for more info please visit the Facebook event page here https://www.facebook.com/events/1474320019548644/
To that end, the track I bring you today is exactly the type of vibe I hope to be bringing on to the floor in Manchester. This one has an infectious groove with the vocalsit declaring “When I say hit it, I want you to give me the…” and various groups are name-checked including the Temptations & The Four Tops. Again , this is another one of those acts that I know very little about other than the fact that they cut 3 singles and came from Baltimore.
Before I go, I just want to let you know that I have some very exciting news that I hope to confirm with you in a few weeks time, but I’m sworn to secrecy at the moment until everything is 100% sorted. Stay tuned….
Every now and then a song comes along and just grabs you and you want to find out more info about the artist and any other releases. Today’s selection is a track that certainly fits that description courtesy of the little-known “Pat Stallings”. Upon further investigation it appears that Stallings only released one single and disappeared into obscurity (if she wasn’t obscure enough prior to this 45!)
Needless to say then, this little number has passed under the radar of all but the biggest diggers out there. Released in ’72 this is heavy-duty sister funk of the highest calibre and made me wonder why the musical adventure for Pat Stallings began and ended with this one release. I suppose we’ll never know the answer to all of life’s little mysteries, we just have to enjoy them for what they are…
With the Snap! reunion just around the corner (this Friday actually) I thought I’d dig into my crates and pull out a track that used to be a bit of a staple on the mod scene and a record that had it’s fair share of plays over the years at Snap!
Those of you who know their Motown history will undoubtedly have heard of the legendary hammond organ player Earl Van Dyke. Van Dyke was the bandleader of the legendary Funk Brothers and his organ playing was an integral part of the sound featured on such tracks as The Temptations “Run Away Child, Running Wild” and Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard It Through The Grapevine”. As well as performing the soundtrack to those monster hits, Van Dyke recorded some of his own compositions, this one being arguably his most well-known.
6 by 6 must rank as one of the funkiest pieces of music ever put out by Motown records – with the driving bongos, horn section & hammond assault whipping up a piece of dancefloor dynamite! If you can’t make it to Snap! on Friday at least you’ve got a little teaser of the groove we got going on. Enjoy!
Yes, yes y’all I’m delighted to be able to announce the return of one of Ireland’s most legendary mod clubs – Snap!. Featuring the original djs from the club, playing the best in soul, funk, psych, latin, hammond and other groovy bits and bobs. At this moment in time it’s only a one-off but who knows whether there may be more dates in the future….
With that in mind the record I have decided to feature for you this week probably best falls under the description “mod funk”. This may not be a particular genre that you are aware of – and may well only be used by a small number of people but to me it’s those instrumental records that have a mod jazz style with hammond and heavier drums and some funk elements.
Hindal Butts was a session drummer from Detroit who released a small number of singles – this one on the M-S Records label in 1967. This is the sort of vibe you can expect if you come to Snap! – so hopefully I might see a few of you there, it’s going to be a cracker!!
Before I talk about this week’s selection I want to give you a little bit of info regarding a few things I’m working on. I’ll have a couple of gigs coming up over the next month or so and when the posters/flyers are finalised I’ll be sure to advertise them here. I’m also trying to piece together some dates for an upcoming tour of the U.S. in September – if you know of any nights/venues in San Francisco, San Diego or New York please drop me a line. I’ve one or two other things that I’m working on and it will be very exciting if they come off – but I can’t reveal any details until it’s all agreed, so watch this space!
Anyway, on to today’s selection and there isn’t much to say about this record other than the fact it is a monster funk tune!! This one is highly sought after by the funk djs and has had a reissue on the Tramp label recently due to the high price for an original and the fact that it rarely comes up for sale. This is probably one of my most valuable records and something that I luckily managed to buy for substantially under the normal selling price (lucky me!!)
Unusually for me (and probably most records), the “Hey Rough Nut” A-side is the instrumental track and it’s the b-side (with singing!!) that is the one I much prefer. Also rather strangely, this has become quite popular on the Northern Soul scene – I guess it’s one of those funk records that crosses over to both scenes. This may be part of the reason for the high value – thosegoddamsoulboys!!
Our selected piece of funky wax this week comes to you via two of the most highly respected names in the funk & soul world in the 60s & 70s – Mr Clarence Reid and the one and only Swamp Dogg (a.k.a. Jerry Williams Jr). Charles Whitehead is the singer on this funky soul number offering advice to brothers out there who fear their woman has been cheating on them.
Whitehead’s story begins in 1942 way down South in Franklin, Virginia. In 1968 he made the move up North to New York to chase his dream of becoming a singer. Upon meeting Swamp Dogg, they hastily put an album together in 1970 on the Canyon label entitled “Raw Spitt” a politically aware social commentary on the challenges facing young black Americans.
The record I’ve chosen for you today didn’t feature on his debut LP as it wasn’t recorded until 1972 nor was it included on 1973’s eponymously titled follow-up album “Charlie Whitehead & The Swamp Dogg Band”. However in spite of this, you’ve still got a worthwhile piece of funky soul. You can pick up this single for around £10 so for me it’s a no-brainer! Whitehead released one final album in 1977 called “Whitehead in Yellowstone” before drifting off into obscurity. Hopefully this track will at least revive a little bit of interest in his career!
This week’s update features a man who only had a short time in the music industry but left a huge legacy during that brief time. Tragically he was to pass away at the criminally young age of 26 after a heart attack that was linked to his drug addiction.
Huey (real name James Ramey) was born in 1944 in Indiana before upping sticks and moving to Chicago at the age of nineteen. As the result of a glandular disorder, his weight ballooned to around 350 pounds which presented many health problems, but in spite of this Huey was starting to gain a reputation for himself as a stirring singer of huge promise. It was around this time that his stage name came to being – so named after a cartoon character of the same name.
The Baby Huey & The Babysitters name was born and the band put out a number of singles which received local acclaim. After a few years playing locally, Huey decided to take a different path following the popularity of psychedelic soul acts (namely Sly & The Family Stone) and went through something of an image overhaul with a huge afro and donning traditional african robes.
In 1969 a meeting with the Curtom label’s arranger, the legendary Donny Hathaway was to prove the turning point for his career. Hathaway convinced Curtis Mayfield to come along to a show to watch Baby Huey and Curtis was so impressed that he offered to sign Huey on the spot….. but not the Babysitters. Despite his reservations about the band an album entitled “The Baby Huey Story: The Living Legend” was recorded in 1970, however Huey’s addiction to heroin had ensured he put on even more weight and it was this that led to his early death a few months later.
“The Living Legend” was released posthumously and featured a number of Curtis Mayfield compositions as well as a fantastic cover version of Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” which showcased Huey’s incredible voice at it’s majestic best. Despite the album’s failure to become a commercial success at the time, many years later hip-hop stars were to plunder the album for samples and funk aficionados starting dropping tracks from the album into their dj sets. These days an original copy is worth quite a bit of money but even if you can’t afford an original, there are reissues which are very affordable and I would implore you to invest in a copy to dig the massive talent that was Baby Huey.