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Random Influences On Mixcloud

Randon Influences On Mixcloud

The complete Random Influences is now available to stream via Mixcloud. This is a series of 2 x 12 hour long podcasts I put together in 2010 to mark my 50th birthday, comprising of a full 24 hours worth of music, all 7” singles from my formative years, with only records released before I started out as a DJ in December 1975 featured. As the title suggests this is a random, rather than definitive selection.

The Mixcloud playlist is linked below, with the individual episodes embedded:
http://www.mixcloud.com/gregwilson/playlists/greg-wilson-random-influences/

Random Influences

Previous related blog post – Random Influences Phase 2:
http://www.gregwilson.co.uk/2011/02/random-influences-phase-2/

1

Oh Happy Day

It’s been a particularly hectic period for me – within the last 3 weeks I’ve been in Ibiza, and then Glastonbury, before heading over to Croatia for the Garden Festival, with a couple of further festival appearances in Holland (Down The Rabbit Hole) and Leicestershire (Noisily) slotted in for good measure. On the back of this came a special event right on my doorstep in Liverpool, at St Lukes, a once Anglican parish church originally built in the early 19th century, which, during the intensive German bombing raids on Liverpool in 1941 was hit by an incendiary device and reduced to a ruin. The burnt out shell, without a roof, has become a city center landmark, affectionately known as ‘the Bombed Out Church’, and during more recent times has been utilised as a venue for a series of arts-based events. It’s a proud symbol of the city’s defiance, but it’s currently under threat of being taken over by developers, and potentially ending up as some fancy boutique hotel, or prime location accommodation. In a world where style so often triumphs over substance, let’s hope the Crowdfunder recently launched to help enable this iconic building to remain a community / arts space, raises the necessary financial support. Find out more here: http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/Bombed-Out-Church

Liverpool club promoters, Freeze, hired the space last year for their initial event there, proceedings beginning in the afternoon with an after party taking things on deep into the night. It was a big success, and when they approached me with the idea of staging a trio of gigs in interesting locations, to be presented under the banner ‘Greg Wilson Summer Sessions’, the Bombed Out Church was the jewel in the crown.

I’d originally been booked by Freeze for Camp and Furnace in 2013. It was an odd one because I was on really early, from 9pm–11pm on a normal Saturday night – I’d wondered if there was going to be anyone in there whilst I played, but was assured it would be fine, which it turned out to be. In fact, it was more than fine – it was a great crowd, all vibed up nice and early, and eager to get their groove on.

The Summer Sessions kicked off with a top night at Williamson Tunnels in May, and we were hoping to get The Kazimir for the 3rd installment, but it’s been difficult to find a date. Instead we’re now looking to gear towards our Liverpool Super Weird Happening, planned for October – we’ll announce via social media as soon as we have confirmation.

With it being an open-air arena, there were the obvious concerns about the good old British weather – it’s always a risk with this type of thing, so it was fingers crossed for some sunshine. All was looking good until the day before when the forecast said there’d be some showers coming in from the west during the latter part of the afternoon, which was exactly what time I was due to play – the event kicking off at 2pm, whilst I was rounding things off between 6 and 8pm. Derek Kaye was also playing, along with Jim Baron of Crazy P, so there was a real disco flavour to the day.

The weather was great when I arrived – there was a bit of cloud obscuring the sun’s rays, but otherwise it was fine summers day. I’d been playing the festival in Leicestershire the previous night, so had driven back having stayed in a hotel overnight. I unfortunately missed Derek – that’s him in the photo above, which gives the DJ perspective on these incredible surroundings. Jim followed, and the good vibes flowed and the weather held – that was until about 5.30 when the skies well and truly opened. Freeze were prepared though, having bought 300 plastic rainproofs to distribute amongst the audience, almost all of whom had gallantly braved the downpour, embracing it wholeheartedly rather than letting it spoil their day.

There were a few people who were a little concerned at first, thinking it might cause some to leave, or at least look to shelter, but I knew that, rather than being something negative, this actually added to the occasion. It reminded me of an amazing day at Bestival, during my time as an ‘Invisible Player’, when the Rizla arena, set up with a raised amphitheatre type structure, with people dancing at different levels, experienced one of its most memorable days with people refusing to give up the dance as the rain soaked them (once again rainproofs were available to those who wanted them). The whole spectacle was something else, many of the people in fancy dress – it was wet plastic and umbrellas aplenty, and a whole heap of smiling bobbing humanity.

This was similar, but also held a spiritual undertone given the surroundings – there was a definite feeling of peace, harmony and love throughout the day; everyone I’ve spoken to since would testify to that. This was Liverpool at its best, and I don’t think it’s over-egging the pudding to say that this event will go down in local clubbing folklore. It was already the hottest ticket in town, having sold out last month – the promoters said they could have sold it out 3 times over. Sometimes this can put too much pressure of expectation on an event, but not on this Saturday afternoon / evening – everything worked out beyond our already sky high expectations. It was a communal experience, and the environment added a poignancy that, if not thought about, was almost certainly felt by the majority of those in attendance.

Just before I went on the rain stopped and things brightened up again (at least for a while). I couldn’t resist the opportunity to open with ‘I Can See Clearly Now’ by Johnny Nash, which added to that sense of shared experience. It wasn’t just the literal meaning of the song, but its metaphorical meaning. Liverpool is on the rise again, and there’s a fresh confidence in the city, and, better still, a fresh heart. I really believe that special things will happen here in the coming years – its cycle is now due. ‘It’s going to be a bright, bright sun-shiny day’.

However, it was my closing track that gives this post its title, my ‘one more tune’ following the finale of ‘Get Back’ by hometown band The Beatles (Bonar Bradberry’s edit).

YouTube Preview Image https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-65a-8C7k8

‘Oh Happy Day’ was one of those powerfully beautiful records of my youth (mashing up its religious reference via its release on the Buddah label), a massive hit on both sides of the Atlantic as the 60’s came to a close, reaching #2 in the UK and #4 in the US. Although it was a Gospel recording (which would win a Grammy in that category), not something you’d find in the UK chart back then (or on the US pop listings for that matter), this was during an era when Liverpudlian George Harrison would top the chart with ‘My Sweet Lord’ whilst producing The Radha Khrishna Temple, who would perform on Top Of The Pops, having scored a remarkable hit with their rendition of the ‘Hare Krishna Mantra’ – even the final single by The Beatles, ‘Let It Be’, had sounded like a hymn (as did Simon & Garfunkel’s epic ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’). It was a spiritual epoch drawing to a close and these recordings, at least to my young ears, were like prayers for the changing times. They were the new hip prayers, not the boring type you were taught to repeat, parrot fashion, at school assembly. They had power and meaning.

Given it had been recorded at a church (in Berkeley, California), the symbolic act of playing ‘Oh Happy Day’ in the Bombed Out Church held huge significance to me. I hadn’t set in stone that I was going to do it, but had decided if it felt right in the moment I’d close proceedings with it – and it certainly did feel right, as right as the rain that, as the words say ‘washed our sins away’.

As it came on I was aware that a fair percentage of those there may not be aware of the track, being 45 years since its release, and were perhaps waiting for some kind of beat to latch on to, so it was fascinating to observe how, as great music can do, it gradually moved the crowd, evoking a joyousness that was infectious – it’s like you can see the holy spirit entering people, myself included.

There’s only so much you can say by way of explanation, words are never enough when you’re trying to describe a feeling, but it’s there in the footage, thankfully captured by Tim Collins – a precious 5 or so minutes we all shared on a deeper level. So, love, love, love to all in attendance - that'll live in the memory for a long long time to come. Spiritual is the only word for it.

Oh Happy Day Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oh_Happy_Day

12

Glastonbury Trilogy 2014

Glastonbury has become so important to me during the past 2 summers. My first appearances there weren’t until 2011, at which point my key festivals were undoubtedly Bestival and the Big Chill. However, with the demise of the latter, which left Bestival temporarily unchallenged, it’s going to be strange this year not to be over on the Isle Of Wight, having played the previous 8 Bestivals. I hope this is only a gap year, as one of the phrases I’ve heard most from people who I’ve chatted to at gigs down the years is ‘I first heard you play at Bestival’ – it’s undoubtedly been my greatest recruiting ground, and the scene of some incredible memories for me, especially the Rizla Invisible Players years, and more recently in the Bollywood tent.

Although my debut year at Glastonbury was the perfect introduction, I didn’t get chance to take in the wider festival vibe, driving onto an extremely muddy site and playing on the Wow! stage, before being transported around the perimeter to Block 9 and NYC Downlow. Then it was back around the perimeter to where my car was and, with a push to help me on my way, straight off site and homeward bound. It was more a case mission accomplished and get out while the going’s good. There’s a short blog post about it, including mixes, here:
http://www.gregwilson.co.uk/2011/06/glasto-wow-downlow/

Last year was when I was really touched by the Glastonbury magic, spending a couple of nights onsite, and finding myself truly bowled over by the crowds who turned out to see me play, and the incredible atmosphere they generated, both in the Stonebridge tent and, as night turned into day, at Genosys, the Block 9 outdoor arena. It moved me to get my feelings down in a blog post, ‘Glastonbury – The Greatest Show On Earth’:
http://www.gregwilson.co.uk/2013/07/glastonbury-the-greatest-show-on-earth/

This year I found myself taking 3 gigs, all on the Friday, the first back at Stonebridge, but this time starting at 2pm in the afternoon, then it was onto the Beat Hotel for a 6pm start, and finally, once again 4 hours on, at 10pm, for my Genosys finale. There was a certain order to my itinerary amidst the essential chaos of the Glastonbury experience. No sooner had I finished one gig and broken my equipment down, then it was on to the next to set up again – the day passing by very quickly in the process. As they say, time flies when you’re having fun.

I’d like to thank everyone who turned out to hear me play – it was really special for me to receive so much support, each of the appearances a joyous gathering of party people giving it up to the groove. Recordings from all 3 are now available to stream / download on SoundCloud:


https://soundcloud.com/gregwilson/sets/glastonbury-trilogy-2014

Glastonbury has emerged as an integral part of my summer schedule, something that I hope to build upon during the coming years. It’s the festival of festivals - the only one I can think of with anything close to the aura that surrounds it is Burning Man in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada, which is perhaps the most significant omission in my list of clubs / events I’ve yet to play – hopefully this will be rectified in the next couple of years.

A special mention to Kermit, Debi, Scott, Jacky, Windy, Sharon and Dave – great to share the experience with you. Looking forward to doing it all again in 2015, and hopefully spending more time on site (I had to get away early this year as I had another festival over in Holland to get to).

Glastonbury Festival Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glastonbury_Festival

2

Bobby Womack

Bobby Womack

Another Soul legend left this mortal coil last Friday, aged 70.

Bobby Womack, who hailed from Cleveland, Ohio, started out in a 50’s Gospel group, The Womack Brothers, along with his 4 siblings, before they began producing music of a secular nature, as The Valentinos. Their most famous track, co-written by Womack, was ‘It’s All Over Now’. The Rolling Stones cover of the song, released quickly after the original, in June 1964, gave them their first UK #1.

He really hit his stride in the early 70’s as a solo artist, releasing some of his best known material - tracks including ‘That’s The Way I Feel About Cha’, ‘Woman’s Gotta Have It’, ‘Harry Hippie’ and ‘Across 110th Street’, the latter which, having originally appeared in the 1972 ‘blaxploitation’ movie of the same name, would gain a new lease of life via the 1997 Quentin Tarantino film ‘Jackie Brown’, where it was a key component of the soundtrack.

His greatest solo success was his 1981 album ‘The Poet’, which topped the US R&B chart. His final album, ‘The Bravest Man In The Universe’ was released by UK label XL in in 2012.

Bobby Womack Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bobby_Womack

1

I Wanted To Get High – I Didn’t Want To Die

Martha Fernback

I saw a story online yesterday that, given I have a teenage son myself, really struck a chord. Anne-Marie Cockburn, the mother of Oxford schoolgirl Martha Fernback, who died last summer, aged 15, having taken half a gram of MDMA powder, issued a statement following the inquest this week claiming that the criminalisation of drugs was a contributory factor in her daughter's death, and that the drug education she received in school, rather than helping her make informed decisions, only added to her vulnerability.

Part of the statement called for “a sensible dialogue for change, from prohibition to strict and responsible regulation of recreational drugs”, and suggested that “this will help safeguard our children and lead to a safer society for us all by putting doctors and pharmacists, not dealers, in control of drugs”. The reasoning behind this was that the MDMA Martha had taken was 91% pure, whereas the average purity is 58% - tragically, given its illegality, nobody knew this until after the fact. It’s a similar scenario to heroin addicts, used to low-grade street gear, who all of a sudden get access to a purer batch, miscalculate its potency, and end up overdosing.

Despite all the forlorn political efforts to promote abstinence, young people are still taking drugs in vast numbers, so if that’s the reality, you have to ask what kind of society is it that understands the dangers posed by street drugs, yet refuses to even debate options, other than abstaining, which would clearly help save lives. I know that drugs are an emotive issue, the politicians reluctant to challenge the status quo because anything but an anti-drug stance has traditionally been a vote loser, but to bury your head in the sand and refuse to address this issue from a more humane standpoint, starting from the premise that a great many young people aren’t going to stop taking drugs any time soon, seems increasingly reckless. It’s reasonable to argue that by allowing things to continue as they have been, these politicians are more or less turning their backs on the likes of Martha Fernback, letting them take their chances, when, by regulating drugs, safeguarding the purity, you could greatly negate this risk.

It’s the mark of a special person to suffer such a devastating loss, yet, rather than decrying the drugs that took her daughter's precious life, understand that this is an aspect of the world in which we live that won’t go away, and if we want to do right by our children, we must protect them first and foremost, and not just by saying ‘no you’re not going to do that’, but ‘if that’s what you are going to do, I want you to be able to do it as safely as possible’.

On the home page of the website, What Martha Did Next, a photo of the teenager, looking directly at us, is overlaid with the words:

“I lived for 5,742 days, 7 hours and 36 minutes. I died on 20th July 2013 at 2.17pm after swallowing half a gram of MDMA powder (more widely known as ecstasy). Making it illegal didn’t protect me. I wanted to get high – I didn’t want to die”.

What Martha Did Next Website:
http://www.whatmarthadidnext.org

10

Blind Arcade Meets Super Weird Substance In The Morphogenetic Field

Blind Arcade Cassette Inlay Low Res

During the last few months I’ve been particularly swamped, working hard on a project that I can happily say has now reached fruition as ‘Blind Arcade Meets Super Weird Substance In The Morphogenetic Field’ - a mixtape featuring 19 tracks, mainly recordings by Blind Arcade. It’s just been made public on SoundCloud, having been shared privately with friends and supporters over the weekend, and we’ve been so happy to see how quickly it’s being embraced in these past 24 hours. It's available here as a free download:


https://soundcloud.com/gregwilson/blind-arcade-meets-super-weird-substance-in-the-morphogenetic-field

Thanks to all who contributed to the various stages of recording – Blind Arcade’s Kermit Leveridge & EVM128, of course, studio engineer Derek Kaye, singers BB. James, Amy Wilson, Katherine Reynolds, Carmel Reynolds and Tracey Carmen, trumpeter Kevin G. Davey, saxophonist Marc Rockwood, special guest vocalists Howard Marks and MC Tunes, plus Martin Foster, Ollie Miles, Ché Wilson, Sam Heller, Alexis Billington and Asha Billington, who also leant a hand along the way. It’s wonderful what spells we can muster when our magic is combined.

It’s nothing less than remarkable that, given the depths he’d plunged to as a heroin addict, so nearly losing his life in the process, Kermit has not only made an inspired return, but managed to summon such a positive statement from his once troubled soul, spreading the love and sharing the vibes in a way that is so relevant to now - it feels like the stars are aligned and we’re dropping this mixtape at exactly the right moment.

I’ll post about the project in greater depth and detail a little later down the line. In the meantime, here’s the accompanying text:

Blind Arcade Meets Super Weird Substance In The Morphogenetic Field text (1)

Uplifting, life-affirming, and perfectly timed for the summer months - cobbled together, Heath Robinson stylee, more by serendipity than design, into a coherent whole by DJ / Producer Greg Wilson. Most of the tracks featured are by Blind Arcade, either existing demos or works in progress, but the mixtape is also peppered with half-a-dozen GW edits, lyrically laced to bubble the Super Weird stew – the constant presence, and main ingredient, being Kermit Leveridge, for it's his inspirational tale of faith and redemption that lies at the very core of this morphogenetic mixtape. Following on from the Ruthless Rap Assassins and Black Grape, we believe that this is his greatest musical odyssey, drawing from the deep wells of his own mythos and logos. There were 3 frontmen in the Rap Assassins, 2 in Black Grape, but now, for the first time, Kermit steps to the fore – no longer to be described by such a limited term as 'rapper', but as a sabre-skilled vocal chameleon, his shades and depths ranging from wise old soul to lovestruck adolescent, invoking his many I's as a cast of compelling characters, both comic book and close–up personal, whilst, in trickster tradition, keeping us on our toes, not knowing what to expect next.

Let me take you by the hand
So you know what's going on
Let me take you step by step
On a journey that won't take too long
Come let me show you
Reality is not what it seems
It's all a construct
And what you see might not be real

Kermit Leveridge – The Construct

Cometh Soon Here Now

Further info:
http://www.superweirdsubstance.com
http://www.kermitleveridge.co.uk

Artwork adapted by Dominic Mandrell:
http://www.dominicmandrell.co.uk

Mixtape Wikpedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mixtape

18

Summer Schedule 2014

The summer / festival season kicks in for me this weekend with gigs in Preston, Bath, Bristol and London. It’s going to be a full-on summer, with festival appearances a-plenty, plus European dates in Ibiza, Croatia, Holland and Portugal. Hope to see you in a club, a warehouse, in a tent, or on a boat, even down a rabbit hole or some tunnels (Liverpool a week Saturday), not to mention a bombed out church (Liverpool again, this time in July).

For regular updates and info, check my Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/DJGregWilson

1

Roger Eagle Remembered

Roger Eagle

Roger Eagle died 15 years ago today. For those who don’t know who I’m talking about, don’t bother looking for info about him on Wikipedia, for, somewhat unbelievably, he still has no entry – yet this guy should have statues in 2 cities for, suffice to say, without him, both Manchester and Liverpool’s cultural heritage would be substantially poorer. He was a musical maven that made so much happen in 60’s Manchester and 70’s Liverpool, before returning to Manchester in the 80’s. He was there, right in the midst of things, at a series of crucial moments spanning the eras of the Mods, the Hippies, the Punks and the Ravers. His legacy was finally brought into focus via the 2012 Bill Sykes book ‘Sit Down! Listen To This!’. I blogged about it here, hopefully it will help shine some light on the true gravitas of this man:
http://www.gregwilson.co.uk/2012/08/sit-down-listen-to-this/

BBC Radio 4’s half-hour documentary, ‘Roger, the Eagle Has Landed’, first broadcast on New Years Eve 2012, built upon the new interest in Eagle the book had prompted. It’s available to stream via the BBC iPlayer:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01phf7l/Roger_the_Eagle_Has_Landed/

It was my wife, Tracey, who told me, earlier today, that it was the anniversary of his death. She has recently discovered a YouTube selection of Roger Eagle compilation cassettes, so many of which he recorded during his lifetime for friends and admirers (his need to share music with people being his defining characteristic). Check them out at the Dave Owens YouTube channel, uploaded as ‘Roger Eagle’s Rockin’ Jukebox’, ‘Roger Eagle’s Crackin’ Up Jukebox’, Roger Eagle’s Jukebox Favourites’ and ‘Roger Eagle’s Reggae Jukebox’ (the numerical sequence might be a bit skewiff, as a number of the uploads have, it seems, been removed due to copyright infringement, but what remains is a sublime selection of records - hopefully the full series might be housed on a more suitable platform, like Mixcloud, at a future date). For starters, here, ‘from Roger`s collection of dub plate specials and white label vinyl rarities’ is Reggae Jukebox Vol 6 – perfect for this chilled-out British bank holiday weekend:

YouTube Preview Image http://youtu.be/jjcczJRC59Y

There’s also a wonderful tribute on the Caught By The River blog, one of its co-founders counted amongst the last of the great music mavericks, the mighty Jeff Barrett of Heavenly Records, whose personal eulogy to Eagle is featured. This went online for the 10th anniversary of his passing in 2009:
http://www.caughtbytheriver.net/remembering-roger-eagle/

Finally, thanks to John McCready, who, as I mentioned in my previous blog post, ‘Making A Fool’s Leap’, has set in motion a recent chain reaction, having turned me on to the John Higgs 2012 book ‘The KLF: Chaos, Magic And The Band Who Burned A Million Pounds’, an inspirational read that I have since loudly recommended to anyone who cares to listen. John gave me the heads up on this heartfelt homage to Roger Eagle, on having heard the news of his death in 1999, by The KLF’s Bill Drummond, whose first band, Big In Japan, were managed by the great man back in the Liverpool of the late 70’s:
http://www.dominorecordco.us/usa/features/09-09-08/brutality-religion-and-a-dance-beat-a-short-story-by-bill-drummond-/

4

Making A Fool’s Leap

Sometimes you share in an extra-special gathering that, even just a few days later, leaves you wondering ‘did that really happen?’ Such was the case with the Super Weird Substance Record Store Day event that was held at Dry Bar in Manchester last Saturday.

It did happen – a magical coming together of people in a significant space and on a significant day, where we paid our respects to the vinyl record, and how this has helped shape the lives of so many. Whilst looking back on the one hand, to those behind it the whole event was all about moving forward – onwards and upwards into our new Super Weird adventure (Kermit Leveridge & EVM128’s Blind Arcade providing our flagship project).

The Blind Arcade live dates will come later down the line, the focus of the Dry event being a poem Kermit had written that harked back to his heroin addiction, which nearly led to his mortal demise in the 90’s when, as a member of the chart-topping group Black Grape (including Shaun Ryder & Bez, formerly of the Happy Mondays), he injected himself with a dirty needle and ended up at death’s door with septicemia. As I wrote in the recent pre-event blog post, ‘Looking Back Moving On’; “the infection causing serious damage when a ball of bacteria ripped off one of his heart valves, resulting in a major operation a few years ago, which, thankfully, was successful in repairing the damage, giving him a new lease of life. Back from the brink, Kermit’s is a tale of redemption - his life now completely turned around with the birth of his daughter, Xian, just a few weeks ago.
http://www.gregwilson.co.uk/2014/04/looking-back-moving-on/

The poem, ‘Lies And Other Fools’, was narrated by Kermit’s friend, the author and former international dope smuggler, Howard Marks. It’s a powerful cathartic statement that draws a line under this grimy past, enabling Kermit to move on with the positive life-affirming approach of Blind Arcade. With artist Mal Earl onboard to illustrate the poem for a comic book version, which we hope will be published later in the year, we decided to press ‘Lies And Other Fools’ onto a one-sided 7” vinyl release for the annual Record Store Day celebrations, complete with Mal’s artwork.

The whole thing was rich with symbolism. Pressing a poem onto a single sided limited run 7” wasn’t what you might call a commercial decision – there was no money to be made out of this foolishness, in fact the opposite, there was a toll to be paid. But this was as it should be, for the whole point was to mark a moment in time, from where we can collectively celebrate what went before, whilst, at the same time, setting sail on a whole new odyssey.

The original idea was to have Howard and Kermit make a personal appearance on RSD at Piccadilly Records, one of the UK’s best-loved vinyl stockists, with Howard giving a reading. However, we were a bit late in approaching them, and they weren’t able to accommodate our plan. We thought of other record shop options in other cities, and discussed the possibilities with the record’s distributer, Prime Direct, but that just didn’t feel right given that Manchester is Kermit’s hometown.

Another plan was required, and what transpired was so much more than we ever hoped for, taking the whole idea onto a new plateau. It occurred to me that Dry Bar was literally across the road from Piccadilly Records, and that this would provide the perfect setting for an event on RSD in Manchester (or as we’d later refer to it, using the old 60’s jargon, a Happening).

Dry connects directly back to The Haçienda, for it was the owners of the hallowed Manchester club (who also owned Factory Records) who opened the bar in 1989 (its 25th anniversary just happening to fall this year). Dry was even assigned a Factory Records catalogue number, FAC201 (The Hacienda itself being FAC51). It was somewhere Kermit spent a lot of time, as I did myself in the early 1990’s when my Murdertone office, set up to look after the Ruthless Rap Assassins (of which Kermit was then a member) was located in Manchester.

So, as you see, for both Kermit and I, Dry has a deep historical context, providing a ideal space to play out our aim of re-connecting with the past – ‘Lies And Other Fools’ our ‘offering to the vinyl ancestors’.

What I didn’t realize until the actual day was that Howard has a hugely significant personal connection to Dry. During our taxi ride from the train station to venue we chatted about his previous associations with the city, and I was taken aback to hear that, after his release from US custody, following a 7 year incarceration, and the 1997 publication of his soon-to-be bestseller, ‘Mr Nice’, Howard presented his first book reading session at, you guessed it, Dry. Uncanny!

Whilst the initial plan revolved purely around presenting ‘Lies And Other Fools’ at Piccadilly via perhaps a 10 minute long personal appearance by Howard & Kermit, followed by some record signings, doing something at Dry would need to be more substantial in its scope. I’m currently in the process of setting up Super Weird Substance, a multi-media label that will release music by, and coordinate live appearances for Blind Arcade, amongst others. The name lent itself perfectly to a vinyl celebration, and RSD seemed an auspicious day on which to launch a new music company – that past / future balance once again in harmony.

The stars also seemed to be aligning. The following is taken from Michelle Karen’s Astrology Report for April 2014: “April is an eclipse month. Eclipse months are always exciting in that they bring major changes, often irrevocable. They are stepping stones into a new reality that will, within a month, completely replace the old one, leading to new tracks operational for the following 19 years. A sense of acceleration and intensity accompanies these dates on which nothing we don’t fully mean, should be said.

Record Store Day also fell during Easter, with its themes of birth, death and resurrection. Synchronicity was running riot, whichever way I looked at things.

I decided to approach Neil Scott, a Manchester DJ / promoter who has booked me for his El Diablo’s parties on numerous occasions, to see if he’d be up for getting involved and lending his expertise, which, thankfully, he was. We set on 2pm until 8pm as our timeframe, and approached Dry with the idea. Again, thankfully, they were into it too. It was all-systems go!

The event would be built around the DJ’s, all of whom are associated with what we’re doing in one way or another. As is only right on such a day, they’d be playing strictly vinyl. These were, in order of appearance Organic Gav, EVM128, Walter Ego, Derek Kaye and myself. Organic Gav would also return between Derek and I as selector to Kermit’s MC. They all would come to play their roles impeccably, the first half of the event chilled and full of good vibes, the second half bouncing and full of good vibes. We had the full yin yang going on.

Although the DJ’s underpinned the day, what enabled us to present this as a ‘Happening’ were the other things taking place in the room.

As you walked into Dry, to your left hand side the artist SLM (aka Sarah Lynn Mayhew) was painting portraits of Kermit and Howard (of which she’ll be offering up prints later down the line). Near the DJ booth Ross & Harri from Loco had come across from Leeds to muck in, projecting and manipulating moving images I’d compiled for Reels Of Steel with Tim Collins (I’m looking forward to working with Ross & Harri at the 2020 party in London, when we’ll be presenting Reels Of Steel as a full cubic visual spectacular). Moving past the DJ booth, through to the back of the room, Tim was manning a 2nd projector, whilst a listening area had been set up with Elspeth Moore, Lois Meads and Liam Atherton taking shots throughout the day of people checking out ‘Lies And Other Fools’ over headphones, played from the 7” vinyl, of course.

These were the unsung heroes and heroines of the day, not least Elspeth, Kermit’s sometimes collaborator and muse, who brought her red and white polka dot vibes into play in superfine style, constantly being in 2 places at once, be it offering you cake, badges, key rings, photos, or behind the lens of her camera, capturing the moment in her own perspicacious style.

It was a proper team effort - taking his Organic hat off, Gavin Kendrick also played a vital role in both the organization on the day and in the run-up. Scott Harcourt Whiting and James ‘Windy’ Millar provided a couple of much-needed extra pairs of hands, whilst Tracey Carmen and Nyasha Mangera-Lakew were enjoying the day, having helped during the build-up. Unable to make the event, Dan Smith and Dominic Mandrell went beyond the call of duty on the design front, whilst John McCready helped us get the word out, and provided the literary inspiration via his recommendation of the 2012 John Higgs book ‘The KLF: Chaos, Magic And The Band Who Burned A Million Pounds’ (which has since been eagerly devoured by a number of us).


When, having already acquired Kermit and Howard’s autographs, somebody came up to me on the day and asked me to sign a copy of a record he’d just picked up down the road in Vinyl Exchange, you can imagine my shock (although, given the amount of coincidences that had been stacking up it was hardly a surprise) when, rather than pulling a copy of ‘Lies And Other Fools’ from his bag, he asked me, without explanation, to put my scribe across an album sleeve I haven’t seen in 20 years, The KLF’s 1991 single, ‘Justified And Ancient’. Also (for those who’ve read the John Higgs book), Echo made a brief appearance outside of Dry at the end of the night, and we locked eyes for a few seconds before he hopped off into the Manchester night (it was Easter though, so nobody else noticed anything unusual).

There turned out to be another major point of interest at the far end of venue, Kermit’s beautiful baby girl Xian, not even a month old, who’d been brought along by mum, Amanda Moonbeam. Needless to say she caused quite a stir by her very presence.

From the laid back good time feel of the afternoon, proceedings gained pace as the evening drew in. After Kermit and OG had roused the room, Howard got up to say a few words, telling the story of his Dry connection. Just to have Howard there with us was enough – he was so gracious throughout the day, happily chatting to people and signing whatever was put in front of him – Nice by name nice by nature.

I’m blown away by the fact that Howard experienced one of the key British countercultural moments, almost half a century ago, in June 1965, when, as a young man in his late teens he attended The International Poetry Incarnation at London’s Royal Albert Hall (featuring the great Allen Ginsberg, the highlight being Adrian Mitchell’s pointed comment on the then escalating Vietnam War, ‘To Whom It May Concern’). Now, here he was, stepping into our world via his narration of a poem, and thus evoking, at least in me, the spirit of a different age – an increasingly lost age in this corporate world, but not on that Easter Saturday in Manchester. The possibilities are still there – it’s all a case of being open to them.

The day was all about connections and re-connections, spanning from the 60’s through to now, with particular emphasis on Manchester’s golden years of the 80’s. There was pure history in that room, from major players to cult figures – all around me people who hadn’t seen each other in years, even decades, were reunited under the banner of Super Weird Substance. When we asked for the blessings of the ancestors it was exactly this type of congregation we’d have hoped might gather. The fact they did feeds our belief that we’re on the right track, and that we’ve made a propitious start to our journey – the wheels having been set in motion with the type of fool's leap Alan Moore had described; “Quitting my day job and starting my life as a writer was a tremendous risk. It was a fool’s leap, a shot in the dark, but anything of any value in our lives – whether that be a career, a work of art, a relationship – will always start with such a leap. And in order to be able to make it you have to put aside the fear of failing and the desire of succeeding.

After Howard had spoken, we were treated to what for many was the highlight of the day, when Katherine & Carmel Reynolds delivered a stunning live jam, singing over the top of a handful of tracks including Derek Kaye’s edit of Rufus & Chaka Khan’s ‘Ain’t Nobody’, and my edit of an old Manchester cult-classic, T-Coy’s ‘Carino’. Katherine & Carmel will make their own vinyl debut in the month ahead, featuring on my upcoming Schooled In The Classics release, soon to be made available on 12”, whilst also doing their thing on a number of Super Weird Substance / Blind Arcade recordings. These girls are, quite simply, a vocal force of nature – I’m in awe of them, as are many others judging from the reaction at Dry where they brought the house down. What some people wouldn’t have realized is that this wasn’t a meticulously rehearsed routine, as they might have expected given the quality of the performance, but something that the twins pretty much made up as they went along. All I can say is watch this space.

As I brought proceedings to an end I suddenly had an overwhelming desire to give away all the records I’d played that day (plus a few I hadn’t) - it just happened on the spare of the moment. It would be disingenuous to paint this as some grand altruistic gesture, for, being mostly my own edits or mixes, I have duplicate copies of these records at home. However, there was something, once again, symbolic in this spontaneous action, reinforcing the intention to make an offering as we take that leap of faith.


It also felt good to pass something on to this room full of people who’d decided to come and share the day with us – to come to a party we’d, in effect, thrown for ourselves, friends and family. All were invited and new friendships are already being forged between previously disconnected groups of people who met on the day – it was that type of communal vibe, and I can’t stress how precious this is when it comes along. It really marked a moment, which is exactly what we’d hoped to do - the success of this, our first Happening, surpassing all of our expectations.

The next phase, the mixtape ‘Blind Arcade Meets Super Weird Substance In The Morphogenetic Field’, cometh soon.

Super Weird Substance:
http://www.superweirdsubstance.com

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The All-Dayer

Loft Studios

On Easter Sunday, The Date @ Loft Studios in London hosts a ‘Disco Special’ All-Dayer, commemorating it’s 2nd birthday with 8 hours of music, commencing at 4pm in the afternoon and continuing until midnight. I’ll be appearing alongside New York’s Studio 54 legend, Kenny Carpenter, plus Baleraric favourite Phil Mison, Faith’s Dave Jarvis, and residents Stuart Patterson and Tim Keenoy. All the info is here:
http://www.residentadvisor.net/event.aspx?563538

Loft Studios is one of my favourite London spaces. I made my debut there for ‘A Night with…’ in 2012, playing a marathon 8 hours, before returning last year for The Date, and a hook-up with New York luminary Danny Krivit – you can stream / download the recording here:

http://soundcloud.com/gregwilson/the-date-loft-studios-london

Growing out of the Mod scene of the 60’s, All-Nighters were synonymous with Soul music, and later Funk, the DJ’s priding themselves on playing the latest imported black music (or, in the case of the Northern Soul scene, rare US 45’s). All-Dayers were initially an offshoot of the Soul All-Nighters, the events generally held on Sundays or Bank Holiday Mondays, kicking off about 2pm in the afternoon, and going on until around midnight. What happened during the 70’s marked the development of a whole new direction for the black music scene, and the golden era for the All-Dayer can be roughly dated from the mid-70’s to the mid-80’s. Although All-Dayers largely died off following the advent of Acid House / Rave, the term was still being used by some of the events of this subsequent era – announcing that the ‘2nd Summer Of Love Starts Here’, The Sin All-Dayer at The Astoria in the center of London on May Bank Holiday 1989 featured 3 of the fabled ‘Ibiza 4’, DJ’s Nicky Holloway, Paul Oakenfold and Johnny Walker (Holloway, the events promoter, having started out during the All-Dayer dominated Jazz-Funk years):

When I was starting out myself in the mid-70’s, Blues & Soul magazine was the essential publication for black music aficionados, and their coverage of the club scene, both North and South, was second to none at the time. The first All-Dayers I saw advertised were at what seemed to me to be exotic locations back then, like The Locarno in Birmingham, Nottingham Palais, and The Ritz in Manchester; old ballrooms from a different epoch that provided the ideal environment for what was very much a dance orientated audience – who liked to find a bit of floor space and do their thing.

The drug associations with All-Nighters (speed being a staple of the Mod and the Northern Soul scenes) meant that it became increasingly difficult for promoters to find venues that were able to obtain the special licenses necessary to host such events. There weren’t so many obstacles in staging daytime gatherings, so, as far as the Jazz-Funk scene was concerned , the All-Dayer became absolutely central.

It was via All-Dayers that the South’s soon to be all-powerful Soul Mafia DJ’s, led by Chris Hill, really made their mark. Kicking off at the Top Rank Suite in Reading (commencing August 1976), they eventually had to find a new venue, due to ever-increasing crowds, and would really hit their stride with a major step up to the 4000 capacity Tiffany’s in Purley. Jazz-Funk All-Dayers would soon be popping up all over the South, with the Mafia in great demand – they’d even eventually move on to full weekend events at Caister Holiday Camp (which still continue to this day).

The general criteria for being booked to appear at this type of event was that you’d already have to have had established your credentials on the specialist scene, either by running a successful club night or presenting your own Soul show on a local radio station, for the DJ’s were, of course, expected to come complete with a fair chunk of their club crowd, the more people who followed you to these events, the greater your status – it was all about pulling power. This is what made the All-Dayers important to the overall well-being of the scene – the coming together of otherwise separate groups of people, creating a sizeable infrastructure of black music clubs, DJ’s and enthusiasts, both black and white, and thus strengthening inter-area ties as people happily travelled outside of their home environment to sample what was on offer elsewhere. A popular DJ could attract an audience from a wide radius of towns and cities to their club nights, and the All-Dayers provided the perfect recruiting ground for this purpose.

When, during the late 70’s, I looked at the impressive DJ line-ups for the Jazz-Funk All-Dayers advertised in Blues & Soul, with all the big names of the time (Colin Curtis, John Grant, Mike Shaft, Chris Hill, Robbie Vincent, Greg Edwards, Froggy etc), I could never have imagined that in just a few short years I’d be right up their on the top line of bill alongside some of them, headlining at events not only where my club nights were based (Wigan and Manchester), but in places like Sheffield, Leeds, Bradford, Birmingham, Nottingham, Derby, Burnley and Preston.

There was still a definite North / South divide at the time with DJ’s from the North and Midlands rarely appearing in the South, and vice-versa. I was always pushing to buck this trend, falling foul of Blues & Soul Northern club correspondent, Frank Elson when I brought Mafia DJ Froggy up North to play at a Wigan Pier All-Dayer in 1982 (but that’s another tale for another time). The only London DJ to play regularly on the All-Dayer scene in the North and Midlands throughout the early 80’s was Cleveland Anderson. There’s an interview with him here, which helps illuminate this period, as well as what was happening on the London scene during the mid-70’s – mid-80’s:
http://www.electrofunkroots.co.uk/cleveland-anderson/

The first Jazz-Funk All-Dayer I was booked to appear at was in March 1981 at Man Friday’s in Blackpool. Colin Curtis & John Grant, then a major force in Manchester, topped the bill, with support courtesy of Neil Neal from Derby, and Blackpool DJ tag team Pete Haigh & Frenchie.

I’d taken over the residency at Wigan Pier around 6 months earlier, including the Tuesday Jazz-Funk night, which had been built to a commendable 350+ weekly attendance by my predecessor Nicky Flavell, who’d inherited the night from DJ Kelly before him (both were on 6 month contracts, the Pier opening a year before my tenure). I was on the bill for this Blackpool All-Dayer purely because the promoter came to the Pier, was impressed by the amount of people there, and thought that if he booked me I might be able to pull a healthy percentage of them to his event. Part of the condition of my appearing was that I organized a coach to bring my crowd over – this was the norm, and later down the line I sometimes put on 3 or 4 separate coaches, from Wigan, Manchester and Huddersfield (where I played at the Stars Bar every Thursday during an eventful 6 month period commencing August 1982).

It’s funny to see that in order to give my name a bit more weight, the promoter of the Man Friday's All-Dayer concocted a completely false description - ‘Greg Wilson’s Road Show & Sound System’. Although I’d run a mobile disco back in 1975, I’d never owned something as elaborate as my own Road Show & Sound System. This was the one and only time I was billed in this way.

The most popular event in the North during the 81-84 period, when I became a regular on the All-Dayer circuit, was Clouds in Preston. The fact it was held somewhere that didn’t have a strong underground club night at the time worked in its favour, with Preston regarded as neutral ground for the crews in attendance, who came from far and wide. Towards the end of my time as a DJ, during the latter part of 1983, the baton passed to the state-of-the-art Birmingham club, The Powerhouse, with Rock City in Nottingham also absolutely essential – both clubs were active in bridging that North / South divide by booking DJ’s from both regions, including London’s Paul Murphy, Paul ‘Trouble’ Anderson and Tim Westwood.

I never got to play an All-Dayer in the South back in the day, so Sunday at Loft Studios will be something of a belated debut. I still believe the All-Dayer format could work in the modern era, outside of festival season that is. All it would take would be 3 or more club nights within the same region to agree on a suitable neutral venue, possibly off the beaten track, and organize a couple of coaches from each club – that would ensure 300+ in attendance without accounting for those who’d prefer to get there under their own stream. I’m sure that the spin-off, new friendships having been forged, would involve a fair amount of these people subsequently checking out each others club nights further cross-pollenating. It’s from these small acorns that scenes grow and thrive.

Jazz-Funk Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jazz-funk

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