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Liverpool – The Next Cycle

Liverpool 'The Pool Of Life'

Liverpool is on the cusp of something special. I firmly believe that the cogs are clicking into place and the connections are being made as we enter a new cycle in this unique city’s cultural quest.

Over recent years the Baltic Triangle has emerged as fertile ground for the city’s creative community. It puts me in mind of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, which underwent major re-generation thanks to the artistic community that brought the area alive, and, as a consequence, became absolutely central to the resuscitation of New York nightlife. The same process has seen this once abandoned area of Liverpool thrive in the contagious self-confidence that’s been a recent feature of the city’s rise. It’s a world apart from when I resided there during the mid-80’s - Liverpool was on its knees and in a spiral of depopulation. I was one of those who had to get out in order to find a way forward – these were bleak times for the city, unemployment twice the national average, with a Thatcher government happy to put the boot in at any opportunity. It was brutal, as depicted in the groundbreaking drama series ‘Boys From The Blackstuff’.

Gizza Job

Now here we are almost 3 decades on, and it’s crystal clear to anyone who spends some time in the city that things are on the up and up. The planets are aligning and Liverpool’s star is in the ascendancy - it’s time for artists to brave and bold, pushing against the same old to create a new approach that chimes with the times in which we live.

If you look at the history of popular culture in the UK you’ll see patterns of innovation in different provincial cities – periods of peaks and troughs. Places like Manchester, Bristol, Sheffield, Glasgow and Liverpool can be hives of activity at one point in time, then apparently barren artistic wastelands but a few years on as the zeitgeist moves elsewhere.

The highs can’t be maintained indefinitely, otherwise they wouldn’t be highs, everything moves in cycles. Whilst the conditions in the city need to be conducive to artistic expression, with the necessary infrastructure of venues / art spaces, the main ingredient that sets one city apart from what may be regarded as an equally innovative city, Manchester and Liverpool for example, is always down to individuals – passionate obsessives who are willing to put in the time and energy to push their vision through, often against initial resistance.

Roger Eagle Outside Eric's

Liverpool has had 2, perhaps 3 great cultural eras. The first being the Merseybeat years of the early 60’s, which spawned The Beatles and a whole host of hit paraders. The next being the scene that grew up around Eric’s, a club on Mathew Street (just near where The Beatles famously played a generation earlier, at The Cavern). Opened by Roger Eagle and Ken Testi in 1976, Eric's was the catalyst for the emergence of a new wave of bands who’d enjoy various levels of mainstream success throughout the coming years. These included Echo & The Bunnymen, The Teardrop Explodes, Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark and Dead Or Alive, concluding with the near global domination of Frankie Goes To Hollywood, whose first 3 singles all topped the UK pop chart in 1984 (this feat was previously achieved by another Liverpool band 21 years earlier in 1963 – no, not The Beatles, but Gerry & The Pacemakers). Bill Drummond, who managed both Echo & The Bunnymen and The Teardrop Explodes, would also turn up later down the line as a key player in popular culture, re-emerging as a member of The KLF.

The more debatable 3rd great cultural period would be the Cream era, beginning in 1992 when the superclub-to-be was launched at city centre nightspot Nation. This was very much in the slipstream of Manchester, and what had happened during the late 80’s at The Haçienda. Whilst it undoubtedly put Liverpool firmly on the map as a clubbing destination, and brought many legendary DJ's to the city, you can argue as to whether Cream really enhanced the overall movement in terms of innovation – this wasn't a grass roots scene, like what had happened at The Cavern and Eric's (by this criteria The Underground and Quadrant Park would be the more seminal Liverpool venues of the rave era), and many would cite Cream and Ministry Of Sound in London as the beginning of the end for what had previously been regarded as an underground movement, ushering in the age of the Superstar DJ.

Times had moved on, and with Madchester descending into Gunchester as the gangs moved in to control the increasingly lucrative drug trade in the rainy city, Liverpool, previously regarded as a dangerous place to visit, was all of a sudden a much safer option than its neighbor from up the East Lancs Road, less than 40 miles away. Cream was in the right place at the right time, and became a juggernaut that would overshadow everything else, not least G Love, who had tested the water with their nights at Nation prior to Cream moving into the venue.

Cream Logo

Although I went a few times here and there, I was never personally a big fan of Cream, although I appreciate that for many Liverpudlians this represents the greatest time of their life – horses for courses. I preferred The Undeground, which came before it, and the more intimate nights that Girls On Top were throwing during the early-mid 90’s. The initial Garlands period was also great, but it was at that point I pretty much disconnected with the club scene completely. Everything became increasingly compartmentalised in the 90’s, and I wasn’t the type of person who enjoyed hour upon hour of the same narrow style of music, which was what was generally being served up throughout that decade.

During the 80’s Liverpool wasn’t even at the races with regards to black music in comparison to cities like Manchester, Bristol, Nottingham, Sheffield and London. This, in my opinion, was due to the racist door policies that existed in the city centre, especially following the Toxteth riots of 1981. DJ’s were dissuaded from playing anything but the more commercial, chart-based black music, which was the reason that, although Liverpool was my home city, as a black music specialist I found a much more receptive audience in Manchester. Clubs like Kirklands and Quinns valiantly tried to buck this trend, but it was a losing battle.

The reason Manchester took off the way it did was a result of the coming together of black and white, on the one hand in areas like Hulme, popular with the students, but also with a large black presence, on the other in city centre clubs, most notably the mid-80’s Haçienda, creating the conditions for the rave explosion there at the end of the decade. It was the black kids, who already had their specialist dance networks, who sowed the seeds.

Arthur-Bakers-Keep-On-Truckin-cassette

I’ve written elsewhere about the time of Liverpool’s black music scene following a fertile period in the 70’s when Les Spaine was at the helm at The Timepiece, one of the UK’s leading Funk clubs, whilst Terry Lennaine hosted an influential Soul show ‘Keep On Truckin’’ on BBC Radio Merseyside. More here:
http://www.electrofunkroots.co.uk/articles/when_funk_held_sway.html

When I started out again a decade or so ago I immediately re-connected with Manchester, choosing it as the location of my comeback night. It wasn’t long before I was booked as the main guest at what I believe to be Manchester’s greatest club night since the demise of The Haçienda, and the UK’s top underground party of its era - the Electric Chair.

SESSIONS.indd

By contrast, it was harder to get a foothold in Liverpool. There was a different set of references than Manchester. Most of my early bookings were in The Magnet, a venue I really liked, but although some people were connecting with what I played, there wasn’t enough of them to push things to the next level. I’d then play Circus from time to time, but whilst I always had my eye on that upstairs room at the Masque, which I thought would have been perfect for my vibe, I remained very much a side attraction, confined to the bar area – room 3 in effect. I had some good fun in there, but it wasn’t what I was after.

Remarkably, for the 2 years between December 2010 and 2012 I never played in Liverpool at all – I’d all but given up on finding my place in the city. I finally returned for a Voodoo Nouveau Boxing Day appearance at The Shipping Forecast, which was a really good night, but the turning point can now be traced back to the following February when I was booked to play in the bar for Freeze at Camp & Furness. I’d really expected nothing from this gig, as I wrote in the blog post that followed my Bombed Out Church appearance earlier this year; “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.
http://www.gregwilson.co.uk/2014/07/oh-happy-day/

Since then things have really clicked into place for me with some spectacular dates for Freeze and Motion, culminating in a truly incredible day at The Bombed Out Church in July – a definite candidate for my gig of the year:

YouTube Preview Image https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AFXNML42qzM

I’m back in the city on October 18th, the penultimate leg of our Super Weird Happening 5 date tour of the UK, a 12 hour special at Constellations and the adjoining building The Observatory (formerly Haus) in the Baltic Triangle, which kicks off at 4pm Saturday afternoon, and runs through until 4am, taking in talks, art, a live performance from Blind Arcade, and a DJ line-up of Kermit & Organic Gav, Bernie Connor, Derek Kaye, Autocycle, Danny Fitzgerald and myself. I’ll actually be playing 2 sets, one at 8pm in the evening, the next at midnight. It’s a charity event, part of the Oxjam Takeover, which we’re hosting in conjunction with Oxjam and Freeze.

Our guest for the talks will be John Higgs, who wrote the fab book, to use a good old Liverpool term, ‘The KLF: Chaos, Magic And The Band Who Burned A Million Pounds’ – a must-read recommendation. There’s some real Liverpool history in there, deep stuff that so many people within the city are just not aware of. For example, has anyone heard of Peter O’Halligan? Remember what I said earlier about individuals inspiring a culture, well he’s one of them – everyone in Liverpool should be aware of his legacy via the Liverpool School of Language, Music, Dream and Pun, which he opened on Mathew Street in the 70’s, inspired by Carl Jung’s famous 1927 dream in which he proclaimed ‘Liverpool is the pool of life’, and where Ken Campbell serendipitously staged Robert Shea & Robert Anton Wilson’s ‘Illuminatus!’ for the first time – these and other major synchronicities abound. There’s a Facebook page here, dip in and nourish your being:
https://www.facebook.com/LSLMDP

Cosmic Trigger

These connections continue right up to this day. Coming up in November, Ken Campbell’s daughter, Daisy Eris Campbell presents ‘Cosmic Trigger’ at Camp & Furness in the Baltic Triangle, her theatrical adaptation of the Robert Anton Wilson book. Here’s what John Higgs has to say about this event: “Liverpool is a place that likes to look at things sideways, so it’s going to see things in a different way to others. When I came up earlier in the year with Daisy to do an event at the Kazimier to raise awareness of the Cosmic Trigger play, it was blindingly apparent that we were in the right place and that people here really got Robert Anton Wilson and where he was coming from. So the Cosmic Trigger play is opening here not for any practical reasons – both me and Daisy are now living in Brighton, it would be much easier to put it on there first – but because Liverpool is exactly the right place for it.
http://cosmictriggerplay.com/

bernieconnor-lrg

To conclude, I’d like to say something about Bernie Connor, who apart from spinning a few tunes, will be our host on the day for the talks. Bernie is one of those people that’s been there all along, witnessing first-hand all the cultural shifts in Liverpool since he was a teenager back in the 70’s sat in the Liverpool School of Language, Music, Dream and Pun with a cup of tea and a slice of cake, checking out a who’s who of bands in Eric’s, working behind the counter of Probe Records with Pete Burns prior to his Dead Or Alive stardom, hanging out with the Teardrop Explodes at Club Zoo. It goes on and on, right through the rave era and bang up to date. Bernie, for me, is one of the great Liverpudlians, and a somewhat fearsome music aficionado – it’s scary that one person can store so much knowledge.

Sometimes the individuals are in place, but the timing is out. I remember listening to one of the greatest radio shows I’ve ever heard circa 1998, when Bernie had been given a daytime slot on a new Liverpool station, Crash FM, with an alternative remit. It was a joy to hear someone play music you just weren’t hearing anywhere else on daytime radio. The track that has always stayed with me is the madcap delight of ‘Dog In The Piano’ by Indian Ropeman.

YouTube Preview Image http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6YLaAvXU734

Sadly, it was too good to last and no sooner had it begun than Crash was replaced by the tepid dance station Juice FM. Now that was some mighty cultural own goal for Liverpool – can you imagine what may have transpired if Bernie’s show had found its way into the city’s consciousness, which it certainly would have given a bit more time. I’ve no doubt it would have led to a greater appreciation of music in its wider scope. Take a look at these forum comments that popped up on a Google, and just imagine what could have been:
http://www.shacknet.co.uk/forums/index.php?/topic/204-the-sad-death-of-crash-fm/

It’s no surprise that Bernie’s musical mentor was the great Roger Eagle, a man who, as I’ve stated before, should have statues in both Manchester and Liverpool, given his crucial contributions to the culture of both cities. In this respect Bernie is very much the keeper of the flame, but his opportunity to share this legacy in a way which would have benefitted the city greatly was snatched from his grasp, and he had to return to the periphery, nowadays doing what he can in his own indomitable way, sharing his great love of records via his regular ‘The Sound Of Music’ podcasts:
https://soundcloud.com/bernie-connor

But no use lamenting the what might have beens, it’s all about the what can bes, and the Liverpool of the coming years promises to be an exciting place to live / visit – I’m confident to state that. It’s a city that should happily draw from its heritage, whilst remaining cautious of the nostalgia trap that has often held it back. For some people it’s enough just to be scouse, dismissing the rest as 'beauts', but for the ones pushing at the barriers the objective should be to redefine themselves as scouse citizens of the universe, shedding the insular cloak and projecting their magic outwards once again, across continents. As Ken Campbell might have said; “the impossible is only impossible if you don’t stand up and do it.

superweirdsubstancea6e-flye

Liverpool Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liverpool

7

Derren Smart

Derren Smart

Very sad to hear the news of club promoter Derren Smart’s untimely passing last weekend. Derren was someone I only got to know during recent years, initially when I appeared at his ‘A Night With…’ event, where I played for 8 hours on a memorable occasion at London’s Loft Studios in October 2012. I subsequently appeared at his Berlin equivalent ‘Eine Nacht Mit…’ at Kantine Am Berghain last December.

Having got the bug for club life working behind the bar at the classic Nottingham venue Venus, he eventually found his forte in Ibiza during the early 2000’s, programming the back room at the legendary Manumission parties. A short stint at London’s Egg followed, before a return to the white isle. However, it was in 2005, back in London at T Bar, a pivotal Shoreditch venue, where he really hit his stride programming and promoting events; becoming one of the main players on London’s club scene in the process.

More recently, ‘A Night With…’, where a single DJ played the entire night, gained acclaim as one of the capital’s essential parties, with appearances from DJ’s including François K, Sasha, Derrick Carter and Jamie Jones.

Apart from very much enjoying his company when we chatted away in his office following my Loft gig, I can’t comment on Derren personally, because I don’t confess to knowing him that well, but one thing’s for sure, he knew how to throw a party, and his presence as a key contributor to our scene will be greatly missed.

My condolences to Derren’s family and friends.

0

A Glasgow Decade – 10 Years At Melting Pot

The main constant since started deejaying again has been my regular appearances at Melting Pot in Glasgow, where I’ve returned every year since I was first booked to play there in 2004, within the first 12 months of my DJ comeback.

I was properly blown away with the full-on Disco vibes of the almost spiritual surrounds of the Riverside Céilidh Hall – a room built to dance in, feet indented in the floor. This, believe me, was an extra-special space, and Melting Pot’s attention to detail when it comes to sound is legend – the combination of the two, perfectly complimented by the music played, was something else, as anyone who went there will tell you. Those in attendance were, as is said, well up for it, and I remember being quite taken aback by the reception I received. At this point I was largely unknown, apart from with the old timers who remembered me from way back when, so to guest at such an outstanding night, at such an early point in my comeback, finding myself playing tunes for such a knowledgeable party crowd, was a never to be forgotten experience.

Unfortunately, I didn’t record this first appearance, but I did manage to capture my return in 2005. The recording has just been made available via the Melting Pot SoundCloud – you can stream / download this trip down memory lane here:


https://soundcloud.com/meltingpotglasgow/greg-wilson-melting-pot-glasgow-300405

In the decade that’s followed, my annual appearance at Melting Pot has always been a highlight of the year and I’ve built up a real kinship during that period with Mark Mackechnie, Andrew Pirie, Simon Cordiner and the rest of the crew – they’ve run one of the most consistently successful underground club nights in dance cultures recent history, so I’ve huge respect for their achievements.

Melting Pot retained its status at the cutting-edge of the UK club scene when The Riverside was sadly closed down and they switched to what’s proved to be a popular 2nd home, at The Admiral – the scene of many a great night for me and numerous other DJ’s who’ve had the pleasure to play to the Melting Pot crowd – guests have included François K, Danny Krivit, Joe Clausell, Cosmo, Mr Scruff and Joey Negro.

Super Weird Glasgow

With all this in mind, when it came to hooking up with promoters I could trust for a series of nights to present my new label, Super Weird Substance, the Melting Pot crew were a no brainer for our Scottish leg. The event takes place this Friday between 7pm and 3am at SWG3, a Super Weird Happening that includes talks, art, visuals, the Melting Pot DJ’s, a live performance from Blind Arcade and a 3 hour DJ set from yours truly. The ‘in conversation’ section features Steve Mason (formerly of the Beta Band), Blind Arcade’s Kermit Leveridge (formerly of Black Grape and the Ruthless Rap Assassins) and myself – this part of the night will be hosted in The Poetry Club at SWG3, starting at 7pm and free of charge. Our first Happening was last Saturday in Manchester, kicking off the tour in spectacular style at Gorilla, so we’re all looking forward to heading North of the border for our next port of call.

On a personal level it’s great to be able to mark a decade of DJ dates for Melting Pot by unveiling this new adventure I’ve embarked upon in a city where I’ve received such wonderful support.

My previous Glasgow appearance, a Melting Pot special last Boxing Day at The Hillhead Bookclub is also available to stream / download (in 2 parts) here:

https://soundcloud.com/meltingpotglasgow/greg-wilson-at-melting-pot-26th-december-2013-part-1

Melting Pot Website:
http://meltingpotglasgow.com

3

Joe Sample

Texan born keyboardist Joe Sample, best known as a member of the pioneering Jazz-Funk ensemble The Crusaders, died last Friday aged 75.

Sample had formed the group, originally named The Jazz Crusaders, in the late 60’s with drummer Stix Hooper, saxophonist Wilton Felder and trombonist Wayne Henderson, each of whom, like Sample, would find success both as Crusaders and in their own right. The Crusaders would be hugely influential during the 70’s and have a major crossover hit with 1979’s ‘Street Life’, co-written by Sample (with fellow Texan Will Jennings), and introducing singer Randy Crawford. He’d team up with Jennings again, writing Crawford’s biggest solo hit, ‘One Day I’ll Fly Away’ the following year.

‘Street Life’ was such a huge club tune in Britain, initially breaking out of the specialist Jazz-Funk scene before finding favour with the more mainstream club and radio DJ’s. Whilst it managed to scrape into the US top 40, it would go as high as #5 in the UK.

Sample himself would score big with the Jazz-Funk crowd here via the wonderfully titled ‘There Are Many Steps Along The Way’, a track that never bothered the chart, but was a cult-classic on dancefloors both North and South, having been picked up as an album track from 1978’s ‘Rainbow Seeker’.

Joe Sample Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_Sample

1

2020 20 Years

Greg Wilson's 2020Vision

Been meaning to flag up the 20th anniversary of 2020Vision Recordings this year. It’s quite an achievement to run a record label for any length of time in the modern climate, let alone 2 full decades, so big congratulations due to 2020 founder, DJ Ralph Lawson, whose association with Leeds clubbing institution, Back To Basics, goes back even further still, to 1991 when the night first started and he played the first tune. I blogged about the B2B anniversary a couple of years ago:
http://www.gregwilson.co.uk/2011/11/back-to-back-to-basics/

I first met Ralph just prior to my DJ return in 2003, and he was there on the night I made my comeback at the Music Is Better event at The Attic in Manchester. It was fellow B2B resident, Tristan Da Cunha, who’d made the initial contact with me, having heard an old early 80’s mix of mine at an after party following the Southport Weekender. He’d set about tracking me down as a consequence; eventually locating me in Liverpool and paying a visit with Ralph to discuss an idea they had in mind.

Ralph Lawson

Tristan (doing really well with Dungeon Meat these days) was working for 2020 at the time, and the approach he and Ralph made regarded the possibility of me compiling a series of albums documenting the music I was playing in the early 80’s. The project was subsequently abandoned when licensing costs became prohibitive, but 5 years down the line, in 2008, they asked me if I’d be up for putting together a mix of my favorite 2020 tracks from the back catalogue – the result being ‘Greg Wilson’s 2020 Vision’.

Tristan Da Cunha

It was Ralph and Tristan who were responsible for my first booking at Back To Basics, in 2004. This was a big deal at the time, and given the kudos of the night, helped bring my name to wider attention in that early period when I was still very much finding my feet. This was certainly a step up the ladder for me.

In the intervening years we’ve maintained a strong association and I’ve DJ’d at 2020 events on a regular basis – the most recent in London and Leeds earlier this year.

The label continues to make its mark, with current acts including my old mates Crazy P, who’ve enjoyed a fresh surge in their popularity during recent years. 2020 have also just released a track called ‘CTRL+ALT+DEL’ by another friend of mine, Walter Ego (featuring Obenewe): https://soundcloud.com/2020visionrecordings/walter-ego-ctrlaltdel

Walter Ego

Walter, who’s from Sheffield, has been doing some work for my own label, Super Weird Substance, providing a sublime but, as yet, unreleased version of ‘Summer Came My Way’ - a track that showcases the extraordinary talents of Merseyside vocalists The Reynolds. It’s been a huge festival anthem for me during recent months, courtesy of the Luxxury mix. This has led to plans for Walter to produce further tracks with The Reynolds as they move into the next phase of their emerging career (they also provided a whole layer of colour to the ‘Blind Arcade Meets Super Weird Substance In The Morphogenetic Field’ mixtape via their magnificent b vox).

With his finger still on the pulse, Ralph has moulded 2020 into one of the most enduring British dance labels, and is a true example of commitment to the cause. I’d like to wish him continued success in the years to come and thank him for his belief in me at a time when I was just a vague and distant name from the past.

2020Vision Logo

2020Vision Website:
http://2020recordings.com

0

Super Weird Happenings

swh3dates_orig

On 20th September, the first in a series of 5 Super Weird Happenings takes place in Manchester at Gorilla on Whitworth Street, promoted via my multi-media outlet Super Weird Substance in conjunction with El Diablo’s Social Club who’ve been running their influential club nights in the city for many a moon.

The event kicks off at 8pm, continuing for the next 8 hours and taking in music, debate, art and more, including an ‘in conversation’ section during the first 2 hours hosted by local TV and radio presenter Terry Christian, who’ll be setting the questions for poet and author Lemn Sissay, cult Manc icon and former member of Black Grape and the Ruthless Rap Assassins, Kermit Leveridge, along with myself.

One of the great, but often unsung Manchester DJ’s, Tomlin (Jam MC’s / Konspiracy) is also aboard, playing the tunes ahead of a much-anticipated live performance from Kermit’s new band, Blind Arcade. Various local artists including Sarah Lynn Mayhew, Jay Smith, Lauren Carter-Bridges and Elspeth Moore will capture the evening through their respective medium, whilst I’ll play the night out, taking my cue from the uplifting vibes of Blind Arcade and what unfolds in the building prior to their appearance.

These are our first steps on a road that we hope will lead to increasingly ambitious one-offs; eventually curating our own arena at a few festivals. The title we chose harks back to the 60’s when spontaneous arts-based events were described as ‘Happenings’ – this seemed a good fit given the free-flowing creative spirit we hope to conjure via some of the aspects of these gatherings.

For Kermit, the event is something of a homecoming – a return of the prodigal, given the well-documented descent into heroin addiction that nearly claimed his life back in the Black Grape days (his partner in the band, ex-Happy Monday Shaun Ryder, also a notorious user). This forced him to move away from the city in order to straighten himself out.

Kermit, as I’ve stated here previously, contracted septicemia as a result of injecting himself with a dirty needle, leading to his complete separation from the music world for a number of years as he gradually weaned himself off his drug dependence and prepared for a heart operation to repair damage caused by the infection, which was, thankfully, a complete success. Now, as a recent father, his life has totally turned around, and although he has the drive and energy of a man many years his junior, he also has a newfound contentment, complimented by a more measured approach to his work that belies the chaos of earlier times. Befitting of a man whose been given a 2nd chance, he’s ready and raring to go. There’s a brilliant new interview with him just gone up onto Skiddle:
http://www.skiddle.com/news/all/The-Blind-Arcade-with-Kermit-Leveridge/23432/

The ‘Blind Arcade Meets Super Weird Super Weird Substance In The Morphogenetic Field’, mixtape is available to stream / download via SoundCloud, where it’s amassed over 30,000 plays to date:

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

On stage with Kermit will be his Blind Arcade partner, EVM128, ‘Give It Away’ singer BB.JAMES, and The Reynolds who, apart from their essential contribution to the mixtape have also appeared on 2 of my own tracks, ‘World Needs Love’ and ‘Summer Came My Way’. Kermit has also recruited a vital new addition to the fold, keyboardist and deep fried vocalist, Cleve ‘The Reverend Chunky’ Freckleton, who he met when Blind Arcade appeared at Latitude Festival in July.

The Happenings in Glasgow (Sept 26th) and Bristol (Oct 3rd) will follow a similar format, with guests to be announced imminently on the Facebook Events pages linked below.

For Glasgow, we’re working in conjunction with Melting Pot, with whom I've now enjoyed a deeply valued 10 year relationship, going back to 2004 when they first booked me to play at their original venue, the Riverside Céilidh Hall. In Bristol we’ve hooked up with The Island Art Space, located in an old police station, cells and all. Ryan Keady, Dave McGinn and Dave Harvey have provided invaluable help on the ground, and this is certainly the quirkiest of the venues we’ve chosen.

Two further Happenings, in Liverpool and London, will be announced soon, to complete the tour. One things for sure – no two will be alike.

Manchester Super Weird Happening Facebook Events Page:
https://www.facebook.com/events/819646144714959

Glasgow Super Weird Happening Facebook Events Page:
https://www.facebook.com/events/527040754063892

Bristol Super Weird Happening Facebook Events Page:
https://www.facebook.com/events/605011752944713

Happening Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Happening

1

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

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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

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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

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