Besides marking the birthday of Swindon DJ Vince Mancari, (hi Vince!), May Day has long been steeped in occult mysticism, and it’s no surprise that events of major significance tend to occur on this date. In the past these have included the formation of the Bavarian Illuminati in 1776, Tony Bliar’s manipulated victory at the British polls in 1997, and the announcement of Hitler’s death in 1945. (More on the whole subject for anyone interested right here
It was no great surprise, therefore, when I came downstairs in the early hours of Monday 2nd to hear the BBC trumpeting the ‘death’ of Osama Bin Laden as announced by ‘Mr. Hope’ Barry Soetoro … opps, sorry, Barack Obama. As many will have noticed I could talk about this stuff all day (!), so I won’t digress any further, except to point you in the direction of the Hoof article by Shaun Shearer on the Black Sheep Mag site, which pretty much sums up the whole shameful farce:
Oh, and while you’re there, you could do worse than check out Andrew Kay’s excellent interview with the hip-hop legend that is Rakim!
Right, rant over, time to get on to DJ-related matters. I uploaded a couple of new items to Soundcloud at the start of the month. One was the Spring ’11 edition of Urban Anthems – a pure nostalgia trip back to better days, better times, better music. If you miss the soul, swing, hip-hop and ragga of the 90s, (plus a couple of excursions into the 80s and 00s,) you should be feeling the selection big-time. It’s available to download here:
The other was an upload of one of my very earliest Swing Shift shows, which went out on Galaxy 101 back in 1996. Authentic revivals from a stunningly good year for urban music, (that’s REAL urban music, kids.) You can relive the vibes of that one here:
The month’s first gig outing was a return to The Cherrywood Lounge on the grounds of Farnborough FC on Friday 6th. This marked another instalment of DJ Mr. Jay’s Soundsational night, this time with fellow veteran jock Matt ‘Shaggy’ Tobin on the bill. We didn’t let the odd requests for Bon Jovi and Guns N Roses distract us from what was billed as a night of soulful vibes old and new, and I found myself rinsing a few Weekender anthems to get in the mood for the Southport event, where I was headed the following day.
At midday on Saturday, I picked up Black Sheep Mag writer Andrew Kay at the train station, and we set off on the motorway trek to Minehead, Somerset. This is the new location of the legendary Southport Weekender, named after its long-standing Merseyside home. Upnorth Promotions clearly took a risk in relocating the event so far South for the first time. Theoretically, it should have marked good news for Southerners, for whom the long-ass journey up the M6 was always a bind. In truth, Somerset is a fair old whack too. We did it in exactly three hours.
After checking into our Wetherspoons pub accommodation, we headed for our first look at the site. The Butlins venue is sprawling, and the central entertainment hub certainly impressive, with each of the four music rooms enjoying more space than back at the Northern spot. As ever, I bumped into several old friends and familiar faces as we flitted between the arenas.
Frustratingly, at 9pm I had to leave the site in order to cane it back along the winding A39 towards Bath, where I was booked to DJ at The Second Bridge. The skies had opened and I JUST made it in time for my 10.30pm start. As fate would have it there had been a booking mix-up, with another DJ already installed in The Vaults, so I was posted in The Earl, the club’s feeder bar. This turned out to be a great move, as I was able to drop another set heavily influenced by the vibes of Southport – lots of soulful, funky stuff. I was back in Minehead by just after four, and able to take in the last couple of hours. Annoyingly I’d missed Grandmaster Flash, Naughty By Nature, Shortee Blitz and David Rodigan, who apparently ‘murked’ it, but I caught DJ Spinna, EZ, Trevor Nelson, Kerri Chandler, and an uplifting diverse house set from Kenny ‘Dope’ Gonzales. Here’s a couple of snippets from that:
The full Black Sheep Mag report on the event from Andrew and myself is right here:
My next outing was an excursion to Valencia to see in my birthday on Wednesday 11th. It was another dawn red-eye special courtesy of Ryanair, which involved leaving the house at 4.30am. It’s a problem – I’m no fan of Ryanair’s corporate policies, but when they’ll take you to Spain for less than £30 (assuming you know how to bypass all their rip-off ‘extras’,) what can you do? My accommodation was part of a University campus which had been booked for me by Valencia’s DJ Cosy O due to its proximity to the club. I was installed there by midday, and immediately took a walk to the nearby beach in a balmy 78 degrees.
Spanish clubbing can be a shock to the system to us Brits familiar with nights being all wrapped up by 3am. I didn’t even link with Cosy, (a Londoner who relocated to Spain around ten years ago) until way after 2, and the venue, Rumbo 144, was still in its warm-up stages by 3. We linked with a couple of fellow DJs, one from Seattle, the other from Paris, and shared anecdotes and gripes for a short while.
By 4.30, the place was packed and kicking, and I jumped on the CDJs. Cosy, myself and a third DJ then dropped a little back-to-back freestyle session to finish. It was a fun night and I was very restrained on the alcohol, with a clear(ish) head following the mere two hours sleep I managed before heading back to the airport. Arriving home in the afternoon, I was greeted by my two-year-old daughter presenting me with a card she’d made and saying ‘Happy Birthday, Daddy.’ What more could a guy ask for?
A couple of nights later, Latvian mash-up king DJ Aiva was over in the UK as part of a brief visit. Aiva looks after me when I go out to spin in his homeland. On this occasion, I was hosting him for a spot at Mirage in Aylesbury, following his set the previous night in Northern Ireland. I still get lost every time I go to Milton Keynes, but somehow managed to find the central coach station, where I picked up Aiva and his girlfriend. A while later we went on to Aylesbury. Mirage is a proper late-night spot, with punters often not reaching until 1am. It turned out lively in the last hour, as we juggled the set.
A trip to Southampton was on the cards for Saturday 14th. The session was Rude Love, a new night promoted by the South Coast’s 5Ft Heroes duo, at Bliss nightclub. Being a room two situation, (with the usual commercial fare occupying the main room), I was able to drop a full-on set of proper R&B and hip-hop, with lots of bashment and UKG, the clued-up crowd totally lapping it up. Owen of the 5Ft Heroes delivered a cracking set afterwards, including a full Bob Marley tribute. Hats off to them for making it work. After the club closed, I had one of the most surreal conversations of my life with head 5-Footer Youssef. Dude is deep. With my head suitably fucked, I took off to grab some sleep at the house of an Aunt and Uncle who live in Southampton, before returning home to the chaos of Camp Devlin on Sunday.
On Monday, Parveen, Zaina, Akilah and myself took off for five days’ holiday on a caravan park in Norfolk. It turned out to be a highly enjoyable few days away, replacing the daily drudge with ways to keep two-year-old Zaina entertained from dawn to dusk. I pretty much managed four days away from the internet, meaning my e-mail inbox was heaving with a backlog of music downloads that took a clear day to trawl through on return. If I’d left it any longer, deleting the lot and starting from scratch would have been the only option!
I uploaded the Summer ’11 edition of Urban Anthems in time for the late May holiday weekend, which is now available on my Soundcloud – http://soundcloud.com/mark-devlin/urban-anthems-summer-11-master. It’s a further nostalgic excursion into great music from better days, and in my opinion you’d have to be pretty damn fussy not to find something there to your liking. Check it out!
I rounded off the month with an excursion to Plymouth on Saturday 28th. The five-hour journey was a right old bind, not helped by the fact that it was the start of the Half Term break, leaving the roads clogged with caravans and holidaying families. After taking care of business, I headed to Union Street, where all the city’s bars and clubs are clustered together in one easily-policable location, to hang out at Fresh City. This is the South West’s leading urban music brand, and I played their night at the Candy Store a few times in the 00s. It’s now moved a few doors along to Crash Manor, where I linked with my old homie DJ Jonezy for a hang-out and a chat. DJ Snake was a rinsing a real-deal bashment selection, and it was great to see such stuff rocking a city centre club on a Saturday night.
I’d overlooked the fact that Sunday marked the Plymouth Half Marathon, which, besides waking me unfeasibly early by the loud speaker commentary penetrating my guest house room, also meant the city was a nightmare to navigate out of. Well, at least I got a lot of in-car CD listening done.
… and that was May.