MD’S TOUR DIARY, OCTOBER 2008

Anyone who’s read my book ‘Tales From The Flipside’ might recall me mentioning a dude called Damien Mendis in one of the early chapters. We went to school together in the backwaters of Oxfordshire, and since then he’s gone on to become a highly successful record producer working on both sides of the Atlantic. A quick glance under his name on www.discogs.com shows his extensive track record so far, the highlights being remixes on Foxy Brown’s ‘I’ll Be’ and Brandy’s ‘Full Moon’. Sadly, we lost touch at the end of the 80s, and apart from a brief reunion when he visited a club I was spinning at in Bristol in 1997 with his act Akin, we haven’t seen each other since.

Damien’s now back in the UK for a short while, and in the first week of October, we finally got the chance to link up in a quiet pub in Witney. Catching up on twenty years of career memories was always going to take a while, and I feel we did pretty well to get it into three and a half hours. It was fulfilling to exchange stories on what each of us has been up to since the days when we used to bring radio cassette players into school on Tuesday lunchtimes to avidly catch Gary Davies revealing the brand new Top 40 on Radio One. Really shouldn’t leave it so long next time.

Regular business for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday with ‘Just Buggin’, G’s and 300 at The Regal respectively. Saturday 4th involved my monthly trek to The Second Bridge in Bath. The venue’s just opened its trendy new feeder bar upstairs, and I took a quick look before descending to The Vaults level. All town and city centres have their hazards at 2am on a Sunday morning, and Bath is no exception. The town’s got a high student population, and their levels of responsibility and tolerance when it comes to alcohol leave a lot to be desired. While in cities like Newcastle and Glasgow you might worry about getting your windscreen aggressively smashed, in Bath, naïve, spoilt college kids out of their minds of champagne and falling into the road is more the thing to watch out for.

When it comes to hip hop towns, Abingdon, just South of Oxford, isn’t exactly up there with the likes of London, Bristol and Nottingham. I should know – I lived there for eight years. So I was intrigued when I came across an Abingdon-based MC by the name of Gillespie on Myspace, and promptly invited him in for a live radio spot on ‘Just Buggin’ on Wednesday 8th. Gillespie’s made use of the mundane way of life in his hometown as inspiration for his lyrics. As a result, his songs come across as a kind of musical version of a Mike Leigh or Ken Loach movie – gritty social realism. As well as addressing heavy issues like Britain’s gun and knife culture, however, he knows how to fool around and display a sense of humour. His resulting live freestyle made for another piece of classic radio. There’s a piece of footage from the session on my Youtube channel – www.youtube.com/markdevlintv

Once the rest of the weekend was out of the way, (ending with Que Pasa in Watford on Saturday night), Parveen and myself were free to set off on a long-awaited luxury hotel break. She’s now seven months pregnant and feeling the strain so I felt a spot of pampering was in order. Flying’s out of the equation at this late stage, so we’d booked into the Alexander Hotel in West Sussex for the Sunday, followed by the Spa Hotel in Royal Tunbridge Wells for the next night. Being the last time we’d get away before the big occasion, we made full use of the hotel’s facilities, (which notably marked my first time in a gym and swimming pool for an embarrassingly long time.) The weather held out, too. The pattern’s always the same; I get so entrenched in my work, I find it difficult to initially make the break and relax. But after a couple of days away from the computer, not to mention an incredible Destress massage, I’d have been more than happy to spend another week.

It was back to the grindstone on Wednesday. I now produce two weekly radio shows. Besides ‘Just Buggin’, I put together an hour-long revival mix called ‘The UK Throwback’ for K Sera Radio, a new black/ urban station operated by Australian Radio Networks. (Check it out at www.kseraradio.com) Only a few years ago, such an arrangement would have been nigh-on impossible; the time taken to get a DAT tape halfway round the world, even by courier, would have presented logistical and administrative nightmares. Now, in the age of FTP and upload sites, a show can be sent down under in minutes. My show airs on Sundays at 6pm Australian East Coast time, which equates to 8am on Sunday in the UK, a time when, if I’m not fast asleep, something has gone seriously wrong.

My newly-washed Case Logic CD wallet got exhumed for G’s on Thursday night. The previous week some careless twat had knocked an alcopop into it, causing sticky havoc. The only way to remedy things had been to strip the wallet of all CDs, (which had to be individually wiped down,) soak the wallet in soapy water, then dry out in the airing cupboard. (I’d overlooked the fact that the cover interiors were made of cardboard, so now the whole thing’s weirdly mis-shapen.) It’s this type of ‘accident’ that makes me so wary of adopting a laptop-based DJing approach. CDs can be replaced, but the impact of having some fool knock a drink in to your laptop just doesn’t bear thinking about. I’d also be terrified of leaving it unguarded in the booth even to go to the toilet for a few minutes. Maybe it’s just the DJ company I keep?

Although getting paid twice on the same night is never a problem for me, I can’t say I’m a great fan of playing more than one gig in a night. The racing around, combined with trying to put in a top-notch performance at both gigs, is just too hectic. The latest situation occurred on Friday 17th, anyway, with a schedule which at least looked neat and manageable on paper. First off was 300 at the massive Regal in Oxford, a night that’s turning out to be rammed every single week. My set was interspersed with a performance from an electronic one-man-band by the name of James Yuill, who looks more like an accountant than a dance music star. He sings, plays guitar and programmes live beats in a fusion of indie and electronica. Not entirely my cup of tea musically, but a fascinating performance from a name who’s seemingly poised to become big news.

On after me each week are a succession of student DJs from Oxford Brookes University, and for the third week running, the guy up next had failed to turn up with a pair of working headphones. Like the others, he’d simply assumed he could use the previous DJ’s cans, not considering the possibility that I might have to leave with them straight away. I’ve no idea how they’ve coped playing to a packed room from up on a stage when I’ve exited with the only working pair, but to honest, it’s their problem. Ensuring you’ve packed a working pair of headphones before you leave for a gig is fundamental to being a professional.

After battling my way across the Regal dancefloor, I had two hours to get to Bournemouth for a 2-4am set at Toko, right in the town’s lively club and bar hub. This marked the opening session of Sweet As Candy, a new night being operated on the club’s lower level by Bournemouth DJ Adam Bomb. For one of those inexplicable reasons that’s hard to put your finger on, the town’s venues had taken a hit on numbers, and Toko wasn’t busy. We did, however, manage to play some seriously heavy tunes to a few appreciative heads. Toko’s DJ booth was unlit, and the only way I could read my CDs was to constantly flash my mobile phone’s display light on them. I eventually realised that every time I’d been doing this, I’d been inadvertently entering the phone’s internet mode. It’s going to be an expensive bill next month. It was 6.30am by the time I eventually fell into bed. Twelve hours later, I was back on the road for the latest instalment of Vivente at Que Pasa in Watford, finishing at the blessedly ‘early’ time of 1am.

300 at The Regal on Friday 24th marked the appearance of The Scratch Perverts, and I had the job of hyping up the crowd before their performance. An extended job, as it turned out, with them arriving 30 minutes late. As is the standard DJ etiquette, I started to point out to Prime Cuts where the booth monitor control was on to the Pioneer DJM909 mixer. ‘It’s OK, I know,’ he said. ‘We designed it’. Oops. The Perverts went on to captivate the crowd with an energetic three-man, four-deck, two-CD, two DJ-mixer set, which was far more into electronica territory than anything resembling hip hop. I’ve posted a piece of footage on www.youtube.com/markdevlintv, where you can see just how rammed to the rafters this night was.

The only other thing to say about the weekend was that the extra hour of sleep after The Bridge owing to the clocks going back was very much appreciated!

I’ve visited a handful of European cities in a single day, and Madrid became the latest on Tuesday 28th. I headed out at the crack of dawn, arriving home after a very scary snow-bound return at 9pm. The occasion was a quick meeting with the European Vibe club promotions crew, who handle the city’s most successful urban music parties. It’s run by English ex-pat Scott Edwards, and we discussed some potential new contributions to their magazine, along with a couple of Spanish gigs in ’09. Sadly, it pissed down all day, the strong winds blowing my umbrella inside out several times, but being my first time in the Spanish capital, the elements had to be braved in order to take in some of the sights. My beloved Apple iBook is finally back from repair and the day marked the first time I’d been able to use it to pass the time on a flight for several weeks. Editing an audio mix on headphones sure beats crosswords.

The last excursion of the month saw another double-header, starting off with The Regal. Being Halloween, the queue of freakishly-dressed punters was already stretching round the block when I arrived at 10pm, and there was barely room to move on the spacious dancefloor. The 300 night is nothing if not diverse. A week after The Scratch Perverts, I was given the job of introducing an extremely camp snake charmer act complete with lesbian sex simulation, and a 12-foot python. You know, as you do.

Straight after finishing, I set off for Swindon to guest alongside Dale Colsell, aka DJ Cybernetic, at the launch of his new monthly Cybernetic Soul night at Rehab, (formerly The Studio.) This promised to be highly musically satisfying, having been marketed as a night of real music for people who feel music. As anticipated the night had drawn a quality mature crowd, and between us we dropped a very broad selection of 80s grooves, soul, funk, disco, old school hip-hop and neo-soul. This was exactly the sort of gig I’d choose to go and hang out at on a night off – and there’s not many I can say that about. The only thing that marred an otherwise perfect session was the club’s sound system, which had been set to eardrum-splitting decibel levels. My ears were still ringing the following morning. I recently read the account of Way Out West’s Jody Wisternoff concerning the acute case of tinitus he picked up from playing a gig with mind-melting decibel levels. It’s certainly a cause for concern.

… and that was October.

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A NEW BATCH OF CLASSIC VINTAGE AUDIO TO DOWNLOAD!

CLASSIC AUDIO – A NEW BATCH OF GEMS FROM THE ARCHIVES!

Yes, people, it’s classic audio time again, with a handful of new cassette and minidisc rips from deep in the vaults. The last batch got such a good reaction, that it’s only right we now make it a regular part of the website.

Here’s what we’ve mined this month:

MILLENNIUM NIGHT 1999/ 2000, APOCALYPSE, CARDIFF

Another chance to catch the classic New Year’s Eve jam from Apocalypse in Cardiff as the 20th century turned into the 21st. Kid Fury entertains on the mic, while Mark Devlin spins the monster tunes of ‘99, (and occasionally slurs, evidently drunkenly, on the mic.) Check the reference to ‘we made it – the world didn’t end’. Remember all those doomsday prophesies? Kinda an appropriate venue name in the circumstances.
http://www.sendspace.com/file/75ztfm

MD’S BIRTHDAY JAM, 2000

A recording from the days when I used to stage Birthday club gigs, (really can’t be arsed any more!) This is a highly memorable one from May 2000 at Colours club in Oxford. First off, The Chocolate Boys dig deep in the crates, with Tony ‘Naked’ Nanton spinning UK garage, weekender anthems and new jack swing, while Danny ‘MSD’ Whittaker puts in some wicked mic work. (Classic quote from Tony – ‘this one’s for people who don’t wear tracksuits to social gatherings.’) Then it’s the turn of Stretch Taylor, ending the night with an imaginative selection of revivals. Wonderful times. Now, THIS is the way to celebrate a birthday!
http://www.sendspace.com/file/v7dbpc

BLAZING FREESTYLE SESSION, RUBBER SOUL, CAMBRIDGE, 2000

I remember cutting short a mini tour of Germany and turning down a gig in Berlin in order to get back for this session of Rubber Soul, an incredible hip hop session that used to run at The Junction in Cambridge. Listening back to this, I have no regrets about my decision. This night was ON FIRE! Three MCs, the mighty Lethal, Kid Fury, and Master G of The Starlight Crew spit with a vengeance on the mic, while Stretch Taylor and myself juggle rhythms, and straight blaze with some reggae dancehall and hip hop killers. This was one of the livest club nights I’ve ever had the good fortune to be involved with, and the amazing atmosphere really comes across on this. This was cleaned up for radio play a while ago – check the reverse-swear-word edit on Akafella’s ‘Put It In My Mouth’ at the end – it’s nothing short of pant-p*ssingly hilarious!
http://www.sendspace.com/file/quvai9

MD AT STADT PALAIS, MONCHENGLADBACH, GERMANY, 2000

I played regularly in Germany around this time, and this gig happened in Feb 2000 at the big Stadt Palais venue. As I blaze through the joints, an unidentified MC, (forgot the dude’s name – but he’s hot!) handles the mic, before Germany’s DJ Sake steps up on deck duty.
http://www.sendspace.com/file/dobymz

MD & KID FURY RAGGA SEQUENCE, JOINTS & JAMS, 2000

A fondly remembered section of the ‘Joints & Jams’ show that Mark Devlin and Kid Fury used to present on Oxygen 107.9 was the ragga sequence. Here, Fury adopted the persona of his old Jamaican uncle (‘or ‘huncle’ if you say it in a Ja. Accent,) to pass comment on the latest reggae dancehall offerings, while Selektah Devlin spun the riddims. This one’s a classic example of the sort of fooling around that used to go on.
http://www.sendspace.com/file/4spf1j

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MD’S HOT JOINTS, OCTOBER 2008

The ten that are blowing up the radio airwaves and/ or rocking dancefloors this month.

DAS EFX: CAN U FEEL IT (White)
The return of one of the hottest and most distinctive two-man crews of the 90s is an event in itself. The fact that this bases itself on the Fat Boys 80s classic of the same name only adds to its authentic good-time feel.

Q-TIP: GETTING’ UP (Universal Motown)
In a perfect world all hip hop jams would have the sublime bounce and flow of this latest offering from the Tribe refugee, proving he’s lost none of his touch for lacing a wicked rhyme. The world’s far from perfect, of course, which is why we don’t. So in the meantime, this is one to be absorbed with full hip-hop relish.

NATALIA Featuring KALIBA MOTES: PERFECT DAY (Upper 11)
This type of bright and breezy street soul bouncer, arriving just too late to be a perfect Summer jam, doesn’t seem to get made much any more at the expense of tunes with tricky beat patterns and dumb filtered vocals. This one keeps it all simple, and is highly appealing as a result.

JOLEON D’AVENUE: CAFE CLOUD 9 (Unique Mood)
Although a bit of a mouthful, JD’s is a name worth remembering. Dubbed ‘the British Barry White’, this East London muso fuses hip hop, soul, jazz and funk to uplifting and inspiring effect throughout his ‘Mellow Defiance’ album, this being the standout uptempo cut. Real music for people who feel music!

BRYN CHRISTOPHER: SMILIN’ (Mafia & Fluxy Remix) (Polydor)
Bryn’s looking like a dude that’s about to enjoy some mainstream success, and his sound, like that of Natty and Roachford before him, isn’t strictly ‘urban’. Nevertheless, this tune belongs on these pages thanks to the lively, skanking reggae-style workout provided by scene veterans Mafia & Fluxy, melding with Bryn’s abrasive vocals to highly striking effect.

GTA: THE WAY (GTA)
Forget London, Bristol and Birmingham. It makes me proud that my city of birth is shining so bright for heavy music in the form of GTA frontman Chima Anya and sidekick Ineffible. Empowering lyrics delivered over a driving beat with wailing backing vocals from Jada Pearl. This one’s got the whole package. OX represents!

BUSY SIGNAL: TIC TOC (VPD)
Has anyone else noticed that genuine club-rocking reggae dancehall joints are about as rare as mother-in-law jokes these days? Here’s one that ticks (no pun intended) all the right boxes, however, riding on a riddim that would have sounded at home during the genre’s glory days of the late 90s. This one’s club-ready.

PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS: THE WIZ (Om Records)
While lyrical themes in mainstream hip hop still seem restricted to the same tired old cliches – flossing, b*tches, packing heat, gold rims, instructions on how to perform retarded little line dances, etc – the underground scene is still showing itself capable of being more imaginative, this one standing as a cool, chilled-out ode to the attractions of being in Australia. It’s all set to a mellow head-nodding groove that could make you swear for a minute that you’re relaxing with a cocktail on Bondi.

MR LIVE: AT THE CROSSROADS (White)
Underground enthusiasts might recall this Fort Greene, Brooklyn resident as one half of the duo Mr. Live and Tony Bones, (‘Placebo’, ‘Splashing Over Monica.’) His remains one of the most distinctive voices in the game, and it resonates to full effect here over a sick, twisted beat that J Dilla would have been proud of.

ESTELLE Featuring SEAN PAUL: COME OVER (Homeschool)
Refusing to be easily pigeon-holed, Estelle slips dextrously into mid-tempo reggae territory on this bright and soulful excursion that – because it’s her – should get felt in all the right places.

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THE UK THROWBACK ON K-SERA RADIO, AUSTRALIA


Watch out for a weekly show entitled The UK Throwback, on the new Australian radio station www.kseraradio.com

The station is part of the Australia Radio Networks organisation, and is the country’s first dealing exclusively with black and urban music. The UK Throwback airs every Sunday at 6pm Australian East Coast time, (which equates to Sunday 8am in the UK, and 9am in central Europe.)

Each show features an hour’s mix put together by Mark Devlin, consisting entirely of classic hip hop, R&B and reggae dancehall revivals, from the early 90s to the early 2000s. The station’s other internationally syndicated shows are Clinton Sparks’ ‘Smashtime Radio’ and DJ Power’s ‘Outta Control.’

The station is now streaming live at www.kseraradio.com.

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MD’S TOUR DIARY, SEPTEMBER 2008


I put in a fair few motorway miles during the course of my job, and by the start of September this had really started to take its toll. The turbo converter on my BMW 320 had given up the ghost, and this, along with a related secondary fault, resulted in the need for an entire new engine. In a month where my Apple iBook, our household boiler, and – less importantly but just as annoying – our video remote control had all packed up, it was, quite frankly, something I could have done without. Owing to a mis-diagnosis on their part, however, I did manage to persuade my BMW garage to install an engine worth around £8K for a little over an eighth of the price which, in the circumstances, was a result. Happily, I’m now back cruising happily on the road, but on Monday 1st, Mrs. D’s VW Golf had to step in to save the day.

Mondays have long been saved from being a complete write-off in clubland by the ever-reliable student market. Que Pasa in Watford runs a promotion every Monday night which, impressively, still draws a strong student crowd even outside of college term time. My first session there was reasonably enjoyable, and free of tedious DJ booth comments. Instead, the most entertaining conversation of the night went along the lines of:

Girl: Can you play some Lionel Richie?
Me: No, sorry
Girl: Why?
Me: Because I don’t carry any Lionel Richie
Girl: Why?
Me; Because it’s Lionel Richie

Friday 5th marked the second weekend of the new St. James’ Club operation in Banbury. The monsoon-like conditions outside did little to boost attendance levels, but management have now unveiled plans to book a few high-profile guest DJs to inject a bit of interest, starting with DJ Spoony on 26th September.

The following night saw me heading to Manchester for my first DJ gig there in quite a while. Everything ran smoothly once I reached the venue … getting there was another matter. Lounge 31 is situated in The Printworks, the complex where many of the city’s clubs, bars and fast food joints are centred. It’s well signposted on the main routes from the M6, and on previous visits, I’ve simply followed the signs and sailed through.

On this occasion, Mancunian Way, one of the key routes through the city, was closed without notice. I’d not had the foresight to bring a map, so I spent the best part of an hour getting absurdly lost in Manchester’s maze of streets, screaming in frustration at the never-ending stream of red lights, before finally working out where I needed to be. I was slightly late for my midnight set as a result, but from that point, everything was good. Lounge 31 is owned by the Brown Suga promotions crew who have a long history of staging key urban and student club nights in town, and the session was buzzing and enjoyable. It was 6am by the time I crawled back through my front door. Having worked 15 of the previous 18 nights, I felt a restful couple of days were well in order.

As you may have seen from elsewhere on this site, the latest instalment in my Beatmasters mix series is now here. The ten previous volumes have covered contemporary luminaries such as DJ Premier, Dr. Dre, Kanye West and Timbaland, plus an old-school offering from Marley Marl. For this one, I wanted to take it way back to pay tribute to a couple of highly-underrated producers with one of the most distinctive sounds in black music history. Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis totally dominated the scene in the 80s and early 90s, producing much of the output from Alexander O’ Neal, The SOS Band and Sounds Of Blackness, as well as just about everything Janet Jackson did from ‘Control’ onwards. The mix stands at over an hour, encompassing 42 of their tracks, but most of the work came from actually finding all the records I needed before I could get started. Almost all were on vinyl, and some have been sitting in dusty archives for many years. I’m very happy with the result, anyway, and it’s now ready to absorb via the following download link:

http://www.sendspace.com/file/koxdcb

You can also get a quick glimpse into the chaotic production process with the following short video, too:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-JyUF7Wegk

On Tuesday 9th, Parveen and myself went to see the new Guy Ritchie movie ‘Rocknrolla’. In terms of my verdict, the best thing I can do is point you in the directiion of the review I wrote for the local press, as follows:

A favourite old “Spitting Image” gag had Madonna’s unflattering effigy being asked by a reporter what her new single was like. “The old one,” she replied. And so it is with hubby Guy Ritchie’s latest excursion into London street skulduggery.
If you’ve seen ‘Lock Stock And Two Smoking Barrels’, you’ve already seen the best that ‘Rocknrolla’ has to offer. The multi-layered plot involves an old-school property villain, his gang of street enforcers, an enterprising Russian immigrant and his hard-as-nails henchmen, a junkie presumed-dead rock star, (half Pete Doherty, half Russell Brand,) and – the film’s only female character – a corrupt femme-fatale accountant, played by Thandie Newton, (the only vaguely familiar name among the cast.) The lines between good guys and villains are blurred in this confusing maze, and no one character emerges as the obvious lead player, top billing going to Gerard Butler’s Scottish beefcake street soldier.
Seemingly running short on inspiration, Ritchie has dipped back into his own archive for tricks and gimmicks. The flashbacks, slow frames and screen captions are here, while the carnivorous pigs from ‘Snatch’ have become lethal Thames crayfish in ‘Rocknrolla’, with a ‘lucky’ missing painting taking the place of the antique guns in ‘Lock Stock’. In a search for something quirky and still original, a gay subplot between two of the mob enforcers is thrown into the mix.
Although engaging in parts, ‘Rocknrolla’ exposes Ritchie as a one-trick director. The real proof of his film-making abilities would be to leave the Mockney rascals alone for once, and try something completely out of the frame.

Most of my live studio guests on ‘Just Buggin’ have come from London, or Oxford itself. So it was good to have Bristol representing on Wednesday 10th, as the MC known as Triggadon alongside his crew T Dot and Big Ceaze passed through. Eventually, anyway. During a very hectic show, I kept in phone contact with Trigg to guide him up to Oxford, after he inadvertently missed his turn off the M4 and went sailing off towards Reading. They just made it in time for midnight, which still allowed for half an hour of exclusives and blazing freestyles. As I now do with all my radio guests, I took some video footage of the sessions, and it’s available to view now in my Myspace Videos, or alternatively at www.youtube.com/markdevlintv

The rest of the weekend involved gigs I now play regularly – G’s in Bicester on Thursday, St. James’ in Banbury on Friday and The Second Bridge in Bath on Saturday. It gets difficult to think of new things to say about these, so instead, I’ll recount another couple of favourite dumb DJ request scenarios. Banbury saw me being asked to ‘play some Michael Jackson’. I obliged by dropping ‘Rock With You’. Two minutes into the song, the woman who’d asked came back to the box to exclaim, ‘When are you going to play my Michael Jackson?’ I asked her who she thought she was listening to and she shrugged her shoulders. Revolver, please. At a later stage, Aretha Franklin’s ‘Respect’ got dropped, at which point a girl came up, (have you noticed that it’s always females?!) to ask for ‘some R&B.’ Just to do my educational bit, I politely pointed out that Aretha Franklin was, technically, original R&B. The girl screwed up her face and said, no, I mean proper R&B like Timbaland or Pussycat Dolls. Public executions really should be brought back in this country for such comments.

(Incidentally, I was so impressed to learn that the DJ world has a track of its very own which breaks down all these types of situations concisely and entertainingtly, and deserves to be played in every session. Track down Andre Harris’ ’10 Things You Should Never Say To A DJ’ for the therapy. It’s just a shame that it’s a house track, and not an urban one!)

My sleep deficit during mid September had reached almost critical levels – a recurring peril of the job. I’d had only two hours on Saturday night before having to take some relatives to Stansted Airport for a flight on Sunday morning. On Tuesday 16th, I managed only slightly more after my latest Monday night session at Que Pasa in Watford, (which was rocking by the way– a surefire indicator that the newly-funded students are back in town.) Early on Tuesday, I headed back to the airport – Gatwick this time – for a flight to Sardinia. This wasn’t for a gig; it was purely a 24-hour leisure trip to Olbia in the north. I’d clearly picked the right time to go. The island was free of holidaying families, and the temperature had dropped to a bearable 78 degrees with a cooling breeze. Being an Italian resort, the food was right up my street. I kept my eyes open for any clubs, but couldn’t find any – not that I was expecting to. Just a DJ’s natural curiosity!

There’s not many venues this could apply to, but I can honestly say I’ve never had a bad night at The Apartment in Swindon, my touchdown on Saturday 20th. The venue has long made it clear that it differs from the assorted mainstream spots by concentrating on cool, funky, soulful music, and always tends to attract the right type of punter as a result. I took over from resident Stu, dropping all manner of gems I could never get away with elsewhere at peak time on a Saturday night. Prior to my set, I sneaked a look at the upstairs level which was hosting a happy hardcore/ rave revival night. It’s not often I feel young in a club these days, but I found myself among 40 and 50-somethings who probably haven’t had a night out in 15 years, but used to go raving to all this good stuff in the early 90s, and can still remember some of their moves. On the decks was veteran DJ Ellis D, whose name I remember from the time. I won’t embarrass him by revealing the full details, but there was an entertaining incident later in the night where he came far too close to living up to his amusing moniker. Go on Ellis!

My latest visit to the nation’s capital came a couple of evenings later. First on the agenda was the latest link-up of a few of us former Blues & Soul mag staff in what will forever be known as ‘the scuzzy old Dickens’, the pub just round the corner from the old B&S offices in Paddington. There was some business value to our chat as well as the social aspect, and I hope to be able to reveal more on that front very shortly. Watch this space.

Next, I hooked up with Joleon Davenue, a guy whose music I’m loving right now – check his ‘Mellow Defiance’ album for a refreshing alternative to the tired, cliched hip hop around at the moment. The idea was to record a radio interview, the interior of my car being the only place to offer the right acoustic surroundings. Unfortunately, the mic cable to my minidisc had other ideas, refusing to work, so we ended up having to do a phone interview on the following night’s show after all. Well, we got there in the end.

The opening night of 300 at The Regal in Oxford the previous Friday had been rammed, the freshers queuing round the block as early as 9pm. The second event on Friday 26th took far longer to get going, causing some concern. By 11.30 though, the hordes had arrived and it was jumping again. I’ll be doing this one (theoretically!) every Friday til term breaks for Christmas on 5th December, and it looks like it’s going to be a good one.

I began my evening at The Bridge the following night chatting to fellow DJs Justin Winks and Danny Smith about the appalling state of the music coming out in 2008, (Lil Wayne, Akon, T-Pain, Rihanna – I’m talking to you.) Strangely, I felt inspired afterwards. Our little moan committed me towards deliberately peppering the usual commercial selection with a high quota of new bangers and some back-in-the-day classics, where I might otherwise have given in and just played the usual old crap. The gambit paid off and made for a far more fulfilling night than usual. It’s a strategy I’ll be looking to repeat as frequently as possible.

The month finished with another student session at Que Pasa in Watford on Monday 29th – like The Regal, a little quieter than the previous outing.

… and that was September.

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THE FORUM CARDIFF REUNION – LISTEN BACK AND VIEW THE PICS


Here’s a chance to listen back to Mark Devlin’s revival set from No. 10 in Cardiff on Bank Holiday Sunday. The night acted as the ten-year reunion session for Late Nite Flava, the legendary night that ran at The Forum nightclub back in the day, with Urban Fusion, (Mista Bibs, JD & Blighty,) Kid Fury and DJ Silver also rocking the spot.

Download the audio here:
http://www.sendspace.com/file/a2cgwu

The pics from the night are also on-line. Just go to the Photos section of www.myspace.com/therealmarkdevln to see who you recognise.

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BANK HOLIDAY URBAN ANTHEMS. PLAYLIST & LISTEN AGAIN LINKS


URBAN ANTHEMS WITH MARK DEVLIN
FM107.9, OXFORD (WWW.FM1079.COM)
BANK HOLIDAY MONDAY, 25TH AUGUST 2008. 8-10.30pm

Two and a half hours of all-time classic revivals, bangers and throwbacks, spanning hip hop, soul, New Jack Swing, reggae dancehall, jungle and UKG.

To listen again and catch a vibe, just click on the following links:

Part 1:
http://www.sendspace.com/file/4trg2u

Part 2:
(Includes London’s DJ Chippie in the mix)
http://www.sendspace.com/file/iah1rc

Part 3:
(Includes New York City’s DJ Drastic in the mix)
http://www.sendspace.com/file/tip9fh

NOTORIOUS B.I.G: JUICY (Bad Boy)

FOXY BROWN Featuring BLACKSTREET: GET ME HOME (Def Jam) **

AALIYAH: BACK & FORTH (Jive) **

WHITEHEAD BROTHERS: FORGET I WAS A G (Motown)

SNOOP DOGGY DOGG: WHAT’S MY NAME? (Interscope)

WARREN G & NATE DOGG: REGULATE (Interscope) **

KELE LE ROC: MY LOVE (UKG Mix) (Polydor) **

JAHEIM: JUST IN CASE (UKG Remix) (Warner)

SHOLA AMA: IMAGINE (UKG Mix) (WEA)

MONSTA BOY: I’M SORRY (White)

SWEET FEMALE ATTITUDE: FLOWERS (White)

DAWN PENN: NO NO NO (EMI)

SASHA: DAT SEXY BODY (VPD)

RED RAT: DWAYNE (VPD)

RED RAT: WRIGLEYS (VPD)

DEVONTE & TANTO METRO: EVERYONE FALLS IN LOVE (VPD)

GENERAL DEGREE: TRAFFIC BLOCKING (VPD)

SUPERCAT: GHETTO RED HOT (Hip Hop Mix) (White)

SOUNDMAN & LLOYDIE Featuring ELIZABETH TROY: A GREATER LOVE (White)

SHARON FORRESTER: LOVE INSIDE (FFRR)

GOLDIE: INNER CITY LIFE (FFRR)

GUEST DJ MIX: DJ CHIPPIE, SOUL STYLUS/ GET OFF THE WALL, LONDON

KID FURY CHAT 1

KEITH SWEAT: I WANT HER (EMI)

ERIC GABLE: PROCESS OF ELIMINATION (White)

MONTELL JORDAN: THIS IS HOW WE DO IT (Def Jam)

KID FURY CHAT 2

SWV Featuring WU TANG CLAN: ANYTHING (Remix) (RCA)

TRUTH HURTS: ADDICTIVE (Interscope)

SUNSHINE ANDERSON: HEARD IT ALL BEFORE (Atlantic)

GUEST DJ MIX: THE UNTOUCHABLE DJ DRASTIC, NEW YORK CITY’S HEAT, USA:

ALICIA KEYS/ JUNIOR REID: NO ONE REMIX

SPRAGGA BENZ: WE NUH LIFE

RAYVON & RED FOX: BASHMENT PARTY

FRISCO KID: GAL PON DI SIDE

WAYNE WONDER: SEARCHING DEM SEARCHING

MAD LION: TAKE IT EASY

VICIOUS/ SHYHEIM: LIFE OF A SHORTIE

VICIOUS/ DOUG E. FRESH: FREAKS

SUPERCAT: GIRLSTOWN REMIX

BUJU BANTON: CHAMPION REMIX

WAYNE WONDER: SADDEST DAY

JOHNNY OSBOURNE: BUDDY BYE

SHABBA RANKS: MR. LOVERMAN

MAXI PRIEST/ SHABBA RANKS: HOUSE CALL

SIZZLA: SOLID AS A ROCK

RAYVON: NO GUNS NO MURDER

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MARK DEVLIN MEETS THE LEGENDARY RZA!


Here’s a chance to check out Mark Devlin’s interview feature with Wu Tang Clan founder and all-round hip hop God RZA.
He’s a prolific guy. As well as continuing to produce for the Wu, he’s about to release his third solo album under the alter-ego of Bobby Digital, has started scoring Hollywood movies, including Tarantino’s ‘Kill Bill’, and has even become an actor, with a recent role in ‘American Gangster’, among others.
The interview’s right here.

http://www.sendspace.com/file/14s04n

And here’s the link to the RZA instalment of MD’s ongoing Beatmasters mix series – all the big Wu Tang productions and beats, chopped up in the mix.

http://www.sendspace.com/file/t4e56n

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LISTEN TO MD IN CROATIA


LISTEN TO MD IN CROATIA

Here’s a chance to listen back to part of Mark Devlin’s set recorded at the Summer party spot of Maraschino Bar in Zadar, Croatia this month.

This is a little different to the standard urban music set – not a Pussycat Dolls, Timbaland or Lil Wayne in sight, (thank God!) The hallmark of a professional DJ is versatility. A polished DJ is able to switch between many different styles of music as crowd situations dictate. Not only does it show skill and imagination, it’s also a lot of fun!

As such, this mix covers unfamiliar territory, starting with some disco, funk and old school hip-hop moments, before progressing into some fantastic vintage funky house and dance. One for the musically open-minded who appreciate the unexpected.

Just click on the link below to download the mix.

http://www.sendspace.com/file/sh9nol

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MD’S TOUR DIARY, AUGUST 2008


Diary
August 2008

It’s going to be a very different Christmas this year. A while ago, we learned that Parveen is expecting our first baby, with an estimated delivery date of 17th December. To say I’m over the moon is the understatement of the millennium!

A few people we’ve mentioned it to have commented on how difficult it’s going to be juggling a DJ lifestyle with looking after a young baby. I’d argue completely to the contrary. Baby will already be in bed by the time I leave for gigs. My sleep ‘patterns’ are already all over the place, so there won’t be any difference there. And the fact that I work at night means that I can be at home during the day to share nappy changing (great) and all the rest of it with Mrs. D. As a result, I’m having to limit my travel for the rest of this year to quick Europe hops only, putting my annual visit to Australia on ice. But it’s a small price to pay for such great news. The best Christmas present yet!

There’s a highly entertaining chat group on Facebook called ‘Things You Should Never Say To A DJ’, which reads very much like an extension of the DJ requests chapter in my book. It’s grown prodigiously with regular posts from jocks all over the world, and many nights after coming in from an exasperating gig, I’ve drawn great inspiration, calming vodka in hand, from perusing the comments and realising that this sh*t really does happen to everyone and not just me! I recommend doing a search for it and joining. I was inspired to make a contribution by my latest experience at G’s in Bicester, which went as follows:

Chav girl: Oi DJ, sort it out. Play some decent tunes.
Me: Such as…?
Chav girl: Well, I don’t know. You’re the DJ!
Me: Die. Immediately.

On to more sane matters… I love the buzz of doing my weekly radio show live, and only pre-record when there’s no other option. On Wednesday 6th August there wasn’t, as Parveen and myself headed up to The Lake District for a short break, tagged on to my latest Block Party gig in Windermere. The show was the one containing my interview feature on RZA, aka Bobby Digital, which will go down as one of the most memorable in my career.

We spent Wednesday and Thursday around Windermere, Grasmere and Keswick, many of the locals joking that the region would be more suitably named The Rain District. The roadsides were lined with ramblers and campers resiliently looking like they were bloody well going to have a good time whatever the weather.

Parveen’s not in heavy party mode right now, so she stayed at our guest house on Thursday night as I headed down to The Wheelhouse on the shores of Lake Windermere for the August instalment of The Block Party, loyally hosted by DJ Bligeness and MC Master P. This gig is one of my most consistent, and the atmosphere never disappoints. As ever, many of the off-duty Jamaican hotel workers were in attendance, ensuring things stayed lively. There’s a great set of pictures that go some way to capturing the atmosphere, posted now in the Pics section of my Myspace. Do check them out.

It’s frustrating that I always score DJ bookings on nights directly after holidays, making for a mad dash back, when the diary remains empty on other nights where a gig could have been easily accommodated. That’s the way it goes though, so on Friday 8th, we ploughed through heavy traffic for the five-hour drive home, before setting off for the evening at Que Pasa in Watford. We took advantage of the kind offer of a feed before I settled down to the night’s DJing. The combination of mid-month, rain, the holiday season and the credit crunch led to a less-busy-than-usual Friday, but we made the best of it. The following night, I found myself in the rare situation of spinning at G’s on a Saturday, having swapped that week with Cecil, the usual Saturday resident. The night drew an entirely different profile of crowd to my Thursday sessions … and I didn’t mind at all.

Normally I avoid TV programmes like ‘Wife Swap’ like the plague. But on Sunday 10th, Mrs. D just happened to be watching the latest celeb version of the show featuring none other than the dude Alexander O’ Neal. There was one section where he was getting vexed because he was late for a magazine interview and photo session with … Blues & Soul. Shows how long ago they filmed it, as the mag’s now been out of business for over a year. It was an entertaining glimpse into what the Big Man’s up to these days, and I couldn’t help feeling a painful pang of nostalgia when they showed a B&S front cover. A few hours later came the sad news that soul legend Isaac Hayes had passed away, only 48 hours after we lost the comedy genius of Bernie Mac. What a tragic weekend for the entertainment world.

They say you don’t know what you got til it’s gone. In the case of my Apple iBook, that’s certainly the case. Until a few weeks ago, I’d developed some highly efficient ways of working that would have made any time management guru proud, by taking as much work as possible away with me on flights. Earlier in the Summer, the machine suddenly failed to go beyond the login stage, and consultation of a few geeky on-line forums revealed that this has become a common problem with the entire batch of iBooks that Apple put out in 2005/ 06, all to do with a connection beneath the keypad working itself loose. Until I can find a permanent fix, I’m now back to the prehistoric days of passing airport time by nothing more comprehensive than reading. I’ve polished off a few good books, however, the latest being Dave Haslam’s ‘Not Abba’, the real story of the harshness of British life in the 1970s, and highly recommended for anyone that grew up in that decade.

I got stuck into it while travelling to my latest Summer hotspot gig on Monday 11th. The destination was Zadar, an increasingly popular resort on Croatia’s Adriatic Coast, but served by a small airport with very few international flights. The restrictions made it necessary to travel with three separate airlines and spend only 11 hours on Croatian soil, one of my more insane schedules. The outward leg was straightforward – Ryanair from Stansted, and thankfully there were no nightmare experiences this time.

No club could ever operate on a permanently open-air basis in Britain. In Southern Europe, there are no such worries, and Croatia had been basking in intense heat for many weeks. As such, two thirds of Maraschino Bar, overlooking Zadar’s estuary and flanked by boats, is outside, with a covered part for those that prefer to stay indoors. The venue attracts mainly Italians – Zadar’s just across the sea from towns like Rimini and Ancona. I played from midnight til closing at 4, and it was 2 before cats showed themselves to be in the mood for dancing. But from there on it was kicking, and I doubt I’ll enjoy a more lively Monday night for a very long time.

I felt less lively at 7am. After only two hours’ sleep at an apartment, I was driven, red-eyed, straight back to the airport. The only way to make it home had been to take an early Sky Europe flight to Prague, spend six and a half hours there, then return to Stansted with Easyjet at 5pm. I had no desire to stay in the airport that long, so I used the time to head into town. Prague’s one of my favourite and most visited European cities so this was no hardship. Although the stifling muggy heat was.

First port of call was the legendary club/ bar/ restaurant Radost FX, where I linked with Rico, long-standing promoter and DJ at Soul Train for a spot of lunch and a catch-up chat. Next, I was on a weary mission to track down a witch marionnette for Mrs. D. Prague specialises in creepy-ass macabre puppets of the Chucky variety, and Parveen has adorned our living room with a couple. I find them deeply unsettling. The b*stards look they’re about to come alive any second. By my return flight, I’d dispensed with the book and was on to the crossword and the Sun Dial in the back of The Sun to pass the time. Now that’s boredom!

The carbon footprint of the three Oxford heads who travelled to The Second Bridge in Bath on Saturday 16th wouldn’t have impressed Al Gore. The club is a sister venue to the main Bridge in Oxford, and Saturday night saw DJ James Ussher (in the main room), myself (playing in The Vaults), and manager Simon Marshall all travelling separately. To be fair, a car share on my part wouldn’t have worked on this occasion, as I first called in on some old family friends who live in nearby Calne. Once in session, the Bath gig was as reliably buzzing as it always is. The journey home was spent catching up on some promo CD listening. 4am motorway blasts are so often the only time I get for what’s still an essential task in any DJ’s schedule.

A few nights later the Bank Holiday weekend was upon us, and first stop for me on Friday 22nd was the latest social gathering of the former Blues & Soul mag staff, appropriately enough at The Social in London. The magazine ceased publication a year ago, but the initial bitterness gave away long ago to good natured acceptance, and our drinks session had a jovial tone as a result.

I can well remember the days when, as wide-eyed teenagers, my mate Damien Mendis and myself gazed towards London as a Mecca of musical education, revering the key clubs and the DJs that played there with religious status. As far as urban music goes, virtually all of the West End clubs went from niche to commercial/ tourist-style status a long time ago. The one notable exception is Bar Rumba, deep in the heart of things in Shaftesbury Avenue, which sticks true to its musical guns with nights like Bubblin’ Over, Movement and Barrio Latino running weekly. Friday night’s offering is Front 2 Back, (previously known as Get Down,) which sees on-point resident Sharma, and rotational guests Mista Jam, Manny Norte and others mix everything from standard urban styles, to DnB, UKG, funky house, Afrobeat, soca, Miami bass and all the rest. After The Social, I headed there for my latest guest spot, which also doubled as a warm-up for the weekend’s Notting Hill Carnival. Spirits were high, and the place was hot – in more ways than one. Bar Rumba is one of those joints where the ceiling sweats and drips – not too glamorous, perhaps, but every bit the dramatic atmosphere a proper club night should have.

Saturday’s outing was to Que Pasa in Watford, where I held down the spot all night.

And so to Bank Holiday Sunday. I reached Carnival every year from 1992 to 2000, but have only been twice since then. Each year I consider re-visiting, as memories of the roar of the crowd when a heavy bassline comes rumbling in wash over me … but then the thought of squeezing through tens of thousands of people, stepping on discarded corn cobs, chicken bones and crushed Red Stripe cans puts me off again.

On the cards for that night was the ten-year reunion jam for Late Nite Flava, the legendary allnighter that ran at The Forum in Cardiff for two years. The genre known as R&B merged with the pop market many years ago, and the watered-down hybrid can now be heard in any High Street venue. But in 1998, the music was still fresh and new as a clubbing soundtrack, and The Forum was one of the first clubs outside London to fully embrace it. As a result, we managed to get 1,500 to 2,000 heads in the place every week, with big-name guests most Saturdays, and the session running all the way to 6am. The first time Trevor Nelson’s MTV Lick night visited, the queue snaked the whole way up Queen Street to the walls of the castle as early as 10pm. Truly incredible times that will never be repeated.

I’d had the idea of a reunion session for a while. It was clear that nothing remotely on the scale of The Forum would work, so I’d liaised with Mista Bibs of Urban Fusion to put on a night at the intimate No. 10’s that was partly a Cult Couture jam, and partly the Forum gig. I drove up from Oxford with Kid Fury, just the way we used to ten years previous, along with his girl, and we joined Urban Fusion and DJ Silver to drop old-school tunes of the variety that used to rock Late Nite Flava. I’d started a Facebook group a few weeks previous to try and track down all the old heads. Sadly, virtually none of the people who’d promised they’d turn up actually did, (no great surprise there,) but a whole load of other clubbers did, and the night ended up being busy and great fun as a result. We eventually got back at 6am – a reminder of the long, late nights we used to endure every single week. How the hell did we do it?! The pics from the night are now in my Myspace and Facebook Photo sections, and there’s a recording of part of my set available via the following download link:

http://www.sendspace.com/file/a2cgwu

More nostalgic vibes on Bank Holiday Monday, as I presented a one-off radio special entitled Urban Anthems from 8 to 10.30pm, dealing with nothing but hip hop, R&B, New Jack Swing, jungle and UKG classics, with mixes from London’s DJ Chippie, and a specially-commissioned one from New York City’s DJ Drastic. I really enjoyed myself, and the resulting show, packed full of quality throwbacks, is available to listen to using the following links.

Part 1:
http://www.sendspace.com/file/4trg2u

Part 2:
(Includes London’s DJ Chippie in the mix)
http://www.sendspace.com/file/iah1rc

Part 3:
(Includes New York City’s DJ Drastic in the mix)
http://www.sendspace.com/file/tip9fh

Maintaining a balance between an active DJ schedule and holding down a relationship is a tricky one. Most weekends, I manage to juggle things effectively, but by Monday I’d worked six nights on the trot, (with four of the next five nights on duty as well,) and Mrs. D was not impressed, coming into the radio station as the only way of spending some time with me. Many DJ relationships have faltered as a result of the demands of the job, and the weekend was a reminder of how important it is to avoid the two coming into conflict!

Oxford’s own GTA are one of the most under-rated rap crews in the UK, consistently putting out material that’s far superior to much of the stuff I receive from London. On Wednesday 27th, I was happy to be a part of an event organised in association with Oxford Arts Management, which also doubled as a video shoot for GTA’s latest single. A host of Oxford’s hottest DJs were lined up to drop sets, including Kid Fury, Spex, Lolo and Uncle Paulie, and I used my quick half-hour to drop bangers like Roots Manuva’s ‘Witness’ and Skinnyman’s ‘I’ll Be Surprised’. It was hugely satisfying to be able to drop such bona fide slammers to a proper hip hop crowd and watch them get the jump-up reaction they deserved. Sadly, I had to jet immediately after my set for my radio show. Whether my ugly mug makes the final video cut remains to be seen.

Friday 29th marked the opening of an impressive new two-roomed club in Banbury which, all going well, will house my residency on Fridays for the foreseeable future. St. James’ is a sister venue to the club of the same name in Aylesbury. During the week, it hosts ‘exotic dancing’ (aka pole dancing,) but at weekends, becomes a general-purpose club, pitching itself at a higher calibre of clientele than the town’s other mass-market venues. Friday night was a VIP opening, and the dancers had been brought in for a special introductory show. With the clientele consisting mainly of middle-aged businessmen, it was hardly surprising that the room housing the dancers retained the most interest. But I’m sure the balance will shift when the venue opens its doors properly to the public from next week. (I’ve Djed in a pole-dancing club only once, and I’m not particularly keen on a repeat performance. All night, the girls demanded I play ‘their’ tunes, the ones they’d rehearsed routines to, and I ended up being reduced to nothing more than a jukebox with no freedom of creativity – not what I became a DJ for!) Either way, it’s an undeniably cool venue with an impressive sound system, and clearly, a generous investment into the interiors.

Clubland being as volatile as it is, it’s a very rare thing to have held a spot at the same venue for seven years, as I’ve managed at The Bridge in Oxford. It’s easy to get complacent with such a long-lasting residency, but I reflected on what a good situation this has been as I span there for my monthly session on Saturday 30th. It’s good to have a base in your home city.

… and that, pretty much, was August!

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