look to the east
the goldmine - canvey island
Please send me your experiences, over the years, of places and spaces that have affected you in and around the soul scene. Age means nothing here. No North / South divide either. It's just where, when, and who you are that counts. If you want to write around 500 words (or less, but not a lot more! LOL), I will post them here. You might reside in London, Edinburgh, Wigan, Stockholm or Los Angeles, an ex-pat, who was somewhere at sometime in the past. Doesn't matter. You have your story, so let's hear it! I will not publish e-mail addresses. If you want to talk to a contributor, mail me and I will put you in touch with the relevant parties.
What you need to add to your articles here are the following:
Your name - The Era - The clubs you went to -The music you loved - What you are up to thesedays.
I will post your contributions on this page. If you have a scanned image (JPEG/GIF) of the time (yourself, a club etc) , that would be great. Makes your piece more interesting, that's all. Boring looking at a whole bunch of text, that's all. O.K., so here goes....
'The Birth of Cambridge Funk n Soul'
The Funk Room, Howard Mallet Soul Club, Cambridge. 1977- 1979
Cambridge was a hot bed of soul in the ’70s with its very own centre of excellence, the ‘Howard Mallett Club’, a renowned soul venue opened in ’73 to carry forth the established local scene.
Preferring that driving beat of Willie Mitchell’s ‘The Champion’ to the Glam Rock of my youth, it was with great expectation that I made my first excursion to the Mallett in 1976, aged 15.
Local DJ Tony Dellar controlled the dance-floor and didn’t disappoint with his mix of Northern Soul and new imports from the likes of Bobby Womack, Jean Carn, Eddie Holman, and Brainstorm.
My passion for soul music came of age and I lived for Friday evenings.
My favourite ‘Northern’ tune was Bobby Hutton’s oh so soulful ‘Lend a Hand’.
This early ‘70s album track suited my preference for the Mallet’s more modern sounds.
As consequence of which, Tony Dellar introduced me to local soul aficionado Max Rees for the purpose of opening a separate ‘Mallet’ 70s soul room.
But Max also wanted to play current funk and experiment with Jazz Fusion.
Being 16 I jumped at the opportunity to support Max and the ‘Funk Room’ as it became known, was born.
If I recall, I opened my first set on the Funk Room’s opening night with Esther Phillips’ ‘Boy I Really Tied One On’ to an appreciative ‘crowd’ of about 10 funksters! But thanks to Max’s determination it soon gathered a much larger and devoted following.
I didn’t DJ every Friday night - preferring to dance than play - and when I did it was mainly as the warm up for Max and fellow spinner Roger Stern.
But the opening spot allowed me to introduce sounds as diverse as ‘Risky Changes’ from Greg Diamond Bionic Boogie, Ashford and Simpson’s ‘Bourgie Bourgie’ and Grover Washington’s ‘Summer Song’ and ‘Sausolito’.
It was this progressive mix of soul, funk, disco and jazz music, and the resulting ‘Family’ atmosphere, that made the Funk Room special and certainly on par with any other comparable soul venue in the country.
The Funk Room spurned the inevitable tribe or two, the most notorious being ‘The Cambridge Dons’, and with the ever increasing popularity of the music, the funksters took over the larger room from the dwindling numbers of Northern Soulies.
Cambridgeshire’s soul scene continued at a pace throughout the 80's and 90's at a number of very fine venues – but its roots lie firmly in the Howard Mallett and its small ‘Funk Room’ where the foundations for embracing new musical styles were set.
During the late 70's to mid 80's I also frequented Dunstable’s California Ballroom for many a live gig, The Barn at Braintree, Chris Hill’s legendary ‘Goldmine’, the occasional Caister Weekender and Dr Bob Jones’s small and intimate residency at The Bull in Royston, Herts.
Still very much a ‘Soul Boy’ at heart, I now live in Ashford, Kent, with my wife Louise and two small children Emily Rose and Thomas Jay.