Sheffield Big Soul Night at City Hall

Soul DJ Richard Searling.
Soul DJ Richard Searling.
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Northern soul, Motown and boogie fans are all in a spin with the return of a big night out in Sheffield, writes Graham Walker.

Sheffield’s Big Soul Night, presented by GoldSoul, returns to the City Hall ballroom for Valentine’s weekend, on Saturday, February 15, 9pm to 2am.

Three rooms of classic dancefloor favourites will be presented by some of the North’s best-loved soul DJs including Richard Searling, pictured, Kev Roberts, Hallam FM’s Steve White and BBC Radio Sheffield’s soul man, John Kane.

Others include Sean Hampsey, Tony B, Ginger Taylor, Snowy, Andy Bellwood, Nige Brown, Steve Foster and Melvyn Walker.

It’s for over-18s only.

Tickets in advance are £10 each, £12.50 on the door, booking fees may apply. Buy in person from the Box Office, call 0114 278 9789, visit www.sheffieldcityhall.co.uk, www.goldsoul.co.uk and www.wow247.co.uk.

Richard, who presented Soul Sauce on the then Radio Hallam, between 1980-85, has been telling us how he and Kev Roberts decided the time was right to launch soul nights in the prestigious venue.

He’s also been looking back at special soul memories he has for Sheffield in this Q&A.

Q: Can you give me some background on both of you (where are you from, did you both come up with the idea for the clubnights, who else is involved, how did it start, how long have they been running etc!)

A: Whilst Kev lives locally, I’ m actually from the other side of the hills, a born and bred Lancastrian, however I do have very strong connections with South Yorkshire due to my “Soul Sauce” radio programmes which I presented for Radio Hallam between 1980-85.

Kev and myself came up with the idea of running these 3 room soul nights a couple of years ago. We thought the time was right to put Northern Soul, Modern Soul and Motown into a prestigious venue and where else but the City Hall? There are many smaller club nights in and around the area, and from day one we have been delighted that the Big Soul Nights at the City Hall have brought everyone together under one roof.

We use the main Ballroom for classic Motown, 60s club soul and Northern Soul anthems, while the side rooms are more specialist musically featuring current All Nighter rarities and Soulful Dance respectively.We are pleased to have a very strong line up of Djs including top local names such as Sean Hampsey, Tony “B” , David Needham and Radio Hallam’s Steve White, plus BBC Radio Sheffield’s soul man, John Kane.

Q: Where have you DJ’d before (career background)

A: Both myself and Kev were resident original DJs at the legendary Wigan Casino All Nighters from 1973-1981 , and we still carry the torch for Northern Soul with huge events at the Kings Hall, Stoke, The Tower Ballroom , Blackpool, The Whitby Pavilion Weekenders amongst many others.

I ve also appeared at the much-missed Clifton Hall All Nighters in Rotherham which were absolutely brilliant back in the early 1980s. We also used to run terrific Soul and Jazz Funk All Dayers at Romeo and Juliet’s in Sheffield , around 1983/84.

Q: What inspired the Big Soul Night?

A: We were inspired by the response we have had to similar 3 roomed soul events in Blackburn , Blackpool and Stoke . Additionally, we were constantly being urged to approach the City Hall so that people who loved the music could appreciate it in superb surroundings and enjoy a really good social night out meeting friends they may have lost touch with since the days of local soul clubs such as “Samantha’s”, “ Rebels” , “The King Mojo” the “Esquire” the “Clifton Halls” , The “ Heartbeat”, “The Penthouse” “The Birdcage” , “The Charade” , The “Up and Up”, the “1812” and Manchester’s famed “Twisted Wheel”.

“Were you in with the In – Crowd?”…if so, you ll no doubt remember these clubs and will want to relive the great memories at a City Hall Big Soul Night Out!

Q: What are the influences for the club nights- what music can an audience expect to hear? (a few typical Motown and Northern Soul songs?)

A: On the night , there will be a wide and varied selection ofr classic and contemporary soul featured , here are just a few examples of what you can expect to hear in each of the 3 rooms:

Ballroom – Classic 60s , Motown and a taste of Northern Soul:

Billy Butler The right track

Ramsey Lewis Wade in the water

Marvin Gaye Little darling ( I need you )

Chuck Wood Seven days too long

The Four Tops It’s the same old song

All Nighter room :

Joy Lovejoy In orbit

Little Anthony Better use your head

The Dells Run for cover

The Tomangoes I really love you

Marie Knight That’s no way to treat a girl

Modern Soul room :

Bob Sinclair Tribute

Phyllis Hyman You know how to love me

Teddy Pendergrass You more I get, the more I want

Harold Melvin The love I lost

Lonnie Liston Smith Expansions

Q: What’s the audience like, what’s their reaction to the club nights? (want to stress it’s not just a club night for twentysomethings)

A: We are attracting a very wide audience. Lots of locals obviously , but as word is spreading about how good these twice yearly events are, we are starting to get followers from all around the North and Midlands, and due to the breadth of soul music on offer, they are aged anywhere between 18 and 68!

Q: How is it different from other clubnights in the region?

As far as I know it’s the only 3 roomer , giving three distinctly different scenes under one roof. It’s also by far the most spacious venue and well- served with great facilities such as the splendid dancefloors and fabulous “meet and greet” bar area. Most of all, I think we differ from a normal club night in as much that 100% of our customers are there for one thing only – 50 years of top class soul music, from 1964-2014!

A: How does the City Hall’s Ballroom lend itself to the club nights, is it a location that works well?

Q: Hard to beat the location , you just cannot miss it - and I m sure this has been one of the main reasons for our success. Inside, the dancers could not ask for more – fabulous wooden dance floors in 3 rooms, great sound systems and top class DJs.

A: Why do you keep coming back? (hopefully because it works well!)

Q: Because each event gets better than the last one………we have also been careful not to over expose the event – keeping it to two events ( February and August ) each year has kept it fresh and folks now look forward to their City Hall Soul Night “fix” when it comes round every six months.

A: Are either of you involved in any other projects (record label/promoting/presenting?)

Q: I have my own record label , Go Ahead records (www.goaheadrecords.co.uk) specialising in re issuing in demand 60s and 70s tracks. Kev presents an array of soul shows, most notably for Signal in the Midlands and Solar Radio on DAB , nationally.

I regularly consult with record companies on soul projects, for instance I ve recently released a box set of Tamla Motown rare 45s and a Wigan Casino “40th Anniversary” double CD for the Universal Music Group.

A: Will the nights be on for years to come!? Where else are they in case customers want to travel to others too?

Q: We hope so! After the February one, we are back at the City Hall on Saturday 9th August 2014. For more details of other nights we run, it’s probably a good idea to check out the website www.goldsoul.co.uk where there is a full calendar of events.

A: Have you got any funny/interesting stories from your career?

Can t think of any off the top of my head………………hopefully enough with this though?