Hi everyone and thanks for taking five minutes to read my profile. It basically consists of acknowledging my influences and a brief story of an Essex soulboy to date. I really appreciate being able to share a few lines with you and I’m sure most will relate to my memories somewhere.
My direction as a punter and DJ for all that is Soul, Funk and Jazz was installed at an early age. My late father, Derek Vince, was the founding influence. I grew up on a council estate in Kelvedon, Essex with the sounds of 50’s/60’s American Doo-Wop, R&B to Rock and Roll being played daily. My dad also taught me how to pick out the rarer recordings in whatever genre you liked, listen to a lot of radio and read reviews as he progressed to become quite a connoisseur of rare Country and Western before he was 40. I often think about what he would have made of my love for all that is soul and Jazz music today.
Quite often my parents would go to gigs by an obscure Country musician from the southern United States performing one offs in Chelmsford or London in front of 100 people. This installed my belief that the small venues will always be the best way to enjoy live music. These American sounds led me to the path of southern 60’s Soul and Motown. From the age of 15, I loved the music and smart look of Paul Weller. This also introduced me to jazz and so becoming a Mod and borrowing some of my Dad’s cardigans was the doorway to Northern Soul all dayer/nighters, 60’s Jazz Hammond sounds and Vespas. Being born and growing up where I was, the natural spin off is that I was destined to be an Essex Soulboy.
My DJing career started in a shed at a mates party; playing 60’s Mod singles on a single turntable. However, because I didn’t have many, some records were played three or four times and I also utilised some of my parent’s sevens while everyone else was on the house and garden getting drunk. The music ranged from The Who to Jackie Wilson, The Jam, Motown and even Manfred Mann. I couldn’t even see anyone else from inside the shed and no-one wanted to play the music, so I did it to prevent someone putting on 80’s chart music because I had no passion for it. In the early 80’s, I knew only Top of the Pops and the Sunday Top 40 before I discovered proper Rare groove on the London radio shows from the likes of Robbie Vincent, Pete Young, Jeff Young, Greg Edwards, Chris Phillips and newer soul sounds in Essex from John Leech. I guess the soul snobbery had already started for me because mainstream “pop” music just didn’t interest me; despite many soul artists hitting the Top 10 main charts and I always picked from the rest when we used to tape it on a Sunday!
The speakers of my DJ booth were connected through the shed window with the turntable on a pasting table. We were 16 and it is with these mates (Mark, Sean and Craig) that we began to roadie for a couple of local DJs. One, Tony Stewart, was an Essex-based Black Caribbean with strong musical roots. In fact, Tony was offered a radio show in the early licensing days on KISS FM in London - although he turned it down. What an influence he was to me and others. He had the chat and knew the music; playing Gil Scott Heron, Lonnie Liston Smith, Teddy, Luther, Whispers, Fatback, Maze, James Brown and more. All in the middle of rural Essex pub/venues in and around Maldon and Chelmsford.
He held residencies in two local venues on a Thursday, Friday and Sunday, playing everything Soul, Jazz, Reggae and Jazz funk. We carried his kit everywhere; often sitting on the speakers in the back of a transit van, clinging on for dear life so that we didn’t get squashed going around the bends on the Essex roads. It is now I realise how I discovered wider Black music, looking through those boxes of hundreds of sevens and making it an obsession, right there. It was also at that point I discovered real vinyl record shops, Crazybeat, Soul Brother and Adrian’s to name a few. I still visit the same ones because they all still exist. Like today, it can be an expensive hobby!
Through this period my passion grew, and I attended the Essex Club circuit. Then, soul nights would be held on separate nights and the whole atmosphere changed on these nights at clubs like Dukes, TOTS or Zero 6. By 1988, rare groove was fading, and that thing called “Acid House” was emerging; something else I had no passion for. I just found Rare Groove and Jazz funk took you away, as there was a feeling of togetherness and there were real dancers then. It was a dancer that became another influence of mine towards the late 80’s. My work colleague, Wayne Harper, lent me a cassette and I lent him one. I recognised him from the club circuit and we quickly realised that our music tastes matched. For me, Wayne was simply one of the best white dancers on the circuit and remains so to this day. Very much a Jazz dancer and was a regular at The Goldmine, The Hadleigh Suite, Southport, Hanningfield Windmill, Electric Ballroom, Lacy Lady and Caister. It was his invite to the last days of The Goldmine that cemented it for me.
At that very point, I found Chris Hill, Gary Dennis, Snowboy, Tom Holland, Richard Searling Simon Dunsmore, Giles Peterson, Jez Nelson, Dr Bob Jones, Kevin Beadle, Grumpy Brown, Colin Curtis, Ian Levine, Frostie, Sylvester, Nick Hozier, Bob Masters, Patrick Forge, Paul Collins and the like. We also attended the Lacy Lady in Ilford, SAKS WineBar in Leigh on Sea, Hanningfield Windmill, Caister / Southport Soul Weekenders and the infamous Sunday Afternoon Jazz dance sessions at Dingwalls in Camden. Venues so packed where sweat literally ran from the walls, you changed your T-shirt three times and the music blew you away tune after tune after tune.
Although I continued my obsession and followed the scene, my odd pieces of DJing naturally slowed with marriage, work and having a family. I still spent time listening, learning and collecting the music. I had a joint mobile disco business with my lifelong friend Sean Ismay and he still attends Caister and other soulful events with me. Loud button-down collared shirt, Brogues, tall dancer in The V Lounge, that’s the one…! After occasionally DJing at private functions, I found I was being asked more and more to play the music I love.
In the last few years I started to attend Caister again with my better half Allison who, with my family, deserves a medal for putting up with my obsession and always supports me greatly in it all. At the same time, I began a morning Soul and Jazz show on my local hospital radio station purely as a volunteer and hobby. From there I answered a call for presenters for Dave Burton on Soulconnexion radio, the official Caister radio station. I was offered a daytime slot by Dave and appreciate the faith he had in me. I now present a weekly show on Soulconnexion Radio called THE SOUL & JAZZ JAR.
I enjoy doing radio because it is simply sharing my lifelong passion with others. I think that every DJ does it for that reason - however successful you become. I also think that if somebody somewhere enjoys something you have played then you have succeeded. I have been lucky that radio and soul gigs across various southern venues, along with a slot at the Soulconnexion alldayer raised my profile and instigated a call from a certain Mr Brian Rix, who offered me the chance to present a show on Caister Radio. It was an opportunity I would never have dreamed of back in that old shed and something I love to do even at 4 o’clock in the morning!
Usually at this point it seems customary to list some favourite records, but I can honestly say to everyone now that this is an impossible task! As your knowledge grows there is always something to discover and it never stops. However, here are 30 or so tracks that still make me smile, close my eyes and get goosebumps whenever they are played. I never get tired of hearing them and cannot count how many times I have heard them played in nearly 40 years. I can list a definitive top three and most maybe well known, loved and traditional classic anthems . My list is respect for the artists too. They are tunes where it all began for me and there's a reason why they are classics after all!
Top Ten Toons.
So, in no particular order:-
Lets Get It Together - El Coco
Love Don't Go Through No Changes - Sister Sledge
(Falling Like) Dominoes - Donald Byrd
Hard Work - John Handy
I'm Out Of Your Life - Arnies Love
Hold Me Tighter In The Rain - Billy Griffin
Glow Of Love - Change
Saturday Night, Sunday Morning – Thelma Houston (Definitely number 1)
Don’t Send Me Away – Garfield Fleming (Definitely Number 2)
Don’t’ Let Love Get You Down – Archie Bell & The Drells (Definitely Number 3)
Expansions – Lonnie Leston smith
The Bottle – Gil Scott Heron
Why Can’t We Be Lovers? – Holland-Dozier
Overdose of Joy – Eugene Record
A Night in Tunisia – Art Blakey/Snowboy
Skindo Le Le – Alive
New York Afternoon – Ritchie Cole
Rockcreek Park – The Blackbyrds
Standing Right Here – Melba Moore
Magic Touch – Melba Moore
Suspicion – The Originals
Flowers – R Flowers
Real Love (The Original Version) – Drizabone
Portuguese Love – Teena Marie
You Know How To Love Me - Phyllis Hyman
Always There – Side Effect
All This Love I’m Giving – Gwen McCrae
All Around the World – Lisa Stansfield
Café Bleu (the whole album) – The Style Council
Rhythm & Soul (the whole album) – Makin’ Time
I’m A Man – Spencer Davis Group
Get Up Offa That Thing – James Brown
Never Can Say Goodbye – The Jackson 5
Risin’ To The Top – Keni Burke
The Whole Towns Laughing – Teddy Pendergrass
Since being involved with Caister, I have been very lucky to meet and get to know so many more brilliant and influential people. Not only the superb current crop of DJs who still keep the traditions of the original Soul Mafia but also the Caister Team led by Brian, the sound, security and office staff that run the event for you all. I still pinch myself that my name is listed with the DJs that influence me and my music past and present. Personally, Chris Hill, Gary Dennis, Jazzbod, Jonny Layton, Tom Holland, Dave Burton, ‘Uncle’ Ronnie Martin and ‘Uncle’ Pete Collins. All have given me a deeper understanding of the music, given me time, advice and allowed me to be part of helping carry the torch forward here at Caister after 40 years.
Hopefully I will get to see and speak to some of you at a Caister soon. Remember, it’s about the music and there is no better place than being in the Soul family!
Take care, Ian Vince