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The Llandudno Connoisseurs Weekender

1st, 2nd, 3rd March 2002

It's now entered into Northern Soul history, as a resounding success. Llandudno was as good as any of the other weekenders I have ever attended.  

I arrived on the Friday afternoon just after midday, and we persuaded the Hotel to open the bar. Steve and Michelle were already there, and he wanted to spin a few records so that was the music started as well. As we sat in the lounge chatting and people started to arrive you got the feeling that it was going to be good, everyone who arrived was well up for it, and the right sort of people were arriving. Dave Ross drove from Aberdeen,  walked into the lounge, didn't bother with booking in or collecting his pass, or any other pleasantries. His first words were "Can I get a drink ?". Talking of the bar, the Hotel owner hadn't actually planned to open the bar on the Friday afternoon, but he went to John Mills later on and said he'd done quite well with the bar takings, and queried whether "They're not going to keep this pace up all weekend are they ?. Little did he know that the bar would be open continuously for 19 hours on the Saturday !  

The Friday allnighter: Great music all through the night, I didn't really take any notes about who played what, but there wasn't a bad DJ set through the night.   Upstairs in the Lounge bar all sorts of things were played, Crossover, Sixties and Seventies mostly, and although it was supposed to be a 2.00 am finish in there it was still going on at 4.00 am.   Saturday morning: the local Asda seemed  to be the venue of choice for most people for Breakfast, six items for 1.50. Asda will certainly remember the weekender, it can't be many Saturday mornings when someone who shall remain nameless goes in, forces all his breakfast down, and then promptly brings it all back up in the middle of the cafe. Oops !  

Saturday lunchtime: John Mills had told lots of people to bring their box along and they could do a spot during the afternoon. In the end so many people turned up wanting to do a spot that we ended up with three rooms going, and people were going from one to the other all afternoon. Kev Spittle is owed thanks for this, he was the one who sorted all the DJ times out to accommodate everyone.  

Saturday night: I'd been out for something to eat at 6.00 pm, and the music had just carried on straight through until 7.00 pm when the actual allnighter started. Stevie Z had been carted off to hospital by this time, and Richie Conn hadn't arrived due to illness, so Butch volunteered to do an extra half hour, and Jodie covered the other spot. It meant all the advertised timings were out, and I ended up doing the last two hours with John Mills, more of that later.   Again music wise, I'm useless. The only thing I did manage to do was count the number of tracks that were played before I did my spot that I could have played. I eventually made it 18 !  

Derek Pearson was on fine form. He managed to avoid buying a drink most of the night but gradually became more and more drunk to the point where he was DJing and tried to cue a record up by lifting the arm off the one that was playing at the time ! The expression on his face when the music stopped was a picture. It then took him three quarters of an hour to pack his records away because it all got too complicated for him. Later that night he was seen wandering around with a bacardi & coke, bottle of bud, and three quarters of a pint of bitter, strange really because he started off drinking lager  

John Weston provided the next entertainment. The previous night he had over indulged in alcohal, and having finished his spot packed his records away and padlocked the box. Strange thing to do really because the padlock he used belonged to Roger Banks ! John hadn't brought a padlock with him. Roger realised one of his locks was missing and asked, but John denied knowing anything about it. Not really a problem,..........until John came to do his set on the Saturday. Of course he couldn't open his box, and Roger had gone to bed ! Eventually Kev Spittle got the box open with a corkscrew.  

John Mills and I teamed up for the last two hours playing three in a row each, and about half an hour before the end he brought a chair on stage to sit down whilst I played my three. Bugger me if he didn't fall asleep ! It's the first time I've ever seen a DJ fall asleep whilst they are actually doing a spot, I've seen John Weston fall off the back of the stage drunk whilst DJing, but I've never seen someone fall asleep. Of course being the kind hearted guy I am, I woke him up and said it was his turn ! He played one, and then said you'll have to finish off I'm going to bed.  

Sunday morning. A lot of people gathered in the lounge for coffee before they went home. Everyone I spoke to really enjoyed themselves except one person who had asked where the Oldies room was on the Friday night. Hmm, didn't he look at the list of DJs at all ?   At Midday the music started again, I went down and had a couple of pints then made my weary way to the Station having enjoyed both the music, and the company, greatly to a huge degree. I'm told that the music eventually stopped at 3.30 am Monday morning.

The dates are already booked for next year, so as soon as you see the adverts get your deposits in.

The Prestatyn ' Midnight Hour' Weekender
8th, 9th, 10th March

I've recovered a bit now, so I'll do a bit of a venue report. I say a bit of a venue report, but it's rather long so bear with it.  

As one of the DJs I'd been invited along on the Thursday for a bit of a pre weekender party. Bit of a strange do really, you'd have expected some sort of presentation from Pontins, but it was really just a get together for people who were involved in the weekend. I sat with Roger and Jenny Banks, and strangely, whilst lots of people came and said hello, nobody actually sat with us for felt like we were sitting at the 'naughty table'.

Various people were taking a turn at the decks that had been set up, so Roger and I decided to do an hour together. We did about three quarters of an hour and then turned our watches back ten minutes, Rob Wigley was on after us, and he's such a nice guy he didn't really know what to do when we insisted he'd turned up ten minutes early for his spot. Eventually it dawned on him, and he threw us off the decks.  

Friday afternoon: Set up in the dealers room, and explored a bit more of the site. The main Sixties room appeared big enough to hold about 600 people dancing, and another 200 sitting. The Modern room if anything appeared even bigger although half the seats were blocked off.  

Friday allnighter: As always, I've no idea who played what, but the Friday night was always going to be an Oldies night anyway. However, it wasn't too bad because all the DJs whilst keeping the dancefloor full, did manage to play a few of the rarer pieces in their collections. Top spot of the night for me came from Mark Bicknell. I know, for various reasons, Mark hasn't continued to buy records and DJ on a regular basis, but he certainly managed to put together an excellent spot that not only kept the floor busy but also flowed well. One thing I did notice was that there were very few record buyers, in fact throughout the whole weekend sales remained low, but on the Friday night one record dealer had actually only sold 35.00 worth of records. My own DJ spot was at 5.00 am, and at that time it's got to be uptempo, so that's what I did, and people danced quite  happily through the whole spot. I had noticed that there hadn't been much R & B played throughout the night either, so threw almost a dozen into my spot and these were probably the most popular. I retired, somewhat dishevelled and tired, well that's what the papers say when someone is drunk anyway, about 6.30 am.  

Saturday morning: Throughout the whole weekend the camp site had a Radio station going on playing Soul music of all types and eras. I'd just wandered into the on-site shop to find Roger Banks and Steve buying a ball of string. Rob Messer was the unfortunate DJ as we burst into the radio studio, forced him into a chair, bin liner over the head and then tied him down. The idea was to leave him tied up with the microphone turned on so that listeners would be able to hear him calling for help. Unfortunately the string wasn't strong enough and he escaped. We did try and get some parcel tape to have another go but couldn't find any so he got away with that one !  

Saturday afternoon:  A showcase for various Soul Nights and Nighters with DJs from Lincoln, Dublin, The Brit in Nottingham, Blackburn allnighter and Awesworth Village Hall doing the business. I was a little disappointed because I would have thought given a showcase like this that the DJs would have pulled all the stops out, but the music did really seem rather average throughout the afternoon.

Saturday allnighter: Musically much better from all the DJs (Probably because I didn't do a spot on the Saturday !!!!) There were a lot more people there as well, and they were the normal nighter crowd, so they were buying records which made all the dealers much happier. The main part of the weekend was scheduled for 11.30 pm when Tony Middleton hit the stage. Now I saw Tony Middleton at Cleethorpes, and he was ok, not spectacular, just OK. And I'm sorry he was pretty much the same here. Too much of a supper club show rather than a Soul show. Ray Pollard on the other hand was magnificent, again I'd seen him before, at Yarmouth (and he doesn't seem to have aged at all in the last ten years), he was great there, and he was great at Prestatyn. The duet when they performed'I Have Faith In You' without knowing the words was certainly Tony Middleton's best song. For Ray Pollard, it had to be 'The Drifter'. After the show I stuck my head into the Modern room, and was surprised to find that I actually knew four records in a row that were played, so it was perhaps more Seventies than Y2K.  

Sunday Afternoon: The music started promptly at Midday, again mostly Oldies, but again, some rarities thrown in for good measure. By 4.00 pm I was in need of some sleep and a shower before the evening started so I packed the boxes away and shambled back to the Chalet.  

Sunday night: Sunday night is always party night at any weekender, more so for the record dealers because it's the first chance we get to have a drink without having to watch boxes of records. By design rather than accident, I found myself sitting at the 'Naughty Table' again.

I was DJing between 8.00pm and 9.00pm, sharing a spot with John Poole one of the promoters.   As we were sorting some records out John was telling me about the only negative feedback that he'd had all weekend. Apparently someone had complained that there hadn't been enough R & B played. John's response was that the DJs included Roger Banks, Carl Willingham and myself, all of whom played R & B on a regular basis. The guys response was that we were playing "The wrong sort of R & B". He wanted tracks like 'Little Queeny'. Well John and I had already decided to go for Oldies, and perhaps as a bit of devilment I dug down into the dark corner of my DJ box which very very rarely lets the records see the light of day, and pulled out a nice Hi demo copy of.............'Little Queeny'. The dancefloor filled up and we were away !

I finished with Frank Wilson 'Do I Love You', much to the amusement Angie sitting with Neil Rushton whose comment between bursts of laughter was 'I can't believe you've played that. Wonderful !'  My full playlist is below. As most people know, I don't generally play an out and out Oldies set, but both John Poole and I enjoyed doing it this night. It must have been ok because someone came and offered me a booking at a Classic Oldies night !   By 9.00 pm the 'Naughty Table was in full party mode, and I can only offer my apologies to anyone we might have offended, but we had a good time anyway.  

Sunday Night playlist 8.00 pm to 9.00 pm Shared with John Poole.  

Little Queeny - Bill Black - Hi
Tune Up - Junior Walker - Soul
That Driving Beat - Willie Mitchell - Hi
Shoes - Bobby Bland - Duke
One More Hurt - Majorie Black - Sue
Never Fall In Love - Bobby Freeman - Autumn
Time's A Wasting - Fuller Brothers - Soul Clock
I Got The Power - JoAnn Courcy - Twirl
Casualeers - Dance Dance Dance - Roulette
I'll Keep Holding On - Marvelettes - Tamla
Do I Love You - Frank Wilson - Tamla Motown  

In summing up this was a great weekender. Well organised, well promoted, thanks go to John Poole, Rob Wigley, Fish, and Mark Fletcher there. Pontins were only to willing to help, and really got into the spirit of things. What more can I say, the dates for next year have already been announced, get your bookings in now because I suspect this will become a major event on the Soul calendar with approaching 2,000 people there next year.