Prestatyn Soul Weekender FORUM: Archive - Ending April 16, 2004: Prestatyn Soul Weekender
Top of pageBottom of page   By JSmith ( on Monday, March 08, 2004 - 05:34 am:

Had a great time at this.
Melvin & Cody are great guys, full of fascinating storys.
Sat on the front of the stage and took a photo of Melvin & his son, Cody, Baby Washington, Bobby Hutton, James Bell, Don Gardner and Phil Perry all in a line singing "It'll Never Be Over For Me"...magical moment.

Top of pageBottom of page   By David Meikle ( on Monday, March 08, 2004 - 11:06 am:

Hope you can upload some photos John.

Wish I could have been there.

Top of pageBottom of page   By steve w ( on Monday, March 08, 2004 - 02:55 pm:

Cody Black singing "Mr.Blue" and Melvin Davis along with what seemed like a thousand other voices singing "I must love you" really stand out of the Fantastic live acts, at the allnighter session afterwards the "Detroit" powerhouse productions still pack the dancefloor and make the atmosphere sizzle that all us brits love. Quality never fades and records from labels like "Impact", "D-Town" and "Mary-Jane" are still doing it.
John I hope you can tell a tale or two in the forthcoming weeks. Thanks for a great weekend

Top of pageBottom of page   By David Meikle ( on Monday, March 08, 2004 - 03:04 pm:

Many thanks to JohnSoulSmith for sharing this pic of Melvin Davis and himself at the Prestatyn Weekender.
Melvin & John

Top of pageBottom of page   By SisDetroit ( on Monday, March 08, 2004 - 03:08 pm:

Thank you JohnSoulSmith. Melvin looks great, and so do you. :o)

Top of pageBottom of page   By David Meikle ( on Monday, March 08, 2004 - 03:13 pm:

An overview of the event from John.....

RANDOM THOUGHTS from the Weekender......

How proud I was of Bernie O'Briens (a good friend) for the live band's efforts (even though he turned a simple 90 minute sound check into a 4hr marathon).

How proud I was of him again when Phil Perry chased him to get copies of the scores for the musicians parts on the 2 Montclair's songs he performed.

How great it was to be able to sit on the front of the stage and take a photograph of Melvin Davis & his son, Baby Washington, Don Gardner, Bobby Hutton, Cody Black, James Bell and Phil Perry all in line singing "It�ll Never Be Over
For Me".

How joyous it was to see Phil Perry�s face as the 2,800 crowd reacted to the opening bar of the music to "Hung Up On Your Love".

How wonderful it was to be present at Phil�s Friday night modern soul live set. To just state that the man can sing the pants off just about anyone alive would still be an understatement.

The pleasure I got seeing Bobby Hutton�s face as we played him his old Blue Rock cut "Ooo Baby" over 30 years since he last heard it. Witnessing his gratitude when I got Paul Temple to give him a copy of the UK ABC 45 featuring his "Lend A Hand".

Bobby knew Lee Charles and I was going to ask questions about him during my proposed radio show interview with him, but Bernie's extended
sound check stopped that !!!!!

How ashamed I was to learn that someone had stolen James Bell�s expensive digital camera when he left it unattended for a few minutes.

How amusing it was to see Baby Washington trying to hide amongst the backing singers during her set, as she was overawed by the size of the audience watching her.

How rewarding it was to be present at the event that turned Melvin Davis from just being his son�s father into being his son�s hero.

How amusing to watch Melvin looking at and photographing all the soul related car stickers / number plates in the parking lot.

The disappointment I felt when Cody Black informed me that all the blue label
copies (I have one) of his Ram-brock "Going Going Gone" 45�s must be bootlegs because he ran the label and only had red label copies of the 45 made.

Being able to play Melvin Davis a Groovesville music acetate (titled "Happy") My friend owns to ascertain if (as stated by its seller) it was Melvin singing the cut.

The disappointment felt when we were told NO and that it also wasn�t Steve Mancha, JJ Barnes or anyone else Melvin recognised and the pleasure
when Cody said, let me listen again�yea thats Joe Matthews singing on that !!!!

Learning from James Bell the circumstances surrounding his decision to quit the Highlighters and that Rojam (the label his big 45�s came out on) was named after local WTLC DJ Paul Major � its major backwards !!.

Also his confirmation of what a dirty biz the record industry could be; James paid for the studio session that resulted in his Rojam cuts and was ordering / paying for copies of
the 45�s to be pressed and selling them. He then learnt that Paul Major was also having multiple copies pressed, selling these himself and pocketing the cash.

More trivia learnt �� Tobi Lark / Tobi Legend�s real name (Bessie Washington), that Cody Black taught the Precisions to sing harmony. That he put the Magictones together. That he worked with all 3 acts as well as Joe Matthews & numerous other Mike Hanks and Don Davis artists. That Cody was the last act to play the 20 Grand before it closed.

That Bobby Hutton was a member of the
Capitols in the group�s formative stage.


Top of pageBottom of page   By David Meikle ( on Monday, March 08, 2004 - 03:16 pm:

Many thanks John.

Thoroughly enjoyed reading your report.

It's remarkable that these guys are playing in front of almost 3,000 people.


Top of pageBottom of page   By David Meikle ( on Monday, March 08, 2004 - 07:03 pm:

From Dave Leedham.

A quite unbelievable line-up.

Don Gardner-Melvin Davis-Cody Black-Bobby Hutton
fab 4

Top of pageBottom of page   By JSmith ( on Tuesday, March 09, 2004 - 02:42 am:

I should state that the photo of Melvin & myself was also taken by 'Snapper' Leedham.
A full CD of Melvin's tracks is now available via Rock Mill / Hayley Records + Melvin gave me a 2nd CD containing recent cuts he recorded with the help of Pat Lewis and similar Detroit stalwarts.
Cody (back living in Cincinatti) played us some unreleased cuts he laid down in the 80's / 90's and many of them are great. Bobby Hutton also played us some unreleased cuts that he describes as being 'jazz' but as some feature him reworking 70's Four Tops numbers, they didn't sound like jazz to me....just great soul.
James Bell also has 2 CD's out, both feature soul & funk tracks including reworkings of his old Rojam / 3 Diamonds gems.

Top of pageBottom of page   By JSmith ( on Tuesday, March 09, 2004 - 03:03 am:

RE: my photographs of Melvin Davis & his son, Baby Washington, Don Gardner, Bobby Hutton, Cody Black, James Bell and Phil Perry all in line singing �It�ll Never Be Over For Me�...... I took these with my SLR and so they will not be back from processing for a few days.
While Dave Leedham prowls backstage and so gets the great dressing room shots, I get positioned (sat) on the front of the stage, so get better (!!!) live performance shots (both stills and video). I sit towards the side of the stage so as not to block the view of the front centre audience and so was ideally placed to get a shot along the whole line of 8 singers on the final number.
If David M would be good enough to post one of these to the forum when I have jpeged it & sent it onto him, then everyone can see it. I have lots of good digi photos of Phil Perry taken during his Friday night 'modern soul' room live session if anyone would be interested in seeing one of these (again I would need David's help in getting one posted here).

Top of pageBottom of page   By Eva ( on Tuesday, March 09, 2004 - 04:13 am:

Hi John S.,

Now I finally know what you look like, after reading your posts so many years! The Prestatyn weekender looks like a great event, and for the performers it must be quite heartwarming to get such an enthusiastic reception-they probably don't see that kind of audiences in the U.S.!

I would love to see more pics, especially of Baby Washington and Phil Perry (I'm listening to Westside's lovely Montclairs re-issue right now).


Top of pageBottom of page   By David Meikle ( on Tuesday, March 09, 2004 - 04:45 am:


Please forward as many pics as you like.

If they each one is less than 49k in size that saves me a ton of work!

Looking forward to seeing and displaying them.


Top of pageBottom of page   By Flynny ( on Wednesday, March 10, 2004 - 09:05 am:

Ref the blue lable 'Going, going, gone' 45's by Cody Black.

I'm surprised to read that he said they are bootlegs. The deadwax stamped markings on these (both demo and stock copies) clearly illustrate that RCA pressed them up...surely a deal for wider distribution or a switch of pressing plant to meet demand for the track?
Worth pursuing imo.

(The red label ones are the local press copies)

Top of pageBottom of page   By JSmith ( on Wednesday, March 10, 2004 - 09:32 am:

I did press Cody on this one. He ran Ram-brock himself (the money for the label was put up by 3 doctors he said) and (according to Cody) had all the copies of the 45 pressed up himself (the red label ones).
I asked if the Doctor's or A.N.Other could have had the blue label copies pressed up and he was adamant they wouldn't have been able to.
I then asked if the 45 could have been pressed up again, after he had left for Ston-Roc and was enjoying national releases on Capitol. He didn't think, but did admit that one of the Doctors had retained the master tapes for all the Ram-brock stuff (so that could be the answer).
It's unlikely to have been pressed up for the UK NS scene as although it is a good cut, it has never really been a top want here. Cody certainly had no knowledge of the blue labelled copies and had never seen one before. The label name is even printed in a different way; on blue it is typed in a straight line, whilst on red it is curved (so the label layout must have been redesigned). Did any other releases on the label have a similar label type face as the blue versions of "Going Going Gone"??.
ALSO.........whats the 1st release on the label like (the Magictones 45)??

Top of pageBottom of page   By JSmith ( on Wednesday, March 10, 2004 - 09:39 am:

Further info............
VH1 were present at the weekender and shot about 6hrs of footage with the intension of making a full programme about the event.
They conducted 20min+ interviews with most of the artists and many of the DJ's. Shot dance floor action, the record bar, live show, etc.
Do VH1 also broadcast their UK / Euro shot shows in the US ??

Top of pageBottom of page   By acooolcat ( on Wednesday, March 10, 2004 - 10:08 am:

I have "Going Going Gone" on a plain white label.
With the greatest respect to Cody, he couldn't know everything that happened at Rambrock.

Top of pageBottom of page   By David Meikle ( on Wednesday, March 10, 2004 - 11:46 am:


Please keep us informed of any future VH1 programming on the event.

Top of pageBottom of page   By David Meikle ( on Wednesday, March 10, 2004 - 05:08 pm:

For Eva from Dave Leedham....Phil Perry

Top of pageBottom of page   By David Meikle ( on Thursday, March 11, 2004 - 03:41 pm:

Cody Black from John Smith

Top of pageBottom of page   By David Meikle ( on Thursday, March 11, 2004 - 03:43 pm:

That looks like a copy of Mr Blue at Cody's left heel!

Another excellent pic from John....Bobby Hutton signs some 45's

Top of pageBottom of page   By David Meikle ( on Saturday, March 13, 2004 - 08:24 am:

On the next thread is John's report on the weekender. Thanks again to him for sharing his memories.

Can I also say that I am very proud of the part the Northern Soul Scene in the United Kingdom continues to play in keeping this heritage alive and well.


Top of pageBottom of page   By David Meikle ( on Saturday, March 13, 2004 - 08:30 am:

From John.....

Prestatyn 2004

The Four Tops sang about �7 Rooms of Gloom� but the Prestatyn Soul Weekender provides 7 rooms of soul; 5 music rooms, a record bar and a restaurant area where it is not uncommon to be able to sit down with one of the guest artists and chat over a meal. In addition to this, an on-site radio station staffed by top DJ�s / collectors pipes classy soul music of all tempos into every chalet. In fact, there is so much going on at the event that is impossible to experience it all. Soon after arrival on site, it becomes necessary to sit down and scan the comprehensive programme to plan an itinerary for the following 3 days otherwise events of real significance will be missed.

Musically the weekend was launched in the Queen Vic at 2pm Friday as the extended �London Calling� session commenced. I had a radio show to present at 8pm but when I exited the studio an hour later it was evident that the majority of the 2800 attendees had arrived in good time to ensure they were fully acclimatised before the crush at the bar became too established. The DJ�s musical selections soon had people heading out on the floor and the ice was really broken a couple of hours later during the dance competition. The live performance schedule was kicked off 30 minutes after midnight in Arena 2 by the UK�s own Gary Des-Etages. Unfortunately, due to a mix up, the backing band hadn�t received Gary�s music and so he had to perform over backing tapes. Even though this constrained him, it was evident just how much his stage technique has developed in the last 12 months. The crowd soon warmed as he delivered near perfect renditions of �Dance With Me�, �U Don't Try To Change Me�, �No Compromise� and �Too Much To Lose�. He finished off his show on a real high with his storming version of �Glow of Love�.

The band then took their places and Phil Perry hit the stage. To say that Phil immediately took command of the room is no understatement. This man can sing and then some, he has vocal qualities most others can only dream of and a range so extensive he could open a hypermarket. We were treated to showmanship and singing of the highest order as he attacked songs such as �One Touch� and �The Way That I Want You�, whilst the up tempo �Mind Blowah� really had the audience reveling. Phil is such a professional that during the instrumental break of one of his early numbers, he went around each musician and the backing singers to check that they could hear themselves properly through the stage monitors. Next up came �Do What Comes Natural�, �My Book Of Love�, �Heart Of My Heart�, �Closer To Heaven� and then �Magic�, every song being delivered with such perfection that it was hard to comprehend it was all happening live before our very eyes. The proceedings were just rushing by and unfortunately it was soon time for Phil to bring his show to an end with �Keep Reminding Me�. A couple had traveled all the way from South Africa just to catch his act and I am sure their decision was rewarded in full. I have witnessed too many great soul artists perform live to even attempt to list them all, but when the time comes for me to compile my top 3 all time favorite live shows, Phil most certainly ensured his inclusion with this performance. By the time the stage had emptied, it was well past 2am and fatigue was setting in with vengeance. After a short spell watching the dancers in the main 60�s room, it was time to adjourn to bed (even though the music would continue all night).

As our chalet was located amongst those allocated to the guest performers, within an hour of rising on Saturday, we had a full house as first Melvin Davis paid a visit and then Cody Black arrived with Bobby Hutton. Don Gardner had once again returned to Prestatyn, this time as Baby Washington�s traveling companion, and James Bell (ex lead singer with the Highlighters) was also on site. The opportunity to also chat with them was therefore not missed. The music got underway again in the rooms at midday and so we dragged our already weary bodies back into the fray. I had my 2 hour long �artist interview� radio show to undertake at 4pm, so I was soon back in the chalet collecting my records and CD�s. It was planned that Baby Washington would be my first guest with the other artists joining me as they completed their sound checks. I put Baby at her ease and we enjoyed an informative 20-minute chat interspersed with plays for some of her old records. Unfortunately the planned 90 minute sound check greatly overran and due to the need to ensure the nights big live show was fully rehearsed, none of the other artists actually made it into the studio to be interviewed. Overcoming my disappointment, I refueled with a quick intake of food and then headed off to bath and change for the big event.

By now I was pacing myself and so a late entry into the music arenas was made for the Saturday night session. The DJ�s handed the stage over to the band about 11.30pm and as Bernie O�Brien had fully drilled the musicians with regard to their task, I knew we were in for something exceptional. First up was the tall and slim Melvin Davis who commenced proceedings with �Chains of Love�. Melvin had earlier told me that he had written from his own personal experiences and so to give one of his songs away to another singer had always been a great wrench. It was thus fitting that he got to sing �I�m The One Who Loves You� to an ecstatic audience reaction. By now he was really enjoying himself and as emotion overtook him, he danced right across the large stage. �I Must Love You� and �Find A Quite Place� followed in quick succession and then the first suprise of the evening occurred as he was joined on stage by his son and the pair performed �I Need My Baby� as a duet. In an instant they were gone and Cody Black had command of the mike. Cody suffered a major knee injury in the recent past and so he was having trouble moving his large frame around but the atmosphere soon got to him and he too was attempting to dance. He opened with his Ram-brock stormer �Going Going Gone� and then sang �It�s Our Time To Fall In Love�. �Mr. Blue came next but the audience really went wild as the unmistakable opening bars to �I�m Slowly Moulding� rang out. Bobby Hutton had been a late replacement on the bill but as he has visited these shores before, he knew just what to expect. The band had only had time to learn two of his tracks and so without any delay they charged straight into �Lend A Hand�. The hectic tempo cooled slightly as �Come See Whats Left Of Me� followed and still the crowd wanted more. Bobby and the band therefore had to do �Lend A Hand� a second time before Justine �Baby� Washington was allowed to succeed him.

Baby opened her act with �Hey Lonely� and then moved onto a real crowd pleaser, �I Can�t Wait Until I See My Baby�s Face�. Even though she had enjoyed a number of big pop hits back in the 1960�s, the shear size of the audience seemed to get to her and so she sought moral support by �hiding� in amongst the backing singers. Resplendent in a long gown and looking extremely beautiful, her composure returned as she concluded her show with �Leave Me Alone�. Phil Perry now returned to the fray and performed 2 old Montclair�s tracks (he had been the group�s lead singer before deciding to go solo). The rare soul anthem �Hey You Don�t Fight It� first rang out around the arena and then the roof nearly came off the room as the opening bars of the old Casino favorite �Hung Up On Your Love� rang out. The look of joy on Phil�s face as the 2800 crowd reacted wildly to the song was immense. The lights then dropped and the show was seemingly over, but Baby Washington hadn�t sung "It�ll Never Be Over For Me" yet and the crowd wasn�t going to accept that. She reappeared at the back of the stage and the song started. However as she continued towards front centre, the whole gang of guest artists followed her onto stage. In no time, Melvin Davis & his son, Baby Washington herself, Don Gardner, Bobby Hutton, Cody Black, James Bell and Phil Perry were all in line and singing the words of the song. What a fitting climax to an absolutely epic live presentation. Records replaced live voices as the artists chilled out backstage for a while. They soon emerged though and moved across into the restaurant area where autographing stations had been set up. A large queue quickly formed, but by 4am I was well past my sell-by date and so again crashed out for the rest of the night.

Sunday�s events usually get off to a late start and take some time to reach full speed but the feeling was so strong this year that no discernible drop in tempo actually occurred. The dance floors were not quite as busy as they had been earlier in the weekend but they were still crowded enough to engender a really good atmosphere. By now everyone, the DJ�s, dancers, record buyers and the facilities staff were operating like a well oiled machine. The DJ format changed as teams of two now took charge of the decks. As the jocks sparked off each other, a real atmosphere grew and this led perfectly into the Sunday night �party� session that winds up the weekender�s formal proceedings.

So a hectic but brilliant weekend came to a close. Hopefully some memories of what had occurred over the 3 days will be rekindled when VH1, who were in attendance and shot hours of footage, broadcast their proposed TV programme. In �7 Rooms of Gloom� Levi Stubbs berated the empty silence surrounding him. At Prestatyn, the only rooms where lonely walls stare back at you are the chalets which are purely used when sleep becomes an absolute necessity. As the allnighter sessions ended and darkness turned into light, a steady procession snaked out of the music rooms in the direction of the chalets. Everyone will need a few days to recover from the proceedings but judging by the number of happy soulsters queuing to rebook for next year, the 2005 event is already guaranteed to be sold out.

MARCH 2004

Top of pageBottom of page   By Dave Rimmer ( on Sunday, March 14, 2004 - 06:11 pm:

A 'few days to recover' ????!!!!!!!

It took me until Thursday to get my voice back properly !

Top of pageBottom of page   By Flynny ( on Monday, March 15, 2004 - 08:08 am:

Pursuing the blue Rambrock bit...the matix indicates that it was a recording taken to RCA to produce a laquer from, some time between January and June '68 (and also that it's a 45 and mono).
(details at:

(...and in answer to your other question...The Magictones 45 is good Detroit soul of that period, but not a real NS dance-floor label design.)

Nice write up, by the way, John...and Mr.Rimmer...if you didn't shout on the mic you wouldn't lose your voice so ;-)


Top of pageBottom of page   By Rob Wigley ( on Friday, March 19, 2004 - 09:19 am:

well what can we say after reading that lot !!
just thanks to everyone who has sent messages to us saying how much they enjoyed the weekender and get booking for next year, We have a good idea who's coming just finnishing off the full line up ! Watch our web site
for details. thanks again, Rob Wigley on behalf of the Midnight Hour Team

Top of pageBottom of page   By David Meikle ( on Saturday, March 20, 2004 - 03:30 pm:

Another nice pic from John
L-R Baby Washington, Cody Black, Don Gardner, James Bell
and Phil Perry. Melvin Davis was off to the left (out of shot) and
Bobby Hutton had broken the line & was heading off stage right.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Soul Sister ( on Saturday, March 20, 2004 - 03:42 pm:

Justine looks good!

Top of pageBottom of page   By motown_david ( on Saturday, March 20, 2004 - 04:26 pm:

I am thrilled to see a picture of Baby - one of my all time soul heroines.
Many thanks,

Top of pageBottom of page   By David Meikle ( on Wednesday, March 24, 2004 - 05:32 pm:

Dave Leedham sends in another pic of Baby, this time with Scotland's Keith Money.

Top of pageBottom of page   By motown_david ( on Thursday, March 25, 2004 - 04:05 am:

I love this photo. What did I miss that weekend? Aargh! Should have been there.

Top of pageBottom of page   By David Meikle ( on Thursday, March 25, 2004 - 04:58 am:


I love this photo too.

Justine looks so content.

Top of pageBottom of page   By CORNBREAD ( on Thursday, March 25, 2004 - 08:51 am:

Hey Baby Washington sure looks mighty fine for a lady of her age.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Conrad ( on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 04:56 pm:

Hail the best weekender in many a day...congrats to Mark, Fish , Rob and all who were involved in the organisation of this top notch soul "occasion".
Its great to see its appreciated as much by the lovers of the "Northern" scene as it is by us lovers of the "Modern" scene...great soul is great soul....."We were so glad we took it easy this weekend"...The big Northern Room was so good on occassions that I have developed this massive desire for 60s grooves, on top of my overwhelming desire for the 70's stuff....Right thats enuff of the ramblings of this fat ***, lets 'ave some house music.

Top of pageBottom of page   By bunnersoul ( on Tuesday, March 30, 2004 - 05:42 pm:

had a great weekend as usual, just to let you know James bell got his camera returned on the sunday afternoon.

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