Mr.M's The One That's 'Got Away' with it's OLDIES . . .
Mike Walker reveals the facts . . .
I constantly get asked to do more about promoting Mr.M's, and must admit that at times I tend to under-estimate the great following that the place has, which in the first instance was only really opened as an overspill for the Casino's main room. Not so these days I'm pleased to say, infact many people travel hundreds of miles each week, just for that unique session of OLDIES, and I can say without doubt that ' M's ' is as well known as any other venue in the country.
A couple of days before our 2nd Anniversary All-Nighter at Wigan, Gerry Marshall and myself had the unfortunate decision of having to turn hundreds of members applications for tickets away for the event . . . . we really had no idea where we could house any more members, and although on one hand, we were very happy about the overwhelming success of the event, couldn't help but be very concerned for the people who had sent applications, and who would have been turned away on the night.
In those days ' M's ' was being used as a Cabaret Club, and although situated in the same building, was run as a totally seperate entity . . . infact for two years, the cabaret artistes used to appear whilst the All-Nighter was running in the main hall, with only those two metal doors on the balcony seperating the entire proceedings. Artistes like Freddie Starr often appeared in those days, and after his show would mingle with the crowd in the Casino. The name Mr.M's by the way is simply a pun on Gerry Marshall's name, if you ever heard any of the staff they always refer to him as Mr.M.
The thought of turning the Cabaret room into a potential 'overspill' All-Nighter, did not I'm afraid at first appeal to Gerry, as only months previously there had been a small fortune spent on re-decorating the place, and even the best 'Soulie' in the world is not the most careful of people . . . Nevertheless with applications for the tickets still pouring in, and with the 'persuasive' confidence of Harry Green and myself, Gerry agreed to allow us to use the room on this ONE occassion, just as long as we guarantee maximum security, no damage, and, that everything was put back in it's proper place the following morning. Easier said than done . . . at 2am the Cabaret session closed, by 2 to 2.45am we had cleared the room of over 300 people 200 tables and chairs, three enormous rolls of carpet, plus just about everything else in the room that was moveable, including a piano and a set of drums from the stage.
Our beachcomber All-Nighter 'Warm Up' D.J.'s Brian Rigby and Alan Cain were elected to run the proceedings in M's from 3am to 8am, and after struggling up the winding Casino back stairs with speakers, turntables, records, wires, and the like, which in it's self is not the easiest of tasks, M's first session was opened. A non-stop selection of OLDIES were played, I don't believe anyone even spoke over the mic, that night, and for five glorious hours Brian and Alan along with the help of Kenny Spence, Mike Rolo, Steve Whittle, plus a whole host of helpers, ran the thing perfectly. The crowd of course were allowed beyond those two metal doors, and at one point during the night, I would honestly say that there were more people in M's than in the main hall. The first night to all intents and purposes should have been the last, but such was the response in successive weeks for this 'new' room to be opened again that the petition with over 1,000 names, finally convinced us that M's was HERE TO STAY. Gerry I'm pleased to say was more than happy about the decor after the first session and with accurate timing and organisation, we were able to continue clearing the Cabaret crowds, and re-open approximately 60 minutes later as an Oldie's room. Such has been the demand for 'Oldie's' that through the success of M's, the first Friday and mid-month All-Nighter sessions came into being, and no one can say that these have not been a tremendous success.
I must admit that in the early days, our newer, and less qualified Jocks' were given their first work in the oldies room, but without a doubt these days, the guys who spin in M's are as well respected as any other on the scene.
DAVE EVISON: The full story (or as Neil Rushton would put "Shock horror probe").
About a month ago Dave played a full hour of northern Motown sides in the main hall and in M's. This was so successful that h e will be repeating this every Saturday after the Friday oldies all nighter. In the main hall at 6.30 - 7.30 and in M's at about sometime between 4 and 6 (one hour only). Whilst speeding up the motorway Dave told me his weekly regular DJ-ing stints. They are: TUES. Carolines, M/C with Pete Thorpe and Ricky Searling. WED. Wigan Casino 7.30 - 11.00 Russ does this every week but Dave is there alternative weeks. THUR. Blue Rooms, Sale Mecca, 8.30 - 12.30 with Colin Curtis. SAT. Wigan Casino All nighter. SUN. Rochdale Tiffanys with Drew (he wears a hat, but not much else!) Quite a busy bee is our Dave as he also does the Wigan oldies one Friday a month.
Top oldies of the moment are: Love is a good foundation-Leslie Uggams (Sonday), There's nothing else to say- Incredibles (Audio Arts), More today than yesterday-Spiral Staicase (Columbia), Prepared to love you-Thelma Lyndsey (Magic City), I'm not built that way-Hesitations (Kapp), Be's that way sometimes-Bobby Wells (Romur), Build your house on a strong foundation (Bee Bee), Bar-B-Que-Wendy Rene (Stax), I still love you-Superlatives (Uptite), Tightrope-Inez & Charlie Foxx (Dynamo).
Finally, Dave would like your opinion on a possible OKEH hour. Do you think it would be a good idea? Then tell Dave at the Casino, don't be shy, he wants to know.
Left on the downstairs bar, after the last 50 copies of "Love Hustle" had been sold. It shows a great view of Mr.M's, it's even in the same colour orange as the seating was.....notice the glass partitioning behind the piano...... the balcony above.......memories!!!
Our established tried and tested line up at the moment is as follows :
Kenny Spence & Steve Whittle.
KENNY SPENCE. Kenny is the Jock in charge of proceedings in M's, he is the guy who organises spots, is responsible for equipment, and generally keeps the rest of the guys together. He really does do an incredible job, and since he has been involved in one way or another with the Casino for as long as I can remember, must rate as the longest serving Jock on our books. During the day Kenny works at the Horwich Loco Works and must be the only fella I know who actually built his very own 'Soul Train'.
Brian Rae & Gal.
BRIAN RAE. Brian is our all purpose Jock, working in both rooms, and guaranteed to work anytime, anywhere, anyplace . . . he must be the most well travelled DJ in the country, I have known him to be at one end of the country in the morning, work two gigs in the Midlands during the afternoon, do a spot in the north of Scotland in the evening and still get to an All-Nighter at Wigan to work both halls. His selection of oldies is second to none, probably due to the fact that he bought them when they were 'first' issued. Brian is a full time Jock, and lives in Warrington.
Stuart Brackenridge. Alias the taller half of the now defunct 'Soul Brothers'. Stuart has been in M's almost from the start and has the reputation of being one of the nicest guys on the scene. He has an incredible knowledge of sounds, and I have never yet seen him play to anything less than a full floor.
Stuart is in fact a highly qualified ' chef ' during the day, and is noted for his ' Sliced tomato ' and ' Green Onion ' dishes. (Sorry Stuart). He lives in Horwich, near Bolton.
Steve Whittle. Steve I remember was at the very first Casino All-Nighter, he was one of our regular customers, and was in fact among the few who insisted that we should try All-Nighters at the Casino in the first place. Steve was also one of the first Jocks to work in M's, and I remember him helping out on the first night during the 2nd Anniversary. With the exception of a very short break when he got married, Steve has been with us throughout, and is a very essential part of the team. A landscape gardener by day, Steve really does 'Dig' his music.
DEREK GALLAGHER. Last but not least is 'Gal' . . . this guy has got to be the most happy-go-lucky Jock in the business. I have never seen him when he has been down in the mouth, or when he has not been full of spirits ( not always the drinking kind ). You can guarantee that his spot will be incredible, as he plays only what people want, and has over the past couple of years built up a tremendous following,
especially with members of the fair sex! Gal has his own decorating business in Bolton, and if you ever want to 'Paint the Town' . . . Gal is your man.
Mr M's...... The time warp in a time warp ? C/O Soul Time.
At one time you could go into Mr M's and expect to hear nothing but oldies, nothing but Superlatives, Nolan Chance, Trips etc. Not any more as I've recently heard sounds like August & Deneen, Jewells and a few others that linger on in the main dance floor.
Though these records are oldies compared to how long ago they were first played, it is unusual to hear the same record in the main dance floor and also hear it in an oldies room. The main reason these type of 'almost oldies' get spun is the inclusion of two brothers spinning the sounds, so I thought I'd ask them to tell me briefly what is happening in M's these days. So, over to you Stuart & Neil (The Soul Twins):
When Dave asked us to compile an article on M's we were a little taken aback, mainly because out of all the DJ's at Wigan we are the newest and least experienced. Anyway here goes. (and if we never write for any magazine again you'll know why).
Mr. M's appeared on the scene approx. 6 months after the Casino opened. The main reason for this was to take the increasing numbers overcrowding the main dance floor. Secondly, oldies were becoming more and more popular for various reasons. Mr. M's is a hard subject to write about on account of the fact that it never changes much, but this does not alter the fact that it is increasing in popularity, you only need to look at the entrance at 2.30 to see a swarm of people waiting to get in.
The oldest reining DJ at M's is of course Kenny Spence, he's been there since the start. In our experience he is the kind of chap who doesn't seem to make enemies. They say that "large" people are always cheerful, well this is Kenny to a 'T'. although Ken admits he is not an ardent collector he keeps the crowd happy by spinning sounds like Wendy Rene's Bar B Que, Gem's I'll be there and before I go onto a long list let's just say that if Ken's got it and you want it, then he'll play it! Well, that just 'rounds' Kenny off except to say he perhaps plays a bit too much modern stuff.
Next in line is of course Dave Evison, and it's funny that everytime you open a mag. these days, Dave's name always pops up at you. Well he's certainly worked to get where he is now the only trouble is what can you say about him, that hasn't been said before? Recently Dave has been playing a lot of Motown, and good or bad this is a matter of opinion, but Dave has certainly put the oldies scene on top. A few off Dave's playlist are: "Hope we have"- Artistics, "Gotta have your love"- Sapphires, "Living above your head"- Jay & Americans, "Living a lie"- High Keyes. Well that's Dave Evison and as I said before what can you say about him that you haven't heard on Crown Court, sorry Dave, only kidding!
In the past 3 years that M's has been running there have been various DJ's in the form of Mike Rolo, Steve Whittle, Steve Gallezi and Billy Paul. All have split the scene now as far as we know, though all helped to lay the foundation for making Mr M's what it is today.
Now it's time to blow our own trumpets (stop reading if you're gettin' bored!) I've been on the scene 4 1/2 years and Neil for 3 years. I regularly visited Va-Va's before Wigan opened, and only after buying a few records and playing them at home did Neil turn on to northern soul via "Skiing in the snow", "Laws of love" and "Love,love,love". Mind you, if you had been endowed with a memory like mine you'd have difficulty remembering which records you'd got, for now it seems that Neil knows more than I do. Our favorite oldies are Rufus Lumley - "I'm standing" (Stateside), "Tired of being lonely" - Sharpees (Stateside), "Dr. Love" - Bobby Sheen (Capitol).
Finally some sounds we are currently playing in M's are: "Satisfied" - Ben Aiken (Loma), "Stranger in my arms" - Lynne Randell (C.B.S.), "As long as you love me I'll stay" - Ronnie & Robyn (Sidra), "My dear heart" - Shawne Robinson (Minit), "Time marches on" - Lainie Hill (New Voice). So there you are, that just about sums M's up past and present, except to say thanks for all your support, keep it up! Right On. Stuart & Neil.