Preview: Craig Charles at 53 Degrees in Preston

This week I spoke to Neil Whittaker, of Valley Events, Kim Hollin, from Templebys, and DJ Paul Thornton about Craig Charles’ upcoming gig at 53 Degrees.

Q1: Tell us all about your forthcoming night.  What is it and where is it?

Neil Whittaker: The Craig Charles Funk & Soul show returns to 53 Degrees, Brook Street in Preston, on Saturday 16th November. Craig will be supported by Preston’s finest Funk and Soul band, Templebys, playing an hour long set of original tunes. DJ’s Paul Thornton and Chris Holt will be stitching it all together with Funk and Soul to keep you dancing until the early hours!

Q2: Tell us a bit more about you and your involvement with the event.

Neil Whittaker: Working closely with 53 Degrees, Valley Event Management are proud to bring Craig Charles back to 53 Degrees for his third show here. We have a great relationship with the venue, the band and the DJ’s.  It’s one of the best events we organise and has become a key night on our calendar.

Kim Hollin: We have been together as a band for three years and this will be our third Craig Charles show. As one of the few local original funk and soul acts we feel really happy to have been a part of all the shows Craig has done in Preston. We have been avid followers of the radio and live show since we first saw Craig at Kendal Calling in 2009 and his show at the festival was one of the things that inspired us to start playing our kind of music.

Paul Thornton: (Like Templebys, Paul Thornton and Chris Holt have played at every Craig Charles event in Preston to date.) We love DJing at the Craig Charles show.  It gives us an opportunity to play the funk and soul records that we play on the radio to an appreciative dancefloor without having to play all the obvious stuff to get them going. Plus the soundsystem is awesome which makes those old soul seven inches sound really great.

Q3: Whats your background and do you also play specific nights?

Neil Whittaker: Being a frustrated musician (I cant sing or play!), I grew up surrounded by talented musician friends and I have a passion for live music events and wanted to be involved. Having DJ’d at a number of indie club nights I started to set up my own pub gigs with friends’ bands and this just escalated to the events we are doing now. My background was always indie style music but it slipped into funk and soul while I was on the hunt for new music, discovering bands like Smoove and Turrell and loving the vibe! I still love my indie nights and have just booked The Clone Roses and Clint Boon back at 53 Degrees in April. We are also deep into the Classic VW scene and provided bands for the Leeds VW Festival this year.

Kim Hollin: We have put our own nights on in the past and it was the way we started out but for the past year have been focusing on getting out into more specialist funk and soul venues around the country. Preston will always be our musical home though!

Paul Thornton: Chris and I have been honing our skills as a DJ tag team for a few years now at The Beat-Herder Festival. Between us we have 40 years of DJing experience and have both been collecting funk and soul records for a long time. We both came to the music at different angles.  Chris is a little bit older than me, so he was lucky enough to go to the Northern Soul parties when a friend’s uncle used to sneak him in.  I guess I came at it from a hip hop angle. I have always loved A Tribe Called Quest so when I realised the tracks where huge samples from funk and soul records, I started to hunt them down and got immersed in the scene that way.

I have been DJing ‘out’ since the 90s at clubs and festivals. I co-promote Preston’s longest standing club night, Itch, with Paul Watson from Fatcity and Cottam.  We spent our teens playing records in his bedroom and Itch is an extension of that house party, ‘anything goes’ feeling. Over the last ten years, we are proud to have brought the likes of John Morales, RSL, Domu, Diesler, Treva Whateva and Jon K to the city. I am closely involved with the Trailer Trash crew and have played their stage at the Beat-Herder Festival every year since 2006. And I’m one of the residents at the Preston Boogizm events. All three of these are parties full of music aficionados that know how to let loose on the dancefloor. I’m into all sorts of music, both electronic and live, so the different events give me chance to play the different styles of records I love.  I present the Dig Deep Radio Show on the  third Saturday of the month on Cowbell Radio and every other Thursday on Preston FM.

Chris used to DJ at the infamous Jazzy Kex in Blackburn, he is one half of Two Mellow (alongside Templebys drummer Phil Carr) and has his own Curli-que record label. His Four Corners Radio show has been running on Preston FM for over 6 years, has attracted some key players in the Funk/Soul and Disco scene and is going from strength to strength.  He has also played at Itch many many times over the years.

Q4: What should we expect of the night?

Neil Whittaker: An energetic mix of live music and three amazing DJ’s. Expect to dance like you’ve never danced before!

Kim Hollin: you should expect to dance and get your funk on big time!

Paul Thornton: Craig is a true entertainer and he puts on a great show. On top of that he knows his tunes and he knows how to rock a dancefloor.  Last time Craig played a 9 minute long Bob Marley record that had no drums in it and he had the whole room dancing and singing along. Templebys really are an excellent band. Proper authentic funk and soul. As tight as they come and Kim’s vocals are amazing. They have been working on some new tracks so hopefully we will get a taster of what is to come. Me and Chris bounce off each other really well and we always bring a load of vinyl, so you can expect that really warm sound of those age old grooves that were pressed in the 70s when people really knew how to dance. We don’t just play old stuff though, we mix in the more modern funk from the likes of Alice Russell, Quantic Soul Orchestra and Sharon Jones as well. We keep the music going all night and there are no big gaps between the acts so we keep the dance floor moving.

Q5: What are you most looking forward to from the night?

Neil Whittaker: I’m looking forward to seeing the Templebys play a full hour set as main support, previously they have been opening act and limited to a tight set time. I’m also looking forward to the wild cards thrown in by Craig himself, I always come away from this gig thinking, ‘Wow, I never expected to hear that tonight!’

Kim Hollins: We are also looking forward to getting our dance on! As well as being performers we love funk and soul music and a big part of our reason for playing this kind of music is because we love dancing to it.

Paul Thornton: New stuff from Templebys. I’ve not seen them for a while. They did the festival circuit this year and I have heard they are even better than ever. Plus of course Craig Charles doing his thing, he’s a pleasure to watch as he plays to the crowd. And Chris and I have got a raft of new seven inches since last time, so I’m also looking forward to giving them a spin.

Q6: Finally, how much is the night and where can we buy tickets from?

Neil Whittaker: Tickets are just £10 each available from See tickets, The University Studio Union, and most online ticket vendors. Also available from Templebys, Paul Thornton and Chris Holt, or Neil Whittaker to avoid booking fees.


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