A free party featuring legendary Merseyside DJs Greg Wilson & Les Spaine, panels and Q&As with the Real Thing’s Eddie Amoo, and an art exhibition featuring the Specials’ Horace Panter are among the events celebrating how Black American music and culture infiltrated Liverpool via New York this weekend.
Tracing these roots from the post-war period through to the nineties, Liverpool: Next Stop New York will celebrate the music that formed unique bond between the two trans-Atlantic cities, in a free, four-part LIMF commissioned extravaganza.
LIMF Curator Yaw Owusu said: “As a port city, Liverpool’s culture is informed by a range of influences from across the world but, besides Ireland, it’s probably fair to say, post war, the USA had the most profound affect on the city’s collective consciousness.
“After WWII took the stride out of Liverpool’s step, the new ideas, technology and culture coming over from the USA put colour back into the increasingly monochrome existence at the time.
“The two biggest sources for these revelatory discoveries were airbases like RAF Burtonwood just outside Warrington – where records were left behind by US pilots and a group who came to be known as the ‘Cunard Yanks’.
“Working on the trans-Atlantic Cunard cruise-liners, this group of working class lads – now afforded a middle-class salary and international freedoms – immediately stood out when they returned to Liverpool and heavily influenced the musical development that would go on to put Liverpool on the map.”
Launch Party – Friday 28th August
Taking to the iconic Palm House in Sefton Park, the party on 28 August at 7.30pmpromises to be the highlight of the four events. With DJs including Greg Wilson,the first-come-first-served free party is sure to fill up quickly.
Working at Manchester’s Legend, Wirral born Wilson took the cutting edge sounds coming over from New York and introduced them to a Manchester crowd in the late seventies and early eighties, both establishing the electro-funk/boogie scene in the city and playing an essential role in the UK’s adoption of mixing DJs – the tradition of announcing records still ingrained in the culture at the time. On the back of his success at Legend he was hired as the first ‘dance music specialist’ at the later legendary Haçienda in 1983.
Returning to Liverpool is Les Spaine. Born in Sierra Leone and then brought to Liverpool, Spaine made his mark on UK club culture in the seventies during his time at The Timepiece. Contrary to the belief that all Northern DJs played Northern Soul, DJs like Les spearheaded Liverpool’s defiant move against the grain, playing funkand soul records from the likes of Marvin Gaye and Kool & The Gang. Held in high regard by those in the know, Les went on to work for both Motown and Capitol Records after his time at Liverpool’s infamous funk and soul club.
A key figure in Manchester’s funk and soul underbelly in the nineties, Mark Rae’s Grand Central Records harnessed the soul-driven hip-hop sound coming out of the city at the time and combining it with the best he could find further afield. Bridging the gap between jazz, funk, reggae, hip-hop, breakbeat and jungle, his DJ sets draw from a whole history of Black American and British music.
Deep-rooted in the city’s hip-hop culture, having pushed it forward since the late ninties, No Fakin’ are a Liverpool hip-hop collective born out of a night of the same name. Made up of Kwinzola and DJ Illson, they use four turntables to create a semi-live show, blending and layering their way through a kaleidoscopic array of music anchored in hip-hop, complemented by live instruments, samplers, drum-machines and more.
Exploration – Saturday 29th & Sunday 30th August
Split over Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 August from midday until 6pm, an engagingexploration features a range of Q&A sessions, discussions and panels with music between and during. Covering a range of topics relating to Liverpool’s connectionwith US black music and culture, the interactive talks draw together a range of knowledgeable people drawing from first hand experience.
Cunard Yanks Ritchie Barton and Billy Harrison will lead the talks exploring the influence the trans-Atlantic cruise-liner they worked on had on the city, while theLiverpool: From The Chants to The Real Thing will feature Eddie Amoo, famed for his work with both bands in the 1960s and 70s and Ozzie Yue, who went on from his Merseybeat-fame with The Hideaways to become a familiar face on British television.
Talks on the Influence of Radio will be hosted by presenter BBC RadioMerseyside’s Sunday evening Upfront Show Ngunan Adamu, the local DJ with anencyclopedic knowledge of the city, Bernie Connor and presenter of the Friday night StreetBeats Show on Wirral Radio, DJ 2Kind.
Renowned local selectors Stephen ‘The Principal’ Nze and Ivan ‘The Russian’Freeman will be exploring the history of Social Clubs and Soundsystems in L8 in talks that will seque into a discussion around the Earthbeat movement of the late eighties and early nineties with the visual artist Jonathan Swaine.
On top of this, The Role of the Club DJ in Liverpool will be discussed by Norman Killon and Greg Wilson – the former at the vanguard of the Liverpool scene, pushing the boundaries at The Sink, the latter at the vanguard of the development of the modern DJ in the UK, the first person to mix two records together on British TV.
SATURDAY 29TH AUGUST
12PM – LIVERPOOL STATE OF MIND – EXPLORING THE REASONS FOR THE ARRIVAL AND IMPACT OF BLACK AMERICAN MUSIC IN LIVERPOOL
Feat. GREG WILSON / LEVI TAFARI / YAW OWUSU (NBTM AGENCY / LIMF) / MIKE BADGER / HOSTED BY ROGER HILL (PURE MUSICAL SENSATIONS)
(DJ Set – Mark Johnstone)
1.30PM – MAKING WAVES: THE IMPORTANCE OF RADIO DISCUSSING THE ROLE OF RADIO IN LIVERPOOL – THE SOUNDS AND IDEAS THAT WERE DISSEMINATED, AND THE WAY IT AFFECTED MUSIC PRODUCED AND PLAYED IN THE CITY
Feat. SPYKATCHA / NGUNAN ADAMU (UPFRONT / BBC MERSEYSIDE) /BERNIE CONNOR (THE SOUND OF MUSIC) / HOSTED BY ROGER HILL (PURE MUSICAL SENSATIONS)
(DJ Set – Bido Lito DJs)
3PM – ERICS TO EARTHBEAT – EXPLORING THE PERIOD FROM THE LATE 1970s TO LATE 1980s, AND THE EMERGENCE OF NEW BLACK MUSIC IN LIVERPOOL AT THIS TIME
Feat. NORMAN KILLON (THE SINK / ERICS) / JONATHAN SWAIN / JENNIFER JOHN / HOSTED BY BRYAN BIGGS
4.30PM – THE CLUB DJ IN LIVERPOOL – DISCUSSING THE ROLE OF THE CLUB DJ IN SOURCING, ACQUIRING AND SPREADING NEW BLACK AMERICAN SOUNDS
Feat. NORMAN KILLON (THE SINK / ERICS) / LES SPAINE (THE TIMEPIECE / MOTOWN) / DJ OLABEAN / IVAN THE RUSSIAN / HOSTED BY GREG WILSON
SUNDAY 30TH AUGUST
12PM – THE CUNARD YANKS: NEXT STOP NEW YORK EXPLORING THE ROLE OF THE CUNARD YANKS IN INTRODUCING LIVERPOOL TO BLACK AMERICAN MUSIC THROUGHOUT THE 1950s & 1960s
Feat. ORIGINAL CUNARD YANKS, RITCHIE BARTON, BILLY HARRISON, JOE BLUNDELL, JOHN HIBBERT, ALAN WEBSTER / HOSTED BY STUART BORTHWICK
(DJ set – Beaten Tracks)
13.30PM – THE CHANTS TO THE REAL THING – SPECIAL GUEST EDDIE AMOO CHARTING THE PROGRESSION AND APPROPRIATION OF BLACK MUSIC IN LIVERPOOL, FROM THE LATE 1950s TO THE LATE 1970s
Feat. EDDIE AMOO (THE CHANTS / THE REAL THING) / LES SPAINE (THE TIMEPIECE) / OZZIE YUE / BEA FREEMAN / LAURENCE WESTGAPH / HOSTED BY BRYAN BIGGS
(DJ Set – No Fakin’)
3PM – FIRST IN COMMAND… – THE GROWTH OF HIP HOP IN LIVERPOOL DISCUSSING THE ARRIVAL, INFLUENCE AND APPROPRIATION OF HIP HOP CULTURE IN LIVERPOOL
Feat. DJ 2KIND / NIKKI BLAZE / D FRESH / TONY BROKE / HOSTED BY CURTIS WATT
4.15PM – THE SOUND OF MUSIC – THE SOCIAL CLUB TO THE SOUND SYSTEM – EXPLORING THE IMPORTANCE AND ROLE OF THE THRIVING LIVERPOOL 8 SOCIAL CLUB SCENE, THE TRANSITION TO BLOCK PARTIES AND SOUND SYSTEM CULTURE, AND OTHER HAPPENINGS AT THAT TIME
Feat. STEPHEN NZE – THE PRINCIPAL / CHARLIE C / IVAN THE RUSSIAN / JONATHAN SWAIN / DJ 2KIND / MUHAMMAD KHALIL AKA EUGENE SAMUEL LANGE / HOSTED BY BERNIE CONNOR
Marketplace – Monday 31st August
To round things off on Monday 31 August, from midday until 6pm, Liverpool: Next Stop New York will return to Sefton Park’s Palm House in the form of amarketplace. Boasting an array of vinyl from some of the region’s premier retailers and record labels, alongside screen-prints, posters and other must-have collectibles.
Exhibition at the View Two Gallery
From 7 – 31 August, an exhibition at the View Two Gallery on Mathew Street will set the context for the series of events. Investigating the links between Liverpooland New York and how they was enhanced by a love and appreciation of BlackAmerican music and culture, the RedHouse Originals curated gallery and exhibition will feature an array of works from artists and photographers with links to both cities.
As well as an exclusively commissioned sculpture by Mike Badger of The La’s and original paintings by Horace Panter of The Specials the exhibition will also feature work by acclaimed artists, Dudley Edwards, Pete McKee, Low Coney and The Studio of Ezra.
Alongside the exhibition a range of archive photography, including that of Liverpool based photographer Mark McNulty, will be displayed to shine more light on the fascinating post-war period. With contributions from original Cunard Yanks themselves and selections from the archives of the Liverpool Echo, National Museums Liverpool and the International Slavery Museum, there’s plenty to draw from when building a picture of the era.
Following the development of Liverpool’s culture later down the line, the exhibition will also feature shots of L8 from Tricia’s Porter’s recent exhibition at Bluecoat, unseen photographs of Earthbeat taken by Roger Sinek and from Steve Howe’s personal collection.
This is bolstered by a series of eight exclusively commissioned portraits by Liverpool-based photographer Robin Clewley, featuring some of key contributors to the Next Stop New York project.