This Saturday British legend of the Northern Soul scene, Kev Roberts will appear at the third anniversary of Prague Allnighters, an eight-hour dance event paying homage to the mod-inspired music and dance movement that emerged from Northern England in the late 1960s.
As a club DJ in the ’70s Roberts was responsible for the popularity of many songs including a top 30 hit with “Mistura” (The Flasher). During his early club life, he MCd the Four Tops, Supremes, The Miracles, and Billy Ocean among hundreds of others.
As a seasoned Gold Radio presenter, Roberts has interviewed more than 300 personalities ranging from Cliff Richard to The Beach Boys. A former Sony Award nominee, in 2006 The New York Times icalled him one of the most knowledgeable retro music types in the industry. We spoke with Roberts about his upcoming visit to Prague.
Kev, please, can you compare the Northern Soul of the original 70s and these days?
It’s still pretty much same except the scene today is better including the venue standards, music knowledge and DJ abilities.
Can you describe the unique atmosphere of Wigan Casino’s golden days for us?
Pretty amazing. We were all of a similar age and the building was the largest I had ever seen for Northern Soul. 2,500 capacity. A bit run down though! An unlikely town to hold an Allnighter too, it was only famous for Pies and Rugby….until Northern came along.
It might sound as a simple question, but what particularly do you admire about Soul and Motown tunes?
Personally I am into all sorts of music but made a career out of Northern Soul and Motown. That aside I like Jazz Funk, Disco, Deep Soul just for starters!
Journalists always crave funny stories. Do you have some with you very special guests invited for your radio interviews?
In 1974 I was asked to knock on Martha Reeves dressing room door to see if she was ready to go on. Just before I knocked I heard a barrage of expletives and….it was the first time I had ever heard the word mother****** used and certainly by a lady! I finally plucked up the courage to knock and say ‘2 minutes Miss Reeves’ to which she replied Ok Hun I’ll be right there.
You perform regularly at the Blackpool Tower Soul Weekend. Is it worth coming to UK from Prague to experience such an event?
It’s a spectacular event in a top class venue that suits the grandeur of Northern Soul. The town itself is a bit cheesy, but the atmosphere is awesome. It’s a must see if you want to experience large volumes of fans coming together
Do you have some favorite vinyl store you pay a visit very often? And what is your opinion on current vinyl market and record prices?
No particular favourite store. I buy off the net these days and as for prices….shocked beyond belief. If I told you I found 110 copies of the Ellusions You Didn’t Have To Leave in 1981 and sold the majority between 10 and £30……today it’s 600. That says it all!
How often do you play abroad? What scenes or clubs did you find best for you and why?
I tend to only play abroad in places I haven’t visited. I have done several in Italy, Germany, Scandinavia and the USA. My favourite though from the past was Genoa, Italy some 15 years go.
Have you ever been to Prague? What are you expecting from your visit? And what are you going to bring with you for the Allnighter event?
First timer in the Czech Republic. Really looking forward to it. No idea what to expect but I generally find the most popular All Nighter songs in the UK travel well overseas. I’ll be armed with my Plan A, B and C. Failing that I’ll be learning the Czech language pretty quick and borrowing some of the other DJs tunes.
The next edition of Prague Allnighters will take place on Saturday, November 28 at KC Domovina. See pragueallnighters.cz for more details.