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I was traveling to Wigan Casino alone, hitching most of the time. If I stayed in Elgin, my hometown, the pop crap they would play at the local discos would irritate me. I started to buy records at the All Nighters in England to hand to the local DJ’s in Elgin to play so I could have a dance there too. In 1975 I moved to Aberdeen to go to university, and carried on the handing records to the local DJ’s thing. One of those DJ’s was into the new funk/disco sound coming out of America; he also fell in love with the Northern Soul records I was handing him, and asked if I wanted to start a Soul club in Aberdeen every Sunday with him and me as the DJ’s. I said yes as long as he would play a few of mine for me to have a dance to. How did you discover and claim Deep Funk as your own? I accumulated a lot of records on my US trips, and started to supply the London Rare Groove scene with records when that kicked off. I wasn’t interested in Funk then, but kept any 45’s on rare looking labels, mainly because the Rare Groove boys would not pay much for their records, and I thought the really rare things were worth way more than they were prepared to offer. In 1987 I got divorced, and had to sell my Northern collection, and retire from the Northern scene. A mate of mine, Mark Wigan, was running the Brain club in Wardour Street. He asked me to DJ there playing some of the rare soul/disco/funk I still had. Ten in 1989 he asked me to go to Japan to do a tour. House music had just arrived, and all the Rare Groove boys seemed to be jumping on that bandwagon. I thought “But you haven’t done this Rare Groove thing properly yet, you’ve only scratched the surface”. So I went through my boxes of what I had previously considered crap in the loft, went through the junk boxes of my old Northern Soul mates, and chased up some record dealing mates I had made in the States to try and find enough obscure funk/soul/disco to impress the Japanese. It worked; I stayed in Japan for six months until my visa ran out. I was making a fortune every weekend, and made a good name for myself on the Japanese club scene. I have gone back around twice a year ever since as a result of that first tour. You had a residency with Snowboy for years at Madame JoJo’s, which very sadly recently closed. Can you tell us a little bit about what it was like there? Snowboy was with me at the pre Jo Jo’s Deep Funk nights, but had left to focus on his Jazz/Latin nights by the time I moved to Jo Jo’s. I think it worked so well because in the early days we attracted all the good Jazz/Rare Groove dancers who

“I do 100% believe that girls are more honest with their ears, and just want a fun night.”

were not being satisfied by the House music dominating the other clubs. Later the B Boys joined us as they discovered the roots of the Hip Hop they had been dancing too. We were packed every week for over 18 years. Also because of my records I had quite a few famous people wanting to play with me. I had Jazzy Jeff, DJ Shadow, Cut Chemist, Kenny Dope, Paul Weller, the RZA and Pete Rock amongst others all come and play for free cos they loved it. What was your experience of the typhoon in the Philippines two years ago? I know your wife is from there and you were living there for some time until recently. It was the biggest adventure of my life, but the saddest too. My wife lost 15 of her family in one night. I spent three weeks clearing dead bodies, and trying to convince the locals to burn them for fear of cholera. Tat’s a hard job when you consider they are all strong Catholics who believe that a priest should attend any form of funeral. Of course all the priests had fled to Manila. I also ate boiled rats, of which there were plenty of fat ones, and a root vegetable that tasted like earwax for the same period. I then went to war with the local mayor, who was stealing all the relief goods that did eventually arrive. My wife and I then had to sneak off to Manila as the death threats from the Mayor were becoming a bit too real. He had already shot three people in the time I was there. I started a campaign on the Internet to expose the corruption in the government to the world media. Tey were sending relief goods straight into the giant malls to be sold for profit. Sadly again, a local

woman who was helping me had her house burst into by a SWAT team, her son was shot dead, and she was dragged off. Her friends then warned me that I should leave the Philippines, so here I am. Which DJ’s do you most enjoy seeing play out? Any DJ who is not playing run of the mill tunes! Too many vintage DJ’s just stick to the easy to get hits or bootlegs, and therefore tend to all play the same 200 records. Mark “Butch” Dobson is leading today’s Northern Soul scene with new discoveries, and the likes of Cosmic Keith and Dave Crozier are doing the same on the Rockabilly scene. You have an enviable record collection. Which is the record that’s closest to your heart and why? I suppose Johnny Burnette’s “Rockabilly Boogie” as that was the tune that introduced me to the glory of Rockin music. It is probably still my favorite record of all time. It’s my wife’s favorite too. Is there a record that you have never been able to get your hands on but desperately want? Oh yes, quite a few, but all of them are in the £2,000 to £10,000 mark, so as I’m not as rich as I used to be, I can’t see me getting them now! You’re playing at Bedford’s Crypt here in Norwich with Hot Damm to a no doubt packed house. You’re playing a three hour set! What can we expect from your show and how do you go about structuring a set in advance (if you do so)? I don’t really structure, I watch the crowd’s reaction. I will have a lot of recent discoveries that I’ll be gagging to play though. I will take about 200 45’s with me, mainly Sixties Garage Punk, Rockabilly, Surf, and exotic instrumentals. I made the switch to this because the Soul/Funk thing became a bit nerdy, and I could see any girls that had been dragged along were bored. Whenever I play the Rockin stuff the girls react beautifully, and I do 100% believe that girls are more honest with their ears, and just want a fun night. Men tend to scrutinize too much to decide if a record is acceptable to the image they want to create about themselves. I know I have been guilty of that!


Keb Darge plays at Bedford’s Crypt courtesy of Hot-Damm on 27th March. Tickets from / March 2015 / 25

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