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Welcome to Too Darn Soulful
The Home of Classic Soul Music

A LIFE WITHOUT SOUL
IS A SOUL WITHOUT LIFE

BIG NEWS!!!!!!!!!
The Soul Survivors Are
Taking A Rest!
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Yes, it is a bit hard to believe but after 18 years together The Soul Survivors Team are taking a break!!!

So it's SCHOOL'S OUT for the Gang on Friday June 2nd when they get it together one mo' time at The Okeh Ballroom....and after that, it's just wait and see!!

It could well prove to be a momentous occasion, so join these absolute legends while you still can!

A SUNDAY KIND OF SOUL
Sunday June 2nd - 2 til 8pm


NORTHERN SOUL/MOTOWN/R&B

All who  the Monster Soul Alldayer recently, realised they had witnessed something pretty damn special. 300 souls had gathered from as far away as Birmingham, Dorset and Essex - but they didn't expect to be contributing to nothing less than a supreme life affirming occasion.

Their friends have probably tired of hearing about it, but they'll get the chance to get an idea of what it was all about when we invite The Soul Family to join us once again for a SUNDAY KIND OF SOUL. on June 2nd

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Solar Radio's DUG CHANT will be joining us for this one along with TARA T of The Hastings Soul Club and Soul In The Sun fame!

THE 4th BRIGHTON
RHYTHM & SOUL WEEKEND

August 23rd-25th 2024

Home: Welcome

The 4th Brighton Rhythm & Soul Weekend returns to the Leonardo Royal Waterfront Hotel once again over the August Bank Holiday Weekend. 

This year the event will be staged in TWO venues and will cover 3 nights and 2 Full Days.

The Earlybird Weekend Tickets are now available at just £25 each......and they're going F-A-S-T!

There are also concessions for those wanting to stay at the hotel. Just book online quoting the Promo Code 'EVENT' .

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THE ROOTS OF TOO DARN SOULFUL!

The origins of Too Darn Soulful! in Brighton can be traced right back to 1980 when a gentleman lost his coat at the Top Rank Suite in Brighton. The manager he sought help from was one Paddy Shevlin who, noticing the guy's accent, engaged in conversation with the gent...whose coat he had located! It wasn't too long before Paddy and Dave Walmsley, the coat owner, discovered they had a shared passion for Northern Soul. As no scene then existed in Brighton, they determined to set something up. 

Nights were held at the old Concorde Club in Brighton and Deacons near the clock tower. A gaggle of enthusiasts soon formed including a number of the staff at Top Shop led by the indomitable Kathy Hemestretch. Paddy actually received a reprimand from his employers for organising what they perceived as competition, but, undeterred, the group still pursued their passion.

Shortly after a Saturday lunchtime scene was established at The Cavern Club in Ship Street which was remarkably well attended. It was then that the guys realised that in fact there was quite a dormant scene in Sussex already, as any number of people began to emerge from Worthing to Hastings and up through Mid-Sussex including the late Andy Crane, one of the real pioneers of the scene in this region.

One night in 1982, an old friend from Kettering, Paddy's home town, dropped by to surprise him. He enjoyed the night so much that he came again a week later. Clive Rayson never returned to Kettering and became an integral part of The Soul Survivors. The Cavern continued to prosper and Paddy then decided to take the plunge by organising an all-nighter at The Kingswest on a plastic ice rink! Well the surface was poor and the sound system not much better but the reaction was astonishing. With just a couple of ads in Black Echoes and Blues & Soul, one had no idea in those pre-internet days just how many would turn up. Added to that, the event didn't even start until 1am! Well, they arrived in their droves in the middle of the night. Toddy brought over a coachload from Eastleigh and Southampton, Stuart Cosgrove, then with 'The Face' and later an acclaimed author and TV producer turned up with a posse and one of the DJs was Kev Griffin who has recently emerged on the scene again.

Life, work, relationships, babies etc., all conspired to make the team put events on hold but their passion was undimmed.

Nearly 20 years later, Paddy was attending an event in Kettering held to commemorate a Soulie who had just passed. It was a very well attended event but people were complaining that the music was 'boring' and in a throwaway remark, Paddy's friend suggested that he should get his records out again as he couldn't do much worse.

By now, Paddy and Clive were lonesome bachelors again and over a drink Paddy asked Clive; 'What do you think?'

'Why not?' was the answer so Kettering Leisure Village was duly booked for a revival night for the old North Park Club, Kettering's University of Soul! 

The 973 who turned up on June 6th 2003 suggested the boys were on to something, so they followed it up again a few months later and then several more times.

Back down in Brighton, it hardly seemed possible that something similar could be arranged there. They did a few Northern Soul nights with middling success at The Hove Park Tavern and a few other venues but a chance meeting in the street with the legendary 'King of The Mods' - King Jerry, led to them renewing their acquaintance with Kathy Hemestretch.

Kathy and Jerry had been running 'Hot Buttered Soul' at the King Alfred in Hove but were experiencing a fractious relationship with their partner at that session.

Kathy suggested they try an event at The Greyhound Stadium which seemed a most unlikely venue but it had a dancefloor and a late license and so on April 25th, 2006 the very first Soul Survivors night at 'The Dogs' took place with King Jerry and Clive Rayson DJing. It was billed as a 60s/70s/80s Soul & Motown Night....they'd already established that the term 'Northern Soul' tended to have negative connotations in this region amongst the masses. 180 turned up that night which was a hugely encouraging response. When double that number turned up for the next session, the decision was made to expand into a second room. Though reluctant, Paddy was persuaded to get behind the decks again, although only CDs were being used for practical purposes. Dave Packham and later the dynamic Ross Weeks were soon engaged to the complement of DJs and each brought something different to the party.

Paddy was soon slipping a lot of Northern Soul into his sets and old faces started to emerge as well as a bunch of new enthusiasts for the genre. It was time to think about doing the Northern thing properly again so this time Concorde 2 was hired and Ginger Taylor, one of the scene's biggest names, was booked for the night. Again it was a great success and more all-nighters were scheduled at the Concorde as well as The View in Hove. Guy Hennigan, Sean Chapman and Jo Wallace were just some of the headline turns who appeared. It was also where the likes of Nicki Shaw made their debuts.

The Soul Survivors were still going from strength to strength with two sessions a month being run now as well as the odd live shows which featured The Real Thing and Odyssey amongst others. Paddy and Clive also returned to Kettering periodically to run revival nights including The Freewheeler Revival which broke Wicksteed Park's bar takings record and raised £13,500 for charity.

Paddy still hoped for a regular Northern Soul night in Brighton as he was aware that any number of Northern Soul nights were being established along the South Coast and in Sussex. There was also a need to have an identity distinct from The Soul Survivors and that began to emerge once Paddy met Jacqui, his new partner in life. The two took a trip 'up north' to an all-nighter in Bolton and then visited the legendary Twisted Wheel in Manchester. This trip led to the utterly mad Sunday afternoon Twisted Wheel sessions at The Green Door Store in Brighton for which Little Rik Taub, Dave Sallis and Linda Seddon were hired to provide an authentic mix of classic Northern Soul and old school Rhythm & Blues. It was the wrong time of day and people were invited to dance on a cobbled floor which was lethal, yet the quirkiness of it all seemed to work.

The next step was taken in January 2015 when the name 'Too Darn Soulful' first appeared on a flyer for the inaugural session of a new monthly night at The Komedia in Brighton. Again, a session which didn't start until 11pm and finished at 3am seemed more than a little crazy, but a capacity crowd on the first night meant the session had its wings.

Craig 'Swifty' Simpson had been recruited to partner Paddy as the resident there with a guest DJ each month which ensured a good balance, then on May 3rd 2015 an all-dayer was staged at Brighton Trades and Labour Club which proved an amazing success. Paddy sought to follow this up for the August Bank Holiday but issues at The Labour Club looked like frustrating him.

Fortunately another chance encounter in The New Madeira Hotel led to him being allowed to use The Funky Fish Club for that event. With a great sound system, excellent floor and built in atmospherics, Paddy resolved to base events from thereon and in the past six years such luminaries as Ian Levine, Dave Evison, Tony Ellis, Glen Bellamy, Steve Guarnori, Ginger Dave Smyth, Steve Clancy, Dave Goldswain, Kevin Higham and many more have graced the decks. It's been particularly satisfying to see the emergence of great new talent such as Little Jimmy Kent, Richard Berry, Alex Daddio D'Arby, Hugh Robinson all cutting their teeth at TDS to great acclaim. The bedrock of these sessions are the stalwarts of the Sussex soul scene and we think of the likes of Jok Evans, Sue Brick, Adrian Corbin, Keith and Maxine Woon, Dug Chant, Terry Nicholas, Tony Cassini, Dennis Hyde, Keith Robinson, Denis Confrey, Simon Soulie, Simon Penfold, Johnny Field and so many, many more.

No one can imagine Northern Soul without the dancers who embellish the scene in the way that they do. Many say the best were all in the past but they really need to see Jacob Flack, Tamsin Ayers, Colin Clements, Fiona O'Brien, Jan Webber, Jay Silverwood and many more in full flight at The Funky Fish!

Just as important, maybe more important even are those that have supported us so consistently. They are too numerous to mention but the likes of  Manus Doherty, Jon Marsh, Angela Mayhew and Simon Thomas  probably deserve a special mention.

A special mention too for those we rely on so much to put the show on the road. For many years at Coral's, Wendy Percival and Elaine Holliday were the friendly face of The Soul Survivors when customers arrived. Now we have the wonderful Shirley Sillence-O'Grady and Liz Snook doing the business and we couldn't ask for a better team than Christophe Ducrot and Akos Toth who accommodate us so well at The Funky Fish.

For Clive and Paddy, it was an unreal experience to actually befriend some of our heroes such as Dean Parrish, Martha Reeves and Ben E King along the way and no one can ever forget Eddie Holman's appearance at TDS or the night when Richard Street and The Temptations walked in to shock the crowd at The Greyhound Stadium.

2020's Irish Soul Weekender in Westport broke more new ground and one wonder's what's next?

Right now we look forward especially to The Brighton Rhythm & Soul Weekend in August when we will be joining forces with Martin Jackson and Rachelle Piper's 'Loose Caboose'.

In 2022, we received the devastating news that The Funky Fish would be no more as the venue was purchased by The Soho House Group who plan to develop the site as a boutique hotel. It looked like that was the end of the run - and we knew we had had a pretty good run. However, a phone call to Paddy asking for his help, was to herald a brand new era. The call was from  the Brighton & Hove Sports & Social Club which was having a tough time. An Alldayer was immediately arranged, when 376 people turned up we knew we had found a wonderful new base....and we tagged it The Okeh Ballroom!

Back in those early days, all those years ago when even Paddy and Clive could deliver a few backflips and a tasty pirouette or two, the boys used to ruefully say you could have a Northern Soul Party in a phone box in Brighton as there seemed so few into the scene in the town. Now, we have an unimaginably vibrant scene in Sussex and along the South Coast.

Perhaps one of the ultimate accolades for Clive and Paddy came in 2016 when they were invited by Adrian Bristow to stage a Northern Soul event at The Spiegeltent  for the Brighton Festival. It sold out then and has done every year since.....indeed the Festival say it's amongst the fastest selling events of their entire programme. It's taken a while for those acorns to grow but that's what happens when you just KEEP THE FAITH!

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