About a week ago I learned of the death of UK Soul DJ Steve Jackson. I've mentioned Steve a couple of times in this blog and he was an infrequent visitor to these pages. A few weeks ago he contacted me about a Computer problem which I resolved for him through a long (2hr) phone conversation. We talked of many things soul music wise, about the scene in the UK, his part in it, and of where it was heading.
I first heard Steve DJ via the Real Love Internet Radio station. What first drew me to his show was his accent. When you are of a certain age and from the North West of England, Northern Soul simply percolates through everything. Northern Soul cannot be ignored nor it's influence negated once you've been touched by it. Steve wasn't from the North West and his take on Soul old and new reflected an unsullied approach. He wasn't the first southern based DJ I was listening too at the time, I was influenced by Bigger and by the new shows called podcasts, especially those of the Sour Mash Collective. Steve drew a line through the more Urban influences of say the Sour Mash podcasts, and kept to a more traditional old soul vibe. Steve was a Soul nerd, what he didn't know wasn't worth knowing, and what he did know seemed limitless. As a semi regular listener to Real Love I contacted him and in my pure vanity began to send him stuff to play. I then began to send him links to places on the net where I was sourcing material such as Soundclick, My Space, and the like. When I began to send him links to blogs of 90t's material I quickly realised that he already owned most of what was on offer (and a great deal more of what wasn't).
Steve had an outsiders take on new material, he wasn't that interested in setting the scene but he was a canny listener. Indeed on several occasions I recall having a gentle pop at him for his crafty acquisitions of an oldies I'd posted on EMS. I'd post up (for example) Heavy on my mind and a week later it would be in his show. Steve dealt with my complaints by gently reminding me that in truth I was posting up classics, and I ought to be grateful for the further exposure of these tracks, moreover Steve never once indicated that I had an ego which was out of control (he had better grace). In truth Steve was pretty ego blind, he didn't really care if his show on Starpoint only had a few people listening live in the chat box, though he always enjoyed my rather blunt wit and faux criticism of old soul. Indeed I'd taken to listening to him quite a bit on a Tuesday evening in recent months, and admired the counterpoint of his text chat with Dave Grimes (another total Soul expert come nerd). Between the two of them they made old soul seem more interesting and fresh, and as the music I like moves ever further away from Soul, the show gave me a grounding, which I will miss. I admit to feeling some frustration regarding the pious declarations of some of his Starpoint colleagues, who never seemed to visit his shows when on the air, however the Starpoint family have rallied round and served his memory well. Indeed I regret my own comments of last week which though in the spirit of my musings while his show was on air, have resulted in me being unable to take part in his main tribute on Starpoint- it's an irony Steve would have appreciated.
In our last conversation I spoke of my own disenfranchisement with modern soul, of its ageing demographic and the dwindling spiral of what constitutes "acceptable" material. Steve pretty much laughed off these comments, he suggested that by finding common ground in defining what modern soul was (i.e.play listing) the future might not be as fragmented as I suggest.
Here is a very rough low quality encode of the first hour of his show broadcast on 13/03/12.