Monday, 28 September 2009


About 2 years ago following a tip off from one of our own house music
underground dj's David Hulmes I started to investigate the Groove Parlor movement
in Chicago.Posted on their website were playlists by Mario Romay that seemed to
evoke the same passions that we have in this country for this great music.For me
it was another return to the great city of Chicago that had influenced my own musical tastes
over the last 4 decades.From the sweet soul of the sixties and seventies through the journey
to house music via Trax,D.J. international,Farley "Jackmaster",Steve"Silk"Hurley right up to present day now with the likes of Vick Lavender.
So I tracked down Mario and he kindly agreed to an interview which I think once again highlights
the connection between Chicago and the UK when it comes to relating to great music and a passion to dance.Here is another insight into the underground sound of Chicago in 2009.

Hi Mario

Where and when were you born?

I was born in Lima, Peru on January 14, 1974

Did you grow up in Chicago?

I came to Chicago in 1978 at the age of 4. I’ve been in this wonderful city ever since. Chicago is my heart, my life and my home. The universe put me here and kept me here for a reason.

What musical influences were integral to you growing up?

I listened to so many different genres of music growing up and still do. As my mind and spirit developed throughout the years so did my taste in music. I always love to discover a new sound so I love to keep my ears open. I love to observe aurally. It’s always a pleasure to hear something good for the first time whether it’s new or old. If it has an impact that’s worthy of an uncontrollable smile then the music is timeless.

Music that I will never outgrow is Jazz & House Music. That will NEVER change. I’m very passionate about things I love and never turn my back on those passions.

Which DJs influenced you?

There are so many DJs that I have listened to and have been influenced by over the years. At an early age I was definitely inspired by the Hot Mix 5 DJs that played on Chicago’s WBMX radio in the early 80’s. They are the foundation for many DJs in Chicago. In my youth I was also inspired by Larry Heard, Lil Louis & Frankie Knuckles.

In the present day I love listening to my hometown favorites: Mark Grant, Glenn Underground, Vick Lavender, Ron Trent, Boo Williams, and Gene Hunt & FLX. These guys are innovative technicians and performers. When they play a local gig in Chicago it doesn’t matter whether they’re playing for 20 people or for 200. Their sound is raw, motivated and inspirational. They are true to their craft and perform with a sense of pride by never compromising their sound.

There is so much talent in this city. You can hear good music here 7 nights a week.

You have a very soulful style judging by the Sounds of Joy mixtapes.

How did this develop and attract a following for you in Chicago?

It’s difficult to put into words about what I feel about soulful music. So many emotions are involved when I hear it. It makes me elated and gives me a sense of serenity. Nothing bad can happen from it. You have no choice but to feel delight and can’t resist moving your body when you experience it. I’m sure there are words that haven’t been invented that would better describe the encounter with soul.

I’m not sure how this passion developed. It’s just one of those things. Living in Chicago and being surrounded by DJs and producers probably conditioned me this way.

When I posted my first Sounds of Joy mix on my website I didn’t do it with the intention of it being a series. I got so much positive feedback and kept getting asked about the next Sounds of Joy mix that I decided to keep it going. The emails I get about these mixes are very inspirational. People tell me that the mixes make them feel good so it’s important for me to carefully select and program uplifting songs to put on these mixes. They’re mixes people listen to over and over again so it has to be right. It’s much different from playing live where you feed off dancers, expressions and emotions.

Can you talk about Groove Parlor and how that came about?

(That's how I originally came across you :)

A note to myself on a bar napkin is how it started. A combination of an eagerness to make a contribution to the House Music community and a strong desire to be creative gave me the inspiration. I had registered the domain name,, two years prior to me launching the site. I had made a 4 CD compilation of acid jazz songs for personal listening. I had named the compilation Groove Parlor which is how I came up with the name. I thought it would be a catchy name for a website.

It’s amazing how word spreads across the internet. I launched the site to expose some DJ friends of mine and to promote some parties in Chicago. I didn’t expect for it to reach the world so rapidly. My site has been visited by people in over 120 countries. I would say that 95% of Groove Parlor merchandise I have sold has shipped outside of the U.S.A.

Having launched the site has allowed me to meet great people. It’s amazing to me that I have mixes on my site from DJs I have admired over the years. There is sometimes the perception that I have a team of people that work on Groove Parlor. Groove Parlor is a one man operation. I do everything myself including the design and maintenance of the site, flyer design, event promotion, audio recording & photography. It’s a lot of work but the feedback I get is worth the time and effort. I don’t have as much time as I would like to focus on the site but I hope to keep the material fresh for many years to come.

How long have you been attending the Miami WMC?

I have been attending WMC since the mid 90’s. It wasn’t until I launched my site that it became more work than leisure.

I’ve been doing an annual Groove Parlor WMC party since 2005 and have been fortunate enough to get some of my favorite DJs and producers to play my WMC events. The roster over the years has included Glenn Underground, Mark Grant, Josh Milan (Blaze), Black Coffee, Vick Lavender, Marques Wyatt, The Rurals, Jihad Muhammad, Boo Williams, Ron Carroll, Gene Hunt, Jay-J, Andre Harris, Lady D, FLX and yours truly.

Miami is great because it gives you an opportunity to see great friends from out of town. It’s like a family reunion every year. It’s also a great way to meet new friends. I have made some lifelong friendships because of WMC.

Who are your favourite house music producers and artists?

There is so much talent in this wonderful genre. I’m sure I’m missing some great names. These producers/artists usually put out gold: Glenn Underground, Mark Grant, Vick Lavender,Kenny Carvajal, Antonio Ocasio, Peven Everett, Jihad Muhammad, Ian Friday, Blaze, Man-X, Black Coffee, Monique Bingham, Carla Prather, Russoul & Swaylo

What is your current Top 10?

Erykah Badu “Honey (G.U. ReWerk)”

Peven Everett “If I Can't See You Tonight”

Peven Everett “Meet Me On The Dance Floor”

Vick Lavender Chicago Chase (A Tribute To Fred Hampton)”

John Arnold & Jeremy Ellis “Nightlife (Daz-I-Kue Remix)”

Bakura feat. Darien “Mistaken”

Franck Roger “Dangerous Girl”

Know “Graffitti (Vocal Mix)”

DJ Man-X & Albert Sterling Menendez feat. Blaze “Consequences (Man-X's Sunset Nights Vocal Mix)”

Urban Mystic “I Refuse (DJ Spinna Mix)”

Which Ten records influenced you the most over the years?

This is much more difficult than compiling a current top 10 because there are so many songs that have made an impact in my life. Narrowing this selection down to ten is almost impossible but I’ll do my best. These are the first (non house music related) songs that come to mind. These are currently on repeat in my home and never fail me when I need a boost.

Lonnie Liston Smith “Space Princess”

Herbie Hancock “Stars In Your Eyes”

Marvin Gaye “Nuclear Juice”

Gary Bartz “Music Is My Sanctuary”

Fela Kuti “Open And Close”

Lou Donaldson “Bag Of Jewels”

Herbie Hancock “Chameleon”

Fela Kuti & Roy Ayers “2000 Blacks Got To Be Free”

Fred Fisher Atalobhor & His Ogiza Dance Band “Asa-Sa”

Donald Byrd “Change (Makes You To Hustle)”

Earth, Wind & Fire “Drum Song”

Bobby Hutcherson “La Malanga”

Miles Davis “Black Satin”

Maceo & The Macks “Soul Power 74”

Jimmy Smith & Wes Montgomery “Down By The Riverside

Fred Wesley & The J.B.'s “Blow Your Head”

Azymuth “Dear Limmertz”

I know I’m cheating here by going over 10 records. I just couldn’t remove any of these songs from the list. I could probably go on and on with a longer list but these are what instantly came to mind.

Sunday, 27 September 2009


Continuing to explore the development of the underground modern soul scene in the uk.
Mark has become more involved in this via his radio show "The Sounds Of Soul Mixshow" on Starpoint Radio and is now looking to share his talents in some of the rights places starting at Soul Underground in December.His show has evolved into a unique format that has attracted peoples attention as have his mix edits under the guise "SoS"
I caught up with Mark recently

Where were you born?

Walsgrave Hospital, Coventry

When were you born?

20Th September 1975

Where did you grow up and what were your early musical

I spent my early years in a small village near Oxford, and then moved to the Midlands. My early musical influences came via my Dad’s record collection, it was very wide ranging but for me it was great to hear some Motown, Atlantic Soul, Philadelphia International etc. He also had some great disco compilations as well as stuff by Earth, Wind & Fire.

Are you a record collector as well as embracing modern technology?

Yeah I have a large vinyl collection I would say several thousand 12”s. I was buying huge amounts of vinyl throughout the 90’s it tailed off a couple of years ago with the advent of digital releases. My penchant for US imports certainly made it an expensive habit.........

My collection is quite varied and includes Original Disco 12’s, Jazz-Funk, Acid Jazz, R&B, and lots of House music.

How did you become a DJ and how long have you been DJ’ing?

One of my earliest recollections was hearing the Deep Heat compilation series I guess that was very late 80’s I was fascinated by the way that they were sequenced/mixed. I became quite adept at pause button mixing and used to compile mixes that way before I had turntables. I also bought a reel to reel tape machine and had a go at splice editing with limited results!

In 1992 my brother was at college and started picking up early vinyl releases from Joey Negro amongst others, it was at that stage that I got together a turntable set-up and a cheap Tandy mixer. The turn tables were both belt-drive and only one had a pitch control!

A couple of years later I graduated to two direct-drive Kam turntables and by this stage my beat mixing was starting to really click into place.

I then moved on to the Industry standard Technics 1210’s which I still have today.

In terms of mixing I am completely self-taught; I got my cues from listening to many hours of different DJ’s via Mix-tapes, more on that later.........

Which clubs have you worked in and with which other DJ’s

Pretty much all of my DJ’ing has been done around the Midlands; the sound that I play probably lends itself better to bars etc. Over the years I guess I must have played at pretty much every pub/bar in Coventry/Leamington Spa/Solihull and some in Birmingham. I have also played sets at many of the regions nightclubs. A lot of my opportunities came via a very good friend Cedric Anderson who has helped me develop and has opened many doors........

Which DJ’s have influenced you?

In terms of mixing and technical stuff, I would say Graeme Park and CJ Mackintosh from the UK. Louie Vega from the US. I developed my style based on their “seamless” mixing, where the emphasis is on smooth transitions between tracks.

Musically, my favourites UK wise are Paul “Trouble” Anderson and Norman Jay. Again thanks to my brother Tim I received regular tapes from PTA’s Kiss show and NJ’s various shows, they provided masses of inspiration throughout the 90’s. I was also sent amazing tapes of Tony Humphries doing his Kiss FM mix-show in New York.

Dave Camacho and Kenny Carpenter also shaped my taste they played only the most soulful house not surprising as their roots were based in disco etc.

What are your favourite record labels and who are
your favourite producers?

Camio Records, Sophisticado, Deep Haven, Unified, Blackstone.

In terms of producers, Jonny Montana, Vick Lavender, DJ Man-X, Mark Grant, Glenn Underground, Groove Assassin, Powdersoul, Jason B, Louis Benedetti, Greg Gauthier.

Do you play any musical instruments yourself? What tech do you use for your edits?

I don’t actually play any instruments (I really wish that I had taken my Mother’s advice and learnt to play the piano). I have been using Sony Acid Pro for producing my Edits. The software allows me to load in an original track then using various EQ techniques I can strip back the drums etc and then add a new drum track. I also layer on some percussion. A nice feature of the software is that when you change tempo it will automatically keep the vocals in key. It still amazes me now that it is possible to Remix/Edit songs in this way and achieve such great sounding results.

Talk a little about the world of edits and how you got involved and who you respect in this field?

I have been a big fan of what people like Powdersoul, Jason B, Groove Assassin etc have been doing in terms of taking Soul/R&B tracks that wouldn’t be remixed at House tempo normally and giving them a dance floor makeover. As I have gained more exposure to Independent Soul music I have been coming across lots of tracks that seemed perfect for reworking gently with a more up tempo beat. Fortunately for me Powdersoul is a friend and he gave me some insight into what he did and I started having a go myself. I have been working on stuff for around 5 months now so I realise I still have a lot to learn. What I will say is that I have been very lucky to have the support of many key players in the UK Soul scene in terms of playing my tracks out at venues and on the radio as well as giving a great amount of encouragement.

You now have your own radio show on Starpoint
The Sounds Of Soul Mix Show, Have you done radio before? Where would you like to take this given the chance?

I realised a dream in March 2008 when I started my own weekly show “Renditions Of Soul” on Futurebeat Radio. It was great to have a vehicle to share my love of music. A couple of months into doing the show I featured a guest Soul mix from Paul Goldsmith which blew me away, shortly afterwards I was delighted when Paul agreed to become a joint presenter on the show. With us both working on the show it gained popularity until we decided to call time on the show for various reasons after exactly a year of broadcasting.

Both Paul and I were very fortunate that shortly after we finished we were approached by Starpoint who offered us both individual shows.

Paul now presents “Select Soul” on a weekly basis and I have “The Sounds Of Soul Mixshow” which is a great testing ground for my own stuff along with playing the best soulful house releases. I also take some time out with a couple of “Soul Interludes” in each show. My show has been on air for six months and I am pretty pleased with how things have gone so far in terms of reaction and listening figures.

I would love for the show to reach a wider audience but so many shows have failed to stay on air nationally based on Soul and House music, I fear that opportunities to grow above this point may be limited

How much preparation do you do for one show?

This will depend on a couple of things. Firstly how much time I have been able to spend working on new Edits/Remixes and secondly how many new releases the prior week has seen. If these methods have contributed several tracks then it is a fairly quick job compiling the show, if not it will take much longer to select music to share. All in all between 6-12 hours.

Name 10 records that have influenced you over the years?

Sounds of Blackness – Optimistic

George Duke – I Want You For Myself

Jean Carne – Don’t Let It Go To Your Head

Johnny Hammond – Los Conquistadores Chocolates

Bobby Womack – How Can You Break My Heart

TS Monk – Candidate For Love

Melba Moore – Pick Me Up I’ll Dance

Eleanor Mills – Be Here

Al Hudson & The Partners – Spread Love

Black Science Orchestra – Altered States EP

What are your current favourite top ten tunes?

Danny Clark & Jay Beham Ft Dawn Tallman – Conqueror

Melchyor & MJ White – The Real Thing (Louis Benedetti Mix)

Groove Assassin & Stephanie Cooke – This Time

Vick Lavender Ft Michelle Thomas – Superwoman

Anto Vitale Ft Tamara Wellons – Out Of This World (DJ Spinna Mix)

Kevin Whalum Ft Lynne Fiddmont – Why (SOS Mix)

Danielle Haynes - I Want To Be Close To You

Tracy Hamlin – Free

Jeff Majors Ft Shirley Murdock – My Body

Sterling Ensemble Ft Carlene Graham – Push It

Noel McKoy – Brighter Day (Jonny Montana Mix)

How do you feel about the current music environment now the record companies play a different role and downloads are the new format?

At first I was determined to remain a vinyl purist, but I soon realised that you have to embrace change and move with the times. A big difference is that where I used to play many vinyl promos/white labels/bootlegs I now play CDRs from things I get sent or produce myself. All types of music are much more accessible so it means you can get things quickly and more importantly gain exposure to many different types of music through sound clips on the internet.

The main thing that has changed with record companies is that even some of the big players have switched to download only through the sites like Traxsource so if you want their product you have no choice in format.

Please talk a little about mixing and technology

I subscribe to the view that the music always comes first and if that means minimal beat mixing then so be it, however if you are playing mainly house really it is a little lazy not to mix the tunes together.

With soul tunes it is a little more difficult as the tunes are often made with short beat- less intros and they often fade at the end. My stuff is always done with DJ’s in mind and therefore I use beat intro/outros so you can actually beat mix them.

In terms of technology we now have excellent CD players that offer many different effects etc that you couldn’t previously do with turntables. Using today’s software people can mix perfectly within hours thanks to the ability of auto synchronisation etc, there is also software that makes sure you can mix in the correct key at all times. I find some of it useful but never do things that I couldn’t replicate myself in a club environment. Time saving is the main benefit.

Touch on the 90's club phenomena and what you feel came out of that and maybe contrast it with the modern soul scene that developed in the nineties and offers a different slant !

The mid 90’s were great and Soulful House was very prevalent in the big clubs like Hard Times and Ministry Of Sound, the big names from the US were in the UK very frequently. As the decade wore on the popularity decreased as peoples music preferences changed, DJ’s like Roger Sanchez and Dennis Ferrer started producing harder almost progressive records and the impact was also felt in the smaller venues, for people like me it was harder to fit in when you still stuck to your guns in championing a more soulful sound. I was still managing to play sets but usually alongside DJ’s who were playing “UK garage” which mainly featured big bass-lines and chipmunk vocals!

I am actually fairly new to the Modern Soul scene but I have found that the sound that I love is held in a lot higher regard within this movement, I wish I had come to it earlier..........

Here is the impressive list of Mark's "SOS Edit's" so far :-

SOS Remixes/Reworks/Re-Edits Discography 2009: House: Al B Sure - 4 Life Bass X - Baby I'm Ready BSTC Ft Keana Johnson - Fresh Love Chestor Gregory - Dreamin Clenord Ferguson - It's A Beautiful Day DaQuela - So Happy DTTB Ft Roy Ayers - Good To Me Drea Rhenee - Let The Sonshine In Dreamtime - So Long Eric Roberson & Algebra - ILuvU2Much Esperanza Freeze - Nick Of Time George Duke - Right On Time Gianna - One Step Closer Holyboy - By Your Side Howard Hewett - Enough Howard Hewett - Is This True Love Janita - Be Yourself Janita - Firefly Jesse Boykins III - Sunstar JI V ATTS - So Special Joe - Very Special Friend Joe - Worst Case Scenario Kenny Lattimore - Come Down In Time Kevin Whalum Ft Lynn Fiddmont - Why LaDeana Michelle - Believe Lenora Jaye - Silent Prayer Lisa McClendon - Heaven Luther Vandross - Apologize Monday Michiru - Your Eyes Montell Jordan - I Cry Paris Match - Passion8 Groove Peaches & Herb - Any Day Penny Wells - Compared To Loving You Q harper - Must Be My Wife Rachel Brown - Make It Official Satya Project - Bora's Bounce Slique - Finally Sterling Ensemble Ft carlene Graham - Push It Teena Marie Ft Howard Hewett - Lover's lane Thomas Hunter - Step A Little Closer Tina Davis - Let You Go Trish Andrews - Already Vanessa Williams - The Real Thing Vick Lavender Ft David Glenn - Another Girl Wil Key - Satisfy My Soul Wil Key - Superstar Soul: 45 Ft Jimmy Abney - Nothing Feels Better Than You BeBe & CeCe Winans - Close To You Chico DeBarge - Do My Bad Alone Darnell Kendricks - Jones In My Bones Gare Du Nord - You're My Medicin George Benson - Family Reunion James Day - Speak Love Joe - Sensitive Lover Lady A - I'm Moving On Lynne Fiddmont - Stay MLU - Wasn't Here Olivia McClurkin - All I Need Q Harper - Hey You Shaila Prospere - Mistakes TK Soul - Thats How I Feel Trizonna McClendon - My Special Wendy McIntyre - Wastin Time

Friday, 18 September 2009


This bit is where you can can help me please if you can.
I am documenting the following clubs and would appreciate any photos you have of people,interiors exteriors of any of them.You can send them to me via e-mail at

Please add descriptions and names where applicable.
The Twisted Wheel Manchester 1968 - 1971
The Golden Torch Tunstall Stoke On Trent 1968 -1973
The Catacoombs Wolverhampton 1969-1972
The Blackpool Mecca 1971-1978 Saturday Nights and All Dayers
Chaplains Birmingham 1976-1978
Rumrunner Birmingham 1978 - 1982
The Lafayette Wolverhampton
Rock City Nottingham 1980 - 1986
The Leadmill Sheffield 1982 1986
Dollars Sheffield 1982- 1986
Rafters Manchester 1978- 1984
Cassinellis Standish 1979 - 83
The Ritz Manchester 1974 - 1984
Playpen Manchester 1984 - 1987
Berlin Manchester 1984-1987
Trafalgar Preston 1992-94
Blackpool Weekenders at Cala Gran 1988-1992
Upnorth Weekenders Morecambe 1990's
Southport Dance Weekenders 1990's to present day.

Pics of live acts from any of the above events would be appreciated too.

Thanks in advance.

Thursday, 17 September 2009


CITY LIMITS SOUL NIGHTS! SHEFFIELDS PREMIER SOUL NIGHT! ACROSS THE BOARD SOUL MUSIC! with the modern room,opening in Sept...till 2am from then on!!(both rooms) Future line up of djs for 2009!
LEGENDS OF SPINNIN THE NORTHERN TUNES THAT WE'LL ALL LOVE!(Modern Room djs will be on our new flyer out this friday!)
licensed bar(at pub pricestill 1:15)night continues till 2a.m. BRAND NEW LUXURY VENUE with a FANTASTIC DANCEFLOOR...WITH SYSTEM TO MATCH! ALSO AIR CON!
To view venue and directions go to {}CONTACT NO FOR FURTHER INFO 07966184499/07973649064
(Promo cds given out on the night...just ask Tony B!)
Modern room has its own bar and chillout area!!

I will be playing here friday October the 2nd with all the residents Tony & Cliff etc.Looking forward to hitting both rooms and seeing some old and new faces.The venue looks awesome.
Get yourself along we'll see you there putting the Soul back into Sheffield.Great memories from this city.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Soul Buggin' Birthday Party with Colin Curtis
Friday 25th September
9pm - 2am
Moog, Newdigate Street, Nottingham
With residents Wrighty, Beane & Mark A
Free entry

Blimey we are extremely excited about this big one as we go back to our roots!

It's a few years since we started this whole Soul Buggin business so we decided to celebrate, to add to this it's Soul Buggin's beardy Wrighty's birthday as well. We're not sure how old he is, only that he's older than 25. What's more it's also Mark A's better half Rachel's birthday too.

Well with all these reasons to celebrate we decided we'd need to invite someone of standing and stature along to help the party along, so we've only gone and booked the legendaryColin Curtis.

He has been described by Greg Wilson as 'A Triple Legend' and Paul Murphy as 'No.1'.

Expect 70's Soul, Disco, JazzFunk, Boogie and House all oozing loads of Soul.

Come on along to Moog, again voted Notts Best of town bar with its great 70's decor, intimate vibe, outdoor areas and great music.
The lovely Lesley Cooper from up near Rotherham said :-
Fab night. After getting totally lost going it was blooming brill. Me and Louby, and my friend Jayne had a ball. Brilliant atmoshpheric intimate venue. Seemed really fresh and different. Colin was on fire, bless him and we all danced our little socks off. Loved the set after Colin, I think that was Mark, and Jayne informed me that the set before (I think Wrighty) was brilliant while we were drving a few times round Nottingham.. All this took us up to 3am, where it was time for me to go and get lost again for another hour!

I look forward to revisiting this venue again. Loved it! Being as i lost my sat nav again, i reckon i could actually find the venue next time by myself, and reduce the journey by half as well. Great stuff. xx

You are bang on Lesley.Big shout to everyone who came along.Moog is a great little bar with a top Soul Buggin atmosphere,top people, great vibe and a great mix of music,something for everybody !! Get down to one of their future party's if you have never been.
Special thanks to Mark A,Wrighty and Beane for the invite
and it would be a pleasure to come back.
Great to see some faces from the Ilkeston sessions too as well as Lesley & Louby who led the charge !
The dancers still partying at 4a.m.

And a special thanks to the RAC :-))))

Here are some pics from the night