FEATURE: Rob Heron’s Billy Bootleggers Bunch Of Fives | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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With Billy Bootleggers fast becoming one of Newcastle’s most underrated nightspots filled with top music and a vibrant atmosphere, we thought we’d ask one of their regular DJs, Rob Heron to fill us in on what floor-fillers he loves playing there. Over to you Rob…

When I heard about the opening of Billy Bootleggers and their focus on blues and rock & roll, my immediate thought was “I GOTTA play some records there!”.  My record collection is mainly 50s & 60s rock & roll, rhythm & blues and early soul, and it is a joy to play these records in a bar that is seemingly dedicated to that area of music (they do feature more styles too, but not when I’m there!!).  The bar creates a vibe that seems to erase the need for punters to ask for inappropriate requests, which leaves me, and the dancefloor, having a good time, every time!  Long may it continue. 

Here’s my top 5 floor-fillers from the last few months at Billy Bootleggers…

1. Little Richard – Rip It Up (1956)
This is my favourite 50s Little Richard tune, because his soul stuff in the 60s is whole different ballgame!  The drummer plays an absolute killer of an offbeat snare rhythm and the dirty baritone sax blasting through the choruses, makes it a perfect floor-filler for any room or audience.  The lyrics are about having a ball on a Saturday night, so you can’t really go wrong spinning this on a weekend at Billy Bootleggers! 

2. Sugar Pie De Santo – Soulful Dress (1964) 
There is very rarely a DJ set of mine that doesn’t include this tune, it’s ALWAYS in the box!  This was the first Sugar Pie De Santo song I ever heard, and she was immediately my all-time favourite female vocalist!  The swinging drum beat and rockin’ guitar tone (including an amazing solo by Gerald Sims) is a perfect and impeccable example of the 60s Chicago/Chess sound.  Again, lyrically, it’s about having a good time at the weekend!  Perfection!  
3. Screamin’ Jay Hawkins – Little Demon (1957)
An all time favourite for the jivers on the Rock & Roll scene!  A swingin’ offbeat snare, a tasty sax solo and Screamin’ Jay’s trademark gobbledygook lyrics, and you’re in for a winner.  Every time I have played this at Billy Bootleggers, it’s infectious rhythm has got the room, and myself, jumpin! 

4. Mike Pedicin – Burnt Toast & Black Coffee (1961)
I like to play the majority of my selections on original 45rpm vinyl records, but there has to be the odd exception, such as this rarity.  If an original of this comes up they generally go for £800+, but it’s too good to miss out, so I play it from a compilation LP called “Hipshakers” on VampiSoul Records.  If anyone wants a beginners guide to 50s/60s R&B, they should check out that series.  Sticking with the formula here, this tune has excellent lyrics, a classic “stroller” rhythm and brilliant saxophone parts (Mike Pedicin was a saxophone player, who died in 2016)

5. Jimmy Robins – I Can’t Please You (1966)
This track is a perfect crossover of R&B and Northern Soul, and also a record I always keep in the box, ever since I picked up a copy from Tony at Stay Free Records on Northumberland Street.  Jimmy Robins’ voice is the epitome of soulful, and the twangy guitar fill gets me every time.  Tony sold this to me saying “it’ll fill any empty dancefloor” and dang!, he was bang on!  

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