It’s about time lovelorn Lloyd Mullaney caught a break. The long-suffering taxi driver swaps the fiction of Coronation Street for the reality of Academy Street on Saturday night, when actor Craig Charles moonlights at Ironworks in his preferred role…as the UK’s number one soul and funk DJ.

 

Supported by The Leonard Jones Potential and Scooty and the Skyhooks, the show promises to make attendees break out in a cold sweat and lose themselves in a funk-laden frenzy not seen since his last visit in July 2010.

The Craig Charles Funk and Soul Show has broadcast every Saturday night on BBC Radio 6 since 2003. Charles was breakfast DJ on London’s KISS FM in the early nineties. Playing records for other people is not new to him.

“I’ve been DJing under the radar for twenty years. The other things I do – my day jobs – have always got much more attention. It’s quite weird that all of a sudden my hobby has become so important to people.”

His “day jobs” have included: stand-up comedian on late night TV programme Saturday Live; author of controversial books including his autobiography ‘No Irish, No Niggers’; television presenter on Children’s programme ‘What’s That Noise’; and professional footballer for Wirral club Tranmere Rovers. Craig Charles’ first media appearance was aged twelve on daytime television on BBC One’s ‘Pebble Mill’, reciting the poem he had written that won the Guardian poetry award. He would go on to develop on the poetry circuit, making a name for himself as a punk poet with a penchant for social commentary. Some CV!

Long running BBC Two comedy ‘Red Dwarf’ propelled Charles to mega-stardom. He is recognised all over the world as dreadlocked, curry obsessed, last surviving human, Dave Lister.

But Craig Charles is also a Soul Man – on a mission to influence modern music enthusiasts via the platform of the Funk and Soul Show:

“We want to spread the word to make sure that people know that funk and soul isn’t R n B. I don’t mean R n B in the classic sense like Muddy Waters. I’m talking about Rhianna and fuckin’ Lady GaGa and that kind of stuff. It’s all about spreading the word and letting people understand what funk and soul actually is and getting them to realise that they actually like it. And we’ve done that! Our radio show has got the biggest audience on 6Music, our DJ shows sell out all over the world and I’m just happy doing it. I mean, come on, you can’t call it a job can you? You know, I get to play all my favourite tunes!”

Charles has been playing tunes all his life since he bought his first record (‘A Forest’ by The Cure – he liked the guitars on it) and before, listening to his father’s and brother’s collections. Brought up on the tough Cantril Farm estate in Liverpool by his West Indian father and Irish mother, Charles always had excellent musical taste:

“I kind of grew up listening to heavy rock to be honest. I reverse engineered my way in to funk and soul music from Led Zeppelin and Thin Lizzy. I remember playing Led Zeppelin IV to my Dad and him saying (adopts Jamaican accent): “bwoy, you been drinkin’?” He played me Muddy Waters, BB King, John Lee Hooker and all that. He made me realise where the heavy rock chords and sensibilities originally came from.”

As a teenage music fan growing up in the seventies, Charles was also exposed to the punk whirlwind that swept the nation. Many of his peers donned safety pins and spiked their hair but Charles was more influenced by another underground movement that was particularly popular in England’s industrial north: northern soul. He acknowledges the Wigan Casino as his Mecca for hearing Motown-influenced singles which perhaps never made it big but became underground classics.

Charles found the funk groove during the same period and bought-in to the space-age psychedelics of Parliament and Funkadelic. Consequently he is prone to playing anything from P-funk to G-funk, to nu jazz, hip-hop and indie in his DJ sets. Anything with a bit of soul:

“I’m not that good a DJ, you know what I mean? But I’m quite a good selector! And that’s what’s more important. I select the music I’m gonna play, I’m not that good a mixer or a scratcher but it’s not about that. I’m not about matching beats, funk and soul isn’t like that. I get away with it: believe me the party never stops! I’m not a house DJ, I don’t play house music, I don’t even fucking like house music. It’s about selecting the records that keep the party going and for me, at the end of the day, it’s the dance floor that matters.”

The Ironworks dance floor will be packed with pre-Christmas party animals next Saturday night. Charles made a lot of friends during his slamming set at the venue last year and is keen to ‘party like its 1999’ all over again:

“We had a lot of people there from Dingwall. We all went back to our hotel and in the end they asked us to leave because we were standing at the bar at seven o’clock in the morning and people were still coming to join the party! The party’s wherever we play. We’re kind of like a party in a box. I’m really looking forward to it. We tore the roof off the place when we played Ironworks that night, it was fantastic!”

The multi-talented Scouser is just as enthusiastic about his support act for the event – The Leonard Jones Potential – definitely not an average white band:

“The singer’s brilliant, she’s got a fantastic voice! I tell you what though; they can get a party started! It’s classic, legendary, deep funk with banging bass, deep drums and a real raw element to it. When you hear it you think they sound like 1960s Detroit but they’re fuckin’ Highlanders they are!”

The Craig Charles Funk and Soul Show promises to funk Inverness up once again. Expect plenty of Tamla and Stax records mixed with anything cool from James Brown to Primal Scream to the Jungle Brothers. Party music.

Charles promises: “There’ll be no sleep ‘til bedtime!”

By Garry McCartney

The Craig Charles Funk and Soul Show hits Ironworks on Saturday 3rd December. Doors open at 10PM. Tickets are £10 available from the Ironworks Box Office and by telephone on 01463 718555

Very special thanks to Craig for his time, Ema Nosurak for co-ordinating and Andrew Morgan.