Soul Essence; a Potted History
Soul Essence was the “brainchild “ of Bob Cosby, Gavin Page and Micks Mix ( two hard working DJ’s from St Albans who ran various Soul and Jazz funk nights in the St Albans /Hertfordshire area) . The first event was held in April 1993 and the events were originally held biannually at the Raynscourt Hotel Great Yarmouth. Why the Raynscourt? Well although far from the “swishest“ hotel around Bob Cosby was put up there whilst DJing at the Oasis in Great Yarmouth in his Caister days. Having returned from DJing at the seafront club he found it to be rocking with a private Motown themed party going on until the early hours, it had already had an event there called “East Coast Offering“ which was run by popular promoter Tommy Wilkinson and the atmosphere generated in the timewarped venue was impressive to a young Cosby. It was suggested to the proprietors that possibly a Soul Weekend might be a consideration, a proper Soul weekend. It was all financed originally by Gavin Pages’ Dad Robin who loaned the deposit required to hire the Hotel, Equipment and DJ’s.
A DJ line up had to be assembled, lets see, "Soul Sam, Brian Murray, Rod Dearlove, Simon Petts, Andy Etheridge, Mike Charlton, Bob Cosby, Gavin Page and Guests!" said the flyer and of course there was Dave Godins’ Soul Forum. The late Soul Guru Dave Godin held a Soul Teach-in come forum in what is now the Jim Wray Lounge, the old original TV lounge before rooms had TV’s. Dave would talk about his memories of the Motown appreciation society and the various artists he had met along the way including a young “Diane Ross” ( before she became Diana) his Soul City label and relate amazing stories to the eager listeners. Sadly the Forums only ran for two events and the Lounge went on to become the Downbeat Lounge and then was renamed in honour of it’s most critical patron the late Jim Wray, a renowned Soul music collector.
The Lounge is now policed by Brian Goucher, the Brummie DJ/Collector with a penchant for Deep Soul and new release Soul Music.
Soul Essence is a mecca for Soul Music collectors and the Vinyl Vault room hosts the Countries’ top Record/CD dealers selling their wares at every event, names such as John Manship, Andy Dyson, Ian Clark, Ady Pountain, Fish, Steve Plumb, Gary Pelley, Soul Bowl, John Doe Music & Soul Brother have all been regular vendors at Soul Essence.
Among the Unique selling points at the outset were the Saturday afternoon collectors spots which still happen today, where collectors can apply to have a DJ slot in the main room and try their hand, this still applies to the present day.
Soul Essence is famous for breaking rare soul records some of which are listed below but has also been the source of many newly released tunes at the time such as Jesse Graham - When I Think Of My Baby, Mark Johnson – Daydreaming and the likes of Stan Mosley, Corey Glover, Solo and hundreds more were first featured as new releases here.
Some of the Rare Soul Tracks which evolved via Soul Essence to become Classics:-
Melvin Brown & James Matthews – Loves Stormy Weather
Bobby Wilburn – I’m A Dreamer
Chuck Cockerham – Have I Got A Right
The Topics – Booking Up Baby
Jerry Warren – I Really Love You
Otis Clay – You Hurt Me For The Last Time
Tommy Tate – I Can’t Do Enough For You Baby
Little Anthony – Never Again
George Jackson – I Want That Love Back
Sam Dees – Touch Me With Your Love
Willie Tee – First Taste Of Hurt
The list is endless of Classic tracks from the Seventies through to today that were first “Broken“ at Soul Essence, as Soul Sam once said about the event “A Monster has been created“ . Today the line up of DJ’s is Soul Sam, Steve Guarnori, Bob Cosby, Gavin Page, Brian Goucher, Steve Plumb, Mike Charlton, Sean Hampsey, Alex Subinas & Gareth Donovan.
There have been Two Live acts both hugely revered 'Soul Icons', Sam Dees and Richard Caiton.
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