Having brought Friends & Family out of retirement for two already sold-out shows at The Roadhouse before it closes, the inimitable Woody (AKA The Nudge) shares his memories of the club night when it was at its peak, and selects ten tracks that rocked the club to its core. Take it away, Woody...
'Friends & Family came about after a difficult six months of Counter Culture, which was the monthly Fat City night at Planet K, an 800 capacity venue on Oldham Street back in the late '90s. I was helping Fat City owner Dave Walker run the events from '99 to spring 2000 and in the summer we stopped to refresh. The following months I got by financially by spending a few months helping Electric Chair on some covert promo missions. Dave called me up late July and said they (Darren Laws, Howie Martinez, Matt Triggs, Martin Brew, Mark Rae etc) had come up with an idea for a weekly night in a smaller venue and wanted me to promote it with Dave. Made sense as Dave was great at organising and planning and I was great at getting fucked every night of the week on a shoestring budget. Friends & Family was born.
'The next six years were fantastic. Three elements came together just at the right time in the post Hacienda fallout. 1: the amazing Roadhouse venue. 2: the abundance of on-tap world class DJs and selectors, fuelled by the eclectic music explosion of the time where you had to play many styles or get booed, and 3: an abundance of great open-minded, up for it people. At its best the club was crazy. The BBQs around 2003 – 2004 were so mental I really believed you could not be in a better club on the planet at that moment. I felt blessed I could play in such an amazing atmosphere. The music was regularly and unashamedly party but ‘party’ is a bottomless pit spanning all genres so gems would constantly be discovered by the residents and regular guests. That party lasted six years for me.
'Two weeks ago the Roadhouse announced its closure. It’s a sad thing. Not because the club is going (that would have to happen at some point) but more for the loss of a home for Manchester's music community, as the people involved in the club made a place which felt like home for many years. Big respect to all the staff who worked there over the years and a special shout to Jon Green, Emma, Rob and Kate Mountain. Can’t finish up without a nob to Steve Lloyd. RIP fella. Also shouts to all resident DJs over the years, which is too many to mention. Oh, and you cannot even talk about Friends & Family without mentioning Master Of Ceremonies in Chief, Kwasi. Dom Blood & Fire brought that meeting of the minds together, and we have been on the laughing gas ever since, Eh he!!!'
Ten Friends & Family classics
Super Cat – 'Ghetto Red Hot' (Hip Hop Mix)
'Super Cat's rapid fire vocal skills are highlighted in this glorious hip hop ragga jam.'
Patsy Gallant – 'It’ll All Come Around'
'The ultimate Friends & Family track. Can’t quite remember which one of the crew brought this to the table first but I never heard it anywhere except in our club. Proper anthem and special track for all the regulars.'
Lyn Christopher – 'Take Me With You'
'When those Dusty Grooves comps landed before you could dig for records on the internet this was a revelation. Deep mystical rarity that you wished you could own and knew you would never find. Roll on ten years and it's cheers Discogs.'
Barrington Levy - 'Broader Than Broadway'
'Every now and then the reserved Dave Walker (Fat City Records honcho), who preferred to stay in the background, would spin a few. He dropped this one night and the place went nuts. We all bought it that week.'
Tribe Called Quest – 'Scenario remix'
'Tougher than leather head nod shit that makes ya break ya neck! Tribe go full power on the attitude on this funky as hell rap classic. Banger.'
Spanky Wilson – 'Sunshine Of Your Love'
'Another stand-out Fat City anthem. Break glass in case of emergency tackle. Only problem was you’d start a fire by playing it. Dancefloor heat that never fails.'
Ninjaman – 'Zig It Up'
'The crowd used to watch me and Kwasi go nuts in stage while we watched the crowd goin' nuts on the floor. Always loved this record.'
Rueben Bell – 'Super Jock'
'Another one dug by the Fat City team and brought to the plate. I'm sure Mark Torkington found this one. Funk at its best.'
That Kid Named Miles – 'Ring Of Fire'
'Two of the best ever Friends & Family’s ever were the Breakestra Live. Band leader Miles made this mega cover of the Johnny Cash classic that was dropped frequently to mass delight.'
Roots Manuva – 'Witness The Fitness'
'Vinyl on deck, drop needle = eruption.'
Keep up to date with Woody's latest project Red Laser Disco here. The next event takes place on Friday April 3 at Bangkok Bar. More info on the Friends & Family events can be found here, although you'll have to beg, borrow or steal to get a ticket.
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