Jools Belgium, better known to friends and family as Steve, has been milling around on the Brum music scene since the 1970s. We asked Steve to take time out to write a few words and reminisce on his past involvement in educating local dancefloors, and where you can catch him these days (well, soon as bars repoen).
Jools Belgium & His Vinyl Memoirs
I started getting into music as a kid in the early 70’s. The charts were great with all the glam bands like T Rex, Bowie, Sweet, Slade and lots of great soul music too – ‘The Hustle’, ‘Love On A Mountain Top, ‘Hang On In There Baby’. I bought a few records when I had the money but did a lot of taping off the radio!
I started buying seriously when the punk thing broke and had started work so had more money. I’d listen to John Peel playing all these new bands and lots of great reggae. Then the mod revival and two tone introduced everybody to lots of old great soul and sixties music of all genres. Also, a few of my black mates at the time started going to jazz funk all dayers around the country and introduced me to all sorts of black American (and some British) dance music.
Things moved fast and I bought and listened to all genres, as most of my mates did at the time . We’d be buying New Order, The Bunnymen, reggae, 80’s soul, early hip hop. I’d never thought about dj’ing but remember seeing Norman Cook dj’ing at Burberries Click Club around 1987 and mixing a Smiths track and James Brown track together – very interesting.
I’d never thought about dj’ing but remember seeing Norman Cook dj’ing at Burberries Click Club around 1987 and mixing a Smiths track and James Brown track together – very interesting.
The rare groove and funk scene emerged along with the dance music explosion in the mid/late 80’s – some fantastic records. All the early house tunes and old funk and disco breaks and also the start of what became the ‘acid jazz’ scene.
DJ Dick was always doing interesting nights. I remember Mark and Gary at Xanadu doing great nights and also Salvation upstairs at the Powerhouse. I started dj’ing in the late 80’s around the city at places including 49’ers, West End Bar, Notes, Jasmyn’s, Bonds and a few warehouse parties in the jewellery quarter.
I played at the Moseley Dance Centre a few times too (hard work carrying all the gear up those steps!). I was playing all genres of dance music, old and new. It all splintered off into lots of sub genres and I stopped dj’ing around 1995 until I met my great mate Cheesedip. He’d built up a night called Sweat throughout the 90’s and was planning to revive it – this was around 2001. He asked me to help him out and I’ve dj’d with him at Sweat regularly over the last twenty years.
It’s difficult now for vinyl dj’s like myself as most venues live in the digital age – no decks! Two exceptions are the Night Owl (where I play at regularly) and The Hare and Hounds (a regular Sweat venue) – two great and important Birmingham venues.
I take my old decks along occasionally to a great brewery/taproom called Attic in Stirchley and play lots of my old punk, reggae, 60’s bands and soul records. Anything goes along with great beer!