Steve Laming : our master of ceremonies – he owns the copyright to the word ‘disco’
Steve Laming began his foray into DJing and club promotion by jointly setting up the legendary Black Velvet Soul and Funk club in 1977 which started as one-off party but quickly snowballed to a 400+ attendance fortnightly session.
Membership grew to over 1200 and a bi-monthly fanzine called ‘Read the Groove’ was circulated to the membership.
Steve established a reputation for playing cutting edge jazz funk, latin and disco, and was breaking a lot of new stuff which would eventually become rare groove – Reuben Wilson and Got to Get Your Own started in a junk shop in Gosport.
There was real hunger in the early disco/jazz funk clientèle and regular coach trips were run to see guys like Crown Heights Affair and Roy Ayers.
Adding various other local venues to form a weekly round of gigs then attracted the attention of London promoters Funky Fox and under their banner he was playing a lot of venues in Portsmouth, Isle of Wight weekenders and in London, as well as promoting regular parties.
The Sunday night Funky Fox sessions saw Steve and Black Velvet playing alongside the Soul Mafia man Sean French and the legendary Crackers’ own George Power.
The DJing covered all-dayers, all-nighters and weekenders as well as promoting parties and gigs. The Portsmouth all nighters drew in over 1500 people and these were often followed with a coach trip to an all dayer.
Steve even promoted the first ever cross-channel funk cruise – the car deck of a Townsend Thoresen cross channel ferry was converted into a club and with guests including Chris Brown and Sean French – an alldayer to Cherbourg and back was a duty free dance off!
Other ventures saw a young jazz funk DJ named Pete Tong guest at one party above the Crown Bingo in Gosport!
The promoting side brought bands like Players Association, Steel Pulse, Hi Tension to the city and in addition Black Velvet had a two year residency at the now legendary Cabin in Portsmouth. The Cabin was one of the most underground clubs on the circuit holding just 150 people but the music policy ensured the newest and the rarest music was played and the legendary Afro Arts founder and king of the jazz dance scene Paul Murphy was a very special and welcome guest at the club.
Steve played at many now-legendary venues including Upstairs at Erics in Bournemouth and remembers the New Years Eve party there with Chris Brown, Sean French, Bob Jones all on the bill, where he was given a full-on round of applause for playing The Dramatics tune Whatcha See is Whatcha Get. Other venues included Blues in London and had regular residencies in venues including, Floaters in Southampton and the Old Coach House in Fareham.
Over the following 20 years or so Steve really just played the odd party and occasionally re-surfaced in promotions such as Just Jazz.
Steve has worked with good buddy Mick Hood over the years and in the 1980’s their Vibes Soul Club venture saw sessions in the Dungeon Club in Fareham which were a legendary blend of rare independent soul and underground jazz and they were often joined by the Northern Soul guru, Shay.
Recently Steve and Mick had a residency at Pulcinella in Southampton, under the banner of Thank Funk and have over time guested at many parties.
Steve now plays a mix of balearic, disco, deep house, rare groove, funk, NY disco, cosmic disco and latin. Still a manic record buyer he is always launching new tunes sprinkled with some gems from back in the day.
More recent influences include stuff produced by: Joe Claussell, Ron Trent, Moodyman, Ray Mang, JT Donaldson, Prins Thomas. and all time favourite tunes would include Hudson People’ Trip to your mind, Crown Heights Affair, Far Out, Funk Inc. Sister Janie, Second Crusade, May the funk be with you, amongst many, many thousand others.
Steve was a late recruit to the COR team having been introduced to Tim through Mick and he likens the COR events as…
“the nearest thing to the underground buzz of early warehouse parties and the late 70’s and early 80’s scene. This is something really special, there is real excitement and the atmosphere is electric and this hasn’t been felt in Pompey for decades. The commitment to the parties, the variation and blend of music played, the quality of the DJs are really awesome and most importantly the crowd are knowledgeable and really up for a good time. This is a fantastic thing to be part of and I really feel privileged to be playing out at parties which I know will go down in DJ History as being the hottest thing of their time”.