It wouldn’t have occurred to me to check this out unless my friends Martin and Audra Thomson, who now live in Holmes Chapel, Cheshire hadn’t mentioned it when they asked me to come up to stay with them for the weekend. As soon as I read that Butch was planning to play for three hours I knew it would be a must visit.
I travelled to my friends on Friday and spent Saturday accompanying them shopping and other domestic things. But the whole time I was looking forward to the evening, my only visits to Crewe had been to pass through the station on the way to other destinations. It turned out that the Box is literally round the corner from the station, so most convenient, as long as you’ve got a train home afterwards, always a problem.
Martin decided to drive to Crewe, he had doubts about the ease of finding a taxi at 3 am on a Sunday morning. We arrived about 8.20ish, paid our money and walked up the stairs to the main area.
The two supporting DJs were playing and their music was right up my street, and most of it was new to me, or at least I didn’t recognise a lot of the tunes, first one I did know was Dissatisfied Man by Oliver Christian, which Martin used to play when he DJ’d at These Old Shoes. In the first set before Butch came onto the decks the only obvious oldie played was the Ivories’ Please Stay and I don’t hear that played out very often. There were people dancing including a guy who had a crutch, but he still moved his other leg, good on him. It shows that when the music gets inside you it makes you want to move.
At about 10 pm Butch took over and said he was pleased to be in the North after being down with the “southern softies”, think he meant me, Charlie and Trickster who’d made the trip. His first record was Johnny Howard’s The Chase Is On, followed by Tommy Ridgley’s My Love Gets Stronger, then Little Love Affair, I’m Lonely I’m Troubled and an alternative take of Lover. My first foray on to the dance floor was when he played his Jean Carter cover up I Wanna Know, one of my favourites, shortly after he played Martha Jean Love’s Old Time Lover, a record I absolutely adore, love dancing to it, it got Arthur Fenn on to the floor too, it’s one his favourites as well. More great tracks followed, Gotta Strange Feeling, Mello Souls’ We Can Make It, Perfections’ Just Can’t Leave You, Sha La La, the Mighty Lovers cover up (what a record!), Rideout, and then one he’s played at the 100 Club, starts off very similar to I Love Music, my friends would call it the dreaded word “disco” but so what, a great dancer, followed by Shake Cheri. Loads of other good’uns but my memory is useless but I’d had a good dance.
The first record following Butch was John Harris’s Hanging In, great record and the guys continued playing lesser known (or at least to me) tracks but also including one or two classics, for example I Gotta Find Me Somebody. I actually think that dropping in a classic stomper in the middle of lesser known material works very well. A record by the Lollipops was played, if either Alex Jones or Phil Wainwright reads this perhaps they could say what it was, in fact their playlists would be good if they fancy posting them.
Then it was time for Butch to take over and do a 90 minute set to finish the night. By this time my back and legs were beginning to feel the pounding I’d given them so I was unable to dance to as many records as I would have liked but I did my best. I do remember Butch playing Sidney Barnes’ I Hurt On The Other Side, Diane Lewis’ You Ain’t Got A Chance, the alternative version of Just Like The Weather, The Hurting Is Over, Dee Dee Warwick’s Worth Every Tear I Cry and Jean Wells’ With My Love And What You’ve Got (I assume these are both different takes of the songs), and the Utopias’ Girls Are Against Me. He also played a couple of instrumentals. Carlena was another one played, not sure if it was the normal version His final record was the Just Brothers’ Go On And Laugh, one of his best cover ups in my opinion. I had to dance to that one. And that was the end. Martin and I said farewell to our friends and drove back to Holmes Chapel.
It was very nice to see a good number of friends there, Ian, Trickster, Charlie, Arthur and Maria, Annabelle, and many others. I thought there would be more in, but Burnley was on plus many other nights, still a good turnout though including various well known DJs.
The dance floor was superb, I wore a pair of shoes that I’d never dance in at the 100 Club but was fine at the Box. Also the sound was very good. And let’s face it, you need a good dance floor and good sound equipment, they’re the most important thing, plus of course good music. I would describe most of the music as “nighter” type sounds, and Butch played 60s tracks in the main, or at least as far as I could hear, some 70s as well of course.
I will be keeping an eye on soul nights at the Box, nice to add another venue that is worth visiting. Thanks to the promoters and to the DJs, one of the best soul nights I’ve attended for ages. And my body is proof of that, still getting over it as I type this.