DJ Derek – “This shall be my last ever gig in Sheffield”

Derek Morris AKA DJ Derek is the Bristol born and bred reggae DJ famed for his love of Weatherspoons pubs, National Express coach journeys and of course music of Jamaican origin. A man whose career in DJing only really begun well into his 30s, yet he’s gone on to accomplish some stupendous achievements. Derek began by hosting his sets in a deep voiced, patois dialect which he picked up from the local pubs and barber shops in the St Pauls area of Bristol. Those of you who know little of the man may recognise him as the OAP throwing a disco for pensioners in the Dizzee track Dirtee Disco, those of you who know much of the man will be aware of his ability to sincerely captivate any audience and take them on a charming musical journey like no other. As the city prepares for his visit to the Harley on Friday for Quality Control‘s 2nd show, I called him up on a hot & sticky evening to ask him a few questions about his lengthy musical career and discover a fair few things I didn’t know about this 71 year old.

*Ring Ring* *Ring Ring* – that’s me setting the scene there.

Chris Arnold: Hey Derek! No time for chatter, we have an interview to do! Tell me, with an extremely impressive career spanning multiple decades in which you’ve played hundreds of different venues, you must have a few places you count as favourites?
Derek Morris: Well the main venue that I’ve stuck with over the years is the Notting Hill Arts Club, it’s my current and last residency. I decided to stop all the others as they started to restrict my ability to travel up and down the country. This NYE will be last gig I do there and will also be my last ever gig.

CA: Your last ever gig?! I heard rumours but I wasn’t aware it was confirmed!
DM: Well yes, in fact I was away travelling and gigging last weekend and when I returned I saw the story plastered over the Bristol evening post, someone had let the cat out of the bag! I then headlined St Paul’s Carnival which is where I live, and it was a very emotional evening. I have Harbour Festival coming up as well, that will be my last ever open air show and I’ll be playing at a home crowd in front of loads of people. I’m pretty sure that will choke me up, I’ve always opened it and I’ve seen so many artists come by, even James Brown did back in the day.

CA: Wow, so this gig on Friday in Sheffield will be your last ever performance in the city?
DM: Yes, I may do a show in Leeds and perhaps one in Nottingham before NYE. I will be 72 the fortnight before I do my last ever gig, and while I’m reasonably healthy it’ll be nice to do some travelling without carting my gear around!

CA: There’s certainly nothing wrong with that! You’ve had a great career Derek, are there any highlights that stick out right now?
DM: Oh, too many highlights to mention, playing Jamaican Independence Dance is one, it was the first year Bristol had a black mayor and the first year Jamaican Independence had a white DJ! Touring across the World with Womad is certainly another. Around the year 2000 I played Singapore, Australia, Prague, Paris, Gran Canaria, Ireland. It was back after I just changed to minidisc, I could have never done that with all my vinyl. I remember playing at Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in front of 50 000 people, it was at a free festival on this Spanish island and nobody comes out until midnight. Well they only went and stuck me on at midnight! I had no idea what to open up with until I thought “well they are Spanish so I’ll open with Ole Ole Ole!, it was brilliant!

CA: Fantastic!
DM: I remember years later at Rob de Bank’s festival, Bestival, they had put me up in the Afterburner stage, it’s a real ramshackle stage, looks like a rock has just hit it. They put me on just as it was getting dark and I decided that I would open with Ole Ole Ole again, and as I played it all these fireworks going off and the brilliant thing was that they kept them in time with the music. At the time all these things just seem so surreal, it’s a job to take it in. It’s only when you look back you think “I can’t believe I did that”.

CA: Over the years you’ve played alongside some of the biggest names in reggae, you must have met plenty of the artists whose music you’ve played?
DM: That’s the wonderful thing you see, I used to watch people like Toots, Desmond Dekker when I was younger. Over the years and certainly from the 80s onwards, I’ve actually met all of my heroes as well as supporting them. When I met Toots he said “Yeah man, everybody know you. You’re the white man that talk the people’s talk and play the people’s music”, it was a reputation that I had garnered through word of mouth wihout realising. Had I known I might have worn a bigger sized hat back then! It’s been a wonderful, wonderful 2nd part of my life. As a younger man spending most of time of the dole to then be invited to play the music that I love is extremely humbling. Back then a lot of black people thought that white people had been using black music, they’ve been conscious of the fact that I’ve been promoting black music. I was playing music that would never have been played on the BBC for example.

CA: Naturally, you’ve proven yourself as a worthy DJ.
DM: Yes, I feel so now, as I mentioned before playing for Jamaican Independence Dance, after that then I was invited to do a few more, including the Dominican Independance Dance. This was a big opportunity for me to play to an audience of which the vast majority were black. Back then I had a big reputation in the West Country as white DJ so everyone knew about me in that area, but there were a huge amount of the black community travelling down from the midlands, Birmingham and such. When they got there they were asking “why have you got a white DJ?“. Well I got them all dancing and a steel band were supposed to be playing after me but they called up to say that they had broken down en route and couldn’t come. I had to keep these 500 people dancing for about 4 hours! It was brilliant though, I got them into a frame of mind where I was selecting that was just magic. I was selecting tunes and people were coming up and asking me for a tune and it was the next one that I was going to play. This happened quite a few times that night – I was literally getting goosebumps. It was the first time that I realised I could play for a 100% black crowd, I really thought that was the pinnacle of my career.

CA: It certainly appears that you do more then just play music, you have a deep-rooted, emotional bond with your audience. How exactly are you going to mentally prepare for your last show?
DM: You know, NYE might be very hectic, when I play there it’s usually 1 in 1 out right up until 30 minutes before I finish, but it certainly will be emotional. I’m a very busy man up until NYE, the whole summer is booked right through apart from a couple of weekends which I’ve purposely kept free. The last few years I’ve only 1 weekend a year off, by the time I’ve gone through with everything that I shall be content hanging not my headphones but my minidiscs.

CA: Derek, it’s been an absolute pleasure, thank you so much for this insight into your career!
DM: Thank you, and see you all on Friday.

An extremely fascinating and humbling man. He sucked me into his tales with his fantastic story-telling as soon as we started talking. He also mentioned such things as interviews with ITV as well as a potential documentary with Don Letts on the way so watch out for them, his final 6 months as a DJ are undoubtedly going to be a very busy time for the soon-to-be 72 year old.

Right now he’ll be headlining Quality Control at The Harley this Friday night. Free before 11, £2 before midnight and £4 afterwards. Also on the bill are Walker, Clipboard, Stoaty & The Quality Controllers. Facebook event here.

DJ Derek – we salute you!

Introducing Quality Control

A new night is arriving to Sheffield, a new night to be excited about. That night is Quality Control.

While the musical landscape changes at an ever increasing rate one thing remains the same – good music is good music.

Quality Control’s mission statement is to bring exciting and innovative acts to the intimate setting that is the Harley Hotel.

The Launch Night lands on the 31st May 2013 and the very first guest is none other than bass don/hip hop chief/reggae master – J*STAR.

J*STAR escaped a major record label and made classic reggae/hip hop nuggets on limited 7” vinyl, they then made it into record boxes of worldwide DJ’s Norman Jay, David Rodigan, Grandmaster Flash, John Peel, Benji B & Diplo.

Nowadays the man does official remixes (over 60 productions for Major Lazer, Madness, DJ Vadim, The Black Seeds, Ari Up, Mark Ronson & more) and DJs globally from Mexico to Manchester, Denmark to Delhi and now sunny Sheffield.

J*STAR is an original don that helped inspire the Major Lazer crew! Bad man! – Diplo

Always good to have a J*STAR moment – Daddy G (Massive Attack)

Support on the night comes from Andy H, Arnivore, Clipboard and resident DJs The Quality Controllers.

The Harley // £4 OTD // 10PM – 4AM

A taste of J*STAR…
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The support DJs can certainly pack a punch as well…
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Collectively, the Quality Controllers have have either founded or been heavily involved with the following:

UGLY / First Word Records / Cool Beans / Tuesday Club / Threads / Suckerpunch / Bigger Than Barry / Wait / Clothes Line

It would be rude to miss this one!

Facebook / Twitter / Facebook Launch Night Event

Cool Beans Presents: King Porter Stomp

After our double headed beast of a bank holiday mad one at the Bowery/Leadmill last month, we are back with our second show of 2013 and it’s occurring at another venue with no prior beans history – The Riverside. Even though this party shack sits slightly out of the hustle bustle of the mean city streets, it’s recently become synonymous with incredible live music, delicious real ale and foot-stompingly good nights.

We for one, can not flipping wait.


Festival favourites and true party starters, King Porter Stomp blend ska, funk, afrobeat and hip hop to create a genuinely original, natural fusion of styles. The 8 dedicated members were called to Brighton from very different backgrounds and musical persuasions and first played together in Autumn 2006. Fast forward a few years, they’ve pulled on heart strings and won over the dancing feet of crowds across the UK and into Europe.

With big horns, heavy bass and delicately crafted and deeply conscious lyrics, King Porter Stomp have quickly established themselves as major players on the UK summer festival circuit. The high energy eight piece have already rocked stages at Glastonbury, The Big Chill, The Secret Garden Party, The Big Green Gathering, Eden Festival and Ireland’s Electric Picnic.

Energising, a blast! – THE INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY
Ska, dub and hip hop treats – TIMEOUT MAGAZINE
Enjoyably raucous – EVENING STANDARD

We are ecstatic to be bringing the band to Sheffield for the very first time.


Explosive. Outspoken. Devilishly good-looking. Smiling Ivy perform an energetic fusion of ska, dub-reggae, punk and hip-hop. They effortlessly clash activism & hedonism on their records and offer fans an astute, socially-aware observation of the times all the while creating danceable, floor-filling music.

The Ivy retain enough power and aggression to be an active fixture in the UK’s rock scene but with reverberations of dub-reggae, funk, and hip-hop they also remain an illustrious figure in Yorkshire’s urban, rave and party scene.

You may have caught them showcasing their sounds at a multiple of summer festivals or performing alongside such acts as The Selecter, Dub Pistols, Zion Train, Frank Turner, The Correspondents and even Frankie Boyle. This gig is the only Sheffield date of their UK Spring Tour, which will see them play up and down the island in April/May.

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Sit back, relax and let acoustic these hip hop pioneers take you on a journey that will touch every sensory nerve in your body, apart from the disappointment nerve. Tom and James AKA Spit and Strings have been preaching their sounds for a few years now and with the recent addition of a full band their show has never been better. The band are however away for this show so the duo will be performing an intimate stripped down version of their current set. A rare treat.


A local legend ’round these parts, you may think you know Carl but well think again baby. And then think again after that. An integral piece of the Sheffield puzzle, when he’s not on fire Carl spends his time being the backbone in multiple acts and associations. For example – Peace in the Park, Jungle Lion, K.O.G & The Allstar Revolution, Banana Flavoured Dubcats, Jumping Wizard and loads more.


The Riverside are getting a special late license in from this one so we can continue the party long after King Porter Stomp have finished rocking it. Audible treats shall be provided by Arnivore, Crazyleaf, Lonesome Dom and Tony motherflipping Mulaga. Think reggae, balkan, electro-swing, ska, funk, hip hop, rave, coconut step and you’re only half way there.

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We’ll be taking some of the fun onto the delightful Riverside beer patio which overlooks the river. Acoustic acts, games and even the return of the gone-but-not-quite-forgotten Cool Beans enigma that is the Twister Mat shall all be making an appearance.


It’s also going to to be the last Cool Beans party before the summer frivolities kick in. This year we’re organising line ups for Tramlines, Peace in the Park and Broomhill Festival and DJing at about 15 other festivals all over the UK. This little shindig shall be the perfect send off!

Doors at 7PM / £3 before 8PM / £4 after 8PM
The Riverside, 1 Mowbray Street, Sheffield
Saturday the 27th April 2013

Facebook Event here. Get involved people!