The year 2000 when everyone thought the Y2K virus would create chaos in computer systems and cause a digitally-coded end! Instead of freezing in cyberspace Adam Regan and Richard Whittingham were putting their heads together to create an event to fill a void in Birmingham’s night-life at the time. They wanted a night that couldn’t be pigeon-holed into one scene or another, where they had the freedom to play whatever genre took their fancy.
Leftfoot in Adam’s words was “for people who loved underground music and didn’t like wearing shiny shoes and a smart shirt to get into a club.” They hired out the now-defunct Medicine Bar for the first Saturday of the month and Leftfoot flew from the millennium bug.
Their first booking, Keb Darge, a DJ credited with coining the term ‘deep funk,’ speaks volumes for their acute ear and muso knowledge. It proved a solid foundation for a night that 16 years on, is still as current as ever – a testament to their “programming what we love” ethos.
Fast forward to 2007 and Leftfoot really began to mark its territory in Birmingham. Naming it as the biggest risk he’s taken; Adam bought the Hare & Hounds, which he describes as at the time “a run-down, old man’s boozer that had been neglected for far too long”. He carries on, “the main venue had a sticky carpet, terrible sound system and only really hosted occasional local gig nights. It obviously had masses of potential but we really had to start from scratch.” His blueprint came from early Leftfoot days at the Medicine Bar together with a vision to recreate the atmosphere and attitudes present in some of Adam’s favourite European clubs where “sound was hugely important, the people were very friendly, open-minded and knowledgeable about the music.”
The Hare [& Hounds] is still very much an English pub, but it’s now also a Leftfoot stronghold and the heart of Kings Heath. Since its doors opened it has welcomed a plethora of phenomenal musicians and two additions to the Leftfoot fold, Tom Hopkins and Matt Beck, friends from school years. Tom explained that “playground etiquette dictated we never really mingled,” but the trio of record aficionados haven’t strayed far from the B14 postcode so it was only a matter of time before their tastes were more in sync and their paths crossed once more.
Tom remarks that even during his time at Leftfoot he has seen “the development and growth of the Hare into a live music venue which has become hugely important for the city’s music scene and is great to see.” At the heart of everything that the three program is soul; from a “deep bass night with Mala, an old-school reggae night with David Rodigan or a house and disco event with Horse Meat Disco to the live side … bands like Owiny Sigoma and Hypnotic Brass Band through to Cinematic Orchestra and Go Go Penguin.” A jam, dance and smile are a given at a Leftfoot night.
“I think the big thing [for us] is to always keep artistic integrity, to only ever put on shows that we’d want to see ourselves. Hopefully by being true to what we’re into musically will provide longevity for Leftfoot for many years to come!”
- Matt Beck
One artist that Adam says has been hugely influential over the years is Gilles Peterson. Over the past decade he has graced the Leftfoot decks over 20 times. “He’s so passionate about music and nobody can break a tune like him – he just exudes good vibes when he DJ’s and that is infectious. He’s always been a great supporter of what we do and always keeps me on my toes!”
As well as nights at the Hare, Leftfoot are always thinking up ways to further expand Birmingham’s musical brain capacity. Matt notes that “we never rest on our laurels and are always looking to push ourselves as promoters and music lovers, whether that’s bringing an artist that’s never played in Birmingham before or deciding to do a big warehouse show or perhaps using a space that’s never been used for a show before.” This October sees them team up once more with young promoters, Shadow City, to host highly regarded house and techno DJs Move D and Motor City Drum Ensemble at the Rainbow. A big booking which Matt hopes “means as much to Brum as it does to us. They are genuinely two of our favourite DJs and the music they play is very much in keeping with Leftfoot’s musical ethos of music with soul. I actually get butterflies thinking about MCDE playing disco records to 600 Brummies (and beyond) in Blackbox!”
“I think there’s a lot of directions Leftfoot could go in over the next 16 years, but I can’t see it deviating far from what the brand has always done, putting on parties that people want to go to, whether that be at the Hare, clubs or festivals. It’s exciting to be a part of a brand that has the ability to be that diverse.”
- Tom Hopkins
The extent of Leftfoot’s musical prowess doesn’t stop at their own events either, Adam and Matt DJ under the Leftfoot alias too having played at Shambala and Garden Festival (now Love International) as well holding down residencies in London, Liverpool and Nottingham. Alongside good friend Steve Nickolls (ex Futureboogie) Adam will be playing at the festival with one of the most carefully curated line-ups, Dimensions, selecting tunes at the opening ceremony in Pula’s prized amphitheatre in between Kamasi Washington, Moodymann and Massive Attack.
The Croatian party doesn’t stop there, Adam disclosed that Leftfoot will be doing an “event at The Garden Brewery in Zagreb throughout Autumn/Winter. The owners (Nick and Charlotte Colgan) are the same people who started the whole Croatian Festival scene with The Garden Festival. They’re also from Birmingham and old friends of mine so it will be lovely to work with them again. Leftfoot hosted the first ever events for them back in 2004/5 so it’s always been a special place for us.”