Top vinyl DJ at Wonder Horse this weekend

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Danny Lemon will be at Wonder Horse this Saturday night. Lemon is pictured here after he lost a large volume of his vinyl collection in a storage facility fire in Wellington. Photo / Philippa O'Brien.
Danny Lemon will be at Wonder Horse this Saturday night. Lemon is pictured here after he lost a large volume of his vinyl collection in a storage facility fire in Wellington. Photo / Philippa O'Brien.

One of New Zealand's most respected vinyl DJs will make a rare appearance in Hamilton this weekend to offer up a selection of high-calibre black music.

Danny Scotford - known as Danny Lemon to most - will play at cocktail bar Wonder Horse on Saturday, October 1 in only his second appearance in the city after more than 30 years in New Zealand.

A founding member of noted DJ collective Roots Foundation alongside Fat Freddy's Drop's DJ Mu, Lemon is known for his authoritative knowledge of black music, primarily specialising in reggae and deep house. With Roots Foundation, he also a co-presented long-running show on Wellington's Radio Active.

The Wellington-based collector has developed a reputation as one of the world's leading reggae vinyl aficionados as well as maintaining a strong interest in other genres. At one point the expatriate Englishman's collection spanned thousands of individual titles stored across several locations.

"I've been in New Zealand since the mid-1980s and I've made it my home. The majority of my collecting has been in this country and that means I've paid a lot on postage to have some of these records sent out here," said Lemon.

The 57-year-old began collecting music in his early teens and was hosting small parties in London by the late 1970s and into the early 1980s, before moving to New Zealand.

Lemon was contracted by Te Papa to act as subject expert for the New Zealand leg of Reggae Xplosion in 2001 in what he describes as "a very challenging but very rewarding project".

His life was turned on its head in April 2014 when an arsonist set fire to a Kilbirnie storage facility where he had several thousand records under lock and key. More than 250 people were affected by the fire, with other members of Wellington's music community also losing possessions.

"I was in shock afterwards. The collection I lost included thousands of 7" singles and 12" reggae singles. An entire deep house collection of about 2500 12"s... jazz, soul... I was devastated," he said.

Lemon's global network of music friends responded to his immense loss with a charity website (www.dannylemon.com), a benefit event at which he DJed, and dozens of donated records flooding in to him. Among those who helped Lemon rebuild his lost collection was Jeff Neems, a Hamilton-based collector and DJ who had met Lemon years before and has maintained a close friendship. Neems has been the Saturday night resident DJ at Wonder Horse for several years.

"Danny is a tremendous guy with a huge amount of knowledge and love of music to share, and I have always been thrilled by the records he has played whenever I've been 'in the dance' with him," said Neems.

"Anybody with an appreciation for black music really should come and check these records because Danny's selections are always top-drawer."

Despite the loss of huge amount of his collection, Lemon says much of his spare time is spent perusing a myriad of internet websites and blogs for obscure records.

"I've got a collection to rebuild!" he says, and he has just embarked on a new radio project on recently established Rough Peel FM, hosting DJ Danny Lemon's Authentic Selection: The People Wanna Know, a specialist reggae show, on alternate Wednesdays from 11am and livecast on the internet. The show is generating listeners from around the world.

"The new show has really revitalised me in a way I didn't imagine, giving me a new found sense of musical direction. I've been floundering after the fire, but it would be irresponsible to just give up. Music is a life force and with the overwhelming encouragement I have had, to stop bringing my selections to the attention of people is not an option! People should hear this stuff - it can change lives!" he said.

Authentic Selection, with Danny Lemon and Jeff Neems, October 1 from 9pm, at Wonder Horse, Victoria St.

- Hamilton News

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