Will social media giant face the music over Dunstable's Cali-R disruption?

Popular Cali-R DJ Sid Hudson  – who’s been holding twice weekly live gigs on Facebook to lift people’s spirits – claims the giant social networking site is disrupting his free music sessions.

Wednesday, 6th May 2020, 12:33 pm
Updated Wednesday, 6th May 2020, 12:34 pm

Sid, 66, says: “The Facebook ‘police’ have cut us off a few times or disrupted the sound.

“I’m not making a profit – I’m trying to provide a service.

“And people have been tuning in from all over the world to hear groups like the Stylistics, Drifters and Fatback Band who played at the club in its hey day and also later at the Cali-R.”

Sid Hudson has been staging Cali-R Facebook Live gigs from home

The sessions take place in Sid’s front room in Westoning and the front of his desk is plastered with posters urging people to stay safe and maintain social distancing, as well as thanking the NHS for the vital work it’s doing.

His wife Jacqui, 65, shares some of the announcements and can be seen bopping across the screen from time to time.

The discs are interspersed with messages from Cali-R fans, shout outs to health workers and a general air of conviviality.

Sid says there’s nothing like a live audience but he’s getting used to his new routine.

He adds: “Jacqui suggested doing this on Facebook to keep everyone connected.

“I’ve been playing to full houses for more than 20 years and decided it was time to put something back.”

The father-of-three says the California Ballroom in Dunstable was renowned for featuring the big bands of the Swinging Sixties, including The Who and the Rolling Stones, and Soulful Seventies.

“It had such a unique atmosphere,” he recalls fondly.

“But it shut in 1979 because of inflation – the pound against the dollar – and bigger staging area requests from bands.”

In 1997, Sid started the first Cali-R reunion at the Gateway Club in Houghton Regis.

And they’ve been a huge attraction in various venues ever since.

But several big gigs have had to be cancelled because of the coronavirus, including a mega reunion in June.

And now Sid is facing further disappointments from Facebook.

“They’re a huge organisation that runs roughshod over the little people,” he claims.

“It’s impossible to get hold of them and there is no contact number on their website.”

The Gazette contacted Facebook by email last week and is still waiting for a reply.

Cali-R (California Ballroom Reunion) on Facebook here