Another landmark, and this time it’s a sad one. Dave Gardner, officially “operations manager” and one of the fixtures through the long and storied history of the Southport Weekender Festival in the UK, has passed away.

A post from Southport Weekender’s Facebook page on Wednesday morning confirmed the news.

“These last couple of days since receiving the call on Monday afternoon from one of my dearest friends Johnny Adamson, about the tragic passing of Dave, have been some of the most upsetting I have ever known and I feel terrible that its taken me so long for me to find the words that I so badly want to say,” the post from (we presume) Southport Weekender’s Alex Lowes reads. “I guess there are no words really that will ever be enough for a great man, that for best part of 40 years was a huge part of my life.”

It is worth quoting at length as there is unlikely to be a better tribute written in the coming days:

“I met Dave way back in the day through our mutual love of music, going to Funk & Soul clubs such as Julies & Annabels, then it carried on with the amazing coach trips to the legendary Blackpool Mecca, Wigan Casino & the many All Dayers & Weekenders around the Country such as Caister & Bognor, My Sunday Night residency McMillans & of course To The Manor Born where Dave was such a massive help to John & I, Then of course The Southport Weekenders & SunceBeat ! what can I say that hasn’t already been said, Dave worked for me on just about every weekender, first of all on a part time basis & then as things progressed full time spanning 2 decades.

“He was just amazing ! The amount of time we spent together was just unreal, so you can imagine how much this hurts. It wasn’t just the time we worked so closely together on this wonderful musical journey we shared, We travelled the world, Miami, Mexico, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Columbia & many more amazing places. We learnt to Dive together & saw some amazing things I never forget in Costa Rica when I was running out of air & a beautiful 25 ft wide Manta Ray came by just below me – it stopped & waved at Dave & 2 young American kids inviting them to hitch a ride & off they went so graceful the 3 of them without me, Quite simply magical. I was so jealous but so happy at the same time to have witnessed such a moment & so pleased for them. Then there was our passion for fishing and our fantastic European trips following our beloved Newcastle United in the Champions league & rare cup final appearance. We just had some amazing times as friends as well as work & of course the memories are flooding back as I say this with a tear in my eye Dave was the first face you all saw at the Weekenders & of course all the early SunceBeat’s & I cannot thank him enough for everything he did for me & reading the outpouring of love on here, he deserves every bit of it.”


Southport Weekender began in 1987. Over time the festival reached a legendary status and has recently transformed into a standalone festival.

“At the time we started, there were other good weekenders, but they weren’t representing all the underground music that we thought was relevant,” Lowes told 5 Mag in 2015. “The solid Jazz and modern Soul wasn’t catered for at all and that’s what we felt was the cutting edge of music at the time… We started with the main room, which for the first years covered a lot of different styles of music including Hip Hop, Jazz Funk, and the beginnings of the House movement. There were only a few big Chicago tracks around at the time, but boy did it go off when they got played. We had the Soul room and the Jazz room, in which we also dropped a bit of Northern Soul into. That was the beginning of what became the alternative room, now the Beat Bar that covers the more eclectic and experimental side of the scene.

“It was more DJ-led than live in the early days, with the focus firmly on the dancers and the dance floor.”

Dave is survived by family and close friends, including his daughter Esme and his longtime partner Glenda.

Photo: Colin Williams, Southport Memories “Final” 2015, via Facebook.


  1. […] Dave Gardner, my right hand man, was there from the beginning, and Jonathan Woodliffe – a fantastic DJ and formidable record collector – came in on the second event. Bob Jeffries is the only DJ who has played them all, but a lot of the crew have been involved for over two decides now. The costs have risen exponentially during this time as we’ve continuously pushed the boundaries of what’s possible in a British seaside holiday resort, recently with headline acts including Chaka Khan, Jill Scott and Mos Def! The scene we cater for is dedicated and diehard so two events per year was needed to satisfy the passion of the dancers. Today, we hold our flagship Southport Weekender event in May and our Croatian event, SunceBeat, in July. […]

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