Veteran Cali-R DJ Sid Hudson wins awards for taking his show online during pandemic

The California Ballroom in Dunstable was renowned for featuring the big bands of the 60s and 70s

Wednesday, 25th August 2021, 5:01 pm
Updated Wednesday, 25th August 2021, 5:02 pm

Veteran Cali-R DJ Sid Hudson, 67, is basking in the glory of winning not one but two medals at local and national level.

He lifted gold as business hero at the SME Luton & Bedfordshire Awards and followed up with silver at the SME National Awards at Wembley last month.

The father-of-three was nominated for his sterling work during lockdown when he attracted a global audience presenting his show online.

Cali-R goes online

He explains: “The idea was to bring the Cali-R family together virtually.

“I paid a lot of attention to supporting the NHS and all the people on the frontline who were putting their own health at risk for us, in the face of an invisible enemy.”

And he beams: “My wife Jacqui started dancing while I played the music and did requests and dedications. Her cheery smile and bright personality made her an instant hit.

“So many people contacted us saying how much the show had helped their mental health, giving them something to focus on during such dark times, making them feel part of the Cali-R family and giving them a chance to connect with people all over the world.”

Sid said it was a huge surprise to win gold but even more so to win silver at the national awards, where he was presented with an inscribed plaque by Andrew Berrie, the national lead at mental health charity Mind.

He adds: “I was up against so many people from all over the country. It made me very proud that so many people had voted for me. But the Cali-R is a family event so equal billing should go to Jacqui, our sons Brett and Brad and daughter Darcie.”

During lockdown, Sid streamed the Cali-R Soul Show every Friday and Saturday from his front room in Westoning. The front of his desk was 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. But the show has been reduced to once a month since life started returning to something resembling normality.

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’. But it shut in 1979 because of inflation 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.

Find Sid’s next Cali-R Soul Show on Mixcloud Live at 8pm on August 27.