In the spring / summer of 1999 - a group of friends got together and called themselves "absolutely no bloody commitments whatsoever" for a one off gig at the opening of Butterleigh village hall - formed by Den Hegarty and Ben Slator. After a successful gig… and over a refreshing pint at The Butterleigh Arms - "The Soul Traders were born".

Keeping soul music alive in the South West - their love and common passion for authentic soul and blues music is clearly demonstrated by their attention to detail when attempting to replicate the original artists sound. Covering hits by Sam and Dave, Wilson Pickett, Smokey Robinson and The Miracles, Martha Reeves and The Vandellas, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin and other legends of the Soul and Motown Era. Covering the South West - available for Weddings, Parties, Festivals, Corporate and more.



Hover over or tap each of the pictures below to learn more about us.


Jo Gardner


Although small for her size Jo started off her musical career as a marching band playing both sousaphone and answerphone. She was later dissuaded from marching around as the sight of such large instruments apparently playing and moving on their own upset people. The mismatch of player and instrument was finally brought into sharp focus when Jo was mistaken as part of the mouth piece on one of her tubas, which surprised both her and the sneaky rascal who attempted to play a trill. Jo now plays trumpet with so many bands that she often loses some of them in her music folder.


Sam Morrell


Sam was a feral guitarist, dumped on the doorstep of a local music shop until The Soul Traders took him in under their wing. As well as looking at stars and making things look pretty on the internet, he has also been known to occasionally riff out the odd tasty blues lick, and on an even rarer occasion to actually play in the correct key and not descend into his native tongue of classic rock.


Viv Turle


Viv was born into a musical family. She perfected playing the oboe at an early age and sang in junior and senior operatic productions until the rise of fascism forced her and her family to flee to the relative safety of the Swiss Alps. From there they walked to Tiverton where The Soul Traders took the family in. Viv is sometimes responsible for the shape of the band's heads and quite likes older men.


Neil Upington


Neil never learnt to play the piano from the age of eight, he was then told to be a drummer. He has always been very willing to pass on drumming tips to any drummers close enough to hear him. Neil was told to start playing the piano again as The Soul Traders prepared for their first gig (they already had a drummer) and later, after spending a tense few hours being probed by wicked aliens in a hired star ship he took up the organ. Neil uses his own hair on stage.


Dave 'B'


Played tenor sax with 'Wainwrights Gentlemen' throughout the period that Ian Gillan (Deep Purple vocalist) was with the band. Then moved to 'Jean & the Statesmen' (3 records on the Columbia label). Played Tenor sax in Wilson Pickett's backing band when Wilson toured the UK in the late 60's. Joined 'The Statesides', a 'support' band for many of the visiting American soul artistes and UK chart topping pop groups in the late 60's and early 70's. These included Stevie Wonder, The Kinks, The Who, Georgie Fame, P J Proby, Manfred Mann, Brenda Lee, Chris Farlowe, Cliff Bennett, Sounds Incorporated, Heinz and dozens of others that had records in the charts. From early 70's spent many years playing sax in Irish Show bands, playing USAF bases, touring Ireland & the UK.

Sax influences: King Curtis, Clarence Clemons, Boots Randolph, Kenny G and all the rock n'roll, soul, raucous 'Honky Tonk' players.


Kay Octigan


Kay Octigan, the youngest of eight sisters called Kay, was born in a fly blown shanty amongst the steamy boondocks North of The Watford Gap.

Kay spent her earliest days hanging with the old blues men and Bourbon Jazzers of the Tin pans and yard stoops in her neighbourhood, here it was soon discovered that Kay could smell a harmony at ninety paces. Although uncommonly clumsy Kay became a child star lauded for her solo harmonies and improvised Kazoo anthems.

At the age of ten Kay was sold into the dark and seedy world of choral singing where she survived twenty one years of hell through a mixture of practising her technique for kazoo based brain soothing and by breaking things.

Kay likes to borrow Dave the saxophonist's hair straighteners when he's not looking.


Den Hegarty

Vocals / Saxophone

Den Hegarty…  and I think that is probably enough for you this semester. For when you are older, try Nothing works faster than


Neil Babbage


I was born into a farming family with gospel music being an important part of our way of life. Members of the family would sing together and play our instruments in little chapels throughout the area. From then on I played in various little bands, which led on to playing in an American-based Gospel band in the mid 80's. This took me around parts of Norway, Sweden and Finland, as well as Wales and Scotland. I married in 1988 and have 2 children. 2012 joined Southern Soul Traders and also became a Grandad!!

Gear -- I use a Jaydee 4 string bass and occasionally a 5 string. Ashdown amp and Hartke speakers.


Ben Gasan


Inspired by music none of his band members have heard of, Ben has been making a racket since 2007 and has no plans of stopping. As fate would have it, watching Soul Traders at Tiverton's New Hall in late 2019 would be his first and last gig as a punter before being lured in to be their next drummer.

*Any faces pulled during performance are due to an tremendous amount of self restraint to not over play the songs*


Martyn Whitehead


Martyn started playing the violin at the age of seven, and, fingers strengthened by years of goat milking, initially showed great promise. After the BBC Young Musician of the Year in 2004, he realised that he would never play as well as Nicola Benedetti, so concentrated on the sax. His career has stumbled on meteorically since joining the Soul Traders in 2009. Favourite colour blue, favourite fruit raspberry (one of your five a day).


Matt Byrne


Matt started singing at a young age by harmonising with his Mum's pull down hairdryer. He grew up listening to soul music and when he reached 19 joined his first band, Rude Mood. He played the Nottingham Blues scene with the band before moving on to be lead singer in a Deep Purple tribute band… his 'Child in Time' is something to behold. Matt moved to Devon in 1998 and joined Soul Traders a year later. He has been with the band through thick and thin, sickness and health. In 2009 he was diagnosed with cancer of the tongue, at that point he was unsure if he would ever speak properly again, let alone sing. After a major operation, radiotherapy and a good recovery period he started to sing tentatively. A year later he gave his first performance, improving each time and here he is back in fine voice. In 2011 he spent an enjoyable Christmas in pantomime at Torquay's 'Princess Theatre' acting & singing alongside Lisa Riley; but his first love is still singing when backed by a 'power' band.


Eddie Squire


Eddie has played stunt saxophone for the likes of Sylvester Stalone, Mel Gibson and Judith Chalmers. He has a relaxed style and prefers the foot astride stance when playing to the more restricted heel-toe stance of the be-bop era. Eddie gave up his musical stunt work when the call came to join the Soul Traders at the beginning of the bands life, but his old work still calls to him now and again. He says, "show me a moving van and sometimes I can't stop myself from leaping from its open door sax in hand!" Eddie is married with puppies.


The thing that binds the Soul Traders together is our mutual love of music. We have a very diverse repertoire, showcasing the breadth of diversity within our ranks. At the core of our catalogue, some of the finest northern soul there is to be had (as hinted at in the name). Thrown in alongside, a touch of funk and just a tad of good ol' fashioned bebop, blues and rock 'n' roll. You can expect a mixture of superbly executed piano riffs, a heaped helping of pumping bass licks, ear tinglingly grooving percussion, some smooth strumming of the ol' six string and some of the finest trumpet blowing and driving saxophones there is to be had. Weave into this supreme musical mix a cornucopia of the most supremely talented singers there is to be seen for miles around, tying a grand virtuosic bow around the package that is The Soul Traders.

Below is a listing (though by no means complete) of our repertoire.