January 28th, 2018



Friday nights in January beckon bone-numbing chills, but tonight’s warmth is piped through an immense boombox sandwiched between storefronts on the “Edge” of downtown. What scenes as more than a weekend get down serves two-fold. Proceeds collected at the door will donate to the MS foundation-courtesy Real Chicks Rock -and a born-day celebration for one of Atlanta’s own.

Downstairs, in the belly of the beast-The Music Room-gracious hugs are exchanged for small talk. Already, the bar is lit; house heads, the LGBTQ com, millennials, and baby-boomers, are in swing at thirty minutes till midnight. Love and happiness dance in the air. To the fable of Julie McKnight’s “Bittersweet Love Affair.” “It’s All About Me,” she croons over the Jay “Sinister” and Louie Vega instrumentation. The lyrics are candor this party is all about a certain special someone.

A she-entourage huddles behind a black curtain that drapes the DJ stage. “Haaaaaaappy Biiiiiirthday,” voices belt in harmonious charm that stirs into Stevie Wonder’s soulful rendition. The party’s second music selector, Tora Torres eyes the women singing and honoring the party’s queen Debbie Graham. A.K.A. DJ Deb smiles graciously, before she bows to blow out the single candle on the black & white iced cake that will be sliced and circumnavigate to dancers with feet in mid-shuffle and flaying arms, drunk girls stumbling in stilettos posing for selfies and the, there-always-has-to-be-that-one, girl who whispers a request into the ear of DJ Minx. “We don’t play that here,” Minx mouths.

DJ Deb knows how to throw herself a birthday bash. She invites only the best. Her crew. Her family. Her sistas. Known to slay dance floor’s across the world. The Kingston, Jamaica native provides the she-power for Atlanta’s soulful house music market. Her love for reggae, disco, soul, and classics keeps her in-demand, but her love for house music and the diversity within the genre makes this party a must-attend. Those in the know, arrived early, for Deb’s birthday set, and are ready for an Atlanta/Detroit beat down.


Detroit’s Stacey “Hotwaxx” Hale stands tandem her laptop, with purpose and poise to bring heat. Onstage, her crew sports black tees with the “Godfather” logo replaced with the moniker the “Godmother of House.”

Her moniker she proudly has worn for 30 years. To have Detroit’s undisputed first female DJ play adds grandeur of delight. To say music is in her majesty’s blood is understated. The “Godmother of House” is music.

“Beans, greens, potatoes, tomatoes, lamb, rams, hogs, dogs.” It’s not often that you here Pastor Shirley Cesar rapping over a four-on-the-floor. It takes gall to play the viral smash #younameit challenge to house heads. But this is how the “D” gets down. The “Godmother of House” does not back down from any challenge. Besides the Pastor Shirley Cesar never sounded so defined.

It’s “Yellow Bodack” that causes jaws to drop and fists to fly. Cardi B rapping, “Look I Don’t Dance Now, I Make Money Moves” over Sunburst Band’s “Journey to the Sun” elevates the sonic. When the Dennis Ferrer Remix is allowed to play in full, feet dance off pings and pongs that leap off metallic rungs. As drums fuse into soul-claps and electronic sputters churn gospel chants. Karizma’s, “Work it Out ,” that samples the fore-mentioned and Dr. Charles G. Hayes and the Cosmopolitan Church of Prayer Choir’s, “Jesus Can Work It Out,” brings the bang. The room explodes. This is peak time music for a peak time crowd.


Days ahead of a recent major awards show, a university published a music report that detailed the lack of women representation as music producers and women songwriters in the music industry. The numbers were dismal if not disgusting. Only now imagine women working in the house music/electronic music genre as music DJs, music producers, and music songwriters and the numbers are far lower, significantly depressing. Although, women are at the forefront as recording artists, primarily vocalists, barely as rappers, their musical contribution behind the scenes go unsung. Hence, Jennifer Witcher, she envisioned change. Inspired by Detroit’s DJ/producer boy’s club, the Detroit Music Institute; Jennifer sought representation as a female DJ. Years later, she crafted Women On Wax . Formed in 1996, a collective of Detroit female DJ’s who graced the decks to show their skills were par, if not better than the boys. In 2001, Women On Wax now a recording label showcased top-tier talented female vocalists and distinctive music releases many of whom resided in the Motor City. Ever since, Jennifer A.K.A. DJ Minx has become a titan in the house/techno world as a calling card for the rights and representation of women DJs/producers/songwriters.

Where the “Godmother” leaves her soul on the dance floor; the “First Lady of House” takes her mass of huddled warriors into subterranean funky beats of powerhouse bliss. Track after track delivers jolts, almost to the chagrin of ringing eardrums as the volume increases to an uncomfortable pitch.   Minx, like her hometown Detroit, has a sound that’s raw. There are grooves. The beats go deep. The beat goes hard. Minx plays for keeps.

The Connection-Behind the Groove triumphed with its all-star lineup of black girl magic. A rarity these days on DJ rosters. Local and global representation for DJ’s who are woman are all too lacking on massive fronts. #Powertothepoles and #metoo marks a watershed moment in this wrinkle of time. #Timesup!!!-For the invisibility of women in the electronic age of music. Women. Seize the moment!  The decks are yours to narrate your grooves.

We applaud you. 

Words: aj dance


FRANÇOIS K 28.01.17

January 30th, 2017


Staying Woke

“Everybody it’s January 28, 2017.”

“Yayyyyy!” A sea of voices yells.

“If you think I’m going to play music that puts you to sleep. I’m not! There is some $hit that is happening out THERE and I want you to WAKE UP!!!,” shouts an accented baritone, drowned by more “whewwwws” and “yaaayyyys.” His voice shakes with concern and rightfully so. His stare fixated on the audience as his finger reaches down and presses play. On cue, knocking percussions beats underneath a Lowrey organ’s chords as Timmy Thomas croons, “Why Can’t We Live Together?”


Down the stairs and around the corner, shoulders brush against arms that wave for strangers to follow as feet try to tread open space to dance. Absent are cropped circles with impressive head spinners making statements. There are more bodies standing upright than slant in movements. A sea of porcelain visages stare, engaged at a performance stage. Witnessing the energy emanating from one man. A legend in action already imprints the dance floor.

I Want To See, reads his black tee. His hulky frame stands huddled between a laptop and Pure Groove monitors. His hands swing on deck. As his thumb and index finger tweaks channels across metallic machines the music steadily intensifies to an erupting crescendo of sonic explosions.  Gershon Jackson’s “Take It Easy,”  The Mike Dunn Blackball Ezee Mix delivers bass drops to the balls before transitioning into the pitter-patter of African drums that elevates Mr. Finger’s “Can You Feel It.” Where most DJs create drama to create audience hype this DJ needs neither. His “processing techniques” created live is how he works the music; he mutes the groove; he filters arrangements; he compresses the drums; after all he is a master crafter of the music he plays. He may not be the hottest viral sensation but digging though the crates of popular music, you will be hard pressed not to find his name credited as a producer, remixer, or drummer.

François Kervorkian’s discography is much revered among music aficionados and well respected among club heads. His big break arrived in the late 1970’s with a dub of D-Train’s “Keep On,” his 80’s repertoire spans productions for rock seminal Depache Mode to U2, to his leap back as a forerunning DJ playing electronic sounds in the 1990’s. Tonight, there is one aspect that speaks loudest in his biography. Having recently celebrated 40 years of living in this so-called United States of America. Monsieur Kevorkian is an immigrant.

Which only further amplifies why playing Timmy Thomas, “Why Can’t We Live Together” matters. The music goes silent. “Say What/Say What/Say What/I Woke Up From This Dream” a voice spits over 80 BPM of psychedelic funk. Laurent Garneir’s “First Reaction (V2)” asks, “What’s On Your Mind?” Immigration Reform? A Refugee Ban? A wall? The spoken word of drummer Sangoma Everett pulls minds into deep thought. After all, music should challenge.

And challenging music is at the heart of the native French DJ. While some naysay Bruno Mars’ music playing at an underground party, “24K Magic” sparkles brilliantly into Francois’ open-mindedness. Tributes abound too. Studio 54 represents with Herb Albert’s “Rotation” and Odyssey’s “Inside Out” to posthumous icons Prince, “Wanna Be Your Lover (Live Version),” and Wham “Everything She Wants.” One finds introspection in listening to Lolita Holloway’s a cappella of “Hit and Run” before Eddie Amour proclaims “Not Everyone Understands House Music.” An organ fueled dub of the Jungle Brother’s classic “I’ll House You” packs the fun while the self-awakening poetry of Mutabaruka’s “Dis Poem”- particularly the line “The Ku Klux Klan riots in Brixton Atlanta”-energizes the room.      


Bodies are still glued to one another with sweat as neon music notes dance across the wall atop the bar as hints of nicotine straddles the air. Social media posts read, “I was turned away at the front door.” Earlier in the night there was even a line that snaked down the street to the venue’s front door. For everyone who entered received a seat at the table. Their pallets feasted on treasures-Chicago house, Detroit techno, NYC deep, London electro and Soweto’s Afro. The feast was succulent. The music dynamic. This musical exchange was not for the exclusive elite, but inclusive for all to experience. Music itself is the language of freedom that François K beckons to wake up people. In these polarizing times, where weekly worldwide protests are the new black, it is important to stay woke. If we sleep, our right to assemble, dance, and play music might banish.

GORGON CITY 06.11.15

November 12th, 2015


After the music comes to an abrupt stop, the sound of metal grinding its teeth on meth explodes into the air. As if nails were scratching a chalkboard, the drums scowl with a nasty drawl. This is grime music, the choice sound of U.K.’s underground edge. Seconds later the grime thrusts straight, four-counts that is, into the arms of acid. All the while, the sight of purple and pink lasers pushes toward the ceiling and pulls to the floor again in erratic shifts. The performance stage’s dynamics border haywire. In the audience an army of fists arises. Voices cheer. Welcome to…


Thoughts of Gorgon City swallowing you whole would seem most appropriate. Given so, Gorgon’s Greek root gorgós translates: dreadful. Recall in Greek mythology, the three monster sisters? Stheno, Euryale and the stone-turning Medusa were Gorgons. Monsters! Terror! And dread! Oh my. You will be hard pressed to find any hint of hideous in Gorgon City. The only Gorgon in sight is a printed Medusa silhouette head on T-shirts selling for $20.

In the bowels of the Masquerade where Hell and Purgatory are playmates, the heart of Gorgon City beats upstairs. In Heaven! Yes, Heaven. Heaven is 10,000 square feet of conspicuous space guarded by exposed walls. Heaven bares a stage-a massive stage. Where metal beams protrude vertically into the air, like exaggerated frames of future skyscrapers, which are connected to more beams that run horizontally across the stage like railroad tracks. Four-way resembling traffic lights perform stop and go commands on the edges of the platform. Where three light traffic signals are not enough and four lights are a must, Gorgon City is a fortified fortress.

A fortress partitioned by a gate where Gorgon City’s denizens are separated from the elevated action. Their stares gaze upward, eagerly awaiting the sight of their alderman. The creative counsel responsible for unbridled screams.

“ATLANTAAAA!!! Are. You. READY?” A voice calls from the stage. Lights out! The room goes black. Bodies are heard moving about in the shadows. For one mili-minute voices fall silent….until. Lights flash like a bolt of lightening. A game of green turned white fluorescents floods the stage to the back of the room. A spectacular LED show blinds retinas. “BOOOMMM!!!” A crackling explosion drops from speaker cabinets. The sound of bass jolts the heart. The pitter-patter of live drums crescendo as an approaching freight train.

A shield of dense vapor breaks away, revealing two youthful faces; one bearded the other with a light goatee. Their hands glide and pluck at controls, steering their sonic youth in forward directions. They stare at each other from their DJ techno pods that are separated by an actual acoustic drum kit played by a live drummer. Imagine music played live, merged electronically with ‘Live and Push.’ This is the future of house music realized in the 21st century.

Kye “Foamo” Gibbon and Mat “RackNRuin” Robson-Scott provides more than Gorgon City’s soundtrack, the duo is Gorgon City. Both are British, raised in North London, and never gave much inkling to music or music careers as lads. Whilst teenagers their music tastes were more diverse than their traditional rearing: Kye in hip-hop and Mat in punk. Their mutual attraction to jungle, AKA drum-n-bass led them to pursue DJ stints as monikers “Foamo” and “RackNRuin.” Separately signing with the same DJ agency, unbeknownst at the time, paid off when one night, the two met at a club and purposed to record together. After success, the two now named Gorgon City signed with the powerhouse Black Butter Records that fronted them vocalists such as Tanzania born and South Shields resident LuLu James.

Onstage appears her hourglass figure. Her elongated fingers clasp a microphone. The mocha-skinned beauty sashays as her long mane brushes against her back. The solid black multi-pattern white print dress she wears is wrapped around her frame so tight that she might have to be scissor out of it by nights end. She lowers her legs until she sits atop her wedge heels. With her back straight she sings, “We Used To Be Real.”

The purists could argue so. Where Gorgon City’s earlier work paid tribute to Athena and Thor as underground themes, it was their vocal number “Real” that danced onto the UK Singles Chart. The duos tasting of commercial success dictated 2014’s “Sirens” be all pop house. A trend currently followed by several British duo DJs, the most successful to date, two brothers hailing from Reigate, Surrey, England.


A month earlier, on a balmy early October night, Disclosure stepped onstage at Atlanta, Georgia’s historic Tabernacle. Guy and Howard took to their swiveling techno pods. Their smiles promised the greatest. What could ever go wrong? This stop marked the fourteenth date on their “Caracal” U.S. tour.  “Superego” jump-started their set. “Omen” erupted in flames. “F for You” proved well with Howard’s chops where “Jaded” felt remote. After several bubbling numbers, the pop fizzled. “Willing and Able” stalled. “Nocturnal” failed to impress, even as the lads were air lifted and played electric guitars. “I heard their first album is better than the second album.” A blue-eye with blond highlights spectator whispered. Perhaps so, as “Bang That” and “When A Fire Starts To Burn” thrust the performance into hyper rave. With the stage lit, actual pyrotechnics exploded against erratic laser beams. A thunderous applause erupted as gigantic monitors played an animated Gregory Porter lipping “Holding On.” “Caracal” the concert exceled the moment Lionbabe’s Jillian Harvey strutted onstage and sung “Hourglass.” Her birdwalk and high kicks stole the show. American born Brendan Reilly appeared and sung the hell out of, “Moving Mountains” and brought the chuuuuh to the Tabernacle. Side note, Google him. All before the two Lawrence brothers disappeared into the black and reemerged with “Latch” the show closer.

“Atlanta this is so far the best show.” Bragged Guy-the younger of the two brothers. Honestly this was far from their best show played in Atlanta. The Disclosure concert lacked star power. Real star power. Not to say, the band-of-brothers are not on the road to stardom, or stars themselves. But when your music plays the soundtrack to the stars, then the stars had better show and perform live. *

“If I Had A Dime and Dollar, For Every Motherf…..”raps a gravely voice. As vocalist Josh Barry steps out, he spews a few bars from “6AM.” The former Britain’s Got Talent contestant takes his place alongside LuLu James. The two make the perfect pairing; her bangs, his dreads, both dressed in complimenting black and white, as they sing “We Were Meant To Stand Out From The Crowd” into each other’s eyes on “Elevate.” On the smash-up of Peven Everett’s “Gabriel,” interwoven with Whitney Houston’s “It’s Not Right but It’s Okay” the two come off sincere and genuine.

Don’t get it twisted like the serpents twisting on Medusa’s heads. Gorgon City is vocal house as much as Gorgon City is one entire dance party. Where the people actually dance in Gorgon City is on the outer banks of the standing crowd where a young man slams his body to every count on Omni Trio’s “Renegade Snares.” This is Mat “RackNRuin’s” roots-his best attempt that challenges the audience to dance on double counts.

Crowd pleasers continue. “Ready For Your Love”-Gorgon City’s highest UK chart-topper to date-whips bodies into motion, one twenty-something wearing a man bun mouths every lyric to “Imagination” and a alumni raver sings “Here For You,” her left arm flinging in the air as her torso shifts left to right, her face reads, “F-U-C-K off, I’m diva extraordinaire.

The diva driven powerhouse vocals on “Go All Night,” the most apropos song for a party that could have went all night, closes the party. As the sound of single stroke drumming builds into a frantic frenzy, synthesizers play sharp chords for a true rock star ending. Gorgon City closes with a bang! In a world of British dance music competitors, one winner is crowned.  Where Disclosure has attained rock star status, Gorgon City performs like rock stars.

*Contains excerpts from Disclosure 05.10.15 review on words by aj dance.

words: aj dance


October 6th, 2015

Long before The Beatles stepped foot onto American soil, the British Invasion had long occurred. Look no further than the indigenous peoples. Britain’s hunger for world dominance, a British World Order is no covert. Evidence today: James Bond, David Beckham, Adele. Even so, America’s house music community was not immune to a leveraged buyout. The Brits accepted early Chicago imports that served as blueprints for their very own commercializing of house and acid in the late 80’s. Their brand of copy & conquer continued well into the latest century. Today, a slew of fresh-faced blokes are discovered, dissected, and signed to major recording labels at fiber-optic speeds. From social media to Shoreditch no cobblestone is left untouched. At the forefront of acquisition stars Disclosure: the regal face of millennial dance. With a polished PR script that reads: two brothers hailing from Regail, Surrey, musically educated, plays instruments, acquired MySpace stardom, signed with an indie-label, and remixed a songstress that charted in music magazines, online, and commercially, after all, is what the machine is made of. Perhaps more settling, on June 3, 2013, their full-length release “Settle” and earlier released single “Latch”(ed) Disclosure as dance music’s emperors, except in the land that birthed their sound. In America the saying goes without saying, you only make it once you land on the American charts, a landing Disclosure accomplished fifty years after the more proper titled British “Music” Invasion should have been coined.  

On a balmy early October night, Disclosure stepped onstage at Atlanta, Georgia’s historic Tabernacle. Guy and Howard took to their swiveling techno pods. Their smiles promised the greatest. What could ever go wrong? This stop marked the fourteenth date on their “Caracal” U.S. tour.  “Superego” jump-started their set. “Omen” erupted in flames. “F for You” proved well with Howard’s chops where “Jaded” felt remote. After several bubbling numbers, the pop fizzled. “Willing and Able” stalled. “Nocturnal” failed to impress, even as the lads were air lifted and played electric guitars. “I heard their first album is better than the second album.” A blue-eye with blond highlights spectator whispered. Perhaps so, as “Bang That” and “When A Fire Starts To Burn” thrust the performance into hyper rave. With the stage lit, actual pyrotechnics exploded against erratic laser beams. A thunderous applause erupted as gigantic monitors played an animated Gregory Porter lipping “Holding On.” “Caracal” the concert exceled the moment Lionbabe’s Jillian Harvey strutted onstage and sung “Hourglass.” Her bird walk and high kicks stole the show. American born Brendan Reilly appeared and sung the hell out of, “Moving Mountains” and brought the chuuuuh to the Tabernacle.   Side note, Google him. All before the two Lawrence brothers disappeared into the black and reemerged with “Latch” the show closer.

“Atlanta this is so far the best show.” Bragged Guy-the younger brother. Honestly this was far from their best show played in Atlanta. The Disclosure concert lacked star power. Real star power. Not to say, the band-of-brothers are not on the road to stardom, or stars themselves. But when your music plays the soundtrack to the stars, then the stars had better show and perform live.

words: aj dance

visuals: aj dance

HOUSE IN THE PARK 11 06.09.15

September 8th, 2015


“HONK.” As sedans, pickups and 4X4’s slow to a crawl on I-20 eastbound at the ramp of Boulevard, the traffic on the World Wide Web stalls. Thankfully, no vehicles or servers, for that matter, crash. Finally!-And no not the CeCe Peniston classic-House In The Park Sunday arrives!

At a park, named after a U.S. president, on Confederate Avenue, thousands of feet stampede the green space. The festivity is less conservancy, more 4G. Posts and photos clog social media newsfeeds. Thirty-second videos go viral. Hit after hit. Likes accumulate. Tweets chirp. Memes abound. A song list is even cataloged on a blog. HITP 11 trends.

“After all house music is the black person’s alternative.” Replies the voice-activated “AI” when asked, “Is HITP the real Afropunk?” Uploads of Afro’s, locs, beads, and faux hawks be natural or extensions, crown heads of dancing kings and dancing queens, and their dancing princes and dancing princesses. Selfies of Tees, tunics, cowls and body paint are fit for fashion spreads. Just #blackfashionmatters.    

Dress and tags are only smaller numerators in HITP’s larger algorithm. There are four constant variables that play the most important part when coding the event’s success.

The Four Fathers. Salah Ananse, DJ Kemit, Kai Alce, and founding father Ramon Rawsoul stand tall and proud. Acetate. Polycarbonate. Gigabyte: Are their mouthpieces. Their voices eschewed from shiny hardware, transmitted by stereo surround-sound. Each bringing their distinct flavor, Salah: boutique house, Kemit: disco, Ramon: ancestral and Kai: every sound in between, makes PPL <3 HITP. 

Sunrays kiss smiley faces. Red, green, gold, and black jewels sparkle against the stark bulb in the sky. iClouds fly across the azure. The temperature feels not too hot, not too humid, and never too cold but just the right amount of cool. A fit-watch pixels display 85 degrees.

The balmy temperature is a shock, but not the music. As one girl whips and nae naes to a remix of Justin Timberlake singing “Holy Grail.” Everyone agrees House in The Park is the “Holy Grail.”

The Holy Grail that started ten years ago as an intimate gathering of friends, has massed into more than one large family picnic, but a technological boom. Far more than food trucks, the aroma of grilled meats, vendors, pavilions and tent city, there is no denying HITP’s digital footprint that stomps the digital world. Perhaps, next year, the drone that flies overhead will be used to film a virtual-reality live stream. In real-time, to all businesses, corporations and advertisers, HITP is where the money is.

words: aj dance

visual: toasted ink


September 6th, 2015




“Yo! What up?”

“Deez Nuts 4 president!”


“Give me a huuugggg.”

Pearly white smiles sparkled underneath the halogens of streetlights. The heart leaped with joy during each warm embrace. Like hugging long lost relatives at a family reunion during Labor Day Weekend. Instead of ribs and slaw, long white tees, halters and pumps were the fixin’s.   A show of who’s who was in “lookatme” mode. Selfie time!!! Of course with friends. Conversations quickly turned to; weight loss, air flight trips and future hookups. The annual Atlanta Weekender festivities had already commenced outside, along Edgewood Boulevard, in front of addresses 485 and 483, respectively. The magic suspended in the air, straddled beneath the Waning Gibbous.

Following the pulsating “umpsh, umpsh, umpsh,” into the brick and mortar revealed no disco ball, or cat-n-mouse laser display that distinguished the obscurity. If not for the bar lit in the soft hue of carrot the room would be aphotic. Ahead, at the DJ booth the guiding light was found. The sonics eschewed from two JBLs. There he stood, the man partitioned from his gatherers.

The buzzcut he wore might have been new, but Kai Alce needed no introduction.  NYC born, Detroit raised, ATL transplant-an acronym for his N.D.ATL Muzik imprint-served as cultural virtues that crowned him “Atlanta’s Maverick of Distinctive House Music.” Although the DJ/producer/label owner resents titles and is laconic, he clearly spoke through the music. You “Can’t Hold It Back,” he suggested with a slight grin when playing the Jovonn titled track. The now-anthem ignited flames on the floor.   Blink and miss the horde of Distinctive-ites who canned-sausage the space in front of the DJ booth; hands on the floor, derrieres in the air, their feet swiveled in circles. That was the power of the four-count, a heavy bass line, and a repeated refrain.  

There she danced in the corner. Her dress sparkled as metallic blues shimmied against the speaker cabinet. Her beauty mirrored the portrait of the 1970’s Blaxploitation heroine projected onto the back wall of the room.   As her silhouette weaved in and out of shadows, she mouthed “Dance Like You’ve Been Here.” The DJ Beloved Remix of Miranda Nicole’s N.D.ATL Muzik’s recording debut played like a beacon to a siren’s prey.

The music skipped counts on UBQ Project’s “We Can Make It.” Visages appeared stunned?!? Folks, this was an all vinyl affair. Heedlessly, hunched against the wall and consuming prime real estate was a young man who pecked on not one but two smartphones. Stationed on the DJ wall, a drinking glass slid off and shattered jagged debris across the baby-powdered floor. Dancing up front, and center the DJ booth became unbearable. So dance space was traded back room for near the venue’s front door. Where the temperature felt cooler, the air breathable, and the cement floor fit to slide across.

At some point in time, when professional photographers dipped in and out of space-pockets trying to capture the perfect snapshot of a dancer doing a burpee in harem pants: time, place and space framed an apex. The music abstract yet concrete. The conductor inseparable from the conduit.  The curator indistinguishable from the virtuoso.   A casual encounter turned fanatical dance.



You can take Theo Parrish out of Chicago but taking Chicago out of Theo Parrish presents an entirely difficult challenge. Born in the nation’s capital, bred in the Windy City, the DJ/producer was influenced by Chi-town’s first and second generation house music provocateurs. His first DJ gig and production work came early, age thirteen. Thereafter, the young musicologist would study in Kansas City where he received a degree in Sound Sculpture before calling the Motor City his home since the mid 1990’s.

Chicago played theme on the Sound Signature C.E.O.’s opening selections. Peven Everett cooed “How Bad I Want Ya,” a sentiment Theo posed to the crowd before slaying the dancers with Steve Poindexter’s genius “Computer Madness.”

Say Parrish, and the name resounds around the world, synonymously with techno/house. Theo’s music is badass: never mollified for the masses yet ballsy enough to challenge the bullocks of the underground. His left field verbose is taste acquired. The palette of his international worshippers: his native land not so much. Those who understood Parrish’s quiddity were those left dancing: those who failed translation made there way outdoors for a smoke or next door.  


Inside the restaurant guised dance space the music played Afro, deep, and slower at 124 beats per minute. At DJ Kemit’s Soul Makossa party, bodies gyrated and writhed from the DJ Booth to dining stations in the back of the rectangular space. Yet, there was ample space to join in the spirit of dance.  A far cry from earlier when people stood in line to get in the door. Percussions elevated Elements of Life “Children of the World.” The beat crawled to 120 BPM on Hiatus Kaiyote’s “Breathing Underwater“(DJ Spinna Galactic Soul Remix). The thumps packed punch on Steve Silk Hurley featuring Sharon Pass’ “The Word Is Love” (Silk’s Anthem 7 inch Mix). The classic pulled the salt and pepper hairs onto the floor as the music danced down memory lane with vintage Col. Abrams’, “I’m Not Gonna Let.”

“YEAAAHHH!” The moms and pops yelled to the Shuffle It Up Mix. DJ/producer Alton Miller spoke to the age forty and over, Detroit style. “I’m so going back to check out Theo next door.” Said a thirty years young Jersey resident.


The snare hissed. The beating of congas beat faintly in the distance. The strings of an acoustic guitar plucked ever-so-gently across a romping bass line that straddled over four counts, then dropped as the rhythm crescendo into a melodious movement that guided dancing sneakers across the craters on the floor.

“THEO!” A high-pitched voice yelled. Arms besieged over the booth’s wall. Then the house lights shined brightly. Pupils were enlarged. A motley of colored visages that once danced in shadows was now exposed. No one cared. The people danced on. The music played on.

A bearded guy dressed in all black appeared next to Theo and gave him the cutthroat. Another security chief, this one with his facial gestures buried beneath a ball cap, bolted to the DJ booth and told the maestro to “stop.”

“I can’t.” Theo lipped back. “The record ain’t finished playin’.”

The crowd “booed” the burly guards: they “yayed” the DJ. Complying with security’s demand, the music stopped. As security walked away, the sneaky Theo pressed play. A four-count thumped. Security turned around and told him to cut the music. For a second time the music was hushed.

“Look. He mad (sic).”

With his back towards the dancers, Theo cursed underneath his breath. His hairy arms swung out, half-heartedly, to the sides in anger. The “I Want to Go See” type on his tee said it best. Theo was going to see, something, somewhere. Sadly it was out the venue’s front door.

The second night of the Atlanta Weekender closed with less of a bang and more of a swift-kick in the arse. If Atlanta is grown enough to host its own version of a holiday Weekender then Atlanta needs to step it up with a 4 am or later bar closing time. Atlanta, the time is nigh. Please, quit stopping the music.

words by aj dance

visual by aj art


May 10th, 2015


Perspiration soaks the under arms. Already the feel of cotton sticks to the skin. The weather is much too humid for the first week in the fifth month of the year.

A body plunges to the pavement. “Dude, I’m soooo drunk,” a post-pubescent voice yells across the dark parking lot. Standing in a line of ten folks deep, behind a gang of Koreans speaking in their native tongue, the smell of burnt ash thickens the air. Their cigar smoking proves all too nauseating. Even the door guy reading identification brushes his hand across his nose.

Inside the foyer stands two men; burly, goateed, and bald scanning e-Tickets. Voices shout in the distance, “Sounds like they’re playing bingo,” over there in the room to the right. “Naw bro, it’s a drag show.”  

The beating of deep ambient thumps that surface from around a corner peeks the interest of the bros more than the “Bye Felicia” contest. Their intuitions prove correct as a left turn into the main room reveals why this party matters.  

If the party promoters are willing to work with venues, owners, or managers outside of their comfort zone, then the party matters.

Twenty years earlier, a movement started when twenty-somethings; Kazel, Damien and Delvyn then called Liquid Groove, threw its first soiree at a warehouse called Chambers in the city’s red-light district. A name change later, now Liquified, the promoters returned to the original warehouse, also with a name change, where it all began.

Where you throw your party matters.

Club Jungle throbs as yesteryear’s PLURs wearing 36” flairs glide across the massive 10,000 square-feet space, queens sashay on wooden tiles, as Kardashian imposters tip their noses in the air at shirtless bartenders.

If your sound system was designed by a former NASA employee then your party matters.

Two SH96HO + TH118* are enclosed in sleek black cabinets. The 18” subwoofer packs a four-way power punch to the balls. The intelligent Pure Groove Sound System* screams quality over quantity. The acoustics alone is worth all two thousand and five hundred pennies paid for entry. One spectator stares into the woofers and the force of the sound waves slowly pulls his slender frame into its hold. “That shit’s loud.” Someone complains. “Yeah, we’re way too old.”

A headlining electronic god makes the party matter.

The stage is decorated in a crystalloid hallucination. Blue skies and green lasers splash across the faces of gridded triangles. In view through the polyhedron window stands the most oft voted “World’s Best DJ.” A thunderous applause ignites as he winks. Only a rock god commands such emphasis.

Tonight Aleksander-AKA Sasha-Paul Cole is the rock god, ahem, electronic god-defender of glow stick spinners, lazily dressed bros wearing ball caps and cargos, 40 year-olds backpackers, and a mother who inhaled to squeeze in a bikini tube. Most impressive, shoved shoulder-to-shoulder are the pink furry boot minions-Buford Street’s baby ravers who admire his royal Welshness. Many of who were not spermatozoa when their parents probably tweaked at a Sasha rave in the late 80’s. The ability to draw a mother and daughter raving under the same roof is well, frightening.

At the stroke of midnight, the GRAMMY nominated “Watching Cars Go By” remixer launches into a battlefield of fist-pumping rush; dizzying build-ups and shattering bass drops. The “If You Believe” producer is not the pinup for playing straight house music but he later dabbles in the deep that makes the party even more digestible. Critics will always parley over Sasha’s playlists but the event’s motive lies not in the music’s context as the party’s subtext.

Twenty years in the game and still relevant makes your party matter.

This party-cum-music festive is a homecoming sentiment. Weeks earlier, reminiscence spread across social media from those who stumbled out of Chambers the next day, at noon, after Sasha first played Liquid Groove’s Atlanta debut in the mid-90’s. Over the years and many times over, Liquified has personified and willed its muscle at defining ATL’s nightlife. Given the city’s saturated underground music scene, Liquified performed a rarity these days, pulling off a party that actually matters.

Congratulations to Liquified 20 year anniversary.

words:  aj dance

(above) visual: aj art


*Pure Groove Sound System


April 14th, 2015


Not too long ago in a land not too far, far away….

Invitations were transmitted across the galaxy to fans, family, and friends to attend a born-day celebration like none other.

Hosted by Serious Soul,

Scheduled guest Tony Humphries was to play an out-of-this-world extended four-hour music set.

Titled: Serious Soul Private Series #2, only 150 tickets would be available to purchase.

This event was not to be missed.

So with a click of a button, tickets were purchased, and the space cruisers were fully charged.

It was time to party.

21:55 Galactic Time

Two Alliance members of the House Music Excursionist Crew trekked to the land of palm trees and rolling sapphire waves. Their traveling feet stopped at the stairs of a Spanish Deco casa with a courtyard patio filled with overdressed collegiate yelling over “Trap Queen.”


“Yes. We come from the Atlanta Republic.” The two HMEC members announced to a couple whose mouths dropped while they waited in line.

“No entry till 10 pm,” announced the gruff baritone from a hulking gatekeeper. His barrel frame blocked a door that slightly opened ajar as loud thumps seeped out.  

The HMEC’s mission was further explained.

“We come to celebrate the born day of the JedThai Knight,” said the male house dancer.

“And to hear Tony Humphries play.” Lady Socialite interjected to the locals dressed in a button down short sleeve and a little black dress most appropriate for the humid air. For a few minutes, time crawled to a stop as the four pecked away at the screens on their electronic devices.

Then the door opened. The gatekeeper looked on, his demeanor now less authoritative. “You may proceed.”

Enter the aphotic room that was all empty besides ten figureheads including bar staff. “The locals call this Velociti where house and techno music lives,” explained the local wearing the short sleeve shirt. The male dancer wiped his eyes. He was hard-pressed to believe that before him stood his house music hero.

Theory of Thaisoul

Legend foretold a Disc Jedi must master five tests before knighthood. In the Disc Jedi Order of the underground house movement only select vanguards have faced and conquered all five feats. A lofty ambition, not for the posers but for the purists who are brave, disciplined, and determined. One Disc Jedi not only prevailed but excelled at all five tests: “The Trial of Skill:” the ability to slice ‘n’ dice elements into one harmonic voice, “The Trail of Courage:” exposing a musical movement to his hometown with grit, “The Trail of Flesh:” the ability to craft music that evokes a “Beautiful” homage to the passing of the most important loved one in his life, “Trail of Spirit:” the ability to defeat adversity with his inner sinews, and “The Trial of Insight (or Knowledge):” the ability to craft tomorrow’s sonics today. He is Jask-and rightfully so deemed-a JedThai Knight who is the master of Thaisoul.

The Theory of Thaisoul dates back to Jask’s birth. Born Jack Merideth, at the age of thirteen-when Darth Reagan ruled the Republic with an iron fist during his Strategic Defense Initiative-the lad took to the 1’s and 2’s guided by a Public Enemy rage. Music became a cynosure as he perfected his craft. He played it all; rhythm & blues, rock, electro, new wave and house music, the latter he discovered transmitted from faraway provinces. After his inception to acid jazz, he introduced the burgeoning sound to his hometown Tampasia Republic. Work as a resident Disc Jedi led him to notoriety, steady income, and pouty-lip admirers. His work as a music producer garnered support and hailed praise from DJs and house purists who heralded him a mystic JedThai for championing an Asiatic voice into the house of soul. Often crowned the king of smash-ups, his remixes and productions are resilient yet weighty. With a discography that reads like a DJ Order of underground house music, DJ’s namedrop Jask. To know Jask is to understand the sum of his passions: Galactic battles and….  

23:10 Galactic Time

Sade!?! Yes. Where there is Jask, there is the music of Sade. That explained the familiar refrain from an earlier hit of the band that welcomed guests to the born-day celebration. As lead vocalist Sade Adu’s alto disappeared into the mist that-already?-straddled the ceiling before dancing to the floor, the House Music Excursionist Crew male dancer questioned, “Why must there always be someone who lights up in my dance space?” Unbeknownst, a puff of smoke in the face would be the party’s least of concern.

Small talk and “YO, BARTENDER OVERHEAR.” were distractors, largely ignoring Homero Espinosa’s “Blues In A Rose” (Unreleased Jazz Mix). A magnetic energy pulled a horde of bodies not to the dance area, but-sadly-to the bar. The ever-growing cast of characters resembled those at the Mos Eisley Cantina. Their faces smitten with gin grins. Their backs turned to the JedThai. The party girl who stuck out her rump and cavorted about like a horse who then wiggled her derriere for a peep show at her white panties for a friend to Instagram.

Jask sensed the Darkside nigh. His observation stayed keen and undeterred. In battle, a Disc Jedi uses two turntables, a mixer, and plays songs for a dance floor: In battle, a JedThai Knight uses computer software, digital downloads, air horns and cinematic drops-and whatever else is at his/her disposal-and takes the dancers on a journey as the music slays a dance floor. With his index finger held steady, Jask punched cue. “I Can’t Get No SleepI Can’t Get No Sleep.” The instantly recognizable Masters At Work anthem pulled several bar-huggers onto the cement. “Jus Dance” commanded Mr. V as additional bodies followed suit.   The Dario D’attis Mix ripped the dance area into two: “For Those Who Like To Get Down” and those who scratched their heads flabbergasted. The Marques Wyatt Deep Sunday Retro Vibe Mix rang true, “Don’t Get On The Back of the Folks That Like To Get Down.” After all, this was house music for a “Housenation.” Thirty-two bars later, the Hosemaster Boys Doorly Remix morphed into MD X-Spress’s “God Made Me Phunky” (HCCR) as Mike Padovani’s “It’s Alright” delivered hi-brow sonics. A final blow to the cranium occurred when Louie Vega & Jay ‘Sinister’ Sealee featuring Julie McKnight’s “Diamond Life,” dropped from the ionosphere. The JedThai played hardball and scored with a Hardrive that penetrated “Deep Inside” the soul. Anybody not coming to party with the birthday boy was damned.

“Love Will Save the Day. Music Will Save Our Souls” read the quote on the Frankie Knuckles tribute tee that Jask wore. A statement Jask personified throughout his opening mantra as he honored the timeless DJ Code:

Where there is emotion, in music there is PEACE

Where there is ignorance, in music there is KNOWLEDGE

Where there is passion, in music there is SERENITY,

Where there is chaos, in music there is HARMONY


Where there is death, in music there is the….


To be continued….

words by aj dance

illustration by aj art


April 12th, 2015

Tony Humphriescolorcopy

Tony Humphries

The Force

23:00 Galactic Time

If Jask be the JedThai Knight: Tony Humphries is the Master Jedi who sits on the twelve-member High Council of Classic/Soulful House Music where his pedagogy serves two-fold; by day, ranking as guardianship of the High Council of First Knowledge where he preserves house music’s origins and by night, educating Younglings of house music’s origins.

That night, dressed in his signature black tee, Humphries turned a deaf ear to the classics and opted for a contemporary inaugural: House of Funk featuring Oliver Night’s “You Got To.” Track number four from his latest Tony Recordings’ “Miami Uncuts 2015” tanked. Listening ears moved closer to speaking cabinets to interpret enhanced sound clarity. Therein the problem lied not in the club mix itself, but in the communication of wires and cords that snaked crisscross from gizmos to power strips cohabitating electrical outlets. As the first song, the second track limped along. Not until Lenny Fontana featuring D-Train’s “Raise Your Hands,” the sonics kicked into full throttle. Perspiring flesh that swayed from wall-to-wall failed to applause.

With the sound system intact, Tony flew across the motherboard on his space cruiser blasting Shea’s “Where Did You Go” (Atjazz Floor Dub), Tracy Brathwaite’s “Smile” (Casamena Alex Mix), and Neal Conway featuring Dana Weaver’s “Fading Away” (DJ Spinna Mix) that all played like a digital website’s Top 20. Rather Tony’s motive was to advertise his week’s top 10 was a different download altogether. Either way, the house alumni danced, the house freshmen danced, one veteran NYC house dancer broke it down, “Many of these people don’t get it.” Several fresh faces failed to grasp they gazed at someone who had never played in Tampasia, let alone someone who had been a Disc Jedi playing music longer than they had lived on Republic Earth.

Thirty five years? Thirty-six? Perhaps, thirty-seven? What is the definitive sum of Tony Humphries’ professional registry as a DJ? From his initial invite to play at a then new radio station, New York’s KISS FM, to becoming the program’s MixMaster-by the way, no easy feat for an up and coming with a name to establish- to his formal tutelage from Master Larry Patterson, Tony gained notoriety at Jersey’s famed Club Zanzibar during the decade of decadence. At the dusk of the century, Humphries was name checked from the streets of Newark to Manchester. His Jersey sound landed him a residency at London’s Ministry of Sound where he pleased European palettes. He remixed the icons: Janet Jackson to Nina Simone, he received gold records, his pager beeped constantly. Exhausted and restless, he refused remix work until encouraged by the late Godfather Knuckles to dive back into the studio. Today you will find Tony’s signature scribbled across the digital universe via Tony Records….

And at the JedThai Knight Jask’s birthday bash as Soulful Session featuring Lizzie Nightingale’s “Made For,” cooled sweat stains and chilled dancing feet like a gentle breeze on a humid summer’s night.

The heat index cranked up on Crackazat’s ”Candle Coast.” The House Music Excursion Crew’s male dancer intertwined with a local starlit in a dancing duel, minus lightsabers. Over the head. Around the hips. Through the legs. Fall to the floor. A rollover onto the stomach. A forward jump on the balls of the heels. Standing erect. Perfect balance. A light applause.

“I’m trying to keep you from falling over,” said a lady to a character who struggled to barely stand erect on the wooden floor. He was that guy. The guy with droopy eyelids, an unforgiving slur, and disheveled dress, his aim to dry-hump and score. “That is what happens when you charge $10 all-you-can-drink from hours 8 to 10 pm,” noted Lady Socialite.

“Time for some fresh air,” She suggested.

“And a change of shirt,” replied the house dancer.

The two slipped through a back door onto a spacious outdoor patio dehisced with Havana shirts, stilettos and rompers. Hip-hop careened the crowd; left to right, front to back, in semi-circles: so too the libations, poured from several bartenders to waiting cleavages and V-necks. Bronzed beings slouched in line for the powder room. A tan collegiate offered advice, “To your rear,” on how to exit the Cafe Courtyard. “Well, everyone seems nice enough.”

A Master Jedi does not always travel the path less followed strictly alone. At times his contemporaries even the playing field. As in the Kings of House which Tony is one-third member alongside David Morales, honored by playing The Face featuring Kym Myzelle’s “Lovin” (Disko Mix) that caused arms to flail upward and “Yays” to vesuviate from mouths, and Louie Vega who appeared the topic of Tony’s thought. Convertion featuring Leroy Burgess’ “Let’s Do It Again” A Louie Vega Interpretation (Dance Ritual Mix) turned the disco out, 3 Winans Brothers featuring The Clark Sister’s “Dance” (Louie’s Dance Ritual Mix) caused the crowd to yell, “Even in the bad times/I wanna dance”-and dance the crowd did-Louie Vega starring Duane Harden’s “Never Stop” (Instrumental) cooled the pulse of beating hearts, as Jet’s “Uncle Sam,” on Vegas Records, brought the beat to a tribal simmer.

02:00 Galactic Time

“EVERYBODY GET ON UP AND DANCE,” a diva commanded. Her vocals pierced over percolating percussions and a tambourine that possessed the sweaty air. At that instance, veteran house heads’ entered into trances. Their sweaty flesh thrown against the brick walls like rag dolls after child’s play. And playing with the crowd was the trick up the Master’s sleeve. Add Loleatta Holloway’s vocal riffs singing over Hamilton Bohannon’s “Let’s Start The Dance” and Warning: The Dance Floor Was Now A Danger Zone.  

The commotion continued for another ten minutes. This was Tony Humphries at his best; when he traversed the music galaxy and aligned the stars of garage, house, disco, techno, gospel, vocals, and tracks into a dancing astronomy. His ability to “Wow” hearts of the novice to the seasoned spoke of his royal Kingship. Whilst leaning against the ledge of the bar, a wide-eyed thirty-something surveyed the action. He had no words to speak for his T-shirt summarized the experience into two worthy adjectives, “Serious Soul.”

words: aj dance

illustration: aj art


March 28th, 2015


00:23 EST

The Break Up

Sojourn down a flight of stairs into the mouth of the cavernous. Welcome to a basement that wipes grime off its brow. Dark, dingy, and dank. The space has charisma and it speaks with charm. No selfies. No photobombs. No videography. Washington D.C.’s U Street Music Hall forbids.

A golden haze hangs across the smoke-free room. LEDs emit lights of magenta turned emerald that play cat and mice over shadows of ball caps and mops of hair that bop up and down in slow motion. Behind the postured mass are the bodies whose feet spin in circles and feet sway left to right. Missing are the breakers with their cropped circles as they fall to the floor to showoff hand stands with their legs spinning in the air ready to take out a limb. The only danger present is the bar destined inebriated slamming into bodies in motion. “Excuse you?”

A dancer’s jazz shoes stick to the ground. The wooden floor is already covered with libations. Within seconds a hooded figure bent over scurries by as a rat in daylight. He is a savior. In his hand, he holds a bottle of baby powder. The floor candy spills across the wooden titles in a snake formation. Thank you Jesus!!!

“Wheeeweeee!!!” A swarm of approval erupts from the mouths of many. A thump and percussions introduces “The Break Up” before a lo-fi punch kicks the drum. In the background the crowd sings, “You stole my love” in repeated refrain. In the foreground the sonics sound muffled. A move closer to the hanging speaker cabinet reveals a low hum. To swindle is to cheat by fraud or deceit and tonight Detroit Swindle is being robbed of a superior sound system.

 A fuzzy recollect

Detroit is a musical nucleus. The Motor City’s influence stretches from Leeds to Amsterdam to Stuttgart. Its grip ignites lads to monogram the “D” into their stage moniker. Detroit Swindle’s Lars Dales and Maarten Smeets is such. It is tempting to label the awesome twosome as studio producers first, label owners second and touring DJs third. After all, the Amsterdam natives met in a club, one Deejaying and the other manning the acoustics. Thereafter, their rise to fame is a fuzzy recollect. “I don’t know,” a release on this label and that label placed them on DJs radars. “Maybe,” it was their debut “Boxed Out” that won critical acclaims with its cross-genre pollination. The question begs, is their any originality to this duo or is it all a formula calculated by a sharking music executive to keep pace with EDM trends?

In a relatively short time, 2012 to be exact, Lars and Maarten have swindled their way into the hearts of the underground house music market. They too have built a solid following of house enthusiasts. As evidenced by the panoply of bomber jackets, graphic Tees, joggers and skinny denim bottled in 1200 square feet between two performances stages in the music hall. Onstage behind the music decks, Detroit Swindle are unrecognizable, no hipster hair or pornstache. Their appearance is cloned; both are dressed in black tees and trucker caps, a far cry from their leopard print costumes. In the nation’s capital their dress is conservative but not their playlist. Maarten, who plays less, plays the best songs. When he appears center stage, which he rarely does throughout the party, he packs a more soulful punch to Lars’ funky tech. He even elicits the speakers to emit a fuller sound as a groovy bass line plays. Under Lars helm the mixing missteps, cold cuts and beat slamming, that later evens out to a steady flow.

Tonight, Derrick Carter should feel cheated more than Moodymann. The soul of Chicago’s Southside disco mixed with Chicago’s North side’s hi-energy represents. Layered beats that stick to the bones and disco loops that uplift outstretch hours of pleasure. Take, KHLHI “Percussions (Four Tet).” The music crescendos and drops but does not annoy. Beats sound interchangeable. This is track music for track heads. Dubbed vocals from soul giants that should play out into full versus with sing-along hooks never materialize. Robbing the crowd of hearing First Choice fully sing “Double Cross” is a punishable offense.             

 02:00 EST

The Magic Hour

When “Ccccc’monnn’ (s)” and “Wwwwill yooou leave with me(s)?” are stretched into long drawls from future politicians who stand several inches shorter than their blonde-haired counterparts, their departing time has arrived that makes way for the experienced dancers to play.   The magic hour begins.

There dances the good ole’ buddy, a former dance instructor, retired night-lifer, who throws his arms into the air and wobbles his legs as if paying homage to Janet Jackson, to his left a house dancer dressed in all black, sticks her derriere out and twerks before she sidesteps to the right as her friend shakes hands with an out-of-town stranger and says,” You’ve got dancing skills.”

Their bodies groove to Chicago’s K-Alexi’s “The Dancer” where the Ian Pooley Remix drops to 124 beats per minute of minimal thumps and spacey grooves. Gwen McCrae’s “Keep This Fire Burning” (The Revenge Need II Edit) emerges as the party’s hell yeah! The feel good slow burner lifts dancing feet off the floor but only as far as the inferior sound quality allows. Detroit Swindle continues their pilferage on Heist Recordings, their label imprint, with its latest release from Barme & Hamo’s “The Parish Rumors.” Finally, Lars pays homage to his group’s namesake, Detroit’s Terrance Parker on “Love’s Got Me High.” A song and sight most appropriately illustrated by the guy in his wheelchair swaying his torso around in circles, flapping his arms and hands in the air with his head cocked towards the ceiling. His visage says it all. “This is the power of house music.” A fact that will attest Detroit Swindle’s staying power for years to come.

Detroit Swindle

words: aj dance

illustration: aj art

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