Archive for June 26, 2011
Photography by Carlos Bell
“Can You Dance To My Beat?”
Gotsoul? Does it have soul? Do you got soul? Really! Is that a necessary question? Nope, not when you’re JoJo Flores.
Perhaps, Montreal’s JoJo Flores must be one of the best dressed DJs on the international circuit. The guy with the school boy physique looked sharp. Neatly working a black short sleeve button down, with a tucked in black tee that would later reveal the Gotsoul logo-think Clark Kent with the S on his chest-and slim leg black denim all topped off with a brown fedora and you’ve got one of the best dressed music purveyors in the place. The kind of urban look fit for men’s dress magazines than rock music fanzines. The dress is very important. It can signify a DJ set’s aesthetics. The feel and sound of an audio soundscape. JoJo’s neat and clean flair categorizes the same in his musical sets avec a tight precise technical DJ mixing style. One could tell there was thought behind this fashion choice as well as thought behind what would be played musically. Be it, song transitions-mixing in and out songs-or various mash-ups-taking two entirely different songs and blending their elements to create a new song. The music was on point.
JoJo’s flawless baby face revealed that he was ready to play and with a demeanor that he could hang with the best of them; the masters, the classics and the legends. The award winner dropped that kind of soul that can’t be ignored nor denied. Armed with a bag of arsenal, the tech savy-I’ve got my own smartphone DJ app-dug deep in his bag and pulled out trick after trick. The Canadian’s educated musical range spanned from house, deep, classics to disco that accommodated any and every taste in the room. Not one musical palette left the building hungry. Maybe, hungry for more, hence the encore request circa three in the morning.
Three hours earlier, Flores intermingled Norma Jean Bell’s classic, “I’m The Baddest Bitch (In The Room)” the jazzy house number that pulled the alumni house heads away from the bar and out of the bathrooms and unto the floor with the latest, a cover of Adele’s, “Rolling In The Deep” a deep house treatment via John Legend’s interpretation. House vocalist Kenny Bobien’s, “I Really Do” (Culoe De Song Mix) falsetto fluttered across the room on heavenly wings while neo-soul sensation Marsha Ambrosius moans and groans thumped in hormonal croons. By the next hour the Gotsoul founder was knee deep [and comfortable] playing afro-house. Yacoub’s “Da Na Ma” (Manoo’s Mix) with its gentle acoustic guitar lick plucked over soft handclaps as Telepopmusik’s lush vocals pleaded, “Love Can Damage Your Heath”courtesy of Abicah Soul & Dennis Ferrer fame. South Africa’s Queen of House, Buice’s, “Not Fade” the heartfelt ballad that felt all too right swept the dancers off their feet.
Then the classics! Oh my, the classics. Four consecutive anthems raised the soul’s mantle. With enough pockets of space to dance about the tribesters screamed with accolades, “Work It!” “Arrghhhs!” “Play That Ish!”
“Call Yourself A Friend” escaped from the speakers as a looped “You Dig Where I’m Comin’ From” introduced First Choice’s, “Let No Man Put Asunder” but this time with Mary J. Blige on vocals, a sax filled instrumental of “I Can’t Get Enough” made feet dance while Gamble & Huff’s Philly horns blew throughout the room.
What a night as the best dressed music maestro quizzed the crowd with Blaze’s (acapella) “To My Beat.” Needless to say, the crowd answered, “yes” and proved they could dance to the beat as they also proved they “Gotsoul.”
Finally, the underground moves above ground. The current surge in ATL’s electronic house music scene is the rapid expansion from the dark side to the bright side. Over the course of forty-eight electrifying months the summer has experienced a new party paradigm shift. This transition in thought has eagerly been welcomed with open arms and dancing feet by party people all across the city. Gone is the only option of exclusive niteclub partying-holding late night hours in company of dark cigarette smoke filled spaces-traded for more family friendly get downs in open space public parks and recreation spaces while several party promoters hold court at smoke free boutique hotel outdoor pools and restaurant rooftops. Bravo! Oh and yes, these parties are putting it down.
Such occurred on a bright extremely heated Saturday afternoon. We’re talking about temperatures in the mid-90’s with a heat index blazing the upper 90’s. Folks, this party was not for the weak. Several party people packed a café’s rooftop in the city’s current hipster hang-out the Old Fourth Ward District. Along the front edge of the rooftop several red and white cabanas where a DJ table with all of its shiny hardware was set up served as shields from the antagonistic heat. Unfortunately, the oppressive heat prevailed with victory as receded hairlines glistened and necks burned red. The open bar located near the back of the rooftop provided the much needed thirst quencher of killer cocktails and hydrating H2O. Several sweat rags, towels and headbands were in the house to catch sweat. Even one club owner had to change tee shirts. Thanks be to the tiny water gun squirted by two lovelies that kept several dancers cool in mid-step. The only article amiss was the beach ball. Although this was not the beach the rooftop vaguely resembled a certain cable music television’s spring break beach show minus the sand and water.
The faces present featured an eclectic group of visages. One couldn’t help but wonder what these faces appeared like twelve years ago. Perhaps, softer, gentler, youthful and less seasoned. Now they were husbands with wives, mothers with child and singles looking for action. To the right of the roof were the ex-ravers, to the front the P.Y.T’s (pretty young things), to the left the electronic/dance bloggers and to the back the B-boys all cross pollinating the same social scene. Some were nouveau transplants to the music scene while others were old vets. One would think the torrid temps would scare away the diverse wonder but no, that wouldn’t happen. Maybe the allure had much to do with Los Angeles’ legendary house spin- master, Doc Martin.
By mid-event, a slimmed down Doc Martin rocking a brown vintage tee, shorts and headphones reminiscent of west coast grunge meets L.A. surfer stood behind the DJ table. The west coast outfitter opened with a dark tech number that steadily built into a peak time rhythm that caused the crowd to oooh and awww. Melodic rhythms from various dance genres intertwined and crossed paths with one another to form a stunning eclectic display of harmonious melancholy. The three hour set contained little vocals and lyrics but those little vocals and lyrics stood out like an ice cream cart vendor selling gourmet popsicles. From River Ocean’s featuring India’s, “Love & Happiness (Yemaya Y Ochun)” the Michel Cleis ‘Flore’ nine minute plus remix to a deep house extravaganza equipped with African lyrics sung in ancestral chants to the dance hall tinged, “Work” pounding over a progressive electro charged beat had the sun burnt crowd eating up the vocal morsels as if they were gourmet popsicles. Around an hour or so later the party’s closer came courtesy of Earth Wind and Fire’s 1978 classic, “Fantasy.” What a fantasy to see people leaving the dark and seedy underground to dance above ground on a hot Saturday afternoon in the warm embrace of the sun.
This Is Doc Martin and this Is what the doc does best, crafting the marriage of classic, jackin’, tech and deep house beats into one big happy nuclear family much like the audience that was present.
Photography by Marie Sanders