Archive for August 19, 2011
A TALE OF TWO
Once upon a time, not too long ago in a land not too far away, there sat a depleted village. A hollow shell of its former self. Malodorous disappointment struck the humid air as ash to the grave breathed solemn despair. The night people’s favorite soundtrack, “Deep House Music” seemed to be hushed in a tumultuous cloud of vicious politics. The village’s voice, once a music Mecca with an unparalleled nightlife had suffered a deadly curse. Gone were the late night decadent parties and dirty dancing that at best brought and united artists, athletes, rappers, singers, entertainers, and collegiate and party people from around the globe to experience the abundant debauchery. All went well until one Monday night the big party got out of hand and a life was silenced in an exclusive part of the village. Sadly, it was that tragic event that sealed the grievous fate of the village’s nightlife. So the village’s head; the evil witch and her city council minions whom by the way were more than eager to appease the village’s wealthy upper-class trolls in the exclusive section of the village sealed shut the nightlife’s treasured trunk. Instead of possessing a trademark magic broomstick the witch wore colorful flowery magic corsages. With a wave of her flowery lapel, virtually over night the city’s vibrancy became a cultural wasteland of “nothing to do’s” and ne’er-do-wells. The curse was so drastic the only produce eked out from the once fruitful land was corporate mind-dumbing hip-hop and bubblegum rap music. The politicos’ resulting proclamation across the land promulgated last call for alcohol at 2:30 am with a 3 am closing time for all nightlife. If merchants did not adhere to the new law a substantial fine would be heaped upon their heads. This was absurd, as the village was known for its outrageousness. Previously, establishments had been allowed to freely pour alcohol till 4 am while parties continued into the wee hours of daybreak.
Over the course of five dark and bleak horrible years, vacant high-rises and abandoned cranes littered the village’s failed attempts at gentrification- another curse from the evil politicos. Along the village’s main thoroughfare, night clubs were replaced by high-rise luxury condos and bars replaced by high-end retail shops. The night people felt trapped like incarcerated cockroaches. The people felt restricted in harness belts wrapped tight around the waist, straight jackets to prevent arm movement and ankle chains chopping off the flow of blood to the feet. How could the night people move about or dance around under such oppression? At best the night people were innocent victims. What had they so done to deserve such injustice? It was as if to take away their sport was legally justified. There was no probable cause for such haphazard reasoning. So boredom gave way to restlessness and restlessness to stagnation. The only hope was to pack the suitcases on a moving truck en route to somewhere over the rainbow.
On one dreary day one of the village’s many music chiefs received a revelation to have the drum visit a party. What a novel concept. With an open invitation the drum accepted and journeyed to the party. The drum was introduced to the village locals one night at a vegetarian restaurant on the east side of town. At first, the drum’s concept thumped so faintly that its heart racing pulse fell mostly on deaf ears. As a matter-of-fact, the voyage of the drum travelled undetected from the lands of obscurity to the shores of largely ignored as it silently played into record bins categorized as “just another party.” Nothing stood out. No one took note except for the few snapshots captured that night at the organic eatery. Somewhere along the road of sacred rhythms between mile markers nine and ten the drum began to beat steadily louder. Refusing to give up, the drum’s momentum pulsated with intense vigor as to capture every heart within its path. As if possessed by hypnotic melodies birthed by the mother land herself, the night people stood up and took note. They began to sing the drum’s praises. Not only did they sing to the beat but the night people danced to the beat of the drum until their hearts were made merry. The people gracefully danced as if blooming plum blossoms weaved back and forth in spring’s fresh breeze. Perhaps, to the night people this was their renaissance; a revival of new hope. So the people continued to dance to the drum’s coveted descant as the drum spoke back to them with a wink of approval. This was what the people had longed for; acceptance. As the journey of the drum began to spread like a wild wind throughout the village, it too spread around the globe. The drum took the world by storm. Not only had night people from near and far trekked to the village to partake of this virgin movement but so did several music makers. There were the maestros from the land of South Africa, the tribesters from London, the music maker from Canada and the music lover from Italy. There were the NYC legends, the Chicago soul crooner, the Baltimore beat maker, the Los Angeles Yoruba, the Trinidadian Deepster and Atlanta’s Godfather of House Music. Deep house purveyors came from Canada to the Carolinas, California to Costa Rica for the first time to hear what the noise was all about.
As would a heroic protagonist, the drum swooped fervently down from the sky with cool rhythmic rains to save the village from the antagonistic fires bent on destroying the villages, “right to freely assemble, to freely dance, to freely drink and to freely party.” The drum sketched a peace-loving experience that clashed against the stark violent debauchery that prompted such evil legislation in the first place. Through time the evil witch’s reign came and went and gave way to a new political regime. Although the new regime did not overturn the horrendous law the night people did not give up the good fight, for they believed one day change would come. It already had. Night people from every tongue, tribe and nation were brought into the drum’s loving embrace. And all felt the love within its pulsating heartbeat of life. This was it! This was the message the people had danced to all along. They danced to the beat that would one day set them free by the journey of the drum.
Happy TWO Year Anniversary Tambor!
MIGUEL MIGS&LISA SHAW/MASTER KEV
J Day’s Intro
She arrived fashionably late, very elegant and very soft. The portrait of finesse. The acute epitome of a real woman, a working woman, and a single mother of three. The sexy siren stood at least six-feet three inches in noir spiked stilettos deadly enough to kill. Dressed in a sheering white and pencil thin black line dress, with a wrap around the neck cut to die for that revealed hidden treasures between two hills, the svelte form sashayed upstairs with stylish grace. Her two-doe eyes shimmered and sparkled like the brightest of all diamonds, so sharp and ever so clear, against the contrast of the red strobe lights dancing on the stair’s metal guardrails. Two strong eyelashes, highlighted with baby blue shadow, flirted dangerously while batting at high speeds. Scarce cosmetics were used only to enhance her natural bronze pigment that captivated the room of lusty eyes. Blessed with silky black glossy hair tightly pulled back into an exaggerated mane that traveled down to the mid-section of her back whooshed from side to side in one impressive sweep. She showered the room with a precious gift-the gift of love. She hugged the family and greeted strangers with a bright smile and a host of pearly whites. Candy coated pouted red lips pronounced, “Why thank you” as she offered brief gratitude with a distinguished German accent fit for an Afro-German queen. The essence that defines a woman. It was her day. For it was her earth day.
MIGUEL MIGS & LISA SHAW
Two weeks earlier the stage had transformed to some type of freak fest-an exhibitionist circus of superfluous magnitude. It was a global bazaar for the town’s clowns and characters to showcase mindless behavior. A night when people went out to, “just go out.” Within the lounge an oppressive weight of oxidation balanced the air that watered eyes and filled lungs with unsavory whiffs. Flashing neon red strobe lights nervously jumped and anxiously skipped in spastic patterns across the upper tier marked by dark walls covered in black smoke barely visible due to sweaty flesh packed tight within the room. People danced. People conversed. People smoked hookahs. People paraded about as if beauty queens. People wearing sneakers stood on the dance floor. People waved to standees across the room. People conversed in the language of drunken debauchery. People groped, on off-rhythm counts, practically falling to the carpet-less dance floor below. Others locked lips and swapped spit with animated tongue thrusts. Young blondes whisked their heads with a wink of an eye as if some dog were to wag its tail their way.
There was a type of pretentious overtone screaming louder than the West Coast house music pumping from the all-new turbo sound system. The “Guidos” threw money to impress dates. The scantily clad threw cleavages to entice dates. The techno-acid washed room of translucent onyx, purple pastels, and red hues reeked of sweaty desperation-the kind so pungent it washes off after two showers two days later. A pack of young multi-ethnic girls with blank expressions dressed in the “little black dress” paraded around with neon green fluorescent bans chocking their necks while mocking modern day slavery. Not to mention, the young impressionable girls seemed to grow younger with each passing minute. There they were stumbling up the carpeted stairs into some young boy’s arms dressed in some designer label suit, purchased from some mall, while people tried to dance mind you. There it was the pulling up of mini-skirts revealing more legs or more ass. Whatever was revealed was way too much. Nothing in this Babylonia made since. At least not to the sober mind.
There was no refuge, no place to find such sweet solace amongst the revilers, not even out doors which was plagued by summer’s sarcasm of humidity. Instead, disheveled chaos danced with unorganized noise as both laughed in the seasoned faces of the “I’m too old for this shit.” There was the sound of patty-tap claps thundering loudly from the all-new turbo sound system that brought to mind the sound of raves gone by. But this party was for the young, the young minds pretending to throw what they have in the faces of the have nots. The velvet roped off VIP section showcased such delusional trajectories. It mattered not if one could purchase pocket breaking drinks or platinum credit charged trinkets because for most in the place that was pointless. Many of the gathered dancers were in the house to experience the musical makings of San Francisco’s legendary DJ Miguel Migs along side house diva vocalist Lisa Shaw.
Michael Steward aka Miguel Migs, a tad bit underdressed for the raucous occasion, worked underneath the “No DJ Request” sign. While songstress Lisa Shaw mingled with guests after her first arousing vocal performance of the night. The room abuzz with much activity and way too many conversations seemed jovial and had personality. Thankfully Miguel pumped and tweeked deep thumping bass lines that drowned out most of the excessive chit-chatter. The Petal Pusher medicated the room with a prescribed dose of funky soul that offered temporary relief from the room’s toxicities. Miquel’s recommended allowance of therapeutic beats jumpstarted the heart with a rush of blood and commanded feet to spin around in circles. The healthy west coast ointment soothed the soul and provided bountiful relief to severe heartaches and severe pains. This was the good stuff. That addictive house that could raise the dead and give soul to the soulless. If this jack didn’t move the groove then nothing could.
The ever so spirited party girl, Lisa Shaw segued into a catalog of house classics. The songstress belted out the playful, “Those Things,” the intoxicating, “All Night High” and the vibrant, “Make Things Happen” to a cheering audience of “yays” and “arrghhs.” After her lively fifteen minute second performance of the night, a sizeable portion of the crowd abandoned the carpet free dance space for other toxic tastes. This was perfect timing and made for a perfect dance as Miguel jumped into a barrage of old school sing-a-longs. The Jungle Brothers played. Marshall Jefferson played. Tramaine Hawkins Sang. Altogether, side-by-side they played as little school children playing on the playground at recess in a sand box. “I’ll House You” mixed with “Move Your Body” and “Fall Down” were reworked with updated beats that instantaneously refreshed old school record crates into modern wav computer files. Thankfully, all hope for humanity was not lost as the Naked Music Label founder played his latest release, fresh from the studio, featuring 1980’s soul singing sensation Evelyn Champaign King’s “Everybody” that drew everyone back to the dance floor for one last dance. Those blistered drunk with alcohol or those high as kites with plastered smiles on face seemed to not mind as they stumbled to keep pace with the disco beat. For all it’s worth the night was not a complete and utter disaster. The night’s savior, west coast funky house music, might not have been remembered the following morning by the intoxicated but for the sober the night would live on as a music filled success in the land of the immoral. Oh, by the way, Happy Ten Year Anniversary, Halo Lounge.
Three hundred and thirty-six hours later, the lounge contained no frantic pace, no chaotic buzz, just a sweet savored scent of serenity that greeted each guest at the crossroads of the lounge’s steel front door structure and the white partitions in the sparse front foyer. A cold draft blew across the upstairs bar highlighted by lines of pastel purples to the dimly lit DJ booth tucked neatly away in a dark little corner and from there to the lower level bar aglow in onyx located on the first floor. Yes, it was going to be a different night, one of more peace and of more love, less crowds and less noise. The DJ equipment whistled whimsical melodies over deep house beats-through the lounge’s all-new turbo sound system-to the few attendees scattered about, those positioned at the bar ordering cocktails, and others posted on the dance floor in brief conversations. DJ’s Stanzeff and BE played musical ambassadors playing that kind of soul that moved the feet. At times their valiant efforts yielded lukewarm results because the crowd seemed stuck in neutral-sitting on noir couches and noir chairs moving nowhere in particular. The abandoned carpet-free dance floor seemed emotionally lonely. It screamed for at least one or two feet to prance around on its concrete face with fancy footwork.
Ninety minutes later, the night’s openers made way for the night’s headliner from NYC. The DJ booth was crowded. The gathering audience of dancers secured prime real estate on the cement floor and welcomed the special guest from the Big Apple. Kevin “Master Kev” wore a black baseball cap with black tee and approached the musical arsenal with tight precision. READY. AIM. FIRE. The goatee DJ bombarded the dancers with an assortment of thick thumping beats pitched well over 120 BPM, folks that’s beats per minute, to a dizzying cacophony and this was only the first song. But it was not the headliner’s fault nor the night’s openers. Sometime earlier, after DJ Stanzeff played Soundgarden’s, “Black Hole Sun” remixed by Master Kev and production partner-in-crime Tony Loreto the sound coming from the speakers grew muddled and more muddled over time until it became very bass heavy-this is when the bass overpowers the other elements of a song, i.e. vocals, instruments-till the songs became undistinguished. Sadly, the all-new turbo sound system seemed ill equipped to keep up with the frantic pace of Master Kev’s beat em’ and smash em’ up mix master style. The venue’s air quality was a filthy mess, not with hazy carcinogens but of muffled vocals, muffled beeps, muffled burps and muffled drums. The former Musiq Soulchild, currently called Musiq, sounded drowsy with vocals so low they were a faint whisper while finger snaps fell from the sky to slow things down a bit. From there the mix picked up speed with the night’s highlight beaming bright from British band Sade versus Netherlands tech-houser Henrik Schwarz with “Pearls and Headphones” a friendly hybrid remixed by the renowned Hani. Then for more bang, Son Of Raw a.k.a. Dennis Ferrer’s, “Black Man In Space” was dropped into the concoction that added the extra bounce to get that booty off the couch and onto the dance floor. DYNOMITE!!! Outta nowhere dropped the parent of house music-Mama Disco. The transition so hard and so sudden threw the dancers for a giant loop and not the loops made on ice rink competitions. The dancers rebounded and screamed with joy to the smash-ups of Brother Johnson’s, “Stomp” and Michael Jackson’s, “Off the Wall” both songs produced by Quincy Jones.
The carpet-free dance space ballooned with excitement that burst into bubbles of confetti energy. Even the birthday party, clearly packed with non-house heads, separated in the unmarked VIP section joined in on the fun. The group’s birthday girl danced barefoot with a Floridian, also barefoot, in ballroom circles and couples two-step. Too bad the drunken youngin’ of all smiles, mind you, carelessly bumped elbows and haphazardly spun around into other dancers trying to get their groove on. “Excuse me(s), I’m sorry,” littered the playing field. Maybe the apologies would have deemed more acceptable had she not kept up the bumper car syndrome for several songs thereafter. “That is why I don’t do hip-hop clubs,” framed another darling gifted in the art of dance staring fervently with eyes of fire into the intoxicated heart of the barefoot crash dummy. Later, the drunken starlit was to be found passed out sleeping on a noir leather couch in the VIP…..
Overall the party jingled with the intensity that elevated the crowd into orbit. Along with Master Kev’s help, the crowd of fifty plus touched the halo of wonderment. It was one of those nights, not rare but not common either, where the stars shined bright and the moon beamed soft rays of light upon the dance floor. This was only the beginning and only the warm-up to what was to follow next……