Archive for May 20, 2012
She looked as cute as ever. Imagine an African porcelain doll graced with mocha skin soft to the touch, carrying around the vigor of her neck a pair of white tech-savvy earphones and draped in a panoply Mache dress of royal purples that played cat and mouse with black contrasts. Having the mien of a mother with baby faced features of two rounded chubby cheeks, her two doe-eyes hid behind black wire frames told stories. Certain stories of knowledge. Certain stories of experience. Certain stories marked by heavy bouts of lows and soaring highs. She had the sinews of her mother, her grandmother and her great-grandmother all passed down in ancestral heritage. It would be this message that would play through her song and dance. For the humble spirit stood mensch, on the outer bank of the DJ stage, eyed the action and patiently waited to take her turn to minister on the musical equipment.
Tambor broke another record! This time for having the smallest crowd ever before 2pm. More empty pockets of spaces danced around than actual bodies. The minute crowd lacked the energy normally associated with Tambor’s fervor. However, what energy the crowd lacked, the made up for with enthusiasm. As evidenced by the hand-full of cheering females present at the altar of the DJ stage. It was a night of HER-oism as only two females have graced the decks of a Tambor party. Even this latest booking had occurred at the last minute due to another DJ bowing out for family matters. Of course, several female vocalists have performed live but actual female DJs cutting up the decks numbered in the non-existence territory at Tambor. So the crowd was in for a treat.
NYC’s DJ Sabine started off her lively set tinged with afro-beats and afro house; thumping right from the heart of the motherland; Africa. Somewhere along the journey-as a-matter-of-fact right after the first song-the ride hit turbulence and crashed into the diamond mines of Sierra Leone. The disaster had nothing to do with song selections but rather the song’s transitions. The soundscape conjured an African mosh pit with one song slamming into the next. The rough transitions proved all too nauseating; too bumpy, too choppy with little to no fluidity. This proved polemic. Was this mixing at all? Normally train wrecks occur when two trains (songs) traveling on the same railroad tracks at two different speeds (BPM Beats Per Minute) collide into one another. However, this seemed to be more of two trains (songs) traveling at different speeds on two separate railroad tracks speeding by one another. Had Sabine received the memo? This was Tambor. The world famous drum beat heard around the globe that has set precedents and raised standards in the deep house music scene. Certainly, there are DJs that master the art of seemingly blending songs down to a precise science and then there are those DJs whose mixing skills are hit and miss and then there are the DJs that don’t give a damn in regards to their mixing skills. Somewhere along this spectrum fell the night’s jagged edge.
Like a diamond in the rough, what started as one of the toughest night’s to swallow, transformed into a cut, polished and flawless gem. As the party’s hours grew so did the party’s attendance. The people smiled. The people reviled in joviality. The people experienced a one of the kind treat set aside for the esoteric. Dance circles cropped mid-floor provided the landscape for bodies to writhe in contortionist poses. Dance-offs and fancy footers squared off during a brief Donna Summer tribute. All against the backdrop as Tambor’s daddy DJ Stan Zeff and NYC’s DJ Sabine Blazin exchanged a most amiable hug.
Photography by AJ Dance
The Chicago Invasion Continued…..
A treasure trove stood before the eyes. Back at Space2, along the wall behind the makeshift DJ platform hung historic prospectus from club land’s bygone era. On the exposed wall Lil Louis hung next to Ron Hardy that hung next to Parrish Thomas. The decorated display was a who’s who in Chicago house music history. A time when house music was a lifestyle during the opulent 1980’s hey day. One of those pioneers-a second generation Chicago DJ-guest headlined at Chicago native/Atlanta resident Ramon Rawsoul’s monthly, “The Gathering.”
Jamie 3:26 (pronounced three too six) showed up like a prize-fighter. The Chicagoan moved cocksure and swiftly mimicking a South Side Chicago boxer. Like he had something to prove. When a DJ opens with Chicago’s outspoken Peven Everett’s, “Simmer” (Timmy Regisford Mix) there’s nothing to prove. The second generation house master’s brilliancy shined through a panoply of beats from award nominated genres. Runner-ups included broken beat, afro-house, classic house, vocal house and underground tracks. The party’s reigning champion went to Chicago’s South Side disco. That disco, the soundtrack to the uninhibited 1970’s, caused pandemonium in front of the makeshift DJ booth. A small crowd of forty-plus year olds had gathered and waged animalistic war. Imagine moms and pops imitating wild African animals in heat. Had the savages worn animal fur the textured pieces would have been skinned-bare. Leopard print bell bottoms? Destroyed. Ripped to shreds. Oversized afros? Gone. Torn off heads. Sounds of high-pitched hyena sibilants, cackling howls and roaring growls were heard courtesy the brute. Carnivorous claws sliced the air, the shaking of heads-possessed-jerked from left to right as teeth gnashed. A ravage spectacle of outright barbarism consumed the room. People, Please Clear The Area. Move away from the predators. The prey was bound to die.
Jamie packed a punch. The silver-haired mixologist delivered several rounds of blows to the audience. Take Diana Ross’, “Love Hangover.” The bass disappeared. The highs were tweaked and played at high decibels. Then BAM!!! (The crowd loses it.) The bass slammed the place. Precisely on eight-counts, the beat thumped harder, louder and more powerful than ever. On Anto Vitale’s, “Theorma Del Faya” (Tea Party Vocal) Jamie bobbed and weaved, anchored one shoulder upright as a boxer protecting his/her face from an incoming right hook. Peek-a-Boo. Jamie bounced up and down on the balls of his heels with a swift shuffle of the feet as all twelve fingers danced on the mixer. This is the type of DJ that anticipates what the crowd needs (not wants) and causes the audience to follow. Too bad the entertaining match would last for only TWO brief rounds (hours). The South Sider hadn’t made it to a T.K.O. Had the people got their money’s worth? Why invite a legend from over seven-hundred miles away to play for only TWO hours? Are the fees worth spent having a guest headliner play less than three hours? Assuming so, this mind buckling trend seems to be spreading like wild fire in clubs across the country. Resident DJs are insisting on closing out their parties. Honestly, the majority of the crowd comes out to witness the event’s special guest talent. With that said, the people would have loved MORE Jamie 3:26. Here is to next time and hopes of more Jamie. After all it’s not often we get a chance to experience such a music legend.
Photography by AJ Dance
The Chicago Invasion Continued…..
“If you missed Friday night for this or that reason(s), then great. There was more dance space for me.”
White garments, fard faces, pinned-up hairdos, curly wigs, long legs, suede dress shoes and pumped stilettos stood orderly and fashionably in a wrapped around, roped off line-many of whom were unhappy and not accustomed to such trivial display-that ended at a burley black bouncer checking IDs. The mature motley having gray highlights, shiny bald domes, budging bellies and infinite 1980’s acumen were not about S&M-standing and modeling-as more as dance floor ready. A distant voice whispered, “This is the house music crowd and they come to get down.” In line the city of Chicago was the buzzword. Lips praised Chicago. “In Chicago we do this. In Chicago we do that. South Side Chicago….. Remember when in Chicago…..” Surely 98% of those in line had once carried Midwestern demonyms.
The club nestled in the city’s red light district cradled pleasantly amongst the hustle and bustle flow of urban activity. The night’s air freshly ripe with summer taste made standing outside humorously tolerable. A few valet attendants provided points of entertainment by scurrying back and forth, maneuvering luxury vehicles through a green shrubbery covered entrance to park the vehicles in an adjacent lot. However, the house music that escaped the club’s opened and closed door was the real entertainment that grabbed the people’s attention. When the Director’s Cut of Ron Carroll’s, “Back Together” welcomes you into an establishment, it’s going to be a GREAT night!
Once passed the pyknic dressed in all black examining IDs sleuth like and passed the willowy figure collecting door fees glibly a single brown wooden framed door opened and revealed the architectural framework for a night club. Yes, an authentic night club, not a shoebox restaurant, indolent lounge or dilapidated cavernous space, but a working club with an actual bar, a circular dance floor in the center of the room equipped with a fog machine and dancing strobe lights, a roped off wooden floor VIP area (that would later become a public dance floor), overhead speakers, black lounge furniture and a true-to-built DJ booth in the room’s front. Yes! The city does have real night clubs!
On this night the club would not host pretentious airs but “The Blue Lights In The Basement” tenor. Two party starters; a tony dressed in all white and a Tom Joyner look alike pranced around the dance floor with humorous glee. Former Chicagoan turned High Point, North Carolina resident Gary “Jackmaster” Wallace played opening ceremony. The Jackmaster’s highly appreciated playlist nodded to a who’s who in Chicago house music. The set of volcanic vocals comprised of; M.I.A. Chosen Few DJ, Terry Hunter’s featuring Terisa Griffin, “Wonderful”, Lil Louis’, “Fable (Denise)” (Director’s Cut Signature Mix)-which brought people to the floor-Peven Everett’s, “Inspiration” (Timmy Regisford & Adam Rios) –which cleared people off the floor-and Wayne Williams’, “You The Feeling.” None Chicagoans, East Coast’s Elements of Life’s featuring Lisa Fischer and Cindy Mizelle, “Into My Life (You Brought The Sunshine)” and Atlanta’s Ann Nesby’s, “Shelter” dropped burning molten lava into hot ears.
Horns blared, “Ba-Da-Ba-Ba-Ba-Ba-Baaah, Ba-Da-Ba-Ba-Ba.” “Bom-Bom,” thumped the bass. People ran to the dance floor. It was Chicago’s Andre Hatchett opening with the late Teddy Pendergrass,’ “You Can’t Hide From Yourself.” The disco favorite catapulted the crowd into hyper drive of reckless screams, disco dancing and careless waving of the arms. The scene seemed bedlam. Staying in tribute mode, the late great Whitney Houston’s, “Million Dollar Bill” (Frankie Knuckles Director’s Cut Signature Club) moved with disco filters and a compressed guitar effect. The people accompanied the angelic voice singing, “Oh Oh/Oh Oh (2X).” More musical empyrean followed with a heavy dosage of drums ripping tribal beats. Screams crunched the air as bodies danced mid squat as if in circles around fires in ancestral celebration. Techno-soul sister Detroit showed up with “Think Twice” remixed by Henrik Schwarz, produced by The Detroit Experiment. “19, Hey! The Motor City Is Burning, Ya’llll” sung jazz-neo Gregory Porter off his hit, “1960 What?” (Opolopo Kick & Bass Rerub). Another Teddy Pendergrass classic, “You’re My Latest, My Greatest Inspiration” uplifted the congregants into heaven and concluded the soul satisfying set.
Up next, DJ Wayne Williams of Robert Kelly fame surprised with an opening selection from Farley Jackmaster Funk’s featuring Billy Monroe, “I’m A House Head” (Mike Dunn Blackball Soul Mix). “Remember The Rivera, The Power Plant and The Music Box?” reminiscent the vocals of Williams over Chicago’s Aid To The Soulless AKA Julius The Mad Thinker’s, “One Night”’ (Osunlade Instrumental) that had the elders yelling “YEAH” as if they were transplanted back to house music’s golden years. Can you “Tell Me About It?” crooned the soulful moaner Natalie Cole to a quiet-shy type over a White Label Mix that kept the floor hype for….Regina Belle’s, “Baby Come To Me” that kicked sitting butts off hard-wood support and sent dancing onto the cement and wooden dance floors. Someone had gone NYC Club Shelter on the crowd as Regina Belle’s soprano soared across the room over foot stomps and swirling synths. Talk about peek time music. From there the crowd mellowed to Chicago’s urban son, R. Kelly’s, “Share My Love.” What an exclusive house goodie as Mr. Kelly rarely releases commercial house remixes. Lil Louis cult classic, “French Kiss” plastered sweat on the walls for what seemed a short second before a sliced transition threw the electronic art piece into the next song. And what happened to cause the music’s abrupt silence for approximately 30 seconds before the music recued and restarted? Guess this is the stuff manual DJs are made of versus mp3 DJs using computer software driven music sets. Having a blond-ambition play sound engineer beside Williams in the booth should have eliminated such mishaps but not. Oops, guess the DJ got a little too excited. However, Diana Ross’, Love Hangover” the discotheque jam rescued the scene and drove the crowd into a hazy daze of yesteryear. All was well and all was right.
DJ Wayne Williams juggled two hats playing DJ and Masters of Ceremony. Having announced shout-outs to Tambor, Stacy Kidd, Jamie 3:26, The Indegenous House Party, House In The Park, Chicago, Atlanta and everyone in between here and there the verbose seemed a tad incessant especially when talking over someone’s favorite song.
The party’s fourth and final DJ installment turned out to be a sore disappointment. Alan King the salt and pepper haired music’s selection seemed a bit lost in Plexiglas shapes of unrelated sounds. By 2:15 AM the club became a virtual no man’s land waste dump. Not even a Patrice Rushen skewed soul classic turned tribal shocker, “Haven’t You Heard” of big room build-ups and swift-drops to the South African house ballad, “Superman” by Black Coffee with songstress Bucie possessed enough power to save this music set. It was too little too late.
Chicago’s Chosen Few DJs pulled off one GREAT event. Just to bring this event to the city was a rare treat in and of itself. The crowd comprised of mainly Chicago’s seasoned vets that no longer club-hop danced and sweated the night away. The many empty pockets of dance space seen on the floor and throughout the night did nothing to thwart the people’s efforts to have a GREAT time. Yes, the true soulful house heads and disco lovers represented. For those that missed it, maybe next time, if there is one. See you in Chicago!
Photography by John Crooms