Archive for December 29, 2013

MARK FARINA 28.12.13

December 29, 2013

Mark Farina


On the final Saturday night of the year, the weather out doors is entirely too cold, too wet and too rainy.  Mother Nature’s dramatics is enough to keep people indoors, buried underneath blankets.  However, there is one person who can command people, from across the city, out of town and even out of state, to brave the wintery bliss; to trek through puddles of water and be drenched in rain, to assemble together under one roof.  The individual……… will be revealed later.      

If ever there is a house music, or funky house music, prohibition this will be the gathering place.  A makeshift bookshelf in the back of pizzeria is strangely out of place.  Truly, there is more than meets the eye.  At the painted encasing one utters a password.  A smart looking gatekeeper pushes up his framed spectacles against his shaved head.  He carefully examines the guest list.  Suddenly, he radiates a bright beam of whites that blind like a deer caught in headlights.  His tatted sleeve leads to his hand which scratches off names on his clip board.  The ecstatic guests are now permitted entry without cover charge.  Step underneath the clandestine threshold.  Be amazed by the backroom for guests to partake of beloved booze, spirited conversations and dirty dancing.  Shoes are stepped on.  The fur of wool jackets and bare shoulders are brushed against as the spirited journey towards the front of the room.  Nothing says bar time like hearing the ringing of cash registers open and close.  The liquor pours freely.  The liquor pours frequently.  The face of President Alexander Hamilton exchanges hands.  A tweed vest and baby blue colored button-up dress shirt darts back and forth between liquor shelves.  The bearded bartender is dressed damper enough to bartend at a five-star establishment.  In the midst of several brunettes engaged in laughter, there he stands, at the rustic bar.  The man who the people have come to see the legendary DJ, Mr…….   

Mark Farina is a world-renowned DJ/producer who needs no introduction.  The San Fran king of funky swing is no stranger to the city, having played in town a few months prior.  However, the affable star has never played a secret show in the city, in a room that has a prohibition era feel with its hanging lamps, blue painted walls, and wooden floor.  

Mark, with drink in hand, breaks for the makeshift wood DJ compartment at the front of the room.  Dressed in a black Gramaphone LTD 2843 N. Clark, Chicago, IL tee, he cues Chic’s “I Want Your Love.”  Nineteen seventy-nine disco morphs into “onze, onze, onze,” house music.  The pulse of the party picks up pace.  All are happy.  Dancing feet rush center room for prime-real estate which is occupied by a blonde bombshell wearing black-rim glasses performing squats while a guy sporting black headphones hogs corner space.  Someone should hang a no vacancy sign.  However, everything is all good.  Love is in the air.  There is love for the dancers, music, the guest DJ and especially for the organizers of this rare treat.

Forty-eight hours earlier event promoter Lil’ Steven, who lives and is in Santa Fe, created the last minute word-of-mouth soiree.  The event was hushed.  The location was hushed.  There was absolutely to be no posting of the event on any Internet social networking sites.  If so the exclusive shindig would be entirely cancelled.  A glance around the room reveals the darling machines that assisted Lil Steven’s execution.  There is Houseb4titties texting, “A Okay.”  The Mrs. Rachel Pryor Hoffman provides hostess duties to Mark.  Event coordinator, Jory Johnson, AKA DJ Sublime, is nowhere to be found but his presence is felt.  Restaurateur Ryan Baker dances back and forth, playing hype man.  From Macon, GA, Tim provided three CDJs for Mark to helm.  Even former Twijit Recordings, Daniel Gresham shows face.  DJs from old appear along side DJs of the new guard.  Honestly, this many house alumni have not gathered in the same room for ages.  This is a house head reunion.

Meanwhile, Mark continues to show-off his Epicurean taste of the finest house.  There is swing house with its gravitating push and pull.  Sprinkled between funky house gems are diamonds like Teddy Pendergrass.   But the party’s spotlight falls on one Midwest metropolis.  Chi-town’s Peven Everett’s “Stuck” kick starts vocal house.   The Windy City’s Lil Louis, under the moniker of Black Magic, “Freedom (Make It Funky),” blows the house down.  “I have this record on vinyl.  I brought this song at the record store that I used to work at over twenty years ago,” testifies one native Chicago house head.  Her pearly whites hang suspended from ear to ear as Jamie Principle’s raps, “Baby Wants To Ride.”  The Frankie Knuckles produced classic is not only one of house music’s early international hits but a Chicago house mainstay.  “Is It All Over My Face?”  The music disappears as the crowd yells, “Hell Yeah,” just the way Chicago audiences sing.  The Loose Joints classic has the crowd, “Love Dancing.”   Just as the hits keep coming, so do the drinks.  Mark toasts a cheer.  The bubbly must place Farina in x-rated mood.  The room is smoking hot, and not just from the glowing amber of cancer sticks spewing a chocking stench into the air.  The Mary Jane kicks into high gear.  BT Express’ “Peace Pipe” gets everyone so high people appear wanting to dance on the walls.  By now everyone is playful and falling over one another.  Handshakes, high-fives and hugs become norms.  Suddenly, Mark drops the bass, fades the mids and tweaks the highs.  His ten fingers dance across the mixer’s cues.  The music builds to a heightened anticipation.  The crowd stands on the edge of their toes.  But, Mr. DJ takes his time.  The crowd continues to wait with extreme eagerness.  This one man show puts a hurt on the people.  Ready and steady his right index finger and thumb slowly pulls the cross fader.  And then he….BAMS!  Mark smacks the crowd with the Nightcrawlers “Push The Feeling On.”  The MK Dub with chopped vocals causes the crowd to go apeshit.  Mark does it again.  He has a knack for teasing the audience.  Hands fist pump.  Mouths sing the melody.  Bodies burst into sporadic fits of dance rage.  Even, a dance circle crops in the center of the room.  B-boys turned B-men wearing ball caps and checkered plaids, hand spin and freeze.  Their bodies, stuck in mid air.  Spectators cheer on the acrobatic stunts.         


Sadly, the time has come to bid our great friend, adieu.  He must move on to greener pastures and play his alterative guise for an eclectic crowd across town.  Not before he leaves, he takes the microphone and utters a muffled thank you and a goodbye.  If that is what he says.   Nobody seems to mind; everyone must be wasted.   

This party was straight-up blue lights in the basement. The mushroom jazz curator paid homage to his Chicago roots.  The majority old school playlist would make Southside Chicago proud.    Suffice to say, seventies disco, eighties soul and early house music is the architect that has built Mark Farina’s house.   After all, Mark Farina can move away from Chicago but you can’t take the Chicago out of Mark Farina.    

CHOSEN FEW DJs 21.12.13

December 22, 2013


Winter’s arrival announces sixty degree temperatures. A gust of warm air dances into a car’s rolled down window as a 10th anniversary Kenny Dope remix plays into the night’s air. While trying to find a spot to park, blinding blue beams flash in the rear windshield. “Uh oh.” One of the city’s finest, dressed in blue from head to toe, exits a newly purchased navy Ford. However, the only “protecting and serving” the law enforcer is concerned with is the scanning of license plates and the identifying of tags of two parked vehicles. The driver trying to find parking breathes a sigh of relief. For the owners of the two vehicles parked in front of a “no parking sign,” a sigh of relief will be the last thing they will utter as they discover a gift attached to their windshield. Merry Christmas from the APD.

Down the street at the events facility, fifty shades of brown wait huddled in front of a massive wooden door. Standing in the line that snakes down a ramp, conversations ensue. One dialogue stands out from the rest. A gray haired individual pushing the mid-century mark asks, “What makes a successful party?” 

The Ingredients for a Successful BANG!

One can argue that taking time off from throwing events allows for rest, recuperation and reinvention. This is one key ingredient for throwing a successful party. Nothing wears people out more than having to throw a party every week or every month. Not to mention those who feel pressured to attend every weekly and monthly event. Take, for example, the Tambor party. After a four month hiatus, the drum makes a much-anticipated return with a must-attend event.

Founder DJ Stan Zeff and right-hand man, DJ BE’s winning event formula is sought after by party promoters/event planners the world over. The two prep a musical concoction that wins over the skeptical purists and trumps the egos of naysayers. One key element that must be realized is the key of collaboration. Thereby, Tambor brilliantly teamed with one house music’s premier international networks. The Chosen Few DJs, the brainchildren headquartered in the birthplace of house music- Chicago.

Tambor’s winning formula begins with bestowing their guests with a generous heaping of southern hospitality. Be it a genuine welcome; glowing smiles, a caring hello, and a free gift; a CD, sticker or glowing tambourine, that greets guests at the two wooden doors of the facility.

A whomp, whomp, BOOM. The sound of heavy bass pulls bodies into the door. Listen and feel the beat. The one thing the people can’t deny is the clear and crisp acoustics. The sonics deliver a BANG! Pull out the earplugs, you will need them.

Two red and two silver giant orbs hanging from the ceiling add a plush holiday touch. The air is saturated with the aroma of love as Tambor-ites exchange XO. If a party has no love, the party is no success.

Already DJ BE and DJ Stan Zeff blaze the dance floor with a surround sound of furor. Together the two are unstoppable. And so this party proves as people can barely make their way up to the DJ stage without stepping on dancing sneakers or experiencing elbow jabs in the ribs.


Center stage stands Chicago’s Chosen Few ambassador, Alan King. The lawyer by day and DJ by night starts the party with a dose of jazz injected soul from Ralf Gum’s featuring vocalist Jon Pierce & trumpeter Kafele on “Never” (Louie Vega EOL Mix). Pat-ta-pat, pats and thump-di-thumps tells the dancers to form a semi-circle. The beating of live percussions kicks the party into full afro gear. Those dancing wallop their knees and their arms flail into the air without any structure or synchronization as their movements interpret the drum’s ancient language. From afro house the Chosen Few ball cap wearer segues into disco territory. Remember a little disco goes a long way. And boy does Alan deluge a heavy dosage of blue lights in the basement. The graying of hairs, receding of hairlines and the balding don’t mind. That Southside sound causes even music snubs to shake in the air, red, blue and green glowing tambourines. “Look” says one woman dressed in all black with an outstretched arm that points to the floor covered with white residue. Even the baby powder comes out on a disco jam. Attorney King steers the music reigns back into the provocative purview of South Africa’s resident Ralf Gum. This time former Tambor guest Monique Bingham sings “Take Me To My Love.” The fist-pumping Quentin Harris’ Shelter Vocal version of “Disrespectful” by Chaka Khan featuring Mary J. Blige works bodies into writhes. This house veteran knows how to work a room: after all he has been DJing for nearly four decades.


A body walks onto the stage.  The music fades.  “I didn’t know she could sing.” A voice yells from the back of the crowd. The room grows quiet. The party people are silenced. Tambor’s founding father offers a spirited introduction, “Tambor let’s give a warm welcome to Atlanta’s own…”


She shimmers in a gold and black jumper that sways over her black leggings. She bounces up and down on the heels of her black spiked boots. “Dance. 4. You.” She coos like a sexy Santa. This is the voice of the Chicago native and Tambor’s beloved, Cortney LaFloy who performs, without prior warning, her soon to be release debut on Tambor Music. The song’s producer, another Atlantan via Chicago, Steve Chi Profess stands behind the ones and twos playing music maestro. A swarm of “awws” traverse the room as digital cameras flash, videos film and happy feet dance in show of loving support. Cortney LaFloy drops the mic and dances across the DJ stage. Her live performance ignites fiyah. Promoters take note, there always has to be an element of surprise thrown into the mix. The unexpected flavor keeps the party turnt up.

Add a former recording label VP of Artist and Repertoire who has worked with Will Smith to Justin Timberlake in for success. Take one listen to the Pied Piper of RnB’s stepping anthem to hear how influential this DJ impacts the world of music. Wayne Williams is that DJ.


Where DJ Alan King played warm-up, DJ Wayne Williams appears hell bent to pick up the tempo. The sensual dialogue between a flugelhorn and a sax turns up the furnace. Shoes slip and slide. Bodies half way fall onto the slippery surface once covered with baby powder. Yes, the cement floor sweats. The unmistakable sounds of the undeniable Josh Milan’s “Thinking About Your Body” causes an uproar. Not only does a successful party don a DJ who knows what song to play at the perfect time-an art truly devoid in 21st century DJ culture-but a DJ who knows to play the perfect remix at the perfect time. Louie Vega’s Dance Ritual Mix delivers a bang to jump off any soulful house music party. As Josh’s ad-libs fades, the veteran DJ again surprises. Osunlade, the Yoruba soulster, offers “Dionne.” Ms. Warwick’s looped vocals are so heavenly, they can bounce on clouds. Suddenly, the beat bangs harder. Heart pounding four-on-the floors thump faster as Chicago house takes lead. Out come the sweat rags. Out come the pearly whites. Out come the feet that dance faster and harder. One house head hangs her chin low and bathes in the ambience of raw beats. She has a defining moment; she is gripped by the power of house music. The fifty minute adrenaline rush of Chicago house and disco house closes out on an inspirational note. “Lift Him Up” takes the spiritual saints who are in the know to church. Another key for a successful house music soiree is to have a DJ who is a DJ first, not a label owner, producer or party promoter, to heat the party up. Certainly, the Chosen Few originator, DJ Wayne Williams is more than the necessary ingredient.


Where DJ Wayne Williams drove the party into hyper drive in peek hour, DJ Terry Hunter slows the music down to a “catch your breath” tempo. A rework interpretation of Stevie Wonder’s “Supersition” is thrown in mix. Midsong the melody takes a dramatic turn into deep tech territory. Dark haunting keys steadily build wrath into a climatic shadowy mirage. The minimalist patting of drums disappears into a bottomless abyss. Dancing feet are unaware of what to expect as they try to keep pace with the two-faced tune. Don’t fret. Terry safely leads the dancers to South Africa rhythms, a place where the DJ appears more confidently exploring than his Chosen Few contemporaries. Although the T’s Box label head does tread on 120 BPMs and disco rhythms courtesy of DJ Spen’s Re-Edit of Chaka Khan’s “Live In Me,” Terry quickly returns to the Motherland where he scoops up the Princess of House, Bucie, on Louie Vega’s “Angels Are Watching Over Me.” From the heartfelt, Terry takes it old skool with a nu skool twist of Patrice Rushen’s “Haven’t You Heard.” Joey Negro’s Extended Disco Mix excites the crowd that sings “I’ve Been Looking For You.” As to pay not enough homage to Mr. Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition,” Terry drops the instrumental over a subtle disco count. From that moment on things get crazy and a bit hazy.


On the DJ stage DJ Alan King sports a “We Play Different” logo across his black tee, recognizable name property of an online dance music download store. DJ Wayne Williams strips his black jacket to reveal a Chosen Few tee. DJ Terry Hunter’s black Chosen Few tee sparkles with silver embroidery. Add to the mix DJ Stan Zeff who breaks up the monotony with a purple Tambor tee. There appears more brand recognition than a summer blockbuster movie. 

Thank you(s) are exchanged. There is a thank you to Tambor. There is a thank you to the Chosen Few. A historic speech is delivered. There is a group photo with the DJs. Then there is another group photo with everyone in the building. DJ Terry Hunter, the BANG remixer, appears stunned at all of the commotion. How dare anyone interrupt his DJ set? Seizing the moment he launches into a fury of guitar riffs that thrash against the brick and mortar. Dancing bodies leap high into the air before their soles crash onto the cement floor. Blurred circles bare witness. Hands are raised in praise. The gyrating of bodies appears to be high off psychedelic rhythms. A few curious railbirds scratch their heads. One DJ softly asks, “What is this finale closer of 70’s rock meets disco soul?” Shazaam displays, The Jackson 5 “I Am Love.”


There you have the successful makings of a hit party. Successful parties take time to create, show their guests love, are not afraid of team collaboration, have a banging sound system, include an element of surprise-be it a live performance or guest DJ-invite guest DJs who know how to work a crowd; by knowing what song to play at the right time and invite DJs who are DJs first. Last but not least, a successful party unifies, not divides. Dj Stan Zeff said it best, “We are one!!!”