Archive for the ‘Events’ Category
It is said, the body’s natural response to music is dancing.
The first Saturday in May masquerades as the first Saturday in March. Way too cold and way too wet. Electronic Dance Music pathos suggests the month of May belongs to Detroit’s Movement Festival, still dubbed DEMF, as the month of March to the Winter Music Conference. Detroit’s home-grown finest, techno music thumps from Midwest assembly lines down to the outhouses in the Dirty South. One of Detroit Techno’s many distributors, DEMF’s original artistic director, touched down and schooled a certain southern hospitable metropolis-the city too busy partying to hate-on true techno music.
The problem started with the rain. No the real problem dated back to the original E-blast. The boys of Project B announced their one year anniversary gig. Following in the footsteps of their past soirees with Stacey Pullen and Kevin Saunderson, another Detroit Techno legend would grace the hardware at a trendy restaurant turned night club afterhours. The problem? The oblong-shaped, shoebox, restaurant keeps a limited crowd capacity. Not the place for a living legend, who plays packed festivals and stadiums worldwide, to whip his techno wizardry. Already buzzing ears were on alert to anticipate a few unwanted encounters.
Enter Carl Craig. The forty-something Detroit Techno ambassador appears rock star, looking relatively youthful. He shows face wearing expensive solar shields and sporting an authentic black leather jacket. Style shows the man comes to throw down.
“Atlanta. Can I take you on a journey of future sounds?”
“Yeah!” The drunken debauchery responds.
Perhaps the future of electronica rests in the hands of the narrative. Its voice a symmetric hybrid of deep house intersects minimal techno. The sound sphere plays excursion to preconceived notions of any expected playlist traded for the spontaneity of open-mindedness.
Obviously, the shoebox is pack, too pack, with bodies slammed from wall to wall. Forget about trying to meander through the density of mass. Forget about busting your favorite dance move. Forget about trying to consume the drink in your hand. Forget about doing anything that falls outside the category of standing stiff and staring directly into the blond hair in your face while you are elbowed in the head, jabbed in the back, pushed to the side and your kicks stepped on.
Over a deep treat Marvin Gaye sings “Ain’t That Peculiar.” Yes. How peculiar to show up at a dance party and have no room to dance.
One or two printed Detroit garbs dot the room. Some spectators appear to show-up only for the word, “techno.” Most of the monochromatic crowd appears hell bent to fist pump than actually pop and lock. Later, their wish is granted as the music builds into the atmosphere, disappears into gravity and then drops on their heads like barometric pressure. Tomahawks appear. Sorry. A Braves baseball game this is not. However, the crowd loves it. They respond, “Fuck Yeah” experiencing some peculiar eargasms.
“That was the new Moodymann.” Carl shouts into the microphone after the third song plays. Detroit Techno fans in the know respond with enthusiastic cheer.
“The year 1995 just called the year 2013 and she wants her house music back,” says a giddy graphic designer wrapped in the arms of heavenly bliss. Her house music compass is only one year off. A dub of Detroit’s Inner City & Kevin Saunderson’s “Share My Life” rams into action with classic chords thumping on all fours.
“That’s got to be my favorite song.” The Detroit giant pledges as the song fades into the next tack by Suburban Knights.
The Planet E imprint founder plays professor to the crowd of students. “I’m playing the same music that I would play in Berlin. Atlanta, that means I’m being inspired.”
Awww. Sweet sentiments. The crowd responds with approval.
“Earlier, I played for you my favorite song. Now I’m going to play for you the first song I ever played as a DJ. It was at a family reunion in Athens. Ha.”
Again the crowd goes wild.
“If I lost you on the last song then I will lose you on this one. Atlanta, can I go deep?”
The crowd goes apeshit.
“Honestly, if it wasn’t for this song here, there would be no techno music.”
The crowd goes silent.
“There would not be half of the hip hop songs you hear.”
A pin can be heard dropping to the floor.
“Certainly, I wouldn’t be hear.”
Egyptian Lover’s “Egypt Egypt” the original electro/hip hop song plays.
What the? The crowd is completely lost in translation. Maybe 1980’s nostalgia is not their song and dance. Sadly, they fail to realize…..
“People have no manners.” A local DJ notes. Somewhere within the hour the drunks grow ever obnoxious. Too many drunks in a tiny confide guarantees disturbance of peace. The scene grows bedlam. Someone gets punched in the face. And someone is banned from the venue. Across the room a father dances with his twenty-six years of age daughter. “She’s a DJ,” the buzzed dad brags. “And she’s pretty good.” The daughter’s drunken boyfriend sadly stares in disbelief and tries to make since out of this mess. By the event’s end the daughter’s father ditches her and the boyfriend for the bar as she whips out and spins glow sticks.
“The vibe is different tonight.” The local DJ notes. “Till next time. Peace out.”
Bombastic blasts accompanying sonic sounds bumps and bruises the room.
“Turn around,” commands the giddy graphic designer wiping tears from her eyes. “He played Strings of Life!!!”
The tiny room is still pack with flesh. Sweat and sex play in the air. The DJ’s wife offers a round of drinks to dancers. There is an extra inch of dance space as the true dancers gobble it up like the hot commodity it is. Once again, deep house plays host before the night’s explosive Detroit Techno anthem, UR’s “Hi Tech Jazz” will send a person to the podiatrist with a plantar fasciitis. OUCH!!! That’s the power of house music. It can hurt you.
“Where’s the techno?” yells an out-of-towner. This too is the power of Detroit Techno, its sound is not boxed.
Carl Craig’s forward march into futurism proved a promising focal point. Even greater, his educating the audience was priceless. The chaos juxtaposed against the sound track deemed all too nauseous. Next go round, should the music shine solo in the spotlight with greater emphasis on dance space is a must for positive impact. After all, the event’s dilemma left no doubt as to the choice of music or genres played as the question posed, “What happens when you experience inspiring music that the body is unable to respond to?”
Words and Photography by AJ Dance
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS
Recently, having attended an event with an extraordinary DJ, a few patrons realized something was off kilter with this city’s house music market. So, a list of Ten Commandments was complied on how not to throw a party, how to behave at a party and how not to behave at a party and etc. Let us provide higher quality events and safer events for patrons to attend in the near future.
Commandment 01. Thou shall not bring a legendary DJ, who plays at sold-out festivals and stadiums around the world, to play at a restaurant shaped the size of a shoebox that accommodates a limited capacity.
Commandment 02. Thou shall not allow too many drunks to gather within a tiny space.
Commandment 03. If eighty-five percent of the crowd in attendance can not name one song by the world renowned DJ, thou shall not punish the fans that can.
Commandment 04. Thou shall not let a real dancer get elbowed in the forehead, knocked upside the back of the head, punched in the back several times, kicked in the ankle and pushed aside while some drunks falls to the ground.
Commandment 05. When the crowd is more prepared to fist pump than pop and lock, the party is in trouble. Thou shall not let this occur.
Commandment 06. Thou shall dance.
Commandment 07. Thou shall not disrespect the music. Music is sacred, a religious entity. RESPECT it.
Commandment 08. Thou shall not disrespect the dance space. It is hot real estate. RESPECT it.
Commandment 09. Thou shall not tell anyone your DAUGHTER is a DJ and she’s pretty good.
Commandment 10. The soul is something you cannot buy. You are born with it.
Thou shall not bring WPP to the club. Leave it at home.
Words and photography by AJ Dance
Load. Lock. Click. Boom. I’ve been shot by a South African DJ.
Coffee is a feel-good addictive substance. The early legend of Kaldi states, when the Ethiopian goatherd saw his goats eat coffee berries from a certain tree, the goats grew so spirited they were unable to sleep at night. Soon after, during the 15th century-coffee seeds, yes seeds not beans-traveled from the region of southern Arabia, North Africa, Middle East, Europe and then to the Americas. Along the journey coffee developed distinct flavors in certain regions of the world by the importers of the seed.
House music is a feel-good addictive anomaly. When discovered in America during the late 20th century by overseas music enthusiasts, house music’s sound was handpicked, cupped, roasted, ground, brewed, and filtered into a regional dialect they could call their own. Over time, the world would morph and shuffle the 4-to-the-floor sound to align with their regional tastes.
South Africa’s house music and Durham born Nkosimathi Maphumulo are the above examples. As South Africa’s popularity of deep/soulful house music has eclipsed its popularity stateside or perhaps worldwide at any particular time during house music’s lifespan; artist Nkosimathi music’s styling is deep, mildly bitter yet extremely rich with robust flavors. South Africa house music and Nkosimathi are addicting forces. Each possesses curious fascinations; where Nkosimathi claims soulful house music, the music that mainstream Black America refuses to acknowledge, as his own and the voice of his beloved South Africa; South Africa house music has become a disputable bond to all things Africa-some kind of noir roots that binds lost heritage of self-identity discovery through black music. The attraction lies somewhere between the two. Bottom line: The Diaspora of Africa soul has returned full circle to its indigenous people.
There is a line outdoors. An actual line! Native South Africans mingle with out-of-towners who mingle with local family, all are giddy with anticipation. Sixty degree temperatures marks spring’s arrival. Spring feels great. Spring laughs. Spring blows a mild breeze. How refreshing. In the line, various shades of brown agree.
When “Take Me To My Love,” another Ralf Gum hit featuring Monique Bingham on vocals greets guests, the event is sure to be rewarding. Tambor’s resident, DJ BE serves up the unreleased afro remix followed by an extreme outpouring of soul fro house that seems generous enough, if not superfluous.
The venue’s main and largest room is shell-shocked with activity. Afro house plays the soundtrack to a March Madness game playing on two monitors in the back of the room. Serious dancers occupy speakers. Several familiar faces, not seen in ages, occupy tables. Drinks and small plates are ordered. Staff scurries about the room waiting on tables and clearing empty glasses. Upstairs a private party packs the VIP area. Activity aside, this party is destined to put the capital T back into Tambor.
DJ Ed Dunn
Surprise!!! New York City’s famed producer/remixer/DJ Ed Dunn appears onstage wearing a black baseball cap and facial frown. Is playing at Tambor that bad?
At Tambor, South Africa is not the only movement rising but too the dance floor. B boys showoff tightly executed choreography of syncopated steps and triple spins. While B girls pop and lock in robotic staccato. The dance circle spells s-e-r-i-o-u-s.
Mouths drop. Digital recorders rise. Look onstage. All hail South Africa’s flag. Its diplomat arrives. Nkosinathi Maphumulo. AKA Black Coffee.
DJ Black Coffee opens with a compelling narrative of R’n’B. The sound most fit for urban radio than club ready. This is the material that stateside adult urban-contemporary radio should play intermingled next to R’n’B’s royalty. Romantic vocals conquer bleeding hearts. Slow-motion beats per minute. Global melodies of global dance. Detailed song writing-a craft amiss in most American house music- enough to warrant prestigious academy awards. An afro world filled with rapturous lyrics, percolating percussions that ooze soul in all matters. Perhaps the sound is difficult to digest for aged house purists. While newbies to the scene, short swallow the sing-alongs.
“Take Me To My Love” sings a jazzy a capella vocal until a soft percussion strikes. The commencement of beats begins. The Raw Artistic Soul Vocal Dub of the Ralf Gum track sets the mood for what is to come. Sampled drum loops, minimal instruments, dazzling dancing keys, warm strings and sporadic handclaps play in the atmosphere. Black Coffee wastes no time. He pounds the drums and drops the music with skilled precision. Monique Bingham’s vocals spin “On and on and on and on and on and on and on and on,” across the room, until she commands, “I want you to lead me.” This is what the crowd anticipates Black Coffee to do. But the cautious spectators ask, “Where to?”
“MOVE.” Black Coffee commands the audience on his latest import. Once again, where to? Moving or dancing proves difficult. Bodies are packed tight like addicts in line awaiting a caffeine fix. Apropos, Tambor has not seen these numbers of bodies in years. Regardless, Black Coffee featuring Soulstar is out to “Rock My World.” Sadly the song rocks nothing.
“Her Majesty/The Queen Is In The Booth/Come To The Dance Floor.” Poetress Busiswa Gqulu’s command actually works. Additional mini-shorts and stiletto spikes arrive to dance on the already packed floor. Voices scream. Arms fly in the air. A dub of South African’s premier female disc jockey, DJ Zhile’s “My Name Is” brings the house down.
The Art of Mixing
Black Coffee is dark roasted. He gives the people a taste of his original home brew. The flavor not found on street corners at specialty baristas or copy-cat retail chains. His brew goes deep. Dark. Robust. There are no floor fillers. No sugar. No cream. Black Coffee gives it raw.
The super DJ puts a fresh brew on his past; Zakes Bantwini a cappella conjures “JuJu,” Thiwe’s haunting ache sounds on “Crazy” and Bucie says, “Turn Me On.” Dark clouds give way to light. Dispair turns to hope. DJ Kent arrives. Just as vocalist Malehloka Hlalele sings the hook on, “Falling,” the music drops into a sleek sexy R’n’B slow burner that floors every mouth in the entire room. DJ Black Coffee leaves the radio sound behind for the art of mixing. Look out!
Black Coffee is on fire. And so is the room. The room’s heat index breaks scorching records. Feeling uncomfortable? Honestly. This is to be expected when two-hundred plus hot mochas are dancing and sweating.
DJ Kent turns DJ Superman. As the Princess of House, Bucie loudly proclaims “Superman.” The crowd approves with vocal praise.
Out of nowhere like a speeding bullet. Black Coffee surprises with Louie Vega & Jay “Sinister” Sealee’s golden, “Diamond Life,” starring Julie McKnight on vocal lead. The crowd sings. They can’t control themselves, neither can Black Coffee. Rhythm and blues a cappellas dialogue for one hook and one verse over sonic booms of tribal tech dialect. The mixing is just the way the audience prefers their coffee. Black. Hot. Strong. No froth. In the midst of the action Black Coffee uses his index finger to stop the music and strike a round button aglow on the disc player. He moves his index finger right to the mixer and then to his laptop where he drops EFX. The music starts again. The people dance. The music stops. Black Coffee nods his head to the tune of the sounding EFX. The music starts again. The people go mad. The music stops again. Black coffee nods his head to a lock and load gunshot EFX. Black Coffee, through the music, fires a gunshot at the audience. The music starts again. People fall over each other. Digital cameras and mobile devices record the entertainment. Mouths of DJs in the room are awestruck at the spectacle. All of Black Coffee’s mixing is executed with one arm and one hand. He can’t be contained. As if Coffee’s mixing brilliance could not enter the stratosphere of mixing genius, it does. Theatric horns sound. The tune the entire world recognizes sounds. People catch their breaths. Jack Son’s “Thrill Her” falls upon the crowd. South Africa’s Black Motion treatment releases the most excited fanaticism of the party. If weave and wigs fall off this would be the time. The room goes ape shit. Pandemonium is unleashed.
If a DJ playing the same song (different remix) twice in the night is not your cup of coffee. Too bad. Black Coffee delivers another fresh cup of DJ Zhile’s, “My Name Is,” this version contains Busiswa Gqulu’s vocals in full, spoken in both English and indigenous tongue Xhosa, also extracted from the SA collection of the song’s many recently released remixes. The song of the party goes to Ralf Gum’s “Take Me To My Love” that plays for the third time. An unreleased remix keeps the song fresh, piping hot and enjoyable. Throwing dance hall in the mix, Masters At Work featuring Puppah Nas-T’s “Work” gyrates hips as vocalist Denise commands the crowd to, “Go Down” which they do. The room’s temperature increases a notch. Someone might have to call the fire department to put the coffee pot out. Actually things cool off a bit with a remix to the late Whitney Houston’s “How Will I Know.” Uh oh. DJ Stan Zeff walks onstage. This signals the brew is about to exchange hands. However, Black Coffee is not ready to exit without another scorcher. This time MJ’s “Billie Jean” (Rocco Deep Mix) is on tap. The crowd goes crazy. They are too distracted to note…“Tambor. Give it up for the man Black Coffee.”
To ease everyone off their caffeine high, DJ Stan Zeff plays Black Coffee’s “We Are One” featuring South African trumpet great Hugh Masekela. The time reads 2 am. Family faces stream through the door arriving from an earlier concert. Stan Zeff is primed to serve them some brew. Tambor Music’s debut release “Set Me Free” (Stan Zeff Vocal Mix) by Mr. Funk Daddy featuring DJ Sue sweetens the crowd. Black Coffee’s music partner Culoe De Song shows off his remix to South African band, Goldfish with “Call Me.” At one point, a seafood chain’s LobsterFest commercial, playing on the room’s back monitors, proves more entertaining. Alas, DJ Stan Zeff being the professional he is places the focus back on the music with Kee Lo’s “Sad Soul.” The Baffa Jones’ Vocal Destruction Dub destroys the dance floor with sliced vocals bouncing against chopping chords over minimalist drums. The mighty O’Jays play closer with “Darlin’ Darlin’ Baby (Sweet, Tender, Love)” a 4-to-the floor number that rides into the moonlight.
DJ Black Coffee proved why he is addictive. In his native South Africa the beloved DJ/producer/songwriter packs out futbol stadiums. The same ethos is what Black Coffee brought to Tambor with numbers far less than thousands. The ability to supersede great expectations of hype and glory of DJ extraordinaire showed uncanny. These are the ingredients of a true DJ. No froth. All substance. Much like the Kaldi Legend, when you taste the potent brew of Black Coffee there is no sleeping tonight.
Words and Photography by AJ Dance
Pullman Soul Presents Humble Legends Kai Alce, DJ Kemit & Ron Pullaman
The Holy Trinity of The Atlanta House Scene! The Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit!-Everybody’s Favorite Photographer
“I drove into the parking lot.
I saw a neon church sign above the door.
I think. Oh, they changed the name of the club to the church just for tonight.
After all, people posted, “amen“ and “hallelujahs” online.
So I walked up to the church door.
I read Jesus saves.
Oops. Wrong place.
C’mon. What church has a neon sign?”
“We raise our hands in the sanctuary.” Not. Where’s the music? A chill greets the early visitors. Enter the foyer and be ushered down a dark hallway. The sanctuary sits still in complete silence. Only the voices of three fit and young bartenders, barely old enough to not be alter boys, decorate the sound sphere. Far away, shadows move about. They test the sound system. The time reads fifteen after six.
There stands a lengthy black painted rectangle bar. Above the impressive stacks of spirits hang two dazzling crystal chandeliers aglow in red. On the floor sits two massive stacks of speakers. Each is positioned at the corner of a theatrical veil that hides a stage. The room’s focal point, the dance floor awaits action in majestic splendor underneath a state of the art LED that performs an acrobatic light show. Adding to the ambience a machine spews vapor. In the fog, behind the dance floor sits another black bar underneath another crystal chandelier set a fire in orange next to the DJ area. The DJ booth that hovers six feet off the ground is spacious enough to accommodate any DJ and his/her disciples.
Adjacent the DJ booth a narrow corridor leads to the holy of holies. What is a church without a kitchen? And what is a church kitchen for without cooking? Anyone for a church dinner? Instead of fried chicken, mac n’ cheese wantons is on the menu. Just as fine. Both are fried in grease. Look up. There on the monitor. Whitney Houston delivers church through song and dance on a remixed house megamix.
The Holy Trinity
From the pulpit, Minister Of Sound Ron Pullman welcomes the growing congregation to his brainchild, Humbled Legends. The city’s debut celebration of its kind. Underneath a giant disco ball the sanctuary’s wooden dance floor embraces love ones. Brother Pride arrives. Sister Pickens is nearby. So are many others. The people partake in fellowship of perfect harmony. Minister of Sound Ron Pullman pays tribute. “Thank You,” sings BeBe Winans over a Masters At Work 12’ mix.
Minister Of Sound Kai Alce invites the growing congregation to worship. The massive speakers bestow “Pienso En Ti” into the atmosphere. Translation: Masters At Work’s “I Think Of You” declares the atmosphere righteous for divine purpose. The NDATL.com founder delivers “People Hold On” (New Jersey Jazz Remix) and “Walking’ (Remix). If Coldcut featuring Lisa Stansfield makes feet dance, then Mary Mary makes feet praise. Grab the tambourine, it’s church time!
While all three Ministers Of Sound are one in the spirit of house music, all three are so unique in their ministry of sound. Each brings a diverse element of energy that is united underneath the umbrella of soul. Where ministers Ron and Kai’s classic sets felt a tad tired, Minister Kemit appears spirit-filled, energized and ready to deliver a contemporary word.
“When Kemit plays the tempo of the room changes,” observes one sister. Indeed the room glows. Honestly Minister Of Sound Kemit glows. With his head tilted upwards and his arms stretched towards the heavens the music maestro is ready to preach. Once again, BeBe Winans shows up, this time with brother Pastor Marvin L. Winans and Stevie Wonder on Stevie’s cover “Jesus Children of America” (Big Moses Remix). Kenny Bobien testifies “I Shall Not Be Moved.” The Underground Ministries’ anthem moves hearts. Johnny Corporate’s, equipped with singing gospel vocals, “Sunday Shoutin’” makes hands clap and feet stomp. Born-again Terrance Parker takes the congregation on high with “Love’s Got Me High.” Elements of Life featuring Lisa Fischer and Cindy Mizelle let their little lights shine on “Into My Life (You Brought the Sunshine).” The night’s anointed shocker. “You’re The Lover Of My Heart/The Captain Of My Sea” sings Yolanda Adams on “Open My Heart” (Silk’s Spiritual Workout), her love letter to the Most High, over a bed of sliced disco. Folks these ain’t your granddad’s hymnals or your grandma’s church service.
Although, dotting the room, the many grey hairs and dun flops signal grandparent’s status. Perhaps the new face of geriatrics is the soulful house market. At one point more cellulite occupied black leather padded pews, uh-hmm couches, than bodies burning calories on the wooden floor. Maybe the people’s bunions hurt. Maybe their bodies tire. Hallelujah anyway, as Minister Of Sound Kai returns to the pulpit and plays “Church” (Sting International Remix) by Peven Everett. This time the sanctuary is jumping with bodies caught in the spirit of dance. One dancer cheerfully notes, “What an amazing turnout for a Sunday night!”
Perhaps Minister of Sound Kemit wholly sums up the celebratory atmosphere with one song. “Spread Love.” Track number thirteen on his heavy-accolade long player “,Everlasting,” speaks of congregating in peace, unity and most of all love. Listen closely as Kemit encourages people to live by example and lead out of the act and ability to spread love through music and dance. After all, “We Are Gathered Here In This Place” sings the song’s vocalist, Atlanta’s Sepensenahki.
Crossroads is defined by a road that crosses another road, or a road that runs transversely to main roads.*
“Please Stand By” reads the words painted on the wall. Around the corner, patrons sit at the bar, two pool tables entertain folk, “Pulp Fiction,” plays on several monitors, tired butts sit on couches, and a kid’s horsy ride sees no action. Over here hangs HD plasmas. Overhead hangs shiny disco balls. Over there hangs a speaker monitor from the ceiling. On the wall behind the DJ booth a graphic novel’s storyboard of love-scorn characters is painted, adjacent that wall freighting abstract heroines pose, as a painted naked anime girl blows a kiss from the DJ booth. The room with entirely too much activity, dance floor is completely empty.
A pillar of afro house blesses the lifeless floor. Where is everyone? Perhaps viewing the event’s live stream video in comfort on a laptop at home. The time reads eleven thirty. By the time the hour hand strokes midnight the crowd peaks to forty-something. A wandering eye questions is this as good as the attendance will get? Yes.
Techie synths, Latin percussions and sacred rhythms gather brave sojourners to join the dance ritual. This sacrament comes courtesy from the minister of sound DJ Ausar. Neither rare or common, the mouth covered DJ runs onto the floor, dances, and returns to the DJ booth to cue the next song. This is all a night of fun for the city’s Kalakuta radio show host. However, his night of fun is not without technical difficulties.
“Stop Jealousy,” by Boddhi Satva featuring Ze Pequino (Culoe De Song Kamnguni Remix), the final song in Ausar’s blessing, sets the place ablaze. That is, until the song lives up to the first word in its title and comes to an abrupt stop. Please, not again. Where Ausar drops the ball is where the night’s guest headliner from New York City picks up.
Sugar Groove’s guest DJ, producer and remixer extraordinaire always manages to bring the “WOW” to the event. Anyone for electric guitars that scream over afro house, acoustic guitars that pluck sweet goodness from melodic harmonies, pulsating bass lines that transform into staccato jabs of Latin percussions, a Hammond B-3 that takes the track to church and piano keys that play a dazzling sound spectacle worthy of the world’s tenth wonder? Then look no further than Louie “Lou” Gorbea. The man knows his music. He knows instruments. This is his crossroads of diverse sounds.
Whew. The music starts. Lou sheds his jacket, adorns his bald head with a Crossroads shroud much like the ceremony of a minister robing before delivering a sermon. Lou’s sermon starts with a fiery blast of energy, equivalent to a preacher’s heaven and hell brimstone tactics. Except, DJ X-Trio provides the brimstone. The “Africa” track pumps at 125 beats per minute leaving behind the previously afro house tracks at speeds of 120 BPMs. Wait one minute as dancing feet play catch up.
The minister of music delivers an uplifting message of vocals and soul-stirring music form the global unity anthem of Black Coffee featuring Hugh Masekela’s “We Are One,” to the Elements of Life featuring Josh Milan’s optimistic “Children of The World (Dub),” to the old-school gospel-esque Joe Smooth featuring Anthony Thomas’ “The Promised Land.”
Trouble brews. Just like a thief in the night, the enemy sends in a distraction. Here comes Jezebel. She is dressed in a black bustier and black knee high boots. She walks up to the DJ booth to deliver a message to the minister. “Turn down the bass.” Jezebel commands before turning around and walking into a chained cage where the distraction decides to put on a show. Epic fail. This is no burlesque. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
The bass plays “ a whomp, a whomp, a boom” and the music continues. Pop pusher Lana De Rey sounds innocent yet willing singing “Video Games” over an afro house treatment. One of the party’s surprise treats. Some dancers cheer; other dancers are distracted. The beguilement abounds; conversations, laughter, friendly pranks, actor Samuel L. Jackson’s horrible jheri curl wig, Jezebel gyrating in the chained cage and the hotties mounting white horses. The room becomes a circus. Sadly, the music becomes muddled, lost in translation. That is…..
Until DJ Swift’s, of Sugar Groove, laptop driven music set, surprisingly, places the focus back on the music. An on the fly remix of “golden voice” Akram Sedkaoui’s on Jerk House Connection’s “Each and Every Day (Life Goes On), with the bass, middles and highs from Maya Jane Cole’s “Simple Things” brought feet dancing back to the floor. Swift rewinds time playing not one but three Dennis Ferrer’s anthems from yesteryear; Joey Negro presents the Starburst Band’s “Journey to The Sun” (Dennis Ferrer Remix), “Church Lady” and “P 2 Da J.” NYC’s club Shelter knocks on Atlanta’s club Shelter door with Jill Scott’s “Rolling Hills” (Shelter Mix). The 1999 tribal banger, Men From The Nile’s “Watch Them Come” takes the dancers around the world to close the party.
The party had its share of challenges, some expected and others not so expected. Sadly, the venue kills the vibe. No wonder the attendance slacks. Sugar Groove must be at a crossroads. The question begs further growth away from the venue or a slow death at the venue.
Words and photography by AJ Dance
Kemi Bennings the artistic creator of Ministers of Sound the photography exhibit that showcases the role of DJ as minister, stopped by ajdancelegacy.com for a mini-view. Read the curator’s powerful responses in regards to this mind-altering exhibit.
MINISTERS OF SOUND
1. How did the concept of Ministers of Sound, spotlighting DJs as ministers, come about?
The concept for Ministers of Sound came as a result of my late father, Rev. Hardy S. Bennings, Jr., who was a minister and beloved community leader. My deep connection with my father catapulted the development of an art project that would also serve as my healing process through what I consider my ministry, the arts. I envisioned a community project that would move, touch and inspire others, pay tribute to my late father and salute a group of unsung heroes. The unsung heroes are DJs in the community that has impacted the lives of so many people for over a decade.
2. Do most DJs believe they serve a role when playing music? Or do they simply play music?
Not all DJ’s recognize themselves as “ministers of music.” Therefore, they choose to play music that wreaks havoc on the spirit. This in return causes chaos and destruction. Yet, even in that music the undertones, beats, and rhythms are sacred. I believe this sacredness should take precedence in the music a DJ chooses to play. Thus being responsible for how the music and lyrics are combined to send out a message.
3. Can you share one specific memory when a DJ took you to church using the vehicle of music?
A memory that took me to church is when I found house music. When I found house music, I found the “church” again. I feel that the overall sentiment of house music is spiritual and meant to inspire. There is very little, if any, house music I have encountered that is destructive.
4. How can a DJ impress its followers to serve his/her community?
I believe that first the DJ has to realize the power that he or she possesses and the importance of it as it relates to serving the community. Impress? That word could be a bit relative; I think it lies in the responsibility of the DJ to uplift and move the crowd in such a way that the music feeds the soul and inspires. Music possesses sacred powers. The DJ may serve up a tune that you didn’t consciously know that you needed, but as soon as the music dropped it affected your mind, body, and spirit in an overwhelmingly way, evoking an “unspeakable joy”.
5. Any plans to make this a traveling photography exhibit?
Travel plans? I feel that there are many possibilities because of the vital dialogue this exhibit creates. I’m truly being guided here and following the arrows. Honestly, at this moment, I only see February 24th.
Ministers of Sound, takes place at the Sound Table 483 Edgewood Avenue SE. Atlanta, GA on Sunday February 24, 2013 from 5 pm to 8 pm EST. The event is free to the public. For more information visit www.ministersofsound.com
Where is the Love?
The City That Abandoned Funky House
Bye bye. The city’s funky house music days are done. For a city that is too busy partying, it sure does know how to kill a scene. Namely, funky house music, the sub-genre of house music. For those that missed funky house music’s obituary and its home-going service in this city, please, read on.
Our beloved funky house music transitioned to the heavens. The music that once captured devoted hearts and lifelong fans in this city may be gone but its memories will never be forgotten.
Funky house music was the life of the party. However, its sound was no one-man show but a contemporary that was influenced by the unexpected. Its friends; boogie, disco, funk and R n B all contributed to its song. Vocals, television theme shows and rap lyrics performed its message. Funky’s love for electronic synthesizers, heavy samples and soulful bass lines defined its character and established its charisma.
Birthed on Chicago’s North Side during the decade of excess, funky house was one of house music’s many children-ghetto house, juke house and acid house-to birth during the cities electronica renaissance. The noughties secured funky house music’s global popularity thanks, in part, to the westward expansion of Chicago’s house music DJs and America’s rave culture. Funky hosue music continued its reign throughout the close of the twentieth century and into the early twenty-first century until it retreated into fragmented territories.
Funky house music lived; edgy, energetically, vibrantly and full of life. It paid no relevance to playing it safe or ever slowing down. Its heartbeat pumped at 125 to 130 beats per minute. Its pulse marched to the beat of its own drum loops of build-ups and breaks downs that resembled a kick-ass rollercoaster ride of drama. This rollercoaster ride of drama is what kept many of players out dancing all night and playing its song till the wee hours of the morning light. Much can be said for its demise however, one fact is certain, funky house music was loved. Its sound is survived by parent house music and siblings, soulful house, and deep house.
The funeral service schedule:
Cory Benoit & William Caldwell 9 pm
Silk Wolf 10 pm
Mike Zarin 11 pm
Charles Feelgood 12 am
Cory Benoit & William Caldwell 2am till close
The Funeral Service
Can you hear the music? When the single frame door with a putrid black paint job opened, an upbeat melody with pronounced four counts announced its presence. The merry melody escaped captivity. It blew outdoors where it froze in below freezing temperatures on the coldest night of the year of the snake.
Up the stairs, “Please Stand By,” pass the lovely money collector, “Hi!!!”, pass the ID checker, “Yes, I’m older than 21” and around the corner…..
Startled!?! The scene appeared to be a funeral that no one bothered to attend. What happened? Invites were distributed. Social media websites visibly promoted the event. Yet, the faces of family expected to show played ghost. The majority of the few faces, present, appeared frighteningly unfamiliar. Had funky house music a mistress with relatives no one knew? Damn funeral surprises. Not surprisingly, the few supporters in attendance were scattered across the room. Only a handful bothered to dance. A quick head count revealed only twenty bodies on the dance floor. Throughout the room, the empty pockets of space outnumbered the guests.
The stage was set. Literally. The sound system had moved from the catacomb in the room’s rear to center stage, in the front of the room, sitting in a coffin on a table. The change of set-up occurred to accommodate two 18 speaker bottoms and a fog machine. The fog machine sprayed the room as a faint whiff of carcinogens roamed by. Shining underneath one of the two disco balls, the position of the coffin proved noteworthy. Funky house music seemed to nod with approval. Additional space onstage meant greater crowd intimacy and allowed the crowd greater voyeurism.
DJ Mike Zarin, dressed in vintage 4Deep garb, rocked the casket of equipment energetically with a funky house tribute not heard from him since his early 4Deep days playing at Connect parties. How appropriate, Tranzlife’s “Heart Attack” played soundtrack to the grief- stricken fiasco. At least two supporters tried to make the best of the situation, responding with handclaps and out of this world dance moves.
The hour hand ticked ever so closer to midnight. The bug that buzzes with excitement dropped dead. Without hype and little fanfare, the event’s guest headliner appeared onstage wearing a suave black leather jacket that would later come off to reveal two sleeves of tribal tats. The man appeared armed and dangerous.
The guest DJ, from southern California, bio reads like a champion of funky proportions. The “Time To Get Ill” mixtape producer is responsible for putting funky house music on the map in the east coast cities of Baltimore and Washington D.C. alongside then partner DJ Scott Henry during house music’s heyday in the 1990’s. His production and remix credits include a who’s who list in the electronic dance world that spans decades and garnered hundreds of fans.
Currently, his name is Charles Feelgood, yet a few remembered when he was simply, “Feelgood.” To make the people feel good is what the maestro set out to do. For the two hours that followed, Charles Feelgood would deliver nothing short than a stellar musical eulogy to his soul buddy number one, funky house.
Enter the band Rufus & vocalist Chaka Kahn singing “Any Love” that partied over a bed of sliced disco house that ascended to heavenly heights. A few that recognized the classic showed love with vocal praise. Jamaroquai stopped by. The blue-eyed soul delivered the funk with “All Good In The Hood.” Bay area bred, Oakland, CA fed, DJ Mes provided disco-drenched beats that bumped and wobbled not only the subwoofers, but dancing feet. Rescue’s mega-hit, “Every Freakin’ Day,” that samples 1990’s R n B legends, Jodeci’s, “Every Freakin’ Night” proved too predictable during the tribute. Feelgood’s D.C. buddies, 95 North’s alias, Johnny Corporate stopped by. Their song “Sunday Shoutin,’” that samples Atlanta’s own Brick, “Living From The Mind,” put the church into the house. People shouted and danced. This spectacle would generate the most action the dance floor would see for the rest of the night. Stop! The four-on-the-floor gave way for a slower urban groove as guitar strings plucked over softer drums. The red carpet was rolled out and the velvet rope pulled back for reality television’s latest diva, Toni Braxton’s “You’re Makin Me High.” The 1995 Atlanta-brewed jam felt underappreciated and went unnoticed. The dance floor’s census dropped, twelve to five. Feelgood brought his hype men. A man, standing over six feet, stood onstage and played music director with animated arm thrusts leading the crowd to sing Stevie Wonder’s “Do I Do.” The 1982 scorcher, and the party’s “That’s my song,” played at high speeds, minus a house beat, with the song’s original drums and percussions left intact. Certain segments of the song were looped for dramatic effects. The re-edits only miss, Dizzy Gillespie’s arousing trumpet solo. Again disco, George Benson’s “Give Me The Night” (Instrumental), constructed the groove to funky house beats. Orchestra strings and blaring trumpets dotted the landscape of funky house’s grandmother the late, disco. Fragmented vocals sliced in syncopated sound bites created a heated disco chant. Basically, Diana Ross’ vocals sung “Burnin” over and over and over again. Next Feelgood dropped the music to allow the vocals to play. This is a DJ’s non-verbal cue for the audience to sing along. The late Whitney Houston sung. “I Wanna Dance With Somebody/With Somebody Who Loves Me.” The dispersing crowd showed no love. More or less they seemed clueless. The late icon, MJ’s chops were chopped on “Rock With You.” The song was a floor burner equipped with hard core analog thumps that played proud and loud but Mike’s vocals abruptly disappeared without any reason. Teddy Pendergrass “Get Up, Get Down” uplifted the party. The late legend sang, “Do You Want To Party?”
Over walked a drunken female. “C’mon dance,” she slurred. By the end of Feelgood’s set her ass would smack the wooden dance floor. Oops. Yes, everyone would see it. And sorry, no one would care to help her up.
By two am, the handful of scattered few danced around like there was no problem or care in the world. Actually, everyone felt good and drunk. One person took being intoxicated too far; a woman dressed in a black blouse with black lace trimmings and blue denim had her head smashed down on the table asleep. Sign of the times: funky house music was dead, at least in this city.
Somewhere in the arms of time, the motto: for the love of funky house music, died. As one pallbearer stated, “We tried.” In the city too busy complaining, “Where is the funky house music and I feel like some funky house music tonight,” all one can do is to try. Sadly, in the end trying was not enough. The music sub-genre that once carried, through life’s joys and pains, on its back a family of loved supporters, dancers and DJs bothered not to show face or support. Guess they bothered not to read the writing on the wall.
Words and photography by AJ Dance
There are a lot of people here! (pause) Not dancing.
Seven years earlier a gift enriched this magnificent metropolis. At a time when many soulful/deep house music gatherings danced on the edge of extinction one man stepped out from the ashes to heed the call. His name Ramon, his moniker Rawsoul, his vision The Gathering, hit the city’s underground soulful house community with a much-needed punch. Naysayers and haters were wary; the dedication to helm a party, in the city too busy partying to even care, was no small feat. The Gathering weathered storms. Gone its former abodes; the warehouse, a studio, a coffee shop, and a restaurant’s basement all traded for the cozy confides of a restaurant’s Space2. Successfully, since conception the party has hosted a wide spectrum of DJs plus cultivated a family atmosphere of house music lovers. Over the course of time, one essential element remains intact, The Gathering is love.
Nestled within the walls of Space2, at The Gathering’s seven year bash, the love in the air spells w-e-l-c-o-m-e. Warmth radiates from family faces collecting dollars at the door. However, out of concern, a word of encouragement is uttered. A further walk into the venue unfolds a curious manifest.
Their accents speak louder than words. His southern drawl from Music City USA and hers the thick throat finesse from France. Furry vests paired with ties dot the room. A bare mid-drift walks by. Despite the outdoor’s temperature reading thirty-six degrees, indoors the temperature hovers at seventy-five degrees. Heat blasts on those gathered. One kid dances in between and out of the dense throngs of hot flesh. His drunken behavior is such that he bursts several party balloons-that decorate the premises-for what must be some form of amusement. Bartender, no more PBR’s for this fella. Despite the shenanigans the party is at a standstill-much like bumper-to-bumper traffic on 285.
However, there is no stalled hooptie or no twenty car pile-up. Just a bunch of bodies parked on the dance floor. In semi-circle fashion, like at a drive-in theater except “Everyone’s Favorite Photographer” John Croom’s visuals from the Gathering’s past seven years provides the entertainment.
Piano keys play staccato style that run amuck, orchestrated strings twirl to climatic heights, as a warm melody approaches. Anyone for Lil’ Louis,’ “Fable?” (Denise). No one answers. No one moves. Hometown hero Kai Alce tirelessly works the musical dashboard to deaf ears. Eyes of every shade of hue stare expressionless, as if hypnotized, at the slideshow splattered on the unfinished plastered wall. Folks this ain’t no Peven Everett concert. Next, the NDATL headphone wearer tries to make the audience feel “special.” Fail. All eyes continue their obsessive loyalty to the wall of holes. Must be the crowd is stuck in neutral. Kai slams the brakes, jams the musical gear shift into reverse, and heads into classic house territory. No one cares. The dumbfounded stares continue. The slideshow repeats for the umpteenth time. C’mon. Really?.? Can the Scottish duo the Nightcrawlers’ “Push The Feeling On” (MK Club Mix) save the party? Perhaps. Slowly, a handful of feet shuffle. The zombie like trance might wear off. Maybe signs of life on the floor will show. Season soul sensation Donnie’s “Olmec Save Us” (Yoruba Soul) into the mix and bam!!! The party is off to a late start.
After midnight, DJ turned Chef Sir Thomas honors The Gathering with a vanilla icing chocolate cake.
“Happy Anniversary To You, Happy Anniversary To You, Happy Anniversary To The Gathering, Happy Anniversary To You.” The crowd should sing. But they don’t.
Suddenly a figure wearing a checkered cap, dressed in a blue tee, and blue denim appears onstage. The crowd grows silent and rushes to the front of the DJ stage. The figure alongside Ramon Rawsoul and Kai Alce inspects the DJ equipment. Two Pioneer CD players. Check. One Technics 1200 turntable. Check. A state-of-the-art mixer. Check. The figure’s hand steadily plugs a USB into the left Pioneer’s port. This action confirms all systems ago. The dashboard’s control panel comes to life. The time is nigh.
The figure needs no introduction. He’s the DJ’s DJ. West Coast house music pioneer, Marques Wyatt dubbed him “the brutha from another mutha.” The DJ/producer/remixer is constantly name checked on linear notes. He is a NYC night-life legend. He is Master Kev.
The speed limit reads 125 BPMs. Pistons hum. The party’s throttle kicks into high gear. Monotonous chords that wallop against 808s come to a screeching halt. An understated drum kick starts. Vocals whisper “Piano In The Dark.” This is Nick Curly’s haunting groove remixed by the Yoruba Soul purists. Oddly, DJ Master Kev plays the opening number at safe speeds of 120 BPMs. Shifting into 3rd gear, Jill Scott’s “Crown Royal” (Timmy Regisford & Quentin Harris) heavy bass line blasts onto the soundscape. Surprise! Don’t expect to sing “Crown Royal on Ice.” This is the instrumental. One dancer yells, “More vocals. More vocals.” Her wish is Master Kev’s command. Instead of Jilly from Philly singing, her contemporary, the late Luther Vandross sings one of his classics over the T&Q treatment. It’s a two-for-one creation, the mashups, that DJ Master Kev is widely known to unleash and wreck havoc on crowds. Vocals courtesy of Honeycomb’s Josh Milan produced by Japanese house head Namy’s “From Now On” rides over a dirty house beat that pumps at higher speeds. The premier of hometown wunderkind Salah Ananse with newcomer Paul Vincent on vocals “Toxic” (Salah Ananse Afrique Electrique Dub) shifts the room into a feverish fit not registered prior that night. The dancers summon the ancestors as they writhe on the floor. Homage to producers in the house continues with DJ Roland Clark’s spoken words on DJ Le Roi’s “I Get Deep,” that stutters with tremolos and splits the room in two like a diced atom. Music from South Africa’s Ralf Gum and Monique Bingham’s “Take Me to My Love” drops and explodes. Ms. Biggah Bingham’s vocals are whipped into a dizzying swirl that has the dancers dance on and on and on and on but they never catch up. Perhaps, Master Kev tries too hard with Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams.” The DJ drops the music to let Stevie Nicks and the crowd sing: “Thunder Happens Only When It’s Raining.” Only, no one sings along. The classic plays way too long and never catches on. Oh well, maybe next time. Rufus and Chaka Kahn show up in the mix with “Any Love” over techie vrooms. Master Kev saves the best for last with folk guitars strumming underneath African vocals sung in native tongue.
Already the digital clock reads 2:30 pm. The Gathering’s founder, Ramon Rawsoul, appears onstage ready to control the vessel’s music. Master Kev appears relentless to surrender. Indeed MK does slay the room with some vocal/folk funk that is rare in these parts. Appropriately, Ramon Rawsoul is the man of honor who best serves to close out his party. So, the sweater & tie DJ takes the rein, adds a 4/4 count, and increases the BPMs. He drives the music to Africa where handclaps and afro-chants dance with subtle tech. South Africa’s Zakes Bantwini’s “Wasting My Time” (Rocco Dance Floor Mix) wastes no time slaying the dancers left on the floor. The song’s razor-sharp synths crescendo to spill blood on the dance floor. Music worlds collide on Usher’s “Climax” remixed by Jo’burg’s G’Sparks Spilulu. The late Nkemdilin “Kemdi” Amadiume sings on Handcrafted Soul’s “I’m Still A Dancer” to the handful of dancers left on the dance floor. Sadly, the show must end before Byron Moore completes “Life Starts Today.” Three am arrives; its closing time.
Great times were had with Master Kev as camera’s flashed and gratitude was exchanged. The Gathering was a phenomenal success. Well attended and well executed. The experience ranked up there on the party’s top five. Hopefully, next time, there is more dance space and less obstructions. DJ K Mixx’s (welcome back) subwoofers sat in a funky space, right front and center the DJ booth, not allowing those that prefer to worship at the alter to do so. Also, here is to smoother concrete with no craters. The dance floor had more potholes than a downtown street after a harsh winter. Attorney Ken Nugent would say, “One fall, that’s all.”
In the words of Ramon Rawsoul, “Other parties are like mega churches everyone goes there. But The Gathering is like the small church you grew up in. It’s family.” The Gathering is that and more. The place you call home. The place you go back to when you need the real deal. The place you go to feel the love.
Cheers to The Gathering’s next seven years.
Words and photography by AJ Dance
ADULT SKATE: THE TRADITION EDITION
The debauchery eludes no evidence of a slain civil right’s leader holiday celebration on the eve of an historic Fifty-Seventh Presidential Inauguration. Yet it is. Olympic occasions such as these might call to mind dutiful citizens bound in prayer, reflection and sobriety. Not so-in the city too busy to hate. For the past few years, once a year, one party does it right. Adult Skate- the spot where you find bodies fully clothed in dance of the finest soul and not where nudes frolic on eights. The Tradition Edition provides Soulantans with clarity. A rhyme for the reason. The right to party. After all, this is the city too busy partying during a three day holiday weekend to even care.
Follow the wall of painted marching feet and a pair of roller skates down into the belly of the beast. There you might discover unexpected impressions. The once shady hole-in-the-wall has undergone a sub-level gloss. Artistic interpretations-seemingly too innocent for the underground-align murals painted in primary bold and subdued hues. Painted lines of symmetry play escort. The walls speak. Their message instructs each person’s activity. Look no further than the wall adjacent the stage painted of dancing silhouettes for explanation. Eye the painted dancers to the painted symmetric boxes to find the DJ headquarters. The king-size DJ booth can handle a god-complex DJ and his twenty plus entourage’s exclusive roped-off experience. Remember the former DJ booth propped high above the flying saucer dance floor, against a wall, by a step ladder with no roaming space and very little to if any breathing space? The sober challenged provided many of laughs trying to enter the minuscule infirmity. If only the black poll in the center of the dance space were removed then the space would enter into the echelons of upscale. Even the bathrooms are polished a luster shine of their former shade. Hopefully gone are the apocalyptic size cockroaches that crawled atop the old sofas exchanged for pest-free plush. Although the Modern Jazz Quartet Concourse may look remixed it has not lost its license to dance.
The belly of the beast bops and bumps. Bellows of boisterous bass lines signal all nations to groove. They get down-the house nation, the soul nation, the disco nation, the b-boy nation, the rock nation, the funk nation, the hip-hop nation, the indie music nation, the rhythm nation-a vast network interweaving and intermingling as one.
DJ Kemit, in mid groove, spins vinyl on the one’s and two’s. Yes, that is two turntables and a Bozak mixer. Actually this is a 90% acetate party. Records will skip. Grooves will be scratched. The crisp sound of vinyl will chirp. This is organic and not archaic sound reproduction.
Producer Ralf Gum shakes maracas. Vocalist Monique Bingham sings “Take Me To My Love.” The dancers go on and on and on and on and on and on as they try to catch up to 125 BPMs. Enter Osunlade’s “Envision” (Yoruba Soul Mix) who guests on the DJ of the hour’s “Transform” for conscious clarity. Cue Kenny Bobien to take the hand clappers to church with a classic Frankie Feliciano Ricanstruction rendition. Feet dance. Fingers snap. Hips sway. Smiles overtake faces. Voices sing “Father.”
Cullen Cole the chef of music culinary delights. Nineteen-ninety’s house music is the menu. Cullen serves that signature house sound with a kick and a spicy side of bang. This concoction is not for the faint, those that play down the beat in their house sets, but for those that take the BPMs up a notch. Cullen’s house music tastes better served hard than soft. Adult Skate’s guests gather and feast on such delicate soul. Oh my do they ever gobble up the tasty treats as wine glasses over flowing with golden bubbles are thrown in the air for a toast. Cheers to underground house music! It’s a bombastic feast of oral audio. Cullen mixes; a Rhode organ for salt, saxophones for sweetness, and electric synthesizers for acidity, house music’s flavor combination. Not everyone can digest such delicacies. Something erupts. A foul odor chokes the air. Is it bad gas? Or someone serving hash for desert? Whatever the culprit. Mouths hack. Neck scarves become oxygen masks.
Suddenly, the needle on the record skips. Someone forgot to clean off the vinyl? The dancers miss a beat. The music jumps counts. The dancers are thrown off. Jaws drop. The question-What would a DJ do?-hangs in the balance. Hard-pressed visages confront unbelief. A wreck will occur if something does not yield. DJ Cullen stays the course like a blond-hair blue-eye Messiah. He does not allow any casualties. He eyes his flock. He counts his sheep. He rides out the storm and speaks, peace be still. Dark clouds roll back. The sun shines again. The music continues its mission without distraction. The dancers continue their dance. All is well. Listen closely. The room breathes a sigh of relief.
Kai Alce goes in deep. The local legend’s musical statement sounds off focus and more sporadic at intervals. Orchestrated strings climax to a dizzying high. Questions swirl around the room, “Is it time for disco? One answers in grief, “If so, it’s time to leave.”
Actually, the NDATL label head keeps it Strictly Rhythm with Hardrive’s “Deep Inside.” The intro sounds of warm pads, minus drums. Sixty seconds later, the kick drum kicks at 124 BPMs. Pearly whites flash. All are happy. The mismatch of songs and beats continues. Such happenings keep the crowd frantic but on their feet and guessing. What’s next? Donnie’s “Olmec Save Us.” (Yoruba Soul Mix) Yes! Black Rascals featuring Cassio Ware, “So In Love” (Shelter Remix)? Yes! As time approaches 3 am, Kai Alce pulls out the freedom season’s anthems, Kemitic Just’s, “I Got Life” with Terrance Downs on vocals and the ladies anthem “Earth Is The Place” (Restless Soul Peaktime Mix) by Nathan Haines featuring Verna Francis. Too bad the room is nearly empty of souls that have evaporated into January’s cold night’s air.
This tradition edition felt far removed from a MLK celebration. Had it not been for DJ Kemit sprinkling into Cullen’s cuisine-let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia-those gathered might have forgotten what this occasion marked. Other ingredients amiss were classic soul, disco and afro-beat. House music out shined them all. If you were not a fan then you were chopped. True fans, actually, left the party high.
Perhaps, Dr. King might not have endorsed this debacle of behavior. As one darling eloquently commented, “That didn’t stop her from lighting a BIG one.” SHM. It’s just another night in the city too busy partying to even care.
Words and photography by AJ Dance
A sports fanatic dream is when salty snacks, fiery hot wings and cold brews-that makes guts proudly flop over waistlines-are cast in pretentious hierarchical displays in every supermarket grocery store. These are the flatulence, oops, festivities leading up to the big game. The super of all bowls. The daddy of all daddies. The well…one gets the ruckus that captures the world’s short attention span and limited IQ every February. Hey look. Even, Tambor joins in on the action.
Tambor’s 2013 season is set to kick-off with a big bang of athletic proportions. The stage is set. Ready. Go. The playing field’s turf is polished smooth. Ready for the throngs of dancing feet to run, tackle and crush rhythmic grooves. The LED Pro performs laser light theatrics worthy of a celebrity wardrobe-malfunction half-time exposure. The sub woofers so bombastic could host a bowl game.
It’s game time. The players are onstage. The starting lineup….
DJ BE #2 Center
DJ BE wins the coin toss. He plays first. Jersey number two kicks off the music into the playing field. No one catches it. So the center drives the music hard up fifty yards on first down. Tambor secures home field advantage. The hype builds. Only the stadium is completely empty. Hush. The silence is deafening.
Tambor’s season opener is off to a slow start-a very slow start. The first and second downs appear as stop and go, slow-motion resolutions. Slowly souls trickle into the stadium. It’s early in the game. There is no need to sweat bullets-yet. Back to the action.
The offensive lineman works hard. He travels four yards deep to the twenty-five yard line. First down-and-ten. He assumes eye formation. Thirty….Thirty-five….Forty. It’s fifteen yards on the first down. The number two jersey works Arnaud D featuring Heidi Vogel’s “Green & Yellow” into the mix. There are eight dancers in the box. Will he gain more? He turns sharp and makes a rough transition. He drives the music into harder territory, increasing the beats per minute with pulsating thumps, but is tackled at thirty yards. Man, this crowd is tough.
[And now a word from our sponsor. The first quarter was bought to you by Bozak.]
Tambor’s season ticket holders arrive. Some dance. Others stand on the sidelines. Some sway from side to side. Others converse.
On field, team Tambor appears disjointed. The players opt to wear various primary hue Tambor tees instead of sporting their unified manly blue Tambor jerseys. Talk about confusing.
Pre-midnight, DJ BE leaves the game and is replaced by…
Jose Marquez Guest Headliner Halfback
Jose Marques arrives in the stadium with playbook in hand (CD holders) and is pumped to score touchdowns. The halfback’s adrenaline pulsates at full-throttle. A bead of sweat sacks his forehead. He is all testosterone. The runner segues into a boisterous consumption of deepness. Followed by, African drums bum rushing from the sound system and onto the playing field to work a snap. The drums transform the game. Jose runs a punt. The music goes deeper and deeper into the trenches of the field.
Yes! Team Tambor hosts the debut performance of southern California’s, Jose Marquez. The rookie sensation is no stranger to athletic competitions, having three solid years of playing experience, he has performed around the globe at notable events as Djoon (Paris) and Miami (WMC). The headliner sports a black Kazukuta Recordings tee and blue denim that stands out amongst his teammates. All eyes and ears are tuned to the player, determining his next move. What will he play? Where shall he take the music? Will he score?
First Down. Second and ten. Jose gives eye formation. He runs the music to the seventeen yard line. The music fumbles. Jose continues to play hard. Afro house treads into progressive deep house. It’s another fumble. Fumble after fumble fails to win over the crowd. But Jose uses no time-outs. The crowd responds defensively. It’s the first-and-ten. The music goes out of bounds. It falls on deaf ears. Feet stop dancing. The dancers cut the field. Somehow they seem let down. Conventional wisdom tells the sports minded when the fans disappear trouble is a strategizing. The referee calls…
“INTERCEPTION.” (The music turns over.)
DJ Stanzeff #1 Quarterback
Wait one minute. Sounds like a bootleg, but it’s not. It’s Elements of Life featuring Josh Milan’s “Children of The World!” There is play action at 124 beats per minute in F minor. Eye formation looks to the left and then right. The QB, DJ Stanzeff, knows the game is in trouble. So the team leader brings pressure up the middle. There is tight coverage on every side. It’s a twenty-nine yard punt. Wait another minute! What a hit! DJ Stanzeff breaks free at the forty yard line. Jersey number one is in the zone!!! “That guy just dropped a load of bass.” Zone coverage is deep with beats. This is a COMEBACK! The game is saved. Nice job on execution.
The dance floor sees the most action of the night thus far. The dancers are back in the game. They frolic at full force.
Team Tambor runs the play. Yes, Tambor “goes for it.” DJ Stanzeff steps up on the line of scrimmage and makes the play! The dancers scream. It’s a first down. Twenty…Twenty-five…Thirty…Thirty-five…Forty!!! The music sweeps up the south side. First down-and-ten. Play action. Snap. Spot. It’s a throw. DJ Stanzeff catches it! TOUCHDOWN!!! Kem featuring Chrisette Michelle’s “If Its Love” (Frankie Estavez Fusion Club Thumpin Remix) nails the coffin shut!!! The referee confirms. The dancers go mad displaying acrobatic stunts. There are handstands in crop circles, speaker whores kicking a foot to the speaker, and bodies rolling around on the floor in sweeping motions. This is the game’s money shot.
Stanzeff continues with another bootleg this time from Jill Scott. There’s a yard to the twenty-one. Could this be red zone play? Stanzeff is given a thirty yard try. Unfortunately, there is no score. The quarterback continues the momentum moving into afro beat territory. The beats per minute increase to 126 with The Muthafunkaz,“Oh I (Miss You)” the Atjazz Love Soul Mix that runs out of steam at the thirty yard line. The D major song couldn’t quite make it to the red zone.
[And now a word from our sponsor: Fusicology.]
It’s the fourth down. What will Team Tambor do next? They have two options. Team lead Stanzeff makes a split decision. Jose Marquez is back in the game on the line of scrimmage. Jose comes back strong-perhaps with a bit of vengeance. Jose kicks a field goal playing Floetry’s “I Want You” (Osunlade Remix). For the first time, the crowd responds with vocal praise.
Two downs later the music is turned back over to Stanzeff who resumes play mode with Japanese producer Namy’s “From Now On” with Josh Milan on vocals. The crowd plays ballet and keeps two feet on the field. Then there is the repeat play of Arnaud D featuring Heidi Vogel “Green & Yellow.” The vibe ebbs. The remainder of the game is quiet, if uneventful.
What a tough game for team Tambor and guest. Jose Marquez seemed unable to make the cut. The southern Californian failed to make one touchdown to win over the crowd. Game stats reveal Jose received little playtime. Perhaps, had the halfback secured additional play time, he might have won over tough critics. Here is to hoping, next time, team Tambor fans will show up in droves, won’t railbird, but join in the festivities with unbridled fanaticism.
Back in the rear corner of the arena, the air feels lonely. In the funk of left-over hazy oxidations, a shadow is made out of the blue. There stands the game’s would be hero texting. Hopefully the message is of better news.
Words and photography by AJ Dance