Posts Tagged ‘Atlanta’

LEGENDS OF HOUSE 1: KEVIN SAUNDERSON 15.11.14

November 17, 2014

Legends of House Techno meets acid house

Legends of House

Legend 1: Kevin Saunderson

 23:30

 “You can’t smoke cigarettes in here.”

“Yes you can.”

“But I really thought you couldn’t…..”

“Yep.  You really can.”

“C’mon you are killing me.”

“Actually, you’re thinking of the “drum” crowd that doesn’t smoke when they dance here.” 

 24:00

“Made In Detroit” tees, plaid shirts and black-rimmed specs canvas the room.  College students fist pump adjacent parents: sparse faces of ecru and olive dot among vast pallid visages.  Behind a black column, a bearded hipster sets his glass of liquor on the floor.  Underneath the smoky haze and pulsating strobe lights that leaves the floor green, a sea of pearly white pupils stare at a stage.  Missing are electric guitars, live drums kits, synths and a hairy mop with plucked lips screaming into a microphone.  Instead two CD players, a mixer and equalizer are the instruments of choice.  Behind the arsenal stands a figure-tall, dark, and dressed in black.  He is who everyone in attendance is ready to experience. 

A four-on-the-floor thumps at full volume before disappearing into the dark.  Warm pads springs to life.  Like the prodigal son, classic house comes leaping home.  Many appear, by the lack of fist pumps, to be vaguely familiar.  Only the dancing is fully engaged.  Time travels back to baggy pants and PLURs: the bygone years of Generation X’s rave soundtrack.  If classic chords beckon feet to move, warm vocals commands mouths to sing,  “Your Love.”  Mouths mimic lyrics, as to say, if memory serves correctly, I used to know every word to this track.  The legendary DJ opens his musical mantra with his back catalog that proves he shines with the great.    

Lest you are unfamiliar and fail to understand the significance, let us dust off the pages of techno music’s biography.   Kevin Saunderson was born, and up to age 9 bred in Brooklyn, NY.  His family then traded sights of the Brooklyn Bridge for the Ambassador Bridge having moved west, Midwest, to suburbia Detroit.  Kevin’s high school years proved pivotal as he connected with music enthusiasts Juan Atkins and Derek May without knowing they would soon craft the blueprint for an underground movement.  After a short stint as a college football player, Kevin departed sports to pursue his love music.  Thus, he became an in-demand DJ who traveled the world.  The label imprint KMS-Kevin Maurice Saunderson-established him as a burgeoning music producer of a distinguished electronic camp.  It was his group, Inner City that created a cult following with vocal techno “Big Fun” and “Good Life” fame. Fast forward to present day, Kevin Saunderson is revered as one of the founding fathers, pioneers and pillars of techno music. 

Kiddie-corner the room the bald DJ stands hunched over shiny hardware.  His black tee brushes against knobs and faders.  His fingers flip CDs, press buttons, and slides switches in a single take. The maestro preps to deliver his best scenario: a repertoire of genre-defining sounds. Deep house sojourns on The Journeymen’s “Close to Me”, deep tech on Culoe De Song’s “Y.O.U.D.,” vocal house croons, “I Need You” that stirs the crowd to realize they need Kevin Saunderson just as much, Andrez “Based On A True Story” (Dub Mix) stomps across the cement floor, “Chicago” that Northside funky house sound causes bodies to writhe in jackin’ jolts, “Detroit,” Kevin’s hood, as in Detroit Techno plays at 135 BPMs and higher as Ovenous & Atjazz’s “Soldiers” speaks over marching drums.  Kevin takes a step back.  He beams a blinding smile.  He is having too much fun.  His stacked frame sways from left to right to his mental metronome.  Suddenly the sounds of recognizable synths sweep the soundscape.  It’s the song that made Kevin and Inner City household names “Good Life,” (Techno Mix) a worthy dose of tech-soul that closes out the set.

Scores of hands ripple the air as a body triple spins and jump upwards.  Not one soul is musically immune to bouts of satisfaction.  This is the music that beckons discerning electronic music lovers journey from Florida and Tennessee.  Local neo-technoites and EDM enthusiasts were schooled on the humble beginnings of a global massive front.  The fifty-years young DJ educated the crowd.  In return he receives a heartfelt dancing ovation with thundering handclaps. 

Meanwhile the drink that the bearded hipster previously set on the ground falls sideways on the cement.  Pieces of sharp glass swim everywhere.  Aw great, a sticky dance floor.  Damn, no one thought to bring the baby powder.

Check out Legend of House 2: DJ Pierre

Words by AJ Dance

Legends of House 2: DJ PIERRE 15.11.14

November 16, 2014

Legends of House Techno meets acid house

Legends of House

Legend 2: DJ Pierre

 02:00

A hefty bear hug is exchanged between the two music buddies.  The DJ transition goes smooth and so much unannounced.  Onstage stands a full-haired man working the musical hardware. He appears far younger than his age.  A closer inspection reveals fine wrinkles that spread like branches of life from his eyes.  He has charm, a jovial wit that radiates as bright as his smile.  House legend number two takes aim.  He appears ready to please.

Heavy-charged techno thumps are exchanged for hissing snares of sexy house meant to inspire more lounging than fist pumping.  Five-minutes later, sensuality is shattered by divas wailing boldly over bouncing keys.  The instantly recognizable Todd Terry featuring Jocelyn Brown and Martha Walsh’s classic makes mouths sing “Keep On Jumpin’.”  As the hook plays the bottoms drop and the big room sound floods the dance floor.  Never has the crowd heard the song played with emphasis.  The classics continue on Meli’sa Morgan’s “Still In Love With You” (MAW Mix) that brings out house dancers not previously noticed during the party.  With one armed out stretched and the other arm folded behind her head, she vogues as her dance partner squat walks around her.

Four months earlier, a defining shift occurred in the city’s underground party scene.  A global-acclaimed DJ debuted his Phutur3 party, named after his late 1980’s Phuture guise.  The monthly series set to showcase local and global DJ talent.  The party proved an underground alternative to the god-complex DJ that rules mainstream nightlife culture, and has since drawn a steady stream of growing faithful supporters of the afro-acid movement.

For those familiar with acid house, DJ Pierre springs to mind.  After all, he is considered one of the patriarchs of acid house.  Pierre’s origin began in the Windy City where as a young child his attention shifted from repairing electronics to studying music.  During the mid 1980’s, when Chicago had as many house/techno DJs as churches on street corners, Pierre followed suit and became a fixture playing warehouse parties. From there he tried his luck at producing and remixing songs.  His luck paid off on the critically acclaimed “Acid Tracks” that led him to working at Strictly Rhythm records in NYC for fifteen years before relocating to the dirty south for family matters.

“Look at the stage.”  Another former Chicago DJ points out.  A vast array of rumps shakes and swings onstage.  Smartphones capture selfies as smiles shine for group photos.  “Hate to burst their bubble but this ain’t no Boiler Room broadcast.”

 DJ Pierre continues to put the P-in-the-air.  If house music ever had a subgenre called P-Funk DJ Pierre would be god.  “Never, Never, Never………” squeals a high-pitched soprano at the top of her lungs.  The man-of-the-hour warps the vocals and grinds out a gospel dub of Floorplan AKA Robert Hood’s “Never Grow Old, that takes the dancers to chucccch.  Hoots and hollers spew from the mouths of babes.  Cue Robert Owen’s “I’ll Be Your Friend” that gets grimy.  Eddie Amador’s “House Music” receives a down and dirty remix that drops knees to the floor.  The legendary producer/remixer is not done yet.  He pulls out the big guns on “Big Fun” from the party’s predecessor Kevin Saunderson.  The sounds of programmable drums, Roland TR-808’s, hover over the crowd like buzzing helicopters.  Spitfire splatters of drums rapidly assault the dancers like military soldiers spraying tear gas at Ferguson protestors.  “Acid…Breathe In, Breathe In” a lowly voice whispers into ears of dancers dripping beads of sweat. Perspiration becomes an accessory that drapes the neck and chest.   As the music intensifies so does the room’s thermostat. “Time for an adult beverage,” notes one drenched dancer.  Only the bar can keep frantic pace with the music.  As Pierre drops hit after hit, bartenders pour drink after drink.  Ringing cash registers sounds like extra instrumentation to the beat.  The music goes edgy and darker with slashing synths and beefed-up BPMs.  Hardcore acid.   Neo-techno/EDM heads be schooled at how the 20th century paged today’s Electro and said, “Give me back my beats.”  Yesterday’s originators inspire today’s generators as evidence on Osunlade’s “Idiosyncracy,” with its techy undertones and robotic overtones.  Whopping guitar riffs and orchestrated strings swirl over a looped four-on-the-floor that pronounce disco house’s revenge.  Paying homage to his beloved hometown roots, DJ Pierre closes the party.  The time reads 3:30 am.

 “Whew, what a night.  I reek of smoke.”

“Me too.”

“The smell is all over my clothes.  Not to mention trapped in my hair.”

“I hear ya.  Although, I must admit, this event was worth every cigarette smoked.”

Words by AJ Dance

JAMIE 3:26 02.09.12

September 4, 2012

JAMIE 3:26

With that said, the people would have loved MORE Jamie 3:26.  Here is to next time and hopes of more Jamie. –AJ Dance 

 

In Space2 sharp sounds from synthesizers slice the air over a choppy drum beat that renders the crowd, Mercyless.”  Already a sizeable mount of foot soldiers conquer ground.  The soldiers dance hard, almost too hard.  Fists pump the air, legs wobble around in semi-circles and feet stampede the concrete.  The scene resembles a pre-HITP fundraising party and not an HITP 8 after party.  Earlier that day at the park, had the people not filled their bellies with enough sweet house music treats and much dance?  The culprit, Salah Ananse feeds the crowd leftover goodies, songs not played earlier at HITP 8.   It’s after midnight.  The crowd turned monsters, munch on everything in sight from refrigerated potato salad-by the way, left out all day in the hot sun-to meatless rib tips.  Just joking.  Actually, the charismatic crowd rollicks as they munch on a cornucopia of soul music with joviality.  From Fred Everything to Atjazz, soul music emanates inside the environment.  With attempts to rekindle the anthem spirit from earlier in the day, the one song repeated at the party from the park, MJ’s, “Thriller” (Black Motion Mortarfied Mix) plays for eight minutes, that drags on far too long as the night’s guest headliner tweaks wires, sets up hardware and cues music before he opens with……

Brother Johnson’s, “Stomp.”  The song is played like it has never been played before.  Drop the EQs.  Punch the bass line.  Pitch the highs and let the mids ride.  Stand by the speaker to hear secret rhythms and unheard melodies escape that leaves the listener entranced with an ear-struck experience.  The song is deconstructed to its fabric core to reveal hidden elements that creates a 3D soundscape.  Drums talk.  Horns blow before eyes.  Guitar strings pluck fingers.  A symphonic vision emerges and comes to life right in front of the eyes. The high definition sounds play with the outer ear. The middle ear vibrates with repercussions of joyful noises.  Utterly, the experience leaves the listener breathless.

Atlanta’s house and disco heads wishes came true.  Two days prior the 1st Annual ATLANTA WEEKENDer’s start, e-vites announced the return of Jamie 3:26 to close out the four day festivities. At the same venue, three months earlier, Jamie put a chokehold on the city’s house and disco community.  The people wanted more, so much more that the size of the WEEKENDer’s closeout attendance proved so.

How does Jamie do it?  Do what?  Know when and what songs to play at the right time.  The party’s surprise, perhaps the best song played, arrives like a New Establishment.  The 1985 sing-along classic from the British New Wave Band Tears for Fears with “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” (Timmy Regisford & Adam Rios Mix) oozes with enough R&B soul to rule urban radio.  Sleeping feet awake to life, “hoots” and “hollers” shrieks the atmosphere like the first of morning yawns as arms grasps the air and the balls of the heels playfully bounce up and down as if stretching after a full’s night rest.  The feel good house treatment, even more shakes off the slumber when a rousing keyboard solo electrifies the song’s ending.

Out comes the baby powder.  Enter the hardcore house dancers into the room.  Immediately they stake dance floor real estate.  A dance circle forms.  Here comes their fan club ready to marvel at choppy arm punches, sporadic hip thrusts and staccato foot stomps.  The talented two-some dance harder than anyone else.  These cats don’t play.

Four-count thumps pump harder as a haunting voice appears out of thin air.  The voice croons of sleepless nights and the hearing of voices calling her name.  Thiwe’s vocals on Black Coffee’s, Crazy (Manoo & Francois A. Deep Journey Mix) meanders over the thumps until a keyboard riffs escalates the copyright into euphoric heights.

 

WEEKENDer EPILOGUE

The music continues as the night’s hours march off into the aphotic.  Honestly, not much is recalled from the party.  The reason being is not from mild-altering substances but from the six hour dance marathon that you took part in earlier that day.  Your feet are tired. You are so exhausted that you want to fall asleep.  You wish that you could stay longer.  However, you have a twelve pm flight back to the UAE.  Unfortunately, your time in Atlanta is drawing to an end.  A sudden smile crosses your face.  What a weekender.  There was so much deep, soulful and meaningful house music crammed into three days that has left you with an overwhelming natural high.  As you say goodbye to Space2, the place where your adventure began, you come to the realization, Atlanta is on to something and this is the start of something huge.

Photography by AJ Dance

KARIZMA 31.08.12

September 1, 2012

KARIZMA

Launch Control:  Atlanta, we’re set to blast off.  All systems are ready to go.

In the Sound Table, the people stand on pins and needles.  An anticipatory buzz ignites the air aflame.  

Time: T minus 3 minutes.
Launch Control (LC): KAI, Technics 1200 right arm has needle.
KAI: Attached.
LC: KAI, Technics 1200 left arm has needle.
KAI: Attached.
LC: Pioneer CDJ 1 tray press open.
KAI: Open.
LC: Pioneer CDJ 2 tray press open.
KAI: Open.
LC: KAI, vent 1 speaker control power on.
KAI: Power on.
LC: KAI, vent 2 speaker control power on.
KAI: Power on.
LC: the Sound Table reports spacecraft is go.
Mission Director: Karizma Kaytronic is go.
LC: the ST – FTS bat one and two heater controls heaters off.
the ST: Off.
LC: Karl Injex, pressurized first stage LOX tanks to relief.
Karl Injex: Pressurized.
LC: Karl Injex, top first stage LOX to 100 percent levels.
Karl Injex: Up and down, 100 percent.
Time: Ninety seconds.
LC: KAI, hydraulic external power on.
KAI: Power on.
Time: Eighty seconds.
LC: RCO, report range go for launch.
Range Control Officer (RCO): Range go for launch.
Mission Director: LC (Viera), you’re go for launch.
LC: Roger.
Time: Seventy seconds.

 

Atlanta’s acclaimed DJ/producer/remixer Kai Alce proclaimed, “Its A New Day.” The mantra interwoven through a soundscape of current mid-tempo grooves ends in the record crates of vintage house music sounds.  It’s been noted the NDATL label owner has been on an old-skool house music tip lately and his followers are all smiley faces.  Mr. Alce slices and dices mellifluous beats that drive happy feet mad to the restaurant floor to dance between dining tables and around seating guests.  Warm cheers serenade the cozy environment that patronize dining companions munching on the last bites of oxtail tacos while clicking cocktail glasses of Blackfoot Confederacy atop candle lit tables.  Finally, after an eternity, the full bellies abandon their stations as the wooden oblong dining tables are evacuated onto the outdoors back patio or stationed alongside an exposed brick wall.  The transformation from delectable eatery to decadent dance club signals the countdown to……..

 Time: Fifty seconds 

After Kai wraps up an astonishing set the party’s way over due special guest DJ, Karizma steps foot into the DJ booth.  Ready. Set…….

Launch Control: We interrupt this blog to bring you a very important announcement.  T minus to launch off is approximately thirty seconds.  The ATLANTA WEEKENDer, Afrique Electrique or Distinctive cannot and will not be held responsible for what will take place to your body, mind and soul.  Please, prepare to be possessed by strange rhythms that will descend upon you like bolts of lightning.  Your life will never be the same.  As a matter-of-fact, within the coming week you will experience severe withdrawals from the seismic shift that will take place.  Brace yourself.  Get ready for the ride of your life.  You are about to launch off on Space Shuttle K2.  AKA Space Shuttle Karizma Kaytronik.  Your destination and mission: To seek out uncharted rhythms and to dance on unexplored worlds. 

LC: T minus 10 seconds, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1,

LIFT OFF!!!

For anyone’s guess what occurs next could not be possibly conceived or imagined.  All it takes is for one switch of a button to launch the party’s booster rockets into space that sends the shuttles red glare bursting into the air.  The travelers packed into the thin vessel stand frozen-in animated positions with stunned visages-completely suspended in space and time until…….a jolt is felt.  A thump is heard…… that signals the arrival of some unknown orchestrated philharmonic ready to pounce on the heads of the people.  Split between several seconds, calmness gives way to chaos.  Quiet anticipation gives way to boisterous recollection.  A whirlwind of activity electro charges the atmosphere as Karizma Kaytronic presses play and sends the room into static shock.  The environment is shocked with piceous particles ready to manifest in ectopic explosions.  A seismic shift occurs.  The travelers don’t expect such force.  Nor have they experienced such blithe.  Suddenly, people’s feet seem to detach off the floor, somehow able to defy gravity.  Strange rhythms pulsating from several speakers command the floating bodies to dance in mid-air.  The moonwalk has nothing on this.  With force, the sacred grooves possess every soul within sight.  The strange rhythm slam bodies against walls, drops bodies to the floor, and makes bodies roll on the floor.  One individual even wants to scale up a wall.  One being that vibrates violently, runs around in circles and dances as if overtaken by a secular ghost.  Clothes fall apart.  How can they not?  A left suspender strap hangs loose.  A red hat falls off one dancer’s head, flies several feet in the air and lands somewhere on the other side of the ship.  Not one body or article is safe from this spatial anomaly.

Let’s back-up.  Just who and what is this strange phenomenon called a Karizma Kaytronik?  Perhaps a look into the house music’s history logs can provide additional insight.  Karizma Kaytronik hails from Baltimore, Maryland USA, the city better known for its crime-ridden statistics and cable television police drama than its music.  Every so often a life force shows up bearing talented gifts.  His name happens to be Kris Klayton.  Over time, Kris’ government name became Karizma the stage persona that won the world over with unmatched DJ skills and signature productions crafted under several monikers.  To explore the mind of Karizma his name must be defined.  Charisma is a gift of power that is divinely bestowed upon an individual.  The power that Karizma possesses when he plays music is unequal to any rival.  Some DJs can play music.  Then there are DJs that can actually PLAY music.  The latter are the anointed ministers of music (hence Karizma’s brother in rhythm DJ Spen) where Karizma Kaytronic falls.  The in-demand DJ/producer/remixer doesn’t cue a CD and press play or cue some laptop software and press enter, he takes a beat and pulls an a cappella out of his a$$ and creates spontaneous smash-ups.  These live remixes rock the global community of house mongers from the US to Croatia.  To create spontaneous remixes is no wee task as a veteran goes through mind boggling hours and years of practice to pull off such a craft.

So what’s the fuss?  It all starts with the Freddie Hubbard, “Little Sunshine” interpolation, sampled by the likes of Pepe Braddock, Trackheadz, Jask and DJ Spen, that explodes in the ear drums of the listeners.  Several seconds later, an, “Heeyyyy,”  “Ohhhhh” resonates and commands its place on board the ship.  The unexpected yet surprising vocals cause rapture.  Look up in the air, it’s a meteor, it’s an unidentified flying object, no it is songbird Jill Scott’s, “Golden” flying to the rescue that makes this supernatural smash-up the journey’s soundtrack.  Stop!  Someone’s heart just exploded.

On one hand, Karizma is a humble gent with a clever persona when in conversation.  However, once behind the musical controls, out comes the world revered DJ’s other personality.  Kaytronic, Karizma’s alter-ego, takes over the ship’s music controls and flies the people at warp speeds to uncharted territories.

Kaytronik’s first stop transports the travelers to the realm of Planet Old-School where time travels backwards and forwards simultaneously.  The recently re-edit old-school anthem of Rufus & Chaka Kahn’s,Live In Me remixed by Karizma’s brother in rhythm DJ Spen, commands the star power that keeps the crowd zoned out in euphoric mental states.  Time continues its retrograde as BT Express’, “Peace Pipe” the 1970’s war protest anthem has the crowd “smoke it on up.”  Another house music classic from yesteryear recently interpreted for the current year, Kerri Chandler’s, Rain (Atjazz Mix) keeps the crowd all buzzed dancing animatedly in mid-air; as GQ, “Disco Nights”-the song that most DJs are playing as of late-warps minds back to a time of swinging bell bottoms and dancing platform shoes.  However, it is Saint Germain’s, “Rose Rouge” from the year 2000 that takes the exploration to new heights.  On the time lapse planet, writhed bodies fall to the ground, roll on the floor, and cause substantial damage to anyone standing in their way.  Minds become twisted with strange debacles.  This 2000 space odyssey loses all control and goes mad.

Once again the lodestar, with a press of a button, vaporizes the travelers into thin air where their bodies land on another unknown surface.  There are certain DJs that can unleash the BEAST.  Not all DJs, honestly not that many, can awaken the slumber of the beast.  Every so often, perhaps every blue moon, the beast is unleashed that strikes.  To witness its attack is bar none.  Shhhh.  Quietly the dancers watch their every move on this ramshackle planet that resembles an apocalyptic scene straight from a nightmare.  Hold on just for one minute.  In the distance, there appear several frightening beast-like forms that resemble dead zombies from a certain iconic music video.  A closer inspection reveals their ghastly movements interpret the dance moves danced in that certain iconic music video.  In the background the shouts of trumpets blast to the forefront of the mind.  It is the opening sequence to Black Motion’s interpretation of Michael Jackson’s opus, “Thriller” (Mortarfied Remix) the bootleg with that afro-house beat that has the monsters dancing.  Quickly the travelers join suit and dance with the otherworldly beasts with smiles on their faces.  All is well on this planet.  Truth be told, music is the universal language.

The dancers beam back on board Shuttle K2, and are fixated on French-ster Rocco featuring C. Robert Walker on vocals with, I Love The Night (Louie Vega Roots Mix).  In the DJ booth, Kaytronik doesn’t play around, nor does he expect the dancers to play around on the dance floor.  His music comes off boisterous but not pretentious.  The beats play hard, not fair.  Karizma is no joke.  Nor is he for the ballerina types that prance to fingers that snap softly at 120 beats per minute or below.  Folks, this IS your father’s house music.  That Baltimore, Chicago, and Detroit shit that pioneered house music’s movement in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, a time when the beats were allowed to be pitched up, or jacked up to its fullest furor to deliver seismic jolts to the heart.  So if you like to play patty cake beats then get out of the cockpit because things are bound to get HOT!

More homage to Rufus & Chaka Kahn is paid with “I Know You, I Live You” that comes to an abrupt stop in mid-song.  From the mouth of one disgruntle traveler spews four letter obscenities that hurls toward the DJ booth.  However, all is well as the next song starts that has the once cursing traveler now singing, “Tell Me/Would You Like/If The DJ/Brought It Back” at the top of her lungs with a smile on face.  The broken beat music segues into A Tribe Called Quest’s, “Award Tour” as the travelers scream in holy panic.  Additional old-school hip hop rounds out the trip that makes for a safe return to the Sound Table.

 

WEEKENDer Epilogue

The Sound Table’s lights come on.  One glance around the space reveals dishevelment.  What happened?  You question where you had gone?  You check your watch to find three hours has passed.  Really?!?  Had that much time lapsed?  For what was three hours seems like a mere three minutes.  Had you really been gone that long?

Later that morning, at your Studio Suite at the W Hotel (downtown) after a bit of sleep and slumber you find that your passport has been mysteriously stamped with a K2 Shuttle Mission ensignia.  Now that’s golden!!!

 Words & Photography by AJ Dance

 

ATLANTA WEEKENDer 31.08.12

August 31, 2012

ATLANTA WEEKENDer 2012

 

You are an international house music dancer stationed off the Persian Gulf coast on a T-shaped island in the capital city of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. You’re all set and ready to leave. Passport: Check. Electronic Ticket: Check. Luggage: Check. Dance sneakers: Check. You whisk through the security check- point gate in Terminal 3 at the Abu Dhabi International Airport. The Jetway is the new international catwalk where you waste no time flaunting your signature swagger as you board Flight 75 on EDM Airlines: the premier airline for electronic dance music enthusiasts. You smile. You count the seconds before your fifteen hours and forty-seven minutes direct flight overseas is set to commence. Your destination point is Atlanta, Georgia, United States of America.

This is your first visit to the newly crowned jewel capital of deep & soulful house music in the southern region of America. Also, this marks your first visit to the 1st Annual ATLANTA WEEKENDer. From all over the world, die-hard house heads are embarking on a spiritual pilgrimage of all things deep and soulful for a four day journey starting with Afrique Electrique, Distinctive and ending at the Mecca, House In The Park. So sit back and enjoy your ride because this promises to be one extraordinary journey.

Finally, you arrive at your destination a bit exhausted and slightly jetlagged. Upon arrival at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport at the International Wing you’re whisked off in a cab to your Studio Suite at the W Hotel (Downtown) for a comforting disco nap. There is so little time to sleep as you have much to see, do and hear before the night’s first spectacular that starts promptly at 8 pm.

By taxi you reach the destination of historic Edgewood Avenue intersecting residential Boulevard. The district bustles with a variety of cosmopolitan sights, sounds, and smells. A male bike rider bikes wearing only Speedos, police sirens angrily whirl at passing cars as the smell of greasy fried foods tickle nose hairs.  You arrive at Space2’s door at exactly 8:30 pm. You reach for and pull on the golden door handle. It won’t budge. After a few more attempts at opening the door, you realize the establishment isn’t open to the public. You peek inside the storefront windows to find the lights are on. The lifeless room waits in complete silence. Several giant-size speakers and subwoofers sit patiently on the floor, waiting to be assembled, in hopes to perform their duty. How odd, the invite stated an 8 pm starting time. From your left pants pocket a smartphone is produced and checked only to find the event’s starting time has changed to 9 pm EST. You check the restaurant next door to find hipsters nibbling on grilled frog legs with carrot celery salad and sipping White Tigers. There’s no sign of music playing anywhere. So, it’s off to the pizza joint across the avenue.

After devouring a king slice of “Americanized” pepperoni pizza, you see the door open to Space2 and the lights turn off. The deep drops of heavy bass thumps are heard across the street over sporadic conversations and explicit rap lyrics bumping in the eatery’s background. Off you run to the space where you are the first guest at the party. At the front door that you tried to enter into earlier, you are greeted by and meet the masterminds behind the Atlanta Weekender, visionary Salah Ananse and his no nonsense wife Nina Ananse. You receive your ATLANTA WEEKENDer wrist band. The challenge is you must wear the green and blue metallic color ID all weekend to every event for admittance.

Scanning the room, Space2 has an intimate rugged appeal with one bar perched alongside the room’s left brick wall where you order a Square One Orange Rye. The room is dark. No disco ball or flashing lights dance across the floor. There are no special decorations that offer theatrics besides the ATLANTA WEEKENDer poster hanging behind the DJ set-up on a platform stage where Miranda Nicole and Stephanie Cooke will later perform. In the music box, the only sign of life emanates from the voice of Sunshine Anderson proudly singing, Force Of Nature (Blaze Roots Mix) that blasts from four speakers positioned around the place.

The venue slowly takes its first breath and comes to life. A few human heartbeats swagger into the room. The women wear summer dresses dyed with vibrant colors as men dress lazily in jeans and white button down shirts. They come ready to dance. As the people fill the room, you shake sturdy hands as salutations commence. Surprised visages lead to jovial conversations of your ostentatious pilgrimage.

“Ouch,” did you hear that? DJ Plus1’s mixing is a bit rough. Anyways, the music picks up pace as DJ Roland Clark the international in-demand vocalist/producer slams the beats on the still empty room. The beats are a bit too hard and the BPM’s a bit to fast for starting off the party. So a dancer suggests that you check out the restaurant next door where one of the most impressive house music parties is set to jump off.

Words & Photography by AJ Dance

 

Chosen Few DJ’s 04.05.12

May 5, 2012

CHOSEN FEW DJs

“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 Togetherwelcomes 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, “Shelterdropped 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 Twiceremixed 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 youTell 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 Heardof big room build-ups and swift-drops to the South African house ballad, Supermanby 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

GREENHOUSE 19.07.09

July 20, 2009

GREENHOUSE 

Greenhouse was one of those rare events.  A rare event no one ever saw coming.  Its presence snuck up like a thief on a frigid foggy night.  Then once it attacked, like a slap in the face, its presence made one take note to what was going on in the house; in the world of house music.  This is my house.  Welcome to my house.

Piedmont Park the largest park within the city’s limits provided a grandeur view of midtown’s metropolis skyline to the west.  To the east sat residential neighborhoods clamored with upper-class Victorian style homes.  This wasn’t just any ordinary park but the city’s grand central park which sat in the middle of midtown.  To secure Piedmont Park for a house music event was no small task.  There had to be lots of red tape, politics and a hefty fee that came along with securing a city permit to hold the event in such a metropolitan area.

The weather, entirely too perfect was just right for an outdoor event.  Not one complaint was uttered or heard about the weather, temperature or park.  Instead, overhead, sitting in overgrown Dogwoods, birds chirped songs of joy in the mid-summer air.  Actually, a cool gentle breeze swept across the park’s central valley that landed at the park’s outer edge right before the ascent of giant skyscrapers.  The temperature, only a mere 83 degrees was miraculous for this time of year when average high’s hovered in the upper 90s.  Interestingly, the day before that scorched with deadly heat and plagued by humidity that hung in the air with intense suffrage was today replaced by mild, clear and crisp air.

The bright July sunlight beamed atop the park’s main pavilion roof marked with reddish shingles was supported by eight hinged grey cobblestone columns.  Inside the open face structure, giant ceiling fans hung from a green ceiling constructed of wood.  The pavilion could easily hold a hundred plus people.  Although not knowing the exact numbers of attendees, there appeared more than ample space to accommodate the crowd of the lone three, currently on the dance floor.   Besides me the others included; two toddlers playing and their observing caramel fresh faced mother.  The young lady crowned with plump long black/brown braids pinned up decorating the circumference of her brim, wore a bright yellow-orange long flowing summer dress that revealed two bronze nude feet with a smile of pleasure plastered to her face.  She cautiously surveyed the two offspring bouncing a small red plastic ball, the kind found in bubblegum machines, to one another with warm smiles and cute giggles.  Oops, the tiny red ball grazed my leg and bounced towards the pavilion’s left wall.  It landed softly on a patch of starved brown grass just beyond the front entrance near the pavilion’s main walking path.  The ball needed to be grabbed or it would disappear into the thick forest of once green blades.  Being the fastest of the three, I leaped and plucked the ball out of the heated grass and gracefully handed it to the astounded children.  Once again, there appeared those warm smiles followed by cute giggles as the two turned around and continued their business of play.  What relief to see the innocent at work with nothing else to do but have fun.  Only if life were a ball of fun then all would be well.

The park’s air sprung to life with deep soulful underground sounds that thumped with uncompromising heavy four-count beats and blazed with soft mellow keyboard chords worthy of turning any non-house believer into a crazed house fanatic.  The music caused my fingers to snap with my feet occasionally swaying from left to right.  What was happening?  I had no reservation to dance.  Fortunately, I was giving in to house music’s magnetic powers.

Photography by Carlos Bell

RON PULLMAN & KAI ALCE 31.12.06

December 31, 2006

Photography by John Crooms