Posts Tagged ‘David Harness’


February 15, 2015



Part II: Kerri Chandler

The Kaos Conductor

01:30 PST

Right off the bat, Kerri Chandler comes out swinging, he scores a home run with “Make My Heart,” featuring New Zealander vocalist Latrice Barnett. The befitting tribute scores a nod to San Francisco resident, DJ/producer Jay-J who stands onstage, alongside his buddy Kerri. The Kiko Navarro Mix is a proper demassify to West Coast house music, the game changer that ignited the world over during the late 1990’s to early 2000’s.  

The thumps of funkin’ four-counts continue its reign. A choppy drum loop builds over a swooshing backdrop of heart pounding jabs. The warped vocals mutate from white noise to crystal clear. “Girl I must warn you.” As fingers snap, feet shuffle, and shoulders swivel from left to right, the bodies in motion have no clue what is about to strike. Without warning, the music disappears from underneath fancy footwork. A drum machine drops a kick: Bell Biv Devoe’s “Poison” explodes into view, only to disappear like a thief in the night. The crowd yells, having realized they been hoodwinked, by one of the greatest “Hip Hop On a RnB Tip with A Pop Appeal” anthems of all time. Hands hit the knees, the body has to rest, slowly breathe in and breathe out-is it time to change T-shirts? -the heart pounds for life.  

Research shows within the first month of life a baby’s heartbeat can beat between 70-190 beats per minute. The resting heart of an adult can beat between 60-100 beats per minute. As a person ages, the heartbeat slows down. This is true for many soulful house music parties. Ever been to a house music party where the majority of the crowd is approaching the mid-century mark? The older the DJ, the slower the BMPs: the older the crowd, the slower they dance.

Not so for Kerri Chandler, or the music he plays. The forty-something years young with a full head of hair, purpose is to make the heart beat faster and for people to dance harder. He believes in the thump. His definitive anthems rings with beats that pound at 124 to 125 BPMS, take “Hallelujiah” and “Rain” respectively, sadly the two anthems not played at this party.

Let’s be real, thumping four-on-the-floors are the lifeblood of house music.   Without the essential four counts-that are not only heard through ears but rattles the heart-one is playing funeral music. A not so fun experience that puts people to sleep. Perhaps, an eternal sleep from the house music scene. And to think why a younger generation has not gravitated to soul filled house music.

Not so in San Francisco, where hipsters and yuppies rule against the age of reason. After all, gentrification is an ugly word. However, young people purchasing and renovating an old space, turn club in a blight area pays off. It shows on the faces of the young-in the twinkle of their eye and in the sparkle of their pearly white smiles-as they dance, blow money on drinks and whatever guilty pleasures arise. In an underground club that sits in the upcoming design district, money is no option. Of course this is no five-star resort hotel advertising bottle poppin’ ballers in VIP, but a more justified experience of a soulful get down to underground music. This is where Asian techs, college preps, bearded hipsters and drunk girls come to party. On the menu, the house special: A happy family poo-poo platter.    

There is no division-no black section in the rear or white section up front. Better yet, in Saint Frank, there are no Asians over hear, no Latinos over there, with whites dotting all points in between. There is no division of age. Grey hairs dance amongst floppy bangs. This is the face of the 21st century smart club, where alcohol sales stop at…

02:00 PST

The room goes dark. One look left and to the right reveals the venue’s two bars are closed with shades drawn over the countertops. No more spirits for this crowd, unless the kind from the music.

As Angie Stone’s “I Wasn’t Kidding,” plays cricket’s chirp. The sea of nameless faces appear unfamiliar with the Scott Wozniak and Timmy Regisford Shelter Version, partly because these youngsters were gawking at MySpace and listening to Kanye West on their 5th Generation iPods ten years earlier when the remix was conceived. However, Kerri gives it to the babes, by playing classics they need to hear.

Classics like, “Ba, da, da, da, da, dah…Ba, da, da, da,” sings a band of trumpets, “Thump, thump,” A drum speaks. A lo-fi bass line drives the groove to discotheque. Teddy Pendergrass sings “You Can’t Hide from Yourself.” The energy in the room shifts to organized chaos. Dancing bodies feel the need to shed their skin and run around the room spiritually naked. Patrice Rushen’s “Looking For You” brings a smile to the face of a nearby, nearly sleeping security guard. On the Joey Negro Extended Disco Mix the sudden sounds of chords surprises. A riff of keys play over an instrumentation of sparse drums that is not in the original mix. Look onstage. Kerri is playing a Korg. Live!!!.

“Kerri is killing it!”

“Who?!?” asks a young man with a vacant expression staring at the stage.

“Kerri Chandler. He is Kerri Chandler!”

Kerri ‘Kaoz’ Chandler was born into a musical family. His father, especially, fed his musical palette and trained his musical ear by giving him a start at playing music in a Jersey nightclub. That opportunity led to additional DJ gigs and stints in New York’s various music scenes from soul to rap. After a tragic experience, Kerri turned his full attention to producing house music. His productions forged the blueprint of futuristic underground sounds back in the early 1990s, a time when semi-house producers copycatted their way onto the charts. The Kerri sound: brass horns, bubbling bass lines, cowbells and steady buildups are instantly recognizable around the world yet they are sacred to the soul. How one produces a vast music catalog from jazz to video games and yet remains true to his morals is the tale of folklores. He is an in demand, must-have DJ/music producer/remixer who plays frequently around the globe than in his backyard.   

“San Francisco it has been a long time.” He lowly announces minus a Jersey accent.  

Horns blast over a four-count that shakes the floor. “Atmospheric Beats” slowly builds to a towering crescendo of jazz house. The soul-stirring classic introduces the next song with a similar tempo. The System’s “You’re In My System” breaks the beats for a solo opener of Rhodes keys. When the song breaks for a spoken rap, the crowd applauds with handclaps. “You’re In My Soul, I Just Can’t Get Enough of Your…” Rightly spoken, the people can’t get enough of the ‘Kaoz.” Cajmere’s “Brighter Days,” (Underground Goodies Mix) ignites more screams. If that is not enough, the vocal version drops as vocalist Dajae leads the crowd singing “Lift Me Up.” As Sunday morning handclaps and gospel wails uplift spirits, Johnny Corporate’s “Sunday Shoutin’” takes the dancers to church. A young lady shimmy shakes in a solid gold sequence dress as if she has the Holy Ghost. Sporadic bursts of energy, allows the body the ability to house dance to harder-tinged anthems and relax on more mellow tracks. Surely, Kerri is beat driven and unapologetic, but he too knows when to give his audience a breather as on Veja Vee Khali’s “Spiritual Elevation.”

If there was ever a DJ’s DJ, Kerri is that guy. “I’m so honored to see so many people. My friends are here beside me,” speaks his calm yet resounding voice. “They come from Leeds, NYC, and Florida.”

A real legend gives honor to whom honor is due. Mr. V, standing next to Kerri, speaks, “Jus Dance,” into a microphone over a deep masterpiece that drops knees to the wooden floor. One dancer shoves his back and then his head onto the wooden floor and lays prostrated for an even deeper experience. Piano keys and a sassy sax swirl through the soundscape, making this not only one unforgettable moment but one of the deepest tracks played thus far. San Francisco’s house pioneer, David Harness, who is in the house, is honored with his interpretation of Black Coffee’s “JuJu.” The Harlum (short for Harness and Chris Lum) Mix beats are jacked up on steroids, making Afro-house fun to dance to.  

 04:00 PST

As the music should abruptly end, blinding lights should flood the floor, and security should all but assault guests to exit through the back door, Kerri continues to conduct the Kaoz like a philharmonic director gone mad. There is no stopping this guy. With a wave of his hand he directs the beat to bellow on “Hallelujah,” but his right palm shuns the vocals of Shirley Ceaser. He instructs the cowbell to chime on “Bar-A-Tyme.” Then he commands, “You will obey every word of Kerri Chandler,” as “Bar-A-Tyme,” morphs into a killer monster. “Your every will is not your own.” The twenty-five bodies left dancing agree. Their bodies washed in perspiration.

“Kerri turn it down. Turn it down” Mr. V interrupts. Victor Font takes note of the chaos and puts on the brakes. “Yo San Francisco, it’s been a minute.” V turns around. “Kerri, turn it down.” The volume drops only a half notch. “Yo San Francisco, its Valentines Day. You got to show some love, to the man, Kerri Chandler.” Mouths cheer and hands clap. The music gains momentum into a filtered fury.

Mr. V continues, “Yo lets give Kerri a present. Kerri I want you to play your favorite song of all time. It don’t have to be house. It could be RnB, soul or whatever.”

After a second, chiming bells and a mid-tempo four count stumbles into the sound scape, “The Blackness,” announces a tenor.  “This is my favorite song,” says Kerri. At 4:30 pst, Sound of Blackness’ “Optimistic” (Never Say Die 12” Mix) ushers a dancing body of the club on an very unforgettable night.  Hallelujah!   

Words by aj dance


June 3, 2012



Was this House In The Park 2008? The Gathering’s founder Atlanta’s Ramon Rawsoul banged hits from Sunshine Anderson’s,Force of Nature(Blaze Roots Mix), Sergio Mendes’ featuring Ledisi “Waters of March” (DJ Spinna Mix), dunnEASY’s with Monique Bingham “Won’t Stop,” and Peven Everett’s “Church” (International Sting Mix) with a couple of current selections from the likes of Reel People’s cover of Stevie Wonder’s magnetic “Golden Lady” with golden voiced Tony Momrelle providing lead to B-more house trailblazers Ron Hall and Thommy Davis with “Fugue In Baltimore.” Even Canadian born R&B outfitter Melanie Fiona showed up in the mix with a clever deep house treatment to her aught hit “It Kills Me.” Another killer, the room’s temperature that hovered somewhere in hell felt more fit for a summer’s dance outdoors at House In The Park-minus the sun-than indoors in a stripped-down barebones venue. Had someone forgot to blast the AC? The Black Room was burning hot and not in a great way. The Black Room wasn’t close to being crowded. Yet that didn’t stop those in attendance from sweating like pigs in a blanket. The Black attendance, a massive body of fifty souls or so, peeked between midnight and thirty minutes thereafter. Sweat rags showed up, hand held flyers waved hot air on necks as moist palms wiped the sweat off brows, arms glistened with perspiration and T-shirts were drenched. Mysteriously, the crowd evaporated in thin air. Perhaps the lack was due to the heat, the women’s bathroom with no working lights and a busted door lock, the mass of people smoking tar on the lung cancerous back patio,  the techno party next door in the White Room in the restaurant or the incessant reticent grouses of the impatient asking, “When is the guest DJ to appear? It’s taking way too long.”

After one in the morning too long. By the time the night’s headliner, David Harness arrived onstage to play the party’s energy had long dried up like lotion on eczema-stricken skin.  The Harlum music producer clad in a black tee and jeans had his work cut out. The task would not be easy. Hard work and persistent perseverance would have to win over the scattered crowd. So the saying goes, “The show must go on.” And it did. Here’s to hopes that the San Francisco-an would pull out some cleverly produced west coast gems from his bag of tricks to save the night. After much anticipation the first song played to impress the people. FAILED. A few dancers snapped fingers and swayed from left to right while one foot soldier shuffled his feet in fancy semi-circles that astonished spectators. Sadly, this was not enough to jolt the party. The Realm’s featuring Tony Momrelle, “Time” (Frankie Feliciano Classic Vocal). FAILED. The Muthafunkaz’s featuring Sheila Ford and Marc Evans, “Oh I (Miss You)” (Atjazz Love Soul Mix). FAILED. C’mon people what would it take? It would take the fourth song with its deep, dark and heavy thumping bass line and a titillating voice that counted “1, 2, 3, 4” to work up the crowd into sudorific. It worked! People actually came to life. Hips gyrated, breads swung in the air and bodies groped the floor to pure madness. Another anthem kept the crowd rocking; DJ Zinhle featuring Busiswa Gqulu’s “My Name Is” that brought some heated dancehall/reggae flavor to the party with butts thrown in mid-air romping about like hippos drinking at a water well. The crowd cheered to Grammy-nominated Gregory Porter’s, “1960 What?” (Opolopo Kick & Bass Rerub) extended with a rousing trumpet solo that rode over a house beat. The party was again recharged. Cheers to David for playing his astounding interpretation of Jill Scott’s heartfelt, “Here My Call.” The crowd’s cheers soared high into the heavens when the infectious opening piano bar resounded throughout the room, however, the excitement quickly hushed and left for a struggling effort of dance. What a disappointment. All hope seemed lost. So, the party was swiftly abandoned for a livelier atmosphere next door.



In the White Room an adrenaline rush of combustible charged protons and neutrons slammed into the electric atmosphere. The White Room was loud. Really loud. Conversations mingled over techno beats. “Thumps” and “Booms” shattered the sound sphere. From the front of the illuminated DJ booth to the center of the room party patrons seemed confused. The spectators stood as if management prohibited them of dance. Literally, the people stood frozen as if their feet were glued to the concrete floor. Of course the space was packed tight with heads afraid they’d spill their beers. Anyways the frozen appeared peculiarly perplexed with star struck visages of what the DJ would do next. As the President of House Music would preach, “Ask not what the DJ can do for you but ask what you can do for the DJ.” More than likely the DJ would reply, “DANCE!”

Towards the room’s mid-section to the rear old-school ravers gathered. Arms weaved in and out of fluid motions, off-brand sneakers spun around in circles and wide-legged pants glided in what tight space permitted. The White Room’s faces resembled a white sea sprinkled with a few browns here and there. However, the majority of the color in the White Room reflected from the painted walls and the clothes the mass wore. Hmmm. Something disturbing abounded with the visual. Why the separate Black Room adjacent to the White Room? Why the musical segregation in the 21st century?* After all, the international acclaimed DJ playing in the neon green hued DJ booth was none other than Detroit’s legendary Stacey Pullen.

The in-demand Detroit techno wiz held the White Room suspended in trance with hard beats, electro riffs and harmonious chords of soulful melodic rhythms. Histrionics bounced over tech-heavy synths as electric cheers squealed from the crowd. The dread head Pullen played cliff hanger drops and frenzied build-ups that worked the crowd over. The people pulsated violently with beer bottles held high in air. The room’s thermal energy erupted off the charts. The crowd exploded stir-crazy; the kind of electric buzz only reserved for at outdoor EDM festivals. The second generation Detroit techno pioneer kept the crowd’s pulse on full throttle and continuously played a rollercoaster wave of breaks and slams that delivered a bodily blood rush in 2.2 seconds. Those thrill seekers loved the emotion that squeezed every once out of their endorphin bags.

Also, the music wasn’t the only energy in effect. In the center of the room a tipsy couple swapped wet tongues. A drunk blond aroused her inebriated boy toy by pulling at his phallus, all the while trying to pull down his pants against his request. Yes the freaks were out and sex was in the air. At the bar, libations poured and spirits soared. Hazy drunks stumbled from the front door to the bathroom. Love it or hate it, real parties are made of this; ENERGY. There were no sleeping heads to be found in the building.



Back in the Black. Jill Scott’s, “Rolling Hills” (Shelter Mix) had feet dancing on the sidewalk outside of the venue. Blue-eyed Brit Jonny Montana’s featuring vocalist Dawn William’s, “New Me” pumped in the background to a handful of dancers and a few spectators winding down the night. However, Frankie Knuckles’, “The Whistle Song” reenergized the dancers and kept the party grooving thirty minutes passed closing time. Ramon Rawsoul closed out the night with Byron Moore’s, Life Starts Today” (Padapella) and a jazzy house number. After the final note played it was time to call it a night. Of course, the party had its missteps. Too bad the Black Room came unprepared to give their all. Once again, “Ask not what the DJ can do for you but ask what you can do for the DJ.”

*Perhaps musical tastes are to blame. The Black Room prefers BMPs under 120 and the White Room prefers BMPs over 120. The Black Room prefers house over the White Room’s preference for techno. Maybe it was the $15 cover charge for the White Room and the $5 cover charge for the Black Room. Whatever the case it’s the 21st century people, let’s get over it.

All Photography by John Crooms