Posts Tagged ‘Master Kev’

MASTER KEV 02.02.13

February 12, 2013


     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


August 14, 2011



J Day’s Intro

She arrived fashionably late, very elegant and very soft. The portrait of finesse. The acute epitome of a real woman, a working woman, and a single mother of three. The sexy siren stood at least six-feet three inches in noir spiked stilettos deadly enough to kill. Dressed in a sheering white and pencil thin black line dress, with a wrap around the neck cut to die for that revealed hidden treasures between two hills, the svelte form sashayed upstairs with stylish grace. Her two-doe eyes shimmered and sparkled like the brightest of all diamonds, so sharp and ever so clear, against the contrast of the red strobe lights dancing on the stair’s metal guardrails. Two strong eyelashes, highlighted with baby blue shadow, flirted dangerously while batting at high speeds. Scarce cosmetics were used only to enhance her natural bronze pigment that captivated the room of lusty eyes. Blessed with silky black glossy hair tightly pulled back into an exaggerated mane that traveled down to the mid-section of her back whooshed from side to side in one impressive sweep. She showered the room with a precious gift-the gift of love. She hugged the family and greeted strangers with a bright smile and a host of pearly whites. Candy coated pouted red lips pronounced, “Why thank you” as she offered brief gratitude with a distinguished German accent fit for an Afro-German queen. The essence that defines a woman. It was her day. For it was her earth day.



Two weeks earlier the stage had transformed to some type of freak fest-an exhibitionist circus of superfluous magnitude. It was a global bazaar for the town’s clowns and characters to showcase mindless behavior. A night when people went out to, “just go out.” Within the lounge an oppressive weight of oxidation balanced the air that watered eyes and filled lungs with unsavory whiffs. Flashing neon red strobe lights nervously jumped and anxiously skipped in spastic patterns across the upper tier marked by dark walls covered in black smoke barely visible due to sweaty flesh packed tight within the room. People danced. People conversed. People smoked hookahs. People paraded about as if beauty queens. People wearing sneakers stood on the dance floor. People waved to standees across the room. People conversed in the language of drunken debauchery. People groped, on off-rhythm counts, practically falling to the carpet-less dance floor below. Others locked lips and swapped spit with animated tongue thrusts. Young blondes whisked their heads with a wink of an eye as if some dog were to wag its tail their way.

There was a type of pretentious overtone screaming louder than the West Coast house music pumping from the all-new turbo sound system. The “Guidos” threw money to impress dates. The scantily clad threw cleavages to entice dates. The techno-acid washed room of translucent onyx, purple pastels, and red hues reeked of sweaty desperation-the kind so pungent it washes off after two showers two days later. A pack of young multi-ethnic girls with blank expressions dressed in the “little black dress” paraded around with neon green fluorescent bans chocking their necks while mocking modern day slavery. Not to mention, the young impressionable girls seemed to grow younger with each passing minute. There they were stumbling up the carpeted stairs into some young boy’s arms dressed in some designer label suit, purchased from some mall, while people tried to dance mind you. There it was the pulling up of mini-skirts revealing more legs or more ass. Whatever was revealed was way too much.  Nothing in this Babylonia made since. At least not to the sober mind.

There was no refuge, no place to find such sweet solace amongst the revilers, not even out doors which was plagued by summer’s sarcasm of humidity. Instead, disheveled chaos danced with unorganized noise as both laughed in the seasoned faces of the “I’m too old for this shit.” There was the sound of patty-tap claps thundering loudly from the all-new turbo sound system that brought to mind the sound of raves gone by. But this party was for the young, the young minds pretending to throw what they have in the faces of the have nots. The velvet roped off VIP section showcased such delusional trajectories. It mattered not if one could purchase pocket breaking drinks or platinum credit charged trinkets because for most in the place that was pointless. Many of the gathered dancers were in the house to experience the musical makings of San Francisco’s legendary DJ Miguel Migs along side house diva vocalist Lisa Shaw.

Michael Steward aka Miguel Migs, a tad bit underdressed for the raucous occasion, worked underneath the “No DJ Request” sign.  While songstress Lisa Shaw mingled with guests after her first arousing vocal performance of the night. The room abuzz with much activity and way too many conversations seemed jovial and had personality. Thankfully Miguel pumped and tweeked deep thumping bass lines that drowned out most of the excessive chit-chatter. The Petal Pusher medicated the room with a prescribed dose of funky soul that offered temporary relief from the room’s toxicities. Miquel’s recommended allowance of therapeutic beats jumpstarted the heart with a rush of blood and commanded feet to spin around in circles. The healthy west coast ointment soothed the soul and provided bountiful relief to severe heartaches and severe pains. This was the good stuff. That addictive house that could raise the dead and give soul to the soulless. If this jack didn’t move the groove then nothing could.

The ever so spirited party girl, Lisa Shaw segued into a catalog of house classics. The songstress belted out the playful, “Those Things,” the intoxicating,All Night Highand the vibrant,Make Things Happento a cheering audience of “yays” and “arrghhs.” After her lively fifteen minute second performance of the night, a sizeable portion of the crowd abandoned the carpet free dance space for other toxic tastes. This was perfect timing and made for a perfect dance as Miguel jumped into a barrage of old school sing-a-longs. The Jungle Brothers played. Marshall Jefferson played. Tramaine Hawkins Sang. Altogether, side-by-side they played as little school children playing on the playground at recess in a sand box. I’ll House Youmixed with Move Your Bodyand Fall Downwere reworked with updated beats that instantaneously refreshed old school record crates into modern wav computer files. Thankfully, all hope for humanity was not lost as the Naked Music Label founder played his latest release, fresh from the studio, featuring 1980’s soul singing sensation Evelyn Champaign King’sEverybodythat drew everyone back to the dance floor for one last dance. Those blistered drunk with alcohol or those high as kites with plastered smiles on face seemed to not mind as they stumbled to keep pace with the disco beat. For all it’s worth the night was not a complete and utter disaster. The night’s savior, west coast funky house music, might not have been remembered the following morning by the intoxicated but for the sober the night would live on as a music filled success in the land of the immoral. Oh, by the way, Happy Ten Year Anniversary, Halo Lounge.



Three hundred and thirty-six hours later, the lounge contained no frantic pace, no chaotic buzz, just a sweet savored scent of serenity that greeted each guest at the crossroads of the lounge’s steel front door structure and the white partitions in the sparse front foyer. A cold draft blew across the upstairs bar highlighted by lines of pastel purples to the dimly lit DJ booth tucked neatly away in a dark little corner and from there to the lower level bar aglow in onyx located on the first floor. Yes, it was going to be a different night, one of more peace and of more love, less crowds and less noise. The DJ equipment whistled whimsical melodies over deep house beats-through the lounge’s all-new turbo sound system-to the few attendees scattered about, those positioned at the bar ordering cocktails, and others posted on the dance floor in brief conversations. DJ’s Stanzeff and BE played musical ambassadors playing that kind of soul that moved the feet. At times their valiant efforts yielded lukewarm results because the crowd seemed stuck in neutral-sitting on noir couches and noir chairs moving nowhere in particular. The abandoned carpet-free dance floor seemed emotionally lonely. It screamed for at least one or two feet to prance around on its concrete face with fancy footwork.

Ninety minutes later, the night’s openers made way for the night’s headliner from NYC.  The DJ booth was crowded.  The gathering audience of dancers secured prime real estate on the cement floor and welcomed the special guest from the Big Apple. KevinMaster Kevwore a black baseball cap with black tee and approached the musical arsenal with tight precision. READY. AIM. FIRE. The goatee DJ bombarded the dancers with an assortment of thick thumping beats pitched well over 120 BPM, folks that’s beats per minute, to a dizzying cacophony and this was only the first song. But it was not the headliner’s fault nor the night’s openers. Sometime earlier, after DJ Stanzeff played Soundgarden’s,Black Hole Sunremixed by Master Kev and production partner-in-crime Tony Loreto the sound coming from the speakers grew muddled and more muddled over time until it became very bass heavy-this is when the bass overpowers the other elements of a song, i.e. vocals, instruments-till the songs became undistinguished. Sadly, the all-new turbo sound system seemed ill equipped to keep up with the frantic pace of Master Kev’s beat em’ and smash em’ up mix master style. The venue’s air quality was a filthy mess, not with hazy carcinogens but of muffled vocals, muffled beeps, muffled burps and muffled drums. The former Musiq Soulchild, currently called Musiq, sounded drowsy with vocals so low they were a faint whisper while finger snaps fell from the sky to slow things down a bit. From there the mix picked up speed with the night’s highlight beaming bright from British band Sade versus Netherlands tech-houser Henrik Schwarz with “Pearls and Headphones a friendly hybrid remixed by the renowned Hani. Then for more bang, Son Of Raw a.k.a. Dennis Ferrer’s,Black Man In Spacewas dropped into the concoction that added the extra bounce to get that booty off the couch and onto the dance floor. DYNOMITE!!! Outta nowhere dropped the parent of house music-Mama Disco. The transition so hard and so sudden threw the dancers for a giant loop and not the loops made on ice rink competitions. The dancers rebounded and screamed with joy to the smash-ups of Brother Johnson’s,Stompand Michael Jackson’s,Off the Wallboth songs produced by Quincy Jones.

The carpet-free dance space ballooned with excitement that burst into bubbles of confetti energy. Even the birthday party, clearly packed with non-house heads, separated in the unmarked VIP section joined in on the fun. The group’s birthday girl danced barefoot with a Floridian, also barefoot, in ballroom circles and couples two-step. Too bad the drunken youngin’ of all smiles, mind you, carelessly bumped elbows and haphazardly spun around into other dancers trying to get their groove on. “Excuse me(s), I’m sorry,” littered the playing field. Maybe the apologies would have deemed more acceptable had she not kept up the bumper car syndrome for several songs thereafter. “That is why I don’t do hip-hop clubs,” framed another darling gifted in the art of dance staring fervently with eyes of fire into the intoxicated heart of the barefoot crash dummy. Later, the drunken starlit was to be found passed out sleeping on a noir leather couch in the VIP…..

Overall the party jingled with the intensity that elevated the crowd into orbit. Along with Master Kev’s help, the crowd of fifty plus touched the halo of wonderment. It was one of those nights, not rare but not common either, where the stars shined bright and the moon beamed soft rays of light upon the dance floor. This was only the beginning and only the warm-up to what was to follow next……

The Tale of Two

MASTER KEV 04.12.08

December 5, 2008

Photography by Melba Searcy