Posts Tagged ‘Perkerson Park’

HOUSE IN THE PARK 7 04.09.11

September 5, 2011



8:30 am

Stretched back as far as the naked eye could see, tan tents and colorful canopies tripped alongside lush green hues perched next to the pebbled brook stream gently trickling in tranquility unaware of the bustling activity taking place around its soft aquatic voice. Boisterous SUVs bullied and bellowed their way into parking spaces along the down-slope descent of the park’s main drive, ready to be unloaded of goods, equipment and foods. There was a mid-sized white and orange U-Haul truck docked and parked at the pavilion in the center of the park where muscled arms rolled out black speakers on flats accompanied by heavy hands carrying shiny musical gear. Already, a spectrum of colorful personalities were busy pulling packed coolers, pushing baby strollers and carrying purses around shoulders along narrow paths connected to the central pavilion like a busy network of neurons. Overlooking the unrestrained excitement one could only imagine the park- decorated with various colors of tents and canopies tops-resembled candy coated sprinkles decorating one giant mint cake. The weather suspiciously mild with overcast skies foretold of rain to come from a tropical storm in the near future. But for now a few drops of water fell only a few feet from heavy cumulus that seemed to sit too low to the earth. The morning’s cooler temperatures hovered around the low 70’s just perfect for a day of outdoor music and dancing and a bit of mayhem. The weather was nothing of the gloomy kind but rather a refreshing variant. So get up and dance because this is House In the Park 7.

It takes much man-power/woman-power, experience, skill and prayer to run a public event held at a city public park that will host thousands of attendees from toddlers to the elderly. And HITP is no exception. HITP is that event which looks easy to execute in front of the theatrical curtain but in reality a whole lot goes on behind the sawdust scenes unbeknownst to the naked eye. As with previous years, this year’s event started off proper. Recycling bins for plastic bottles and trash bins for everything else were positioned around the park at various locations as well as several water stations that offered complimentary bottled water to keep guests hydrated. A slew of green portable toilet facilities were stationed across the gravel parking lot and cement driveway for those relieving needs. A maintenance crew walked to and fro collecting bags of trash with latex gloves that made sure the park stayed clean. Several volunteers in neon green tees manned the information booth decorated with bulky white donation buckets and first aid kits. Across from the information booth there were merchandise tables selling HITP bags, tees, tanks and compact discs. In front of the pavilion several vending tents sold everything from food items to painted portraits. Walking around the park volunteers in white tees shoved bulky white buckets in faces for monetary donations. The air smelled ripe with charcoal, perfect for summer holiday grilling. Savory scents of smoked meats, intoxicating flowery perfumes, sweet incense and choking cigarette smoke traversed the air with sporadic whiffs of aromatics. The city’s law enforcement, men and women, in all blue paraded around with eyes covered by sunglasses that were well equipped and more than eager to battle any opportunity that proved harm’s way. All went well until parents lost their children or children lost their parents. Over the microphone, interrupting mid-song and mid-dance, came several repeated announcements prompting individuals to come to the DJ booth and claim their little ones. As if this should be ground breaking news. Further microphone interruptions included; the several vehicles parked on the park’s grass that had to be removed before being towed and the loser with the blue American manufactured automobile that parked on a person’s lawn whose car was towed. Other than that the event went off without a hitch. Even the late afternoon rain that showered the park with love could not dampen the mood’s festivities or keep people away from the celebration of family, food and house music. As African drums played and the rain gods listened, the one giant Family Reunion of alumni and freshmen house heads and non-house heads and soon to be house heads danced and danced and danced thanks to killer anthems provided by all four DJ’s; Salah, Kemit, Ramon Rawsoul and Kai Alce.

12 pm

The event’s first minister of music, singer/ songwriter/ producer/ DJ Salah worked the musical switchboards with a skilled purview that only a maestro possesses. The dance floor, not the people, struggled a bit to capture the magical energy known to suddenly visit HITP at any given moment. The pavilions makeshift dance floor seemed a bit sluggish to wake as happy feet bounced and pounced to all kinds of drum beats. There seemed to be a slight hesitation, a sleepy silence or a mild tug-of-war to awake the concrete mammoth. The people’s feet already in mid-movements danced hard; real hard. Their bodies fought valiantly with bright smiles, arms slashing with all ten fingers waving about, spreading leg squats and stomping feet to syncopated rhythms of soul. Perhaps the floor’s sluggishness was due to too much genre jumping from Fela’s afro-beat to live act Tortured Soul to disco house crooner Marc Evans; not an easy task for any mixing DJ and certainly not an easy task for dancers to keep pace when dancing to a specific genre. However, Salah’s power play came with Adele’s, “Rolling In The Deep,” a deep house treatment that had people yelling, “We Could’ve Had It All/Rolling In The Deep” with hands raised in the air and heads titled in the sky.

2 pm

The dance floor was so packed with bumping bodies and humping heartbeats that there was no room to dance and you could forget about walking or dancing your way into the pavilion. People took to the pavilion’s wall ledge using smartphones and smart tablets to take digital photos and digitally film the mass amid thick dance moves and swinging arms below. During this photogenic moment, with an invisible whoosh the dance floor breathed new life and the magic that shows up at the event at any given moment arrived and took those on the dance floor by hand and danced with them through a musical journey of sights and sounds. Tapped to usher the journey was the day’s second DJ, the world famous DJ Kemit that played a sensory of beats ranging from a broken beat remix by Salah Ananse of John Legend’s rendition of Adele’s,Rolling In The Deep(played for the second time) to Zakes Bantwini’s afro-house,Clap Your Hands(Club Mix) to Ann Nesby’s disco cover of Brainstorm’s,Lovin’ Is Really My Gameto gospel house courtesy of Kenny Bobien’s,I Shall Not Be Moved.” HITP’s most breathtaking and most memorial visual came when the giant Family Reunion packed tight wall against wall within the pavilion jumped up and down like a sea of bobbing bobble heads to Nirvana’s, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (Salah Ananse Remix). Fists punched through the air as heads head-banged as if at an alternative rock concert equipped with a mosh pit. Screams of joy were heard across the park disturbing the wild life as the late Kurt Cobain yelled in angst, “With the lights out/it’s less dangerous/Here we are now/entertain us/I feel stupid and contagious/Here we are now/Entertain us”. What a sight to see the mass respond with sheer pandemonium of the house music kind. But wait, that wasn’t all, because from the wreckage came a shuttering broken beat staccato that segued into the silky vocals of the late great Michael Jackson singing, “Rock With You” the Ezel Remix that had the overjoyed caught up mimicking moonwalks and triple spins. Talk about a posthumous honor for the two legends that have influenced and redefined the sound of music.

4 pm

However, it was the third DJ, House In The Park’s founder, Ramon Rawsoul from south- side Chicago that put the house in House In The Park. Be it rather Culoe De Song featuring Thandiswa Mazwai’s afro-house killer,Gwebindlalato the deep-house stomper, Ceramic’s featuring Aisling Stepheson on vocals titledBroken Dreams(Tea Party Mix) to Peven Everett’s house thumping, “Church” (Sting’s International RMX). Mr. Rawsoul delivered and tore off the pavilion’s roof when Lil Louis’ house classic,French Kiss fell from the sky to tortured screams. People lost their minds, held hostage to the instrumental track as the music slowed into a hip-hop friendly groove equipped with orgasmic screams from a horny vocalist. However, looking around it wasn’t the vocalist having an orgasm but the massive crowd of sweaty flesh. With eyes closed heads flung around in the air with mouths wide open drooling saliva as people groped on one another; guys with gals, gals with guys, guys with guys and gals with gals. Shirtless men spun around on hands in dance circles showing off tricky feet movements as braless ladies wearing mid-drifts belly danced and dropped to the floor to do squats. HITP turned into a freak fest as the music sped back up to over 120 bpms and the crowd again yelled for more.

6 pm

The event’s fourth and final DJ, NYC born via Detroit raised Atlanta resident, Kai Alce’s musical concoction consisted of 90% 1970’s disco and the rest, 1980’s dance classics with a bit of current thrown in for extra flavor like Miranda Nicole’s, “Double Life” the sleeping remix fit for a soft-opening at a quant cozy restaurant instead of sitting perched between dance anthems of yesteryear. There seemed to be a premeditated motive to bring the old-skool back to life. This was great but one questioned begged to be asked, “Where was more house music at HITP 7? Anyways, the one giant Family Reunion loved the music played. Either overcome by alcohol or possessed by a high or not, the people lost their minds and danced and danced like panting wildebeest to Chaka Kahn’s,I Know You, I Live You,” and even to Rod Stewart’s,Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?until the sun fell silent behind the pavilion and the covered shelter structure spoke with bright lights. The crowd cheered, “Boo” as the MC announced the event would soon end at 8 pm. After the music filled journey dropped various individuals off at various destinations of quality family time, rekindled friendships, exercise workouts, overstuffed bellies, drunken hazes or to cloud 9 on a music high, it was time to say good night and good bye until the next time.

8:10 pm

The magic that shows up at any given moment on the dance floor stayed around far after darkness fell, far after all the trash was thrown neatly and tucked away in black bags, far after every grill was disassembled and every tent folded away, far after every law enforcement in navy blue called it a day, far after every piece of hardware and software was packed onto flat beads and loaded onto trucks, far after the last heartbeat left the premises and every four wheeled vehicle abandoned the parking lot, the magic even stayed around far after the park’s 11 am closing time. It’s presence could be felt the following morning on Internet blogs, seen in the smiles of online photos, heard through online videos, spoken through word of mouth statements and experienced through the collective thoughts of memories that would live on.



Photography by John Crooms except for last photograph by John Hobbs

HOUSE IN THE PARK 6 05.09.10

September 6, 2010

House In The Park had become a musical destination for those around the globe to partake. People traveled near and far to attend; some as far away as California, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Indiana, Tennessee, The Carolinas and Florida. Seattle, Chicago, DC, and Detroit were all in the house. One infamous social networking site even posted a couple flew all the way from Paris, France.

The weather for the day was perfect. Temperatures for the Labor Day weekend were forecast in the mid to upper 80’s. After a torrid summer the milder temperatures were highly welcomed like cold brews after mowing grass. A gentle breeze blew in the air that signaled the transition from summer to autumn. Soon to be brown leaves perched high in trees swayed from side to side in musical rhythm.

Generally the park’s lush greenery was barren but by 12:30 pm the site was populated with tents and tables as far as the eye could see. “WOW, these people are serious.”

The scene resembled something straight from the pages of magazines of popular music festivals that occur in Austin TX, Manchester TN, or Chicago IL. Nothing like this had ever existed in the city for a HOUSE MUSIC event. Folks this was for HOUSE MUSIC, not hip-hop, rock, folk or a pooh-pooh platter of all the above but for HOUSE MUSIC. To say this was unprecedented would be an understatement. Not to mention it was only twelve thirty in the afternoon and the event began at noon. These campers had to have been in the park since eight or nine that morning. Not to mention the people that slept in the park overnight. How amazing.

Past the several vendor tables selling every item imaginable from organic handmade soap to HITP paraphernalia was the park’s lone pavilion with dance floor. DJ Kemit already on deck warmed up the small smiling crowd of twenty dancing feet. After ten minutes of making rounds to speak with everyone camped in tents and grilling meats the dance floor was made way to as DJ Kemit dropped a soul fueled mix of “Hard Time for Lovers,” from a singer who channeled the late great Luther Vandross as though Luther was alive at the park. By that point the dance floor was so warmed with love it felt as though someone blessed the space prior to the event’s start. The pavilion radiated with a natural joy that cast out any naysayer’s negativity.

Shortly thereafter, DJ Kemit’s time expired on the 1’s and 2’s, HITP’s second DJ of the day stepped aboard to wreck havoc. Salah Ananse the singer/producer/DJ/ and all around entertainer, entertained the ever growing crowd with some hard core jams. Without notice the music stopped. Then the acappella voice of Tony Momrelle singing the anthem, “Star” arose from the ashes as a phoenix. It was as if the man was right there singing live from the DJ set-up. Moments later, drums and warm synth pads exploded behind the acappella which signaled it was time to get down. There were granddads stepping in the name of love with grandmothers all over the floor. There were the fancy footwork house dancers stomping all over the floor. And then there was a little boy no more than the age of two creating a masterpiece of artwork using various colors of chalk on the pavilion’s floor. It was only one o’ clock in the afternoon and already HITP was off to a collage of activity.

As if that were not enough, Salah played a hand crafted organic remix from one of the city’s most spirited visionaries who was a self-proclaimed android from the future. The singer, signed to one of the world’s leading hip-hop mogul’s record label walked the “tightrope” between both worlds of the underground and the mainstream. The remix so cleverly orchestrated bridged the gap between the female’s futuristic rap vocal laid over a present-day broken beat drum loop that culminated to deliver a vocal melancholy of funk.

At best there was no stopping or at least slowing down Salah who was on fire by blessing the crowd with additional unleavened self-produced productions fresh from the studio. There was the “I Need You” dub to the soulful drenched testament of love’s healing power. It took no time for the crowd to strengthen in numbers as they partook in the oratory delight.

What happened next was nonetheless miraculous. Salah esteemed the crowd with an Atjazz production titled, “Mercyless” from San Fran’s Fred Everything. The song’s hook “merciless” sung over razor slashing synths and a beat so choppy the song practically needed its own pair of chopsticks pronounced it was time to dance. A slew of shouts surged through the air to greet the arrival of people rushing or dancing to the dance floor. Soon, everyone and their momma was on the dance floor digging deep to find dance moves to accommodate the choppy beat. There were video cameras filming the choreography and cameras flashing at individuals losing their minds. Everyone was ranting and yelling as if recently tasting music for the first time. The only disappointment was the talking MC announcing the news of a lost little boy at the front information desk over the soulful “woohoo hoo hoo” of Wayne Tennant’s vocals.

Damn, what a great way to disrupt the positive flow and the musical energy with negative news. Unfortunately, no one seemed to bat an eye at the missing child announcement because five minutes later the MC was back with microphone in hand making a second announcement, then a third, followed by a fourth and so on. Where were the child’s guardians or parents at? Sadly, HITP was a perfect place to drop off an unwanted crying one year old infant by older teenage siblings, an irresponsible babysitter or just plain wayward parents. Unfortunately, by the sixth announcement no one had claimed the little toddler. In what was no surprise the city’s police threatened to call DFAX. The crowd applauded and yelled with approval. It was high time someone stepped up and claimed responsibility. Actually the legitimate threat worked because within five minutes someone claimed the child but not without another announcement; this one for a lost little girl in a pink top and blue skirt.

PLEASE, EVERYONE WITH CHILDREN; MONITOR YOUR CHILDREN BECAUSE MUSIC INTERRUPTIONS ARE BEGINNING TO UPSET THE CROWD. Thankfully the little girl was quickly found and no additional “missing children” reports were noted for the reminder of the event. Sigh.

Notable music stand outs included Culoe De Song’s, “Gwebindlala” dropped by Ramon Rawsoul. Thandiswe Mazai’s feminine afro chants over a minimal driven afro-beat drove HITP to Africa’s deep jungles. DJ Mick’s Culoe De Song Interpretation of Gladys Knight’s and the Pips retitled, “The First To Say Goodbye” secured itself as the deep house anthem of the year. What a surprise when Kai Alce, the city’s local legend dropped St. Germain’s, “Rose Rouge” a jazzy house classic from the year 2000. It was said the crowd in the pavilion went crazy; absolutely bananas. It was nothing like seen or heard previously that day. Everyone fell into a trance possessed by some hypnotic force which caused them to bend over with arms outstretched while hoots and hollers vomited from their mouths.

By 8 pm, beating drums besieged the park to announce another HITP journey had reached its destination. There was a drum circle of several individuals dressed in African attire dancing around drummers banging talking drums that beckoned individuals to sweet somber. There were the faces of little girls and adults fixated with smiles speaking the same language of dance and love. What sheer delight. Long after the digital music stopped and the electronic CD players and mixer were neatly packed away in tight coffins the organic drums continued to play. Their message spoke, “Good night to all. Peace, blessings and prosperity. God bless.”

Photography by Carlos J. Bell