Posts Tagged ‘Ramon Rawsoul’

HOUSE IN THE PARK 11 06.09.15

September 8, 2015


“HONK.” As sedans, pickups and 4X4’s slow to a crawl on I-20 eastbound at the ramp of Boulevard, the traffic on the World Wide Web stalls. Thankfully, no vehicles or servers, for that matter, crash. Finally!-And no not the CeCe Peniston classic-House In The Park Sunday arrives!

At a park, named after a U.S. president, on Confederate Avenue, thousands of feet stampede the green space. The festivity is less conservancy, more 4G. Posts and photos clog social media newsfeeds. Thirty-second videos go viral. Hit after hit. Likes accumulate. Tweets chirp. Memes abound. A song list is even cataloged on a blog. HITP 11 trends.

“After all house music is the black person’s alternative.” Replies the voice-activated “AI” when asked, “Is HITP the real Afropunk?” Uploads of Afro’s, locs, beads, and faux hawks be natural or extensions, crown heads of dancing kings and dancing queens, and their dancing princes and dancing princesses. Selfies of Tees, tunics, cowls and body paint are fit for fashion spreads. Just #blackfashionmatters.    

Dress and tags are only smaller numerators in HITP’s larger algorithm. There are four constant variables that play the most important part when coding the event’s success.

The Four Fathers. Salah Ananse, DJ Kemit, Kai Alce, and founding father Ramon Rawsoul stand tall and proud. Acetate. Polycarbonate. Gigabyte: Are their mouthpieces. Their voices eschewed from shiny hardware, transmitted by stereo surround-sound. Each bringing their distinct flavor, Salah: boutique house, Kemit: disco, Ramon: ancestral and Kai: every sound in between, makes PPL <3 HITP. 

Sunrays kiss smiley faces. Red, green, gold, and black jewels sparkle against the stark bulb in the sky. iClouds fly across the azure. The temperature feels not too hot, not too humid, and never too cold but just the right amount of cool. A fit-watch pixels display 85 degrees.

The balmy temperature is a shock, but not the music. As one girl whips and nae naes to a remix of Justin Timberlake singing “Holy Grail.” Everyone agrees House in The Park is the “Holy Grail.”

The Holy Grail that started ten years ago as an intimate gathering of friends, has massed into more than one large family picnic, but a technological boom. Far more than food trucks, the aroma of grilled meats, vendors, pavilions and tent city, there is no denying HITP’s digital footprint that stomps the digital world. Perhaps, next year, the drone that flies overhead will be used to film a virtual-reality live stream. In real-time, to all businesses, corporations and advertisers, HITP is where the money is.

words: aj dance

visual: toasted ink

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


September 30, 2012


This Is A War Cry.

The warriors are prepared.  They have come ready to give out of sacrifice.  They come ready to give life-bearing fruit.  Too, the warriors are armed.  They are armed with their finances.  They are armed with their prayers.  They are armed with their God-given talents, skilled abilities and creative acumen.  They are armed with their dedication.  But most of all, they are armed with love.  They are equipped for battle.  But this battle is different.  This battle is not for the faint of heart, the ballerina types.  This battle is for the strong and courageous of heart, the dancers that drop beads of sweat that are gritty and free-style.

Sunset scorches the harvest sky a fiery salmon that streaks south before succumbing to the night’s outer darkness to the east.  A full moon hangs suspended in animated glory.  Its illumination provides a guiding light for the traveling troops.

The sleeping dust nesting beneath the warrior’s feet awakens and scurries into the nocturnal air at the incoming uproar.  The warrior’s feet march in sync into battle.  Their syncopated stomps are so harmonious it morphs into a life-giving heartbeat of drums thumping on rhythmic four counts.  The thumps grow louder and louder until a life-pulsating heartbeat sounds throughout the land. The healing heartbeat of restoration guides the warrior’s feet to dance.  When their feet dance, a seismic force of life-birthing tremors shakes the earth.  The dancers become a ramose of sporadic interpretations woven through the tapestry of mobile expressions.  Even rhythm-challenged white girls get down, dancing like injured robots in need of dance lessons, as experienced house dancers stomp holes into the ground, and gays J-set, drop to the ground-like it’s hot-and spring up again in a split second.  Every heart is in on the action.  Even the ministers of music deliver nothing short of sensational sermons; DJ 1derful of Sunday School lays down Reel People’s featuring Tony Momrelle, “Golden Lady”(Louie Vega Roots Mix), DJ Lynee Denise of Chitlin’ Circuit guides the dancers to an oasis of afro and deep house paradise, DJ Stanzeff of Tambor fame leads the parishioners to “The Bright Forest,”  Ramon Rawsoul, Founding Father of The Gathering, takes the people all around the world, DJ Salah Ananse of Sunday School has the dancers “Body Drummin’” as DJ Yusef of Free Ur Soul serves a heartfelt reminder that “Life Starts Today.”  Every heart dances as if to call down rain from the sky.  It’s a time of celebration.  It’s a time of life.  It’s a time of healing.  For this is Mujasi’s healing.

Who is this Mujasi that commands the hearts of the known and the unknown to give unconditionally through finances, prayer and dance?  Who is this Mujasi that causes six ministers of music, from various deep and soulful house music soirees around the city, to set aside their petty differences, uphold their common mantle, deep house music, and come together to support a benevolent cause?


It takes a community….It takes a village.

His name translates courageous warrior.  He is but only four years of age and yet a young man of many years.  Mujasi, the lad with a heart of steel and a heart of gold, was recently diagnosed with LCH-Unifocal (Langerhans cell histiocytosis, unifocal) a rare auto-immune disease that effects eight out of one million children.  The much-needed treatments for this rare disease are aggressive and expensive.  The treatments are so astronomically expensive that health care only covers a minute fraction of the costs.  Enter the city’s house music community and the city’s music community at large to assist with financial support and generous efforts.

Mujais’s prayer sings in the air, “There is no affliction in me.”  Although, not physically present on the battlefield his spirit dances with his mother’s heart that serves a faithful reminder when five years earlier, Mom danced with Son in womb at various house music functions across the city.

Mujasi’s mother, Theresa McGhee leads the warriors to battle.  Mother Theresa, the host of the Sunday evening gathering titled Sunday Dinner, fights for nothing less than the best.  Mother Theresa is not for show, but possesses a treasured heart of humility.  She diligently works hard “in the game” to support her son and to keep him happy.  She gives her all.  Her dance of triumph emanates from her heart.  She gracefully dances onto the battle field.  She adorns the battlegrounds.  Two dimples, worth a million dollars, dot about to and fro.  Her smile is awe-inspiring.  Although petite in frame, her spirit structures the battlefield’s strategic movements.  Every eye gazes stunned.  Her life-giving joy touches every soul she encounters.  A close stare in those bright as the moon, two-doe eyes aglow in hazel, reveals no hint of sorrow as her vibrant visage, besieged with two cheekbones that are perched as high as mountaintops, reveals no trace of doom or gloom.

She rallies the troops with a valiant heart-felt proclamation.  She is animated.  She is emotional.  She talks in cant, a sing-song pattern that practically eludes a poetess historic of spoken word.  She sways onstage and she bends over at the outpouring of generosity and support and most of all love from her brothers and sisters.  She tells of the many telephone calls that she has received, even from former-school peers that she no longer recalls.  She cries.  The troops cry.  She speaks of not only her son’s healing but the healing of the warriors through their giving.  The troops respond with valiant shouts of agreement that materialize in the warm air.

Back on the battlefield, the dancers know something.  Yes, they carry a secret.  Lend them your ear.  The secret whispers, “Already the battle is won.  Mother and Son have the victory.”  So, the warriors dance in victory.  Death will not show its face tonight, the next night or any other night thereafter.  Not even, a hint of death’s venom in slave- induced sickness will be felt.  Even the universe bares witness with a miraculous message of majestic proportions.

Look up in the night’s sky.  Yes, up in the air.  See, the harvest moon illuminated in its entire splendor.  There is something different about this moon.  The lunar creation shimmers with a blue magnetic ring that shivers around its spherical form.  The moon speaks.  It speaks truth.  Hear the words, “This is not the courageous warrior’s end but the courageous warrior’s beginning.  We celebrate you, Mujasi.”

To donate and for more information:

Healing Mujasi by Theresa McGee

Words & photography by AJ Dance/Except flyer

HOUSE IN THE PARK 8 02.09.12

September 3, 2012


Gone are the days when House In the Park was intimate, sitting at quaint public city parks where 500 people gathered.  Today, House In the Park has become a behemoth must-attend event for house heads, non house heads and soon to be house heads from around the world.  It groups with the likes of large music festivals, think Music Midtown, DEMF or Bonnaroo.  The event has grown so large it could easily sit on a 700 acre farm somewhere in Georgia or on a meadow in the city’s largest park overlooking a pavilion with a giant stage where the Fab 4 can DJ.  Get ready!  In the near future, if HITP continues its exponential expansion these ideas might consider further exploration but for now we’ll settle for two pavilions at its latest incarnate, Grant Park.

HITP’s footprints have danced the city far and wide for the best green space with amenities.  Eight years earlier, Candler Park with no electrical outlets played host.  Thereafter, home for six years was Perkerson Park in the heart of the city’s Southwest Capital View community.  Amazingly, during that time span something happened that every event planner prays to experience.  The phenomenon called growth plagued HITP at such an unprecedented rate that PP had to be abandoned for greater green space.  So, off to the city’s east side where the oldest and fourth largest park named after engineer Lemuel P. Grant seemed a more suitable fit.

Home to the city’s only zoo, civil war-esque Cyclorama, swimming, and recreation facilities the 131.5 acres is somewhat a tourist trap.  Grant Park sits between Cherokee Avenue and Boulevard SE where Confederate Avenue begins or ends depending on one’s view.  Yes, this is the park where the guy jogs wearing a Confederate flag.  However, on this day HITP’s house music freedom flag waves for all to behold.

Already, the park is abuzz with various makings.  Picture perfect blue skies while birds chirp songs of joy.  The morning temperatures announce another noon day scorcher.  Fresh air travels to and fro delivering lively scents of burning charcoal.  Famous chicken sausages and green veggies sizzle on grills.  In the not so far away distance, a soundtrack of classic house music and old-school hip hop emanate from a portable device in the smaller of the three pavilions transplanted between pavilion 1 and pavilion 2.    To the left, several vendors assemble a massive tent, and to the right muscle men carry folding chairs and folding tables.  Jovial moms push little ones in high-tech strollers as little girls run by giggling.  Boisterous voices thunder across the pathway to greet love ones with cherish bear hugs.  The scene embodies one giant family reunion. This is love in the park.

The noonday’s festivities kick off sharply with the internationally acclaimed DJ Kemit of Spread Love assuming musical duties.  As the band Rufus plays backup, singer Chaka Kahn wastes no time taking lead on “I Know You, I Live You” that draws singing voices and dancing sneakers racing to pavilion 1.  Next, DJ Kemit throws in a classic for all the old-school house heads with Ten City’s Devotion.”  After another round of oldies but goodies and Afefe Iku’sBody Drummin”, DJ Kemit logs off as music ambassador as the next musicologist logs on.

It’s the DJ with the dreads that proves new songs can be just as addictive as old songs.So Addictive(The Layabouts Addicted to House Vocal Mix) by Benedetto & Farina featuring vocals by Sandy Spady, laid back vibe ushers in a refreshing cool breeze that the dancers warmly welcome.  DJ Salah Ananse’s ever eclectic persona takes the vibes deep back to 1997 with gospel legend BeBe Winans “Thank You” (Masters At Work 12” Mix) that brings Sunday morning church service and the crowd to the park’s pavilion.  Keeping things classic, Chic’s “Dance, Dance, Dance” storms P 1 which is packed with sweaty bodies.  Once again, the tone cools down a bit with the disco-esque bouncy grooves from the UK’s Layabouts featuring Seattle vocalist Portia Monique on the sing-along Do Better.”  DJ Kemit AKA MC Kemit hops on the microphone and announces a Salah Ananse exclusive that pounds from the speakers.  An afro beat comes to a thrilling climax as 1990’s “hip hop on an R&B tip with a pop appeal/feel to it” pioneers, Bell Biv Devoe sing “She’s Driving Me Outta My Mind” on their platinum hit, “Poision.”  What a surprise as Generation X sings along and jumps off into dance hysteria.  The song that receives the “MOST CRUNK” award goes to one of the most recognized song’s in the world, Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”  This ambitious undertaking remixed by South African sensation Black Motion (Mortarfied Bootleg) equipped with an afro house beat, brass horns and Vincent Price’s famous cackle is without a trace of MJ’s theatric chops.  The remix builds to a climatic peek with Vincent’s howl that raises the roof off the hinges as the afro beat slams on the heads of the crowd that sends bodies into frantic fits of rage.  Fists pump the air as mouths drop agape and feet stomp the concrete.  The Afrique Electrique founder known for his production/remix skills sets the bar high with another handcrafted standard this time with Goyte’s featuring Kimbra “Somebody That I Used To Know” (Salah Ananse Mix) one of the countless interpretations of the Top 40 smash that now thumps with an afro house kick accompanying its lullaby inflection.  “Do You Have It?” The questioned begged by DJ Spen presents LeRoyal, Baltimore’s up and coming urban/pop sensation, remixed by Maurice Joshua, told the people to say “Yeah” if you have the key to life, love.  On the grunge front, Salah drops another goodie, his rework to Nirvana’s, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (Salah Ananse Mix) that was last years HITP 7 anthem.  A tribute to the late great Fela’s afro beat rounds out one of the most diverse, eclectic and impressive sets of the day.  Salah rocked that fresh face house music mixed with an alternative vibe of unpredictability that shows the crowd love and the crowd responds with more of the same.

“How many of you were at the Paradise Garage?” The master of ceremony shouts into the microphone and asks the crowd.  The crowd roars like lions.  To both pavilions, old-school heads rush in droves as DJ Kemit rewinds the hands of time to yesteryear.  A fellow well know old-school head raises a crafty constructed Paradise Garage poster that travels the pavilion.  Time rests somewhere between the years 1976-1987 as the group Chicago’s “Street Player” takes the dancers to the land of FM radio and disco roller rinks.  The crowd can’t get enough as DJ AKA MC Kemit announces a future surprise.  Then it happens, a song plays that causes the people to respond like wild animals in summer heat.  BT Express’ “Peace Pipe” smokes and burns receding hairlines and salt and pepper follicles completely bald.  After a well-rounded tribute of old school classics, DJ Kemit switches gears and brings the vibe back to the present.  The Yoruba Recordings catalog Is on full-blast as Yoruba label mate Afefe Iku’s Re-edit of the mega platinum selling rock band Radiohead’s,“Everything In Its Right Place” takes the listeners on an ancestral journey of deep rhythms and tribalism.  Yoruba Recordings label head Osunlade’sEnvision(Yoruba Soul Mix) tingles the air.  By design, DJ Kemit segues into two songs from his recently released long player titled,Everlasting.”  The first single Transformshimmers with Osunlade singing lead vocals while Spread Loveshines with Atlanta’s Sepesenahki on vocals, the theme to DJ Kemit’s acclaimed ectopic party with the same moniker.  “Go pick up the album at Moods Music or on the web at ……, “announces compere Kemit.  The former Arrested Development DJ is in pleasure mode and is on the prowl to please every lady in attendance.  The lovelies are serenaded with not one but THREE offerings; from DJ Zinhle featuring vocalist Busiswa Gqulu with My Name Is,” to Teddy Douglas presents Margaret Grace with God Created Woman,” to Verna  Francis, “Earth Is The Place” (Restless Soul Peaktime Mix) that has the ladies singing, “Cause I’m a woman.”

Expectedly, every woman arrives implacably dressed and ready to impress.  Actually, HITP is a tour de fashion.  Every hair-do possibly imagined is sported by the ladies.  Afros, braids, curls, extensions, faux hawks, locs, natural, and twisties bop and weave around the park.  Every hair color is spotted on tops of heads from blonde, blue with purple roots, pink, red and brown.  Hair hangs cropped, short, shoulder length and down the back that can rival any famous hair show.  Vibrant outfits of every summer color electrify eyes.  Every hue of bare skin provides orectic temptation.  Accessories of sneakers, kneepads, belts, neckwear, ear wear, eyewear and church hats compliments bare skin against sweat- stained clothes.  Actually, wearing one outfit is not sufficient.  Yes, a second change of clothes is needed as several people change T-shirts, sundresses and shorts for the next DJ.

Ramon Rawsoul beams those pearly whites.  A million dollar smile flashes in the sun’s embrace.  The HITP founder stands aplomb to lead the congregants to the Mother Land.  The sojourners cross the Atlantic Ocean and arrive at Jo’burg’s townships on the continent called Africa where African rhythms are explored.  From the likes of Manoo’s,Kodjothe tribal banger to Zakes Batwini’sWasting My Timethe sounds of South Africa’s house music plays loud and proud.  From there Ramon gives his parishioners a glimpse at his stomping grounds back in Chicago, Illinois with a classic Chi-town acid house music track.  Then it’s time to get serious with Jill Scott’s vocal prayer “Hear My Call” (Pablo Martinez Mix).  Someone somewhere must have danced to the rain gods because in the midst of the tribal excursion raindrops descend upon the park.  To tease the crowd, Ramon plays Kerri Chandler’sRain(Atjazz Mix) the soundtrack to the precipitation.  The refreshing shower that lasts a mere ten minutes does nothing to divert the people’s attention in the park.  As the rain clouds roll away, sunny skies reappear and dance to Ceramic featuring Aisling Stephenson’s Broken Dreams(Ian Friday ‘Tea Party’ Vocal).  Unsung, Atlantic Starr shows up with “Send For Me” (Master Kev & Tony Loreto) that makes the hearts of old-school die.  One observer notes, she has died and gone to heaven while one house head proclaims, this is paradise.  How important it is to play new songs that young people can relate too.  A team of young girls, holding hands, walks through P 1 and mouths Goyte’s anthem “Somebody That I Used To Know” (Master Kev & Tony Loreto Mix).  The song that plays for the second time at the event marks one of the many music standouts of the day.  The anthem also wraps up Ramon’s time on deck.  Thanks for taking the pilgrimage to the lands of South Africa to explore the deep tribal sounds of house music.  Musical exposure is a key concept at HITP.

Kai Alce is his name and music is his game.  When the mixologist plays people show up in droves to experience the master at work.  Always the final installment of the Fab 4, Kai wraps up the party with old-school meets on the horizon anthems.  From classic disco, Brainstorm’s “Lovin Is Really My Game” to classic house, Kenny Bobien’sFather” (Ricanstruction Mix) there was something played for all peoples.

Of course, an event of this magnitude will have a few issues.  It all started during DJ Salah Ananse’s set.  At various times and in various spots within P 1 dance circles formed for the elite of dancers to battle and show off fancy footwork, hand stands and pop and lock art forms.  Honestly, when the pavilion is packed with bodies in motion, there’s not much room in the pavilion for open mouthed bystanders to besiege cropped circles to watch b-boys and dancers prove crown.  HITP needs all the dance space it can conjure.

During DJ Kemit’s illustrious set, there was the mishap fire incident when a fire extinguisher is needed within fifteen minutes or the park and party would have been shut down.  Inside the pavilion, people took the matter into their own hands chanting “The roof/The roof/The roof is on fire/We don’t need no water/ Let the …..(well you know the rest).  Yes, the people mentioned the undesirable right in front of families and small ones.  “People HITP is about family.  Let’s respect the kids,” announced MC Kemit.  At that time, someone had the brilliant idea to throw water into the air until MC Kemit laid down the law and had a come to Jesus meeting with the obnoxious.

By the time Kai Alce assumed music duties, P 1 became so crowded that for the first time ever at HITP crowd control was needed.  Outside of P 1 a HITP female volunteer stood with yellow caution rope in hand to let one to two people into P 1 at a time.  In effort to find additional space P 1 was abandoned for P 2.  However, both pavilions overflowed with people like cellulite trapped in spandex on a hot day.  In P 2 the hysteria chants of ATL vs New York vs every other city represented at the park was nauseating.  SECURITY.  We need security in P 2 fast before the zoo animals get out of hand.  Actually, the city’s zoo is at the other end of the park.

Once again, HITP set out to exceed expectations and that it accomplished.  From its latest stomping grounds to the music played the event was not only the summer’s hot sauce on collards but the fatback to the event of the year.  What a beautiful experience to behold and witness.  Also, words to the wise, next year, please don’t submit the DJs a request list.  The Fab 4 need not be told how to do their job.  These cats are the very best of the best.  They know what music to play and how to play music.  All four professionals played a diverse work of art that well-represented genres of music that ranged from house, classics, to soul. Please keep in mind, this is not the NYC Weekender, nor the Chicago Weekender, nor the Detroit Weekender, nor the San Francisco Weekender or the London Weekender.  It’s not even the Old-School Weekender or the New-School Weekender.  This is the ATLANTA WEEKENDer and HITP is house music.  So Atlanta standup.  This is your time to shine.  Be it the music that unites and not divides.  House music conquers with LOVE!

WEEKENDer Epilogue

After dancing on the concrete and sweating outdoors for several hours, you find out there’s an after party that you must attend.  Off you go….


Words and Photography by AJ Dance


September 3, 2012

Photography by AJ Dance


August 5, 2012


The DJ Summer Olympic Games

Calling all Ladies and Gentlemen, for those of you unable to snag a ticket to one of the most anticipated events of the summer-the DJ Olympic Games-press the power button on the remote control to your HD plasma television and press the play key on your DVR to enjoy the recaps, replays and highlights from one of the most prolific parties to hit town. By far this summer, The Gathering was the Olympic event of house music. So, get ready to relive the joy, sweat, and tears from one of house music’s premiere parties.

The Opening Ceremonies

Former Olympic host city Atlanta, Georgia serenaded its own musical tribute to the Olympic Games; house music style. Local legend Kai Alce was commissioned to open the summer DJ ceremony with the spectacular lighting of the musical torch. Mr. Kai Alce did as so and produced an impressive show-stopping audio montage. In the mix, old-school house juxtaposed with the sultry sounds of the new school. However, it was the old-school house that resonated the clearest and deepest with beats that banged hard as hi-hats incessantly hissed under saxophone tremolos. Kai, armed with in-depth music acumen, represented his globe-trotting adventures of far and near with exclusives from Japan to Detroit. As the hometown hero worked the main stage of musical hardware consisting of two CDJ’s, a mixer, and was aided by a melancholy Goth, sitting in a chair, controlling the sound system, ticket holders straggled into the front door while others tried to enter from the back door. Please note. People do not try to enter the establishment via the back door without paying because you will be SHUT DOWN. PERIOD. Courtesy Management. By no means, was this event a spectator sport; but this event was all about participation. Already, the Olympic spirit was in the air, besieging every heart to beckon its athletic call. Several dancers warmed-up as if to compete in a four hour dance-a-thon of endurance and strength. Their feet pounded the pavement as their hips whipped from left to right as some even banged their fists on an exposed wall. Little did they realize their actions were on record because this too was a dance-a-thon for champions.

The Games

Who better to answer the call to represent the main games than the 3 Degrees Global ambassador, Julius The Mad Thinker? The party’s guest music curator sprang into action with the heart of a runner sprinting in a 100 meter dash. The Chicago native steadied himself, with position and pose, ready to march the Olympiads to victory. The first two rounds or songs of vocal house preached like a Sunday morning church service in the backwoods of the south. Out from the choir stand came the ever impressive Lady Alma and the Rainamkers’ with,Let It Fallthat represented Team USA. The song worked over those gathered into a celebratory frenzy coupled with screams, and fist pumping in the air action. Watch out the Holy Ghost was about to be unleashed. With lyrics as “Troubles Don’t Last Always/Let It Rain” the event was augmenting inspirational heights. Up next, Team Colombia appeared with the late Joe Arroyo’s “La Tortuga” (Jose Marquez Edit) singing in sensual Spanish. Spanish speakers and non-Spanish speakers truly appreciated the global gesture. The Mad Thinker himself, got in on the action and proudly sported his moniker, Aid To The Soulless with Desla on vocals singing, One Night“(Thinker & Kai Mix). Then the games went into club mode with Timmy Regisford’s and Lynn Lockamy, At the Club(Rocco Deep Mix) with pulsating heart-pounding thumps and progressive flair. With the drop of the beat Team Africa wasted no time and showed up with Zakes Bantwini,Wasting My Time (Black Coffee Original Mix). Suddenly, the music came to an abrupt stop. Oops. An eerie silence straddled the air (and plasma screens across the globe) for about two seconds. The referees had determined Team Africa would be disqualified from the round due to technical difficulties. Bummer. Valiantly, the gathered crowd responded with handclaps on the four-count and unified chants of “Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh/Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh.” (MC Hammer style) The dancers played great sportsmanship/sportswomanship as the music was cued by a frustrated looking Julius bouncing back into action. Talk about resilience of Olympic proportions. When the sport knocks you down, you get back up and keep running like the champion that you are. From there the house music went into Indie rock territory with Team Australia signaling the lead. The Temper Trap’s, “Sweet Disposition” (MFU All-Star Mix) proudly waved their country’s flag high for all to see. The dancers did not miss a beat and danced like they were competing athletes. Once again, Team Africa showed up, this time with vengeance and armed with African drums, as Afefe Iku from the island Manda off the coast of Kenya played, “Dakountdown.” The audience fell victim, dropping on their knees, to the duple meter drums, a swirling vocal riff and that auto-tuned 1,2,3,4. If that weren’t enough for a double header Team Africa launched into the dreamy, Fallingby DJ Kent featuring Malehloka Hlalele on the Black Coffee remix. Surely the Africans had recaptured their loss footing and won back their previous strides. From there the music beckoned its ambient call with atmospheric vibes sifting into the incense aromatic air. Promptly, Team French entered the mix with DJ/producer extraordinaire Rocco and C. Robert Walker-AKA the Luther Vandross of house music-on vocals crooning,I Love The Night(Louie Vega Roots Mix) that had the crowd singing, “Ooh Ah/I Like It/Like That At Night.” On another high note, “Bah, Bah, Bah, Baaahhh.” The gold medal winning song belonged to Honeycomb Music’s label head, Josh Milan with Your Body(Louie Vega Mix). Literally, the song received the prize-winning applause of the night. The atmosphere exploded with combustible confetti too elusive to bridle. If that weren’t enough, Team USA achieved another victory with the Los Angeles born, GRAMMY-nominated jazz vocalist, Gregory Porter’s,1960 What?(Opolopo Kick & Bass Rerub) remixed by Team Japan’s Opolopo that caused additional dance floor mayhem that received spirited praise.

The Closing Ceremonies

The Gathering’s’ founder,Ramon Rawsoul closed the Olympic event with an impressive array of who’s who in American soulful house. First up, a blast from the past straight into the living room’s across the world, Atlantic Starr performed, “Send For Me” (Master Kev and Tony Loreto Mix) their classic R&B hitter that rocked the crowd in the arms of nostalgia. Chicago legends Cajmere and Russoul featuring vocalist Ari Lourdes,Love Is Youthe John Legend and Chrisette Michelle cover showed much love to the nu-soul house movement. Classic material from New Jersey’s Kerri Chandler’s,Rainput the party back in hyper-drive after a brief protest from disgruntled music activists as Maryland’s Thommy Davis and Ron Hall’s, Fugue In Baltimorebrought down the house. Once again, a sound malfunction occurred and the music came to an abrupt stop. A two second FCC broadcast censor lingered on-air until Mr. Rawsoul restarted the music. By the way, what was up with the music equipment? Was it faulty or were the several wires that snaked around the field stepped on? Anyways, shoulder shrug. The show continued with twenty-first century R&B powerhouses, Jill Scott with, “I Think It’s Better” (Blaze Roots Vocal) and Alicia Keys with, “Feeling You Feeling Me” (Alpha and Omega Mix) belting out soul-drenched eargasms. Their virtuosa performances slowed the vibe down a bit but made for some dynamic dancing as background dancers squared off In crop circles while rolling around on the floor and committing fanatical poses of midair fascination. Also, the slower vibe fit perfectly for the lovers to couple dance and made for some spontaneous hook-ups via Grindr. The Gathering’s closeout theme, Bryon Moore’s, Life Starts Today(Tea Party Reprise) ended the glorious event with both Chicago natives and compeers onstage; a Julius The Mad Thinker tweaking away and turning the mixers knobs while Ramon Rawsoul gleefully sung the lyrics.

The Victories and Defeats

People from all walks of life; from age 21 and up, all ethnicities, all sexes, all sexual orientations and all creeds gathered together in celebration. What a wonderful exhibition of diversity that exemplified the golden spirit of the Olympic Games itself. By far, this had to be one of the most motley and record breaking attended Gatherings in its lengthy history. The arena was so packed from left to right and crammed from front to back with awestruck souls that experienced the spirit of soulful house music through song and dance. On the other hand, one of the event’s lack (besides the DJ being able to hear the music onstage) was that the people could have used a bit more Julius. Had the 3 Degrees Global ambassador played for an additional thirty minutes the missing Brits and other European teams could have showed face. Team United Kingdom would have been finely represented by tri-musician Ben Westbeech that would have competed perfectly in the vocalist/remixer/DJ rounds or veteran Joey Negro in the disco house competitions. Global phenomenon Gramophonedzie could have surfaced and represented well for Team Serbia in the swing house/jackin’ house categories with sampled big band sounds of talking trumpets, horny horns and big beats. Oh well, maybe in another four years they will. By the way, the gold medal for the dance-a-thon goes to the beautiful lady-a former Chicagoan herself-dressed in a black-lace top and white tank underneath, denim-short shorts and sneakers who danced for four hours nonstop. You go girl!!!

Words & Photography by AJ Dance


August 3, 2012

Chicago’s Julius The Mad Thinker of 3 Degrees Global will make an apperance in Atlanta, GA on Saturday August4, at the Sound Table for a special intimate night of music. Check out what the Mad Thinker is currently working on and his outlook for Saturday night’s visit.

Interview by AJ Dance

1. What is Julius The Mad Thinker currently working on?

Quite a bit!

For event production, I’m confirming the last of the production and entertainment details for events leading to and happening during the Mi Casa Holiday(MCH) Season 4 Finale in Playa del Carmen, Mx. Some of the details include approving lights and sound, selecting visuals, approving decorations, artist time slots, script writing for On-Screen Talent, building and developing new and current relationships with restaurants, artists, groups and administrations such as the new Mexican Government appointees.

For music production, I’ve written 3 new songs. “Wife Lover Friend”(WLF), “Purpose to Life” & “Proud to Be”. We’re(Aid to the SouLLess team) just about to record vocals on “WLF” with a phenomenal voice named Kaye Fox. I’m also collaborating on a future Terry Hunter song.

For Tour Schedule – I’m looking forward to being back with Ramon Rawsoul & Kai Alce in Atlanta of course, playing alongside Mark Farina @ Marquee dayclub in Vegas this month, being back in Vegas in September with my man Keith Evan for the awesome OASIS event production we’ve been working on, at the end of September, the Mi Casa Holiday send off at The Vagabond in Miami, and the incredible Mi Casa Holiday Season Finale in Playa. Later in the year, I have a big Chicago event acknowledging the 3Degrees Global 13yr anniversary feat. 3Degrees Residents with special guest Black Coffee, and this winter back scouting for MCH Asia.

2. What is Mi Casa Holiday?

Mi Casa Su Casa refers to Mi Casa Es Su Casa Holiday or MCH(Mi Casa Holiday). MCH is an annual season of destination music events that lead to an explosive weekend Finale in Playa del Carmen, Mx. The Season Finale features a unique itinerary of events, amazing artists, and friendly yet passionate globetrotters from around the world. This year’s Season Finale will be held Oct. 4-7. Check out the tentative program!

3. Can people still register for the Mi Casa Holiday Finalle?

Yes! Http:// / For inquiries in the Atlanta region,
contact Mi Casa Holiday planner Nina Ananse – or

4. What goodies do you have in store for Atlanta?

Beautiful music, extreme passion, and a lot of positive energy 🙂

Chicago’s Julius The Mad Thinker of 3 Degrees Global will make an apperance in Atlanta, GA on Saturday August4, at the Sound Table for a special intimate night of music. Check out what the Mad Thinker is currently working on and his outlook for Saturday night’s visit.


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

JAMIE 3:26 05.05.12

May 6, 2012

JAMIE 3:26

The Chicago Invasion Continued…..

A treasure trove stood before the eyes. Back at Space2, along the wall behind the makeshift DJ platform hung historic prospectus from club land’s bygone era. On the exposed wall Lil Louis hung next to Ron Hardy that hung next to Parrish Thomas. The decorated display was a who’s who in Chicago house music history. A time when house music was a lifestyle during the opulent 1980’s hey day. One of those pioneers-a second generation Chicago DJ-guest headlined at Chicago native/Atlanta resident Ramon Rawsoul’s monthly, “The Gathering.”

Jamie 3:26 (pronounced three too six) showed up like a prize-fighter. The Chicagoan moved cocksure and swiftly mimicking a South Side Chicago boxer. Like he had something to prove. When a DJ opens with Chicago’s outspoken Peven Everett’s, “Simmer” (Timmy Regisford Mix) there’s nothing to prove. The second generation house master’s brilliancy shined through a panoply of beats from award nominated genres. Runner-ups included broken beat, afro-house, classic house, vocal house and underground tracks. The party’s reigning champion went to Chicago’s South Side disco. That disco, the soundtrack to the uninhibited 1970’s, caused pandemonium in front of the makeshift DJ booth. A small crowd of forty-plus year olds had gathered and waged animalistic war. Imagine moms and pops imitating wild African animals in heat. Had the savages worn animal fur the textured pieces would have been skinned-bare. Leopard print bell bottoms? Destroyed. Ripped to shreds. Oversized afros? Gone. Torn off heads. Sounds of high-pitched hyena sibilants, cackling howls and roaring growls were heard courtesy the brute. Carnivorous claws sliced the air, the shaking of heads-possessed-jerked from left to right as teeth gnashed. A ravage spectacle of outright barbarism consumed the room. People, Please Clear The Area. Move away from the predators. The prey was bound to die.

Jamie packed a punch. The silver-haired mixologist delivered several rounds of blows to the audience. Take Diana Ross’, “Love Hangover.” The bass disappeared. The highs were tweaked and played at high decibels. Then BAM!!! (The crowd loses it.) The bass slammed the place. Precisely on eight-counts, the beat thumped harder, louder and more powerful than ever. On Anto Vitale’s,Theorma Del Faya(Tea Party Vocal) Jamie bobbed and weaved, anchored one shoulder upright as a boxer protecting his/her face from an incoming right hook. Peek-a-Boo. Jamie bounced up and down on the balls of his heels with a swift shuffle of the feet as all twelve fingers danced on the mixer. This is the type of DJ that anticipates what the crowd needs (not wants) and causes the audience to follow. Too bad the entertaining match would last for only TWO brief rounds (hours). The South Sider hadn’t made it to a T.K.O. Had the people got their money’s worth?  Why invite a legend from over seven-hundred miles away to play for only TWO hours? Are the fees worth spent having a guest headliner play less than three hours? Assuming so, this mind buckling trend seems to be spreading like wild fire in clubs across the country. Resident DJs are insisting on closing out their parties. Honestly, the majority of the crowd comes out to witness the event’s special guest talent. With that said, the people would have loved MORE Jamie 3:26. Here is to next time and hopes of more Jamie. After all it’s not often we get a chance to experience such a music legend.

Photography by AJ Dance

The Chicago Invasion Continued…..


April 28, 2012


“Tell me. The Sound Table has an upstairs,” mentioned friend number one to friend number two gathered at a burger joint for Sunday brunch.
“Why yes but the upstairs is used for dining purposes only.” Explained friend number two.
“Oh my,” friend number one gasped. “You all dance in that tiny space?!?”

“As We Rejoice/Clap Your Hands,” sang Zakes Bantwini and Xolani Sithole into the ears of the chosen few already writhed in mid-dance. The restaurant’s elongated dining tables and wooden dining stools served as wall holders as happy feet graced contortionists appearing to kiss and dry hump the floor. Chicago native/Atlanta resident Ramon Rawsoul of House In The Park fame warmed up the crowd with musical selections from ATL’s Miranda Nicole’s, “Kissing You” (Duce’s Wild Vox) and South Africa’s Culoe De Song’s, The Bright Forest.”

The clock read 12:30 AM when the night’s headliner, Chicago’s own Glenn Underground pulled the plug on Black Coffee’s global unified theme,We Are One.” From the sound system roared thunderous, “vrooms” as if a motorcycle chain gang zoomed down I-90 to Chicago’s south side. After 60 seconds of the maddening intro the motorcycles came to a stop at South Side Disco. That is the cacophony gave way to a disco four-count with hissing snares that bounced off the speaker tops, elongated tables and wooden chairs. The GU moniker would offer not one but THREE consecutive tracks more of less the same. Was it 1979? Hell Naw. While some appreciated yesterday’s nostalgia, others shook their heads in abandonment, as some braved the classics panting for disco’s bastard child; house music.

With a slide of the CD player’s pitch control the beats picked up pace. Boisterous thumps fell from the speakers to jolt the heart. A steady climax rushed rubber soles to dance faster and jump higher. There it was again, the “vrooms,” leaving South Side Disco, taking off to some unknown underground warehouse while a cant reminiscent of Dr. MLK Jr. directed its destination. The spoken word’s volume was amplified so till it echoed with a distorted hiss. The making of the musical journey proved a bit off putting.

What followed next delivered music to the ears and brought what the people came to hear a proper instrumental house music track built on a steady four-count thump, equipped with swirling keys and melodic chords that justified a true house experience. Transitioning from a music track to a song with vocals proved a no brainer as a male vocalist proudly proclaimed, “I ‘am Superman” to warm cheers. The crowd’s enthusiasm was kicking in high-gear perhaps due to alcohol.

Over the course of songs, hearts pounded with joy as additional musical offerings of the house and disco kind played at the Sound Table’s alter. The crowd had swelled to gigantic proportions. The tiny restaurant could no longer contain the substantial bodies packed tight like an African slave ship. Shirts came off, hairdos fell flat and sweaty musk became le parfum du jour.

Sometime later from the recesses of a track played chirping guitars beeping vibrantly underneath warm orchestrated strings. The soft melody had that of an old Chicago soul. Yes, indeed it was the interpretation of Timmy Regisford’s and Adam Rios’ execution of Chicago’s soul maverick Peven Everett’s, Burning Hot.” However, this accompaniment came equipped with a smooth saxophone providing opening credits. WOW! What an exclusive goodie. After two minutes of sax filled bliss Peven’s vocals sung, “Gotta Keep It Burning Hot.” Throughout the shoebox shaped restaurant hands flew up in praise as the people lost their minds all the while providing additional vocal support. The producer took the track even further by killing the bass to warp the highs that caused additional pandemonium.

The Midwesterner gave a shout out to the east coast with Blaze’s 1999 cut, Wishing You Were Hereremixed by U.K.’s moniker Joey Negro. Then came the steady transitions to afro-house, then to 1980’s Chicago house and then to disco. The night capsized with Chicago’s vocal sensation the late Loleatta Holloway’s, Dreamin.” The CVO (Chicago’s Very Own) was at his best in his element delivering a stunning overworked vocal take on the classic. “What’s Mine Is Mine/What’s Yours Is Yours/You See I Don’t Want Nothing That’s Yours.” Loleatta’s scat and Holy Ghost “whoohs” were pitched, looped and allowed to scream till the hairs on the neck stood acute and chills surged up the spine. Even if not a fan every heart had to admit, “This was REAL music.”

There’s just something about that Chicago soul. That soul that can’t be faked, funked, or forgotten. That soul that can’t be caged copied or formulated. The kind of soul that reaches its arms back in time across deep musical waters. The soul that can be heard on African slave ships, heard on Mississippi’s slave plantations and heard in Chicago’s south side housing projects. That Chicago soul be it blues, jazz, disco, house or rap that makes happy feet two-step. That kind of soul slaps the approval of blackness in your face. That kind of soul makes you dance and shout in circles filled with the Holy Ghost. That soul will make you throw your arms in the air and cry, make your heart dance out of its chest cavity and make you jump on and dance on restaurant tables in public. Glenn Underground brought that type of soul to the Soul Table uh-hmm the Sound Table. That soul was crafted from the deep, transported through the trenches and delivered to the underground masses. Some may not understand the soul. If one allows their eyes to close, taking a deep breathe and plunging backwards into the sweet serene waters they will no doubt be baptized into the soul. Be it young, old, black, white, Jew, gentile this soul is for you.

All Photos by AJ Dance