Thursday, July 01, 2004

july 2004 charts

by Brent Crampton ~ "The Charts" is a monthly column that let's you know what regional, national and internationl dj's are playing currently. They pick out there top ten records and let you know why those tracks are buzzin' through their head. Check out what tunes are currently hot - what's about to be hot - and what records never leave a dj's bag.

Sona
Photo by Tabitha Russell

Proving that the real estate slogan of “location, location, location” is true to its calling, Sona has been immersed in what some DJs are calling the current mecca of house music, Texas. Having DJ'd for only three years, Sona has held down countless residencies in the booming nightlife in the state and has recently dug into the production side. His style is designed to move dat ass with chunky percussion, jazzy riffs and of course that oh-so-boompty-boomp sound. Sona took out some time to lay down his top ten tracks at the moment. Check out what the Texas breeding ground is fertilizing for the future of house.

Check out his website for bio and free download mixes

Brett Johnson – Silly String(Aesoteric): "Uncle Suga Knees" does it again with his crazy arrangments of bleeps, boompty basslines and Dave Barker's disturbing cool voice to make this a bumping track.

Martin Venetjoki - Let me be(Mouthful): Man, Mouthful has been puttin’ out nothing but quality these past few releases, and Martin ups the stakes with this techy track, and a hint of latin flava.

The Littlemen vs. Andy Kinky - Dirtbag(Mobile Traxx): I’m not sure if this is out yet, but this track is friggin smooth. A great opening track with a deep bassline and sexy femme vocals.

Martin Venetjoki – Really Don’t Stop (Sole Unlimited): Oh yeah. We all remember this soulful jackin track from Mark Farina's "Connect" cd. I still wear this track out, it’s just so badass! And ladies eat the male vocals up like cupcakes.

Demarkus Lewis – Fuzzy Slippers(Flat and Round): Demarkus delivers it with the "I can do what you can do." The best track on the EP in my opinion.

Demarkus & Kelle Lewis feat. Lady D – The Hustler EP(Vista): Darlene, Kelle, and De pimp it D-town style on this one. Kelle makes her production debut with a very impressive "Im a Freak" featuring the lovely

Lady D. Demarkus' "Frequency and Motion" is a floor crusher! Its simple, yet full of energy. Guaranteed to get the asses jigglin.

No Assembly Required – This is Jazz (Doubledown): Man. Justin and Dan come up with the sickest tracks with little to know effort! The bassline hits you straight in the gut and the piano riffs are catchy as hell.

Lavish Habits – Unzip it (Select Recordings): Lavish Habits(Paul Paredes, Mike Constantino, Redeye, and Thomas Sahs) keep it dirty and raunchy with "Unzip It." This track will make you laugh your ass off, and it serves as a perfect soundtrack to your . . . ahem . . . bedroom agenda.

East Coast Boogiemen feat. Heather – Picture: These cats bring a raw, punk rock feel to this mix of Heather Robinson's provocative vocals.

Metro Area – 4. (Environ): An oldy, but goody. This track is so funky, and its screaming throwback. Definitely a hit with the Electro crowd.


John Daminato
photo by Curt King A.K.A. Datasphere

Electronic music artists with such cutting-edge creativity, technological proficiency and unique inspiration as Chicago-based-veteran John Daminato are few and far between. Immersed in the nightlife culture for seven years. Daminato began mixing vinyl and progressed toward creating his own tracks as he built upon and improved his personal studio. John displays a rough underground energy with groove sensibility and universal appeal. There is no doubt that he is one to look out for in the future.

Check out his website for more info!

1. Dog Days (original mix) - Spectral Sound - Mathew Dear - Basically this sounds like a Prince tune to me, just modernized and tweaked. The vocal is catchy and has 80's dust all over it.

Getting Hot (original Mix) - Rescue Recordings - Mr. G - This is a track that I really like blending for long periods of time. It's a very minimal floor pounder, vocal cuts throughout the mix that just adds that perfect energy when your in need of some vocal content and/or an easy way out of another record.

Mocha Disco - Jamayka records - Johnny Fiasco - The slight filtered guitars and groove got me locked on this track, even deep house fans seem to really dig it.

Meditation to the Groove (Johnny Fiasco remix) - OM Records - Kascade - Johnny Fiasco's groove combined with Kaskades vocals . . .You just can't go wrong. Never leave home without this cut.
It's you it's me (more vox mix) - -OM Records - -Kaskade - The lyrics of this song really hit home with me. It just reminds me of a consistent love affair where nobody is step-in step-out able to make a commitment. Not to mention the sound quality of Kaskade is outstanding!

Returning - Chriss Mccormack/UK Gold - I just really love the energy this track has. UK Gold has nailed it on this one with the solo and groove placement of stabs. There’s something special about the kick drum too.

Rollin on Feat. aB (original mix) - Lowered recordings - Rollin on - These are some of the catchiest vocals I have heard on a dance tune in a while. This track reminds me of some supped-up disco cut, but at the same time not. I like the way it mixes too, with the vocal hook filtering up in the mix, simple formulas that work.

Just one look (Jacob London remix) - Jamayka records - Moodlex - I love this quirky vocal and groove combo. It's that boompty boomp groove with funky synth stabs and a well programmed breakdown. Definitely wouldn't mind seeing a production trend like this.

So philthy - Blockhead recordings - -Joey Youngman - I just happened to stumble upon this cut walking into a record shop and hearing someone play it. I was hooked on the EP. It's has a really funky synth hook that reels you in and carries you along for the ride. I would like to hear more from this producer.

Disco cubizm - Versatile records - i:cube - This is one of the oldest cuts that I still play out all the time. It's just so French and funky with a filtered melody and groove that I can't seem to let go of. One of those cuts that you heard out and then it took 6months to actually find it.

Jeffrey Zion
photo by Jeff Fox

Jeffrey Zion is a true veteran to dance music. Having grown up in NYC, his history in the bouncing beat spans over four decades and countless transformations. He’s graced the dancefloors of the infamous Paradise Garage and was blessed (or cursed) enough to dance to the underground disco sounds of Larry Levan. He was the first American to hold a residency in Asia (Hong Kong) at the Manhattan Club where he was treated like a rockstar and celebrities such as David Bowie, Rod Stewart and Jackie Chan danced to his groove. He started out playing disco and early house sounds and has since drawn upon his jewish roots and moved into the territory of goa/psytrance from Israel. Today you can find him residing in Indianapolis and striving to “win the youth over for God” through his musical ministry.

Let There Be Light - Astral Projection - It's the beginning of Genesis and people love it!

Amen - Astral Projection - Need I say more? Amen

Techno Boom Boom - Mumbo Jumbo - Pounding, electric psytrance as you like it!

Quel Cimitiere - Tegma - Dark percussive monster!

Critical Mass - Eat Static - Pounding grooves make this industrial hit massive on dance floors!

Enervate - Transa - Classic trance caned by everyone including yours truly!

Release Me - Infected Mushroon - With samples from Independence Day this psytrance classic rocks everywhere it's played

3d 2002 - DBA - Christian trance that rawks!

Manic Organic - Psychoid - You can smoke the bass on this one!

Angelcage - Machineries of Heaven - The ethereal strings on this psytek thriller a dance floor favorite.


Lady Crysis
photo by todd

Lady Crisis is one of many female dj’s in Iowa. Whether it be her ecclectic fashion, or smooth sense break beat tracks - Lady Crisis is at the fore-front of the Iowa Electronic Dance scene. Her keen attribute of ambition has driven her to create her own website and manage a group of DJs - Dangerous Minds. She usually finds herself somewhere on the DJ lineup for the shows in Iowa and with her sponsorphis with Hip Step Sistaz, you’d be surprised to find out she has only been djing for 2 years.

For more information, check out the web sites for Dangerous Minds or Hip Step Sistaz.

David Dummy & Sierra Sam- Gravity Funk [Written and produced by Sammy Goossens & David Rubach] (Dedkob) - This track is all that is funky. If I want to liven a place up with some electro funk this is definitely the plate I'll throw down!

Jackal & Hyde- Seek & Destroy (Hallucination) - An oldie but a goodie, I love everything about this track. If this track - doesn't get people moving I don't know what will. Jackal & Hyde knows what's up.

Sharaz- What's That Sound? (941) - Sharaz is known for producing funky breaks but he switches it up a bit by throwing in some electro influenced sounds into this one. When thrown on the wheels of steel, its a for sure crowd pleaser.

Exzakt- Musik is the Drug Remixes [Kinesthetic's Soul Search Mix] (Monotone) - AHHHH, a bit different than what I normally play...but, damn this track gets me moving. I'm not usually a sucker for tribal but this is
definitely an exception. You better get your ass moving when this one gets layed down.

MetaMinds- From the Outside Looking In [Written and produced by Exzakt] - (Exceleration Records) - The first time I heard this track I just had to have it. Great tune to chill out too and a must have track for all the electro heads.

Andrea Parker feat. DJ Assault & DJ Godfather- Freaky Bitches (Touchin Bass) - How can you resist an Andrea Parker track? Freaky Bitches is dark and dirty- just how I like it ;)

Decal- Burn From the Inside Remixes [Si Begg Remix] (Satamile) - A great opener and an excellent track. Definitely check this out, its pretty much undescribable.

I.B.M [Industrial Bass Machine]- Devastate the Planet [Produced by Scott Weiser & Phil Klein] (Cyberian Knights Recordings) - Industrial Bass Machine- Need I say more? This plate is HOT- enough said.

Exzakt: Repressed- Entire record including tracks: Musik is the Drug, Transfusion, Sleeping with the Enemy, and Off Course (Monotone) - If you haven't noticed, you will now. Exzakt is one of my favorite producers. He'll keep your feet moving and your blood pumpin - highly recommended.

Nas 010- Subsky-Albino [Blueroom Project Breaks Mix] (Nascent Recordings) - More on the progressive break side, this track is great to sit back and relax too. Very melodic and emotional-at least, for me.

the bench intro to sampling

intro to sampling~ by J. Phoenix ~ In this month's issue of The Bench, I will define what sampling is, introduce you to some of the history behind sampling, touch on how it has changed the way we make music, and outline future articles on sampling. I am primarily a sample-based artist; it is my favorite form of working with music. I am obsessed with the manipulation of recorded sound, and it will be a pleasure to share some of my knowledge on this with you.

Sampling is the recording and playing back of small digitally recorded pieces of sound. Samples can be made out of any sound that can be recorded or created. Samples can be short brief stabs of recorded sound (like a drum); they can be repeating loops of sound creating a rhythm or repeated melody; they can be the sound of a human voice speaking or singing; a sample can be a single note which will be pitched up and down to imitate a specific instrument.

Sampling has utilized digital technology from its very beginning. The first instrument which could be properly called a sampler was the Fairlight CSI (Computer Musical Instrument). The Fairlight CSI was first made in 1979 by an Australian company of the same name. In addition to several innovative digital synthesizer & sequencing features, the CSI featured the ability to record small sections of sound and play them back digitally for the low price of $25,000.

How does a sampler work? Remember that all sound is simply waves of energy moving through the air. Our ears translate the pressure of these waves into what we perceive as sound. These waves in the air can be converted into electrical energy following the same wave patterns and then amplified, recorded, and manipulated. Samplers use digital technology which breaks the recorded sound into frequencies, and then relates those frequencies in time into 0's and 1's, allowing the sound to be stored in the sampler's memory, and played back easily.

Samplers since the Fairlight have come a long way. Today's samplers vs. the earliest samplers is similar to comparing the video games, Space Invaders to Halo.

As samplers decreased in size and price, quality and sophistication, they quickly began to change the course of music. Musicians (and people who had never played any instrument before) became able to manipulate and integrate any sound into their music.

An early use of sampling was imitating acoustic instruments like cellos and flutes. Others began working on using loops of recorded sound repeating to create rhythms or to sustain notes. Sampling made it possible to take a specific section of music and turn it into a rhythm or melody all its own.

The ability to create a realistic back beat without a drummer or an orchestral sound without an orchestra along with their own playing allowed many bedroom producers to create music that could compete with a full production studio's layering--and allowed full studios even more access to esoteric sounds than before.

Sampling allowed producers to create music using instruments they could not necessarily play themselves, or be able to hire musicians to record. This opened a lot of new possibilities up, but it also created some new twists on old ethical questions about borrowing, or stealing other people's work. I'll address those issues at another time.

As of this moment in time, sampling has never been easier, whether using a computer program or using hardware. Early limitations of samplers (sound quality and amount of time able to be recorded) meant constantly having to measure how much time was left to work with and almost never getting playback quality identical to the original source of sound.

Looping a sound could take hours of time finding just the right spot where the sample begins and ends to create a seamless loop with no reference but the sound itself. Pitching a sample up and down a keyboard could end up with something totally unrecognizable from what you started with.

Today's samplers have far more memory, far better quality, and many have features that make looping or sequencing samples almost intuitively easy. Software programs that perform sampling functions are numerous, many with even more features than hardware, provided that you have the computer to handle it.

No matter what type of sampler you use, there are several primary techniques in sampling: cutting a single shot sample (such as a vocal sample or a single drum sound), creating a repeating loop of melody or rhythm, and cutting and pitching a single sampled note or sound up or down at intervals to be used like a patch on a synthesizer.

The way your sampler allows you to accomplish these goals may differ from other samplers, and we will discuss those differences and similarities as well. Along the way we will also discuss the time/tempo/pitch problem, sound quality, what "artifacts" are, their causes and how to fix them, ethics issues in sampling, and discuss the importance of Source (where and how you get your samples).

A note to those curious about the promised Synthesis article: it will have to continue to wait; part of why I have moved on to Sampling is because I have seen the amount of subject matter we will need to cover, and I have not figured out how to logically order the information. Stay tuned however, I think the sampling articles will be a goldmine of information for those not familiar with it.

wizzo

Interview & Photos by Joe Hensen ~ Wizzo is a name quickly becoming known throughout Kansas City. Hailing out of Omaha, Nebraska, Wizzo has quickly become a Kansas City favorite. Being able to move a room is quickly becoming his specialty. I'm sure there a lot of people who want to know who Wizzo is, so I decided to ask him.

Are you originally from the Kansas City Area?

No. I grew up in Atlantic, Iowa. It's a small town of about 9 or 10 thousand. Then I lived in Omaha for a couple years and then in KC for 9 nine months. I moved back to Omaha for 4 or so years and then in February,, I moved back to KC. I've been around.

Do you feel that you are thriving in Kansas City or do you think that you'll move on to different cities?

Right now, I'm honestly not sure. KC seems alright, but I feel that I need the hustle and bustle of a bigger city. Plus I would like some more diversity. Not just in music but in all around culture as well.

Wizzo's an unusual name. Where'd you get it?

Honestly, I don't have much of an idea. I got booked for a party in KC in 2001 and at that time I didn't have a DJ name yet. They needed something to put on the flyer so somehow I came up with that. I just wanted something original, simple, and something that people would remember. I wish I had a cool story for it. Maybe you and I should make one up or something, heh. I know that I was drinking and it just came to me.

You played an amazing set at Chaos Theory v2.0. I remember more than once when random party goers came up to me asking me who was spinning because he was amazing. How does that make you feel?

Wow! I didn't know that. Makes me feel good. I love reaching people through DJing.

You've been spinning records for little more than 3 years. In your opinion do you think the scene is changing and if yes for the better or worse?

I've been playing since '99 so actually about 5 years. I've really been at it for 3 though. I think the "scene" is constantly changing and it always will be. People change and the music constantly changes. If the music didn't change it would get boring. I love seeing things evolve all the time. However I have seen some things change for the worse. There are no longer huge parties every weekend. There isn't the support and love that I once saw. These changes occurred way before I started DJing in front of crowds though. At one time people were traveling to different cities and states just to support the "scene." It was definitely for the love of the music. Now a lot of people are jaded. There are too many cliques that hate on one another and too many dj's that do the same. I could go on about things like this forever. This is one question that I think really makes everyone ramble on and on. There is so much to say on the issue. On a different note; I have seen a lot of positive changes as well.

What is your favorite genre of electronica music and why?

HOUSE MUSIC! I'm not sure I can explain why. It's got soul, energy, and so many other things. There are so many different sub-genres of house and I love most all of them. Everything has its place for different times and moods. That is one thing about house. No matter what mood I'm in I can always listen to some kind of house music. I also have a deep love for breaks. Aside from house and breaks I also have a love for almost everything else. In the past couple years I have really taken to a lot of techno, but I haven't had a chance to really expose myself to a whole lot of it. I used to live with a guy who played techno, so at that time, I always heard most everything new. After I moved out with him I sort of lost touch on all the new stuff. I also love DnB. So it goes house, then breaks, then techno & DnB. I could go on and on, but then I would bore you and everyone else. :-)

Do you have any upcoming events?

As far as large events go, no I don't. I guess there is the "Music Meltdown" in Omaha. Its a 2 day festival with bands, dj's, and all other sorts of artists from the midwest. Zak C and myself will be a tag set on 4 tables there. We did it last year and had a blast. Everyone should really check this festival out. Last year was the first year and this year will be so much larger. Its sponsored by 89.7 "the river" in the Omaha area. A good friend of mine, Dave Stutsman, has a lot to do with organizing the event and him and all his partners do a great job. No matter what your musical love is there is something there for you. After that I also have monthly residencies in Omaha at bar 415 and in Lincoln at "the Bricktop." Before I moved, I was playing out pretty much every weekend. Some weekends both nights. Since my move I've kind of slowed down on promoting myself and I also work a lot. I guess you could say I am still getting settled in down here. Also, July 9th and 10th Zak C and myself are traveling to Oklahoma City for 2 nights of DJing Should be a great time!

The most recent event in which you performed was Bangin Under The Stars. Did you like spinning outside and did the rain affect anything?

Yeah, I had a blast playing outside. I didn't really anticipate playing at all. The day of the event, my friend, James Ehrman, just suggested that we should tag during his set. I think the rain really affected the crowd during our set. Everyone ran to their cars except for a handful of people. I can't say I blame them though. Hehe. I still had a lot of fun!

What internet music sites are you affiliated with?

Phulphunk.com, which is myself and Zak C. We have photos from all our events on the site as well as about 10 or 12 dj sets from the both of to download. This site has really taken off since we have been putting dj sets up for people to download. Then there is TechnOmaha.com They is an online community with everything from dj sets to original productions to an all inclusive forum. There is also essentialmusique.com which is things happening in Omaha. It includes a handful of dj's from Omaha as well. I just can't leave my Omaha roots alone. :-)

It's understandable...it's where you started out.

True. Omaha is a great town and I really miss a lot of aspects of it. Its a real close knit music community there.

What advice to you have for any new aspiring dj's out there?

Stay true to yourself and work hard. Anyone can be a decent dj with a little bit of practice. Do something to stand out and don't try to play out too soon. Most of all just have fun. If you aren't having fun doing it then you are doing it for the wrong reasons. I still have so much fun just DJing at my house alone or with a couple of friends. If you can't do that then you should rethink why you dj. NEVER STOP HAVING FUN!

Anything else you'd like your fans to know?

It's still weird to think I have fans. I am always putting out new mix sets. Each time I do an event I try and give out as many mix cd's as I can. I appreciate each and every person who listens to them. If they like it, or if they don't, I just appreciate them giving it a listen. I also appreciate everyone who has ever danced or listened to me play at an event. That means more than anything. Seeing people dance or smile or just nod their head while I play. Also be on the lookout for many new cd's from me in the next year. Also be on the lookout for Zak C and I doing some 4 turntable action in KC and surrounding areas very soon. Also I'd like to say thanks for the support and love that people have shown me. Its been more than I ever expected and I truly love it.

Thanks man...Im looking forward to your new cds and hearing you live.

Thank you and everyone at phocas for working so hard at what you guys do. I love the site and visit regularly.

For more information about DJ Wizzo, be sure to visit PhulPhunk online.

down on the corner with thorell

Interview & Photos by todd ~ Steve Thorell has been a name that has been well known in Kansas City for quite a while. Many people consider him one of the few Rave originals to survive the '90s and emerge reasonably successful and relatively unscathed in the new millennium.

Steve has always captured my attention and imagination, playing various styles and tracks that always seem to be what the crowd wanted to hear at that particular moment. He is definitely one of my most favorite DJs in Kansas City and if there's no other party going on, you can usually find me where-ever he happens to be playing. His followers are like that too. They are loyal and like me, they know that if anyone can make them dance their cares away, he is the man to do it.

It was recently, that I noticed that Steve Thorell was nominated for the Pitch Music Showcase Awards. I had also heard that all of the places he plays at regularly chipped in to help him out this year. I decided that I could throw in too, just a little, thinking that now was just as good a time as any to seek him out and do a bit of an interview. Last Thursday, July 1st, during one of his 5 weeklies, I caught up with him at the corner of 12th & Baltimore in downtown Kansas City and we talked a bit about old times and new times.

So, I've heard a lot of different stories from a lot of different people. Maybe you can clarify things a little. When exactly did you start DJing?

When did I start? God I love these questions. First time I heard house music was in 1988. A friend of mine screwed up in high school, got sent to boarding school, came home with a mix-tape of Hip House stuff out of Chicago. That completely freaked me out. In high school I was into New Order, Depeche Mode that kind of thing. I couldn’t find anything like that in Kansas City it was nonexistent. At the time there Ray Velasquez playing a couple of places, but I was 17 and couldn’t get in. A friend of mine who was from Dallas took me down to Dallas and that was the first time I had been to a nightclub. It was the first time that I had been to anything. A thing called Newvie (sp?) was big back then from Belgium. I came home and a guy named Phillip who used to DJ at the Edge turned me on to buying CDs. The next trip I took I went to DepEllum. It is still in Dallas, and went to the Aqua Lounge. It was pretty ironic that I played a club like Aqua. It was like 1991 when I heard 808 State, a guy called Gerald, old Chicago stuff and I had never heard anything like it.

And so, hehe... it is spiraled downward from there.

(Laughing) Exactly! And my life has been shit ever since. (laughs) I heard that. I bought CD’s. Then I started talking to DJ’s and they said no..no.. you have to buy 1200’s, get a mixer. So I bought the 1200’s, and a realistic mixer.

Ugh... I had one of those. That was one of the most horrible pieces of crap I have ever owned.

I think everybody did. That is like your first rite of passage in the early 90’s. They were a piece of shit. From there I kept going down to Dallas. There was a record store in Dallas called Bill’s Records and Tapes. At that time it was one of the hottest record stores in the country. This guy used to stock pile records from all underground stuff. There would be like Transmak, Planet E, RNS and he would have 10 copies of every big underground record. That was before you could buy on the Internet. I bought a set of decks. First party I ever played at was in 1993, in Lawrence, a guy named Mark Lemke, booked me, but told me that 'Steve Thorell' was not going to cut it. It is not that cool you need a DJ name. I told him No, No Way. It’s ironic, because the first party I played I opened for Theo Parrish.

Nice. That is definitely very cool for you for a first real gig.

Yea... So Mark was like, "Yea... I got this Theo guy, he is here from Chicago," and the next thing you know, he made me DJ Love.

DJ Love? (laughs) That is truly funny.

Yea, and I still get hassled about it to this day. Because there is a Break Beat DJ out of Florida called DJ Love and all my buddies from college knew about it. But, you know for the most part, I played strictly rave parties at first.

We took a minor break here, as a few of Steve's friends (right) stopped to say goodbye. (click for audio)

Anyway, where were we? The first party I ever played. Lawrence, Mark Lemke, Theo Parrish. The dude kept cutting my set. Dude, you can’t play that. I was dropping French Kiss, this is 93 and French Kiss came out in 89. You know... it was fun. I think I had picked up Vader. That guy lived in Kansas City too. He was here from 93 to 95. He used to play at Krypton. Which Ray Velasquez used to play. He was friends with Danny Girl from 7th Heaven. Vibe Tribe, I think it was. They threw parties at a place on Main. What’s the name of that Italian restaurant. They were awful. It was over by the Plaza. It was cool. But, back then it wasn’t about skill. They had cool house records, and they would train wreck, but it didn’t matter. It was tracks that no one else had. It was stuff that people in this town hadn’t heard of.

And that is how it began in those days of yore. So, House! Has it always been house?

For me no. Like I said for me, when I heard that hip house tape and the first thing I got into was breaks. Like DJ Icey, Energy Tracks Volume 1, changed my life. I got the first three white labels. It completely freaked me out. I played breaks from 93 to about 99. All I played was breaks. There were a couple of house records here and there. The guys that got me into house were Kenny Dope, Little Louie Vega, Derrick Carter. Basically, some real underground jack shit. The vocal thing really didn’t do it for me.

So you might say Dallas, and later Chicago was where some of your biggest influences are, but I noticed a definite Miami edge to your stuff when you came back from the WMC this past year.

Definitely, my sound changes according to what room I am in. Typically in the summer I play a lot more wacky, sexy stuff and then when it is cold out, some acid. When it is cold out, people want to have it. December, January, February they want to have it. Like at The Point, it’s nice early and then later it is mean. That’s the way I like all of my nights to go. I start off with cocktail house, it doesn’t really bother anyone. As the night progresses it gets more and more... you know... and I learned that from going to clubs in New York and Dallas. It would be great if Kansas City was a town where you could just play whatever. I wish I could play break beats every once in awhile. At the Point, I will drop breaks for an hour and either the place is going to go off to it or say what the heck is going on. UK breaks like Adam Freeman, Lee Coombs. I love that. Because it is deep and dark, but its still got that funky edge to it. Everything I play now I want to have a funky edge to it. I don’t play anything that is completely nasty. Funky baselines, because women always respond to it. They do, whether they know it or not. Women will respond to vocals, but the baseline is typically what gets them. Like at the Point, if it is a small room, and the base is bangin, the baseline will get them.

You play pretty much every night of the week, but what's your best night?

I do. I play 5 nights a week in Kansas City. My favorite place, though... The Point, besides the fact that it goes until 3 am, I can play records there that I can’t play at some other places. Typically, right now I can play lounge music everywhere.

Five Nights? That's pretty huge considering that there are a lot of other DJs in Kansas City are struggling to get just one hour per week. Rattle 'em off for me. Where do you play and when?

Tuesday is at Hannah's Bistro; Wednesday is the Empire Room, Thursday is here at 12 Baltimore; then Friday, The Point. Oh! And Sunday nights have just started back up at the the Westport Beach Club. It is funny because when I used to live with Brent, he had 3 nights. He would always tell me “Never try to have more than 3 nights in this town.” Which, it’s true, but that is why my style will change. Like at Hannah's Bistro, it’s at 105th and Metcalf and it’s out South, so my midtown people won’t come out there. So, what I am doing out there, certain people would say “He is selling out. He is playing in Overland Park.” Bullshit, I don’t look at it that way. I look at it that I am giving these people an outlet. I am playing deep funky house records out there, and getting them into it. I have a congo player that gives a live element. And you know, I think that is why most people in this town don’t get it, there is no foothold. I'm trying to make one.

Like right now, with what I am doing, it's gotten to the point that, a year ago, I used to play out all the time. I had a monthly in Vegas, I used to play in New York all the time.

Wow! That's Great.

Yea! Actually, it was two years ago, I guess. But since the economy has gone to shit and Kansas City is no different than any other big city, all of these clubs have decided that they need to do what they can to survive, so big rooms play, in my opinion, Shit. It's all, you know... green eggs and ham.

But, I've never been about that. I hate that, like you hear, "Oh, you just play records to get laid." That's Bullshit.

That is something else notable. You really don't go running around promoting yourself like a madman passing out demo CDs everywhere you go. In fact, I don't think I've ever seen one from you, yet you are still a very popular DJ with a loyal following.

I've been meaning to do it. Playing 5 nights a week. I don't have two sets of decks. Like, we used to have Bill's decks set up at our place and I do have a CD burner and it's OK, but now it's like... well... you know... I guess I don't know why I don't have one. I suppose that it's like this. I play out 5 nights a week and if you want to hear me, come hear me. There's no cover at any of these places, so come on out. I'm actually working on a couple of CDs right now though, but my sound varies so much depending upon my mood, the atmosphere of the venue, etc, etc it's been hard to pin it down.

That's something else you had mentioned earlier, that your mood really affects what and how you play, not just the atmosphere or the venue.

Oh Yea... I was in a really bad mood earlier....

But you did say that your mood dictates you and becomes an outlet for your feelings at times. Tonight, I did notice that when you took the decks. Your sound was a little harder.

I think that every good DJ that I have ever met, you know guys that are huge, like Lee Coombs, Derrick Carter and Adam Freeland, they never.... just play out of the box. Like when I walk in to a room, what I play is determined by how I feel, who I see in there. Any good DJ does that. I learned that from Ray Valesquez. He put me under his wing for a while and told me "I like what you're in to, why don't you come play some parties."

Back then, I was playing breaks, stuff like, you know before Drum and Bass, when things were hitting 142. Labels like Moon & Shadow, Reinforced, before guys like Roni Size and Adam F, before that was around. That didn't hit until like 96. I was always the guy that wanted to rock the party. Like when I played Ray's parties. I would play breaks, but I would just drop all the hottest Breaks that were out. I would play a MagicMike record next to a DJ Dan "Loose Caboose", next to... you know... whatever suited my mood. My style then and now is just all fun. My style is all styles. There is no record that is off limits. If it's got the funk and I'm into it, then I'm going to drop it, but I won't play anything that I don't like.

Do you have a Top Choice of All Time?

The biggest influences for me are like... 808 State, for sure. I mean any 808 State really, but just their first album has really influenced me a lot. That record, to this day, is perfect for anything. Mostly, if I'm playin an After-Party, I"ll definitely play it. There's just something about that record. It's the perfect sunrise record and it doesn't sound bad. If it does, you're doing something wrong, but if you drop it right, it will put a smile on people's faces every time. The Sax and the Synth lines in that record are awesome. I think it came it out in 90... something... eh, I don't remember, but as far as breaks, like right now, it's Adam Freeland.

Speaking of that, you've played with a lot of big names in the past and still do on various occasions.

The biggest names have been like Carl Cox and I played at a party that Oakenfold played at. But you know, those guys are so big and so "untouchable" that they have this whole rock-star attitude, but with my DJing, it's not what I want to be. I mean, it's my passion and in a town like Kansas City, you have to turn heads. There is no radio support. The nightclubs are minimal. Where you gonna go? Kabal. It's mostly underground all of the time. Name any other place in town, if you can.

Chakra? They are trying. But that's about it. There isn't anyone else.

Chakra's trying to follow in their footsteps. Charlie's awesome and he's trying to do it, but .... you know... One thing that I like about Kansas City, is that people in this town that are into it, they don't do it for the money, because you can't, or you won't survive.

I mean if you wanted to open a night club and get rich, play Hip Hop. Of course, with that comes more problems... you know... I can't even imagine. The Hurricane recently tried Hip Hop and that killed it off. That place will probably never have a House room again because of that. Not that I hate Hip Hop. I don't. I think the current state of Hip Hop. is crap. I turn on BET and say... What the Fuck? But then, you hear a guy like C West and his shit is cool. The Hip Hop that I grew up with was like De La Soul and such. You really don't hear it anymore though. It's like underground House. It's just not there, but if you look for it, you will find it.

Kansas City is great though. The Deep Fix kids have done awesome events for Kansas City and that's why I like living here, people will tell me... "Why don't you move to NY, SF, Chicago......"

Yea... That was kind of my next question. Several people have told me that you, among others, should really consider breaking out of Kansas City, that it's only holding you back and you could go much farther in a bigger city. What do you say to that?

My opinion on that is that I like Kansas City and I love playing here. Do you think I could move to NY and have a gig five nights a week? No way. There's too much competition. I've been engrossed in dance music since 1990. I'm not going to say that I know everything, but I have seen trends come and go for 14 years now and well, I like what I like and that's it.

Well then, what's next?

My next step? I want to get in to production. I've been lazy about it. I've been talking with Pat Martin about doing stuff. He's actually coming over this week to work with me on Reason. I just need to really get my feet wet, but you know... I really want to stay here in Kansas City. Eventually, I'd like to open up a lounge here.

I don't want to open up a big club here. Anyone that goes for the underground sound, they just don't go to the big room clubs, so I just don't want a big room. I think a room that could hold 70-80 people, that could be full 5 nights a week with 5 different kinds of music. I really want to try and flip the switch and change things around a little.

Any city that you go to, let's say, we're in Miami. They will tell you to go to Crobar, go to Level, go to Nikki Beach, but you know, I really don't like clubs like that. I'd rather go to a club that holds 60-100 people, where the DJ is playing what he wants to play and he has a small, but loyal following who are into what he's playing. Those DJs are my favorite DJs in the world. Once you get to a certain level, you know... people expect different things and bitch a bit when you don't do things their way.

Some of the guys I really respect are like James Sebela, who Sasha took under his wing. If you listen to his DJ sets, they are the shit. He plays some big progressive records that I really don't like, but the other records... He'll play records that are four years old, that are hard to find. I do much the same and I kind of pride myself on that.

But KC... I love it. I would be good to move and try and make it work some place else, but I like it here. I think that I am in a position that I can create something that may not exactly put the town on the map, but create an enviroment for the people that are into it, that is going to make them happy. It's kind of like what Siamack has done with Kabal. I mean look at who he has had in that room, Derrick Carter, Christopher Lawrence... all kinds of huge names for this town.

What it does for the underground guys is build a certain level of respect between them and that club. I mean bringing the Oakenfolds and the Sasha & Digweeds, that's cool and you are going to make some people happy, but the DIY stuff is much better in my opinion. Bring these underground guys in and I think that eventually, this town will get radio support on it and if I'm the guy to do it, great, I would love to be it, I'm just happy to make a living doing what I do.

So you this is your Professional Career then?

I never thought... I'll be honest... I waited tables for seven years while I was DJing, while I was in college. Then I graduated college in 95. I never thought that I could make a living off of DJing. Then I worked at Mix93 as a Sales Rep, wearing a suit every day and I realized that it was not me. That forced me to take what I was doing a little more seriously, like pushing the limit, figuring out new ways to play things, pushing myself and making it work.

Do I think that it will it last forever? No, I know it won't and that's why I want to move into production and small room lounges. I want to produce cool underground records that will get me booked, not just in the US, but in Europe also. I have always wanted to go to Europe and I have come close. There were a few friends that two years ago, they said, yea... come over... we'll pay for your plane ticket, but now... everyone's taking hits and Kansas City is no different.

One thing I like about this town is that there is a core group of people that are into it. At the same time, some of the underground kids, I hear them say, "That Thorell is a sell-out.", but you know, that doesn't bother me because when I was 21, I thought the same thing. When I was in to all breaks, I was like House Music sucks. Trance music sucks. Whatever. What I am into is the shit, but you know... as you get older, just like everything, sure you get into different things and I love in this town that I can have 5 nights and play some wacked out things.

There have been a couple of times I've heard you bring in something at The Point that I haven't heard in a long time, or I was like... What is this? I know I've heard this before. Sometimes, you do play some wacky stuff. Any particular reason really, or do you just like to keep people guessing?

Yea. My favorite thing is like at the Point last friday, I dropped this record from 91 and it had the whole place freaking out. Nobody in there cared that this track was from 1991. (laughs) I was the only one in there with a shit-eating grin on my face, thinking to myself, "This is what makes my job worthwhile." This record was actually like the fourth record I ever bought. I can play it now and get a room of 22-year-olds off on it, but they have no idea what it is. I think that is what makes a good DJ. Being able to mix everything up and bring it to life.

You don't have to trick people, but if you have a good flow and you are passionate about what you do, it oozes in to the crowd. Bill Pile taught me that. I used to get so pissed off behind the turntables. If you do that, if you are not passionate about what you do, especially in this town, how are you going to get people excited about what you are doing.

spaed

Interview by Phelyne ~ Artwork by Spaed. Top right by Spaed, Danny, Jasen, Bacdafukkup!  ~ Representing Pittsburgh, PA - Spaed is one of the most ambitious and dedicated up-and-comers I have had the pleasure of recently meeting. This guy has been a major player for quite sometime in his hometown and nationally, holding it down in several areas of the underground scene since around the time a lot of it was started. Not only does he have strong roots in graffiti, being one the pioneers of NSF (a nationally acclaimed graffiti crew), but he is also skilled at skateboarding, turntablism, and producing hiphop and jungle beats. He is on his way to becoming the next great internationally acclaimed producer from Pennsylvania in both jungle and HipHop. This man is on his way around the globe, but had some time to sit down and talk with me.

How long have you been in the game?

I have been collecting records since I was an early teen. I started buying jungle & drum and bass records around 1992, and began spinning out for crowds in around 1995. I went on to play at pretty much every DnB weekly that’s popped up and have opened up for big name DnB DJs at large parties year to year.

What is your role in the underground scene and how do you feel you have contributed?

I have always kept up with the drum and bass sound, buying records and mix tapes and playing out as much as possible through the years. In addition to the music, I have always played a role in the underground scene as a graffiti writer. Starting out tagging in 1990, a couple years later forming the now legendary NSF (non stop flavor) graffitti crew. Ive gone painting walls and freight train cars year to year,and always hold down tags in my city,even now at the ripe age of 30! The crew has expanded to a nation wide tight nit click of friends that paint on a regular basis,with hundreds of freight cars rolling with the NSF seal of approval.

Alongside being one of the pioneers of an amazing national urban art group, you are also an amazing turntablist. Can you explain what got you into the music side of the underground and what your major inspirations have been?

Hip hop has been a part of my life as long as I can remember, and music in general has always been my soul and held with very high regard. I got into break beat techno, aka drum and bass jungle as soon as it arrived, and I have been interested in scratching ever since I touched turntables in the early nineties. Its hard to name just a few major influences because there's been so many great dj’s, so many great tunes,and believe me,I have heard nearly every great drum and bass tune ever made. For me, it was a natural thing to combine turntablism with DnB sets and I used to have mixes sent to me of cool fm sets of dj’s like DJ HYPE and Cool Hand Flex, which always had cuts flexed over the mix. The last few years, I have been DJing with the radiohiphop.com crew, which has provided me with a lot of experience as a hiphop deejay. One of my best friends out here is not only an exceptional MC, but was a judge for the dmc battles and ive always had a lot of influence and input from him.There was a local college radio station that had a weekly dnb show mixed live on air by none other than the man Dieselboy while he lived in Pittsburgh in the early to mid 90’s, and it was cool to get to hang out with him while he was here with his extensive knowledge and sick record collection, which definitely had an impact on me. I take influence from great jazz artists, top notch turntablists, great rock and metal bands and legendary hip hop groups alike.

What are your current plans now as far as music goes?

Currently i am busy deejaying local clubs 1-4 times a week, and producing with almost all of my free time. I am just about to drop some dubplates to start hitting off some well known deejays with, hopefully creating a buzz for myself that way. I am in the lab somethin’ serious, always progressing and covering new ground.

What are your future goals dealing with your music career?

In the future,I hope to have several releases out as far as my drum and bass career go’s, which will find me pushing the sound on an international level as a dj as well.Ive been getting out of state bookings already which is always great, but I really want to step it up to an international thing, with the skill level and selection of my own dnb sound taking me places in more ways than one!

What is one thing you would say to people who are new to underground?

If you are new to the game,that’s fine it’s never too late to begin, but you should be respectful of heads that have been there from day one and learn your history. Build a strong record collection, and learn some signature mixing technique, don’t just learn to blend and whine about not getting booked, this takes patience and determination and is not always happy go lucky. Your going to have to learn business and self promotion tactics to succeed, and be cautious when dealing with promoters and record labels. Just always do what feels right as far as production and deejaying, and hopefully someday you will make a meaningful sought after contribution to the overall electronic music scene.

Take it from the boy Spaed, hardwork, determination, and passion are the key elements to success. Click Here to Visit Spaed Online!

ben armstrong

Interview by Brent Crampton ~ Photos by Kent Frost ~ Ben Armstrong is a Fayetteville, Arkansas native who’s altruistic efforts are bringing him to great lengths in the house music industry. He has been getting booked all over the States and has a few tracks in the works to be released on some major labels. Ben is a bright individual who throws free events in the beautiful parks of Fayetteville, AR.

While getting some local dj’s together and a BBQ pit are nothing special in itself, Ben takes it a step further and flys in national names in house music just to play at his events. Where is all the money coming from to do this? That’s a good question - see what he has to say about it.

Tell me what your free events are?

Well, basically they're just a good reason for good friends to get together and have a good time listening to good music.

What kind of music/atmosphere/etc?

Since I play and produce house music, the events are definitely geared towards house. But I also try to bring some intelligent and/or jazzy drum and bass, down tempo, nu jazz, and really anything that has the right feel for a park on a Saturday afternoon/evening. It's a really laid back atmosphere that's basically all about having fun.

When is the next one and who is playing?

The next one is July 3 at Veteran's Memorial Park here in Fayetteville. This is also my birthday party so it's pretty huge. I've got Trevor Lamont, DJ Mes, Don Tinsley, Ken Liu from Headset Recordings, Josh Sweet from Heights Music, and a whole slew of local and regional house favorites. After that I'm doing another one August 14 that the line-up is still in the works, but it will include The Freaky Afronaut, Jake Childs, and Brent Crampton.

What gives you the motivation to do a free show?

Well, the main thing is I feel it's important to give something back. I've been very lucky over the years and have been able to play a lot of places around the country and now have several tracks coming out on some dope labels. I think it's important to do things to thank the people that support you and make the good things possible.

Doesn't the money come out of your own pocket?

Yeah, but it's all gravy. Every penny that I've spent has been well worth it.

What's the scene like in your hometown?

It's cool. It's a bit smaller as the city is smaller, but it's really close knit and cool. There are also some good promoters that throw quality shows. Esoteric Gen. does outdoor psy-trance stuff and gets great turnouts. And Dancenhance, when they do shows, always bring diverse line-ups of quality talent. Also we have a Friday and Saturday night weekly at Ron's Place, a club here in town, which is picking up momentum every week and has some big things planned for the near future.

Where have you been playing at and tell me something about your production work?

This has been a busy, busy year. The beginning of the year, I took a little break that actually started at the end of last year to really focus on production and finishing up some projects that I've had out there for a while. But since the beginning of Spring, it's been hectic playing everywhere. Over the next few months I've got shows in Austin, Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Springfield, Murpheysboro at Caveman 2, Chicago, Memphis, etc, etc. Basically every weekend between now and the middle of September is traveling all over the place, which is cool because I LOVE traveling! As far as the production work, it's been really busy as well. The first track that I worked on that got signed was actually a collaboration I did with Don Tinsley that's coming out on Uni.form Recordings later this summer with a remix from Jason Hodges. There's also another track that we did together that's coming out soon on Inhale Music that you can pick up on Stompy.com soon. I also have a track that I did coming out on Headset Recordings soon with a remix from DJ Mes. Also, Daniel Rockwell, Control C, and myself are starting a label as we speak called Flytrap Records. We have our first release done and are getting everything together for some dope remixes. The response so far has been great so we're hoping to have the first release out sometime in early Fall. Other than that, I've got several remix projects that in the works for The Freaky Afronaut, DJ Mes, and Don Tinsley. It's exciting times for sure. pictures of the events

FlyTrap Records web site should be up very soon. That will be the place to check information on the events, tracks, etc. Also you can check out Uniform Recordings, HeadSet Records and Inhale-Music for info on the tracks coming out.

top brick dj

Story by Brent Crampton ~ Photo by Vitally ~ The DJs in Lincoln and Omaha are starting to break out the scratch records, juggling techniques and the two-minute-mix-transitions and it’s not because a new fad of turntablism is taking over. It’s the annual Bricktop DJ Contest! And this year promises to be just as off-the-hook as the 2003 contest. With the grand prize being 2 Technics or $1,000, there was a line of djs set to play when the June 28th entry deadline came around.

The contest begins on July 10th and will continue until the last DJ is standing. A host of panel judges, amongst them are rumored to be Zak C, Garrick Michael and Lunatik will be judging on crowd response, stage presence, creativity and technicality.

Last year the final dual came down to Mix Masta Meza and Zak C and ended in an infamously controversially win by Zak C. Most cheered, and some booed at the results from the judges. Nonetheless, the contest proved to be memorable and expect nothing short for this year too. For more info, be sure to visit The BrickTop web site

together

by Brent Crampton  ~ Artwork by Betsy Borchardt ~ photos by Unknown

“Together is an idea, a dream, a life, that includes all. Together is for you and me and lives through us all. We freely give so that we may freely receive, we give what we have to give and share what is given.”
- Together2K4.com

This is the eloquently stated mission of the annual event, Together based in Iowa. Together began last summer with the simple idea of bringing together all djs, groups of people and promotion groups on a fare and unbiased level. It’s a free 3-day camping event celebrating music and art on August 13-15th, location T.B.A.

While most scenes move into clubs and become focused on making the coveted dollar, Iowa is fighting for it’s true appeal to a rave culture, and Together is just the reflection of the bigger picture of unity amongst the ravers throughout Iowa. In my experience with the followers of electronic music in Iowa, there is a sense of purity and unity in the scene that has been long lost in other areas of the country. It’s not unheard of to have someone drive across half the state just to go to a VFW Hall to see a bunch of locals djs play. And amongst the mass compiling of people at these events, one can often see someone walking around with a tin can in their hand with the words “ Donations for Together” printed on the side. Throughout the night people give anything from pocket change to a $50 bill to raise funds.

What can one expect at this event? Let’s just say a VERY long list of local Iowa dj talent and a hand full of bands and hip hop artists. To name a few, one can hear classic trance selections from Airyck Sterrett, or chi-town deep house from Dj Alert, boucin’ hardcore bumpers from Kernel Scurry, bangin’ hard house courtesy of The Noid and even a live p.a. performance via Omaha’s own Trinity Sound System. The current list of djs to perform skyrockets into more than 40! Plus there will be this year’s new addition of the “Rainbowl Marketplace” which will provide a place for craft vendors to sell their art at the event. The money gained from the market will be donated to a charity and will help to fund future Together events. Multiple stages, a chill area, woods to connect with, food vending, fire performances, political awareness speeches, tye dye silk screen workshops to name a hand full of the things happening.

This event is a rave! Maybe not in the physical sense, but in the idealized sense of what a rave stood for. They are not making money, nor are they taking credit for the event. In an email I received from their office, “please don't use my name unless you have to . . . because together is a group effort with the reward being the party, not credit for actions.” In fact, this event was partly motivated to hindering the natural separation caused by competing promotional groups and bring everyone together on an unbiased playing field. Together is truly a community event that takes many and forms them into one for three days. For more information on this event, or to make a donation, be sure to visit their web site.

blo, because mondays don't have to suck

story & photos by todd ~ Monday. What a horrible day to do anything. After surviving a weekend full of some of the hardest partying you have done in months (for some of us, years), now one of your best friends is on the phone and wants you to come out and party some more.

You're first thought is, "Are you Crazy? I just turned my world upside down this past weekend. I slept 18 of the 24 hours that they call Sunday, woke up late this morning, was going to be on time for work until some idiot rolled their car over in the middle of the interstate and my boss bitched at me for an hour because I was 5 minutes late, and You want Me to do What?"

On the other end of the phone, your friend tells you, in their best 'pretty please' voice, "Oh, Come on. It'll be fun. We'll just go down to the Club and have a cocktail and listen to some music maybe find some boys / girls. Who knows? There's a DJ that's been playing off and on down there on different days of the week that finally has settled in to Monday nights. He plays a a pretty good range of music, from House to Techno to Hip Hop to whatever. Old and new. C'mon, we gotta check it out! I heard that tonight it's supposed to be a Pajama Party!"

Staring bleakly down at the Chicken Noodle soup that you thought would make everything just a little better today, you think to yourself, "Eh. Why not. I'm not doing anything else tonight except watching re-runs of re-runs on TV and doing laundry. Besides, I'm pretty sure that my boss will find something else to complain about before this day is over, if for no other reason than to make my Monday as miserable as they possibly can.

"Yea... Ok. Why not." slips out before you have much more of a chance to think about it and a few minutes later, while hanging up the phone, you think, "That's great ... Tuesday is going to hurt just as much as today did."

There is a brief pause around 4 pm so that your boss can can pull you in to a conference room and tell you how dissatisfied they are with everything you are, and everything you have been today. "Whatever.", you think as you walk out of the cold, fluorescent-lit cubicle world, tacking on a "Good Riddance" as the doors to the building slam behind you.

Arriving at home, you look around at the remnants of your past weekend's life and think, "Ugh... I do need to get out of here." Realizing there is a restaurant across the street from the club, you call your friends and tell them to meet you for dinner down at 'The Dog'.

After a few cocktails and some food, feeling much better than you did this morning, you are finally in the frame of mind to go see what's going on across the street. One of your friends hassles you for not wearing your PJs, but you don't really care, you are hiding them underneath your clothes because you don't want to be the only person of 10 in the room wearing PJs. I mean seriously, we all know how Mondays are here.

Paying $5 and walking in, much to your surprise, there are about 20 more people than you had actually expected to be in the whole place.

$1 Wells make everything a little easier for us broke folks. Order two, but when the bartendar asks you, "Would you rather just have a Double? Those are $2!" You can barely contain yourself as your inner-child squeals, "Yippee! Cocktail Time!"

In the back room, there are probably already 100 people there. Some House tune that you haven't heard in probably three or four years is playing, the floor is packed and nearly everyone is "gettin down" in their Pajamas.

After a quick change in the bathroom and running out to your car to stow your clothes in the trunk, you return to find that the crowd is not diminishing at all. In fact, it's growing at an exponential rate. The front room is getting a lot more crowded and the back room is maintaining it's own, while steadily adding people from the front.

DJ Two Heavy is spinnin up just about anything and everything on the CD decks, even requests here and there and he's grinning from ear to ear as the dance floor starts to really get it's groove on to an older Trance anthem.

Suddenly, out of the corner of your eye, you see something whirling around from the ceiling and realize that they have a stripper pole planted in the middle of the floor and some leggy blonde is putting on quite a performance, much to everyone's and amusement. Some even try to climb on and do there thing, once she steps down, but she's no amateur.

Before you know it, there has been a lot of Rum and Coke that has made it's way down your gullet, you have been dancing non-stop for two or three hours with a hundred or so other people and now, it's 3:00 am and it's time to go.

Thinking, "Oh Crap. How am I EVER going to get up?", you drift out the doors with the help of some friends, everyone giggling and stumbling a little. Saying goodbye, you manage to find your way back home. Curled up in bed, your last though, as you fall asleep, "Who cares how I get up, I had a good time for a change. In fact I think I've had one of the best times I have had in a long time. I'll worry about all that waking up stuff when the stupid alarm goes off, that is ... if it survives the Snooze Game."

This little story is mostly fabricated, though I suppose it could be more true for some than others. Either way, the Club is real - The Empire Room. The bartenders are real. The drink specials are real. The good music is real and the good time are real.

I had an opportunity to speak with most of the people involved in organizing the Monday party that they affectionately call, "BLO: Because Mondays Don't Have To Suck". Mike Flinn and Eric James are the two main guys behind the scenes doing everything they can to bring Mondays out of the closet with monthly themed events, such as the Pajama Party and, most recently, the Luau. They said that their theme nights are always a huge hit, drawing sometime 300-400 people to The Empire Room.

But what about the other Mondays? Well, you can BLO every Monday night at The Empire Room with Glenn Jefferson aka DJ Two Heavy, spinning up some of the best old and new favorites from all dance genres. He even plays some of the more obscure things that are sometimes only heard at more underground events. Everyone seems to love what he plays every Monday and as a result, regular BLO Mondays still draw an excellent crowd.

The cover is still $5 every Monday night, but it is a small price to pay when you consider the $1 drinks and fantastic diversity in people that you will find there. I have never been to a club in Kansas City where the level of social acceptance could match some of my other more favorite clubs around the United States. White, Black, Brown, Tan, Purple, Green, Yellow, Gay, Lesbian, Cowboy, Junglist, HipHopster, Raver, GothKid, ClubKid, etc... All are welcome. All have a good time. All drop their social pretenses upon entering the doors. It really is a good thing to see happen here in Kansas City. I hope that it continues for a very very long time. As one of my favorite Junglists, cQuence, so eloquently put it last Monday, near the end of BLO: The Luau, "This is definitely the best Monday night ever in Kansas City."

Not only that, Mike Flinn hinted to me that this $5 isn't being squandered, but is being saved up so that they will have enough money to bring in some well known regional, national and international talent to spice things up even more in the very near future. Until that time comes though, Glenn Jefferson isn't missing a beat or an opportunity and is already bringing in random local talent to tag with him on this night, such as DJ Maxx, RJ Bass, Steve Thorell, Bill Pile and Pat Nice, just to name a few.

Needless to say, come on down to the Empire Room some Monday night and just see what happens, or get in touch with them to find out when the next theme night is. You will not be disappointed. They even take the time to decorate for whatever theme is in place for the evening.

To sneak a peek at what you may have missed, just have a look at the photo gallery, under Kansas City and look for BLO.

rockin the wakarusa

by BPositive  ~ photos by todd ~ What do you get when you mix thousands of hippies and hippie-wannabes with tents, beer and loud music? If you were at the first Wakarusa Music and Camping Festival, July 17-20 in Lawrence, Kansas, you got a lot of fun, some unparalleled people watching, a good tan and plenty of exercise and relaxation. Sounds like a recipe for the perfect way to spend a weekend, and indeed it proved to be for myself and couple friends I talked into going along.

I had caught wind of the Wakarusa Festival several months before the actual event. It sounded like fun, but as someone who has listened to almost nothing but electronic music since 1990, I wasn’t familiar with any of the bands. So, it dropped off my radar screen until I happened to drive by the festival location one night after work. Once I got my first sight of the professional signage, the beautiful facilities at Clinton Lake Park (the venue for the weekend’s festivities) and the large numbers of campers already installed in the campground, I caught Wakarusa fever and there was going to be no keeping me away.

The way I figure it, there’s two main type of people, those who thrive on being around people and those who don’t. Being one of the former, I get goose-bumps at the prospect of dancing in a crowd of happy, jamming people. That’s one of the main things that attracted me to the rave scene and electronic dance music. What’s more, the chance to do it all outdoors on a weekend with a forecast of partly sunny, moderate temps and low humidity had me hooked. As I was to later find out, I was not alone. As many as 10,000 attendees were expected. I don’t think they ever reached that many, but it was hard to tell with people spread out across the huge Clinton Lake park campground and between three large stages.

The festival actually started on Thursday night with a single stage. It looked like there were plenty of campers and attendees who had cleared out their lives to spend 4 days out in nature, getting alternately sweaty and wet, while listening to their favorite music. I, however, had to pay the bills on Thursday and Friday, so I figured Saturday and Sunday would give me a strong enough dose of Waka-rockin’.

I came to find out that Wakarusa organizers had selected a wide range of jam bands for the weekend’s entertainment, playing blues-tinged and acoustic, “roots” rock. Names like Leftover Salmon, Galactic, Keller Williams, and Los Lonely Boys may mean more to you than they did to me prior to losing my Jam-Band-Festival virginity.

My friends and I rolled in mid-afternoon on Saturday. Thought the festival had already been in motion since noon, it was off to a slow start that day. Torrential rains and thunderstorms the night before had dampened some campers, if not their enthusiasm. Nevertheless, on this particular day the sun was shining, the beer was flowing and the music from the three stages had me and my friends bobbing our heads as we walked around getting our bearings.

The first thing we discovered was this festival wasn’t having any of that mamby-pamby lite beer. Heck, no! Only real beer with flavor for this crowd of tie-dye-sporting 20-somethings – namely Fat Tire Amber (one of my favorites) and Sunshine Wheat! This discovery generated the first in a long series of high-fives between us as we couldn’t believe our luck at getting to spend our weekend having so much fun. I don’t think there was even any Miller or Bud available on the grounds. But, I am sure no one shed any tears over that!

A huge circus tent and stage ensured that the show would go on rain or shine, but mother nature had exhausted herself the night before and so the rest of the weekend smiled on us from start to finish. Two full, concert-sized stages backed up to each other on opposites of huge fields. Clinton Lake park has to be one of the best venues I’ve seen for an outdoor festival of this type. The gently sloping hills and flat expanses of grass were easy on the feet and legs, except for the fairly long walk from the campgrounds.

The superb layout and professionalism in organization of the event were obvious. Everything was surrounded by temporary chain link fencing. All the gates were manned, every comfort and safety feature had been thought of. There were plenty of porta-potties in all the right places. They were relatively clean. The stages were very professional with top-level sound. Everywhere there were signs to guide you. Lots of tables to sit at to enjoy a veggie burrito or a beer. There was even plenty of Red Bull and a coffee vendor in case you were dragging a little after the midnight thunderstorms. This is how a festival should be thrown. There was a lot to be learned from this event’s organizers.

We passed the day checking out an endless stream of local and regional bands, as well as the variety of culinary delights present for a reasonable price (as festivals go) in the vendor area. The festival had attracted an impressive array of 20+ vendors with a good variety of clothing, jewelry and other unique items for sale. Meanwhile the numbers of people at the stages was steadily increasing.

The endless variety in the crowd really made for exquisite people watching. Apparently, there is a large group of former Dead-heads and their younger cousins who follow these festivals around the country. There were plenty of these folks in the house, complete with hacky sacks, dreads and flowing skirts. But, there were also hard rockers, punkers, kids, parents, R-n-B types, hip-hoppers, you name it, it was a colorful crowd. I met people from as far away as Florida and the Dakotas who had driven in for the event, including many from a three-state area surrounding the Lawrence.

About the only group the organizers did not cater to, or attract in very large numbers, were the electronic music crowd. In my opinion, they missed out by not including at least a small stage with electronic music. There’s a lot of cross-over between the jam-band scene and the rave scene. There’s a lot of shared “peace and love” values, similar age group and hey – the goal of both types of music is dancing in the end.

During a set by the Hairy Apes BMX, I suddenly looked up and realized we had finally reached “critical mass.” The area in front of the stage was now packed and people were grinning, bobbing their heads and shaking it as the Apes laid down a blistering set of alternative, jazz-influenced rock. The saxaphone player really took control and gave us what we were looking for.

A surprise golf cart tour of the grounds gave us our first glimpse of the numbers of people in attendance. It looked to me like it could have been as many as 5-6,000 – a hefty figure for this part of the Midwest. Again, the organization underlying everything was highly visible, from the huge Rubber Ducky semi-trucks set up with portable showers in them to the Wakarusa sign-posts making it easy to find your way home again or find that group of friends you met at the last festival. Everywhere you looked there were colorful banners across camp sites and friendly faces. There was a real sense of community that comes from sharing the challenges of nature, be it the weather, the chiggers or the hot sun. We were really sorry that we had left our camping gear at home.

After dark, things really got cooking. The fields which were larger than football fields were filled with people. The front of the stages were packed with people dancing, partying and making new friends. Pomeroy, Particle and the Derek Trucks band all captured our attention and got us dancing.

The real musical highlight of the weekend, however, was the set by O.A.R. (a.k.a. Of a Revolution) on Saturday night. They went on about 11:00 pm and were slated for a one hour and fifteen minute set. But, the crowd was loving it and they must have figured as the last band on that stage, they might as well give the crowd more of what they wanted. Pretty soon they had the crowd singing along in the appropriate places. I liked the catchy tunes and the meaningful lyrics that the lead singer delivered as if he was just one of your friends telling you a story you could really identify with. We decided to skip checking out the other stages and stick with O.A.R to the end. What great performers and great energy from the crowd!

Tickets for this event weren’t cheap. At anywhere from $75 (advance) to $105 (day of) for the weekend, or $50 for a single day, it’s a wonder they got the large turnout they did. I think it just goes to show there is a real interest and market for outdoor concert events like this.

You can view photos from Wakaruse by checking the gallery, or for more information, just visit their Web Site.

july 2004 editor note

The cover this month is from the Wakarusa Festival that was held recently at Clinton Lake State Park near Lawrence, KS, looking at the Sunset Stage as it was getting close to that time.

It was definitely a long month, this past June. With everything that was going on, sometimes it was a little bit of a chore to just keep up.

It seemed as though most of everything was building up to one moment, Chaos Theory v2.0. With a line-up, sound, lights and arrangement designed to rival last year's show, it was definitely one that was worth going to. Sadly, there was a bit of an incident with my spare camera too and all of the shots from the second floor were lost forever.

I played a fun little gig down at a West Bottoms loft near the end of the month. That's where this month's editor column photo comes from. Joe took this one of me with a few of my favorite girlz.

One of the highlights of this month for me was having the opportunity to see Offtrack return and give everyone a good solid bangin' near his hometown of Manhattan, KS, with Techno Justice League comrade-in-arms n.9. Thanks for the good times, but I think I could have done without the rain.

There was only a bit of randomness this month in the photos this month. The Sister Machine Gun show down at Davey's Uptown being one of the more interesting stops along the way. That was definitely a great, up-close and personal performance. I look forward to seeing them again the next time they are in town.

This issue was a little late though and for that I do apologize. I decided just close down the office for the 4th of July weekend and just go out, play and enjoy the four day weekend. Needless to say, I had a really great time and got to spend what was probably more than my fair share of chill time with some really close friends and later on the fourth, family.

It looks like July is going to be a fun month. Enjoy the articles this month and, with all of the outdoor parties that are planned this month, I'm sure that I'll see you under stars sometime soon.

Until Next Time! PEACE!

~phocas~

july 2004 issue