Archive for June 2011

The Night My DJ Skills Bombed

June 29, 2011

One Thursday evening, I DJed with Spank, Nigel and Rhett.  Before I started mixing music, Nigel and Spank both DJed past events I hosted.

Spank

I was allowed to play music first.  From classic funk I drifted to house music.  As soon as Spank took over, people began to dance, an early warning I ignored.

When Nigel’s time came, people still danced.

Then my time came again.  At first, I had the floor dancing to classic funk and soul.  Even one of Orlando’s most respected DJs danced, a woman named Becky.

Somewhere along the line, I decided to be a smart-ass.  Don’t ask why this happened.  I guess I just wanted to be self-destructive.  As I had the people dancing, I decide to play Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive”, a disco song that cleared the damned floor.

Spank came to save me.

Disgusted I walked outside and began telling folks what happened.

“Oh, don’t worry about it,” said my friend Todd.  “They don’t appreciate good music.  They’re just some artsy-fartsy types that like to talk all night.”

True enough, our event was an art after-party.  Still, Todd’s words did not sooth my bruised ego.

Then, I started dancing with women.

“You guys spin,” I told Spank.  “I’ll just pimp.”

Later on, wanting to play again, I forgot I said those words.  But Nigel and Spank didn’t forget.  So, I didn’t spin again that night.  (Months later, Spank reminded me of what I said.)

Nigel

Rhett showed up later.  For about thirty minutes, he spun electro/house music and then left.

Nigel and Spank spun the rest of the night as folks continued dancing.

Days later, I read my “bomb” may have been a good thing.  Because a bar relies on drink sales, my “bomb” may have been the perfect time for dancers to buy more booze, adding more sales to the bar.

In a book about DJing, I read one of the worst things is having everyone dance all night.   The more time people spend on the dance floor, the less time they are buying drinks, an irritant for bar owners.

As he handed out money at the end of the night, Spank did mention it was the most money he has ever made during a gig.   Who knows, my “bomb” may have been a good thing.

Still, good thing or not, folks leaving the dance floor during my set continues fucking with me.

The No Requests DJ

June 26, 2011

Last night, a DJ played in a local bar.  He jammed his beats on the bar’s stage.  On technology he had me beat.  A laptop sat on the first level of his stand as his huge controller sat on the second.  Not only that, he owned two PA speakers and the capability to show videos on two of the bar’s wide-screen televisions.  The televisions existed high on the wall behind the bar counter.

I understand the logic behind this.

No way in hell could I compete with that.  My usual equipment is my laptop, external hard drive and an electrical outlet chord.

As far as his talent goes?  It’s questionable.   In many nightclubs, whole songs aren’t played anymore.  Now, you hear maybe half  of the song and the DJ immediately cuts into another.  I understand the logic.  Any drag in the music may stop folks from dancing.   Still,  isn’t it disrespectful  to the artist to only play half the song?   Maybe, folks know something I don’t.

I noticed a No Requests sticker on back of the DJ’s laptop.   Sometimes, I wish I can get away with that.  As me and the crowd are grooving, some clueless fuck requests something that screws up the whole program.  I understand perfectly well why some Djs won’t take requests.

Yet, some requests steers me into the right direction.  The right request informs me on what the crowd really wants to hear.  With that, the crowd energy pumps up.  Despite the annoyances, this is why I except requests.

Many bar patrons danced to No Request DJ’s music.  I wondered if I could cause this same crowd the same excitement with my equipment.  Or could I cause higher excitement?

In this bar, I may never get the chance to see.   Yet, I refuse butchering people’s music like I saw No Request DJ doing.  If that makes me old-school and out of date, so be it.

Chill Tuesdays Playlist 6-21-2011

June 24, 2011

 

Folks chillin' at the bar counter.

Here’s this week’s sample of songs I played.

1. Le Nettoyeur by Greg Baumont: A slick instrumental bumping hip-hop beats.   The musical arrangement  and sound is almost reminiscent of  Enigma and Art of Noise.

2. Just The Two of Us by Grover Washington, Jr.: A classic soul-jazz piece.  The legendary Bill Withers does the vocals as the late Mr. Washington blows the saxophone.  Some folks may recognize it as the song Will Smith sampled for his song of the same name.

3. River Serpentine by The Budos Band: A funky gem centered around horns.  It has a cool sixties vibe to it.

4. Sabhyata by Karmix:  When it comes to vocals, I normally avoid non-English singing songs.  Yet, because I enjoyed the East Indian vocal arrangement, I included this number in my collection.  As middle-eastern music plays, scratching plays in the mix.

5. Makes You Extatic by The Tao of Groove:  Another cool song mixing jazz samples and hip-hop. Also, we hear smooth jazz guitar playing along with a flute.

6. Take Me To Mardi James by Bob James: Old-school, hip-hop heads will recognize the opening as the sample for Run-DMC’s “Peter Piper”.  A keyboard grooves to jazz on this smooth jam.

7. Mystic Brew by Ronnie Foster: Funky organ work added to smooth jazz.  This cool gem is easily recognized as the sample for A Tribe Called Quest’s “Electric Relaxation.”

Ten Albums Every Prince Fan Should Own

June 19, 2011

First of all, don’t tell Prince about this.  He doesn’t like the word “fan”, something about “fan” existing in the word “fanatic”.  In honor of my favorite musician, I decided to make a list of albums every Prince fan should own.  Of course, some fans may own every album, which is commendable.  Still, I chose to highlight the ones people definitely must have.

10. Purple Rain (1984)

This is a no brainer, even people who aren’t hardcore Prince fans own this soundtrack to the same-named movie.  Starting out with the hard-rocking “Let’s Go Crazy”, the album offers a tasty mix of pop and soul.  The album also contains one of his most covered songs, “When Doves Cry”.

And who can forget the raunchy “Darling Nikki”?  Back in 1984 at summer camp, I played this song on someone’s cassette player. After hearing the Nikki-started-to-grind verse, the jaws of my cabin mates dropped as their eyes widened.  Compared to recent rap lyrics, that verse is tame.

Like many great soundtrack albums, the music holds it own without people even thinking about the film.

9. For You (1978)

This is Prince’s first album.  At age 19, he wrote, composed and produced the whole damned thing.  He even played all the instruments.  All at the age of 19.  That alone is why For You is a must have.

On this bad boy, two songs stand out.  One is “Crazy You”,  a ballad sung in his signature falsetto voice as he strums an acoustic guitar.  Second would be “Soft and Wet”, a funky, synthesizer number co-written with Chris Moon.

8. The Black Album (1994)

Actually, it was supposed to be released in 1987.  Thinking the album evil, Prince shelved it.  Yet, a fan should still own it, mostly because of the song “Bob George”, an evil guilty pleasure.  Usually known to alter his voice to a higher pitch, Prince lowers it on this song.  In this voice he makes fun of himself.  “Prince?! Ain’t that bitch! That skinny muthafucka with the high voice?!”  Actually, this song is a blueprint for future rap lyrics involving cussin’ out and smackin’ women, reason why it’s a guilty pleasure.

The music on “Bob George” blends rock and funk to the extremes.  As Prince jams the guitar rock-style, the rest of the arrangement centers on some nasty funk.

7. Come (1994)

Before he turned into the symbol, this was the last album he used the name Prince.  Personally, I believe this is one of his most under-appreciated albums.  It takes more than one listen to get used to it.  Yet, after awhile, the songs “Space” and “Letitgo” stays with you for a long time.  The only thing groundbreaking is “Loose”, a thumping techno jam.  Most of the music is Prince’s typical mixture of pop and soul.  Still, a fan must own it.

6. 3121 (2006)

The album many of my friends said he became Prince again.  Before this album, he had already dropped the symbol and went back to calling himself Prince.  My friends were actually referring to the music, especially the song “Black Sweat”. On this song, he uses his signature falsetto with the lines, “I don’t want to take my clothes off…but I do.”  Also, he promises his love interest she’ll be screaming like a white lady at the count of three.

Some songs do sound like past songs.  “Lolita” sounds like “Raspberry Beret.”  Also, “Fury” almost sounds like “1999”. Yet, the album deserves a spot in a Prince fan’s music collection.

5. Musicology (2004)

Before 3121, this was considered his comeback album, the one that made him a household name again.  More soul than pop, it reached number five in the US, a charting Prince hadn’t seen in years.

Other gems, besides the thumpin’ title song, includes “Cinnamon Girl” and “Dear Mr. Man”.  Both are political songs. “Cinnamon Girl” attacks the anti-Muslim hate aimed at Arab-Americans.  In the vain of Bob Marley’s “Crazy Baldheads”, “Dear Mr. Man” shoves the world’s problems in the face of the ruling class.

My personal favorite is “What Do U Want Me 2 Do?”   The percussion takes one back to the Purple Rain and 1999 days. Yet, it doesn’t sound dated.

4. The Gold Experience (1995)

Recently, at one of my deejay gigs, I got a request for the song “P Control”, a song I still hear being played at parties. Some women just can’t get enough that song.   I can still hear them now, “Pussy controooool!!!”

This is the first album Prince released under his symbol name.  Fed up with Warner Bros. withholding the album, he decided to release it under the unpronounceable symbol everyone knows him for.

“The Most Beautiful Girl In The World” is the song all the fellas secretly wish they can write for their loved ones. Secretly because “real” mean don’t say sappy things like, “It’s plain to see you’re the reason God made a girl.”   Hell no, “real” men don’t talk like that.  Yet, this is what men wish to express to their loved ones, they’re the most beautiful girl in the world.

I remember “I Hate You” in an ironic way.  The song deals with being in love with a cheater, and hating the cheater for it.  Yet, because of the love ballad groove, people slow danced to it…including yours truly.  A masterpiece in the same vein of the Police’s “Every Breath You Take”, it sounds beautiful on the surface.  Yet, when you listen to the lyrics, the song ain’t what you think it is.  Lyrics about stalking an ex-lover and lyrics about a cheating woman ain’t necessarily baby-making music.  Yet, both songs serenade you anyway.

3. Sign O’ The Times (1987)

Who in the house know about the Quake?  This double-album does not contain one song a Prince fan wouldn’t like.  It’s that damned good.

After the low sales of Around The World in a Day and Parade, Sign O’ The Times brought Prince back to the forefront. This super mofo contains the rockin’ “U Got The Look” duet with the sexy Sheena Easton.  (Back in the day, I wanted a taste of Sheena’s “Sugar Walls”.)   Also, the album contains a “Hot Thing” that’s barely 21.  Plus, I must not forget the unforgettable songs “Housequake“, “The Ballad of Dorothy Parker” and “It”.  One time, I actually was doing “It” as this album played.  To top it off, I definitely should add “Adore”.  Who can forget a song that goes, “Until the end of time/I’ll be there for you”?

2. 1999 (1982)

After releasing four albums, the mainstream finally discovered Prince with this album.  Not only was the song “Little Red Corvette” being played on pop radio stations, it was also being played on rock stations.  When it came to black folks loving rock music, Prince was the guy to look up to.   Also, the album marks the beginning of mainstream media calling Prince a rock star.

In some ways, the song “1999” became prophetic.  In the actual 1999 year, like the song predicted, many folks believed the world was coming to an end.

I got one complaint with this album. Is it one of his best works?   Hell yes.   Some critics consider it better than the more popular Purple Rain.   It’s even more raunchier than Purple Rain.  On Purple Rain, the only thing you hear is about some woman masturbating with a magazine.  On 1999, you hear Prince saying he wants to fuck the taste out of some woman’s mouth.  Even “Little Red Corvette” is sexually-oriented.  The song isn’t really about a car.  It’s about intercourse with an extremely experienced female.  So what is my complaint?  Many of the songs are too damned long.  They just go on and on and on, making the listener wish they would end already.

Despite the long songs, everyone should own this album. Not just Prince fans. Everyone who loves music must own 1999.

1. Dirty Mind (1980)

This album defines Prince the way we’ve known him for years. It’s the first time we see him mixing funk and rock, mainly punk and new wave rock on this album.

Also, Dirty Mind debuts the sexually-oriented lyrics the world has known him for.  On this album, the lyrics takes one to a porn movie.  First, the title song talks about a woman making him horny.  Every time he’s around her, he gets a “Dirty Mind”.  When we get to the third song, Prince wants to “Do It All Night”.  Song number five, he goes “Uptown” and gets laid by a woman who asks is he gay.  On “Head”, he gains oral sex from a woman who’s on her way to be wed.  Then on the song “Sister“, like a scene from the Taboo porn series, he’s a teen-ager being seduced by his 32 year old sister.  Yet, again, the song could be a protest against sexual abuse.  After all the sex, Prince goes into political mode attacking the military with the song “Party Up”.

Yes, the album includes two heartache songs “When You Were Mine” and “Gotta Broken Heart Again”.  Still, the album is mostly a funky porno soundtrack.   Of all Prince albums, one must definitely own Dirty Mind.

The Women of Little Fish-Huge Pond

June 17, 2011

These are photos of women taken during my DJ gigs at Little Fish-Huge Pond, a joint located in Sanford, Florida.  Sanford exists a forty minute drive north-east of Orlando.  All photos are taken by yours truly.

The Little Fish Logo

A blonde and a brunette.

These boots are made for walking.

I think they were part of a theater crew.

Hoola hooping.

I only deejayed a part of this event.

The one on the far right is a friend.

Another blonde and brunette. The blonde created the tattoo. 

Teresa.

Get off the phone!!!

Pin wheel.

A kiss for ya.

Chill Tuesdays Playlist 6-14-2011

June 17, 2011

 

Another person chillin' on a Tuesday night.

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s another sample of what I played last Tuesday.

 

 

 

 

 

1. Half Step by DJ Food:  Jazz grooving over hip-hop beats.  A saxophone adds the extra funk to it.

2. Lo-Fi Nu Jazz #8 by Rubin Steiner:  A mixture of lounge and jungle.   Retro-xylophone sounds brings to mind of a swinging sixties party as jungle provides the percussion.

3. Dirty Old Bossa Nova by Visioneers:  Originally by The Howard Roberts Quartet, this version goes heavy on the percussion, something that may inspire dancing.

4. Mr. Dope by Kenny Dope: A chill song.  Comes off as an instrumental MCs may want to spit verses over.

5. Huzza A Hanna by Lee “Scratch” Perry and the Upsetters:  A rockin’ song created by one of the godfathers of Jamaican dub music.

6. Champagne Flute by Backini: With hip-hop beats as the backbone, this is one of those jams containing different genres.  On this funky number, you’ll hear jazz singing and a flute playing classical music.

7.  After Midnight by Space Gang:  One of those instrumentals you would either find in the jazz section or electronica section.  The keyboard sounds may say eletronica. Yet, the song serenades like a smooth jazz number.

8.  La Bas by Sternklang: A down tempo joint involving scratching and upright bass.

9. Flashdance by  Yael Naim: I played this as a joke.  It’s a lounge version of  Irene Cara’s hit song.

10. Who’s Making Love by Lou Donaldson:   The legendary jazz saxophonist covers Johnny Taylor’s hit song.  A Tribe Called Quest sampled this one.

Irritating Song Requests

June 13, 2011

The Peacock Room exists on the outskirts of Downtown Orlando. As I wouldn’t necessarily call it upscale, The Peacock Room does attract the martini-drinking professional crowd.  Also, because the place hosts art openings once a month, it attracts the art crowd too.
From one to two times a month on Sundays, I setup at the bar counter, the far end where folks rarely notice me.

Patrons at Peacock's bar counter. (The DJ's point of view)

Because I left my laptop’s power chord at home, my friend Michael loaned me the chord to his.  I rarely ever see Michael without his laptop in The Peacock Room. Good thing he decided to bring it tonight.
As I was setting up, a young white woman who appeared twenty-something approached me.  Her light brown hair was tied in a ponytail.

“Are you doing the music?” she asked.
“Yea,” I answered. “But I’m not ready yet.”
As she walked away, I had a feeling she was going to be irritating.
As soon as I got things started, the young woman came back.
At this time, I was playing “Black Betty” by Ram Jam, a song request by my friend Mindy.
“Can you play Old 97?” the young woman asked.
“I’ll see if I got it,” I answered.
I was familiar with the name but didn’t know the music.  And I didn’t have it either.
I could’ve easily looked for the group on the Internet.  All I had to do was go to a site named GrooveShark and play a song from there.  Yet, because no one at Peacock told me I must honor everyone’s request, I didn’t do it.
“I don’t have it,” I told the young woman.
At the bar counter, she was sitting next to a friend, a brunette who looked around her age.  Because the end of the counter curved, I could talk to them face to face.
Both started naming off other groups for me to play, all of them rock.
As I moved into eighties hip-hop, I ignored the two women.
The first young woman brought up groups again.

“Does it look I own that music?” I asked.

Then, her and her friend brought up more groups.  One of them was Sublime.

Mindy

After the fourth hip-hop song, I played Sublime’s “What I Got”.

“Are you going to leave me alone now?” I asked them.

“Yes,” the first one said.

After Sublime, I played “Would” by Alice  In Chains.  The two left after that song.

The way those two kept going on about groups annoyed the hell out of me, as if I must absolutely play what theyrequest.  I don’t mind requests.  Still, if the DJ don’t have your music, just let it go.  Adding more pressure makes you look like an idiot.