In the late seventies and eighties, a group of local DJs—Wayne Williams, Jesse Saunders, Alan King, Tony Hatchett and Andre Hatchett—helped turn Chicago-style house music into an international phenomenon. In 1990, the by-now-self-christened Chosen Few Disco Corp. (self-esteem obviously not being a problem area for them) held a reunion picnic at Jackson Park, and rather than being a wistful, weren’t-the-old-days-great-please-pass-the-potato-salad affair, the party generated enough high-energy mojo to launch an entirely new phenomenon: an annual house-music festival that grew to incorporate live performances as well as epic-scale spinning. Read the rest of this entry »
Despite Derrick Carter’s status as Chicago’s biggest current ambassador of house, it’s shamefully easy for locals to take him for granted. But in addition to his seemingly unconscious mixing and uncanny ability to read a crowd, part of his worldwide success is in no small part due to his partnership with Brit Luke Solomon, and their creation of the legendary imprint Classic Recordings in 1995. Besides their penchant for labeling 12″ releases running backwards from 100 to 0, Classic put out simply great house music, from the delicate textures of Isolée, to the deep, pure thump of Rob Mello, Gemini and Iz & Diz, and even the retro-futuristic bounce of a then-unknown Metro Area. After a decade of many still-memorable releases (“Bushes?” “Lovelee Day?” “You Can’t Hide From Your Bud?” Yeah, we thought so.) Classic sadly went dark in 2005, only to reemerge in 2007, this time retooled for digital releases. And while DC has continued to amaze fans worldwide by being instantly recognizable on the decks (I mean, seriously, how do you do that when you’re just playing records?), Luke Solomon, who’s perhaps just as well known as Freaks (with Justin Harris aka Phillipé Maurice III) and the owner of Music For Freaks, has been taking a weirder, stranger trip, with a recent release popping up on hazy late-late party favorites Crosstown Rebels and getting the remix treatment from Radio Slave. But ever true to his long-toothed roots, Solomon has headed back to the deep end, with Freaks’ most recent “Right Now” release being a partnership with Robert Owen. Reunited tonight for the Classic Recording Company Residency Kickoff, tonight’s show is a definite must for any lover of a good 4/4. Like DC says, “Where U At?” (Duke Shin)
April 10 at Smart Bar, 3730 North Clark, (773)549-0203.
Derrick Carter and .dotbleep’s Dan X put their impeccable DJ schools to work for a great cause at Smart Bar this weekend. The duo will ring in the new year with bouncing house rhythms and sexy tech-house at a charity event to benefit PAWS, Rock For Kids and the Chicago Childrens Charities. Dance all night for a mere ten bucks and know it’s going someplace good. (John Alex Colon)
January 2 at Smart Bar, 3730 N. Clark, (773)549-0203, 10pm.
By Tom Lynch
“Does this mean I can leave early?”
That’s the question I’ve heard most from friends and acquaintances attending Lollapalooza this year as they look over the three-day schedule. That’s because Chicago’s Lollapalooza, in its fifth incarnation since the Grant Park debut in the summer of 2005, hasn’t had a weaker lineup.
Anybody want to disagree? Looking back at previous years, it makes this weekend’s festival seem even thinner. Read the rest of this entry »
A nice primer to get everyone in the music-fest groove one week before the Pitchfork extravaganza, Ukrainian Village’s West Fest boasts a notable rock ‘n’ roll lineup on each day. Saturday offers performances by Fluid Minds, Caos, Peace Keepers and all-girl group Coupleskate, whose “Don’t Scare the Horses” is one of 2009’s most impressive local releases. Mucca Pazza, always a fun live show, plays later in the evening, and longtime Chicago rockers Local H headline. Scott Lucas brings as much intensity to his band these days as he did in the mid-nineties. On Sunday, local indie-poppers The 1900s play (where’ve they been recently?), plus Richard Edwards of Margot and the Nuclear So & So’s. Red Red Meat, recently reunited, headline. Somehow I’ve missed each of this great band’s 2009 shows, and I’m not making that mistake again. (Also, on Sunday at the DJ Stage, Derrick Carter headlines.) All of this for five bucks. Let’s hope for good weather, we deserve it. (Tom Lynch)
West Fest takes play July 11-12 at Chicago and Wood. Visit westfestchicago.com for more details.
House music heavyweights take to the decks for a celebration thrown by the Gramaphone crew this week. If the bill simply read, “Carter and Serafini,” it would be reason enough to attend, but with the addition of legendary tastemakers Lono Brazil and Scott “Smokin” Silz, it becomes a ‘must-attend’ event. Silz killed it at the Hot Mix 5 Reunion event at the House of Blues a few years back, and Brazil, who owns the Cottage Grove label, has introduced some of music’s most influential artists to the public through his work with EMI and his monthly events at Sonotheque in Chicago and APT in New York City. This is hardly a night strictly for the old-schoolers. Classique will be a night of education, and perspiration, all on the same dancefloor. (John Alex Colon)
February 19 at Smart Bar, 3730 N. Clark, (773)549-0203
It’s Tuesday. The holidays were great, but the last week and a half of recovering cash and/or brain cells has likely left you with a midweek case of cabin fever. So what if Jeremy Piven’s mercury level is probably still higher than the thermometer frozen to your porch this evening. You have options. After a hiatus through 2008, Shameless returns for a special edition one-off. Featured tonight is none other than Boompty Headquarters’ own Derrick Carter, who’s been busy over the last year, touring the globe and performing at giant festivals like the UK’s Big Chill, submitting a well-received mix to Resident Adviser, remixing last year’s club sensation Hercules and Love Affair (as well as local boys Nate Manic and tonight’s co-headliner James Curd), and revamping the legendary Classic imprint he co-owns with Luke Solomon for the digital era. Curd’s been hustling, too, with a new direction for his Greenskeepers outfit which include “Vagabond” vocalist J-Dub stepping in for the recently relocated Nick Maurer, and an ever-evolving style which includes the likes of Tommie Sunshine and DFA. Beat Giant Brian Heath rounds out the night that doubles as birthday celebrations for Shameless promoter/DJ Mr. Nathaniel aka Mr. Fancypants and former Shameless resident DJ Droopy. Still on the fence? Pssst…it’s only five bucks! (Duke Shin)
January 13 at Sonotheque, 1444 W. Chicago, (312)226-7600, at 9pm. $5.
“Legend,” “ambassador” and “elite” are often used when describing the career of Chicago house DJ and producer Gene Farris. The nineties saw Farris’ star rise along with fellow Chicago artists like Boo Williams, Derrick Carter and Ron Trent, forming an unstoppable force within the genre. His DJ skills never disappoint, and his tracky studio style pairs soul and frenzy to deliver a seemingly endless timeline of dance-floor hits. His Farris Wheel imprint will release his new album in December, so expect to hear some exclusive excerpts throughout his set. Fusing disco, funk and jazz elements with deep, driving rhythms, it’s no wonder he is still in demand around the globe. Stop by Smart Bar and hear why the name “Gene Farris” is synonymous with good house music. (John Alex Colon)
November 8 at Smart Bar, 3730 N. Clark, (312)549-0203, 9pm.
The promotion heads behind Lava and its monthly house party, Grizzled, are hoping to keep the momentum going from last month’s largely successful West Fest event on Chicago Avenue. The headlining house antics Derrick Carter and The Sound Republic were enough to remind everyone that house music is alive and well in Chicago, even as the summer winds down its joyful, sunny ride. This month, its Belgium’s Massimo DaCosta bringing back the funky, feel-good bass that has shied from the spotlight in recent months. As one half of production duo Vernon & DaCosta, the DJ/producer has bumped his way onto esteemed labels including Aroma, Amenti and OM, to name a few. With his slow smile and composed demeanor on the decks, DaCosta is the kind of performer they never see coming. Before they know what drops, house heads and partygoers alike realize that he’s the kind of DJ who can work a room into a frenzy without ever playing hard. DaCosta’s return appearance to Chicago marks the last Grizzled party at Lava before the night changes its formatting to showcase resident DJs The Sound Republic and Karl Almaria on the first Saturdays of each month. It also marks the last show charging a $5 cover charge. (Jenn Danko)
Despite his early Chicago-based fame alongside the incomparable Derrick Carter and other house jocks, Mark Farina’s current home in San Francisco (and on San Fran’s famed OM Records) seems defined by Mark Farina’s sunny expositions of expertly mixed house and acid jazz/downtempo. Perhaps best known for his “Mushroom Jazz” mixes, Farina returns to Chicago tonight to headline Chicago’s strongest house-centric club night in the ever-venerable Boom Boom Room. Considering the bacchanalian nature of the party, expect bumpin’ classics and the slight techy edge showcased on his contribution to the Fabric mix series from earlier this year. Also appearing alongside Farina is Chicago stalwart and Farris Wheel honcho Gene Farris, whose ample deck acumen dances its way through sunny disco-laced house. (Duke Shin)
Mark Farina and Gene Farris headline Boom Boom Room at Green Dolphin, 2200 North Ashland, (773)395-0066, on September 8, 9pm-4am. Rsvp to email@example.com.