You've gotta love New York City in the summer months (it's still summer, even if kids are back at school) when there is just so much great live music always happening outdoors in the city's many parks and open public spaces. And the best part is that it's usually free and always fun-- like last weekend when Battles put on an incredible show at South Street Seaport in lower Manhattan, or this weekend on Sunday (Sept. 9th) when legendary New York club DJ Danny Krivit spun dance music for skaters and regular dancers alike in Central Park near 72nd in front of the bandshell, just as he did last year.
Also on Sunday afternoon, at the exact same time, across the river in Brookyn's Prospect Park at the expansive park's Music Pagoda was the ever popular and hella fun 14th Annual Clubhouse Jamboree -- the big, free house music (and food) party thrown by generous New York house music lover and all around cool guy Lil Ray. Lil Ray not only goes to the trouble and expense of getting permits, hauling in a large sound system, and lining up all the DJs for the long afternoon, but he also feeds near all of the thousand or so revelers that converge in the middle of the Brooklyn Park to dance their asses off to throbbing club house music every year on the second weekend of each September for the past fourteen years.
At about 6:45PM, right after DJ Spinna (pictured top left) -- the last DJ of the day -- had just finished his energetic set, and immediately after Lil Ray (pictured left) had thanked the vocally grateful gathering for supporting house music and for showing up to his annual party, I talked with the man for a moment. First I asked him why he has been throwing this big free party, at his expense, since 1994. "To show love for house music," he answered with a wide smile. "When I started the Clubhouse Jamboree it was a different time. There was no Internet to hear the music. [Back] then there really was little or no house music to be heard outside the clubs. And I wanted to take the music outside...into the park, and here in Brooklyn," he said. He added that his goal from that first party was to represent a variety of sounds within house music. "I always wanted to give different DJs from different clubs a chance to do their thing." So just how many people did he think he fed (the event was fully catered with full dinner plates of fish, rice, and vegetables, etc) of the approximate thousand strong that showed up on Sunday? "Well I brought 700 forks," he laughed. "And all the food is gone." So were the drinks, which included water and Cokes (which were care of Coca Cola, but everything else was at the expense of this generous New Yorker). Besides Spinna, the DJs for the afternoon included Ian Rock, DJ Wil Milton (Gravity), Brian Coxx (Soulgasm), and the young DJ sibling duo The Martinez Brothers.
After the music from Clubhouse Jamboree came to a sudden silence, another rhythm from another part of the Brooklyn park quickly filled the void. Even though it was a distance away, you could tell it was the sound of very large drum circle, and it beckoned me toward it. I felt I had no choice but to follow the sound of its drums and so I ended up on the opposite side of the park, as darkness began to fully fall, where there was a drumming circle jumping off every weekend. In fact the New York City Parks Dept. had officially named it Drummer's Grove. And of all the drumming circles I have been to (and every city seems to have one), this one was the best in my opinion. Flanked by Afro-Caribbean vendors selling food and books, etc., the air filled with sweet smell of weed and incense, there were about a hundred drummers and rhythm makers including a higher ratio of female drummers than you usually see in drumming circles, plus other instrumentation, including some flutists. I gotta go back next week since I just got the tail end of this session.
BELOW are two video clips -- the first from Danny Krivit in Central Park and the second/lower one from 13th Annual Clubhouse Jamboree in Prospect Park (note both of these clips are from last year, 2006, but I will replace them with clips from Sept. 9th 2007 if and when they become available.