Now that fall is suddenly approaching, I started to reflect on the summer that is coming to a close. This summer was one of my busiest in some time. It seemed that there was always something to do and not enough hours in the day to do it all. Over the summer I played in two bands, did some guest spots on the radio, finished an album and played way too many DJ gigs. All the while, I went to work full time and tried not to fall behind on the Amoeba blog (Which I did…sorry.). With the economy being what it is, everyone is out there hustling. The days of making art for art’s sake are a luxury most cannot afford. Many of us are surviving on every penny we make outside of the nine to five. Extra money goes straight into the gas tank or to food rather than buying records or getting new equipment, where it had gone in the past. Still, I can’t really complain because most people who have two jobs do a gig that they don't enjoy and my work I consider to be fun and always a learning experience. Nevertheless, I could use a vacation.
These are some highlights from my summer. Not all of it was work related. Some of it was a welcomed relief from my hectic schedule.
1. Worldwide Underground
(Sundays @ Amoeba during July & August)
For a few years I had the idea of having a World Music DJ series at Amoeba. One day I proposed the idea to Jim & Karen, our bosses here at Amoeba Hollywood, and to my surprise they liked the idea. I was the “curator” so to speak, and I got together some of L.A.’s best club DJ’s to play the music that they love but don’t necessarily get to play at the clubs. The DJ’s that rocked our turntables were Anthony Valadez (KCRW), Jeremy Sole (KCRW, Afro Funke), Sloe Poke (Descarga, Sonido), Lady Sha (Lioness LA), Nnamdi (From KPFK’s Radio Afrodicia), Coleman (Firecracker), Chico Sonido (Mas Exitos), Drez (way too many clubs to list!), Rani D (Soul In The Park) & all the way from England, Andy Votel (B-Music, Finders Keepers). Each DJ brought their own flavor to the mix; from Afro-Beat to Zouk, the DJ’s took us around the musical globe. I also got to play a couple of sets as well. It was an honor to be associated with the DJ’s I listed above. Hopefully we will get to do it again in the years to come. Thanks to Jim & Karen, Jayme, my sound person extraordinaire and my good friend Sasha Ali, who pushed me in the right direction by getting phone numbers of some of the DJ's I didn't know personally.
2. Mas Exitos
Every other Tuesday at The Verdugo Bar you can catch the sights and sounds of Mas Exitos, an idea as original as the DJ’s that participate. The selectors (Ganas, Enorbito, Chico Sonido, Hoseh & Lengua), plus an occasional special guest DJ, absolutely rock the roof off the Verdugo Bar. DJs such as Nobody & Cut Chemist have sat in with the Mas Exitos crew, going from Cumbia to Mexican Psyche Rock to Electro & Reggae En Espanol. I love the artwork of the flyers and the movies that play in the background -- classic 70’s movies featuring iconic Latino singers like Rigo Tovar and Jose Jose.
More often than not, the DJ’s play Cumbia tracks that stop me dead in my tracks and I have to ask them, “Who does this jam?” Other times, I feel like I’m hanging out at my Tia’s house in the 70’s watching Mexican movies on the SIN network on plastic covered furniture. Mas Exitos is as much kitsch as it is culture and that’s why I like it.
3. Odds & Ends
Odds & Ends happens on Sunday night at Footsie’s in Highland Park, started by KCRW’s newest disc jockey, Anthony Valadez. I started as a guest DJ and I never left. The goal of the night is to play whatever the f*&^ we want and still rock the bar. Both Ant and I have eclectic tastes and we like to go all over the map and pass every musical boundary. In Odds & Ends' perfect musical world, Maze’s "Before I Let You Go" flows into Ol’Dirty Bastard’s "Got Ya Money," then into The Spam All-Stars' "Ochimini" and into Andres Landeros’ "Perdi Las Abarcas," all followed by some New Jack Swing, classic rock, 90’s Hip-Hop, Freestyle & Afro Beat. There is something for everybody. As long as the BPM’s match and people are still dancing, we’re good.