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The Town Part VII: Oakland Faders DJ Collective Proves There's Strength In Numbers

Posted by Billyjam, February 16, 2011 08:22pm | Post a Comment

The super-talented East Bay based Oakland Faders hip-hop DJ collective has grown in its ranks since founding members DJs Spair and Platurn formed the party rockin'/turntablist group, originally a DJ duo, a dozen years ago. These days Spair, while still officially a member, resides down in Las Vegas where he DJs clubs, casinos, and big parties, while back in The Town (Oakland) DJ Platurn is now flanked by such renowned fellow Oakland Faders as Joe Quixx, DJ Zeph, DJ Enki, DJ Mere, and Ammbush. Meanwhile, another Oakland Fader in exile, DJ Icewater, currently resides in Brooklyn, New York but makes regular trips back to the East Bay to collaborate with his crew. Same with DJ Spair, who was up from Nevada in the Bay two weekends ago with the crew to DJ for the monthly Fade at Era party in Oakland at Era Art Bar & Lounge.

Each DJ of the eight member Oakland Faders has his own rich Bay Area hip-hop history that collectively dates back to before the Faders formed. And if you were to round up all of the productions, remixes, records and mixtape CDs that the Oakland Faders are responsible for, both individually and as a crew, you'd fill several crates with some top quality hip-hop. At Amoeba look for these releases as well as for their PCKPR (Piece Keeper Clothing) line T's with an exclusive CD.

One thing that I have always loved about the Oakland Faders is their Oakland Raiders derived logo above, something that has evolved slightly over the years. "The first time we did the Oakland Faders logo we actually used the [Raiders] logo. That was back about ten years ago in the Stray Records days. And that was a straight rip but you can only run with that for so long," said Platurn in reference to the common knowledge of how well guarded copyrighted NFL logos can be. "So right now it's kind of a cartoon derivative of it at this stage. Basically we took the swords and made them into [turntable] tone arms, and instead of a helmet he's wearing headphones."

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The Town Pt VI: Oakland's Cole Coffee, Where Conversation is Celebrated & Music is Appreciated

Posted by Billyjam, February 9, 2011 11:11am | Post a Comment

Long before Oakland (aka "The Town") was a hipster destination teeming with endless cafes offering good quality coffee, there was the North Oakland coffee spot known as Royal Coffee, and in more recent years known as Cole Coffee. In 1987, Royal Coffee, which morphed into Cole Coffee in 2005, first opened on 63rd Street near College Avenue in North Oakland near the Berkeley border. Offering strong, quality, affordable coffee with no pretensions and located just half a block down from La Farine bakery, it immediately built a loyal following. Even the recent era influx of new Oakland cafes similarly offering choices of quality coffees and teas has not affected the College & 63rd Street business one bit. This is because Cole, nee Royal, is as much of a social gathering point as it is a place to buy a good cuppa joe.

When Cole Coffee's owner Michael Murphy purchased the business from Royal Coffee six years ago,  changing the name to Cole Coffee at the time, he was already quite familiar with the business and its loyal clientele. "I managed Royal Coffee from 1992 until I puchased the business in 2005," he told me. He recalled how back when he started managing the business that, "Royal only had the 63rd Street location and then opened the cafe in 1995." Cole Coffee is one business split into two locations that are side by side. At the front cafe part (corner of 63rd & College) you can sit down inside or outside and specialty coffees are custom made on drip in front of you. Then the Cole Coffee shop round the corner down a bit on 63rd (with an apartment door entrance separating the two) is where you can buy coffee by the pound to go and cups of the reliably strong roasted and tasty house coffee. About a dozen small round green cafe tables line the outside on 63rd and snake up around onto College.

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The Town Part V: Beer Revolution, the Punk Rock Beer Bar, Has Fast Become Oakland's Premiere Beer Tasting Room

Posted by Billyjam, November 7, 2010 12:46pm | Post a Comment

Oakland's Beer Revolution, located at 435 3rd Street @ Broadway down by Jack London Square, is all about beer, boasting a mind boggling choice of over 500 different brews, mostly bottled but also on tap.

But Beer Revolution, which is owned and operated by the lifelong punk rock husband & wife team of Fraggle (born Mark Martone) and Rebecca Boyles, is also all about celebrating music -- namely punk rock with an emphasis on 80's punk (especially West Coast punk), all of which acts as the perfect soundtrack to this one-of-a-kind beer tasting emporium.

"Music is very important to us and it's been a predominant part of both my husband's and my life forever, really," Rebecca told me. "I've been very much involved in the punk rock scene for pretty much my whole life and so has Fraggle. It's a part of our lives so we made it a part of our business too." Fraggle, whose passionate punk past includes putting in years as one of the crew of volunteers at 924 Gilman Street Project, confided to me, "It was at an MDC show that myself and Rebecca met."

Not surprisingly then, the legendary Austin, TX formed / SF based punk band MDC (Millions of Dead Cops) is a regular on the Beer Revolution's playlist. Other artists that you'll likely hear being blasted from the in-house sound system include Minor Threat, Fear, 7 Seconds, Operation Ivy (Fraggle was once roommates with the band's Tim Armstrong), GBH, Stiff Little Fingers, The Adolescents, D.I., Social Distortion, and La Plebe (one of the newer punk acts that Fraggle is into).

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The Town Part IV: The Layover's Prozack Turner Talks About His Popular New Downtown Oakland Bar

Posted by Billyjam, August 23, 2010 05:46pm | Post a Comment

Seven years later, listening back to Oakland (aka The Town) hip-hop artist Prozack Turner's funky-infectious, Oakland party rap anthem "Feelin' My Steelo" (DreamWorks, 2003), it would seem that the mic-wrecker turned bar-owner clearly envisioned himself one day running a popular music themed bar in Oakland -- something he does today at The Layover, which opened earlier this year.

"Make some noise! Let me know where The Town at. Hold up your drink now. Let me see you pound that. Home of the Silver and Black, killin' the track," enthusiastically rapped the talented East Bay emcee on the single (from the album Death, Taxes, and Prozack). He was "possessed by the ghost of Bukowski" as if penning the later soundtrack for his popular new downtown Oakland music bar which earlier this month got honored by the East Bay Express when it won the Best of the East Bay Awards for Best New Bar.    

Born Zachary Turner, Prozack has been a familiar figure for many years on both the local and international underground hip-hop scenes. A successful solo artist (producing as well as emceeing), he is perhaps best All That Glitters Isn't Platinumknown as a member of the super-talented but way underrated Bay Area hip-hop crew Foreign Legion along with his partner-in-rhyme Marc Stretch. Originally a trio, Foreign Legion formed back in the nineties along with DJ/producer DJ Design. Their impassioned ode to hip-hop, "Full Time B-Boy," released as a single by ABB Records, was also the opening track on the first Amoeba Music Compilation series, with their lyrics "All That Glitters Isn't Platinum" even lending the various artists Amoeba collection its title. 

The Town Part III: Remedy Coffee, Oakland and Proud

Posted by Billyjam, August 3, 2010 02:11pm | Post a Comment
Remedy Coffee, Oakland, CA
It may not even have been open a full two months yet but already Oakland's Remedy Coffee at 4316 Telegraph Avenue (between 43rd St & 44th St) in the ever evolving Temescal district has the warm & comfortable feel of a local cafe that has been there a lot longer than just seven weeks. The friendly and attentive Todd Spitzer is the owner of Remedy and I instantly knew I liked the guy and his new business when I first went in and saw him proudly sporting a T-shirt that read Live in Oakland. Love in Oakland. Love Oakland, and, between preparing individual servings of fresh coffee, he was changing the record on the turntable (yes, a vinyl player!) behind the counter.

That was about four weeks ago and in the short time since, business has quadrupled for Remedy -- and for good reason. It's a welcoming, very spacious, well lit environment with a variety of seating options (high stool counter, sofa level, & standard cafe table inside and out), excellent coffee (they specialize in light coffee), free Wi-Fi (unblocked under Remedy Hearts You), great music selection and nice bass-y speakers well positioned up high, excellent art on the wall (artist Cathy Lo currently), plus numerous cool curiosities such as a Pacific Bell phone booth right when you walk in the main door. The back patio is still to open, but it will soon. The clientele (many of whom arrive by bike) is a nice wide mix of people from The Town: musicians, DJs, artists, students, blue collar workers, OPD, young, old, straight and, gay. It's open Monday to Friday 7am to 6pm and weekends 8:30am to 6pm.

Before opening Remedy, which is right next door to Flying Yoga, round the corner from a cluster of Korean restaurants known to many as Little Korea, and down a block from Rent-A-Relic, Todd had a coffee cart set up right outside. With help from friends, he slowly but surely over a period of year worked on getting his business off the ground. He carefully crafted the interior of Remedy, which is modern without being cold or alienating. I recently caught up with Todd to ask him about going from cart to cafe, light roasted versus dark roasted., Oakland as a place to live & work, the meaning of the Remedy logo, and, of course, music -- inviting him and his staff to submit their all time Top Five Albums lists. The staffer descriptions are all Todd's.

Beirut
Taylor King (Almost lead barista and art curator) Top Five:

1) Jethro Tull Thick as a Brick

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