notes from a journey through Chicago's cultural landscape...

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Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

...this is not about me, this is about my city - a living document of Chicago's art's scene, a memoir of concerts I've been to & performances I've seen, a jaded scribe's small sampling of the many offerings of this vibrant cosmopolitan city that I'm lucky enough to call home. I work the city as the city works me, all of us connected in varying degrees, here i pay tribute to our evolving soundtrack, I plug praiseworthy endeavors & try to give a little back... Together with my peers we paint this crossroads with every shade we can find, in your mediums & mine, i run with deep house deviants & wrinkled blues cats, youngun' b-boy crews & quirky circus brats, snobby eclectic DJs & electric painters laboring on projected displays, film makers armed with mini-DVs & picky chefs sculpting tricky masterpieces out of vegan grease... i kick it with slam poets & theater geeks, powerbook producers & fashionista freaks, photoshop fellowships & choreographer hips, while jazz cats blow digital epics through pursed bebop lips... i'm at the nexus of the next wave of Chicago sound - this is where i share the stories of all the beauty I've found...

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Bombay Beatbox @ Sonotheque

This month's Bombay Beatbox evening had a surprisingly large turnout. In the middle of my set, I turned away from the decks to select a track to play, and when I faced the crowd again the room had somehow filled up and there were people dancing. It was 10:15, and usually it doesn't get crowded or inebriated enough for folks to start getting down till at least midnight. So I played some more floor-friendly cuts and relinquished the tables to DJ Warp, Baseshot Scenario, and Adheesh Sathaye on tablas. Spent the rest of the evening chatting with new and old friends. Turns out a business conference had sent their delegates to Sonotheque to party the night away, which was why a whole lot of "normies" (aka normal people in dockers & casual business suits) outnumbered the usual hipster set. It was a good vibe all night long, though, the dancefloor never emptied, I met some amazing new people who I hope will become friends for life. The music has its own inertia, and I believe we might be starting to attract a steady stream of Chicago regulars who understand and appreciate what we're trying to do, which is cultivate a scene of connoisseurs who have cosmopolitan tastes in sound. It's not an easy scene to break into, though, Chicago is filled with hedonists & music snobs, and the club world is filled with heads who've been spoilt over the years by getting so much good music from so many different directions that it's difficult to convince them of the worth of something they've never heard before. On Bombay Beatbox nights I generally try to spin music that's fresh off the presses, or overlooked albums from the near past, I stick to playing tracks that the crowd hasn't come across, which is a test of their patience & willingness to be led in new directions. There aren't many occasions when a DJ has that privilege, and it's a blessing to have that opportunity to share underpublicized gems under the tutelage of DJ Warp & Radiohiro, who are old hands at working a room with futuristic worldbeat. I hope next month goes as well as June's monthly night, perhaps the momentum has begun to shift in our favor...

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