April 1, 2014 |
Many waking up to find the name "Frankie Knuckles" trending this morning may have been a little baffled, wondering whether perhaps an old-time pugilist had passed. In a sense this was true, but instead of his fists, the Chicago dance music producer Knuckles, who died Monday at age 59, used steady, relentless rhythms to send his message. In the process, he helped set a course for house music in the 1980s and for electronic dance music in the decades to come. House music was born in Chicago when a team of Knuckles, Marshall Jefferson, Jesse Saunders and other young DJs brought the ideas and energy of the late 1970s New York City loft scene to the Midwest and started messing with its sounds.
June 27, 2013 |
In the documentary "The Secret Disco Revolution," Canadian filmmaker Jamie Kastner positions the 1970s disco boom as being a clandestine vehicle for gay, female and racial liberation. Though this idea is not without a grounding in fact, the movie feels like a flakey, off-the-cuff blog post that somehow transmogrified itself into a feature-length documentary. Occasionally charming but mostly just slight, the film leans heavily on authors Alice Echols and Peter Shapiro, both of whom have written seriously about disco.
April 1, 2013 |
Chaz Bono has starred in his own documentary ("Becoming Chaz"), appeared on reality TV (ABC's "Dancing With the Stars") and authored a book ("Transition: The Story of How I Became a Man"). He's now expanded his resume by appearing onstage in a short musical parody of the cult movie "Road House" at the Celebration Theatre near West Hollywood. "Road House: The Rock Opera" is a short -- about a half-hour long -- send-up of the 1989 Patrick Swayze movie. Bono plays the role of Tinker, originally played by actor John Young. A spokesperson for the stage production said that Bono sings in the show.
October 26, 2012 |
Barclay Crenshaw, the co-founder of the San Francisco dance label Dirtybird and a DJ-producer of growing renown as Claude VonStroke, just moved to the Los Angeles area five weeks ago. Not entirely for the burgeoning smart-house club scene or the perfect climate for endless parties though. "I actually moved to Beverly Hills for the school system," he said and laughed, acknowledging his more parental-concern-driven reasons for coming south and living outside of L.A.'s more famous night life locales.
September 1, 2012 |
Portland electronic quartet Chromatics wouldn't seem to make daytime music. With songs that hum with analog bass lines, the occasional strum of a guitar and a metronic rhythm that suggests midnight drives on the Autobahn, the music of Johnny Jewel's post-disco group seems crafted for groggy, syrupy nights on the dance floor. But as the sun was setting on the Spring Street Stage at the FYF Festival in downtown Los Angeles, Chromatics soundtracked the fading light perfectly. Fans stood facing them wearing sunglasses to block the sun at the band's back, skeptical and unwilling to totally let loose to the four-on-the-floor throb.
August 7, 2012 |
Various artists "122 BPM: The Birth of House Music" Still Records Three Stars Like many micro-genres that become movements, the descriptor of "house music" has lost a lot of its meaning. Today, kids at raves take it to mean almost any kind of four-on-the-floor dance tune built with synthesized instruments. But the now-omnipresent genre came from a specific time, place and culture, and the lovingly assembled "122 BPM: The Birth of House Music" should help clear the air. Over three CDs, this compilation and album-length mixtape from Still Music's Jerome Derradji tells of the invention of a new dance music template -- one forged in the Chicago black middle class by kids influenced by the '80s New Wave movement.