LIFT OUR VOICES IN MADIBA’S MEMORY
Today, while the world reflects on the legacy of South Africa’s radiant son, I’ll take this moment to share a universal message dedicated to Nelson Mandela by Ladysmith Black Mambazo. It pretty much sums up my feelings and hopes for the future.
“One wants to think in terms of big words when describing him, but this would not be right,” the choral group wrote on its Facebook page just hours after Mandela’s death. “Among the many things one can say about our Madiba is that he never thought of himself as big. He was one of us, one of the people. His journey was our journey. And although he has physically left us now, his journey continues within us all.”
I never had an opportunity to cross paths with Mandela, but I vividly recall what a tremendous honor it was to meet Ladysmith as a young reporter in the Virgin Islands. Then, many years later while attending grad school in Ohio, I was more than elated to chat with members of the Grammy Award-winning act backstage after a show. The warmth and sincerity still resonates.
If you frequent this blog, you’ll notice I write a lot about House music and its deeper connections. And, in recent years I’ve come to appreciate South Africa’s influence on the far-reaching genre thanks to the sounds and vision of artists such as DJ Black Coffee. But, today my mind went straight to Ladysmith Black Mambazo while considering what to write following such a profound loss. Whether through music or by example, I simply hope Mandela’s legacy will live on in the lives we chose to live.
Get ready, party people! New York City is the first leg of the 2014 Juste Debout USA world tour, and it’s all going down this weekend at selected venues (Dec. 7-8). The world-renowned dance competition showcases the best in street dance with an array of talented participants from around the globe in every discipline.
This year, winners of the North American qualifier will be flown to France to represent the United States for international finals at the Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy in March 2014. In addition to B-boys and B-girls amped for the event, poppers, lockers, top rockers, experimentalists and House dancers will be in the spotlight demonstrating what it really takes to be masters of their craft.
In case you can’t catch the battles, don’t miss a beat since there’s enough in Gotham to keep the underground bubbling _ including an official after-party presented by Space Invading Stinky Ppl and Hype Life Music at Webster Hall on Sunday, Dec. 8.
Space Invading Stinky Ppl presents Juste Debout USA: http://www.sisppl.com/
Juste Debout (official site): http://www.juste-debout.com/en_UK/in/enhome184-home-page
SOUNDS OF THE UNDERGROUND: Q&A WITH DJ JESS MARQUIS (NEW YORK)
While debate over prerecorded DJ sets and EDM’s validity rages on, one industrious New Yorker stands his ground with four to the floor. DJ Jess Marquis says art speaks louder than words, “so what could I do but remix a rebuttal” to Rolling Stone Magazine’s (Italy) recent video pitting rock loyalists against underground clubbers.
Lucky for me, he’s got a lot more to say in this month’s exclusive with Tania Fuentez Media, including whether he’s been naughty or nice! But, we all know the answer to that one …
NOTE: All photos and video courtesy of DJ Jess Marquis.
TFM: What was your initial reaction to that now-infamous Rocker vs. DJ? Think it was a fair assessment considering the state of today’s dance music and EDM scene?
JM: The old guard is constantly holding barriers to the new wave. Whether it’s Republicans or religion or Rolling Stone Magazine, there are always those longing for a past that likely never existed in the first place. Rock ‘n’ roll is not dead any more than EDM is here to stay. Spirit and creativity come from the soul, whether you prefer four Beatles or four to the floor kick drums. What struck me as ironic about the advert was that rock music has essentially been the same for over 50 years: two guitars, bass, drums, and a vocalist. How can the old guard be satisfied with the same sounds for so long? I love rock. I play guitar. I also love to dance and love to get lost in a wave of bass. EDM is exciting not because it’s simply the next fad, but because of how it’s made. Anyone with a laptop can bring life to anything from their aural imagination. There are no rules, and no excuses. Simply put, EDM is punk rock.
TFM: You’ve been a very busy man since we last chatted, so fill me in on what’s new and poppin’ right now … like Brite Nites!
JM: Brite Nites has quickly become New York City’s premiere night for electro and progressive house. I can’t even believe some of that talent I’ve opened up for! Sharing bills with Alvaro and Martin Solveig and Carnage and TJR … it’s wonderful to watch the best in the business at work, as well as a chance to share my favorite tracks, mixes, and my all around ecstatic love of DJing. When I’m not prepping my sets, I’m busy producing, remixing, and recording my podcast, Radio Free Marquis. I put my hands to the heat of East Village streets, memorize the rhythm and beat, and try to share that with the audience and the world.
TFM: Have you noticed a shift in public opinion about all things avant-garde lately, especially in nightlife and club culture? Good, bad or indifferent?
JM: There seems to not be a shift away from avant-garde, so much as a general apathy towards it. Perhaps because it’s so easy to connect with others of the same mindset online, it’s not demanded of us to be as inquisitive as we should be. Risks and artistic disobedience need to be rewarded and encouraged. There could definitely be more intellectualism in EDM. There should certainly be more danger. And there absolutely should be more sex.
TFM: Best way to spend the holidays in NYC. I can’t wait to hear what you’ve got planned …
JM: I honestly love DJing during the holidays. NYU has skipped town back to their parent’s house, which leaves only the diehard kings and (drag) queens and things of nightlife. These intimate dance floors with only the most dedicated of clubbers have been some of my favorite holiday memories!
TFM: As a DJ/multimedia artists and performer, what’s on your wish list for Christmas this year? Is it naughty or nice!
JM: Don’t need to wish for naughty. That seems to find me regardless. With all the success of Brite Nites and lots of new productions in the timeline, I wonder … does Santa deliver interns?
DJ Jess Marquis: https://djjessmarquis.bandpage.com/
DJ Jess on Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/djjessmarquis
Webster Hall: http://www.websterhall.com/
The winter holiday season provides an ideal backdrop for the Daily Post‘s weekly photo challenge. The most recent theme allows a little play with light, but probably not in the way you’d expect. In this week’s entry, I’m sharing a photo that features a visually stunning light source found while strolling through Grand Central’s Holiday Fair in Vanderbilt Hall.
FOLK LEGEND ARLO GUTHRIE ALSO RETURNS TO LINCOLN SQUARE
A big round of applause goes out to the talented four-piece YAZ Band, among featured NYC artists celebrating the 14th annual Winter’s Eve at Lincoln Square. The free event, billed as “New York’s largest holiday festival,” officially welcomes the season with a tree lighting ceremony in Dante Park tonight (Dec. 2) with acclaimed guitarist Arlo Guthrie joining the Upper West Side festivities.
Earlier this year, it was such a joy meeting Yasuyuki “YAZ” Takagi after hearing his group as I dashed to catch a train. It was one of those moments when you stop in your tracks (seriously). Takagi, who’s originally from Osaka, Japan, has lived in Brooklyn since 1992. Ten years later, he formed YAZ Band and has been entertaining underground crowds (literally) as an official member of MTA’s Music Under New York series.
Perhaps the best way to describe YAZ Band’s sound is to encourage checking them out in person. For Winter’s Eve celebrations, the band plays three sets (6,7 and 8 p.m.) at Gracious Home on Broadway and 67th Street. All Winter’s Eve performances and activities are open to all ages.
Winter’s Eve: http://www.winterseve.org/
SPICE OF LIFE: NYC SALT EMPOWERS URBAN YOUTH
Thursday may be the new black with crowds getting a jump start on deep discounts at stores open on Thanksgiving, some for the first time in their storied existence (i.e. Macy‘s). But instead of rushing out Friday looking for that special gift, consider doing something closer to home and support an aspiring teen with camera in hand.
NYC SALT’s new digital store is filled with original prints perfect for the holidays. You’ll find an amazing display of artistic skill, talent and creative voices throughout the site.
All sales go directly to supporting this innovative nonprofit photography and college readiness program _ paying for camera equipment, field trips and summer camp for students, many who become the first in their family to attend college.
Watch the video above to find out more about NYC SALT from participating inner-city teens and volunteers. Chances are, it’ll put you in the holiday spirit faster than all those ringing cash registers.
NYC SALT: http://www.nycsalt.org/
1 in 6 PEOPLE HUNGRY IN AMERICA
Excited about enjoying a heaping plate of turkey and all the trimmings this season? With all the talk about family gatherings, holiday travel and Black Friday deals, don’t lose sight of the bigger picture. Every day, someone goes to sleep hungry in America and often it’s a child.
The U.S. Agriculture Department reports that about 50 million Americans fall into the category “food insecure” — they don’t always have the resources to buy food they need and this includes nearly 17 million children. Simply put, that is 1 in 6 of the U.S. population.
Whether indirectly or on a more personal level, we are facing a serious food crisis in this country despite many keenly focused on what’s in abundance. Feeding America, which works with a network of food banks nationally, points out that unemployment rather than poverty is a stronger predictor of food insecurity.
If you’re in New York City for Thanksgiving, consider volunteering at a neighborhood food pantry or helping out at the Bowery Mission. And, wherever you are this holiday season, set aside time to watch the 2013 documentary, A Place at the Table. We all have a role in making this world a better place to live. Never know when you may be the one in need.
Feeding America: http://feedingamerica.org/#
The Bowery Mission (NYC): http://www.bowery.org/
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