Monday, July 7, 2008

July 5, 2008 at the Chosen Few Picnic

Well, its that time again. I start my annual Independence Day trip to Chicago. The Taste of Chicago, Chosen Few Picnic and of course the African-Caribbean Festival in Washington Park. with a topping of fireworks from Lake Michigan.

I cant believe I bumped into people I may not have seen for years. For example, the last time I saw Mark Grant was up at Bogan High School playing basketball on the outside court.

Of coursed I was dressed for the occasion with my classic seersucker suit. Little did anyone know that I didn't break a sweat. This Polo Ralph Lauren version has no lining which is perfect for the outdoor partying.

Ahhhhh. . .I am so old school, so it was refreshing to hear the classics. Arriving at the Choose Few Picnic about 4:00pm in the afternoon after driving around for an hour, We decided to catch the 63rd street bus and cruise right on in. The closer I got there it felt like being back at a high school party. I hate I missed the Chaka Khan & 3 hour Stevie Wonder concert (had to work the 4:30am to 1:30pm shift that weekend) but after Terry Hunter played "I know you, I live you" I lost my mind !!! and would you know it, she didn't even sing that at the concert. My sister Tracy filled me in and mentioned that Grant Park was so crowded you could barely move, let alone no "in and out privileges"
What I was happy to see was a sense of affection, respect and admiration for the Dj's who have brought, fought and kept house music alive for years, but after having a conversation with Tracy, our most favorite Dj of all was the legendary "Ron Hardy" whom, in my opinion you cant even mentioned House Music, and Chicago in the same sentence. Let me tell you how small the world is, Bill Hardy and my sister went to college together.

As I was making my way into the park, instantly faces became familiar, of course there were lots of hugs and plenty of pounds thrown around. The Chosen Few Picnic has gain popularity over the years, with a cult following. So many fond memories mostly from parties back in the day. One of the few most memorable events was at the Hyde Park racquetball club on 47th and Lake Park hosted by the defunct Gucci promotions and Pharris Thomas who is perhaps the most successful Dj out of Chicago winning various awards nationwide and recently signed a lucrative deal with Pepsi. Somehow, he has done more hip hop lately in the past few years and still popular in several circles. See, I'm telling people all the talent is from the "South-Side of the Chi" dont believe me, listen to Common's ode to the Chi "Southside w/Kanye West"(thats #6 on the "Finding Forever CD, so fast forward) don't ever sleep on the people from the "Southside". I grew up on 79th Street and people say, well the westside has produced the most talent basketball wise, but remember , it all starts on the "southside"

  • Michael Jordan met his ex-wife Juanita who is from the "Southside"

  • The History of Blues, Jazz and Soul Music come from the "Southside" (Ask anyone from Bronzeville)

  • The World Champion Chicago White Sox is located on the "Southside" (you know Im still a Cubs fan too. . .ha ha ha)

  • The #1 player in this years NBA draft (Derrick Rose) is from the "Southside"

You know I can go on and on and on . . .let me stop

On a final note, I was in the crowd listening to Farley "Jackmaster" Funk who is recently back from Europe , and he mentioned how there was no fighting at any house parties, humn , I remember quite a few parties Farley did, but saw plenty of sporadic fighting here and there, mostly caused by either rival gangs and people from rival neighborhoods, jealous boyfriends (and girlfriends) and plain bumping into rude people on the dance floor who seem to get agitated cause they were either intoxicated or didn't get a phone number all night. One person who I thought has kept another huge underground following is Andre Hatchett who has always kept a low profile despite drawing huge crowds in several venues in the Chicago area. I last saw him at Zentra when Frankie Knuckles was spinning in February. I remember Andre dropping wax at the likes of the Pleasure Dome, and the Music Box. You know whats interesting, every now and then I would show up to a venue where Andre is spinning and you would hear chants of "Alright Andre !!!" it somewhat brings back memories of a classic Ron party , and I often wonder if Andre somewhat picked up where Ron left off , I must admit, that people were sort of looking for someone to pick up the mantle where Ron left off, in some peoples mind Andre was the closest thing to Ron Hardy. In recent years undergound music has transformed and there have been several people who have picked up the pieces and kept house music alive. Torin Edmonds (thats right, a Leo High School Alum) Dj Larry Clay from the House of Blue Lights in Jeffery Manor and of course the "ATTIC" foundation (Dave Maze -I saw him last year, Dj Emmanuel, wow I remember the parties on 76th and Cottage Grove and Ron Carroll, another underated Dj) have kept listeners happy. I know there are more Dj's I forgot to mentioned, but

Things I miss the most about Chicago venues:

  • C.O.D.'s - I remember falling asleep, waking back up at 6:30 in the morning, Ron is still spinning and people still partying

  • Slick's Lounge - After the aftermath of classic places to party after all of the post- underground places to close, this was my favorite place to come home and party at. Please reopen Slick's !!!!

  • Music Box - Yes, there were 2 of them (Lower Michigan near Wacker and later on 22nd and Michigan)

Here are some of my all time jams that would keep me on the dance floor all night:

  • I Hear Music in the Streets, Unlimited Touch (remember when Rampage, sampled this cut, pure classic)

  • Peaches And Prunes, Nightlife Unlimited (Yeah. . .thats when I lost my mind and the addiction kicked in)

  • Ai No Corrida, Quincy Jones (The most slept on song, period)

  • Welcome to the Club, Blue Magic (When Ron played the chorus, people went crazy, were you there at the Box, Ron put the smoke machine on, crowd went bananas)

  • Brothers gonna work it out, Willie Hutch (Thats when I got introduced to slam dancing at Mendel High School)

  • Trans Europe Express, Kraftwerk (How many imports can you name, that I forgot, I found this at Gramaphone Records on Plymouth Court, you know you love that)

  • Peace Pipe, B.T. Express (its 4:20 when this song plays)

  • Get Ready (Looking for Loving), Patti Labelle (How many times did Ron work this record til everyone was on the dance floor)

  • Walk the Night, Skatt Bros (Its 3:00am at the Music and cats are jumping off the wall)

  • Baby I'm scared of you, Womack and Womack (This song has a nice tale to it and its very romantic with a sort of "cat and mouse" game

  • Lovely Day, Bill Withers (When I'm driving down interstate 55 on my way to Chicago, I like to play this very loud)

  • We got the Funk, Positive Force (This song should be played when you just finished playing that acid track and just bringing it down a notch)

  • Midnight Girl, Lenny Williams

  • Grace of God, Machine

  • Annie Mae, Natalie Cole

  • Lets get together, Love Exchange (Another crowd pleaser)

  • Always There, Side Effect (Only for us "deephouse" heads)

  • I Love you, I Live you, Chaka Khan (Thank you Terry Hunter, for playing this jam at the picnic, I was truly in the zone)

  • Forever came the day, The Jacksons

  • Can you feel it, The Jacksons

  • Get on the Floor, Michael Jackson

  • Enjoy yourself, Michael Jackson (seems like I like a lot of pre- Jacksons stuff, before the plastic surgery. . .he he he

I forgot to mentioned, there is a new revolution that will be televised. If you havent heard already about the "Discopoetry and my dawg Khari". . . This is the only brotha I know that could out-dance anyone on the dance floor and not break a sweat, I last time I saw him was at Mark Fuller backyard jam on 55th and King's Drive last summer and this cat was cutting up a rug, had the whole crowd watching and taking notes how to really get down.

Well that's enough for now. . .

1 comment:

Mz K said...

WOW is all I can say! This blog has brought back sooo many memories and they are ALL good memories! We LIVED for the weekends so that we could get to the parties. My sister, Sharetha and best friend, Pearl still catch some of the parties when they can. Whenever I am home we try to do something whether its Visions on Ashland, Family Den on Stony Island or another spot off of 83rd? and South Chicago. As big as the city of Chicago is it is so very small. I read where you mentioned Torin Edmonds whom I always went to grammar school with and his sister Katrina Edmonds was one of my best friends!!! Katrina and Jeanne Pollard I believe were cheerleaders for Leo High School. Truly amazing! The Warehouse on 22nd was our spot each and EVERY weekend that they were open! Remembering Donzelle the bouncer and some that are still around and others that have passed on. These were some fun times and I just would like to say "Thank You" for sharing your memories which in turn have hooked the cables up to my memories!!!