VINYL-ONLY TOUR HONORING AFRIKA BAMBAATAA’S INFLUENCE ON HIP HOP’S BEGINNINGS

DJ Shadow

I would consider Bambaataa to be one of the three biggest musical influences in my life, along with Grandmaster Flash and Kurtis Mantronik. He was a DJ with a vision and a sense of purpose, with a desire for social change.

His ability to embrace and incorporate all different types of music and art, and contextualize them with a hip-hop mentality, is what the entire culture is based on.

-DJ Shadow on Afrika Bambaataa in Rolling Stone

Music fans are in for a once-in-a-lifetime experience when turntablist masterminds DJ Shadowand Cut Chemist hit the road with a truck full of records form the personal collection of Universal Zulu Nation founder Afrika Bambaataa.

This has never been done before, definitely not on this scale. They’re HIS records, with his blessings. This isn’t just ANY copy of ‘X’ breakbeat, it’s THE copy, THE copy that started everything. Not just any records, the MASTER OF RECORDS’ records.

– DJ Shadow

The Renegades of Rhythm tour will unfold before the naked eye using only vinyl pulled from Bambaataa’s historic collection – over 40,000 strong and permanently archived at Cornell University.

DJ Shadow states on his website, “[Bambaataa’s] collection includes not just Soul and Rap, but also Soca, Calypso, Dub, Salsa…it’s obvious that this music was important to him, and it’s reflected in his own music.

“For example, when the Soulsonic Force is singing an African chant, it actually comes from a Manu Dibango record. That’s when being a crate-digger comes in handy – you have to be able to pick up on the references and reiterate them.”

DJ exploring Photo by Joe Conzo

DJ Shadow & Cut Chemist exploring Afrika Bambaataa’s record collection; photo by Joe Conzo

Continuing on his website,

Johan Kugelberg, who in 2007 established the Cornell Hip Hop Archive, and a member of Zulu Nation, brought the idea of this tour to Cut Chemist and DJ Shadow, and introduced the two to Afrika Bambaataa.

“Hip Hop ultimately is multi-generational and communicative, and an ongoing grassroots network” he says. “This tour will bring together hip hop fans over generations.”

Example of select vinyl cover from Bambaataa's collection; photo by Joe Conzo

Example of select vinyl cover from Bambaataa’s collection; photo by Joe Conzo

Sorting through the collection with this holistic aim in mind was daunting. “The first sort was to make sure we didn’t leave anything important behind. We definitely over-pulled,” adds Cut Chemist. To help them narrow their selections, DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist focused on the appearance of the records themselves, “It was pretty clear what he played a lot and what he didn’t. The sure-shots were covered with tape and the jackets were beautifully tattered; that made it easier after a while to pull records.”

“The program will be multifaceted,” DJ Shadow explains. “Bambaataa as artist, exploring the influence of his classics like ‘Planet Rock;’ Bambaataa as collector, and the genre-defining breaks he discovered; and Bambaataa as peacemaker and force for social change. He influenced an entire generation worldwide, so we feel a great obligation to get it right.”

Afrika Bambaataa

Afrika Bambaataa & his vinyl; photo by JoeConzo

Naturally, it was paramount to the two DJ’s that the tour have the full blessing and support of Afrika Bambaataa himself. “I call on all who love Hip-Hop to come out, see them, hear them,” says the Godfather. “My story is our history in DJing.”

The Renegades of Rhythm tour will use six turntables and a variety of real-time effects. “It adds another performance level, real-time sampling from the record that’s being played,” says Cut Chemist. Visuals for the tour will be supplied by acclaimed video director, multimedia producer and regular DJ Shadow collaborator Ben Stokes. The tour is produced by Jamal Chalabi andBacklash Management.

The tour may be rooted in a historic vinyl collection, but both DJs are quick to point out that people should not come to this expecting strictly an ‘old-school’ set. As DJ Shadow sums it up, “DJ Shadow + Cut Chemist + Bambaataa’s records + his blessings: it’s going to be epic. That’s all you really need to know.” Or, as Afrika Bambaataa puts it, “DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist are going to blow your funky mind.”

Renegades of Rhythm Tour with DJ Shadow & Cut Chemist

Monday September 22, 9 pm

Mercury Ballroom
611 S 4th Street, Louisville, KY 40202

Buy Tickets!

__________________________________________________________________________________

Want to win tickets?

As you read above, Bambaataa’s work has been the inspiration for so many different styles of music. In the spirit of the tour, leave a comment discussing a song that has inspired you in some way.

The randomly-selected winner will be announced by Wednesday September 10th and will receive two tickets to DJ Shadow & Cut Chemist Present Renegades Of Rhythm Tour at The Mercury Ballroom.

Forecastle BannerFrom baby boomers to teenagers, Forecastle Music Festival had something in store for every one of its 80,000 attendees. Spanning the entire vicinity of Louisville’s Waterfront Park, this eclectic festival boasted both a rich lineup up, and an equally gratifying locale. For twelve years in a row Forecastle has romanced disciples of americana, folk, electronic, hip-hop, and good ol’ fashioned rock n, roll, and this year it lived up to its reputation.

Day 1: Friday, July 18

Andre 300 - Photo by Katie Simpson

Andre 300 – Photo by Katie Simpson

A little rain never kilt nobody”, shouted Outkast’s Big Boi as he and Andre 3000 pounced across stage late Friday evening. True, it was drizzling on the mob that hugged the stage as Outkast cranked out hit after hit, but it hardly caused a flinch. For over 20 years this hip-hop dynasty has been tearing up popular culture, and for an hour and a half on Friday night they incited the swampiest dance party Kentucky has possibly ever known.

Big Boi - Photo by Bruce Jason Bonham

Big Boi – Photo by Bruce Jason Bonham

Opening with “Bombs Over Baghdad”, Outkast set the pace for an immeasurably funky and danceable night. They gave the crowd their classics like “Ms. Jackson”, “Hey Ya”, and “So Fresh, So Clean”, but they also shouted out to their long-term fan-base. Deep cuts like “Crumblin’ Erb” and “Hootie Hoo” were shouted across a crowd of young ears who may not have heard them before, but were instantly hooked. By the end of their set, Andre and Big Boi had transformed the Forecastle crowd into a bunch of southernplayalisticadillacfunkymusic fanatics.

Day 2: Saturday, July 19

hunter s thompson

Hunter S. Thompson Puppet

As the overcast clouds loomed above the city, many attendees worried that it would start raining any second. However, as the day progressed, the clouds became less of something to fear, and more of something to celebrate. The clouds kept the temperature in the 70’s, a wonderful hiccup in Louisville’s weather which typically hovers around the 90-100 range in mid-July. With a comfortable breeze blowing, Hurray for the Riff Raff came on to kick off Saturday’s line-up. Their folky, acoustic sound coupled with the lead singers raspy vocals were a gentle transition into what would become a boisterous day.

New Orleans based, The Soul Rebels, unleased their blaring brass later in the afternoon. This percussion and brass fueled outfit livened up the afternoon with original tunes, and a fantastic Jay-Z rendition. Their crowd response was pretty exciting due to the fact that they had a large following, and also that they got the whole group up and dancing.

avey tare

Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks

Later in the afternoon, Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks took up a temporary residency beneath the I-64 overpass. The mastermind of this operation is Animal Collective’s Dave “Avey Tare” Portner, while the other two bandmates hail from Dirty Projectors and Ponytail. Trippy visualizers accented the group’s layered and sometimes feverish instrumentation. Dave’s prowess on the guitar was displayed in all its experimental glory, as he hammered out effects between songs and allowed them to accumulate into the next piece. Their single “Little Fang” got the whole crowd bopping around to their jazzy, distortedness.

BOH

Band of Horses

Later in the evening, the horde of festie-goers stampeded over to the center stage to catch Band of Horses. Clearly a Forecastle favorite that weekend, Band of Horses drew a massive crowd, which would only multiply by the time wonder-rocker Jack White would arrive. BOH slid into “St. Augustine” as their fans twirled and swayed to the solo stylings of lead singer Brian Bridwell. Following the opening tune, the rest of the band came out, and they happily cruised through several fan favorites. “Is There a Ghost” and “No One’s Gonna Love You” had the whole swarm of sweaty fans singing along at the top of their lungs. The energy was tangible, and every fan had a back story for each BOH song. As their set wound down, people scuttled closer to snag a close spot for Jack White.

Jack White- Photo By Lilian Cai

Jack White- Photo By Lilian Cai

Bathed in light blue, Jack White and his company of musicians, including an electric violin, strolled onto deck. His crowd work was impeccable as he played a plethora of solo, White Stripes, and Raconteur material. His latest single, “Lazaretto” rang out brimming with his signature dirty blues sound. The crowd raged along with him and his crew as though they were under some type of rock induced spell. Everyone writhed as “Ball and Biscuit” played. They wailed along with him as he crooned “We’re Going to Be Friends”. In typical Jack White fashion his encore set was almost as long as his scheduled repertoire. Fans grooved to the jazzy “Steady as She Goes”, and when “Seven Nation Army” was unleashed a sing-along commenced. By the end, the appeared fully satisfied by his damn near “Best of” set list.

Day 3: Sunday, July 20

Boat Art Installation

Boat Art Installation

The venue was slow to fill up on Sunday afternoon, because most people were probably still recovering from their Jack attack the previous evening. Sunday’s lineup was a little softer than the first two days, so many people were found recovering on blankets around Waterfront Park. Blue Sky, Black Death played some dubsteppy beats under the bridge as people trickled past the stage. They played a notable remix of Frank Ocean’s “Pyramid”, and the fans finally started to get their groove on a little bit.

Sun Kil Moon - Photo by Lilian Cal

Sun Kil Moon – Photo by Lilian Cal

Towards the evening legendary singer/songwriter Sun Kil Moon took stage, and bellowed his intimate lyrics across the waterfront. Mark Kozelek, a veteran of some 20 odd years in the industry, projected his detailed lyrics to listeners as they heard stories of life, death, and sex.

As the sun began to set, Ray LaMontagne performed some of his newest and oldest hits. His typically acoustic act took a bluesy tone that evening, as his newer record was producer by the one and only Dan Auerbach. As the clock wound down to Beck’s slot, everyone migrated over towards center stage to catch the last headliner of the weekend.

Beck - Photo By Lilian Cai

Beck – Photo By Lilian Cai

Beck’s performance left absolutely nothing to be desired. Since he hardly ever tours, let alone in the Midwest, anticipations were enormous. He started the last set of the festival with “Devil’s Haircut”, and the night only grew more insane. He danced and swerved across stage in his black and white bow tied suit like the magnificent entertainer that he is. The familiar riff for “Bille Jean” broke out across the stage and he whipped out a rendition that would’ve made MJ jealous. He wheezed on the harmonica, and strummed his guitar with his backup crew holding steady to every song he played. When the wobbly guitar riff to “Loser” came on the crowd lost it.  The image of a pixelated pyramid on the backdrop blinked on and off as the entire crowd screamed along to this break through hit. Beck’s showmanship, song selection, and crowd interactions have to place him at the top of Forecastle Festival’s best performances.

As the Forecastle fans filed out of the Louisville, a sad but euphoric feeling emanated along I-65 back to Indy. People were bummed it was over, but could hardly believe all the talented acts they had just witnessed. Whether it was a person’s first dip into the festival circuit, or they were a seasoned vet, it can be certain that each person left with fond memories of a weekend well spent on the Ohio River. Maybe someone discovered an awesome new act, or maybe they had the chance to see an old favorite. Whatever the circumstance, Forecastle Music Festival brought together lovers of music both old and new to share in its wonder.

Gonzo Bar

Gonzo Bar

ForecastleOn the banks of the Ohio River resides Forecastle Music Festival, one of the Midwest’s most anticipated musical extravaganzas. It will occupy scenic Waterfront Park, the festival’s home since its inception in 2002, and purvey its sonic glory across its 85 acre expanse. This musical melee will also be found under Interstate overpasses, and aboard wooden ships. During its 3 day run, this festival brings in industry favorites for both the newest batch of music lovers and those with more seasoned palettes.

forecastle-lineupNow, the term forecastle isn’t just any old name. It has meaning and relevance to the port city of Louisville, Kentucky. The forecastle is the front part of a ship where its crew worked hard during the day, and would party during the evening. With this in mind, anyone interested in attending should heed that this is a masterfully planned event. From world renowned headliners to a Bourbon Lounge, Forecastle Festival is bringing a smattering of art, music and, culture.outkast

Headliners Jack White, Outkast, and Beck are a few of contemporary music’s most respected names. For some people in the Midwest, this will be their first chance to catch Outkast live since they started listening to them as teens. For most others, it will be a chance to help this legendary hip-hop duo, Andre 3000 and Big Boi, celebrate their 20th year creating music. For everyone, it will be the only time this summer to catch all three of these acts in the same city for such an affordable price.

With Jack White’s recent release, Lazaretto, and Beck’s latest full-length drop, Morning Phase fueling their respective summer tours- it can be certain that their sets will both be festival highlights. These evening performances won’t be ones to miss, as they will likely mix familiar, nostalgic tunes with newer pearls from current albums.  However, Forecastle is stacked from top to bottom with exciting musicians- whether they’re the new kids on the block, or well-known acts, there’s something for all music lovers.

 

Gary Clark Jr.

Gary Clark Jr.

For those who can make it to this urban festie early on Friday, electronic act Mimosa and rapidly rising blues star Gary Clark Jr., are two of the younger acts to add to your schedule. Missing out on Indie groups Local Natives or Spoon would be nearly sinful. Electronic legend Nightmares on Wax kicks off his rare, live set at 6:30- one that would be difficult to pass up without deep regret.

On Saturday, Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings are bringing their sound to Waterfront Park. Their retro-soul sound has quickly gained popularity for a live act that is wildly entertaining. Also on Saturday afternoon, Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks is slotted to play a live set. This group consists of the main vocalist for Animal Collective, a gal from the Dirty Projectors, and Ponytail’s old drummer. This electric triad should have an intriguing – if not creepy – performance. Indie rock heroes, Band of Horses, will be one of the last performances before Jack White hits the stage, so be sure to catch these sentimental fellas, too.

Sunday, sadly, brings the end of the festival, but with it comes some artists worth sticking around for- and it’s not just Beck, either. Sun Kil Moon (of previous Red House Painters fame) will be playing some material from his newest release, Benji, which has been one of the most lyrically satisfying albums of 2014. Progressive acoustic group Nickel Creek will be an act worth catching as will be Ray LaMontagne just before Beck.

The banks of the Ohio River will be flooded with hippies, hipsters, and music fanatics between the dates of July 18 to July 20.  Kentucky has invited the world into its bourbon-soaked metropolis for music, culture, and a weekend of entertainment. May all attendees have safe travels, and the festival of a lifetime!Forecastle_2014_Logo_Vert

The crowd at Boys Noize at the Red Bull stage at The Forecastle Music Festival 2013

Crowd at Boys Noize at the Red Bull stage at The Forecastle Music Festival 2013

The Forecastle Festival is located on the Ohio River, in Louisville, Kentucky. Being so close to the river provides an aesthetic that many festivals cannot match. There is a unique sort of charm in having a party by the river. Throughout the day, festivalgoers were sitting by the canal, cooling themselves off and resting their feet in the flowing water. Louisville Waterfront Park was the perfect setting for Saturday night’s festivities – after a brief interruption from the forces of nature.

A canal that runs through the festival site offered patrons a spot to cool off.

A canal that runs through the festival site offered patrons a spot to cool off.

Upon arriving at the festival, and trying to acclimate myself to unfamiliar surroundings, I was immediately informed by those running the festival that severe weather was in the area. For the safety of the crowd, all patrons were asked to leave the venue and take shelter in their cars. I delayed this process for as long as possible and managed to remain in the venue until everyone was allowed back in.

One of the many art installations that was added to throughout the festival by local artists

One of the many art installations that was added to throughout the festival by local artists

 

The weather caused a delay in the set times for the rest of the evening, but the festival organizers did a tremendous job of alleviating any confusion by displaying the adjusted set times on the screens that adorned each stage. The festival even handed out free tickets to people who bought one passes.

Once fans returned to the venue, TOKiMONSTA took the Red Bull Music Academy Ocean Stage, which was located under an overpass, giving the stage a grungy feel. TOKiMONSTA is a female electronic music producer from California. It was evident that festivalgoers were ready for a party. The crowd surged forward as she began playing poppy loops and dancing on stage in front of a checkerboard of LED screens displaying visuals behind her. Overall, the performance was akin to your average EDM DJ, danceable but not overly impressive. The performance peaked when she dropped, “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe,” by Kendrick Lamar. Although not my cup of tea, the crowd was quite enthused and it was amusing to watch her sing along to the song.
IMG_1172 IMG_1170IMG_1171

 

After losing interest in TOKiMONSTA, I decided to head over to the Mast Stage, Forecastle’s main stage to watch Jim James. Although I have seen My Morning Jacket numerous times, I had yet to see the lead singer perform his solo work. I was not disappointed. Jim James, donning his signature long hair and beard, took the stage looking quite dapper in an open suit jacket and button up shirt. The band played softly as he began, “State of the Art.” The haunting vocals showcased the beauty that is Jim James voice and the crowd was instantly entranced. As the song climaxed, James was twirling around the stage as spikes of light provided visual stimulation behind him.

IMG_1300 IMG_1315 IMG_1276

The second song of the set featured James soloing on a stationary guitar at center stage. While he is best known for his vocal capabilities, he can also play a mean guitar. Next, James sang, “Know til Now,” while dancing around the stage clutching a golden bear. This must have worn him out because he returned for the next song wearing a towel on his head and playing saxophone. The rest of the set felt like a classic rock n’ roll show, drum solos and all. You could sense the hometown love throughout the duration of the set. It became clear that no one loves Jim James as much as Louisville does.

IMG_1323 IMG_1271

As things were winding down, I decided to head to the Boom Stage to see The Flaming Lips. I had the pleasure of seeing them earlier this year when they came through Indianapolis, and I left quite impressed.  The show at Forecastle was nearly identical to the one I had previously seen. Nonetheless, the Flaming Lips’ production quality never ceases to amaze me.

Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips

Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips

Wayne Coyne seemed to be in good spirits throughout the show, trying to get the crowd to liven up. “During a Flaming Lips show, you are allowed to do what you want to do,” he said. He once again made jokes about smoking pot, shining the light gun into the crowd and encouraging people to smoke. He was infatuated with the fact that there was a highway above the venue and kept imagining a car crashing off of it into the crowd.

One interesting twist that I had not previously seen was the bands cover of, “Gates of Steel,” by DEVO, which began with an extensive drum introduction. Wayne Coyne stood on his pedestal singing lyrics as the entire stage was barraged by lasers.

This was, by far, the most heavily attended show by photographers.

This was, by far, the most heavily attended show by photographers.

Finally, it was time to head back to the Mast Stage to see The Black Keys. “Howlin for you,” the band’s first song of the evening started as I was making my way through the crowd. Although the band is comprised of only two members, Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney, they brought along some touring musicians to add to their sound, giving the band a bass and keyboard when necessary.  Although I enjoy most of the Black Keys music, their live performance fell flat. They sounded restrained, playing at a lower volume than the rest of the bands that evening. I overheard people in the crowd yelling for them to, “Turn up the volume,” and I couldn’t help but agree. After a few songs, including an incredible version of, “Gold on the Ceiling,” which sounded better than the studio version, the band said they were going to play some songs as a duo.

IMG_1066

The band seemed more comfortable playing as a duo, launching into, “Thickfreakness,” off of the album of the same name, which happens to be my favorite of their albums. After a brief intermission, the band returned for an encore, playing, “I Got Mine,” which featured Auerbach shredding the guitar. Weary from a day of incredible music, I exited the venue as their last song faded off into the distance.
Words by Kenneth Spangler (above) and Chris Lucas (below for SCI late night)

Saturday Late Night: The String Cheese Incident

IMG_1480-2

 

The best part of the weekend was dancing in the front row at The String Cheese Incident‘s late night set at the Louisville Palace. These boys are definitely my favorite band out there, and there aren’t many opportunities to see them around here, as they don’t make it to the midwest very often. Instead, they perform “Incidents” across the country, but mostly in the western United States.

IMG_1402

As we walked into the Palace, I was amazed by how beautiful it was, and just by the fact that I was even there at the show. Nothing all weekend compared to the energy and professionalism that was brought to this show, and it will definitely be something to remember. The crowd, the band, the vibe, and the venue all summed together equated to the best show of the weekend.

IMG_1430

 

Photographs by Aaron Lingenfelter of Wide Aperture Images

 

To see more photographs from The Forecastle Festival 2013, click here