Weequahic Park Jersey is one place where you can truly rely on house music getting supported. I mean really supported. People from the mayors office, council people and all. It's really something to see. When this day began, there were things going on that had potential to ruin the entire day. Rumors were being spread that it's been cancelled. There were some artist boycotting. People were pissed about some things that happened. It almost got crazy. And everybody knows that big things start small. Big rumors start as little ones. So I thought, before I pull off let me invite God in. I'll simply ask him to allow the day to be well for everyone. And parenthetically let me say that if you pray, don't worry, but if you worry, don't pray. So we're on our way down, and I'm still unsure of the new songs that I have to sing. I've only sung them once. And Stevie Wonders, "Joy Inside My Tears" can be wordy. Ok, I'm driving down the highway listening and practicing when the inevitable happened. Gloria decides to listen to her IPod which is connected to her IPhone which by way of Blue Tooth is connected to the cars speaker system and programmed to override anything that's playing. Now when this happened, my iPod that was playing originally, froze. So when I tried to play it again it wouldn't play. We even disconnected it and tried using headphones. Nothing..... GREAT! I'm about 40 minutes away from the gig and I can't practice my songs. Sweet! Poor Gloria was feeling like "Hey, I know that I did something, but I don't know what I did." And here I am, nervous and highly flammable but this was an accident. Then I remembered that iPods can be reset. So while I'm steering the car with my knee, I reset it and it worked. I've lost a precious 20 minutes or so, but hey. Whatchu gone do? When I arrived I came in at the wrong entrance. There were lots of people picnicking and enjoy a lovely Saturday with their families. Couples walking around. Groups of teenaged girls wearing adult clothes and makeup. Young boys walking around looking at the girls. Little kids were there playing. Random thought: that's something you hardly ever see these days. A bunch a black children playing. There were some fellas playing basketball on the court like it was the playoffs. The sisters were there in droves. There were Latin brothers and Sisters there representing. Raf, an Italian brother flew in to do Interviews for an Italian Internet show. Moises, one of Louies assistants, shows us our parking spot. And just a few feet away Kenny Bobien just got finished singing. The people loved him. Everybody was dancing, and singing under the sun. There was a food tent and people were coming out with the most delicious soul food your tongue has ever tasted. Fried Whiting and Catfish!!!!!! Anyway. The schedule is maybe 30 minutes behind. Not too bad. I'm about to DJ in a few. After Kenny's performance, a DJ went on and the party commenced. But then I take a closer listen and the DJ was manipulating the tracks using the cues on the cd player. It sounded as though he was reproducing the songs as they were playing. And then the crowd starts screaming! Now I have to see who this is. Usually, Joe Clausell, Timmy Regisford, Karizma, And other DJ's like that get those kinds of reactions from crowds. But who is this? When I get to the stage and see Duce Martinez rocking it like that, two things happened. 1. I felt extremely proud and happy that it was him. But, 2. Wait a sec....... I'm supposed to go on after this dude????? Really? He was at his finest and I'm next. Wow. This is just great. First my rehearsal time is cut down and now this. Just look at him over there, moving the crowd, enjoying himself. I ought to walk right over there and accidentally hit him in the head with a mixer. Lol. So I'm up. And I learned that it's very hard to play when you know most of the people. I used to live up the street for years. So I saw a lot of my people. And it was so good to see everybody. But right now, it's time to play and Duce MURDERED his set. The crowd wanted to be fed. I'm trying to cook and more and more people were speaking to me saying hello, and greeting me while I'm trying to chase after Duce's energy. But eventually we(the crowd and I) got it started. I played a Su Su Bobien record and she came up to the stage and sang it. How generous of her. And she murdered! Naeem Johnson, Basil Thomas, and a few others came to the booth and gave me love while I was playing. That's a really good feeling when people that I look up to as DJ's come and show support. Naeem and Basil were DJing before I ever touched a mixer. So my respect for them is high. Eddie Nicholas was such a gracious host. I never wanted for anything. He and a team of volunteers, workers were on point the entire time. What was interesting about the staff was that everybody working is also an artist, DJ, poet, dancer, model, or something artistic. Eddie Nicholas, Anthony Wiggins, Sage Youngblood, Darciel who models, and a host of others ran the entire thing with class. I really felt honored to be a part of this. So I jammed until it was time to bring Chinah Blac on to the stage. Chinah has that star appeal. She had her Louboutin heels on. Red skin tight pants. Big hair. Lips, hips and fingertips were all on fire. She wrecked the stage with her high range and overall stage presence. The crowd loved her. When Fable dropped. Two things happened. 1. I felt really proud of Chinah. She's doing what she loves and the people are into her. But. 2. Wait a sec..... I have to sing after her. WHAT THE........?!?! I've been bamboozled!! Now I'm not insecure when it comes to my performance. But as a performer it's just so hard to go on after somebody with that kind of stage presence. OK, OK, I was insecure for about 20 minutes. But that was it. LOL!!!!!!!! Louie DJed for about an hour. I went to the car to practice. But Gloria had the key and couldn't hear her phone ringing and so I sat at the car for a half hour before she got my message. Now my rehearsal time is even shorter. This day is really trippy. I rehearse in the car. I can hear Louie playing some gems that I love. I'm distracted now because he's killing it. Wait, do I remember the second verse? And when do I come in? Is it after 12 or 16 bars? I'm sweating. My pants are falling a little because I'm not wearing a belt. Let me try to relax.
Wait.. Is my sweat visible through my shirt? Moises
texts me at that very moment. "LOUIE IS LOOKING FOR YOU!" Damn!!!!!!! I really didn't get my songs totally down yet. Ok. So I hit the stage and he's tearing up the joint. I get on keys to assist and the synergy between us is amazing. He's playing Sylvester.. "Over and Over"...
Newark knows classic soulful dance music. I'm on keys, Louie's on the decks, the place is on fiyah!! At that point, two things happened. 1. I was proud of Louie and feeling like, wow! I'm a part of this musical high. People are having a moment in House music at this very second and I'm a part of it. But, 2. Wait a sec..... I have to sing in a few moments!!!!!!!! Is there someone setting me up to crash? It felt like God was somewhere laughing behind a tree. WOW!! Seriously?
Like how is this ok? It was at that moment that I felt the presence of everyone there. Cassio Ware, Dawn Souluvin Williams, Adrienne Sykes, Keisha Hall, Sajaeda Gordon, Eddie Nicholas, Flora Cruz, Kev Dot Cruz, Basil Thomas, Dawn Nicole, Naeem Johnson, Anthony Wiggins, Su Su Bobien, Mark Mendoza, Carolyn Byrd, Rescue Poetix, Koffee The First Flotress Of House, ChinahBlac, Tee Solomon, Charles McDougald, Duce Martinez,
Darnell Kindred Spirits, John Coffee Cave, Donna Edwards, DJ Hutch,
Frankie Estevez, Eddie "Boom", Larry LaBirt, Glenn Thornton, and soo many
other artist, producers,
and dancers were there.
Random Thought: I'll probably get in trouble for not mentioning someone.
But my point is, I felt pressure and nervousness. But once I hit the stage and I saw so many friends and supporters, it was smooth sailing. Doris Goliatha, Lisa Moore, and a few others were in front of the stage. And as a performer it's always nice to see somebody that you know there. Somehow it makes things easier. I did the songs and the show was great. I had fun. Louie brought a special guest to the show as a surprise. Bucie came and performed "Superman". All the way from South Africa. Now how's that for a surprise? Bucie is beautiful and she did a great job. She sounded great. We all loved it. Once I got off the stage it was sheer pandemonium. I must have shook every hand there. I took at least a million photos. Charles Mitchell organized this whole event and I think he did an amazing job. It's hard to be the head of anything this huge and please everyone. It's a position I don't envy. I really felt the love. Thanks Newark. You'll always have my love and respect.
Shout's to Donald Payne Jr., Mo Ferguson, Nicole Watson, Billie Carter, Robbi the promoter,Vanessa Cooper, Denton and Sharon Evans, Yul Johnson, Alan Alfred Liddell, Waffiyah Salaam, Moses and Latrece Laporte, Jedan and Mia Phillips and Mia's sister Jean, Nadine and Regina Cross, Dorian "Mia" Brown, Lisa Andrews, Rev. Anthony Hawthorne,
Venus Ka, Urbi Malone, Hiliari Davis, Michelle Rizzo, Leah Bennett, Vivian Viv, Yolanda Huff, Aziza Ford, Veronica Palmer, Donna Butler Gordon,
Tony Cathcart, Dawn Mosely, William Moses, Rich Leon, J Hunter Presents,
Tanisha Malone, Ceci Clue, Jose Burgos and the Weequahic section of Newark NJ.