love and laughs... Good stuff.
DJ Cheeze, from Chicago, invited me to Chi to do what I do. Cheeze is one of those dudes that's hard to say no to because he's such a humble dude. Just a really good person, so you wanna do whatever the cat ask of you, ya know? Then I find out that Larissa Johnson is hosting. Larissa and I go back some years. She's another gem. So doing this gig was going to be easy. Good people, good music, good times. As soon as we post the flyer and event on Facebook, the responses were coming in. Funny thing.... People were saying things like, "Harold's or Just Turkey?". I'm thinking to myself, "how do they know that I have a weakness for good food?". Anyway, I arrive. Cheeze and Osman Muhammad(Cheeze's brother/bf) pick me up and the first thing we do is go to the turkey spot! The first thing! I'm not off the plane for 15 minutes before we're eating BBQ Turkey Tips at Just Turkey.
It's something about good food and friends that seem to make life more pleasant. The place is a take out spot with a few tables in it. We were sitting there like 3 kings eating Manna from heaven. The flavor was thrilling. And then....... they give you two slices of bread to sop the sauce off of the drenched fries at the bottom. Lawd I almost started crying. Good times. As we're driving I'm asking questions about Chicago, "Where are we now? What's that over there? Where's the west side?". Well.. When the subject of Farrakhan came up, I noticed Osman got quiet and suddenly it was just me and Cheeze in the car. I thought it was kinda strange at first. But when the subject of religion comes up, one should tread lightly. You never know what people are into. and you don't want to offend anyone or come off rude. If one isn't careful, conversations can get intense. So finally after a little while, Osman speaks. "Elijah Muhammad is my great grandfather." Now for those of you who don't know who Elijah Muhammad is, he was a man that was probably the most influential to Black American men in his day. He had such a strong understanding of doing for ones self, living healthy, being economically independent, being responsible, and so many other awesome qualities. These are things he implemented in the black community. He wanted the people to start their own businesses, and practices. And the results of his teachings were mind blowing. Drug addicts were made clean, black men that were once corrupt, institutionalized, strung out, hardened, were now taught self worth. They now understood their potential. Lives were changed. People were not looking for hand outs. Ex-criminals were wearing suits and ties with a clean shave everyday, even if they were unemployed. Grooming was prioritized. This went for non-Muslims as well as Muslims. Elijah Muhammad was the leader of the Nation Of Islam until his passing in 1974. But his influence surpassed the religion. Black men of every faith started cleaning up their lives because the brothers under Elijah Muhammad's leadership were so powerful, and different. They looked so independent. And right now, I'm in the car with his great grandson. We talked about the Movie "Malcolm X" and how Spike made a good movie, but never asked the family for their take on anything. Not once were they asked about the true Elijah Muhammad. And his role in the movie was misrepresented. He was portrayed as a leader that got busted for having affairs. When in real life, he took full responsibility for his deeds and claimed all of his children. He had integrity. We went on to talk about how the properties that the Nation owned under Elijah Muhammad's leadership were once pristine, well kept and maintained are now a mere shadow of what they used to be. What happened? And that goes for most Black Communities globally. What happened? Where did we go wrong? The standard of decency is lowering every year. Anyway, I was thrilled to have had an opportunity to have a talk with Osman, the great grandson of such a powerful man. Here's a picture of him with DJ Donna Jeffries.
We drove by the Chicago Bears stadium, where they lost to the Philadelphia Eagles. LOL!!!!!!! No disrespect to anyone. Anyway, I'm really feeling at home here. This is really my kind of place. All of this time I'm looking at my Facebook page on my phone. And the people are pouring in support. Larissa asked if I wanted to eat somewhere before I left home. And I'm thinking about the time Terry Hunter took me to Harolds. More food!!! Glen Underground inboxed me to turn me on to his favorite turkey spot. It was love all the way around. But I need to skip some stuff because this night was a game changer for me. Lots of great stuff happened on this trip, like my newest tattoo, turkey tips, and stuff. But the night we had at Wonderbar is worth this entire blog. I knew I had to sing so when I arrived to the club that night I didn't want to do too much loud talking. Don't want to lose my voice before the show. And the first person I see is LadyLaronda and her husband Steve Miggedy Maestro. They're always so in love. They're dressed alike. I felt grateful because I knew she just did a poetry show earlier. I'm sure she was tired but still came out to support.
And speaking of support, I love the way Cheeze did this party. Osman, his right hand man, bought a ticket! He was in the phone earlier with Jozana and mentioned "Yo. Are you coming because I noticed you haven't bought a ticket." That's support! Nobody looking for a handout or having any expectations. I love it! Cheeze's lovely Queen Lisa is handling the door. Very professional. Beautiful and pleasant. Exactly what a party needs at a door. We hug, I go in. Mz Nicky, a well loved Chicago DJ was there and yelled out loud "Ahhhhhhhhhhhh". It was love. It was as though too old friends haven't seen each other in years. This is my first time meeting her in person. We're Facebook friends and we don't talk much there. But the music connects us and we know what it is. Simple. But after she yelled, the love seemed to spill over into the crowd. And before I knew it, I was hugging everybody in the club. Immediately this was a family reunion of sorts. DJ Ronnie Smith had kicked off the sounds much earlier and when I walked in Cheeze was on the decks. People are dancing, mingling, laughing loud. It was beautiful. I remember feeling like, this is why I do this. "Peace my man. I'm Philander" a brother says to me. And I remembered his name and then it clicked. FACEBOOK! I've never met this cat before but musically we have the same blood. You've got to love this. Y'all have to understand that brothers don't do that these days for fear of being too soft or moist. But at this very moment, NOBODY can deny the heavy spirit of love in this place. DJ Celeste and her husband Easy gave me love on sight. She's looking awesome and happy. And they say you can always tell how well a man is doing by looking in his wife's face. So Eric must be doing his thing. It was good seeing them both. No sooner than I get to the booth, the man himself, Terry Hunter was standing there waiting for me because he couldn't stay. He just wanted to show his love. And that to me is huge. Terry had a gig. People are waiting on him to play like right now. And he's taking time to show me love. That runs deep with me. I know guys that get pissed if you come to their town and don't seek them out. Here you got Terry an international cat seeking me out in his hometown. That is LOVE.
Here's a picture of Terry about to bounce. I'm really anxious to see Sheree perform. She's up in just a few. Her producer boyfriend Sean Ali seems more happy than all of us. His lady is about to beat the stage up. Cat Valenzuela makes her way up to give me the sweetest hug. Awww. Everybody loves Cat.
I'm looking through the crowd. The place is looking packed.
I see a lot of my Chicago people. Chanell Jones was there with her sweet spirit. Lashonda Gill came through smiling.
Smitty was there!! We need a Smitty at every
house music party in the world. The happiest, friendliest, down to earth, music loving man on the planet. And Smitty will have a drink! And if he's been drinking he's even sweeter than he normally is. "Maaaaaaannn I love you!", I hear him say. LOL.
The system wasn't sounding like I thought it should. But
didn't have the heart to steal from him, and he's looking disgruntled. I find out that one of speakers wasn't on. Eureka! They were on it though. Meme Hughes, another female DJ that folks love, was there. She had her hair sweeped up in an updo kind if style. Go head Meme. Do that thing woman!! One of
Honeycomb Musics biggest supporters who happens to be from Chi was there. Stefanie. Y'all know Stefanie. I dig the kind of support that Stef had
consistently shown Honeycomb. Whenever I'm doing anything she's pushing it. And pushing hard. She changes her profile picture to my flyer, she'll fly to NY to be at a party. Whenever I do anything, I run it by her as my connection in Chicago. Never once has she asked me for a penny. And here's the kicker. Are you ready? .......wait for it.. .... SHE PAID TO GET IN! If anybody was going to be on my guest list tonight, it would be her. But when I mentioned that I wanted to list her, Cheeze said "She already bought a ticket." That's love. Rickey Troupe was there, checking out the sights. LOL. Donna Jeffries, a Chicagoan, flew in from her new hometown of Baltimore. "I'm here to see you" she said. This is too much. Everybody is sooooooo happy. Sheree is looking lovely.
Toenails were painted so red and glossy that one could see
their reflection in them. She has a very sensitive, sweet spirit with her. And everyone felt it and embraced her right off. Some people knew Sheree from her years of doing R&B. Others never heard of her before. But everyone was nodding their head and by the second song, she had them dancing. But the real joy was to see Sean's face. He was controlling the music for her. Messing with the EQ's and all. That's a smile I'll not forget. I get up to do my thing and I was received well. They dug it. Thank God. Sheree
warmed everybody up so nice that it was easy to perform once I got up. Even as I'm performing, I can see faces walking in that I only recognize from Facebook. The brothers were giving me approving smiles and even some fist dap(see Michelle and Barack)
while I was performing. After I was done singing, Larissa was there to see if I wanted anything. And I mean after she asked, Osman asked, and then Cheeze, who
was DJ'ing asked, and then Ronnie asked! If I needed anything, they had me. I take around 15 minutes before I start DJ'ing. Between all of the DJ's that had already played, Sheree with her performance and my singing, now is not the time for me to play some whack music, ya know. It was all love and beautiful up until this second. Chicago can be complex. There are a lot of different crowds here and they're all soulful. But they like different things. As a DJ, most importantly you wanna be yourself. But you want to please your audience as well. And these people showed me the kind of love you only see in movies. My set started and for me it was surreal. Before I knew it, it was over. It was as if we were all in musical bliss together. We flew. And be clear, it was nothing special that I did or played, it was the combination of musical selections and the crowds participation. There was this one brother who I'd met for the first earlier that night. He shook my hand with a very distinguished swag. And I thought, "well he must be the owner or work as a lawyer or something starchy." He was definitely a house music dude, don't get me wrong, but he was not about to be sweating and dancing with the rest of us. By around 3am, that brother walked up to the booth and yelled at the top of his lungs, t shirt on, "Yo. See. This is how we used to do it in the 90's! THIS IS WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT!" Now you all can imagine how I'm feeling at this point. Kelly "Blu Ojos" was in the middle if the floor twirling. She's so pretty. Her and Cookie always come out to support. Cheryl Smith came by to tell me that the next time I come, she's definitely interviewing me. Tamika Johnson and her twin Daisy Bennett greeted me at the booth with love. Tamika just got off work, but she wanted to come show her love. That was very sweet. Lisa L Boogie Hale, introduced herself. I had known her from Facebook. Facebook
"Hey Cousin" I hear someone say. And it's Nicole Keenan. I've only met Nicole on FB. I've been to Chicago parties quite a bit and not once met her. We say we cousins cause.. we are. It was really good to meet my cousin. While I'm DJ'ing I can hear someone yelling. I knew they weren't talking to me, so I paid it no mind. But I can see someone in my peripheral vision. And it seemed like they were definitely talking to me. It's a woman sounding pissed. I had the lights in the DJ area down low so I couldn't see her. "You Ain't Bad.... You Ain't Nothin!!" She repeated. It was Angie Tee.
If I didn't know that I was doing a good job before, I know now. Angie comes out to all parties. I've seen her in Miami to Jersey to NY. And never have I seen her dance like this. Diviniti from Detroit turned me on to a jam that I now love. It's a rock record with a groove. It's by Edgar Winter entitled "Frankenstein". The only way a DJ can play a record like that is if the crowd is open and ready for it to go down. Otherwise the floor will clear and people will go home. Well when that record was over, Miss Priss(a well known sister here in Chicago) came in the booth
screaming. "WHOOOOOOOO WHOOOOOO WHOOOOOOOO!" Then she looked down at my white shoes and pointed her finger down at them and repeated "WHOOOOOOO WHOOOOOO.....WHOOOO!!" I'm thinking "man I gotta mix this next record in." "What the hell was that you just played?" she asked. It goes to show you that this music we love is soooo much more that a kick and a hi hat. It can reach deep places that Doctors can't. Modern science ain't got a thing on music. This woman lost it on a Rock jam, complete with distorted guitars. You all should have seen Candace Lancaster. This tall sister had swag to spare with her skin tight platinum blonde hair and all. Go head Candace. She was sharp. Thomas Jordan wasn't a second away from her all night. LOL!
Amanda Deisch stayed till the very end if I'm not mistaken. Beautiful support. Nina Gaines just moved to Chicago from ATL and she's looking really happy. It was good to see her. She was trying to tell me about a jam I did and couldn't remember the name. Wasn't that sweet? LOL. I later found out that Nancy Grammer was there. But I didn't recognize her with her hat on. LOL. The fellas were there representing too. I've never come to Chicago and not seen Steve Maxwell.
And brother Gary Cummings told me that I wasn't leaving till he took a picture with me. Mario Romay, whom I have a photo shoot with tomorrow came in ever so quietly. I really didn't know he was coming. Man. Together with everything that has occurred up until this point, the night was easily one of my most memorable as a DJ. I ran some Gospel, Funk, Tech-Soul, Jazzy-House and it was all good. We were singing and dancing ALL NIGHT. When it was time to shut it down, NONE OF US WANTED TO LEAVE!!! Sure my feet felt like I walked here from NY(what the heck was I thinking, wearing them shoes for a 5 hour set) but the vibe was spiritual. I've been doing this for years. I'm familiar with this feeling of spiritual highness in a club setting. But it just doesn't happen often. And tonight...... Put it this way, the equipment was off, and I'm all packed and ready to walk out. Ms. Stefanie, Cat, Monlade Gogins, and quite a few others were holding hands dancing in a circle singing songs in the middle of the dance floor while the lights are on. Everyone is hugging me and I'm a second away from getting emotional. As I'm walking out if the door in walks brother Black Terry. "Aw man. You're done?" I'm thinking "No bruh. It's 5:00am. I have another set in 10 minutes. LOL. Of course I'm done." It was good to see him. He's been supporting my gigs every time I come to Chi. Dapper brother. The night was a success. I feel high on love and life as Stefanie Porter often says. It's been a long night. I'm tired. I'm shutting down. On Sunday, I had a photo shoot Mario Romay. He's been at photography for a little while now. I knew he's been purchasing equipment and studying the art, but when I got to his place, I was impressed at the equipment and set up he had. And he seemed to have a good handle on what he was doing. We took some great shots. Mario, like me, is a beer drinker. I slowed down big time. However Mario is also a beer maker. He allowed me to help him make a batch of honey infused beer. Dude. I'm making beer. How much cooler can I be right now? This dude has no food if any kind in his fridge.
Jazz photographs on the walls. Music playing in the surround sound system. He made me some cappuccino. I'M IMPRESSED!! Mario is way too quiet to have this kind of swag. But it was all love. I had a ball hanging with him and taking some cool pictures. Cheeze is having a gathering at his house. Cheeze and his lovely wife Lisa have a fine home. They've converted the basement into a club. With DJ Booth, wooden dance floor, bar, and even a place to pay. Subs and speakers were in every corner if the basement. Outside in the backyard, Cheeze had the grill going and just like that, another party has begun. Vick Lavender bought some cigars, Lisa bought out the Chicago blend popcorn from Costco. Man it was on. Sheree and Sean came through and Sean even played a record or two. Cheeze didn't spare no expense on the equipment either. This was definitely club equipment. I felt proud of him. There were people coming in from last night. All talking and laughing again. Cheeze made these sausages that were staggeringly good. There was alcohol and drinks pouring. Smitty walked in with a case of Corona. I felt honored to be a part of this Chicago moment. This is really where it gets personal. We're at the mans home. This is the crew. His children are here. The wifey..... And I'm in the middle of it. With them. I felt like a returning cousin. Larissa came through. I took pictures with everyone, talked some trash about nothing. Vick had us crying telling stories about some of his musical experiences. It was the best best best time. But what's most important is that nobody was in competition with each other. We're vibing and getting our after party chill on. This blog is kinda long so I'll stop now. The bottom line is that I had a blast. The photos used in this blog were taken by the party goers either at the party or in the pic. I got them from Facebook. Most of them were taken by Linda Redd
and Kim Gueringer. In my excitement, I forgot to ask for permission to use them in my blog. So if you notice a photo that belongs to you that you wish for me to remove, I will do so immediately. Thank you everyone. Love y'all.