Downtown For The Day:
Manhattan Square Park

werd: james niche
foto: james niche

I've mentioned before that I spent much of my life downtown Rochester and am a big fan.

Manhattan Square Park was one of the things that I always enjoyed about downtown Rochester the most.

It's an abstract design of metal, earth, steel and water. The metal structure we all know above the water park is actually one of the strongest structures on earth that can hold over 100 times it's weight.

The park was a nice place to cool off with the waterfalls flowing at one point after it's opening in 1975, but quickly became confused for a wading pool and the water was shut off quickly after that.

The park has doubled as a concert venue all the way up until a few years ago when the party in the park was moved to High Falls.

The stage was at the foot of the old waterfalls and brought in thousands of attendees week after week in the summer, for free concerts.

At night, the place was light up and looked amazing under the Rochester skyline. The crowds were always friendly and music was always electric.

Amongst the rolling meadows at the south side of the park, is a children's playground which has been upgraded recently by the Strong Museum.

The playground looks one hundred times better now and has some really fun features that even I enjoy running around on. You should definitely go check it out now and have some fun.

Another edition has been the new and improved ice rink, which doubles as a fountain and reflecting pool at the base of The Manhattan Park apartments.

I was reluctant to give that idea a chance because all I envisioned was floating garbage in the pool all summer, but no. It was clean as a whistle and looked great as the fountains spew into the sky above you.

The park also has a rebuilt concession and skate rental office at the end of the rink as well.

Overall, I think with the work that has been done on the park in the past few years, along with the addition of the ESL headquarters, Rochester's business district is moving on up.

Even as I walked down to the park along Monroe Ave, west bound, I was in line with about fifteen other people walking right beside me heading downtown for whatever their business may be.

I have not seen that in years, it felt like there was some life back on the street. That's a good feeling.

I miss the days of going to shows at Manhattan Square Park and I propose to bring back the life in the park.

The nightlife has a definite place downtown and needs to be renewed.

As people have moved out of the city and into the suburbs, there has been a negative image portrayed of downtown and it's culture.

That's unfortunate.

People worry about safety, parking, costs and so on.

Well, we have a major headquarters building being built across the street that surely will have enough parking space built into it. We can utilize that space for parking at events and that could generate revenue right there, plus if the parking is underground people may be more inclined to park their car at night.

And, with the parking being underground, the city could tunnel under Chestnut St. to the park so that patrons could arrive into the park via the tunnel and not even have to worry about traffic on the street. Surely there would be a safety office in the garage and in the park, so it could be safe and effective.

At one point, there was even a restaurant there called Canopies. This was a student run restaurant, designed for culinary students at the E.O.C.(Educational Opportunity Center). This could be revamped and serve it's purpose once again.

It's a great way to get state funding for the project, seeing how it is an educational institution, and it's a great tax write-off for the school and city.

Think about. We could have our own outdoor entertainment complex right in out own front yard.

I could go on for days about my ideas for the park, but you get the idea.

It's good to see downtown coming back up, I'm loving it. Get out there and enjoy these precious little pieces of our city, Turn that suburban frown upside down.


- Games

Right now we're listening to:

Ben Folds "Bitches Ain't Shit" ("Supersunnyspeedgraphic", 2006, Sony)

Pearwood James: ACT:LIVE Interview

werd: james niche
foto: james niche

An interesting folk-punk-grunge-minimalist-eclectic duo named Pearwood James has been working a new CD, yet to be titled and are performing this Saturday at Spot Cafe on East Ave.

I have been listening to their latest project, 'Pearwood James EP', and get the idea that some of the folks whittling on the keys of their MacBooks should be warned. This is not your average folk music.

This, Mudhoney meets Modest Mouse, meets Andy Warhol, meets a slow dance with Neil Young, meets Bob Dylan band has a very organic sound and they would like to keep it that way.

Their singer and songwriter, Randall Coon makes a point to focus on a little more soul as opposed to an overly digitally mastered sound.

I listened to their CD and it's a disappointment in the sense that I wanted more music. The song 'The Chatter' is a favorite already.

"Say shut the fuck up to quiet the chatter" - The Chatter

There are only a few songs on this EP, so be sure to catch them live to get more.

I really liked the sarcastic element in Randall's lyrics and the ambiance of Dave Huurman's percussion work.

Like a lot of rockers, they have a good heart and don't take themselves too seriously, so this interview was another entertaining experience.

If you would like to see more pictures and hear some music from them, you can CLICK HERE.

ACT:LIVE: Let's get an introduction.

Randall: I’m Randall Coon from Pearwood James. I play guitar and I write the songs.

Dave: I’m Dave Huurman, I play dgembe and the drum kit in Pearwood James.

ACT:LIVE: So you guys are a two piece, right?

Randall: We had a third member but that just wasn’t working out.

ACT:LIVE: Explain the ‘Pearwood James EP’ to those that don’t know.

Randall: Each track was recorded live in one take, so what we played is what you get. We’re trying to do something similar in concept for the album coming out, which is a full length.

We have some really conceptual lyrics for the next one that parallel the life of our fake character, Pearwood James. It should be pretty interesting.

ACT:LIVE: So, did you record the EP in one straight shot, or were the tracks separate?

Randall: We recorded all the songs separately, but they are all in one take.

We were thinking about doing the next album all at once in one long take.

ACT:LIVE: That would be cool, it’s definitely been done, but I get the feel of that type of recording when I listen to your CD. Especially with the banter you have in between songs.

Randall: It’s a throw back to analog recordings.

ACT:LIVE: Tell me about Pearwood James, your character.

Randall: It’s kind of turning out to be a story about the character. Pearwood, NY is my fictional piss-ant town and the story is kind of going in a science-fiction direction with a real dingy rural tinge to it.

ACT:LIVE: Any thoughts Dave?

Dave: Well, we just released this EP and that was our earlier stuff, but now we are working on using a full drum kit and pushing some more boundaries. We’re basically trying to just experiment and have fun.

ACT:LIVE: How did you guys meet?

Dave: We met at MCC, but before this we were in a thrash-grindcore project. We kind of toned it down for this project. (laughs)

ACT:LIVE: Where are you from, originally?

Randall: I’m from Nunda, NY. I grew up rural and I dig it.

Dave: I grew up in Chili, so, closer to Rochester.

ACT:LIVE: What brought you up here? The weather?

Randall: Work, school and music.

ACT:LIVE: What were some events or music acts that have inspired you to do what you do now?

Randall: For my songwriting, Neutral Milk Hotel is a big influence. They broke up in the nineties, but they were pioneers in the acoustic punk scene.

I was always into a lot of punk rock as a teenager, but grew out of that phase. I love the blues and guys like Leadbelly as well as Arlo Guthrie and the rest of the folkies.

I like Bob Dylan a lot too, but his best work was when he was in Greenwich Village and not a rock star.

I listen to so much music today that is soulless. I would like to bring back some heart and soul with my music. I’d like to see more raw energy in rock and roll.

Dave: I grew up listening to music all over the map. There’s some stuff I’m embarrassed to admit I like.

I was really into experimental hardcore music for a while, but I feel like I’m getting to old for that music now.

I have to mellow down. (laugh)

Randall: I’m really into artists that are original, first of all. I have spent $60 to go to shows that last four days and I think that’s reasonable, but I don’t care about seeing whatever the big band is that’s on the radio. I would rather find a really talented band that’s local and have more fun.

ACT:LIVE: The reason I really wanted to talk to you guys was because you have a gig October 4th at Spot CafĂ© on East Ave. Is there anything you want to share about that? That’s this Saturday.

Randall: We’ll be playing out in front by the window so people can at least see us. The sound is ass though. If you sit up in the balcony, anyone on the mic sounds like God because of the reverb in the room. It’s a fun place to play though.

ACT:LIVE: What can has been the reception of the crowd at past gigs?

Randall: We get some people bobbing their heads, for sure. We try to keep it upbeat and a little more poppy but at the same time, we keep the lyrics and guitars in another world.

Dave: Definitely poppy to keep people interested.

Randall: Then they listen to it and they say, damn, that’s a sick bastard. (laughs)

Dave: If they listen to the lyrics they don’t know what’s going on. (laughs)

ACT:LIVE: Where else have you played?

Randall: We’ve played at Spot, Boulder (repeatedly) and The California Brew Haus.

We played at the practice space on St. Paul, too. That was a trip.

I have a question for you…what do you do with a building that is broken down and decrepit?

Rent it to rock and rollers, that’s the idea behind that place. It’s like five floors up and just old and decrepit.

ACT:LIVE: What else do you do to keep busy and involved in the Rochester music scene?

Randall: I do a lot of solo stuff on my own, but am also in a band with some college friends out in Buffalo. They needed a bass player so jumped right in.

It’s like a shitty glam-punk band where we dress in black. (laughs)

Dave: I have always jammed around town, but my first band was a hardcore band called Gacy Escape, named after John Wayne Gacy. It was homage to his last words. One of the guys in the band was obsessed with serial killers. Go figure.

ACT:LIVE: Who are some local guys you really dig?

Randall: Tim Avery.

Dave: Tim Avery, of course!

Randall: He’s a short, squirrelly guy that’s full of energy.

Dave: Dude, he’s gonna read this.

Randall: He’s one of the most genuine people I have ever met in my life.

Dave: He just sold an organ to us, so we will be playing with that soon.

Randall: Karrah Teague, she has played with us and she’s pretty amazing. She’s a singer/songwriter.

ACT:LIVE: I don’t want to try to get too political, but to change the subject…what are some feelings you may have on the topic of the election. The debates were just on and it’s getting down to the wire.

Randall: He does.

Dave: Do I?

Randall: Dude, you’re full of opinions on that.

Dave: Yeah, when I have four beers in me!

Randall: I’m not even registered to vote.

ACT:LIVE: You can still have an opinion, right?

Randall: I really try to stay out of that kind of thing.

I really can’t believe that any big politician or business man is the same human being that I am. I can’t believe that someone who grows up in the environment that they do, with all that wealth and power, can represent my needs of desires as a human. We’re not the same people, so don’t believe that for a second.

ACT:LIVE: What kind of image do you guys send to your audience?

Randall: I like to come out looking like a fat Nick Cave. Or, maybe like a drunken uncle falling out of the trailer in his Sunday best.

We really want to keep things minimalist.

That’s why we reduced ourselves to two members. Three people were just too much.

ACT:LIVE: Thank you guys for your time and I hope the show is fun for you on Saturday…one last question…what’s your superhero name?

Dave: Man Man. I would have a wife beater on with a beer in one hand while watching the game on television, and when danger calls I pick up the phone and tell them to hold on because I’m watching the game.

Randall: Panther Face.

Again, Pearwood James bring their unique brand of musical science to Spot Cafe, Saturday, October 4th at 7:00pm.

See you there, player.


- Games

Right now we're listening to:

Andrew W.K. "We Want Fun" ("Jackass: The Movie", 2002, American Recordings)


werd: james niche

I only wish I had brought a photographer to TILT last Friday.

The RAVE :CULTURE party was off the hook.

I made it down later in the evening and didn't get a chance to catch every act, but every act I heard on the patio was on fire. The beats were nuts and the crowd was a constant neon glow in true rave fashion.

Some of the outfits and accessories I saw on the stage and throughout the crowd were out of this world.

I have to say thank you so much to L.E.S.H. and AKO for getting me in and putting on a great party. I know many people worked hard to coordinate the talent and promote, so big ups to you guys too.

I know raves are nothing new but it's nice to see all the elements on a little more intimate venue like TILT.

I have never been a huge 'raver', if you will, but living out in Springfield, MO, I would often spend weekends bouncing between St. Louis and Kansas City for some of the biggest parties I have ever seen and the vibe of the event Friday took me right back there.

I tied one on pretty strong that night, but I do distinctly remember AKO's hip-hop and electro pop madness and loved it. That kids got some real style and presence, still young in the game he has a hopeful party future.

I also remember that HOOGS has begun planning the next G.I. Jungle party. I'll be getting up with him soon to talk about part deux and what insanity he has planned.

Once again, I deeply regret not having a photographer down there with me at the party, but if you weren't there I'll leave it up to your imagination. Go wild because the party definitely was.

Till next time kids...peace.

- Games

Right now we're listening to:

Ghostface Killah/Mark Ronson "Ooh Wee" ("Here Comes The Fuzz", 2003, Elektra Records)

Soul Slingers: The ACT:LIVE Interview
w/ RICRUDE & Tim Tones

werd: james niche

Born out of the ashes of run-of-the-mill hip-hop groups in this city, the Soul Slingers are here.

Tim Tones and RICRUDE are two of the most talented hip-hop duos in this city if not in this state.

We can all thank Filthy Funk and Miguel Urbina for giving these guys the motivation and support they needed to get on their feet here in Rochester and make a name for themselves.

Tim Tones has worked hard and steady on his turntable craft for the past ten years, performing at house parties, clubs, concerts, skate events and any place he can fit two turntables.

He has also been a long time skater and is a good friend of the Krud Co. group on Monroe Ave.

He paired up with RICRUDE a few years ago when Tim began seeing him perform with Filthy Funk.

RICRUDE grew up in Rochester and hip-hop has been in his blood since a child. He started freestyling as a teenager on his front porch and was quickly escorted into a studio to put his thoughts on wax.

He has a style all his own, a great work ethic and a solid heart.

He makes sure to credit Filthy Funk for all the guidance he has been given by them.

Together, Tim Tones and RICRUDE make a pair that is unparalleled in Rochester, NY.

Tim Tones is a highly skilled DJ with a great ear for the crowd and RICRUDE is commander and chief of the stage.

They represent Rochester in every fashion including their love for baseball and the Red Wings.

Their latest CD, "Soul Slingers: The RICRUDE MIX" is a hot item and you need to pick it. It's one of the best mix CDs available right now.

WOODY, of the GOONIES CREW, is responsible for the majority of production work on the disc and it shows.

Local producer OPTIX is putting Rochester on the map with the single "Native Of The City", as well.

Soul Slingers produced a video for "Native Of The City" with local director Mike Dispenza and it's one of the smoothest videos to come out of Rochester.

Let's let Soul Slingers tell you the whole story...

ACT:LIVE: Where did you grow up RIC?

RIC: Rochester, NY. North east side by Durnan St., North St., that area.

ACT:LIVE: Is that where you're living now?

RIC: No, I'm not over there any more, my family is still over there though.

My little brothers are still growing up there. My mom is still over there too. I'm trying to get them out from over there, but who knows. The neighborhood gets rougher by the day.

ACT:LIVE: What brought you to hip-hop as a kid?

RIC: I really didn't pick up real hip-hop tapes until I was like thirteen.

I was just into what was popular on the street at the time.

Then I got into the 'Gangstarr's and groups like that, but my boys weren't really into that. I would just listen to that music on the side by myself.

I was fairly well rounded with all the music that was around me.

ACT:LIVE: How about you Tim?

Tim: For me, I was always really into underground hip-hop.

Then, as I went through high school, that music kind of died out a bit. I started picking up some artists like Jay-Z and a lot of Def Jam acts for a couple years. That was until Mos Def came back in, it made it good to go home to underground hip-hop again.

ACT:LIVE: How old were you when you really started rapping, RIC?

RIC: I was sixteen. I'm twenty five now, it's been like nine years.

I didn't really start rhyming in front of people until like twenty one.

It went from doing a couple poems in the bedroom, to rapping on the porch with some friends. Then high school came and we would bang on the lunch tables and people would throw me into the center of the cypher. It all grew from there.

ACT:LIVE: What did you really like about it? Was it the way to express yourself, or was it because of the crowd reaction? What really did it for you?

RIC: It was definitely a good way to get things off my chest. But also, coming from the background I come from, what I was doing was unique.

Coming from the neighborhood that I did, it wasn't as popular at the time for a white kid to be rapping. Things have changed, but I was unique so people dug me.

The biggest thing was the outlet for me, to relieve stress from things I was going through. I was doing a lot of dumb shit, so it was a good way for me to put it all on paper.

That's what I use hip-hop for now. Instead of possibly lashing out at someone or blowing up, I just put it in a bar.

ACT:LIVE: I can see the venting when you are on stage, every time.

RIC: The stage is the one place I feel truly free, and I don't have to worry about anyone saying a damn thing about it. It's another realm.

Tim: For him, I feel like it's a transformation. When I'm riding with him to shows sometimes, he can be so quite and wonder if he can do the show. Then he gets up on stage and tears the place down.

RIC: It's a spiritual uprising.

ACT:LIVE: Is the Soul lingers duo the first act you have been in formally, RIC?

RIC: Yeah.

Tim: Well, we've been performing together since 2005, but we didn't solidify the union or have music on CD before now.

ACT:LIVE: So when you got together, what was your aim for the group live?

Tim: When we started performing live, we at first disagreed about how to do our shows but things came together show after show. We try to remix songs live, add scratch routines into the set and other combination's of that.

We never half-as it and we always rehearse.

We always give 150%.

I've seen shows by some big local cats and national cats and have been either bored, or they forget their lines or the just don't even have any presence. You won't catch any of that here. Those guys are lackluster.

You can't forget about live presentation. You need to practice.

RIC: Live performance is the real life representation of your music and what you want to say.

You can write a thousand songs in the studio, but if you get on stage and you can't perform, then nobody gives a shit.

When people go to a show they want to party, they want to have fun and they really want to be told what to do. If you can't demand any kind of control or respect on stage, you have a problem.

Even if I'm sick, you're going to get the best show possible and that's they way it has to be.

ACT:LIVE: So you guys have a show this Friday at Spike's?

Tim: Yeah, we're playing with Hassaan Mackey, SubSoil, D-Rock, Optix, The Drips and Harvey Wallbanger. Reece Q is hosting with Harvey and the Drips are formed by Harvey and WOODY.

WOODY, I have to mention, is one of the main reasons the mix CD sounds so good. He produced like eight or nine tracks on it.

Some of those tracks go back to 2005, so that shows you he's been producing some great tracks for a minute. People need to know that.

The show should be really good.

ACT:LIVE: What do you guys want out of hip-hop? You have an amazing CD to work with, you have a lot of respect and talent, so what do you want to do with that?

Tim: I personally want to play as much as possible and see where it can go. I want to always push it as far as I can.

I want to see what other people's reactions are and get the music out to as many people as I can and see what comes out of it.

As far as doing shows, I like to be able to top the last one we do, every time.

RIC: I want the release of it. It's my way to get away. There's nothing better. If I get some notoriety out of it that's great, I'll take it.

For me, it's about letting people get to know me. RICRUDE.

I feel like I have a unique story, I feel like I have a lot of things to contribute hip-hop and music in general.

Whether it's things that I've been through, or things that I'm going through I write a lot of personal stuff.

Like 'Dear Dad'. That's a 100% true story.

A lot of people in Rochester grew up without a dad and a lot of young men don't have a figure to model themselves after.

So where do they go? What do they do?

Trying to figure that out is a really big puzzle.

ACT:LIVE: You can help people that may have gone through something similar. You can insire them to do great things too.

RIC: If I can, I'd like to give them a different way to look at things.

In turn, I think it's makes me a better person on the inside, inspiring someone else to grow stronger.

ACT:LIVE: You seem to have a real love for the streets and for people in general. I understand you coach a little league team in Rochester. Tell me more about that.

RIC: I coach 11-14 year old city kids.

Baseball, in this city, is a dying sport. There aren't too many kids that play ball in the inner city, and these kids need an outlet.

They need some direction and some one there to show them a few things, maybe spend five minutes with them.

A lot of these parents just drop their kids off and expect you to babysit them. All these kids want and need is attention.

When you start showing them a thing or two, you see a dramatic change in their attitude and perspectives, especially if you're showing how to do something fun.

When you give the a goal and they complete, no matter how big or small, it's a feeling of accomplishment. Those kids need that feeling.

It can give them the incentive to keep going, with anything they want to do.

It shows them a way for them to make it in life and keep them out of trouble.

The trouble lurks every where you go in the hood.

So, that's what I do over at the South Side Youth Association.

Tim: That's another place where we meet on the same page. Community service.

I do work close to that with underprivileged youth through a social service agency. We are doing some of the same things but it's a bit more formal in the sense it's run by the local and state government.

I really get to spend a lot of time with individual kids to develop their own personal interests and talents.

It can be as simple as showing a kid how to start his own bank account so he knows how to save money.

The music does the same thing, with songs like 'Dear Dad'. Songs like that are very personal and I credit RIC for the way he did it because it's very tasteful and shows you an alternative to getting down, instead RIC is showing you how to stand on your own two feet.

It feels good to back lyrics and a song like that and makes me more of a fan of RIC at the same time, because of the honesty involved.

ACT:LIVE: If there's a message that Soul Slingers would like to send, what would it be?

RIC: Be yourself.

Tim: Put the work in...and be true to your self.

ACT:LIVE: I have one more question for you, I ask everybody...what's your superhero name?

RIC: Batman, I'm feeling Batman right now. He's the only superhero without superpowers. His back story is what I really feel.

Tim: Tone-A-Tron. It would be a big ass robot that morphed from the X-Ecutioners turntable set-up (laughs). Tone-A-Tron, know what I'm sayin'?

Another fun interview for sure. Thanks to Tim and RIC for sitting down with me.

Another great example of hard work and sensibility in Rochester.

Soul Slingers will be performing this Friday September 26th, at Spike's for the Fall Classic with the acts mentioned on the flier.

Soul Slingers will also be performing October 25th at the after party for the Red Bull Pro BMX Competition sponsored by Red Bull and Krud Co.

Then, they play again at the much anticipated Halloween Mash-Up Party at Pearl. The party is sponsored by Thread Clothing and put on by RIPROC. Note for all of you, tickets are on sale now and I suggest getting them now. Last year it was sold-out and was also named the party of the year by Rochester...cringe...Insider.

I leave you now with 'Native of the City'. Produced by OPTIX and directed by Mike Dispenza.


- Games

Right now we're listening to:

Aesop Rock "None Shall Pass" ("None Shall Pass", 2008, Definitive Juxx)

Rave :Culture
ACT:LIVE Talks With DJs
L.E.S.H. & AKO-a.k.a.

werd: james niche

For you ravers and electronic music lovers alike, this Friday the place to be is TILT Night Club on Central Ave for the RAVE :CULTURE party.

Both dance floors and the courtyard will be filled with some of the biggest names in dance music today, as well as some superb up and coming locals.

L.E.S.H. has been a long-standing member of the music community and his associate AKO is now finding his way up the ladder.

I sit down with both of them and talk shop on the party this Friday, the rave scene in general and what these guys get into.

Dig In…

ACT:LIVE: Let’s start out by introducing you L.E.S.H….

I’m Leigh Hobart, aka DJ L.E.S.H.. It’s real simple, it’s my initials.

I figured if B.T. could do it, so can I.

ACT:LIVE: How long have you been DJing?

I have been doing it for a while now, probably since 2000. I was just getting into the music and starting to learn, then by about 2002 I was feeling a little more comfortable with what I was doing.

Each year I have improved on my ability and advanced a bit more. It’s a never ending battle, you can always learn more as long as you are enthusiastic about it.

Music for me is a constant renewal. It’s always evolving, always changing and is always interesting.

ACT:LIVE: What kind of music are you playing now?

Honestly, I like to play everything because I’m into every kind of music, except country.

There’s so much when it comes to electronic music, especially in relation to this event, Rave :Culture.

I’d like to try to expose everything if I could. There’s house, drum and bass, whatever you could think of at this point.

Now there is a big blend of everything and the “mash-up” is becoming extremely popular. Rob could tell you all about that. That’s kind of his forte.

The beauty of music today is that there could literally be an artist popping up every minute of the day around the world. Now, I’m not saying it’s all good music, but the bottom line is that artists around the world are pushing the envelope further and further every day looking for new sounds.

I think that has a lot to do with the influx of the parties you see now.

ACT:LIVE: Don’t you think it’s similar to the 90’s and the rave scene back then?

Yeah, going back to the old-school days of rave events, or however you want to describe them as, they were giant blends of all the electronic music that was popping up at the time.

A lot of people associated these parties with drug use and that wasn’t the goal. It was meant as a way to expose the music on a big platform and have a great time with a loud system and some insane lighting.

Sometimes it wouldn’t even be that, it would be a loft party, but it was a chill atmosphere where they could get the music to your ears.

ACT:LIVE: So where are we today?

The new scene, the “hipster” scene, if you will, is a new version of that.

It’s all these kids trying to find something new and exciting.

The thing I love about that scene, or whatever you want to call it, is that it’s once again incorporating all of these elements into it.

ACT:LIVE: What were you listening to growing up?

Where I grew up, which is rural and country, I didn’t listen to country music. Thank god.

ACT:LIVE: Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Walworth, Wayne County. I am a huge fan of Rochester though and will consider myself a Rochesterian. I have been other places , like most of us, and have seen what other cities have to offer, but I am in love with what Rochester has to offer culturally and otherwise. We are in a pool of cultural wealth here.

But, about the music I listened to…I tend to ramble. (laughs)

I guess what really got me into dance music was, honestly, 98 PXY back in the day. I will admit it.

I just made a comment to AKO recently about his C + C Music Factory remix and how much I liked it because it took me back to those days. Days of music like that, Technotronic and all the 90’s pop dance music.

All that music was a pop extension of what was going on in the rave and club scene at the time.

That was about as far as that music could go publicly because radio is not friendly to tracks that are six to ten minutes long.

I don’t think the mainstream even has that attention span anymore anyways.

That’s why you are seeing all these artists like Girl Talk and Ludachrist become so successful.

ACT:LIVE: In today’s world I think you almost have to have a few tracks like that to get people’s attention, and then hopefully they will get the CD and get into the deeper cuts. It’s one for love and one for money.

Yes, without a doubt. You need to have music that the public will recognize or understand.

ACT:LIVE: So, you work at TILT Night Club and Ultra Lounge, correct?

Yes, I do work at TILT. I work Thursdays and Saturdays at the moment.

I play in the lounge both nights. It’s a pretty open format, I’d say.

ACT:LIVE: How did the :Culture party come about?

Well, we initially had an idea for events called “Culture”. It was simply called Culture, but there would be a word before it to describe the theme of the night.

We’ve done Summer:Culture, which was like a Luao Party. We did Evolution:Culture which was like an old-school versus new-school party. We did the Disco:Culture party which was to bring back the ‘fros and disco music.

Now, this one is really to bring back the culture of the whole rave scene. A lot of people aren’t willing to accept glow sticks and that whole thing in the mainstream as much.

In Rochester, it’s almost shunned upon because they think it’s old. Or they associate that will the drug culture. It’s not like that though. It’s to bring back the fun and have a themed night. It’s something that people can attach to and be involved with in whatever capacity they can.

We’re trying to bring people back in touch with the DJs, the music and the environment.

I think with entities like Project InVent or even RIPROC, they have done some of that as well.

Having the art displays and the t-shirt party was superb. It’s a positive way to bring the audience closer to what’s going on and making them feel like they are a part of what’s going on. That’s extremely important because the audience is the most important part and they need to be connected.

ACT:LIVE: Absolutely, that’s what ACT:LIVE is trying to accomplish through the shows we are putting on as well. Are you giving away some goodies for the crowd at the show?

I bought about 500 glow bracelets and glow items for the crowd as they come through the doors. That should be enough for about one a person.

We’ll probably have some candy for everybody, too. Those kinds of things are always fun.

The idea of the candy goes back to my first party, it was called Sugar Rush. It was over at Milestones at the time.

You were saying how visuals are really important for shows and we had that at the time, too. This guy Flip would set-up a big light and visual display, that was when we had DJ Shortee and Annalyze together for Twice as Nice.

ACT:LIVE: Yeah, I’m familiar with them. Obviously Anna, but Shortee is really well known and extremely talented as well.

Shortee, in my opinion, is probably one of the most talented female turntablists out there, aside from Annalyze. They are ridiculous. I think Shortee is a little more technical and advanced because she has been around longer and has had a deeper influence where she comes from, but Anna is right up there.

ACT:LIVE: Tell me about some of the talent performing for your event.

If you look at the flier, there are several sections of performers. There’s a hard-core side of the show which, to me, is really the most important and longest-lasting musical element of the rave culture. It used to be happy hard-core, but the industry has removed the “happy” from the genre title.

We have Viper from Toronto, who is a big house name. We also have Smoke in the main room who actually throws one of the most successful rave regulars in New York City called the Candy Ball.

I worked with MC Jumper, who is a very well established artist, to get a lot of the talent coordinated for the event.

Something that I always enjoyed at an old rave was something called the ‘chill’ room.

That was always a place to go relax from the dance floor for a bit and sit down.

We are going to have just that on the patio. We have seating for everyone and Look Ah Hookah will be up there selling $5 ‘All You Can Smoke’ sessions.

We’re calling that room the ‘Ambience’. I tried to stretch the envelope because there are so many DJs that wanted to be involved, so I put some different kinds of DJs in the mix.

One of the guys, Access to Arasaka, produces down-tempo IDM stuff and is amazing. He hasn’t really got his name out yet, but he is really good. I’m really excited to have him be a part of the event.
9.It seems like you have come full circle with what you’re doing as an artist now. You’ve made your way from just musician to promoter.

I think there was an article about that somewhere. It talked about how you start as a DJ, go through your phases then end up a promoter and it’s stood pretty true so far.

I started out as an attendee then became more and more engrossed in it all.

If you’re smart you try to keep going and going.

I like to try to evolve with what’s going on.

ACT:LIVE: Are you guys going to get all raved out in your attire for the party?

(laughs) We thought about that. I can guarantee there will be some people dressed up at the party though.

ACT:LIVE: Where have you guys been promoting?

Everywhere. A few friends of mine were at a party in Toronto and apparently the word is out up there. It looks like it’s going to be a great turnout.

ACT:LIVE: So, we’ve been chatting away and I keep on wondering who this guy is sitting next to me…

(I’m referring to AKO-aka, DJ sitting to my right, waiting patiently to get a word in edgewise.)

L.E.S.H.: I don’t know this guy. Some guy named AKA? (laughs)

ACT:LIVE: Where did you come up with AKO, by the way?

AKO goes all the way back to me being a nerd. I’m a huge anime fan, so a couple years ago after never officially siding on a name I thought of the obscure name of AKO.

I saw it in an anime comic a few years ago. I figured no one would use that name but sure enough there was, so I added the ‘aka’.

That way I can attach a different name to mine as a ‘theme of the moment’. It’s similar to the culture idea and I never liked having just one name.

I’d like to evolve and change. That’s one thing that bands don’t do. I couldn’t be in a band and have just one name, one feeling. It’s boring.


I wanted to say, that one thing that I really like about this party is that there are three big rooms full of music for you to enjoy. I have a short attention span, so for me, it’s great to be able to walk somewhere else and check out some other music if I get bored.

That’s why it’s hard for me to go see bands, because if I don’t really like them I can get so bored just standing there.

I get stir-crazy.

ACT:LIVE: This isn’t your first :Culture party is it?

AKO: No, actually. I played at the Summer :Culture party and it’s just been a lot of fun since. I have played with so many talented DJs and am really looking forward to Friday’s party.

L.E.S.H.: He’s been a great support along the way and is definitely along for the ride.

I can’t say that I definitely won’t do another :Culture party again, but it may be on the back burner for a while.

What I do plan on doing with Rob in near future is a more intimate night of music called Trend, potentially. The name isn’t concrete yet. But it’s based on a more relaxed atmosphere.

If you look at what people are doing now days, you see less and less kids going to the clubs like they used to.

I think a smaller, more group oriented social setting is more appropriate to what’s going on. That’s something I’m going to pursue.

AKO: I think it’s an important skill for a DJ to have, to be able to change with the times and adapt.

I wouldn’t like to stick to one genre in particular; I would rather perfect my own style instead playing as opposed to playing one style of music.

I like playing hip-hop show for the live element and stage show, I like playing dance music for electronic crowds, I like it all and I like to switch it up.

ACT:LIVE: When did you start playing?

AKO: I got my first tables when I was in eleventh grade, so about six or seven years ago.

I stated playing records in any venues until about a year and a half ago.

My first show, I opened up for ‘People Under The Stairs’.

It was a really cool show to be at…(laughs) But I was horrible. My first experiences were pretty bad.

It was a good way to start though. I learned some humility.

ACT:LIVE: What kind of music will you be playing Friday?

AKO: I’ll be bridging the gap between hip-hop and electronic music. They’re a lot more similar than people realize.

L.E.S.H.: I can attest to many compliments given to AKO on his DJing skills. A lot of the other DJs involved are super enthused to hear him play on Friday.

Not only will AKO will a part of future parties with L.E.S.H but is also putting together a monthly gig of electronic, hip-hop, indie and you name it for everybody to get down to.

For now, get on down to TILT Night Club, get your damn picture taken with Tommy Tilt and get on the dance floor, candy kid style.

This Friday, September 26th at TILT!

Peace kiddies…

- Games

Right now we're listening to:

Technotronic "Pump Up The Jam" ("Pump Up The Jam", 1989, SBK Records)

Percussion Madness!!

werd: james niche

So, I'm browsing the web as usual the other night, when I come across some strange videos on YouTube containing images of robotic percussion instruments.

These aren't just drum machines, they are robots designed and programmed to make a beat on anything.

Or, some were videos of some mind-blowing adaptations that some people have made out of simple household toys.

Either way, here are some crazy futuristic drum machines of various kinds...enjoy.

And speaking of drums...why the hell is there a picture of a fake band on the cover of the Insider this past week? Once again, that magazine blows. Serious. The editors need a shovel through their brains.

Maybe that could sort out the small part of brain matter that they could potentially use.

Enjoy percussion sounds.


- Games

Right now we're listening to:

RUSH "Tom Sawyer" ("Moving Pictures", 1981, Atlantic Records)