The day after the Loma Prieta quake, Oct 18, 1989, we did not have school. My TV had been damaged by the quake so I had no Nintendo to play, so I called up my buddy Sunil to see what was going on. I walked from my house to his, and then we grabbed his neighbor John and we went to the playground to play strikeouts. After a few hours of that, we went back to Sunil’s house. He had just gotten his first pair of turntables, a couple mis-matches belt-drives and a Pyramid mixer. He had them setup on this wooden box, which was so low you had to kneel on the floor. He had learned to mix over the Summer, so he showed me a few things: How to find the beat, how to throw a record in, and matching the pitch. We used some 2 Live Crew records and I was hooked. Exactly 30 years later... I’m still hooked.
So it's the 30th Anniversary of The Quake. The Big One. Loma Prieta. Whatever you want to call it. Everyone who was around then has their own memories and stories.
At 5:04 pm Oct 17th, 1989 I was on the soccer field at Lowell High School having football practice. I was a sophomore at the time. I can still visualize the way the basketball hoops were swaying. We were used to quakes, growing up in SF, but this one was different. It didn’t stop! It rumbled endlessly. The longest 15 seconds, ever. We didn't feel in danger out on the open field, but we knew it was a big deal. Honestly, I thought it was kinda neat. The next hour is kind of a blur. There was no power, so we couldn't go back into the locker room to change, and someone said something about a gas leak. Either way, we hung out around the school for a while. Somehow, someone found a radio or walkman, and started relaying news reports. Only ABC was on the air at that time, I believe, everyone else trying to get their power or station back up. Someone said "the bridge is down"... and the inner 11-year-old who saw Beyond Thunderdome just conjured up images of the Sydney Harbor bridge, snapped in half. How fucking cool would that be?
Incredibly, and I could be wrong about this, one guy produced a Watchman portable TV. I think it was him, I just remember him holding it. We could finally see what was happening! I saw my first images of the Bay Bridge and... was disappointed. I didn't think about someone possibly having died, I just saw one little section down and deflated. Yes, I'm terrible. I was also 15.
Now I'm not sure what happened next. I guess we got the all clear to go home or I just ended up leaving. I lived fairly close to Lowell. My classmates may remember it as way TOO close, so I walked home. Our power was off, but we didn't have an electric garage door anyways. There was no damage in the garage, and I went to check my stuff. Well, my room was trashed. The wobbly dresser I used to keep my TV and Nintendo and stereo on had fallen right over. The TV was trashed. The ancient analog stereo system was just fine. That thing was a brick. I righted the dresser, stood up some shelves that had fallen, and checked the rest of the house. My grandfather was home by then. At the time of the quake he had been parked near West Portal waiting for my grandmother to arrive via Muni from downtown. He and I checked out the rest of the house, and there wasn't too much. One porcelain statue they had brought back from India or Hong Kong had fallen over and cracked a bit.
Our neighborhood was populated by a lot of older folks, and a few i knew lived alone, so my grandfather sent me to check on them. I went door to door. Mrs Bohegian first, Mrs Jacobs, Mr Katz, just helping lift some cabinets that may have fallen or sweep up some shattered china. It started to get dark, and still no sign of my grandmother. We hadn't heard word of any injuries in the Muni system, but we also knew it wasn't running. We didn't know if she was stuck in the tunnel or was downtown still. No cell phones, and I don't recall if the phone lines worked.
As normal, people congregated outside. My grandfather let me back our car out and turn the lights on so the block could have some light for people. Finally, after what seemed like hours, my grandmother came strolling down street from Sloat Blvd. She had walked from somewhere far, I think the Castro district, or Church street. I just still can't fathom walking over Twin Peaks like that. Maybe time has inflated that memory. I couldn' tell you.
So that was THE day. We went to bed soon after. I don't know when the power came back. We didn't see any of the destruction that day. Not yet. We didn't know about the Cypress freeway falling down. We didn't see the fires in the Marina as people I knew from school lost their homes. We missed out on the lady trying to jump the gap in the bridge. All I knew is I didn't have school the next day, so what trouble could I get into? No TV meant no Nintendo, so I'll call Sunil and see what he's up to, probably go hang with him all day.
Which leads to me next post for tomorrow.... Stay tuned.
For the fourth year I got to spin for Alt 98.7’s Summer Camp show, in Long Beach. As the DJ for The Woody Show, their morning show, I am lucky enough to be invited to open these concerts, and spin sets between the acts. It’s really fun, but also a bit intimidating, to be in stage in front of thousands. This last one had about 7500 people.
The lineup was killer, and pretty packed, so I didn’t get to do but one 20 minute set between acts, to go with my hour set at the beginning. The opening set was fine, without too many highlights, as people were just filtering in, and it was hot. By the end of the first set there were probably about 4000 people already in the Queen Mary Park, with more on the way. I got heads and bodies moving, and by the time I was done the crowd was already singing along to familiar alternative hits.
My second set was at almost 7pm, the heat had faded, and I smashed them right away with some power-pop-punk goodies. The crowd ate it up, singing all the words, and having a generally great time. The Woody Show joined me on stage during my set, but pretty much let me do my thing. The set got extended five extra minutes on the fly, but no problem, I had an arsenal ready. I recorded the set, so maybe I will post that soon.
Don’t let my words fool you, however. Even after 30 years of this I still get nervous sometimes, and these type of gigs always leave me a bit queasy. I’m not much of a visual DJ. I don’t dance or throw cake or hand-hearts or any of that bullshit. I touch the knobs on the mixer for a reason, not because I need to pretend I’m doing something. So I’m always working, getting the next song ready, working the crowd, and I’m hitting them with audio punches one after another. But I still get shy on stage, and feel awkward. I don’t have a mic to work with usually, and I just feel like I’m boring to watch, even if the music is great. This time was no exception, but when I hit my second set, I felt more in my element. I’ve DJd plenty of concerts, for some huge crowds, and there is no greater feeling than having thousands sing along to your mixes.
This gig was a bit intimidating, as I would be playing with a couple legendary DJs from the Bay, Platurn and Malachi, plus the crowd itself was known to be fairly discerning with their music tastes. I had done the Motown on Monday in San Francisco before, and I think I did ok, but not great. So I was determined to really bring it with this one.
I knew I wanted classic Stevie in there, and some familiar party joints to keep the crowd interested, plus a few "oh shit" records to make people stop and take note. I wanted to incorporate some New Jack Swing, too, and I knew exactly what song I wanted to end with. I was going to take them on a journey, lift them up, and then let em down easy at the end with a feel-good joint people probably hadn't heard in a while, but would definitely feel in their souls.
Not every song was a winner. I over-reached, tried some different things. Pablo Cruise was a flop, but it's got such a funky groove I thought it might be a smooth transition from Hall & Oates to Michael Jackson. The crowd didn't care, but I also didn't lose them. When I hit them with the Kashif joint, I think people got the message this wasn't gonna be an ordinary paint-by-the-numbers boogie set. I had them.
So the sets were split up amongst Platurn and I, so after I hit the Four Tops, he took over and had a killer set. Lots of exclusive edits and remixes. He definitely knows his crowd. I took back over and reset my tempo with some Shalamar, giving the crowd a night to remember. Up next was Roses Are Red by the Mac Band, which really set the crowd off. That's such a great forgotten gem. I wanted to drift into some late 80s R&B here, a touch of go-go, and a few personal faves. Nights Like This had the crowd singing along like I was a member of the Five Heartbeats. I love that song so much, and it fit. It was raining.
I knew on my third set I wanted to finish strong, and take it uptempo, and then back to a smoothed-out finish. Fall In Love With Me by EWF really had them in my pocket, and looking at the clock it was time to start mellowing out. I had a few shockers left to hit them with, most notable I Wanna Be Rich by Calloway, which elicited a few OMGs from the crowd. Platurn said no one had played that there before. I think that's a good thing, it's a fun record.
Finally, it was time to go all the way home, and I really wanted to hit the Glen Medeiros / Bobby Brown joint (sup 360) and then finish with what I felt would be the perfect capper to send people home happy and full of love: Nightshift by The Commodores... "Marvin, he was a friend of mine..."
That song makes me happy and sad at the same time, but most important, it makes your FEEL. Anyways, I hope you enjoyed the set as much as I did.
The concept started as a joke amongst friends, but the roots go much deeper. I've always had a fascination with late 70s, early 80s soft rock. I'm not sure where that came from, as I wasn't exactly exposed to it as a child. I remember some songs being on the radio, and of course some of others are buried in the consciousness of American pop culture. But what really caused me to set sail on this voyage to Yacht Rock? Grab a cool drink and a life preserver, and float with me.
It must have been on MySpace in 2006 or 2007, and I had posted a quote from "What A Fool Believes" by the Doobie Brothers. A friend of mine and fellow DJ from the Bay Area, Mark 7, messaged me with a resounding "FUCK YOU, LOGGINS!" I had no idea what he was talking about, until he explained this wonderful internet creation from Channel 101 called Yacht Rock.
I was taken aboard a hilarious voyage into the world of Smooth Music. I was stuck. All these songs and memories of childhood came flooding back. I started quoting the show to people, who had no idea what I was talking about. I began playing more of these songs at the 80s club I was spinning at. I wanted into Koko's world, badly. I was sailing.
The idea to make a mix of this stuff had been floating around my head for a while. I had already done a mix called 8-Track Sessions which incorporated similar elements, but a bit more rock feel to it. It didn't really embrace the smooth.
So I held off, buried the idea. Would anyone care? Probably not. I did 5 more volumes of 8-Track Sessions (I'll get into those in another blog), plus numerous other concept and live mixes. My Mixcrate page was getting popular, and I would indulge myself every now and then with a mix that I thought only I would care about, but would often turn out to be fairly well-received.
But it took Lionel Richie to bring it all together.
How, you ask? In 2014 I attended a concert at the Concord Pavilion with Lionel Richie with a group of my closest friends. Some drinks flowed. Somehow I came up with term "a soft rock riot" to describe our evening. That clicked in my head. It was time. Koko's spirit beckoned. (If you don't know who KoKo is, then you need to watch Yacht Rock. Seriously. Watch it.)
Ten days later I dropped Thread Count: A Soft Rock Riot on Mixcrate.
I had the title in my head for a year before I even thought of making a mix. Thread Count. It has a dual meaning, one obvious, one personal. The obvious being the fabric / cloth ratio to softness (soft rock, soft fabric, haha, get it? I'll wait while you bask in my glorious "dad joke") But the second meaning was a subtle shout out to my closest friends, the same ones who attended the show with me. See, we have a long-running Facebook "thread" that we keep private, and full of off-color jokes and just random hilarity. No, you cannot see it. But Thread Count had been circling in my head, and I finally had to get it out.
The first song was the obvious choice. Sailing by Christopher Cross. It sums up everything I want to express in one package. It IS the SMOOTH. So I had a strong starting point. Voyage underway.
So I dug into my archives. I chose about 45-50 songs that I knew fit this genre, and fit the smooth vibe I wanted to create. But I also wanted to throw a little nod to our Lionel Richie concert experience, so I chose a few songs by him that could fit the vibe. It should be Easy. Like Sunday morning.