Friday, September 30, 2016

Blog Post: Montreal & AAHH! Fest

Last weekend was All Good! 
Friday, Saturday, and part of Sunday I spent my time in Montreal as I was blessed with the opportunity to be the special DJ for The Goods. In August they celebrated their 14 year anniversary. The other part of the day on Sunday I kicked it at AAHH! Fest. 

It's Friday at 4am. I Wake up, get dressed and head to the airport. I'm flying Porter ( so I'm excited despite the fact I have a layover in Toronto. 
The layover would actually be pretty cool. I flew Porter earlier this summer and was wowed by the presentation. It feels like you're flying in business class. Leather seats, free wine, and gourmet snacks. After clearing customs I proceeded to the terminal which was where all of the Porter flights were. The area was really nice and was filled with leather lazy boy shaped seats, small tables with stylish lamps on top, free snacks, coffee, and water.  

I arrive in Montreal and head to the legendary Andy Williams' crib to find the front door open. Upon getting out of the cab and walking to the door I noticed that the same is true for his neighbors. Michael Moore was right. It appears Canadians tend to leave the doors to their homes open. After seeing these gigantic ass squirrels, I would be more concerned about a squirrel getting in than a random person.

After we briefly strolled the Mile End neighborhood I proceeded to check in to my room.  
Perfect location. Directly across the street from the venue on one of the main streets in Montreal with easy access to a variety of restaurants, stores, buses, and taxi cabs. After dropping off my luggage we walked across the street to the venue and check things out a bit. Restaurant downstairs and the performance venue is an auditorium styled ballroom upstairs from the restaurant. Vintage architecture and stylings, chandeliers, red & black velvet curtains, and rustic wood floors. Sounds like the type of venue for an awesome event.

Next I would begin to explore the city and do more people watching and take in some sights. Canada is very different from the States and it is immediately noticeable.  Montreal appears to be very peaceful and I did not feel as though I had to watch my back or deal with any unexpected foolishness related to violence. In my experiences I've always felt Canadians generally have a peaceful disposition, are very friendly, and super hospitable. In recent times when I've had an opportunity to leave the States, upon my return I can instantly feel the tension and toxic energy. It's hard to believe that somewhere in such close proximity to the America has totally different mindset and behavioral disposition. 

Next point of business was to head to the Red Bull Music Academy opening.
30 selected attendees from all over the world would be in Montreal learning, networking, and showcasing production related skills. During the opening we were able to take tours of the building which was filled with dope art and approximately 10 state of the art studios. 

At the event I bumped into my guy Patrick who throws the premier rare groove disco loft parties in Montreal and had one of my homies from Chicago to play as a featured guest earlier this year. According to my homie, Patrick knows all of the dope food spots so I requested his guidance on eats after the event and after consuming a whole lotta wine. He chose a Fish & Chips spot called Brit & Chips.



Not really too enthused about Fish & Chips until I saw the menu. This would prove to not be your average Fish & Chips spot. When I saw beer battered salmon and sole on the menu I knew it was on and crackin! not to mention the batter for the sole was sour cream and onion seasoning which for some strange reason I was craving earlier that day. This is probably the Best Fish &Chips I've ever eaten and I've had the dish in London, Seattle, years ago at Arthur Treacher's, and on 75th & Stony at Long John Silvers. lol. Once the meal was finished I headed to The Rialto to catch Andy's Reggae set for a Pop Montreal Festival event then on to En Cachette to check out Godfather D who was playing a Reggae and Hip Hop set. Good times were had at both events. 

Saturday is here and the weather is perfect. I then head out to Brunch with friends. Good food. I had the omelette with veggies cheese, and smoked salmon. Russian toast and Breakfast Potatoes too.  The potatoes were the perfect texture and were pretty damn tasty. Montreal does potatoes well. After Brunch I was on my way to hike up to the top of Mount Royal and on the way I bumped into my homie and fellow DJ, Steven who I met earlier this summer. We talked about he event tonight and how dope it was gonna be. 

After hiking down Mount Royal just after sunset, it was time for dinner, then sound check, then showtime. Let's pause and talk about dinner. Tapas. Patatas Bravas, Garlic Shrimp, Goat Cheese & Honey, Olives, Calamari Fritti (cooked perfectly I might add), and more. Delicious! Although everything was good. Patatas Bravas was the star of this show. Once again, Montreal knows how to do potatoes.  

Showtime is finally here. Although I've listened to his music online this would be the first time I would hear Andy Williams live. Years ago he played at Sonotheque but missed his set because I had another gig at the same time. Hearing some dope music I've never heard before is always engaging and of course I ended up catching a nice  groove on the dancefloor. Funny how time flies when you're having fun because before I knew it I was up next on the decks.
During my set The Goods crowd would be privy to 2 hours and 30 minutes of Dancefloor Jazz, Afrobeat, Broken Beat, and Jazzy House. It was plenty of fun and very liberating to my soul to play a dope event on a dope sound system for lovers of those styles of music. The Goods is one of the few parties in North America (and probably the world) where Dancefloor Jazz is played. If you had an opportunity a couple of years ago to attend my Sunday Afternoon sets entitled The AfroJazz Experience at Maria's, imagine those sets in a large ballroom with a banging soundsystem. The Goods crew and attendees seemed to be pleased with my set. Cool. After congregating outside after the event and meeting more new friends it's time for some sleep. 

It's Sunday and after 5 hours of sleep I'm up and headed to breakfast. The theme of good potatoes stayed consistent but this time I would have French Toast and Canadian maple syrup. You know I couldn't come to Canada and not have maple syrup.
After eating it was time to head to the airport. and barely made the cut off time for my flight. I bought a ticket from United but didn't know it was operating through Air Canada until I get to the front of the line. 
Tried to watch a movie while in and out of sleep but no free wine or free snacks. Nevertheless, they did offer a movie and a non-stop flight which allowed me to leave Montreal later and get into Chicago earlier. 

We land in Chicago and it's 80 something degrees. I'm not happy about that. It's hot and humid.  I just left clear skies with 55-60 degree temps and was rocking a scarf with a light jacket earlier that day. Anyway I make my way to my car which was parked in the South Loop, drop of my luggage and head to AAHH! Fest on the Green Line. (Efficiency people, Efficiency. Lol)
I arrive during the DJ battle. I missed The Internet and anyone who performed before the DJ Battle. I kinda expected this would be the case. The Roots performed next. Their show was cool but I was conversing most of the time during their set mainly because I just saw them at the Taste of Chicago and wanted to catch up with peoples I hadn't seen in a while. Deon Cole was the host. Blackish is one of my favorite shows and his character is my favorite character on the show but was not a fan of him as a host. During his hosting duties it sounded like he had a cold, was yelling, and they gave him the duty of ready church announcements (he announced a lot of things). He was somewhat funny when he did the twerk bit. R. Kelly and Ice Cube were the surprise performers. Cube was actually dope and did the right songs for a brief set. R. Kelly made a confession. 

All of the performers were cool but with me being the sound snob I am, I felt they had too much reverb on the mics and as a result it made the singers not sound as good as they could've. Bilal was good but suffered from the same technicalities with the mic This also made it tough to listen to Common's segment of the show as his vocalist was a key part of his set. Fortunately Common has hits that overshadowed this. Some people left prior to the conclussion but I'm glad I stayed til the end because although J. Cole's performance was the last it was the best. Regardless of the few things I mentioned that did not go well, there were many things that did go well.  
AAHH! Fest was a very positive experience filled with lots of Love, Good energy, Good music and Good times.

Montreal, The Goods, Chicago,  AAHH! Fest! 
Good Times were had.
In the words of Ice Cube...
Today was a Good day. 

Travel Tips:
-Airlines: Porter, Air Canada, and United all fly to Canada from the States. If you're fine with layovers I would recommend Porter. It usually costs less, free wine and beer, gourmet snacks, and good service. They even serve wine in an actual glass. 
-Metro Pass:  1 day pass is $10, 3 day pass is $18.00, Weekend pass is $13.75 (4pm Friday to 11:59pm Sunday). The bus runs from the airport then you can connect to the subway or stay on the bus. It's $10 per ride to and from the airport. If you get a 1 day, 3 day, weekend, week, or monthly pass you're good. 
-Taxi Cabs and Uber may get you there faster for more money. If there are price surges with Uber, a cab may be a better bet plus cab drivers often know the city better.
US Currency is not accepted if paying cash for anything. You are able to use cards practically everywhere. Some places don't take Visa but that is somewhat rare. Check with your bank to determine fees and limitations. 
-When navigating and looking at a map, the city is on a grid but what looks like north is actually east, so north is really northwest. Old Montreal and the water is south. 

I'm a fan of most foods that are French or have French influence. Here are a few things that are specific to Montreal. 
-Poutine: It's a Montreal/Quebec specific dish. There are a variety of toppings, styles, and flavors. Traditional is French Fries, Gravy and Cheese Curds (Sometimes onions or scallions). Almost all places have this dish. Some better than others. I didn't have any last time but a few months ago I had one with lamb sausage. It was pretty off the chain.
-Pouding Chomeur: When I had it, it was sponge cake soaked in a warm pudding (not like Jello pudding) with vanilla ice cream. Delicious and also, specific to Quebec. 

Places to see/Things to do: 
-Mount Royal: It's a 30-40 minute hike to the top along the path and stairs. There you'll see an entire view of the city. When you reach the top there is a piano anyone can play. 
-Old Montreal: Located in the south part of the city near the water. If you're there on Canada Day (July 1st) they do fireworks. 
Zip lining, shopping, and dining are the main things to do. 

Montreal has plenty of festivals year round.  I recommend the Montreal Jazz Fest especially if Carifiesta is taking place during that time. There are a few inexpensive places you can stay within very close proximity of the Jazz Fest. Boutique hotels, College dorms (summer break= no students). The dorms may come with a kitchenette, refrigerator, and bathroom.  

To find out about nightlife you can visit most record stores that sell independent soul and jazz inspired music and can also refer to any local publications. 

Similar to Chicago but approx 10 degrees colder on average. During the winter it is said they receive a lot of snow and black ice situations. 

The people of Montreal are friendly. 
French is the first language but many people speak English. You should not have a problem with this as long as you're courteous and have manners. 
-Bon Jour means hello.
-Merci means thank you. 
-Merci Beaucoup means thank you very much. 

If You don't know You betta ask somebody...JLC

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Friday September 30th 2016: AfroFuturistic

Friday September 30th 2016
Soulful Cosmic Indigenous Dance Music

Afrobeat, Deep House, and Future Soul Vibrations Channeled by DJs
Sean Alvarez
Rae Chardonnay
and special guest Drack Muse

Hosted by
Discopoet Khari B

Underground Wonder Bar (Downstairs)
710 N. Clark St
$5 Cover

AfroFuturistic is a celebration of emerging creative and progressive ideas & actions rooted in the African diaspora. We connect with our ancestral roots by using our spiritual antennas as well as follow the blueprint of our elders to broadcast our vibrations through sound, energy, and movement. The sound is deep, melodic, electronic, indigenous, cosmic, creative, jazzy, soulful & spiritual and possesses the rhythmic textures of dance/house music. The momentum, energy, and vibe of the music creates residual effects of enlightenment and satisfaction of the soul. Join us Friday September 30th 2016 as we celebrate this sacred art form and collectively send positive vibrations into the universe and await their return. Journey with us to the next level as we conduct a current to electrify your mind body and soul!