It's that time of the year again where most DJ's, producers, label representatives and fans of house music make their way down to Miami for the yearly Winter Music Conference (WMC)... Although there must be said that some big players won't do it this year, most notoriously like Tony Humphries and Bobby & Steve to just name those coming to mind by the time dropping those lines.
I arrived in the evening of Sunday, just to find out that the weather is bad (and had been bad the days before as well). Lots of rain and clouds, and not the sun you'd expect (and hope for)... Gladly on Monday there was no rain, although it was humid and cloudy.
One of the first things to do once you're in Miami is to get your hands on The List, the official party guide to the WMC. This year the guide is 226 pages strong which looks to be a ground breaking record. Again, as in past years, there is simply to much going on, giving you no possibility to witness all the events you would like to...
Monday started off with a late lunch with Valentino (from the UDM Show) and Beppe Gioia. We had a nice talk about some possible future projects as well as we exchanged our thoughts on the current state of the music scene. In the afternoon, I met Teeman-X from DeepHaven Music and we went to his studio where I got an exclusive preview of things to come from the label in the near future (to be more precise, I got a listen to tracks from his artist album to be released later this year). As we used to get from the label, its all about musicianship and real songs, not just some simple tracks that might rock the floors but will be as quickly forgotten.
With the WMC officially not starting before Tuesday, there was not much going on - in fact there was only the Underground Collective party running that evening. That fiesta was really rockin', with capacity being reached early (you got to remember that Blue is not that big of a place) and a great vibe created by the DJ's (which included Master Kev, DJ Spinna, Tony Touch and Jellybean Benitez).
The heat is supposed to be finally on tuesday, at least with respect due to the number of simultanous parties. But of course we hope the weather will change for the better as well!
So we've finally got the Sun over the city !! I just wish the temperatures were a bit higher as when bein' at a rooftop party in the late afternoon, it gets reall chilly (around 65°!!!). And I mean Farenheit of course!!!
Yesterday has started with the lovely Heart & Soul Music WMC 2008 party at Chelsea hotel where you could listen to music, have a drink and chat outside with friends under the sun. Of course time came to move ahead to the next party and leave the place... The next stop on the list was the Baldeloox & Centric All Access Pool Party where memories came back from all the wonderful poolside parties in the past (which unfortunately are a rare things these days). After hanging out with Cory Soulfuzion, Oscar P (Open Bar) and Davidson Ospina (Ospina Digital) among others, it was time to move over to the Ambassador Opening Day BBQ which took place at the rooftop of the Sony Building) where I got - what I believe is sure to say - the Miami 2008 Moment:
After waiting in the line for almost 30 minutes, it was my turn (with other people) to finally go into the elevator and up. We started making fun on how many people are allowed in the elevator which we soon would found out was a really, really bad idea... so approximately 15 people were in the elevator when the door closed. Between the 2nd and 3rd floor the elevator stopped because of overlad and we were stuck as it can only be moved with a bade. Pressing the alarm button didn't help, so we had to open up the door and jump out, and then take the stairs up to the roof... Unfortunately, by the time we arrived upstairs, they had ran out of beer... But at least we had some fun as we finally made our way upstairs !
As it got to cold up there just with a shirt, DJ Reeplee and myself decided to leave and go for dinner together with Amit from Tarantic Records. After that, it was time to check out the Purple Music Party, with the next stop being the Let The Singer Be Heard then the Code Red party which closed down the night…
Unluckily, as Miami mayhem is back with too many parties running at the same time, none of the parties I went was fully packed. Of course other parties such as the ones from Defected and Shelter had been packed (judging by the dozens of people waiting here and then to get in), but that is the price you have to pay in Miami for having hundreds of parties held in just five days!
This Wednesday will see some more rooftop parties, but this time I'm prepared as I bought a jacked so I won't have to freeze... Also this will be one of those days you cannot make it to all parties as there are just too many...
As mentioned yesterday, this was too be a crazy day and it definitely was with way to many parties running. And it was also a sad day as - like it happened the previous years - those many parties resulted in splitting up everything and having most of the parties running low…
Usually parties start around noon, and it turned out that this is too early for many people as they've been out all night and are still sleeping or getting breakfast. So while on my way to get a coffee around 1pm, I passed by both Sweat Meets Sweet & Deep and Habitat Records to find out that they are either setting up their systems, or that they had no people yet.
A little bit latter - after hanging by the windy beach for a few - I went to the City Deep party which actually had a crowd, but quite different as compared to last year, as you would see less scene people and a bit more clubbers…
Then this was time to get back to Sweat Meets Sweet & Deep to see Frankie Feliciano doin' his thing. It was a nice vibe, and he played an incredibly tight set. On the way over we learned that the King Street Sounds party had moved location to the Yuca Loungs. I made it just in time for the live performances by the likes of Monique Bingham, Joi Cardwell and Barbara Tucker. Next was Studio Apt on the decks, but unfortunately, most people left around that time. There were actually more people outside than inside, and it was lots of fun hanging with the New York posse there for some time.
Brooklyn Mecca/Libation happened to be the next stop where Ian Friday was throwing down a very organic vibe. It took place at the Buck 15, a small location which holds around 100 people and this was actually the only party where I've seen people waiting to get in (as I had to). Lastly for the night, we checked out the Unified Records party at Segafredo where I hanged out for a bit to chat with some friends.
As I've felt tired and all of my body was hurting from all day walking, I decided to get some rest and not go downtown where the interesting parties (Back to Paradise and GotSoul/Therapy) were taking place…
Gladly, today looks to be running at a slower pace, so hopefully the parties will have a bigger audience…
Not so sure as what to write about today... With the Conference being half way over, I'm still trying to capture the vibe as I'm more or less just hanging in there... I talked to a few people today and yesterday, and they also have the problem of getting into this year's Winter Music Conference.
Even with fewer parties running, the whole thing remained too much sparse, so either you didn't see some people at all while you would cross the path of others a couple of times a day. Also it doesn't help that some of the parties are located downtown as this means once you get there, you then simply don't have the option to just walk from a party to another then find one with a good vibe.
I started with checking out some of the parties that were in the area of two blocks around my hotel. I first went to the Soul Elevation Music party and had a nice chat with Eric Levan about different topics. Next was the Souvent Records party hosted by French DJ Reeplee and Lemonaid: a Benefit for Nextaid where I catched Harley & Muscle playing.
Later in the afternoon, I went to the MoHo in SoBe by the Groove Junkies which required a walk down Collins Ave. with the sun burning down hard as we've finally ended up havin' really nice weather down here. This was qite a great party with many people hanging out and lots of interesting discussions happening.
After having dinner I went back to the Souvent Records party to check out Master Kev's set who really showed the new kids on the block what can be done with todays CD players if you kow how to use them.
As I decided already before coming down to Miami not to go to any downtown parties, I just went to check out the Moxa Club meets SoulStar Records party which sadly was running low. The last stop of the night was Jay-J and Friends, which was a bit more crowded, but compared to last year it had to be considered as a disappointment.
With the experience from the previous WMC days, I'm not sure as to what to expect from today and the coming ones. Nearly comin' to the point where I'd rather just go to the beach and get a tan...
This Friday started off with a lunch with my long time friend Dwayne from Paradax Records. We took the chance to talk about lot of different aspects of house music and its business. We then went on to check some of the afternoon parties taking place in the area and ended up at Terry Thompson and Friends where I met lots of people like Michael Procter, Jask, Phil Kullmann & Sosue, Parrish (Groove Junkies) and Josh Milan (Blaze). Some nice talks took place there, but then it was time to head down to Roots at SoBe. Unfortunately, that party opened up an hour late as they still had to do the soundchecks for the live bands. When it opened, DJ Spinna threw down some classic joints with the place packed with lots of the big names being around.
After that event, it was then time to check out the We Love House party where Mr. Mike, Groove Junkies, DJ Meme, DJ Spen and Victor Simonelli were taking down the roof - well not exactly the roof as it was an outdoor hotel party… But it is safe to say that this block party was the mothafuckin' shit and the crowd went nuts when DJ Spen did his thing. Now if just more parties whould have been like this... At some point after midnight, we were told they had to turn down the volume due to the police being on scene...
The night started with the Miami Gets Deep party where in the mainroom Danny Krivit was playing kind of hard, meanwhile in the backroom King Britt went deep. I met Mark Mendoza (Phuture Sole) and his girl Wendy and on our way to the MN2S party we made a stop at SoBe Soul - it's the Music that matters. We then decided to take a ride to the Fuzion party which was about twenty blocks, but unfortunately we arrived too late as the party closed its doords kinda early shortly after 3am.
Today should see a lesser amount of parties of interest, but that is very welcome as lots of people (including myself) are in need of rest after the hillarious party marathon of the past days…
After Friday night's countless stops at different spots, I've decided to slow down and only checked out two parties yesterday. But most importantly, I got some really good sleep to got myself back into condition for partying...
Around 3pm I arrived at the invitation only DeepHaven Music party at the guesthouse of the label owner where he installed a nice sound system that you would think could take down the house with ease. With free food and drinks, and lots of well known people from the soulful house scene, this was a wonderful relaxed event that people spent to chill, chat and enjoy the beautiful weather. Not to forget Teeman-X, Sammy Rock and William 'ReelSoul' Rodriguez who created a lovely soundscape with their DJ sets.
When it came down to the live performances by Mario Inchausti and Carolyn Harding, not to forget to mention a live percussionist and William 'ReelSoul' Rodriguez playing the keys, all what needs to be said is that this was off the hook!! You might remember last year's column where I stated that I consider Carolyn Harding being one of the best performers and entertainers house music has to offer - I have to emphasize this fact as she has this special aura that captures you within seconds. Her vocal capabilities and the interaction with the audience are truly unique, and if you haven't been there, you missed probably the best live performance in Miami this year
Unfortunately, this event had to come to an end (remember that it took place in a residential neighborhood), so it was time to head to the next (and last party) of the night which was the Classics and House Music Weekend - NY/NJ Soul where Karizma and DJ Spinna took the roof off with their sets. Not to forget to add that there were two other rooms with many other DJ's doing their thing.
With the WMC officially over now and many people having left already or doing so by the time writing this, things will slow down a bit more today. The only place I've planned to go being the Unified Records Live Volume III party in the evening/night. Not sure if I go anywhere else through the day (there isn't really anything of particular interest running) or if I just go and hang on the beach...
As mentioned yesterday, I took it easy and did hang out on the beach then later with some friends (of course we had a couple of drinks). Later it was time to enjoy a good dinner, before heading out for the last party of the year: Live III by Unified Records with three rooms and a great line-up of DJ's. Unfortunately, many people had already left, so the party was not as crowded as it could have been (remember that last year, Live II was one of the outstanding parties with almost everybody around).
There was a wonderful live performance by Chris 'Cee Rule' Foreman's Steal Vybe dropiin' songs from their upcoming long player "Shine". Judging by those songs, this will be a jewel not to be missed, including a marvelous cover version of the "Joy & Pain" classic (the original by Maze featuring Franke Beverley is one of my all time favorites).
So what else is to be said? As every year, I had joy hanging out with many of my friends and putting faces to names, and of course do networking. But when it comes to the value of the conference from a musical perspective, there are clearly mixed emotions. I will give myself a few days time before writing my Miami Recap where you'll be given some deeper view as far as my feelings are concerned... Also expect some WMC 2008 Mixes on Spirit of House as soon as I'm back home and have sorted out all the music I got.
Well, so long for 2008 and hopefully will hit you there next year!!!