When you're sick and tired of being sick and tired — that is, when folks in high places don't want you and me to enjoy ourselves — well, shit, Detroit dance music people, it's time to get off your asses and start thinking about a little revolution!
That's exactly what Aaron-Carl did. But he went beyond that, assembling a group of heavy hitters in the city's vast but divided electronic music scene, and organizing something resembling, umm, togetherness. His aim? To restart fires that began burning here in the 1980s and 1990s, and then circled the world many times over, but are now badly in need of rekindling on the home front.
"People would tell me they got what they wanted from Detroit, and then they moved on," says A-C, who's been producing and DJing since the mid-1990s. "I thought, 'That's not right. The heart and soul of the music is in Detroit. We can't give that up without a fight.'"
For scene newcomers, this new phase is a perfect introduction to one of our city's most complex, fierce and lovable talents. Now in his mid-30s, Aaron-Carl [Ragland] first got props in his early 20s, when he had a string of homoerotic club hits that bared his soul to the world. His productions combined his interests in disco, electro, house, techno, ghetto-funk and polysexual role-playing, all of which found a home on such tracks as "Dance Naked," "Switch," "21 Positions," and his still infamous homage to the blow job, "Down," which he cut as a B-side in 1996. That same year, he began releasing original tracks and doing remixes for "Mad" Mike Banks of Underground Resistance and Submerge Recordings. Known before then as a techno purist, Banks started a house music label called Soul City to further the careers of Aaron-Carl, Kenny Dixon Jr. (aka Moodymann), Gerald Mitchell (of Los Hermanos) and others whose skills benefited from a strong push into the musical margins, not restricted to a particular genre.
Forever inspired by Banks, Aaron-Carl now seeks to apply that same inclusive thought and action to an ambitious new project he's dubbed W.A.R.M.T.H., which stands for "We Are Revolutionizing the Movement of Techno and House." True to the spirit of everything A-C does, the group comes armed with a feisty manifesto. It reads, in part: "Our mission is to honor the ones who have paved the way, reclaiming our scene ... and preserve the history and legacy of Detroit electronic music. Our music has dazzled the world for many years, but here in our own backyard, we don't appreciate it. Some of the newer generation doesn't even know about it. By creating awareness, people will realize that some of today's most innovative electronic music DJs and producers are either from Detroit, in Detroit, or heavily influenced by Detroit. ..." Talk about a "Wow!" factor. Clip that quote and nail it to the wall. There's some bitter truth in those words.
And W.A.R.M.T.H. plans to walk that talk in a whole bunch of ways. The group is looking into purchasing a Detroit building to house meetings, events and memorabilia, and is releasing a compilation called Preservation: The Past, Present & Future, featuring new and exclusive tracks by DJ Bone, Gary Martin, Scan 7, Banks, Aaron-Carl and others. The comp will be available tonight [Wednesday, Nov. 25] at a kickoff party at downtown's Oslo. You can also get it by going to warmth313.com. The lineup includes Quentin Harris, DJ Bone, John Collins, Aaron-Carl and more. Starts at 9 p.m. and goes to 3 a.m. Oslo is at 1456 Woodward Ave., Detroit.
This being the long Thanksgiving weekend, and Wednesday being the party night of the year in the U.S.A., you have many dance options, brothers and sisters.
Tonight at the Bohemian National Home (3309 Tillman St., Detroit) Audiosynthesis presents Boston's Soul Clap, Detroiters Punisher vs. Dan Bain and Secrets (Detroit/Brooklyn) starting at 10 p.m. Down the avenue in Corktown, at 5 Elements Gallery (2125 Michigan Ave., Detroit), thrill-seekers Andy Toth and Billy Love head a sleazy Thanksgiving Eve lineup that includes DJ Godfather, Jeremy Ellis and DJ Sicari. Party starts at 10 p.m. and ends around the time the Lions kick off on Thursday. Also on Wednesday: The annual Humpsgiving bash downtown at Grand Trunk Pub (formerly Foran's, at 612 Woodward Ave., Detroit), starring seriously hilarious ghetto-tech badasses Starski & Clutch (that's Todd Osborn and Brian Gillespie to you, Mom and Dad); and up at Via Nove (344 W. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale), Stacey Pullen, one of the best in the business, promises a four-hour set of pure tech-house sweat. We like the way that sounds.
The premier event on Friday (Nov. 27) is back at Oslo, where Kai Alce' and Chez Damier, as good a tandem as it gets, add to your holiday cheer, beginning at 10 p.m.
And on Saturday (Nov. 28), back at the Bohemian National Home, Mixworks presents its annual Jive Turkey event with UR's Buzz Goree, Tim Baker, E-Spleece, Bruce Bailey, DJ Bone and others. Party on from 10 p.m. until who knows? Speaking of who knows, the weekend's best pick could be Saturday night's Oral Sex party at a location unknown. Since we don't know where it is, we're not telling. Keep your ears to the wall, ravers, and you'll find out where to go to see the return of the always-incredible but sadly transplanted-to-Brooklyn talents of Derek Plaslaiko. We tipped DP as the city's best back in '04 and he still is, even if he doesn't live here anymore. He rules Williamsburg's Bunker monthly the way Augustus Caesar did Rome ... er, or something like that. Also on the decks: Eric Cloutier, Secrets, Rev. Robert David Jones and next-gen househead Kyle Hall, who recently remixed the wonky love ballad of the year, Darkstar's "Aidy's Girl is a Computer." We like the original better, but give the kid some huggybears for good taste.Walter Wasacz writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected]