Saturday, December 24, 2011

From Old School to Nu Skool

Yesterday I posted about a very unique old harmonica and today I want to head on the opposite side of the audio spectrum to mention the latest DJ scene. On route to Lee Valley with my Dad, he says if you see anywhere you want to stop, let him know. I saw a sign for a Thrift Store, so of course I ask him to pull over. Before entering the store we notice some rock camp posters on an adjacent shop. I think it's a music store, sound equipment and such. We decide to take a peek inside and discover a plethora of sound gear, PAs, mixers, microphones and an inside glimpse of the DJ scene in the 905 area code. We had accidently discovered the System Music Warehouse, home of the Durham DJ Academy. The friendly owner said hello and offered assistance to find anything, but we just wanted to look around and explore the gear. There were quite a few DJ's, friends and music lovers hanging out in the shop. DJ Dutty was showing off his latest sound set-up, a full custom metal case kit with digital scratch pads, sampler, mic and mac computer system, complete with a external monitor on the lid of the case. The Big Bad Wolf video he was showing was a riot, one liner and a good beat can be such a hit. He showed us how to mix the video, fade the pictures and scratch both the audio and video with the touch scratch pads. It was a really neat set-up and completely different than the process my gear entails. I really appreciated how the whole set-up was self contained in one box. I decided to purchase some custom made 45 sleeves. When I asked Barry, the owner, to find more he was a little surprised I wanted them, enquiring if I knew what they were for. He was even more surprised when I told him I spun vinyl and the new knowledge quickly evoked acceptance as a fellow DJ and there were high fives and handshakes all around. I found out Barry is also the founder of the TKO Soundcrew (Hall of Fame Inductees of Canada’s National DJ Awards). He also helps run the DJ Academy, a DJ training school, in-house. I had read about the original Scratch DJ Academy, founded in NY by Jam Master Jay and Rob Principe and always thought it was a fantastic venture, so it was great to see them popping up North of the border. Upon revisiting the store, they were in the midst of Christmas party time, and graciously offered to share food and bevvies from Mad Dog Catering. What a great bunch of guys. We had some good chats, I bought some needle cartridges and Barry threw in the 45 sleeves as a gift.

If you're ever driving down Kingston Rd in Pickering, visit the DJ's at the System Music Warehouse. They're a super rad bunch, willing to share their love of music and show the latest gadgets and toys for today's djs. They also thought it was a riot to see a little white chick who spins hip hop and funk vinyl on 1200's. To paraphrase what TKO's Barry said as I headed out the door, "There goes a real DJ, you fellas keep clicking your mouses!"

Sufficed to say, we never made it to Lee Valley. The diversion was worth it. I'll definitely stop back in and pay those guys a visit the next time I'm in Pickering. Good times.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Music History

Tonight, I met an ol' WWII vet named Ernie who was playing one of these amazing devices. I gotta find one, though it may be a rare artifact. His came from Germany, special ordered. It was pretty snazzy. He had a whole collection of harps in his wheelchair basket and really enjoyed chatting music with me and my dad. PS Go visit your grandparents or someone elses! Let's not forget the wisdom and stories they have to share with us, we should value and appreciate our elders!

Photo taken from: at an open air museum in Ballenberg, Sweden. Six different harmonicas in one spinning device.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Top Ten of 2011

During my last shift at the record store before the holidays, I was asked to write up my top 10 albums of 2011. This list contains artists and albums that have affected me, or played a part in my life this past year. They may or may not be considered the most intricate, advanced or prestigious artists, but for me these were the songs that touched me the strongest. Music plays such a part in our lives, it can stir up memories and emotions with a few simple notes. Here are my personal faves of this year:

1. The Raveonettes - Raven in the Grave
2. Mogwai - Hardcore will never die, but you will
3. The Horrors - Skying
4. Metronomy - The English Riviera
5. Timber Timbre - Keep on Creepin' On
6 We Are Augustines - Rise Ye Sinking Ships
7. Feist - Metals
8. Charles Bradley - No Time for Dreaming
9. The Decemberists - The King is Dead
10. The Pack A.D. - Unpersons