Friday, November 8, 2019

Understanding the 'Light of The Party'

Just as in stage lighting for performances, club lighting can equally be essential in creating a scene with the music the DJ is playing. 
The best Light Jockeys and/or Designers implement lighting's controllable qualities; intensity, color, direction, and movement.  These influence selective focus, visibility, and mood.


There are two thoughts that guide my process with each party/event that I'm hired for on or for my own Playground parties. One is, how can I get dance audiences to see and feel light in new ways? How can I use lighting to enhance a preexisting (preferably good) memory or create a new one with the scenes and the music sequences I selected?

Wearing both hats of DJ and Light Jockey can have its advantages. You know your tunes and you know how you'd like the lighting to reflect the energy of the music. Although having to monitor and operate while playing can be a challenge for some.  One can take the 'set it and forget it' approach with basic sound active lighting.  Or you can take the time to pre-program engaging and exciting lighting scenes.  


Martin's Light Jockey is one of my go-to favorite lighting equipment & software programs. Somewhat analog (vintage lol) & hands-on in operation, it can be integrated with current lighting apparatuses. I find that for me, it minimizes program/software failure because it does not operate in the cloud.  
But I'm not beholden to just Light Jockey as versatility in the mobile event lighting game is detrimental. 

SoundSwitch is a third party software that can be linked to Serato.  It has a few more bells and whistles for digital playing mediums. A good 'go-to' for most mobile DJs who predominantly use Serato. 

There are a few other new event lighting accessories that I've been researching. However, as innovative 'new' hardware changes for mobile lighting occur; staying abreast with ever-evolving software changes can be just as perplexing  (e.g. one big hiccup that happened to a few fellow DJs with one of the never-ending Mac software updates vs a number of lighting software-oriented programs that created mayhem for some DJs during their live sets in some cases) Rule of thumb, research (waiting) is paramount before completely committing to some of these newer technologies.

Nonetheless, contingent upon your lighting strategy, 'basic' DMX setups are much more affordable now than ever before for a more 'simpler' approach for mobile DJs. Unless you fancy yourself as a tech and light fixture fanatic (personally, I'm the latter),  it will certainly require much more than just a few 'stagehands' on deck.

Some people have always assumed that lighting is 'easy'. Perhaps it is if you just want to string up some lighting equipment, set it and forget it.  But lighting to me is a beautiful costar in a well planned, orchestrated dance of moods and energies. Great lighting and dancing enjoy a special kinship if done right.

Whether you're just starting out in the mobile event lighting circuit or if you consider yourself a seasoned professional, commanding the use of light be it a performance stage setting, or a club type dance party or special event. One should always take the effort and time to learn it, spend some money on the tools you need for it to work well, and respect the power of what it can do to beautifully accentuate your event.

It definitely adds to your arsenal of marketable skillsets which is always a good thing. 

Thank you for reading, commenting, sharing and/or reposting this new blog.  Stay tuned for insightful music musings and more.  

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Saturday, September 21, 2019

What No One Tells You About Crate Digging - Vinyl Affinity or Addiction

Trevor Fox
Great to find these dear ladies at A1 Records
Some of us have been there. You walk into a shop with the best of intentions of sticking to your shopping list. You may ask a few questions to whoever is on shift.  
Surely, you've made a great impression by consistently buying some merch and perhaps being your cool audiophile friendly self.  They'd know about certain records you're vying for and they'll go the extra mile to see if they have it.  Sometimes you're lucky enough to leave with what you were searching for.  Nonetheless, you go in with the mission at hand and success is on your side. I'm not overly stuck on the 'debate' if store digging is better than going online and searching for what you want 'easily'.  I have done both if it's something extremely important for me to secure in my possession.  But its also a great feeling to actually find the record, preferably in mint condition that you were searching for in that 'organic', get your hands dirty kind of digging.

Trevor Fox
Keep digging through  at Human Head Records
Then the other times... Oh man, the other times [lol]... You find yourself looking through one, then two, then a few more crates. 
The shopkeep tells you, "oh yea we just got a few new things in." It happens to be some of the stuff that's on your secondary list [lol]. The crates are warm and welcoming like a grandma's hug.  You may decide to saddle up to one of the listening stations. Checking over the handfull of records you dug out of their crowded home. After the eye and ear of scrutiny, you end up leaving with a few more pieces than what you intended. They say the road to hell is paved with intentions. I can admit, a few times in my crate digging experiences, my road was sometimes paved in waxy goodness.

Even for the most prudent, the lines can sometimes blur from avid collector to what some would deem as addict tendencies.  For the serious collectors, that 'prized' rare piece they've been seeking, it's in a record store high up on the wall, behind a store counter, or thumb past it online.  It's almost as if it's mocking you.  They've told themselves (and sometimes their spouses have told them [lol]), "No records today!" However, you tell yourself, "the copy I have isn't perfect and this one is mint." So what you have two maybe three of the same record. BUT you don't have the test pressing, 12", or a coveted topnotch promo of that hit song. 

After advocating voices of reason fill your head, you find yourself cashing out. Hopefully, without any buyer's remorse and surely your rent paid first contrary to the awesome tote bag filled with your new haul of wax.  

 Northern Lights record store

Crate digging is part personal nostalgia along with achieving the quest for the best analog sound.  

As well as exhilaration in discovering a good find, all in the name of my vinyl collecting and inevitably the record playing experience. 

What are your crate-digging experiences and thoughts with vinyl?  Share your thoughts below. 

Thank you for reading, commenting, sharing and/or reposting this new blog.  Stay tuned for insightful music musings and more.  

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Monday, September 2, 2019

What's In a Name?

I am sometimes asked, "How'd you come up with 'The Playground' name?" The start of this 'short-answer' would be when I was youngster growing up in Brooklyn.  I along with all my friends and some other kids in the community played hard for hours at the playground and adventuring to neighboring blocks.  I won't get into the aesthetics other than they surely weren't the playgrounds of now with the nice protectant rubber mats and safety swings. 

Founder and CEO of The Playground
photo PKQP ©

Nonetheless, we played on swings and seesaws, running at top speed during freeze tag, hopscotching along sidewalks, excitedly building go-carts with 'found materials' (old shopping carts, rope, steel drums, giant wooden spools from industrial areas car seats, steering wheels, and if the pickings were lush, lawnmower motors.  We were resourceful [lol]).

Many rounds of stickball and heated tournaments of Skully with the finest milk or beer tops custom-crafted for precision flicking. 

Those moments are forever planted in my memory by what I feel and think was some of the greatest music ever made and that is disco!  From late morning/early afternoon to sunset and beyond, this music filled the streets, from kitchen windows, fire escapes, front stoops, passing cars and boomboxes galore. This music was like your grandmother's favorite dish, seasoned to perfection.  As pretty as the baddest girl on the block that all the boys fawned over.  Or soul-stirring as the best Sunday church sermon. 

Watching folks gather to dance at outdoor jams with the local DJs who spun records on sound systems in the street. Some played disco/dance music and others played what was known as the very early building blocks for Hip Hop ironically. 

There was a disco explosion and here I was this young kid running around Brooklyn, NY before the streetlights came on with some of the hottest dance tunes produced as my life soundtrack.  I would diligently listen to radio broadcasts for hours like Disco 92 WKTU, 107.5 WBLS and the sister station WWRL-AM.  One disc jockey who I not only enjoyed immensely but studied intently was Mr. Ted Currier.  
This master tactician of music mixology was someone I wanted to emulate as I knew I wanted to spin records too.  I was the 'resident DJ' in my house when the family got together lol.  My mom and dad were instrumental in buying my first turntables, speakers and a few records before I was able to go crate-digging for myself. My first disco 45 was 'Love In C Minor' by Cerrone. I didn't really pay attention to the moaning parts [lol].  I was into it for the music composition. This music had me completely captivated for that reason.  

Fast forward and back on track because I can go on and on about compositions and musicality that drew me into this ongoing love affair with disco. 
That's some of the backstories of how it began for me.  I created The Playground out of the necessity to preserve classic dance music in a community/club setting where we can all who share some of the same kind of memories of yesteryear to essentially 'be a kid again'.  It is also my intent to present what I not only feel but think, is a great time capsule of sounds, yet timeless connections through exciting and physically invigorating music. 
Because you gotta get down at The Playground! [lol] 

The Playground GLO Party
photo PKQP ©

That last sentence might have been a little much but you get the gist! 
Thank you for reading, commenting, sharing and/or reposting this new blog.  Stay tuned for more insightful music musings and more. 

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