At year end we get all misty and thankful; it’s a special thing we’ve got, this little radio show and internet platform that is prolifically curating a safe haven for yesteryear’s disco and related sounds to remain for years to come. It has been somewhat of a blessing to have our little slice of the frequency spectrum every Friday night over the last five years to broadcast a weekly program that is doing a little something for a lot of people. And it’s a labor of love – the extra special studio moments, head turning records and feedback from listeners keep us cultivating what we’ve got by reaching a little bit deeper for new material, bringing in high caliber guests, or revisiting and showcasing tracks that we’ve turned into ADA staples from too much love. We are extremely gracious to all the folks who have come on the program this year, as well as those few who are always connecting us with new DJs for first time appearances (you know who you are!!). Our rundown of 2012 is a chance to highlight all the guests who made this broadcast year a special one. Here’s to capping off a fifth year of A Downtown Affair on the airwaves!
Here we go…
The broadcast year kicked off with the ADA hosts playing a heavy rotation of program classics in the first week. “The hosts only” shows are a treat, allowing us to dig in a little bit further and open up for a full 2.5 hours. This year more so than years prior I found that we tended to get a little more playful and experimental when the opportunity presented itself. We got wind of these three Chi-town dudes through the disco grapevine and decided to invite them down for a spot on the program. Ben, Chris and James together ran as the Chi Guys and have a seriously refined sensibility when it comes to the “modern” sound, which was on display for their first visit to the show. We slipped in for a hosts only program before a spell of guests, beginning with the Providence based Mike Curtis’s heavy and diverse set of soul 45s, running through over 40 tracks in one set! February opened up with the GETBKFUNK crew stopping by to hype their boogie-centric monthly party at Tandem; Nate, Dave & Slimmy Jimmy rocked it, and collectively put together a nice introduction to GETBKFUNK.
This year Valentines Day landed midweek, but we didn’t let that stop us from paying homage to the lover’s holiday; Wes Posvar joined us on the 10th to cover this important date on the disco calendar and he pulled through ever so strongly, with a great set for the occasion: lot’s o love, a fair degree of schmaltz and a few heavier numbers to keep things intriguing. We next went trans-Atlantic, with an exclusive mix called “5 Dimensions of Italo” (‘nuf said!) prepared by The Robot Scientists out of Germany. February wound down with the return of Nydia Ines, who is always stunning us with both the 45s she carries in tow and the way they are strung together for such memorable sets. This one tended toward sweet soul with a touch of modern, including a couple of exclusive cuts compliments of her work over @ EVER SOUL. No year on ADA is complete without a guest mix by Robbie Busch a.k.a. DJ McBoing Boing. He always returns to the show with a totally new concept and bag of records, and this year’s appearance included a handful of off-kilter dance floor fillers and other incredibly original records.
Our pal Richie linked us up with the honcho of Kojak Giant Sounds/Traveler Records DJ Ionik (Masa Sutela), who brought us a taste of each of these labels, with a great mix that presents some of the great material coming out on the Kojak and Traveller imprints, including past releases and a few exclusives. Fredfades (Touchdown) flew in from Oslo and dropped into ADA for a guest mix and club night the following weekend. This pairing is always fun because the anticipation of moving from the airwaves to the club setting always lends itself nicely to the vibe in the studio. Fred brought through some really cool cuts, including a few local things and exclusive edit / acetates to mark his first trip to ADA. April started off with a bang – the good folks at Big City, one of our and NY’s favorite late record stores, linked us up with hip hop legend Easy Mo Bee. This show was an early year highlight for me; not only did we hit it off, learning of Easy’s introduction to DJ culture during it’s heyday, but the set he put down was something special. Dude can mix old school style; and he did, blending an array of classic disco, soul, proto-house and other styles during his 2.5 hour takeover.
Tackleberry & I held court the following week, preceding the guest appearance of NY-based Prince Language of Editions Disco / No Comprendo fame. Compliments to Charlie over at UNO NYC for hooking this one up; Language’s set was what I’ve come to expect from his excellent No Comprendo mixes – varied, tasteful, and really well programmed.
This year we did another mix swap with Seth Kolski, co-host of KUSP’s Sweet Power out in Santa Cruz, CA. This year’s mix from Seth was much different than last year’s summertime teaser, yet he delivered in an equally impressive and totally different way; a bit more bugged out, with both old and new boogie, electro and R&B, synth-heavy rhythm tracks and a strong West Coast vibe. DJ Seth Dean out of Watsonville, CA was on the mix piecing it all together. We’re still working on returning the favor, so if you’re reading Seth, we have not forgotten!!
After another week of Tackleberry & I in sole control of the mixing board, Duane Harriott joined us for a guest mix on the show. As one half of Bim Marx and the host of a much cherished WFMU program, Duane knows a thing or two about this whole ‘disco’ thing. We had a fun hang in the studio while he put together a really fun and impressive set during his visit. We were lucky to host Emskee’s return to the show in mid-April. For those that don’t already know, Emskee’s a consummate DJ whose taste and mixing style are inspiring, and he did not let us down this time around with this program takeover. May ended with the collector/DJs Chino3 & Disco65 broadcasting some seriously deep disco across the NY airwaves. Sets like this always leave me a little shook, and are a stark reminder that the world of independent / underground disco releases is seemingly endless.
Nydia hipped us to the UK-native and record collector Big L (Lawrence Young) who did an all soul 45s set on the program, followed by a rundown of the record scene and northern soul histrionics in the UK back in the day (great mic break chat here). Tackleberry and I manned the console the following week before Deano Sounds from Cultures of Soul made a guest appearance in mid-June to promote the label’s recent stellar Evans Pyramid release. We had the program to ourselves the following two weeks before the string of midsummer guests on the horizon, which provided the opportunity to step into the jazz / modern crossover sweet spot that we began to cultivate over the second half of the year in different forms.
Soon after we aired an exclusive mix from Roger Thornhill that excited lots of folks with the sultry vibe and refined selections. We were humbled to welcome the reputed author/DJ/musicologist Dave Tompkins whose gained considerable acclaim with HOW TO WRECK A NICE BEACH. There is no shortage of sub-bass and synthesizer on this in-studio mix, and heck there is also some detailed discussion about the Carolina camp scene to keep you on your toes.
Our good friend Dion aka Spankie Hazard was an early contributor to ADA, sharing an exclusive mix with us to broadcast a number of years ago. “Before That, There Was This” was put together to commemorate a long-standing disco, house & boogie night in Shibuya, Tokyo by the name of And More. Our good friend Pablo linked us up with Andrew Dambeck and helped arrange his guest mix while he was on a brief stop in NY by way of Milwaukee. Andrew made good use of the full 2.5 hours, showcasing an expansive collection of modern and soulful 45″ selections; there is some serious heat all over this mix with a lot of rarefied tunes, local Wisco releases, and otherwise new material on the program.
We finally returned to an episode format that we had a lot of fun with in early ’10: Boogie Lovers. The second time around we went outside the more major label sound that anchored our first rendition; perfect for solo dancing or very small crowds, this one’s mixed for long time boogie lovers and first timers alike.
Amidst the midsummer heat we did a pair of back-to-back ADA host only programs before the arrival of BSears; the Austin based selector put together an impressive set crossing over some unfamiliar territory with many of the 45s he brought out. The trusted Sport Casual joined us the following week for a return visit; per usual the man comes from a new musical tip each time, and on this occasion we heard a heavy focus on late eighties R&B. As summer wound down, we had the GetBKFunk crew return to deliver the serious boogie treatment for a second go round. The good dudes from Chitown, formerly running as Chi Guys, made a second visit to ADA as the <312 Boys – consider it the witness protection of the disco scene; you attract too much heat you run under another name. Their second round on the show was a proper northern soul set, with a handful of unforgettable tunes and a ballads section to close it out to boot.
Matt Brownell first appeared on the show when he played with Daniel Guiterrez under the SOUNDCLUB name. Matt came back for a solo visit and put together a really special set that is proof in the fact that the dude is a seriously great selector and DJ. Lots of different musical styles, timbre, tempos, etc., and it all comes together in a way that warrants this set staying in circulation. The next week we aired an exclusive mix called A TOUCH OF BOOGIE by Gino Grasso out of Italy; the mix by this longtime collector and DJ was a phenomenal mid-tempo R&B and boogie excursion featuring a number of hands up steppers and holy grails littered amidst the tracklist. After a hosts only show, we found ourselves in Halloween territory. Last year we got this killer mix sent to us by Flemming Dalumm. It seemed appropriate to ask the gentleman for a second serving, this time in the form of ITALOWEEN along with local Italo enthusiast, Danny Cash Cash; this is one of a kind for several reasons, one of which is because it served as my night-long soundtrack on the Halloween night while I lumbered through Brooklyn undead for hours on end. The others are apparent upon listening…
NY and the Tri-State took a serious pause with the arrival, impact, and residual damage of Hurricane Sandy in early November. It was a surreal week, and somehow amidst the power outages, bridge, street and tunnel closures, WNYU Radio still maintained power in it’s studio and FM broadcast antennae. We kept steady with our labor of love and made our way into the studio while the city was powering up, and what followed was our favorite hosts only program of the year. Terry Callier passed away that week, and these two things inspired our record selection for the night and lent a vibe that was very much of the moment.
Jeremy Phillips joined us the following week and played some incredible disco from all across the globe. We also had Franz Barosy return for his third trip to the show with a seriously skilled live mix, the week before we aired an exclusive and excellent boogie disco mix from the UK-based collector and DJ Zaf. DJ BLT and Love on the Run came into the studio the following week for a special double booking. These two disco gentleman are both good company and serious record selectors… what followed was a pair of really tasteful sets and a riotous closing mic break, replete with sandwich design tips, animal noises and details on BLT’s Sandwich Productions outfit. Tackleberry and I followed with a pair of ‘singles’ night performances where you’ve got one DJ manning the board for the program’s entirety. These were both great standalone sets of entirely different varieties. We closed the year out on a high note this year with a really fantastic mix of disco et. al, old and new by the ever-friendly and supremely knowledgable DJ Sean Rowlands from Acadamey Records and Flavor Savor.
With another year in the books, things are looking up for another year of highly consistent and original programming on A Downtown Affair. We’ll see some changes down the line no doubt, but the high water mark that we work to maintain won’t be compromised. Thanks to y’all listeners on the web and FM dial – without the support there’s no chance we’d be where we’re at today. Stay tuned NY metro area and beyond!