After tonight’s sold-out Robyn & Kelis show at the 9:30 Club, Shea Van Horn will join me (Bradley!) at DC9 to throw a kickin’ afterparty and keep you dancing all night long. How do we know it’ll be kickin’? Because we’ve got one half of awesome Providence DJs Micah Jackson in town to bust out some jams. In the business for almost 10 years, they’ve DJs from San Francisco to Boston, rocking clubs, warehouses, and house-houses along the way. We sat down with MJ’s Micah Salkind and asked him what we can expect:
BYT: How’s the party scene in Providence? What brings you down to DC?
Providence has a very vibrant music scene, but doesn’t have a lot going on in terms of a “party scene” per se. There are a couple of DJs, like Jackson and I and our good friends Morgan Louis and Chris Sherron, as well as the Afro-Sonic Collective, and the Indie Dance Party guys who try to make fun stuff happen every month, but there is a big culture of underground rock shows and dance parties in old mill buildings. Because these parties attract the 20 to 30-something set in PVD, and the club scene tends to be overrun by college students, it’s been a challenge to build really diverse and dynamic audiences in legal venues. We’re still plugging away at it.
I’m down in DC to see Robyn and Kelis at The 9:30 club since I couldn’t catch them up in Boston. I’m also going to be spinning at the afterparty.
BYT: You’ve had several successful parties in Providence – what do you think has made each unique?
We started Providence Is Burning back in 2007 with our friends Max Gitlen and Sammy “Bananas” Posner (Certified Bananas). I think that party was a big success because we featured guest artists most months, introduced a huge swath of young people in Southern New England to House music and helped to break in a relatively new venue, Firehouse 13, which up until then had been primarily used as a gallery space. One of the really cool aspects of PVD is Burning was that we’d commission a local print artist to create an 11×17″ poster each month to promote the show. The posters quickly became collectible and drew a lot of attention to the party.
We started Goosebumps in 2008 with Morgan Louis, who had taken some big risks and seen some big payoffs from his weekly POP party a couple years before and has been running a monthly House night called Lovelife.
Lot 401 was another seldom-used venue; they had a reggae party and a couple of other weekly engagements, but hosting a bunch of rowdy kids for a monthly House night was fresh to them, and the sound and lights were killer. The venue ended up being a bit tough to work with and we eventually lost interest in the night, but it lasted for a year and we had fun, so I can’t really complain.
Now we’re doing two monthly residencies: first Saturdays at a bar called Local 121 and third Fridays at a gay club called The Dark Lady. Local is really our home base in the city – we love the crowd and the folks that work there and they let us play the way we play best. It’s been a bit of an adjustment spinning at a solidly gay club like the DL. We can’t really promote the night to our audience because our people are solidly mixed and many of the venue’s patrons are not into having their queer space taken over by straights. I’m thinking we should run something like a ladies night promo where each straight has to be accompanied by a gay if they want to come.
BYT: Providence is Burning in particular pulled in a lot of guest DJs. What have you learned and gained from working with artists from across the country?
One thing I realized early on is that some people perform, whether as DJs or in their bands, to connect with people, and others don’t. I really enjoyed working with the former; local, smaller artists and DJs are great because they never take for granted a promoter’s efforts to expand their audience.
BYT: What kind of music can we expect from you tonight?
Tonight’s set will feature some unexpected Kelis and Robyn mixes, some wind-it-up House, and some shimmering Disco jams.
BYT: You spent last summer in San Francisco; how did that affect the music that you’re playing?
I went out a ton in San Francisco, which actually, like DC, has a great small-town vibe. It’s just great to be in a place where there is an audience for new, exciting dance music. Providence and Boston don’t always get the emerging artists because audiences aren’t quite big enough yet to sustain them. I think we’re on our way.
Last summer I heard a ton of deep, sexy House at an amazing Black gay night in Oakland called Brothers and Sisters (RIP), checked out Tropical sets by my friend Chief Boima at the African club, Little Baobab, and saw a ton of great dance artists at venues like Mighty and The Rickshaw Stop. I also spun a set at one of the first gay clubs in the city, The Stud. Sadly its kind of run-down now and the sound system is a mess, but it’s still a site of major significance out there.
It’s hard to say how my playing style changed but I’m sure those experiences have had an impact.
BYT: What’s your favorite Robyn track?
Catch Micah Jackson tonight at the Robyn/Kelis Afterparty, right after the show at DC9.