When Shaman Vybez was a teenager in the South Bronx, dancing his ass off at clubs, he was aware that “the DJ was the guy that controlled the crowd. I’d be looking up and watching him as he orchestrated the room to be under his spell with music. I wanted to be like that.”
Woodstock will get a chance to be spellbound when the up-and-coming Shaman Vybez and two internationally known DJs appear at The Colony on Saturday, February 2, with doors opening at 7 p.m. Chuck “Da Fonk” Fishman, who toured with George Clinton and Parliament/Funkadelic (P-Funk) in the 90s, now has a disco funk production team, FSQ (Funk, Style, Quality). Eli “Bamboozle” Goldstein, tours the world as half of the DJ duo Soul Clap, and also produces vinyl records.
“This is more than just a dance party. It’s an experience,” said promoter Juanie Gold, who lives in Saugerties and has deejayed around the area, from the Sportsman’s Bar in Phoenicia to the Bearsville Theater, as Majic Juan.
The Woodstock audience may be a challenge for DJs who are accustomed to playing in urban settings. The technical skills to crossfade from one song to the next are easy to pick up, said Eli. “What takes years to master is knowing how to read a crowd and have a selection that will take the crowd where you want them. It’s easy to be a DJ with top 40 or classics. The art form is to play music that’s important to you, for a broad range of people, and have them enjoy and understand it.”
Starting out at 14, spinning records at high school dances and Bar Mitzvahs, Eli went on to the New England rave scene and then turned to making his own electronic music in 2007. For the past two years, he’s had a weekly radio show. TheLotRadio.com broadcasts from a shipping container in an empty lot across from a church in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. Every Tuesday, from noon to 2 p.m., his music picks are heard by people waking up on the West Coast or tuning in from Europe for an evening’s listening.
Eli still prefers a pair of turntables when he deejays a party. But for Woodstock, he’ll be working with a digital system and a terabyte — 1000 gigabytes — of music, so he’ll have plenty of options to play with as he tunes into and turns on the crowd. He’s looking forward to his first upstate show, as he recently got together with a bunch of friends to buy a former summer camp in Dutchess County, near Red Hook.
In 1993, when Chuck was a cartography major at University of Colorado-Boulder, he met George Clinton through a record store owner. When Chuck, a keyboardist and singer, announced he’d be sitting in on a P-Funk performance, Clinton scoffed. “But I won him over,” Chuck recalled. “He was impressed with my record collection. I toured with him from ‘94 to ‘98. I was the only preppy Jewish kid onstage.” Chuck made a solo record and wanted to tour his own music, but “when you’re making lush, orchestrated disco funk productions, it’s hard to play those live, with a 10-person band. I began to think about new ways to bring my music to people.” He met Eli, introduced him to Clinton, and formed FSQ to put out Chuck’s music on the Soul Clap label.
The tapestry Chuck weaves will include his own funk-infused compositions, blended with hip-hop, disco, soul, house music. He did a show at the Woodstock Lodge last summer, so he has a feel for what to expect at the Colony. He’ll bring along “some secret weapons in my USB sticks. If I sense a lot of people who came out are not familiar with funk and disco, I’ll have a disco remix of the Grateful Dead’s ‘Shakedown Street,’ and I’ll have a version of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Dreams.’ I want to make people dance and move. I have enough colors of dance music to do that.”
Shaman is well-prepared for the Woodstock audience. He was born in Newburgh, moved to Spanish Harlem at the age of two, and eventually returned to his roots by settling in New Paltz. While still in the city, he used take bus rides to the country for Plattekill weekend retreats in 60s and 70s, when weekend parties featured Tito Puente and Celia Cruz. Shaman’s youthful ventures in deejaying faded out when he was busy raising a family. In 2010, his wife encouraged him to get his own equipment and get back into the scene. He’s been doing parties in Kingston and deejaying for college kids in New Paltz, where he’s been embraced although he’s old enough to be their father. He likes to showcase music influenced by Afrobeat, as well as funk and R&B from the 60s through the 80s.
If you miss the party, or if you get into a dance groove that leaves you craving more, Juanie Gold has a Mardi Gras masquerade scheduled for Saturday, March 2, at the Colony. He’ll be bringing in a New Orleans-style funk band and a DJ. The best mask wins a prize.
Juanie Gold and The Colony present DJs Shaman Vybez, Chuck “Da Fonk” Fishman of FSQ, and Eli “Bamboozle” of Soul Clap on Saturday, February 2, with doors opening at 7 p.m., music starting at 9. The Colony is at 22 Rock City Road in Woodstock. Tickets are $10, available at http://www.colonywoodstock.com.