Meet the artists - 5/23/03
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Friday, May 23, 2003

Meet the artists

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Amp Fiddler

9 p.m. Saturday, High Tech Soul Stage

Detroit's Joseph "Amp" Fiddler began playing keyboards in the 1970s and has since played for George Clinton's P-Funk All Stars (where he took the place of funk legend Bernie Worrell), Prince, the Brand New Heavies, Seal and Jamiroquai among others. Now he's stepping out front and center on stage as the singer and keyboardist of his own (unnamed) band. "I've been a side man for years, now I'm trying to get my own," Fiddler says. This month, he released an EP on Genuine Records called "Love and War," which includes soul and house tracks. Fiddler also plays around town in a local band called Mudpuppy, and plays keyboards in the Detroit Experiment, a 12-person jazz ensemble led by Carl Craig. He recently celebrated his 45th birthday. "The older the fiddle, the better the tune," Fiddler says.

Carl Craig + the Detroit Experiment

6 p.m. Sunday, High Tech Soul Stage

Detroiter Carl Craig's latest venture expands upon his previous electronic and jazz projects, such as Innerzone Orchestra. This time, 12 musicians lend their talents to the record, which is heavier on the jazz side. The group's self-titled album was released on Ropeadope Records this year. Members include Detroit artists with long histories in jazz, funk and soul, including keyboardist Joseph "Amp Fiddler," formerly of Parliament-Funkadelic; trumpeter Marcus Belgrave, who has played for Ray Charles and Charles Mingus; classically trained jazz and funk violinist Regina Carter; and pianist Geri Allen. This will be Craig's first and much-anticipated festival appearance since his role as DEMF artistic director ended in 2001. Craig, whose mentors include Festival producer Derrick May, is known as an innovator of Detroit techno as his music mixes and synthesizer work tend to explore various genres of music. He is founder of Detroit-based record label Planet E Communications. Ropeadope, which has released other jazz-electronic acts such as the Philadelphia Experiment and Jazzanova, plans to have a booth at the festival with Craig available to sign autographs.

Dwele

3 p.m. Sunday, High Tech Soul Stage

The timing couldn't be better for Detroit to hear one of its own as singer and producer Dwele braces himself for fame. His music, soul and jazz mixed with the street flavors of hip-hop, are receiving national acclaim. He recently was featured in Entertainment Weekly as one of 10 "artists on the brink" of success, and Virgin Records released Dwele's album, "Subject," on Tuesday. The 25-year-old Dwele (Andwele Gardner), hails from Detroit's west side and has come up the ranks via his work with local hip-hop group Slum Village and his performances at Detroit's now-closed Mahogany Cafe. Dwele began taking piano lessons in the fourth grade and rhyming at local clubs in high school, picking up the guitar, trumpet and bass along the way. Dwele says he isn't losing any sleep despite all the attention and pressure. "I'm not stressing it. I'm loving it as a matter of fact. It's all new to me so I'm enjoying it," Dwele says. His new album is about relationships. "Something everybody can relate to," he says.

Stacey "Hot Waxx" Hale

Noon Saturday, Music Institute Stage

Hale is a staple in the Detroit house music scene, having played records for people in the early 1980s under mentor Ken Collier, who helped form Detroit's dance music scene in the 1970s and 1980s. Hale, who mixes live on 93.1 FM (WDRQ) on weekend nights, has played on several Detroit radio stations. Her skill comes from practice, natural knowledge and education. Hale has a degree in electrical engineering with a concentration in acoustic engineering from Lawrence Technological University, which helps her run her record label, Movement Music (no connection to the name of the festival). She organized her own music festival of sorts for a few years in the early 1990s, called the Detroit Regional Music Conference, which assisted in promoting and uniting local artists. Partly as a result of her radio presence, Hale's musical style is a mix of house and pop, which sometimes results in criticism from both sides of the divide -- commercial and underground. "I've lost jobs because I played Lil' Louis (a house music pioneer). People who know me, know I'm not top 40," Hale says. "The bottom line is, you're playing for people. It's not my job to see how many obscure records I can play."

Kenny Larkin

On 4 turntables with Kevin Saunderson, 10 p.m. Saturday, Movement Stage

Native Detroiter Kenny Larkin released his first record, "We Shall Overcome," on Windsor's Plus 8 label in 1990. His name quickly became as synonymous with Detroit techno as those of Derrick May and Juan Atkins. Larkin's music frequently combines bouncy house elements with dark Detroit sounds. His albums, such as "Azimuth" and "Seven Days" (recorded under the name "Dark Comedy"), feature spacey melodic sounds with brisk beats to create the futuristic sound associated with classic Detroit techno. But the talented producer and DJ has an unexpected other career. He now lives in Los Angeles and performs stand-up comedy at the Improv. He is incorporating his comedic side into a new album called "Funk Faker: Music Saves My Soul," in which he pretends to be an old blues singer. "It's a big departure from my previous work. I'm being silly and stupid. I'm in character," Larkin says. The title song how music saves his soul from the pain of a girlfriend who sleeps with everyone in the neighborhood. "It's told in a funny way. It's not like, 'Hey, did you hear the one about the girl?' " he says. Larkin is shopping the album to different record labels and hopes to release it sometime this year.

Grandwizzard Theodore

10 p.m. Monday, High Tech Soul Stage

Movement Festival organizers have seemingly pulled this unsung legend from the cobwebs to give people a glimpse of why he is the "Grandwizzard." Credited as the inventor of record-scratching, the Bronx's Theodore Livingston says his mother led to his discovery of what is now as much a symbol of modern American music as the rocking-out guitar stance. The 13-year-old Theodore was doing his usual thing in 1977, hanging out with the B-boys and carrying his older brother's record crate so he could play on the turntables for the breakdancers. When his mother yelled about the loud music, Theodore stopped the record with his hand and heard potential. He experimented with technique and started DJing around New York with the L Brothers and the Fantastic 5 MCs. Though not seen much nationally, the Grandwizzard still plays block parties in the Bronx, runs his production company, GWT Corp., and teaches the art of DJing at the Scratch DJ Academy, a DJ school in Manhattan formed by Run DMC's Jam Master Jay. "It's not about money. My priority is doing what I love," Grandwizzard Theodore says. "I'm doing all right. I've got two houses, a car and my own business."

Francois K

9 p.m. Sunday, High Tech Soul Stage

Francois Kevorkian has been in the dance music business since the 1970s disco era, when he moved from France to New York and began playing at such clubs as Studio 54 in New York. He soon began working at independent disco label Prelude Records, where he remixed tracks, including Musique's "Push Push in the Bush," which sold nearly 1 million copies. In the 1980s, Francois K founded Axis Productions and produced work with artists as varied as U2, the Cure, Diana Ross and Mick Jagger. He has also worked with a slew of artists ranging from electronic music icons Kraftwerk to pop icons Madonna, Mariah Carey and Deee-Lite. He runs an independent record label in New York called Wave Music, still DJs around the world playing mostly deep house music and remixes for artists such as Juan Atkins and the B-52s.

Magda

6:30 p.m. Monday, Underground Stage

As the opening DJ for techno artist Richie Hawtin's tours, Magda Chojnacka is one of the hottest up-and-coming DJs. Hawtin's Windsor record label, Minus Inc., plans to release this summer her first record, an as-of-yet untitled 12-inch with three tracks. And she is DJ-mixing a compilation of Minus tracks, also for release this summer. Magda's style is usually described as bloopy and minimal, but she says she doesn't know how to describe it. "I'm trying to figure what I play. I've been told it's quirky techno -- dark and groovy," Magda says. She grew up in Poland, moved to the United States when she was 9 and lived in Detroit for four years until recently moving to New York. She worked her way through the Detroit techno scene, DJing increasingly larger shows and eventually touring Europe with Hawtin. Now she is planning a move to Berlin, Detroit's sister city of electronic music, where many Detroit techno artists have expanded their careers.

Liquid Liquid

7 p.m. Saturday, Underground Stage

Cashing in on their cult status and 1980s pop-inspired trends in electronic music, the members of Liquid Liquid came out of their respective holes in March to play at the Knitting Factory in New York, their first show in 19 years. The group, which came out of New York's post-punk art scene, went out of commission after its funky minimal songs in the early 1980s broke new ground in the pop world and its records became staples in DJ crates. The bass line from their song "Cavern" is probably more famous than the group -- Grandmaster Flash sampled it in 1983 for the song "White Lines," which became even more popular when Duran Duran covered it. "The cognoscenti, the people in the know would know about us," says Salvatore Principato, the group's singer. Record labels Grand Royal and Mo' Wax reissued the group's complete works in 1997, and Mo' Wax released an album of remixes, helping cement the group's cult status. Liquid Liquid is considering releasing an album of new and old material. "We're better than we were even back then. More poised, stronger," Principato says.

Rolando

8 p.m. Saturday, Movement Stage

Rolando (Roland Rocha) produces and mixes records for the fiercely independent Detroit-based production company and music label Underground Resistance. UR bases its image on that of a group of superherolike future warriors defending what is most important: their artistic integrity. One UR album, called "Interstellar Fugitives," features tracks by several UR "soldiers," including Rolando. On the vinyl version, etchings on the extra vinyl space around the center label have messages such as, "Strike from angles unknown," and, "Righteousness can be perceived as resistance when what one resists is evil." It was against this backdrop that, taking advantage of some copyright law loophole, Sony Germany in 1999 decided to make its own version of one of Rolando's most critically hailed tracks, "Knights of the Jaguar," without UR's permission. Eventually, Sony pulled its track under pressure from fans and UR. Rolando is taking a detour from his current tour in Europe to come to Detroit for the Movement '03.


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