Smile Politely

Bozak’s running tour diary of the Midwest: Part one

This is the introductory blog post for what we are calling “DJ Bozak‘s Running Tour Diary of the *Midwest”. I’m happy to be back in Champaign, and am excited to be involved in playing a bunch of gigs in both Champaign and Chicago that cover a diverse array of genres and themes (thankfully). I’ve got a serious rider and the venues are separating the green M&M’s from the rest as we speak.

[* – I reserve the right to use this term loosely]

As it’s title suggests I’m going to be talking about the lead-up (preparation, expectations, planning, logistics) to my gigs with a lead-in post, then, the day after, I will recap the aftermath. Along the way I’m sure there will be ample accoutrements in the form of anecdotes, my thoughts on DJing, my own engagement/struggle with music, C-U, technology, and whatever else comes to mind. There may even be a Tea Party rant thrown in for good measure.

As mentioned before, I’m excited to have some interesting gigs lined up. I am a DJ that developed my approach trying to recreate what I imagined Afrika Bambaataa and his rivals were doing in the South Bronx around the mid to late 70’s. That meant a willingness to track down good music, regardless of genre or popularity, and make it all fit together utilizing techniques like blending, scratching, and rocking doubles. Emphasis was put on playing songs no one else had, doing things others weren’t doing, and doing it all in your own unique way. When I was DJing on a near nightly basis in Champaign I would cross tons of genres across and back in 4 hours. What’s nice about most of the gigs on this “tour” is that there are specific themes that for the most part I am sticking to. This gives me a chance to really go in and explore a certain sound in a way that I normally wouldn’t have in the past. For Example….

My first gig is at Boltini Lounge on May 20th. The music will focus on R&B-Funk-Disco-House. Although these genres are typically thought of in a singular way, each is really just the evolution of the form that came before it. We’re going to dive into it with a purpose to bring the commonalities to the fore. Man, it’s gonna be good!

I’m super excited to kick things off at Boltini, where I got my first residency back in 2001, and have played more than any other venue. I’m pretty sure I’ve played there over 1,000 times by now as crazy as it is to type that. Now I know how Rickles must fondly view Vegas. This gig will be special for me on a couple other fronts as well. I will be DJing with my brother DJ Reed Richards which is a treat as we rarely have chance to share the decks, and for the first time in close to ten years, Boltini will have visuals to accompany the music thanks to Matt Harsh. I do have some concerns about the logistics of setting up a projector in a bar though. I will keep my fingers crossed on that. Don’t want to have to deal with picking up the pieces, if you know what I’m saying.

So I need to mention something. Disco gets a bad rap. There are a lot of misconceptions about this genre. From it being categorically bad, to a gay thing, to it being nothing more than novel cheese, Disco seriously gets hated on. But when you think of it, it’s just up-tempo R&B. Disco is a great medium, one that allows a lot of freedom, and it really found it’s footing when clubbing started because it’s so good to dance to. Here is a disco mix I made for the Redbull Music Academy to get you in the mood. Which reminds me, you should come out! I want to see familiar faces, and meet some new ones while I’m at it

My full schedule while in town:

Thursday, May 20th at Boltini Lounge. 10pm -2am. The theme is the tread that carries from R&B to Funk to Disco to House. We will have crazy visuals and I will be joined by DJ Reed Richards and special guests.

Friday, May 21st at Mike N Mollys. 12pm – 2am. I will be finishing off the night after Krukid & DJ Legtwo performs the Champaign leg of their Hip-hop tour. I may play Hip Hop, may play scoundrel boozer songs. We shall see!

Saturday, May 22nd at Exile on Main street. 2pm – 6pm Djing the second “Diggin in Exile” show with DJ Mertz. Awesome concept. We show up and dig records from the shelves as we are performing. Anything we play is 50% off.

Saturday, May 22nd at Redstar with DJ Belly. 10pm – 2pm. This show is about two DJ’s being free. Playing whatever interesting pieces come to mind. I have a bag of really cool electronic stuff I plan on playing for the first time here.

Wednesday, May 26th at Mike ‘n Mollys. 10pm – 2pm. “Motown invades Mike N Mollys”. All Detroit music all night. Yes!!!! Parliament, MC5, Marin, Smokey, White Stripes, Theo Parrish, Dilla. Yes!

Thursday, May 27th at Lokal in Chicago. “The Thread”. I go on later. This is a gig that’s special cause it’s rooted in CU as the DJ’s playing are a crew that met at the UofI and have stayed in touch over the years..we all also happen to have really dope music selections.

Friday, May 28th at Risque Cafe in Chicago. 10pm – 2pm. “Soul Sauce”. Me and DJ Limbs (CU DJ hero) are authentically bringing soul and funk music to a space that is saturated with top 40 & classic rock (wrigleyville). Most people want to go to other venues for that, but we’re in the “frontlines” of the generic bar tunes war this night.

Sunday, May 30th at Cowboy Monkey 9pm – 2pm. “Hit it Run Vol. 42”. Playing with Kosmo, Dj Legtwo, and Wonderbread. One of the best CU parties of the year! Old-school/ classic everything. Including all those guilty pleasures. Always a wild one!

That wraps up my introductory post. I will post again on Friday to let you know how it went and to tell you about the next show. Hope to see you there. Now if only I can get Boltini to accept my demands for a dressing room…..

Photo by Elise McAuley.

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