Last summer, I had the pleasure of visiting one of the most exciting cities in the United States - Chicago. My previous visit dates back to 1997 when I crossed the continent on my Lambretta GP200. This time I vowed that I wasn't going to wait some 13 years before I set foot in the Windy City again.
Last August, I got to meet the Face of the Chicago Mod scene, Sir Eric Colin. He's an avid record collector, skilled DJ, talented musician, Shindig! Magazine contributor and all around super nice guy. His passion for music is truly contagious and his wealth of knowledge about the subject is impressive.
So imagine how thrilled I was when he asked me to be part of the 9th edition of the MODchicago - Our Way of Thinking weekender. Wow! My first international gig! This is quite an honor! A Cyclical Incantation - A Case Study in Garage, Soul, Freakbeat and Psych is this year's theme. With DJs from all over the US, Canada, France and Italy, it's gearing up to be one for the books.
I asked Eric if he thought that a set centered on French Quebec 60s Beat and Yé Yé and some rare Canadian Garage was up his alley and he was up for it. So you can expect a nice dose of the Mod classics but with a French twist. I'll also throw in a few Soul tracks for good measure. So make sure to leave June 10th and 11th free on your calendar. Chicago will be the place to see and be seen!
If the poster is any indication of how memorable the weekend is going to be, we are in for a smashing time. The image is the brainchild of sensational artist Ashlea Green.
Eric Colin, the head honcho for the event, has taken some time from his hectic schedule to answer a few questions.
A Cyclical Incantation - A Case Study in Garage, Soul, Freakbeat and Psych. Where did that idea originate?
It came from my fertile brain of Psychedelic word groupings. I guess if I really delve into it, it sounds like an amalgam of Lovecraftian prose and something from the mystical or left hand path. I’d like to think the lineage of the name as a sort of Golden Dawn type secret society, which I’ve always had a healthy affinity for, and somehow always creeps into a big portion of my ideas. I suppose it might seem cerebral or even pretentious to some, but for me it sounds powerful. The case study subtitle is obviously geared towards the musical styles that will be featured at the event.
This is the 9th edition. How have things changed over the years and how do you explain the longevity?
That’s a good question and perhaps it’s a testament to the quality of the event. I try to make it an inclusive type of event, rather than exclusive, despite the privileged sounding title of the event this year! I think what it boils down to is having a good reputation and being able to provide a good time. Also Chicago has always seemed like a great meeting point for people all over the world, and precisely why so many of the MODchicago patrons are “out of towners”.
British Mod events seem to be geared more towards Northern Soul and R&B and the Americans really like their Garage and Psych. Have you notice that?
Hmm, the British definitely prefer their Northern, but I do feel that there are plenty of U.S. Northern Soul nights and weekenders and fans of that particular genre. Matter of fact there is a very popular night of Northern Soul in Chicago called The Windy City Soul Club that draws in very healthy crowds. I do feature plenty of Soul at MODchicago myself, but yes my own tastes tend to learn toward Garage, Freakbeat, Psych and harder R&B, rather than Northern. I’d say the people that favor Garage and Psych over all else are the good people of Spain.
What part does the scooter scene have in Chicago's Mod events?
My good friend Jason Berry of The Mayday Scooter Club was organizing full on scooter rides for the event, but that has fallen off a little. However, there are still plenty of scooter people that show up at the events with scooter in tow. We also try to make sure there is ample parking for them.
What kind of music makes the hair at the back of your neck stand up?
My taste in music is rather diverse and all sorts of styles have been known to stimulate the hairs on the back of neck. Jazz, for instance is a big passion of mine – hard bop, free jazz, afro jazz, cosmic jazz, etc. My personal idea of nirvana is hearing the monster rhythm section of Elvin Jones & Jimmy Garrison thunder along expertly behind John Coltrane.
As far as the type of music being played at the Weekender, I’d have to go with 60’s Garage Punk. Those are my humble origins within the “60’s scene” and never fail to bring me back to a special place in time as a teenager when I thought the world was mine. Plus, there is such a purity of intention in authentic Garage Punk that cannot be denied and is highly infectious, at least with me!
When you spin, how do you make you music selection?
As far as the weekender goes, I tend to choose 100% dance floor fillers. I try to break a lot of new records that haven’t been played on the circuit too much or are un-comped as of yet. Although, having said that, I do also throw in some tried and true crowd pleasers.
Anything else you want to tell me about the Big Event?
Two mind blowing days of International and American DJ’s with a plethora of rare movies on the big screen and psychedelic light shows to dazzle your eyes should be a good enough reason to throw your cares to the wind. We also have a record/clothes swap on Saturday afternoon that is free to all, and if that still isn’t enough – Chicago is a beautiful city with much character, plenty to do and a rich musical history! I hope to see you all there.
For more info about the Weekender, make sure to hop over to their website: