Who Crashed The Party? COVID 19 edition

We're in a series of continual adjustments and  I guess I have a slice of time to pen down my current thoughts pertaining to this pandemic.  Thoughts about how it has sparked creative shifts and how we all maintain connections to each other.  We are definitely living in a moment of many emotions. For some, fear and worry as the difficulties mount from almost all areas of living life.  For some furious anger,  exasperated and exhausted at how terribly wrong this whole thing has progressed and the changing scope of how it is still being addressed.  For others, unexplainable amazement at the slow tide turned physical and emotional fast building momentous occurrence filled with sadness and grief that I will admit, has personally shaken me a bit.  However, I have also seen greater gratitude, a survivor’s spirit, and God’s good grace that continues to emerge from many of us too.

I’ve surfed through many of these emotions periodically.  With the exception of  ‘fear’ and  ‘worry’.  I tend to not worry about the things I cannot control. Of course, I’m deeply concerned about the health and well being of my family, friends, and associates along with myself as I was an essential worker and was working since this cataclysmic wave came in.  Although I’m retired (Thank You God), I continue to do my very best to try and stay as safe in these trying times. But ‘fear’ and ‘worry’ are emotions I cannot afford to dwell in.  
I learned very young that a steady head perseveres and prevails even in the toughest of situations.   I’m extremely grateful to have a loving and caring wife who is truly an asset in assisting me with not only my Playground endeavors but my everyday life as we soldier into our ‘new normal’. Making due and making the best out of situations whenever  & wherever we can.  

I went off topic a little but I’ll circle back and try to make this blog entry make sense as it pertains to The Playground Party that COVID 19 crashed. 

It all seemed so fast now looking back. How the time flew.  It was like we all just sang Happy New Year with family friends and arrived in 2020 not exactly roaring, but optimistically soaring with a few good plans in the works for The Playground. Our first order of business was solidifying our semi-annual spring GLO party which would’ve marked our fifth anniversary of The Playground’s conception. The main core of the team is me and my wife.  She began like usual,  gathering the different crews together, from the behind the scenes people who assist us with the heavier work of moving and setting up. To the great hospitality crew which is our wonderful caterer All Things Food LLC, the ‘welcome wagon’ personnel and the kindness of a few close friends who help make this production run as smooth as possible.  We were brainstorming on how to make this a greater experience than previous ones because this would've been The Playground's 5th-year anniversary. I was increasing my knowledge of executing stronger lighting design techniques, and we were figuring out different party tidbits that make it a fun experience for everyone attending.  

…and then, COVID 19 happened.  At the time it was being called ‘Coronavirus’.  We were following the world developments as my wife was set to take a short trip across to the Netherlands to visit friends at the end of Feb to the first week in March.  This was around the time we locked in our event date and was preparing to do our usual ad campaigns and general prep.  We both were following the news happening around Wuhan, China in our publications and more so abroad for their news often times have a ‘tell it like it is’ journalistic grasp as to what was going on.  Things were looking rather serious in Wuhan, and happenings were simultaneously becoming ‘interesting’ here in the states. But we felt confident that things would be okay. Not because the ‘current occupant of the WH’ said so, but by all accounts, this thing still ‘seemed’ a world away. She went and came back from overseas without incident and we continued our party planning process.  

My wife always says, “the world is three blocks long”.   We started to see just how true to life that became. The world started to shrink when other major European places started to experience Coronavirus trouble. Then the news of Seattle came in on the radar.  I don’t want to say my wife is a news buff, but she's more apt to seek out information. She calls it’ mining for other stories’ or ‘looking for what isn’t being said’.  Low and behold, there were many tentacles forming from this thing and then, New Rochelle NY got hit.  In hindsight, that was the real smoke signal at that point. We started to think we might already be in trouble and don’t know it. But the way things were explained in most of the media junkets at the time, the intensity didn’t ramp up. The ‘acting authorities’ locally positioned that outbreak as insulated and under control.  
We continued onward somewhat confident in our plans. But as days passed, it was sounding more dire. The impending first wave of this ‘new’ coronavirus cloud was settling.  We saw parties cancel at first slowly. Then the few parties that remained towards the end of March.  The Playground’s event was scheduled for mid-April. However, the way the reports overseas was explaining things comparable to a deadly tsunami of sickness.  We decided the best thing to do for the betterment of all involved was to postpone the event until a later date. The statewide shutdowns happened shortly after and frankly, was proof positive that we were going to be experiencing something like never before.  Unfortunately, that first real wave was devastating and heartbreakingly terrible for so many.   


We are all still deep in this pandemic, and life as we knew it has greatly shifted, I continue to have questions and concerns of parties along with the state of nightlife in general.  Despite my yearning to play for my friends, family, and people who share the love of classic dance, I wonder about what things will have to be instituted in order for clubs, lounges, etc… even ‘private’ events like weddings.  The nightlife was already in a precarious place with many club venues impeding on options for the acceptance of certain kinds of parties because they may not yield the results to cover outrageous bar guarantees. Or nightclubs closing all together along with venue spaces geared for parties BUT with a caveat that 'certain kinds of parties’ are deemed desirable.  Now with COVID 19, this adds a whole other situation because we don’t know when any kind of parties will be back. Also, the serious health and safety questions for everyone involved.  New operation stipulations that will inevitably be instituted.  

So many variables, even more now with the many changes that have occurred since.  For now,  The Playground’s actual party return is realistically unknown.  

But hope reigns supreme while figuring out ways to keep spirits high. 

It must.

 

 

 

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Trevor's Playground

Copyright © 2019-2023 Trevor Fox/The Playground™/Fox Blog. All Rights Reserved. These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. Reproduction of written or audio context or PKQP photographs without the express written permission of Trevor Fox is unlawful. Violators will be prosecuted to the full extent permitted under copyright, intellectual property, and other laws.

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From Vintage to Shiek, A DIY Revamp of the Classic 1100 Turntables

I remember when I first purchased the Infinity Black Widow tonearm back in December of 2014. Seeing it showcased and used by DJs at some mid to top tier clubs back in the mid-late '70s, I wanted this rare tonearm for many years.

Yet, it almost seemed nonexistent to purchase a pair at one point in my earlier searches.

To those who know of this precious jewel, it is still on many audiophiles wish lists of component quests.

When I first installed them on my Technic 1100A turntables, I was in complete awe. Elated with its tracking and other featured specs, I still had this feeling that there was something missing. 

I initially thought it was probably due to another project undertakings I usually subject myself to during the course of the year.

 

Nonetheless, I just couldn’t put my finger on which valuable addition would make this crafty DIY adventure blissfully complete. So, I removed the Black Widow tonearms and placed them back inside their wooden boxes with cushions to protect their delicate design. I figured the standard tonearms would be okay in the meantime until my imagination kicked back in.

Well, they sometimes say you can't rush creativity. In this case, it was five years before I came up with the concept that would make this project more appealing visually and meaningful personally.
 As I gathered my thoughts and creative process one rainy evening, I was toying with the idea of reinstalling the Black Widows once again. Only this time, what came to mind was that they should be placed on a turntable that looks the part.

Bouncing ideas around with my wife is always a bonus considering she has a penchant for art and a fondness for audio equipment. I already had the plinths figured out.  Initially, I wanted them to be a rich deep onyx or like a galaxy without stars.  My wife & I named them 'Twin Black Lakes'. But when I mounted the tonearms, we looked at them and thought, "No, they should match the Infinity Black Widow tonearms!"  It made sense.

But it was her idea to add the reddish tones the insect is known to have near its backside. With that, it took me a brief moment to figure out where this accent would be placed to bring dimension and realism to the concept.

Initial layouts with different color schemes were digitally implemented until I was satisfied with the end result. 

 

We decided that the platter would be the perfect part to accentuate. But how would I go about it was the bigger question? I needed to keep the integrity of the platter such as the speed calibration pattern which is a vital part. Perhaps it could be powder coated. But finding a facility to process it was like a needle in a haystack for a multitude of reasons (a few folks could not grasp what I needed nor what I was trying to do and basically wanted to half-ass it).  This was when I chose to figure it out on my own.  Thus my motto, when someone tells me "no", I MAKE it a YES myself. 

Going through heavy-duty, high end custom paint swatches (and my wife's nail polish as a reference lol). Also, went through the (tedious) process of mapping out the tape.  

I finally figured out which color closely resembled the butt of the spider. This ended up being a three-part process. 

That deep red came out better than I even expected.  Like a perfect satin ribbon on a gift.

However, all things did not go as smoothly as I hoped. The plinths were a bit of a fight due to the actual steel being compromised with corrosion. I had to shoot over, let dry and wet sand repeatedly before I could move forward to buffing for a smooth and showroom shiny finish.

But creatively smart (and oftentimes hard) work pays off. Six weeks, quite a bit of paint, a few baffling do-overs and the birth of 'The Black Widow' Project successfully concluded. Sleek, stylized and an overall joy to engage with the finished product. 

"Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence. " - Vince Lombardi

Thank you for reading, commenting, sharing and/or reposting this new blog.  Stay tuned for insightful music musings and more.  

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Copyright © 2019-2023 Trevor Fox/The Playground™/Fox Blog. All Rights Reserved. These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. Reproduction of written or audio context or PKQP photographs without the express written permission of Trevor Fox is unlawful. Violators will be prosecuted to the full extent permitted under copyright, intellectual property, and other laws.

Understanding the 'Light of The Party'

Just as in stage lighting for performances, club lighting can equally be essential in creating a scene with the music the DJ is playing. 

The best Light Jockeys and/or Designers implement lighting's controllable qualities; intensity, color, direction, and movement.  These influence selective focus, visibility, and mood.

There are two thoughts that guide my process with each party/event that I'm hired for on or for my own Playground parties. One is, how can I get dance audiences to see and feel light in new ways? How can I use lighting to enhance a preexisting (preferably good) memory or create a new one with the scenes and the music sequences I selected?

Wearing both hats of DJ and Light Jockey can have its advantages. You know your tunes and you know how you'd like the lighting to reflect the energy of the music. Although having to monitor and operate while playing can be a challenge for some.  One can take the 'set it and forget it' approach with basic sound active lighting.  Or you can take the time to pre-program engaging and exciting lighting scenes.  

Martin's Light Jockey is one of my go-to favorite lighting equipment & software programs. Somewhat analog (vintage lol) & hands-on in operation, it can be integrated with current lighting apparatuses. I find that for me, it minimizes program/software failure because It does not operate in the 'cloud'.

But I'm not beholden to just Light Jockey as versatility in the mobile event lighting game is detrimental. 

One of the newer lighting things that seem promising is SoundSwitch which is a third party software that can be linked to Serato.  It has a few more bells and whistles for digital playing mediums. A good 'go-to' for most mobile DJs who predominantly use Serato. 

There are a few other new event lighting accessories that I've been researching. However, as innovative 'new' hardware changes for mobile lighting occur; staying abreast with ever-evolving software changes can be just as perplexing  (e.g. one big hiccup that happened to a few fellow DJs with one of the never-ending Mac software updates vs a number of lighting software-oriented programs that created mayhem for some DJs during their live sets in some cases). Rule of thumb, research (waiting) is paramount before completely committing to some of these newer technologies.

 

 

Nonetheless, contingent upon your lighting strategy, 'basic' DMX setups are much more affordable now than ever before for a more 'simpler' approach for mobile DJs. Unless you fancy yourself as a tech and light fixture fanatic (personally, I'm the latter),  it will certainly require much more than just a few 'stagehands' on deck

Some people have always assumed that lighting is 'easy'. Perhaps it is if you just want to string up some lighting equipment, set it and forget it.  But lighting to me is a beautiful costar in a well planned, orchestrated dance of moods and energies. Great lighting, music, and dancing enjoy a special kinship if done right.

 

Whether you're just starting out in the mobile event lighting circuit or if you consider yourself a seasoned professional, commanding the use of light be it a performance stage setting, a club type dance party or special event. One should always take the effort and time to learn it, spend some money on the tools you need for it to work well and respect the power of what it can do to beautifully accentuate your event.

 

It definitely adds to your arsenal of marketable skillsets which is always a good thing.

Thank you for reading, commenting, sharing and/or reposting this new blog.  Stay tuned for insightful music musings and more.  

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Copyright © 2019-2023 Trevor Fox/The Playground™/Fox Blog. All Rights Reserved. These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. Reproduction of written or audio context or PKQP photographs without the express written permission of Trevor Fox is unlawful. Violators will be prosecuted to the full extent permitted under copyright, intellectual property, and other laws.

What No One Tells You About Crate Digging - Vinyl Affinity or Addiction

Some of us have been there. You walk into a shop with the best of

intentions of sticking to your shopping list. You may ask a few questions

to whoever is on shift.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Surely, you've made a great impression by consistently buying some merch and perhaps became cool audiophile friends.  They'd know about certain records you're vying for and they'll go the extra mile to see if they have it.  Sometimes you're lucky enough to leave with what you were searching for.  Nonetheless, you go in with the mission at hand and success is on your side. I'm not overly stuck on the 'debate' if store digging is better than going online and searching for what you want 'easily'.  I have done both if it's something extremely important for me to secure in my possession.  But its also a great feeling to actually find the record, preferably in mint condition that you were searching for in that 'organic', get your hands dirty kind of digging.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then the other times... Oh man, the other times [lol]... You find yourself looking through one, then two, then a few more crates. 

The shopkeep tells you, "oh yea we just got a few new things in." It happens to be some of the stuff that's on your secondary list [lol]. The crates are warm and welcoming like a grandma's hug.  You may decide to saddle up to one of the listening stations. Checking over the handfull of records you dug out of their crowded home. After the eye and ear of scrutiny, you end up leaving with a few more pieces than what you intended. They say the road to hell is paved with intentions. I can admit, a few times in my crate digging experiences, my road was sometimes paved in waxy goodness.

 

Even for the most prudent, the lines can sometimes blur from avid collector to what some would deem as addict tendencies.  For the serious collectors, that 'prized' rare piece they've been seeking, it's in a record store high up on the wall, behind a store counter, or thumb past it online.  It's almost as if it's mocking you.  They've told themselves (and sometimes their spouses have told them [lol]), "No records today!" However, you tell yourself, "the copy I have isn't perfect and this one is mint." So what you have two maybe three of the same record. BUT you don't have the test pressing, 12", or a coveted topnotch promo of that hit song. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After advocating voices of reason fill your head, you find yourself cashing out. Hopefully, without any buyer's remorse and surely your rent paid first contrary to the awesome tote bag filled with your new haul of wax.  

 

 

 

Crate digging is part personal nostalgia along with achieving the quest for the best analog sound.  As well as exhilaration in discovering a good find, all in the name of my vinyl collecting and inevitably the record playing experience. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

What are your crate-digging experience and thoughts with vinyl?  Share your thoughts below. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you for reading, commenting, and sharing this new blog post.  Stay tuned for insightful music musings and more.  

Great to find these dear ladies at A1 Records

Keep digging through  at Human Head Records

 Visiting Northern Lights record store

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Copyright © 2019-2023 Trevor Fox/The Playground™/Fox Blog. All Rights Reserved. These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. Reproduction of written or audio context or PKQP photographs without the express written permission of Trevor Fox is unlawful. Violators will be prosecuted to the full extent permitted under copyright, intellectual property, and other laws.

What's In a Name?

 

I am sometimes asked, "How'd you come up with 'The Playground™' name?" The start of this 'short-answer' would be when I was youngster growing up in Brooklyn.  I along with all my friends and some other kids in the community played hard for hours at the playground and adventuring to neighboring blocks.  I won't get into the aesthetics other than they surely weren't the playgrounds of now with the nice protector rubber mats and safety swings. 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 














 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Those moments are forever planted in my memory by what I feel and think was some of the greatest music ever made and that is disco!  From late morning/early afternoon to sunset and beyond, this music filled the streets, from kitchen windows, fire escapes, front stoops, passing cars and boomboxes galore. This music was like your grandmother's favorite dish, seasoned to perfection.  As pretty as the baddest girl on the block that all the boys fawned over.  Or soul-stirring as the best Sunday church sermon. 

Watching folks gather to dance at outdoor jams with the local DJs who spun records on sound systems in the street. Some played disco/dance music and others played what was known as the very early building blocks for Hip Hop ironically. 

 







 

 

 

 

 

 


There was a disco explosion and here I was this young kid running around Brooklyn, NY before the streetlights came on with some of the hottest dance tunes produced as my life soundtrack.  I would diligently listen to radio broadcasts for hours like Disco 92 WKTU, 107.5 WBLS and the sister station WWRL-AM.  One disc jockey who I not only enjoyed immensely but studied intently was Mr. Ted Currier.  
This master tactician of music mixology was someone I wanted to emulate as I knew I wanted to spin records too.  I was the 'resident DJ' in my house when the family got together lol.  My mom and dad were instrumental in buying my first turntables, speakers and a few records before I was able to go crate-digging for myself. My first disco 45 was 'Love In C Minor' by Cerrone. I didn't really pay attention to the moaning parts [lol].  I was into it for the music composition. This music had me completely captivated for that reason.  



 

Nonetheless, we played on swings and seesaws, running at top speed during freeze tag, hopscotching along sidewalks, excitedly building go-carts with 'found materials'.  Old shopping carts, rope, steel drums, giant wooden spools from industrial areas car seats, steering wheels, and if the pickings were lush, lawnmower motors.  We were resourceful [lol]

Many rounds of stickball and heated tournaments of Skully with the finest milk or beer tops custom-crafted for precision flicking. 

I created The Playground™ out of the necessity to preserve classic dance music in a community/club setting where we can all who share some of the same kind of memories of yesteryear to essentially 'be a kid again'.  It is also my intent to present what I not only feel but think, is a great time capsule of sounds, yet timeless connections through exciting and physically invigorating music. Because you gotta get down at The Playground! [lol] 

Fast forward and back on track because I can go on and on about compositions and musicality that drew me into this ongoing love affair with disco. That's some of the backstories of how it began for me.


Thank you for reading, sharing your thoughts below, and reposting this new blog.  Stay tuned for insightful music musings and more on the 'Fox Blog' only at The Playground™. 


 

That last sentence might have been a little much but you get the gist! 

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Copyright © 2019-2023 Trevor Fox/The Playground™/Fox Blog. All Rights Reserved. These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. Reproduction of written or audio context or PKQP photographs without the express written permission of Trevor Fox is unlawful. Violators will be prosecuted to the full extent permitted under copyright, intellectual property, and other laws.