Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Smiles, everyone, smiles... 

Allow myself to introduce myself. My name is Mike C. and I am from New Jersey. For the past eight years, I've been living a few blocks from the easternmost edge of the mainland United States, in Hoboken. Since my senior year of college at Rutgers, I have been working in the music business. I'm an editor; I compile, edit, fact-check, proofread, and sometimes write the copy that appears in CD packaging, as well as print advertising, for a major label. Also since college, I've been writing about music. For the last five years, I've been playing DJ, and these days I have a Saturday night residency at The Goldhawk. Earlier this year, I started up Hoboken Rock City Radio.

Hoboken is a great rock and roll town. Maybe it's the company I tend to keep, but I've met more people in creative and artistic fields hanging out in Hoboken bars than I've ever met on the Lower East Side. My little town is teeming with writers, artists, and musicians. We have a world-class rock club in Maxwell's, great recording studios like the Think Tank and Water Music, a well-respected musical instrument shop in the Guitar Bar, and a phenomenal indie record store in Tunes. Hoboken has retained its rock and roll culture despite absorbing a couple waves of Wall Streeters and well-to-do yuppies over the last two decades. For all the construction and gentrification that has taken place, the city that gave birth to baseball, Blimpie, and the greatest popular singer of the 20th century remains, at its core, an artistic community. I'll take Hoboken over Brooklyn, which, despite some lovely neighborhoods, has half the character and ten times the crime, at twice the price. Do the math.

With all apologies to Robbie Williams, I'm a rock DJ. If you're looking for a slick turntablist with perfect beat-matching abilities, an expert on techno or hip hop, or a vinyl purist, I am not your guy. That's not to say I've never seamlessly beat-matched Saint Etienne into OutKast, or played Eric B. & Rakim at the club (it's rare, but I do go there), or dropped a spot of techno (even rarer, and even then only if you count "Born Slippy"), or spun wax (sometimes I bring a stack). But rock in all its glorious forms, from ABC to ZZ Top (though more ABC than ZZ Top), is my jumping off point.

I'm not apologizing for any of this. It's just that there are lots of self-appointed so-called purists out there who like to disparage DJs who do anything other than seamlessly beat-match dance records together. Hey, I have all the respect in the world for the DJs who do that. It's an art and a science. I just come from a different school, and I don't think it's a less legit school than anyone else's. So I will be sharing my thoughts and experiences on the DJ life from my perspective, which might sound rockist at first, but I assure you is a good deal more nuanced than that. But just to be on the safe side, don't tell Kelefa Sanneh, mmmkay?

hobokenrockcity.com has been around since 2001, but the new version just went live today. Where the original site was a pretty static affair, serving mostly as a vessel for my DJ schedule, playlists, and a few CD reviews and best-of lists, this new version ups the ante. On the blog, I plan to focus a lot on music and a little on politics; the rest is anything goes. New Jersey matters will figure prominently. Hey, I like New York as much as the next guy, I've worked there for more than a decade now, and I feel lucky to live really, really close to the place. But the New Jersey scene need not exist only as an extension of New York's. There are passionate voices out there who do their best to spread the Garden State gospel, good people like Tris McCall, Jim Testa, Andy Gesner, Sean Carolan, my dear friend Pat Pierson, and many other dedicated souls; and still New Jersey is woefully underappreciated and undercovered. Though this site certainly will discuss plenty of events that take place in Manhattan, other parts of New York, and elsewhere, I will endeavor to pay particular attention to N.J. happenings.

The home page will remain the hub for news and updates on my gigs, my writing, and the radio show. Playlists from the club gigs only go back to December of '02. Perhaps I will flesh out the playlist archives at some point. Newly posted interviews and reviews will appear on the blog and also on their respectively designated pages. I hope to interview artists and other people of import on somewhat of a regular basis. Playing reporter is something I enjoy, and I don't do it often enough. In the coming days, look for a brand-new interview I did recently with Scott Geller of I Am The World Trade Center, the synth-pop geniuses from Athens, Georgia who made one of the best albums of this year.

Databases of past interviews, reviews I've written, and selected other writings are now active. The biggest bulk of it was written for YEAH YEAH YEAH, the print-only rock zine which I've been managing editor of since Pat Pierson started it in early 1996. A fair amount of stuff has been posted, and there is more to come as I sift through my personal archives of the last decade or so. Much of this material has never appeared before on the web.

A huge debt of gratitude goes to JIM ROMAINE, the original architect of this website who has now outdone himself with this revamped version. In building this site, his intelligence and creativity were exceeded only by his patience. Other than blood relatives and a single-digit number of family friends, I've known Jim longer than anybody. He is a great guy, and I count myself lucky to have remained friends with him since kindergarten or so. Thanks, man.

Thanks, too, to anyone who's come out to a gig, listened to the radio show, or read the site so far. I'm just getting warmed up.

Welcome to Hoboken Rock City Mach 2. Hope you enjoy our new direction.

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