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Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2007

Jeff Kash Lays All Bets on Milwaukee

Plus: John Simmons' sunglasses at night

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November 22, 2007

When Minneapolis house selector Jeff Kash visited Milwaukee two years ago, he stumbled on a scene so hot it demanded a take-home souvenir.

In the underground den of the former Mantra Lounge, Kash and his crew were taking in the vibe of the famed Kamasutra parties that featured a rotating cast of global underground dance artists on Friday nights. While crowds filled the floor, the bass filled Kash's head, and the DJ/producer knew his hometown needed its own taste of Miltown moxie.

Now, two years later, he's translated his inspiration into action—launching his own version of the underground dance party he calls Sol Funk.

"After attending many of the parties in '05 and '06, I kept saying to myself, 'There needs to be something like this in Minneapolis,'" Kash said. "The scene is so divided up here … not many people are even into playing the funky, jackin' Chicago house sound."

While Mantra's Kamasutra playbill spanned well beyond the house vein, Kash's own production and DJ interests gravitated toward hosting events that embodied the same chunky sound he revered for years. Since 1994, Kash has channeled his passion for the music into a career that has taken him to the Twin Cities' diverse loop of underground venues. The launch of Sol Funk marks a collaborative promotional effort with fellow Minneapolis producers Nate Laurence and DJ Spur, who equally share a love of the bump.

But Kash cites one more local muse for inspiring his budding venture.

"I credit James Amato and his parties at Mantra," he said on the launch of his new night. "We finally threw our first party last weekend with Ricardo Rae and it went off magically."

This Saturday, Amato returns for his monthly residency at Three (722 N. Milwaukee St.), giving Kash another chance to embrace Milwaukee crowds.

"I plan on bringing the Sol Funk vibe with me … funky jackin' house music, new-school house music, with some classic … I am fortunate to get new tracks from many producers up here, like Nate Laurence, Jevne, Bryan Gerrard, Spur, Fourfeet—I'll be playing those tracks as well."

As for Amato? He promises to be hands-off with his new romance of "fidget house," a kind of glitchy funk that has been defining his Potty Mouth Music label as of late. Expect classic, funky bass with a swoon of jazzy riff.

Jeff Kash plays alongside James Amato as the "Sixth Apostle of Jack" for the monthly event The Second Coming: The House of Jack. Saturday, Nov. 24, at Three (722 N. Milwaukee St.). Music 9 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. No cover charge.

Shady: The Social's (170 S. First St.) monthly Soiree beats back into the groove on Saturday, Nov. 24, with a ray of funky sunshine from one of Chicago's most genuine (and respected) music heads.

For more than a decade, John BID ("Break it Down") Simmons has been flashing his signature smile to crowds in all corners of the country. With a collection of seemingly bottomless crates and his ability to read crowds, Simmons sets a tone that is usually marked by a free-spirited ride through all things soulful, smoky and straight-up dance-savvy. Look for Common, Tortured Soul, The Fresh Prince and Jill Scott to work their way into his set.

Soiree is held the last Saturday of every month at The Social (170 S. First St.), with residents Mr. Timms and Michael John. Music 9 p.m. to 2:30 a.m.