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The World’s Greatest Quebecois DJ March 6, 2006

Posted by KG in Etc., Friends.
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Dateline: Late Spring, 2002. I’m newly employed, dirt poor, living in a gross group house in the ‘burbs, and more or less miserable. A diet of bourbon and loneliness will do that to a man. Enter Thomas Logan, friend from my Sheffield days, with an interesting offer. Come down to Chapel Hill for the weekend, says he, and help me with this music festival I’m working on. Hm. 8-9 hours driving each way for a weekend of sweaty work and partying in North Cackalacka. I thought about it for, oh, a third of a second and readily agreed.

The drive to Chapel Hill was pure distilled misery served in a Honda ramekin. I departed the DC area around 3 on a Friday and ended up trapped on I-95, which had decided to switch from major thoroughfare to parking lot. I think the entire population of York Pennsylvania was headed to Kings Dominion that very weekend. But I eventually made it, with brief detours to get fried chicken in Southern Virginia (heartclogginglicious) and get un-lost in Durham (who knew it was so ghetto?). Thomas’s house proved even more shabby than my abode, but Chapel Hill was cute in ways College Park, America’s worst college town, definitely was not.

The weekend proved to be well worth the hellish drive: great music, lots of dancing, public rowdiness, the whole kit and kaboodle. One of the — no, I take it back — the absolute highlight was seeing a 19-year old kid from Montreal perform one of the most impressive DJ routines I have ever seen. He was doing absolutely ridiculous things with three turntables. Random frat boys, most unfamiliar with turntablism, were cheering like they were at spring break. Experienced DJs twice his age stood, mouths agape, wondering how this skinny white kid managed to move his hands like that. Later, at the afterparty, the DJ — by this point, amusingly drunk on Hennessy — attracted a bevy of beautiful DJ groupies fawning after him. Not bad for a kid that probably weighed 130 pounds soaking wet.

I was feeling a little nostalgic last week, trying to reconnect with my days as a dance music aficionado. So I decided to try and find that kid DJ, see where he’d ended up. Imagine my surprise when I found out not only was the kid still DJing (and still, seemingly, unable to really grow a mustache), but he had made the DJ big time. His DJ Name? A-Trak. His gig? Kanye West’s tour DJ. Talk about being a long way from playing free gigs for a gaggle of drunk college kids. Now the kids have to pay.

So thanks, Thomas Logan (if you read this, which I don’t think you do), for giving me the chance to meet young Alain. Its pretty cool to see that virtuoso kid take his talents and take them far.

(for a brief look at A-Trak that is worthwhile for numerous other reasons, I highly recommend Dave Chappelle’s Block Party. Its a great concert film on multiple levels, including the level wherein I’m extremely annoyed that I lost my copy of Let’s Get Free.)

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