1. In its tenth big year, let's go behind the scenes of the ClubHouse Jamboree for the inside story on this long-running event. How did it get started, who was originally involved - both on and off stage - and make sure to supply plenty of details, details, details.
DJ Lil Ray: Great question (I guess that's how the professionals start off with their answers...hahaha)! The ClubHouse Jamboree was originally started out of a vision by Curtis Minter (Dirty Curt from Behind Club Doors fame) and myself to take all the fun we usually have indoors at clubs and bring it outdoors. At the time, there was no other outdoor event catering to "club music" as we called it in NYC. Also, most of the people who had been partying for years, were getting older, having young children, and couldn't get out as much. [They] were saying that it would be great to have an outdoor event so they could show their children what they do when they go out. As far as the name is concerned, it was originally called the "Behind Club Doors" ClubHouse Jamboree. Behind Club Doors was a party in Brooklyn that Curt and Desiree, who were married, decided to start along with myself, Tyrone Francis, Manski and later Kim Lightfoot. The Jamboree was supposed to be used as a starting point for the club. The name "ClubHouse Jamboree" was decided on by both Curt and me because we called the music "Club" and others where calling it "House" so we fused both names together. We wanted a festival type of feeling so we came up with Jamboree. I dropped the "Behind Club Doors" part after Curt turned over the controls of the event to me because he wanted to go in a different direction with his life...hence "ClubHouse Jamboree".
2. How do you select the DJs and performers each year? Is there someone you've really wanted to participate who hasn't?
DJLR: Answering the second part first, DJ David Morales. He came to the event three years ago, and enjoyed himself so much that he told me to always keep him in mind. His schedule has been so busy, we haven't been able to align the planets yet to make this happen... but one day... hahaha. As far as singers are concerned, I would love to have the budget where I can get a top caliber entertainer in our scene like Grace Jones, Loletta Holloway, or a Patti Labelle. As far as the first part of the question, selecting the DJs is a very stressful process... there are so many DJs and so few slots. The event is only six hours (the park actually only gives me a permit for four hours, but it has been such a great event that I usually start two hours earlier) and it is difficult to book all the DJs I would like to book. I have DJs who have been asking me since year one to play and it pains me when I can't get them in. Working with DJs and their egos is a delicate task... hahaha. Some wanna play but they don't wanna open and so on and so forth.
I try to select the DJs based on raw talent. Usually what I try to do is book a really big name DJ or one that the crowd is following at the time, (keeping in mind that they [must] be able to rock the turntables) and then book other DJs who I think are great talents but just not as well known. Some of the DJs who have played the Jamboree are: DJ Camacho, Kenny Carpenter, Little Louie Vega, DJ Pernell (from Black Underground, the Colony at Coney Island), Kim Lightfoot, Herb Martin, MKL, Omar Abdallah, Basil, Manski, Tyrone Francis, Shan S, Wil Milton, EMan, Donna Edwards, Victor Rosado, Khalim Shabazz, White Mike Sarkus, and Kervyn Mark. I think I have gotten it right... hahahaha.
3. What have been some of your favorite events and why?
DJLR: Well, when I go out I go out with the intentions of always having fun or else I don't go, so there have been many events that have been enjoyable... some of these are: The two Body & Soul outdoor events at Central Park SummerStage… When they turned the water on the crowd the first year, it was magical. The second year we where expecting it, so it was fantastic when it happened. My first time at the WMC in Miami was last year, and seeing Little Louie Vega on stage with the Elements of Life band and living his dream… that was awesome. The last night at the Paradise Garage and countless other PG nights like the night Two Tons of Fun performed, when Master C&J performed with Liz Torres, when Larry [Levan] performed with the NYC Peech Boys, [or] Grace Jones' performances. The first ClubHouse Jamboree when the park estimated the crowd at 1500. We knew then we had created something [great]. Last year at the Jamboree when it poured like a hurricane, and people still came and danced in the rain. Many magical nights at the old Shelter at Vinyl, and anniversary night 2003 at the new Shelter. Some wonderful nights the summer parties on the boardwalk in Coney Island. DanceTracks party on the Intrepid...
4. For this year's Jamboree, what can party-goers expect and where do you want to go with the event in the future?
DJLR: This year, for the first time we will have Timmy Regisford playing at the event. I have many favorite DJs, but two of my current favorites are Timmy and Victor Rosado. Many of the older party heads have been fantasizing about having these two giants play at a party together, and so I have booked them to play the Jamboree and it will be the first time they play together. I know they are both known to play long sets and this will not happen at the Jamboree, but I think the folks will be happy and maybe it will lead to one day both of them playing together at one of those marathon parties we've come to love. As far as what direction I would love to see the Jamboree go in the future... not necessarily bigger, but [I would like to] get some kind of sponsorship, preferably from the dance music industry. [Then], there would be more resources for the performers and DJs (who currently donate their time) and more resources for the children who come out. I would love to also get a worthy apprentice who I could show "the ropes" to one day take it off my hands and run with it for the next 20 years.
5. Lately you've been stepping out of the shadows and taking your place among noteworthy DJs, what's next for Lil Ray and care to share the details of your upcoming new residency?
DJLR: hahahahahaha...I guess I have been stepping into the DJ arena. I do it because I really love the scene and the music. I just take it day by day and so as far as a plan, there is no real blueprint, but, you must always be ready. I have really good folks who have been pushing me into the arena and I'm grateful for that. As far as my upcoming new residency, I truly hate that word 'residency'. I'm going to be teaming up with Donna Edwards and we are going to be the dynamic duo opening up for the Maestro Timmy Regisford at SHELTER starting Saturday, Sept. 27, which coincides with my upcoming birthday. Donna is one of the most talented DJs out in the field now with most DJs wanting her edits. We started out playing at BKNY on Wednesday and folks just love how we play, so I guess it was just time to take it to another level.
Dance As If No One Is Watching
Thanks for hanging with us!
VIEW images from 20th Anniversary Jamboree in 2013.
With the end of summer comes one of the last and best outdoor jams of the season, the ClubHouse Jamboree. As it celebrates its tenth year of nourishing your mind, your body and your soul, we caught up with one of its original co-founders to get the 411 on where this fabulous afternoon out gets its healing powers. Serving the dish is culture veteran Lil Ray who has stayed the course and steered this annual celebration of family, music and great food into the annals of club history and the hearts of those fortunate enough to share in it. With these 5-Answers, he reveals the history of this long-running event, tells the tale of the DJ who keeps getting away and officially drops the bomb on his latest regular gig. Read on for chunky bits of stew just in time for fall…