A prime spinner returns
His Sunday-night gig spinning old-school funk and soul records at the Press Club may have gone the way of the Cadillac tailfin, but DJ Larry Rodriguez never gave up the funk.
Rodriguez, a record fanatic with deep musical knowledge, resurfaced two weeks ago with Global Grooves, a new dance show he’s programming on Thursday nights at Habanero Cava Latina, a restaurant at 2115 J St., next door to Tapa the World. The music starts around 10:30 p.m. and goes until 2 a.m., and the cover charge is $4.
However, instead of trombipulations from the George Clinton universe, the sounds of choice at Global Grooves fall under the umbrella of world music, which can mean anything from Latin American forms—cumbia, meringue, salsa, samba—to such exotic Asian and African hybrids as east Indian bhangra and Algerian rai. The common denominator is that the music has to, you know, move.
“I always just go for groove,” Rodriguez says, emphasizing that the free-your-ass-and-your-mind-will-follow ethos is not unique to North America, that people all over the world treasure the therapeutic aspect of butt-shaking. “But there’s a lot of world music that people don’t like,” he explains. Of course, it goes without saying that Scottish bagpipe music, when presented in a nightclub context, tends to clear a roomful of non-haggis eaters in record time, especially those who have had prior exposure to Ohio Players recordings. But there are other forms of so-called world music that are more of interest to pipe-smoking ethnomusicologists than they might be to itinerant club-hoppers—Indonesian gamelan, Tuvan throat singers, Maritime-province sea shanteys, et cetera.
But those aren’t the sides that Rodriguez is spinning. When asked what artists he is playing, the DJ doesn’t hesitate. “Fela Kuti,” he says, naming the Nigerian Afro-beat superstar who died of AIDS in 1997, whose record catalog has been an ongoing reissue project of Disques Barclay/MCA Records in the United States. Other acts Rodriguez favors include Rachid Taha, Natacha Atlas, Amr Diab and (Cheb) Khaled.
If world beat is too exotic for you, Rodriguez also has returned to spinning the music that put him on the local map—old-school funk and soul—on Sunday nights at the Distillery, at 2107 L St.; starting October 2, he’ll add Wednesday nights to the mix.