This Saturday, Concordia grad Bobby Shore and undergrad Raph Kerwin will accomplish an impressive feat: in the fickle world of Montreal’s club scene, they will celebrate the third anniversary of their weekly “Back to Basics” Hip-Hop night at Blue Dog, an event that they have promoted and performed at without fail for the past three years.
The duo of Shore and Kerwin (otherwise known respectively as DJs Steady B and D.R One ) believe their success is due, in large part, to their unique blend of music. Kerwin said, “We do something no one else in the city does. We have the only night that plays Underground or older Hip-Hop and more danceable commercial music.”
Recently, Kerwin and Shore have also added Dancehall Reggae to their set list. But no matter what style of music they play, the two DJs continue to obey one golden rule: they only play songs for up to one minute in order to keep the show more lively.
“Back to Basics” is now so well established, major corporations have offered to sponsor the event. But it wasn’t always so.
Prior to the gig at Blue Dog, Kerwin was a struggling DJ at club Tokyo, where he eventually hooked up with Shore.
However, Kerwin doesn’t wax nostalgic about his days at Tokyo, “I lived downtown near Concordia and walked with my mixer and records in a knapsack all the way from there to the club ’cause I was broke. Every night I’d be back home at four in the morning, in the winter too.”
When the two got the chance to promote their own night at Blue Dog, they quickly realized both the financial and creative opportunities were too promising to be ignored.
Hungry for success, Kerwin and Shore worked tirelessly, promoting the fledgling event, to the point of getting fined by police for illegally posting “Back to Basics” flyers.
Early on, the two were also unsure the event would last beyond a few weeks. Shore recalled that so few people showed up to their opening night that he and Kerwin lost a considerable sum of cash.
But those days are long gone. Today, “Back to Basics'” unique musical formula and house party like atmosphere keep Blue Dog packed every Saturday. The DJs also believe the event’s continued popularity is due to their creative freedom.
Since Kerwin and Shore organize “Back to Basics” themselves, they play exactly what they want, in stark contrast to promoters at other clubs who usually demand that their DJs play the latest mainstream chart toppers.
Kerwin who, aside from being a Concordia history major, DJs for a living, understands this all too well.
Having several gigs in Montreal, Ottawa and Kingston, he notes that often all that is expected of him is to play “cheesy music, and I’m just going through the motions. I might as well be serving hamburgers at McDonalds; it’s the same thing,” Kerwin said.
For him, “Back to Basics” is “the most fun I’ve ever had as a DJ. It’s the most energetic crowd that I’ve ever played to. We’ve had the place with just everybody jumping up and down. It’s intimate. It’s the right spot.”
Promoting and performing at a night on St. Laurent Blvd. for three years can be hard work but Shore concluded, “I don’t look at it as a job, it’s way too fun to be a job. At the same time it’s really nice to be able to make some decent money being able to do what you want to do.”
“Back to Basics'” Third Year Anniversary Party will take place this Saturday at Club Blue Dog, 3958 St. Laurent Blvd, just below Duluth. Tickets are $4. Guests include Abra on Beatbox and DJ Scott C.