September 9, 2015 FOLD Festival Simply Magical Martha Clara Vineyards Riverhead, NY 8-5-15 w/ Duran Duran, Janelle Monae, Chaka Khan, & more
Following a spectacular opening of FOLD Festival at Martha Clara Vineyards in Riverhead, NY on Tuesday August 4th, night two on Wednesday the 5th promised to be equally as riveting. With many fans returning for more action, having purchased the two day pass, there were also some new faces in the crowd ready for the night of fun. While night one focused primarily on some of the best DJs in the world, as well as the top acts of today, day two would be a mix in some of the ’80s most legendary artists such as Grand Master Melle Mel, Chaka Khan, Public Enemy’s Chuck D, and main attraction, Duran Duran. With the temperature cooler and the humidity lower, concert goers began to shuffle in around 6 PM to see what FOLD Festival’s finale had in store.
Kicking off the celebration for the second night in a row was French DJ Greg Cerrone. Mixing things up from his set a day earlier, Greg Cerrone came out with equal energy to get the crowd bouncing. His timing and feel for the beat was nothing less than perfect, and once again he got the party started right. Recently, Greg Cerrone celebrated his fifth anniversary of relocating from his home country of France to live in the USA, and fans are thankful to have him here.
Another DJ duo keeping the energy flowing on the mainstage was Los Angeles’ Slander. Consisting of Derek Andersen and Scott Land, who met while Fraternity brothers at University of California Irvine, the two dabble in the production of what is called Trap music. Coming from the OC nightlife scene, they learned early on to be versatile in their style and they brought that versatility to the stage at FOLD Festival. Spinning a colorful mix of tunes, the two kept the crowd going and put strong emphasis on interaction with those listening. There are plenty of gigs featuring Slander between now and November around the USA, so be sure to check them out.
Next up was the colorful and humorous Ginger Minj. A natural born entertainer, Minj has a flair for the dramatic with the ability to sing, dance, act, and almost make her audience break out in laughter. Recently featured on RuPaul’s Drag Race season 7, many fans were shocked to see Minj be beat out as top Drag Queen by fellow contestant Violet Chachki. Nonetheless, Minj has a bright future as she immediately grabbed FOLD Festival’s attention the moment she walked on the stage. Engaging with the audience and cracking jokes, Minj mixed in some singing numbers including her latest single “Ooh Lala Lala.” She is making plenty of appearances, including a performance of her Crossdresser for Christ – The Musical in New York City at The Laurie Beechman Theatre Friday, September 11th.
Grandmaster Melle Mel
Bringing on some Hip Hop flavor was genre pioneer Grandmaster Melle Mel. As the main songwriter for Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Melle Mel has made his fair share of history dating back to 1978, continuing through the ’80s, and into recent times with his 2007 solo album, Muscles. Having the honor of being the first Hip Hop group ever inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007, Melle Mel is a humble and accomplished man proud of his roots. Coming onto the stage dressed in all white, decked out with muscles from head to toe, accomplished Long Island based producer Prince Paul, who has worked with everyone from De La Soul to Gravediggaz, acted as DJ for the set. Enthusiastic, Melle Mel busted out favorites like 1983’s “White Lines (Don’t Don’t Do It)” and 1982’s “The Message” to get everyone’s hands in the air. Expressing his appreciation for his accomplishments, Melle Mel stated his only focus ever was on the music, he never spent time in jail, never shot anyone, but he had dreams of being a Rock star, and he did it! An awe-inspiring comment, fans cheered loudly and Melle Mel even flowed out a medley of Hip Hop classics such as Run DMC’s “It’s Like That,” Kurt Blow’s “These are the Breaks,” Rob Base’s “I Wanna Rock,” Naughty by Nature’s “O.P.P.,” Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s “Shimmy Shimmy Ya,” and Black Sheep’s “Engine Engine Number 9,” among many others. Grandmaster Melle Mel’s appearance was an experience to withhold and hopefully he will make some other appearances around the New York area soon.
Destiny Arts Center Dancers
Returning for more action in night two was once again the Destiny Arts Center Dancers out of Oakland, CA. Dominating the stage and showing stamina in their dance moves the young aspiring entertainers did a fine job. More groups in America need to do the work for the youth of the country that Destiny Arts Center does, so be sure to go to their site www.destinyarts.org to learn more.
Back for more feverish Dance Rock at FOLD Festival thereafter was Nile Rodgers’ Chic. A band which pioneered a Dance Rock sound like no other, amazingly Chic has been nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nine times, but walked away empty handed. Shocking and unjust, considering the band’s major success, Chic still hold their head high and proudly represent the Dance genre, which is often discounted. As for Rodgers himself, this mastermind of production and songwriting cannot be slowed down, and his organization of FOLD Festival is proof of such. With that all said, Rodgers, along with his band of Jerry Barnes on bass/vocals, Ralph Rolle on drums/vocals, Kimberly Davis on lead vocals, Folami on lead vocals, Richard Hilton on keyboards, Russell Graham on keyboards, along with Bill Holloman and Curt Ramm on horns, were back for round two as cold breeze began to below through Martha Clara Vineyard.
Playing signature hits like “Everybody Dance,” “Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)” and “I Want Your Love,” Rodgers and company showed equal energy despise their lengthy set the night prior. On top of it all, Rodgers sustained a bad ankle sprain on Tuesday night, but the determined performer showed no signs of hobbling around as he got into the groove of the music as they played “I’m Coming Out” and Daft Punk’s Get Lucky.” Rodgers once again expressed great appreciation for all that came out to the festival and even made a proclamation that FOLD Festival would in fact be back in 2016, with three days on tap, this time scheduled for a weekend. Exciting the crowd with anticipation for what 2016 would hold, Chic continued with a set that saw Davis and Folami reach for the sky on vocals, while Rolle’s did his best David Bowie on “Let’s Dance.”
Playing long and consistently amidst Chic’s set, Janelle Monáe and Chaka Khan came out for eye-opening performances. While Rodgers remained on stage for 90 percent of the night, playing guitar or not, he and his band brought a mass of attendees onto the stage in their grand finale of “Good Times” to sing and dance along. With everyone expressing abundant amounts of joy, the adrenaline was just peaking with so much more music left at the festival. Never mind what the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame thinks, Chic are a band for the ages.
Ready to blow everyone’s mind at FOLD Festival, the one and only Janelle Monáe was ready to go. On the scene for over a decade, Monáe has built quite a name for herself, nominated for, and won many awards. Releasing her debut studio album The ArchAndroid in 2010, 2013 brought a continued progression in her sound with the critically acclaimed The Electric Lady. Mixing everything from Hip Hop, to Jazz, to Soul, to Rock, Monáe’a style can best be described as artful. Coming out in her signature tuxedo wardrobe and formal updo hairstyle, Monáe’s image immediately screamed class and elegance.
Accompanied by her guitarist, Kellindo Parker, and keyboardist, Terrance Brown, to mix in with Chic’s members Monáe moved about the stage with a vigorous energy singing songs like “Tightrope.” Having everyone completely fixed on her presence, perhaps the most astounding moment of the set came during the performance of “Q.U.E.E.N.” where Parker rocked out the irresistible guitar riff and Monáe mirrored a classic Soul style of yesteryear that had fans screaming for more. Of course also playing the up-tempo hit single “Electric Lady,” Monáe barely broke a sweat while dominating the stage with a heartfelt and body moving performance. Anyone who has not seen her live must do so to completely understand the passion this artist brings to the stage. There will be that chance for New Yorkers on October 1st when she hits Madison Square Garden, so get tickets now.
Often known as the Queen of Funk, continuing the evening of great voices was Chaka Khan. Having a career that has spanned over four decades, Khan has won ten Grammys and has sold an estimated seventy million records worldwide. An amazing accomplishment, Khan spent her early years a part of the band Rufus and debuted solo in 1978 with Chaka, but it was 1984’s I Feel You which helped her reach a new stratosphere of popularity. Khan, remaining active in the new millennium, releasing new music, and collaborating with other artists, it was recently announced she will be competing on season 21 of popular show Dancing with the Stars.
Walking out to the unmistakable opening of “Chaka Khan,” originally rapped by Melle Mel, “I Feel You” opened the set with Khan glowing under the bright lights. With good vibes flowing, Khan sang strongly as she went into other favorites like 1973 Rufus cut “Sweet Thing” and her debut solo single “I’m Every Woman” as fans danced along. Expressing her joy to be a part of FOLD Festival with Rodgers, Khan kept her set balanced with everything the crowd came to hear, including 1983’s hit “Ain’t Nobody.” While Dancing with the Stars season 21 premieres Monday, September 14th, Khan can be seen performing live for select dates in November.
With less than an hour before Duran Duran took the stage, Hip Hop legend Chuck D of Public Enemy grabbed hold of the microphone for a set that stopped everyone in their tracks. With Long Island roots, Chuck D began Public Enemy over three decades ago with hypeman Flavor Flav. Known for lyrics that attacked the root of social issues in the world, Chuck D also has a booming voice that makes him one of the most distinctive in Hip Hop history. Debuting with their 1987 album Yo! Bum Rush the Show, they asserted their dominance a year later with It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back. Recently inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013, Public Enemy does not rest on previous accomplishments and released their thirteenth overall studio album, Man Plans God Laughs, back in July. While the set at FOLD Festival would not be the full Public Enemy crew, Chuck D brought with him of original Bomb Squad member Keith Shocklee and DJ Journey to spin records aside him.
Pumping up the crowd from the start, Chuck D busted out Public Enemy favorites like 1988’s “Prophets of Rage” followed by 1987’s “Public Enemy No. 1.” Into the groove of the beats, Shocklee and DJ Journey provided the classics that kept coming with “Bring the Noise,” “Welcome to The Terrordome,” and the rousing “Can’t Truss It.” Having some fans mouthing the words of each track, Chuck D broke into new material and introduced “Lost in Space Music,” which was in fact being played in the USA for the very first time. Following with the title track off their latest album, the lyrics provided to be as potent as ever as Chuck D’s voice amplified their meaning with conviction. Asking the crowd if they were ready for Duran Duran, cheers came pouring down before Chuck D gave them one last hit with the fist-raising “Fight The Power.” Appreciated for his appearance, Public Enemy fans now hope the band will be back in The States for touring in support of Man Plans God Laughs following their run in Europe.
Wrapping up FOLD Festival was New Wave Rock leader Duran Duran. Hailing from England, the band, consisting of Vocalist Simon Le Bon, Keyboardist Nick Rhodes, Bassist John Taylor, and Drummer Roger Taylor, has had no shortage of praise through their storied career. Debuting with their self-titled album in 1981, the band sold more than seventy million records over the course of thirteen studio albums, and now are set to release their fourteenth, Paper Gods. Known for vocal productions that can not be replicated, Duran Duran still remain as relevant as ever in modern times, selling out arenas around the world. With the word of Paper Gods being spoken about for the past six month or so, FOLD Festival was actually the first North American tour date announced, resulting in a handful more popping up thereafter. With that said, FOLD Festival was also extra special for Duran Duran as they have strong ties with Rodgers himself, who worked with them to produce their 1986 album Notorious, among many others in the future.
Coming out with purple and blue lighting dressing the stage, a hush came over the crowd momentarily before the drums of Roger jumped started 1984’s “The Wild Boys.” With Le Bon walking casually to the front of the stage, singing the words, it became apparent immediately his voice was as on point as any live performance in recent years. Going into the electrifying “A View to Kill,” the band sounded flawlessly tight musically and production-wise. Interacting with one another on stage and sharing a few laughs, the mood was upbeat as they went into a mix of 2011’s “All You Need Is Now,” 1983’s “Is There Something I Should Know?,” as well as 1993’s mesmerizing “Come Undone.”
Keeping the hits coming one after another, Rhodes’ synth work took the spotlight on “The Chauffeur” as John’s bass held a strong backbone for Le Bon to soar vocally. Having everyone cheering, Duran Duran mellowed out for a rendition of the thoughtful hit “Ordinary World” that had many singing along. Taking a moment to converse with the audience more, Le Bon stated how much respect Duran Duran have for Rodgers and recall first hearing 1984 INXS album The Swing, wondering who in the world produced this masterpiece, only to read the liner notes with Nile Rodgers name credited. Knowing they had to work with Rodgers, the end result was the aforementioned Notorious album. An interesting story to share, moments later the band invited Rodgers onto the FOLD Festival stage to perform the album’s title track with them in all its funky glory.
Finally offering up some new material from Paper Gods, the band went into Rodgers’ produced track “Pressure Off.” Featuring a co-write and performance by Janelle Monáe, it seemed almost fitting she would reappear on stage to perform the track with Duran Duran. Receiving a warm reception for the new song, they took the audience back in history for the danceable “Planet Earth” and guitar driven hit “Hungry Like the Wolf.” With more singing along from the audience, their set wound down with 2004 Astronaut single “(Reach Up for the) Sunrise.” Curious if they would have time for an encore with a curfew in place, Duran Duran did not disappoint and returned with a finale of signature tune, “Rio.”
In enough words, Duran Duran’s set was nothing less than perfect. They touched on a wide range of hits in a compact time and now fans will be treated with a full North American tour that continues through October. Paper Gods is out Friday, September 11th, and just a few days later, on the 14th, the band will be playing a sold out show at Terminal 5 in NYC. As for FOLD Festival, the inaugural year was a simple delight for music fans. It was a laid back atmosphere with a friendly, inviting staff, beautiful scenery, and most of all, good times. Rodgers has started something special with FOLD Festival, and given the East End of Long Island a splash of culture it most certainly needs.