Ron Trent as part of Devil's Night with Richard Brooks and Ali Black at Sunnyside Pavillion (1755 Lakeshore West), Saturday (October 30). $14 advance, more at the door. www.prescriptionworld.org Rating: NNNNN
After spending eight years based in New York City, Ron Trent has relocated to Chicago and been a little quieter than normal. Not that he hasn't been busy.
In the past year or so, he's been reviving his Prescription Records label and trying to put together a band to play live with. If you've been keeping up with his recorded work over the past 14 years, you'll have heard him move to a more live-musician-based sound, heavy with the Afro-Latin jazz influences New York is known for. However, as Trent explains, that influence comes just as much from his Chicago upbringing. "My thing has always been to incorporate the live thing with electronics, which is why early 80s music has always been a big inspiration. You had live music mixing with electronic innovations, and a lot of experimenting going on.
"House music is made up of all different kinds of music. It's basically just the dance experience - that's all the word really means. It's created a thousand legs and arms, and there are all these offshoots and different genres. That's just their take on it. I come from more of a jazz background, and I was raised on a lot of Afro-influenced music and Latin music, old soul, R&B - that's what was played in my house by my parents, and I believe we're all products of our environment."
His father ran a record pool for DJs in the late 70s to early 80s, so there was never a shortage of 12-inch singles around for Trent to experiment with, and he started trying to mix when he was only nine.
"You have to understand, just like these kids being raised on hiphop now, around that time in the urban areas of Chicago, house was our music. That was our street culture. It was a trend; it just went along with the culture for kids to be DJing, just like little kids rapping now."
The first DJ he ever saw was the legendary Ron Hardy (of the Music Box), who along with Frankie Knuckles and all the other big DJs of the time would play dances at the high school down the street from his house on the South Side. House mix shows were popular on the local radio stations, and there was an active tape-trading culture of recordings from the clubs, often made on a dictaphone hidden in a jacket.
When Trent was only 15, he made Altered States, now regarded as a classic, and launched a career as a producer and talented DJ.
Due to his regular appearances here over the years, he has a strong relationship with the Toronto house scene. His last visit was a while ago, so this show's one of this weekend's most looked-forward-to Halloween parties.
Of course, it's not the only Halloween event this Saturday. Fellow Chicago house head Roy Davis Jr. is across town at Lust Nightclub, and for those who want it hard, there's a massive Destiny rave at the Docks and some hard techno (Nightmare) at Sound Emporium. For more Halloween-related options, check the dance club listings.