When: Fri., July 25, 8 p.m. 2014
The word “juke” has a long, murky history, and even in the context of underground Chicago dance music it hasn’t always meant the same thing—artists, fans, and critics used to define it in widely varying ways. In a 2010 interview with critic Dave Quam, footwork pioneer Kavain Space (aka RP Boo) says that in the mid-90s he’d hear “juke” used to describe the dancing or atmosphere at parties where he and other DJs played, not the music itself. These days, of course, it’s a definable sound, a sort of bridge between raw, raunchy ghetto house and wild, hectic footwork. Inviting people to move their feet is the MO of everyone performing at this year’s Juke Fest, including the ones who don’t technically play juke. DJ Deeon, for instance, helped shape ghetto house in the 90s with his releases on influential local label Dance Mania—his minimalist, booming “Da Bomb” is one of the best tunes on the recent Dance Mania retrospective Hardcore Traxx (Strut). Also on the bill is Deeon’s former Dance Mania labelmate Traxman, who’s played a major role in transforming juke into footwork. On the recent Da Mind of Traxman Vol. 2 (Planet Mu), he smooths out footwork’s hiccuping, knees-and-elbows percussion assault while maintaining its adrenalized bounce; to make the blissful, accessible “Nothing Stays the Same,” he pumps up a sauntering bass sample by gradually piling on delicate layers of syncopated percussion. —Leor Galil The complete Juke Fest lineup consists of DJ Deeon, Molly Bass, DJ RP Boo, Traxman, DJ Spinn, DJ Gant-Man, Jammin Gerald, DJ Client, and DJ Bobby Skillz.