In the fall, Chicago nonprofit the Modern Dance Music Research and Archive Foundation kicked off a yearlong partnership with the Old Town School of Folk Music to celebrate the city’s house-music history. Tonight the Old Town School hosts an event born of that partnership, focusing on the labels, middlemen, and other behind-the-scenes operators who helped launch house from Chicago’s underground clubs onto pop charts around the world. The panel discussion, called the Business of House, is anchored by Kevin McFall, senior vice president of strategy and business development for the Johnson Publishing Company, and attorney Jay B. Ross. House quickly permeated Chicago after its inception in the 80s, and I’m keen to hear more from the people who helped it prosper outside the city—McFall and Ross have no doubt learned a lot about the house community working behind the scenes.
Ross in particular has a lot of experience in house. One look at the client list for Jay B. Ross & Associates shows how many people in the scene have put their trust in him, including J.M. Silk, Screamin’ Rachael, and heavyweight label DJ International. Among the artists who’ve released records through DJ International are Fingers Inc., aka veteran producer Larry Heard. He recently dropped a 12-inch as Mr. Fingers, a name he hasn’t used for a formal release in 11 years. The new Mr. Fingers EP includes the gently immersive deep-house cut “Qwazars,” which is today’s 12 O’Clock Track.
Given that the panel is scheduled for an hour and a half, I doubt Ross and McFall will be able to talk about every producer they’ve worked with, but I bet Heard will come up. You can register for tonight’s panel through Eventbrite; it’s free and starts at 6 PM.