Dance Music Pick of the Week: Gene Farris at Focus

One of my favorite house tracks of all time is Gene Farris' “Richard's Word,” (sample) which floats a skit by the late, great Richard Pryor above an optimistic groove that's laced with a flighty flute loop. Pryor is at his gut-busting best riffing, for example, on what it takes, power tools and all, to get his lover to the, er, promised land (e.g. “all ugly in the face”).

It's a light touch of soul with a purposeful, dance-floor drive, not unlike much of Farris' output. While dance music, particularly techno and progressive house, have gotten stone-face serious, Farris and his Chicago contemporaries such as DJ Sneak and Derrick Carter, have always kept things lighthearted and party hardy. The dizzy, layered, hand-raising sound of these second-wave house DJs from Chicago created a blueprint for club-land performance that continues to resonate across the globe. (Witness the resurgence of Daft Punk, which has expressed its debt to Chicago, and to Sneak in particular).

Farris is the quiet prankster of the bunch, quick to throw a sexual reference into his mix, but never a show-boater. His modest stance is smoother than the quick-mix style of some of his Windy City brethren, and you might even find tinges of electronic bliss in his otherwise Latinized grooves. He's at Focus in Newport Beach Tuesday to promote his latest mix-CD Revolution 09.

Focus OC presents Gene Farris with Wobs Tuesday at Tapas, 4253 Martingale Way, Newport Beach. 18+. Doors at 9:30. $5 before 10:30 with RSVP. Info:

Download a Farris DJ mix here.

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