Brick by brick, Bronx-born Louie Vega has built up an epic reputation as a global master of the music that makes people groove. As a club DJ, track producer, record remixer, radio personality, recording artist and house music legend, Vega has spent the last four decades with his ear to the ground and his hands on the pulse of the very best in dance music. His 2018 release NYC Disco is a double-disc of collaborations and remixes with and for legendary artists across multiple eras and stylistic spectrums - from the late greats Sylvester and Luther Vandross to Cindy Mizelle and Sharon Bryant (“Dancing For Your Love”) to wife Anané with Patrick Adams and Cloud Two on “Rebel Nation.” He won a GRAMMY® Award in 2006 for his remix of Curtis Mayfield’s soundtrack classic “Superfly.”
On Sunday, October 21 at the Ford (presented by KCRW and Fusicology), Vega will present a concert fronting his live experience ensemble Louie Vega & E.O.L. Soulfrito – E.O.L. standing for Elements of Life. The group has released a trinity of recorded projects since 2003, climaxing a decade later in 2013 with the masterpiece, Eclipse… pressed up on the legendary Fania Records label which had been dormant to new music for years until this special project. While Eclipse retained the African, Latin, jazz, and world music grooves that Vega is so renowned for, it blended in R&B, soul, blues, and gospel for a spiritually heady and cleansing brew. Breaking down barriers and bringing people together through a love of music has always been Vega’s aim.
“I’m really excited,” says Vega who has not performed in Los Angeles in quite some time. “As a DJ, I was there in February to rock the birthday of Marcus Wyatt of Deep," the famous 18-year strong roving night club. "He wanted an all vinyl set, so I went out there with five crates and played seven hours! But the last time I performed live with Elements of Life was over 10 years ago at the House of Blues. I really miss the West Coast so we’re going to dig in.”
Describing what makes Soulfrito a separate spinoff from Elements of Life, Vega explains, “E.O.L. is 14 people on stage while Soulfrito is a smaller extension of eight on stage with two singers. I condensed the band so that we could play more intimate venues like the Blue Note jazz clubs or Ronnie Scott’s and New Morning in Europe. We’ve had a few hit singles…very groove-oriented – both vocal and instrumental - and the songs are sung in different languages. We have three featured singers: one is Josh Milan (also the Musical Director and keyboardist), Anané (who sings in the Cape Verdean tongue) and our special surprise guest Julie McKnight who has sung on three or four big dance records I’ve taken part in over the years (including Diamond Life and Bittersweet). People from the dance community will definitely know who she is.”
Soulfrito will be performing two sets with an intermission in between. “Each set will be like a story…a continuous suite. The songs will have endings but they will all feel married, so to speak. The singers won’t just sing their song and leave. We’re a family so they’ll stay on stage - a beautiful unifying experience that also makes the audience feel a part of it.”
Vega teases, “I’ll never forget in Tokyo, we had people jumping up on tables to dance! Of course, we don't suggest people jump on the seats at the Ford," he laughs. "But if the music moves you, by all means stand up and dance. The more you move, the better we play - our energy feeding off of each other.”
So, prepare to move your body on October 21, for Vega and company will bring all of the fire of the pan global New York City after hours club experience to the cool Southern California outdoor environs of the Hollywood Hills for an event not soon to be forgotten.
KCRW and Fusicology present Louie Vega and E.O.L. Soulfrito Live at the Ford on Sunday, October 21 at 7:00 PM. Go here to get your groove on.