SALTED returns to Mighty on Saturday, Nov 14th with music royalty in the lineup...
A King of House... the one and only Tony Humphries, joins residents Miguel Migs and Julius Papp behind the decks. We look forward to this exciting night as it will be his first-ever appearance at Salted... See you on the dance floor!
Tony Humphries has now been DJing nearly 35 years, an incredible achievement that in any other industry would have been rewarded with a carriage clock, service medal and a free bus pass. His big break came through a chance meeting with Mastermixer Shep Pettibone at the offices of Prelude Records. A shy Humphries handed over his 120-minute mixtape to Shep and then forgot all about it. A few days later, he received a call from Shep. Kiss FM became the hottest station in the five boroughs and Humphries’ star rose and his show went on to last for many years both at KISS and, later, HOT 97. His lengthy stints at both stations were not simply an exercise in career furtherment, but a way of introducing new music and acts to the city of New York – and further afield.
Although Humphries was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, he has long been associated with New Jersey and the reason for that is his long-held residency at Club Zanzibar in Newark, where he began spinning in 1982. Zanzibar became synonymous with a new soulful electronic sound, labelled the Jersey sound, but with Tony’s hands at the tiller it was a vastly more varied menu than that suggests, since he was there at the birth of house music and helped nurture its development in both Jersey and New York.
Just as the Paradise Garage created a whole eco-culture surrounding the club, so New Jersey’s music scene was boosted by the fervour for Tony’s sets at Zanzibar. Although Tony is often seen more as a DJ than a remixer, his forays into the studio have always been productive and, at times, transcendental. Even before house’s incendiary arrival, Tony’s remixes caused a stir and several are now rightly regarded as classics. His remix of Mtume’s ‘Juicy Fruit’ has been sampled on several big hip hop and R&B hits and Fresh Band’s ‘Come Back Lover’ is rightly regarded as one of the best disco songs of the 1980s. Poignantly, Tony was enticed back into the studio in 2013 by Frankie Knuckles who asked Tony to do a swap mix for a track he’d been working on. As Frankie told Tony, “You’re a great remixer. I just thought folks needed to be reminded.”
Tony’s first label venture, a joint enterprise with New York’s Strictly Rhythm called Yellorange was launched in 1998 and ran for four years. The label ran the gamut of styles, from the soulful vocals of Mel’isa Morgan, Miguel Plansencia’s Afro-Cuban flavors, through to Soweto Funk’s Italo-grooves. Case in point was the label best seller Sunkids ft. Chance’s ‘Rescue Me’, which has a deft re-reub by Masters At Work. Bringing it all up to date, Tony Records is, according to the boss, “showcasing younger artists and producers doing soulful music in a modern form. Keeping the soulful underground vibe with fresher sounds.” Check Rame & Bonora’s ‘Sick’ from last year for the evidence or, even better, Tony’s own recent release Housework EP, which fuses blues, gospel and worksongs into a brilliantly contemporary setting.
In 2009, Body & Soul promoter John Davis brought Tony together with ‘Little’ Louie Vega and David Morales for a ten-hour session at New York’s Webster Hall that was appropriately dubbed the Kings of House. Little did any of them anticipate the success that this would be, turning into a worldwide phenomenon that has straddled continents and cities.
What strikes anyone when meeting Tony Humphries is not what he’s done or where he’s been, but where he’s going. ““Growing up in Boston, our biggest influence was the New York house scene and no one embodies this spirit more than Tony Humphries,” explains Soul Clap’s Eli Goldstein. “For us, the gospel, deep, tribal sound he created at his Zanzibar residency reached us through the many remixes and tracks named after the legendary club. We finally had the honor of opening for Tony this year and we were blown away by his ability to represent the old, while pushing a unique, modern house sound. There is clearly only one Tony Humphries!” Amen to that.