Bringing the funk to West Michigan
After celebrating its two-year anniversary in January, the Grand Rapids Soul Club continues to find unique ways of bringing the funk to West Michigan.
Founded by local DJs Josh Breuer, Andrew Christopoulos and Mike Saunders, the GRSC gathers on the fourth Friday of each month -- typically at The Pyramid Scheme or Billy’s Lounge -- to highlight rare funk and soul via turntables and crates.
“We like to play a lot of stuff from this region,” Saunders says. “Even old Grand Rapids artists like Spot & the Blotters or People’s Choice, who have gone relatively unknown on a national stage.”
The crew, Saunders says, also spins vinyl from better-known artists such as Curtis Mayfield, The Isley Brothers and The Supremes.
GRSC not only keeps downtown dance floors grooving by means of spinning its own selections of soulful vinyl, but through the company of guest DJs.
Just this spring, Doug Shorts and Rob Sevier joined the trio for its monthly gathering at The Pyramid Scheme.
“Doug Shorts is an amazing vocalist and musician that I met while living in Chicago,” Christopoulos says. “He has played with or been a part of many important soul music groups from Chicago and has released some killer records of his own as well.”
Recently, the U.K.’s Jazzman Records and Chicago’s The Numero Group re-issued some of Shorts’ older and unreleased material. Sevier, who co-founded The Numero Group, “has excellent taste in soul records,” Christopoulos says.
For their most recent gathering at Billy’s Lounge in Eastown, GRSC put an early electro spin on the evening calling it “The Grand Rapids Machine Soul Club” and featuring DJ PHYXIX.
According to Christopoulos, DJ PHYXIX spun a set of electro and early techno, mostly from Detroit, with soul influences. While the crew still played some classic soul club material, the focus was a little later (late ’70s and ’80s) than some of the other nights.
“This is just a one-off theme and we like to do that from time to time to keep things interesting,” Christopoulos said.
GRSC certainly has a knack for keeping things interesting for audiences, which have grown since 2012.
“I tend to think that most people like to go out, have fun, dance and listen to music that they might not hear at home,” suggests Christopoulos. “DJs, whether soul or EDM, that plan good parties with good music, will always have the attention of younger audiences.”
With attendance up, there is now, more than ever, a great energy and flow to evening performances, Christopoulos says.
“We had well over 200 people and more importantly, most of the people I saw were dancing, socializing, and just having a good time,” he said of last month’s show.
To the founding members, that’s the ultimate goal.
“It’s a labor of love,” Christopoulos insists. “It feels good to see people dancing and sharing the same enthusiasm as I do with the records I play.”