DJs energize a club crowd that's upscale and older

LoveGrove and Auburn have moved past the rave

Scene: Clubs, Bars, Nightlife

September 02, 2004|By Annie Linskey | Annie Linskey,SUN STAFF

It's just after midnight at Mosaic, and DJ LoveGrove is doing a little dance at the turntables. He twists on one foot, then shakes back and forth. His co-pilot - DJ Adam Auburn - wears a pair of headphones and is more focused on the groove for the moment.

Both have every reason to be in a good mood. There is a crowd at Power Plant Live's upscale lounge, and it is moving; some dance, others sit in low comfortable chairs and shimmy a little bit to the music. Energy is high for a Friday night.

"Somebody's always dancing; usually that is a good sign," observed Ken Williams, 38, who stopped by for a drink with his wife after seeing The Phantom of the Opera. They both enjoyed the music. "When you go to a club or go out, you want to hear something different," said his wife, Kim, 34.

LoveGrove and Auburn are the Baltimore contingent of Sonic Soul Productions - a group of DJs and musicians who create Latin-influenced modern lounge tracks. They cater to lounge lovers: an older, more stylish version of the bar scene.

"We absolutely do draw a great fun party atmosphere" to Power Plant Live said Cordish Company V.P. Reed Cordish, "At the same time, we are drawing more people seeking a sophisticated ambiance."

And with LoveGrove (George Concannon) and Auburn, they've hired DJs who they hope can deliver this. They will play there regularly on Friday nights.

"Everything we play is jazz influenced," said LoveGrove. "It is not a million miles away from the mainstream. It is dance music for a crowd that doesn't want to be hit over the head with it."

LoveGrove - the name comes from the Baltimore alley - has been a part of the city's dance scene since the mid-'80s. He's 35, a little on the pudgy side and is warm and easy to talk to. He DJ'd an alternative radio show at Towson University (his alma mater) in the late-'80s and then was hired to spin at the Calvert Cafe in 1989. Since then, he's played in a number of local venues, in addition to several national and European tours.

LoveGrove made his name playing at raves, providing the soundtrack to the chill-out rooms (spaces for amped-up ravers to catch their breath before going out for more). The lounge scene is a grown-up version of this concept.

LoveGrove makes an odd pairing with the tall, lanky, spiky-haired Adam Auburn (aka Adam Eisler). "I grew up a pretty awkward kid," said Auburn, 24. "When I'm playing music, it is the one thing that always makes sense." Auburn - whose DJ name comes from his red hair - is from New Brunswick, N.J., and graduated from the University of Delaware. He moved to Baltimore this winter.

But both have a passion for the same type of music. And LoveGrove was looking for a younger face for the group, which he found in Auburn.

Now they play "the post-rave, post-college scene," said LoveGrove.

On Friday at Mosaic, several additional Sonic Soul musicians were on hand playing guitar and drums. This mix between live and recorded music is an important part of LoveGrove and Auburn's sound, but, since the live musicians live in New York, it is not one they can always achieve.

"They doing something that is new and different," said Ricki Rutley, a 50-year-old fan. "They're not about drinking or drugs. It is about the music, and that is really inspiring," she said.

It is also about dance. And to get the crowed going, they focus one half of the population.

"Whenever I pick out my records, I think, `What would my girlfriend like?' " said Auburn.

LoveGrove insists that they don't cater to women in any way that is "cheesy," but their experience tells them that when women dance, the men will follow.

On Friday, at Mosaic, this is exactly what was happening.

Mosaic is at 34 Market Place (in the Power Plant Live! complex). Hours are 6 p.m.-2 a.m., Wednesday through Saturday. Call 410-727-LIVE or visit www.powerplantlive.com.

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