Tag Archives: DJ Larry Rodriguez

Preaching to the Congregation: Larry Rodriguez’s Life’s Work is Making You Dance

For someone with even a passive love for music, Larry Rodriguez (aka DJ Larry or The Flower Vato) can be a pretty intimidating figure. Not only has he been making Sacramentans sweat for 20 years with his wildly popular Dance Party at the Press Club on Sundays (affectionately called “Church” by people in the know), but he’s provided the soundtrack to what most of us have been doing for the past two decades with his insane record library and encyclopedic music vocabulary. Every time he’s in control of the decks, I go home with a list of music to look up.

Maybe the most impressive part is that he’s been at it for most of his life, like the cool kid in John Hughes movies. “I was that dude in high school who was always concealing a boombox in his book bag in case there were any breakdance battles at lunch,” Rodriguez says.

As a 16-year-old, he landed a show he called Soul Sauce on a community radio station, where he played records people twice his age didn’t know anything about—jazz, funk, latin grooves, reggae and international jams from Africa and Brazil.

He gained notoriety and rose through the ranks, DJing at Jerry Perry’s legendary clubs Vortex and Cattle Club, but it wasn’t until he saved the night at a real dance party that Dance Party started to take form.

“On New Year’s Eve of 1996, I was chilling in my attic, having a puff and listening to some sides when [my brother] Mike calls from a party that some kids from The Loft were having,” Rodriguez recalls. “He told me to bring my funk and soul records because they were dancing to Billy Idol and Duran Duran singles. So I show up, throw on In the Jungle Groove by James Brown, and the joint was jumping. The rest of the night was great even with just one turntable and a rickety stereo unit. Afterward, Marla Kanelos who booked Old Ironsides asked if I wanted to do a weekly dance starting the following Sunday. That’s when Dance Party was born.”

He’s been stoking Sacramento’s flame ever since. DJing at KDVS, hosting dance nights and even doing wedding gigs.

“I’ve done cowboy weddings where all they want to hear is country music and hip-hop,” he says. “I get a perverse kick knowing what we’ve always known as rednecks are actually opening up to black culture more than we know. I was playing ‘Boot Scootin’ Boogie’ back to back with ‘Whip the Nae Nae.’”

Every time I run into Rodriguez, I walked away marveling at how deep his love for music runs. I caught up with him after a long day of making people move. His enthusiasm is so contagious that it’s hard not to catch on.

First things first: if everyone reading this was with us in your living room, what record would you put on?
I have a stack cued up by the record player right now. Looks like the first few records we’d be listening to are Bent City by Phil Yost, Plastic Ono Band by Yoko Ono, America Eats Its Young by Funkadelic and Modern Journal of Popular Savagery by Porest.

With that out of the way, tell me a bit about who you are, how you started out and ended up here?
Though I was involved in hip-hop culture as a teen, I would also listen to KDVS where I’ve irregularly been hosting shows for the last 13 years. KDVS opened my mind to many types of music. Not only were they the first local station to play Grandmaster Flash, The Jonzun Crew and Afrika Bambaataa but the DJs would mix it up with punk, new wave, reggae, etc. I was hooked.

Around that time a great venue for teens interested in post-punk and new wave dancing was Jerry Perry’s Vortograph Center [The Vortex], near 15th and C streets. The whole room smelled like cloves, which I found rather exotic and it’s where I first met DJs Dave Mier and Danny O’Grady who were cool enough to let me in the DJ booth to look through their records and to see how it was done. I was definitely interested in DJing but discouraged by how expensive it would be.

Jerry Perry let me spin in between bands several times at the Cattle Club around 1989 or ‘90 but it wasn’t until the beginning of 1997 that I first started DJing regularly at a club. I can thank my brother Mike and Marla Kanelos for springing that into action.

What’s a typical day in the life of Larry Rodriguez like?
A typical day for me is constantly pulling and filing from the sprawl of my own music collection. It’s a full-time librarian job that’s never finished. I also spend at least 30 hours a week researching and discovering new and old music, whether at record shops, flea markets, thrift shops or even on the web.

YouTube is a great place to educate yourself and discover all sorts of music—it’s a deep well. So is the KDVS library … I can go in there with a list of 10 things I want to look up and end up spending six to seven hours finding other music in the process.

There’s a lot of talk about the ebb and flow of the Sacramento music scene—you’ve been around for a lot of it, you wanna weigh in?
I’ve enjoyed the Sacramento music scene over the years. It seems like every 10 years a whole new renaissance of bands emerge that make the music scene fun again.

Speaking of, I have a killer lineup for the Dance Party’s 20th Anniversary show at the Press Club. We have Sacto Storytellers and The Scratch Outs, both hard-hitting rocksteady reggae bands featuring members of Filibuster and The Steady Ups. Then the Cuf is reuniting for the night. All the hip-hop heads in town are hella excited about that, and there’s The City of Trees Brass Band, who are not only badass and funky but several members are regular attendees at “Church.” Opening the show is Swank [Ike Burnett] who is the brother of MC Ride of Death Grips and closing the show is Roman Austin, a neo-soul R&B crooner who wrote a sexy jam [“Church (Rollin’)”] about the Dance Party.

What about for you? Dance Party has been going for 20 years now. Has it changed much since you started?
Though Dance Party started at Old Ironsides on the first Sunday of 1997, the first run at Press Club was from ‘98 to 2003. Dan Montoya was the manager then, and he persuaded me to bring my night over there after hearing that Ironsides let me go because of graffiti constantly marring their bathrooms. At the Press, it’s well known that the heavy volume of graffiti in their restrooms began to resemble a Jackson Pollock painting, so it was a better fit from the get-go. We had a great run, won some awards, had some good writeups and Sunday eventually branched out to an additional Friday and both nights were well attended. I eventually fell out of there while clashing with the new management so I kept the Party going weekly at The Distillery and Blue Lamp with occasional nights at Old Ironsides. In 2005 Dance Party picked up Wednesdays at the G Street Wunderbar in Davis, where it’s still going.

The second run at the Press Club started in 2010 when Kirk Johnston asked me if I wanted to come back. I said “hell yes!” I’ve always loved the Press Club even after getting thrown out, to this day I’m happy as a clam to show up there and play music. Kirk died a few years ago but his brother Roger still owns the place and he’s always been a great guy and I love the manager Susan Durst, who’s been with the club after they ran out the asshole who ran me out.

I have a friend who got pregnant after starting her night at Church. How do you feel knowing you’ve been an accessory to so many people getting down—in both senses.
I love it, and I will gladly keep facilitating those activities as long as it keeps everyone happy.

I’ve had couples pay for my dinner when they saw me at the same restaurant because they met on my night, some wedding gigs have come out of it too.

Do you change your set around if you see couples need a certain mood?
While DJing any dance, it’s always a good idea to read the room as a whole and not just cater to that one bratty bro or ‘ho that’ll constantly pester you with inappropriate requests.

They usually claim to speak for “everyone” in the room while in the meantime the whole room is busy getting down on the floor. It’s a good idea to expediently cut these pests off because they tend to interfere with your work while you’re trying to focus on the set. If they keep bothering you just squirt cold water at them from between your teeth, they’ll leave you alone.

You’ve been doing this a while. Where do you see yourself in 20 more years?
If I’m still alive 20 years from now, I can see myself being the house DJ at an old people’s home. Maybe do something with experimental sound therapy or shamanism to help people prepare for crossing over to the other side or at least be at peace with it.

The 20th anniversary bash for Dance Party will take place at The Press Club (2030 P St., Sacramento) on Jan. 8, 2017. (You should be over your New Year’s hangover by then.) Cover charge is just $10, and the event will feature The Cuf, The Scratch Outs, City of Trees Brass Band, Sacto Storytellers, Roman Austin and Swank. Keep your dance card open, and get ready to throw down at 7 p.m.

Larry Rodriguez

A Lasting Legacy | Andy Warhol: Portraits exhibit at the Crocker Art Museum

We can’t get enough of Andy Warhol. The artist has been dead for 30 years, yet he transcends genres and generations.

Warhol was ahead of his time in recording, collecting and marketing his work and stories of himself. He photographed everything and audio-recorded thousands of hours of himself speaking. Some of Warhol’s most famous pieces of art are traveling worldwide alongside the art of Chinese artist and political activist Ai Weiwei. At the same time, Sacramento residents are filming selfie screen tests just like Warhol did in the ‘60s at the Crocker Art Museum.

The Warhol brand is like an international fashion house—it remains relevant through movies, books, clothes and even greeting cards and perfumes.

“He is one of the most fascinating public and creative figures of the latter half of the 20th century,” says Crocker curator Diana Daniels. “People are intrigued because his influence was so wide-ranging. For more than 30 years, Warhol was connected to the most creative individuals in America and from abroad, who wanted to be connected to him. This means that his influence is felt not only in visual art but in design, fashion and music, particularly New York’s rock scene, from The Velvet Underground to David Bowie.”

In the last eight years, predictions Warhol made decades ago about our society have also become more prominent, as we spend our days publicly living and creating on social media.

“He predicted things like Instagram and Twitter,” says public relations associate Elena Macaluso on a bright Friday afternoon at the Crocker, walking into the Andy Warhol: Portraits exhibition.

Portraits offers a biographical Warhol experience and smartly weaves in social and political commentary that was as relevant to Warhol’s study of celebrities, politicians and the rich in the ‘60s–80s as it is today.

One of the coolest aspects of the exhibit is Warhol’s Silver Factory, which has come back to life from east 47th Street in Midtown Manhattan to the third floor of the Crocker. The Silver Factory is where, from 1962-‘68 (and in later years at other locations), Warhol welcomed celebrities, drag queens, musicians, transsexuals and artists to partake in his creations, leave behind any judgment and sleep off methamphetamine, a popular drug during that period.

Andy Warhol- Portraits-c {Andy Warhol, Cow, 1976. Screen print on wallpaper. 45 1/8 X 29 1/2 in. Collection of The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh. © 2016 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.}

Warhol used the Factory, which was covered in aluminum and silver paint, to create his famous silkscreen portraits, movies and other works. He’s been quoted as saying that those who hung out in the Factory were not there to hang around him, but that he was there to “hang around with all of them.”

To recreate the Silver Factory, Crocker Manager of Museum Learning Melissa Sais began researching and conceptualizing more than a year ago. Late last year, she hired set designer Jarrod Bodensteiner of the Sacramento Theatre Company to construct the space, and DJ Larry Rodriguez, who spins Saturdays and Sundays at The Press Club, to create the soundtrack.

“We based the design on historic images but had to work within the constraints of the museum room,” Sais says, pointing out the faux walls that cover up the otherwise floor-to-ceiling windows on the third floor, and the fabricated pipes and window fans.

With 20 cans of spray paint, four rolls of industrial aluminum foil and one red sofa, Sais and her team had a complementary interactive exhibit to the portraits of Warhol’s friends who once hung out in the Silver Factory.

“The Crocker’s interactives are meant to add a dimension of educational play and other sensory experience to the history of art,” Daniels adds. “For this exhibition, Warhol’s Silver Factory was the most inspiring aspect for this type of exploration because this is exactly what Warhol did—he invented a space where the usual rules didn’t apply, removing conventions that were obstacles to the play creative types require.”

Daniels says that for young people, Warhol is history and the cultural references to him are new terrain, so “to see that someone covered an entire space in aluminum foil as a form of expression and a changing of ‘the rules’ is something to be experienced.”

For those who lived to see Warhol’s impact on the world in real time and those who studied him after, the Polaroids and funky portraits in life size—often 40 x 40 or larger—are mesmerizing.

Sais’ favorite is the Dolly Parton photo, “because I always thought she was so pretty.”

For Daniels, it’s the three Jackies from 1964, “art historically important and tremendously profound regarding the change in American culture that President Kennedy’s assassination catalyzed.”

Andy Warhol- Portraits-d {Andy Warhol, Jackie, 1964. Acrylic and silkscreen ink on linen, 20 x 16 in. Collection of The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh. © 2016 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.}

She also loves Nine Heads of Japanese Corporations as clever, yet understated social observation and commentary, and Warhol’s enormous Self-Portrait in Blue, which he painted nine months before his death.

“For intellectual and personal reasons, this for me, is such a vivid encounter with the art, myth and legacy of Andy Warhol,” Daniels says.

Pieces like the self-portrait, which is used in the marketing for the current exhibition, commonly pop up in Warhol Google searches, but standing in front of a two-story face doesn’t compare.

“High quality electronic displays do a tremendous job of providing information about a work of art,” Daniels says. “The introduction to a work can enhance the encounter with the real object by making it more familiar—the mere-exposure effect in psychology. But all photographs and electronic displays have a flattening effect in what they convey about an art object. Also, just like people, art can or cannot be photogenic. Often times my gut reaction to art viewed on the computer screen fails in comparison to the actual object.”

Another standout piece in the exhibition is one of Warhol’s nearly 100 variations of Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper, in which a gym advertisement with a generic bodybuilder and the line, “Be a Somebody with a Body,” is followed by giant repetitive images of Jesus’ face from The Last Supper.

Finally, a fun claim for California to the Warhol party is the tiny signed photo of a young Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Andy Warhol- Portraits-b {Andy Warhol, Self-Portrait in Drag, 1980. Facsimile of original Polaroid™ Polacolor 2, 4 1/4 x 3 3/8 in. Collection of The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh. © 2016 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.}

“In August 1977, Schwarzenegger was not yet a movie star and in no way a political prospect,” Daniels says about the photo. “But, he wanted to be someone and chose body building as his way to the perfect body, which was his means to becoming someone special, i.e., famous. Regarding having the best body in the world, he actually stated in an interview: ‘It means that I’m somebody special.’ This makes him exactly the type of aspirational personality that wanted a Warhol portrait because a Warhol portrait shouted to the world, ‘I’m somebody special.’”

Were Warhol alive today, he would likely have a never-ending list of clients, and undoubtedly would have found a way to miniaturize his portraits perfectly for that square space on our Instagram feeds.

Create your own Warhol-style portrait or screen test while experiencing the artist’s life and work through Andy Warhol: Portraits at the Crocker through June 19, 2016.

The Crocker Art Museum is located at 216 O Street in Sacramento. Museum hours are 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Tuesday–Sunday (open till 9 p.m. on Thursdays). General admission tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, college students and military, $5 for youth (aged 7–17) and free for children 6 and under. For more info or to purchase tickets go to Crockerartmuseum.org.

Larry Rodriguez

Crocker’s “Art Mix: Revolution” Event On Dec. 10, 2015 Is Not To Be Missed

If you’ve yet to attend one of Crocker Art Museum’s infamous Art Mix events, this Thursday, Dec. 10, 2015, would be a great place to start. The lineup is absolutely stacked, and we’re predicting it’ll be one of the best ones yet. In true Art Mix fashion, “Revolution” will smash together the worlds of music, art, comedy, film, performance, food, drink and more! Crocker wants you to, “Overthrow 2015 with a bash, a bang and a blast.” Expect great tunes from Lonely Bulls and DJ Larry Rodriguez (aka Flower Vato). Stand-up comedy will be provided by Keith Lowell Jensen and Johnny Taylor. Other community groups involved include American River College Electronics Program, Bobby Edwards’ Transnational Art Project, Isabella Corsetry, Sacramento Young Feminist Alliance, Boomcase, Sacramento Natural Food Co-op, Burly Beverages and many others. Don’t forget to check out the incredible exhibit Divine Ammunition: The Sculpture of Al Farrow, which you might have read about in our last issue. Art Mix runs from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and has been designed for adults. Crocker members get in free, general admission is $10 for adults and $8 for college students. Learn more at Crockerartmuseum.org or Facebook.com/crockerart

15 Ways to Ring in ‘15!

Whether you’re on the grid or in the ‘burbs, the greater Sacramento area doesn’t lack in the “things to do on New Year’s Eve” category. Just check out this list of 15 ways to ring in 2015! We’ve got everything from rock shows with metal bands, to stand-up shows with the best local comics, to dance parties with big-name DJs and everything in between. Happy New Year’s, y’all, and remember to please be safe (and smart) out there!

Korean Fire Drill

1) Head bang till midnight at the “Sac of Stars” show at Boardwalk featuring Korean Fire Drill, Clockwork Hero, ForNever, Graveshadow and about a dozen other locals! Doors at 7 p.m., no cover charge, 21-and-over, free champagne toast.

Well Groomed

2) Dance the night away with a huge balloon drop and confetti galore at District 30 with sounds by Well Groomed. $25 cover charge, party starts at 9 p.m., free champagne toast.

DJ Peeti V

3) Dress your best for a party to remember at Park Ultra Lounge with DJ Peeti V. Watch the ball drop on their LED Wall, get free party favors and enjoy a free champagne toast at midnight. $40 presale, $50 at the doors, event starts at 8 p.m.


4) Enjoy New Year’s Eve in the foothills with slide guitar master Roy Rogers and the Delta Rhythm Kings at Main Stage Theater in Grass Valley! Tickets start at $40 for general admission, show starts at 9 p.m.


5) Bundle up for TBD Fest’s massive outdoor block party at 20th and K streets in Midtown featuring world class DJ and major-festival-level headliner A-Trak! Also performing is Gigamesh, Oliver, Nick Catchdubs, Sister Crayon, CHLLNGR and more! 21-and-over, multiple ticket levels available (general admission starts at $45), Tbdnye.com for details.


6) Love music from the ‘80s and ‘90s? Head to Harlow’s to kick it with cover band extraordinaire Lovefool! Doors open at 9 p.m., $20 cover, 21-and-over.

Take Out

7) Take the Historic Folsom District by storm this New Year’s with a super-fun dance party at Powerhouse Pub featuring local cover band Take Out! Doors open at 9 p.m., 21-and-over. Bonus: stop into Samuel Horne’s Tavern before the show to check out their amazing beer list!

DJ Rigatony

8) Get down with some mainstream mashups from DJ Rigatony at Starlite’s NYE Celebration! Two floors, pool table and the kitchen will be open until 10 p.m. Guest hosts Lori Love and Miss Lisa. $5 cover, 9 p.m., free champagne toast at midnight.


9) If you want to see some absolutely massive headliners and are not afraid of a little snow and possible sub-zero temps, definitely consider heading to South Lake Tahoe for SnowGlobe, which runs Dec. 29 to 31! Acts like Disclosure, Skrillex, Porter Robinson, Atmosphere, Phantogram and about a million others will keep you warm with their dance-heavy sets! Single day tickets are $99.

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy

10) Why not mix some gambling with your NYE party at Thunder Valley Casino? Big Bad Voodoo Daddy is performing (7:30 p.m. in Pano Hall, $47.75), and there is also a grand opening celebration for their new nightclub, Illusions, where DJ Thomas will spin jams all night (9 p.m., $50).

Ngaio Bealum2

11) If you’re looking for something different this New Year’s, check out Punchline’s “2014’s Last Laughs” comedy show! Two shows, one at 7:30 p.m. with local faves Ngaio Bealum, Ray Molina, John Ross and more. The late show (10 p.m.) will have Johnny Taylor, Keith Lowell Jensen, DJ Mervin and others, as well as a DJ playing dance music and a free champagne toast at midnight. 18-and-over, $25.40 for early show, $31.80 for late show, Punchlinesac.com.

Brodie Stewart Band

12) Not into DJs, electronic dance music and/or indie bands? More of a country guy or gal? Ain’t no shame! Grab your boots and cowboy hat and head to Goldfield Trading Post for a “yee-haw” New Year’s with the excellent Brodie Stewart Band! The party starts at 9 p.m., and there is no cover charge, 21-and-over only.

DJ Larry Rodriguez_5670514464412156469_n

13) Three of the best local party throwers (DJ Larry Rodriguez, MC Ham and DJ Wokstar) are getting together at Fox and Goose to spin some soul, funk, reggae, disco and more! Smoke, lasers, party favors, the whole nine. Cover is only $10, party starts at 9 p.m.


14) The annual Lipstick Presents NYE at Old Ironsides features a live performance from Sunmonks this year, plus DJs Shaun Slaughter, Roger Carpio and Adam Jay. Complimentary champagne toast, midnight ball drop, tons of giveaways. $8 tickets available in advance at Cuffs Urban Apparel.

Mumbo Gumbo

15) Enjoy a small, intimate gathering in Davis when the rootsy-yet-dancey local group Mumbo Gumbo rocks a NYE bash to remember at the Odd Fellows Hall. Limited to only 225 tickets! Check out Mumbogumbo.com for more info on where to snag those limited tickets.

Want even more New Year’s Eve options? Check out our calendar section here!


Stream-Sizzling Sirens-Photo Cred Melissa Uroff-web

After calling Harlow’s home since 2010, Sacramento’s sexiest group of dancin’ and singin’ ladies, the Sizzling Sirens Burlesque Experience, are moving their show to Assembly, a new state-of-the-art venue owned by Paragary Restaurant Group located at 1000 K Street (the site of the old Cosmopolitan Cabaret).

The Sirens have consistently packed Harlow’s (which recently underwent an ownership change itself) on Thursday nights with their highly entertaining themed burlesque shows, but when they were offered a highly coveted Saturday-night spot at the newly opened Assembly, the ladies jumped at the opportunity.

“We are super excited,” said Barb Hennelly of the move, (she’s also known by her burlesque stage name, Skarlet Feverish). “We have been packing in Harlow’s for some time and the set up at Assembly and their team are perfectly suited for a show like ours to grow and thrive.”

Hennelly added that the new venue “has great views from every part of the room, great sound, lighting and video capabilities, and more cabaret-style table seating.” The move makes sense for the Sirens: the stage is much larger at Assembly, which opens up plenty of opportunities choreography-wise, and the capacity is also larger, which means more butts in seats.

The Sizzling Sirens’ first show at their new home is on Saturday, July 27, 2013. The show is called For the Troops! and will be, you guessed it, a satirical burlesque tribute to our military and armed forces. Doors open at 8 p.m. with DJ Larry Rodriguez playing music until 9 p.m., which is when the real fun starts. Tickets are $20 for cabaret seating and $10 for general admission (standing room only). For VIP booth reservations, e-mail assembly@paragarys.com and for pre-sale tickets visit Assemblysacramento.com.

“Speaking for myself,” Hennelly said, “We are beyond thrilled and can’t wait for that red curtain to open and to bring bigger, badder burlesque to Sacramento and sizzle everyone’s face off!” Learn more at Facebook.com/sizzlingsirens or at Sizzlingsirensburlesque.com.

-J. Carabba