"A documentary about the uplifting and spirited experience of the outdoor House Music movement."
|Hands to The Sky - The Single|
"Hands to the Sky" Documentary Turns A Lens on Deejays, Musicians, Fans and Feelings Inspired by Outdoor House Music Dance Parties
"Everybody loves the sunshine, sunshine
Folks get down in the sunshine, sunshine..."
--Roy Ayers, Everybody Loves the Sunshine
Hot, steamy streets flooded by gushing fire hydrants...strains of ice cream truck melodies in the distance...tanning on a "tar beach" -- these memes embrace and inform the spirit of the summer in the city. My House Rocs, a Queens-based production company with its ear to the street, further frames the zeitgeist of urban summers with Hands to the Sky, a 52-minute documentary exploring what the executive producer Domingo Canate describes as, "the uplifting and spirited experience of the outdoor House Music movement."
From its origins in inner-city underground clubs in the late 1970s, to its influence on the 2012 Grammy Awards performance of, "Beautiful People," House Music's raw and emotional expressions of love, pride, acceptance and unity (against a funky 4/4 beat) strike a universal chord among fiercely-loyal fans who can be found the world over, of any age and speaking in just about every human language.
Over a two-year period, My House Rocs followed this music out of the clubs and house parties and into the parks and beaches where an estimated 100,000 House Music fans gather to dance, commune and rejoice in the summer heat. From Coney Island to Fort Greene Park to various public spaces in and around New York City, Hands to the Sky interviews dancers, event promoters, deejays and performers who share personal, often poignant anecdotes and recollections of how House Music in general, and these outdoor functions specifically, have shaped their worldviews, established lasting relationships and inspired dreams and aspirations.
With a scorching original music score composed by noted writer/arranger Erik Talbert, Hands to the Sky features such House Music progressives as pioneering House Music vocalist Carolyn Harding; British-born founder of Harlem's Sundae Sermon dance party DJ Stormin' Norman; record executive Wayne Williams, noted for bringing disco to Chicago's South Side and founder of Chicago's Chosen Few Picnic and Rican Vargas, a.k.a, "The Commander in Chief" of The Coney Island Dancers, a volunteer organization whose mission includes promoting tourism to Coney Island.
Hands to the Sky had its world premiere at the 2012 Winter Music Conference at the Dorchester Hotel, March 23 and at the Miami Beach Cinemateque on March 24. Having made its New York City debut to a packed house on April 14 at Dixon Place, a long-running and widely-respected laboratory for the performing arts, Hands to the Sky made its Brooklyn debut on June 2 at The Brooklyn Museum Target First Saturday as part of the museum's tribute to the late artist Keith Haring, who discovered and celebrated House Music via his friendship with Paradise Garage deejay Larry Levan. Subsequent screenings included The Paradox Club in Baltimore on June 30 and Machine Nightclub in Boston on July 15.
Hands to the Sky Production Credits
Domingo Canate - Executive Producer
Angelo Boyke - Director, Editor
Kervyn Mark - Producer
Erik Talbert - Composer
Jean-Paul Noel - Co-Director, Producer
Wendy Amriah - Associate/Literary Producer
Chris Hunt-Walker - Associate Producer
Domingo Canate Currently spearheading the much-anticipated documentary My House Rocs Presents: Hands to the Sky, film producer Domingo Canate is no stranger to world of House music. A native of Panama, he has been exploring the scene since he was a teenager living in Brooklyn. "I met someone who invited me to the classic club the Garage and that experience changed my life," Canate says of the infamous venue. Enthralling Canate and the other patrons with a state-of-art sound system and amazing music, the Garage's amazing dj Larry Levan went on to become a legendary icon who has inspired many other artists.
Crediting the pivotal nightclub with shaping his continuing adoration for the scene, Canate, who has managed hip-hop and dance acts for twenty years, says, "Although that particular club has been closed since 1987, the spirit of the Garage is still alive. In fact, that spirit is very much a part of Hands to the Sky." Shot in various New York locations including Fort Green, Harlem and Coney Island, the documentary Hands to the Sky is an insider look into the world of summer House music events that has been a part of city's cultural landscape since the nineties. "With this film we're trying to pass on the history and vibe of old school downtown dance culture while also showing how the scene has progressed."
After seeing some amateur video footage of outdoor House music events on YouTube, Canate along with friends and family members decided to produce a feature film about the free flowing open air House concerts that featured professional production values. "One finds a real joy at these outdoor events and it is that joy that anchors this project." Collaborating with director Angelo Boyke and co-directors JP Noel, the small crew began production in the summer of 2009 and have devoted countless hours to shaping the project. "We had a vision in our minds and have tried very hard to translate that into a cinematic experience."
Hands to the Sky features both House music aficionados, rhythmic newcomers and interviews with Ray Vasquez, Lou Gorbia, Kervyn Mark, Kamala and others. "For this project, we've interviewed various promoters, disc jockeys and fans who helped make these events possible," Canate states. "Our cameras shot behind the scenes and in front of the crowd. At these events we saw everybody from babies to senior citizens and it was all so loving. It is that love that Hands to the Sky truly represents."
Angelo Boyke credits his career accomplishments to the audacity instilled in him by his family. He has found a way to tell a story, entertain or inform an audience in a unique and satisfying way. After making attempts at several other life paths, he has finally discovered his innate calling. With the strength and support of his significant other, while they face the challenges as new parents of a beautiful baby girl, he is confident that his choice to continue a life in film is what the world has carved out for him.
Kervyn Mark is pillar in the deep soulful house music scene in New York City. For over 30 years he has been DJing and producing events. Since 2002, his brand Melting Pot Global as produced some of the best underground dance music events throughout New York City in venues such as the Coney Island boardwalk, Pacha, Battery Park, BAM CAFE and Water Taxi Beach to his seasonal outdoor music series in Coney Island. He is one of the resident DJs and producers for the Paradise Garage Reunion events. His prior film making experience is as Associate-Producer/Histortian of the "Maestro-Documentary".
Jean-Paul Noel has over fifteen years experience working in the photography industry as a digital imaging specialist and high end retoucher. His work has appeared in various publications ranging from Vibe and King, to Vogue and Lucky. He earned a BA in mass communications and media studies from CUNY Hunter College. This movie is the first time he has combined his love of visual images and music in a professional endeavor. As a dedicated capoeirista, he has deep understanding of movement and an appreciation of how profound the connection can be between bodies in motion.
Erik Talbert's professional career of Musician/ Composer/ Producer Erik Talbert is best described as multi-faceted. Over a period of more than twenty five years his work has spanned a wide range of musical, technical and creative experience.
As a teen he studied drums at Jazz Mobile in New York City and later attended the prestigious New England Conservatory. There he performed with up and coming jazz luminaries Don Byron, Regina Carter, Najee and others. Later branching out to drum with a host of pop, rock and hip hop acts including Beastie Boys, Mick Jones (Clash), Zulu Kings, and soul legend Joe Tex.
As a Producer/ Remixer/ Programmer Erik has contributed to more than two hundred commercial releases for major and independent record labels including RCA, Polygram, BMG, VP, Strictly Rhythm, Sleeping Bag, Freeze and Wave Music for a diversity of artists such as Depech Mode, Debbie Harry and Bette Midler and dancehall reggae star Capelton as well as his own artistic turns as Alternations, Trey Max, Harlem Sunshine and Recording Angels.
Behind the scenes, Erik has worked as a Sound Engineer and Lighting Technician with a who's who of headlining talent including, Beyonce, Alicia Keys, EPMD, Train, Masters At Work, Wyclef Jean, Kanye West, Nelly Furtado, Buju Banton, ?uest Love, Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan and Tito Puente to name a few.
Hands To The Sky is Erik's fourth independent film project as composer and sound designer.
Wendy Arimah is one of the fortunate souls to have walked the legendary ramp at the Paradise Garage. She was born in Trinidad, raised on Long Island, grew up in Los Angeles and is now vibrantly alive in NYC.
She is currently embarking on a career closer to her heart after spending upwards of 10 years in the IT industry as a Project Manager responsible for million dollar voice networks, most recently for Perot Systems. In Los Angeles she sang in musicals, danced on stage and showcased a myriad of talents in independent films (in front and behind the camera).
Additionally, she earned the title of Poet Laureate of Downtown LA Life Magazine 2007 and 2008 as well as a nomination from BackstageWest for 'Best Costume Design'. After several years moonlighting as a multi-faceted artist, she is now on the artistic staff at Dixon Place where she has designed images for Tony Award winner BD Wong, Grammy Award winner Vernon Reid and Paul Zaloom (of Beakman's World fame) among many others.
Christopher Hunt-Walker is the founder of the C. Hunt-Walker Company, LLC, and interactive services consulting firm specializing in website and mobile application development. He is an award-winning industry veteran with over 10 years experience working with businesses of all sizes in the interactive online space. He joins the Hands to the Sky team as a graphic artist for print communications and webmaster. Christopher holds a Bachelors of Arts from CUNY Queens College, where he majored in Media Studies and minored in Business and Liberal Arts.
As a member of the Hands to the Sky team, he has involved himself with the documentary from its inception, when it was just a vision of long-time friend Domingo Canate. Introduced to House Music by Domingo, Christopher felt it's attraction from day one. Though relatively new to the genre, his experiences with the music are in his words "nothing but pure fun and enjoyment for everyone on a physical and spiritual level".