It’s safe to say that when a city hasn’t gotten to really experience a skilled and impressive DJ like Marky swing through their town that you can feel a real excitement in the air. That was what I felt when I walked into the Fifth Avenue Lounge that Thursday night in a damp but lively Portland, Oregon. I know my wife Adrienne felt it, too; she was less than 2 hours from displaying her vocal talents with the Brazilian tornado for the first time, not to mention doing so before a crowd of fans on the other side of the country from where we live. I was surprised to hear her say that she really wasn’t nervous for the performance going into it. I wish I had her level of confidence.
The candlelit club’s bar was obviously the usual attraction of the place, judging by the well-lit placards and bartenders making bottles dance in the air like a ballet performance. I couldn’t help but walk straight towards the bar like a moth to the flame and nab a beer for a quick cheers with my wife, as well as her brother and his better half. I also couldn’t help but notice that the opening dj (at least the one I got to hear) was really decent, and playing tunes that I loved from way back when, as well as stuff I hadn’t heard before. I am a hard sell these days when it comes to dj sets, but this was great, a perfect opening performance for Marky’s impending madness. Right around then my good friend Chemyenne, the founder of the Juice production company, spotted our family squad and introduced her partner in crime in the evenings productions. Before she ran off to tend to the needs of the Juice night, I had to ask her who was on, and to my surprise it was newer guy I’d hardly heard anything of before; Kid Hops. That dude can throw down exactly the right set for the right time and place, and after getting a chance to meet him in person, I can say his personality is the same way. Chance-meeting genuine people and vibing with them really make my life feel that much more worth living, and Kyle Hops is on that list.
And before I knew it, here comes Marky with 10 minutes to spare before his set, moving through the crowd with commanding ease that only a well-seasoned club DJ could pull off (If you haven’t done it before, I’ll explain: Walking through crowds of people is a pain in the ass, especially if you have a limited time to get to the stage, and _everyone_ wants to have a word with you. There is quite literally an art to maneuvering quickly through a crowd like this, and Marky has mastered it.) He spotted me right away, and it was big hugs all around. I hadn’t gotten to see my mentor in this music scene in close to 2 years, and life has gotten both of us far too busy to speak of. Adrienne joined in the fun as well, excited and elated to finally meet the guy whom she’d just gotten done working with on his recent album, “My Heroes”. Marky has this way about him, where even if you are as glum as Oscar the Grouch, his aura of happiness just gets under your skin and forces you to crack a smile. I don’t know what it is, and I don’t know where he gets it, but he has an endless supply of good vibes, even after 4 days of back-to-back shows and even less sleep than his usual DJ jaunts. I had a few moments to speak with him before it was his turn to jump on the decks, and he made it clear that he was tired but happy, and showed me pictures of his son, now in his teenaged years. “I do all of this for him, “ he said to me once again, as I’d often heard him say over the last decade.
Maybe this is where he gets all of that energy from.
And just like that, off he went to the decks (yes, _actual_ turntables, kids), setting up his Serato box and laptop faster than lightning, and I think at this point its safe to say that the word “lightning” is the best way to describe his set that night. Marky’s quick mixing, cutting skills and pitched scratching tricks made him hard to take your eyes off of, if it weren’t for the dancing and smiling people all around. I was half expecting Adrienne to have a hard time keeping up with this bucking bronco, but he actually made a series of perfect places for her to sing over top of what he was doing, to the point where you could have sworn they had done this together before. I admit, I am biased… she’s my wife! But she continues to impress me with her natural talent and ability to jump into any performance situation and shine like the star she is meant to be. Her pitch-perfect soulful chops were icing on the cake of Marky’s stellar dj set. Marky and Adrienne Richards were a perfect duo on stage for the crowd of hungry drum and bass fans on the dance floor, and by the end of the night, half of the people had made it on stage as well, amping up each other and staring at Marky’s hands on the decks like jewel thieves in Tiffany’s. Tunes ranging from the harder side of things, to the deep end, to the uplifting, to the all-around classics all were heard that night, and yes, he did do his trick with turning the deck up-side-down and scratching it that everyone talks about, and yes, it never gets old. The sound of the club was great, the atmosphere perfect, and the kids just plain loved it. By the time the lights had come up, the sweaty mess of fans were all arm in arm, taking selfies as well as each others social media info, having laughs, and trying to sneak in a quick moment with their favorite DJ of the night. The big man couldn’t stay long, though; his flight out to the next stop, a big festival in Los Angeles, was due to leave at 9 in the morning the next day, and he desperately needed sleep.
And just like that, off he went again, waving goodbye to the last stragglers at the end of the night, hoping into a car with his driver and speeding off into the darkness. As we walked to my brother-in-law’s apartment that night under the glow of the pink-hued city lights, I couldn’t help but think to myself that the whole night was symbolic of how his life must be. I thought about every time I’d gotten to hang out with the guy who arguably put my music career on the map and helped make me who I am today, and I realized that it was always like this; the quick meets, the fun, the smiles, the amazing performance, the quick departure, all of it. The guy is always on the move, and is impossible to keep up with. I remembered him telling me he spent 7 months out of the year on the road at one point, and thinking “how can anyone handle this? How can anyone always move with such lightning pace and never run out of energy?”
The answer is, they can’t. But Marky isn’t just anyone.