It’s a great counterpoint to the 1990s punk nostalgia we encountered this week that there should also be an equal measure of 1990s funk nostalgia, because 20 years ago in Philly, they were often two sides of the same maverick, anything-goes coin, with many of the same players dipping into both scenes. King Britt and DJ Dozia’s weekly Back2Basic nights are now the stuff of DJ and neo-soul history, but for a very long time, they were also just what you did on Monday nights. Britt and Dozia came out of the great all-inclusive 80s nightlife of Philadelphia, which feels like an idyll now but I swear it was true: Once, you could go to nightclubs (themselves a fading mirage now) and rub elbows with punks, art kids, rappers, DJs, writers, and everybody else while the music mirrored the mix, jumping between early house, UK post-punk, choice old cuts and more.
Back2Basics came out of that and evolved it with a growing funk and soul obsession that early 90s R&B was missing sorely — to say nothing of a rapidly growing DJ scene that would ultimately need a human element to evolve. This all came out of pure, crate-digging fandom for Britt and Dozia, and their weekly DJ night came to include something unheard of at the time — DJs playing right up against live instrumentation. Over time, Back2Basics went from being a Monday night hang for waitstaff and other night people to being a weekly happening. By 1996, the concept had broken the fourth wall entirely and come to fruition in the LP King Britt Presents Sylk130: When The Funk Hits The Fan. (Check it out in its entirety above.) The record has since become a classic and is now basically patient zero in what would become the neo-soul movement, launching the careers of not just Britt but also Ursula Rucker, Lady Alma, and others.
To mark Sylk130’s 20th anniversary, Britt has gotten the old crew back together again for a double-fisted party: Full band show at the TLA, followed by a Back2Basics reunion at their old haunt, Silk City.
Tickets available here.