By Melinda Cooper
By RFT Music
By Allison Babka
By Daniel Hill
By Drew Ailes
By Brian Heffernan
By Joseph Hess
By Joseph Hess
A rainy day in Chicago makes the busy city streets nearly unnavigable, but inclement weather didn't stop DJs Gary Mac (né Gary McCormack) and Steve-O from attempting to witness the special street dedication ceremony happening on August 25, 2004. This wasn't a run-of-the-mill dedication -- the city and Mayor Daley were naming a day and a stretch of Jefferson Street after Frankie Knuckles, the DJ veteran and the "godfather of house" (obviously, no small achievement and one quite deserving of such an honor).
Unfortunately, Steve and Gary never found that dedication ceremony in Chicago, and what's even more unfortunate is that when native St. Louisan Gary Mac celebrated his 30-year DJ anniversary last November (a pretty amazing accomplishment, too), this feat went completely unnoticed by the City of St. Louis and mostly unnoticed by St. Louis at large. That's a shame, because Gary's been spinning for so long, he remembers when the Vault was Jimmy's Cabaret and when west and south counties had a bunch of clubs (imagine that). Gary's been playing at the Oz since back before the club had that glass cage around the DJ booth, back when 1227 Washington used to be Evolution (and not the defunct Galaxy). In his sets through the years, he's played everything from Top 40 radio and rock music (including Aerosmith!) to "deep house right now, the jazzy, funky, soulful, sexy [music is] what's touching me," Gary says.
So sure, there was a celebratory shindig at the Oz back in December, but the RFT didn't think that was nearly enough congratulations for such a storied musical career. So instead of changing Big Mac's stretch of I-70 to "Gary Mac Highway," the RFT is hosting a mini-commemoration for the celebrated DJ in our pages.
Kelly Clarkson, Joss Stone, Gavin DeGraw, Better Than Ezra and Michael Tolcher at Gateway One Plaza, Seventh & Market streets. Noon-7 p.m. Sunday, April 3. Admission is free; see www.dasanifest.com for more information.
Nelly and the St. Lunatics with T.I. and Fat Joe at the Savvis Center, 14th & Clark streets. 7 p.m. Sunday, April 3. Tickets are $25.50-$45.50; call 314- 241-1888 for more information.
Relatively recent Chicagoan and DJ Marc Buxton -- who's also a former St. Louisan and self-described "record whore" -- has known Gary for more than two decades. Despite self-censoring any "incriminating" stories, Buxton says that Gary worked hard on his hair in the '80s -- so hard, in fact, that he had to hang upside down to achieve his multicolored, gravity-defying hairstyles. But hair sculpture aside, Buxton says, "Gary's most amazing attributes are his perseverance and his positive energy."
Now on to local spinstress and winner of the RFT's own DJ-to-WMC competition: Amy Unland (better known as Kid Delicious). She's a newbie on the scene compared to Gary and Buxton, so she really looks up to the "G-Macaroni," as she calls him. She gushes, "He, to me, is more than just a DJ, because he's an entertainer and he always has really good crowd interaction" (which sometimes includes holding his slip mats up as Mickey Mouse ears. Awesome!).
And last but not least, Steve-O has stories aplenty about his longtime friend Gary, a couple of which involve multiple injuries -- even still, Steve can't tell those stories without laughing hysterically. But in all seriousness Steve says that Gary is irreplaceable and that sadly, a lot of cities and DJ communities don't have someone like him around: "We're fortunate to have that sort of education and knowledge and background."
And it's not just Gary Mac's friends who think he's a great guy and DJ: He's in the top 600 of more than 50,000 DJs on www.thedjlist.com, an obviously enormous directory of DJs that allows fans to vote for their favorites. But would you expect any less from someone who's played at 35 local clubs in his tenure? From Gualdoni's (his very first club) to Miso on Meramec, Gary says it's been a wonderful career, and he feels lucky to be able to do something he loves so much. He says, "So I can still hear, and I still like it, so I'm going to still do it." Good enough.
Hear Gary Mac -- the man, the legend, avid hand-sanitizer and Heat Miser look-alike (at least according to DJ Scott McMurray) -- every week at Miso on Meramec on Thursday, Rue 13 early on Friday, the Oz VIP room later on Friday (and also on Saturday and Sunday), and almost everywhere else, too. Lucky for him, he's used to staying up late now. He says, "I get a second wind, you know, and the music keeps you going." And it'll probably keep Gary Mac going for many more years to come. -- Alison Sieloff
Music of the Spheres
Lest our minds be completely ruled by college basketball this weekend, we turn our attention to more important matters: Huey, Kelly and Nelly.
Show me the man whose life was not changed by Huey Lewis' "The Power of Love," and I'll show you someone with an underdeveloped appreciation for the Back to the Future soundtrack. Bob Costas snagged Lewis & Co. to headline his annual charity benefit this Sunday at the Fox Theatre. Thanks to this booking coup, we have the pleasure of reflecting on a decade of Huey hits, beginning with the chorus from "If This Is It":
"If this is it, please let me know/If this ain't love, you'd better let me know/If this is it, I want to know/If this ain't love baby, just say so."