House music is the third largest music genre in the world!!!!
Black Harvest Film Festival will virtually stream The Woodstock of House November 13- December 2, 2021.
Streaming Ticket Info:
The documentary “The Woodstock of House”, a film that explores the origins of Chicago House music and its’ enduring worldwide appeal, featuring Chicago’s own The Chosen Few DJs, was selected for Chicago’s prestigious 2021 Black Harvest Film Festival and will screen in person on Thursday, November 11th @8pm and Friday, November 12th @8pm at the Gene Siskel Film Center, located in downtown Chicago!
On debut night, Thursday, November 11th, the audience will be blessed with live appearances by Writer/Director/Executive Producer/Producer Rodrick F. Wimberly, who will be joined by Tressa Epps, Executive Producer/Producer, Vonda Paige, Executive Producer/Producer, Steve Toles, Executive Producer/Producer and Senuwell Smith, Director
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This documentary details the triumph of a music genre that was attacked and nearly destroyed by mainstream America in the late 1970s for being too black, too Latin, and too gay.
It explores the music’s mutation, development, and re-birth by African American teenagers on the southside of Chicago in an underground culture of marginalized, largely homosexual nightclub constituents.
It is the untold story of the role of Chicago’s Chosen Few DJs in the creation of House music. It celebrates the enduring legacy of the annual Chosen Few Music Festival, dubbed the “Woodstock of House” that brings together more than 50,000 people of different races, ages, sexual orientations, and class together in an environment of unity, peace, and love.
GO BANG! Magazine had the opportunity to meet the creative and production team behind THE WOODSTOCK OF HOUSE, as well as a few members of the cast. As a fellow lover of House music, it was an honor for me to be granted the opportunity to interview the creators and producers of this long-overdue documentary on the origins of House music.
Now, let’s get to know “THE WOODSTOCK OF HOUSE” posse…
RODRICK F. WIMBERLY
A veteran of the film and television industry, Rodrick’s love for the film industry is enhanced by his knowledge of the law regarding the business of film, including contract negotiations, corporate formations and business entities. He is an executive producer, producer, writer and a director for the documentary, “The Woodstock of House” (2020) and produced the short film, “UH-OH” (2018).
An actor, screenwriter, editor and director, he appeared in the Blind Faith Theatre Company’s production of “Streamers,” for which he was nominated for a Black Theater Alliance Award. He appeared in “Pullman Porter Blues” at the Goodman Theater in 2013. He has directed and edited several music videos. He wrote and directed the short film, “UH-OH” which was screened at the Pan-African Film Festival and the Roxbury International Film Festival in 2018. He is a director for the documentary, “The Woodstock of House” (2020).
She has more than 25 years of experience in non-profit management, marketing, social media and public relations. She is an award-winning journalist and the founder of The First Black Woman, a digital media project recognizing the historic contributions of Black women. She is a life member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and Vice President of the Virginia Tech Black Alumni Society. She is the executive producer of the independent short film, “UH-OH” (2018) which was selected by the Pan African Film Festival.
A sought-after independent filmmaker, Tressa has worked on a number of award-winning independent film projects, ranging from independent short films to feature films in a variety of roles as an executive producer, producer, and production designer. Her projects were released in theaters and aired on BET, BET HER, TVOne, Urban Movie Channel (UMC), Bounce TV and Netflix. She is honored to serve on the prestigious Black Perspectives Committee at the Chicago International Film Festival.
After graduating from The Ohio State University, Steve moved to Houston and resumed a lifelong passion for film production, acting, directing and producing various projects from short films, to experimental music videos to documentaries and features. Eventually he returned to Cleveland where he has produced video content for his school and his first independent film was accepted to several film festivals. Steve is an executive producer and producer on The Woodstock of House.
As founder of the Chosen Few DJs and longtime music industry professional, Wayne has helped shape popular music and dance culture. His music career includes work as a DJ, producer, and A&R executive with Trax Records, Jive Records, and RCA Records. Wayne is a recipient of an NAACP Image Award for his work with Aretha Franklin and was nominated for a GRAMMY award in 2014 for his work with Jennifer Hudson. He continues to produce music and perform at event and clubs across the globe.
Jesse is a founding member of the Chosen Few DJs who is recognized as the producer and performer of the first Chicago House Music record, “On & On”, in 1984. His production credits include “Love Can’t Turn Around”, one of the biggest-selling House Music records of all time, and “Higher”, which reached the top of the Billboard dance chart in 2019. In 2020, his book, “In Their Own Words”, which features interviews with House Music DJs, producers, dancers, club owners, and promoters, debuted at #1 on Amazon’s dance music book chart.
Knowing many of those involved in the film was the icing on the cake. I am so proud of them. Many of them are also my high school brothers and sisters, who attended “Thee” Kenwood Academy high school, located on Chicago’s south side, in the eclectic neighborhood of Hyde Park.
GO BANG! MAGAZINE: (RODRICK) For our readers who may not be familiar with you, can you please explain how you are connected to House music culture and what inspired you to Write, Direct, Produce and Executive Produce The Woodstock of House?
Rodrick: I was born and raised on the south side of Chicago (SOUTHSIDE!!!) When I was around 12 years old, I first remembered hearing “Mickey Oliver” Hot Mixes on 102.7 WBMX (the radio station that every young person in Chicago listened to at the time-reportedly 2 million Chicago land residents used to listen to the Friday and Saturday mix shows). The frenetic energy, pulsing rhythms and driving bass captured me and I said that I had to become a DJ! I bought my first turntables (Technics SLB-100 belt driven) from Loop Electronics from downtown and became the best unknown DJ in my area. LOL! After I went to college at Boston University, I took my equipment up there and DJ’d there for two years introducing them to Chicago-style house music and deep disco (which they were not used to). In addition to DJing, I LOVE to dance. In fact, some people used to call me the “dancing DJ” because no one dance more to my music than I would!
Senuwell: My purpose is to create a new movement in music that will unite everyone of all races, ages and genders, like the influence of Rap and Hip Hop. Eventually going global and creating a voice to bring peace and love back into a world of violence and hate.
GO BANG! MAGAZINE: (VONDA, TRESSA, STEVE,) As executive producers and producers of The Woodstock of House, what was it about the film that inspired or motivated you to become involved?
Vonda: As a filmmaker, not only can you entertain, but you have an opportunity to inform or educate, depending on the subject. I didn’t grow up knowing anything about House music – I can tell you about Go-Go, living outside of Washington, DC – but not House!
When we were thinking about debut projects for our company, and Rodrick and Senuwell shared
stories about and their love for House music, I was genuinely curious about what draws tens of
thousands of people to a music festival featuring something I had never heard of. Early on, while doing some research for the project, I thought wow… we have a chance to tell an untold story and that was truly exciting!
One thing about making a documentary is that you may start with an idea of what you think the story is about, but if you are true and authentic to the craft – you let the story give you the direction. While the story may have initially centered around the annual House music festival, I am so proud that we were able to tell an inspiring history story about young Black teenagers from Chicago who created a special sound and form of music that sustains some 30 years later. Black creators across all spectrums don’t always get their credit in the history books. Remember the late Little Richard, who famously said “They didn’t give me nothing!” Well, we produced a film that documents these genius black creators and the love that has come their way from a grateful fan base in Chicago and worldwide. This film is one for the history books.
Tressa: Woodstock of House” was the well-written treatment written by Rodrick Wimberly and Ayanna Wimberly. The treatment provided the blueprint of promoting a conversation about celebrating young Black teens who created a music genre and created “The Annual Chosen Few House Picnic” every 4th of July. I was particularly fascinated with the historical similarities House music had with disco music. In addition, House music is empowering and created a dance movement. The Chosen Few created an event about love, peace, and unity without any violence.
Steve: Well, as far as what inspired me, I remember Rod asking me to come to the picnic for a few years. He had introduced me to the music and how to DJ, so he knew I would love the picnic. Finally, he convinced me and I came out…not to mention that it was the 25th Anniversary picnic. WOW!!!! I had recently directed/produced my first short film, so I looked at Rod and said “Rod we have to make this documentary. It would be amazing”. From there, we started on the long journey that eventually became The Woodstock of House.
So, the idea that inspired me to bring this film to life was the music and the life it has given me. Now, this is my opportunity to give something back to House.
GO BANG! MAGAZINE: (WAYNE) What influence or effect do you think the film will have on society as a whole?
Wayne: I hope the impact of the film is how the type of music we chose to impact our life, that grew to reach people all over the world, roots came from love, unity and freedom of art. Our music put smiles on people’s face and takes your stress away for that time when you are in House music. The world has been traumatized in the last three years and has become meaner. Our music, House music, is the kryptonite of stress and depression and we have to get back to love, which is what House music is about.
GO BANG! MAGAZINE: (JESSE) Being the first person to have a House music song pressed on vinyl (“On and On”), as well as being a member of The Chosen Few DJs, which are featured in The Woodstock of House, how does it feel to be a member of a DJ crew that is considered to be part of the
foundation and continuation of the House music genre?
Jesse: I’ve grown up originating and pioneering a culture that was new and different than anything prior to it. That means that my perspective is different than most peoples. It all happened around me. I didn’t get the privilege of being able to look at something grow, because I was too busy trying to move and build the movement.. It turned out to be bigger than I could have ever
My legacy with the Chosen Few is as dear to me as apple pie is to America. The walls that we
have been able to break down as a crew, that have bridged the gap between racism, sexism and
sexual orientation, have been immense. We’ve been able to bring everyone together to show that
we can love, dance and assemble as one – anywhere, anytime.
Personally, I’m proud to have started a revolution that allowed young, urban Black kids to DJ,
produce and release their musical expressions to the world…thus creating a world-wide culture
we now know as House music!
GO BANG! MAGAZINE: (RODRICK). As a Chicago native, who was there when House music was born and participated in its growth and evolution, I am proud that this film has been written and produced to show the international community how House all started. Then, to have The Woodstock of House to be selected for Chicago’s prestigious Black Harvest Film Festival, as well as recently winning Best Documentary in Gary Indiana’s Black Film Festival must have made you feel some type of way. Please explain to our readers how gaining all of this attention, support and accolades make you feel.
Rodrick: It has truly been a blessing! It is exhilarating to play the film for house music and documentary lovers after taking six (6) years to complete. We were rejected by so many film festivals early on so we just were overwhelmed by the love that we received from the audience and programmers at the Gary Black International Film Festival and the exposure that we are now receiving from film festivals all over the country (we have even had programmers from Europe approach us and request to exhibit the film). It has almost been unbelievable but we had faith in each other, our project and God and He always has the last say.
Vonda: It’s an incredibly exciting time for Black women filmmakers. There have always been Black women creating amazing film projects, in front of and behind the camera. I think in the last decade – more media attention has elevated their work. I’m thinking of my personal shero, Ava Duvernay, who after becoming the first Black woman to the win the directing award at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival for her second feature film “Middle of Nowhere”, has blazed a trail with development deals that allow her to hire other women producers, writers and directors in film and television. That is how you ensure representation. American cinema can reflect everyday life, culture, politics, music, education, etc. – and Black women contribute to all of those things. We have a unique prospective and imprint and our voices, experiences and stories should be told by us.
Tressa: Thank you for your acknowledgment. Black filmmakers are underrepresented in executive decision-making roles throughout the industry. The film industry in particular remains disproportionately white. This underrepresentation extends to the buying side, where Black distributors make up a small fraction of the total. Most of the productions I’m part of are lead by directors and producers who intentionally choose female department heads. Having females in these positions are important so our voices are represented.
GO BANG! MAGAZINE: (RODRICK, WAYNE, JESSE) House is more than a genre of music. It is a mentality of peacefulness, freedom of expression, love and acceptance. If the founding generation of House music, which are us, does not pass the music and the DJ skills to the next generation, House could be lost. How do you feel about the future of House music and what is its’ legacy?
Rodrick: That was a major theme that was part of the initial treatment from the film and is a serious issue within the House Music community. We, as House Music cultivators and curators, must introduce more young people to the Chicago and soulful style of house music that advances these altruistic societal values. While some subgenres of House have captured the imagination of younger fans by advancing the driving energy of mostly instrumental music, like EDM, we must make it a point to elevate our sound as a cultural musical expression that has sociological implications to break down barriers between peoples and even nations. That is truly worth educating young people about.
Wayne: House music started in 1984 and has been going ever since. It has never been in jeopardy of not continuing because there are too many people of talent who are constantly discovering House music who are producers, DJs, songwriters and artists.
Jesse: The future for the culture of House is as broad and diverse as has been for the last 45+ years. The culture of love, understanding and freedom has been a part of our American heritage since the American Revolution 350 years ago. We ALL want freedom to be who we want to be, love who and how we want to and dance the night away. House music breeds that and is the flag that we carry throughout our time on this earth. So the future of House is bright and shiny and will forever live in the hearts of generations to come.
GO BANG! MAGAZINE: (VONDA) Please introduce our readers to 2CHI Entertainment and explain what’s its mission.
Vonda: 2CHi Entertainment was founded in 2013 with the mission to produce movie and television projects that tell stories of the Black experience. Black production companies are vastly underrepresented within the film industry. We want to close that gap with stories that reflect the contributions of African-Americans to society on film in all genres: drama, science fiction, suspense, comedy, biography.
Our first project was a suspense thriller short film, called Uh-Oh, that was screened at the Pan-African Film Festival and the Roxbury Film Festival in 2018. We have projects in development including one about the historical contribution of Blacks in the military, a faith-based inspirational drama, and a family film that gives a slice-of-life view of a Chicago family.
GO BANG! MAGAZINE: (STEVE, TRESSA) In your opinion, what do you hope the “take away” is for the audience, after viewing The Woodstock of House?
Steve: What I would hope the audience, especially the Chicago audience, “take away” is, is what this music is. What we as a people can do over and over and over. (We can) take bits and pieces of this and that and create something that will move the entire globe. We do it under the most trying of circumstances, almost as a survival mechanism. That ……and the music……is about LOVE.
Tressa: I hope the take away for the viewer is a reflection of the importance of unity, peace, and love.
Music is an universal language! Smiling and laughter creates great vibes! We can always add to our own personal happy! “House Music All Night Long!”
GO BANG! Magazine would like to congratulate and thank you and the entire production team of The Woodstock of House, for writing and producing this informative, entertaining, powerful and much-needed documentary about another style of music that was born in Chicago, IL, USA….. HOUSE MUSIC! What would you like to say “Mr. Writer” to leave with our international audience about the film, House culture, the future of House or anything else?
Rodrick: Thanks so much for your kind words and for allowing us to share our story in such a great publication. I just want to thank my amazing production team for their skill, excellence, character and patience in bringing this love project to life. We became a family during this project and I love every one of them!
GO BANG! Magazine: You are more than welcome Rod…thank you for bringing the truth about House, from the home of House, to the world!
HOUSE MUSIC IS MY LIFE….ALL NIGHT LONG!
Black Harvest Film Festival will virtually stream The Woodstock of House November 13- December 2, 2021.
Streaming Ticket Info:
“THE WOODSTOCK OF HOUSE“
Thursday, November 11th @8pm & Friday, November 12th @8pm
On debut night, Thursday, November 11th, the audience will be blessed with a live appearances by Writer/Director/Executive Producer/Producer Rodrick F. Wimberly, who will be joined by Tressa Epps, Executive Producer/Producer, Vonda Paige, Executive Producer/Producer, Steve Toles, Executive Producer/Producer and Senuwell Smith, Director
You can find out more information about THE WOODSTOCK OF HOUSE on all social media platforms:
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Pierre A. Evans is a freelance writer of Entertainment, Music, Art, Culture, Fashion and Current Events, and previously for SoulTrain.com, NDigo.com, ChicagoDefender.com, EmpireRadioMagazine.com, and UrbanMuseMag.com, an author, singer/songwriter, actor, model, poet, dancer, and DJ. He is also the Owner of Pinnacle Entertainment Productions and the Owner/Publisher of GO BANG! Magazine. Follow him on Facebook @Pierre Andre Evans, Twitter @Playerre, and on Instagram @Pierre_Andre_Evans.