The first time I heard UK Garage was in early 1999 while on a trip to Atlanta to visit my buddy Bobble. We’d run into DJ Casper (of Strictly Jungle Chicago fame) and he was ridiculously excited to share a Ramsey & Fen (Live @ La Cosa Nostra) mixtape that he’d picked up in the UK. Bob and I were hooked and we wore that tape out during my trip!
UK Garage sparked something in us because it seemed like a bridge between the soul of house music and breaks/bass of jungle. I knew people in Dallas would love it, so when I returned home I decided that it was something I wanted to push (on the side of course!). So I began gobbling up everything I could from tape packs to downloading live sets from super dodgy websites just to satiate my obsession.
I tried for months to book anyone I could from the UK Garage scene and just couldn’t close the deal. After all why travel 4800 miles across to Texas, where now one knows you, in order to make the same amount of cash you’d make by staying home? It wasn’t until November of 1999 that I finally got in touch with an agency that worked to get something booked. Their offer was a one-off date in February with DJ Luck and MC Neat, a duo that had a massive single in the UK charts with A Little Bit of Luck.
We’d lost our venue the month before so we ended up putting together an outdoor event at a ranch south of Dallas. Despite some chilly weather we had a great crowd and it was an solid introduction to UK Garage for everyone in attendance.
Ultimately that chance meeting over a mixtape spawned two very healthy garage scenes in Dallas and Atlanta in the earlier part of the decade. In Atlanta, Bobble began his Right Direction monthly at MJQ which went on strong for a year. In Dallas that tape ultimately led to the Luck & Neat show and it helped to birth the longest running 2-step & UK Garage weekly in North America put on by Dallas’ Jason Mundo and the Groovology Crew.
Enjoy your history lesson.