The vinyl resurgence has mainly been about albums, but for many record geeks the seven-inch, 45-RPM single remains the greatest format. While the 12-inch, 33 1/3-RPM LP, introduced in 1948, grabbed the spotlight with the late '60s early '70s advent of "concept albums," that development, arguably, diluted the message. With a single, there's no time to waste. Go for broke and give us your two best songs (or at least one of them, with an oddball B side), hopefully under three minutes apiece and at an upbeat, danceable clip—and then make way for the equally great 45 that's all cued up and ready to rip on turntable two. It's a flawless, Zen-like medium that forms the booty-shaking backbone of Jonathan Toubin's popular "Soul Clap" dance night, which the New York DJ will once again bring to BSP Kingston on December 13.
"I guess it's sort of a statement, but there's a mixture of pragmatic reasons I only play original-issue 45s," says Toubin, who specializes in gritty, grinding, and deep-digging '50s and '60s soul, R&B, and rock 'n' roll. "A lot of the music I play either hasn't been reissued or, if it has, tends to be on rush-job compilations that don't sound good. And mp3s, besides being intangible, sound even worse. A 45 that's been done right can sound like the band is right there in the room."
Toubin's story starts out along Manhattan-transplant-makes-great-bohemian lines, morphs into surreal tragedy, and rockets back from the ashes into Hollywood-worthy, you-can't-make-this-stuff-up transcendence. A native Texan, he played in Austin punk outfits before moving in 1998 to New York, where he joined the buzz bands Grand Mal and Cause for Applause and got to know seemingly everyone in the city's music world. He initially fell into DJing as an added attraction at the garage punk shows he was putting together, but soon parlayed his wax spinning into the main event. First came a standing gig called "New York Night Train," and then "Soul Clap," a touring happening featuring a dance contest and cash prize.
But in 2011, when Toubin was gigging in Portland, Oregon, an out-of-control taxi crashed through his motel room, running over him as he slept. He sustained critical injuries and was in a coma for a month, while his concerned friends in the New York scene and beyond sweated it out and rallied to help; "I❤JT" avatars were all over Facebook, and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Eleanor Friedberger, and others played benefits to offset the cost of his multiple surgeries. Things looked grim for the man the Village Voice called "New York's best DJ." But as they say, you can't keep a good man down. Toubin, dubbed "the miracle guy" by his doctors, made an astoundingly quick recovery: Five months after the mishap, he was back, manning the decks and rocking even bigger crowds than before.
"I love playing Kingston," says Toubin, who makes his fifth local visit this month. "And I meet more and more New Yorkers every time I come up!"
"Soul Clap" with DJ Jonathan Toubin takes place at BSP Lounge on December 13 at 8pm. Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door. (845) 481-5158; Bspkingston.com