By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Oct 17, 2023 at 12:04 PM

Milwaukee’s best ongoing DJ events, The Get Down Funk and Soul Dance Party, celebrates two decades of Brew City booty shakin’ with a party Friday, Oct. 27 at Promises, 538 W. National Ave.

Admission to the event, which kicks off at 9 p.m., is free.

If you want to get ready, check out the Spotify playlist that includes tunes that co-creator Andy Noble – you know him from Kings Go Forth and We Buy Records, among other things – says includes music that was especially popular during The Get Down’s early days.

These days, the Get Down DJs are Noble, David Arnevik and Nesh Malinovic. DJs emeritus include Brent Goodsell, Noble’s brother Tom, Elliot Oliver and Spero Lomenzo.

The Get Down got down for the first time in October 2003 at Quarter’s on Center Street in Riverwest when Noble and fellow vinyl fiend Goodsell booked a Wednesday to share their stashes of funky 45s.

The DJ recalls that they were inspired by the UK-based ‘deep funk’ scene led by Keb Darge, as well as by monthly trips to Danny’s ‘Soul Night’ in Chicago.

So, they "call(ed) on their, "entire Friendster (!) network to try to fill in the club’s tiny dance floor.

“Luckily in 2003, nascent social media events’ pull was near 100 percent – all 35 or so of the invitees showed up to that first spin. Pink-haired bartenders, b-boys and a few fellow record hounds rubbed shoulders on the floor to the sounds of local greats Harvey Scales and the Seven Sounds ‘Funky Yolk’ and hundreds of other obscure no-hit-wonder funk singles produced in tiny quantities on small regional U.S. labels, circa 1966-74,” Noble reminisced in a retrospective email.

They named the event “The Get Down” in honor of Scales’ eponymous Magic Touch and moved it to a monthly Saturday night series at Riverhorse (which is now High Dive) down the block on Center Street.

As the event boomed and crowds stared growing, Noble and Goodsell moved the Get Down to the neighborhood’s hottest hotspot, The Mad Planet, about three years or so later.

“Early stand-out cuts like ‘You Blew My Mind’ by Vernon Garrett and ‘Alcohol’ by Robert Jay featured an unpolished, amateurish production quality that was spiritually akin to the garage rock sounds heavily in vogue with the neighborhood’s rocker kids.”

Around the same time as the move, 88.9 Radio Milwaukee began broadcasting and it started live broadcasting the month Get Down event, which just drove even more folks to the event.

At the same time, the soul and funk revival was in full swing, thanks to the likes of Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings and Charles Bradley, among others.

Around the time Noble was touring the globe with Kings Go Forth, the Get Down scene started to change.

“The 2010s saw an expansion of the original ‘deep funk’ sound to include Northern Soul, Sweet Soul and Modern Soul – all UK-originated revisionist terms for various eras and styles of rare soul ranging from 1960s Motown-inspired sounds (Northern), to later ‘70s and ‘80s danceable R&B (Modern),” he says.

“As the sounds of rare soul became more integrated in society via Spotify playlists, the success of the Numero Group label, and YouTube access – the crowds became both more educated and a bit more apathetic.”

Many of the event’s regulars, Noble notes, “many of whom met their future partners/spouses at the event itself,” began to age out of going out regularly, but he adds, they were replaced by younger folks.

“As of summer 2023, the event has amicably departed Mad Planet, but did follow up with a very successful run of summer rooftop parties at The Central Standard’s Aviary,” Noble says.

“The Promises anniversary party will kick off the beginning of a search for a new permanent monthly venue for the party.”

There’s a Facebook page for the event and – with its boast that, “The Get Down DJs bring you soul, funk, disco, boogie and a touch of latin all from original 45s ... This isn't pop hit Trader Joe's soul, we rock the rare and funky you can't hear anywhere else” – you know it’s gonna be massive.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.