by Jennifer Stark
Photos by Sam Weaver and Table Manners Crew
Twelve years ago, in a somewhat hip-hop barren land called Austin, two crusaders of fine taste used their fine palates for tender tunes and technical excellence to become the tastemakers of the turntable scene. They saw an Austin divided– on the one side, a mashed mecca of yuppie money and poor taste in hip-hop, and on the opposing side, hip-hop headiness and empty dance floors. To blend the gap, they soldered their backbones and became the beloved Table Manners Crew. Two DJs, four turntables, one bitchin’ sound system courtesy of the beloved basement bar Plush, and one hell of a party.
Inspired by DJ Mel’s Hip-Hop on Mondays- a local hip-hop weekly at Nastys that is almost old enough to drink, juggler Tats of an extremely popular wait-in-line-around-the-block ramen shack you may have heard of, Ramen Tatsuya, and Harold Marchand aka Nerdy Harry put their “headiness” together and came up with a profound approach uncharted by the prior hip-hoppers and heads before them– party rocking. They split what they wanted to play with what needed to be played at the breast and catered their tasty sets courteously to tailor-fit the crowd. Together, the two sous chopped and screwed artisan beats into delicious sets, serving up meaty tracks heavily garnished with an array of their tactical talent, to those with a palate for the sensationally saucy.
Table Manners Crew has aged beautifully, expanding its reach leaf by leaf to become the feeding grounds for a plethora of perfectly seasoned talent. First inducted into the TMC family from the top down was Digg Haze aka DJ Digg, who absorbed the “head of the table” title and continued to curate the crews lasting membership, bringing with him the renowned party rocker set DJ himself, DJ Crown. Shortly after, the two recruited feared battle scratcher Kellen “Kid Slyce” Chumley and the “DJs’ DJ,” Ray Hernandez aka DJ Ramo to balance out their blend. Over the years, TMC continued expanding, recruiting undergrounder Tony Huynh aka DJ Charlie, scratch savant Casey Curtis aka Casey Cuts, and new kid on the block Ethan “Showgun” Jin. An Avengers-like assembly of heavy hitters from many local crews– Applied Pressure, LNS Crew, Head of the Table, Dusty Groove Radio, Feedback Alliance, Vibrate, and Hot Bookings; the TMC ensemble continues to save any dance floor in distress by feeding the masses spoon fulls of fatty tunes, while still showcasing their varied and incredibly rare talents. Though each addition brought something new to the table, the creative crew has always been able to maintain a singular vision– serving it up anyway you want it.
With an eloquent ability to enamor the audience’s taste buds, the now nine-member crew provides the Austin scene with gritty locally outsourced beats straight off the line. Whether it is playing sick side-by-side tag sets showcasing their unique blending and scratching abilities, broadcasting live cut sessions, mastering the art of a tantalizing tribute set, teaming up with local alliances, or simply rocking the monthly party to the core, TMC brings the heat with their conglomerative approach and sears the competition. From blending well seasoned classics with bold breakbeats, Rhythm and Blues with synth-sational tunes, or organic renditions of locally grown bangers, TMC has more jams than GMO grapes.
As Table Manners Crew has expanded, so has their reach, but they never sold out for stock ops. TMC has gone from weeklies at plush on Saturdays, to monthlies, to semi-monthlies, and now, frequently moonlights showcasing their supreme talents as openers for heavy hitters such as DJ Q-Bert and Peanut Butter Wolf at Holy Mountain and Empire. TMC can be found headlining, and providing the backbone, at many shows in the 7th street district. Just follow the sound of clapping assess and “hey-ho”s, or go the extra mile and follow them via soundcloud and Facebook, and you’ll find TMC rocking the party.
My family is loud. They smoke, drink, and blare tunes after two. My family gets rowdy, really rowdy, and an acceptable amount of belligerently drunk. My family rests their elbows on the table, and doesn’t give a single fuck if you do too. My family scratches where it itches, when it itches, and how it wants to. My family minds their manners, their table manners.
For a sneak peek at their skills, check out these cut sessions they did to promote the show they did with Peanut Butter Wolf at Holy Mountain last month:
Jenny Stark lives and breathes hip hop, but at heart she is a ten-gallon-girl.