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Get on the Goodship: (l-r) Kevin Luddy, Ryan Jenkins, Jason Steven Murphy.

PHOTO: Alicia Solsman

Dance Dance Revolution

Goodship came to town, and Troy has never been the same

By Chet Hardin


One way to think about Goodship: These kids will make you dance. “We’re just bored,” says Kevin Luddy, “and we want something to do.”

Jason Steven Murphy nods, “Isn’t that always the way, though?”

“Filling the void,” adds Ryan Jenkins, an undergrad at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. In Troy, for the kids who actually leave their dorm rooms, there’s almost nothing for them to do but cross the Hudson. But some clubs just aren’t what he’s looking for, like the one where it was College Night, and onstage was a girl-on-girl make-out contest.

“I was ashamed of myself for even going in,” he says. “It’s sleazy.”

Murphy laughs. “I get this image of Ryan in a strip club, saying, ‘This doesn’t speak to me.’ ”

Jenkins’ point is well-made, though. There are hundreds of kids like him at RPI, and thousands more scattered about the Capital Region who aren’t down with Friday nights of willful degradation; they just want to dress up and dance their guts out, and if girls are making out, hopefully it’ll be spontaneous and therefore infinitely more awesome.

“People do that kind of thing to make money,” Luddy says. It makes sense to have 19-year-old girls make out for a bunch of horny college boys if you are looking to make a buck. “We are not trying to make money. So we don’t have to worry about tricks or anything like that. So we can just focus on getting good shit.”

Good shit is what these Goodship kids have focused on bringing to Troy for years, starting way back on Sept. 11, 2001, with Goodship Tuesdays. That went on for years, in a basement bar on 4th Street in Troy, with Luddy, a DJ, and Murphy, a video artist, sharpening their skills alongside resident “face melter” Jesse Stiles and a dozen other video musicians and beat artists.

Nowadays you can catch them on the last Friday of each month at the “official unofficial” Troy Night Out afterparty, or at a smattering of gigs throughout the region. (This Saturday, Goodshippers will be at Metroland’s Feedback show at Valentine’s; see Night & Day on page 26 for more.) They are integral to the growing dance scene in Troy, and also perform in New York City, Boston, even Albany. Currently, about 250 people show up for the TNO afterparties, but Luddy and crew are hoping to double that by the end of the year.

“The afterparty,” Jenkins says, “is a fun, happy atmosphere. Once people come down for it, they are like, ‘Holy shit, this is fucking amazing.’ We get this artsy crowd, and this architecture crowd from RPI, stylish people, and some math people.”

“Oh,” Luddy jumps in, “the math kids are great!”

Another way to think about Goodship: These autonomous agents will make you network.

Luddy is a name-dropper, but he doesn’t drop the names of the rich or well-known. He drops friends’ names like they ought to be rich and well-known. It’s a charming virtue of his, and it’s addictive. People get their proving time with Goodship, and if they make the grade, they become celebrities, at least to Luddy; he collects them, introduces them to one another at parties, involves them in his schemes.

Goodship, in one way, is Luddy’s own personal assortment of cherished characters.

“One of the Goodship philosophies,” Luddy says, “is to get the right people together to make amazing shit happen.” People like Jenkins, who came out of the Ground Zero scene at RPI and started DJing only after meeting Luddy.

So how to define Goodship? Luddy shrugs off a definition, saying that the idea came from his time in Hartford, Conn.

“I was in a band. I guess it was a jam band, except I didn’t realize it at the time,” Luddy says. “Anyway, we got really bored with ourselves, so some of us started a new band. We would play whatever, whenever. And instead of booking shows, we would just show up on the streets of Hartford on Friday night and start playing.”

They would pay the parking lot attendant $10 to run an extension cord to power the turntables and amps.

“At any time there was one or two people to, like, seven or eight people. And that band was called Goodship,” he recalls. “And that was, to me, the most perfect setup for a band. We didn’t have any songs. We would just show up and start playing and see what happened, and if certain people were there, you would know it would go in one direction, and if you had other people there, it would go in another direction. And since then I stole the name.”

It’s a name with an idea attached, a business model dreamed up by Luddy and friends while they were RPI students, based on social networking and the utility of promoting the talents of a collection of like-minded people. And it just so happens that some of these people live to make you dance.

Like Luddy, Jenkins and Murphy are huge fans of their friends.

They list the names of collaborators, RPI professors, artists and musicians who have come through the Goodship scene and thrown down for months or years then scattered to careers and families (this one started a recording studio, that one had a kid, another moved to Philadelphia) and some who still rock it out (the old-school fedora funk guy, McGillicuddy, Face Removal Services, Jack and Dave from Vidvox).

“Goodship is just this incestuous fuck system of people doing dope shit!” Jenkins shouts. “And that is so ideal as to how organize people with different knowledge bases in order to achieve a bigger thing—to create this entirely dense social web of people with really specific and broad skills.”

And, Luddy says, they are always looking for more friends, and ways to expand. A few months ago, with the help of Revolution Hall, they were able to bring in Tittsworth, the Washington, D.C.-based heavyweight of the DJ scene, for a Monday night show.

“There weren’t as many people as we wanted for that,” Jenkins says.

But it was near a holiday, Murphy notes, and the people who were there “were full-on.”

“Yeah, they were like, ‘Holy shit,’” Jenkins says. “Everybody who was a college student sent me Facebook messages asking when the next one was going on.”

“Ideally,” Luddy says, “we want to bring somebody around like that on a regular basis.”

And Rev Hall has been backing their play to create a scene. The venue will be opening up its front hallway on Mondays as a lounge, with Goodship DJs, for a downtempo evening.

“They have said that building a scene in Troy is something that they are interested in doing,” Jenkins says. “They told us they want to help us build something.”

“If they can,” Luddy says, “it is going to be awesome.”


- no rough mix this week :-(

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