A-Dog, eSKae1, & Hip-Hop in B-Town

Author%2C+Skyler+Griffith%2C+in+Burlington%2C+VT

Author, Skyler Griffith, in Burlington, VT

Skyler Griffith, Guest Reporter

Ever been up in Burlington and heard the name DJ A-Dog? Well, he was a local phenomenon, and if you haven’t heard of him, check out some of his tracks on Sound Cloud. But don’t look for him spinning records and scratching at the Red Square or Club Metronome because he unfortunately passed away on December 26, 2013 after a year-long battle with leukemia. DJ A-Dog, otherwise known as Andy Williams, was  a skateboarder, snowboarder, and turntablist who became well known for his hip-hop remixes and live shows. He also played a lot with the Dave Grippo Funk Band, using the turntable just like another instrument in the band. Williams grew up in St, Albans in Franklin County, moved to Burlington in the 90’s, got a job at the B-Side, a skate and snowboard shop, and started djing in local clubs and getting noticed right away. Everyone who got to know A-Dog agrees that he was a down-to-earth, chill, and super nice guy whose smile lit up the whole room. 

Soon after A-Dog passed away, three artists named Scottie Raymond, Brian Clark, and Jon Young got the idea to paint a mural to honor him. They called up Nectars, a famous club in Burlington, and asked if they could paint a mural on the side of their building. The club gave them permission right away and they didn’t hesitate, painting all night in the cold. One of the artists cut out a stencil of A-Dog, the artists painted a big letter A, and the background was based on a drawings A-Dog had been doing in the hospital. People have given lots of shout-outs to the artists after seeing the mural, and it is still there over a year later. I had a chance to go see it and interview Scottie Raymond, also known as eSKae1, one of the artists.

When I asked Scottie how he got to know A-Dog, he replied, “How could you not know A-Dog?” meaning everybody in Burlington who is a skater, snowboarder, or hip-hop fan knew and loved A-Dog. He went on to say that the hip-hop scene in Burlington was almost non-existent in the 90’s, and while graffiti was going on, it was not a big thing at all. Scottie was a promoter and met A-Dg through a band he was promoting. Scottie Raymond, aside from being an artist, is an emcee in a group called Bless the Child (three emcees and one dj).

Scottie Raymond grew up in New Jersey close to New York City, and he remembers going to the trainyard in the 80’s and looking at graffiti pieces on the sides of the trains. He didn’t start “writing” (meaning doing graffiti) until he went to college at the Tyler School of Art in Philly. When I asked him if he had ever had incidents with the law, he replied “Indeed I have.” He has been chased many times and arrested once back in Philly for painting a huge mural on the back of a building. Nowadays, Scottie has kids and a job, so most of the graffiti he does is in a studio or dome with permission of the property owner, like the mural at Nectars. He still occasionally will illegally paint on trains that are passing through Burlington because “there’s nothing like painting on a steel train, and it’s relatively safe if you know where and when to paint.” Raymond is an abstract artist aside from his graffiti, but he loves using spray paint because of the “immediacy.” If you make a mistake with spray-paint, the paint dries almost immediately and you can paint right over it. It’s cheap (because he gets his paint from a Spanish company called Cobra) and the colors are bright.

When I asked him about how anybody could learn graffiti, he told me to start in a black book, not on a wall. He also said to come up with a name and to practice writing it over and over again and notice the shapes it makes when written in different styles. He also teaches lessons out of his studio for anybody who wants to become an artist and a writer.