Flask Lounge

We value equality and inclusion and are against racism, oppression, and violence. We stand with our community in promoting change and supporting justice.

“One of the greatest problems of history is that the concepts of love and power are usually contrasted as polar opposites.

Love is identified with a resignation of power and power with a denial of love. What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic.

Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice.

Justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.”― Martin Luther King Jr.

We must choose love. #blacklivesmatter 🖤

How can we help? Contact Us


Black Lives Matter Portland

Berkeleyside Berkeleyside The Sit List: 5 things you can do to support the Black community — Berkeleyside Want to help the Black Lives Matter cause but don’t know how? Donate (we suggest where), sign petitions that matter, educate yourself and listen to the insights of brilliant Black poets. A list of resources for supporting the Black Lives Matter movement Below you’ll find a list of petitions to sign, funds and charities to donate to, and resources for educating yourself and those around you. (Last update: 6 June)(35 kB)

Jesse Duncan, Known As KID CALVIN, Schools Us On Graffiti

Kid Calvin @ Monday of the Minds

Rapper, MC, Producer, Artist, Writer, Lover of Calvin and Hobbes.

Jesse Duncan, also known as Khed/Kid Calvin or J.Dunkz, has been an artist for roughly 25 years, and was born in San Diego, and raised mainly in New York, Texas, and Maine (among other states). Recently, Jesse volunteered his time and created an epic mural in Flask’s downstairs bathroom, promoting messages of love and respect.

When did you first discover your love for art?

It was around 1987, at the young age of 6 or 7, when I started getting into skateboarding and it’s culture through the local teens from the housing complex I lived in at the time. They showed me how to draw and cut elaborate designs and logos on the griptape of skateboards. I was hooked with expressing myself through art ever since then. As I got older, I started getting into Calvin and Hobbes. I would cut comic strips out of newspapers and put them all over my walls. I eventually took to re-drawing all of those strips. Through the music I listened to growing up and all the skateboarding magazines I was reading daily, I started noticing graffiti. I got hooked on drawing letters, playing around and studying colors, as well as the freedom to think outside the box a bit and get funky.

Can you give us a brief history of graffiti culture?

Graffiti in some shape or form has been around for a long time (like ‘kilroy was here‘ and cave paintings), but it wasn’t until the early ’60s, that graffiti culture started taking shape. There was early Chicano gang graffiti on the west coast taking shape with their own letterforms. Around ’65, a guy writing ‘cornbread’ in Philly (Darryl McCray,) would walk the city bus routes spraypainting and writing his name on everything. Eventually, this would spread into NYC and surrounding areas. Primitive tags turned into more elaborate ones, then quick 2 colors ‘throw-ups’ or ‘stamps.’ Eventually evolving into more and more intricate pieces with 3-d’s and abstract designs, characters, backgrounds, and murals.

“In 1984, Mayor Wilson Goode founded the Anti-Graffiti Network and recruited McCray to help him stop the inner-city youth from tagging. The Anti-Graffiti Network eventually turned into The Mural Arts Program, the largest public art program in the United States.”

Has the culture changed in recent times?

It definitely has given the rise of social media. Before that, it was kind of a passed down trade in a sense, such as the unwritten rules, tools, tricks, tips, and stories about graffiti. Older, more experienced writers would pass down knowledge to the younger kids. There are still folks out there paying homage to the unwritten rules of graffiti, though. It’s also much easier to see what’s getting painted online these days, instead of having to go out and look for spots and hope you find graffiti-like it used to be. Now a lot of folks are missing out on exploring the city they live in. Many younger writers are in it for the quick fame these days without thinking about longevity. There are still folks out there paying homage to the unwritten rules of graffiti and doing things the proper way.

“Crack Is Wack” by Keith Haring at Harlem River Drive and E. 128th St. Keith Haring moved to New York from Pittsburgh in 1978. Eight years later, he created his “Crack Is Wack” piece on two sides of a handball court that sits beside the Harlem River Drive at E. 128th St. He created the piece during a time when HIV/AIDS and the crack epidemic were hitting the city hard. (Haring himself tragically died of AIDS in 1990 at age 31.)

How does someone earn the title of “Graffiti Artist?”

Writers is the preferred term, but, anybody who has a graff name and focuses on letterform, and then proceeds to put up their name continually, would be considered a writer. Writers and street artists are two completely different things.

What are your thoughts about tagging?

Tagging is gravely misunderstood from the viewpoint of outsiders. It’s the foundation of graffiti. Without it, there wouldn’t be the elaborate pieces and murals you see today. With graffiti, there are rules about where it’s appropriate to tag. Mom and pop shops/venues, schools, churches, houses, civilian cars are all off-limits. Tagging is deeply rooted in typography and handwriting. It’s based very much on understanding letter structure and form. Styles can be very different regionally too, and there’s a lot of rich history behind the evolution of certain handstyles. There’s a wonderful book called “Flip The script: a guidebook for aspiring vandals & typographers” I highly suggest if anyone is interested in learning more about it.

Who are some of your favorite artists?

Bill Waterson, Learn, Rich, Jurne, Kerse, Mecro, Taste, Twist, Mone, Mes, Aves, Spek, trixter, daks, baser, aves, mes, cezanne, klimit, keith haring, jackson pollock, daks, soe, the solo artist, turdl, vane, write, neil geiman, jack kirby, bode, dondi, salvadore dali. The list could go on and on forever, there’s so many.

If you could share space for a mural with anyone, who would it be with, and what location?

Anyone of my close homies. I love painting with good friends and having fun vibing. I’ve always wanted to paint in Australia, Vancouver, Canada, and the pacific northwest. I love to paint in hidden spots away from the beaten path, preferably near water.

What’s one of the most significant challenges you face as an artist?

Between balancing work, being a dad, making music, and producing art, it’s really hard to find time for everything.

What are you most proud of?

The birth of my twins 10 years ago. Those little nuggets are my life.

• Shop Aqua Velvet Audio Merchandise:
Purchases will help support Jesse and his family.

What’s ahead for you in 2020 and beyond?

I’m trying to further my Aqua Velvet Audio brand by releasing more music, more art, more murals, collaborating, doing more shows, more community outreach, and possibly starting a clothing line. Other than that, raising my kids and working on myself every day.

Your favorite lyric?

This is the hardest thing for me, haha. I loved so much different music over the years, so many genres, moods, and feelings, it’s hard to pick a favorite.

Favorite Color?

Sea Foam Green

A word you think is funny?


Tell us a secret?

“Loose lips sink ships”

If you enjoyed reading this blog please consider making a small ($1 – $5) donation to help us through this crazy time & Commission Jesse for future projects at Flask.

To Connect with Jesse/Kid Calvin

| Email | Facebook | Instagram | Aqua Velvet Audio |

• Check our Jesse’s monthly mix, DRIP MIX, under his producer name J.DUNKZ. 20 Minute Mixes Release Every Month!

• Follow Kid Calvin On Bandcamp

Daily Coronavirus Updates

Coronavirus Preparations


We miss you! We hope everyone is staying safe, healthy, and making smart decisions to STAY HOME! Many resident DJs are keeping the music bumping, and spirits alive via live streaming. Check out our live streaming page for updates!


I love my staff and the community. Limiting our capacity to 50 people, and ignoring science and the recommendations of Dr. Anthony Fauci seems irresponsible.
FLASK LOUNGE Will Be Closed Until…?
Join our mailing list via our website. I will provide daily coronavirus updates, news, and resources here.
Thank you to those reaching out in support. Please be safe and practice patience and kindness. ❤️- Jessica


• Flask will be systematically cleaned and sanitized daily until the threat of coronavirus has subsided.
• The hood fan will be used to increase circulation.
• The community water jug will be removed.
• We are putting up signs educating people about how to prevent the spread of germs.
• We encourage patrons and staff to stay home if they are sick, have health risks, or have traveled to high-risk countries and states.
• We will update our website and FB page in the event of cancellations and operational changes.


It’s essential everyone takes precautions, not panic, and become educated about the virus. Here’s what we are doing.

  1. Staying healthy! If you’re not feeling well, being proactive and getting shifts covered is crucial. No one should come to work if they have flu-like symptoms, including fever, cough, shortness of breath.
  2. Washing hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds and using alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
  3. Cough or sneeze into your elbow instead of your hands. Keep hands away from eyes, mouth, and nose.
  4. Clean, Clean, Clean. Bleach is our friend. Now more than ever, we need to be cautious of frequently touched surfaces such as countertops, doorknobs, sink/toilet handles, iPad/computer screens, tap handles, light switches, seats/benches, to name a few.
  5. We will plan to be open and operate per usual with the guidance of the CDC and the City of Portland.
  6. If the time comes that businesses such as ours are recommending to close; we will close until it’s safe to re-open.
  7. Do not panic. We should anticipate fear, anxiety, and the spreading of misinformation. I predict a decline in sales and tips over the next several months. It is not necessary at this time to encourage staying home (unless people are sick). Let’s continue to promote our events.
  8. Prepare yourselves at home for a minimum 2-week quarantine. Here’s a checklist of recommended essentials:
  9. Please consider subscribing to email updates from the CDC and Maine Center for Disease and Health. Let’s stay up-to-date and actively communicate.
  10. If there is anything missed that you would like to add, please comment below.

Meet Your NYE 2020 DJ’s & Hosts of OPEN DJ NIGHT

Resolutions, lessons learned, insights to get gigs, the importance of Tuesday nights at Flask, what to expect on NYE, and fun bonus QnA’s w/ APG, G-Force, Harlock, and Kid Ray! New Year’s Eve falls on a Tuesday, landing on our weekly Open DJ Night. I thought, why not ask our Open hosts to take over and lead us into 2020 Flasquerade style.

What has your experience been as a host of OPEN? Is OPEN vital to the DJ community?

Andrew Paul (APG): When I heard Open needed a host earlier this year, I jumped right on the opportunity, for the main purpose of keeping the night going. It has been vital for the scene and should not be taken for granted. For newer and older DJ’s alike, it allows us to play out, and connect with others. It’s been an honor to host.

Andrew Paul (APG) – Follow on Facebook

Gina Hesse (G-Force): I got my first real electronic music gig because of Open back in 2012. I owe a lot to Open, and I think it is vital to the Maine electronic music scene. It helps bedroom DJs get a chance to break out of their comfort zone and potentially get gigs out of it.

Gina Marie (G-Force) Follow on Facebook

James Spinney (Harlock): I’ve been lucky to be a part of Open since Kid Ray’s induction in 2013, attending the first few Open’s as a patron and occasionally signing up to DJ. Open had been an immediate success in the scene, encouraging both veteran DJs and hopeful beginners to come out and spin their passions for an eager crowd, and I was no exception. As a producer first, and DJ second, Open was especially magical for me as it provided a platform to show off the music I had been producing over the years. To help support Open, several of the regular DJs, Carl Fisher, Moses, A Dude Named Ray, Dj Cougar, as well as Kid Ray himself, would help by providing the necessary equipment to host the night. I ended up picking up a pair of new CDJs to provide some relief for the rotation and become a regular co-host. The rest is history!

James Spinney (Harlock) Follow on Facebook

Christopher Ramos (Kid Ray): I was the primary host for six years up until this year, I host the first Tuesday of the month. I love every Tuesday, one way or another. Once, a guy tried playing a set with two cassette decks. This forum offers new and veteran DJs and Artists a chance to hone their talents with their peers.

Christopher Ramos (Kid Ray) Follow on Facebook

Flask receives 100’s of booking requests each month from bands and DJs. I imagine this number is equivalent to other venues in Portland. What’s the best advice you can give to up and coming musicians who want to break out and book gigs at Flask and other local venues?

Andrew Paul (APG): When I was a newer DJ, Open was vital for me. It gave me a way to practice outside of the bedroom, and at the same time, network with other DJ’s attending. That alone helped create paths for new gigs.

Gina Hesse (G-Force): I’d say, if you’re a DJ or producer, get to Open. It is the ONLY Open DJ night in this area. I know that I have booked DJ’s that I have heard at Open, and they have gone on to other things. As far as other music genres, make demos. Get your name out there. Go to open mic nights and make yourself known. You will never be heard if you don’t get out there and perform for the masses!

James Spinney (Harlock): One of the most important things you can do is come out and show support for the events being hosted at the venue. Network with regulars, talk with the promoters and get a few attendances under your belt before hunting down a gig. If you’re a DJ, then definitely swing by on a Tuesday and sign-up for Open (sign-ups start at 8:30, so get there early!). Often there will be regulars and veterans who frequently host or DJ events attending Open, so giving them a preview of your talents can only help! Many of the veteran DJs are more than willing to give upcoming artists a shot. G-Force specifically has a fantastic track record of showcasing phenomenal artists that otherwise have gone unnoticed. If you run into her, say hi, and introduce yourself, it’ll be the smartest thing you do that night.

Christopher Ramos (Kid Ray): If you want it, you have to shoot your shots as professionally as possible. Be present and available.

It’s open mic, but for DJs. Bring your Records, CDs, or Controller. All formats/genres are welcome. Every Tuesday at Flask Lounge 117 Spring St. Portland ME with hosts Kid Ray, G-Force, Harlock, APG. Sign up starts at 8:30 pm sharp.
Join the OPEN FACEBOOK GROUP PAGE for all updates and details.

The decade is almost over. It’s been a wild one. Can you share one lesson learned in the last decade you will take with you into 2020?

Andrew Paul (APG): Be yourself. Keep your craft authentic, and to not compromise that for what might be trending. If it makes you move, it surely will make others, too.

Gina Hesse (G-Force): One HUGE lesson I learned this decade is to never take anything for granted. Not your family, not your house, nothing. LOVE every day and stay focused and motivated.

James Spinney (Harlock): It’s important to have balance in your life, Jackie Chan once said (in a very cheesy remake of The Karate Kid) “Wù jí bì fǎn”; too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. Focusing on your passions is important, but it’s also important to make sure you’re financially stable, have a good job, and to make healthy lifestyle choices. We all want to live the dream and believe our passions alone will keep us afloat, but the reality is even the most successful of us aren’t DJing or producing music full-time. Find a balance that works, and if you feel yourself slipping in one direction or another, realign yourself and assess what is most important right now.

Christopher Ramos (Kid Ray): Pay attention to other people’s personal space.

What are your 2020 goals? Resolutions?

Andrew Paul (APG): To keep sharing the music that I love, one event at a time.

Gina Hesse (G-Force): To quit drinking.

James Spinney (Harlock): I was lucky enough to find the love of my life through the music scene, and last May, we tied the knot. Going forward into 2020, we hope to continue saving up and with any luck purchase our first house so we can start working on having a family. If stars align and fortune favors me, I’d like to go on a trip to spend a week in Japan.

Christopher Ramos (Kid Ray): My goals for the new year are to pay more attention to my own needs, wants, and happiness. I tend to put others ahead of myself.

What can we expect from you on NYE?

Andrew Paul (APG): I will be warming up the night early with some soulful drum n bass vibes. It will surely get you moving!

Gina Hesse (G-Force): House and bass vibes that are certainly going to keep you dancing!!

James Spinney (Harlock): Well, House Music has always been a soft spot for me. Even though my DJ roots go way back to my days as a host for, I’ve always been a House music producer first and foremost so… I suppose you’ll have to come out and find out for yourself on New Year’s Eve what I picked!

Christopher Ramos (Kid Ray): Tribal/Latin/Disco

**Bonus Round**

1. Thick crust or thin crust?

Andrew Paul (APG): I’ll eat both.
Gina Hesse (G-Force): Thin
James Spinney (Harlock): Stuffed Crust!
Christopher Ramos (Kid Ray): Thin

2. Ice cream cone or cup?

Andrew Paul (APG): A cone-shaped like a cup!
Gina Hesse (G-Force): Cone
James Spinney (Harlock): Waffle Cone
Christopher Ramos (Kid Ray): Cup

3. Dogs or Cats?

Andrew Paul (APG): A cat that acts like a dog.
Gina Hesse (G-Force): Cats and Wiener dogs 😂
James Spinney (Harlock): I have a Ball Python so… Snake?
Christopher Ramos (Kid Ray): Both

4. House or Bass?

Andrew Paul (APG): Bass. But not strict to any genre.
Gina Hesse (G-Force): BOTH!
James Spinney (Harlock): BOTH!
Christopher Ramos (Kid Ray): House (mostly)

Flask Merchandise Available w/ FREE SHIPPING!

There’s Just One DJ Cougar

DJ Cougar has been DJing 35+ years and has been a Karaoke DJ for 18 of those years. He’s played 1,822 shows (not including private events), and yes, he keeps track! Will we ever know the truth behind his DJ name and staple bandana fashion? Wayne Smith, aka DJ Cougar, shares tales of what it takes to be a Karaoke DJ, the most popular and dreaded song requests, and how Karaoke can boost your confidence. 

There’s Just One
DJ Cougar

At last! Tell us where, when, and how Wayne Smith became DJ Cougar? And when did your infamous fashion staple, the bandana, become a tradition?

The name DJ Cougar was bestowed upon me while I was in the Army stationed in Washington, DC. There are many stories behind the origin of the name. My favorite is that I won the lawsuit against John Cougar Mellencamp and got my name back.

The bandana originated in high school and returned in the early/mid-’90s while working in a kitchen in Raleigh, NC. I ended up with what was known as the Budweiser collection, which I referred to as my corporate sponsorship. After moving to Boston in ’96, Harley Davidson replaced Budweiser. The bandanas with my logo finally came in 2008.

There are many people afraid of karaoke. Do you think karaoke helps self-confidence? Do you have any stories of a shy person evolving into a confident, karaoke superstar?

Once you start with karaoke, you’ll either love it or hate it. Most people get hooked after doing a couple of songs with friends and then go solo. It’s an adrenaline rush when the crowd cheers for you. I would say that yes, karaoke does help with self-confidence. I’ve watched a few people through the years go from timid and shy on the mic to belting out songs you wouldn’t imagine them trying. Nobody has risen to “Karaoke Superstar” status, but some have become extremely good. The “Superstars” usually have a musical background (high school, theater, etc.) by the time I meet them. Regardless of singing capabilities, my shows are for everyone to have fun.

Karaoke is perfect for holidays, birthdays, or any special occasion.
Book a karaoke night here.
Photo credit: Old Port Pub Run captured by Chelsea Peterson.

What are the top 3 most requested songs? What are the top 3 most dreaded songs requested?

The most requested songs change over time. Currently, it’s Mr. Brightside – The Killers, What’s Up – 4 Non-Blondes, and Don’t Stop Me Now – Queen. The dreaded 3 for me are anything by a boy band, Piano Man – Billy Joel, and Love Shack – B-52’s.

Do you think people assume being a Karaoke DJ is easy? Take us through a busy night and share just how much skill, work, and patience it takes to be successful in this particular genre of entertainment.

Most people think it’s easy, and they don’t realize how much is involved with running a show. We are averaging 54 songs during a 4-hour show at Flask, which is high speed. Most hosts would lose their minds trying to handle the large rotations. I’ve been doing this for so long that it has become second nature to me, although I do admit to having meltdowns.

Once the show starts, it’s not unusual for people to turn in requests all at once. I try to keep them in order while adding songs to the queue and bringing singers to and from the stage. Add in trying to keep audio levels balanced between music and microphone and lining up bumper music (songs between singers). And of course, having conversations with people to make sure everyone’s happy. 

It’s not unusual for us to have 18-30 singers in rotation (90 – 150-minute wait to sing). Figuring out the rotation and explaining how long the wait is can be overwhelming. If you want to sing early, I always suggest arriving early to shows. I do keep a list of courtesies in front of my songbook (containing 45,000 songs to choose from) to explain how the show runs and how people can help keep it moving, but nobody reads it. 

Has karaoke changed over the years? If so, how?

The popularity of karaoke usually runs in 2-3 year cycles. We’ll have groups of regulars that come out for that period of time and then fade away, but typically a new group is already coming in when that happens. The most significant change in the past decade has been the move from CDs to digital (laptop). I remain old school with the use of paper slips. It saves me from trying to hear names and requests in a lively environment.

Do you envision retiring from karaoke or DJing in general?

I semi-retired in the early ’90s but ended up DJing again regularly by the end of the decade. It would be nice to retire from karaoke (I enjoy DJing too much to leave it behind), but it’s been paying my bills for more than a decade, and I don’t envision retiring anytime soon.

What’s something few people know about you, including friends and family?

The real story behind my DJ name. There are a couple of people who have figured it out, but if I told you, it would no longer be a secret. 🙄

How can people connect with you?

Facebook | | Instagram

Upcoming Events:


Deep Dish Interview w/ Chicago’s, DJ Zebo

Live @ Flask Lounge

Voted #65 of TOP 100 DJs in America – National Sun Times 2015 &
Chicago Nightlife Awards – “BEST DJ” 2014

“I play good music.”

What are you most grateful for, today?

To be able to share good music with the people and support myself while doing so. Being a DJ holds serious responsibility, whether the DJ wants to admit it or not. Music has the power to unite, the power to change, and the power to reach people on a personal level. At a club or party, you will find people from all walks of life getting down together. The same people that may not speak to each other in everyday life. I thank the universe for helping me find myself through DJing and using it to connect with others.

How has DJing and electronic music changed in recent years?

For the past decade, it has been the same with the rise and fall of “EDM” and the culture associated with it. When I first started DJing in 98′, I came from the underground rave scene in Chicago and the midwest. Then it was all about the DJ and not so much about the producer. Many producers did DJ also, but there was more opportunity for DJs as you had to have a record collection to play out. CD players weren’t great at the time, so vinyl was the primary format. A DJ spent time, and money to build their collection, and that was a big part of their name and draw.

With the rise of EDM culture in the US, it made events more like concerts as opposed to “rave” style parties. The visual became a significant part of it with better technology in lasers, lights, and now LED walls. With the rise of EDM, it seemed dance music became all about the “build-up & drop.” I’m not knocking it as I do like a good drop, but every style of dance music became all about it, and I feel that took a bit of soul out of dance music. People danced differently as they would get hyped during the build-up, “go ham” when the drop hit and then waited for the next one, whereas electronic music of the 90s and early 2000s had more of a groove and soul to connect with and converse with through dance. I feel like the dancing in the 90s, and early 2000s was something everyone did, whereas, with the EDM culture, it was more like a fist pump, some headbanging and even moshing.

I’m not saying there is NO dancing now as I see a lot of good shuffling, but people do not dance as much. I think the fact that everyone has a recording device and social media can be used to make fun of people for letting go and dancing, may play a small part of it as well. Keep in mind this is all from my experience, my observation.

As a DJ, are you concerned with patrons safety at events?

Yes, and every DJ should be. Nobody wants to see anyone get hurt, OD, or something terrible like that. A party is about togetherness and connection.

One piece of advice for aspiring DJ’s?

Practice, practice, practice! There is a lot of technology taking the skill out of DJing and relies on algorithms to take on the work that should be part of the “skill” of DJing. Be yourself and be nice to people. Never burn bridges. Use DJing as a way to express yourself honestly. DJs should be different and should play different styles and genres. Make your style about what you like. That personal touch allows patrons to connect with your DJ style.

How has mentorship challenged you, and what’s your most rewarding experience to speak of?

I am able to help students progress farther and faster by teaching them from the mistakes I made and lessons learned. I hope to see my students push DJing farther than me and take the art to a whole new level.

I recently had an Autistic student who found himself through DJing. At the end of the semester, I received a letter from the student’s father thanking me as the student found something that he is good at and can connect with other people through. He had never felt that before, and now he practices every day and uses his craft to make new friends and communicate in ways he cannot do with just words. I’m also able to use my connections to help these students get their foot in the door. The scene here is massive, and there are more and more DJs coming out every day, so it can be tough for people to break into the scene and get gigs.

What’s something not many people know about you, not even your family or friends?

My middle name is actually “Zebo.” Most people don’t know where I got my DJ name from, or they don’t believe me. When I was younger, I was called J Z, as my first name is Jonathon. I tell people now my name is J Z and they think I’m trying to bite off the Rapper, Sean Carter aka Jay-Z. I’m taking my name back from him. I had it first!

Where can people see you next?

FLASK LOUNGE in Portland, Maine on Friday, July 26th.
Any of my various residencies here in Chicago at Sound-Bar, HQ, The Darling, Gold Room, or Underground. The next festival I’m at in Chicago is North Coast in August.

What’s the best way to connect with you?

Social media… My URLs all end with /djzebo

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or SoundCloud.