Two Hundred Thirty-Two.
Wednesday, 2020.08.19, 5:51 PM CST.
A story about 1995... and why I don't mind LONG online sets.
Current Mood: Fortunate and grateful.
Maybe a little tired.
Current Scent: Sunday Brunch by Kierin NYC.
so hard to believe that it was twenty-five years ago... but it was.
was a Saturday afternoon around the middle of July (I think), and HOT.
Ridiculously hot. Like, 104-105 degrees Fahrenheit.
was preparing for a gig at a lake resort for a client, and while I normally
would refuse outdoor gigs... this one, I had taken. I don't remember
EKG Mobile Music staff that day included myself, my longtime friend
Tom "Gilligan" Holbrook, a young guy named Steve whom I had
met through my old pal Dave French, and my dad, who often helped with
events as much as he could.
per routine with EKG, we drove two vehicles: A white and brown
VanDura carrying the heavy DJ gear, and a big, brown station wagon with
the music - usually seven or eight FULL milk crates of vinyl, plus CDs.
we got there, and I confirmed where we needed to set up... on a concrete
slab down by a lake. Just an open concrete slab out in the sun,
with no covering whatsoever. I think I knew this going in, so
I wasn't cranky with my clients about it... but I can still remember
it being BRUTALLY, inhumanely hot outside while we set up.
had to set up a ten-foot truss full of lights, Peavey SP3 speakers stacked
on top of 18" Black Widow subwoofers, and, of course, all of the
standard DJ gear like the turntables and whatnot. For the first
and only time that I can remember, we took shifts - guys would
get out of the van, do some work, then come back to the shade inside
the van for some Gatorade or soda or water for a while... while someone
else left the van to continue the work. It was horrible.
entire setup probably took about two and a half hours total... because
this was back when
mobile DJ services actually believed in giving people their money's
specifically remember putting up chairs and a tarp over the vinyl records
to keep them out of the direct sunlight. I still worried about
them getting warped, but somehow, they survived. My
clients - some sort of education-related group, I think - gradually
showed up after we set up, and we partied like usual. I remember
the event going pretty successfully. The music was fun, and the
lights set the mood as the sun mercifully went down.
then. once it was dark... the bugs came. Oh, God, the bugs.
the time, I thought they were mayflies, but after a bit more research,
it seems that they were very likely crane flies - about an inch long
each, non-biting, but incredibly annoying. This insane
swarm of crane flies flew up from the lake area and landed on everything
- speakers, lights... I even think I had to "shoo" one or
two off of spinning records. There had to be hundreds of them
total around the whole party area, just everywhere. It was awful.
Oh, and it was still really warm and sticky outside, even after
dark. So, yeah... from a performer's point of view, it was pretty
much absolutely miserable.
the party concluded a few hours later (I think the party went from 7
PM to 11 PM, but it's been a few years), our clients left, and we took
an hour and a half to two hours cleaning the bugs off the gear, breaking
the gear down, and putting everything back in the vehicles. Then,
we drove back to my house - maybe a 45- to 60-minute drive.
we're talking about about nine hours of work, not counting a couple
of hours of driving. With the exception of the heat and the bugs,
this was still about a standard timeline for an EKG performance.
2020 - a special Radio SRO set.
a quarter-century passed. And, a few weeks back, I announced on
Facebook that on August 8th, I was going to start my online Radio SRO
shift at 5:00 PM central time, two hours early, in order to play a two-hour
classic reggae set before starting the usual Radio SRO (vintage alternative
"radio") set at 7:00 PM, and then following that with the
Groovy Train (classic "club" music) from 10:00 to at least
midnight and probably 1:00 AM - so, most likely, a full eight-hour performance,
easily the longest I'd done for SRO-i/Radio SRO thus far.
supportive comments that I received in response to the announcement
were very flattering; one of the best ones called me a "beast"
for being willing to tackle a eight-hour DJ shift.
ended up taking the performance to 1:45 AM, since I kept thinking of
song after song that I wanted to tack onto this rather epic set.
When it was all said and done, I had counted EIGHTY-SEVEN tracks that
I'd played over the course of those eight hours, forty-five minutes.
was tired, yes. Exhausted. However, I felt exhilirated as
well... and I didn't feel like I'd done anything extremely
unusual or "beast-like."
know why? Because I could still remember that summer party in
1995. I could still mentally feel the grueling heat and visualize
the swarms of bugs all over everything. I could remember the absolute
misery that I used to go through when I was doing mobile DJ work for
parties on a regular basis.
days, as far as the world of DJing goes, I'm an old man. I'm definitely
not a "beast." I'm no Superman when it comes to DJing.
I'm just experienced. I remember what it was like to go through
nine hours of hell, including a lot of physical labor in the heat, to
provide people with only four hours of actual DJ performance time for
that party in 1995.
other memories... I can remember being harrassed by drunks at reunions
and corporate parties and being threatened face-to-face for not playing
their requests sooner. I can remember having a bunch of spoiled
little shitlings at the Union Seventh/Eighth Grade Center hurling
handfuls of Skittles at me and my gear while the parents and staff
looked on, presumably because I wouldn't play their precious Marilyn
Manson or "gangsta" rap requests. I can even remember
a fateful night in the early 1990s, following a class reunion in Chelsea,
when we discovered during teardown that someone in the crowd had quite
copiously vomited onto a bunch of our speaker/power cords at
some point during the event.
yeah... I guess you could say that in the grand scheme of things, over
the last three decades, I've "paid my dues" as far as DJing
goes. But, more importantly, I've been through some relatively
horrific circumstances that allow me to really appreciate my current
don't get me wrong: The online performances for Radio SRO require
a lot of work. They take away time that I could spend
with my family, and each week requires a considerable deal of preparation,
graphic design for promotion, and overhead (especially insofar as investing
in "new" vintage music). It's real work, and the donations
that I receive each week from our listeners are greatly, greatly appreciated.
don't think that I'm bitching about the Radio SRO work... I'm not.
I LOVE what we're doing with Radio SRO. I feel extremely
fortunate that Tim Barraza has allowed me to collaborate with him and
use the SRO name, and I feel grateful beyond words to those of you who
are tuning in every week, listening, watching, interacting and (when
you can) donating. It is indeed a lot of work, but I get to do
the entire thing in air-conditioned comfort, without having to drive
anywhere, without needing to set up and tear down a bunch of heavy gear,
and without dealing with all of the numerous pitfalls that went along
with mobile/event/wedding DJing decades ago.
being thrown at me, no snotty venue owners, no time limits, no "bridezillas,"
no plastered know-it-alls, no vomit, no scorching heat, and no swarms
you take all that shit out of the equation, eight or nine hours of playing
music on camera and chatting with people who genuinely appreciate me
seems like a pretty damned sweet gig... because it is.
you can call me a "beast," and I'll be very thankful... but,
considering what I've been through in the past, this is wonderful.
you to everyone who has supported this very fulfilling venture thus
far... here's hoping Radio SRO will continue for a mightly long time