HOW TO BE A GREAT DJ
San Joaquin Valley DJ, The Man and The Music
All my life I have been associated with music. When I was a 12 year old kid, I learned to play guitar on an old Harmony (cheap) acoustic guitar I found in a house my parents rented in Walla Walla, Washington. The guitar was missing three strings, which I used about a month’s allowance to replace, and I bought a book, Harry Reesner’s Book of 1,000 Chords. A whole new life opened up to me. During my college years, I paid for most of my way through a B.A. and two Masters Degrees by playing in rock bands for about ten years. I did the John Denver/Kenny Rogers solo routine for more years in country clubs and fine restaurants and, now, as a mature adult, I find tremendous enjoyment serving as a DJ at weddings, anniversaries, block parties, car rallies, you name it, I’ve played it. From the wedding reception at the small-town VFW Hall—rent for the afternoon: $80—to the New Year’s Eve Party at the Carnelian Room at the top of the B of A building in San Francisco (reported rent for the evening: $36K), I’ve played them all.
Through it all, the sustaining magic has been the People and the Music. The People, my clients, represented by poor and rich folks, young and old folks, selfish and generous, smart and dumb, sad and happy, carefree and sober—the ones who paid me to find just the right tune, just the right beat, the right mix, the right volume of that mystical series of sounds we call Music. Through this Music, I become the family Doctor, knowing its secrets, sharing bread with its members, healing their pain, making the world right again, but only if the music is. . .exactly . . . Right. And is it always right?—Oh, no. No. Sometimes I leave close to tears at the failure to break through the humdrum, the ennui, the frightful animosities, the quiet desperation.
But, then, there is always that next gig that offers the opportunity of perfection, of greatness. . .where the Music lifts us to a happier, more comfortable, more interesting sphere. I guess that’s what I live for, and whether it’s at the local Elks Lodge or a Princess Cruise Ship, sometimes I find the Music that transcends life’s problems, tedium, prejudice, conflict, its politics—and then it’s not even about the money. . .it’s about the connection of all the great people who made Music to all of the hopeful people who listen to it, hoping for that breath of new energy, new life, even if only for a moment. . .
If you have a great DJ story, or if you have shared an experience of being in the presence of a DJ who transformed your music event, please send an email our way, and I’ll share it with other DJ’s and clients.
--Dave Crosby, Fresno, CA
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