I’ve been banging around the music business just about all my adult life. I’ve played with bands in dives, average joints, upscale joints, countless weddings, anniversaries, graduation parties, block parties, Christmas parties, New Year’s Eve parties, and even a handful of (oy!)bowling banquets. I have loved just about every minute of it (except, of course, lugging the equipment). As such, I would like to offer a bit of advice to the folks who play CDs for a living.
1. You are not Cousin Brucie.
You may call yourself a DJ (Disc Jockey), but you are not on the radio. You are selecting and playing CDs for a room full of people. Therefore, please lose the radio announcer rubber voice when speaking to the audience. Hell, real disc jockeys don’t even talk like that anymore.
2. You are not Elvis.
Just because you play CDs does not – I repeat – does not mean that you can sing. Please spare us.
3. Know your audience.
Take a walk out into the audience, and take a look at the people for whom you will be playing CDs. If just about everyone in the room is older than 45, it is probably a pretty good idea to avoid heavy doses of ACDC. Similarly, if you don’t see a good number of Latino people, you might want to consider not playing back to back salsa tunes when the first one resulted in a dance floor that resembled an unpopulated basketball court.
4. Remember WHERE you are working.
Obviously, this is related to the previous point and, in this case, applies to DJs who work in North Jersey. In North Jersey, it’s a pretty good bet that lots of shit-kicking, country music will not work for most folks. I happen to like country music, but trust me, most people in North Jersey don’t even know who Toby Keith is. They never heard of Dwight Yoakam, and they sure as hell don’t want large helpings of John Denver.
Speaking of country music, please, please, at all costs, avoid playing Achy Breaky Heart, even if the two brofus “line-dancing” dolls in the place beg you to play it. I guarantee you that they will do the same “line dance” all night to virtually every tune you play (possibly even including “Misty”), so you should spare everyone else in the room having to listen to Mr. Cyrus’ seriously stupid song.
In North Jersey, Sinatra (no one ever uses his first name) is King. So, the simple rule is, when in doubt, play Sinatra. Although it pains me to say this (as one of the handful of Jersey natives who thinks that Bruce Springsteen is way, way, way overrated), you probably want to toss in a couple of Mr. Springsteen’s tunes, which will of course spawn the inevitable “BRUUUUCE” from his devotees in the audience.
5. Guard the microphone.
Don’t hand the microphone to anyone who wishes to sing along with the CD. Tell these people to sing in the shower or go to a karaoke bar. This may be difficult if the woman asking to sing a Mariah Carey tune has nice torts, but please remember that there are a couple hundred other people in the room who should not be subjected to such an auditory assault. Instead, consider offering the budding Mariah a special audition after the gig.
6. Shut the f**k up.
Talking over, or, worse yet, shouting over the music does not improve the song. It also does not liven up the party. Instead, it just pisses people off and you might wind up in the proctologist’s office to have a microphone-ectomy.
God, how miss music played by real-live people who actually can play and sing real-live music.