I always enjoy putting together the monthly schedule for Brass Union. It’s a trip to see so many talented names on one poster. I’d like to give a special shout to DJ Axel Foley, who’ll be back on Saturday 12/30. Foley was the first ever DJ to spin at Brass and has been a huge influence of mine over the years. Seeing him spin with the band Dub Apocalypse years ago made me want to be a DJ. Check out the full schedule below. I’ll be there on Saturday 12/23!
It’s been almost a year and a half since I left my bar-managing job and went after the DJ thing full time. I am happy to report that I am still here, working at something I love everyday, and business is growing. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to work with awesome bar owners, corporate clients, brides and grooms, and general music lovers in Boston who keep me consistently busy. It helps to have a website, but word of mouth is still king. Chances are you or someone you know needs a DJ for an event … so don’t forget about your boy DJ J-Wall!
I am also thankful that the DJ community in Boston is rich with generous and talented professionals willing to discuss trade secrets, share music/equipment, and even trade gigs. In this field, your coworkers are technically your competitors. I gravitate to the ones who see it as a collective effort. Together we can all raise the bar.
This has been a landmark year for me as a DJ. I’ve spun parties in new venues I could never imagine playing (Royale, Paradise Rock Club, City Hall Plaza) and have shared nights with DJs I idolize. I also feel like my musical IQ is rising and I’m more confident about bringing new genres into the mix. I’ll admit that I used to hate on some of the stuff I spin now, but once I got to see how these tracks work for a dance floor I was hooked. I’d like to think I can find redeeming qualities in even some of the most basic of genres. At the core, to me, it always needs to be funky and interesting to make the cut, and if the original sucks, you never know: there might just be a dope remix out there.
All of this makes me want to double down in 2018. I am always striving to get better, both as a DJ and as a business owner. And one of my biggest goals is to start a more in-depth dialogue with you. There are so many things that go into being a working DJ. Surprisingly, a lot of those are tedious tasks that aren’t glamorous at all, but the payoff is what makes it worth it. My job is to interact with a crowd, but rarely do I get to talk about what goes into it. A lot of DJs will say the DJ booth is one of the loneliest places in the room (please don’t take that as an invite to come up and request “Despacito” or whatever pop song it is you’ve heard 15 times already that day). The silence after gigs is when a lot of thinking happens, good and bad. I am looking forward to using this blog to cultivate some of those thoughts.
In a given week, I may DJ in front of a crowd for only 15 to 20 hours total, but so much more happens outside that window to make those hours as effective I can. Time spent practicing goes just as far as following the charts, digging for cool edits, marking cue points and loops, checking out new venues and nights, and building new business. The thought that people are giving me the power to curate the vibe of their businesses or special events is something I take seriously.
Music is always around me, so there’s really no turning off my working brain. My favorite DJs all tell a story when they perform. And my favorite records to play are the ones with which I associate a vivid memory. There are so many to pull from, too. Hearing that Fleetwood Mac live record on the way home from the Cape in the back of my parents’ car, for instance, all salty from hours in ocean, or that Janet cassette I “borrowed” from my sister when she was at dance class (the same one I’d never admit to liking when my hockey friends were around), or Get Rich or Die Trying on repeat through the rattle of Pontiac factory speakers on the my first day driving solo with my license. When I play records for people, my only hope is it sparks similar memories for them. – JW
Stay tuned for more from The Working DJ!
I always love the diversity in the DJ schedule at Brass Union. You have everything from all-vinyl soul & funk nights to open format hip-hop, party jams, and indie dance nights. There’s a lot going on week to week, yet somehow it all works, which is a testament to the open-minded clientele in Somerville.
I am excited to welcome back DJ Leah V (11/4) and DJ Evaredy (11/18) on proper weekend nights. Also DJ Big Bear (CCLCTV Boston a.k.a. the folks behind The Wave) will making his Thursday debut on 11/9. And don’t forget, your’s truly will be on the decks on Saturday, November 11. Check out the full schedule below.
October 2017 kept me busy. I did 21 gigs (a personal best), including four weddings, which are each like three gigs rolled into one. That said, I am looking forward to getting back on the bar/club grind for November. I also am going to commit myself to practicing new techniques and digging for unique dance jams that no one else is spinning–after all being different is what it’s all about, right?
I’ll be continuing on with my Monday after-work residency at the Milky Way in JP, Thursdays at The Druid, and Fridays at Foundry on Elm. All of these spots have their own vibe, and being at each so often makes me focus on introducing new tracks & routines into the mix, all while fine-tuning the ones that I know will work.
The Milky Way is where I can just lay down a continuous chill vibe. The Druid has a little bit of everything, but mainly a mix of classic hip hop, rock, funk & soul. It is always a testing ground for new stuff and remixes I’ve been digging. And on Fridays at Foundry can take any shape depending on the crowd that walks through the door. Usually dancehall, classic party jams, nu-disco, and new hip-hop/trap all work well.
I’ll also be back at some familiar spots on Saturdays…
Saturday, November 4 – The Liberty Hotel (Downtown Boston) – 9 PM to 1:30 AM (No cover)
Saturday, November 11 – Brass Union (Union Square, Somerville) – 10 PM to 2 AM (No Cover)
Saturday, November 18 – Aeronaut Brewery (Union Square, Somerville) – 8 PM to Midnight (No cover)
Saturday, November 25 – Good Life (Downtown Crossing, Boston) – 10 PM to 2 AM (Fresh Produce with DJ Spinbad, Knife, & Daz-One – $10 Cover)
I have the great honor of curating the DJ schedule at Brass Union in Union Square, Somerville. Check out October’s schedule below. As always there’s never a cover. I’ll be back on the decks for brunch on 10/15 and also on Saturday 10/21 from 10 PM to 2 AM.
For more info be sure to check out Brass Union’s website!
The Halloween party at The Druid is one of the best around. This will be the fourth one I’ve done, and I wouldn’t want to be working anywhere else that night. It’s on Halloween proper (10/31), which falls on a Tuesday this year, and it’ll still get jammed up despite the mid-week slot. Best part for you: there’s a $300 cash prize for best costume, and it gets pretty damn competitive too. It’s also a solid dance party. They take out any piece of furniture that’s not nailed down. And if that’s not enough … there’s no cover. Get there early and stay late.
DJ J-WALL @ THE DRUID HALLOWEEN PARTY
Inman Square, Cambridge, Mass.
Tuesday 10/31 – 10 PM to 2 AM
No Cover | 21 +
$300 cash prize for best costume. $100 and $50 gift cards for 2nd and 3rd place.
My focus is heavily into DJing these days, but I do still organize & promote a handful of live music and food-driven events, and the Riverside BBQ Series is my baby. The third and final session of 2017 (and sixteenth over the past five years) is on Sunday, October 8 and will feature chefs from The Abbey (Cambridge & Brookline) & CK Pearl (Essex), plus live music from the Bad Rabbits (acoustic & DJ set), Gold Blood & Associates, and the series’ house DJ, Ryan Brown. It’s like a backyard BBQ on steroids, and a pretty good deal too.
The Riverside BBQ Series matches New England’s most creative chefs (including multiple James Beard Award Winners) with local craft brewers and awesome bands all in a beautiful setting along the Charles River. It’s a pop-up kitchen, intimate concert, and mini beer festival all rolled into one all-inclusive experience.
All-in tickets include BBQ from the chefs and beer & wine from our seven beverage sponsors. More info is below!
Riverside BBQ Series: Last Session for 2017
October 8, 2017 – 4 PM to 8 PM
Harry Parker Boathouse – 20 Nonantum Road, Brighton, MA (on the Charles River)
Session #3 Lineup
THE ABBEY (Cambridge & Brookline, MA)
CK PEARL (Essex, MA)
BAD RABBITS (Acoustic Set & DJ Set)
Gold Blood and Associates
DJ Ryan Brown
Lord Hobo Brewing Co.
Down the Road Beer Co.
Farmer Willie’s Craft Ginger Beer
….plus Topo Chico Mineral Water!
I am looking forward to adding Bella Luna & the Milky Way in Jamaica Plain to my residency list for the fall (in addition to Thursdays at the Druid and Fridays at Foundry on Elm). I’ll be DJing every Monday starting on September 18th. And for my 9-5 friends, this one is totally for you. I’ll be spinning a vibey afterwork set from 6 PM to 8 PM before the bar rolls into trivia. I am usually a night owl so I don’t mind the early set either, especially coming in hot off the weekend. I have a feeling this’ll be the spot where I can try out some fun things and dig deep into the crates. There’s something in the water in JP that makes disco, deep house, and funk feel just right.
OFF THE WALL MONDAYS with DJ J-WALL
Every Monday from 6 PM to 8 PM starting on September 18 – No cover!
284 Amory Street
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130
I have the great honor every month of curating the DJ program at Brass Union in Somerville. We strive to let the DJs do their “thing” here, meaning you won’t always hear the obvious hits (I’m talking about you “Despacito”) and the night is a real musical journey in the hands of the selector. All vinyl nights are still even a thing here, usually on Wednesdays and Fridays (be sure to check out “Union Funk” with Disgonuts on Friday 9/8 or “The Groove” with Paul Foley and Saucy Lady on Friday 9/15 to see what I’m talking about).
I’ll be spinning on Saturday 9/16 from 10 PM to 2 AM and the first brunch set of the fall on Sunday 9/24 from noon to 3 PM. Click on the poster below for the full schedule!
After a few months off, I am excited to return to Night Shift Brewery not once, but TWICE in August. First up will be Thursday, August 10 followed by Friday, August 25. Both sets are from 8 to 10 PM. The beer here is as good as it gets, seriously, and the summer vibe is just right for a mix of funk, boogie, and throwback hip hop jams. They have quite the patio setup too, complete with corn hole and a rotating cast of killer food trucks.
DJ J-Wall at Night Shift Brewing
87 Santilli Highway, Everett, MA
Thursday, August 10 & Friday, August 25 – 8 PM to 10 PM