It’s been a long time since I have manned the turntables. The last time I was a DJ was a few years ago when I was asked to play some pure eighties sounds at my girlfriend's 20 year high school reunion. Most of the tunes came out of my laptop or from CDs. And the last time I dropped a needle on a record was back in my college and university days. In 1993, my friend Gonzo and I had a local radio show on CISM called MicroFun. I was the silly sidekick coming up with pranks and absurd editorials.
So when Lee Modern, resident DJ at the Mod Club Montreal asked me if I could share the bill with him, I was a bit rusty, to say the least. But I think that my enthusiasm, motivation and sheer excitement made up for my lack of DJ prowess. This was not an opportunity I was going to miss.
He offered me the first spot from 10:30 to 12. It was the perfect time slot for me. Less people, less pressure and I got to play more of the obscure and less commercial stuff. Plus, you don’t get drunken college kids asking for Lady Gaga. All you Soul DJs out there know exactly what I mean.
I spent the week ruffling through my old LPs, cleaning my 45s and searching my CD collection for the perfect mix. They can critique my DJ skills but they can’t fault me for not being prepared! I made sure to send out invitations to all of my friends and even set up a contest on my Parka Avenue Facebook page to find an official DJ name. The winner would get a Parka Avenue Compilation offering a sample of the best tunes played that night. I almost went with my own idea of DJ Psycho Pat but ended up choosing Parka Patrick (Congrats Shareen!).
My set consisted of a little Mod, a little bit of classic soul, a tad of surf, a touch of ska, a few tracks of garage and a whole lot of heart and energy. Aside from the occasional snafu, things went pretty smoothly. Lee was very supportive and offered a few pointers along the way. I appreciate the fact that he put his faith in me.
Around midnight, Lee was ready to take over and relieve me of my duties when he asked me if I could come later in the evening for another short set. The third DJ that was scheduled to spin that night was unable to make it. I accepted without hesitation. There was only one small problem. I wasn't prepared and the dance floor was rapidly filling up.
So when my turn came, I did what any good DJ should do. I observed the crowd, felt the mood, got into the groove and improvised. The set ended up being twice as good as the first. Final result: a crowded dance floor, smiling faces, energetic dancers and a party atmosphere.
Here's a little taste of what was played:
- Agent Double-O-Soul – Edwin Starr
- Sock It to ‘Em J.B. – Rex Garvin
- Soul Finger – Bar-Kays
- The Fortune Teller – Benny Spellman
- Hold On I’m Comin’ – Sam & Dave
- Give Me One More Chance – Wilmer and The Dukes
- Heat Wave – Martha and The Vandellas
- Walk – Don’t Run – The Ventures
- Surfin’ Bird – The Trashmen
- Young Jacques – Jacques Cousteau
- Zoot Suit – The High Numbers
- What’cha Gonna Do About It – The Small Faces
- I Can’t Explain – Oscar & the Majestics
- The Last of The Secret Agents – Nancy Sinatra
- 7 Heures du Matin – Jaqueline Taieb
- Sha La La – Manfred Mann
- I’m Into Something Good – Herman’s Hermits
- I Can’t Control Myself – The Teenbeats
- Time for Action – Secret Affair
Sometimes, when you put yourself on the line and try something new and different, you open yourself to criticism. (Like with this blog for instance) Some don't like your choice of music, the way you mix or the fact that you sometimes play CDs instead of exclusively spinning first edition 45s. The list can be long. It’s all part of being a Mod.
The thing is, I would rather be a man of action then to be on the sidelines complaining. And in the end, I would do it again in a heartbeat. The next day, I received an email from Lee saying: “Once again, great job last night! The staff went out of their way to mention how much everyone enjoyed the music!” How could I ask for more?
So see you next Saturday at the Mod Club. My friend and scooter club mate Eric Boulanger is the guest DJ. Trust me, he’s good.