It’s been a busy Summer here at Flea Market Funk. With a plethora of gigs, constant driving, and a wash, rinse, repeat of shuffling vinyl records from bag to bag and gig to gig, I figured I’d speak on my last gig of the Summer and how truly bizarre my whole day to end of gig was. I was pretty happy about my set slot at The Asbury Hotel this past Saturday night. I had the early set (6pm to 10pm), which is the sweet spot. You get a chance to flex a bit and open up on some tracks you may not get away with on the 10pm to 2am shift, plus people aren’t completely wasted yet and security doesn’t have to keep them away from the booth. Traffic going to the gig is usually a nightmare, so I gave myself plenty of time. As soon as I went through the toll booth, a charter bus ran up over the curb in the booth and bent a rim. I’m behind this behemoth and the rim is all bent, back tire smoking and all I can think of is this thing is going to blow and I’m right in the path of this projectile. So like any sensible person I speed up to pass. As I switch lanes and nail the gas, another car darts out in front of me. This guy is going to be the hero. He’s slowing down the pace to like 30 mph, I had punched it and was trying to pass at about 65-70 mph, which had me panic a bit. I jammed on the breaks, beeped the horn, guy doesn’t move one bit. Now the bus is basically on an angle with this bent rim, I am certain he knows as the tire is smoking like Cheech and Chong on a warm California day circa 1976. Mr. Hero moves over and promptly gives me the finger. I give the thumbs down (I’ve stopped giving the finger and go for a more low key gesture) and pass. Mr. Hero wants to chase me for a while, but on to the Jersey Shore I go. Nice knowing you buddy and I hope you feel great for saving the day Capt. Obvious. I arrive in Asbury Park, parking is indeed a nightmare, but I get that dream spot in front of the hotel, pull over and wait. So this SUV is right on my ass while I’m parked, sitting there like they are taking the spot. I get out of the car and motion while saying “I’m waiting for this spot, can you please go around?” Two seconds later, a very irate woman pulls up very close to me yelling “I know you’re waiting for this spot you fucking asshole.” Again, I smile and say “Happy Labor Day!”. I’ve not even got to the gig yet. I do a few gigs in AP, so while I had some time to kill, I decided to walk over to The Anchor’s Bend and grab a pay check I’m owed. As I’m waiting for my check (the place is mobbed), some drunk woman walks by and fluffs my beard. I’m like, yo, if I grabbed you’d, I’d be in cuffs. Fuck a double standard. It’s not cute, I don’t know you, and it’s rude. Again, I didn’t even get to the gig yet.
Dude claps his hands together and says: “Here’s how it’s gonna go. You may think what you’re playing is good, but it’s not. You’re gonna play classic dance music for the rest of the night.”
Roll up to the hotel, line out the door, go past the line, get into the lift, door opens, sigh of relief. Not too crazy yet. Sound guy is there, we do a sound check. One thing missing, the crossfader knob. Both guys go look for it. They return, with a knob that doesn’t fit. Good on them for trying to customize another knob to fit, but just wasn’t cutting the mustard. So now I’m DJing with a Gillette razor for the next four hours. Life goes on. Gig starts, I’m one song in. A polite woman comes up to me and compliments on a Jamaica shirt I’m wearing. ‘I’m a Jamerican” she says, “I’ve been 27 times.” Asks for some Bob Marley about three different times and then bounces back and forth for the next three hours with a myriad of requests. “You know the one that goes Three Birds…” Jamerican, eh? Early on I’m playing a lot of reggae and some funky soul, but as the night gets moving, I have a visit from an older woman who introduces herself as Sandy. Sandy informs me that there is a birthday party and she’d like my phone number so they can “send me requests”. I look at her and explain I do not take requests or give my phone number out. She looks flabbergasted and walks away. No fuss, no fight, but really not sure how this thing called DJing works. These people are entitled, and right now the DJ is like a bartender, or a laundry person who puts too much starch in the collar. I can’t make this up. By this time I’ve moved into classic house and disco mode, light dancing, people having a good time. A guy that looks like an older David Schwimmer rolls up as I’m playing James Brown. “Hey man, can you play something good?” I’m like: “James Brown not good enough?” He wanted Donna Summer, so he got a 6 minute edit from The Reflex of “Bad Girls” while I shook my head the whole time. He wasn’t satisfied and incessantly asked for Barry White. That request did not happen. I love Barry as much as the next guy, but seriously, even if you put a $20 down I don’t think you’d get another request that quick. The sweet spot of 6pm to 10pm was almost over, I was home free, my Labor Day vacation would be beginning soon. I could smell The Catskills already. Crisp Upstate air, quiet, nothing more. so close.
However, it did not go that way. Up walks an older guy in a Charlie Sheen bowling shirt, heavy gold chain on the wrist and neck, veneers shining bright against his red face (from the beach or drinking, I wasn’t sure). My impression is he was some sort of a boss, maybe a guy who always gets his way. He’s trying to talk to me, but my monitor is loud. So he walks right next the monitor and figures he can scream over it. I look over, mix the two records, take my time, then turn my monitor down. Dude claps his hands together and says: “Here’s how it’s gonna go. You may think what you’re playing is good, but it’s not. You’re gonna play classic dance music for the rest of the night.” Looking him right in the eye, I say, “yeah, right”. He can’t believe it. Before he gets another word out, I turn up the monitor, finish mixing the record and then spot the next DJ. Ten minutes later I bounce and am on the way to a vacation. I can not make this stuff up. People are straight up bugging every single minute of a set. Like I said last week, DJing is not glamorous, but god damn it’s better than digging a ditch.