Twenty years of military service followed by twenty-three as an insurance agent is ideal preparation for a third career as a Mobile Disk Jockey. The first career prepares one for loud sounds, big crowds. hostile environments and little
monetary reward. The second career teaches one how to survive a life of
rejection through the use of defensive verbal skills and self-defacing humor.
Why a third career? Because I did not want to introduce myself as
“Retired.” And, although my billfold seemed to have enough cash in it, there was a vacant place for business cards.
In reality, I did not intentionally select a third career. It selected me.
In 1995, a local chapter of Rainbow Girls, a Masonic youth group.
asked me if I knew someone who could provide vintage rock music for a fundraiser. They approached me because the lady serving as their Grand Advisor had noted that I had a penchant for whistling tunes when the world provided no other melodic harmony. Therefore, the young ladies assumed I knew something about music.
They were right. I knew I liked it along with dancing, singing and the partying that seem to go so well with it.
“Hey!” I semi-confidently assured them, “I can do this myself.”
Armed with a one-hundred-watt home stereo system, fifty plus years of
musical memories and a handful of Time Life CD’s, I began an avocation which the Internal Revenue Service later recognized as a vocation.
Once I realized this was going to be a serious venture, I invested in a Roland sound board, two Gemini compact disc players, four Celestion three- way speakers and 400 watts of amplification.
This was an era of many unsuccessful “garage rock bands” so pre-owned equipment was readily available. Also available was the endless selection of questionably purloined CD’s I rescued from various shops in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district.
I must also confess that regular visits to Radio Shack, a Tandy computer and my son’s hand created DOS music database assisted in enhancing my DJ image.
Somewhere on the Internet I found the thumbnail course for Mobile D.J.s.
- Don’t play the music too loud.
- Don’t talk too much.
- Don’t play unfamiliar music
- Don’t rely on requests.
- Don’t buy equipment you can’t lift.
- If it has a beat and no melody it’s poetry, not music.
- Sometimes it rains.
- Electrical capacity is unpredictable.
- Don McLean’s American Pie provides a nine-minute toilet break.
- You will need suitable transportation. (Wow! I ignored the rest.)
There may have been more, but item 10 gave me an opportunity I had always wanted, justification for the classic ride I had dreamed of.
1956 FORD F-100 PANEL TRUCK – “FLASHBACK”
Flashback was discovered during Reno’s “Hot August Night’s 1996 festival. The fully modified rig was decked out with power everything, including supercharged V-8, air conditioning, air suspension and custom interior. All my D.J. equipment stowed nicely behind the two reclining bucket seats. The elegant Ferrari testa-rosa paint converted the once delivery truck into an instant business magnet for a yet maturing gentleman mobile disc jockey.
My objective was to provide music in various geriatric venues and charity events. I licensed the venture as “Flashback and the Time Machine. As a card-carrying member of AARP, Lions International, the Elk Lodge, VFW, DAV, American Legion Freemasons and a Shriner along with a few other social and community service bodies, I had a ready-made clientele.
One of my several stepfathers advised that the trick to have a successful business is to provide a service no one else wants to provide. Well, that was easy. Very few disc jockeys want to work at providing music for geezers or charity fundraisers. Success was immediate.
My original plan had me furnishing familiar favorites from the late 1930”s through the 1970’s, but reality extended the top end into the early 90’s. “You call we haul, from Glen Miller to Grand Master Flash and Nine Inch Nails.”
As might be expected my clientele, for the most part, were from the 45+ age group. I played a lot of 50th birthdays and golden anniversaries. I regularly played weddings, but only three in which it was the bride and groom’s first marriage. Hey! This is Reno.
My venture suggests if you want to go to other people’s parties, eat their food, drink their booze, listen to the music you love and be the center of attention, become a mobile disc jockey. Admittedly, at weddings the brides thought they should be the center of attention. It took me a while to work that out.
Without getting into specific gigs let me point out that a mobile music service in “The Biggest Little City in the World” is, in many ways, unique. Reno is a 24-hour tourist driven town which hosts and encourages public and personal parties and celebratory events just about every weekend.
My career as a mobile disc jockey lasted from the winter of 1996 until the spring of 2004. During that same time period technology in the form of ipods, cell phone music apps, flash drives and download streaming evolved.
Today, Bluetooth gives everybody a DJ potential anywhere and anytime.
The modern technology was in fact a blessing. My four speakers weighed 80 pounds each. The CD case weighed 50. At age 70, I, with help from my wife Connie, had reached a point where the lifting exceeded the capacity to lift. (See rule #5 above.)
Our final DJ exposure was at the Carson City Lions Club crab feed situated at Carson’s Fuji park which had once been the site of the Ormsby County Poor Farm.
The date was Saturday, April 3, 2004. Predictably the night our music died ended to Donna Summer’s “Last Dance.”