When did music become your career?
About five years ago. Before that I owned a roofing company in the Baltimore area for a number of years. The company was doing well but I wasn’t. I was restless to do something I really enjoyed. Someone told me about a woman who had a novel way of helping people figure this kind of thing out, so I called her (Jan Black, jan (at) quiddityonline (dot) com. Tell her I sent you.). She worked her magic, I mustered my courage, and my passion for music became the work I love. She remembers me calling her one day when I was sitting in the middle of the floor with CDs all around me, having one of those moments where you realize that you are actually living out your dream. I’m having a blast.
It’s just in me to appreciate it and want to share it. Always has been. Since I was a kid I’ve made compilations for my friends and family of music they probably wouldn’t find on their own. I love the hunt and I love to share what I find. That’s why I’m so excited about the release of my Uptown Blues Party compilation CD.
How’d you land in radio?
I was affiliated with a station in Philly and they introduced me to the folks at WTMD. When WTMD changed its format, I made myself available to them to help put some playlists together. I wanted to learn radio and find out if I had talent for hosting. A chance came to sub for their old blues show on a Sunday afternoon. And then I was asked to do it again. The blues I played was different and people started calling the station, wanting more of it. Within about a year I had my own show, the “Uptown Blues Party” on Friday nights. And now I also host the “New Release Show” on Tuesdays.
What do you love about being on radio?
I love being able to share new music with anybody who is willing to listen. I love giving music to other people and having them say, “that was really good.”
Was it weird talking into a mic instead of to a person?
Yeah, at first. I was in a basement with a single small window looking out into an empty space. Pretty quickly I was able to imagine real people listening, and now I just think of the mic as someone I’m actually talking to.
What’s a highlight in your career as a DJ so far?
This year I was invited to host the the Hot August Blues Festival. When I stepped on stage to introduce Eric Lindell, I introduced myself as the DJ of the Uptown Blues Party and people applauded like they recognized the show. It was great, and it keeps being great.
What do you hope your playlists and compilations do for people?
I hope it brings them the same joy it brings me. I hope it opens up different avenues of expression for them, from singing in the car to moving to the beat on a weekend with friends to making love by the fire.
What’s unique about the blues you play and put on your compilations?
I guess you could say I play blues-based music that can be in any genre. I look at blues like it is a living, breathing art form and feels it’s okay – even incredible – for people to take the basic blues pattern and make it into something new. For me, it’s more of a feeling than sticking to a genre.
Who’s doing that really well right now?
Two that come to mind are Eric Lindell and John Nemeth. Eric incorporates a lot of rhythm and blues and rock, and John is a wonderful interpreter of a modern blues genre who comes up with a really unique product.
You give a good amount of voice to blues’ women. Why?
I think they are under-represented.
What recording artist would you love to meet?
Roxanne Potvin. She’s my musical crush. I found her music when I first got into the business and knew she was going places way before she became better known and signed with a label, so I feel kind of attached to her.
What track of hers do you love?
“Hittin’ on Nothin’” from the album Timebomb that she did with Sue Foley and Deborah Coleman. You can hear the three women having fun while doing the song.