About The DJ Guys
About The DJ Guys
Music Reviews


Hello everyone. We're Jim Brown and Mike Hall. We're DJ’s for the Derby City Bop Association in Louisville, KY. In addition to our duties as DJ’s we have recently begun writing music reviews for our club newsletter as well as our club website and now, our own website. 

 Derby City Bop has been in existence since 1990 and is dedicated to the preservation of Bop, Shag, and Swing style dance and Rhythm and Blues, Beach, and Bop style music. DCBA is one of the oldest and largest dance clubs in our part of the country. While our musical styles primarily suit these styles of dance,  we can and do play a broader spectrum of music. We've both been DJ’ing for many years and handle the primary DJ duties for DCBA. We're often asked to play outside the Bop club for member parties, weddings, or other events.

 We subscribe to and write reviews for a great publication primarily catering to Shag DJ's called "The Beach Music Reporter". Publisher Kelly Harrison had the opportunity to read our reviews online and liked the format we have chosen. Kelly was kind enough to invite us to submit our reviews for publication in the BMR. Although we were excited to participate, we thought it would be a good idea to begin by telling the readers a bit about us and to explain why we review songs the way we do. We think the same holds true for readers of this web site. Since the BMR is aimed squarely at Beach Music and Shag style dance, and most of the contributing DJ’s live in the Carolina’s and are most likely Shag DJ’s, we assume many BMR readers might not agree with some of our opinions and we wanted to take the opportunity to explain ourselves before we let our columns be published. Since we write our reviews as though we’re talking with one another we thought it would make sense to write this column in the same style, so here we go.

 Mike: Jim, why don’t you tell the readers how you became involved in this type of music.

Jim: Good idea Mike, As you know I didn’t grow up in the Jitterbug era but my wife Evelyn and I were introduced to the Derby City Bop Club in 1992 and found we loved this style of dance and the music we heard. We were fortunate to have been taught Shag style dance from Charlie and Linda Reese whom I’m sure many of the readers recognize from Shag competitions. After becoming president of the club I began DJ’ing on a regular basis. Although Shag is the style of dance I prefer, I find I must play music more oriented toward Bop style dance since that is the focus of our club. How about you Mike, what’s your story?

 Mike: OK Jim, here’s my story and I’m stickin’ with it. Born and raised in Martinsville Virginia, just a stones throw from the North Carolina border, Myrtle Beach was where all the teenage guys and girls would escape to in the summer. I started DJ’ing after moving to Danville, VA in the winter of 1978. If you do your math you’ll discover that, yes, I was a Disco DJ…yikes! But even then I was DJ’ing  for Shag lessons every Saturday night. In 1985 I moved to North Carolina with Camelot Music.  After stops in Columbus, OH and Tampa, FL., I ended up in Louisville, KY. While you can never say I’m a Shagger, my wife Vicki and I enjoy trying to Shag as well as Bop and West Coast Swing. After meeting you in 1995 and discovering we had a mutual interest in Beach style music I joined Derby City Bop and began sharing the DJ duties with you. Although my perception of Beach music was The Tam’s and The Drifters, what I heard being played at DCBA dances wasn’t what I called Beach Music.

 Jim: I know what you mean and that’s one of my greatest fears about how our reviews will be accepted by readers I know are primarily Beach and Shag oriented. After reading The Beach Music Reporter, and a number of online reviews, it occurred to me that most of what is being said about the style of music we play is being done so by people who are Shag DJ’s. I’m not sure how familiar those DJ’s are about clubs which are not Shag oriented, and there’s a world of different dance clubs with their own styles, all using the same music, but picking entirely different songs.

 Mike: You’ve hit it on the head Jim. While there’s plenty of songs we all play such as Matt Leddy’s “Too Many Girlfriends”, a great Bop tune that the Beach crowd loves as well, there’s groups that the Shag DJ’s would never touch. For example, Duke Robillard and a song that you love, “Jumpin’ Rockin’ Rhythm” that probably clocks in at about 140 BPM, and wouldn’t work for most Shag DJ’s.

 Jim: Man, that song really cooks and will fill the floor with Bop style dancers. If I were playing for a Shag club I probably wouldn’t even consider playing it. One of the things that concerns me is that the majority of our music is produced by Beach Music labels such as Ripete and sold through sources primarily located in the Carolinas. I sometimes wonder if the groups, the labels, and the resellers know anything about the wide variety of Swing dance styles which have evolved throughout the country. Since most of those dance clubs utilize music from these beach sources I think it’s important the groups and labels realize we’re here and that our needs are different from Shag only clubs. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to start our reviews but I also realize our opinions might not jive with those from the Shag world.

 Mike: Although Shag is firmly rooted in the 40’s and 50’s R&B from Memphis it has taken decidedly different paths throughout the years. From the 60’s “Bubblegum” such as “She’s More Than A Number In My Little Red Book” and 70’s “Disco”  such as Jerry Butler’s “Cool Me Out” to the 80’s and 90’s and the popularity of “Shag Smoothies” to a decidedly Pop slant with songs from the likes of Santana, Cher, and Celine Dion. But now the trend seems to be back to a sound more in tune with it’s root’s. Lot’s of Blues and Soul with songs like The Carpenter Ant’s “Wrapped Up, Tied Up”. Ironically, this is just the kind of music we need for our dancers.

 Jim: I think you’re right on the money. Recent CD’s such as Hot Taw Mighty were very Beach oriented while the latest Hot Taw Mighty II is chock full of tunes which are more Blues oriented and are definitely better for our dancers. Groups such as The Men of Distinction, The Fantastic Shakers, The Sugar Bees, and The Coastline Band are turning out the style of music that really works well for Bop style dancers while remaining very popular with Shaggers.

 Mike: Man those are some really great groups. But, I want the readers to know that while we love the Blues and look for up-tempo songs suited to Bop style dance, we also love Billy Scott’s “Where or When” and Tommy Black’s “Sabrina”, songs which are more Shag oriented. I hope the readers will see this reflected in our reviews and our opinions of the songs.

 Jim:  Now that we’ve had a chance to let you know a little about us, we’d like to tell you a little about the format of our reviews, and how and why we rate the songs the way we do.

Please bear in mind that our ratings are based on what works for us in our part of the country. If you are a Shag DJ, Shag Group, or Beach Label, you might find yourself in disagreement with our opinion of particular songs or entire CD’s. In all likelihood, they will be different from those of Shag oriented reviews. We don’t think this is a bad thing. On the contrary, there are enough reviews in print and online from Shag oriented sources. We think the time is right to review the same music but from a different perspective. Hopefully the people producing this music will find this helpful as they develop new music. One of the things we hope is helpful are our sound bites of the songs we review. We include approximately one minute of each song in Windows Media format. If you are using Windows XP and the latest version of Internet Explorer you may listen to these previews directly within your browser. You may also choose to listen directly through Windows Media player.

One of the reasons we include sound samples is to encourage our readers to purchase CD's from the groups producing the music we all love so much. If you are a DJ you probably already know which CD's you want and where to get them but many of our dancers aren't as well informed. We're often asked the name of a song or CD and where it can be purchased. Since much of our music comes from the Carolinas and surrounding states we noticed a reluctance on the part of our dancers to simply call these sources and place an order. We hope by providing the opportunity to "try before they buy" we'll encourage more people to support their favorite performers. Most of our favorite music is produced primarily by small regional groups. Supporting them is the only way we'll be assured of receiving a steady stream of new music in the future.

With the advent of the internet and file sharing services, many people are choosing to download songs at no cost rather than paying for CD's. This is unfortunate for the groups producing our music and does nothing to encourage them to produce new material for all of us to enjoy. Since these groups are small they need all the support they can get. We'd like to ask DJ's, dancers, and collectors to do the right thing and "Buy It, Don't Steal It".

 We want to thank Kelly Harrison and The Beach Music Reporter for allowing us to be a part of this great publication and the bands, labels, and sources keeping this music alive and well. We feel privileged to be a part of this tradition and rest assured, we are doing our part to keep it alive and well in this part of the country. 

 Jim and Mike, The DJ guys


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This site was last updated 03/17/03

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