Montclair Jazz Festival: A DJ with a familiar face
Old school funk and soul dance party
Friday, July 28, 8 p.m. - 12 a.m.
18 Label St.
By GWEN OREL
The spirit of James Brown will hover over one of the first events in the ramp-up to the Montclair Jazz Festival on Aug. 12 is the Old School Funk + Soul party spun by DJ Brother Mister, aka Jazz House Kids’ Artistic Director Christian McBride. The party will take place on Label Street (not far from the Walnut Street train station) on Friday, July 28. We caught up with McBride to talk to him about “DJ Brother Mister,” vinyl, and the goodness of soul.
Montclair Local: Talk to me about the name.
McBride: “Brother Mister” is a prefix that James Brown used when he really got to know you well. He called everyone “mister” no matter how well he knew you. You were always “Mr. parker, Mr. Jackson.” In those rare moments of just being with his guard down, informal, he would call you “Brother Mister.”
When I got to work with Mr. Brown he called me that one time.
I’ll never forget it. That let me know he felt really comfortable with me.
Montclair Local: How long have you been doing this?
McBride: For about three years. I started DJ-ing seriously in 2014, mostly because I went to Tipitina’s in New Orleans to play a big birthday bash for DJ Soul Sister, a number one DJ in all of New Orleans.
She had a James Brown-themed birthday party. They’d put together an all-star band that I played in. Leading up to our set she spun her usual DJ set.
I’d never seen anybody in like 20 years do a whole DJ set only on vinyl. She had everybody dancing and screaming. She was doing all this creative stuff, just mixing tracks together. There was no digital. No nothing. it was straight vinyl.
My assistant at the time had a lot of ins to some clubs in Brooklyn.
I got a gig in a club called Spike Hill in Williamsburg. I put out not a whole lot of press. I wanted to not make a fool of myself, get it under my feet. The word got out and next thing I know The Roots showed up, my homies from Philly. A bunch of musician friends Everybody showed up.
DJ Soul Sister flew in.
Montclair Local: Why is vinyl having a resurgence?
McBride: With vinyl you have to pay attention. You don’t have the option to walk around and work out or jog or get on public transportation and not pay attention to what you are listening to. When you’re listening to a record you really pay attention. Frankly I think it sounds better.
Montclair Local: Analog vinyl, not digital pressed on vinyl.
McBride: Exactly. And there’s cover art, and label logos. There are always a lot of stories inside the story.
Montclair Local: Why soul and funk?
McBride: Because when soul music was at its peak it was on vinyl. It sounds better on vinyl.
I think people really can appreciate it. The thing about dance music, you think of music played by musicians playing instruments, as opposed to programs and studio wizardry I have no problem with studio wizardry. There are genius producers and artists, who maximized the creativeness of that Somebody like Prince. He also played an instrument. He didn’t have to go digital to get down.
There was a sweet spot in dance music from 1966 to 1986. I don’t care what your culture is, what you are into.
Dance music from that period will make you get up.
Montclair Local: Give me an example?
McBride: James Brown. It begins and ends pretty much with James Brown.
No one on the planet made more people dance worldwide.