DJ Notes | Inspired by ‘The Blues Brothers’

Blues Sister

(Photo by Erin Maguire)

Merchant Moonshine is a quarterly London blues night organised by Blues Revolution. Last night the guest musicians were the Limehouse Leigh Sextet. The dancers loved their New Orleans inspired jazz. Photographer Tim Gee took some great pictures.

There was also a Blues Brothers theme. I LOVE an excuse to dress up and I was SO happy to have an excuse to buy a trilby hat!

If you’ve seen The Blues Brothers or heard the soundtrack you’ll know how awesome it is. As the guest DJ for the night, I wanted to play music inspired by the film that dancers would enjoy.

My DJ Strategy

I listed the names of all the artists on the soundtrack and looked them up on to find other artists associated with them. Then I searched in my music library, and gathered all their material into a ‘Blues Brothers’ folder. This gave me a great selection of music, including quite a few songs that I don’t usually play.

Using the ‘Blues Brothers’ folder as my starting point, I played soulful blues and R’n’B in my first set. Later I included some gospel.

Favourites from my Set

Hopeless / Percy Mayfield
Rock Me Baby / Otis Redding
You’ll Never Know / Big Maybelle*
Just Can’t Help Myself / Big Mama Thornton
You Got Me Running / Sugar Pie Desanto
Somebody’s Sleeping in My Bed / Johnnie Taylor*
A Fool For You
/ Ray Charles*
The Thrill is Gone / Aretha Franklin
Sweet Black Angel / Ike and Tina Turner
You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman / Aretha Franklin
Little Red Rooster / Sam Cooke
Dirty Man / Laura Lee
You Don’t Miss Your Water / Otis Redding*
Guide Me Home / Big Mama Thornton
Mercy, Mercy, Mercy / Marlena Shaw
Death Came A Knockin’ / Ruthie Foster
None of Us Are Free / Blind Boys of Alabama (with Solomon Burke)
Night Train / Jimmy Forest

*These are songs that I hadn’t DJed before. (I always try to challenge myself to include some new songs in every set.)

I LOVE Otis Redding but ‘You Don’t Miss Your Water’ was one of the less familiar songs I have from him. Since playing it on Saturday it’s become one of my favourites. Have a listen.

Johnnie Taylor is a relatively new artist to me, but I’ve been listening to a lot of his music lately. ‘Somebody’s Sleeping in My Bed’ is deep southern soulful blues at its best.

Big Maybelle has an incredible voice. ‘You’ll Never Know’ layers her powerful vocals over smooth jazz. Gorgeous.

Minnie the Moocher

For me, one of the highlight songs from The Blues Brothers is ‘Minnie the Moocher’. I wanted to play it, though not the the Cab Calloway version as it is ‘over-familiar’.

Instead I chose this. If you listen carefully, you’ll hear the refrain from Minnie the Moocher.

‘Echoes of Harlem’ by Engelbert Wrobel, Chris Hopkins and Dan Barrett. 

When the band came back to the stage, the clarinetist thanked me for playing music that had complemented theirs so well. The keyboard player told me that he thought my music had soul. (This really made me smile – if there is one thing that makes me happier than seeing happy dancers, it’s musicians telling me they like the music I’m playing.)

Carter and Sarah from Blues Revolution always give London blues dancers a great night. As as DJ, I loved having the opportunity to play music on the Blues Brothers theme. It was a lot of fun. (And I’ve definitely found some new favourites.)

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