Inner workings of a DJ mind | Talking with John Joven about MezzJelly ’17

It might be September but I’m still feeling the glow from my amazing trip to New York for MezzJelly Blues in July. 

Mezzjelly

An offer I couldn’t refuse

When Jered Morin first asked me if I wanted to DJ in New York, I kinda thought he was kidding. But Jered never lies, so naturally, I needed to know more.

I turned out that he and Brooke Filsinger were taking MezzJelly Blues to NYC, and I was invited to be on the team. I checked the dates and when I saw I was free I basically said ‘Yes!’ without really knowing how I was going to manage it.

I’m currently the breadwinner for my family, and I work freelance, so my time is money. DJ-ing might seem glamorous, but it never pays any of my ‘real’ bills. It does give me a little ‘pocket money’ for my never-ending music wish-list and anything left over I spend on the fun I have on my weekends away.  

Anyway… budgetary issues notwithstanding, a gig is a gig, and it’s not every day I get asked to fly to the US to DJ, so I knew that come hell or high water, I would do whatever it took to get myself there.

No Pressure

I nearly had a heart attack when I saw the DJ intro on the MezzJelly Blues website:

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Blues heroes | Junior Wells

“As a boy I was listening to Sonny Williamson records and I would close my eyes and visualize myself playing the harp.”

– Junior Wells

jr wells002

Photo by Brett Littlehales

One of the best-loved harp players in Chicago blues was Junior Wells. He took inspiration from the top living harmonica players and brought a passion and fire that was all his own.

Born and raised in West Memphis Arkansas, Wells learned from local blues hero Junior Parker. He was a skillful harmonica player by the time he was seven.

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Classic Blues Albums

Written by Ross Woods


Choosing a set of classic albums is a very personal thing, something where there’s no right and wrong. I chose these albums with a few different things in mind. Some of them are personal favourites, some are representative of an important style, some of them have heavily influenced popular music, and some are all three!

Almost all the music was recorded before 1970 – there’s plenty of great blues recorded since, but I can’t cover everything! I’ve chosen albums that feature individual artists, and a few compilations.

It’s worth bearing in mind that the LP only became popular in the 1950s, and before then almost all music was released as singles on 78rpm. Albums of pre-1950s music are virtually all compilations; the ones I suggest below are just examples, and others can be just as good.

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