DJ Alex Gutierrez Rewind 1039/South Florida DJ Association
You can always count on singer/songwriter Lucy Grau to deliver a perfect Salsa version of a classic hit. She did it with Donna Summer’s ” Last Dance” Diana Ross’s ” I’m Coming Out” and now Mariah Carey’s ” All I want for Christmas is You” a song that has charted every year since its original release in October of 1994. Together with ” Orquesta Fuego” Lucy immediately puts you in holiday mood with her sultry vocals and kicks in to a full on salsa track guaranteed to get both Abuelita and Abuelo out on the dancefloor . So far every DJ I have spoken to has incorporated the track in to their Holiday Playlist! So put down that huge plate of lechon and moros and join the party with this perfect holiday song that will probably became a standard at every Latin family gathering from Hialeah to Honduras. This is definitely what we ” Wanted for Christmas”
DJ ALEX GUTIERREZ / REWIND1039 /DISCO96fm / SOUTH FLORIDA DJ ASSOCIATION
George Lamond’s music back in the day was labeled as ” Freestyle” when he first came to the scene in 1989 with his debut single “Bad of the Heart” Although the quality and production values of his material, as well as his vocal range set him far apart from your average Freestyle singer. His album, also titled Bad of the Heart, included singles: “Without You”, “Look Into My Eyes” and “No Matter What” ( A Duet with Brenda K Starr.) Djs like myself immediately embraced his sound and enthusiastically played his tracks throughout the night.
For the last several years Freestyle music has enjoyed a resurgence and concerts all over the country have called upon LaMond as a feature or in many instances a Headliner for their shows. His vocal delivery and range have not suffered with the passing of the years , unlike many other performers of that era who routinely rely on backing tracks to augment their failing voices. (No names will be mentioned here to protect the innocent ). One complaint I have with many of these artists , and very few have pulled this off, is that they often try to change styles when they release new material. Again LaMond has succeeded in this department as well, releasing ” Entrega” his Salsa album in 1999 which gave us ” Si te Vas” a huge salsa dancefloor hit here in Miami in 1999 . I played the Remix expertly crafted by Baron Lopez.
Some of the Freestyle artists often try to delve into ” House versions” or EDM inspired versions of their old hits with laughable results and even worse when they perform these ” new versions” at their concerts , they are met with blank stares and confused looks as if they had gone into a Chinese restaurant and had been served pizza. Again LaMond has triumphed here as well with his dance version of Journey’s ” Don’t Stop Believing” a feat only a real vocalist could undertake. The result, a faithful reproduction of the original , familiar to audiences and acceptable at live performances.
On his new single ” I Believe in You” George does , what George does best. A solid Freestyle period track ,incorporating some very familiar ” Judy Torres style” percussion loops that work well on this track . We even get a call back to those cascading violin hits that were prominent in his songs of the past. From start to finish the track pleases all of our nostalgic desires as well letting you know that George has still got it, vocally and lyrically. It’s exactly what we expect from artists of this era when they announce a new release. Get in your ride open all the windows like it’s 1989 and crank this joint up. You’re going back in time and man, does it feel good!!
Carlito’s music never fails to put a smile on your face . His lyrics hit home with the average person , usually emphasizing the humorous side of our daily lives. Songs like ” El Pescao” ” Jama ” and many more . A lyrical humorist with the true ” Miami Sound “
His latest release ” La Loteria” ( The Lottery,duh ) is no exception . An energetic Salsa track that explodes from the first note and is definitely made with the ” expert” level dancer in mind, but don’t worry it will move the average person to the dancefloor no matter what level of dancing skill you posess. Enjoy!! Click here to see and hear more of Carlos Oliva Website
Miami has to be the Disco Music Capitol of the world. Plenty of Disco events and theme nights dedicated to this great music that made such an impact on us growing up here in South Florida. We even have a radio station dedicated to this genre. ( Listen Here at www.disco96fm.com )
But to many local freestyle fans were calling me and asking ” What about a night for us?” So I enlisted the help of a close friend of mine , Israel Hernandez and came up with a night tailored specifically for the the die hard Freestyle fan.
100% Pure Freestyle is an event to take place on Saturday September 11 at the Club at Renaissance in Miami. I have invited producer / arranger/songwriter Lewis Martinee ( creator of the group Expose) to join me on this journey back in time, DJ Jimmie ” E” has allowed us to use his location for this first of it’s kind event. We have also secured the 80s freestyle group ” TECHNOLUST” to perform the Miami hit ” Woman ” which has not been performed for over 25 years.
When I came up with the idea , my goal was to play the hits of the Freestyle era of course , but also many of those tracks that are often overlooked on nights where the DJ has to include other styles in their programming. Some examples are below
We will also play some other sub-genres of the time for those B-Boys and Girls . Elektro, Breakdance to name a few. It’s going to be a fun night and a great time for fans of Freestyle . For Info call Israel Hernandez to reserve tables at 305-510-0945. Freestyle Music Lives Forever on Facebook
Leo Vela….. he was not only that voice you heard on the radio , he was your friend and to many of us in the music industry here in South Florida , he was our teacher. He used his raspy. Seductive voice as a musical instrument. Every word was a note , every sentence was a song. Sometimes we tuned in to his station more for the voice than the music. He was one of us , a true Miami boy , he partied at the same places we did , we drank and ate with him……man, he was the party. He was part of the original Super Q team , the groundbreaking station that catered to first generation latins like myself.
He was born on November 20, 1952 and began his career on Miami’s 96x , later moving to Super Q. and then as program director on WRTO. In the mid 90s along with “ The Chief” Raymond Hernandez he revived the Super Q format. Later again with the Chief he catapulted Salsa 98.3 Fm into the #1 position in local markets with a mixture of styles that catered specifically to assimilated Miami Hispanics. Introducing several new genres to South Florida.
The ” Chief” Raymond Hernadez
SVP Of Programming West Palm Beach, Florida
” My Brother My Homeskillet. You taught me so much. Im forever grateful that we crossed paths and became instant brothers. I will never forget you and your many lessons I practice daily. Love you! ”
Personally, I’ll never forget what he once told me back in the late 70s ” We love music, wherever we are , whatever we are doing , music will always be part of our life, it’s why we were put on this earth.
Zeta 92 in the mid 2000s gave him a nighttime slot which would be his last on air radio gig. After that Leo became the host of major Disco and Freestyle concerts around South Florida. After a stroke, which affected his speech, Leo retired and spent his remaining days at home attending to various other health issues. He passed away on August 26, 2021. He will always be a part of Miami’s musical history .
I remember it at the time as “adult-oriented” rock, some “yacht rock” artists ( who were unaware they were Yacht Rock Artist ) were and continue to be well-respected by critics and fans. But generally , especially here in Miami the music was eclipsed by other styles that fit the party atmosphere of our city. Even when the term was coined in 2005 by JD Ryznar the music had no exposure locally and as nightclub DJs we thought we would get laughed off the stage for playing this music. Around 2014 , I met Juan Luv ( not yet a Captain) a fellow DJ who like me was tired of having to succumb musically to local trends. A surprise visit by Juan at a laid back Sunday gig where I was mainly playing smooth jazz and soft rock as background music led to a conversation about possibly playing this style at local bars and breweries. After a few beers and a couple of Bourbons later we convinced each other that it was possible . We began to devour the Yacht Rock video series and the Beyond Yacht Rock podcast As well as studying the Yachtski Scale , the official rule book of the genre. Searching social media for groups and followers of the music we were beginning to explore and discover tracks that were blowing us away, one of them being Finnis Henderson’s ” Blame it on the Night ” which made me want to journey deeper into this style.
We were ready , and were fortunate to secure an interview in a local paper THE NEW TIMES that created some buzz. The first gig was poorly attended , mainly family and friends and a few curious strangers , seeing what craziness we were up to in our Hawaiian shirts and Captain’s hats. Once the music flowed the audience began to catch on, requests on napkins and just plain yelled out let us know we were on to something. Some on point and some way off the boat. We were encouraged by requests like ” Dionne Warwick’s ” DeJa Vu ” but kept getting things like Jimmy Buffet’s ” Margaritaville ” which is a big NO NO in the Yacht Rock Realm . The certified Yacht Rock was too deep for most audiences here in Miami and we would have to devise a strategy to spoon feed this music to the locals who expected a more tropical feel to this music being played by these Hawaiian shirt wearing Cuban dudes.
We played a variety of Bars around town , most not knowing what to expect from ” Yacht Rock” waiting to see when we would ” pick it up a little” or get the dancefloor going, only to listen to Christopher Cross’s ” Sailing” Michael McDonald’s ” What a fool Believes” and Kenny Loggin’s “ This is it ” back to back as our super power set . We would have to make some adjustments and tailor our programming to the locals while remaining true to the ” Smooth and Sophisticated ” concept of Yacht Rock.
Bar Nancy calls………… a beautiful nautical themed bar in the middle of Miami’s Little Havana district for a Friday night . Audiences begin to grow, Covid hits , everything comes to a halt . Many bars around Bar Nancy shut their doors but not Nancy whose legions of supporters allow them to stay open through the pandemic and all it’s regulations. Then after several months we are called back and our attendance grows substantially with an extremely diverse crowd that you would never associate with the genre.
Yacht Rock Miami , the internet radio station sees a dramatic increase in listeners and serves as a Crash course for those who attend our events. We continue to tweak our programming constantly providing our listeners as well as our audiences with CERTIFIED YACHT ROCK, SMOOTH CLASSICS & CONTEMPORARY COOL VIBES. Now everyone is slowly getting ” On Board ” Have you?
Some people like music , Some Love music Yacht Rock Miami’s new program ” The Crew” has assembled a group of ” SUPERFANS” that Live, Eat and Breathe the sophisticated, smooth and silky music known as ” Yacht Rock” but they don’t stop there . These experts go beyond the genre and discover tracks that many missed during their initial release. Many names unfamiliar to the casual listener. The Crew members are spread throughout the United States and Canada and were hand picked from Michael Atilano’s Yacht Rock Facebook Group the largest on the internet. The 60 minute program is assembled at Yacht Rock Miami studios by Captain Juan Luv and Captain G. Crew members submit their song picks which range from standard classics to obscure treasures that always demand repeat listening. The pilot episode recieved an enthusiastic reception from hundreds of fans who E mailed us from as far away as Brussels, Belgium and Singapore as well as many artists who were delighted to have a platform for their music .” The Crew” can be heard exclusively on Yacht Rock Miami & Pacific Coast FM Check the Facebook pages for times and dates.
DJ Alex Gutierrez/SFDJA/ Yacht Rock Miami / Rewind 1039/Miami Beat 305
When the Pandemic hit and everything shut down, alot of us were left wondering how this would affect our business , since ” Our Business” is all about the one thing they told everyone to stay away from…..CROWDS . DJs all over South Florida at first tried going ” Live” on Facebook many asking for donations , when Facebook kept taking down Livestreams for Copyright issues, most had no choice but to find ” Real” jobs. It was hard for many of my friends. Drive by Birthday parties became popular but the DJ was taken out of the equation. Clubs and Bars began to close permanantly. By January, February of 2021 some establishments began calling DJs offering 30-40% less than pre-pandemic fees. Some turned down these offers but most took whatever came their way often for markedly reduced fees.
Attendance at these establishments were weak, most people still feared exposure. Gallons of Hand Sanitizer on the bars and tables did not convince many. Slowly as vaccines rolled out and cabin fever was at a peak weddings and events began to resume. Parties began to look like parties again , except of course everyone was wearing a mask and there were little hand sanatizers with the couple’s name next to buuter and rolls on the tables. But why did it feel weird? Something had changed. People had changed. The way we played began to change , our delievery had to be modified. I called it ” Musical Distancing” the customers at the clubs I performed at were more concerned with ” CONTENT” than they were with my DJ abilities on the decks , back to back mixes tired them out quickly. Microphone interaction were now more important than ever. The key to keeping crowds engaged was becoming part of the entertainment. It worked for me. So I started thinking, how many of my fellow DJ friends have noticed this change and how have they adapted since Covid kicked our businesses ass.
It’s the holidays, everyone’s over the house when suddenly somebody yells ” Put on some Christmas music !!” Instead of the usual Elvis ” Blue Christmas ” or the Bing Crosby standards we usually hear around this time why don’t you take them back ,way back to the 70s ,when even Christmas wasn’t immune to the Disco fever !! ( after all you are wearing a polyester sweater) So here are some of your choices when you want to put a little Disco in your Holidays !!
Probably THE most popular choice to ” Discofy” any party is ” Salsoul’s Christmas Jollies” released in 1976( Probably the First ” XMAS DISCO RECORD “) Produced by Vince Montana Jr and even includes vocals by Denise Montana who sang ” You’re My Number 1 DJ” on Goody Goody’s LP. If you are lucky to find the vinyl version snatch it up as the CD Re-Issue appears to be Edited and even includes “remixes” of certain tracks. “Some of the arrangements on the tracks were also changed, and not for the better. In fact, some of them sound terrible. The new Silent Night is just one example with an acoustic piano drowning out everything else. That piano piece is an overdub. It was not in the original recording. Overall, the quality of the sound on this CD is ‘tinny’, as though they had held up a transistor radio to a tape recorder to re-record the music. Somebody attempted to re-engineer the original and messed up the sound quality pretty badly. This CD lacks the heavy, throbbing rhythm and bass that the vinyl LP had. Overall though both volumes provide the most ” Disco Christmas ” Bang for the buck. The Rest are pretty standard Christmas fare with a disco beat backing up the tracks. Nice background music for the beginning of a holiday party but that’s it! Not rockin’ disco like I thought it should be.
Of course Wham’s Last Christmas released on Epic Records in 1984 , is a modern day Christmas Classic worthy of a mention ( although not Disco) but my favorite in capturing the mood and on the laid back side as opposed to the more energetic ” Christmas Jollies’ Is the Whisper’s Christmas Album . All the standard Holiday hits but with that soulful feel that only The Whispers could have delivered. I personally, strongly recommend this one in addition to the Salsoul one, those two should give you that old school holiday feel you desire. Happy Holidays !!
Honorable Mentions are as follows ….. but keep in mind the production values decrease dramatically.
We’re a little more High Energy here in the Magic City. North of us in New York and Chicago back in the day , Disco music was grittier and more urban. Lower BPMs dominated the dancefloor. Here is my choice based on reaction at the time and throughout the years.