The A List B-Side Wedding Cocktail Hour

For this episode of the wedding cocktail hour series, we’re excited to welcome guest blogger Darrell Gartrell.  Darrell is an author, entrepreneur, teacher and music lover.  Born in 1958 in Los Angeles, he was raised in a gang-ridden neighborhood.  Darrell re-invented himself in Japan where he launched an English language academy named Wisdom21.  At its pinnacle, Wisdom21 was a stunning success with over 800 students and multiple locations across Japan.  Darrell later owned and operated one of Japan’s only rhythm & blues clubs, “The Savannah Bar & Grill.”  You can read all about Darrell’s business and cultural adventures – as well as his musical influences in his 2016 memoir “21 Years of Wisdom – One Man’s Extraordinary Triumph in Osaka Japan“.

As per Darrell, “There are times when top 40 R&B just won’t do. For the true spinmaster with the discerning ear, feast your headphones on this sampling of some of the hottest B-side tracks in rotation over the past several years. Give yourself high marks if you can identify half of these tracks.  Your guests will thank you. And your score for being a top performer will elevate just like the unheralded tunes you discover here. “

For an accompanying signature cocktail, Darrell has selected his special recipe for a Black Russian – Kahlua, Milk and Hennessy.  Cheers!

For more information about Darrell and his book, visit

The A List B-Side Cocktail Hour – Compiled by Darrell Gartrell

  1. You Got Me Looking for Your Love – Adriana Evans
  2. It’s Your Body – Johnny Gill
  3. Lie About Us – Avant
  4. Tell Me – Bobby Valentino
  5. Love Me Back – Kenny Lattimore
  6. The Best of You – Andrea Martin
  7. Fiend – Jaheim
  8. Let Me Love You – Mario
  9. Lake By the Ocean – Maxwell
  10. Beautiful Girl – Kenny Lattimore
  11. Better Days – Joe
  12. Beautiful Surprise – Tamia
  13. Will He Ever Love Me Back – Nodesha
  14. Imagine Me – Kirk Franklin
  15. I’ll Make Love to You – The Braxton Brothers

The Spotify Set

note: we used a substitution for Adriana Evans as Darrell’s original pick was unavailable.

Bonus Content

Enjoy a visit back to Japan with this Osaka Sessions set mixed by DJ Gregg Ambient.  Gregg was an exchange student in Osaka during the early 1990s.  The Osaka connection was how he and Darrell became acquainted.

An Open Letter to Aspiring Female DJs

Dear Aspiring Female DJ,

You may have heard that the DJ industry is a male-dominated field, and that your chances for success are slim to none.  Well I’m here to advise you otherwise.

Who am I?  I am a DJ company owner based in Central New Jersey and a former President of the New Jersey Disc Jockey Network (2013-2015), our state’s professional disc jockey association.  As an active participant at national DJ conventions, I am familiar with many of the DJ industry’s success stories – both male and female.

I’ve always been vexed by the scarcity of female DJs. Perhaps just 5% of DJs are female.  While the job is mildly physically demanding and you may need to lift up to 75 pounds or so – I don’t think this should be a deterrent for most of you. If physical strength is a concern, today’s DJ equipment is more lightweight and compact than ever.   Worst case, you can utilize an assistant for load-in and set-up.

One complaint that I’ve heard voiced by female DJs is that club owners and companies are mostly interested in hiring based on looks and sex appeal.  In fact, at this past week’s DJ Expo in Atlantic City,  a female disc jockey by the name of “DJ Unladylike” voiced just that concern.

While it’s true that a small percentage of clubs and companies hire on looks and sex appeal, most hire based on skills and talent.  In other words, can you rock a party?  Also realize that females are not alone as victims of discrimination in the DJ industry.  Through the years, I’ve observed many decision makers draw false conclusions about DJ performers based on the factors of age, race and physical appearance.  I had a past prospective client request “a hunky younger DJ” for their 55+ retirement community.  I’ve spoken with prospective clients who requested that their DJ entertainer NOT be of a particular race.  I’ve personally been rejected for jobs because the prospect thought that I looked like an accountant and not like a DJ.  The most outrageous sexist request that I’ve ever received was from a mother who specifically requested a large-breasted female dancer for her son’s Bar Mitzvah!

I’ve always stated that our company is a talent-based service, not a modeling agency.    In hiring, I’m looking for individuals who are exceptional entertainers – be that exceptional music mixers, exceptional emcees, or both.  So long as they are well-groomed and physically able to meet the requirements of the job, their gender, sexual orientation or skin color is of no concern to me. This philosophy is evident in our company staff photo which resembles the United Nations with all of its diversity.

Our company has employed several female DJs through the years who put in quality work during their time with us.  We’re proud to currently offer an emcee named Jamie Herman – Jamie is an exceptional interactive entertainer.  The truth be told, skilled female DJs and emcees are in short supply.  Thus, if you are a female DJ with a passion for music and entertainment and the skills to back it up, I’m certain that many DJ company owners (myself included) would love to hear from you!


Emcee Jamie Herman always brings the party!

You – as a female DJ – are relatively rare, and thus possess unique niche marketing opportunities.  For example, as a wedding DJ, you could appeal to brides who feel more comfortable working with a DJ who can relate to their feminine side. Spin your female DJ status any way you wish if it can help you to book more gigs!

So whether you choose to work for a DJ company, spin at a bar/club, or blaze your own path with a DJ service of your very own…. ladies – I’m here to tell you that you can be successful!

Female DJ Success Stories

If much of my letter has sounded theoretical to this point, I would like to cite a few real life case studies to hopefully inspire you.

Betsy Fischer  – Betsy is a colleague from New Jersey who was crowned “DJ of the Year” at the 2015 DJ Times DJ Expo in Atlantic City. She is the owner and lead performer at “Betsy Fischer’s Groove Lounge” based in southern NJ.  To learn more about Betsy’s story, visit


DJ Betsy Fischer

Ali Gruber – Ali’s skills came to my attention via a Photo Booth operator colleague who saw her spinning on real vinyl at a wedding in Asbury Park NJ.  To learn more about Ali’s unique success story based on a passion for music, read my interview with her at


DJ Ali Gruber

Jodi Duston – this New Hampshire-based DJ evolved her traditional DJ service into a niche service catering to the LGBT market.  Read about Jodi’s niche marketing success story at

DJ Jodi

DJ Jodi Duston

Michelle Lee (aka DJ Shelly) – I had the pleasure of working an event with Philadelphia-based Michelle Lee of Sounds by Shelly (  I was in a support role providing karaoke services, and had the opportunity to observe Michelle emcee and spin at a high degree of difficulty corporate event.  Shelly was featured in the Mobile DJ Success Stories column in the most recent issue of DJ Times Magazine.  Importantly, Michelle is an advocate for females in the DJ industry.  For example, she filmed a video of herself performing the “two speaker carry” and has requested equipment manufacturers to offer female-friendly gear.


Michelle Lee, aka DJ Shelly

Randi Rae (aka The Mitzvah Maven) – a mobile DJ industry icon and former Star DJ performer, Randi Rae is particularly well-known for her contributions in the bar/bat mitzvah scene, both as a performer and educator. I am one of Randi’s grateful students.  Decades later, Randi has transferred her enthusiasm for entertainment to senior citizens at assisted living facilities and nursing homes.  While I’m not certain of the exact figure, it’s safe to say that Randi is personally performs at hundred of these events per year – sometimes logging 3 or 4 parties in a single day!  She stays mobile by using a very portable Alesis PA system that she wheels around like a piece of luggage. It was a touching moment at this past week’s DJ Expo to see Randi receive a plaque of appreciation from peers and a standing ovation.  For more information about the Mitzvah Maven, visit


DJ Randi Rae, aka the Mitzvah Maven accepts a Plaque from her grateful industry peers

Linda Leigh –  Linda Leigh is a former rave DJ  based in the Philadelphia area who specializes in underground dance music and is also well-versed in a wide range of eclectic musical genres.  Linda chaired two successful seminars at the recent 2016 DJ Expo in Atlantic City.  She is the consummate hustler, working her way into bars, clubs and lounges – and building up followings.  Her DJ sets are always creative and impeccably mixed!   You can catch Linda every Sunday night at Trenton Social or every week on Burst Radio!


DJ Linda Leigh

Shani Barnett –  Shani, aka DJ Chitown Shani, is a Chicago-based DJ and Emcee.  While I don’t know Shani well, I’ve seen her speak and perform numerous times and have great respect for her abilities.  She is a quadruple threat as a skilled club-style DJ who can definitely hold her ground against the boys, a fantastic emcee, a great dancer, and a savvy business person. To hear Shani’s advice to aspiring female DJs, listen to Jay Brannan’s interview with her below.

Stacy Zemon –  Stacy Zemon is a former Mobile and Radio DJ who evolved her career into the DJ education market.  She is the Publisher, Editor and Chief Scribe at and the author of several highly regarded educational books that have assisted thousands of upcoming DJs (including me!) to improve their businesses.  These books include The Mobile DJ Handbook, The DJ Sales and Marketing Handbook, The Mobile DJ MBA and The Mobile DJ Entrepreneur.   I’m proud to be a monthly contributor at ProMobileDJ joining Stacy in her labor of love for educating the DJ industry.  Thank you Stacy for all that you do for our industry!


Stacy Zemon

In Summary

These success stories above are just the tip of the iceberg.  The point is to illustrate that it is possible for female DJs to survive and thrive!  Other female success stories who I’d like to shout out are: Jodi Harris (aka the CEO of Fun, Las Vegas), Tara Feeley (Tara fuses traditional DJing with her gift of singing, New Jersey), and DJ Dayna (based in Ohio, but known for performing on cruise ships).

Will it be easy?  Of course not.  Creating a successful business requires an immense effort, and females may need to work even harder to gain acceptance in this male-dominated field.  As previously mentioned, sexism and discrimination do exist in pockets of the marketplace, but they can be overcome with determination.  If you do encounter sexism, try not to take it personally.  You need to have really thick skin in the entertainment field regardless.  Doing sales work?  Add an extra few layers of skin for the rejection that you will inevitably face.

Ladies, if you are committed to becoming a successful DJ, focus on developing your skills.   Talent and skill trumps all, and just like the lyrics from Fat Joe’s new song go, you’ll go “all the way up, nothing can stop you!”


Gregg Hollmann (aka DJ Gregg Ambient)


Ambient DJ Service

The Brazil Mix Sessions

In commemoration of the 2016 Summer Olympics being held in Rio de Janeiro, we’ve recorded a special one hour music mix featuring the sounds of Brazil.  The session begins with soothing bossa nova before moving on to electronic re-imaginations of Brazilian standards and convivial carnival jams.

Sample artists include Joao Gilberto, Stan Getz, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Sergio Mendes, Kaoma, Bobby Brazil, Bebel Gilberto, Tom Middleton, Francois K. and DJ Cloak Dagger.

If you can’t visit Brazil in person, our mix is the next best thing!  Enjoy the music while sipping on Brazil’s national cocktail, the Caipirinha.

Enjoy the free mix on the Mixcloud player shown below.  For an MP3 copy of the mix, contact us at

The “Cool, Relax” Wedding Cocktail Hour Playlist

What better way to refresh than with this latest playlist compiled by Stephen Cirino (aka DJ Statle) featuring soulful vibrations from today’s new soul artists.  In addition to spinning for Ambient DJ Service, Stephen is intimately involved in the music business as an artist manager, distributor, consultant and producer.

For a signature drink, Stephen has selected the Basilico, a refreshing cocktail that includes vodka, limoncello,  citrus juice and basil leaves.  Learn how to mix one by clicking here.  Alternate versions of the Basilico add peach and apple flavored liqueurs.

Immediately after the playlist below, you can listen to the playlist in its entirety on the embedded Spotify player.

The “Cool, Relax” Wedding Cocktail Hour Playlist – by Stephen Cirino aka DJ Statle

  1. What You Don’t Do (Tom Misch Remix) – Lianne La Havas
  2. B4 the Night is Thru – Jesse Boykins III
  3. Got it Good – Kaytranada
  4. I Wish – Tom Misch
  5. The Light – Jordan Rakei
  6. Cosmic Love – Mayer Hawthorne
  7. LiquidLOVE – Chris Turner
  8. Turnin’ Me Up – BJ the Chicago Kid
  9. Love Hz – Potatohead People
  10. Piano Song – Eryn Allen Kane
  11. Celebrate Tonight – Allen Stone
  12. Distance – Emily King
  13. Introduction – Sinqularis
  14. Energy – Iman Omari
  15. La Brea – Alex Isley
  16. Something About You – Dornik

For More Information

To learn more about DJ Statle or to book his services for your upcoming event, visit

DJ Statle Bio

Stephen Cirino, aka “DJ Statle”

DJ Cloak Dagger Featured On Buddha Bar

Congratulations to Luke Rizzo, aka Cloak Dagger, for the inclusion of his production “Ale’ Sofi” (Captain Planet Remix) on the new Buddha Bar ‘Select 9’ compilation.  This fun tropical house track evokes the feeling of flamenco and Brazilian Carnival – and is found on the “Party Friends” side (Disc Two) of the album.

Read Luke’s thoughts on this accomplishment below!



To enjoy the Captain Planet remix:

To enjoy the original Cloak Dagger track that was remixed by Captain Planet:

To learn, more about DJ Cloak Dagger, read our recent interview at:

Booking Information

To book DJ Cloak Dagger for your wedding, club or private event, visit us online at or email