DJ handle: DJ Ras J
What it means: Ras as in Rasta, just a nickname from college.
Real name: James A. McGurk
What I play: A bit of a hacker guitarist, from the turntables I spin mostly rootsreggae vinyl.
Upcoming shows: Opening for the Budos Band at the Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro Feb. 20. My monthly residency is “Simmer Down: Roots & Culture Reggae Revival” every fourth Saturday at Talulla’s (456 W. Franklin St., Chapel Hill).
Got in the game: 1989 at WECS 90.1 FM in Willimantic, Conn.
Why I do it: I was always into music and made a lot of mixtapes as a kid. In college I hosted a pretty popular radio show, which led to many connections in the industry. After that I worked in the music business in NYC until 1995 and eventually moved down here in 1997 and worked in commercial radio and for Redeye Distribution. There just wasn’t a very strong roots reggae scene in the area, so I created a party where folks could hear music from Bob Marley, Burning Spear, Alton Ellis, Jacob Miller and other foundation artists. Music has the power to uplift and unite people.
Influences: I’m all over the place musically, from Jimi Hendrix to Thievery Corporation to old jazz and soul records. I was a roadie for Super Cat and Wild Apache and also an intern at Cold Chillin’ Records back in the day. As a DJ, I draw inspiration from all my local DJ friends, as well as legendary cats like David Rodigan and Afrika Bambaataa.
First pro gig: Opened up for the Wailers when I was in college at Eastern Connecticut State University.
Studio work Just a few mix cds over the years, the best selling one being Ital Session from 2009.
My style: I like to create a classic 1970s sound-system vibe, burn incense and build up the positive energy.
Personal playlist: Lots of vintage reggae, classic rock, jazz, blues and electronic stuff. Huge vinyl fan.
Favorite albums: Bitches Brew by Miles Davis, Super Cat’s Don Dada, BDP’s Criminal Minded and the Doors first album.
My gear: Technics 1200 MKII turntables, Roland Space Echo, Behringer DJX700, Korg Kaossilator, SM58 mic
I’d like to add: Just played an incredible gig at Patty Boom Boom in Washington DC last week with DJ J-Bone. I really love all the live music in this area and the community of local musicians, artists and DJs.
It is a blessing to be able to be exposed to so much great music. I bring greetings of peace & love to one and all.