Will Bowers isn’t above a dad joke.
The Crestview-based DJ, aka DJ Dad, behind the upcoming Pensacola Record Fair has two children with his wife Becca—Liam, 3, and Flora, 1. He’s allowed.
“I chose to do it on a Sunday because around here, nobody thinks to do stuff on Sunday,” Bowers said. “Everybody’s at church or whatever. But Sunday afternoons—they call it Sunday Funday for a reason, if you know what I’m saying.”
His DJ name is self-explanatory.
“I chose that name because, one, I am a dad,” Bowers said. “Two, I think it’s a not so serious name for a DJ to have. You have DJs out there and they’re so serious, and they’re like, ‘It’s time to dance.’ But I think that takes away from the atmosphere or the vibe a party should be having. I want people to think, ‘Oh, you can make a joke about my name and that’s part of it.’”
Bowers’ next event—The Pensacola Record Fair—will feature vinyl vendors from Pensacola, Fort Walton Beach, Mobile, Birmingham, New Orleans and Atlanta.
The event will also offer other local DJs a chance to shine. They can sign up to perform on the deck at the event starting at 11:30 a.m. the day of.
Bowers based the event off the Miami Record Fair, he said. His personal interest lies in dance music culture.
“I love to make people dance,” Bowers said. “I love to dance, too. My wife loves to dance. We just can’t really find a wholesome place to just purely dance. That’s what I’m looking to foster with these types of events. I’d love for the platform I gain from doing this to lead to bigger and better things that are more closely related to dance culture.”
Bowers is a vinyl enthusiast himself, with a record of some 700—give or take—albums in his collection. He loves to use vinyl while DJing today, but that wasn’t always the case. He started DJing after being inspired by sets on Boiler Room, an online music broadcasting platform.
“I started with the absolute cheapest thing I could find, the cheapest deck I could find off of Craigslist, and then I bought my first sound system from a thrift store,” Bowers said.
“Started from there and just jimmied my way up. I didn’t start with vinyl. I started digitally.”
Spinning with vinyl crept its way into his sets, though, he said.
“It’s the way people have done it for a very long time, so it’s kind of honoring or showing respect to where DJing started,” Bowers said. “It kind of has a mystic power to it. You can’t do that much using just vinyl, but it’s pure in a way.”
Using vinyl records is more challenging than playing music digitally, he explained.
“DJing digitally, you can see all that you need to know about whatever song you’re playing right there on the screen,” Bowers said. “If you’re DJing with vinyl, you have to know the song by heart basically—know where all the queue points are, where you want to start the song and stop the song, know where the highs are, where the climax is in the song.”
Today, he combines vinyl and digital—bringing around 20 to 25 records with him to an event.
His musical home base is classic disco. He plans to perform disco, funk and Brazilian jazz at the Pensacola Record Fair. He likes to infuse disco rhythm and strings, jazz horn sections and funk bass lines into his sets.
“I love the energy that disco producers put into their songs,” Bowers said. “Whenever I play those, I really feel like those energies in a way flowing through me. Back in the day, you had full bands having to come together, play these songs and record them all in one room—whole orchestras. As opposed to now, even though music is still good, you just have a guy sitting at a desk. Even though producers put as much energy into their stuff, it’s kind of pulling from the past or sticking to tried and true methods.”
Around here, “Margaritaville” is the biggest crowd pleaser, he said. But Fat Larry’s Band’s “Lookin’ for Love” also wins people over.
“That is definitely one of my go-to dance floor heaters—if you will,” Bowers said.
Bowers doesn’t do much to prepare for a performance, except match the mood.
He recently brought moody beats to fit the vibe at the grand opening of Super Touch Vintage, a mid-century furniture shop in Pensacola.
No matter where he performs, Bowers is sure of one thing—Everybody loves music (mostly).
“Everybody loves the fact that vinyl is coming back,” Bowers said. “That’s what I’m looking for, to bring our local culture closer to music.”
Pensacola Record Fair
WHEN: Noon-4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 9
WHERE: Vinyl Music Hall, 2 S. Palafox
COST: Free admission