Ambience: A NJ DJ Blog

  • The Vintage Soul Wedding Cocktail Hour - by DJ Ali Gruber

    DJ Ali Gruber is a wedding DJ based in the Hudson Valley area of New York who spins vintage soul and R&B records using turntables and real vinyl LPs. We recently interviewed DJ Ali on our blog after one of our Photo Booth operators observed her rocking a wedding reception in Asbury Park. To access our interview, click here.

    DJ Ali graciously agreed to compile a wedding cocktail hour playlist titled "The Vintage Soul Cocktail Hour." Representative artists include Al Green, Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin and Bo Diddley. According to Ali, most of these songs were inspired by her vinyl LP collection.

    For a signature cocktail, DJ Ali appropriately selected an "Old Fashioned." Learn how to mix one by clicking here. Read on to view DJ Ali's rich & satisfying vintage soul selections, followed by videos of each. For additional information on DJ Ali Gruber, visit her website at www.djalispinsvinyl.com.

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  • DJ Iron Mike's Dance Floor Picks - Fall 2014

    Hip hop, you't stop! A regular feature of the Ambient DJ blog is the submission of periodic playlists reflecting songs currently being used by DJs out in the field. The list below reflects an amalgam of hip hop / R&B / pop / EDM selections of our Head of Musical Programming Mike Bacon, aka DJ Iron Mike. Mike has been enjoying a prolific wedding season, but remains active in the bar/club scene, spinning at local haunts like PURE in Princeton, the Golden Rail in New Brunswick and Centro Grille in Robbinsville.

    Read on to enjoy the choice cuts of Ambient's resident music selecta. Below the playlist, enjoy a free, downloadable 90s dance mix from Mike's Soundcloud page. Also - be on the lookout for several Freestyle music playlists via Mike that will soon be published on our blog.

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  • DJ Gregg Ambient's Dance Playlist - Fall 2014

    A regular feature of the Ambient DJ blog is the submission of periodic playlists reflecting songs currently being used by our DJs out in the field. The list below reflects our head honcho, “DJ Gregg Ambient’s” current favorites. Gregg is enjoying the current musical landscape with quality productions emerging from house music and hip hop / R&B alike.

    Known for his wide range, eclectic international tastes and penchant for electronica and hip hop alike, here are 36 tracks from Gregg Ambient’s private reserves. Gregg remains bullish on various Latin music styles and a Caribbean flavor. The selected tracks are listed in no particular order. Enjoy and see you on the dance floor!

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  • 12 Songs for a Cooking Competition

    Ambient DJ recently provided music for a gala fundraiser held in Central NJ benefiting the Children's Specialized Hospital Foundation. Playing off the recent popularity of reality cooking shows, the organizers devised an ingenious theme for this year's fundraiser - a cook off between two acclaimed chefs, with guests serving as judges. Some 300 guests were served an appetizer from Chefs Devin and Steve, respectively. After enjoying the food, guests voted using a cellphone application on whose dish they preferred. The results were tallied and at the end of the evening Chef Steve emerged victorious!

    Ambient DJ was asked to select music for a) the introduction of the chefs, and b) the grand entrance of the dishes. We had to put on our thinking caps to create an appropriately dramatic soundtrack for the evening.

    To learn more about the Children's Specialized Hospital - the preeminent provider of pediatric rehabilitation services in the United States focused on treating children affect by brain injury, spinal cord dysfunction and injury, premature birth, autism, developmental delays and life-changing illnesses - visit their website at www.childrens-specialized.org/ Read more

  • Top 10 Reasons Why DJs Should Visit the Princeton Record Exchange

    Those who have visited the historic town of Princeton NJ should be familiar with the Princeton Record Exchange ("PREX"). The Princeton Record Exchange is a thriving and highly acclaimed independent record store. Located on 20 South Tulane Street, a side street off main thoroughfare Nassau Street, PREX features some 3,800 square foot of space stocking a huge inventory of new and used vinyl LPs, CDs and DVDs. While inventory levels can vary substantially, the store on average carries 60,000 CDs, 35,000 LPs and 15,000 DVDs. Over 50,000 of these titles can be acquired for less than $5.00!

    The original store was founded in 1980 and located on 20 South Nassau Street. In 1985, the PREX relocated to its current location, a building with a history dating back to the 1920s. Prior to being converted into a record store, the space was occupied by an electrical contractor. Before then it was a miniature golf facility, and it originally may have been a Ford Model T showroom.

    Last week, our DJ Gregg Ambient sat down with PREX General Manager Jon Lambert for an interview. With a background in retail management and a love for the arts, Lambert joined the Princeton Record Exchange 25 years ago in 1989. Lambert has guided the store through a fast shifting and at times turbulent industry backdrop. With many chain and independent record stores closing their doors due to the prevalence of digital music sales, Lambert has helped PREX to navigate these challenging times by re-tooling the product mix between new and used sales, and adding DVDs into the product mix. The store toyed with the idea of introducing a digital portal to sell stock online, but reconsidered with the idea that eliminating premier audiophile stock to sell online could sabotage PREX's bricks & mortar retail operation. In other words, there would be less reason for consumers to personally visit the store to dig in the crates. The store maintains a very egalitarian approach with all new titles going directly into the store inventory, waiting for the next savvy collector to discover them.

    On a typical weekday, 500-600 people visit the store. Traffic doubles to 1,200 to 1,500 shoppers on Saturday and Sunday. According to Lambert's estimates, 1/3 of shoppers are destination shoppers, visiting Princeton specifically to shop at PREX. These shoppers come from across the country and from as far as Tokyo and Buenos Aires. Another 1/3 of shoppers are "Princeton Likers" - local residents and others who enjoy the Princeton experience. The final 1/3 of consumers represent walk-in traffic. Regarding demographics, the majority of PREX's customers are 30-50 year old males. While professors from Princeton University enjoy shopping at the store, sales to university students are minimal. Students generally prefer acquiring their music digitally.

    The store is diverse by musical genres. Its top-selling categories are Rock, Jazz and Classical. 75% of store inventory is used, and 25% new. In the earlier days of the store, these percentages were reversed. Regarding accolades, the store has been featured in "Best Of" lists by publications including Rolling Stone Magazine and the Wall Street Journal. Music blog Buzzfeed listed the Princeton Record Exchange 5th in its survey of the best record stores in the world (2013).

    The focus of our interview with Lambert was how DJs can utilize the store to their benefit. The following Top Ten countdown weaves our commentary with information acquired during the interview. As background, the majority of professional mobile DJs currently acquire their music from digital record pools like Promo Only, Beatport or DJ City. In the formative days of the industry, mobile DJs were a novelty who spun music on vinyl and were required to dig in the crates to search for music preferred by their clients. Working as a mobile DJ was a time-consuming and expensive vocation - not to mention a physically demanding one requiring DJs to haul heavy crates of vinyl LPs to parties. DJs happily switched to CDs, easing the physical burden of transporting music. However, in the past five years there has been a nearly complete transformation to DJs utilizing MP3 files on a laptop computer using software programs like Serato, Traktor and Virtual DJ - it is rare to see a DJ using CDs these days.

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  • The Smooth Jazz Wedding Cocktail Hour Playlist

    In our previous installment of this blog series, we selected songs from the "Giants of Jazz" - legends like John Coltrane, Charlie Parker and Bill Evans. In this 42nd episode, we focus on the more contemporary "smooth jazz." Smooth jazz is a genre of music that grew out of jazz fusion and is influenced by jazz, R&B, funk and other musical styles. Smooth, atmospheric and often romantic, smooth jazz is a perfect choice for a wedding cocktail hour.

    Our selected smooth jazz favorites are skewed towards instrumentals, but include a smattering of vocal versions. Popular artists from the smooth jazz category include Norman Brown, Grover Washington Jr., Ronny Jordan, Kenny G, Paul Hardcastle and Richard Eliot. We've also includes a song by Sweetback, better known as Sade's band.

    For our signature cocktail to accompany the smooth jazz, DJ Gregg Ambient has selected the sweet and smooth Kahlua and Cream. Kahlua is a coffee-based liqueur produced in Mexico.

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  • DJ Marti Gras - Fall 2014 Dance Playlist

    A regular feature of the Ambient DJ blog is the submission of periodic playlists reflecting songs currently being used by DJs out in the field. Martin Valcin, aka "DJ Marti Gras" is a talented music mixologist who describes his style as "Mixing Gone Wild!" Martin's high energy dance mixes are bound to delight New Jersey's most discerning dance connoisseurs.

    Read on to view the musical ingredients for Martin's mixing sessions. His top 20 selections feature a compelling mix of current dance music and high energy remixes. To experience DJ Marti Gras live, consider booking him for your upcoming teen dance party, wedding or family celebration!

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  • The Giants of Jazz Wedding Cocktail Hour Playlist

    In this 41st episode of the wedding cocktail hour playlist, we turn to the legends of American jazz music. The playlist focuses on mainstream jazz (as opposed to "smooth jazz") incorporating sub-styles such as "bebop" and "cool." Since his early days as a collector of vinyl LPs, jazz music has been a guilty pleasure of our DJ Gregg Ambient who compiled this playlist.

    Representative artists include Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Thelonius Monk, Dave Brubeck and Stan Getz. While the majority of tracks are instrumental, several vocal tracks by female jazz icons like Billie Holiday and Nina Simone were added for good measure.

    The accompanying signature drink for this playlist is the "Jazz Martini" - a moody libation featuring Hendrick's Gin and De Kuyper Creme de Cassis. Learn how to mix one here.

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  • The All Covers Version Wedding Cocktail Hour Playlist - Volume 1

    In this our 40th installment of the wedding cocktail hour playlist series, we compiled an “all covers version” cocktail hour playlist. Contributing to this list were Ambient DJ music mixologists Gregg Ambient and Iron Mike, joined by our friend from the San Francisco Bay area, DJ Dan Rosenbach (proprietor of Love in the Mix).

    The goal of the project was to select songs that are appropriate wedding cocktail hour fare, but with interesting and quality productions that rival or exceed the original versions.

    Reflecting the fun and lighter nature of the playlist, for our signature cocktail, we opted for a bottle of Mexican beer Tecate, served with a lime. Cheers!

    Please leave a comment below indicating your own favorite cover versions. We realize that there are thousands of quality cover versions to choose from. We’ll consider your suggestions for Cover Versions - Volume 2!

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  • The Savannah Southern Charm Wedding Cocktail Hour Playlist

    For our 39th installment in the wedding cocktail hour playlist series, we travel south to Savannah, Georgia. Historic Savannah is an immensely popular location for destination weddings. According to The Knot's 2013 Wedding Statistics study, 41% of Savannah's weddings are casual in style, the highest percentage of any major market in the U.S.

    In this blog, we spoke to Cindy Brown, co-owner with her husband Jeff Brown, of All About You Entertainment, Savannah and Hilton Head Island's premier wedding DJ entertainment company. Cindy describes the imagery of a local wedding - "It just doesn’t get more southern than this. Summertime lasts a little longer in Savannah. Get ready for a wedding on the back river of a plantation home, with the Spanish moss blowing gently in the breeze. When the ceremony is over, meander over to the tent to enjoy the soft musical soundtrack while sipping on a signature drink of a Sweet Tea Vodka Lemonade Mojito."

    The cocktail hour playlist of twenty songs that follows was compiled by Cindy and the staff of All About You Entertainment. To learn more about their award-winning Savannah wedding DJ entertainment services visit www.allaboutyoudjs.com.

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