Last weekend, I was faced with a challenge that I never thought I'd face in my DJ career. I've provided music for thousands of events, created and recorded over a hundred mixes, wrote, produced and recorded a few songs, played small and huge events with thousands of people, etc. Last weekend, however, was different. I was challenged with a very different music mix request. One mix I never thought I'd be asked to make.
Two weeks ago, I was on social media and I was shocked to see that someone I knew, suddenly passed away. I was very sad to learn that Mr. Joe Rivera was gone. Joe was a great man, who was a truly sweet, sincere person. Joe always had a big, unforgettable smile on his face and was always very optimistic. Every time I saw him, at any public event where I DJed, he always sincerely told me, "it's so good to see you. I love coming out with Janie, and listening to the great music you play! You think you can play something for me tonight? Play something that you know I like!" Of course I knew exactly what to play, to make Joe happy and take him down memory lane, dancing away. That's one of the best parts of my job!
I met Joe through some friends, Virginia and Raul. Joe was Raul's dad and I had the pleasure of evening DJing his birthday party, not too long ago. It was great to help Joe celebrate his birthday, along with Virginia, Raul, and the rest of their friends and family! Last year, we provided a DJ and photo booth for Virginia and Raul's wedding! Everyone had so much fun, and of course Joe was there, dancing the night away with Janie, with his big smile, giving me the thumbs up, when I played just what I knew would get him out there! It was a fun, memorable night for Diana and I, as well as all the friends and family of Virginia and Raul. I never thought that would be the last time I'd see Joe, in person.
Like most people, I knew about Joe and how he was doing, through casual conversations on Facebook. Just a day before he was gone, I remember reading Joe's post about going to the doctor, again. I didn't think too much about it, and then was very shocked to hear the news about Joe, a day later. I was sad, thinking about all the times he and his family had came out to see me, wherever I played, when I did public events. I remembered his party and the wedding, too. I listened to a few songs that I remember he loved, that day I found out, and it made me sad.
Most people think that DJs simply show up to play music and that the DJ may not think much about who they're entertaining that day or night. For me, this is not true. I truly appreciate being a part of some of the best milestone moments of people's lives. I looked back on those moments, that day and week, in a somber mood, thinking of Joe.
Last week, Raul called me and asked me for a favor. He said: "Hey Jason, how much would you charge me for a mix of all of my dad's favorite songs, for his funeral? I can send you a list. Do you think you can do it?" Without hesitation, I said "sure, of course I will. I won't charge you at all. I'll be happy to do it." Raul sent me the song list, that weekend. I worked on it that week, and wow, it had many of the songs I remember playing and watching Joe and Janie dance to, over and over again. It made me sad, knowing that these were his favorite songs and that I'd never see Joe out on the dance floor, again.
Everything I've ever done, musically, before this, seemed much easier. I never thought I'd make a mix for such an occasion, but I knew it was important. I can't speak for all DJs, but I can say that for me, doing this last mix for Joe's family was quite challenging. I'm sure most DJs would agree, if faced with a similar situation. I completed the song list and sent it over.
After I posted this, I was contacted by Joe's daughter, Stephanie, who informed me that it was actually Joe, who put the list together for his own funeral. She thanked me for helping the family respect Joe's wishes. Wow, I had no idea of this. Thank you, Joe, Janie, Raul, Virginia, Stephanie, and all your friends and family, for allowing us to be a part of so many milestones and memorable moments in your lives. Joe will be truly missed, but never forgotten. Rest in peace, Joe!
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