Thomas Blackburn, aka Tommyboy, is busy curating the DJs at Midnight Rambler cocktail bar at the Joule Hotel. But he has been an active top notch music nerd in Texas for two decades, playing gigs here and in Austin. His collection is so large and varied that, if he opened a record store using his own records as stock, he could easily give the local shops a run for their money. For this week's mixtape, Tommyboy drops an end-of-summer mix that touches on the familiar to the very obscure by a tastemaker of the highest order.
Dallas Observer: How did you get started deejaying? How long have you been at it?
I’ve always loved making mixtapes and sharing music with friends and family. When I went to college, I started to take music collecting and deejaying more seriously. That was almost 20 years ago.
How was this mix made? Is there a particular theme for the track selection?
I always get a little sentimental this time of year. Certain songs evoke fond memories of warm summer breezes and hazy technicolor sunsets. Most of the records selected for this mix have been with me for years and seem perfectly suited for an end-of-summer mixtape. This is essentially my love letter to summers gone by.
How did you put it together?
I recorded this mix at home in one take with two turntables and a mixer. The outgoing audio was recorded to VHS. I then recorded the VHS to DVD and ripped the audio file off the DVD. Seems unnecessary, I’m sure, but I like the audio compression found on VHS tapes. I also tend to record video footage to the DVD, so I end up with a DVD with my mix and fun video content.
How did you get involved with DJ culture?
I was fortunate enough to grow up in Dallas during the '90s rave scene. I saw more DJs and electronic acts in high school than most kids my age, I’m sure. A few years later, a friend in college encouraged me to DJ with him. We called ourselves the TRANSEXFORMERS SOUND SYSTEM. ... Our sets were like mashups of 2 Live Crew and Soft Cell. Fun and wild times for sure. During that time we had several weekly events and started booking like minded talent.
Tell us about your involvement with Midnight Rambler?
A few years ago I ran into some old friends I knew while living in NYC. They were in Dallas working on a concept for the Joule Hotel. I was lucky enough to join their team as general manager and talent booker. I know they really wanted the vibe to be reminiscent of the legendary downtown culture in NYC, like Max’s Kansas City. ... I left my position as GM a little over a year ago, but I still help with booking and even squeeze in a date for myself from time to time. ... I’m really proud of all the hard work everyone has put into that space.
What other projects do you have going on right now?
I’m always collecting, editing and compiling video for personal and professional projects. I’m also hoping to secure some future DJ dates. If anyone wants to book me, please email me ([email protected]
Where do you like to dig for new tunes?
Locally, I love Josey Records. The guys that run that place aren’t messing around and always have new stock rotating through their inventory. Half Price Books is my home away from home. Doc’s in Fort Worth is always a fun excursion. End of an Ear in Austin is probably my favorite record store in Texas. Their owner Dan always has something exciting to share with me when I shop there.
What has been your most significant musical experience of the past year?
I wish I could remember something special from the past year, but I’ve been working way too much and missed out on tons. Personally, I feel gratified to see friends enjoy success that has long been coming. My friends in S U R V I V E have had a great year, as well as the Austin label HOLODECK records. Really, anytime over the past year where I have been able to listen to and play music with friends has been significant. I’m grateful for all of those special moments.
What gigs do you have in the near future?
I’m playing records Sept. 27 at The Crown & Harp for Lily Taylor’s Harper’s Revue night. I will be providing background music between some awesome local acts like VECTOR VISION, Jake Schrock and Polystarra.
1. Paul McCartney - Sunshine, Sometimes (Demo)
2. Steve Miller Band - Wild Mountain Honey
3. Fox - For Whatever It's Worth
4. John Lennon & Yoko Ono - (Forgive Me) My Little Flower Princess
5. Savanna Silver Band - Like I Do
6. Michael Franks - St. Elmo's Fire
7. Country Joe McDonald - Breakfast For Two
8. The Doobie Brothers - Flying Cloud
9. Bautista - Gone
10. Leon Lowman - Morning Song
11. Spirit - Feeling In Time
12. Spike - You Can Do It
13. Finis Africae - Los Pobres Del Mundo Tocan El Bombo
14. Wilson Tanner - Before Lotus
15. Ozo - Anambra
16. Puccio Roelens - Caravan
17. Joao Donato - Me Dexia
18. Nino Nardini - Tropicola
19. Penny Goodwin - Too Soon You're Too Old
20. Human Egg - The Lonely Man
21. The Five Blackies - Summer's Almost Over
22. The Glass Family - The Means
23. Paul St John - Spaceship Lover
24. Magical Ring - Light Flight