Hailing from northwestern Connecticut, Ras J grew up like a lot of kids in the seventies, listening to classic rock in a small town. He played in local garage bands and even served as a dj at his tiny high school radio station, spinning everything from the Clash to the Grateful Dead and beyond. As luck would have it, however, he had a large Jamaican family living across the street from him in the suburbs and was exposed to reggae and Jamaican culture at a very young age. Later, as a foreign exchange student to Manchester, England, he attended some of the legendary parties at the Hacienda, his first exposure to dj culture. While still in college, he visited NYC, including The Tunnel and Limelight nightclubs, as well as reggae festivals featuring artists such as Aswad, UB40, Culture, Shelly Thunder, Steel Pulse, Burning Spear and Shinehead. Eventually making his debut as ‘DJ Ras J’ on WECS in 1989, his groundbreaking radio show ‘Ewadjo’ included roots reggae, psychedelic rock, hip hop, in-studio dub mixes and a live freestyle session, one of the first of its kind in the entire country. He also worked as a music writer for The Register Citizen and Campus Lantern, covering artists such as Fela Kuti, Elvis Costello and Ringo Starr. His first paid gig as 'DJ Ras J' was opening for The Wailers in 1992 in Willimantic, CT. Later that year he moved to NYC for an internship at the legendary Cold Chillin’ Records, working on marketing and college radio promotions for Kool G. Rap, Biz Markie, Roxanne Shante and Big Daddy Kane.
Over the next few years, he worked for a variety of major labels, promoting such artists as Buju Banton, Red Fox, Born Jamericans, Tony Rebel, Damian Marley and the Wu Tang Clan. Through these experiences he met Afika Bambaataa, Kool DJ Red Alert, Bobby Konders, DJ Q-Bert, Soulslinger, Funkmaster Flex and many other influential djs. Alongside promoter Tommy B & the Beatnuts crew, Ras J also promoted the 'Bambu Nation' party series at the Anarchy Cafe and Club 205, featuring a young DJ Mighty Mi, and worked briefly for legendary NYC promoter Matt de Matt. On the weekends, he worked part time as a roadie for Wild Apache Productions and dancehall icon Super Cat. His travels eventually brought him to Chapel Hill in 1997, where he worked in commercial radio for SFX Broadcasting (G105, WRDU), and later as the first Marketing Director for Redeye Distribution and Yep Roc Records.
Since 1989, he has continued to increase his vintage reggae vinyl collection and in early 2002 was offered an opening slot for Buju Banton at the Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro, NC. With a warm reception to his classic roots, rocksteady & early dancehall selections, he went on to become a Cat's Cradle regular, opening for Steel Pulse, the Easy Star All-Stars, John Brown's Body, The Wailers, The Budos Band and many more. In addition to high profile gigs at Patty Boom Boom in Washington, DC and opening for Capleton and Romain Virgo at the Lincoln Theatre in Raleigh, Ras J also opened for Culture and The Meditations and headlined the Carrboro Reggae Fest in 2012. Since 2008 he has hosted the SIMMER DOWN: Roots & Culture Reggae Revival monthly at various venues in Chapel Hill and Carrboro, currently every 4th Saturday at Zog's Art Bar & Pool Hall. He also hosts the SOUL DEEP CELLAR monthly in Chapel Hill and serves as co-organizer of the SHAKORI VINYL LOUNGE at the Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival in Silk Hope, NC, every spring & fall.
DJ Ras J continues to bring his positive message of peace and unity to concert venues and music festivals across the Southeast. Bless up!