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Dee Jay Silver makes country music fans, and more, shake it for him
Back in the 2000s, John Perdue — aka Dee Jay Silver — saw a niche for a DJ in the country music market.
Not everyone agreed.
"Yeah, when I first started I got a lot of, 'This'll never work. It's stupid. Country music doesn't need a DJ,'" Silver, 42, recalls from the Nashville home he shares with his wife and 2-year-old son.
Guess who's having the last laugh?
With a laptop loaded with "hundreds of thousands of songs" and a microphone, Silver has carved out a career that's made him a ubiquitous figure in the country music world — and beyond. Country at heart but not sticking to the genre, he's been spinning for Jason Aldean on tour since 2009, including this year's High Noon Neon Tour, and has also hit the road with Luke Bryan, Rascal Flatts, Eric Church, Brad Paisley and many others. He's been a fixture at festivals, including Faster Horses in Brooklyn, Mich., and at events in every major sport, from NASCAR to the Super Bowl.
Silver has residencies in Nashville and Las Vegas, and he hosts a syndicated weekly radio show, "The Country Club with Dee Jay Silver." He's remixed songs for a number of country artists, and starting with the 2016 single "Just Got Paid," featuring Austin Webb, Silver has been making his own music, with plans to release a full album in the next year.
Contemplating his success, Silver simply says, "I just did it."
"I just saw a void and went for it," he says. "I still wanted to do the best I could with it, and that's how it happened. And I don't ever want to get complacent. I want to have as many irons in the fire as possible."
Silver's road began in Texas. Born in Dallas and raised in Austin, he comes from a music-loving household.
"My dad always sang," Silver remembers. "I thought my dad was the greatest musician in the world. He'd come home (from work) and I'd have a guitar waiting for him. He was just an average guy who liked to play music — but he's my dad."
Silver didn't learn to play himself but parlayed the passion his father stoked into DJing during college stints at North Arkansas Community College and Williams Baptist College, to "make a little extra money."
After graduation, Silver took the DJ act on the road around Texas — initially as DJ Quicksilver, until the clothing company of the same name threatened to sue — then in 2009 made his way to Las Vegas, where he met Aldean at the Taboo Ultra Lounge in the MGM Grand complex the following year.
"His agent, who's now my agent, saw me play and asked if I wanted to go on tour with (Aldean)," Silver says. "What are you gonna say? 'Yeah, man...!'" And after years of playing in clubs and at parties, Silver was confident he would be able to deliver in larger venues — arenas, amphitheaters and even stadiums.
"You go to a concert and it's just boring in between (acts)," he explains. "People are just sitting there with nothing to do and time just seems to drag. I was like, 'Man, this is perfect for me.'"
Silver turns the intermissions into parties, playing a high-octane mix of country, pop, rock, hip-hop and EDM hits in a smooth, seamless flow.
"I just play what I think the crowd wants to hear," says Silver, who had just finished a set at the Route 91 Harvest Festival last October in Las Vegas when a gunman opened fire on the crowd during Aldean's set, killing 58. He carries the memory with him ("You don't ever forget something like that," Silver notes), but never let it deter him from going on stage.
"At the end of the day, you don't overthink it," he says. "At the end of the day people are paying to see someone else. You're just trying to give them music they know and can relate to and make it their party. You want to give 'em an experience, give 'em a party."
Silver is also looking forward to mixing more of his own tunes into those parties. He's still working on his album in Nashville, with a variety of guest singers that he'll reveal once the project is finished. And he promises it won't sound much different from the open-format DJ sets fans are used to hearing at concerts and other events.
"It's all over the place," says Silver, who will tour with Chris Young this fall. "My pet peeve is when you buy a record and every song sounds the same. I want to have music on my record I can play any time, anywhere — whether it's a Jason Aldean concert or a nightclub in Vegas.
"I just want to have music that works for everybody, across the board. I know that's possible. I've seen it."
• If You Go: Dee Jay Silver with Jason Aldean, Luke Combs and Lauren Alaina perform at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 14 at DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township. Tickets start at $34.75. Call 313-471-7000 or visit 313Presents.com.
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